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…