Friday, May 18, 2018

Parker Franklin Has Arrived!

He's Here!  He's Here!

Did you hear the exuberant shouts of joy bouncing off the walls of the Winter Haven Women's Hospital last Wednesday?  Yep, that celebrating was from the family of Parker Franklin McGhee!

Cody stepped out and announced, "He's here!  He's perfect!  Kristin did Great!"  (He said some other things but I missed them.  I was busy taking the first deep breath I'd had in almost eight hours.)

As with every delivery there is a story.  The short version is this:  On Tuesday, the doctor made the call to do a cesarean section delivery on Wednesday morning.  And Parker was born.

(Come on!  Not one of the regular readers falls for that impossibly abbreviated version.)

We all arrived at the hospital Wednesday bright and early.  Kristin had been having severe contractions since 3 AM.  The nurse determined there wasn't a need for pain relief, she'd be in the operating room soon.

Unfortunately, "soon" was bumped back three different times by emergency deliveries that had to go ahead of her.  Her pain continued to increase; pain she wasn't mentally prepared to handle.  Cesarean deliveries come with enough pain AFTER delivery.  Laboring hour after hour before surgery isn't supposed to be part of the equation.

She labored quietly, focusing on the deep breathing and counter pressure techniques she and Cody had learned.  But you could see the intensity in her face.  All three of my girls are tough; they handle pain well.  I knew how bad this was getting.

We tried to stay calm and peaceful for her sake but every spike on the contraction monitor caused that much more concerned. Okay, I'll admit it.  As the pain increased, so did my frustration.  When they took her off the monitor and STILL didn't get her ready to move, my "mama bear" kicked in.

After waiting thirty more agonizing minutes, I went to the desk and politely asked to speak to her nurse whom we hadn't seen in quite some time.  I was told they would be coming to check on her in a moment. 

It was the brush-off and I knew it.  I'm not sure exactly what I said at that point in response, but I felt much better after I said it.

They came in to move her to surgery about ten minutes later.  We all joined hands around her bed and Frank prayed between two contractions.  (I repented.)

A quick kiss on her head.  A pat of encouragement on Cody's shoulder.   Away they went!

The four original parents of the two soon-to-be parents walked to our designated area to wait.

Parker was delivered in less than an hour.  But with pictures and stitching and tears and celebrating, it was almost three hours before someone reminded Cody to come let us know - All Is Well!

I shared with you in an earlier post the meaning of Parker's name but perhaps some of you missed that one.  Parker Franklin McGhee means:  "Gate Keeper of Freedom."  Powerful, right?!  A strong name was needed for the little man who will carry on the McGhee name for his ancestral American Indian Tribe.

Kristin is recovering well; trying to use wisdom and not overdo.  But she is already an amazing little mommie.  Cody has stepped into the dual roles of care-giver for his wife and dad for his son with marvelous abandon.  One of the earliest pictures was of Parker and Cody each looking intently into the eyes of the other.  (Brought tears to my eyes!)

I'll leave you with the profound words Kristin posted on her facebook page this week:
"I’ve been a Mommy to a tiny brilliant human for a grand total of 7 days and here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Surrounding yourself with a group of wise people who have been where you are is very important.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get advice..you may just get answers that let you know you’re not alone in your journey
3. Allowing people to help in any way they offer is a gift...don’t refuse it and letting them know your thankful goes a long way
4.Be grateful for every day even when it doesn’t go the way you want it to
5.Crying doesn’t make you weak
6. Laughing is what keeps you sane
7. Above all else talking to Jesus and giving him every insecurity and each victory is what makes life possible:)


Friday, May 4, 2018

Locked Out

We're all about babies around here these days.

Big babies.  Little babies. Babies graduating from kindergarten.  Babies due in three days.  Babies due in three months.  Caution: Do NOT drink the water around here if you don't want to experience BABIES!  :-)

Apparently, Madison Riley (who will turn three next month) has promoted herself to the big baby category.  Of course, Zach will turn three just a couple of weeks later.  But that doesn't seem to matter in her calculating, curly-blond head.

Last Sunday all the babies were playing in toddler church.  Madi climbed up onto a chair and propped her tiny red flowered shoes on the chair across from her.  She watched the other toddlers for a moment then looked up at the teacher.  With a serious face she nodded toward them and said, "You enjoying this show?!"  

Yep, that's our big baby alright.

This morning Meagan brought them by our house to pick up something.  Noah came bursting in with smiles and heart satisfying hugs.  Madi lagged a bit behind; talking all the way up the drive.  I knelt down in front of her so I was on her level and could better hear her.  "Okay, Madi.  Tell me again?" I asked.

She sighed, rolled her blue eyes, propped her hand on her minuscule hip and said, "Listen to my wuhds, Noni." 

Please bear in mind, if you burst out laughing at a moment like this it's highly offensive to toddler people.   So as the laughter swirls in my chest, I'm forced to bite my lip or cough or run for another room if I hope to keep them talking.

Baby!  Baby!

In other laughter news, I had a run-in with my patio door last Sunday morning.   It was one of those moments when you make a split-second decision to laugh or cry.  And you already know I laugh as often as possible.

Sunday mornings are pretty structured for us and we need to keep moving in order to stay on schedule.  Frank had already left before daylight.  I was almost completely ready and found myself with the luxury of an extra ten minutes.

I decided to save two dollars by eating cereal here instead of going through the drive-thru for my favorite oatmeal.  Since cool mornings won't be around much longer, I also decided to enjoy my cereal out on our screened room patio.

The birds were chirping. The sunrise was brilliant.  My heart was rejoicing in the loveliness of the day ahead.

A glance at my watch showed,"Time to get going."  So I jumped up and headed inside.

One small problem.  The door was LOCKED!

I jiggled the handle as though it would magically understand the importance of ignoring the lock and open anyway.  No Bueno!

Panic tried to rise in my heart but I thought, "Maybe I left the front door open."  Nothing to do but take off running around the house through the dewy grass.  Bare-footed, dress flowing, hair coiffed.  Praying my neighbors were still sleeping.

The front door was locked as well.

Back around the house to discover the third entry point had also been fastidiously secured and would now deny me entrance.  Phone in one hand, cereal bowl in the other I did what every wife does.....I called my personal hero.

"Frank!"  This was getting serious.  "I've locked myself out of the house!"  

Silence for a moment then I heard the familiar laughter-covering cough.  "Try the left dining room window.  It may still be unlocked."

"I'm trying,"  I said.  "But I can't get the screen off."  

It's one of those fancy screens that supposedly makes it incredibly easy to clean the windows from inside or outside.  Obviously, I haven't done either in a while because I couldn't get the screen to budge.

I put the phone on speaker and laid it on the nearest shrub.  Apparently my struggle with the screen had gotten rather intense because Frank later said he felt sure it would be snapped in two before I finished.

"Honey, are you okay?"  his voice sounded concerned.  Just then the screen gave way and I yanked it out of the window casing.

"I got it!"  I shouted with delight. Time was ticking. "I'm going in...."  

Please feel free to use your imagination at this point.  I happened to be wearing a lovely lavender frock with a full skirt and white polka dots sprinkled freely over the light weight fabric.  I had to push past the shrubbery in order to hoist one foot and leg over the window sill.

(As Madi would say, "You enjoying this show?")

I must have made a grunting sound at this point because Frank asked again, "Honey, Are you sure you're OKAY?  Be careful!"

With one leg in and one leg out; derriere in the most prominent and unattractive of positions; trying my best not to lose my balance, I managed a muffled "Yes!"

Praying deeper sleep on my neighbors, I somehow maneuvered the inside foot over farther and then fully committed to the swinging motion that would bring my other leg and foot inside.

Now in my head, this was a graceful, smooth, flowing-type movement made without hesitation.  Surely, the best Ninja move of all time.  In reality, if you had been watching from across the yard, I'm pretty sure you'd have a much different description to share!

To quote Madison Riley once more, "Listen to my words, dear friend."  If you decide to take a few minutes and treat yourself to a quiet breakfast on the patio, check the lock on your door first!  Otherwise, you may also end up with a new family story to tell.





 



Saturday, April 28, 2018

That's Right

Nine days and counting!  We're down to single digits!

Today marks nine days until we reach the due date of one Parker Franklin McGhee. The first child of our first child.  The first grandchild on Cody's side.  The seventh on our side.  A much anticipated and longed for little boy.

Every friend and relative he has yet to meet is over the moon with excitement as we watch for his soon arrival.

(Side note question:  Is it the baby's due date?  Or is it the mother's due date?  If you're a maternity care giver perhaps you can leave a comment below to help clarify.)

I spent some time with Kristin yesterday as she searched out a few last minute items.  Poor baby is so very pregnant now that we walk slowly, stand slowly, sit slowly, respond slowly...... well, you get the picture.  I say "we" because we all intuitively move at her pace in an effort to be supportive.

Thankfully, she's had none of the pregnancy difficulties so common for many.

Her biggest struggle has been with severe leg cramps.  Bananas and water have become her best friends in an effort to combat the cramps.  And Cody (the consummate pregnancy partner) has spent many middle-of-the-night-hours rubbing out those cramps.

They are the cutest couple.  He routinely calls her throughout the day, just to see how she's doing.  This pregnancy thing is new territory for Cody but he has risen to the challenge of learning and trying to understand all aspects.

They spent the whole of last Saturday in a birthing class.  His stories of what they learned, the videos they saw and how they processed it all had us roaring with laughter.

Yep, there's a reason God's best plan is for a husband and wife to bring children into the world together.  It's because we NEED one another!

In other news, I'm making serious strides toward the completion of my first book.  I've casually mentioned the idea of a book here and there over the past couple of years.  But I'm closer than ever before to it becoming reality.

I guess you could say I've been "pregnant" with this book for a long time, too.  Humans are pregnant with children for 9 months.  An elephant carries her young for almost 22 months.   I've heard stories of people carrying manuscripts close to their hearts for years before "giving birth."  I must be one of those.

Please pray with me that this will be completed soon.  I desperately want it to take the right shape.  I want this first book to have words of encouragement that will reach to many who need them.  I'm listening closely and really want to get it right.

Of course, I'm aware this isn't THE book (as a wise friend shared) it's A book.  I'm not responsible for producing the greatest book ever penned.  That job was covered quite well by the many co-authors who penned what continues to be the best seller of all time - the Bible.

No, my goal is much more modest.  I want to simply take the truth that life has worked into my heart and record it in an effective way; a way that encourages.  Then put it out there for others who will recognize themselves in the struggles and victories I describe. 

Which brings me to a great quote I heard just this morning.  The speaker was talking about our journey through life.  He talked of being right.  This was the statement that challenged my thinking, "It's not about being right.  It's about getting things right."

In other words, we too often insist that others recognize us as being right.  No matter what the topic of conversation.  No matter what the project.  No matter who we're dealing with or why - human nature in each of us longs to be affirmed as being the one who is "RIGHT!"

This speaker felt we should focus instead on getting things right.

Every married couple has times of disagreement.  When the arguing is over, what matters more? Who was right? Or who handled the disagreement in a right way?

Every building project must follow a plan.  When a hurricane comes through these parts, we want to know the builders didn't cut corners.  We want to know they built that structure the right way.

We don't care about the name of who was deemed right or wrong during project discussions. Constructing it the Right Way is what matters most.  Getting it right provides something that lasts through the storm.

I think you get the idea.

So my challenge today is this, ask yourself to honestly answer.  Which matters most to me?  Do I want to Be right?  Or do I want to Get it right?

BEING right adds value to our personal reputation.  GETTING it right adds value to other people.

Kristin and Cody are trying to get pregnancy and birthing right.  I'm trying to get publishing right.  We all hope to get relationships right.  When you turn it that way, being right takes second place.

Hmmmm.  A friend of mine often says, "Now you know that's right!"



I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Stop by the comment box with your perspective.......



















Friday, April 20, 2018

Lean on Me

I absolutely LOVE that my grandbabies are always wanting to help.  And as they develop their vocabulary skills, "I want to help you" most often comes out, "Ina Hope!"

I've written about this before but it just continues to fascinate me.  Such a perfect mistake, don't you think?  Exchanging the word help for hope.

This past Monday was family dinner night.  But because Frank and I have been hosting multiple church groups/dinners at our home recently, I put out the call for someone else to host this time.

Meagan and Nathan accepted the call.  So, I took the pork chops to their house and went on with my other responsibilities.  (Meagan does a great marinade and Nathan has become quite the GrillSmith.  Pun Totally Intended!)

When Frank and I pulled into their driveway later on Monday, we were met by two beautiful blonde haired children with huge hugs and sweet kisses.  I'd brought a couple of other things and Noah immediately offered to help us carry them inside.

Madi was right on his heels with "Ina hope too, Noni!"  (I want to help, too.)  Even if it's carrying my purse, I try to come up with something for her to help with at times like that.  Contributing builds character in children, doesn't it?

This little lady is a natural born leader.  She can also be a little bossy sometimes, especially with her cousin, Zach.  Her offers to help him are usually more of a statement than a request.  "No No, Zachie Pookie. I hope you!"  

Zach is only three weeks younger than Madi.  But she gave him a pet name as soon as she could talk.  It seems every southern mother gives her children pet names.  And Madi's little nickname, "Zachie Pookie" stuck.

Zachariah usually has one of two responses when Madison offers to hope him.  He walks away; which is NOT pleasing to the one so generously offering to help. Or he looks around briefly then gives in to exactly what Madison has directed.

I've even witnessed a couple of shoulder shugs and deep sighs of resignation.  Those two are more like twins than cousins.  And they are hysterical to watch!

This morning as Frank and I sat having coffee on the back porch, my heart got a little overwhelmed.

Our routine is to start each day with some quiet time.  Then, we try to run through our day's schedules so we each have a general idea of where the other will be.  That five minute exercise (so helpful most days) put my stomach in a knot this morning.  A few tears even breeched the dam.

Tears are rare for me, especially that early in the day.  So it caught Frank off guard.  He pulled me close, gave my hand a kiss and said, "Let's pray."

Best Help/Hope Ever!

After we prayed, he asked what he could do to help with my to do list.  He listened patiently and asked questions to clarify.  We developed a better game plan.  We worked to redirect my view. 

His offer to help began to renew my hope that all we Must do today, Can be done.

I wish I could tell you a beautiful scripture immediately came to my mind.  But today, it was the chorus of a song from my teen years instead:

"Lean on me!  When you're not strong and I'll be your friend.  I'll help you carry on. For it won't be long 'til I'm gonna need, somebody to lean on."

I laid my weary head over on the broad shoulder of my husband and whispered my gratitude.

We can't be the strong one every day, friends.  We must all take turns offering help; which then brings hope.

Who knew Madison Riley was such a SAGE at only three years of age?!





Friday, April 13, 2018

The View

I just finished writing a sermon I can hardly wait to preach this Sunday!

In fact, I'm so excited I would love to attach the entire message here for you to read it.  But alas,  I can't give it away today.  What would be the incentive for people to come on Sunday?

The title of my sermon is "The View" just like this post.  Only here, I'm taking a little different twist.

(It dawned on me just a moment ago that I've never invited you to hear one of my sermons but you can rather easily.  Go to gardengrovechurch.com click on the GGC Facebook page and you'll have access to our weekly sermons.

You'll have to scroll back to October to catch my most recent one.  Or just come back on Tuesday and they'll have the one from this Sunday posted.)

This week Frank and I made a quick trip up to north FL to visit my dad and his wife, Christeen.  We left Monday just as the sun was peeking over the horizon and drove the 7 hours to his home.  Then Wednesday, we drove back.

There was no agenda for this visit.  We didn't even do much of anything special.  It was all about time with Dad.  Stepping out of our hectic world and into his quieter one for a while.

We walked to the barn to feed his cows, ducks and kittens.  We checked out his progress on the garden he just planted. We rode in his Arctic Cat over hill and dale seeing where he hunts and fishes.  We even stopped for a couple of selfies near his favorite fishin' hole.

Let me not rush past the statement "...rode in his Arctic Cat..." because you need a good mental picture.  Dad lives on a huge tract of land owned by his family for decades.  Well over a hundred acres.

Because he knows almost every foot of that land from his 80 years of rambling over it, he needed a way to still access each corner.  So he bought himself an all terrain vehicle with two front seats positioned side by side.  A huge console in the center covers part of the engine.

Frank was on this little adventure with us, so guess where I was sitting.  Yep, I was precariously perched on the console like I was a fifteen year old girl instead of a 59 year old lady!

I kept trying new hand grip spots to secure me from toppling over on top of the fellas.  And the console started heating up well before we got back to the house.

(Please envision my eyes as wide as saucers and my bum quite warm!) 

But we made a memory!

In truth, it's a memory I'll hold dear for years to come.  Dad just driving us slowly over the fields and through the wooded areas. Easing his way through the boggy lowlands.  Pointing out vegetation and wildlife as they appeared before us.  Telling stories of hunting trips and fishing adventures.

We were seeing the land from his point of view and I was reminded why he loves it so much.

It was good therapy for Frank and I just to get out of town for 48 hours.  Somehow, your perspective shifts when you get away and shake up your normal routine a bit.

Even our ride on the Arctic Cat was good medicine.

There's more I'd love to share but I just got a call from my favorite fella with an invitation for lunch.  So I'm signing off to make sure he knows I view him as most important!



How about you?  Do you have a story of how your perspective has shifted at some point?  Or perhaps a tip about keeping your perspective right?  We'd love to hear about it in the comment section........







Saturday, April 7, 2018

Time to Plant

It's time to get your garden ready!

Yes, I'm aware that for many of you the timing of this statement makes it seem a bit ridiculous.  But bear with me.

Where I live, the temperatures are already topping 80 degrees on a daily basis.  I'm filling my lungs morning and evening with the final wafts of cool air.  By the end of next month it will be sauna time again.

So naturally, my mind is on planting already.

Life has been too busy for serious flower bedding.  But I did manage to throw a few bulbs in the ground and refresh my doorway planters.  Big win for me.

As I cleaned house yesterday preparing for company, I began to ponder the rhythms of planting and harvest.  Since I can't dig in the actual dirt right now, my mind turned to spiritual planting.  A couple of thoughts came to me rather clearly.

  • We seldom ever harvest in the timing we think is reasonable.  The time between planting a seed by faith and seeing fruit from that seed is almost ALWAYS longer than I expect.  

I heard a great line from a teaching this week.  "The farmer waits with knowledge."  Such an important concept for us, too.  Productive farmers know from experience - there will be results from all my planting efforts......if I'm patient.

He can't go out two days later, snatch the seed out of the ground and say, "See!  I knew it wouldn't work!"  It takes time.  Keep watering/cultivating your seed, dear friend.  It will yield a harvest.

  • In spiritual matters, we don't always reap from the field where we've planted.  But watch for it, your seedling of faith will produce fruit for you somewhere in your life.

I've gladly served as a mentor and invested heavily in the lives of many young women.  Some of those investments have been expensive for me financially, emotionally, or time wise.  And occasionally, I see no return for my investment from the one I've worked with.

But again, patience is key here, along with eyes to see.  

Recently, I've had the privilege of meeting with two ladies I should never have had access to under normal conditions.  They've spoken truth into my life and encouraged me to reach beyond where I've thought I could go.  I look at their lives and see possibility for my own life.  

And there's the return for my earlier investments.  The seeds I've faithfully planted in other young women have become a harvest for me from a totally different field.  

But if I hadn't planted, I wonder if I would have reaped these divine appointments that have provided much needed fruit for me.  Hmmm, something to ponder.

So, even if the ground around you is still frozen I maintain my call........."It's time to Plant!"  Find something/somewhere you can plant a seed (by faith) toward seeing the miracle you long for come to pass.  

Then start the tough work of waiting.

Believe that this seed, properly cultivated, will bring a harvest your way.  Patiently watch for the first signs of a seedling and celebrate, even if it took longer to sprout and came to you from a different field.  The miracle is still just as amazing!

One thing is for certain - no one ever harvested if they didn't plant.

It's Time to Plant!!

Monday, April 2, 2018

It's Winnable

Do you have a vice?

"Sheri, we just came through Lent!  We were supposed to give up our vices."

Yes, I'm aware.  But I have a story about a vice that I think will be encouraging.

Important Side Note:  I just looked up the definition for "vice" and found I was using it improperly.  Free Dictionary, "A practice or habit considered to be evil, degrading or immoral."  

I guess I was leaning more toward definition #3.  "A slight personal failing; foible.  An imperfection."   Whew!  Glad we cleared that up!

So, moving on.  The little imperfection to which I'm referring is that of playing solitaire on my phone.  It's a wonderfully mindless activity that doesn't allow my brain to wander around aimlessly whenever I take a much needed break.

I've shared with you before how I've put roadblocks up to keep this activity from stealing time.  I'm allowed a maximum of three short games in a row; taking no more than ten minutes.  No more than three times in a single day.

Believe it or not, I have a counter on my phone that keeps me accountable to this commitment.  So it really doesn't qualify for the #1 definition of vice from Free Dictionary.

Back to the point of the post.

I most often play the Medium difficulty games.  Once Frank taught me the rudiments of solitaire, I quickly discovered the Easy category didn't provide enough of a challenge.  The Hard category is definitely challenging but requires full attention, totally negating the purpose of mindless activity.

So Medium is juuussst right!  (Did you hear the voice of Goldilocks from the Three Bears?)

There's another issue also makes it attractive.  The attention-getting statement on my game goes like this: "Easy and Medium games are always winnable.  Hard games may or may not be winnable."

Having that one little tidbit of information has been a game changer for me.  Literally!

No matter how challenging the game may be, I know the computer that set it up has also created a strategy for winning the game.  There is no question about it.  This game CAN Be Won!

Consequently, I have never abandoned a single game in the four years I've been playing on this phone.  (The accountability counter I mentioned earlier can attest to this truth.)

Why abandon a game that can be won?

There is a little button entitled the "Undo" button.  It allows you to start over when a game gets perplexing.  Please understand, some games I've had to leave and come back to time and again.  A few, I've handed over to Frank asking for his expert help.  One had me stumped for almost a week.

There is also this ridiculous caution sign with an exclamation point that appears when you've run out of options for a game.  If you can't come up with a solution, you have to start tapping the undo button until every card has returned to its original state and begin again from the very beginning.

Either that or abandon the game.  And we've already established my response to the abandoning option.

When the caution sign pops up signaling no more available plays, I must make a choice.  It's humbling.  Sometimes annoying.  Often irritating.  But always I hear that little promise running through my head, "This game is winnable!"

So back I trudge to the starting line and try yet again.

I've come to look at that silly game as an example of life in general.  Often, we hit major snags along our journey.  Difficulties make it appear we have no available options for a good outcome in this situation.

But remember!  The constant promise we have is that the One who created us also sees a way out of our dilemma.  There is a viable solution if we just keep looking.

Some struggles can keep us stumped a long time.  Often we must seek out the help of a friend with more experience.   We may even have to trudge right back to the starting line and begin all over again in order to find success.  But it's worth the effort.

Don't allow darkness to convince you to abandon your intended goal.  This game of life is winnable.

A promise I often rehearse for myself is found in Jeremiah 29:11 which says in part,  "I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for hope and a future." 

In layman's terms - it's winnable!


How about you?  Any lessons learned from your definition #3 vices?  We'd love to learn too - just leave a comment below.......







 

Followers