Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In his own words...

Eight years ago... life changed. 

If you knew my daddy... you loved him. I don't know that I ever met someone that didn't care for him. Of course I'm partial, but he was a friendly person. He was always present... he listened, he talked... my goodness did he talk. But generally, when he said something... it was generally worth hearing. 

It's sad to me that there are people in my life that will never know him. They will never know his wisdom, his fun personality, his guitar pickin', or his creativity. They will never hear his prayers... they were long, but they were sincere. 

So today I mark another year without him... while thinking of what to post I decided it would be best for you to hear from him. So here is the story of Dane's mandolin. I've walked past this frame a million times in our home, but I don't know that I truly read it until a few weeks ago. This story (a true one of course) shows daddy's character and his voice, and I hope you learn a little bit about him... in his own words. 

Dane's Mandolin

The original owner of this old mandolin is unknown. My knowledhe of its history began soetime in the latter 1920's or early 1930's. As a young boy living in Covington COunty, MS Dane Webster was about 10 years old. Wanting to play music, Dane picked cotton to make $5.00 to buy this mandolin. He walked several miles to buy it from a man that had told him when he got the money he would sell it.

Dane began his pursuit of music with this little instrument. Later on in years he met my Dad, Claude Cole. They had a mutual interest in music so they began to play together. Some of my earliest memories as a child is of me listening to them play old gospel songs on this old mandolin. My Dad learned how to play mandolin on this old Strad - O - Lin. 

I guess it was inevitable that I would follow suit with an interest in music. When I was about 6 or 8 years old my dad had borrowed this mandolin to practice with. I got it out of the closet and tried my hand at playing and "tuning" it as well. When Dad took it out to play it the box ws pulled apart. My "tuning" had ruined the old mandolin. It stayed that way for years. Sometimes I would take it out and guilt would overwhelm me. I was determined to correct my mistake. 

Some of the first money I ever made was spend on having Mr. John Stuart put it back together again. When it was fixed I carried it back to Dane and presented it to him. He was thrilled to be back with an old friend from his past. 

Dane became very sick in the years before his death. When Dad and I would go visit him, sometimes he would hardly know us. The last thing I remember about Dane was his giving the old mandolin back to me. 

I display it with pride in how it was obtained by a little boy with music in his heart, with thankfulness for the understanding shown me when my love for music and desire to learn caused me to destroy its ability to make that music, with satisfaction that I made it right by having it repaired, and with the knowledge that even if we may not be the best instrument God has, even if we've needed repair in the past, and though we now may carry the scars of our past life. Our value to some may be more than we know. 

Dannon Cole 

Lessons in life may come from anywhere. Even old mandolins. 

For the past eight years... I've tried to look for those lessons (the ones that come from anywhere) and learn from them as Daddy always inspired me to do. 

Love y'all, 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

How to you comfort someone walking through a Valley of their own?

How do you react when you see someone traveling thru the same Valley you were in for so long? 

Me, well tears of course because I'm always hyper emotional at this time of year. 

You see, I pose this question because I recently witnessed the tears of another which brought my own. I know the journey she walks as it is a road I have walked myself. I want to hold her hand and tell her everything will be okay... but the truth is it may not be. Now, I am not giving up hope for her and her situation... but I've learned from experience that things don't always turn out how we desire, how we pray, how we plead with God in the doorway of our homes for them to... 

They just don't. 

Because the outcomes that we want... well they aren't always His will.

So how do we react? With tears, empathy, prayers, casseroles and baked goods... 

Those words often said at funerals - you have heard them if you have lost a close loved one...

"They're in a better place."

"They aren't hurting anymore."

"I'm sorry for your loss..." (etc...)

Anyone who has been on the receiving end of those words can tell you... if we're honest... that those words don't help. HOWEVER, the sentiment behind them is what helps to heal. The look of comfort in their eyes. The squeeze of a hand, the hug and the pat on the back... those mechanisms of comforting one another... that's how we react. That's how we try to make it better. 

Does it work? I guess it depends on the person. For me, at the time... No. But in the months and years after I looked back on those hugs, those kind words, and yes even the baked goods as comfort (still to this day, someone brought a coconut pound cake that I think about!). At the deepest valley in my life friends, family, and even strangers did all they knew how to express comfort to me. Just as the Beatitude said, out comfort doesn't just come from the Lord, but also from those He places in our lives. 

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

And furthermore, we are instructed in Romans to help bear others' burdens...

"We then, who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification... For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," (Romans 15:1-2, 4-6)

Personally, for me... learning from sorrow was very important, and thankfully was encouraged by some close friends. 

"For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!"
(2 Corinthians 7: 8-11)

And then of course, we find the Hope in His Word in Revelation: 

"And God will wipe away ever ear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, 
nor sorrow;  nor crying." (Revelation 21: 4)

So what to we do? We do what we can... whatever the Lord lays on our hearts to do... whether it's prayer or cards or food... share tears or a hug. Join them on the walk through the Valley... you never know when you may be holding them up along the way. 

Love y'all, 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Reflections on a birthday spent in the ER...

I miss sweet tea.

Like seriously... it's been three months since I had a glass of what used to be my favorite drink. I guess it still is... I'm just not allowing myself to have caffeine. Therefore did I mention that I've been leading a decaffeinated life for the last three months? Well, I have... it's been tiring.

For my birthday this year I got a kidney stone. Seriously. My birthday dinner I planned with friends and family turned in to an evening at the ER with 5-10 of my newest medical professional friends. Super nice people really, very efficient at their jobs, but nonetheless not who I wanted to spend my birthday with... on a plus side, my best friend Liz (remember the one who told me to get back to writing) was coming to see me for my birthday and we had planned this fun getaway weekend... so like any good friend she stopped at the CVS and brought me socks and a sports bra to the ER. Rather than the Mexican fiesta I had planned for dinner, I had soup and water. Lots and lots and lots of water.

And them some more water... 

Long story short, our fun weekend out of town got cancelled when rather than driving to the coast I was being fitted for my newest accessory, a stint. Yep, instead of enjoying the view of the beach I was staring at the ceiling of an operating room listening to some Luke Bryan on the radio. Thank goodness for the anesthesia because I was in a precarious position and thanks to the juice I couldn't care less.

So back to the sweet tea. Due to the fact that the type of stone I had (which was eventually removed during a procedure a few weeks later), can be caused by caffeine... I cut it out cold turkey. Thankfully I was on pain meds for the kidney stone, therefore cold turkey wasn't so bad. But truthfully, and some may think this is stupid, but I feel a little less southern now that my favorite beverage is off my menu.

Like seriously, can I have some water with my fried chicken or barbecue? That's just not right...

That's like drinking a glass of wine with a taco... 

Or a margarita with your Kung pow chicken... 

It's. Just. Not. Right.

But alas, I'm choosing the hope of never having another kidney stone over my favorite drink... and even though it chips away at my southern identity just a little bit, it's for the best. I hope.

I guess it's like insurance for my kidneys... something like that.

So... where is the lesson in this you might ask? Since generally I try to make these posts have a point rather than just a humorous story about a horrible birthday. Well... despite how much I miss it... I know it was good for me. Why? Because I've lost 10 pounds and literally the only thing I've changed about my diet is getting rid of sweet tea and caffeine. But also, it's the reminder that just because something is attributed to a quality of myself that I like (I'm a proud Southerner y'all), it doesn't mean that is where my identity lies. This actually reminds me of the advice my Pawpaw Cole gave to me the day before I left for my study abroad semester in Mexico.

"Remember who you are, what you are, 
and where you're from."

Now I know those statements can me translated differently for every person. Some may perceive it more literally than others, and ultimately the answer changes over time.

So who are you? How do you fill in those blanks? No matter what you feel your identity might be wrapped up in (the sweet tea example), I think these questions really get to your core. Take some time to evaluate your answer. See if you like them... if you don't, why not? I think what my grandfather was getting at with that statement is, what guides your decisions? Who are you responsible to for your actions? It's worth pondering y'all... so grab a glass of tea (I'll settle on some lemonade) or your beverage of choice and think about it.

Sincerely yours,
(Daughter/sister/friend/dog mom, Christian, and South Mississippian)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More posts coming soon...

My best friend (Liz) told me a few days ago that I should write a book. A book about who knows what… but a book nonetheless. So I started thinking… what would I write about that people would actually care to read? I mean yes, my occasional Instagram or Facebook post gets a lot of likes of comments, but are those things people would make a point to read? I usually just write when I get annoyed or emotional about something, more so the latter. I blogged a good but after daddy died. It was therapeutic. I was able to write out all the things I wanted to say… some to him, some to God… but ultimately they were just emotions I needed to release and lessons I hoped someone else might learn from. It’s been a while since I blogged… I’m not sure why, it’s not that the lessons have stopped coming, though I think I am harder of hearing to God’s will than I once was (That's a post in and of itself). 

If I’m honest with myself I’m in a rut… whatever that is, but it’s what people say, right? My personal life is fine (read: boring), but my professional life is, well… it’s an eleven month lesson in who knows what. My dating life is non-existent, and the amount of adventure in my day to day revolves around 11 cows, 2 horses, 2 dogs, and an ancient donkey named Jake (and yes they all have names). Seriously though, I spend as much time with them as I do people, except I don’t have to pick up people’s poop, which is part of barn chores. Yes it is still gross... I'm just immune to it now. 

Most days... 

So – I guess I could write about a lot of different things. Single Life. Farm life. Life with Rhett. Sports, cooking, decorating, traveling (which I rarely do anymore). Hopes, dreams, aspirations. Goals and plans. Valleys and Mountaintops. The journey from the Valley to the Mountaintop… those are the most important lessons, in my opinion.

I've got a lot of time off this summer, so I guess we shall see what is on my mind… 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

When God makes your burden heavier...

Generally speaking, I'm a pretty calm individual. I try my best not to get stressed or worried, because often times there is nothing I can do to solve those worrisome issues. I have, over the past year, developed on major area of concern... And it is the very adult concern of finances. 

You see, I'm not trying to buy a new car or going on an amazing vacation (though of course those things would be nice). I'm just trying to pay my credit card bills and get out of debt. Honestly, I have barely made it month to month since adding a mortgage to my monthly expenses without using my credit card, hence the credit card bills. So, when recently that burden was compounded by losing my job due to budget cuts in the state, well... That increased that burden by -$15.25 per hour. 

(Now let me please add, I'm thankful for the job I have been given in order to keep my insurance... And if the pay was comparable to my previous job, the burden would not be so heavy.)

When I finally broke down and had a good cry about this tonight, after a month, I realize that I know the answer... God is using this situation to MAKE me rely on Him. And even though I know, I KNOW that He has got a plan for me... I still whine and cry and don't understand... I mean really y'all, sometimes I wish I could just throw human nature out the window.... Or flip that switch to where I'm only spiritually minded for that time being! Gosh wouldn't that save me some tears and  truthfully a few bad words. 

So I know what I should be doing, and how I should be prayerfully focused, but then I start creeping back to those dark times a few years ago... post Daddy's death and pre- moving back home. Those were times when I felt rather unsatisfied in life, though I was completely being Blessed by God in many ways and too ignorant to see it. 

I can't be the only one that has been there... It's like a pity party that you only invite God too and then He is like... Hey... Shut up... I've got you! 

Well, fast forward a few years and I was back there tonight. Not a proud moment, lots of Why Mes and some tears. And then... As always, there is this little voice in my head reminding me of why I felt this way or that way before, and what I learned from it. Then there is the biblical lesson from the "Why Mes" of the bible... God uses our bad days, our struggles, our leprosy (shout out to you Simon the Leper from last week's bible study)... FOR HIS GLORY. He will heal us, pick us up, guide us... In His time. 

Oh goodness Kace... (Yes this is me talking to myself) don't you remember that He brought you through all those valleys before?! He will do it again, and again, and again... If you trust in Him more than yourself. 

Oh ye of little faith... That's so me sometime. God has you... Just try and be patient. Be thankful for the lessons along the way... Appreciate the people you meet and the paths you cross. 

Wait. Pray. Seek. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A letter to my daddy...

I've been really quiet today, alone at home most of the day avoiding the subject of the day. I just have not had the words today, honestly don't know if I want to find them. Finding them and processing them makes it real... Again. Another Father's Day means another year without him. How can 7 years have passed without him?? I don't know the answer to that. Sometimes it seems like forever, other days it seems like yesterday. 

As I sat and thought today, I thought about how his presence in my life has changed. How my emotions of changed... How I've changed. 


Dear Daddy, 

I don't cry as much as I used to... I'm crying now, but it is no longer a daily occurrence as it used to be. 

Instead of missing you all day, I miss you in small moments, when things remind me of you, or something you said, or something you did. Sometimes I get a whiff of dirt and grass, or oil, and those smells remind me of you after a hard day's work. 

I hear your voice in my head and it no longer surprises me... It's comforting. There are times when I call out to you and ask for your advice and hear nothing... But other times when I don't know I need to hear from you, but I do.

There are times when I don't know what to do about something or HOW to do something, and though I might consult the "destructions" as you called them (instructions), I always think about how or what you would do. Sometimes that results in a completed project, other times I might have some parts left over... 

There are times when the morning of June 20 comes to mind and I try to push the thoughts as far away as possible. I don't like to relive those last moments, though I'm sure there is a reason God brings them to my mind. Mom and I talked about it the other day, evidently I screamed, I remember that Shane fell to his knees as mom honored your wishes... and most of the rest is a blur. I do remember the words I whispered to you, and I know you must have heard them. 

I hate this day. For us it was the beginning of life without you... For you it was the beginning of Eternity with Him. I know that is what you would want me to focus on, and I try to... But I miss you daddy, I miss you all the time. 

I will go days without thinking about you... Well, not without thinking about you, but without thinking of you as gone.  Maybe that's a blessing... You're always here... your voice, your words, your personality, your attitude... It permeates me. 

I have SO much of you in me. The most wonderful compliment I've ever received is that I remind someone of you. Oh! If only I could be as good as you, as wise as you, as caring and kind as you! You are my example of how to love and treat others. Though we live in a crazy world with a lot of hate and confusion, I know without question that your example would be to love and share God's love with everyone you meet. 

Oh how I wish everyone could have known you!! I even wish you knew Rhett. You might not like that he is asleep on the couch right now, but you would love him... I know it. One day I'll hopefully meet a man like you... what an answer to prayer that would be. If I could find a husband who was just a little like you, it would be a wonderful thing... I only hope that I will be able to compel to him what an amazing person you were, you will always be to me. 

I still laugh at you. I don't even remember what it was but I was laughing about something you said/did the other day with mom... And those moments, those memories are salve for our broken hearts daddy... I need those moments... I know mom and Shane do too. 

We miss you so much, in our own ways, but we do. I hope you would be proud of us... Today when I was cleaning the barn I thought about you, and how I hope you would be proud of how mom has kept up the place and I've tried to help since I've been home. I know we haven't always made the best decisions, but we have done our best... 

My words fail me now, which was something you never had a problem with... Just another thing I'm thankful that you left behind. Thank you for being the best daddy... I love you always, I miss you till I see you again... Happy Father's Day. 

Love you, 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Easter Reality/Spirituality Check

Easter is in 4 days... And while Christians understand the symbolism and sanctity of this day has nothing to do with eggs and bunnies, I found a reality check for us in my Bible reading last night. 

So many times in thinking of Easter, more importantly thinking of Good Friday, we focus more on the empty tomb than the occupied Cross. But the tomb doesn't matter without the Cross... Borrowed or brand new, without the death of Jesus there is no need for the tomb. Here's the truth in my opinion... From my perspective anyway: we don't focus on the Cross or Good Friday because that's the gory, sad, depressing part of the story. And the most depressing part... 

... Because it's my fault He had to die. 

... It's your fault He had to die. 

... We caused His death.

Now as we all know... He knew the deal, He knew the way the story would end, He knew the cup wouldn't pass from Him, He knew Judas would betray him from the moment they met, He knew all of that... 

... And He still went thru with it. 


Sometimes there just aren't words to describe His willingness not to sacrifice for me, but TO BE the sacrifice for me. In my 32 years I have sometime had a hard time grappling with the significance of that on my individual life... But a verse I read last night gave me the reality check I needed: 

In chapter 16 of Deuteronomy God is continuing to give instructions for Festivals, Passovers, etc... In my One Year bible reading plan I've been reading a lot of the less exciting books of the bible... Yes I said it... The books that include lineage and laws... and lots of them. The Old Testament is a lot of things, but legalistic is definitely one of the words I would use to describe it. God was EXTREMELY particular in his instruction to the Israelites regarding buildings, paths, tents, feasts, and particularly sacrifices. And this verse 17 is no different... But here is the reality check. 

How is it possible?? 

How is it possible to bring a gift to The Lord that is "in proportion to the way The Lord your God has blessed you."

I'm no theologian, but here is my answer... It's not possible. 

And this is one if the many reasons why the Cross matters so much... There is nothing I could make, purchase, grow or raise that would be REMOTELY proportionate to what God has blessed me with as He requested. 

Jesus became the New Testament physical sacrifice which removed us (you, me, and the modern world), from the requirements of the Old Testament physical sacrifice. 

Think about it... 

What could you possibly bring to God that would cover even some of your blessings??  I've been blessed immeasurably in this life... Even thru the valleys, God blessed me. Even when I yelled at Him and didn't go to church because I was mad because He took my daddy... He still blessed me. It's just. Not. Possible. 

... It's also not required... Not anymore.

Not after the Jesus... and certainly not after Cross. 

... And I sure am thankful for that (oh look, there is another blessing!)!! 

Love y'all,