Sunday, January 31, 2016

You Should Be Here

It's been a little over two years since my last blog post. Putting yourself "out there" is scary. Writing for me is cathartic and sometimes I just really don't want to process what I am feeling that deeply when I am going through a difficult season in my life. On this day three years ago, my life was pretty good. I had just turned 40 the previous August and had just started a new job that I was enjoying and adjusting to having every Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. As a nurse, I had never had the opportunity to spend every weekend and holiday with my family. On top of that, I had just returned from my first cruise to the Bahamas with some great friends. My mama had been given a cancer free card from the gynecological oncologist that I took her to see in December. No cancer!! He recommended that she follow up with her primary who would refer her to a cardiologist, and that appointment was set up for the middle of February. I went to bed on the night of Jan 31st, 2013 relaxed from my cruise and with a knowledge that my family was intact and I had the next day off because it was a Friday. 

          It was a normal Friday...taking my three kids to school, catching up on housework and running errands. I got a call from my dad around 2:30 pm and he said that mama had fallen down for no apparent reason, but he was able to get her up and she was tired and short of breath but otherwise fine. As a nurse and since I lived 90 minutes away, I recommended that he take her to the ER or call the ambulance. He said she was sitting in her chair near the TV and he had to go pick up my two nieces from school. His plan was to check her when he got back and then take her if she needed to go at that point. I didn't feel right about what he had told me so I called the ambulance from my cell phone and had them go out to the house to assess her. I then picked my kids up from school and took them to Walmart to pick up a few more things. My sister called me on my cell phone in the middle of Walmart and was crying and said "Mama just died". At that point my brain went into survival mode. I couldn't even comprehend what she was telling me. I had 3 children ages 12, 9 and 7 with me AND I was in a huge public store. I have no idea how I got checked out and home without breaking down, but I knew I had to hold it together for my kids. I called my dad and he confirmed that yes, when he returned home he was unable to wake her up and the EMT's got there seconds after he did and could not revive her. MY MOTHER WAS DEAD. February 1st, 2013 was the last day she was alive on this earth. I was 40 years old.

My mama was the most influential person in my life. She and I were very close. She was the person I wanted to talk to when I was sick, hurting, depressed, happy, excited, or just needed someone to talk to. She was the first person I wanted to call when I had news to share. She was the kind of mom that told us made up stories at night before bed, that took us to the swimming pool at the country club every day during the summer and that cooked countless meals for our neighborhood friends. Our house was the "fun" house and my friends and I were there constantly. My mother had a deep and genuine love for ALL children that even I don't understand. She taught school for over 40 years before finally retiring and she never met a child that she couldn't see the good in. She played the piano at our church every Sunday and taught the elementary school age Sunday school class. She did these things because she loved to do them. Even growing up around her I recognized that her level of love and patience for and with children was not normal. She had a love for Jesus and was always helping others. It didn't matter if she had the resources to help or not, she was going to find a way.

On 2/1/13 I became a motherless child. At her funeral, there was a little boy about 10 years old who lived next door that my mama had kind of taken under her wing and loved on. He got dressed up and came to my parent's house the morning of her funeral to ride with our family. Just him by himself..not his parents. I realized then that it wasn't only my children who had lost their "YaYa". Countless other children who she had loved on over the years as well as right now had lost her too. I recognize that I am extremely blessed to have had the mama God gave me. I just always imagined that she would be here a little bit longer and get to watch her grandchildren grow up. The hardest part was adjusting to a new way of living. I had never "done life" without a mother before. I felt like my anchor was gone. I was floating without the one person who had always helped keep me tethered and balanced. I cried and cried and cried until the point that I just didn't have any more tears. And then I cried some more. I cried on the way to work. I cried on the way home from work. I cried at night when everyone else was asleep. I was angry. I was envious. I looked around me and saw people older than me who still had their mother here with them. I had saved voice mails from my mom that I listened to every day. I blamed myself. Why didn't I call EMS right away and tell them it was an emergency? Why didn't I ask to talk to her? Why didn't I tell her to make her doctor's appointment earlier? Why didn't I call her more often? Spend more time with her? Tell her how much I loved her the last time I talked to her? Why? Months went by and my grief didn't change. Time heals all wounds? There were days that I thought this grief would rip me in two. As more time has passed, the good days far outweigh the bad. My sister, my kids and I talk about her all of the time and share good memories and funny stories. I have finally adjusted to living without a mother on this side of Heaven. When I have sad moments now, it's usually because I want someone to listen to me like she used to or because one of my children have done something awesome and I know how proud she would be. The grief that used to consume me like a tsunami now feels like gentle waves at the shoreline on a calm day. The grief can still bring tears, but I rediscovered who my true anchor always was. My mama taught me about God's love when I was just a little girl. Although I have chosen to push God away at times during my adult life, He is always who I return to for guidance, love and affirmation. He has never left me and He will never leave me. I thank God for my mama. I thank my mama for showing me who my real anchor is and teaching me about Jesus and His love for ALL of us...even me.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." Hebrews 6:19

"It's one of those moments, that's got your name written all over it. And you should know that if I had just one wish it'd be that you didn't have to miss this. You should be here." --Cole Swindell

A few pictures of things I wish you hadn't had to miss.

 Caroline's lyrical piece at dance competition this past year. 

 Ava's 9th birthday party at the skating rink.

Cooper learning how to drive and getting his learner's license.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dear God...It's me, Kelly

Yes, I know I haven't blogged in ages! This girl is still getting it together and sometimes it is harder than others to find time to do the things we love or even the things we need to do. Sometimes God reveals things to us about ourselves that maybe we don't want to see. I was feeling excited about church this morning, but there was an anxiety below the surface that I couldn't quite put my finger on.  As we walked out of the door, my husband reminded me that today was December 1st and it was time to write our monthly tithe check. Now, I rarely discuss money and I have no idea what other families do, nor do I want to know. I suddenly realized the root of the anxiety. I was afraid to give the full amount I had been giving each month. Fear was gripping my mind, heart, and checkbook. Finances have been tight this year. This is December and Christmas is coming. We have cut our list as much as we can at this point. What are we going to do? We got to church and started singing. I had the check written out and in my purse. Still fearful. Then we sang this verse..."I will not fear. His promise is true. My God will come through always...always".
It was like God knew my fear. Mine... He knows me in my inmost being. He knows that this season of my life has not been easy.

I lost my precious Mama this past February. This was our first Thanksgiving without her. I had to cook the dressing this year. Let's just say that it was not the same. I have pictures of my mama from last year making the dressing in my kitchen. Why, oh why, didn't I make a video? She was here, but she was in the memories this time. My 6 year old niece, Gabby, said, "I miss Yaya because she would always make me paper dolls". This was something she used to do for all of us as small children. Something I had forgotten about. My mama could take any paper and a pair of scissors and make beautiful dolls and clothes. Thank you, Gabby, for the remembered memory. I held on to fear for such a long time after my mama died. Fear that I couldn't go on without her...that my anchor was gone. But God showed me how to give up my fear there, too. He is my anchor. He guides my steps. He gave me an awesome godly earthly mother that loved me. He sent his son to save us from our sins so that we would have eternal life. So why am I still afraid?

I am still afraid because I am human. I still have fears creep into my heart when I least expect it. This flesh is real. But He sees me. He knows my fears and he sends praise bands to sing songs over me to help me with my fears. I sang the words with the congregation. I believed the words in my heart. And just like that...the fear gripping my heart over money was gone. Gone.
I wish it was that easy with all of my fears. But the more I know God, the more fears I have been able to let go of and to overcome. His promises are true. He has always come through for me in every season of my life. He always comes through...always.

Philippians 4:6 "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Skimming the Surface

As a child, I had 3 aunts and a grandmother that liked to go fishing. I would sometimes go with them and my favorite thing to do was watch the bugs that looked like they were "skating" on top of the pond water. They are called "skimmer bugs" and they are light enough to just skim the surface without going into the actual water. This week I was reading about the relationship that our Heavenly Father wants to have with us as His children. I think that for most of my life, my relationship with God was like those bugs skimming superficially along on the water. I wanted Him at arms length. Sure, I prayed. But most of my prayers were shallow ones....God, please help me on this test (even though I didn't study)....please let this boy love me (even though I don't love myself)...please protect my friends and family (don't have time to get them all in by name or specific need). Who did I think I was kidding by keeping my innermost desires and plans from Him? He KNOWS me. He knows me better than my family, my husband or my best friend. In Psalm 139 it says that "Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely". My Heavenly Father made me and created my inmost being. He knew me in my mother's womb. He is familiar with ALL of my ways. Wait....ALL of my ways?

Growing up, I saw God as punitive. I thought that if I was bad, he wouldn't love me and would punish me,  and if I was good, then He would love me and my life would work out exactly as I wanted it to. I am a people pleaser, so this concept came naturally to me. I tried to follow all of the rules. I attended church weekly, minded my parents, didn't drink or cuss (hard to believe, I know) and made all A's. Know what? I still didn't feel like God loved me, nor did I have a personal connection with Him. I felt like I was always disappointing Him and letting Him down. The missing key was a relationship. A real that goes down deep into my inmost being. God wants to hear about my day, the good and the bad. He wants me to talk to Him about hurts, triumphs, dreams, goals, failures...ALL of it. Think about the relationships you have with people. If all you do is talk to them about superficial things, your relationship with them will remain on the surface. All it took for my relationship with God to go deep was a seed that was planted in me by another person. I received a letter that said..."God loves you just the way you are. Nothing you can do will make God love you any more or any less." Whaaaat? I can't earn His love?? I am a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but seeing this statement in black and white gave me a truth to hold onto. God loves me. He always has, and always will. I am a daughter of the most high God. By holding onto His love and learning to receive love from others, our relationship continues to grow deeper and has taken root in all areas of my life.

Guess what happened as a side effect? I learned that I am not alone! Not only is God with me and for me, but He has some followers that love me too! I mean really love me. I've learned what agape love feels like and looks like. I've learned to let people know the real me and sometimes I am not easy to love. I've learned to form deeper relationships with my friends and family. I've learned that perfection is impossible for me, but He loves me anyway. Once we have our identity in Christ, we can share our story with other people and build relationships that draw people closer to Him. When I truly received His love for me, it changed me. I really am a new creation. I want to tell others about this unconditional love of the Father. I want to show people that they are worthy, accepted and loved. I recently read a book called "Blue Like Jazz" by Don Miller. This quote stood out to me..."I think the most important thing that happens in Christian spirituality is when a person falls in love with Jesus". I  have to wholeheartedly agree with a big grin on my face. No more skimming the surface...I'm going deep.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What are you full of?

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” C.S. Lewis

I love this quote. This earthly life is temporary. But while we are here, we are made to seek. But what are we seeking? Ultimately we all are seeking to be loved...and to be loved unconditionally by the One who made us. Agape love, selfless and spiritual...the kind of love demonstrated through Jesus and His life. It expects nothing in return. 

My dilemma is do I keep myself from getting filled with all of the stuff of the world? The stuff that my flesh wants me to be filled with? Or even stuff of the world that I don't necessarily want, but let get inside me anyway? I hear gossip about a friend....stuff it husband makes me mad...stuff it down...disappointed by family...stuff it down...hear a comment that someone doesn't like me...stuff it down. It doesn't take long to be filled with this junk! Now what? Once filled with this stuff I now feel...empty. Like there is a huge hole inside me. My favorite thing to fill it with has been food. Food not your thing? Maybe it is alcohol, anger, sex, exercise, drugs, work, ambition or shopping. The problem with putting something else on top of the junk means that the junk doesn't leave. The junk remains. Now how can we be filled with Him? With love? Is there room?

At one point in my life, I was so full of junk that I didn't think I would ever get it out. But guess what? I did get rid of a lot of it and so can you. In order for me to do this, I had to talk about it. I had to trust someone. Over time, I had to trust more than one someone. I had to make myself vulnerable and I hate that. But you know what? What I WAS doing definitely wasn't working for me. I found people, accountability partners, that were willing to listen to me talk about anything I wanted and still love me. Are these people perfect? No. Do I still get hurt? Of course. But the benefits are so awesome. The junk moves out and makes it easier for Him to move in. And when He moves in...WOW. With His love in me I can love others so much easier. I can love myself more freely. I wish I could tell you that this is how I am all of the time, but I am made of flesh. What I can tell you is that being self aware and knowing what I am full of has made it easier for me to be filled with His love. I am better than I used to be. And THAT is a great place to be right now. 

What are YOU full of?

"Empty me of the selfishness inside, every vain ambition and the poison of my pride....and any foolish thing my heart holds to. Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with You." --Empty Me by Chris Sligh 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Sabbath Moments and Pinterest Projects

This post is just for fun. I have been an "at home mom" or CEO of the Bass Family since the end of November. The cartoon at the left is how I have felt in the past about staying at home full time. Don't get me wrong, I may not post every single saying, picture, funny thing, outfit or bowel movement that my children have, but trust me, I love them more than life itself. Being a mother is truly THE most rewarding and hardest job you will ever have. I thought it was hard having one child...then two...finally three. We are outnumbered. They operate in a pack...with a pack mentality. Thankfully, they are all now in school during the day. What have I done with my time? Hello...have you ever heard of pinterest? My sweet friend April introduced me to it and I hit the ground running! I've made my own laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaning products, made cute Valentine's, numerous recipes and honed my cookie making skills (somewhat). I also made Christmas gifts and a baby shower gift for a friend. Aside from pinterest, I think my name got added to every volunteer list in the state of Georgia, or at list the city of Cairo (I blame Shelley). I've been on field trips and painted faces at Field Day. I've spent my afternoons being a taxi for my kids and my weekends and holidays at home. I've also spent more time reading the Bible, praying, and listening to God's ultimate plan for my life. Being able to have a "Sabbath moment" almost every day has been life changing for me. Even baking and decorating cookies can be a Sabbath moment. It is very therapeutic to clear my mind and focus on something besides myself and my problems. I love to listen to praise and worship music while I work on my various projects. This time has helped me to learn what really is important. What my family's NEEDS are...the real needs, not the wants. Learning that God does and will provide. Even when situations seem hopeless, they are not! I may not have my ipad that I want or be able to take vacations. My kids don't get the newest toy or game right when they want it (been guilty of this in the past) or wear the latest fashion (they could care less, thank goodness!), but as my youngest says.."I have Jesus in my heart and that's the BESTEST THING EVER!!" True that, Ava.....true that. Here are a couple of my finished projects that I thought you might enjoy.

               This one is from a favorite Bible verse, Micah 6:8, it was a grandparent gift for Christmas.
I did this one as a gift for a friend who is naming her baby Faith. :)
                         These are cross cookies I made for Easter.
                          Pink cupcakes for baby Faith's celebration!
                          More Easter cookies!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!!

Let the good times roll!! Today is Fat Tuesday when we traditionally gorge ourselves in celebration of the start of the Lenten season tomorrow. What am I giving up for Lent? ALL SWEETS. This includes candy, cake, cookies, brownies, ice cream, pie, soda, sweet tea, etc. While this would not be difficult for some people, it will be EXTREMELY HARD for me. No, I don't eat cake as a meal (too often), but after I eat...what do I want? Something sweet. Late at night what do I want? Something sweet. In the afternoon when the kids are eating a snack, what do I want? You got it. Something sweet. And yes, people, I know that fruit is sweet and I am allowed to have that. IT IS NOT THE SAME. It is quite obvious to me at this point that I am addicted to sugar. My dear friend, Karen, said that I will only feel bad for about a week and then I will feel glorious! Well, she may not have used the word glorious, but that is how my mind interpreted it. Here's to feeling glorious and keeping the good times rolling during Lent!

It's been almost a year since I started this blog. I've made so many changes in my life since then. I've also gone through changes that weren't by choice. Learning to accept life on life's terms can be hard...and sometimes not fun. But you know what? I'm getting better. I had the pleasure of hearing a sermon on this topic given by Bishop James King. When someone asks you how you are, what do you normally say? "Fine". I can't tell you how many times I've told someone that I am "fine" and have really wanted to break down and cry my eyes out. Since then I have consciously tried NOT to use the word "fine". I struggled with what to say instead. Now I know I can honestly say "I'm getting better". There are always days when I feel horrible, but those are not the norm anymore. I AM getting better. I am a better person because of yesterday. I have a stronger relationship with God, my husband, family and friends. I know what boundaries are. Do I have scars? Yes. But my scars are getting better too. Everyday the One who made me heals those scars a little bit more. Each day comes with new mercies. Each day I am offered a little more grace. Not only do I get to experience these things, so do all of the people around me. Me getting better involves me offering more mercy, grace and love with each day.

The Bishop also talked about "faith nerves". He said that when we step out in faith, try and accomplish things and then our attempt results in failure, our "faith nerves" can become damaged. This can cause us to settle or to become afraid to try again. Truly great people learn how to persevere regardless of their circumstances. I would like to say that my "faith nerves" are undamaged, but they are not. But I do know this....they're getting better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I am so in Love With...

Remember my "New Year's Resolutions"? 1.Do no harm, good and 3.stay in love with God. How do we stay in love with Him? There have been times in my life when I thought that God chose not to love me because of my sins and the direction my life was going. Like a petulant child, I would put space between us and give Him the silent treatment. Now that I am a more mature Christian (He ain't done with me yet) I know that He loves me no matter what challenges or choices I face in this life. I no longer think that He is punishing me. When Jesus died on the cross, my debt was paid. His grace is sufficient for me.

But how DO we stay in love with Him? John Wesley laid out these ordinances...public worship of God, the Lord's Supper (communion), private and family prayer, searching the Scriptures, Bible study and fasting as being essential to living a faithful life. Trust me, I haven't always done these things. There were a few years when I barely darkened the door of a church. I thought that God didn't care about me, so why bother? But guess who created the space between us? I did. God didn't move and thankfully He is a God of second chances. I've also NEVER read the Bible cover to cover. Sure, I've read the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, but not from Genesis to Revelation. My church has started "The Bible in 90 Days" Bible study as of this week. It's exciting to me to read it and be able to discuss it with my husband at home and also in a group setting at church. The book of Genesis has enough juicy details to provide a soap opera a few years of material. Who knew? Ninety days from now I hope to be able to blog about the entirety of my experience and be able to tell the blog world that "I HAVE READ THE WHOLE BIBLE"!

Ok, sooooo...go to church, take communion, pray, read and study the Bible and fasting. Fasting? The only fasting I do is yearly at Lent (which is coming up, by the way). I have had a great experience with Lent and it really has helped me to focus more on Him and His presence in my life. I guess the reason that I don't fast more is because I didn't think I needed to. I am wrong. I think that if I practiced the spiritual discipline of fasting more often, I wouldn't think it was okay to make MY own decisions or plans instead of listening and waiting for what He has for me. In other words, fasting could help empty me of me and fill me with Him. I often pray for humility and that people would look at me and see Him shining through. Fasting helps me to focus my thoughts on Him to help me get through the next day, hour or minute of fasting. And relying on Him keeps my faith strong AND my love for Him growing. And THAT's where I want to love with the One who made me, who gave me life everlasting and whose love is constant all of the time.

"Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually." --Psalm 105:4 

If anyone is interested in following along and reading the Bible with us, you can click on this link for the reading schedule. We would love to have you!