Things that remind me…

April 13, 2012 at 10:22 am (Thoughts)

April 30th marks the 3 year anniversary of my grandpa’s death.

Death is no stranger, my grandmother passed away in 1993, when I was 8 years old. Followed by a myriad of great aunts, great uncles, cousins removed, a police officer I never really knew but that I saw die as he lay on asphalt. My Dad’s dad, Grandpa Edwards passed away in 2004 and just last year I lost an uncle, great-uncle, first cousin and grandpa on my husband’s side.

In a way, I am grateful that I was exposed to death at an early age. You learn to cope, to process and in a way to numb yourself and while it doesn’t make losing someone any easier it makes it  bearable.

So. Raymond Eugene Pressley. Grandfather, father, uncle, brother and at one time so very long ago, husband.

Here are a few things that remind me of him…

Number One: Orange slices

When I was younger and Grandpa lived in Charlotte, we would visit him. He would have an endless supply of these gummy treats as well as Number Two.

Number Two: Mountain Dew

Oh, Mountain Dew. During our visits, he would also have “Good Ole’ Mountain Dew” at the ready. Up until he couldn’t remember any longer due to his dementia, he would sing “Give me that good ole’ Mountain Dew.” He would continue with his version of the lyrics, “fill up a bottle or two. I’ll hush up my mug if you fill up my jug of that good ole’ Mountain Dew.” Of course, this song was about mountain moonshine, not the neon yellow, lemon-lime concoction.

Take a listen, you may need to fast forward to about 45 seconds, unless you want to hear Mr. Flatt and Mr. Scruggs talk for a bit

Number Three: Little Debbie Cakes

I would say that Gramps had a sweet tooth. Swiss cake rolls and Oatmeal Creme Pies. Strawberry Ice Cream that he would share with my brother’s dog and then deny knowledge of how Hutch got pink all over his snout.

Number Four: Gomer Pyle (played by Jim Nabors)

Gomer Pyle was a character on The Andy Griffith Show and eventually gained his own television sitcom. I honestly don’t remember why Gomer reminds me of Gramps. Maybe they favor each other, maybe because he talked about him.

Number Five: The Marine Corps

Grandpa was in the Marine Corps, serving in the Korean War. He was proud of being a marine, as most marines are. He was always randomly saying, “Left, left, left, right, left”.

During the latter part of his life, he brought so much joy to our lives. His legacy of redemption will live on.

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Welcome Baby Lana!

January 12, 2012 at 3:17 pm (Thoughts)

I haven’t posted much about one of my best friends, Vanessa. Our unlikely friendship began almost 12 years ago on the theatre stage of Carolina Forest High School. We have known each other a little longer than 12 years, but the first year was not pleasant.

 

Oldest photo that we have online. From 2006...I need to work on getting older photos.

You see, Vanessa dated my brother their freshman year of high school. If you have a younger sibling, you know how annoying they can be (I being the younger sibling). Vanessa would call my brother and he would call her and spend hours on the phone talking about who knows what. This annoyed me. I had friends to call and  Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Hanson to talk about. I disliked Vanessa. She took up too much phone time and she was dating my brother so automatically I thought she was gross.

The next year, I tried out for the school musical. I remember seeing her at tryouts and thinking “oh, great. Just who I want to see.” It was my first year and high school, her and my brother had since broken up but I still didn’t want to see her every week.

God had other plans. At some point during one of the first practices for “Once Upon A Mattress”, we started talking. Slowly, a friendship began to form between us and we haven’t looked back.

Our friendship grew. We went through awkward phases together, many failed relationships (both romantic and friendship), bachelor and master degrees, family drama, we have both survived heart wrenching miscarriages and have had many laughs and many tears.

We have had our disagreements and fights but have always forgiven each other. We have stood by each other during both of our weddings. We have survived despite a 1,200 miles separation (soon to be 2,900 miles as her and her family are relocating to Fort Lewis, Washington). She has taught me what friendship is and has become my sister. We have formed a bond that many people never have.

As our high school theatre teacher, Wayne Canady, used to say, “You are lucky to find two, true friends in your lifetime.” And it is true. But I have found at least one.

From our trip to New York City

So, whenever Vanessa told me that she was pregnant last year, I was elated and scared. She had miscarried two years before during a time in our friendship where we weren’t talking. It was her husband who messaged me about the miscarriage and my heart broke for her.

But she was finally pregnant again. Each week I prayed for her and her little peanut. As each week passed I was always relieved to know that mama and baby were doing well. Then we found out she was having a baby girl and we rejoiced. I was able to fly out in November to see her and her pregnant belly. I got to see her waddle like a duck and glow. Having a pregnant friend that is far away is so, so hard. I wanted to be able to walk with her through the pregnancy, to touch her belly and feel the kicks, to laugh at her when she couldn’t get up off the sofa but then eventually lend a hand. Luckily, I got to do all of that during my brief stay in Oklahoma.

Baby Lana Josephine Keating was born on December 23 at 9:28 pm. She was 8 lbs and 21 1/2 inches long. She is the most beautiful baby girl I have ever seen! I cannot wait until she gets older so I can tell her all of the shenanigans that her mom and I used to get into. (After she is 21, of course).

Congratulations, Rory and Vanessa on bringing a beautiful baby into the world. I pray that she grows up to have the same integrity and beautiful soul that both of you possess.

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Clouds

November 9, 2011 at 12:29 am (Thoughts, Uncategorized)

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, more beautiful than being on top of the clouds with a mid-fall sunset shining down on them.
I have seen beautiful things in my 26 years of life. The ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see. Sunsets so colorful that you are sure Crayola would have to create brand new colors to capture them. My sister growing up. My best friend’s pregnant tummy.
But the clouds from an airplane’s view – the valleys and rounded mounds like mountains of the sky- are untouchable in their beauty.

It would be easy to forget that they are merely water vapor and step out onto them thinking you would be enveloped by the softest fibers on earth – only to fall through, tumbling down through the mist and light.
It breaks my heart that I can’t play among the clouds. Skipping from one to the other. Cupping the matter in my hands and throwing it in the air for it to fall back down. Lying in the cradle of comfort with the one I love while he plays with my hair.

It’s a shame.

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October 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm (Thoughts)

As the cold comes on, thoughts of sweaters and bonfires, hot coffee and cold nights, fuzzy slippers and ice covered windshields, take over my mind.

This morning my windshield was fogged over, everything outside was blurry and I could barely see out. While many of you are thinking, “wow…that is dangerous” yes…it probably is; however, I wasn’t driving. 

As I sat there, looking out of the greyish glass, I reflected that the past year felt exactly like what I was seeing. Cloudy, blurry, indistinguishable. I flipped on my wipers and things became clearer. There were still streaks of moisture…I realized I need new wiper blades.

I am in desperate need of new life. For God to come in and take over. It has been so long since I have felt anything: motivation, pure joy, etc… I am numb to everything, going through the motions of everyday life, doing just what needs to be done. I take little to no joy in what I am doing.

Two weeks ago, at Life Group, I felt the Holy Spirit. Before you stop reading and think I’m nuts…let me explain. We were around a table sharing prayer requests. Two girls agreed to pray (one of them not being me). As the first girl began to pray, I felt a strong urge to pray for one of the girls that has trouble sleeping. She wakes up feeling held down as if something is holding her.

So, the first girl continued praying and I felt really hot and my heart started racing. I was going to ignore the promt to pray but once she was finished praying I blurted out the prayer. It was short but I couldn’t help but crying…though I really didn’t know why I was crying. And my hands started to sweat and the heat was almost unbearable (sorry to the girls that had to hold my hands while praying…)

I don’t say this to boast…I say it because that is what I want all the time. I want to feel the Holy Spirit. I want to feel God.

 

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On loss and love

September 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm (Thoughts)

I’m not sure how to start this post… but here we go:

On September 25,  which would be mine and Joseph’s 1 year anniversary, we were going to announce that we were expecting an amazing little baby. I would have said that I was due April 14 and that we were hoping it to be a boy (though any sex would do). We would have been congratulated and doted upon. We would have started our baby registry and around Thanksgiving we would have found out the sex of the baby. (And hopefully through the process I would have gotten over my fear of needles…eesh).

But sometimes things don’t work out. On Sunday, September 4th I began the process of miscarrying. I believe we completely lost the baby on Monday. I never really thought about what it would be like to have a miscarriage. I knew many of my loved ones have been through it but I didn’t really know what the process was like and I didn’t know about the physical and emotional pain.

It is surreal. Sometimes, I can’t believe it. After only 8 weeks, the baby had already become such a huge part of Joseph and I. I want so badly to go back.

I would place my hands over my tummy like I was holding the most precious gift, and I was. I wanted to hold him forever, to keep him safe and cradled until he was ready to come out into the world. My hand still wants to go there to protect him, to keep him in place.

My sister had christened the baby with a name: Lord Voldemort. Not a conventional name to give a precious baby, but it was uniquely his none-the-less. Prior to finding out that I was pregnant, Katelyn was looking through a stage-by-stage pregnancy book. While looking at one of the photos of a baby, she exclaimed “that looks like Lord Voldemort.” From then on, the baby in my tummy was known as Lord Voldemort (or Lord Volde for short).

The thought of how big the baby was, how already at 8 weeks, the baby has eyes with eyelids, its little hands and feet are forming. He is about the size of a raspberry. A little raspberry was in my tummy. The thought put me in a constant state of awe – that I was growing a little person.

While there is tremendous sadness and feelings of loss, there are always feelings of happiness – the baby had already brought so much joy to our lives. Joseph and I gained new titles: that of mommy and daddy.

The wound is still fresh, I go through moments of pure sadness thinking of how “I wanted that baby…no other…just that one”. I wonder “why” and “what if”.  But through it all, God is good. He knows the answers to all my “whys” and “what ifs”. And I trust Him with it.

For a slight moment in our lives, we got to experience a different kind of love.  One that will be with us until we pass on.

We cannot thank everyone enough – those that have called, texted and visited. Thank you for loving us.

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Things I love…

July 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm (Thoughts)

Here are a few things I love. They are romantic, whimsical, sweet, beautiful and some of them are downright unpractical. That’s okay though: Enjoy! (Click on the photo to go to the Etsy shop!)

I found these cuffs on Etsy by JezebelCharms. The cuffs are made out of brass and are printed with quotes and photos. Love, love, love!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/JezebelCharms?ref=pr_shop_more

If you have been around me lately, you know I have a thing for birds. One day while in Michael’s I saw these cute, antique-looking ceramic birds. On the display they had said birds perched on top of old, worn out books. Thus began my obsession with the whimsical little creatures.

This lariat necklace features a twig and sparrow and is different and beautiful! 

This photo took my breath away. It makes me long for the ocean. I don’t know why but there is something nostalgic about sea oats.

I also wanted to feature one of my dear friend’s Etsy shop. She doesn’t have anything for sale but I know she makes the most gorgeous paper roses. To all the guys that read this blog, I urge you to order your wife a dozen or so of these beautiful roses. They are shabby/cottage-chic. I have two sitting on the buffet in my dining room and they add an understated beauty to the room. She can make them in any color and even…wait for it….book pages!!!! Eeek! I swoon over anything book related.

Edit: I can’t believe that I forgot about my own sis-in-love’s etsy shop!!!! Guys…she is such a talented painter among other things. I couldn’t decide which painting I loved best so I will post both of them.

 

What’s your favorite Etsy shop? Have you bought anything from Etsy?

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Insomnia

July 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm (Thoughts)

I like definitions, so I will start this post by defining.

In.som.ni.a [in-som-nee-uh] –  inability to obtain sufficient sleep, especially when chronic;difficulty in falling or staying asleep; sleeplessness.

I have officially, unofficially self-diagnosed myself with this “disorder”. Typically, I find it hard to go to sleep. Joseph is usually in snoozeland before I can say, “good night honey”. (Seriously, his head hits the pillow and 5-seconds later he is out. Cold.)

My typical night looks like this:

10:30 pm – Lay down

10:35 pm- Turn over on my side

10:40 pm- Turn over on my other side

10:45 pm- Return to Go. Do not collect $200

11:00 pm – Count sheep that start out as cute, fluffy Serta sheep and end up as zombie sheep

11:05 pm – Pray that said zombie sheep don’t eat me

11:15 pm – My mind begins to drift

11:30-midnight – At some point during this time, I fall asleep

2:31 pm – My mind drifts out of dreamland

2:32 pm- Elbow Joseph to deter him from snoring

2:33 pm- Lie awake until the cycle comes back around (minus the zombie sheep)

Almost every night this cycle occurs and for some reason I always wake up between 2:15 and 3:00 am and have the hardest time falling back into blissful slumber.

Oh to be Sleeping Beauty or Snow White; to fall asleep and stay that way, maybe not eternally, but at least for an 8 hour period.

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On Fear

July 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm (Thoughts)

First hit the play button and listen to this song while reading the post. Beautiful…

We all have fears. Fear of self, fear of the unknown, fear of spiders, snakes or other creepy crawlies. Fear of public speaking, death, rejection. Fear of loss or love. Fear of water, airplanes, and heights or in my case, fear of needles. Even a fear we don’t think about: grief.

Whatever the fear, no matter how big or small, whether the fear is tangible or mental, it is there. Fear is there.

Fear: [feer] –noun. A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

I think the key phrase is, “whether the threat is real or imagined”. Many people don’t understand my fear. At the mention of shots, IVs needles, I have a fit. I rub my hands together, tense up and sometimes I get light headed. No flu shots for me. I can’t give blood. I’m allergic to needles, I promise.

Most people think it’s funny, they don’t understand the psychological fear that comes along with the thought, sight or even the physical application of needles/IVs. But how can they understand, when even I don’t understand my fear?

I can’t remember when the fear started but I do remember the first episode I had regarding needles.

Picture it: Carolina Forest High School 2002. We were having our yearly standardized tests and I was in a classroom with a teacher that I didn’t know. After testing, you are encouraged to bring a book or homework to work on while waiting for everyone else to finish. I brought a book that described in detail the methods of chemotherapy (I wish I could remember the name of the book…it was good).

After reading a few of the graphic lines, I started seeing spots that turned into tunnel vision. I felt very warm and after a few minutes got up and asked the teacher if I could go to the restroom. I made it to the hallway, right outside of the classroom door. I pressed my cheek against the cool, concrete walls. Next thing I know, I’m on the ground and the school’s resource officer was standing over me asking if I had taken any drugs. Drugs? Really? No. I hadn’t taken any drugs. Unless you consider literature a drug.

And may I remind you, I have a tattoo! (I almost passed out while getting tatted…but I didn’t pass out…)

The second episode was similar as it happened at school. It was during health class, when the girls and boys separated to talk about safe sex, birth control and the like. It also happened to be the only day that year that I wore a skirt. While the teacher was talking about Depo-Provera and Norplant (implanted birth control methods), I started to get the same tunnel vision. “Seriously Jessica? Again?” I thought.

My mom had told me if it happened again, to put my head between my legs. Yeah…I was really going to do that in the middle of class with a skirt on. Again, I got hot and the next thing I know, I’m on the floor. Again, no drugs.

Another favorite story is when I went to the health department to get my shots for Africa. One of the teenagers who was accompanying us to Africa went in before me. She came out and said, “Oh it’s nothing”.

The nurse calls my name. And since I am a big girl, I asked my mom to come back with me. The nurse took me to an office, with a desk and two chairs. She asked me to sit in one of the chairs. She came back into the room and had the needles with her. I gently commented that she should have me lay down as I would pass out otherwise.

She reluctantly led me back to a room with an examination table. I lay down and the shots were administered and the whole time, tears were streaming down my face. The shots didn’t hurt necessarily, it was the fear that took over my emotions and the tears didn’t stop.  However, I didn’t pass out.

So, I pass out and freak out. The fear is so great that I pass out. I get so freaked out that my body goes into shock and I drop like a fly.

I have tried to process the fear, to think about why I fear something as common and ordinary as getting a shot. I know it doesn’t hurt. I’ve had IVs, shots and have had blood drawn and overall there is little or no pain.

It isn’t the thought of medicine going into my veins. It’s the thought of a needle being in my body. As I type this, my heart is racing and I have the urge to rub my hands so the phantom needle will go away.

What is your fear? How do you cope with it? Do you avoid it completely? Do you face it head on?

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Blue Star Mothers

June 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm (Thoughts)

There is a cause that burns deep in my heart. That cause is the care of our military. Many family members and friends have served in the military from the Army, Navy, Marines, Airforce and Coast Guard (we love all branches in my family).

Whether or not you agree with our military being overseas, whether you are a republican or a democrat and whether or not you know someone who has served or who is serving: it is our responsibility to pray for, to care for and to support our soldiers.

That being said: I have a grand opportunitiy for you to be able to serve. It won’t cost you a thing (unless you want to donate, which is completely cool with me) and it will only take you about 30 seconds…maybe 52 seconds but who’s counting?

Four Star Plumbing and Air Conditioning is giving away $1,000 to a lucky non-profit organization. Who should that organization be, you ask? The Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina, of course.

Click here and scroll down to the very bottom of the site. Fill out your information and where it says “HORRY COUNTY Non-Profit or Charity Organization Name for Nomination” just type “Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina”.

Go ahead, do it. I’ll wait….(be sure to vote EVERYDAY!)

Okay. Now that you’re done, let me tell you a little bit about who you are voting for. Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina constists of a group of loving parents who have sons and daughters that are currently serving in the United States Military. They are a non-proft, non-sectarian and non-political organization that lives to support one another and to send support to troops.

Through Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina, you can donate items to be sent overseas, donate funds for postage to send the packages or attend an event in support of the Blue Star Mothers of Coastal Carolina.

If you are interested in joining the BSMCC, you can click here for more information.

Also, I have a vested interest as my cousin is serving overseas and his momma (also my cousin) is a Blue Star Mother.

Even though their children aren’t with them, they bring them to every event via a picture on a stick. (Usually everything is better on a stick…but for some reason a picture on a stick isn’t as good as the real person).

Go vote!

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Life is fleeting

June 14, 2011 at 7:35 pm (Thoughts)

The last few weeks have brought a myriad of emotions to both sides of my family.

It started with the passing of my husband’s grandfather, Pop. Then my first cousin, Lana Carol Beaty. Next, it was my Great Uncle Eugene and finally, yesterday, my Uncle Gregg. The first three passed within days of each other, making for a very hard week.

A week full of tears and laughter. A week of longing to hear the voice of our loved ones just one more time. A week of peace knowing that all those who were suffering were in a better place.

***Side note. I hate when people say “so and so is in a better place”. Though it is true (hopefully…as hell is a VERY real place that souls go to) it just sounds so cliché. End side note***

However, this past weekend was full of wedding bliss. I was able to watch two amazing couples join together in the wonderful (yet tough) union of marriage.

Then, there was the birth of my cousin’s baby, Sadie Lynn.

While all of these events have greatly affected my life the past few weeks, the two events I want to focus on both happened on June 13. The death of Uncle Gregg at around 12:30 am and the birth of Sadie Lynn at around 8:01 pm.

While God took an amazing man from our family, He also gave us a new life. While we continue to mourn for the life that once was, we celebrate the life that now is. While we cry over the last breath of Uncle Gregg, we are rejoicing at the first breath of Sadie Lynn.

I am reminded of the scripture found in Job 1:01-22, “ He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the lord.’ Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”

When we lose someone, we are quick to anger, to blame God, to ask why. Anyone will tell you that these are all ways to cope with loss. But Job makes such a beautiful point. God gives. God takes. He is the source of balance and He is also our comforter.  He replaces mourning with joy. Weariness with strength.

That isn’t exactly where I wanted to go with this post. I wanted to point out the perfect beauty of birth, life and death.

Enjoy the song from Live…it is kind of appropriate. Kind of.

The end.

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