Grateful. Thankful. Blessed. Retirement of Joe Duncan.

His name is Joe McDaniel Duncan. Not Joseph. Just Joe. Sometimes he has been weatherman Joe, Dr. Joe, Joey, and Muscles to some of his friends.

As of March 1, 2020, we celebrated 21 years of our partnership at the law firm of Burch, Porter & Johnson. How do you just say, I’m walking away from this life I’ve known for 54 years. For me, it has been 32 years in the legal field. In the back of my mind I knew this day would come. Joe Duncan is retiring and next week is his last week. It’s time. Time for him to enjoy life with his wife, Lee, who has become one of my closest, dearest friends. I could write an entire blog about Lee and how she has become my prayer partner, my 2 a.m. friend, and the best older sister a person could ever had. I cherish the girl time we have together!

  • 21 Birthdays. Birthdays filled with unique gifts, love, and lunches at Paulette’s where K-pie is (“IS” because I don’t intend to stop) always shared between the three of us (me, Joe, and Lee). Unsweet tea, just like me.
  • 21 Christmases. So many bittersweet for the both of us, but they always spent most of their time in North Carolina (Lake Toxaway) and I was so glad when the first of the year came around. That meant a new year and a new beginning.
  • 21 Years of firm celebrations. The one thing I love about Burch, Porter & Johnson is that we like to celebrate and eat! It doesn’t matter what the occasion. If it was attorney/legal assistant related (Assistant’s Day, Bosses Day, Valentines, Christmas, someone’s birthday), we were never embarrassed to sit next to each other.
  • 21 Years of arguments and apologies. If there is one thing I learned working for an honest, ethical man is when you make a mistake, own it, no excuses and move on. But sometimes, there is just something in you that makes you say NO! If you know me, I have done that plenty over the last 21 years. But you can always say no in a loving way such as, “Don’t you think it would be better said this way?” I can count on one hand the number of times we have actually argued and he has made me fuming mad. When he tried to make up, I always knew it because he would come to my ledge with the biggest smile and say something like, “Your hair is pretty today.” What? Go away!

The one thing I respect most about this man is that when he knows he is wrong, I do hear “I’m sorry, you were right”. But it is then followed by a joke because it doesn’t happen often.

As I think about Joe’s retirement and how he will fill his time, I know what he will do.

He will enjoy more walks with his two dogs Holly and Lily who happen to be such a big part of his heart (and mine too).

He will be able to travel to see his grandsons play their ballgames, spend more birthdays, and holidays. They need their Papa Joe!

Joe and Lee will spend so much time at their home in North Carolina. It’s beautiful and it is where they rest and enjoy friends who own houses in the mountains. They have blessed us by allowing us to escape Memphis and spend time there and the view from the lanai is breathtaking. I have so many pottery pieces in my home from there!

Lastly, he will have all the time in the world to play as much golf as his heart desires! Travel for golf, watch golf, take lessons for golf, read about golf, you name it! More importantly, walk onto the course from his backyard and play golf with Lee. There is the Lee and Joe Duncan Rhodes (College) Invitational and they both will be able to take a more active role in the women’s golf tournaments and travel. He and Lee put so much time and love into the program and the girls at Rhodes College.

There will be changes in so many lives. I will hear a sneeze, a cough. No, that’s not his because I know it. Laughter from down the hall in a conference room. No, that’s not his because I can hear it all over the office. When he laughs, he makes everyone smile or laugh too. When a client walks into the office, there is always a handshake or a hug. Something that has been lost.

My alarm clock will not go off at 5:30 a.m. anymore. I know he won’t be at his desk at 6 or 7 a.m. and we won’t start working at 7:30 a.m. My phone won’t start dinging with emails from him around 6:30 a.m. because I have a special notification for his emails. Actually, there will not be the catching up about the weekend, sports, and everything we have going on in our lives or the list of things that need to be done for the day. He listens and we laugh. Sometimes there are tears. He lets me talk about Trey because he understands. He lost a son. He walked me through that nightmare. I could not have survived without his guiding hand.

I remember the first time I ever walked in Joe Duncan’s office and I saw a framed picture of Isaiah 40:31. I knew it wasn’t a coincidence that we both had the same favorite scripture.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up as eagles with wings.”

There has never been a time that we were uncomfortable talking about what God was doing in our lives or the world around us. Matter of fact, without his advice, I know I would have made a lot of bad decisions along the way.

As odd as it may sound, the thing I will miss most is over the years we have been able to pick up on how each other feels at first glance in the morning.

Lisa: “Do you have a headache?”

Joe: “YES!,I woke up with it and couldn’t go back to sleep. So I just came on in to the office.”

Lisa: “Have you taken anything?”

Joe: “Not yet, but I’m about to with my coffee. Is yours hurting?”

Lisa: “Just a little. Is it going to rain?” Joe immediately turns to his computer.

Joe: “Let’s look at the radar.”

Joe and I both suffer from migraines. We have both tried every concoction and recommended treatment known to man. I cannot emphasize how good God is to have given me a person to work for who understands when you say, “Okay, I’m done, my brain can’t take anymore.”

Funny fact is that before I came to Burch, Porter, a friend of mine told me that I shouldn’t come work for him. I couldn’t imagine why. I told them I wanted to try because sometimes it just takes the right people to click. Who knew the bond that would be created between our families? During that time, I learned he was only four years out from grieving the loss of his son which was never talked about. Never. Until I lost my own.

When I started, he instructed me to put drafts he needed to read on the edge of his desk. I remember quietly walking in his office because his back would be to me and sliding the paper on the edge. I think I ran out of the office before he could see me. Friends in the office said that he had taken a previous assistant’s typewriter away until she got her filing done. Seriously? Bahaha! (Yes, we were even using the dos system then.)

His office was on one side of the building and mine was on the other. But there was NO mistaking that voice calling loudly, “LeeSA.” (Oh, crap). And I ran saying, “I’m coming!” That call down the hall has still continued to this day. And I still go running. Respect.

We moved into a new building several years later and that is where we have been for many years. We would work late, prepare for divorce trials, will contests, but something developed during those hard-working years. Joe and I became what he called a well-oiled machine. I knew what he wanted before he asked, could finish his sentences, remembered phone numbers and names for him, and it made his practice, I hope, a little easier. I was (am) his assistant, paralegal, court runner, any title he needed at the time. We were (are) partners. After losing Trey, I looked back on that time of first working for Joe and it made sense because I was doing exactly what he was doing, just trying to work and make it through the day.

God has a purpose for all things. There is no doubt He brought us together for many reasons and stories for both families that will last a lifetime. This well-oiled machine is being put on the shelf after a lifetime warranty of good work, replaced parts, and oil changes from time-to-time. To be honest with you, I bet you can imagine I am not dealing with this very well. I could use the prayers, as could Joe and Lee. There have been many, many tears lately and will be many next week. I guess I’m getting old because I don’t like change, especially this one. I will forever work for Lee and Joe Duncan. He is not my employer or boss – he has always been my partner, mentor, confidant, father-figure, and most of all, best friend.

Happy Birthday to the man that can tear the phone book in half and jump flat-footed onto the top of the counter at work. You will always amaze me. I love you both.

Circa Christmas 2009

xmas 2008

 

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A Pure Heart is Better Than Purell!

He slept. His cheeks were as red as Washington apples in August. There had not been much movement, only quiet sleep. During the night he spiked a fever and we headed to St. Jude. When we arrived, we realized he was down to 113 pounds. Yet the doctors still did not know what was causing this sudden fever. Cancer.

Fast forward to March/April 2020. You are sitting in a room with a St. Jude child, their family, and the child is dying. The doctor is there, nurse practitioner, and the mother is falling apart. If you are the nurse practitioner, what do you do? This mother, just like Mary, is watching her child die before her eyes. It was not her choice nor did she cause it. The room is spinning and she doesn’t know what to do except cry in pain for her child. The nurse practitioner, breaking all rules of social distancing, finally grabs the mother and holds her while she cries. She said that the mother dissolved into the human touch and love she offered. Yet she still wore her gloves and gown….Think about the children at St. Jude during this time not being able to see their parents during treatments. Not this mother.

Purell. Purify. Purity. Pure.

Purell is an advanced instant hand sanitizer that kills more than 99.99% of most common germs. It is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and works in as little as 15 seconds! That’s better than Mr. Clean! But as you continue to break down the word, do you know that there is a purity test you can take to see how pure you are according to today’s worldliness? Well that’s important! Not. Pure. I also think of Pure Cane Sugar. Heaven. No contamination.

I have honed in on James 4:8 and what the bible says about purifying ourselves.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

As with most of the world, my mind has been whirling as we have been experiencing something we will probably never experience again in our lifetime. The Corona virus has infiltrated homes and disrupted lives to the point of loss, despair, and anxiety. This last week, I heard a commercial on the television while I was in the kitchen. I do not remember if it was the news talking about the Nashville St. Jude Run or the St. Jude Home, but I immediately slammed my fists on the granite countertop and said,

“I’m tired of hearing about St. Jude!” Jay was shocked.

I should be yelling about the Plexaderm commercial. (Ya’ll, that has got to go!) But it was just one of those days that I finally let my feelings go that I normally do not express. Pain. Have you been pushed to the edge lately? I am so thankful for the mercy and grace of our Lord always.  We should be using this time to study His word to strengthen our faith.

The common thing I am hearing from people is they want to experience more intentional relationships with each other, show love and gratitude (whether physical or not) when we step out of what seems to be a large bubble. For most of us, it will be very hard. Hard for those of us that are not normally people that step out and hug. But one thing I heard that struck me – compassion is not a sign of weakness. What about sympathy or empathy?

We eventually were able to get Trey’s fever down 8 years ago this week. And he started packing for Hawaii. Whether it’s Covid or Cancer – hug your loved ones with a pure mind and a pure heart.

“What I am eager for is that all the Christians there will be filled with love that comes from pure hearts, and that their minds will be clean and their faith strong.”

1 Timothy 1:5

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In St. Jude/Out St. Jude

That day is very vivid in my mind. It was so hot as we sat in the car. It we just the two of us, Jay and I. July 5, 2012. We had just walked out of St. Jude for what we thought was the last time and left Trey’s sick cancerous body. We both looked at each other and said, “What are we doing to do now?” We had no idea where the next 7 to 8 years would take us and that it would keep us at St. Jude.

Soon after Trey’s death, Dr. Sara Federico contacted us and set up an appointment for Collin to see her. We knew that he carried the same malignant melanoma gene that we believe caused Trey’s cancer. Dr. Sara told us that normally they send patients out for screening since they do not actively have cancer. Dr. Sara loves our family. She petitioned the powers that be and also because of Trey, Collin remained a St. Jude patient for screening. . .until February 19, 2020.

What my head was saying in both instances was the right thing.

“THIS IS WHAT IS NATURAL AND NEEDS TO HAPPEN!”

But my heart had emotions swirling like a carousel at Disneyworld. The picture below shows Collin walking down a long hallway at St. Jude as we enter the Chili’s building to go to our car to leave. What you DON’T see is that he was so happy he was walking and weaving from one side of the hall to the other. No more Kid’s Kafe, no more patient number, no more little red wagons, and no more painted halls. Now, it will be West Cancer Clinic. Leaving with one child and left without one child.

As I thought further when I took another picture through the windshield of St. Jude to go along with the 10 million I already have, our hospital is our church. How many of us leave our church, turn around, and feel sadness because of what life is handing us? Feeling cancerous.

We drove away and didn’t chat much, but I kept thinking. Jesus is our healer, our Jehovah Raphah. This last week or two has been very hard on us because Jay had surgery on February 18, my mother died that afternoon, and Collin’s appointment was on the 19th. There has not been a time of whaling or crying over our mother. We were at peace because she wanted to see Jesus more than anything. We were at peace.

I have the verse of the day sent to my phone each day and on February 26th it read, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matt. 5:4. I posted it on my Facebook story and said “You can’t make this stuff up.” I wanted people to know that God was comforting me and speaking to me in the most amazing ways and through friends and loved ones in our church. I actually got excited and began to think more about the church being the hospital and I began to pray that people would know that there are really genuine people in the church there to love and serve you and tell you about how Jesus can save you and give you the peace you so desperately desire.

There are things in our life that we have let sin become a cancer and metastasis to other people in the church. We know their needs to be forgiveness and He is waiting to cure us of all the ugly diseases we carry.  There may not be healing, like with Trey, but he’s healthy in heaven. We know we do not have the power to save, only God. There will be changes, as with Collin. There will be more bad news of cancer, as with Jay. But I know, I KNOW, like I told someone else, He never promised us an easy road. He only promised to walk with us through the valleys. He’s got my hand! You need to grab it too!

Psalms 23 – From the Message.

 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.collin st jude

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I can’t believe it has been since September that I have posted, but I know it has been that long that I have been struggling.

I’m going to test your memory. Remember the test that you have taken to know what spiritual gift you have? You may have the gift of  teaching, serving, giving, etc. Many people have more than one. Do you think that God changes these gifts in your life? This is an honest question.

I have had several gifts for many, many years and I have felt a tug from God to go in another direction. How in the world do you say NO to using your gifts? This has caused sleepless nights, bad dreams, stress, until I began to pray about this certain activity.

I was given an amaryllis plant at Christmas and I put it on my desk and I have watched it miraculously grow, produce what would turn out to be the most beautiful blooms. I walked into work last week and saw the plant in full bloom.

I was doing my bible study last week and this jumped off the page at me:

Because we have Christ, no matter WHAT is going on around us, there is always a reason to rejoice. Because Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;…”

“Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;…” I looked at the plant again and this phrase came to me – Bloom Where You Are Planted. Okay, so, what? I listened a little closer.  This plant requires NO water. It is not in a pot and is not in the ground. It made me ask the question of myself, where am I planted that I can pour out the beauty of Christ? I immediately started with the area I was struggling and a peace came over me to let it go.

I have two areas right now that I feel responsible to concentrate on in my life; home and work. I have struggled over the last six months to be the person that writes the gratitude list, the person that journals in five colors (and spent too much money to try), that studies from three bibles, that is committed to two bibles studies, and even rearranged my dining room to have a study area.

To be honest, my name is Lisa and I have tremors. I can barely write study notes anymore. I work 60 hours a week (hard). My husband and I need each other desperately during this time in our life to make it through his cancer battle and my migraines.  We just found out today he has another melanoma and there will be more surgery.  My son needs me and he is growing into a wonderful young man and I am SO proud. I need to be on top of my game at Burch, Porter & Johnson for many reasons.  A smile goes a long way.

Bloom Where You Are Planted. . .

“God has planted you where you are that you might be a blessing. He wants you to take deep root. He wants you to bear rich fruit. And if you will draw upon His spiritual power, He will enable you to be a blessing. Bloom where you are planted and bear fruit to the glory of God and the enrichment of others.

God has blessed you with certain abilities so you may invest them in others and bring glory to Him. As you use your God-given talents, you glorify Him and bless others. Draw from God’s spiritual resources and let Him use you to enrich others. (Ps. 80:8-13)”

                                                                                          The Baker Publishing Group

Yes, Lord. I hear you. I will strive to bloom where you have planted me as a wife, mother, and employee. Do not be afraid to step back, look, and bloom.

(Yes, this is my plant pictured)

flower

Memphis, Let’s Talk… VOTE YES (Blog)

There is an upcoming election on October 3 that is very important to the Memphis Fire and Police Department.  I’m sure if you have read or seen ANY kind of news, you are recognizing this topic.  With all of the rederic going back and forth, it really is simple. Who do you trust?

I trust a man or woman that is going to run into a burning building to save my children.

I trust a man or a woman who has been coughing for years due to the smoke they have been exposed to for me.

I trust a paramedic or firefighter who knows the names of the regulars and tries to help them on the side, only to get the call on Christmas Day that they are frozen to death in the parking lot.

I trust a paramedic who calms a pregnant woman in the back of his or her ambulance while she gives birth before they arrive at the hospital.

I trust a police officer who would come to the aid of an elderly lady being mauled by a pit bull while paramedics try to save her.

Can I give you more? Of course I can. But honestly, I want to know that the fireman that is being called on the other end of that 911 call is more concerned about ME than the fact that when he turns 65 (or has his 25 years in), he will have no benefits.

Plain and simple – if my husband retired today after 25 years, he would have no health insurance.  He has paid in NO Social Security – only Pension.  Now, they have taken the pension away from new hires and given them a hybrid plan.

So, Jon Stewart, I say thank you.  Thank you for what you did for the NYC 911 firefighters, paramedics and police.

City of Memphis, will you stand behind those that serve you or those that make promises under the table? VOTE YES.

Referendum: Local Option Sales Tax
(vote for or against)

Shall the ordinance to increase the sales and use tax in the City of Memphis by 0.5%, from 2.25% to 2.75% become operative?
The proceeds of this 0.5% tax increase shall first be used to restore and maintain the health care benefits for Public Safety employees (employees and pre-65
retirees of the Memphis Police Services and Fire Services Divisions) to the levels in effect as of July 1, 2014, and to restore and maintain the pension benefits of said employees hired prior to July 1, 2016 to the levels specified in the 1978 City of Memphis Pension Plan. Any remaining proceeds shall be used for street maintenance and/or pre-kindergarten education. All funds must be spent for the purposes designated above. These funds are to be used in addition to, and may not be used to replace or supplant, any current funding for the above purposes. Such tax shall be collected by the Tennessee Department of Revenue. A lawsuit for recovery of any tax illegally assessed or collected shall be brought against the City Treasurer of the City of Memphis.

Kemp Conrad? No. Sir.

One-half cent?

  • Will not matter when your husband grabs his chest and his eyes roll back in his head.
  • Will not matter when you smell something from the kitchen, hear the smoke alarms, and realize your children are at the other end of the house.
  • Will not matter when you receive a call from the MPD that there has been a car accident and your 16-year-old has been involved.
  • Will not matter when you see your neighbor’s car being broken into for the second time.
  • Will not matter to the mother when her child gets ahold of the gun in the house and shoots his sister.
  • Will not matter when they call you from the assisted living and tell you the paramedics have come to take your mother to the hospital because she has been in the bathroom floor for four hours and is bleeding (ask me).
  • Will not matter when the ambulance and paramedics arrive at the airport to transport your son to St. Jude for his final week of life.

I would give a million dollars to change that final ride to St. Jude.  I guarantee one-half cent will not matter to the next parent.

Bottom line – We all need the MPD and MFD – so don’t take them for granted!

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I’m Only Human

You have to admit it. You started singing the song, right? “… of flesh and blood I’m made.” Human League from 1986. That is exactly what I thought Monday when Jay called me after seeing Dr. Fleming and told me his biopsy returned as cancer in his neck.  I will tell you, I was angry.  It was a throw your hands in the air and scream – What the hell? – kind of anger.

Then I crashed. Rock bottom. Do not look at me; do not talk to me, kind of crash (at work).

Trust me, God was not on my radar to run to for answers. Why? Because I have done it time after time, occurrence after occurrence and still…cancer. I am not even the one fighting it! Jay has to endure more than I do. So much more. His words ring in my ears, “I hate this.”

I put my foot down and said enough.

That might have been when God laughed. Or maybe when I was spilling my guts in the office of one of the attorneys I work for at Burch, Porter & Johnson.  My kind friend, as tears streamed down my face said, I’m glad you are in here. No, I do not really think God laughed at me.  I truly believe He saw my hurt and understood that I was hurting for my soulmate that He had so graciously given me. He knew the crushing weight of emptiness I felt because I could not and still cannot help my husband.  I also believe He was preparing someone else to minister to me also.

Monday nights are when I attend a high school bible study and help as a small group leader. I immediately thought, there is NO WAY I am going there and act as if I have it all together, because I obviously do not. I might cry or yell in front of one of those precious kids and I just could not take that chance.  So you text the leader, right? I did not want to hear her words either. I think she knew that, but she was persistent.

This is what she shared: (We are studying Exodus) She said, “I don’t know if you have read chapter 5 yet, but it is good and right where you are.” (I am thinking yeah Moses, come on down, join me.) “And in 6:1 God doesn’t shame him or condemn him or even strike him dead, but just gently reminds Moses…just watch what I will do.  It has nothing to do with you Moses, it is all about Me and when it is done…I will be glorified and it will be for your good.”

As you can imagine, by this time I am in tears reading her text.  Her words were hard, but truth, as we both agreed. Sometimes the truth, especially the word of God, is hard to hear or read. However, when it is delivered in a loving, caring manner, God can change the heart of the receiver. Isn’t that why we pray for others?

She went on to share:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” Ephesians 3:20-21

Yes, that anger was fleeting, but it was there.  As I said at the beginning, I’m only human; of flesh and blood I’m made. Anger, frustration, worry, and anxiousness, all things that cause us to drift from God were filling my heart.  Nevertheless, God did not drift away from me or from Jay. I cancelled all commitments for the week (except women’s bible study), and we did what we always do, we have watched television together, ate pizza, and talked football (oh, and maybe Big Brother).

Jay and I are registered to participate in the West Fight On Run/Walk tomorrow.  We both have agreed to stay home and do a little cleaning before football. (He does not know about the cleaning part.) We know that only with God makes us stronger together.

Jay has his PET scan on Monday to see if his cancer has spread. He will then see Dr. Tauer and decide which specific chemo pill he will take with the plan to eventually have radiation.  Things always change.

We ask for your prayers as we file insurance claims, juggle this and that, and mostly for Jay to endure the side effects without missing work. We have a good group of firefighter family and growing in Living Hope Church. I also have other friends battling cancer that need prayer.

When someone steps in to speak truth, listen. You may not want to hear it at the moment, but it will eventually soak into your soul and feed you where your heart is aching.  Be thankful for those that speak truth to you and remember they are human also.

#cancerstillsucks

Only Human

BLUE ALERT-Memphis Drivers 101 Blog

Ok. First. The Blue Alert in Effect on the signs over the interstate.  I asked my sister on the way to work, “What is that? I know what RED alert is…when you have to get to the bathroom fast, but Blue Alert?” Then, today, it says POLICE Blue Alert.  OHHHH…  Don’t worry, I see the news, it’s via Facebook, right?  This has nothing, NUTH-ING to do about the Memphis Police.  They are working hard to protect us. So let’s talk about whom they are protecting.

MEMPHIS DRIVERS!!

I have been driving from out east to downtown on and off for 25 years.  I have never experienced the traffic behaving as bad as they have been lately.  So, I thought I would throw a few tips out there since, you know, I can drive with my knee while eating and talking to my husband on the phone.

  1. When you DO see the police, PLEASE do NOT SLAM on your BRAKES! If you do, most likely, I’ll be running up your butt. The police have said they are there to pull over reckless drivers and those suspicious. I think slamming on your brakes while traffic is going 70 miles an hour is a big hint.  They might pull you over for a broken tail light, expired tags, or if you have a bumpa draggin.
  2. Bullies bully back. When you see TDOT in the distance with the flashing arrow to move into the next lane, don’t think I’m going to let you in when you speed ahead of me and get stuck at the TDOT truck. Uh, no. If you would like to merge, use your blinker. Remember, I’ve mentioned it before.  That stick on the side of your steering wheel.
  3. When you try to exit off 385 going WEST (towards downtown if you need to use google maps), the same thing applies as above. Don’t think speeding from the right lane and merging by pushing me over into the left lane will work.  I’m not Clark Griswold and I have not perfected driving under a semi.  Give me time. Once you get in your lane, you are the freeeee to cross three lanes at a very high rate of speed until you are stopped with the rest of the morning traffic and I’m sitting right next to you.
  4. Some of you might not get this, but as said on one of my tv shows – stay in your own lane! This bobbing and weaving is good for nighttime play when no one is on the interstate. Hannah would not approve and you would not receive a rose.

You probably won’t believe this. About six months ago I went to my neurosurgeon and told him that I had pain down my neck in between my shoulder blades.  It was so bad I could not life my arms to drive to work.  I had to have an MRI (which is expensive) for him to tell me it’s coming from between my shoulder blades and stress is a big factor. (hum, cloud above head, morning traffic?).

  1. So tip number 5, wear a Thermacare heat wrap on your neck or keep one in your purse or in your car for those days that you get stuck in traffic and you feel those pains of stress tense your muscles up your neck. It will not make for a fun rest of the day when your boss asks you, “Why can’t you lift your head?” Reply, “Don’t ask”.
  2. Don’t EVEN get me started about what you need to do when you see an ambulance or fire truck coming.  They have these things called sirens, but I understand your music is probably a little louder than their sirens so you don’t have time to move over.  That’s okay.

My friends – drive safe.  Be considerate of others.  Moreover, if you see my black Altima, it might be wise not to drive in front of me.  A friend of mine and I HAVE driven her volkswagen home while she used the clutch and steering wheel and I did the gas and geers.  I CAN drive.  I hope you found this amusing and funny as I meant it to be.MirrorJust saying…

Married or Single?

My sweet boy:

I have to tell you Buddy, your Aunt Donna and I saw Hamilton last week. Oh, it was something you would have loved! Almost as much as Wicked.  As Aunt Donna and I sat outside on a bench, I asked her, “What do you think Trey would be doing at 23?”  She had no idea. I think, as many “girl” friends as you had, you would have been married. We had a good laugh about that.  Well, look at all your male friends! They are just about all married!

Ms. Shawn (I know, you don’t know her, but you know Taylor), said something to me after the anniversary of your death.  She said I seem to be handling things with more strength.  She couldn’t put her finger on it.  I told her I knew.  I’ve allowed myself to grieve for you. I’m not letting anyone influence me anymore.

I had a rough time one week and I talked to Papa K.  I just didn’t know what to do.  They lost Oreo, Trey. And he told me that just like Oreo will always be a part of them and they will miss him as they walk through life, so will be the same with you, but to a greater grief.  I will always walk through life with an amount of grief as a mother with you beside me.  It was like a light bulb went off.

How can I not grieve? I’ve thought about it a lot this week. I’ve been in the bed and tried to remember the feeling 23 years ago and how massive my belly was.  You kicked the fool out of me. Sometimes it really hurt. As with labor pains, so does death of the child.

God has put us at Living Hope and Trey, it has been such a blessing.  I met someone who lost their child many years ago. They were able to share with me that missing your baby just doesn’t go away and no one should ever tell you to get over it. I felt SO much better! It was like a weight was lifted. God has put many in our path.  Remember Ms. Anita and Ms. Janice?

Honey, I know you didn’t want us upset.  But on earth, we don’t have the ultimate joy you have in heaven even though we try.

Sometimes, things are pitch black, as if I’m looking down a dark tunnel.  I feel as if my heart will break and there is total emptiness.  But, the goodness of God fills my soul somehow.  I do ask Him why.

Why God are you still forgiving my anger?

Why God are you still loving me after crying with jealously of other parents?

A friend of mine posted this and it’s so true:

“We tend to stay away from mourning and dancing. Too afraid to cry, too shy to dance…we become narrow-minded complainers, avoiding pain and also true human joy…While we live in a world subject to the evil one, we belong to God. Let us mourn, and let us dance.” Henri Nouwen

Trey, I still mourn. But buddy, I do dance.  And I’m so thankful for the people in my life that are still willing to walk beside me and your daddy and mourn with us when we need it.  You know the 24’s take care of us! You know God understands.

I know you would be so proud of Collin.  He’s growing up and trying to find his way. He’s wanting that truck that you wanted to buy. So when he gets it, I know he’ll think of you.

I need to stop the tears and end this Happy Birthday.  Another year of healthy in heaven.  Please hug Jimdaddy for us.  We miss him so.  I know you were glad to see someone else to play basketball with!

Dad and I still cling to James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”  We endure many trials and we continue to grow.

Love you Buddy.

Iphone 2017 1153

 

Charleston (A Travel Blog)

Before I left for Charleston, I asked many people about the city I was going to visit.  The first reaction I received was, “Oh, I love Charleston!” As much as I understand that now, it did not help me nail down restaurants, activities, beaches, etc. for things to do in Charleston.  Those that know me well, know that I go on a trip with a spreadsheet filled with activities and confirmation numbers.  I. did. not. have. a. spreadsheet.  Mistake.  So, I hope this helps my fellow travelers who will be visiting or re-visiting Charleston in the near future.  Remember, these are only my personal opinions.

How to Get Around Charleston

We already knew that the parking would be atrocious before we arrived.  We opted to pay for valet parking so that we could come and go (at $40 per day). The alternative would be paying $20 to come and go each time.  It all came worked out in the end.  There are parking garages near the water and the aquarium that charge $1 per hour or a certain amount per day.  These garages fill up fast. Check the hotel you are booking regarding their parking policy.  They are all different.

Where to Stay

Where you stay totally depends on what kind of trip you want to have.  Do you want to know about the history of Charleston? Then you need to stay in the historic district.  If you want to come and go and stay mainly at the beach, get a condo on the beach (Atlantic Ocean).

If you choose to stay in the historic district, do your research.  Know where the activities are that you want to do in proximity from your hotel.  As I was told when we were there, “Charleston is a walking city.” I was amazed at how patient the drivers were when it came time for us to cross the street. NOT like Memphis.

I would highly recommend the Mills House Grand Wyndam.  Many hotels in Charleston do not have pools, so I chose this hotel because it had a pool knowing that Collin, Jay and I would be at the pool at least several afternoons.  Our hotel was also located within walking distance to everything we wanted to do.

Where to Eat

Here again, do your research.  We did eat at Poogan’s Porch by recommendation and I have to say it was my favorite.  It also was across from our hotel.  We also ate at Fleets Landing over the water, and it was nice, and reasonable.  Don’t think you are going to find a McDonald’s within walking distance because you won’t.  Collin found a Subway a block down from our hotel and it was nice on those days that we were just dog-tired. We made the mistake of eating at Bubba Gump’s. Don’t eat at chain restaurants on vacation. Our favorite breakfast was at Toast, which was also just a block or two down from our hotel.  The biscuits were the size of softballs! We even went back for dinner one night and enjoyed it.

What to Do

Where do I begin? Let me just start with our week, what we did, and how I might or might not have changed it.

Fort Sumter – You cannot go to Charleston and NOT go to Fort Sumter.  Even if you are not a history buff, the patriotism will overwhelm you.  The fact that I was on this small Fort where the Civil War began which led to so much history of America blew me away.  It is approximately $25-$30 per person which includes the ferry to and from the fort.  Check the internet for coupons.  Note: This is not a guided tour but you will learn about Fort Sumter on the ferry.

Visit a beach – With many recommendations, we went to Kiawah Beach.  They have a public beach and you can rent chairs and an umbrella.  The breeze was so nice and the water is much warmer than the Gulf.  It’s not the Gulf water, by any means, nor is it the Destin sand, but it’s a different kind of enjoyment.  You don’t have to dig your feet into the sand and kill your legs to walk five feet.  The sand is very hard and nice for sitting as the tide rolls in.  We saw many riding bikes.  It reminded me of something I would see on the beaches up north.  The facilities were VERY nice.  They had outside showers and changing rooms.  They also had a place where you could get ice cream and cold drinks.

Take in the City Market – This is just a couple of blocks from the Mills House Grand Wyndam and is about four long blocks of what amounts to be a supped up flea market.  But it’s all things Charleston and anything you would want to buy and take home at a good price. I went more than once!

Rainbow Row – You hear about Rainbow Row and you see pictures of houses and you can’t imagine exactly what people are talking about.  Cecelia and I had looked at Christmas ornaments before doing all our walking and after seeing Rainbow Row, there was no doubt what our Christmas ornament would be to take home from Charleston.  Yes, all it is are several houses in a row painted bright colors.  But we took the time (as suggested) to walk the alleyways before getting to the street and look at the window boxes and the lovely way the homes are situated.  It is very quaint.

Magnolia Plantation – I’m not going to lie and tell you that I was blown away by driving up a long road and the trees opened up to a large, white-columned home.  Many of the plantations today do not look that way.  Yes, I was disappointed, but only a smidge.  We were reminded that the Civil War burned the majority of the plantations in Charleston and they had to rebuild.  After they rebuilt, a hurricane destroyed the homes again.  The artifacts in the homes are all that is left.  The stories of the families were very intriguing from the Civil War to present day.  Yes, I would suggest a plantation.

The Pineapple Fountain – I’m not going to spoil it for you and tell you why the pineapple is so important to Charleston.  Many of you may already know.  I saw pineapples everywhere on Charleston souvenirs and when I was told the history, it just stuck. No pun intended! The fountain is beautiful and we went twice.

King Street – The street is much like the Magnificient Mile in Chicago with its high end shops and boutiques (except you have palmetto trees – not palm trees).  Don’t think you can’t buy anything on King Street.  I got a pair of Sperry’s half off! Venture out and look for the sales.  Plus, the street is beautiful with its store fronts.  If you wait later in the afternoon, it will get very crowded.

Tanger Outlet – Oh yes we did.  Collin was with us.  Enough said.

What we missed

  • We did not make it to Sullivan’s Island.  It was on my mind’s list of things to do, but there just was not time.  If you cannot make it to the beach, Sullivan’s Island is a great alternative in Charleston.  Just remember, you’re not in Destin anymore Dorothy.
  • We did not venture out in the car and ride around the historic district.  I don’t know that we could have with the streets being so many different ways.  It is very confusing.
  • I would have liked to have seen more churches.  We did see a lot, I just did not photograph them.  They are back to back with gravestones dating back to the 1800’s.
  • I would have liked to have done a ghost tour.  To be honest, after being out in the heat all day, we were exhausted by 6 p.m. and usually hit our room to watch television.  And it’s an hour ahead in Charleston.  I had to stay up till 9 to what most shows!
  • Lastly, and most importantly, we did not do a carriage tour.  The Charlestonians are upset regarding the treatment of the horses in the heat.  I witnessed these horses pulling a carriage of up to 16 people in 90 plus degree heat with their bodies heaving to breathe.  I won’t go into further details about what else has happened in Charleston, but the animal lover in me wanted to support the local Charlestonians in their fight and not add to the dollars of tourism.

I hope I have given you some good information and that you will make plans to visit Charleston. I think we take for granted such beautiful and historic cities right in our own backyard.

Remember, like I told Collin, travelling is our hobby.  We save, research, and make wise choices before we travel.  You can do this too! Don’t let memories pass you by.  I’ll treasure this trip with my boys and mother-in-law for the rest of my life.

Oh, and taking a firefighter/paramedic with you might come in handy! You never know!

Next trip, Nashville for the Tampa Bay/Titans football game for a long weekend in October.  Then we cruise the Caribbean with two couples in May 2020! Secret – plan ahead!Rainbow Row

 

It’s Just Another Mother’s Day

Another holiday. Another Mother’s Day. This is for all the mothers whose children have gone before us. As Danny Thomas said, “No child should die in the dawn of life.”

We mourn on this day. We are sad and want to hold our children that are not here. But it doesn’t take away from the love we have for our other children.

Don’t be mistaken. If you are a mother who has lost your only child, my child was as irreplaceable in my lonely heart as yours. I can’t bring Trey back and he would not want to come back from God’s presence. Memories of Trey haunt me. I long for his voice, his hugs, his laughter.

I’ve said many times, the biggest fear a mother has is that their child will be forgotten. I believe sometimes the children left behind are loved so fiercely, it’s hard to let them fly.

About two weeks ago, a longtime friend put me in touch with another mother who lost her son seven years ago. She is also a blogger. We talked how we were walking through a dry spell at this time and blogging was not coming as natural. As we talked more, it became apparent that our stories dealing with the death of our child and the child left behind is very similar. Too similar. God places people in your life for a reason.

In church this morning during the greeting, a lady behind me asked if Collin was my son. I said yes and introduced him to her. She said she had lost her son. I told her I had also lost my son. We immediately felt connected. She said she had followed our journey. “Oh your Trey’s mother!” And my heart sank. Yes. I told her thank you and turned around. Before church was over, she passed me her email address. I smiled. Another club member.

As sad as today may be, I was still able to enjoy being with my 88 year old mother and my mother-in-law. These are two wonderful women who have shaped my life and helped my walk in Christ be what it is today. They miss their boy too.

God, thank you for today. You brought other mothers into my life who are hurting like me. God bless you all. As our pastor, Gib Gibson is preaching about rest. It is totally biblical to rest. So mothers, rest. Rest in the fact you are not alone, you are loved by me, by your sweet child, and most of all, an almighty, sovereign God.

‭“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:18‬