Wednesday, November 23, 2011

10 & 4


Ten years ago today, it was November 23, 2001.

It was a Friday and the day after Thanksgiving. I was on the home stretch of wrapping up my first semester of community college and was working part time at the bank.

The banks don’t close the Friday after Thanksgiving, so I woke up early that morning to get ready for work. I packed a bag with a change of clothes, some hair spray, my teasing comb and my make-up bag….all the necessities for after-work plans. Even after all the extra preparations I had done that morning, I still managed to be on time, which was always star worthy for me. I was excited for the day to be over, but nervous for the evening to begin. I had a big first date that night.

There was this guy I’d been talking to for quite some time, who worked as a financial advisor for the bank. We’d become friends several months earlier and he had finally asked me out! He was in fact young, although I was convinced he was a grown man in every sense of the word. He was, after all, four years older than me. He’d been to college and back, and even owned his own house. The idea of going on a date with a “grown man” had my stomach in knots all day.

The day dragged by and finally it was close to closing time. The generous head teller let me balance my drawer first and have a few minutes to change and get ready. Devin was right on-time and picked me up at the bank at 6:00. I got in the truck with that “grown man” and we made the drive to Gainesville. My palms were sweaty and my knees were shaky, but the conversation came easy. By the time we’d made it through Archer I was completely calm and was certain I wouldn’t pass out after all.

DW was still driving the 2-Door Z-71 Tahoe he’d bought to go to college in. It was navy blue with grey on the bottom and had a BEEF sticker on the bumper. I loved it- his Tahoe and the Beef sticker. We were having steak (imagine that) for dinner that night, and when I ordered mine, “well-done,” he caught me completely off guard when he looked at the waitress and said, “no way, at least medium.” WHO.THE.HECK.IS.THIS.GUY.? Did he REALLY just change the way I get my steak cooked? “You can’t eat a burnt steak,” said the guy with the BEEF tag on his truck. I was so shocked and caught off guard, that I just shrugged my shoulders, laughed nervously and silently wondered how in the world I was going to eat a medium cooked steak. We talked and laughed and before I knew it, the pink-centered steak was in front of me and I did what any girl would do on the first date with a really nice guy… I ate it. We finished our dinner and went to see a movie.

The date ended that night with what DW calls the worst hug he’s ever had. We laugh about it now and I always tell him I didn’t want him getting the wrong idea about me. He didn’t know what it took for me to convince my Dad (even though I was out of school) that he didn’t need to pick me up at our house and meet my parents that night! I mean hello, I was a good girl…and he was a grown a man and he did own his own house. :)

Neither of us knew that night ten years ago what the future held for us. We had no idea that exactly one year, one month and one day later, we’d get engaged and by May of that year we’d be married.

We certainly would have never imagined that exactly six years later, when November 23 fell again on a Friday and the day after Thanksgiving, just like it had on our first date, we’d lose our son in a tragic accident.

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we had to say goodbye to our Cooper. One of the cruelest things about losing a child is having to go on. Life doesn’t just stop like you think it should. As hard as it has been to go on, though, I am thankful that we have. I am thankful for a God who restores our joy and happiness here on this sometimes hopeless feeling earth. Four years ago, I never thought I’d ever even smile again. And while it did take time, and there are still very hard days, I can honestly say I have happiness and joy in my life. All of which comes from the Hope that only the Lord gives. I know that is true.

Thanksgiving and this time of year will always be a tough one for us, just because it brings it all back. I feel like I’ve been walking around with a lump in my throat and stinging eyes for about a week now and I know today I will have my moments. But I’ve decided that I’m going to remember 10 years ago. I am going to remember that precious first date with the grown man who later asked me to be his wife. Who would have ever thought he’d call for a second date after the horrible, “worst hug of his life” that I gave him on our first date? I’m going to smile when I think about him changing my order at dinner because I know it wasn’t out of control or bossiness that he did it. He did it because he wanted me to have something better. I’ll probably cry when I start to think of that, because he’s still that way. He changed the way I ordered my steak that night, because I haven’t ordered a burnt one since, but he also changed my whole life. I love the line in the song, “God gave me You” that says, “we are stitched together, and what love has tethered, I pray we never undo.” I feel like life has certainly stitched DW and I together. I am thankful that for the past 10 years we’ve walked this road together…on the happiest, highest mountain peaks and in the darkest valleys, too.

We are so blessed to be loved and cared about by so many others, too. We have wonderful family and friends who have and continue to love us through the difficult times. I am so thankful for them, too. I will always be overwhelmed at the way we have experienced God’s love through other people.

Ten years ago, we didn’t know what our futures looked like. We were just a fresh out of high school girl and a grown man going out on a first date. But God knew.

I have a scripture calendar on my desk and this was Monday’s scripture:

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you…Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; there is hope for your future.” – Jeremiah 31:3;17 NRSV

Yes, you have, Lord. And I am thankful.


And in case anyone’s wondering, here’s what a fresh out high school girl and a grown man look like… What babies we BOTH were. (And funny that I look like the OLDEST!) :)



Friday, November 4, 2011

Peanut Butter & Parades…

Last weekend was the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville. It’s always a favorite!DSCN4210

We rode up with Adam & Lauren and tailgated with Sam & Marianne and some friends of theirs. We ate well and had a great time with everyone.

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The game pretty much stunk, because let’s face it, who enjoys loosing? The highlight of my day was definitely the Chocolate-Peanut Butter cupcakes I made for dessert. OH.MY.WORD. I do hate to brag, but they were divine. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to recreate them, since I made up my own icing recipe, but their goodness will forever be part of my memory. :)DSCN4188

I put peanut butter chips in the cupcake mix, and filled the centers with the peanut butter icing. Maybe I should try to make them again soon. :)

Yesterday was the homecoming parade in our town. We dressed AB in her Daddy’s high school alma mater colors and sat with a bunch of the family on a lot in town waiting to see the parade! DSC_5132AB was most excited about seeing her aunt Kels (who’s Sr. class float was being pulled by Pappy & NieNie) and cousin Willie, who was in the parade because he was the Baby Peanut King at this year’s Peanut Festival. The theme for homecoming was something about the decades. So each class had a different decade… the Freshman class had the 1950’s and their float was really cute…DSC_5164

The Sr. Class Float: (they had the 80’s) the big boom box was so cute…


This is my favorite… Nie Nie hanging out the window waving at AB… It’s a shame our girl isn’t loved any more than she is. :)


We also saw lots of other cousins in the parade and caught lots of candy that we don’t need.




The funniest thing was when AB insisted that her daddy hold her, because she “was ‘bout to get runned over!” She was into picking up candy at first, but then decided it was too dangerous and her daddy needed to do it for her. Either way, she left happy with a bucket filled to the brim. DSC_5184


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Trick or Treat 2011

AB was an owl this year for Halloween. DSC_4581





We decided to Trick-or-Treat in town on Monday night and it was so fun! Lots of people pull trailers with their trucks, 4-wheelers, Gators, etc, around town and we decided to try it out this year. So fun…

We met at our cousin, William & Stephanie’s house in town and started there. DSC_5075

AB & Willie (for AB’s treat bucket, I just used a galvanized tin that we had and tied some ribbons on each side that matched her costume. So easy and she loved it!

My parents and Granny met us at William & Stephanie’s to see AB all dressed up and ready to Trick or Treat… DSC_5057

DSC_5061After we “Trick or Treated” Great Granny & Grammy & Pop, we loaded up on the hayride to start our trek around the neighborhood.

Aunt Nen (and her mom who was visiting from out of town) rode on the trailer with us. And my other SIL, Amber, and our nephew Warren came along, too. Warren was definitely most excited about all the candy!


Warren & AB on our “hayride”

AB wasn’t sure about it at first. She’s pretty shy, but as long as her Daddy was carrying her or holding her hand, she was good to go! DSC_5092

DSC_5086Especially when the candy started rolling in! She’s so cute saying, “Trick or Treat” – she calls is “Trickin’ Treat.”

We rode around for about an hour and the kids had such a fun time. It’s so fun, too, because everyone else is on trailers and you get to see lots of other people you know. DSC_5095

When we finished up, we tried to get a picture of the kids, but Willie wasn’t having it…

On our way home, we stopped by a few of the aunts’ houses on our road and made a stop by Pappy & Nie Nie’s house. DSC_5104

Walking up to Pappy’s house


We had to stop by Adam & Lauren’s, too… Uncle Adam was out of town, but Aunt Nen is so fun and even dressed up, too!



By the time we made it home it was time for a bath and bed, but not before we surveyed the goods… DSC_5122

AB was SNORING within 5 minutes of laying down that night. The next afternoon, she told DW, “I pwobly go Trickin-Treat again today, Daddy.” I’d say Halloween 2011 was a hit.