Oceans, Part II

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine.
-Oceans

It was a rainy Friday in early October. I was still on maternity leave and had already made the short trek to my mom and dad’s house. I went to their house on this particular Friday because Matthew wouldn’t be home until late that night due to a game out of town. Plus, my mom had told me that if I came up early, I could take a nap and she would watch my baby. To a new mom, this is music to the ears. So, I made the short journey an hour north late Friday morning.

I pulled up in my parent’s driveway and started to unload the many bags I had for a short overnight stay. You know what they say… when you have a baby, you pack the house. I am certainly no exception to that rule.

I hadn’t been at my parents for long when I got a call from Matthew. Sometimes, Matthew will call me during the day on his break, but it’s pretty rare. It’s even more rare on “game day.” I could hear the urgency in his voice. “Are you at your mom’s?” “Yes,” I replied. “Are you okay?” “Yes, but mom, dad, and Papa have been in a car accident.”

Matthew’s parents live in South Georgia, about 5 hours away from us, and were on their way to a town about 2 hours away when they had a car accident. My immediate reaction was to ask if everyone was okay. Matthew had limited details due to the fact that the accident had just happened and we were not close by. I asked him if we need to leave right away but he told me no. He had wanted to wait until there were more details. We did know that his grandfather was in serious condition, but we didn’t know to what extent. About an hour later I got a call from Matthew’s mom. Papa had passed away due to a medical event that happened at the time of the accident.

I had just seen Papa the week before. He had come to my house, along with Matthew’s mom and dad, for a visit. He adored Lydia Grace. In fact, he credited himself for the day she made her big arrival to the world. He would often wear a Navy hat that Matthew had bought for him since he was a veteran. The day before Lydia Grace was born, Papa said, “I’m going to wave my hat toward this baby (pointing to my large belly) and she will hear me and make an appearance.” Needless to say, it must have worked because she came about 8 hours later. I treasure the picture I have of Papa and Lydia Grace in the hospital room after she was born. He was wearing that same Navy hat.

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It is an incredibly odd feeling to know you saw someone the week before sitting in your living room and the next thing you know they are no longer living on the earth. Life can certainly change unexpectedly and without warning.

I called Matthew back and asked him if we needed to leave right away to head down to South Georgia. Matthew’s dad was in the hospital, and while he did have injuries, he was stable. Matthew told me he wanted to go to the game because in his heart he knew it was the right thing to do.

We were new to the Dalton coaching staff, but in no way did Matthew feel like he had to choose the game over an urgent situation. It was more of a “I’m going to honor my Papa” moment. I have to say something about our coaching staff. I have never been part of a family like the one at Dalton. They showed us nothing but love and support during a difficult time. Dalton won the game that night and we felt like it was a victory to honor Papa. He loved watching his grandsons play football and then coach. That moment was a bright spot to a very sad day.

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We made the journey south the next morning. We reminisced about Papa’s life and the dramatic change he had made in his faith two years before his move to Heaven. Papa didn’t really want anything to do with God a few years prior to his passing. I don’t think that he necessarily had anything against God or Christianity, but he just didn’t make it his own. That is, until his precious wife, Matthew’s grandmother “nanny” and Lydia Grace’s namesake, passed away. Papa loved his wife. He adored the ground she walked on. She was not just his wife but his best friend. When she died, part of him died, too. Jesus became a huge part of Papa’s life after nanny’s passing. He became alive again. He was rejuvenated. There was literally a bounce in his step. He missed his companion, but he had hope that he would see her again. He was just different in the most beautiful way possible. He glowed. That zeal never left him from that moment until the time he met Jesus face to face.

A few weeks after his passing, Lydia Grace was to be dedicated (our church’s version of a christening). We could definitely feel Papa’s absence that day, but there was also the most beautiful peace. I can’t explain it. The whole day was full of so much joy at a time when we had experienced a great loss. After our church service, Matthew’s parents and mine came back to our house and we had a wonderful time of fellowship over lunch and it almost felt like Papa himself was there with us. Maybe he was.

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Our lives would once again change in just two short weeks. November 17 to be exact.

Part III coming soon.

 

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Oceans, part I

I first heard Hillsong’s Oceans in the fall of 2013 when their album Zion released. I was newly married and had moved to a new town away from my family, friends, and my comfort zone. My newly married self was trying to adjust to my husband’s coaching schedule while keeping my same job in my former town. It made for an incredibly long commute and an even more awkward transition to my “new” life. I didn’t have a lot of time to meet new friends in a town where many have known each other for years. It was very hard to break in to social circles and I was in a very lonely place. I had loved my job, but the drive was killing me. I started praying for God to open a door for me. Because any commuter will tell you that music is a must for the long stretches, I purchased Zion and Oceans began playing on my radio. I was hooked. The melody, the lyrics, everything about that song was speaking to me. After crying out to God for weeks along the stretch of I-75 that became my “prayer closet,” the answer didn’t seem to come. I was growing more discouraged by the day. That song gave me hope and suddenly my prayer went to, “please hear me God and give me a job closer to home” to, “Okay, what do you want, God? I will do whatever you want me to do.”

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Eventually, I did get another job, but as I listened to those same lyrics, I realized just how dangerous they are. I sing those lyrics in church. I mean them. But, it doesn’t change the fact that they are dangerous. Let me explain.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You will lead me; Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.”

How many times have I sat in church and sang those lyrics without realizing the weight of them? The answer to that question is many, many times. Those lyrics became a heart cry in the late fall/early winter part of 2015 and ushered in 2016–perhaps the most difficult and excruciating time of my life. My comfortable little world pretty much turned completely upside down and left me feeling like a category 5 hurricane had just blown through leaving all sorts of destruction in its wake. I was left to pick up the pieces.

And it began in October, the “peak” of hurricane season. And hurricanes happen near oceans.

Part II coming soon. 

 

Time Waits on Nobody

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Tonight I watched my wedding video for the first time in almost three years. I was surprised at my reaction to it. I bawled like a baby. As I was watching it, I looked at the children who attended and who were part of the wedding party. Now those same children are approaching pre-teen years. I looked at the precious family members who were present at our wedding and who are no longer with us. I saw babies who were crawling around who are now little kids. Mamas who were pregnant then now have toddlers. So much has changed in three short years.

When I was growing up, my dad would “holler” (that’s a good southern word for you, by the way), up the stairs to me on Sunday mornings and let me know that my time was running short to get ready for church. It has always taken me a long time to get ready. What can I say? He would always say to me, “time waits on nobody!” as I would reply, “okay, okay…but give me five more minutes.”

Time waits on nobody. It’s not just a cliché encouraging me to hurry it up. It applies to life. The moments I am blessed with daily are precious and they will never be again. Since my dad’s unexpected death, I am so much more aware of life. He would have retired in just a few short months. He was so looking forward to that. Unfortunately, he never got the chance. Time waits on nobody. He didn’t get five more minutes.

For the longest time I tried to put this blog off. I really hesitate even now to commit to it. But, I feel there is purpose behind it. I need to write about my feelings on life and death. No, I don’t want it to be morbid or sad, but I do have things I feel that I need to say. Mainly, I hope I can encourage you, the reader, to enjoy your life while you have the chance and to find purpose in those precious, little moments that otherwise seem insignificant. I chose the title, “quill and pen” because our life is a story that we write each day. My question to you: what will you write?

Carrie