Monday, November 26, 2012

In the Car With Daddy

When I was pregnant with Sarah, I couldn't listen to country music. Made me cry like a baby. There was one song that really made the waterworks flow. Alan Jackson's, "When Daddy Let Me Drive". That song would make me bawl. 

There is something about being in a car that makes me think of my Daddy. So many of my favorite and most memorable moments happened in a vehicle. Today is his birthday and for the past few days those memories  have been front and center in my mind.

My first memory is  when I was about 9. For some reason my Dad had a rental car and he thought it was the perfect size for me to learn to drive in. He let me drive that thing all over the neighborhood, but I don't know how much he thought about his choice of driveways for me to turn around in. My friend's dad just happened to be a highway patrolman and that was the house he picked for me to turn that car around in! Thankfully we went undetected. 

I've shared this memory before. In fact, Josh shared it at my Dad's funeral and I thought I was going to have to crawl under the pew. There was a summer that I went to work with my Dad everyday. He was a nursing home administrator and I loved going to work with him. I would hang out with the activities director and polish ladies fingernails or play BINGO. Anyway, I was about 10 or 11 that summer and I will never forget the ride to work one morning when my Dad said, "You know, when you have sex, you have babies." I contemplated opening the door and rolling out in James Bond fashion, but I didn't. I just nodded, even thought I'm pretty sure I really did NOT know that and we rode in uncomfortable silence. Thankfully, there would be books at school later that explained things a little more. :)

Most of my memories riding with my Dad happened in middle school. We would listen to talk radio, college football, Pearl Jam and the Beatles. He would act silly and sing, "That's Just My Baby Daddy". It's why I am such a well-rounded person. :)  We would talk about politics and sometimes our opinions differed. Because you know, I knew so much at 13. It was one day that we were riding together that it came on the news that there had been a bombing in Oklahoma City. That was when he told me, "People just make choices."

Before too long it was my turn in the driver's seat. My most memorable moment in Driver's Ed with Roger Strickland happened while I still had my permit. I was driving with my Dad in the front seat. Two of my friends were in the backseat and we were going to a birthday party. The gift was up on the dashboard and somehow, it slid off and fell. Like the seasoned driver that I was, I immediately bent down to pick it up. Bent down, y'all. Like stuck my head down in the floor board. During this time I may have accidentally run us off the road and within an inch of our lives and a telephone pole. My Daddy said some choice words and my friends and I started breathing again. We made it to the party. I never put a gift on the dashboard again.

Just a couple of years later, tragedy would touch our family. I was working as a junior counselor at a girl's camp in North Alabama, 12 hours from home. My Daddy came to pick me up unexpectedly and I learned that my 6 year old cousin had died in an accident. My Dad had driven the 12 hours straight there to get me, and we had to turn right around and make that trip again. Eventually my Dad needed a break. It was my first experience driving on the interstate. I don't know who was more afraid. I'm not sure how much rest my Dad got. It was a long, life changing kind of trip.

Soon it would be time for me to go to college. I drove myself. And Josh, who slept the whole way. I rolled down the windows and sang the Dixie Chick's "Wide Open Spaces" the whole way there. (That was when you could listen to music without choosing a political party. :) My Daddy followed. For a year and a half anytime I made that trip back and forth he would make sure I had gas, the oil was changed and remind me to lock my doors and not pick up hitchhikers. I know it killed him to let me make that 5 hour trip by myself, but I needed to. He will never know the confidence and independence those drives grew in me.

Just when I thought my days of riding with my Daddy were over, he rode with me when Josh and I made the move to Mississippi. Josh and his Dad were in the moving truck, my Dad was with me in the Jeep. I know he thought we were crazy. We've pretty much accepted that everybody we knew at the time thought we were crazy. :) I had just a week earlier graduated from college and gotten a job. We were moving into a house we'd never seen. I don't recommend doing that, by the way. It turned out to be a 100 year old farmhouse and I had serious concerns that Old McDonald's farm of animals may have actually lived inside it. I'll never forget the next day, after all of our stuff was unpacked, Josh and Dandy and my Daddy left. I was going to get the house in order while Josh finished his last week of work. As they pulled away from the house I was determined to be strong and independent. The truth was I had never wanted my Daddy so bad in my life!

The next week I traveled to Jackson, Ms. to take my test to be licensed as a social worker in Ms. I had gotten a job, but I couldn't start it until I had that license. I was only going to be able to take it one time because it was expensive. It was a high stress situation. Of course, I got lost. The test was actually given at the community college my Dad had graduated from. I called him to get directions and he started talking about all the different places and things he had done. As soon as I heard his voice, I was calm and even peaceful as I felt like I was driving through an important part of my Dad's history. 

I am so thankful for these memories and many more. I didn't realize until I wrote them out how many of them were sad or traumatic or hard. I don't think of them that way. I think of them fondly because I had my Daddy during those times. I still miss my Daddy the most when I drive. I still feel the closest to him when I'm behind the wheel. When his favorite songs come on, I don't know if I want to cry or sing along. Sometimes I do both. 

Just about a month ago I got my lunch and went to a little park to sit and eat. I left the radio on so I could listen to Rush Limbaugh and ran my battery down. Josh had to come rescue me. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him what I was listening to. Who would've ever thought listening to Rush Limbaugh would bring someone peace? :) But, that's what I did, in the car with Daddy.

This is how I like to remember my Daddy. Driving and being silly.

Friday, November 23, 2012

For the Fun of It

Back around Halloween I had an epiphany of sorts. I was stressing about costumes, and pumpkin patches and pictures and treats. And all of a sudden it dawned on me-this is supposed to be fun. And so, I decided we would have fun. My kids were going to pick their own costumes and we were just going to have fun. The night of Halloween they got ready and were waiting on Josh and I to get ready. I asked for one pic of them together. They obliged.
Then, they wanted to ride their scooters and stuff. I came so close to saying, "NO! You need to sit on the couch so you don't mess up your costume!", but then I remembered. This is supposed to be fun. So, they rode scooters with capes flying and tutus twirling.

Well, I tried to hang on to my mantra for Thanksgiving. This being my first year working full-time in a while, I knew I was going to have to let some expectations go. I've decided I either need more hours in the day or more energy. Or a maid. Whatever. So, anyway, I did my best stay calm, cool and collected. :)

Wednesday night we loaded up the kids, picked up my mom and went to have supper at Applebee's and catch "Wreck-It Ralph". It's a super cute movie and we had lots of laughs. 

I cooked almost all of the food I was taking for Thanksgiving on Wednesday so that made Thursday much more relaxed. We joined Josh's family at his sister's house. She has lived in Italy the last 3 years and this was our first Thanksgiving with her and her husband since they got married. She played hostess with the mostest to 20 people and rocked it. Just to prove that I have really embraced this whole "just for fun" thing you have to see the only pics I got on Thanksgiving.  I've always been one of those girls who thinks we all need matching clothes and a full family photo shoot on holidays. But, my experience has been, that's not really fun for anyone. :)  This is what I got this year....

Aren't they fabulous? I think I'll use them for our Christmas cards. Oh, who am I kidding, we all know I'll forget to order Christmas cards.....

I hope that you all had a fabulously fun Thanksgiving and were reminded of the many blessings in your life!

P.S. I've gone about 8 months without eating sweets and these last two days I've caved. I got up at 5:00 this morning to go shopping and I am still pinging. Can we say sugar rush???????

Sunday, November 18, 2012


This week I came across a quote and I can't stop thinking about it. It says, "Grief doesn't change you, it reveals you." (John Green) Anyone who has grieved for any reason may feel differently. At times of loss, whether of a person, a job, an opportunity, or whatever, it is easy to feel as if you are a completely different person. You question, "Who am if I'm no longer the daughter of a Daddy?" "Who am I if I don't hold this position?" You may feel like you don't recognize yourself if you've let go of a dream you held for a long time.

Sometimes the pain of a loss leads to such despair, anger or bitterness that it seems to strangle the personality right out of you. It can seem like everything changes when those emotions begin to spill over to your relationships. But the truth is, it's not a change. It's a revealing.

It reveals how strong our faith is. It reveals who we are when we are tested, deprived, and snatched from our comfort zone. It reveals how we choose to treat people in the midst of chaos and dark days.

This revelation can be insufferable. It may show us things about ourselves we never wanted to see. We may go places spiritually and emotionally we never wanted to go. Often these times reveal to us more than any other time how much we need a Savior. Not just a Savior. A Redeemer.

On my Aunt's FaceBook page this week a lady posted about the day she gave birth to her stillborn child. My Aunt Kay, a nurse, told her, "God never wastes a hurt." She was remembering those words and what they meant to her, and as my eyes came across them, I knew God was speaking that to me, as well.  I know these words to be true. On more than one instance I've watched God take the most terrible, gut wrenching experiences and use them in a person's life to do beautiful things.

Speaking of beautiful things, this morning Josh preached out of Isaiah 61.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

I was sharing with Josh how that has always been one of my favorite passages. The thought of God giving beauty for ashes. I always knew that in Biblical times when a person was grieving they wore sackcloth and covered their heads in ashes. But this morning Josh shared with me that the word "beauty" didn't translate well from the Hebrew and that it actually represents crowns placed on a person's head. That was a visual that took my breath away. The idea of God dusting those ashes of mourning from a person's head and replacing it with a crown.

*A symbol of healing. The grief has passed.

*A sign of achievement. By His Spirit, you have not only survived, but grown through a time you thought might crush you.

*A sign of responsibility. God never wastes a hurt. Your story is one that no one else can tell. It is a great responsibility to share with others. Someone is waiting for the hope that only you can offer.

To top off the two quotes and this sermon, Josh and his sister, Leah, sang a song this morning that speaks beautifully of the redemption we are offered. There is no worse feeling than to think that something has been wasted. Our money. Our investment in a relationship. Our time. Thankfully, God is a God who redeems even those things that feel wasted. God never wastes a hurt.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Photo courtesy of Google Images

A few weeks back I was reading the kids a bedtime story, and it has stuck with me since. We were reading the story of Hermie, a caterpillar who feels very ordinary and doesn't understand why he doesn't have pretty spots like the ladybug or a cool "house" like the snail. God reassures Hermie that He is not finished with him yet, and sure enough Hermie eventually becomes a beautiful butterfly.

The part that I keep thinking about is the part when Hermie goes into his cocoon. For the first time I started wondering what that process is like. I read that the cocoon stage can last from 2 weeks to an entire season. And during that time the insect becomes an adult. The cocoon is often camouflaged so it will be safe.

Why on earth am I talking about cocoons? Well, I think I've been in one. I haven't blogged much lately, and I would blame it on being busy or tired, because I have been both. But really, I just haven't known what to blog. I just haven't felt able to write. And that is hard for me because writing is my "thing". It is my therapy, my hobby, my release. 

My friend, Melanie, wrote this blog, I Wear Many Hats and I felt like she was expressing what I have been dealing with. The truth is that I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the hats that I wear and trying to figure out who the "real" Emily is. I have "Mom Emily", "Wife Emily", "Preacher's Wife Emily", "Wish I Could Be a Better Friend Emily", "Working Emily", and the list goes on. Some days I am serious and discuss politics and deep spiritual issues and some days I sing 80's hits at the top of my lungs and dance around the kitchen. I want to care for orphaned children and minister to young moms and visit with the members of our church. I also want to lay on the couch and watch Hallmark movies. And sometimes it's all so overwhelming to me that I just want to sit in the corner and stare at the wall.

That's where the cocooning comes in. I have felt at times that I am isolating myself or not doing enough of the things I should be doing, but I reached the conclusion that at times, God has to cocoon us. He has to grow us. The cocooning process is an inactive one. The insect has to create it's own cocoon, just like we have to choose to want to let God work on us, but once the cocoon is built, God does the work. In the way that an insect turns into a fully functioning adult during that time, God turns us into mature believers. Sometimes He just needs us to be still and quiet for Him to do that.

I'm cocooning y'all. I don't know how long this process will take for me. Writing this may open up the writing floodgates and I'll be posting everyday. Or, it may not. God has a lot of work to do, but I am positive that the end result will be worth it.  Maybe the next time I see you I will be a butterfly. :)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 

2 Corinthians 5:17