Give Me My Roses While I Live

 

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“It’s an old saying,”  Mama said, her voice coming over the line this morning; ” But I was reminded of it again last month when Daddy and I were on the way to the hospital during his second round of sepsis. He was reacting badly to the antibiotics, and they had shown us the list of possible medicines that might help. That list was dwindling and we knew that if they couldn’t find another antibiotic, we were sunk. We had about an hour to wait before we could go into the hospital and find out. So we sat in the car and held hands and cried. He told me some things he wanted me to know, plans, and sweet words, and I told him some things that I love about him. Life is too short to make big deals out of little things. Y’just thank God that you have someone to pick up after, and if you’re going to make a big deal out of something, it had better be something really big. It’s so much more important, instead, to spend our time and words telling the people in our life what they mean to us, what we love about them. Give them their roses, and give them real roses too! Shoot! I’d rather have mine while I’m alive than when I’m out cold and they won’t mean a thing to me!…My family might enjoy them,” she pondered, “but I wouldn’t care a thing then.”

Several years ago, Mama was encouraging me in the art of Giving Out Roses. Roses of our words – admiration, encouragement. Roses of thankfulness and affirmation. Not flattery, because that’s no good. Does nothing to bolster the soul. But true affection and respect, true words of solid encouragement that reflect the effect that those people have had in your life are always worth giving. Our pathways are showered with experiences, people, words. Some of them hurt, but some of them shape us beautifully. They affect the way we think and treat others; they inspire us to bloom to full potential, like God intended. We are shy little shoots, all of us, needing the sunshine of kindness and goodness that others have to offer, so that we can take heart, and reach beyond the comfort zone of our curled up buds. The loveliness of it all, is that we are extensions of God’s own love, His own warmth, and we are reflecting the joy He has for His children to those to whom we hand roses. It’s not a one time thing, either. We wither swiftly amid the heat of hardship and doubt and someone seeing the admirable in us and pointing it out will always be a shot in the arm. It’s part of our camaraderie as humans, but more so as Christians, to look for the gifts and strengths in others and tell them of it. Tell them how they’ve influenced you.  So many people shape our lives and form our ideas and dreams. As a young girl, the whole of my existence seemed for a season that of simply Soaking Up. Soaking up what it means to be a lady, how to fix hair, dress, how to interact with boys and girls you felt intimidated by. How to paint nails, iron a man’s shirt and pants without creasing it wrong or burning a hole in it; how to cook, deep clean, expand vocabulary, fold that bothersome bottom sheet (still struggling), how to walk, talk, sort through all the changes and decisions of what sort of person you should envision being and shoot for. So many ladies reached out to me – girls my own age, girls older than me, and women who were adept housewives took time to speak encouragement to me. Those women still impact me today.

All that to say, “shower the people you love with love”. Husband, brother, sister, Mama, grandmama, sweet ole gal in the post office who’s feet you know are hurting, but still smiles at you. Your kids, or the kids at church, your brothers and sisters. You are shaping lives, impacting, leaving a force that will either build up or tear down. I’m guilty of one and striving toward the other. But I dare say, there’s someone we can show kindness to, bolster with our words. They’re powerful things, words. They can be swords or roses. Let’s say the things we’ll wish we had said if they weren’t here, leave nothing to regret not telling them. Let’s just give’m their roses while they live, y’all.

 

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January Edition

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“My Dear Mrs Watson,” you might say to me, “Judging by the amount you’ve written in the last year, I suppose we might conclude you’re Mighty Industrious at home and care nothing a’tall for these forsaken pages of your fledgling blog.” But I say to you, little blog, I deserve “Neither such praise, nor such censure”, for I’m not so very industrious at home as not to have time to write; neither do I care Nothing A’Tall for these pages, as I do have that sort of hesitation of spirit in writing. For I want to write something Good, and Of Worth, and Resonance to the Heart and Memory. So, I ponder and procrastinate. But I resolved to write once a month this year, and as silence is the Great Barrier, I write to break it, even if it is only to say how pleasant the light of the front room is in the afternoon. How light dances in gold on the floor, and how laughter now reaches down the hall. I remember being alone with a belly full of growing life in our old house – the one before this one – and thinking how nice it would be one day when I wasn’t the only one making noise in the house. I day dreamed of hearing play in other rooms, voices, music, the clatter of curious minds Figuring Out Things. This week as The Man sat at the table with the two pink, round little mouthed babes hollering requests and chattering to him and me and each other, it dawned on me, half-way across the table as I reached over to dish out a plate, that That Day Dream Is Now. What a lovely thought; what a sobering one. In the dark of the quiet mornings, the thrum thrum of the heater hums in the background and all the tick-tocks of clocks swing in mismatched patterns. What a lot of life to live. My thanksgiving this week has been that God sending Jesus for us has given us So Much To Live For. So much purpose, and peace, and reasons to truly radiate and shine for Him.

There is my breaking silence. A few mismatched thoughts, like multiple ticking clocks in the dark, quiet dawn of this year.

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If you’ll notice that shadow in the right hand corner, you’ll perceive the reason for that delicious grin – that being Daddy, of course. That boy’s favorite Man.

 

Time to Talk – friendship

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When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, “What is it?”
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.   -Robert frost

This poem kept coming to mind after a visit with Ellen a few weeks ago, because she embodies this. She puts down her hoe, and has time for you, time to talk. She was one of the Safe People, growing up. One who Knew The Ropes, but wasn’t coy about it.  She wouldn’t give you measuring glances, up one side and down the other, and give that condescending smirk that you were the New Kid, and by the way, what a horrible skirt (and it should be noted that I had quite a few of these). No, no, Ellen might wrap you in a hug and genuinely laugh and make you feel like you had something interesting to say, or if you didn’t say anything that was fine, because she was one whose sunny presence you could sit back and bask in with nothing said. She came last month to our house because she’s the type that Likes West Texas and actually makes trips to enjoy (besides family), The View (and by that I think they mean the sky and canyons and broad scopes for the imagination). She came to my house along with my Texas Sistren.  We had coffee and lunch and good conversation, and I was reminded again how much We Humans Need Each other. How that our friends are more than a text and a picture on instagram to beef up the feed, and more than an email to remember to send. Our friends – the ones whose soul We Get, or as Anne Shirley would say, “the race of Joseph” that we simply connect to in one way or another, those are the ones who will constantly be encouraging us to sift through soil to find nuggets and meaning to Deeper Life, and to refresh ourselves in the good of life. 9.17_0023

C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” It’s certainly true that after a half hour spent with one of my Bosom Friends, life feels more penetrable, as if the Good Things have been made more ready to harvest.  I find myself thinking, what a good place this world is – what a beautiful life indeed, and what A Lot There Is Yet to Be Discovered and What A Hunger For Good Books I have, and perhaps the evil is not so dominant as I might believe it is at times. Friendship may be a luxury, but after soul conversations, where Souly Friends can ebb and flow from topics of sober depth to merry lightheartedness with that same knitted weave of hearts and minds, I’m encouraged to be the kind of friend that brings that to the table. This is an area in which I need growth.  But I’ve noticed that friends who offer this kind of friendship have in common some traits:

  • time – it’s a precious commodity, and I’m learning to recognize that when someone passes an hour simply visiting, it’s an investment to value.
  • eye contact – this is such a powerful connector, and I love how simply God designed this tool of Getting To Know A Person, and Deepening Ties.
  • thoughtfulness – a card, a text, a visit, something made with your hands for your friend, a favorite bar of chocolate, a cup of tea in company…thoughtfulness isn’t hard, but it does take some, well, Thought. And usually a combination of these other traits.
  • effort – While I do think there are plenty of times to say No to something you could do for or with friends in order to prioritize other things (family, church, etc.) it still holds true that “a man who will have friends must show himself friendly”, and that effort will pay.
  • listening – one of my sisters is especially good at this, but from her quiet eyes, she will sometimes wonder if listening is enough. But, it is. Listening, as passive as it might seem, is a balm for people. It’s a salve you offer, simply by lending your ear. People need this…there are lots of voices, and not too many ears, nowadays.

I remember leaning against the counter of a lady I’d just met, and soaking in the warmth of her soul that poured from her home and her speech and her face. I told my friend, Kathryn when we left, I felt as though I’d drunk from a cool fountain and hadn’t realized how parched I was. Again, one of the Asters In My Sky lives in Mississippi, and on a hot June day that was dripping with scents of blackberries in the hedge and honeysuckles on clusters, she sat on the edge of the claw foot tub in her bathroom, while I sat on the (closed lid of the) commode and We Talked Life. Things that are dear to heart surface in the presence of common souls. Exposing and reminding each other of Those Things, are what sharpen, and shape us.  I don’t know if you do this, but I can trace so many Inspirations and Determinations in my life, back to someone I look up to. Dear Friends, in the darkness surrounding us, keep being those beacons, those heart healers, those listening ears and refreshing people that pour out kindness and give value to survival. It’s something that will never grow old in this mortal world.

9.17_00029.17_00039.17_00049.17_00059.17_00069.17_00079.17_0008daniel loved chilling out with the girls as we drank so much coffee and talked of all good things.
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prettiest eyes and those dimples. Ellen, you bless so many people. So thankful for our friendship.

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enter, cosy kitchen nook that’s my favorite spot in the house. it does so well for accommodating however many we want to squeeze in there.

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snapped these of Lana because her ring was sparkling through the trees…little did we know she’d be getting married the next week!9.17_0024

just gotta end with the two darling fellows of the house.

 

A Place to Come Home To

Whether it was a trip packed with cousins, grandparents, tea parties, war parties in the big field behind Aunt Judy’s house, or singing schools, meetings or spending the night at a friend’s house, it was good to come home. Same old home. Same old creaky board, same ole cat in the bushes waiting to jump out at you just before you reach the steps. There were so many things just the same. And there was a sense of security and comfort in going back to the things you could count on. So many wholesome things too, that I see more now, took a great deal of effort and deliberate action on Mama and Daddy’s part. Mama’s cheerful grin and peck on the cheek as she squeezed a good morning hug, daddy’s bacon and eggs, the traditions of making each birthday count, each accomplishment of your children something to brag about at the table that night – and being at the table each night, everyone, all together. You talked about your day, and things coming up and the funnies that stood out to you.

jan17-3313John Barrett and I jumped into this marriage and family thing, just like everyone else who doesn’t feel qualified. It’s amazing to me that we get to be Home for our kids. That we have the privilege of creating that same beauty of home with all its traditions, warmth and comfort. Sometimes I think – I don’t know where in the world to begin! But I do. It’s been instilled through the careful diligence of parents who kept on keeping on with the daily samenesses that seemed, I’m sure, tedious and almost pointless at times. But knowing I’d not go to sleep without Daddy praying over me, Mama singing over me, and saying “Good night! God bless and keep you through the night! I love you,” bound my heart even to the close of day, with another layer of love and safekeeping. jan17-3291

Now Mama comes and helps me with birth and labor, and with the carrying – on of creating that place you carry with you the rest of your life. Home isn’t a perfect place. You learn Things To Do, and things you Don’t Want To Do from it. But you learn, and still know more how to shape and create an environment of nurture from having experienced family and home yourself. jan17-3330jan17-3373

Recently, Grandmama went through the exhausting process of selling her house. Uncle David, Aunt Judy, Mama – they all helped. But what stood out to Anne and me vividly even this past week, was that it wasn’t just the house they were selling, it was the home my mama, aunt and uncle had known. And even grown as they are, in their 50’s and 60’s, that was tear-jerking, heart-wrending and just plain hard. Home registers deeply. Not all my friends had great homes growing up, but they are now a creating lovely atmospheres and traditions that will help shape beautiful lives and memories for their own kids. Family is a strong and powerful design, that has held the structure of society on its shoulders for millenniums. So, all you fellow family growers, and family members, take heart in all these traditions, these bits of sameness, routine, love and tradition. Thanks to them and your parents, they are the incognito silently arranging and cementing that wonderful place you get to cherish and come home to.jan17-3458jan17-3463

Daniel when he was just 3 weeks old and soooo litttttle (insert 10 cry faces and 15 heart eyes, of course) jan17-3475jan17-3478

I…..don’t know where she gets these faces….But they are INTENSE.jan17-3553jan17-3490“Uhhhhm….Mama, you should see this…just letting you know…it’s white, fluffy and falling from the sky…”

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We felt all pioneer drying our shoes and hats by the fire after staying a whole 3 minutes in the snow. jan17-3639jan17-3640jan17-3698jan17-3701Daddy’s lunch break means as much attention she can steal from him in an hour. jan17-3740jan17-3753

Carrot stick adds to the photo. BF-4916BF-4937BF-4954BF-4972

How, Chief.BF-4975BF-4991Sometimes hotels can have pretty headboards, I discovered. And this kid loves her little brother. I’m so glad that the massive mullet on her head ends in those three perfect curls which look simply divine with a bonnet on – and comically out of place without it.

Happy Wednesday, y’all!

Since Writing Last

dec16-1979No. I didn’t teach her that – not on purpose, at least.

That would be a lot. A lot happens in half a year, but in summary:

  • July – August was spent moving into our beautiful house that smelled awful. And thanking Mama and Daddy for driving 1200 miles to help us paint. Well – they and JB and the church painted our house while I laid over the bathtub crying and throwing up. Me and Bella both. Somehow, we were pulled through and got moved into 60th Street.
  • August – built towers with all our boxes and stumbled between them through the mounds of clothes that dared us to wash them. Then we ran away from all of it to the beaches of Georgia, where we hung out with my family, ate crazy good food, read books, swam in the ocean at twilight and constantly dodged the water gun wars from the boys.
  • September – Ruidoso. Mountains, fresh air, long hikes, ice cream cones, early morning sunrises on the front porch. We went with JB’s side of the family and basked in a much appreciated break from the moving + work travel…even though we were only home from the beach for two weeks… Hey – two vacations in two months felt like necessity.
  • October – Back to Georgia to photograph a sweet wedding and soak up all the family time I could. But I was ready to come home to that Texan. He doesn’t get easier to leave on travel. It gets worse. And I found myself stalking his Facebook page all over again night after night, feeling more miserable and homesick for him than ever.
  • November – Thanksgiving  and TWO Thanksgiving meals…I’m all about that twice, and packing an outfit a size larger for the trip home. And stopping every 20 minutes for the bathroom because that’s what a woman a month away from her due date does. She also says “thanks babe” a hundred times and promises foot and back rubs as peace offerings as she crunches her way through the 32 oz. cup of crushed ice. It’s like you CAN NOT help yourself – no matter how annoying it sounds to crunch on ice for 14 hours.
  • December 15th – Daniel Barrett Watson arrived. And all of my family came from Georgia to celebrate Christmas + Baby with us. Except for one sister and her crew, we were all together and I had my own  Hallmark worthy Christmas Miracle. John Barrett told me one night, “I feel like I’ve seen so many glittery, shiny, sappy Hallmark movies that I need to watch something explode.” Shortly afterwards, he bought a chain saw and he and the fellows spent half a day trimming our two live trees (aka, sawing, yelling, climbing on the roof and in the trees and using big muscles to throw big limbs off the roof, getting all bloodied up and worn out. Lemme tell ya, a sweaty, hard workin’ man is tops in my book. JB likes making me drool like that.)
  • January – We’re flying solo now. All Mamas gone, and us still feeling the love ringing from them being here. We are surviving, and that’s success. I’m finding panties in my pots and chewed up gum on the floor, pages from the Bible torn out, (I’m sorry, Lord, I told her not to) detergent bottles in the rocking chairs and occasionally Bella Rose in the laundry room, sucking on Daniel’s dirty diapers. (NO,I’M JUST KIDDING. I didn’t find her doing that – Mama did.) Thankfully, she likes the baby – most times. But she thinks it’s fun to kick him every now and then, and she has no idea what GENTLE means. We’re working on it.

 

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The fateful July of Stomach Virus. And these two parents of mine who love me in such tangible ways, coming 1,200 miles to help us paint.

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Isn’t he dreamy? I like finding him like this after a hard day’s work, giving him a ridiculously long, romantic kiss, then whispering in his ear, “Darling, I just spent $100 at Tjmaxx on shoes…” sep-2016-8456And she likes finding him and coaxing his aching head while telling him, “Daddy, don’t believe a word she says if Mama tells you I bit her on the arm today…not a word.”sep-2016-8645sep-2016-9243“Babe………. you Promised this shirt didn’t make me look fat.” sep-2016-9249Exhibit from the mountain.sep-2016-9257Ohhh…the muscles in that arrrrmm!!!!oct16-7711“If I stare out the window all dreamily, maybe she’ll forget I’m on the verge of sleep with my mouth full of nuts I can’t chew.” oct16-772240 Years of two sinners loving each other, forgiving each other, and helping us know that sticking it out through thick  and thin is worth it. oct16-7939Just some random beautiful women who were walking the driveway of the Grey Submarine on a Sunday morning. oct16-8289When I was 30 Something weeks and had a REAL maternity shoot, thanks to my talented Sis. Not all of pregnancy is glamorous, but walking through a hot October day with a tired toddler definitely is.oct16-8261oct16-8222I’m indebted to Milly for making it look like being on the front side of the camera doesn’t make the spit stick to the back of my throat.oct16-8311“I solemnly promise never to drink all your frappe and paralyze myself with caffeine ever again.” oct16-8379One, two, three, flare. I flare – now – no. Mama, we’re suppose to flare nostrils at the same time. oct16-8321Hottest Aunt Status…but no, it really was so hot. My goal is to be like this gal when I grow up…I think I’m running out of time..but… Props to my inspiration gal. xoxooct16-8390My sunny sistren.

dec16-2784The CHAINSAW. I love that thing. And the men. I definitely love the men. Especially the REALLY handsome one holding the saw.

dec16-1812-2dec16-2024Happy 2017!

May / Update

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May has always held a certain glow of magic, and even though I can go barefoot any time  I want to, there’s a certain anticipation for May First, when I can officially go barefoot and feel the long held peace of Mama’s permission. I wonder about the traditions we’ll cultivate in the Watson household? What will our children look back on as some of their foundational habits and customs?

Earlier this month Daddy and Mama drove from Tyler (where we all celebrated a cousin’s graduation). On the 7 hour trip from Tyler to Lubbock, Bella Rose got sick and threw up 6 times. She was pale and exhausted, and I didn’t really care that I had vomit on my clothes and body. My heart just ached for her tiny frame that would suddenly still then bend with the force of vomit. I’m so glad hers didn’t last long.

Mama and Daddy stayed two days, both of which I was sick. We had no food in the house, so they bought us groceries, fixed meals, then had to leave early to make it back to GA for an emergency. There’s a deep down bumminess that might as well not be described. You know it, when you run up against it. It was hard to swallow that the visit I’d looked forward to us having with them was shortened from a week to two days, and that I was sick the whole time. But though I don’t understand all the in’s and out’s it was still hugely comforting to hear them in my house and have Mama take care of me.

Poor Daddy got sick on the way home. 12 hrs between driving and flying. Poor Daddy.

But the bright side -for there almost always is one – is that my littlest Sister who’d come with Mama and Daddy stayed two weeks. And two other sisters joined us for several days. So lots of walks, lounging conversations and quiet routines settled over our time together. For my birthday, I woke up to the girls cleaning my house, a dozen doughnut coupon, a potted plant and candy. It was the sort of day you feel extraordinarily loved and happy.

As for Bella Rose, she finally cut a tooth Saturday. She’s dancing to music – just rocking back and forth or bending her knees. She gives the biggest grins and hugs. This motherhood thing is the best. I looked up last night. She was looking at me with a drop of milk glistening like a perfect pearl from the middle of her chin and flashed a gummy smile. I felt again that surge of happiness I never would have imagined on the other side of marriage and being a mama.

The house we’re buying – it will be ours on June 6 – is a cozy little place, and for now all we must do is wait and pack.  Soon we can call it home. 5.16 stomp_0118

5.16 stomp_0119studying for a final the only way that makes sense in West Texas heat: with your feet in water.
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This sums up my May so far, with all its smudges. And for all that it’s been bright and beautiful.