A lot of of packin’

 

A lot of movin’, A lot of rollin’
A lot of drivin’, A lot of strollin’
A lot of leavin’ here
A lot of arrivin’ there
Trying to go just about everywhere
A lot of thinking about where I’m going next

I could add a whole verse here about a lot of packin’ :

A lot of packin’, A lot of sortin’

It’s nerve rackin’, We’re transportin’

A lot of leavin’ there

A lot of arrivin’ here

Goin’ on a lot of love and prayers

A lot of thinking about where we’re goin’ next

 

I’ve wanted to write a post for a while but have been so overwhelmed by life. To try to make a long story short, I’ll share my husband’s facebook post.

From my husband…

As some of you are aware, I put in for retirement effective June 1 and we placed our home on the market. The house went under contract immediately and we close on 5/19/20.

Unfortunately a few weeks ago I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. We have consulted with UAB oncologists and decided to return to Jax, FL as planned and I have an appointment at Mayo Clinic this Thursday.

I wish all of you the very best in all life as to offer. Angie and I covet your prayers for strength, wisdom and that the Lord be glorified in our circumstances.

According to the Scripture all ‘our days are numbered’ so whether mine are few or many “I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for my sins…”

Please forgive me if I ever offended you in anyway, it is never intentional but still there is no excuse.

I pray his blessings upon each of you.

 

So, here we are in Jacksonville. We are home. One more night in a hotel and we move into an apartment for six months.  This is not the move we planned. We were going to buy a house -our last home -in Jacksonville with cash so we would have no mortgage payment going into retirement. God had others plans. And He has provided for us.

My husband will start chemo next week. Our lives will be much different. But I look forward to a sweet time.

There have been many silver linings in all of this. I have seen God’s providence. Had there not been this “pandemic” our two daughters would not have been free to come help us as they have. We have seen amazing things with these two girls. Young women. Their love and care for their dad and me has been overwhelming. From cooking, packing, and making phone calls for me to massaging feet, taking vitals and tracking meds and food for their dad, they have been here for us. I could never have done it without them.

Our sons, too, have poured out love and help on us. Our oldest with his nursing skills has been a comfort to lean on, traveling back and forth from Tampa, which is NOT a hop, skip, and jump away.   The younger son, thankfully working a new job, maintains constant contact and cheers us up. A few weekends ago they were all at our house in Bham. It was the first time we had all been together in over 13 years.

Silver linings and blessings from God.

 

 

Except for that pesky virus…

Hurricane  Andrew

from Los Angeles Times

 

August, 1992, was when we moved from Orange Park to Lake Wales, Florida. The  second week there our youngest celebrated her third birthday. Then south Florida was hit by Hurricane Andrew. Though it was south of us, it was frightening watching it unfold on the news, tracking its path, just in case. Which is what we always do in Florida.

 

“Except for that pesky hurricane, Andrew, the summer of 1992 was magic.” – Rick Bragg

 

Today we are once again watching a story unfold that is bigger in scope than the hurricane. It sometimes seems distant, this coronavirus, but not for long. Most times it seems like it’s at our doorstep. But, we couldn’t stop the hurricane, or all the other hurricanes, so we just prepared the best we could. Same as today.

In 2004, we hunkered down with our newlywed son and his bride when Charley came barreling toward us. This time it was one day before that youngest daughter’s birthday. And the same day our older daughter arrived home from overseas, landing in Orlando in the midst of the chaos.

That was the year that three hurricanes crossed over our home in Winter Haven. Charley – Frances – Jeanne.  Ivan also hit Florida north of us.

I don’t really know what point I’m making here except that I am grateful God has brought us through all these storms. I am praying he will bring my family safely through this current storm. I want to be able say, like Rick Bragg, that except for that pesky virus, the spring of 2020 was magic.

 

Bookcase Browsings #1: Main Street Baptist Church of Auburndale

mainstreet

We are unloading our bookcases as a first step in our preparing to move. It is a slow process for me as I’m TRYING to get rid of a few books but that’s a super hard thing for me. Then I come across yearbooks, church directories, school anthologies and other such items that make me pause and travel down memory  lane.

Pictured above is the cover of an old church directory, circa 2001. The first page shows the “staff”. Of these ten people, four have passed on. The senior pastor, Dr. Jay Wimberly, is the reason we know and love these people. He and his wife, Shirley, were a big part of our lives for many years. They are both gone, but their daughter, Dawn, who directed the music, still lives in the Winter Haven area. Forrest Gilliam is gone – he was a very special man. His loving wife still lives in Winter Haven. He was a paraplegic for many, many years and she took care of him in a way that always drew my great admiration for her. The other one gone, Gene Manning, was a man that I always saw with a smile on his face. He just made me feel good.

Others gone but not forgotten: Mrs. Brown, Roberta, Helen, Mrs. Hendricks, Cheryl, Grace.

The kids who now have kids: Mindy, Katie, Stephen, Tiffany, Laura, Jarrod, Angela, Kyle, Ben.

I’m sure I’ve  missed a few – we haven’t lived in the areas since 2005. But I still count some of these fellow Christians  among my close friends: Tom, Peggy and Mary. I keep up with others via facebook.

Moving is never easy, but I look forward to being just a little closer to some of these old friends in Florida.

 

 

 

We never know

eastside

eastside.polk-fl.net

 

We often never know what difference we’ve made in someone’s life. We, as teachers, may never see a student after they leave our classroom at the end of the school year. I don’t remember all the students, but some do stick in my mind and my heart.

My first three years of teaching in the public school system were at a school in Haines City, Florida. I taught fourth grade in this school  that was more than 50% Hispanic. I worked with a group of teachers that became my friends. We poured our time, energy, and hearts into the young lives we had from 8am-3:30pm each day.

By my second year I was more comfortable in the classroom. I’d taken some ESL classes, I had a  little experience under my belt and my teacher-friends and I worked especially hard that year in writing instruction. We were test driven, not by choice,  but we tried to make it fun. That year some of our students got their letters to Al E. Gator published in the Lakeland Ledger. I still have a photocopy of the paper where five of my kids had their letters printed. I can still remember their faces. Their was towheaded Jeremy, funny Jah, outgoing Aida. And then there was Zenaida and Hector. Both were shy and still struggling with English. The letters were simple : telling Al E. Gator about their Thanksgiving plans.  Zenaida’s letter ended with, “All my family is going to go to my house and I am going to be very happy about that.” Hector talked about the previous year’s Thanksgiving, “My grandpa, my sister, my dad, my mom, my big brother and my dad’s friends were there. I played with my friends. We played hide and go seek. I felt happy.”

Simple childhood joys. This was in November, 1997. I don’t know the details of their lives, but I know Zenaida and Hector grew up and fell in love. They had a baby.

Fast forward to February, 2005. Hector’s sister was home for the weekend from the School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, Florida, along  with her boyfriend who also went to the school. She was deaf and mute and he also had hearing loss. For some reason, Hector’s sister checked him out of school early and, along with Zenaida and baby Jasmine, they were all headed somewhere in the car that the boyfriend was driving. He ran a stop sign, hit another car.  Hector, his sister, Zenaida, and baby Jasmine were all killed. About a month later the boyfriend also passed away.

Hector, just 17, was on track to take his GED test. He wanted to be a mechanic and take care of his parents. He, Zeniada, 18, and the baby all lived with his parents.  It’s been nearly 15 years since the accident, about 23 years since I last saw them, but I can still see their sweet 4th-grade faces in my memory.

I cannot even begin to imagine the grief of his parents. To lose two children, a granddaughter, and a girl who was soon to be their daughter in law, all in one fell swoop.  Loss is part of life, but some losses grip us harder and stay longer. We don’t any of us know our days or times, which makes that time even more precious.

Say love.

Avetts in October #11: Daydreaming

bhmafall1

Birmingham, 2013

 

“It’s a habit of mine,” said Jim Wade wistfully, “daydreaming in other seasons…”  from Quite a Year for Plums by Bailey White

In September I was daydreaming of fall. All year I’ve been daydreaming of the near (I wish) future when we might be able to return to Florida. But I realize that kind of dreaming isn’t always helpful or productive. Sometimes too much looking into the future blinds me to the present.

And from November Blue

And if I weren’t leavin’, 
Would I catch you dreamin’ …

And if I came to you tomorrow, 
And said “let’s run away”
Would you roll like the wind does… (YES)

And I sing songs of sorrow, 
Because you’re not around… (TRUE)

I’ve fallen like the leaves…

rpfall2

Moss Rock Preserve

 

Monday Music #21

jjgrey

“… for music alone can abolish differences of language or culture between two people and evoke something indestructible within them.” –  from Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

 

 

I was introduced to the music of JJ Grey and Mofro, many years back by my daughter. I’ve only seen him in concert twice; once in concurrence with the Jacksonville Symphony (with my daughter)  and then again in Birmingham (with my husband). On my many trips from Jacksonville to Tampa I’ve driven through Lochloosa and I always think of Grey’s love for Florida.

buck

View from the Buckman Bridge – 2013

 

My father-in-law had a little trailer in Astor on the St. Johns River for many years.  The pictures below are from a trip I took up the river with my brother-in-law and niece back in 2012. We went out to Lake George and stopped at Silver Glen Springs. It was one of the most relaxing days I’ve ever spent.

 

 

This song, This River, grips me every time I hear it. Growing up minutes from the St. Johns in Jacksonville, I never appreciated it like I do now. As a kid, it was just the river we crossed to get to downtown. Now I understand a little more about the vastness and beauty it contains. I long to get back to this river someday.