Code Name – Butch

Featured

Sometimes you just can’t reference people by their given names and you can draw your own conclusions about that.  Nothing is wrong with that concept; sometimes names need to be changed to protect the innocent. 😉

I first met Butch several years ago. Immediately impressed with Butch’s sense of humor, smile, obvious love of life and all things orange, I knew that we would be friends for a long time.  Our visits have been scattered but rest assured there was always laughter with a little critiquing about food, weather, opinions, etc.  Other obligations meant that these visits usually were brief but a lot can be said in a short amount of time.

Fast forward a little and laughter and smiles becomes tears and concern. Anxiety and worry have tried to settle in but family and friends are trying to keep anxiety and worry at bay. Not going to bring Butch down. Too many prayer warriors; so much love. Those bothers can just move on out of here. Not gonna have it if at all possible.

Next Saturday will be filled with anticipation and hope. Spirits will be high, friends and family will gather around in support of their team. Old friendships will be rekindled and acquaintances will become friends. Tailgates become feasts, stories are told and memories are made.  Working together, that which could be challenging becomes easy and much can be accomplished.

This type of comaraderie is evident in so many situations.  People come together to help others because they care. That is what friends and family do…it isn’t necessary to ask or wish…it just comes naturally, sometimes when least expected. It happens because people care. Butch, the militia is coming together to help so just be gracious and say thank you. 🙂

Now go get ‘em!

Advertisements

What If…

Featured

What if you or someone you loved or truly cared about was suddenly faced with life-changing events? What would you do?

What if someone you loved or truly cared about called you and it was obvious that they needed to talk? What would you say?

What if that same person was frightened? How would you comfort them?

You tell them that if they ever need anything, all they have to do is ask. What if they did ask? Did you really mean those words? Would you be too busy with your own life to help them?

What if you do nothing, offer no support, no comforting words or a simple touch of the hand to show that you care? How would you feel days, months, years from now when that memory suddenly comes to mind?

What if you had little to offer but for a few dollars? Would you give it to help someone or would you save it to buy something for yourself? In the Bible, the widow’s mite was more meaningful than the treasures that were being given by the wealthy. She gave all she had, literally. I have no doubt that she was blessed beyond measure because of her selfless sacrifice.

Even the smallest gift is valuable. The smallest gift may be just the amount that is needed to start a new program, continue research, help a patient, etc…No gift is too small.

Please take a moment out of your busy day or better yet, as soon as you finish reading this blog, and make a donation to the ALS Association. Lou Gehrig’s Disease is a progressive neurological disease for which there is no cure – yet. Your donation may just be what it takes to tip the scales to success! Go to this ALS site: http://web.alsa.org/goto/wsexton and make a donation. The monies will stay in this area and will help families while research continues. All “likes” to the blogs are appreciated but “likes” don’t offer monetary assistance, but you already know that…

I pray to God that you and your loved ones never have to hear the words, “You have ALS.” If you ever do hear those words, I know that you would be educating everyone that you knew about the disease, the progression and the promises that research is so close to making a reality.

Think about it and donate today. Join the team to walk in the ALS walk in October in Greenville, SC. You will feel so good knowing that you are helping someone who very well could be a total stranger, but in the eyes of Christ, that person is your brother or sister. That total stranger could become one of your best friends.

Our brother was diagnosed with ALS 3 weeks ago. He and other ALS patients need your support through donations and prayers.

img_0034.png

Mimi and CC

We don’t see each other very often; wish we did. Sadly, the distance between us is too far for frequent visits. When she and CC do come down, however, the lively conversations  quickly begin. No time for being “proper” and reserved although I can’t see that happening with either one of us anyway! One big hug and we pick up where we left off at the last visit.

We talk about hair color and style, comfortable clothes, keeping up with our reading glasses and so much more. We laugh; sometimes we shed tears; sometimes we just sit but no matter what we are doing or saying, we truly enjoy each other’s company. I think that speaks volumes because Mimi and CC are “the other grandparents”! There is no jealousy, no comparing one against the other, just mutual respect and admiration for each other. Actually I prefer to think of it as love. It is hard to believe that less than ten years ago we had not even met. My, how time changes things…

Last night was so much fun. The grandsons did not disappoint in their antics, the food was delicious as always, and watching Wesley and Jarren (next door neighbor) make s’mores was the best. Their excitement was contagious!

Perhaps the best time though, was golf cart sitting, watching cars drive down the street and turn around in the cul-de-sac in front of mommy and daddy’s house. Was it the aroma of the wonderful s’mores, the music, or all of the smoke generated from the fire pit? I prefer to think it was the s’mores. 🙂

Our visit with Mimi and CC was too short. I am so glad that the weather cooperated most of the time that they were visiting Caitlin, Robert and the boys. I know that their time with Mimi and CC was much too short and I know 4 people who are going to miss Mimi and CC when they leave tomorrow. Why does time seem to fly by so quickly when you don’t want it to?? On second thought, make that 6 people…😪

Take care and safe travels tomorrow, Mimi and CC and please hurry back.  We have more golf cart sitting to do. ❤️

 

 

 

Caitlin

It seemed to rain almost every time she visited from Chicago. In fact, we started joking that she must be in town because it was raining. She would earn a few points only to lose some of them when she brought the rain; I worried that she would soon end up in the negative column! She never did, though. There were too many special things about her that would “earn” her some points.

We would tease her about her lack of knowledge or understanding of the South and the southern customs. How could someone not know about fried okra, biscuits with gravy or chicken and dumplings? Bless her heart. She couldn’t help it that she was from a foreign place called Connecticut and her relatives were all “up north”. It was our responsibility to expose her to the finer things in life.😉 She called a buggy a grocery cart; she referred to a toboggan as a stocking cap. Mercy. Poor girl. In spite of her lack of familiarity of “all things southern”, there was something special about her. She had manners. She was quiet and unassuming. She was respectful. Qualities that you hope to see in every person were very obvious in her. Good job, Kathy & Chris. I imagine that Lucy and Bootsie also contributed to her becoming the person that she is today. Caitlin is the kind of girl that moms hope their son will marry one day.

We hit the jackpot or I probably should say that Robert “chose wisely”. Of all the girls that we had met, as nice as they were, something was missing. Not with Caitlin, though. We knew she was special the first time we met her. In a short amount of time we grew to love her and we began to hope that Robert would realize just how special this sweet girl from Connecticut/Chicago/Higgins was. Soon we realized that this “friendship” was more than that and we were thrilled.

Fast forward to today, Mother’s Day eve. We are very proud grandparents of two awesome grandsons. Robert and Caitlin are doing an exceptional job as parents. I will occasionally laugh out loud watching Robert, Wesley and Britton as he is teaching them something or playing with them. Caitlin has three boys to keep in line and I imagine that challenge is going to intensify as Wesley and Britton get older. I can see the three of them now singing all of the words to Robert’s favorite songs and, of course, watching a movie and reciting all of the lines verbatim along with the actors. Help us all when some of the Sexton uncles and cousins get together with them! There will be a competition amongst them as to who can remember the most lines and act them out. Thinking of that makes me smile even now.

Being the person that she is, Caitlin will probably shake her head and say very little. She understands the Sexton boys. She understands and she loves. I have said on more than one occasion that Caitlin was hand-picked by the angels. Parents pray for their sons to marry someone like Caitlin. Parents pray for their grandchildren to have a mom like Caitlin. Parents pray for a daughter-in-law like Caitlin.

We are the lucky ones. Our prayers were answered on all accounts. Robert chose wisely and we are grateful that Caitlin said “yes”. Caitlin is so much more than a daughter-in-law to us. She has a very special place in our hearts and she is loved more than she will ever know.

If all moms could be like Caitlin…if only. Our grandsons have the best mommy in the world. The. Best.

Happy Mother’s Day, Caitlin. We love you.

 

 

 

Frozen

This winter has been an unusual winter. We have already had two snows which resulted in schools and businesses being closed.  Driving on snow covered roads is not something we in the south are accustomed to doing. We also do not have the equipment to clear the roads like our friends up north have. By southern standards, our 2-3 inches of snow was a lot!  The anticipation of predicted snow sends many people running to the grocery store to get milk and bread but who can ever walk out of a grocery store with just milk and bread? Certainly not I.

In South Carolina, it is not uncommon to have to bundle up one day to stay warm and then pull out the shorts and flip flops a day or so later because the temperature has gone from freezing to the 60s.  That happened this week.

Tuesday morning we awakened to the eerie silence and beauty of a winter wonderland. The ground was covered and the snow was still falling. Beautiful snowflakes. A dry, powdery snow that was a skier’s dream and perfect for making snow cream.  If you have never made or tasted snow cream, you must. It is a southern delicacy in the winter. Every southern woman knows the importance of keeping evaporated milk in the pantry during the winter months. You can’t make good snow cream without evaporated milk!

By Thursday, most of the snow had melted and by Saturday, it was warm enough to wear shorts and flip flops. Playing in the snow one day and walking around in summer clothes a few days later…Mother Nature keeps us on our toes for sure.

We rode to the mountains this afternoon, only a 45 minute drive, to see if there was still any snow on the ground. It was 61 degrees at home but we knew it would be much cooler in the mountains, The closer we got to the mountains, the more diverse the scenery was. We saw acres of pastureland seemingly untouched by the recent snow. A couple of miles further up the road and we would see random icicles on the sides of the road, hanging from rocks or bushes; some were shimmering in the sunlight as they begin to melt while others were solid with no evidence that they would soon be transformed into a slow, steady drip of water.

On the outskirts of Highlands we began to see mounds of snow that the snowplows had piled up. The pretty white snow that had fallen just a few days ago was now dirty. No one wanted to see dirty snow but there it was, piles of it.  Forget any pictures of snow today but we had other ideas for photo opportunities.

Within a 10 mile radius of Highlands there are several waterfalls and no matter the weather, pictures of waterfalls are always pretty. One of our favorite waterfalls is Bridal Veil Falls. Literally on the side of the road, at one time you could drive under the  waterfall but that is no longer allowed. Now you must park your car and walk to and behind the waterfall. Standing behind the waterfall is quite an experience. The sunlight bouncing off of the water that is cascading down creates a beautiful scene. Dancing water, sparkling water, a waterfall symphony…get the picture?

Today there was very little waterfall. Today there were icicles of all shapes and sizes. Some were perfect, delicate ice sculptures and others looked like huge daggers that could be used in battle. As we looked at what was once a waterfall, it was interesting to see how different each portion looked due to the amount of sun that shone in that direction. Delicate beside dangerous, sharp beside blunt…it was all there.

The other waterfalls that we visited were not accessible. The entrances had been closed by the park service for safety reasons. Disappointment but a hike to these waterfalls was necessary and the ice along the paths created a risky situation. Falling into freezing water was not on my agenda today or tomorrow for that matter.

With the sun beginning to go down, we headed back home after we made our obligatory stop at the general store to get a small coke and a bag of peanuts. If you have never put peanuts into your bottle of coke, well you haven’t lived. Like the snow cream, coke and peanuts is a southern tradition. Try it one day. I bet you will like it.

DC70C37D-6D65-405E-97E4-DFF85BBFEA03

3B8224A6-64BB-435F-8462-EFFF6E8CB4D9

 

The Not So Still of the Night

He’s working so hard but no one notices.. He calls out to them but no one is listening. He kicks his legs and waves his arms. He sits straight up and with a stern voice tries in vain to get their attention. A dream…it’s just a dream. Everything seems so real and for a moment so does the fear, until in the stillness of the night sleep comes once again, but only for those who dream.

Our Lives Will Never Be The Same

December 19, 2015. The day that you became an angel.  The day that our lives were changed forever. Not a minute goes by that I am not thinking about you, missing you, wishing you were still here. The hole in my heart remains and no matter what happens, no matter the amount of joy and happiness in our lives, that hole will never close. A part of me died with you. Our family is lacking because you are not present. Nothing is the same anymore.

The “what if’s”, the “why didn’t I”, the “if only” questions return again and again. Why couldn’t things have been different? You and Doug were so happy. You wanted to start a family so badly. You would have been a wonderful mommy; all you ever wanted to be was a wife and a mommy. Ever since you were a little girl you talked about being a mommy. You would play with your dolls and if the way you talked to and loved them was any indication of how you would love your children, no children would have been loved more by their mommy than yours would have been loved by you.

I cry, I write and I cry some more. No matter what I write, no matter how hard I pray and yell out to God, nothing changes. The hole in my heart remains, the sound of your laughter is heard only through my memories now. I often look towards the laundry room door and expect you to walk through the door with that big smile on your face and wait on the big hug that always followed. I wait, but the door no longer opens. Your laughter, your big smile, everything about you is missed terribly. If only…

We will continue to honor your memory. We will continue to tell Wesley and Britton about their Aunt Jenn and tell them about how much love you had in your heart and that the love in your heart would have certainly been showered on them. We will tell them stories about you and your brother and the adventures that y’all had growing up. We will keep you alive through stories and through precious memories.

Another year without you and it has gotten no easier. It will never get easier. How could it? Why would it? Love is only a 4 letter word but it is one of the most powerful and painful words in the dictionary. It is a word that can bring ultimate joy and heartache almost simultaneously.  I know because I have experienced those emotions daily since December 19, 2015.

I love you,

Mom

 

“For Where Two or Three Are Gathered…”

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20. I have heard this verse for as long as I can remember. As I get older, it becomes more and more precious and meaningful to me.

Life is not fair. Bad things do happen to good people, but why? The death of our daughter was the most agonizing time of my life. I would have gladly given my life to save hers. She was young, beautiful, and so in love with her husband. She loved her brother and sister-in-law and adored her nephew. God had another plan, though, and it is only by my faith and the love and support of family and friends, that I have been able to move forward. Without the many prayers that were said for my family, I can’t imagine what would have happened to us. “For where two or three are gathered…” I know that God was always with us and is still with us. He will not forsake us.

This week our extended family has been dealt another deck of cards and none of us like the cards. My husband has 5 brothers. He is #5 of 6 boys; no sisters. I can’t imagine raising 6 boys but that is a story for another day.

The 6th son, the baby of the family, was diagnosed with ALS yesterday. Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He is 60 years old. He has a contagious laugh and he can make anyone feel better just by hearing him laugh. There are many adjectives that could be used to describe him. Smart, funny, works hard, a loving husband, father and papa, adored by his nieces and nephews; I could go on and on. Wonderful attributes but perhaps the most wonderful of them all is that he loves the Lord and puts all of his faith and trust in Him. That is the wonderful thing about faith, believing in something for which there is no proof. Wes believes, no he knows, that God has a plan for him and as he said, he is going to honor God through this journey. How awesome is that?!

Many of us would want to give up but not Wes. He loves sports. He has run marathons and this race will be run like no other. His faith is strong. He needs no proof that God exists. He, like so many of us, has experienced “God moments” time and time again. There are many prayer warriors praying for him. People he has worked with from all over the world have contacted him to offer prayers and support. Strangers to him but friends of someone who knows him have commented that they are praying for him. If they didn’t have faith, would they pray for him? Being a part of the fellowship of believers, knowing that you are not alone on any journey is comforting. Knowing that people are praying for you brings strength. “For where two or three are gathered…”

One does not have to wonder about Wes. Just being around him you can sense that he has an inner peace about him. He exemplifies what it means to be a child of God. Isn’t that wonderful! He is a walking testimony of faith.

“You have ALS.” No one wants to hear those words. No one wants to believe it when they are told that. There is strength in numbers and this is a fight in which you will have many warriors on your side, Wes. You are not alone and you will never be alone.  I hope that everyone who reads this will pray for you, will add your name to their prayer list and will call on their prayer warriors to do the same. It’s time for all of us to get down on our knees. “For where two or three are gathered…” Thanks be to God.

We love you Wes.

When A Tiger Marries A Gamecock

I liked him the first time I met him. He was polite, respectful and obviously had been raised by a wonderful southern mama. He was cute and his smile was contagious. I was so impressed with what I saw and what I heard until Courtney told us he was a Gamecock! It’s a good thing that we weren’t sitting on the dock because I would have probably fallen into Shem Creek. It’s a wonder I didn’t choke on my food!

You must understand that the beautiful young lady that he had fallen in love with; the family that he was marrying into…our blood is ORANGE! Clemson Tigers rolls off of our tongues as easily as our names. How in the world did this happen? I guess the saying that “love is blind” includes the color of one’s blood. 🐅🐅

He was a good sport at the wedding reception although I don’t remember seeing him on the dance floor when “Tiger Rag” was being played. He was present when an attempt was made to play some other song although I don’t understand why. It was quite warm that evening; I would have just stayed inside until that racket was over. Even our grandson covered his ears!

As I told him in a note specifically for him in their wedding present, “Becoming a member of the Sexton family brings great responsibility. It is important to remember that from now on, you must always and forever yell, ‘GO TIGERS’ “. Chickens are for Sunday lunch!😀

Welcome to the family, Brent. Your orange shirt is coming soon.🐅🐅🐅

 

 

 

He Wore a Yellow Sweater

Six years ago the first time we met him, he was wearing a yellow sweater. No idea why I remember that. Six days ago he greeted us with a huge smile, a handshake for Rob and a hug for me, but wasn’t wearing a yellow sweater and rightly so. It was hot that day and the forecast for the next few days was for even higher temperatures. Welcome to Arizona, where “dry heat” is supposed to make temperatures of 90+ degrees more tolerable. It doesn’t. Trust me.

Once inside his beautiful home we immediately felt at home. It was as if we were visiting a family member whom we had not seen in a long time, when in fact, we had only met him briefly when our son married his niece. Warm, gracious, great sense of humor…many adjectives could be used to describe him but that will be saved for later. 🙂

South meets Southwest. He recommended some wonderful restaurants, none of which disappointed us. On the way to his home, his recommendations of what to see and what to do were spot on. His knowledge of the area, the history of the area and its inhabitants was amazing. No matter the questions, he was able to answer them with details that were at times, mind-boggling. It was evident that he loved living in the Southwest. He was in his element here. His curiosity, his desire to know as much as he could about his surroundings and his willingness to share his knowledge with such enthusiasm, well, our visit could not have been any better.

Waking up to the wonderful smell of coffee has always been a favorite of mine. He didn’t disappoint. After drinking his coffee though, all other coffees are just coffee. I believe his mom introduced him to the way that he makes coffee now.

Wanting to be the perfect host, he made several phone calls inquiring about how we make sweet tea, real Southern sweet tea. Bless him for that. He surprised us, however, with a different kind of sweet tea that, as his sister-in-law would say, is “to die for”. Slightly sweetened black tea with ginger ale, with a ratio of about half and half. Oh my goodness! So refreshing! I will be making this for sure! Wish I had some now…dashboard pizza…yummy. Rented Mustang convertibles, yeah, you no longer fool us.

With Rob in the front seat and me in the back seat (my choice), he took us to places that could only be reached by going off road. Not mud bogging like many people in the south seem to enjoy, but OFF ROAD, literally. The phrase that “you can’t get there from here” would have been accurate without him and his jeep. Don’t think that we caught air but I wouldn’t have been surprised. “Not suitable for pregnant women or people with back or neck problems” could have been a disclaimer. 🙂
Was it fun? Oh. My. Gosh! Yes! Robert, I’m sorry honey, but as much fun as I had with you when you took me off-road, well this was a different level altogether.

Walking in a river bed to see magnificent rock formations was an experience. Too bad there was no water in the river bed, only deep sand similar to the beach. Still a trip to remember though, water or not.

Experiencing the beauty of Arizona, especially Northern Arizona, was spiritual for us. The song “Majesty and Glory” must have been written for times like this. I found myself singing it to myself many times during our visit. The beauty, the grandeur, the sacred places of the Navajo that we were able to experience, the multitude of stars in the night sky. What a trip.

I could go on and on about our trip but I hope that whoever reads this understands that there are times when words are not adequate. Experiencing times like we did are the only way to fully appreciate what is out there for everyone to see, and to gain a better understanding of how this part of the world was millions of years ago.

Breathtaking, awesome, stunning, amazing, beautiful, spiritual…there are simply not enough adjectives to describe the magnitude and grandeur of what we saw.

Warm, gracious, loves to laugh, enjoys people no matter their background, interesting, talented, great sense of humor, intuitive, sensitive to others, yes, he is truly part of our family now…these words describe the man in the yellow sweater. These words describe Stewart.

Thank you, Stewart. We will return to the South with a little bit of the Southwest in our soul now.

Until next time…

.