Things My Daddy Can’t Do

Aside

“Old as she was, she still just needed her Daddy sometimes.” – Gloria Naylor

ImageThings my Daddy can’t do. . . 

  1. My Daddy can’t play the piano very well.  He spent all of his time and money making sure I could.
  2. My Daddy can’t watch me sing without tears in his eyes.  (Yes, Daddy.  I noticed.)
  3. My Daddy can’t behave when he is with his Grandchildren. He is a bigger kid than they are, and they love him for it. 
  4. My Daddy never could win at checkers.  He always let me do it.
  5. My Daddy can’t hold on to money.  He was always there to hand it out whenever I needed it (and even when I didn’t).
  6. My Daddy never could remember that time I put the car in drive instead of reverse and ran into our front steps.  Mom never found out. Thank you, Daddy.
  7. My Daddy can’t leave my house without saying “I love you”.
  8. My Daddy can’t end a phone conversation without saying “I love you.”
  9. My Daddy can’t say bad words. – Mom and I….. not so much.
  10. My Daddy can’t give up, no matter how tired he gets or how hard life gets, and for that, I am so very thankful. 

 

My blog posts have always centered around lessons my Mother taught me, but today I want to let this one center around my Daddy.

As I watched my Daddy take care of my Mother during her last weeks on this earth, I saw exactly what true love was.  It goes beyond anything we could ever imagine while saying those vows on the wedding day.  Showering her with the kitchen sink sprayer because she couldn’t walk up the steps to her shower, coming home from work 10 times a day to give medicine, answering the phone every time she called with a question, being patient when she begged him to stay because she only wanted him to take care of her, lifting her to her favorite spot on the couch, and the list just goes on and on. . . .

 My Daddy would not want me to paint a picture of a perfect King household.  We had plenty of ups and downs.  There were times we all wanted to jump ship, walk out the door, and not come back. All of us. 

But those last few weeks of my Mother’s life, we all realized the love we had for each other.  We took our love, and we gave when there was nothing to give.  I watched my Daddy LOVE my Mother in such a tangible way, and I will be forever grateful for those memories.  I hate the cancer memories, but I am so thankful for the memories of being able to watch my Daddy love my sweet Mama. 

I once heard that one of the best things a daddy can do for his daughter is to show her how much he loves her Mother.

Mission accomplished, Robert King.  You are a wonderful Daddy for so many reasons, but my favorite reason is for how you loved my Mother. 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Mom!

Aside

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
―    Mitch Albom, For One More Day

Happy Birthday Mom!

If I could give you anything for your birthday this year, it would be a video of Charlotte singing the Disney song “Let it Go” from her new favorite movie, “Frozen”.  Mom, Charlotte is the most free spirit, fun loving, sassy, little girl you could ever imagine.  She is NOTHING like what the both of us had pictured for our little southern belle.  She bucks me when I try to put a bow in her hair or get her to wear a monogram.  Smocked dresses are no longer an option.  She is loud, hyper, and sometimes even a little crass, graceless, and needs to refine her tact.

Our Charlotte in the snow

Our Charlotte in the snow

On the bright side, she makes me laugh.  She makes me laugh at myself, and she brings laughter in our home when we all need it most.  I have said so many times lately how much I feel like Charlotte was a gift from God to us because He knew we would lose you and need Charlotte to bring us joy and laughter.  She may be small and she may be only 5, but she is teaching me more about myself than I ever thought possible.  In some crazy way, maybe God is using her to teach me things YOU would be teaching me if you were still here.

The song she sings a million times a day references this Disney princess who possesses ice powers.  She has to hide her powers to protect people and so she can appear perfect.  It becomes impossible for her to continue the appearance of being perfect and she finally shows the world her imperfections and “lets everything go”.  She has to work through how to control her negative “powers” and once she realizes how to do that, of course we have our happily ever after ending.  Mom, there are so many things I must let go of.  I must let go of the bitterness.  I must let go of thinking God didn’t hear me all of those times I begged, pleaded, cried, and screamed out to Him to heal you.

Knowing what to let go of is sometimes difficult, but there is that still, small, voice inside of me that usually gives me the certainty I need to know what I should let go and what I should not.  I will NEVER let go of the memories of us.  I will never let go of the things you taught me and the work ethic you instilled in me.  I will never let go of you.  You are always so very much a part of my life even now.  I feel your presence, and I most definitely hear your lessons to me from our sweet girl, Charlotte.

Things are definitely not always easy, especially on days like today, your birthday.  I need you so very much, but I know there are ways you can still speak to me even now, and for that, I am so grateful.  So in typical Judy King fashion, you are really still giving to me on YOUR special day just like you always wanted.

Happy 62nd Birthday Mom.  We are trapped inside the house because of a huge snow storm so I took a visit to Fresh Market for you a couple of days ago. Of course I brought home our favorite fresh flowers, good chocolate, and coffee. The house definitely looks and smells just like you for your special day.

I love you more today than I ever have,

Amy

Phillipians 1:3

Somebody’s Prayin’

“Mighty hands are guiding me to protect me from what I can’t see. Lord, I believe somebody’s praying for me.” – John Elliott

I have thought a lot about the next memory I want to share. I keep going back to one of the last conversations Mother and I had. She knew her time was short. She simply looked at me and said “you have so many people who love you and who will take care of you.” In that moment I knew it gave her great comfort to think of all the people who would be there for me when she was no longer able.

Family bonds have grown closer than ever and friendships have remained true. One of my Mother’s favorite things to do was hear “her girls” sing. She referred to my 3 best friends as “her girls” because they were. They were her girls. All of our parents say that to this day, and I love it. I can’t begin to put into words the bond these girls and I have formed over the past 20 years while singing together. Our busy lives have kept us from singing like we used to, but our friendship has remained constant.

One of my most favorite songs the girls and I sing is an old Ricky Skaggs song called “Somebody’s Prayin”. It is country and not our typical genre. However, when we heard the words to this song, we all sat and cried and talked about how it was the perfect example of the way our parents prayed for us. We all come from strong legacies of faith, and we always knew our parents were praying for us. My Mother LOVED hearing us sing this song.

The girls at Old Market Square July 4th -circa 1995

The girls at Old Market Square July 4th -circa 1995

There are still so many days I don’t have the words or desire to pray. I constantly cling to the message of this song. I still find so much comfort in knowing my parents prayed for me before I was even born. I still find comfort in knowing things are happening that I can’t see to protect me from harm because my parents prayed for that protection!

This video definitely shows its age, but the message will never change. Enjoy this little piece of our music past. And don’t get too excited…. this is NOT vintage Endless Praise.

Somebody’s Prayin’ Video – Ricky Skaggs live

And girls, if you are reading this, can we please sing soon?

Happy Birthday, Anyway.

” ‘Happy Birthday’ should be the first thing you hear when you wake up and the last thing you hear before you go to sleep.” – Judy King

Birthdays seem to be the perfect storm for me lately. I have never been a fan of things changing, new milestones, new chapters in my life, etc., and that is what every birthday brings with it. When you are small, these pains of “growing up” are masked by lots of presents and parties. Eventually, the façade ends, and you realize growing up is tough.

Will’s birthday was last week, and we had a blast celebrating his special day with family and friends. We did every cool thing in the world we could think of to make his weekend special. Finally, when the day was over, he went to bed with tears in his eyes. He looked at me and said, “It’s just not as fun as it used to be.” At first I was angry because I felt as if he was ungrateful for all we had done. Then I realized, my baby boy was growing up. He was realizing there is so much more to life than the “stuff” or the “presents”.

Wow. What a moment I will always remember. I explained to him how “things” do not give us joy. Then I explained to him about the day he was born and how much joy that experience gave us. I was so thankful for that grown up conversation with Will, but my heart was broken for him because I knew he had reached a new milestone in his life and could never go back.

My birthday is tomorrow, and I have found myself spiraling backwards in a sea of grief missing my Mother. Birthdays were the ultimate Judy King days. Birthdays embodied everything she believed in. It was a day where she could speak her love language and speak it loudly. She loved creating special memories through celebrations, especially on birthdays.

Just as I considered skipping Christmas this past year, I annnounced my desire to skip my birthday this year as well, not because I don’t want to get older but because I don’t want to go through it without my Mother. I realize she would be extremely opposed to this. I just can’t help but feel it. Then God woke me up in the middle of the night and let me read an email that gave me the answer I had been looking for about how to handle all of this.

A precious friend of mine gave me a book a few weeks ago called “Fearless”. This book is wonderful for those of us who love to worry about and control our situations. It confronts the things we are the most fearful of and gives great examples of how not to fear them. Faith is a huge part of that.

Fearless. It’s my new favorite word (as is my new, precious friend). The week after reading Fearless, my students watched a short video clip of one of my all-time favorite songs by Martina McBride, “Anyway”. God even used Martina that week to tell me to BE FEARLESS!
I immediately emailed my friend to tell her about the song and sent her the lyrics.

“Anyway”
You can spend your whole life buildin’
Somethin’ from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
love ’em anyway

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yeah, sing it anyway
I sing, I dream, I love
Anyway

Now here’s the best part of this story. I read Fearless back in April and sent my friend the lyrics to this song over a month ago. Being the caring friend that she is, she just knew I was dreading my birthday without Mother. She knew I was having a hard time. I’m not quite sure she knew I would be up at 2am this morning, but when I read her email at 2am, this is what I read…. “Happy Birthday, Anyway”  and that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear to make it through this weekend without Mother.

It may hurt. It may not. It may be the best day of my life. Who knows? I’ll never know if I fear it. So with eyes wide open and heart ready for whatever may come, bring on the birthday! We’re gonna celebrate anyway!

Thank you Tracey Jonakin, my fearless friend.

I Have Turned Into My Mother

Karma.  Payback.  Reaping what you sow.  What goes around, comes around. . .

I am sure my Mother is in heaven right now smiling (maybe even laughing) at me.  I have lost count of the numerous things I have done and said this week that were just like her. Many of those times I wanted to pick up the phone and call her to apologize for being so hard on her.  Decisions she made about my clothes, hair, our personal lives, privacy, etc. were brought to my mind this week for numerous reasons.

The perpetual light bulb went off in my head so much this week, and the realization of why Mother did things the way she did them was so evident.  The admiration I have for her now is even more profound because there were times she could have really put me in my place for disagreeing with her.  Instead, she just quietly let me be hard on her.

I am not quite sure why the mother/daughter relationship is like this, but I have witnessed it first hand with Charlotte.  The desire to be independent about clothes, hair, make-up, friendships, privacy, and many more things sometimes drives a huge wedge between a mother and daughter.  However, just like in the story of the Prodigal’s son, my Mother was always willing to forgive and accept with arms wide open.

If I could call my Mother today and apologize for every fit I pitched about clothes, hair, or any other decision she made at which I rolled my eyes, I certainly would.  Deep in my heart, I know my Mother knows even now how much I appreciate every decision she made on my behalf.

This picture is a classic, yet simple example of my Mother standing firm on a decision.

Mom

I found this picture this week and immediately remembered the Saturday we had these pictures made.  We were at my Grandmother’s house in Anderson getting dressed for pictures, and I stood in my Grandmother’s bedroom and sobbed because I DID NOT want to wear this particular outfit. I hated jumpers and plaid shirts.  My eyes are visibly red and puffy in this picture.  Mom has her usual perfect glow and her smile still melts my heart.  Her skin was always so perfect, and I always remember thinking her make-up was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  I still buy make-up she used to wear when I am missing her a little more than usual.  Needless to say, I made a visit to the Lancome counter this week.

So Mom, if there is internet in heaven and you can read this. . .

Thank you.  Thank you for teaching me the value of sensible fashion, especially on picture day.  Thank you for being the best example during difficult days, even when I made you think you were making wrong choices.  Thank you for standing firm in your decisions when I made it hard.  I promise your influence has helped me more THIS WEEK than you will ever know.  I have never been more thankful for you than I am right now.  Thank you for being such an example of strength.  I still draw from that strength every minute of every day.

I hope this picture makes you laugh like it made me.  I am so glad I found it.

Happy Mother’s Day Week.

Amy

March 16, 2013 – One Year

“Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wonder.” – Saint Augustine

March 16, 2013.  One year. One year since my Mother left this world and began spending eternity with her Heavenly Father.   It seems we measure everything in our lives by time or seasons so arriving at this date on the calendar feels like an important day in the life of our family.  It will be a day of reflection.  It will be a day we recall how very special Judy King was.  It will be a day we spend time together as a family.It will be a day of worship. March 16, 2012 will be a day we look back on and realize how much God has taught us through this journey.

Today I am humbled and honored to speak at a Women’s Conference for a life long friend’s church. The theme for the conference….MASTERPIECE.  This time last year, I definitely did not feel like much of a masterpiece.  This time last year, I wondered what God was doing with us, to be honest.  I asked God a lot of questions over this past year, and the one thing I failed to realize was the SOVEREIGNTY of God.  I do not have any more answers today than I had a year ago.  However, today I am able to realize God is sovereign, and there are some things only He knows that I would never be able to comprehend in the first place.

Masterpiece.  If anyone did a good job helping me feel like a masterpiece, it was my Mother.  She had such a tender way of helping me with my physical attributes as well as my social experiences.  But if there is one thing I have tried to realize while studying for this conference, it is that we are God’s masterpiece, no matter what we look like or feel like.  He wants to mold us and shape us into something wonderful, but even during the seasons where we are nothing but dried up bones (Ezekiel 37), He still looks at us with loving eyes and longs to breathe new life into us.

If I were my Mother, I would tell myself. . . .  I often think about the title of this blog.  What would she want me to know right now?  After spending a year in heaven, I am sure her advice would have nothing to do with how to clean my house or how to create more space in the pantry.  I am quite certain her advice today would be centered much around taking care of the inside, taking care of my heart, my relationship with God, realizing the masterpiece we all are and then taking care of it.

I remember what I wore on March 16, 2012.  Every time I walked in to see Mother, she would always tell me how pretty I looked.  She always saw the best in me, even when I felt there was no good at all.  I was able to spend a few hours with her the morning of the 16th last year.  She told me to go on to school when Daddy got there.  I think she was waiting for me to leave.  It was quiet and peaceful and exactly like she wanted it.  To hear Daddy tell his experience is precious.  He was watching her one minute, the doorbell rang, he went to the door to receive some flowers being delivered, and when he returned to Mother, in those few quick seconds, she had quietly passed away.

She did everything in a private, quiet way.  She even left this world in a beautiful way, and I am so proud to say I am her daughter.  She is now a perfect masterpiece.  No more cancer.  No more medicine.  No more swelling or body sores.  No more tears.  No more pain.  I miss her so much, it physically hurts, but I am so thankful she does not have to endure the pain she endured this time last year.

I will never stop remembering the things she taught me.  There is a lifetime of memories we will always have, and I look forward to recalling them throughout another year.  What a difference a year can make. . .

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

My Mother, the Masterpiece

“My mother is a poem I’ll never be able to write, though everything I write is a poem to my mother.”  ~Sharon Doubiago

It is very hard NOT to think about what our family was dealing with this time last year. It has almost been one year since my Mother went to live in heaven, and I remember the days leading up to it so clearly.  I remember so vividly every doctor appointment.  I remember what Mother wore, what she took to drink, how she wanted her lipstick in her lap, her sunglasses, how she wanted her hair perfect,  the tissue she would grab to keep in her lap, the pillows she had to take, her blank stares out the window.

I used to think there would never be a time when I would not think of those things that make my heart hurt with such an excrutiating pain.  I used to think the bad, painful, cancer memories would always be in the forefront of my mind.  As I sit here in my living room, on Mother’s couch (the exact same couch she was sitting on this time last year), I can honestly say, the good memories FAR OUTWEIGH the medical ones, and I have this blog to prove it.

I knew writing this close to March 16 would be difficult so I have not written much lately, but today, I want to write.  I want to remember the good things.

Psalm 139:13-14 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.

It is no wonder we all feel such a connection to our Mothers.  God created us, knit us together, inside of our Mother!  We are beautiful pieces of art, and I want to remember my Mother just as that… one of the most beautiful pieces of God’s workmanship.

I realize this corrupt world plays a part in how our “masterpieces” become extremely messed up with sin, human nature, cancer, other diseases, etc.  I still need God every minute of every day to refine, reshape, and mold this masterpiece called Amy Byrd.  I have certainly made a mess out of that one.  But when I hear my daughter’s laugh or listen to my Mother’s voice, or see my son playing in the backyard, or watch my husband play guitar, or see my Daddy helping a complete stranger, I realize what masterpieces we are surrounded by every day!

We found this video of Charlotte’s 2nd birthday party last week.  I can’t believe how much she has changed in 2 years!  Again, an example of the handiwork of God.  This was the last birthday Mother was able to enjoy with Charlotte.  The following year was tough because Mother had become very sick.  This video is so very special to me for many reasons.  The innocence and excitement of our little Charlotte is so evident.  The VOICES heard around Charlotte are some very special people in our lives.  It is both sets of grandparents, Darian, Will and myself singing.  My Mother’s voice is very audible, and it is truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. I will treasure this sound for the rest of my life.

Here is an example of the masterpieces God created for me to enjoy…. I can’t help but smile and feel overwhelming gratitude.

“With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” – excerpt from Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

A Birthday Letter – one day early

Mother’s 61st birthday is tomorrow, February 13, 2013.  She always wanted to be the first person to wish us a Happy Birthday as well as give the first gift.  So, in Judy King fashion, here is a very special birthday letter to her, a day early.

Happy Birthday Mom!

I know this may seem odd writing a birthday letter, but I feel the need to do it.  The desire to do things to honor you is still very strong.  The grief still sneaks up on me when I least expect it; the reflexive reach for the phone is a very hard habit to break.  The longing for your advice still makes my heart ache.  Thinking about where we were this time last year is extremely difficult especially because your birthday and the date of your death are so close together.  Your birth and your death are linked together for me in such an existential equation.  Maybe it is because I need to be reminded that in order for me to honor you after your death, I should realize how greatly I should be living.  Not existing.  Living.

How am I doing that?  Well, it is definitely a process.  Throughout the past year,  I have honestly tried to recall your wisdom, advice, and our special times together in order to continue the legacy you started with me 36 years ago. This blog has been therapeutic in that aspect.  It is also a concrete way for me to share with others, especially Will and Charlotte, how much you impacted our lives.

Speaking of the grandchildren. . . You wouldn’t believe how much technology is playing a role in our household.  Charlotte can navigate the ipad better than I can.  Will knows more tricks on his ipod than I will ever figure out in a lifetime.  I have a hard time knowing how to integrate all of this in our day to day lives.  You always warned me about laziness.  You hated it.  I hear myself saying the same thing to Will.  You and I had our biggest fights over my clothes and what I was going to wear to school or church.  Guess what?  Charlotte is paying me back big time for that!  Both of them still thank God for you every night in their prayers.  I wish you could see them now. Maybe you can.  I think about that every day when I go to hug one of them, and they always feel a little taller or seem to be much older than just the day before.

I have thought a lot about how I want to spend my time on your birthday tomorrow.  I want to celebrate and remember the things you loved.  You loved your family.  You loved your God.  You loved fresh flowers.  You loved desserts.  You loved shopping.  You loved making people feel special.  You loved your small town of Easley.  You loved.  You loved.  You loved.  You loved.  And people loved you right back!  This love was as central to your personality as was your uncanny ability to make friends anywhere. I can’t go anywhere and someone not say hello to me because they knew YOU.  I am so proud to say I am your daughter.

Okay.  So what to do on your special day?

  1. Definitely drink a hazelnut latte from Starbucks, your favorite.
  2. Visit a few of our favorite shops on Augusta Road.
  3. Go by the Fresh Market and hopefully find some of your favorite flowers – lilies or daisies.
  4. Hug Daddy.
  5. Call a couple of your closest friends.
  6. Wear your jewelry.  ( I do that every day already.)
  7. Listen to some of your favorite music.
  8. Go see your dog, Bentley.  He loved you so much.
  9. Let go of any bitterness I may be holding on to about your cancer.  (That’s a tough one, Mom)
  10. Stop by City Hall and see everyone.  They loved you so much, and they were so good to us when you were so sick.
  11. Cry a little but mainly tears of joy
  12. Celebrate life.  Celebrate the 36 years we had together.

There is quite a large void without you here.  I know the only thing that can fill it is love only our heavenly Father can give.  Some days I try to fill that void with other things, and then I think of the advice you would give me.  You would never judge me.  You would definitely understand, but I know you would sweetly tell me to “get it together” in your sweet, southern charmed voice.  I am learning that “getting it together” is a series of choices we make daily.  It is not a place we obtain and stay there until we die.  Some days I fail miserably, but I am keenly aware that God is willing to meet me and pick me up wherever I am if I am willing to receive his help.

You always said it best when you ended every letter and card. So in the classy style of the most beautiful Mother in the world, I want to end your birthday letter the same way you always ended mine. . . .  “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

Happy Birthday Mom,

Your Amy

How we love our big sunglasses!

How we love our big sunglasses!

February Top 10 List

“All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”  – Charles M Schulz

The grief process is certainly unpredictable.  The sentimental girl in me likes to reflect (probably way too much) on where I was this exact same time during the previous year.  This has been a difficult month of reflection.  It has been difficult to write or maybe just too painful to do so.  Be that as it may, my Mother was not one to “wallow” in self-pity, and she would be telling me to move on and think of good things. Please forgive my lack of posting for the month of January.

Good things.  There are many good thoughts when I think of the month of February.  Mother’s birthday is February 13.  I loved being able to celebrate her birthday because I knew, in some tiny way, we could make her feel special the way she did for us throughout the year.  The King girls love Valentine’s Day.  Mother always had a way of making each holiday special, and Valentine’s Day was no exception. I figured this was a great month for a top 10 list.  Here are some of the ways she used to make February special.

10. Fragrance –  Each season has its own fragrance. We decided these smells over the years and most have been around a very long time.  We love to use Yankee Candle’s “Fresh Cut Roses” fragrance during January and February.  It is difficult to find this time of year, but Mother and I associate the rose smell with Valentine’s Day and her birthday.  We thought it was a perfect match for this time of year.

fresh cut roses candle

9.  Brighton Jewelry – Mother was a hard one to buy gifts for.  She was the ultimate gift giver so finding the perfect gift for her was sometimes very difficult.  There are a few things one can never have too much of, and Brighton Jewelry is definitely one of them.  Daddy and I visited our beautiful friends at Wrapsodies each February and purchased pieces of Brighton for Mother.  I wear something every day that belonged to Mother, usually her favorite bracelet or necklace.

This is the locket Mother gave me for Valentine's Day 2011

This is the Brighton locket Mother gave me for Valentine’s Day 2011

8.  The Hallmark Valentine Stuffed Animal – Mom called every February from the Hallmark store to make sure she and I didn’t buy the same animal.  The children always get one from me as well.  We have a nice little collection of these from previous years.

One of the many we have now

One of the many we have now

7. THE CAKES! – We have THE BEST cake lady.  She has become a dear friend throughout the years and is one of the most talented people I have ever known.  Chris Patrick always does a stellar job in making our cakes so very special.  Mother loved her so very much, and I am so thankful for these beautiful, edible memories.

Mom's birthday cake from 2011

Mom’s birthday cake from 2011

Mom's 60th birthday cake-2012

Mom’s 60th birthday cake-2012

6.  The Clothes – Mother always bought the children clothes.  For the month of February, she usually bought something pink, red, and/or something with hearts on it.

Valentine's Day fell on a Sunday this particular year.

Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday this particular year.

5.  Cute Cupcakes – Mother loved William Sonoma.  She always bought the cupcake decorating kits from there, and the children loved decorating cupcakes for each holiday because of that.

2011

2011

4.  Special Chocolate – Mother loved The Fresh Market so the past few years we received boxed chocolate from there.  For as long as I can remember, Mother and Daddy gave me a box of chocolate for Valentine’s Day.  My earliest memory of this was when I received a Whitman’s heart shaped box of chocolates with a doll attached to it.  I can’t believe a found a picture of one of these!  It’s a little scary looking now, but I LOVED getting these each year when I was a little girl.

My first memory of getting one of these- 2nd grade- 1983

My first memory of getting one of these- 2nd grade- 1983

3.  Early Phone Calls – Mother believed the first thing you should hear on a holiday or birthday was a special greeting acknowledging the day.  She never missed one.  I was very accustomed to the phone ringing before walking out the door to go to work.  It only lasted about 30 seconds.  “Happy Valentine’s Day!  Hope you have a good day.  I love you.”

2.  Fresh Flowers – It didn’t matter what kind.  Mother and I both love the simplicity of one flower in a bud vase scattered throughout the house or a big arrangement for the center of the table.  I knew she would love the smell and the look of roses for her 60th birthday last year.  We used 60 roses arranged in the dining room.  She loved it.

60 roses. 60 balloons. 60 letters of memories.

60 roses. 60 balloons. 60 letters of memories.

1.  TIME – Mother loved spending time with her family so much.  The gift of time was very special to her.  We spent time together a lot, but on special occasions, there was always that little bit extra.  I would give anything for more time today, but I am so very grateful for the memories I possess of special moments we did have together.

Guard Your Heart.

“Above all else, GUARD YOUR HEART, for it is the wellspring of life.”  – Proverbs 4:23

There is no denying the fact that Will Byrd is my son. His mannerisms, social ways, and especially tender heart, are all examples of our similarities. It did not take Mother very long to realize how tender hearted Will was going to be. From a very early age, Mother would say, “Will is going to be very tender hearted, just like you, Amy”

This is probably the age we all figured out Will was our tender hearted child.

This is probably the age we all figured out Will was our tender hearted child.

Will stood in our kitchen last night, extremely tearful, discussing what he thought was a very private situation with a little girl in his class.  No matter how gentle we tried to be in our discussions or question asking process, he was uncomfortable and quite emotional about the conversation.  The topic was not serious and almost funny, but Will was devastated we would discuss something that meant so much to HIM.  If Gigi would have been there, I know she would have said something like “protect his little heart, Amy”.

I went to bed thinking about Will’s heart.  My heart.  Darian’s heart.  Charlotte’s heart.  Daddy’s heart.  My friends’ hearts.  They are all so different yet all very similar.  So many times we ask each other advice about certain life situations.  There are times I just don’t have the answers, but after watching Will last night, I know we all have the answer.  It comes from Proverbs 4:23.  King Soloman says: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Guard your heart.  Protect your heart.  ABOVE ALL ELSE.  It is the wellspring of life.   It determines your happiness.  It determines your choices.  Your source of life flows from it.  We all must guard our hearts, no matter how tender they are.  It just became so obvious to me last night when watching our tender hearted son weep in our kitchen.

As a new year begins, there are so many resolutions being made about health, jobs, weight loss, quiet times, personal growth, etc.  What I have realized, is what my Mother told me a long time ago.  We must guard our hearts above everything else.  The world can be a tough place when children are young and have so many questions about what is right and wrong.  I want my children to always know how to guard their hearts.  Broken bones can be fixed.  Unguarded hearts lead to many heartaches that cannot be fixed as easily.

I am thankful for a Mother and a Daddy who taught me how to guard my heart growing up.  I pray every day that I will not only guard my own heart but that I will show my Will and Charlotte how to protect theirs as well.

This is exactly something Mother would give to Will. They loved Charlie Brown together.

This is exactly something Mother would give to Will. They loved Charlie Brown together so much.