Childhood Memories, faith, Family

Happy Birthday Mother!

I think–probably 90% of the kids believe they have the “best” mother in the world…and I am one of that percentage.  We believe it pretty strong…we are certain.

I read something from a book a couple weeks ago–about a conversation that perhaps “God” may have had.  He hand picked some kids.  Some that had special needs…and chose the parents according to the gifts that He put inside them.  Their strength.  Their passion.  Their love.  I believe God hand picked my mother and chose “us” to be blessed by her strength–her passion and her deep love.  Her love for God is what has made each one of us who we are today.

When life handed her hard times, I won’t say she didn’t flinch–because as a mother and grandmother myself, I know that flinching often takes place–but we don’t turn away from what’s in front of us….she stepped up to the plate in the ballgame of life and took her best swing.  And hit the ball smack-dab in the middle.

When money was tight, cupboards were skimpy, love was not.  No one rode in on a white horse and rescued her–but she knew that her faith in God was firm, solid and secure–and He (God) never failed to supply our needs.

I think today about what kids are subjected to–what they are allowed to do–and how they respond to life and I can’t help but wonder what it would be like for some of them if they grew up in our house.

Laundry every.single.Saturday taught us all responsibility.  You wear it–you wash it.  You wash it–you fold it and put it away.  Not next week.  Not in a minute when you finish that game–but now.  (When I was growing up, there were no games, only books.)  We won’t even get started on the things different today versus how we grew up….you don’t have enough time to read all that!

I have been doing some internal reflecting–and I see where some of mine and Aimee’s “thinking” comes from.  It comes from our mother and the foundation she laid early in our lives.  Even when things were so hard and I saw tears in her eyes–I saw a strong resolve that no one in our house would ever feel the rejection that happens all too often.  Her heart is always ready with generous portions of love, prayers, and the Truth that holds her foundation secure.  And if you stop by, chances are, you will get a sack full of produce from her garden if there is something in season…even if it’s just garlic. 🙂

Mother, I pray that your birthday–even though your children are not gathered there today–is filled with love and knowledge that you have blessed the lives of 4 children that were gifts from God–and you did everything He assigned you –above and beyond your ability–because HE blessed you with ability beyond your imagination!  We love you so much!  I am grateful beyond words to call you “Mother”.
Thank you for standing with me and Jeff in our journey to the mission field…thank you for praying for us diligently and for you and Grandbuddy “sending” us.  It is my greatest blessing to be your daughter.  I love you– Happy Birthday.

© 2016 Angie Knight- The Knightly News. All rights reserved.

Childhood Memories, Memories, Wanda

The Second Stay

It happened quickly. One day she was home and I could talk to her several times a day, and the next day…she was back in the hospital. No conversing. No energy to do so. We kept up-to-date by texting with Mark. I remember calling my friend’s good friend at Alltel and telling her I needed text messaging added to our plan — and almost said “STAT”. Now. That’s what I meant. Don’t dawdle. I need to know how and what is going on and I need freedom to do so. Ann called me back quickly, got my plan adjusted and away I went. Texting my love over a few hundred miles. Texting prayers up to heaven. Texting news back and forth with Aimee. Just in case. Mark was good though—he would usually text us both at the same time.

The second stay didn’t last as long as the first. Started out on a Wednesday (I think) and ended on Tuesday of the following week. There was no Olive Garden Cuisine involved this time. She couldn’t swallow much—very little in fact—only small amounts. The fluid had been building at such a rate that her throat seemed squeezed by the pressure.

Pressure. We all felt some sort of pressure from various places in our lives. I was back at work—it was a busy time for us. I felt pressured in my own mind to not take off any more time than was necessary. It put an unspoken strain on others—no one ever spoke it—they were very kind—but I didn’t want to take advantage of their goodness. They were very good about me being off–as were Aimee’s employer. Although we wanted so bad to be with Wanda— we knew there was nothing we could do. Mark was there–helping her with every need that came up. Praying over her, loving her, caring for her intently.

So we stayed. Our intentions were to go back on Friday night. But Mother and Grandbuddy were going down to the hospital on Thursday, and Aimee and Juno couldn’t go yet. (Juno’s birthday was on Saturday and Aimee needed to be with him.) But her heart also wanted to be with Wanda. Her nurse’s eyes needed to “see for herself”. I decided to wait with Aimee. That is, to wait until she could go. I knew that if I went —she would just feel worse for not going. So we both waited.

I am not a good waiter. My mind needs to be occupied with other things—in order to wait without driving Jeff or anyone else insane! So—I told Jeff on that sunny Saturday—“I want to paint the bedroom.”

“Huh?” Jeff was not really surprised—because he knows me so well—but then again—he knew this task would wind up involving him—no matter how much I said “I will do it all myself—you don’t have to help.” (Yeah right.)

I told you….got to have my mind occupied. Works even better if you get the body motivated. Work. Something that gives you a big prize at the end. We trekked off to Lowe’s and I bought my paint. Green. Soothing. Peaceful. Serene. Like a windswept field on a late summer day.

The furniture was moved (pushedpulledcoerced) to another room, except for the large chest of drawers and dresser. The paint pours smoothly into the pan. As I push the roller into the green, I am sending up prayers. I don’t remember all the prayers, but I know I prayed constantly. Listening to praise and worship music as I worked, I praised HIM for creating our lives, for making us a family. For giving us the greatest gift of all. Salvation. And yes, I cried some too—but I tried to hold in as much as I could. I knew that Jeff was aggravated with me just a teeny bit for the painting thing. I didn’t want him being more aggravated by all the green watered down with tears. When we are upset—the way we handle things is some “alone time” —solitude. (May sound odd—but that’s the way it is—we just sort of let the other have space and peace—he NEEDED his space just as I did—but my crazy job of the painting the room—messed up our normal routine of handling a crisis!)

All the while I am texting back and forth with Aimee and Mark. Must stay informed. I knew I would drop the paint brush in a heartbeat and hurry off. The green went up on the walls—and the walls were as tense in my heart as they have ever been.

The moving back of the furniture and making of the bed was a blur. What happened next that stuck in my mind —happened in the prayer room. Well—it’s what I call the prayer room.

Just a small room, with the “granddaddy chair”, a mulitcolored striped rug—my “rug of many colors”—as in Joseph’s coat, and a table and bookcases. Simple room. No fuss—no frills. But God called me to that room that night.

After I had laid down—to try and sleep—I received an alarming text message. Very little output. She had gained 4 lbs. of fluid during the past day or so. I got up, trying not to disturb Jeff, and went to the prayer room.

I started out kneeling by the chair. I had hardly gotten any words out and I felt compelled to get on my face. To the floor I went. Laid out prostrate before God. Crying out to Him with all my pain, heartache of what I feared most. Losing my sister. I gave all my fears up to Him. After I had prayed it all out in what I could understand….the Holy Spirit came in with such a peaceful calm and as I wept before God—I began to pray in a language that I didn’t understand. But God knew.

I can’t explain how or what exactly happened, all I know is when I got up, I felt that I was not carrying the burden any longer. I had given my heartache and fear over to God. It was His. She was His. Always had been. He would soon take her home. I think even then, I knew that.

I lay down and slept. For a while.

At 4:00 a.m. I awoke with a sudden urgency to “go”. I checked my phone. No new text messages. I texted Mark. I knew he was awake. He didn’t sleep much at all. He texted me back her stats. Not good. No progress.

I dozed fitfully, praying in my heart and mind for what I didn’t see. Didn’t want to see. I waited until around 6:30 and then I texted Aimee. “Are you up?” She was awake. We got on the phone to hear the comfort that we needed from one another. I told Aimee what I felt. We needed to go. She felt the same. Her nurses instincts were telling her things I didn’t know. She knew. I didn’t.

We discussed it with our husbands. Her preacher husband had a message to deliver to the people. My dear “painting” husband had a job to do. Drive his wife to her sister. Aimee and I had already decided we were going with or without a driver. I was very ready to drive. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.

As we were just getting to Tallahassee, the call came that we did not want to hear. “Come now.” With tears in Mark’s voice, I knew what he meant.

Picture taken at OakHill Country Cottage Bed & Breakfast Sisters Retreat 2007 and the second picture is the “green”–with the quilt my friend Vivienne made me for Christmas 2008.

Childhood Memories, Wanda

Believing God

The water looks warm…but on a day like today, in the first month of the year, I know it is cold. AND as quick as you stick your big toe in you will know the cold as well!

There are some things we know because we know. There are other things we have faith and believe without ever seeing or knowing.

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. Hebrews 11:1 NLT

Wanda had that kind of faith. She prayed to be healed. Believed with all her heart He could heal. Had witnessed other healings. Yet never once did I ever hear her complain nor whine that He had healed someone other than herself. Other’s healing simply gave her more hope of what He could do for her. However, just because she didn’t seem to question God did not mean that I didn’t. For I tell you straight up I did. I wondered. I wanted to know why someone with the kindest most gentle heart and ways was stricken with such a condition that she could not even make up her own bed without having to rest. The simple task of clearing a table and cleaning the kitchen simply took her breath away. Not in the good way. Not in the way a tender look from the man you love. Not in the way a tub filled with hot bubbly water after a horribly long day at the office.

During the first stay in the hospital for Wanda, it seemed to go on and on. I was impatient. I had plans. Wanda and I were going to begin the new Beth Moore Bible Study with our ladies at church, “Steppin’ Up.” Together. Side by side. Just as we had for the last 3 years. I refused to see the reality of what was happening. I cried when I wasn’t there at the hospital–almost constantly. When I drove to work, when I went home. Every time I was alone—I let it all out to God. He knew without doubt where I stood on the situation.

We drove the 3 1/2 hour trip to the hospital both Fridays. Stayed as long as possible through the weekend. On the second trip down, Mark had to leave to take care of some home and work issues. Aimee, Jeff and I stayed with Wanda. Actually, we sent Jeff back to the motel and we had a mini-sisters-retreat! It was not the kind we would have loved to have, but it would do in a pinch. We prayed. I read aloud to them. Aimee buffed Wanda’s nails and put lotion on her hands and feet, we watched old “good” TV shows and we watched Wanda breathe. That was the tough part. It was hard to watch her struggle. The fluid was not coming off as they wanted. In the building of the fluid, it was impacting her lungs. Squeezing. But we didn’t talk about it. Instead we talked about the Bible Study. Or certain Scriptures. Or cooking.

I remember asking Wanda what her favorite verse was. It was Psalm 27:14. But she couldn’t remember the words exactly. Nor where it was found exactly. So we began a big search. When we couldn’t find it…we called the “preacher”. Aimee’s husband. Actually, Mark is a minister too, but we knew he was busy…(Juno was as well…but it was easier). When we found it, Aimee wrote it on the dry erase board that the nurses used to keep up with Wanda’s intake and output.

All that came and went KNEW where Wanda’s faith was stored. In her heart. In her mind. In her spirit. AND sisters—it was strong.

On the Saturday evening, we were trying to decide what we wanted to do for supper. There were plenty of restaurants in Gainesville, and we were “thinking” of Olive Garden. We had asked Wanda—“what do you feel like you would enjoy eating?” Not a hard question for her—she loved Olive Garden! So we got an order together, and called it in. I still have the paper that Aimee used from one of my notebooks where she, as a very sweet and pretty waitress took our orders! Then Jeff was sent off to grab our grub!

Wanda waited in anticipation. She had not had anything “good” to eat for days. She had lost a bit of fluid and Aimee order her items with no salt. Even the garlic bread was ordered plain. No butter, no salt. When the meal arrived, we all enjoyed it immensely! Then settled back to watch Fly Wheel on the little DVD player that Mark had left.

When Mark arrived and we told him what we had been doing and how well Wanda had done with her intake-output, he seemed skeptical at first. I don’t know that I have ever seen anyone–much less a man—with as much love and concern over every detail of care for another human being. I don’t know for sure if he would have gone the route of Olive Garden food—but she enjoyed it so much–that smile and pleasure was memorable to watch!

The test came the next day. How would the food affect her….but you know…I think ‘ole Mark was surprised. She did very well.

With each battle of fluid gain and strength loss, we prayed hard. Adjustments were made in her medication—and little baby step progress would show up. She wound up having to receive blood. Right now, I can’t remember how many units for the first stay, I think maybe 2, but possibly it was 3. On those times, which lasted for several hours, we prayed constantly. There were so many risks involved.

Then the Friday came that Aimee and I were going alone to stay with her so that Mark could come home to take care of a major event at work. Aimee and I both took off early from work so that we would arrive in Gainesville before dark. Neither one of us relished the idea of driving at night. We were all packed up. With of course, way too much stuff. If you know Aimee at all, you know she had packed way more shoes than she would wear. If you know me at all, you know I packed enough books that I’d never read them if I had a month to do so!

We had just gotten the last item loaded, were headed to the store for gas and “coffee”—(for the drive) and we got a call. “We’re coming home!”….We….best word I had heard all day! In several weeks!

So…instead of heading to Gainesville, Aimee and I headed straight for Wanda’s house to take down the Christmas, cook them supper and generally clean up a bit! I just have to mention this before I let you go…as we put things away, cleared the table of mail, I couldn’t help but notice how, even in the jumble of things, there was still that orderly fashion of the way Wanda was. All kitchen cabinets were organized. The drawers too! Mine is not nearly so orderly!

When I heard the door bell ring, I thought it must be Charlie to check on the oxygen tank. It was. We hugged. We talked. He checked the machines. We told him the approximate time she would be home from the hospital. When he left we returned to our duties. Aimee had the chicken and rice well underway. I had taken care of the stacks of mail. The Christmas cards and little toys from a busy little girl. Ding-Dong. The news was probably getting out—she was coming home! I opened the door and there stood the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. All in the not quite 5 foot frame of our dear Wanda. That look is one I won’t forget. Ever.

We ushered her in and got her situated so she could watch Aimee in the kitchen and be involved in her household again.

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Childhood Memories, Wanda

Little Girl Dreams

If you have any familiarity with trees at all…you recognize this shedding trunk.

If you have any imagination at all, you will see that the frail, even crispy slices of this tree resembles the fragile dollar bill. Yes. You heard me right.

Actually for two little girls, who had never even held a dollar bill, these pieces of crepe myrtle tree trunk fit the bill for us playing “store keepers”, selling watermelons by the road side at our grandmother’s house in the summer. To be more precise, it was “Mamo’s house”.

The road was the very old fashioned kind. Simple sand and clay mixture. Just plain dirt. As we stood in the shade of the crepe myrtle tree, the idea of using the curling, pieces of tree bark as paper money seemed ideal to the two little girls under the age of 6.

Very few cars passed by, but that really didn’t matter. Wanda and I had fun just playing in the yard.

Outside, near the kitchen window, Mamo had a very primitive old wooden bench. The bench was quickly transformed everytime we came to visit into a cook top for Wanda and me. We cooked in a tin can with water, everything from flower petals to fresh grass clippings, adding a little dirt as a substitute for salt and pepper for taste. No, we did not “really” taste it…we just imagined it. Drawing imaginary houses in the dirt with a stick, we imagined that our houses were large and that we lived close to one another.

As adults, only parts of the childhood dreams came true. While our houses were not large, we finally were able to live near one another. For over 3 years, ending this past February, I enjoyed the ability to be at her house within 5 minutes if needed. But the talking on the phone was a constant. Everyday at work and every almost afternoon while going home. Wanda called both me and Aimee. It’s sweet and funny how our conversations always wound up to one big question. Almost every single day. “What are you cooking for supper?”

Sharing recipes and ideas for organizing was a constant topic of conversation between us girls. It was these sweet memories that traipsed around in our heads and hearts as the days went by.

At Christmas in 2007, which in my mind seems like just a few weeks ago, Wanda’s coloring was not good and her breathing was labored. I looked at her when they came into our house for our Christmas Eve Family Supper, and without the medcial training my sister, Aimee has, I knew there was something very wrong. Wanda had oxygen at home to assist her, even had a portable tank, but she didn’t want to be treated as if she was having problems. She wanted to be normal. And be treated normal. No extra attention. An oxygen tank would cause others to treat her “special”. Wanda didn’t want that.

After supper we had prayer and sharing, as is our tradition. We prayed long for Wanda. Mother stood before us and described the feelings and prayers that the LORD had woke her with in the wee hours of several mornings in the past few days. “Family, you will need to be on your knees more than you ever have before, if you intend to make it in these last days. We will face things harder than we’ve ever faced. It will take prayer. But family, the LORD reminded me to anchor to HIM—the Anchor holds.”…those words rang over and over in my heart and mind for many days. Still they do almost weekly. The Anchor holds.

I soon realized the truth in her words. About the Anchor. We all did.

To be continued…

P.S. I am trying to keep them short enough to read quickly. I figured if they were too long….you’d be late for work! (Like me!)

Thank you Brenda—your encouragement helps me more than you will ever know. I am just a plain old country girl—but God is teaching me MANY things as I journey with Him…holding tightly to His hand.

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