Tent Revival

Who do you think of when you hear the words “tent revival?”  I bet same as me, you immediately think of Billy Graham.  I think every believer in the world cried a little on February 21st & felt a twinge of sadness at the passing of Billy Graham. He was such a force & though he has not been actively speaking or working in recent years, it was always comforting to know he was here, among the human race praying for our world. It’s hard to imagine him as a mortal actually.  There has never been an evangelist quite like him & probably never will be. The crowds of people at his crusades spoke volumes & crowds could not get enough of him. He was always humble & knew he was just the vessel.  God used him to reach people far and wide & though he was just a vessel, God had big plans for Billy! I wonder if there has ever been such a homecoming in Heaven as there was on February 21st.  I am sad that I never got to meet him or hear him speak in person but man I can’t wait to hang out with him in Heaven!
I have memories as many kids my age will of being gathered around the t.v. with my parents & grandparents watching his revivals. He was a passionate dude & so real. He was unlike any other television preacher & He did not preach the prosperity gospel but always shared sound biblical truth & there was a love for Jesus & a love for people that the world had never seen before. His drive & His calling was undeniable.
Talk about a life well lived & an incredible legacy left behind for not only his family but for people all over the world. My favorite thing about it all is that Rev. Graham always preached about going after the 1. Just like a good shepherd will abandon 99 sheep in search for the 1 he lost, Rev. Graham believed we are called to do the same & that Jesus expects us to not abandon the one soul in favor of the 99. It seems fitting that the Lord decided to take Rev. Graham when he was 99 years old.
I will likely always remember the day Rev. Graham died because Feb. 21st happens to be an important date in my own family’s story. I shared in a social media post once that 2/21/13 was the day I thought our story was ending but really it was just beginning. I picture God pushing my hair behind my ears & wiping my tears just as I do for my children when they are upset about something. He was probably saying “oh, sweet girl. Just surrender & trust me. It’s gonna be okay. It’s actually gonna be better than okay – you just watch & see.” Jesus surely had lots of followers by the time 2013 rolled around but I’m so glad he is not content with lots but will forever coming looking for that one lost soul. I believe that is why He has not come back for us yet, He is waiting for more & more people to hear about Him & live for Him. He wants as many of us in Heaven with Him as possible. Our God is gracious & in the spirit of Rev. Billy Graham, if you are reading this & don’t know about the hope that is in Jesus or if you have heard of him but He doesn’t abide in You, I’d love to chat & tell you some things I know for sure.
Think about your footprint on the world – how will you be remembered & what are you doing to make a positive difference in the world?
Go & be the Light & gather as many sheep as you can carry!

All the ideas….

Ideas.  I usually have a lot of them so it is always fun to see which ones survive:)  If you follow me on social media then you know that I recently launched a company.  It is so exciting but it is also so involved so I wanted to use my blog platform to explain how it all came about and exactly what I will do at The J. Sappe Company.

Last Fall, after a particularly difficult season in our ministry, we took a break.  We hit the pause button on Cross Roads Recovery and we re-grouped.  We were down to one man in the house and when he left, we purposely did not accept any residents for six weeks.  We exhaled, we prayed, we met with mentors and specifically with mentors in the field of addiction recovery.  We decided we need to do that more often.  Not pause the program but we need to meet more often with the people who are in the trenches with us and personally know the highs and lows of this kind of work.  God taught us so incredibly much during our pause period and we are so thankful for it because without the discouraging time in the valley, the mountaintop would not be nearly as sweet!  The ministry is currently thriving and we are so incredibly thankful for this new season we find ourselves in.  God always has a better plan and lucky for us, His plans are always immeasurably more.

We know that just like life, our work will ebb and flow but man,  it is nice when it flows:)  One of the things we really prayed about during our pause period was regarding what God was calling me to do beyond my work at Cross Roads.  First, He made it clear that He was calling me to get my Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling.  I have counseled people for years but did not expect that I would be asked to go all official with it:) I also knew that we would one day have a counselor on staff at Cross Roads but I did not realize that I would be the first to fill that role.  God likes surprises:)  Next, God clearly told me that He wanted me to use my gifts and talents to start a business as an additional income stream for our family.  I have never thought of myself as being gifted (those were the really smart kids in school who went to different classes, meanwhile I thought my mostly B average was amazing) or talented so I started making a list of all of the things that I love to do and ways that I could help people who may not love doing those same things or maybe they don’t have the time or energy.  I initially had like a million things in my head and on my list and I met with a sweet, local lady who helps people organize their thoughts and market their business.  Bless it.  I am sure her head was spinning when she left our meeting and she was probably thinking “This girl has too many thoughts!  There is no way to tie all of this together!” & a couple of weeks later I came to that conclusion too so I narrowed it down.  Thank you, Susannah Maddux for listening to me ramble and helping me get to where I needed to be:)

First, I knew I needed to organize the company, get a tax id number and go through all the proper legal channels to become a legit entity.  Thankful for attorney friends who navigate all those muddy waters for me.  Since my services are still kind of broad, I decided to just use my name so I can throw anything under my company and it will hopefully fly:)  When I first got married, I was adamant that I would always use my middle initial (my maiden name initial) in my signature so I always kind of neatly signed my name Jodi O. Sappe.  Then as the days got longer and the years got shorter, I shortened my signature to JSappe.  I was in banking when I first did that, there was always lots of stuff to sign in my role and then it just kind of stuck as I moved on in my business career and now it is how I sign everything from checks to my children’s signed papers from school.  So, The J. Sappe Company just seemed natural for my company name.

I LOVE to share my God story as a means to encourage others and show the world how BIG our God is.  He works miracles, He redeems, He restores & there is no end to His big ole’ love!  Fortunately, I have had lots of speaking opportunities over the years & those have evolved from bible study groups to women’s conferences so I needed a separate tax id number for that work to fall under so now my speaking engagements will fall under the new company.  Another passion of mine is interior decorating.  I love to decorate my own home and love to change things up from time to time.  I definitely get that honest because my Mama loves to decorate too.  We always joke that the walls in her house are held up by paint:) It was nothing for me to go to a friend’s house for a day as a kid and come back to newly painted rooms and rearranged furniture.  Mama was and is always doing something at her house.  Mom passed that love of decorating on to me and as I recently thought about how much I love to dress up a room, I realized that everybody loves a pretty room but not everybody knows how to get it that way or maybe they don’t have time to work on it or maybe they know what they like but don’t know how to put it all together, etc., etc.  & the second half of my business was born!

I offer design services for regular people.  I can work on any budget and you don’t need tons of money to use a decorator and get your home freshened up.  I do homes and business offices and I absolutely love it! (so far my clients have loved it too so that is a plus!)  If you have ever thought to yourself that you would love to have some help decorating but probably can’t afford it, think again and give me a call!  I might even share some spiritual insights with you while I decorate.  LOL.  I seriously need the emoji’s from my phone on this blog so I can accurately express how I am feeling as I type:)  There probably are not many event speakers who also offer decorating services and vice versa but ya’ll know there is nothing about me or our little family that is completely normal.  We like to live outside of the box and Lawson does not even know there is a box.  We’re all (including you) gonna be okay.

All of that to say that this is an exciting season!  A full season but an exciting one.  I will still spend the bulk of my time managing the admin side of Cross Roads, planning events, meeting with donors, etc. but I will also be scheduling personal speaking engagements and decorating jobs.  Then late at night when everyone is in bed I will be studying for my Master’s Degree:)  I fully believe that God built me for this sort of thing.  I always share in my speeches that whatever storm you are facing, you can know that is not a surprise to God and He built you specifically for it.  I think He built me with strong and steady shoulders & hands so I could balance lots of things at once.  Not sure if it is a blessing or a curse but I am going to keep moving forward in this calling until I know different.  So, if you need a speaker for a ladies event, I can help you!  If you need a room or lots of rooms in your home freshened up, I can help you!  If you have moved into a new home and have a blank canvas, I can help you!  If you are selling your home and need it freshened up to sell, I can help you too!  The possibilities are endless!  Be sure to follow my new company on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with all the happenings.

Thank you for indulging my love of writing and for following me here.  I printed my blog address on my new business cards because like I said, it’s all the ideas & my company is just my name so it doesn’t tie me down to any one idea:)  Hope you have an amazing week – God bless you!

Happy Birthday

Birthdays are a gift & none of us knows how many we will get so my family never misses an opportunity to celebrate.  Today is my Daddy’s birthday & all these words seemed too long for a social media post so here it is in my blog:)  This conversation happened on January 11th and I put the notes in my phone so I could share it today.  I hope my Daddy lives to be at least 101 but because we never know when our last day is, I was not going to hold on to this goodness for over a month so I called him on January 12th and told him about it because I believe that people should always know when they are thought well of.  It is one thing to think it but we also need to communicate it.  My husband and two kids were sitting around the dinner table on January 11th and we were passing conversation cards & then a certain question was asked & we all had the same answer:)

You know you have done something right when your family is asked who their hero is & everyone around the table calls your name.  My Daddy is that person for us.  When recently doing conversation cards over dinner, someone pulled the card that said “Who is your hero and why?” Law went first, then BG, then Brad and then me.  There was a common theme in each answer and it was Pop.  For the why, they described his character and said things like “he is kind, he is loyal, he is patient, he works hard, & he always makes you laugh.”  Law especially liked that Pop reads the bible and talks about God a lot.  I finished off with those same sentiments & added that he taught me to be kind and helpful to others.  He taught me the value of hard work & determination.  Daddy is as steady as the sun and just as you can depend on the sun rising every morning, you can depend on Daddy because he always shows up.  He shows up twice as often when you really need him but the cool thing is that he is there for all the stuff in between too and not just in the times of crisis.  See, when someone is always there in a relationship, trust and love have been established long before you ever need it.  That is kind of the way Jesus is too.  He desires for us to really know him, to walk with him every day and call on him in our times of need just like we do with our earthly parents.  If you do that, then when life falls apart, there is already a sweet relationship and we are strengthened by it.  Jesus will always come to you regardless of your commitment to Him but walking through hard times with Him is so much sweeter when you have the history of relationship.

I am so thankful for the relationship with both my Heavenly Father and my earthly Father.  I know they are both gonna be there through it all and they have each shown that they love not only me, but the people closest to me unconditionally.  That’s a gift.  Daddy, thank you for all you have given us, it is more than you will ever know and we hope year 65 will be your best yet!  (Mom will have to show this to you since you don’t usually do the internet but I have no doubt that she will.  Thanks Momma, love you too!)

I don’t know if you are having a good day or a bad day so far, but either way, squeeze Jesus into your calendar.  You will be glad you did.  Make the most of today & look for the everyday blessings!

 

Current Situation

Hey everybody!  Gosh, it has been almost two weeks and I have missed writing!  My current situation is that life is nuts!  Our ministry is crazy busy, (which is super exciting!) I am working harder than a one-armed paper hanger planning our 2018 event calendar, I went back to school last month to obtain my Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling, I have started a business AND I was the keynote speaker at a Women’s Retreat last weekend!  I probably need to get back to that “Breathing Room” bible study that my hubby gave me for Christmas:)  It’s a struggle because when you are wired like me, one thing is good but four is better!  I want to tell you about ALL the things but I want to start with the Women’s Retreat.  It was amazing.

I was asked about six months ago to be the speaker for a retreat hosted by a local women’s ministry.  I was beyond honored and humbled and worked hard over the last several months to prepare.  The theme of the retreat weekend was “Anchor in the Spirit” and was based on Hebrews 6:19.  “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” NIV.  I read several different versions of the verse each day as I prepared and I shared several different translations of the verses with the attendees but my absolute favorite comes from the Message version – “We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go.” Oh, how that speaks to my soul!  Grab it with both hands and never let go.  God loves us so much and He promises to never let us go.  What a comfort as we traverse through such a hurting world.

The retreat was held in St. Simons at Epworth by the Sea.  It was a beautiful backdrop for a women’s get away.  You all know how much I love my family but it was so nice to just be BY MYSELF for a couple of days.  I was obviously surrounded by lots of other women during the scheduled events of the retreat but I drove down BY MYSELF, I stayed in a room BY MYSELF (thank you sweet Jesus) I enjoyed our free time on the island BY MYSELF & it was good! I am in that stage of life that “by yourself” moments don’t happen too often so I always try to relish them when they do.  Some of my relishing was interrupted because Bella texted me approximately 101 times and face timed me about 95 but I relished that too since I know these days won’t last forever.  That girl loves her Momma:)  Anyway, I spoke three times and I felt prayed up, studied up and ready to go.  My sweet tribe of best friends were back home covering me in prayer and I surely felt it.  I love to speak and share about how big our God is and what he has done in my life but I usually do get a little nervous.  Not this time.  There was not one butterfly the entire weekend and I absolutely loved being behind the podium speaking and sharing.  It has always been one of my dreams to speak to women at conferences and retreats and I can’t wait for the next opportunity!  I was totaling channeling my inner Lysa Terkeurst/Jen Hatmaker & I felt like God was saying “See, this is your jam! So get out there and promote it!” So I said “Yes, God!  Keep giving me a platform and I will keep giving you glory.  Let’s do some auditoriums and stadiums!” #goals

I did not know any of the women at last week’s retreat except for the one who asked me to speak.  They were all kind and welcoming and you may have seen me post a picture of three sweet faces who were always smiling & nodding at me and gave me such silent encouragement from their seats!  I wanted to remember those sweet faces.  I opened on Friday evening just by sharing my story so they could get to know me and my background & begin to see how our God redeems and restores.  He hears our cries and He answers.  Saturday morning, I talked about trials – how God uses them to mold us, relationship building, spiritual warfare and combating that with prayer.  Then on Saturday night we talked about practical ways to walk it all out, specifically growing your relationship with people and with God.  One of my suggestions is always journaling.  I love to write and have always journaled but even if that is not you, I would encourage you,  just as I did the retreat attendees – start journaling.  If nothing else, at the end of the day you will have a beautiful record of God’s faithfulness.  I have never done this before but with the retreat group, I brought my journal stack and I shared actual excerpts with them.  I hope they heard the pain in some of the entries, the humor in some of them and then God’s redeeming love & hope typically answering me in the next few entries.  It was a beautiful time of reflection for me as I prepared & also as I read aloud and shared that with the group.  All of my friends and small groups know that I plan to publish those entries one day.  People need transparency & I think those entries will help women who are walking similar paths.  Just a heads up, the word “casserole” will probably be in the title of my book.  Many will know what that means but if you don’t, stick around and I will share one day:)

I know some will read this and think “well, great for you but I don’t have a story like that to share” & I would say that’s not true.  You don’t have my story and I don’t have yours but we ALL have something we can offer others.  I encouraged the group to share their story however they can & I encourage you, dear reader to do the same.  You don’t have to go on the radio or stand up at a conference or share from your church’s pulpit but maybe you start a small group and share with three other women.  Maybe you have had a struggle and in the power of Christ you overcome it, so share that with your pastor or counselor and they can offer you as a resource to others they encounter along the way.  The point is that you don’t have to share it with everyone because you may not be wired like me but you can always share with someone.  My whole point in all that is we should use our pain and subsequent healing as a microphone to the world because if we don’t share, then how is the world going to know how great our God is?  I think we have to be the messengers of hope to a hurting world.  You can start by just acknowledging the pain.  Acknowledge that it exists. If you know someone who is going through something (especially if it is something we don’t like to talk about out loud like addiction or affairs or mental illness) just reach out.  Pray for them and let them know you are praying, hug them when you see them, take them a casserole or just sit with them for a while.  Those things can make all the difference as your friend walks through a tough time.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to share and spend time with the women last weekend and I am so thankful for the time I had BY MYSELF:) I would love to book more events throughout this year so if you or someone you know is in need, please reach out &  please invite your friends to follow my blog! I will reveal details about my new company, website, etc. in my next post but my blogging and public speaking will all fall under the new company as well as a few other things I am passionate about!  Wash your hands, keep loving people (but don’t get to close to them or touch them), avoid buffets and try to stay well in the midst of this flu epidemic!  God bless you all!

“You should go and love yourself” – JB

So I don’t typically title my blogs after pop stars like Justin Bieber but this lyric seemed fitting for today.  I talk a lot about living in freedom and walking out this earthly journey in a spirit that is “freed up”.  Freed up of the world’s opinion, freed up of what they say you should be and do & freed up from whatever your vice is in this life.  As women, we also need to be freed up from self-condemnation, specifically the ugly words we speak to ourselves about our bodies.  I have not mastered this at all but I’m trying and I think it is a topic worthy of discussion.

I ran across this quote recently: “I wish you self-esteem so high that you’re humble.” Wow.  Because here is the thing, we were created by a King, we could have no higher value in His eyes and we are adored, every inch of us.  I have been highly critical of my own body for as long as I can remember and it just serves no good purpose.  It is actually kind of awful because I have a healthy body.  I don’t have a perfect body but I have a body that is healthy.  I am not sick, I can run and exercise and this body helps me get a lot done every single day.  I was reminded recently that a healthy body is such a gift.  So what if it doesn’t look perfect?  Who cares if my thighs don’t shrink or my arms never get toned enough for my liking?  Nobody but me because I promise nobody is going to remember the size of my thighs, arms or any of these superficial things when I die.  They will remember how I treated them and how I lived my life.  I have been reading about organs and bodily functions and human bodies are pretty amazing. The blood in my body provides me with oxygen and nutrients.  My heart receives the blood from my body and pumps it into my lungs.  My lungs allow me to take in air and breathe it out.  My kidneys filter hundreds of quarts of blood on a daily basis and help me rid my body of waste and excess fluid.  My arms & hands help me in most every exercise routine, they have held my babies and countless others, they have held grieving loved ones, they have held flowers as my best friends got married, they have cooked (a little), and allow me to write and type.  My legs hold me up each day and support me as I walk, run, and exercise and those limbs make sure I get from point A to point B.  I know every mother who has ever written or blogged on body issues says something like this but it is pretty awesome so I am gonna say it too – my body housed two humans for 9 months and then my body was the vessel used for those humans to safely arrive in this crazy, beautiful world.  God chose women to be the carriers of life.  That is super humbling and super awesome!

The bible tells us that the body is our temple so we are meant to care for it and make responsible decisions that will lead us to experience healthy life – life to the full.  Our bodies being temples does not mean that we are to worship them or obsess over them.  After all, bodies are only one part of our triune being which also consists of our mind and soul.  (some say spirit but I grew up Baptist and that still freaks us out a little:) All three of these components need to be healthy so in the case of our bodies we have to focus on what we put into our minds about our bodies because that will then affect our soul.  If you are a mother and still have body issues, you have a double whammy because the things you believe and say about your body are affecting your daughter and shaping her thought pattern about what it means to be a woman and how she should look.  It is no secret that our attitudes and our words affect our kids and for Moms, that is also true regarding the words we use to describe our bodies.  For example, I try to never use the word “skinny” because it is misleading to a kid.  I opt for words like “healthy” and “well-balanced” because skinny should not be the goal but healthy should.  Try never to let your daughter see you look in the mirror and belittle any part of yourself because of what you see.  I guarantee that all she sees is beauty.  The world has been telling us our whole lives what beauty looks like & we see women baring their seemingly perfect bodies all over t.v. and magazines but now it is also all over social media.  The social media age has created a generation of kids that take the Bieb’s lyrics to a whole notha’ level.  They really love themselves or at least want us to think they do because they drive to locations to get the perfect pic and post a million selfies a day to show us.  They are craving something and they think it is “likes” on social media but it is so much more.  We were made for love and we need it shown and spoken into our lives.  That is probably a different post for a different day though so back to our bodies:)

Love is a strong word so can we just begin by liking our bodies?  By just being thankful for all the functions they perform every day?  Even if you currently have some sickness in your body there are probably still some parts to be thankful for.  I do an intense boot camp class three days a week and yoga on the other days and I have tried to get into the habit of thanking God for my body because it allows me to do these rigorous workout routines every day.  I even try to be thankful that I can to do burpees:)  It puts the focus on the positive instead of focusing on the things I dislike about my body.  The world feeds us this image of what beauty is and what we “should” look like and the truth is that there is no one way to beauty.  I know beautiful women in every shape, size, and color and you probably do too.  The devil is a liar and he would love for us to see all the images around us and think we have to achieve that because if we focus on that it will consume us and there won’t be time for much else particularly thankfulness or real relationship.  In the war against our bodies, we also have to protect our minds & keep our focus in the right place.  We should strive to eat well to fuel our bodies and we should strive to exercise to keep our muscles active and engaged so that our bodies are strong for tasks that require strength.  That strength may be needed for rearranging the furniture in our living room or it may be that we will need that strength to combat disease one day.  We should strive for excellence in all we do, including our physical apperance but we should do that not so we are favored by people in the world but because we are protecting and loving what we have been given.  Our bodies are our vessel to the world and if we want to accomplish the desires of our hearts we are gonna need our mind, body and soul along the way.

Hopefully some of you can relate to this & maybe together we can take back our bodies and we can each be proud of what we have and not constantly try to change it or belittle it.  Those negative voices in our heads about our bodies can get louder and louder and gain way more power than we should ever let them have.  I am going to be over here trying my best to not be so critical of my own body and teaching my daughter to love her body too.  I am teaching her to fuel it with healthy things to be healthy and I am standing against that she has to look a certain way or to be a certain size because society says so.  Will you join me?

I plan to expand this blog in the near future to include fashion as well as some other projects I am working on so please keep reading and following and invite your friends to join us too!  Excited for all that is to come!  God Bless & have the best week of your life!

Epidemic

Hello there and Happy New Year!  You probably thought I had fallen off the face of the earth but it has taken me this long after the Holiday fog to get it all back together. Hopefully, I still have some readers:)

Warning: this is not a warm and fuzzy post and may leave you feeling a little sad but it is the truth and the good news is there is always hope.  I promise to never speak truth without love and a dash of hope.  If you can take the hard stuff then keep reading and if not, come back another day:)

The word epidemic is defined as a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.  Some synonyms of the word epidemic are outbreak, plague, pandemic.  In layman’s terms, an epidemic is something massive and it can’t be contained.  It is bad news.  Our country is currently in the midst of a drug epidemic.  Statistics often help drive the point home so here are the latest stats regarding addiction:  120 Americans die every day from opioid addiction.  The face of drug addiction has changed over the last ten years and today a bulk of the overdoses are not happening on the streets but in affluent suburbs.  Kids are dying in their bedrooms and parents are oblivious to what is going on.  Painkillers have long been an easy drug to obtain and began what we called the opioid epidemic with people abusing prescription drugs but now the drug in the spotlight is heroin.  That is heavy.  80% of heroin users first abused opioids.  Heroin is cheap, it is high quality meaning it is purer (and more deadly) than ever before and it is easily obtained.  Stats show that every 19 minutes a baby is born addicted to opioids in our country.

Just an hour or so north of our home here in Central Georgia, are the affluent cities of  Marietta, Alpharetta, John’s Creek, Cumming and Powder Springs.  This area is now known as the Heroin Triangle.  In the last three years, heroin use in the Atlanta suburbs has increased 300%.  That is staggering.  A&E’s popular show,  Intervention is based in Atlanta this season and focuses on the triangle.  We watched the first episode today and at one point, one of the counselors made the comment that the morgues are full and can’t hold any more bodies.  Heroin is here in our little town too.  You have probably read about the overdoses and seen the news coverage.  The last one was about a week ago when a man who was also a daddy to three boys took a break while his kids were having fun in Sky Zone and overdosed in his car in the parking lot.  I just imagine those kids growing up, meeting new people and being asked if they have a Dad and they say “No, remember that guy that overdosed in the Sky Zone parking lot? That was my Dad.”  Heartbreaking.  And here is the thing that most people don’t understand – that man was not himself, he was an addict and he was physically and mentally addicted to a powerful drug.  He did not want this life to end that way and he didn’t want to write that story for his kids but the drug was ruler in his life and he finally succumbed to it.  It is easy to look at a story like that and get angry because he was a “worthless addict” that overdosed in front of his kids but the fact is, he was not worthless, he was somebody’s son and somebody’s father and he was hurting.  He numbed that pain with heroin and it cost him his life.  Nobody sets out to become an addict.  It is a slow fade and before they know it, they are addicted and cannot function without their substance.  They know they need to stop but until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing they will remain stuck.  Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.  I am convinced that almost every family is touched by addiction in some way.  Even if there is not addiction in the immediate family there is a distant cousin or a friend of a friend that struggles.  Next time you ride through a neighborhood, count the houses.  For every six houses, there is 1 house that houses an addict.  Even if you claim to not know an addict, addiction is a drain on society so it affects all of us.  It causes health care costs to rise, emergency rooms stay full, addicted people can’t work so they are applying for government assistance instead of working and supporting the local economy.

Sometimes, when the problem is this BIG, it is easy to put on our rose colored glasses and not do anything but that’s not the answer because we can all do something.  I think one of the most helpful actions will be more education – educate teens, young adults and parents on drugs and how kids are getting drugs.  On behalf of our ministry, Cross Roads Recovery, we have had the opportunity to speak to several high schools and I think it will also be beneficial to host parent groups and speak to them as well so they know what to look for and how to distinguish the signs.  Our state is taking action & increasing funding for prevention programs, improving access to treatment programs, strengthening the prescription drug monitoring program, closely watching pain clinics, etc.  As individuals if we know a friend that is struggling, we should confront them and offer to help.  As parents if you notice painkillers missing from your medicine cabinet, get to the bottom of it.  As teachers or coaches if you notice odd behavior or odd physical symptoms, say something.  It all starts with communication  We can’t be afraid to talk about it because it is a problem and people are dying and the problem is not going away just because we are ignoring it.  If you live near a recovery program, offer to volunteer time or resources and commit to praying for the people in the program and their leaders.

I can speak about all this stuff because I get it.  I know the shame attached to addiction and I know how easy it is to bury your head in the sand and pretend nothing is going on.  That is the illusion, if you ignore it then it must not be happening right?  Wrong.  It is real and you just have to buck up, stare it straight in the face and confront it.  Things kept in the dark are scary but once you bring it out into the light, it loses its control over you.  My husband struggled with addiction for ten years so I have experienced all the feelings and it took me years to get healthy and really begin to understand the disease of addiction.  It is a monster and it knows no boundaries.  No profession, level of education or level of society is off limits.  It attacks people and their families & the addict will either die in their addiction or they will decide that something has to change so they get help.  It won’t be easy, in fact, it will be extremely difficult but it will be worth it – for both the addict and the family if they can stick it out.  And here’s the thing – the family also has work to do because life with an addict affects you and you can’t live in that chaos without having your own issues so if you are family member and have someone in treatment now, take care of yourself.  See a counselor, go to a meeting, join a bible study, read addiction related literature and learn how other families overcame and get in the game alongside your addict.  Cross Roads Recovery offers Family Recovery meetings every month and that is a great place to start.  C.S. Lewis has a great quote that says “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, What?! You too? I thought I was the only one.” Community is so important when you are going through a tough time.  If you love an addict, your heart is going to hurt but I am convinced that silence makes it hurt a little more.  Talking it out and sharing with someone you trust or within a community of like minded people can be so healing.  We were born to be real not to be perfect.

I know there are a million problems in the world and we could spend days talking about them all so I chose the one closest to my heart, the one I am passionate about because of my own experiences.  My husband and I feel like God has given us a platform through our ministry and our God story to speak and share.  We are forever grateful to transparently share our story and what we have learned in hopes of helping others beat the odds and live in a life of Freedom as we now do.  If you know someone that is making unwise or possibly deadly choices, call them out.  Speak to them and speak the truth in love.  We cannot love addiction out of someone, we cannot beat it out of them or even pray it out of them but we can help them find a way out & there can be lasting freedom from the bondage of addiction.  If you are reading this and think our ministry can help you, please visit our website and reach out to us.  God bless you!

 

Under Construction

The title of this post reflects my Daddy’s current status.  If he had a Facebook page, this is what would be posted.  When I talk about his current ailments, it makes him seem so old but really he is a spry 64 year old.  He has hardly had an ailment in his life other than a massive heart attack that resulted in open heart surgery back in 2006.  Well, there was that one time a man ran over his leg at the Chalk mine when I was a little but that’s a completely different story.  Life has rocked along since his big surgery & on November 1st he took a fall, landed on his elbow and sort of jammed everything upward.  The MRI proved it to be a shredded shoulder.  He tore his Rotator cuff and sort of shredded all the surrounding tissue too.  Poor fella.  A month later on December 4th, Daddy had surgery to repair his shoulder.  He handled surgery like a champ and we are so thankful!

In the process of getting cleared for the shoulder surgery,  he had an abnormal stress test which led to a Heart Cath which led to the discovery of a 90% blockage on a small artery.  The good heart doctor said “yes” to shoulder surgery & said we would fix the heart next.  That seems kind of backwards I know, but the shoulder surgery is relatively safe and it is a LONG recovery so we really needed to get this show on the road.  We trust his heart doctor completely and were great with his plan:)  The shoulder is recovering and the ole’ heart is up next!

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of transporting Daddy to his physical therapy consult.  He can’t drive for 6 weeks so we will all be pitching in to get him around for a while.  I picked him up at 7:30 am sharp at the house I grew up in.  He came out in his now signature hat, a giant sling contraption strapped around his body, plaid pajama pants, a tee, a button up draped over his arms, & his slip on Sperry shoes.  He was a sight.  He did not want to be coddled or helped down the steps but he promptly asked me to help him buckle his seat belt when we entered my car:)  He drove from the passenger seat the entire trip just like when I was a teenager first learning to drive.  We talked about the kids, Mom, Brad, Ma-Ma and football.  He was in good spirits but even the little bit of movement at therapy was painful.  It made my heart hurt to see him grimace in pain.  He never fussed or complained but I could see it.  I was reminded how fortunate I am to still have him & how fortunate we all are to have good health.  I thought of friends who have watched parents suffer with Cancer or Dementia and it broke my heart.  I was sad and grateful all at the same time.  I don’t want to be melodramatic, he is not on his deathbed.  I almost typed that he is not dying but then again, aren’t we all?  At 64 years old, you definitely have over half your life behind you & none of us know when we will be called home.  That’s depressing and glorious.  Gosh, life is just so many things and so many feelings.  Back to this though, Daddy is going to recover from these ailments but there are life lessons in each life experience cause nothing is wasted.  God can use it all.  All of that to say, it was a strange turn of events to be a caregiver in my parent’s home.  I gave medicine, straightened and adjusted his sling, poured drinks, all of the things he did so often for me, before I could do it for myself.

As I sat at my parent’s dining room table doing some work on the computer, I felt like it was suddenly 1987 and I was 8 years old drawing Daisy Duck so I could submit it to the Telegraph’s art contest.  My picture was chosen and it was in the paper, that newspaper clipping is probably stuck in one of Mom’s photo albums.  Then it felt like 1993 and I was 14, struggling through my math homework and Daddy would come to my rescue to help me get the right answers.  I looked up and Daddy was watching Gunsmoke in the next room and it really seemed like I was stuck in time for a minute.  I reflected on how many times I had sat in that very room at the table thinking through things like homework, weekend plans, boys, friends, what I would be when I grew up.  I thought I would be all sorts of things and I never could have imagined how things would actually shake out.  God definitely has a sense of humor:) If you had told me all the details of the journey, I probably would have opted out. But man, am I glad I stayed the course because His plans are always bigger and better than ours. Time is such a gift.  Seasons are such a gift, both physical seasons of weather and the seasons of life.  Our Heavenly Father set up time to benefit us knowing that we are too fragile to view it all at once like He does.  So, he gives us seasons and He structured time not to frustrate us but to protect us. He gives us little bits and I believe at the end of our lives we will be able to view the entire beautiful tapestry and see God in all the details.

Sometimes I think of my Daddy & how much I have always loved him no matter what, because he is just one of those people who is easy to love.  I think God was priming me for who I would eventually marry and that same BIG love I always had for my Daddy was there for my husband when he needed it.  Brad has that same quality as my Daddy, you just can’t help but love him.  Daddy worked a lot of Sundays when I was growing up so he didn’t go to church with us too much so getting to see my Daddy worship and walk closely with God today in my adulthood is such a sweet God gift to me.  I loved using his bible for reference while at his house this week.  The notes, underlines and highlighted sections warmed my heart.  I felt warm and fuzzy until I found about 4 pics of my sister tucked in different places of his bible and only one of me.  It wasn’t even JUST me, it was me AND Brad:))

I think I aggravated Daddy by keeping such a close eye on him.  His words were: “You are like a damn chicken hawk Jodi!”  He said he couldn’t move without me jumping and asking what he needed.  I know that deep down he is thankful for my over attentiveness:) It is hard to do normal daily functions with just one good arm.  He tried to read the newspaper and threw it down in frustration because he couldn’t flip the pages well.  I told him we could pull up the paper on his tablet and he could scroll to which he quickly quipped “I don’t want to scroll.” Alright then:) He just wanted to read his newspaper like all his friends and not scroll like the kids do these days.

His legal name is William H. Outler.  Some call him Bill, (in his younger days he was Wild Bill), most call him Billy, my babies call him Pop and I am so thankful to call him Daddy.  Stay tuned for more Billy Chronicles as I “Billysit” over the next few weeks!

If you are enjoying my blog, please follow me and share with your friends!  God Bless!

Thanksgiving

I love this little stretch of year between now and Christmas.  Everything is festive & there is so much to eat and do.  I have a big ole’ extended family and I realize what a blessing it is to spend the holidays with all of them.  I am 38 years old and my family Thanksgiving tradition at my Aunt Jean’s is all I have ever known.  I have been going to Aunt Jean and Uncle Randolph’s for Thanksgiving Day my whole life.  Uncle Randolph is my grandmother’s little brother and he married the greatest southern treasure in my Aunt Jean.  My Daddy often compares her to Melanie from the movie “Gone with the Wind.”  Aunt Jean is gracious and kind & she loves Jesus & loves people. She is also an incredible cook.  Each year before our meal, we all gather in her living room and she reads scripture and reminds us of all we have to be thankful for.  Seeing her stand in the living room with her apron and bible as she leads our family in a devotion is forever etched in my memory and is something I will always cherish.

This big ole’ family all started many moons ago when my great grandmother, Big Mama married my Pa-Pa.  Their names were Rosa and Leonard Taylor but they were more affectionately known around town as Big Mama and “Slim”.  I never knew my great grandfather but I have heard plenty of stories.  He was a giant of a man towering over most people in his broad, sturdy frame.  He worked at the local chalk mine to provide for his family and he loved to umpire men’s softball games at the local field.  I have always heard he favored Uncle Randolph’s team and they seldom lost with Slim behind the plate.  Big Mama had a much slighter frame (contradictory to her name) and was quite short but she had the biggest heart in the whole world.  I was fortunate enough to know Big Mama for the first 15 years of my life.  It felt like her table could feed the whole world.  She made the best biscuits I have ever tasted and everything from her kitchen was made from scratch.  I have memories of staying with her and helping her pour, sift and chop in her little kitchen.  There was always lots of sweet tea drinkin’ and front porch sittin’ at her house & even as a kid I knew it was something special.

Big Mama and Pa-Pa had five children: Rhodesia (my grandmother), Jerome, Randolph, Evelyn, and Charlotte.  My grandmother married and had two children, Randolph married and had three children, Evelyn married and had two children and Charlotte married and had two children.  All of those children had children and now those babies have their own babies & we are now five generations deep.  There are typically around 40 of us at Aunt Jean’s on the years that everyone can come. We would probably have a few more but one brother was lost along the way.  My great uncle Jerome was in the Navy and in 1958 his plane crashed overseas.  18 were found alive, 6 were dead and four were never found.  Jerome was one of the four and after two weeks he was declared dead.  Even though they never recovered his body they said no one could survive in those frigid waters for long.  I am sure my Big Mama lost a piece of heart the day the military officials showed up at her doorstep, on the very porch where she had rocked all her babies and would eventually rock great-grand-babies.  I will always remember sitting in the pew of Calvary Baptist Church for Big Mama’s funeral and the preacher using her bible as a visual aid.  That bible was slap worn out.  The leather was cracked, pages were tattered and torn from all the turning and the margins were full of her writing, detailing prayers she prayed and scriptures she prayed over her family and friends.  I remember thinking that day that I wanted to leave a legacy like that for my family.  I am so thankful that prayers are eternal and they don’t die with the physical bodies of those who prayed them.  I am sure that some of Big Mama’s prayers are still being fulfilled today in her children, grandchildren, great and great great grandchildren.

Tomorrow there will be giant spread of soul food that I am sure would make Big Mama proud.  The grands and great grands always joke that when Big Mama’s kids can’t cook anymore that we will have an assortment of pasta salads, broccoli casseroles and Fresh Market desserts.  Hopefully the hereditary cooking skills of the Taylor family will have seeped into our bones by the time it is our turn to head up the Thanksgiving feast.  My sister and I learned how to make Ma-Ma’s famous dressing last night so that’s a start:)

Life is short and life is sweet.  Hug your loved ones tight just because you can, cherish all the moments and spend some time on your knees thanking the Lord for every blessing.  You will probably be pleasantly surprised when you name them one by one.  God Bless you all and Happy Thanksgiving!

My boy

If you know me personally or even if you just know me through social media then you know my son, Lawson.  My bright eyed, energetic fella burst onto the scene on May 25, 2005 & he has been entertaining us ever since.  Fun Fact:  Lawson was born the same night that Carrie Underwood won American Idol.  My family & I vividly remember watching from my hospital room with our new addition:)

Lawson is now 12 and a half years old & sometimes our hearts (and our heads) want to explode because he is so special and he is just so many things.  He is curious, smart, witty, rarely sleeps and has endless amounts of energy.  He loves to play football, climb, build, ride four-wheelers & skateboards.  He loves anything extreme that will get his adrenaline pumping.  He has no fear when it comes to heights or oceans but jump out of a hallway when he is not expecting it and he will scream his head off (see scare cam videos on Instagram and Facebook).   Law loves people like no one I have ever seen and has a heart the size of Texas.  He has been praying like Billy Graham since he was 3 and has always talked about Jesus like he was talking about a friend. There is not a mean bone in Lawson’s body & he goes non-stop.  We always say he is that kid that you can’t think up what to tell him not to do because you would never think of it in the first place.

My amazing boy has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and I’m not sure I ever really believed in ADHD until God wrapped it up in a blue bow and gave it to me.  I know there are other Momma’s out there like me who may be tired and struggling, so this is for you & hopefully it will be educational for everyone.  (Side note:  you cannot spank ADHD out of a kid.)

Lawson was our first child so we knew no different and we thought all kids were live wires that never slowed down.  Lawson started daycare when he was two years old and by three we had been kicked out of one.  Ya’ll, it was a sweet little church daycare.  I will never forget the day my husband and I went in to meet with the director and she told us that they just weren’t sure what to do and that we would have to leave.  My husband immediately replied “Ya’ll are a church, you don’t even want to pray about it?” They didn’t.  That was probably the day we knew but we did not get diagnosed until two years later in Kindergarten.  Lawson’s teacher had a son that had ADHD and after teaching him for a month or two, she recognized it and encouraged us to get him tested.  We went through all the testing with our pediatrician and a local psychiatrist and sure enough, sweet little Lawson was off the charts for ADHD.  We started taking his “vitamin” soon there after and it was apparent that the ADHD med or “vitamin” as we so lovingly call it was definitely a benefit to him.  Lawson is a straight A student, always on all the honor rolls, math team, he is a Duke Tip Scholar & a member of 2017-2018 Young Entrepreneur’s Academy so academics is not a problem for my boy.  It is the “H” in ADHD that is the most active in Lawson.  He is hyper and is impulsive.  He has gained some control of his impulses as he has grown over the years but he still struggles more than average kids his age.  He loves to laugh and he loves to have fun, so when he was 4, maybe he would pull another kid down the slide not out of meanness but because it was just so fun and he wanted everyone to experience it!  Now at almost 13, his friends are just surpassing him in maturity, they are turning into teenagers and Law is not quite there yet.  Other boys his age like to throw the football on the track at the varsity games and Law can stand that for a minute but then in an effort to make it more exciting, he catches the ball and runs to the other end of the school with it or throws it on top of the roof.  That is annoying behavior that when repeated over and over makes it hard to keep friends.  I know it is hard to be tolerant but gosh, I wish we could all be a little more tolerant of each other.  If we could, the whole world, not just Lawson’s world, would be a lot different.

Lawson never slows down and it is exhausting but I know that if we can get him through these adolescent years,  he is going to be a world changer.  I truly believe he has been set apart and that’s not just a typical comment from a Mother who thinks her kid is the shiniest, everyone that meets  Lawson draws this same conclusion.  I am certainly not perfect and I don’t have this parenting gig figured out quite yet, so I often hurry Lawson along and lose my patience with him too.  Just the other day I was running around like a maniac trying to get things done around the house and Law stopped me, held my face in his hands (like I often do to him) and told me to take deep breaths, count to ten and to smile.  We went through the breathing exercise, I did smile and then he kissed me on the cheek.  I said “Oh, Lawson, I sure am gonna miss you when you are grown up and gone.” Law immediately replied “Awe, Mom, time will go slow. I am only 12 and you know how long one day is with me sometimes.”  God bless him!  I immediately laughed out loud and thought to myself “Amen, Brother Ben” but then I also felt sad that he knew how tiring he is:)

It has just been in the last year that we have started talking with Lawson about ADHD, what it means, etc.  We wanted to time it right and most of all wanted to present it in the most positive light because he has to know that nothing is wrong with him.  We explained that he is wired exactly as God planned and that he was made in God’s image. It takes all kinds to make the world go round & that all of his traits can be used for good.  Lawson does not get hung up on too much so I think we’re good:)

Brad and I recently watched a  TED talk on ADHD.  It was incredible!  The speaker was a woman in her thirties who has had ADHD all her life.  She said that “trying to get her brain to focus on anything she was not excited about was like trying to nail  jello to the wall” (that actually sounds like something Law would try).  She talked about how our behavior is affected by our brains and an ADHD brain, while often brilliant, is not the brain of an average person.  I personally resist the urge to say normal because nothing is really normal & we should not try to define “normal”.  I think we have to always understand the kind of brain we are working with, this is certainly true of educators who are working with kids but I think it also relates to parents, and just humans in general.  We need to be able to understand what we are dealing with in any situation.  If you have a kid with ADHD or even know one, you have probably wondered what in the world is going on inside their brain at times.  Maybe you have even asked them.

I don’t have all the answers but I know ADHD is real and it is not due to a lack of parenting or discipline but it is in fact a neurological development disorder.  It goes back to our brains (our whole operating system) that is acting and reacting differently than the average Joe’s brain.  Lawson has explained it to us that it feels like a motor is running inside all the time and sometimes he tries to slow down or focus and just can’t.  The TED talk speaker said her brain often felt like it was being flipped between thirty different channels and someone else was holding the remote.  Along with regulating behavior, it is also hard for ADHD kids to regulate sleep.  Lawson has not napped since he was 3 and today if he ever falls asleep on his own, we drive straight to the doctor because we know he is coming down with something.  The other day he had an allergic reaction and I guess the Benadryl made him sleepy so he fell asleep and the very act of napping startled him.  He ran to me saying “Mom, I fell asleep!” It’s okay buddy, it happens:)

I have been learning that there are two kinds of brains.  A neurotypical brain is a brain like mine and like yours, they are non-ADHD brains.  ADHD brains usually have a skewed sense of time and have trouble with a whole set of functions like organizing, prioritizing, regulating emotions, etc.  On the bright side, these same people walking around with ADHD brains also have so much to offer! They are kind, intuitive, funny, generous, etc.  The TED talk speaker said that “ADHD people are 300 times more likely to start a business.  They don’t just think outside of the box, they are often unaware there even is a box.” So true!  She ended her talk by saying “It is not about someone who fidgets non-stop or doesn’t try hard enough.  It is about brains that are chronically not aroused & are trying to get the stimulation that all brains need.  Society is a users manual – we learn how our brains and bodies work by watching those around us.  When yours works differently, it can feel like you are broken.  You are not weird, you are not broken.  You are different, you are beautiful and you are not alone.”

I took a few pages of notes and teared up a little as she spoke because I could so clearly see my Lawson in her.  If you are parenting an ADHD kid, you are not alone either.  Keep advocating for your kid and the good news is that the rewards of parenting are so much greater than the frustrations. Study about ADHD or whatever plagues your kid, listen to podcasts, read books, find a community and just familiarize yourself with your kid’s brain.  You will be glad you did.

Things don’t often bother Lawson & he is usually blissfully unaware that he is bothering anyone.  We always say this is a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because he is oblivious to how kids feel about him sometimes but it is a curse for that same reason because the switch that tells him to stop or leave them alone never comes on.  Lawson is rarely unhappy and it is always easy to tell when he is downcast or has had a rough day and we usually have to pry info out of him.  He does not like to tell us if someone has hurt his feelings because he doesn’t want us to think less of the kid!  Isn’t that something?  We could all use a little dose of ADHD brain if that is part of it:)  He just cares deeply for others and wants so badly for people to do the right things & I think he often thinks he can change people (he has certainly tried with his sister who does not like to hug or talk as much as he does) & mostly he just wants to protect people.  Here is an example:  Lawson and I made a quick grocery store run last night but there are so many eye catching objects in the grocery store that a trip with Law rarely turns out to be quick so when we finally got to the check out line I told him to help unload the buggy.  He was looking at the tabloids above the checkout counter.  I proceeded to tell him a few more times to unload the cart & by the time he was done fidgeting with the magazines I finished unloading so then I told him to come bag the groceries.  I was growing ever more frustrated with how long it was taking him to get in gear.  He started bagging things up and said “Sorry, Mom, I just wanted to hide those magazines.  Did you see the headlines?” No, Lawson, I never stopped to read the headlines.  “It was awful.  It was about terrorists & all of these things that they are planning to do.  Nobody needs to see and read that.   It could ruin someone’s day.”  God bless his sweet little soul.  He was trying to protect strangers that might be reading in the checkout line.  He was quite relieved when I told him it was a tabloid and not usually accurate or true. While bagging our groceries, he also made conversation with the grocery clerk, Camille, but he has probably never seen that name so he called her KA MILLIE.  Where are the laughing emoji’s on this blog because that was funny?!? I need to insert a good laughing emoji every now and then.  I quickly corrected him and lessened her confusion once she realized he was just attempting to call her by name:)

At the end of the day, Lawson is amazing, and confident and resilient and it is our job to do our best to keep him tender and not let the world chew him up and spit him out.  My boy has the most beautiful spirit I have ever known and I just want to keep it in tact until he is grown up and can guard it himself.  Thanks to all of you Lawson fans that love him and keep him lifted up on the regular.  He is missing the social queues that the rest of us were born with but what he lacks in social queues he makes up with heart and a little button that requires him to give no less than 2,500 hugs per day.  Thank you, Lord for the sweet gift of Lawson.

Please contact me if you or someone you know is in need of ADHD resources!  Once you know the issues you can look for solutions!  In the words of Morticia Addams from the Addams F-A-M-I-L-Y:  “Normal is an illusion.  What is normal for the spider, is chaos for the fly.”

God bless you!

 

 

 

 

 

Life, Death,and the stuff in between

Life is short isn’t it?  I have been reflecting on life and death this week and those thoughts inspired this blog post.  I once led a bible study & one of the exercises that the author encouraged us to do was to think about our own funerals.  If a loved one delivered a eulogy what would they say?  How will people remember you and the life you lived?  How do you want to be remembered?

I am 38 years old and have attended lots of funerals at this point in my life.  Many of my best friends in this world, including my husband buried a parent way too soon & over the last year I have attended at least three funerals for parents of friends that I have known my entire life. Funerals are a somber affair and our earthly hearts hurt because even though we know death for believers just means that they woke up in Heaven, our hearts ache for the loss of our normal and what could have been.  I was just at a funeral earlier this week for a precious lady that I have known my entire life.  Mrs. Gloria left this world and woke up in glory & she left a legacy of love for her family.  There was never a time that I bumped into her that she didn’t tell me that she loved me before we parted & I know that was common practice for her with everyone she knew.  When I shard that with my husband after her passing he said “she always told me that too.” What a sweet way to be remembered.

When you grow up in a small town like I did, everybody knows everybody & by nature we just show up for each other.  There is a bitter sweetness to tragedy & loss in a small town because your people just show up in droves.  They bring food, they clean your house, they hug you & do whatever needs to be done.  Sometimes they just sit with you but the bottom line is that they show up.  It is a sight to behold.  Every time I go home for a funeral I am thankful for where I came from and the natural love that flows from small places.

I knew Mrs. Gloria my whole life as did my husband.  Since we both grew up in the same small town we have many of the same memories and grew up around the same people because if anything we serve a God of details.  Mrs. Gloria’s oldest daughter, Anna, was about my age and we grew up together hanging out in Athens tailgating and learning football with our Daddies & the tailgate crew.  We also went to school together, swam at the Gordon Pool with all the other hometown kids & played at the ball field.  Mrs. Gloria had lots of nieces and nephews and two of those were Jennifer and Jonathan.  Jennifer and I were best friends and played ball together all through childhood and it just so happened that her brother, Jonathan, and my husband, Brad were also best friends.  All of that to say, we spent a lot of our childhood with those friends and their big ole family which included Mrs. Gloria.  She was funny, she was gracious and she loved people.

While I was standing at Mrs. Gloria’s graveside service earlier this week, I was standing between my husband and my 84 year old grandmother.  My grandmother was talking to another hometown friend and the friend said something about it being nice to have people stand up to speak and share nice stories about the deceased at funerals.  My wise grandmother in her southern drawl immediately said “yes it is, by the time you die, you  done preached your own funeral” then if she had a mic she could have dropped it. There is such truth in those words and it has really stuck with me.  She probably doesn’t even remember she said it.  It just left me reflecting on my life and how I’m living it & that ultimately actions speak louder than words.  We are all works in progress & I know we all desire to be remembered well so today, I challenge you to sit with yourself for a while and think about who you are and what kind of legacy you are leaving & how you want to be remembered.  The good news is that if you still have breath, you still have time to get it right.

Go and be the light!  God bless you all – thank you for reading and following! (P.S. -tell somebody that you love them today)