Living Life

Jesus, Me, and the Kitchen Table

My Testimony Part 2 – Losing Dad

dad and me

In my earlier blog post “My Testimony” I shared how I was adopted when I was 3 weeks old and how I came to the Lord. Now I’d like to share some more of my story. I think I basically left off which my dad passing away my last year in college. He had been having problems breathing or getting short of breath for awhile. The doctor put him on some fluid pills. I don’t know if they ever told him what was wrong or not. If they did, he did not tell me. But he had Congestive heart Failure. I remember the day I got the phone call I had returned back to my dorm room from studying for finals at the library. A message on my answering machine from dad’s ex-wife Shirley said to give her a call. I knew that it was about dad — and I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. Something just told me. So when I called her, the tone of her voice confirmed it. She came over to meet me and told me that he had died of a heart attack while playing his guitar at a birthday party. That was interesting, because one of the way he wanted to go, was playing his guitar.
The next week was crazy. I had nothing to do with planning the funeral. It was all done by his biological daughter. I had not talked to her. By time I arrived in Normangee where dad lived, his place had been cleaned out. Some of the antique speakers with beautiful cloth coverings had been torn. Someone had gone in looking for hidden money. I think the bed mattress was also torn. That was kind of strange, I thought, since had JUST died. Also during that week I had to get moved out of the dorm. I moved to Bryan with dad’s daughter and her family.

The summer turned out to be the summer from Hades. I was taking chemistry at the local junior college and it wasn’t easy, but I made a “B.” Since it is a “freshman flunk out course” at my university, I had put it off until my senior year. I am most assured I would have failed it had I taken it at SFA! But during that summer we had to do the probate of dad’s Will. Dad had always told me that when he died, there was a certificate of deposit in the lock box under the bed that would mature upon his death. At that time, the executor of the estate, Eva, would give me $1,000 a year each year for 10 years. Dad was a man of his word. One thing he could not stand was a liar. So imagine my surprise when we got to the probate and I found out that the money was not there – or supposedly it wasn’t there. And to top that off, the lawyer told me he did not represent me, that he represented the estate. So there i was. Nineteen years old, still in college, fatherless, motherless, and with a feeling that something was very wrong with how the estate was being handled.
I had no idea what to do. I did the only thing I knew… ask advice from the church ladies who were older and with whom I was very close. They advised me to get a lawyer and find out what was happening. So I agreed to go meet with the attorney they had located for me. At that meeting, he told me that he would take the case, but warned me that pursuing it would probably mean I’d be estranged from my family. Keep in mind, I had no other family. I did NOT like that idea, but I did not know what else to do. I really needed the money, although it was not that much at once. I was encouraged to go forth with it because it is what dad would want – and that he would be rolling in his grave if he knew what was happening. So I went forth with it.
I really don’t know what happened as far as what the lawyer did with the lawyer of the estate or Eva. All I know is that one day the lawyer called to tell me that he had won the case and after his fees were taken out, I was going to receive $7,000. By this time, I was back in college in Nacogdoches. I needed a car badly because it was time for me to begin my practicum hours. I needed to be able to drive to the sites to do my observations and teaching. So the settlement came at an opportune time and I was able to get my first car – a teal green Ford Escort. This car was a blessing. Dad had talked about buying me a car when I reached this point in my education. So, in a way, he did!

Within a year or so I decided what I had done was wrong and I wanted to make amends with my family. I’ve always been quick to forgive others for their wrongs. I sent a letter to my sister (dad’s daughter) asking her to forgive me, that I realized I was wrong. I’m sure whatever I said sounded very weak, even though it was most sincere. I can’t tell you in words how badly I wanted to be reunited with my family. People told me things like, “It’s their loss, not yours.” and asked me why I’d even want to be with them after the way they did me, etc. But I had read in the Bible where it was wrong to sue your neighbor. And I was truly repentant. But as my attorney had warned me, so it was I think they read my first letter, but subsequent letters and our wedding invitation were returned to me, unopened.

My sister’s daughter and I had been very close growing up. Even though I am her aunt, we were very close in age. And we were in the drill team together at school and went to church together. We played together on weekends and in the summers. I have very fond memories of playing Marco Polo and diving for pennies at the pool in the summer. However, one day I called to talk and found out that she was angry with me also. She was still going to college and living with her parents, so I thought that she basically had no choice but to see it their way. She told me I was a traitor to the family and she never wanted to speak to me again. Those words cut me to the bone and broke my heart. I guess it was then that I sort of gave up my hope of ever being reunited with them.
It is a long story which I won’t tell – but in recent times, through Facebook, the two of us have reconnected. I did not know it but she had been following my story since the car accident. She sent me pictures she had found of me and dad when I was growing up. I was o glad to have these memories. But I am delighted that she decided to friend me on FB and we can at least keep up with each other’s happenings. God is good! This is an answer to my prayer. I may never get to speak to my sister again, but that is in God’s hands. I’m also glad to be friends with my sister’s son-in-law on FB. I wonder if anyone ever mentions my name at family gatherings? I admit it is strange seeing pictures of their children and not knowing who they are really, having never met them.

The year that followed was rocky at first as I grieved for dad and the estrangement from my family. I will never forget the way that God provided “family” for me during that first year. The holidays are always hardest and i truly had nowhere to go. But my vision teacher from high school, Jeanne, invited me to come stay with them and celebrate Christmas. I took them u pin it and it was wonderful, just different. It was strange because my family was actually in the same town, Bryan. But of course I did not see them.

Things really started locking up at the start of 1998 when I got my first teaching job and met Richard. I’ll talk about the way we met in a future post. Stay turned!

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It’s Fair Time!

The weather is cooling off and the leaves are falling from the trees.  And we are beginning to see the trees changing colors to shades of autumn.  Towns both large and small are ringing in the fall with fall festivals and fairs. I used to be a regular attendee at our local county fair. The girls and I would go and ride the ferris wheel and all sorts of other rides.  Oh and the games we would play trying to win the biggest stuffed animal! Tokens, tokens, and more tokens….

On Saturday Richard and I with our friend Harriet went to the Titus County Fair, the same one I’ve gone to for years, but have not been to since the fair of 2012, the last one me and the girls attended together.  I wasn’t sure how it would be…. bringing back all those fond memories…. but it was good, in fact it was great!  Of course I thought about them and which rides they loved.  But you know, the Lord gave me an extra amount of grace for the day.  Of course I missed them being there with us, but it was not a sad time.

I had a new wheelchair experience… getting across the hoses that ran all across the ground supplying electricity to all the rides.  Wobble, wobble, bump, bump! But I managed to get over them, although it shook me around a little! Before long I was caught up in the sights of brightly colored banners and signs, the smell of local flairs including Mexican food, barbecue, cotton candy, and funnel cakes!  Refreshing lemonade was a welcomed treat even though the Texas heat was kind of mild – thank goodness!

But this time at the fair was different in more than just one way.  We went in to the civic center to scope out the vendor booths and to see the exhibits.  There are all kinds of contests each year for people of all ages to compete in, including the art contests (photography, painting, etc.), horticulture (growing large fruits and vegetables, canning various produce, etc.), quilt contests, crafts, paper crafts, and so much more!  I had never before taken time to really see the art exhibits and the others.  What a treat I missed!  And not only that, had I visited them with a more careful eye, I would have know that there were art contests for children even at their young ages.  Richard, Harriet and I spent quality time admiring the various arts versus standing in lines waiting to ride rides.

Our last stop before leaving was for funnel cake.  There simply can’t be anything more greasy and calorie-laiden than funnel cake! But it is OH SO GOOD!  Well and when you only eat one a year, is it really that bad?  I think not!! I must say that I was intrigued by seeing things such as fried Snickers, Oreos, etc.  Wow, I might have to try one of those next year!

Below are some pictures of the girls at the 2012 Titus County Fair.  What a great time they had.  One picture is of Chloe steering a pink car, one of Emmarie steering a bus of some sort, and then one of them at the car with all their winnings, including Emmarie wearing a big red squid hat!  They are smiling from ear to ear and that puts a smile in my heart.  I can only imagine the sights they are seeing from Heaven.  10378554_10202586228206859_2741856445174346047_n 10689520_10202586231566943_6406144314788048111_n 550953_3613709831330_1064456078_n

Richard, me, and Harriet at the Titus County Fair.

Richard, me, and Harriet at the Titus County Fair.

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The Christmas Gift

pucture of a gift with red wrapping paper abd a gold ribbon

Today as I was pondering Christmas I had a whole new revelation of what it really means; The story from start to finish. We tend to think of Christmas being about Mary giving birth to the tiny baby Jesus and how the Wisemen followed the star and brought gifts. How the family had to flee from Herod and all of that. But that is only the start. Now, as a mom whose children have died and gone to Heaven, I see so much more clearly how real Christmas is and the heart of God in it.

Jesus was born with an eternal purpose. He would live about 33 years, have a huge ministry and yet suffer everything imaginable and unimaginable and finally be killed.
I wonder on this day how God must have felt… All the joy any parent feels when a child is born and so much more because He knew a way was being made for mankind… The ultimate gift to the world… A world that God loved dearly.

I can also feel what God must have felt as Jesus was in the garden praying that this wouldn’t happen yet also surrendering to His Father’s will. Oh the emotions God must have felt as Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, the soldiers coming at Jesus and taking Him away to be tried. Just think how we feel at the mere thought of someone making fun of our kids, beating up on them, spitting on them, mocking them, etc.

Through many tears as I was missing our girls this evening, I thought about our loving Father watching all of that happen to his Son who lived a perfect blameless life. At any moment, even when He was pierced and bleeding, hanging and dying on that rugged splintered cross with the nails in His hands and feet, God could have stopped it. But Instead He forsake His only Son. Oh the tears, the grief, the agony that God felt as He watched this happen and saw Jesus laid in the tomb.

Why would a loving God let this happen to his Son? Because God so loved the world and He knew Jesus’ shed blood and death was the ONLY way that we could be saved from everlasting damnation. The Bible says the wages of sin (and all of us have sinned) is death, but THE GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ!
Jesus rose again 3 days later and sealed the victory over sin, death, hell, and the grave. Hallelujah!

When someone gives us a gift it is up to us to accept or reject it. Jesus has given you and me the gift of salvation. I accepted this gift when I was 12 years old. Today He stands at the door of your heart and is knocking. He has a gift for you. Will you accept it? I hope so!

To accept means to ask Jesus to come into your life, to tell him you know you have done things that aren’t pleasing to Him, and to agree to turn away from those things. Ask Jesus to wash you, to be your Savior. And He will!

I hope you find this Christmas gift today and take hold if it and never let Him go! Jesus is the gift of Christmas!
Merry CHRISTmas!!

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Strolling Down Memory Lane

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I had the pleasure of a great friend coming to visit on Saturday.  Each month since my coming home from the hospital, she has come and we have had a project to work on for the day.  Sometimes other mutual friends accompany her. We always have fun and get things done!  Saturday our project was to take picture frame Christmas ornaments and put pictures of the girls in them.  It has been her tradition each year since the girls were born to send one of these ornaments for each of the girls. I just had not taken time to add the pictures. I’m not overly talented at crafty stuff and time was so short.

As we went through pictures on the computer we found some that were perfect to crop, cut, and insert into the ornaments. This was so much fun because it let us both look back at past events and activities with Emmarie and Chloe. Oh how I miss them! But how sweet it was to have a good friend to go with me down Memory Lane!

This year’s ornament, which she actually purchased last year, is 2 angels. In the past the ornaments would be different; like a penguin and snowman. But last year she bought 2 angels!! I think this is far beyond coincidence! I’ll keep taking strolls like these until I meet them on the streets of gold!

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It’s The Season!

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Wow! What a variety of emotions the past two days have brought! Several friends have come over and helped on many ways. They’ve helped put up and decorate our tree, went to doctor’s office , grocery store, and pharmacy to bring us stuff so we don’t have to brave the incoming wintry weather. And some just came by for a visit.

You know that Christmas is filled with rich memories of years past. The hanging of ornaments is always a time to remember events and people associated with them. I held up well through the tree decorating . Most of the ornaments are related to work events and gift exchanges and a few given by family. What got me was the angel that sits atop the tree. Emmarie and Chloe picked it out last year. And I just couldn’t help but cry just thinking about how special it is and how it feels like a gift from them.

Then we were listening to Christmas music and this song with lyrics, “Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care, and take us to heaven to live with Thee there.” A flood of tears just flowed as I sang these words! For I know they are with Jesus and I’m on my way there too… Oh the day of that happy reunion!

The Season is young and many more emotions and memories are to come in this the last of the “firsts” without them.

Let us not forget that Jesus is the Reason we celebrate Christmas. My tree will be pretty bare underneath this year. But it’s okay… because He is here!

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