Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Big Mac is Coming to Town"

If you read the title, you probably think that it's a terrible slogan or jingle for McDonald's, but it is actually a phrase that I heard and said repeatedly as a child. I can see myself as an eight-year-old little girl laughing on the phone with my grandfather (or as we lovingly called him Mac Mac) when he would tell me to tell my dad that "Big Mac was coming to town." I can still see the twinkle in his eyes that also resides in my own father's brown eyes. I can still see the sticks of Juicy Fruit coming out of the top of his pocket that I would always reach for or that he would constantly disperse. I can still picture riding beside him and him telling you to "put on the air brakes " as he would multi-task and include the associated sound effects. I can still picture myself in his living room in Evergreen, Alabama, holding his hand as my dad prayed for him and hugging him good-bye for the last time. Yesterday marked the third year since my grandfather's passing, but there's not a day that goes by that my life is not affected by "Big Mac" somehow.

If I could reflect on one aspect of my grandfather's time on Earth, it would have to be his vivacity and zest for life. When "Big Mac came to town," everyone knew. He did not live life quietly. He was either instructing you on "air brakes," or he was "stealing your nose." He was extremely opinionated (I probably got this from him) and would easily tell you what he was thinking. Personally, I feel as if he owned stock in Waffle House, for this was a daily ritual in his life. No matter what arena or "town" my grandfather was in, his voice was heard.
One thing that stands out in my mind the most about my grandfather's funeral was a certain flower arrangement that he received. It was not a distant relative, a co-worker, a family friend, or someone who had been closely connected to my grandfather's or my family's lives. No, this flower arrangement was from the workers of my grandfather's beloved Waffle House. They had been touched by my grandfather's life on a daily basis over the years, and he had meant something to them. This was not a signifcant place for my grandfather where he spent the majority of his time. This was just a meager Waffle House where he got his coffee. It was a pit-stop in his day-to-day life. Yet, even at the pit-stops in my grandfather's life, he made a difference. Like I said, when "Big Mac Came to Town," everyone knew. Even the people at the pit-stops.

I will always cherish the memories that I had with my grandfather and the impact that he had on my life. They are irreplaceable and eternally sweet. Yet, it is almost sweeter to see the impact that my grandfather had on others- especially the people at the "pit-stops." I can only hope that when I leave this Earth and return home one day, that I have touched and impacted my own "Waffle House" and the people who simply provided me with my "cup of coffee" (whatever situation that may be). I hope that I live a life where even coffee breaks provide a place to leave a legacy. Mac Mac, I love you and thank you for living a life where when you came to town, it mattered, and when you came to town, you impacted everybody.

Therefore, I think that we should all live with the motto that "Big Mac is Coming to Town" (fill in your own name). We all need to live a life where when we come to town, everyone knows. We do not need to quietly go throughout life. We need to be heard. We need to make the pit-stops count. We all need to have our own "Waffle Houses." We all need to leave an impact on those we love and hold dear, but we also need to love and impact those who "pour our coffee," those who sit beside us in class, those who we work beside, those who we encounter but do not acknowledge, those who seem so simple yet need so much, those who go unnoticed, those who need to know that WE ARE IN TOWN.

"Therefore, GO and make disciples of all nations."- Matthew 28:19.

To me, this means: GO and let people KNOW YOU ARE IN TOWN. Do not stop until your voice is heard. Reach every part of "town." Even the "pit-stops." Let them know about me and that "I am coming BACK to town."

Do people know when you are "in town?"
Do you impact the pit-stops?
And most importantly, is your voice and life declaring who is ultimately coming back to town?
So, as you travel down the road of life, "put on your air brakes," don't miss the "Waffle Houses," and let people know who's in town.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Things Never Change

You know how people say there should be a theme song for their lives? Well, if there was a concept of a "theme picture" for my life, this would COMPLETELY encompass at least four days of my week. Actually, this picture is my future goal because this man fell correctly (if that's possible, maybe he's a professional goob too and knows how to minimize the pain) and did not nail his head like I have done THREE times now. Yep, you heard me. I just drew one more point on the scoreboard of Shelby's head-games with the floor. If you're keeping score at home it's Shelby's head- 0. Tile floors, brick floors, and bathroom sinks and possible towel rack- 3.
Before we get to the THIRD attack on Shelby's skull, let's get to the serious part. I should at least postpone you laughing at me as long as possible, right? Good, I thought so too. So last Tuesday, I was sitting in class when I got a text from my mom. It told me to call her as soon as I got out of class. Automatically, my stomach went into turmoil mode because my mother never has to tell me to call. I call her at least a THOUSAND times a day to discuss pathetically simple things that I should be beyond capable of handlling at twenty. The ladies at her work laugh at the amount of times that I call- it really is absurd. Back to the point, I was a nervous wreck. When I got out of class and called and asked my mother what was going on, she just casually says that her and my dad were at the hospital since three that morning. I know she said it this way to comfort me, but my goodness mother you weren't taking a stroll through the park to "One Fine Day!" (I am much more dramatic than my mother). She proceeded to tell me that they were at the hospital because my dad had woken up in the middle of the night with chest pains. They were running tests to make sure it wasn't his heart. She kept going, but I was already in another world of whirlwind.
I was in disbellief, and to be flat-out honest,I was a little angry. I thought to myself, "God, have you not seen my past month? Did you forget that I have already had my fair share of rain lately? Sure, I made it through the two concussions, the end of a two-year relationship, and then losing Mr. Miller, but THIS IS MY DAD. I can't handle this one. I made it through the others, don't let this happew now too. It is not fair." I was being selfish, and I was Peter who was hesitant and scared of sinking through the waters instead of listening to the One who was and is trying to teach me how to walk.
Thankfully, my dad's problem was not his heart, and my selfish desires were answered. Yet, God still had a lesson for me the next day. Wednesday, I was so excited because Allison, one of my best friends from high school, and Lindsey were staying with me. This sent me on a mission to find an air mattress that I could sleep on, so I took it upon myself to skip/run down the halls as I was searching. Well, unfortunately for me, my sweet neighbors didn't alert clumsy me that they had sprayed Raid in their doorway. Raid on a floor+Shelby running= a reaction that I am sure you can easily predict. Yes, as I ran into their room, I slipped on the Raid, and I successfully hit my head on the tile floors of Crosby.As I laid in the middle of my friends' door, I quickly pictured the male nurse with his female-function questions, and I quickly stood up and told everyone I was fine. No hospitals for me. But where was my sweet best friend?
I could hear her snorting and laughing from my room. If you know Allison, you appreciate this situation tenfolds more because when Allison laughs she has, well she has some issues. Yep, as my newer friends asked if I was ok, my old friend was sprawled out on my dorm-room floor( hadn't even moved to see if I was alive) rolling in laughter. Maidee Parker, my other friend, was standing in the hall between the two of us, shaking her head, not able to choose which one of us was more idiotic as she always had in high school with every other embarrassing situation we put her through. Although I had just humiliated myself for the 394985985 time in my life, I couldn't help but smile because some things never change. No matter how old we got, no matter how many miles we were apart, no matter what university we went to, no matter WHAT, I was still the clumsy girl that fell while Allison was the one who laughed hysterically and had her issues while Maidee Parker would run and hide or stand in the middle of us and do nothing but shake her head. In the midst of our crazy lives, we were still the same. Nothing had changed.
I believe that if I had listened a little closer to my other Friend the day before, He would have told me the same thing. He would have said, "Hey, I know it's been crazy the past month. I know you think I haven't been listening or haven't noticed. I know you're scared. I know you're tired, but why are you questioning me? I haven't gone anywhere. You're still the one who has to learn, and I am still the one who has to teach. You're still the one who doubts and fears the waves, and I am still the one reaching out my hand. You're still the clay, and I am still molding. You're still the one who sometimes gets off track, and I am still the one who will be here waiting every time. I will never forsake you or leave you. I love you."
Basically, He was saying, "Some Things Never Change."
Although it is comforting to know that my friends and I are still the same retarded people and nothing has changed, at the end of the day, it's a thousand times better to know that there is a God who loves you beyond reason, will never leave you, and will never quit reaching out His hand to you in the midst of storms. So as you go throughout your week and approach Thanksgiving, be thankful that "some things never change."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Hand

"I thank my God everytime I remember you."-Phil. 1:3
When my sister was in college, I always heard about Mr. Miller, the man at the Veteran's Home she went to play dominos with each week. Yet, soon, Megan was graduating, and it was my turn to venture off to college which meant I inherited domino days with Mr. Miller. I was only blessed with one short year with Mr. Miller, but the silly man completely stole my heart. I still remember my sister warning me at Christmas, that when I left for the break, he would most likely cry. Well last year, before he could even shed one tear, I was sobbing my eyes out. I never knew you could become so attached to someone in just a few months, but it happened. He was no longer Megan's Mr. Miller. He was MY silly man and a major highlight of my week. Mr. Miller was a gift from God that I did not deserve, and I am so thankful for the past year I got to share with him. Today, my sweet gift and friend returned home, but a part of Mr. Miller will always be with me. So, Mr. Miller, this post is for you. I "love you more than you know."
For the past five days, I have sat by my sweet friend's hospital bed and watched him fight for his life. I have cried. I have laughed. I have prayed. I have smiled. I have even growled at the man (reference to previous post). Yet, most of all, I held Mr. Miller's hand. Whenever you were near Mr. Miller, he always stretched out his hand for you to hold. It has always been that way, and this week was no different. So with tears in my eyes yesterday, I watched as Mr. Miller stretched his shaking hand out for me to hold. Even when he was weak and near the end of his battle, he still stretched out his hand for me to hold.
I held his hand. I held the hand that taught me to play dominos. I held the hand that always waved goodbye as I drove away from the nursing home. I held the hand that gave the most uplifting and sincere hugs a person can receive. I held the hand that had held my sister's hands at one time. I held the hand that always poked me when he told a joke. I held the hand that once selflessly and courageously fought in a war way before my time. I held the hand that proposed to his wife of over fifty years after he had only known her two months. I held the hand that had witnessed 83 years of life and impact. I held the hand that was always waiting for me when I got to the Veteran's Home every week. I held the hand that taught me how to love.
Because in the end, that is what Mr. Miller was- he was a bold and brilliant example of love. Mr. Miller loved with everything he had. He gave you his heart and asked for nothing in return, but you couldn't help but lose yours to him along the way. You did not leave Mr. Miller without saying "I love you," and no phone conversation was complete unless he told you a thousand times. When you visit Mr. Miller, you are told how sweet you are, how pretty you are, how much you mean to him. He lays it all out there on the table for you and beats you mercilessly at dominos at the same time. Mr. Miller constantly told me that "83 and 19 weren't that far apart" and always asked me what was my ring size? He had the biggest sparkle in his eyes when he saw you, and his smile instantly brightened your day. You were his sole priority and attention the entire time you were with him. I can still the twinkle in his eyes, and I can still hear the way he would always say "Bye doll."
Yesterday, I held Mr. Miller's hand for the last time. Yet, this time, the twinkle was gone, and I had to fight to pull out that beautiful smile. Yet, with time, I got that beautiful smile out of him. Right before I left, I looked my sweet, silly man in the eyes and told him I loved him. With all the strength he had, Mr. Miller uttered out "Love you so much. Love you more than you know." Then, as tears began to fill my eyes, I watched as he lifted my hand to his mouth and tried to kiss it one last time. I was the last person that Mr. Miller talked to. Even when he was dying, Mr. Miller loved with all that he had. I wish that I could live half the life that Mr. Miller did, and I only hope that even when I am dying, I can love with all that I have. Mr. Miller told me last week that he did not know what he had done to deserve someone like me, but Mr. Miller, you are completely and totally wrong. I have no idea why God thought I deserved such a beautiful gift, but I am eternally grateful that I received a year with you.
So Mr. Miller, thank you for the hand that taught me how to love. Thank you for loving until your literal last moments here on Earth. Thank you for a smile that constantly made my days so much brighter and that will be permanently etched into my heart. Thank you for the beautiful life you lived that impacted so many. When the right day comes, please help the right guy figure out the ring size like you always wanted, and I only hope he has half the capacity of love that you did. Know my life will forever be changed because of your presence and that a part of you will always be in my heart. Know that I cannot wait to reach those gates and see your smiling face. (I know you'll be there waiting). Know I am ringing a wretched, wretched cowbell for you whenever I find one. Know that our picture is now beside my bed like it was yours.
Most importantly, know that I "love you more than you'll ever know."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Undone Puzzles and Stop Signs

Lucy moment for you before I begin my serious train. Yet, this Lucy moment has no relation to the rest of the post, but it's oh so good not to share. For those of you who don't know, I work at my school's radio (I tried out on a complete whim this semester and to my complete shock I made it). Whoever thought giving Shelby two hours a week on a live radio station to say whatever I wanted without supervision was not the wisest person on the block :). Obviously, I have entirely too much fun with it. So tonight, I was working and was reading that it was Matthew McConaughey's (one of God's most beautiful gifts to Earth) birthday, and I was going to share this with my listeners. It was talking about Matthew McConaughey's accomplishments along with his 1993 arrest for "playing the bongos nude and in the possession of cannabis." My first thought was "How stupid are the people who write these news clips? They obviously meant to say cannibals." Of course this made sense to me- bongos, nude people, and cannibals. It sounded like he was in an exotic rain forest country or something. So I confidently got on air and told a 40-mile radius that Matthew McConaughey was arrested for nudity while playing the bongos and in the possession of cannibals. Cannibals. I was proud of my interesting news clip and turned around to see my boss and another grad student (both are boys) staring at me with mischievous yet confused looks on their faces. I asked what was wrong, and they, in return, asked if the sheet said cannabis? I said yes but that clearly was a mistake and meant to say cannibals. They then proceeded to tell me that cannabis was another word for weed. So instead of having weed, I told the radio world that Matthew was with cannibals. Aren't I just the yellow in the crayon box? I fully blame my mother and my school district for not properly educating me on drugs. I mean Shelby does mean "sheltered village" for a reason. (No lie- that's the meaning of my name). I feel like a lot of you are probably laughing right now- and at my expense- I guess I can swallow that horsepill.
So, that Lucy moment took a lot more space than I thought so my serious train might just have to be a caboose instead of the Polar Express (Christmas reference woo hoo!). Back to the picture. I feel like this has been my life lately. I am constantly on the go, constantly trying to run my own life, constantly asking questions like WHY and HOW, constantly trying to stop things from happening, constantly analyzing every teensy-weensy situation, constantly praying for change and for things to go my way, CONSTANTLY TRYING TO PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER WHEN ALL I CAN SEE IS ONE PIECE. And God throughout all of it, is screaming
STOP! The light is RED. You have to STOP.
Stop trying to run your own life because I am waiting to guide you. Stop asking questions because I am going to explain it all one day. Stop trying to prevent things from happening because I have a plan and a good plan at that. Definitely stop analyzing because you will never figure it all out. STOP TRYING TO PUT THE PUZZLE TOGETHER WHEN ALL YOU CAN SEE IS ONE PIECE BECAUSE I AM THE ONE WHO LAID IT ALL OUT AND CAN SEE THE ENTIRE THING. I know you don't understand your current piece, but the whole picture would not be complete without it. I gave you all the right pieces. I don't make mistakes.
This is my life right now. Do I have it all together? Heck no. Have I been pedal-to-the-metal trying to run my own life. Sure have. Yet, lately, I have witnessed the extremely challenging yet ultimately beautiful message of God saying,
"Be still, and know that I am God." -Psalms 46:10
So, as hard as it might be, I am leaving the puzzle undone, and I am learning how to stop.