Remembering Wes….

We laugh together. We cry together. We complain together. And today we mourn together. We lost the center of the family last night. Wes has gone to his heavenly home to join Genieve, Betty and Leonard, Elmer and many other family and friends. Someone said last night, God will have him tending garden when he arrives.

He took pride in his kids and his grandkids.
He took pride in his Korean War service.
He took pride in his many years of hard labor working on the farm and in his early days, delivering milk.

He was the #1 Jac-Cen-Del Eagle fan for his life. He went decades without missing a basketball game. He was proud to cheer for his son, his granddaughters, his grandson-in-law on the court and be a support for his daughter and granddaughter as they led the crowd in their JCD cheerleading uniforms.

He had a gentle touch with his great grandsons and laughed with his granddaughters. One cooked for him. One took him to McDonalds. And one squeezed his cheeks.

Whether he was bossing people around on the farm, in the garden, in the vehicle or in the house, we let him think he ruled the place.

He was a great story teller and had a mind sharp as a tack. He never wore reading glasses although those yellow safety glasses made many appearances. And we all know the hearing was gone long ago!

Dawned in his plaid shirt, jeans and a sweater, he made his way to church every Sunday that it wasn’t bad weather or he wasn’t on vacation. The back row, right corner was reserved for him.

He loved food especially Rita Gookins’s cooking and a good fish sandwich and nuggets from McDonalds. He loved butterscotch pie and never passed up a box of candy.

He tooled around on that golf cart with his oxygen tank handling the affairs of the farm (to the best of his ability).

One of his greatest memories was coaching the 40 & 8 girls basketball team with Brian Samples the year Morgan was a senior. How kind of Brian to ask him to “assist”. Brian said Wes even gave him crap while sitting on the bench – on the same team! haha

I’ve seen referees laugh at him, joke with him and throw him out of games. haha I’ve seen coaches look for him when he wasn’t sitting as the bookend on the visiting bench. I’ve heard many fond memories and laughter shared when checking on him over the last several years as his health began to fail.

But he wanted one thing and that was a 90th birthday party and we did it up right! We know he will celebrate 91 in heaven but we will be celebrating his life right here on earth.

Remembering hog shows, squeezed cheeks, shaking fists, tissues under his shirt, large-knuckled-hard-working hands, tractors, cattle, cats, gardens and grain bins. Laughter with his hand on his forehead, grandkids on his lap and Korean war hat on his head. He lived a full life and brought fullness of life to our family.

Syalvester, with an A (a mystery we never understood), you will be missed. We love you.

The New Normal

Normal.  What is normal?

Normal means something different to everyone.  If you grew up in a military family, moving from state to state your whole life, then going to different schools and constantly making new friends was your normal.  My normal was going to the same school with the same friends my whole life.

But normal changes constantly and sometimes it’s hard to get used to.  Death, hurt, broken relationships, career change, earthquake, tornado, fire, cancer, arthritis, infertility, job loss, depression, new home, loss of home.  It can go on and on.

Every time we have a life change, it becomes our new normal.  And sometimes we don’t like the new normal.  Maybe the new normal isn’t your fault.  Maybe someone else has put you in this new normal.  But there is no need to place blame or anger on whatever or whoever has caused you to be in the new normal.

God knows.  He knows that sin in this world can cause brokenness.  He knows that our choices and the choices of others can cause this change in the old normal and He wants to help us.  But sometimes the new normal is a good thing.  Sometimes a career change can bring happiness; a new house and fresh start can bring joy; a friendship ended can actually bring peace.

A new normal isn’t always a bad thing.  And God tells us that change is going to happen and that whether we believe it’s a good change or not, He will find a way to use it for His glory.

Ecclesiastes 3 is a chapter in the Bible that talks about change and new normals.  It says there is a time for everything:

a time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace and a time to refrain;
a time to search and a time to give up;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to mend;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

I think these verses just about cover everything.  There is a new normal happening all the time.  This chapter goes on to say in verse 14 that “everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.  God does it so that men will revere Him.”

I don’t know why God allows things to happen the way He does.  But I do know that sin and humankind’s actions against God cause a lot of hurt and sorrow but you know what never changes?

God’s love.  God’s presence.  God’s desire to be our Savior.

He was in the old normal.  He will always be in the new normal.  He is the normal.

Let’s take Him with us, by our side, as we embrace the journey to the next new normal.  I think having Him as the constant will help the new normal changes feel like normal.  🙂

The Simple Reminders

As I sat in the quiet, dark room at my parents’ home in Florida, I could not keep my eyes off of the little Christmas tree in the corner.

Hailing from Goodwill, adorned with hand-me-down ornaments, a star and tree skirt from the Dollar Tree and colored retro lights, I have to say it is one of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen.

No, you won’t find it on the cover of Better Homes and Garden magazine or replicated at the Biltmore Estate. But it is so beautiful to me because it reminds me of my childhood.

I literally could not stop starring at the tree.

It’s only 3 feet tall but it reminds me so much of our trees growing up with the multi-colored lights and the simple ornaments. I didn’t want to go to bed as I didn’t want to lose this moment of just me and the tree and the childhood memories.

Simple.

That’s what I miss.

Simple.

Jesus came into the world in the dirtiest of places surrounded by slobbery animals but He was beautiful. Mary was beautiful. The star was beautiful. All was right with the world.

I love Christmas and I love decorating for Christmas. But today I am reminded that sometimes it truly is the simplest of things that bring back the simplest of memories that keep us in check for the simple ways of life.

We make life so complicated when it doesn’t have to be. A beautiful tree from a second-hand store. A beautiful baby in a second-hand manger.

A beautiful reminder.

Simple yet complete.

Don’t let the chaos of this world cause you to lose focus on the important things this Christmas season.

Jesus And Peppermint!

I usually do not get political or controversial on my blogs. And I don’t expect this to be a start of anything different.

I do want to say, though, that the principal in Nebraska who banned candy canes from the classrooms because they were in the shape of J representing “Jesus” has made my day.

“What?” you say. Yes, she made my day.

You see what she intended for bad to quash the meaning of Christmas has now become national news and people who never thought of the candy cane as a J for Jesus is now going to remember the candy cane associated with Jesus.

So rather than criticize the woman, I want to thank her for just bringing this fact to light so that Jesus could use it for His good.

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers who had been trying to kill him out of jealousy: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

WOW!! Thank you, Principal Sinclair, for reminding us that the candy cane has a deeper meaning than red and white striped peppermint-flavored candy.

You can’t outdo God. He is amazing!!

Grab a couple J-shaped peppermint sticks today and enjoy a little treat and a whole lot of Jesus!