She bounces across the yard, wide smile on her lips with long blonde hair flowing behind her.  Throwing her head back, the sweetest laughter fills the air as she runs after her goats.  They scurry, buck, and hop to get away from her grasp, and she laughs even harder and deeper than before.  A full belly laugh experience for my husband and I as we are nearby watching this scene unfold.

This is what ten looks like.

Out on the trail, sitting deep in the saddle with her back straight, heels down, and arms extended forward she clicks her horse into a trot.  Almost immediately, she clicks again, occasionally giving a soft kick in the ribs, and off they go into a gallop … my daughter and her beautiful horse.


Without a care in the world, enjoying life, finding peace in nature, and loving all of her animals.

Sitting quietly in the corner of the barn with “Little Buddy” in her arms as she strokes the kitten’s soft fur.  Putting it down now, she takes a string and begins to bounce it up and down in the air until the end dances wildly.  Within a split second, the kitten lunges toward it, determined to grasp that string between her paws but falling forward with each attempt while my daughter giggles …

This is what ten looks like.




This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word of:  Ten.

It is dedicated to my darling ten year old daughter who, along with her 18 year old sister,

are the reason my heart beats and the reason I’m here on this earth.

I thank God for my “babies.”


A few weeks ago, I shared the heartbreaking story of little Riggs that passed away at just a little over a year old.  His mother, Caroline, sought to bring awareness to Bereaved Parents Month.  She reached out to local newspapers and news stations.  While it took a little bit of time, Caroline has had success with what she set out to do.  Bloggers shared her story and brought attention and awareness through their posts, our local newspaper ran stories on the Farmers, and then Caroline met Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina!  WIS TV, a news station out of Columbia,  shared her story. NOW they have set up a time this Thursday when Caroline will be live in the studio and on air with them.  Not only that, but Caroline announced today that Governor Nikki Haley will be signing a proclamation Thursday recognizing July as Bereaved Parents Month in the state of South Carolina.

If you haven’t followed Caroline’s Facebook page Remembering Riggs before now, please do so to show your support and offer prayers for her and her husband, Justin.  Caroline shares her inner most thoughts, raw feelings, and beautiful pictures of Riggs with the world.  She has been forced into a life she would have never thought in a million years that she would have had.  In the mist of her pain, she reaches out of her own grief to help those around her that are hurting.  She shares about Jesus, and this is HUGE!!  When tragedy strikes, often times people will either run away from God or run TO God.  I’m thankful that Caroline has fallen into the arms of her Lord and Savior so He can comfort her as only He can.  God is close to the brokenhearted, as scripture tells us.

Caroline sought to bring awareness … and boy has she ever in such a big way!!  Way to Go, Caroline!   You did it!!!



What Brings You Joy?

Have you ever really thought about it?  What brings you joy?  I’m talking joy deep down within your heart and soul.  The smiling all day long type of joy.  The skipping down the sidewalk with a cheesy grin on your face joy.  The humming a tune as you go about your day whether you’re at work or at play, just humming along or whistling to that tune that is stuck in your head.  Your feel good, happy dance, basking in the memories joy.

There are several things that come to mind for me.  Receiving flowers picked fresh from my yard from my baby girl brings extreme joy down deep within my heart and soul.  Whether it’s roses that she picks from my rose bushes or even just yellow dandelion yard flowers that pop up in the grass that she gives to me.  Each and every flower is precious and thrills me completely.  Just last night as I was riding my horse, Sugar, my daughter came bouncing down the driveway straight toward me with our two goats hot on her heels.  As she reached my horse and I, she smiled widely and said, “Close your eyes, Mama,” as she took two fingers and swiped in the air in a downward motion.  I could feel a little grin forming on my lips as I did as she asked.  When I opened my eyes upon her prompting, I saw a pretty mini rose that she picked just for me.  I thanked her and told her how special that was to me, and then I tucked the rose in a loop on my saddle where it stayed secure the rest of the ride.  She bounced around the yard, skipping and smiling, as she played with such delight.  I smiled deep within my soul.


Another thing that brings great joy is seeing my 18 year old daughter enjoying her new job at the bank.  She’s held jobs before, but they’ve been at different fast food restaurants in town where she was on her feet all the time.  She had to deal with harsh customers at times, clean up duty, and working long hours for little pay.  Now, though, she’s working a job where she exclaimed with excitement after her first day, “I get to sit down now, Mama … the whole day!”  It’s the little things that mean so much.  Never before has she appreciated being able to sit, until she worked three part time jobs where sitting was not an option unless on a quick break.  I have joy in my heart as I watch her go through my closet and pick out clothes to wear to work.  Clothes that she once wouldn’t be caught dead in, and now, she realizes the value of these clothes as they are appropriate for a business setting.  She has even received compliments on her attire from coworkers at the bank. She says she smiles and tells them that they are her mother’s clothes.  Then she adds, “Do you REALLY think I’d buy stuff like this?  Pul-lease …” and she laughs as she throws her head back.  Ah, but while she jokes, I know she really doesn’t find them unflattering or undesirable, as she is back every morning to “steal” more clothes from my closet to wear to work.

Early mornings are filled with joy as God wakes me with sunlight streaming through my window.  I am thankful for the gift of another day with my family.  As I hear my husband in the bathroom getting ready to greet the day, I smile inside as I’m ever so thankful that he’s here, a part of my life, and that I get the privilege of being his wife.  Just as I snuggle back into the sheets and pull the plush comforter over my shoulder, he comes out of the bathroom and slides his hand into mine.  I begin to stir and reach for his arm to pull him closer to me to give him a kiss and hug before he leaves for work.  And I smile, deep within my heart, as there is sweet joy to carry me the rest of the day until we see each other again after the work day is through.


Then there’s my parents … watching them interact together after 49 years of marriage.  Yes, they have their moments as all couples do, but they get past them.  They work it out, and they move on to happier times.  They are still making memories together, and I am thankful that I have the honor of being their daughter and a witness to their love and life together.  I’m filled with joy when I see my daughters interacting with their grandparents, running into their arms when they see them whether it’s been a few weeks or a few days, the greeting is the same.

And last, but not least, among the things that come fresh to my mind that bring me joy … my animals.  Ah, first I have to  mention the goat baby, as I call her, that we brought home at just two weeks old and had to keep in a crate in the house due to the cold weather.  We bottle fed this little baby every four hours for weeks, changed the crate, took it outside to play, and loved on this little girl every chance we got.  Because of how we handled her, she has no idea that she is even a goat right now.  As she’s grown, we had to move her outside with our other goat, but you can tell a difference in the two.  While Angel was handled as a baby as well, she doesn’t have the bond with us as our goat baby, Tory, has.  Little Tory will come over to me and get in my lap, settle in, and let me hold her for long periods of time.  She is so content being in my arms, and that brings me great joy.

Goat Baby Goat Baby1

All of my animals bring me joy.  Every single one.

Precious, the little Toy Poodle that we had for 13 years, passed on July 9, 2015.  Our hearts were broken, yet we knew the end was near.  She hung in there as long as she possibly could, and we had quiet moments with her before her passing.  I’ll never forget the weekend before she passed as I sat out on the hammock, and little Precious came hobbling alongside me, her back permanently arched from the arthritis that set in.  I leaned down enough for her to climb into my lap, and she sat there with me for the longest time just letting me hold her next to me.  As the days went by and her health declined, I wondered if that was her way of saying that the end was near and to just enjoy the moments we do have together, hold on to them and remember these good times we shared as it gets harder in the days to come after I’m gone.  Oh I miss that little white cotton ball of a dog.  Tears fill my eyes now as I think of her and the history as she was there during both of my children’s childhood.  They had so much joy in their little hearts loving on this little puppy that looked like a teddy bear when we got her.  There is still joy in our hearts when we relive the moments with her as we think of my oldest carrying Precious around like a baby and dressing her in frilly clothes, to my youngest daughter pushing Precious around in a baby stroller and taking her “grocery shopping” in her little grocery cart.  Yes, these memories bring us joy, even on days when it’s hard and we are missing Precious so much.  I still find joy in my heart thinking of this little four pound dog that had so much love for our entire family.  Even my husband had a soft spot for this little dog.  We got her just before we got married, and he was affected by her passing as well.


My horses – oh do I even need to say that they bring me joy?  It is obvious by the many pictures I take on trail rides and the smile plastered across my face every time I speak of them to my family, friends, and coworkers.  Even when I feel as if I don’t have anything to say that day, if someone asks about my horses, I can talk for hours on end just about them!  Yes, I am that horse crazy and in love with them.  They bring me joy from the hours we spend on their backs trail riding, to the quiet moments in the yard watching them graze, to the counseling sessions where they take my heartache and pain and replace it with nickers, neighs, and lots of horse love along the way.

Yes, this is the joy I speak of …

What brings YOU joy?



I heard about another senseless act of violence again today.  Marines and a police officer, from what I understand, were gunned down in Tennessee.  I’m not sure of any other details as I refused to watch the news, and I didn’t click on the news story when it came up in my news feed on Facebook.

Yesterday, I did watch the news, and I learned of a shooting in the small town of Holly Hill in South Carolina.  This is way too close to home for me.  Five people were gunned down in their home.  Two adults – ages 50 and 28 – and three children were involved – ages 17, 12, and 8, I believe.  Two of the three children died at the scene along with the two adults.  The third child – age 8 years old – was airlifted to a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, where he remains in critical condition.  The last I heard on this case, the suspect was still at large, and they did not have a motive in this shooting.

My heart was overcome with sadness upon hearing this not even a month after nine were gunned down in their church!

Oh my heart aches for this world and what is happening in this day and age.  From fights regarding a flag, a piece of fabric that others were so offended by that waved over the state house and on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, right on to racial organizations — on both sides — rallying at the state house this coming weekend, to innocent lives being lost once again.

Lord, we need you!  We need you now more than ever.

Why can’t we live in a world without violence, without the need for gun control.  I wish God would reach down His mighty hand and save us from ourselves and our fellow man that has hate in their hearts.  And if only … if only we could reach a point to where one day there would not be any more racial discussions, rallies, or fights needing to be resolved.  If we could do away with the racial tension and accept each other with open arms and love – red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.  So should they be with all of us as well!   Each and every life is precious – no matter the color of our skins!  We are all beautiful creations from God above.

It is my desire that peace, love, and harmony would prevail.  It sounds so simple, for us to all just get along, and yet, it’s just out of our grasp when people are so set against something — and often times, each other — with no compromise in sight.

Love your neighbor as yourself.  Why is that so hard to do?  When will we be free of prejudice, racism, hate, murders, and fear of what is to come?

This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word of: Free.

Love Yourself God's Creation

National “I Love Horses” Day!

Imagine our excitement when we realized that today is National “I Love Horses” Day!

While we have been horse owners for a year and a half now, we have been horse lovers since we were children. I remember longing for a little pony of my very own when I was just a little girl. My parents were not able to afford a horse, and so my dream did not become a reality until my early 40s. With such a passion for these gigantic, yet magnificent creatures, our hearts were thrilled as we worked hard around our house putting up fencing, getting troughs, salt blocks, and building a shelter preparing to bring these gentle giants home! After begging and pleading with my husband, as we surely had enough land to accommodate horses, he finally said, “Yes!” And … I took off with it! I set out to find THE perfect horse for us … and purchased three in one weekend. :) Yes … I … Did!! I ran with it because I did not want my husband to have an opportunity to back out of this one. My dream was finally becoming a reality!

Our Horses

The three horses turned into five horses over the course of these 18 months, and we couldn’t be happier. My 10 year old daughter has horse fever as well, and she rides with us on the trails. We love that we share this passion for the horses together as a family.


My 18 year old daughter was interested in the horses for a short while. Then her interest turned to boys, music, and bands. It is our hope, though, that our youngest daughter will keep this passion alive within her heart for her horses and will be committed to this lifestyle. It really and truly is a way of life now. It isn’t a phase we’re going through. We are in this for the long haul. We understand that horses can live to be 30 years old, and we’re praying that we’ll be here to grow old with them. Then, when we are old and gray, we will still go out to the barn to love on our beloved horses.


These horses are more than just a hobby that never stops eating, as we’ve heard them called before. They bring us so much joy and happiness. Honestly, if I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is walk to the barn, grab a lead rope and halter, open the gate, and bring my beloved horse out to join me for a grooming session. With every stroke of the brush over their mane, looking into there dark eyes, feeling the soft velvet muzzle, and whispering my cares into their big ears … my cares seem to fade away as the stress leaves my body. These horses are more like therapists and counselors. Without saying a single word, they are there, ever present, offering their love. Horses are so calming and soothing as well. I can go outside to work with the horses and come back inside tired but feeling like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders.

Shirley and Arizona

In all my life, I never thought I’d say that I do not mind the smell of horse manure. It does not gross me out to see it or smell it, and I’m not embarrassed when my horse has to stop right there in the middle of the trail to do it either. It comes along with horse ownership, and I proudly clean up after my horse and pause for “poopy breaks” out on the trails as my daughter and I like to call them when the horses stop without warning on the trail to relieve themselves.

Yes, I have it bad if I’m sitting here even talking about horse manure and how I don’t mind that either. hahahaha


We are blessed to have these beautiful creatures as part of our family now.

Mother's Day Ride

For all you horse lovers out there, Happy National “I Love Horses” Day! For those that haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing being on the back of a horse, I encourage you to consider it in the near future. There is something so exciting and exhilarating about getting on the back of a horse. You are trusting these massive creatures literally with your life, and they respect and honor you in return. It truly is a partnership with your horse. Any time you get on the horse, you become a team. You are bonded as one, and you work together to accomplish things out on the trail, at a horse show, or even at a jumping event. You have to have a connection with your horse, and once you do, once you develop this bond … there is no breaking it and no turning back. You will never be sorry to have given your heart to a horse.

My Girl

Even on days when I don’t feel like working them, as we have given them a break in this 100 degree weather this past week, you still go out to the barn to bond with them. We spend time with the horses, from sitting out in the middle of the pasture with them as they are busy grazing on all the available grass they can find, or giving them a cool bath in the hot Summertime heat and heaviness of the Southern humidity. You will make any excuse to be with your horse, even if all you do is give extra hay or apple horse treats, which are their favorite, by the way! The more time you spend with the horses, the more you are cementing the bond you share.



Here’s to horse lovers every where! And … to future ones in the making right this minute. Reach for the stars, and live your dream!

Hitchcock Woods


Our Little Getaway

Have you ever just opened your eyes in the morning and had this overwhelming need and desire to get away for a little while?  With July 4th upon us, we had that very feeling Saturday morning.  Thinking that trail riding with our horses would “scratch that itch,” we loaded up the horse trailer and spent several hours being one with nature.  While that helped, I still felt a strong pull toward something greater that evening.

With my newly graduated daughter starting her “big girl” job at the bank on Monday, I had a desire to throw a few things in a bag and head to the ocean for a celebratory trip for her landing that job!  So, we did!  Our little getaway was a spur of the moment decision to go where we find joy.  I do find the greatest joy in being with my family!

After hours of trail riding fun Saturday, I turned to my husband who was in the driver seat and said, “Let’s go to St. Augustine!”  I’m sure he thought I was nuts, but he did not hesitate.  I called my daughters and asked them to pack their bags, and we would be home to get them.  They were EXCITED, and that thrilled my heart completely.  My 10 year old always wants to go on outings with us, but some times our 18 year old would rather not.  This time, though, she was rearing to go, having herself and her sister ready, as well as having both of their bags packed when we entered the house.

And away we went as a white and black striped lighthouse with a red top was calling my name.  It was none other than the St. Augustine Lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida.  Ah, yes, I find joy in family time, lighthouses, and beautiful scenery!

I have been following their page on Facebook for a while now, even sharing some of their pictures and quotes from their page.  I actually saw where they “followed” the shared post over to my Light Love Hope Facebook page and “liked” it, too!  I felt a special thrill when I saw that.  Yes, it is the little things that make me happy!

Seeing the newly renovated pictures, I was, indeed, drawn to this beauty.

St. Augustine Lighthouse


We knew we would not have long in St. Augustine on this spur of the moment, spontaneous trip.  Yet, we packed as much fun as we could into the time we did have.  I wrote on my Facebook status a few of my favorite things, which are my family, lighthouses, and waking up in St. Augustine to see their lighthouse, and that IS how we began the next morning.

Shortly after the lighthouse opened, we were there to get our tickets for the tour.  There were 219 steps that would take you all the way to the top of the lighthouse, and I walked every single step with great determination.  While the others were panting, taking breaks, and slightly complaining, I was on a mission to get to the top.  I took every step with great pride as I thought of the lighthouse keeper that would carry oil to the very top.  While others complained, the keeper had an important job to do.  There was no time for complaining for him!  I was mindful of this as I made my way to the top.

Stairs inside the lighthouse

I’ve heard that this particular lighthouse is haunted.  There have been several deaths at the lighthouse through the years, and after hour tours are held where you will hear several of those stories.

This lighthouse is just intriguing to me.  It is still a working lighthouse today and has the original lens from 1874.

While we did not encounter any ghosts on our trip, we did enjoy the breathtaking view at the top.  You can see for 25 miles from there, and after hiking up steps equal to that of a 14 story building, the welcomed breeze as we stepped out onto the deck at the top felt marvelous.  One tip, though.  If you are afraid of heights, this would not be a good idea for you to try!  Honestly.  If you just want to say that you did it, just don’t look down when you’re up there.  Look around … look left, right, and out in front of you.  But, do NOT look down!

Our getaway

After our morning at the top of the lighthouse, we wanted to see the view of the historic city from the water!  We set out in search of a cruise but did not have to go far as the marina was maybe 15 minutes away.  We chose the one hour and 15 minute cruise, and we were delighted as we took in all the sights as the tour guide told all about this beautiful city.  We even got to see the draw bridge open up to allow an extremely tall sailboat to go through.  My 10 year old was fascinated by this!

draw bridge

We stopped for lunch and to browse a few shops along the way.  Then we found the oldest house and the oldest schoolhouse, too!

The Oldest House

Oldest School House

We ended our time in St. Augustine at their wax museum.  We saw famous people like Elvis Presley, Britney Spears, characters from Seinfield, and even Maleficent, too.  They had people from history, also, like former Presidents and First Ladies, as well as members of Congress from many, many years ago.  I was very impressed with this exhibit!


Initially, I wasn’t sure how my children would like the wax museum, but they said they loved it!  Score one for Mom!

After playing around and posing like the statues, a huge thunderstorm rolled in … and we made our way to the car to roll out.  We began our journey back home having enjoyed the holiday weekend together as a family doing things that bring us the greatest joy!

Ah, St. Augustine … with all of your history and beauty, we will see you again soon!


This post goes perfectly with Karen’s prompt phrase of “I find joy in …”

Visit her each Tuesday for a new prompt phrase/word.


Happy 4th of July

Red, white, and blue flags are flying high with Lee Greenwood’s song ringing in my ears.  Oh yes, I AM proud to be an American!  Right now we are free, and I pray that we will stay that way.  With the recent happenings in our state and the attention being drawn to another flag, the Confederate Flag, we hope that our freedom won’t be taken away much like there is talk of them taking down that particular flag.  Heritage, not hate, is what that flag stands for, but so many view it differently.  It is a source of pain for them.  A reminder of a time when their ancestors didn’t have freedom.  But thank God, we’re all free today!

Freedom.  So many take that for granted.  We have so many privileges here in the United States, so many opportunities.  Let us not forget that we have our freedom due to young men and women who fought and who are currently fighting hard for our great Country.  Take time to remember them today as the vast majority are not able to be home to celebrate Independence Day with their family.

Make memories.  Lots of them!  My daughter’s boyfriend is on his way to the beach tomorrow morning to kick off his 4th of July celebrations.  They will laugh, soak up the sun, and get sand between their toes.  They will come back refreshed, with sun kissed skin, and lots of memories that will carry them through the rest of their lives  They will look back on this Summer and smile.  Precious memories will be made this week with their family, and maybe they’ll remember to take a picture or two along the way to share.  That’s what it’s all about, though. Make memories with your family this 4th of July!

Hold your loved ones close.  My coworker is off this week as well to share time in the mountains with her two adult sons.  This time will be different, though, than vacations in the past.  She’s spoken to me about how this will be a lavish trip.  She will make sure that she spares no expense as she hasn’t been with her sons on vacation in about ten years.  About two years ago, she was told she has Lymphoma.  She went through chemo that made her physically sick and weak.  She suffered through the treatments, lost her hair, and struggled to find her sense of normal again.  After her hair started to grow back, she felt she had a new lease on life.  She was told she needed maintenance chemo, but this would not be the type that she had before.  Thankfully, it wouldn’t make her as sick, and she wouldn’t lose her precious locks this time around.  The treatments are so expensive, though, that she said she is no longer able to continue with them.  In 2016, she has realized that she will not have the money for her maintenance chemo, so she is splurging on this vacation with her sons and is making those memories while she still can.  Hearing this brought tears to my eyes.  The thought that she’s having this extravagant vacation with them because she fears it will be their last.  So, she’s going all out while she can.  I gently reminded her to take those pictures.  She isn’t one for pictures, unlike myself.  I snap pictures all the time, every where, and LOVE it.   But now is the time she truly needs to take the camera out, dust it off, and snap those memories so that her sons will have something to hold in their hands to remember the great time they had together.  I wish that for them all.  That this will be a beautiful time of bonding for Mother and Sons.

What about you?  What will you do this 4th of July to celebrate our freedom?  Whatever you do, make it count.  Don’t let the day go by unnoticed.  Whether you deck all out in your finest American attire showing your American pride, or you kick back at the lake to enjoy the beautiful array of colors that light up the sky, make every second count.  You won’t get a “do over.”  You will not be able to get this day back.  Enjoy it to the fullest.  Do an act of kindness for someone.  Share your smile.  And love.  Show your love for your fellow man.  That might be the only bit of God that some people see is through you.  Shine your light proudly, and if given the chance … when someone notices your happiness and wants to know how they can find that happiness, too … lead them to Jesus.

Happy 4th of July to you all.


Making Memories2


Bereaved Parents Month

You may associate July with fun in the sun and enjoying Summer days with your children.  We want you to make memories and share in their laughter.  We truly do.  Sadly, though, July has another meaning to many people as it is Bereaved Parents Month.  Will you please stop for a moment and pray for parents everywhere that have lost their children?

About a month ago, a couple in our community lost their precious son who was just over a year old.  They are still very much at a loss as to how to go on when their hearts have been ripped out of their chests after losing their son.  They have been sharing their story and adorable pictures of their son all while encouraging people to draw closer to God.  Their goal right this minute is to bring awareness to Bereaved Parents Month, and we are dedicating this blog post to Remembering Riggs to help with their efforts.

While I do not know the couple personally, I was invited to “like” their Facebook page by one of my friends that does know them.  I did so in order to show my support and offer my prayers at this very difficult time that God will comfort as only He can.  I’ll be honest.  Some of the posts are so heart wrenching, I choke back tears as I read them.  This dear mother is hurting so badly, as all mothers everywhere are that have lost their beloved children.  The fathers are hurting, too.

My parents probably have no idea that this is Bereaved Parents Month, just as I was not aware until Caroline, the mother of Riggs, brought this to our attention in one of her posts on her Facebook page.  My parents lost their oldest daughter on July 9, 2001.  Caroline is so fresh in her grief after just losing Riggs a month ago. It is so raw and hurts right to the very core of her being.  Although some time has passed and time has lessened the overwhelming pain that they once felt, my parents still remember the loss and the waves of grief that swept over and slammed into them just like it was yesterday.  Caroline posted not too long ago about how the pain is so great at times that she doesn’t want to get out of bed, yet she pushes herself to do so.  This truly is a grief like none other that cripples you emotionally.

Please pray for parents everywhere that have lost their sweet children.  No matter what age they were when they passed, whether it was just a year old like Riggs or 32 years old like my sister when my parents lost her … it still hurts.  It is so incredibly sad and heart breaking to think of how they lost little Riggs at just a year old, and yet, during his short life, he has touched so many far and wide.  He is still touching people’s hearts today through his mother sharing her heartfelt words with the world.

So many precious lives were cut short, and we’ll never know why.  Only God holds those answers … and now He is holding these precious children until the parents are reunited with them in Heaven when God calls them home.

Will you please consider visiting and sharing Caroline’s page, Remembering Riggs? We would like to help her bring awareness to Bereaved Parents Month so people around the globe can pray extra hard for these parents that lost their precious children.  They are hurting so badly, and they need all of the support, love, and prayers they can get.

Bereaved Parents Month

A Time For Everything

I visited the cemetery today.  With all that is going on in the world, I had an overwhelming need to slip away.  Feeling as if things were pulling at me every which way I turned, I knew that no one would pull at me here; the cemetery.  So, I slipped away.

First, I stopped to get a delicious treat, as my sister and I used to always go to lunch together during the week.  This would be different, though.  It has been different for close to 14 years now.   With peanut butter fudge milkshake in hand, I seemed to have tunnel vision all the way to the cemetery.

My gold Tahoe approached the gravel entrance to the cemetery where the American Flag and our State Flags were flapping in the hot breeze that swept across the green grass and headstones.  I came to a complete stop next to an old tree that looks like there isn’t much life left in it.  With no leaves and the branches bare, it just stands there on the corner not even providing a little bit of shade on this hot day.

Sitting in my car for a moment longer soaking up the air conditioning, I drew in a deep breath and made myself get out of the comfort of my Tahoe.  Reaching into the backseat, I claimed the beautiful cross I purchased just yesterday at Michael’s that had such beautiful flowers on the front of the cross.  When I saw it, I knew I had to have it.  And so, with cross in hand, I make my way down the concrete walkway that would take me to my sister’s graveside.

Sighing heavily, it seemed to take forever to reach her grave.  Then there I stood, looking down at the marker with her name on it.  It’s hard to believe that this is our reality.  It has almost been 14 years now, and yet, I remember every single detail just like it was yesterday.  I remember the shock and terror that rushed through my veins that morning as I feared the worst and learned that it was true.  My worst nightmare had become  reality as my sister had taken her life.  Postpartum depression claimed another victim.  My heart and soul, to the core of my being, still mourns the great loss of my sister, my one and only sibling.

What made me go today, of all days?  In this 101 degree heat with high Southern humidity?  The overwhelming need, feeling as if I was literally drawn to their gravesides.  Those of my sister, my great grandparents, as well as my grandparents.

With all of the talk of the deaths lately, with nine people being gunned down in our state a little over a week ago … and with coverage of the mourners … as well as my daughter’s boyfriend still fresh in his grief having lost his grandfather four months ago today … I had to be closer to pay my respects.

The cemetery is not a place I frequent.  I haven’t been out there in a while, and I’m sure my parents and other family members have shaken their head and felt disappointment in me for not going more often.  I Just can’t.  Some people find great comfort there.  It is their loved ones resting place.  They gain some form of comfort by “visiting” with them there.  For me, though, I prefer to just speak to my loved ones no matter where I am or what I’m doing.  I don’t have to visit their grave to do that.  Actually, I feel that I have signs of them visiting me at my home from time to time as little dragon flies, butterflies, and Cardinals appear seemingly right when I need a reminder that they are there and that love remains even if they are no longer physically here on this earth.  Sure, others could argue over these “signs” or “visits” from my loved ones, but I have my own beliefs and will not be swayed.

I’m reminded that there is a time for everything (see  Ecclesiastes 3).

Today was my time to visit, to allow myself to mourn a little, to feel these feelings and cry if I needed to let it out.

Yesterday my niece turned 14 years old.  My niece.  The one that we haven’t been allowed much contact with since my sister’s passing on that hot July day.  Our time to laugh and celebrate on June 25th, when my niece was born, soon turned to a time to mourn and cry just two weeks later on July 9th when my sister took her own life due to the overwhelming emotional pain she felt due to postpartum depression.  And yet, we had no idea how bad it truly was.

I am sad today for what I’ve witnessed on Facebook from my 14 year old niece.  As much as I wish, want, and would have preferred things to be different, I had no say in this.  It was out of my hands and has been this entire time.  My sister would not have stood for her daughter to have grown up the way she has, and yet, she was not here to see to it that she grew up any differently.  I am sad for how this 14 year old has been motherless all of these years and how we were really not allowed to be a part of her life for the majority of her 14 years.  She went to live with her other grandparents, and my former brother-in-law pretty much has not been a father to her all of these years either (she said this once to my parents about him).  He pulled away, and he once blamed her for his wife’s death saying that had his daughter not been born, his wife would still be here.  NO … it was wrong to blame the innocent child that did not ask to be born.  It is extremely sad what has happened, but we can’t blame her.  She was innocent in this all, and yet, he withdrew pretty much from her all the while not allowing our side of the family to be with her much at all.  Visits here and there were briefly allowed before he took her right back from us.  I stopped counting after four times of him snatching this baby from me.  Yes, I was allowed to have her briefly when she was a baby, then she was taken from me again until she was a toddler.  Then I was allowed a little time only for her to be taken back from us once more.  As she grew into a child, I had brief encounters with her, but her behavior was so extreme, violent, and just out of control that we could not get her on a regular basis even if they would have allowed it at that point.

Today I allowed the feelings.

Tomorrow I will be better.

There is a time for everything.

A time for everything

United We Stand

It’s been all over the news that a white man walked into a church last Wednesday, sat with the African American people for an hour, and then opened fire on them.  Also reported is that the man desired to start a “race war.”  In the face of this tragic event and precious lives that were lost, Charleston and the surrounding area has joined together, hand in hand, arm in arm … heart to heart.  I’ve never been more proud to be from the state of South Carolina than I am right this very minute due to this.

While the nation has watched to see what South Carolina’s response is going to be to the attack on the most historic AME church in Charleston, they didn’t see riots.  They didn’t see torching businesses.  And, they didn’t see looting.  Instead, they saw a community come together.  They witnessed whites and blacks hugging on the streets and walking hand in hand across the bridge in Charleston on Sunday to show that we ARE united.

Praise God – UNITED WE STAND!!!

If what the media says is true and this white man wished to start a race war, he LOST because if anything, this tragedy has united people from different backgrounds, cultures, and races.  We stand together as one race – the human race!

The victim’s families have said, “I forgive you.”

Can you imagine losing your loved ones in this way, and yet, you forgive the shooter?  Would you be so quick to have those words pass through your lips?  Think about it.  If your family member had been gunned down, would you be able to say to the person that took their life that you forgive them … and would you honestly mean it?  THAT is a tough one.  But, that is what we, as Christians, are to do.  We cannot harbor ill feelings or hatred in our hearts.

This tragedy has brought up other debates such as the argument that we need to ban all guns now.  It has also brought up the debate on whether the confederate flag should be removed from our state house.  There are varying opinions on both of these issues.  Guns don’t kill people – people kill people.  While this young man was given a gun for his birthday a few short months ago, I’m sure his father had NO idea that his son was going to carry out such an evil plan.  He had no way of knowing unless his son verbalized it, and if he did, I’m sure the father didn’t say, “Atta boy!”  This man, I believe, truly had NO idea what he was doing by placing this gun into his son’s hand.  He had NO idea that a few short months later, his son would claim the lives of nine innocent people as they sat inside their church worshipping God.

Yes, this man did have pictures that have come out in the media now where he was bearing the confederate flag.  I have seen pictures of him holding the gun with the flag in the picture nearby.  So, yes, the flag is up for debate once more.

It is sad that the confederate flag is supposed to be a symbol of our history, and yet, to so many African Americans, it is offense due to what, in their mind, it represents.  One thought is, if it is that offensive, why NOT take it down?  Honestly.  If it is causing that much of a problem, just take it down.  If it is a constant reminder of slavery, although my family didn’t own any slaves to the best of my knowledge, then take it down.  Why keep a constant reminder for things to continue to be stirred up?  If this will end racism, TAKE THE FLAG DOWN!  Sadly, though, no matter if the flag remains or if the flag is taken down, racism will not be eliminated.  It will still surface and rear it’s ugly head in other ways.  If there was a sure fire way to end racism, I would be the first in line … sign me up!

Oh how I wish racism didn’t exist.

We haven’t seen the end of it yet, and I’m sure the shooting last Wednesday will continue to be a topic of conversation for quite a while to come.  Right along with banning guns and removing the flag from the state house.

In the mist of all of this, I will choose to focus on the group of 9,000 that stood along the bridge in Charleston hand in hand on Sunday.  I will also turn my attention to the church bells that were ringing all over Charleston in memory of the nine that lost their lives last Wednesday.

I will choose to focus on South Carolina being united, standing together in love … sweet love.