What If…

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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.

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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.

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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…

.

Our Son and Springtime in the South

It’s that time of year; the trees are beginning to bud, the flowers are slowly awakening, the grass needs to be cut, and overnight, a veil of yellow pollen has covered our nice, clean black car.

Springtime in the South is a favorite time of the year for me. I love the transformation from winter to spring. The short days and long nights become longer days and shorter nights and everyone seems to have a “spring in their steps”. (No pun intended. 🙂).  Neighbors are seen outside surveying their yards and deciding what needs to be done right away.  Flower beds are cleaned out and an occasional snake is uncovered in the process, but no worry, our naturalist niece assures us that what we see are harmless brown snakes.  I trust her…so far.  Thoughts turn to planting a vegetable garden even though last year’s garden was going to be the absolute last garden for me. Too hot and lack of rain with poor yield in spite of all of the time and effort that was spent trying to have a successful garden…just not worth it; at least that’s what I’m thinking right now. If I don’t go to Lowes or Griff’s, just maybe I will not be tempted.

What I am going to enjoy this year is watching our son teach our grandson about gardening.  He is only 3 1/2 years old but he is so curious about everything and wants to be doing whatever his daddy is doing outside.  I remember the times when our son could care less about gardening, certainly didn’t want to mow the lawn or rake leaves or do any kind of yard work. Times have changed, though. Now that he has a family and his own home, he takes pride in having a well-manicured lawn. He wants to change the layout of his flower bed in front of the house to make it more attractive. He is already planning his garden and has decided where the garden should be this year. He has built something in which to have a herb garden. The son who didn’t seem to have any interest in these things at all has discovered a fondness for working outside in his yard. When we are visiting them and he is doing some yard work, I sit back, watch and smile. Our son, who used to watch his dad and learn from his dad, is now teaching his son the lessons that have been passed down from generation to generation.  I watch and my heart fills with pride. He really was listening, at least some of the time, and it shows. He also has become quite good at making things using the tools that he has gotten over the years. He is his father’s son; a little thought and ingenuity and soon, something will be built.  He makes his dad very proud, too.

We will most likely complain too much in the days to come. Allergies will be a bother for a while with everything blooming. The pollen especially from the pine trees will create havoc for many of us but it’s ok. It won’t last forever but we know it’s time to stock up on antihistamines and Kleenex because they will be needed sooner than later.

Pollen, allergies, gardening, yard work, etc.; it’s that time of year. It’s a time for renewal and that is a good thing.  Watching our son teach his son the lessons that he was taught as he was growing up, well, that is priceless.

i love you, Robert. You are a wonderful son and an awesome father, and we thank God for you.image

 

Emptiness

When I am certain there are no more tears to be shed, I am wrong.  When I lie down and think I can go right to sleep, I am wrong.  When I wake up and think that I will be able to concentrate better, I am wrong.

There is a hole in my heart that will never close.  There is an emptiness in my spirit that will never be filled.  My arms ache because they can no longer hug you and there are adventures that won’t be taken because you are not here.   There is a feelng of loneliness that cannot be described even though I may be in the midst of a crowd.  There is a part of my life that will never be the same because you are gone.

I love you and I miss you so much.

Mom

A Family Blessing called Mom, Grandma Jack and Margaret

The youngest of 4 girls, she married Jack, the youngest of 6 children and the only son. Jack and Margaret were reminded many times I’m sure, that it would be up to them to carry on the family name. Not wanting to disappoint the family, they had not 1, not 2, but 6 boys! The family name was safe. No more worries. Today, 19 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren later,  the Sexton name has certainly been etched in the annals  of time. Papa Jack and Grandma Jack, you did good. Your legacy will live on.

How Margaret raised 6 boys all of whom were 2 years apart until #6 arrived 4 years after #5 and kept her sanity is nothing short of a miracle. Feeding, clothing, nurturing the boys AND working a full-time job is mind boggling. Can you imagine the laundry that she did every week or the meals that she prepared every week? There was no such thing as fast food restaurants then so she had to cook. Sandwiches sound better and better when I think of this daunting task. I just can’t imagine…

She and Jack realized the importance of building a solid spiritual foundation for the boys and to church they went every Sunday. It was important that the boys learned about Jesus and the Bible. It was important that they participated in MYF with other young people their age. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Jack and Margaret did just that.

In the blink of an eye, the boys were teenagers and had jobs after school. They were taught the importance of a good work ethic and the importance of making and saving money. They all waited anxiously for the Sears Christmas catalog to come each year so that they could decide what they wanted for Christmas but with one string attached. There was a $20 limit for each boy. Stories that have been told over the years have been quite interesting,  Some would stretch their $20 and get multiple things while others would only get one big thing. I imagine that there were times when there was some envy when one brother had more gifts than the other, but they made their own choices and they had to live with it, at least for that holiday season.

Picking up pecans after church, caddying for their dad at the country club, raking leaves, cutting grass…Margaret and Jack taught them the meaning of responsibility.

In addition to raising their 6 boys, she worked as a secretary in a textile plant and in a high school. She loved to sing at church. She was the church pianist at one time. She was a church secretary at one time. Her last job was at the Martha Franks Retirement Center where she had the distinction of being the first employee in the early days of Martha Franks. She ended her career as an administrative assistant at Martha Franks. Working outside the home, she worked in an environment where she could have a positive impact on people of all ages. In her jobs she was able to be a messenger for Christ. She lived her faith and she shared her faith without hesitation, not always with words but often with her actions. Margaret was a kind, gentle person and she treated everyone with respect. Everyone was important.

She was proud of her family. They were her greatest achievements, her greatest blessings. I am certain that never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined that from their 6 boys she would have so many grandchildren and most assuredly she never thought she would have so many great-grandchildren. There was never any doubt, however, that she had enough love to go around. It was obvious that she loved her family very much.

As her health declined she developed a fondness for Wendy’s Frosty and she looked forward to Thursdays when she knew that a frosty would be coming her way. It was the little things that made her happy.

A favorite verse, Micah 6:6-8, defines her.  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

You lived that everyday and it showed. People loved you, admired you and respected you but your greatest fans were and will always be your family.

Go rest high on that mountain. Your work on earth is done.  You, Jack, Jennifer, Louise and Ed watch over us as we continue life without you. We love you and we will miss you but we know that one day we will all be together again. Until then, God bless you now and forever. “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

And all of Jack and Margaret’s children said “AMEN”