It would have been her birthday.

Today we would have celebrated not only Mother’s Day, but your birthday. It’s one of those years where they actually fall on the same day.

But instead we celebrate this day without you. And you celebrate for the first time in heaven with your own mother.

And I don’t know how that works, because I’m not there, but I can only imagine you are near one another and rejoicing together. Glorifying your Father together today. 

In as much sadness as we have in your absence, we have as much joy in the remembering.

The way you were the life of the party and always enjoyed one and always made them special for all our special days.

The way you laughed and smiled and hugged so big and loud and contagiously. I guess I have you to thank for my own obnoxious laugh.

The way you held our family together and loved deep and wide and strong and steady. And sometimes the love got abused by me and I wish I could tell you I’m sorry, but these words will have to do for now.

The way you held your friends close and never took time for granted with them and showed us that they matter. Friendships matter and they are important in this life. In the life of a woman.

The way you loved the work you poured yourself into. Shining like a light and now they present an award in your honor every year aptly named the Sue Mills Lighthouse Award. That sums it up, doesn’t it?

It’s a bittersweet day to think we would be celebrating your sixty-third year here and instead it’s almost thirteen without you.

But it’s still a day to celebrate you in your absence. The mother you were who helped shape the mother I am and the father my brother is now.

Oh, how you loved us. Oh, how you shaped us. Oh, how we wish we had told you more how we appreciated you.

It’s a day to remember and rejoice in the other mothers God has put in our path to continue the work you began.

God promised to finish the good work he began in us. And I see your work continuing to be fulfilled through our step-mother and others placed in our path just so. Just perfectly so.

He is really the most gracious God. I see that now more than ever. In all the ways I failed as a daughter and now as a mother, He covers me with his grace. Just as He did you when you failed. Until you were made perfect in His site.

Oh to be in His site! I just can’t imagine what that is like for you every. single. day. In His site.

And one day soon we will be in site again. Perfectly whole. Perfectly perfect. Together again.

And until then I’ll keep writing these words as they come, until they don’t. Believing you’d be proud as you always were. So proud of your children, even when we really didn’t deserve it. But that’s what mom’s do, isn’t it?

They believe in their children even if nobody else does. And a good mom, a great mom will lead her child to Christ. And you did. And for that I am the most grateful.

The best gift you ever gave me and your son was to introduce us to Jesus. He is all that matters in this world. And I get it now. I get it. Even if I didn’t get it while you were still here. I get it now.

Thank you for loving us to Him and for the prayers you prayed that you sowed in tears. I get that now, too. As a mother, I get that.

Until we meet again…always in my heart,
Meredith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Letters to my Littles | {april}

I posted this blog yesterday on my other site and thought I would share it with my writing blog readers, as well…it’s more words than photos and it’s my heart this month about my children. Enjoy!

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March…in like a lion, out like a lamb. April showers, bring May flowers.

Nursery rhymes we used to sing. Memories faint, but oh, so sweet.

Wesley, you now read to me and I wonder how and when you moved from toddler to boy to almost Kindergarten grad.

And Austin, you will all-too-soon move from daddy’s girl on his toes to daddy’s girl down the aisle.

I’m not rushing you both. You are rushing me. Time goes too fast and I forget.

Forget the smell of baby.
Forget the swell of pride as your first steps teeter-totter across the room.
Forget the way you pronounced your first vowels or lack there of and how it always made me smile. Still does even trying to remember.

And this month, this April of this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the past. How fast it’s gone and how much faster it gets.

We said goodbye to your Great-Granny Austin and you both took it in stride, while I cried. She meant more to me than you because I had her longer. Much longer.

The memories I have with her and Granddaddy in that old house on the river shore are mine alone. Together we are making new ones there even though the house is gone. And that is good. Very, very good.

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I’m reminded this month how important family is and has always been to me and I pray will always be to you.

We have something not everyone has. We have each other.

You will learn that is not everyone’s truth. And not a blessing to be dismissed, but held tightly to.

Austin, you continue to be the life of this party we are raising on this farm. This month your two favorite words are “ticklish-y” and “trap.” Meaning you like to have your “trap” (aka armpit) rubbed because it feels so “ticklish-y.” Yes, that’s worth remembering.

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Wesley, you continue to amaze me with your wisdom beyond your young years. You have also taking a liking to video games about indians and hunting and racing and mama’s having to put limits on the iPad…which you are usually good to obey.

You both continue to play well together, as tonight when you were screaming through the house. Until someone gets hurt, then the screams take on a different tone…and so do mine. Being the perfectly imperfect mother that I am.

And Austin, you are becoming a master of avoiding bedtime. Oh, you get in the bed after we read.

But then you want your back rubbed (and possibly your “trap”),
and then you want more chocolate milk (yes, I give you chocolate milk, don’t judge me),
and then you need to use the bathroom,
and then you want your sheet put on you,
and then you want your sheet taken off of you,
and then you want to change into your other gown,
and then you want to take the gown off and put on your other pajamas,
and then you want your fan on,
and then you want your fan off,
and then you want your little plastic dollar store lantern to put in the bed with you,
and then you need me to take it away.

These are not exaggerations. They happen every. single. night. I’m as tired writing them as I get doing them.

And Wesley, you tolerate so well, as I go back and forth from his room upstairs to get you situated downstairs.

And I lose my patience. And you love me still.

And then you give me super-duper tight hugs and big kisses with your little hands cupping my face. And I melt.

And then get you your third cup of chocolate milk. And I wait for you to drink it and then we say good night. For good.

Until you wake up at 3am and come get in bed with me and your father. Yes, that’s our nightly ritual. And I want you to know it because maybe you’ll have a child just like you and it will be a great reminder.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and evidently you are a lot like me…says your Pop, my Dad.

I continue to be amazed how much your two little souls have enveloped my own. My life-breath. My babies.

I am still in awe I get to be your mother and God trusted me with you. I don’t take that for granted, or at least I try not to.

We are still working our way into the new skin of stay-at-home-mom, but it’s starting to fit better than before.

Together we will sort it all out and work it all in. I look forward to a summer with you both full of creek time and horse play.

Love always and forever,
Mama

**I’m doing this project as part of a blog circle of mothers wanting to document this year in prose and photo for their children. It would so wonderful if you would please take a moment to visit wonderful Kristin as she writes to her children this month…many thanks. 😉

 

For all the in-betweens

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Some days it seems I’m in-between more than anywhere.
In-between here and in-between there.

In-between who I was and who I want to be.
In-between where I’ve been and where I now see.

In-between dreams that have died and those just born.
In-between drop-offs, pick-ups and mess-ups galore.

In-between bedtimes that take too long and mornings that come too soon,
In-between the starry sky and bright side of the moon.

In-between great losses and bountiful gains.
In-between parched dryness and soul-quenching rain.

In-between should-have, could-have and would-haves if known.
In-between all the ways that show me I’ve grown.

In-between the girl of my youth and the woman she thought she’d be.
In-between the dreams of her past and ever present reality.

In the in-between is where I find myself these days.
And I’m starting to realize that is ok.

It’s ok to be where God’s put me to grow.
If that’s stuck in-between, then I’ll wait for the “go.”

Truth be known: life’s all one big in-between,
In-between the beginning, the end and eternity.

If the in-between’s are all we have, there really is no doubt,
We must make the most of all of them before our time runs out.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”- Solomon, (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home like collards and Granny.

The knot in my gut is twisting tighter as her breath draws shallow. I just spoke to her on the phone and could only muster an “I love you, Granny” when there were a million other words that wanted to come out, but couldn’t find there way past the knot. So I come to this keypad that has become my solace when the words won’t come out of my mouth and need to just come from my soul. The cursor blinks expectantly for words of hope and encouragement and I don’t have them today. Only a knot. And memories.

The smell of collards cooking makes some people wince, but to me it smells like home. Just like the embrace of that round white-haired woman cooking them. Like home. In that kitchen with the metal cabinets and washer and dryer and small table all fit neat on the end of that big white farm house that leaned a little downhill on the edge of a potato field in flat eastern North Carolina.

Granddaddy was a potato farmer and his Naomi knew how to cook those round white spuds perfectly mixed in with that greasy pot liquor. That’s not some kind of alcoholic drink, it’s what the juice from cooked collards is referred to in eastern NC where this woman who hugged like home lived and raised three girls and took her care of farmer husband.

Between Granny’s collards and homemade biscuits with a side of her insatiable and all-too-often embarrassing jokes, stomachs and souls would be filled. Filled with goodness that comes from hard work and a simple life and not taking yourself too seriously, the world does enough of that for you.

Summers were spent at our slice of the only heaven we knew along the Pamlico River. My brother and cousins and I would stay weeks with our Grandparents and there would be plenty of jokes and swimming and collards. Granny would pile us in the Pontiac and we’d travel the 30 miles to the Moose Lodge to play Bingo alongside her with her 20 cards taped together and three bags of ink dobbers. There were lucky charms and cigarette smoke and pepsi’s enough to float a boat and make some grandchildren feel like they had been to town in the grandest way.

There were nap time rituals that involved her rendition of “Michael Finnagan” that my children now request over and over until I’m out of breath and blue in the face. There was the snore game where she would pretend to snore ten times and on number ten we better be asleep, or at least pretend like it.

Those were the days. Memories too many to name with a woman too loved to put in words.

Last August I piled the kids and myself in my ford for the ten hour trek to Florida where Granny now lives between her two daughters homes. We shared a week of the same jokes I’ve heard for thirty-five years and they were as funny as the first time they tickled my ears. Granny was turning ninety and there would be too many new memories to miss if we didn’t attempt the trip. So we went. And we shared a week that I wouldn’t trade for a plate full of Granny’s collards and potatoes.

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If one has ever exemplified a life lived in joy, this woman has. She didn’t have it easy. Her soul and her body has known it’s share of loss. From losing a breast to cancer and other parts I can’t even name to so many surgeries I can’t begin to count, her body knows loss. From losing a husband after almost fifty years of tending to him daily with lunch at eleven thirty and supper at five o’clock and losing a daughter that mothered me after having her for a short fifty years, her soul knows loss.

She is a survivor and I think a part of me thought that meant she would live…longer. Ninety years is a long time. A good long time. But is it ever long enough for those left behind? The writing appears to be on the wall as much as on this screen, but I know God will take her when He’s ready and not a minute sooner.

This may mean we get to celebrate ninety-one years with her here. And it may mean we celebrate here without her.

The sweetest part of her story is that she knows her Savior…and He knows her. She is at peace with her life and though she would rather stay to see her grands another day, she is at peace if she doesn’t. She knows where she’s going and I’m sure my mama will be happy to see her mama again. In perfect form. And even more than that, she is most likely closer than us to spending the rest of her life praising the Lord. Literally praising the Lord.

So when we do lay her body to rest under the pines next to that small brick Methodist church where she poured her heart and children into, we will do it rejoicing in the promise her soul will not be at rest, but resurrected and rejoicing, along side her Savior.

I find peace in that. My knot is starting to loosen as her breath may remain shallow…but ever closer to being swept up in Glory and the sweet release.

She told me tonight in her sweet, weak voice that she loved me more than I loved her…in tears I disagreed. But then again, who is going to tell this ninety year old woman what is right and what is wrong. She’s closer to Heaven than me and if she wants to think she loves me more, I’ll let her.

It’s not about loving more or less anyway, it’s just about knowing this kind of love. Between a girl and her Granny. I’ve had two sent from God and He’s close to bringing the second one Home. Leaving a void in this motherless mother that’s soon to be grandmother-less, too.

I’ve had more than some ever get. More of a mother for twenty-one years, more of two grandmothers in thirty-five and more love all together than some know in a lifetime. I’m not complaining. I’m just grieving. And rejoicing at the same time. And yes, that is possible.

Graciously,
Meredith

 

Weekend Reflections: Be Still.

As I sit here and reflect on my week…in the Word…in what God has been speaking to my heart about…I go back to that familiar scripture…“Be still, and know that I am God.”

As if He is saying to my very flesh this morning…

Be still, Meredith. I’m still in control of this world and your world. I have things for you to do…but you must Be Still before I can show them to you. Before you are ready to be used by Me.

Be still in my presence long enough to not just listen…but truly hear.

Be still enough to search me…and let me search you.

Be still and let your heart be open to what I have to say and then Be Still enough to go and do.

In the still, you will find me.

In the still, I will show you Who I am and who you are…and what you can be in me.

Be still and know that I am God. Your God. And I know the wonderful plans I have for you, but you do not. Not yet, because you haven’t been still enough for me to reveal them to you…yet.

Be still and all of these things shall come to pass. In my time. In my will. In my way.

So for now…Be still…and see the beauty in the everyday. The every. day. that I give you.

Be still…and see the beauty in the ashes of your life. Ashes I am making new. And giving life to again.

Be still and see the beauty in the ordinary all around you. What is ordinary to you is extraordinary to me.

Be still and see Me. Everywhere. I am everywhere…you just have to open your eyes and your ears to see.

Be still…and know that I am God. As Christ, I am all, and in all.

Be still today, soul. Be still in me. And let me be still in you.

Praying we will all take some time to be still today. Before a Mighty God that knows us and loves us and has so much to show us. If we will be still enough to let Him.

Graciously,
Meredith

Weekend Reflections| Snowmageddon

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There is perhaps no word that better describes this week for my small corner of the earth than the coined term “Snowmageddon.”  We’ve lived through the anticipation of snow, the arrival of snow and then more snow and now we will face the departure of it. It’s been a fun week, especially given the fact that we were so fortunate as to not lose power…I know many people did and I’m not discounting the misery that comes with that. I’m just glad we didn’t have to experience it this time. 🙂 Was that rude? I hope not.

With the anticipation comes excitement and a bit of anxiety all wrapped up in a not so pretty package. More like one of my hurriedly wrapped gifts in a bag with a few haphazard pieces of tissue paper thrown in minutes before we are leaving for a party. Hey, it happens. A lot. And that was kind of like the first part of the week. Talk of all of this snow and not knowing whether to believe the weather people or not. They make it hard sometimes. No fault of their own I’m sure, but it’s a fact.

So in the anticipation and excitement there was also dread (of the power going out…which as I said, never happened here.)

And isn’t that just like life…we get anxious and worked up over what might happen and lose those moments to just revel in the glory of what is coming or what is actually happening in the moment because we are worried about tomorrow. We forget that wonderful reminder Jesus gave us to “not worry about tomorrow, it will take care of itself.” Yes, I need that one written on my walls..and my heart. Every. Single. Day.

The anticipation also brought hurriedness. To prepare the house and stock the pantry (can’t go without bread and milk…luckily we have the milk covered from trusty Stella the Jersey in the barn…but we can never have enough bread and the shelves were bare! :O) And I talked about that in my post earlier this week giving it all. she. had. But it’s true the anticipation probably took a little of the excitement out of the snow when it did finally come. And yes…it came.

The snow came and came again. It was beautiful and white and the ground is still beautiful and white. And for a couple of days, the world around us changed. We see a different landscape. Even the night is different. We have had a full moon and it truly looks like daylight the way the moon reflects off the snow. It’s like we are living in a different world. There is a sense of perfection in the blanket of white over everything. A sense of serenity and peace that I don’t often feel by just looking around me. But, maybe that is a reminder that it always there. Under the snow is the same ground that I get to see every day. And maybe I should start looking at it differently every. day.

I talked earlier this week about how God only sees snow when He sees his redeemed child. And maybe that’s how I should be seeing myself and you and this earth he has provided. Always as covered with snow…perfectly imperfect and ok with that. And rejoiceful in that!

And as the snow melts…and it is and it will…there comes the aftermath. The muddy and wet aftermath. The ground will be wet for weeks, especially with forecasted rain to come on top of it soon. I’ll forget all too soon how the world changed for a few days and go back to complaining about the wet and mud…because that’s what I do. I complain. I whine. And I fuss at my kids for the doing the same. Note to self…stop that. Stop complaining and whining and expecting your children not to do it, too. Ouch.

In reflection, the one thing I want to take away from this week is to strive to have new eyes. Eyes to see the beauty that’s around me EVERY DAY. Not just on a snow day. But every day. It’s there. It’s in me and in you and it’s all around us.

We just have to have eyes to see it. Ears to hear it. Hearts to accept it. Yes, I need a heart to accept it. Not judge myself…or you…or the rest of the world around me. But, a heart to accept what God sees  already covered in snow.

Lord, let me see the snow…long after the snow is melted. Let me feel the joy of anticipation without the weight of worry. Let me even enjoy the aftermath, remembering how fun the snow was while it was here. And let me see it even still.