Family

Homegoing

On Saturday, my family and I got to go “home” and by home, I mean to the part of North Carolina that my extended family has called home since arriving in this country in the 1600/1700s. Homegoing, indeed.

Caswell County in North Carolina is a rural place. It is place where it isn’t so hard for me to picture what it must have looked like back before the roads had asphalt and the homes had electricity. It’s a place where time seems to slow and a special sort of peace sets in, far away from the distractions that more urban environments harbor.

Back in the Spring, a distant cousin invited our whole family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc) out to the home in which my great-grandfather Joseph Ezra built with his own two hands. The home has fallen into disrepair and will be demolished soon, but he wanted to invite all of his descendants out to see it before that happens. There is an inherent tie that I feel to this area of North Carolina anyway since it is where half of my family has lived for so long, but to stand on this piece of land, looking at a home that one of my relatives actually built – that was truly special.

Homegoing

This is the home that my great-grandfather brought his new wife home to after their wedding in February 1907. More than 100 years ago. They would go on to be married for 70 years until my great-grandmother’s death in 1977. In every picture I’ve seen and every story I’ve heard about them, they were the cutest little couple around and I am so grateful that I am their great-granddaughter.

Around the back of the house is a fig bush that is actually the same fig bush that my great-grandmother would pick from when making her fig preserves.

Homegoing

This walk down memory lane and through my family’s history meant the world to me and I am so happy to be able to soak up as many experiences like this as I possibly can!

A Saturday in Mebane

There’s just something special about small towns. There is so much life and character in them that makes them unique and makes you wonder about their stories – their history – as you wander their streets.

Last weekend, my family and I came together to celebrate two of my Aunt’s birthdays and decided to explore a little town called Mebane after our lunch at Cracker Barrel. Mebane is a familiar town to us, just a stone’s throw away from Burlington – where my late grandmother lived for many years and where my mom and her siblings spent a lot of their childhood. We’ve been through the area so many times, but never actually took the time to get out and walk around through their downtown area. One of my uncle’s even paid for stones to be laid in their veteran’s park for my four uncles who served in the military, but we still had just not been until last week.

A Saturday in Mebane

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When The World Remains the Same

Psalm 126:5

While I can’t speak for everyone, in my life I have found that one of the most isolating experiences that a person can have is loss. Any feelings other than isolation are essentially an illusion to the outsiders looking in so that they believe that the grieving individuals in their lives are fine.

Now that I am on the other side of a season of loss that spanned two years and one month, it is startling to me how drastically different the world looks when you make it out. And you do make it out, my friends, let me be clear on that. Our Heavenly Father always sees you through to the other side. For me, my entire world changed when I said goodbye to six family members in that short time. I was lucky, though. God, in his infinite wisdom and love, strategically planned my life and my journey of faith so that I was in a place that I could rely on Him solely for comfort and refuge when I needed it like the air I breathe.

There’s something about experiencing something so tragic and life-altering that can leave you feeling as though you’re carrying this invisible mark or sign. You’re haunted by the things you have seen, the things you have experienced and yet the world continues moving. It almost seems impossible. Life goes on, whether we want it to or not. I can remember vividly, even through the myriad of emotions that I felt on September 19, 2015, how badly I wished I could scream out to everyone I passed.

Look at me! Can’t you see that I have just experienced something tragic? I just watched my grandmother die two days ago and my aunt died this morning as I was outside. She died this morning and we still had my grandmother’s funeral, hours later. How can you just go through your day??

But they just keep on going. Kind words like thank you, have a nice day can feel like a slap in the face. I couldn’t help but think back to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry’s encounter with the thestrals. A grim creature that one can only see if they have seen death. As the days moves forward, it gets easier to accept the passage of time. You become better at smiling genuinely and not feeling as though you’re breaking some sort of “grieving person” code. But as I began to put one foot back in front of the other and get back into a routine, I realized that I was never going to survive this season without opening my heart to the idea of joy and gratitude, as foreign as they seemed in the state I was in. True joy and true gratitude can only come when your heart has been healed and your soul has been comforted by our Lord.

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy” // Psalm 126:5 (NIV)

The world looks different to those of us who have experienced death and understand what tragedy looks like and feels like. September is never going to be just another Fall month for me just as my drive through Burlington on the way to Raleigh is never going to not bring back the memories of the week that was spent there. I have been shaped and molded by what has happened to my family and I have experienced the peace that could only come from our Savior to my very core.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” // 1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)

Happy Birthday, Grandmommy

Happy Birthday, Grandmommy!

Today is your 90th birthday, and although I wish so desperately that you were here to celebrate with us, I know you are having the time of your life where you are. Last year, on your 89th birthday, we celebrated with a party at the rehab center with family and friends. We had cake, shared laughs, and celebrated the amazing life that you lived. I’m sure you even managed to tell a few people that I was your youngest grandchild and how I went to Appalachian and became a teacher. You so loved to tell everyone that.

Happy Birthday

You are still with us everyday, Grandma. You’re with me in the way that I laugh; the kind of laugh that takes over your whole body. You’re with us when we’re cheering on your beloved Tarheels. I can picture it like it was yesterday. The way you’d be sitting on our front porch when you used to drive down to visit. You’d usually get there before Mom could bring us home from school and there you were, perched on the steps and waving those Carolina pom-poms so enthusiastically. And you’re with me every day because of the mother that you were. Thank you for raising the amazing woman that I call my momma.

We miss you more than words can express, but we know that you are finally walking and experiencing true paradise in Heaven. You’ve been able to see your parents, your brothers, and your little girl, Aunt Shelia. Although I never thought, when we were celebrating your 89th, that we wouldn’t have you here to celebrate your 90th, I can’t say that there is anything that I wish we’d done differently.

Happy Birthday

You were there for so much of my childhood. Dance recitals, birthdays, and so much more. You might not have been able to make it to my high school graduation because of your stroke a few months prior, but you watched me graduate from college thanks to internet live streams. I so cherished the short visits that I would have with you when I would drive through on my way home from Raleigh. Even if it was just five minutes, you never minded and I loved seeing you break out into that smile when you saw me walking in the room. You would even try and bribe me with candy to get me to stay longer sometimes.

So Happy Birthday, Grandmommy. I love you, I miss you, and I thank God for your love and presence in my life every day.

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