The 9’ Table

Before we even lived in the old house.

Before we were ready for a table .

Long before we knew we would need a table for so many people.

I stopped at a thrift store to look at 1 table and left with another.

She was a beauty. Nine feet long with two drop leaves on each end with a lovely painted base.

Who needs a 9’ table?

For the space I wanted to put the table…….I did.

Immediately inside the front door. Just to side of the stairs and immediately in front of the brick fireplace we FOUND during renovation.

We put the table in storage with the rest of our belongings because we were living with Mom and Dad since our previous house sold and we were kind of homeless.

When we all moved into the the old house, it was suggested we eat together as much as possible.

That was 6 years ago.

Three boys later and many many meals at the 9’ table. I would say we eat together 5 out of 7 nights with Sunday night being with everyone, sometimes even our basement tenant friend.

We eat

We entertain

We have game nights

We talk

There are arts and crafts , puzzles, legos and many games of candy land at the 9’ table.

It was looking pretty shabby.

Lots of colored markers adorned the table.

The cracks on the top of table definitely needed cleaned out and today was the day.

The old house is always occupied. Rarely is there time for sanding and time to work on something without a small boys wanting to help. Helpers are fine most days but sometimes I just want to get it done.

Today was the day!

It was school day for little boys

Men went to work

I was home almost alone (Mom was next door in her house)

Sander ✅

Vacuum ✅

Polyurethane ✅

Wow I made a mess.

There was dust everywhere

Tonight we will have a picnic while the table dries but here’s to a couple more years of eating together!

I’m always curious if others eat at a table? We didn’t always but it’s another way of intentionally spending time with one another.

Next up……. Clean the gross cushions!

Jack and I sit on the pew together every night 😍😍😍

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When We Pray for the Old

I love a celebration of magnitude.

I love when God shows up in a BIG, GIGANTIC, HUGE way and we get to give Him all the glory.

My friend is celebrating.

She made a big mistake a few years ago and today it ends.

She has paid her dues.

She has spent time in suffering.

She has waited for today because today it ends.

Last night as we chatted about the celebration this coming weekend, this is what was said,

“My old job/life is what I prayed to be back in place- He laughed and gave me a million times better.”

The old life was great.

A great job.

Many friends.

Security.

Happiness.

Those are just some of the words I’ve heard her say.

I remember sitting in the courthouse a few years ago and wondering how this would end. It was frightening and I, as a friend, had never been in this place before. I watched her bravery and wondered how the next few months would play out. If I was scared being on the outside, how would she feel on the inside?

The months ended and we celebrated.

The next step began and the scheduled time grew.

54 months

1644 days (I only know that because she kept a calendar countdown)

It might seem like forever but in that time…

God has blessed her with a job that is so much better than the one before.

A new husband

A new home

New and old friends

In her words “He gave me a million times better.”

Remember friends when you are praying for your old life, Gods plans for you might just be a million times better.

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Finding Joy

Recently we had a huge event at our home. It was a fundraising event and we invited hundreds of people to celebrate in our backyard. It was a whirlwind and for a few weeks nothing else mattered but preparing for the event. We cleaned, mulched, landscaped, painted, prepared and shopped for ALL THE THINGS.

The event is over.

We rested for a day. PJs for the win!!!

Today is Monday.

We return to the ordinary.

The mundane.

For weeks, our house has suffered from neglect. It’s been ignored and with 8 people, three of them being little boys, it doesn’t take long for things to go awry.

The laundry piles up

The floors really need to be mopped

Don’t even get me started on the bathrooms.

In recent weeks, Courtney and I spoke of the tasks that never seem to go away.

The dishes…….oh my word.

The laundry.

The kitchen counters.

The bathrooms.

The toys.

The dog hair.

It’s never ending.

We have been encouraging each other to find joy in the mundane.

We are so blessed to have a home to care for.

We are honored to be able to be “at home” to care for little boys, to wash the endless loads of laundry, to vacuum.

Am I joyful about it?

Not really.

But I could be laying in a hospital bed.

I could be unable to care for my family.

There are a lots of worse things.

So today, I will find joy in the mundane and be grateful I am able to do the things I’m able to do.

It’s Monday. The start of the week.

How are you finding Joy?

Have a great week!!!

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He Never Wastes a Wound

Not one

Two

Yesterday, two people shared that cancer has come.

I don’t know how to feel.

Every time someone shares bad news my insides tremble. They have shared news with us because we matter to them. They know we will pray for them whether they are Jesus followers or not.

I can probably say that everyone has someone that has or had cancer.

I lost my Dad to cancer almost 5 years ago. He fought a good fight and while I know he’s with Jesus happy and whole, I still remember the days of suffering.

I will NOT a question God and His plans.

He never wastes a wound.

That phrase was shared with me when I didn’t know what to say.

When I wonder why a child has cancer.

He never wastes a wound.

Good good people.

Children

Young and old.

Single mothers

I’m currently planning an event for a wonderful friend battling ovarian cancer.

While she has a caregiver. She goes to appointment after appointment and we wait for news, I’m a doer and there is absolutely nothing I can do to help her fight cancer. I can send words of encouragement, funny memes and love her HARD from afar but nothing I do can cure her disease.

So I do the only thing I know to do and that’s gather friends and soon to be friends.

A long ago friend shared a story with me last night. Her battle begins. She writes a lyric from a song “whatever you are doing inside of me feels like chaos, but somehow there is peace.”

I don’t feel peace and it’s NOT EVEN ABOUT ME! But I’ve been asked to pray and pray I shall do.

I woke this morning before the sun even thought about rising. My mind immediately goes to what needs to be done today. So many preparations prior to our event.

But I try and stop my brain from spinning and rise.

Make some coffee

Feed the dog

It’s quiet in the old house and that’s a miracle.

Retreat to the front porch with my faithful companion.

I’ve already prayed for my friends, their families, their Dr’s and whatever is to come on this day. I don’t share to get a “hoorah for me.” I share because maybe you’ll add my sweet friends to your prayers today.

Here we go on this Monday morning.

Whatever it is that’s hurting you today.

Remember: He never wastes a wound.

Be blessed my friends.

You’ve got this.

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Palms Up

I was recently going through old blog posts that were in “Drafts.” I sometimes get an idea but never finish it.

This morning, my heart was heavy so I turned on some worship music and started my day.

Clean the shower

Order new lights for pool house

Put crap away (does the crap multiply where you live?)

Fold the towels for the pool house (yea this must be added to the list. There are a lot of towels)

Figure out what’s for dinner

Mundane stuff, right?

Stop for a second and remember something I read this week.

This was from an excerpt in a book I read years ago and it recently came to my attention again:

“ I tell them all the same thing each time: sit in the chair and answer the questions, but do it with your hands palms up the whole time. I tell them to literally have the backs of their hands on their knees and their palms toward the bottom of the table. I’m very serious about this. In fact, I threaten to kick them in the shins if I look down and they don’t have their palms up. When their palms are up, they have an easier time being calm, honest, and accurate. And this is important, because it’s harder for them to get defensive. When people get angry or defensive they tend to make mistakes. But nobody can be defensive with their palms up. Go ahead and try it. Right now, wherever you are. Set your hands on your knees and turn your palms toward the sky. You can try the opposite too. Clinch your fists. Most people could get angry at a grapefruit when their fists are clinched. Something about the hardwiring that God gave each of us links the position of our bodies and position of our hearts. I’m not sure why we’re wired this way, but I rarely have a client get frustrated or confused or get tempted to exaggerate or tell a lie when his palms are up. I learned this technique from Jesus actually. I used to walk around with my fists clinched, defensive, afraid people were going to take advantage of me. There are also many evils in the world that caused me to clinch my fists. I wanted to be angry and swing at the horrible things people do to one another, especially the things done to kids. But it was Jesus who taught me there was nothing I could really lose if I had Him. He taught me to be palms up, just like He was. Palms up means you have nothing to hide and nothing to gain or lose. Palms up means you are strong enough to be vulnerable, even with your enemies. Even when you have been tremendously wronged. Jesus was palms up, to the end. When people ask me what it looks like to follow Jesus, I usually say that following Him looks like dealing with all of the issues everyone else does—disappointments, tremendous joy, uncertainty, the whole bit—and having your mind change all the time as you learn how Jesus would’ve dealt with things. Following Jesus is about having your paradigms shift as you navigate a wide range of emotions while living the big life Jesus invites us into. Because I know Jesus, where I once thought of things in one way, now I think of them in another way. It happens all the time, every day. Jesus seemed to say that a lot Himself. He would say, “You once thought this, but now I tell you that it’s different.” And through the many paradigm shifts I’ve had following Jesus, the one that seems to universally apply is that we should be palms up.”

Stop Charma.

Stop your brain from swirling

Stop thinking about your TO DO list as mundane and boring as it is.

Stop just for a second

Place your hands on your knees palms up.

I’m praying for my friend who sees her cancer Dr today.

Pray for her Mom, the caregiver and the person who keeps it all together currently.

Praying for my family:

My traveling husband and for his safety.

Praying for my kids and their kids. Life is BIG right now.

Praying for my friends

Praying for decisions currently in the pipeline of life.

I pray for a coworkers grandson who will be having surgery this afternoon.

So often I wonder if praying is enough when it seems like tangible would be so much bigger and better. But Palms up allows us the vulnerability to hear what God is telling us.

He will lead us to what’s next.

He will give us strength we need to continue

Palms up is kind of scary but I’m all in.

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No Shortcuts

Sleep didn’t come easy last night.

Nothing astounding happened but sometimes the brain swirls and doesn’t rest well.

I’m planning an event and while I can’t share details yet…it’s a doozy.

It needs to be perfect.

It needs to raise a lot of money.

It needs to do a lot of things.

It’s really REALLY important.

I’m not so good at new. I like the feelings of familiar. but directly opposite of that, I love a new project.

Hey babe, let’s sell the RV and get another one to renovate.

Hey!! Let’s sell the golf cart that we JUST finished and get another one. Maybe bigger and holds more people!

Let’s build this!

Let’s go here!

How about if we rest?

How about if we enjoy the RV?

Let’s go on a golf cart ride?

Let’s sit on the porch and swing.

Let’s swim and maybe float around on a Sunday afternoon.

Let’s play a game (candy land is the current favorite)

I watch as life speeds by like a locomotive. Time stops for no one and while I like new things, I love the comfort of knowing where my head hits the pillow each night.

I love knowing I have people I can count on.

I love the daily grind of laundry, food prep and housework (love might be a stretch)

I love old friends and making new.

I’m really trying hard to sit in today. Not rush to later, tomorrow or even next week. It’s not easy but I read recently that shorts cuts aren’t for anything worth doing well.

Happy Monday friends. I’m heading south for a couple of days to spend time with old friends.

They are worth it

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What does the Golden Girls have to do with Healing?

I write on this page because I want to remember.

Life is a blur most days and while not every event is worthy to remember, sometimes an extraordinary thing happens and each and every year when it comes up in the memory section of social media, I want to remember.

Yesterday was Tuesday. Anyone that knows me, knows that a group of women meet at my house. Sometimes it’s 15 women and sometimes it’s 5. No matter the size, it’s usually a blast. We laugh like nobody’s business, we share stories, we share heartache. We do life together, we pray for one another. One person usually goes through life with a few people you can really count on. I am blessed to have more than a few.

Yesterday we sat around the pool house table. We have a sweet friend who is currently in treatment for an illness. We sign up to bring the family food and to help in anyway we can. Most of the time, there’s nothing to do but wait for news.

It’s hard to sit and wait.

I asked one of our girls to bring communion items and anointing oil yesterday.

I looked for something to anoint to give to our sweet friend. Annointing with oil is a physical way of expressing a spiritual truth. We belong to God and have committed ourselves wholly into His care.

A golden girls blanket might seem like an odd choice but there is significance.

Here is the note I wrote to go along with the blanket

“My dearest friend,

As we spoke of you this Tuesday morning, there was so much love. There was kindness and concern. There was love and care.
I can’t really explain how a table full of women can fill space the way they do. It is a genuine feeling of care that I can not really put my finger on. You have experienced it, and while at this moment you are unable to participate, know that without a shadow of a doubt, you are here.
Your wit.
Your banter.
Your knowledge.
Your openness and honesty.
Your strenth.
Your tenancity.
Your bravery.
Your beauty.

All of you.

This morning we shared communion together as a group. It was so lovely. We then decided we wanted to give you something.
Something that when you wrap yourself in it, you can know that you are thought of, prayed for and so very loved.

I fought for this Golden Girls blanket at a white elephant gift exchange at Kate’s house this year. The moment I saw it, I wanted it.
Charitys boyfriend Craig also wanted it. I thought I might have to fight him for it and he doesnt know me very well. I might be small in stature, and he most certainly is not, but my Daddy used to call me “Tiny but Tough” and I would show him my toughness if he thought he was going to get this blanket. I don’t know why I wanted it so badly then, but I for sure know why now!
The Golden Girls resinates with my girlfriends. my porch girls, my closest lady friends, the fiercest of women whom I am honored to be friends with. Today this blanket is yours my wonderful friend. as you battle…….know you are not alone. you have your golden girls (porch girls) in your corner with their boxing gloves on ready to stand beside you, or in front of you, or in your place. The blanket has been anointed with frankencense oil. As you smell the sweet aroma of the oil, remember who loves you.
God first
your family
your friends
so many that you could never count high enough.

We love you so much today on this day and so many more,
Charma and all the porch girls.”

Today, the day after the blanket was delivered, I sit on the porch thinking of our friend. I’m never alone so Luke sits with me while I type this note to myself. We have prayed together and listened to a couple of songs that are currently on repeat.

Today on this beautiful day, celebrate the goodness.

Whatever that may be.

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Around the Driveway

One time

Two times

Three times

Four times

I’m 4 days post op back surgery today. I remember telling a friend a couple of weeks ago that I would be back to normal in a week.

I just knew it.

Boy was I wrong.

I’m doing pretty good. But normal in a week?

I think not.

I walked around the block today and already made it around the driveway 8 times, two different times.

I mostly sit on the ice pack and walk. I’m busy trying to get through Gilmore Girls. When in the world are Luke and Lorelei going to finally get together?

I’m NOT a good sitter and while I walk, I see things I want to do. I know I can’t, but a girl can make a list right?

Our driveway shows a plethora of items I love and can’t wait to get back to.

Steve is repairing some wood rot on the front porch. I’m usually the wood cutter for him.

My ever faithful Duke the Labrador follows me around each and every time. He’s so cute and is a really good boy.

I scheduled camping time for the end of the year. With gas prices being what they are, it looks like we will be staying close to home this summer

Dads favorite blackberry bushes are producing great this year. They got moved to the side yard and little boys love to look every single day for the ripe ones

Every time I circle around the driveway, I see the hands of the ones I love. They were created in 2019 so there are some missing 😍

#266 is getting a mini makeover as soon as I’m cleared to work.

I want to make a mini library book swap in the front yard soon.

My list is increasing. as well as my will to get busy.

Happy Saturday!

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Living In The Crack

I found out late Friday night that Uncle Harless met Jesus.

While I know most people call them James and Dorothy, I’m sorry but that just doesn’t work for me.

My sweet cousin made a call to tell me the news. While I know Uncle Har had been suffering with poor health for a while now, when you hear the news, it’s still a shock. I immediately went to Moms house, which is down the hall and through a door, to share with her the news. She actually grabbed her chest. Uncle Har is her brother in law and I’ve always felt that Aunt Toots and Har were second parents.

My immediate thought was that my Dad met Uncle Harless at heavens gates and welcomed him with a giant bear hug and a “welcome home” brother. Tears of joy filled my eyes while tears of sadness filled my heart thinking of my sweet aunt bearing the sorrow of losing her husband of 73 years. So much of their lives spent together, raising a family and enjoying retirement.

While I spoke with Joy and Toots on Saturday morning we spoke of all the things needed to be done on the first day of her new normal. It will not feel like normal today or for weeks and months to come, maybe never. I shared that I wished I could be there but she was in good hands with Joy because the girl can boss around the best of them.

Aunt T spoke of how the old had to learn how to live a new way.

Joy and I spoke of being of “Medium” age and she mentioned how she and her co-workers call it “living in the crack.”

Huh? What exactly is living in the crack?

She said that it could go either way. You can be living in the crack of fine china or you can be living in the crack of a nasty crack that everyone knows what I’m referring to and doesn’t want to talk about. Somethings you have the ability to choose and sometimes you are dealt what you get.

I’ve always referred to it as living in the dash. The dash between your birthdate and your death date.

Uncle lived his dash to the fullest.

He always loved me. He always made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. I remember his love of electronics. He played a mean game of volleyball and he and dad were very competitive at horseshoes and don’t even get me started on his harmonica. I believe that his playing brought such joy to others but it also gave him great happiness. Harless played for people but he really played for Jesus. He would sit on the platform at church and I would watch him ooze with happiness. Jesus gives us our gifts and talents and Harless used his for good.

Uncle Har always was so anxious to show me his new invention or creation.

The last time we were at their house we rode around in his new golf cart and he was like a little kid showing me all its bells and whistles.

I am so guilty of wanting the next best thing to come instead of relishing in the present. Every time someone leaves us, I want to be better about telling those around me how important they are to me.

How my life is better with them in it.

Not waste a minute on unimportant things and fill my life full of joy and abundance. Not abundance of things but abundance of fun, joy, hard work doing the things I love, visiting places near and far, sitting on the floor and talking to my grand boys and letting them know how much I dearly love them. Sharing with my children the joy they have brought to my life. Listening to my Mom as she relishes in her golden years. Spending time with my guy.

I fail every day but today I think back on how much Uncle James “Harless “ Ratliff meant to me, I’m mad at myself for not telling him more often.

But then I smile because I think he knew.

Heaven is a brighter place today , if that’s possible, with Uncle Harless there.

Give dad a hug from me. Give love to Mammaw and Pappaw and all the aunt uncles and cousins.

Heavens promises are real and one day all the loved ones that I miss today will meet me at the gate.

I’ll be the one with the big smile.

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What I Learned on Vacation

We just returned from a week long vacation with friends. One whole week, everyday with the same people.

For us…..it worked.

Find people that have the same likes.

Are in the same season of life as you.

While no one has the exact same tastes, our travel partners were easy. We gravitated towards the same foods, the same excursions and most nights, except for one, we were tired at the same time. One evening, they “put the kids to bed” and went to the bar. We ordered room service and watched a movie.

I have been nursing an injury and sometimes I needed to stop and rest. I was so afraid of being a nuisance or the invalid that couldn’t keep up with everyone else. I did not ever feel “less than.” I felt cared for and loved by not only my guy, who is always caring for me but also our traveling friends who were so considerate and understanding of limitations.

Our first day in Providence Rhode Island, Becky was entering the next stop into the Maps. The directions said it was a longer trip than what we were expecting. I double checked the address and my Maps said it was 3 minutes away.

What was wrong??? How could there be such a discrepancy?

Always make sure you put DRIVING into your maps instead of WALKING.

Our last hotel had a Starbucks coffee bar area on every floor. Nice! I decided one morning to hop over to make some coffee. Steve was in the shower. I was still in Jammie’s, no glasses, no bra (TMI) but our room was really close, it was early and I guaranteed myself that no one would be there.

Well I was wrong.

It wasn’t a coffee pot to pour from. It was a dang machine I had to pick the coffee bean, the size cup and all sorts of ridiculousness. I couldn’t see a thing and of course a woman, looking like she had it ALL TOGETHER came to the machine while I’m squinting and tying to figure out what the heck I’m doing.

She also decides to ask me all sorts of questions while we stand there. Me, completely embarrassed by my appearance. Of course she is from Orlando and we are on the same flight the next day.

Always wear a bra to the hotel coffee bar.

Makeup is unwanted and very unnecessary on vacation.

We determined that it didn’t take much to amuse us

Your people at home will miss you.

Little boys and their parents would check in often and send funny pictures. Luke was throwing a tantrum because he wanted to see Nana. He fell asleep on the floor in front of her door. He had been running a fever and we try and protect Nana from little kids germs as much as possible.

My Porch girls met at the old house even when I wasn’t there. That is dedication and the “want” to still be together. I loved it and it made my heart swell.

Today we are home. Amidst loads of laundry, picking up contact lenses, treating the pool for a shade of green it acquired and so many other things that need attention.

The big house welcomed us with all its glory. Little boy hugs, big people greetings of “we missed you.”

No matter where we go or what we do…..home is still my favorite place.

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