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.

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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

February Brings Cancer Again

He knew. Jay. His neck just didn’t feel right to him. So Monday he made the call to West Clinic. Dr. Tauer said get him in on Friday and scan him.

Many times during the week his words were, “I don’t like this.” My thought was if I could take it from you just like I wanted to take it from Trey, I would.

February again. It comes every year. The time of year that memories of suffering and pain begin to flood my mind. They never cease. It’s like a reel to reel movie that keeps playing in my head and won’t shut off – but pain keeps adding to the movie.

Today, as Jay and I sat at West Clinic, my mind went back to the old location. The first day when Trey walked in Dr. Tauer’s office, he asked Trey if he was ready to fight this. Trey said let’s go.

Today, as I looked over at Jay he asked me if I was okay. Yes. I’m okay. But I saw the look in his eyes as he said again, “I don’t like this.”

Dr. Tauer walked in our patient room in a purple pullover. Yes, purple. I had to remark, of course, he had Trey’s color on. After hugs and handshakes, he said familiar words, “Well, the cancer is back in your neck.” I felt Jay slump.

We discussed how Jay is lucky that it is just localized in his neck, but there is one place at the base of his scar on his neck that they could not determine on the scan what it is. Dr. Tauer said Dr. Fleming, the surgeon, would be able to tell since he did the previous surgery.

We made a plan for Jay to see Dr. Fleming on Monday with probable surgery, possible radiation or the chemo pill, all of which is just up in the air until he sees Fleming and Fleming and Tauer talk. Dr. Tauer joked and told Jay he has to stop this. Then, on a more serious note, he asked about Collin and the rest of the family. I spoke up, was honest about the time of year, Collin, and other things going on in our lives. He said we have had enough. We agreed. I thought, from your lips to God’s ears!!

We don’t know what exactly Monday will bring, but we know we will handle it together as we have handled everything else – and Jay’s cancer journey for the last 23 plus years.

As we walked out the doors of West Clinic, Jay asked me again, “Are you okay?” I responded, “Yeh, I’m okay. You?” Jay said, “Yeh, it just stinks.”

Yes honey. Cancer does stink. Penning a line from one of my favorite movies:

“For twenty-three years I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you! And now…well, being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!” Auntie Em from The Wizard of Oz

We appreciate your prayers as we continue this path. I have bladder surgery on February 15 and Collin has his regular check-up at St. Jude on the 18th.

One thing we do know, God is good and always good in times of trouble. On this we can rely.

#cancer #Godisgood #WestClinic #pray

Today I Made A Choice

It might seem trite or not a big deal to most, but this morning I made the choice to get out of bed. Satan had told me to stay in bed, I can skip church, it doesn’t matter, and I need the rest.

I told Jay as he left for work that I wasn’t going to church, but he really didn’t know why. I woke up again right before my alarm and thought to myself how I didn’t want to battle with Collin about going to church or wallow because I was going alone. Then I realized, it wasn’t about either. It was more about my own depressive state.

I got out of bed. Honestly, I wore the same leggings I slept in. I put on a tunic and put a beanie on my head and left the house for Living Hope.

I don’t want to assume that God rewarded me for getting out of bed. But, I came home with little reminder nuggets of wisdom that I would not have received if I had stayed in bed.

*I am enough.

*He saved me and He is faithful.

*He loves me just as I am.

*God provides the right people at the right time to restore your faith in things you question about your children.

*We can rest in his Almighty sufficiency.

So today, as friends asked me how I was, I responded, “I got out of bed today.” They do not know my struggles nor do I know theirs, but I did share some so they could pray.

Satan wants us to believe that we do not matter to others and we are not good enough for His worship. This is SO not true. It was hard to worship today but, by the end of the service, I did not want to leave and I wanted to keep singing and just worshiping as we sang how God deserves all glory.

Today, I got out of bed. I give God the glory. He is sufficient and I am enough.

Memories Moving Into Gratefulness

As I sat down to mail my Christmas cards this year, I debated about writing a Christmas letter.  I went straight to my file and pulled out years and years of letters from 1998 forward.  I joked with Jay that our house might seem unorganized, but I know where everything is located! Just like my desk at work.

I did not get around to writing the letter like I had hoped for many reasons.  This week in the mail Jay and I received the sweetest letter from Jamie (James) and Kelly Lott.  It took me down memory lane of when Jay and I were their age, just beginning a family, and just beginning our Christmas letters.  Even though their letter was filled with such joy and promise of a bright future, I could not help but let the tears slowing roll down my face as I recalled the last Christmas letter I wrote which was in 2011, Trey’s last Christmas.

I discussed it with Jay and we both realized that by 2011, Facebook had become so popular that there would had been no reason to write letters.  I think he was trying to make me feel better that I did not continue a time-honored tradition.  I think of all the memories between 2011 to date that I have not recorded in letters.  I have never been one to journal, like my sister.  I have made up my mind to go year by year and try to make up for what I have lost.

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” John Banville

Memories are important. I think our memory serves as a very important anchor. They are a way to measure our life thus far – that we are able to call personal experiences our very own, simply because we can remember them and they feel real in recollection.  I am so grateful our God protects us from things that He does not want us to remember.  I am sure you have had experiences that you would rather not remember.  I think back to Trey’s celebration and AGAIN I am so thankful that God has taken away all the sad memories from that day and left me with memories of the rainbow at the end of the day and Jay dancing in the rain with our girls. (You’ll always be our girls.)

Gratitude – “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle

One thing I remember about my letters is how I categorized them, much like we categorize our memories in our mind; i.e. family, vacations, jobs, children, and future.  I would always talk about what God was teaching our children and what they were experiencing; I would give thanks for our year and time with our family; and, resolve to walk the following year closer to Christ.  As I look back, I am so grateful that Jay and I had the mindset to focus our family around Christ-centered activities.  Yes, we hustled and bustled, just like the young families do today.  I do not think Collin remembers that I did at one time cook dinner!

“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” Robert Braathe

In 2012, we recorded Trey’s testimony video which is attached to this page on the “About The Erwin Family.” I mentioned in the video about Trey wanting to be a preacher.  I am so grateful I have this in print in my 2005 Christmas letter.  This is exactly why these letters are important.  I knew he had said it.  I wish Trey were alive so I could prove to him that when he was 9 years old he told me he wanted to be a preacher.  Lord, hold him tight.

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1

In reading the letters, it brought back so many memories of friendships formed, basketball and football games, yelling from the stands with parents (or at parents, friendly, of course), church trips, family vacations, school friends, and the many, many school functions and meetings.  I remember an incident with both Trey and Collin at Collierville Middle School with the same teacher.  They both stood up for themselves and did not succumb to bullying and I am grateful for the character of my children.  Believe it or not, between the lines, that was in one of the letters.

Yes, I’m taking into 2019 a grateful heart for what God has bestowed upon me and my family.  Memories to hold tight, lessons to live by, and a positive ripple effect to take into the future created by so many people.  So, thank you Jamie and Kelly.  Thank you for stirring in me a desire to revisit Christmas letters, relationships, and the importance of cataloging memories and a grateful heart.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:18

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30 Years Unplanned

img_2668Climbing the ladder.

That is exactly where I was 30 years ago.  I was working at Union Planters National Bank where I had been for 5 years.  They had graciously paid my tuition to State Tech were I earned an Associate’s Degree in Banking and Finance.  I had my life planned out.  I was going to work my way up the ladder.  But, for some reason, I kept finding myself hitting dead ends.

I was moved from department to department.  I was promised one promotion after another.  I even had a position created for me because they did not want to see me leave.  I worked with the best people.  I even worked with a man named Jerry Erwin.  Yes, my future father-in-law (which I did not know at the time).

In the summer of 1988 at age 23, my mother said to me, if you do not stop living the way you are living, you will need to find another place to live.  Well, talking about ruffling feathers.  I wasn’t doing anything wrong except struggling to find my independence.  A couple of days later, my mother said to me that she had prayed about it and told me that I could stay at home.  I didn’t know what had changed.  She just said she had prayed.

Prayer.

Gradually, Union Planters was finding less and less work for me to do.  I was not happy in my job and my spiritual life was in the tank.  My personal life wasn’t too bad because I was juggling three relationships – none of which were Jay.  Until one day, my sister called me at work in late October 1988 and said that her friend had to quit her job at a law firm and she thought I would be perfect.  It was a small office and only two attorneys.  I jumped at the opportunity.

Change.

I must have wowed them with my long brown hair, black plaid suit with satin purple blouse, and black stilettos.  I got the job immediately.  November 1, 1988, I began my career in the legal field with Henrich and Jetton.  Yes, 30 years go.  Everything I had worked for, dreamed about, and gone to school for I threw out the window and pursued the legal field.

During my ten years at Henrich and Jetton, I received several certifications and I have a lengthy resume from serving on local and state legal association boards.

I don’t want to let it pass that my first date with Jay was December 10, 1988.  In the early years, his dad and I had plenty to talk about when he would come on from work before he retired.  But I knew I had done the right thing by leaving Union Planters and banking in the past.

On March 1, 1999, and very pregnant with Collin, Burch, Porter & Johnson hired me to continue to work in the estate planning and divorce field.  I had many friends at Burch, Porter & Johnson at the time and the fit with Joe Duncan just seemed right.  Even though I was told – “You better not work for him.” Almost 20 years later, I am so glad I didn’t listen to them! I work for a christian, compassionate, loving, praying man – and yes, he IS an attorney! He has mellowed, trust me.  There are many jokes about THAT!

Purpose.

I have watched God move in the most amazing ways over the last 30 years.  I have befriended many divorce clients and felt that God has used me to be their “light at the end of the tunnel” when they have felt they could not go on.  Since I have experienced the deepest groanings with death, I have been able to share with my divorce clients that divorce does mimic death.  There is grief.  There is mourning.  There is change.

This also applies to estate planning.  When appropriate, many have such a hard time deciding life-ending decisions.  I truly believe God opens the door for me to mention Trey and his peace at the end of his life.  The client usually always know who Trey is and our story.  God is so good to give me the prompting to share our story.

Lesson.

Listen to God. Be ready for change. You might have that piece of paper, but that might not be where God wants you.  I never thought that I would be at this same desk 20 years later trying to keep the same man organized (and a few others – Charlie Newman and Scott Crosby – whom I love dearly).  I never thought I would experience the loss of my first boss, Ernie Jetton, who taught me so much in 10 years.  Then there is Ed Mullikin.  We shared an office.  “Ed, what’s a NTBF!” “ED! GREG COTTON CALLED YOU AGAIN!” And that’s where my journey began.  November 1, 1988…30 years ago.

Always be ready for a journey.  Your life is a journey.

(P.S. Can you tell I have a migraine in this picture? Ugh. – with Joe Duncan)