Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mama Bird

Someone once said that to be a mother is to know what it's like for your heart to walk around outside of your body.

Yeah. Exactly.

nature bird wing wildlife beak fauna swimming poultry hen family mother duck paddling vertebrate waterfowl babies water bird mallard ducklings brood mallard ducks ducks geese and swans seaduck
My "hearts" now walk around many miles away from me. (One of them always has.) And while I know that this is the ultimate goal, for all us Mamas... to raise our children up to be independent of us... To help our little birdies fly from the nest... It's not the easiest thing to do.

It's hard.

It's so freaking hard.

We go from being their main source of love and support, their soul provider and nurturer, to just a guide. An example. And in some cases, we may feel like we don't matter any more.  Like they don't need us... or want us.

I've felt this way many times.

But it's not true. It's a LIE straight from the pit of hell.

Do. Not. Believe. It.

I'm in my mid-forties and I need my Mama every single day.  She speaks life into my heart, and she holds me and comforts me when I hurt. Just like she always has. I am but one of her four "hearts" walking around on this earth, yet she does the same for all of us. She pours herself into us, and helps us stand on our own. She is fierce, and protective, and nurturing and kind. We are her world.

Yes, I think I'll take a chapter out of her book.

I'll continue to speak into the hearts of my children, and love them the best I can from afar. I'll support and guide and nurture them with my prayers and my thoughts. I will discover new ways to pour into their lives, and help them in their journey. I"ll make sure that not a day goes by that they don't know that they are, and always have been, my world.

This Mother's Day they are not physically with me, but they never leave me. They are my source of inspiration, my life's breath, my reason for being. These children are precious. They are special. They are MINE.

And while they are walking around out there in this big old world, they are covered with my love, and the love of their Heavenly Father. May they each make indelible footprints for others to follow.

So, to Emilee, Jacob, Sam, and Josh, I say...

Fly, little birdies. Fly!! Soar to the highest of heights. Your Mama loves you all the way to Jesus and back! Though you were once covered and sheltered beneath hers, she will always be the wind beneath your wings!

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Laying It all Down

I recently typed out this prayer from a book I'm reading, that I wanted to share with y'all. It has encouraged me in so many ways, and I hope that it will do this same for you... I think I'm gonna frame it and hang it by my bathroom mirror, so that I can recite it each and every day.  Powerful stuff...

My whole life I’ve searched for a love to satisfy the deepest longings within me to be known, treasured, and wholly accepted. When you created me, Lord, Your first thought of me made your heart explode with a love that set you in pursuit of me. Your love for me was so great that You, the God of the whole universe, went on a personal quest to woo me, adore me, and finally grab hold of me with the whisper, “I will never let you go.”

Lord, I release my grip on all the things I was holding onto, preventing me from returning Your passionate embrace. I want nothing to hold me but You. So with breathless wonder, I give you all my faith, all my hope and all my love.

I picture myself carrying old, torn-out boards that inadequately propped me up and placing them in a pile. This pile contains other things I can remove from me now that my new intimacy-based identity is established.

I lay down my need to understand why things happen the way they do.

I lay down my fears about others walking away and taking their love with them.

I lay down my desire to prove my worth.

I lay down my resistance to fully trust Your thoughts, Your ways, and Your plans, Lord.

I lay down being so self-consumed in an attempt to protect myself.

I lay down my anger, unforgiveness, and stubborn ways that beg me to build walls when I sense hints of rejection.

I lay all these things down with my broken boards and ask that your holy fire consume them until they become weightless ashes.

And as I walk away, my soul feels safe. Held. And truly free to finally be me.

(Excerpt from Univited by Lisa TerKeurst)

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Friday, July 14, 2017

In My Ears

I've been trying to broaden my musical horizons a bit lately..

Y'all know I love me some country music.  Old and new (although some people say that Country Music Died in 1985 - and what they are playing now just "ain't country"). For reals.

And even though, I am thoroughly enjoying the newest music (see my list below) country has to offer, I'm reaching out a bit, trying to get out of my "comfort zone" so to speak. I'm learning that I have quite a variety of favorites on my playlist lately. I mean, QUITE a variety.

Thanks to my family (two teenage boys and one teenage girl, as well as my Motown Lovin' Daddy) and a few friends, I've added several new tunes to my Apple Music library.  Well, not all of them are "new"... In fact, some are actually pretty old (lol), but they are new (or different) to me!

So without further ado, here's what's been in my ears most recently....
  • Ed Sheeran  - Divide (the whole stinkin' album)
  • Led Zeppelin - Rain Song
  • Frankie Valli and the Four Seasoos - Sherry
  • Lionel Richie - Easy
  • Fall Out Boy - Sugar We're Goin Down
  • Eddie Money - Shakin'
  • Pink Floyd - Learning To Fly
  • The Black Crowes - Hard to Handle
  • Soundgarden - The Day I Tried to Live (RIP Chris Cornell)
  • Elvis Presley - Can't Help Falling In Love With You
  • Shawn Mendez - Ain't Nothing Holdin' Me Back
  • John Mayer - Gravity

There's more, but I picked 12 to share, because that's about how many songs are included on albums these days.  Also, I've been playing the heck out of a few new country albums/artists, as well.  Here are my top 5:

So here's where you chime in.  Yes people. I want feedback!! (Feel free to comment below or on my Facebook feed where this is linked up.)  What songs/artists would you have me add to my "Horizons" list above?  Have you heard any of the newer country stuff that I have listed?  What do you think?? Heck! Feel free to weigh in on the state of Country Music, or just music in general.  Inquiring minds want to know!! 

Hope y'all have a great weekend!  Meanwhile I'll get back to listenin'. 

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Lemony Things

Y'all, I have recently become a lover of lemons. Not just in my Sweet Tea, but in my water, on my salads... Heck, I even tried it in my Diet Coke, once! (Blech! I think I'll stick to my tea, thank you very much.)

Oh, and I'm all about some lemon dishwasher detergent, Lemon Joy, and Bath & Body Works Kitchen Lemon soaps and sanitizers.  Yes, Ma'am. This girl's got to have her lemon scents and flavors. All day. Any way.

This has gotten my wheels turning a bit.
Since when do I like lemons so much?  Ever since I can remember, I've been a fan of all things sweet and sugary... Cherry Blossoms. Sweet Pea. Vanilla Bean.  Apple Cinnamon. Those are the scents and flavors I've loved for years.  And let's not forget CHOCOLATE! But something has changed, and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Throughout my life, if things were sour, or bitter, I naturally steered clear.  Lately, though... I'm beginning to gain an appreciation for these things.  We've all heard the phrase, "When life hands you lemons, make Lemonade!"  But you know what?  You don't always have to dump a bunch of sugar on things to make it better.  Sometimes life needs a little sour.

In fact, studies show that drinking warm lemon water every day, is extremely beneficial health-wise.

And since essential oils are now all the rage in our homes right now, I thought I'd share some of those uses with you, as well.  According to Dr. Axe,
Lemon is best known for it’s ability to cleanse toxins from any part of the body and is widely used to stimulate lymph drainage, to rejuvenate energy, purify skin and act as a bug repellent.
Wow!! And if that's not enough, Dr. Axe quotes yet another expert; listing many more uses for lemon oil.
According to Alva’s Ayurveda Medical College assistant professor Dr. J.V. Hebbar, the benefits of lemon include:
  • Cleansing and purification
  • Oral health and remedy for halitosis (bad breath)
  • Digestion
  • Thirst quencher
  • Remedy for abdominal colic pain
  • Cough relief
  • Calms stomach and relieves nausea
  • Prevents malabsorption
  • Improves digestion
  • Nourishes the skin
  • Promotes Weight loss
So there. Now you know.

See? Life isn't just all about the sweet things.  We actually need some sour to help us be more balanced and healthy.

Remember that next time you have a bad hair day, or someone pulls out in front of you in traffic and makes you late for work. Or you get into an argument with someone you love, and it just ruins your perspective.

Take it in stride.

A bit of sourness is good for you, and actually adds to your life in a positive way. Just like a little lemon juice adds some yummy goodness to our Sweet Tea.

Mmm.. I think I'll go pour myself a nice tall glass right now.

Cheers, Y'all!
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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Dancing Through TIme

Okay, so I posted on this blog yesterday for the first time in over a year.


Today I am sitting in front of my computer perusing all my past blog posts, and I'm thinking... (I know. Dangerous, right?) But I'm wondering if I should delete everything up to this point and start over?  I really don't want to do that because there are some good pieces here... Stories and lessons that  I want to keep around, like leaving little notes of remembrance to myself.  Then again, there are also some posts that are hard to look at and read back through.  As I read them, my eyes fill with tears, and my heart breaks a little bit more.

As I was driving over to my work assignment this morning, a song came on the radio.  I'd heard it a few weeks ago, and had not even shed one tear.  But today, it evoked a lot of emotion.  The song was "The Dance" by Garth Brooks.  You may be familiar with this tune.  In it, the singer is recollecting a fond memory of dancing under the stars with a very special partner.  Someone he thought the world of, and never wanted to let go.  It's almost as if he wishes this particular waltz was still playing ... pining over what could have been. But he also realizes that if he had been able to see in the future and known then what he knows now, he wouldn't have changed a thing.

And now
I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go
Our lives
Are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss
The dance

Of course the "dance" was a metaphor for life.  A specific season spent with a remarkable person. I've spent the last 23 years of my life in a dance with a certain partner. Sometimes the pace was slow and easy, at other times the music of life seemed to speed up to such a hectic pace we could barely keep up. Yet we continued to skip to the beat of the drum.  Until we suffered misfortune and fell... and now this partnership has splintered apart, and I am standing alone on the dance floor once again.

Like I said in my "Begin Again" post, change is hard, and saying goodbye to the past isn't easy. Looking back on the memories of the shared dances can be painful, but it can also be educational, and memorial.

As I looked back through my posts on Sweet Tea Diaries, I saw many snapshots, even a few portraits of that dance. Should I delete them from existence, the way we would delete photos from our smart phones or computers?

I say, "No".


Each and every memory is a piece of my past... Woven into the person I have become, very similar to the way a craftsman may weave colors into a tapestry.  I wouldn't be the woman I am now without these times, these special moments, these phases and stages of my past.  And truth be told, even though my partner and I now dance separately, we will always be somewhat linked together in life because we have three very magnificent dance selections in common.

A ballet.

A foxtrot.

A samba.

If we had never become partners in the first place, we wouldn't have these beautiful, remarkable, amazing pieces in our repertoire.

Sometimes when we become injured, our first inclination is to leave the floor altogether, but we've got to press on and continue to move in order to finish well. To be honest, I'm still not sure "the way it all will end... the way it all will go".  I know where it's headed.  And I know it's a heartbreaking thing. But our brokenness is how The Light flows through our lives. This is how we continue to shine, even through the darkest of times.

So, yeah. The blog? I'm gonna leave her as is, because she's really just a reflection of me.  And I will forever be glad that I didn't miss the dance.
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Just Call Me Finnegan

Well y'all, I'm thinking of changing my last name to Finnegan.
You know. As in "Begin Again"??

Yeah, this is definitely a re-boot.  Not just in blogging, but in life in general.  I am embarking on new territories... new horizons are in view.

Am I a little scared?  You betcha.  Change can be a scary thing. Am I sad? For sure. Saying goodbye to the past, and all I've known for 19+ years, is extremely emotional. Am I worried?  Not really, because I know that God has a plan, and that His plans are perfect. Am I excited? Uh huh. This is a chance for me to correct some things in my life and get a "do over".  What is more exciting than that?

So I'm just taking each day as it comes, and doing what I need to do to get myself into a better place and a healthier lifestyle. Every day I achieve a little more progress. One foot in front of the other.  One itty-bitty step at a time.

They say adversity builds character, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I agree. The journeys of our lives can twist and turn and contain many obstacles to overcome. But as we overcome each one, like a runner jumping over hurdles, we are strengthening those "muscles" to be able to do it again. And again. And again.

As I've said before, when life hands you lemons, slice those babies up and stick them in your Sweet Tea!
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Monday, May 30, 2016

A Memorial Day Memoir

On this Memorial Day, I'd like to share this article that my Daddy wrote to commemorate one of our very own. May we never forget the sacrifices that were made to secure our freedom, and may we always share stories like this one with our children, friends, and loved ones, in order to be reminded that Freedom isn't FREE!

Memorial Day 2016
A New Perspective
By Dan Holladay, Jr.
The last Monday in May is here and we celebrate another Memorial Day. Ah! It’s a day off work or a day out of school enjoying all the trappings of another Holiday Celebration. There are picnics, boating and skiing on the lake, barbequing ribs and Boston Butts on the grill with family, friends and neighbors in the backyard, or a round of golf or perhaps a trip to the old ball park to see our favorite team play. Then there is the possibility we’re simply lounging around the pool soaking up some of the rays being provided by old “Sol.” In the midst of all of this fun and frolic we also may find just a brief moment to pause and remember those for whom this day was originally intended. Those brave and daring young men who voluntarily left home and love ones to go off and defend our country from the evil despots who dared to threaten our very existence.

For the Holladay Family this Memorial Day will be different; because for the first time in our lives, we will truly celebrate the life, legacy and lore of one of our own, who made the supreme sacrifice in the defense of our freedom during World War ll and after almost seventy- three years, has found his way back home. You see our Uncle, Sergeant John C Holladay USMC, was killed in action on New Georgia Island on July 20, 1943. His body was buried on the battlefield; but after the war was ended efforts to retrieve it and send it home for proper burial were unsuccessful. In 1949 the US Government declared his body unrecoverable and the books were closed; and we were left with nothing but memories wondering what ever happened to our loved one. This was a heavy burden for our Grandparents and his two siblings, James Herbert and Daniel to bear. But thank God this is not the end of the story.

In 2015 a local resident was digging on his property on New Georgia Island and unearthed human remains and turned them over to proper authorities who in turn gave them to our US government. These remains were then sent to a lab in Hawaii and processed and loaded into a data base. Knowing that our Uncle had been buried in that general area, government officials solicited DNA samples from members our family; and much to our sheer and utter amazement determined there was a match. By God’s “Amazing Grace” Uncle Charlton’s remains had been found!

The Marine Corp contacted us and met with us and began the process of having his remains returned to his homeland for proper burial with full military honors. As we prepared for this eventuality we began researching and reading all we could about the war in the Solomon Islands and discovered a book called “Edson’s Raiders” written by Colonel Joseph H. Alexander. Sergeant John C. Holladay was mentioned in the book no less than eight times. As a result things we had been told by family members who knew him were affirmed for us. He was a world class marksman who could shoot “the eye out of an ant.” He was a free spirit who could make a guitar sing and knew all 27 verses to the ballad “John Henry.” He was a fine Marine and much more.

His remains arrived in Charleston SC on Friday April 1st and escorted to his hometown of Florence, SC that very afternoon. The following Monday April 4, 2016, his 100th Birthday, he was taken to the Florence National Cemetery and properly interred with full military honors. What an amazing day this was for our family. Our fallen Hero was home where he belonged and we were no longer left to wonder about the location of his remains. We know where they are and we can visit and celebrate his life on Memorial Day or any other day of our choosing, We thank God for His Amazing Grace and allowing us this wonderful privilege.

Memorial Day will never be the same. Praise God!

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it along to our children through the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them to do the same.
~ Ronald Reagan

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