Happy Birthday to Me

Wow, 46 years! I am sure I am not the first person to ask themselves repeatedly, ” Where does the time go?” It just flies by.
One year you are almost four passing the swim test for the neighborhood pool. The lifeguard is defensively telling your mother, ” But ma’am , I know the sign says anyone that passes the swim test can come to the pool by themselves, but she is four! ” To which your mother replies, ” Oh no, as long as that is your rule, you will let her take the test.” And then she stands there on a 60-something degree day waiting and watching proudly as you pass the test and you smile because she believed in you, even when you started to sink really low.
The next thing you know you are five living in PA with your grandparents and mom and sister while your dad is on an isolated tour of duty in Korea for a year. You wake up every day from nap time to your mom drying her eyes from writing your dad his daily letter and you get your first glimpse of real love and dedication. Then you walk to Joyner’s Store with your sister and cousins for real five and dime candy.
Then these fantastic years of elementary school with great friends that you still keep in touch with just fly by. Softball games, Girl Scouts, the pool, hours on the playground, digging holes on the playground while carefully laying sticks and newspaper to recover the holes only for some unsuspecting slide rider to come crashing down through the ground ( kids, don’t try this at home), first dances at the chapel, shooting spaceships from the back of a hatchback on the way home from the original release of the first Star Wars.
The next thing you know you spot the love of your life in middle school. Move to the rival school when your parents buy a house and make some of the dearest lifelong friends.
High school just buzzes by with sports, plays and musicals, dances, Keyettes, wearing your dad’s flight suit to school with bowling shoes with your buddy, burning tires at Reichle’s property, playing flashlight tag on the battlefield, stopping in at Pops for a game-winning hot dog, hanging out at Heritage Square McDonalds, cruising Yorktown and falling in love with the love of your life.
The next thing you know you are making memories at Ferrum College sliding on cafeteria trays in the snow-filled hills while starring as the lead in the school plays. A transfer to Old Dominion University to be with the one you love and joining Circle K co-ed service fraternity proves to be a fun, rewarding and bonding experience as you navigate school and then, poof, you are married.
Along comes your first precious little one and you learn to make the best monkey impersonations with him while eating your sandwiches on the bench in front of the monkey cage at the zoo. Then along comes another boy and another boy and a girl all in less than five years and your home and your heart are overflowing with love.
You spend the next nine years living life with amazing friends watching your children grow together. You share heartaches and sorrows and great mountain top joys. It is one of the most remarkable and unforgettable times in your life. Another sweet girl and then another and then you move.
Seminary stretches your family beyond words. Homeschool begins. So many times of laughter and tears, lessons learned, opportunities to be creative, and having two more boys. Up and down the highway you go between NC and OH making precious friends as you journey.
You move to your hometown and spend sweet time in ministry while you live life and make memories with your wonderful parents, family and great friends. God completes your family with the arrival of your baby girl. There are roller coasters and water slides to ride, special breakfasts, coffees in the vault, musicals, vacations, conferences, canoes to row, boats to ride, graduations, children to college, children married, floods to navigate, stopping by the parents’ house for candy and lunch, and just wonderful days lived.
The next thing you know, you are back in OH, reconnecting with precious friends from the past and making dear new ones, living in a house you feel you were born to live in, still learning and growing as a mom, relearning grammar despite your college English major, Reds games, sledding, pools, playgrounds, being blessed not once but twice as a Mamie as your wonderful daughter-in-law gives birth to two incredibly, beautiful redheads 19 months apart and then…
You wake up on the morning of your 46th birthday wondering why your organic honey nut oats cereal with strawberries and coconut milk is crackling like it is really Rice Krispies. You decide to eat it anyway because you realize getting older isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ve had one of the hardest years of your life during many moments as you work with your aging body whose hormones are misbehaving , so you decide, shoot, it’s going to take more than a chemical reaction in my bowl of cereal to take this girl out. I have a lot more living to do, so on brave days and happy days, I plan to do just that…LIVE, surrounded and supported by a loving family, grand friends near and far, embracing the laughter and the tears, looking for the next slide to ride, sunset to see ( very rarely a sunrise, I am not an early riser), concept to learn, and feeling blessed and grateful all along the way. You even smile when your four year old gasp and then says, ” WOW!” when she ask how old you are today.

Thank you God for the 46, I am looking forward to more 🙂

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My Silly Lilly

All children are special. All children are unique. Each of my children is my favorite child. Today, I want to take a moment to celebrate the life of my daughter, Lilly. She is eighteen years old today.

Lilly was born in Richmond, VA. She had a beautiful headful of dark hair and dark blue eyes that eventually turned hazel. When she was three days old, Lilly quit breathing, once at home, with the very traumatic experience of fire engines, ambulances and CPR techniques, and twice again at the hospital. She stayed in the hospital for a week and on a monitor for almost a year. The medical community’s best diagnosis was a captured SIDS episode caused by low motility in her esophagus (abnormal contractions of the esophageal body) and hypertonia (an increase in muscle tension with reduced ability for muscles to stretch) in her neck/shoulder girth area.

As a toddler, Lilly had a wild mane of thick gorgeous hair and a deep husky voice. She was beautiful inside and out. People would stop me on the street and want to talk about her. I heard it all from strangers – she was an angel, she had a gift, she had an aura around her, she was special. And she was special, our silly Lilly beans.

Her nickname, “Silly Lilly,” was given by her preschool teacher, Donna Corbelli. Lilly loved to laugh or quietly play the straight man to a prank. Many a day, I caught her sneaking cookies, vehemently denying her guilt as cookie crumbs spilled out of her mouth.

Lilly frightened us again when she was almost 11 . She developed an unusual childhood illness called HSP (Henoch-Schönlein Purpura). It is normally a benign illness, a self-limiting condition that settles after a few days or less likely weeks, but not for our Lilly. She spent two weeks in the hospital, enduring numerous, ominous predictions of her imminent demise and countless tests. At one point, she was stuck 21 times as they tried to find a vein for an I.V. They finally settled on placing it in her neck as she was vomiting blood the entire time. It took her two years to fully recover.

Lilly is one of the bravest people I know. She lives life with a confidence and courage that I rarely see around me. She knows who she is and more importantly she knows and loves her Creator. Lilly is a picture of calm and anyone who has spent time with her can attest to her natural, reassuring presence. She spends a lot of time sitting at the feet of Jesus and it quietly, subtly radiates from her.

She is a superb cook and baker. She loves music, theater, the arts and the hunt for a new and exciting cultural event. She is a self-taught seamstress. She has dressed with a flair beyond her years since she could say, “No, I want to wear this, not that!” She has taught herself to play numerous instruments. I love to listen to her at the end of a long day as she pours her heart and soul into a song at the piano. When she plays, it is not mechanical; it is an experience of feeling the emotions and the power in every note written.

Lilly is an amazing young woman. I am proud to call her my daughter and friend. I love her very much.

You inspire me to love more, rest easier, laugh often, go with the flow, embrace what life brings my way and to cherish who I am because of Who created me!

Happy 18th Birthday, Lilly!

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