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Only in Ashe…

I’m back!!! :)  Sorry for the long absence and no guarantees we won’t have more in the future.  My family has been through a LOT since I last wrote.  We married off my sister-in-law, said our goodbyes to Robbie’s Daddy and, most recently, said our goodbyes to my sweet grandfather.  No, I have not gone off my rocker and quit my job and moved back home to Ashe Co., NC.  However, that notion does not seem as crazy as it once did.  

When Poppie died, it was Christmas eve.  Poppie. My daddy’s dad and last grandparent who loved people and cars.  It was a mixed bag of emotions.  The shell of a man I visited in the rehab center days before his death was not the same vibrant, compassionate, brilliantly witty man I grew up with.  And then he died on Christmas eve, one of my Granny Pauline’s favorite times of year. (Granny was my mama’s mama.)  In the days following his death, I spent a good deal of time (a good deal alone) at his family home. A beautiful, majestic home situated on a hill with a beautiful mountain view.   As I drove between mom’s and there (about 10 mins) each time, I could not help but be in awe of God’s majesty on display for splendor.  

Life in this mountain town is different than anywhere else I have ever lived.  Yes, people are people. Yes, jobs are jobs (if you are lucky enough to have one there as the factories continue to close one by one).  But the speed of life is different.  It takes “a while” to get any where. The grocery store, McDonald’s, a decent gas station may take you 15-40 mins to get to (depending how deep you live in the hills).  That alone allows for “thinking time” in the car. Cell signals are hit or miss so I don’t even turn my phone on unless I am headed to town. People really want to know how you are.  It doesn’t matter that the visit may mean they are late for something. They take/make the time to visit.  They remember you.  The question is, when you leave, will you remember them? 

I certainly will. This place “made” me. It helped form me into the person I am today.  So I am starting this installment of my blogs which will be placed in the category “Only in Ashe…” to post musings after my monthly visits.    I hope you can develop a love of this place as I have!

This photo is courtesy of my cousin, Renee Ashley.  It is a photo of her standing on Mt. Jefferson looking over the town of Jefferson, NC.   The hospital is mid-photo on the right. The nursing home I worked at during college just above it on the hill. The clinic I work in now just beside the hospital.  So many of my roots… 

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He lives! He lives!

After spending an evening/day at a very nice hotel and spa this week,  I’ve had some time to reflect and put things in perspective. Something I haven’t had time to do lately between 2 children under the age of 2, my learning curve as a new “professor” coming in mid-semester and sick family members. So, this night away from home that included a few hours of spa time and a nice massage in a really really nice hotel was extremely refreshing.

First of all, I felt like a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court… Robbie and I are known for just “being ourselves”. We are what you see… normal, casual, down to earth people.  We live a modest lifestyle. No where near rich, also not poor. We are both blessed with college educations, good paying jobs. But we also came from more modest backgrounds than we currently live in and we know there are no people better than other people.

It was interesting to see an affluent family from NY who had missed a connecting flight in Raleigh, with the mom/wife worried about the condition of the hotel the airline was putting people up in, naming a reputable chain. She called a place I would have gladly stayed “sketchy”.  Her husband is a spine surgeon. They own a home in Tribecca and in New Jersey. Her kids to go school “in the city.”

All of this made me think of my Granny; she was a wonderful, sweet woman who had a very successful life. She worked hard, she had 3 wonderful children and gave all she had to love them and her grandchildren. She also was a child of the depression in the mountains of NC.  She was the oldest daughter, robbed of an education to care for her siblings and the house while her siblings were all allowed to attend school, she only finished the 3rd grade.  She taught herself to read and write (with a little help). She found Christ late in life. Her favorite old hymn was one we sang at her funeral, “God Saves Old Sinners”… I swear my life story could be told in music.  One day maybe I’ll make a post for you that includes all the songs I feel “formed” me… this is one of them.  I can see her now, in the back row of that small Baptist Church I grew up in, tapping her foot and nodding along as she hummed or sang the choruses while we sang it.  I’m so glad we sang it at her funeral. It was like her life’s testimony.

Writing my facebook status update today about how rich people have the same amount of “junk” I have, just more spaces to hide it all, this song came to mind.  There is no escape from God. No place you can hide all your junk. No station in life that will gain you salvation.  We are all sinners in need of salvation. There is no salvation short of the grace of God.  Given tomorrow is Easter, you should know that short of the Resurrection of Christ, there is no salvation.  If you do know God, consider this Easter Sunday your chance to set your relationship straight with Him. If you don’t, consider attending a church service tomorrow and seriously ponder what Christ did for YOU!

Here are the lyrics to God Saves Old Sinners for you…. Hopefully I’ll get some pics of the girls in the Easter dresses up tomorrow.

The drunk on the street
The rich in their palaces
The poor and unlearned
And men of degree
They all have a soul
In need of salvation
And they all have to come
By Calvary

CHORUS:
I am so glad God saves old sinners
I’m thrilled and amazed, how He sets them free
But the biggest surprise in redeeming old sinners
Is that He would save and old sinner like me

Was I so wrong,
That I needed forgiveness?
And was I so bad?
I had to be redeemed
Well I wasn’t a thief
But I lived in sins prison
And I was as lost
As a sinner could be

CHORUS:
I am so glad God saves old sinners
I’m thrilled and amazed, how He sets them free
But the biggest surprise in redeeming old sinners
Is that He would save and old sinner like me

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a season on thankfulness

Of course I love my FB account. I check it at least every day, in the evening, while I’m watching TV.  This month, it’s been interesting to see people posting all the things they are thankful for each day. Some people made a specific post each day (ie, “Day #4: ….. “, etc.) Others just put up something they were grateful for each day (like myself). Truth is, I am super thankful this year. Not only is Thanksgiving a wonderful time of family celebrations of thanks for the whole year, but this year, it is also a celebration of my wedding anniversary, coming on the heels of the birth of our second child!   I’m thankful for our family, our extended family, our church family, our friends and everyone who has prayed for us this year.  Lord knows we still need and covet your prayers daily!

So, here we are, 4 years and 2 kids later… who knew how blessed we could be?!?   It all just feels surreal.  Enjoy pictures of our growing family!

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a tale of two women

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—…” Thank you, Charles Dickens.

Today I became acquainted with two women who are extremely different. The first, made me completely ashamed to call myself a “Christian” in so many ways. If you follow this blog, you may know that I work in a cancer doctor’s office. You may also know he is a Muslim and that doesn’t bother me. What does, however, bother me, is the attitude of patient #1 today. She was a new referral to the office who insisted she know my bosses religion before she would be seen. We let him answer that directly for her and offered her to go to another office. She declined leaving. However, I spent a RIDICULOUS amount of time with her as she explained, “It’s about religion for me…. It matters… It’s just important to me… I pray to God and he prays to Mohammad.” I’m a southern girl. I can be nice and sweet. I can also be very direct. So I asked, “How is it different if you are white and he is black? He won’t treat you any differently.” “That’s not the same,” she replied. “What if he was Jewish, would that matter?” “I just can’t explain it to you, you don’t know me, but for my reasons, no.” I attempted to go back in church and Biblical history enough to explain to her the gray area she is pressing into, but she wasn’t well-versed enough in the Bible to know where she was going. Closed-minded. Is he going to care for her any differently than anyone else? No. Is she going to get top notch care? Yes. REGARDLESS of her religious preference or feelings toward him. Today, he had more grace and poise than this woman who claimed to be a “Christian”. It makes my stomach churn to even think of her.

The second woman was one of the most stunning examples of Christianity I have ever seen and she never told me she was a Christian. She was standing behind another lady in line for the checkout window. Patient A (in front) was told she had a $211 balance (she’s been paying on it for a while). She politely asked if she could write a check for $20. Of course we said yes. She’s a good patient. She’s struggling. She’s depressed. She’s a cancer survivor but not all survivors are hopeful. Her spouse is also a cancer survivor. She admitted to me today she is depressed but doesn’t want to take meds. Patient B waited patiently for her turn. When she got to the window, she told our checkout girl she didn’t mean to overhear, but she was going to pay that lady’s $211 balance… in full… tear up the $20 check she wrote. Send her a note that says it was paid anonymously, as a gift from God.

What a day. It is the best of times.. it is the worst of times… it is the age of wisdom and the age of foolishness…

Father God, help me to see your ways this clearly everyday. Thank you, Lord, for shining examples of your Love. Please open the eyes of my first patient today. Help her to see you work in many vessels, not just the ones she expects.

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the difference

I work in the cancer business. In my line of work, I commonly use the phrase, “Isn’t it amazing the difference just one year makes?”  I use it for the patients who were soooo extremely anxious when I first met them, to the point they could barely hear, “You’re gonna be ok,”  (Note: This particular subset of patients have very early disease with a terrific prognosis…like >95% at 10 yrs.)  After one year, they’ve overcome the battle. They are moving back to normalcy again.  Many times, their entire perspective on life has changed.  I also use it for patients who are “go-getters” (kind of like myself). The ones who run and run and work and work and their cancer just slows them right on down, knocks them for a loop.  Their perspective on life is also different.

That brings me to where I am now, not with cancer (praise, God), but with Emme. I can’t believe that (almost) 1 year ago, my water broke at 3 a.m.!  I was happy being married and living with Robbie.  I had some idea my world would change, but I had no inkling just how much. The following hours were painful, the following days surreal. We were parents.

In the following weeks/months, finding the balance between work and family has been much harder. I hate leaving her for work some days. Some days I cry the whole way to work after I drop her off. Sometimes I just call my mama. :)  She always knows how to make it better…

Oh, the difference the last year has made for Emily, who has grown and cooed and giggled and rolled and “da-da’d” and splashed and cuddled and crawled and now stands and tries to walk…  my baby is no longer a baby!  :)  Here’s some photos from her birthday party this weekend.

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