30 Days of 30: Day 1 - Roots

"Insanity is hereditary - you get it from your kids."
                                                    ~Sam Levenson

If I'm going to spend 30 days sharing all the parts that make up me, it only makes sense to start in the very beginning...a very good place to start (my apologies to Julie Andrews & The Sound of Music). Ahem.

That's right, I'm talking about the two people who are single handedly responsible for fact that I never drowned because they made me wait 30 minutes after eating before getting back in the pool. The ones that made me sit at the kitchen table until I ate all of my vegetables (but who also never knew that I flung half of them behind the microwave stand because I didn't really want to eat them...sorry mom!). The unsung heroes who bandaged my skinned knees, dried my tears and refereed my knock down-drag outs with my sisters. The ones who still, at age 30, make me call them anytime I get to where I'm going when I head out of town. (and I'm ok with that)

I'm talking about my 'rents. Good 'ole Mom and Dad.

I'm one of the lucky ones. When I look back on my childhood, I get to smile and say that my mind is filled with happy memories.

Memories of laughter.
Memories of building tents in the living room out of sheets.
Memories of dancing in the den to all their favorite records.
Memories of feeling the freedom to be a dreamer.
Memories of never hanging up the phone without hearing my parents say I love you.

Did they do everything perfectly? Of course not, they're human.  But there wasn't a single dance recital, band concert, game, competition or performance that I ever looked up at and didn't see both of their proud faces (well, usually I only saw one face - the other was hidden behind the video camera, of course). I never once had to question my priority in their lives. I never once wondered if they were proud of me (no matter how good or bad I did).

They've laughed with me, cried with me, and of course, grounded me more times than I care to remember...but they've always loved me. They've always shown me an amazing example of sacrificial love in their 35 years of marriage (and still going!). They've always helped pick up the pieces when my world seemed to be falling apart. They've always been there. And one day I hope my own future kids get to see just how special these two are.

Mom & Dad, thanks for loving matter what. I am grateful for you and love you more than you'll ever know.


A love letter...

Today my precious niece was born! (I'm not partial at all) It was love at first sight, i'm not gonna lie. She is just perfect. For her first birthday (well, technically that will be a year from now, so let's call this her inaugural birth day), I decided to write her a love be opened on her 16th birthday. It's just a letter full of love and words of wisdom that I hope one day she'll take to heart. Some of it I wish I had taken to my own heart at that age... 

Sweet baby girl,

Today may have been the day you arrived on this earth, but you've been thought about, prayed for and loved long before you ever graced us with your presence. As I held you in my arms today, I couldn't help but think about how your journey is just beginning...and how exciting that is, even though you don't know it yet. 

And by the time that you read this, you'll be turning the big Sweet 16. Such a pivotal time in your life. Where you get your first little taste of freedom. Where you begin to feel like you're ready to make your own decisions. Where your parents all of a sudden become your wardens instead of your superheroes. Where all your decisions on what to do/what to wear revolve around what boys will be there (some things never change, btw...and this will drive you nuts). Where you begin to wish you were just a little bit older, so you could do whatever you want. Oh yes, I remember that age. 

And now, at 30, if there was any age I could go back and give some advice to, it would be the 16 year old version of me. But, since I can't go back, and us girls have to stick together, I thought i'd pass a little of that wisdom on to you in hopes that maybe you can learn in advance what I often had to learn in hindsight. So here goes:

I used to roll my eyes when people told me this, but don't be in such a hurry to grow up. You have plenty of time for bills and boys later...enjoy the time you have now to play, to dream, to stay up ridiculously late giggling with just the girls, eating cold pizza and making silly memories. I thought at 18 I knew it all...and I spent the next 12 years figuring out that I really hadn't a clue about much of anything. 

Don't be so anxious to act & dress like an adult.  Sure, you may get attention for it, but trust me, just any attention is not good attention. And remember, how we dress affects guys' minds just as much as what they say to us affects ours. It IS possible to look and feel beautiful without walking around partially clothed. And guys, the right kind of guys (the kind you really want), will respect that.

Take time to find out who you are before you decide what you want. College isn't as much about figuring out what you want to do as it is about figuring out who you want to be. Character will outlast a career any day. 

You're going to get hurt. People will disappoint you and let you down. Some may even betray you. Boys will break your heart (don't worry, i'll kick their butts). It's ok. It doesn't mean God doesn't love you, it just means He's allowing a little suffering in your life to sharpen you, to teach you about yourself, to teach you about grace and forgiveness...two of the most important things you'll ever learn.

This one may sting a little bit,'s not all about you. Yes, you are important. Yes, you are dearly loved. Yes, your life matters (a lot). But we weren't put on this earth simply to selfishly fulfill all of our own desires. We were bough with a price, and we are here to glorify God. It's in continually striving to do that, we find that Jesus will fulfill the desires of our heart...the ones that truly matter. But remember, His timeline and ours are often WAY different, That doesn't mean He's forgotten about you...He can just see a little farther down your path than you or I can. Trust that He knows what's best.

Your parents may sometimes seem like the ogres who are keeping you from having any fun. (sometimes that may be true) But know they do what they do because they dearly love you, and they want to keep you alive another day. Regardless of how mad they make you, love them. Respect them. Honor them. Period. They won't be around forever, and one day you'll wish you could have that time back.  They have sacrificed a lot for you, be grateful.

Most importantly...there's nowhere you can go and nothing you can do that isn't covered completely by the grace of God.

There's so much more I could tell you, but for now i'll leave you with two final pieces of advice:
1. Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.
2. There's always a room for you at my house. :)

I love you so much,
Aunt Jamie

Oh, and PS...if you ever decide to get a tattoo, please consult with me first. I know how to keep your grandparents from completely flipping their lid when they find out. ;) 

Don't spoil your dinner...

I remember one Saturday afternoon when I was about 10, I came in from playing outside all day and I was starving. It was late afternoon, and mom was already at work in the kitchen beginning to prepare dinner. I asked her if I could have a snack but of course, her answer was an emphatic "no, you'll spoil your dinner."

I almost walked away in defeat, but my stomach wouldn't take no for an answer. Inevitably I began to nag my mom, confidently proclaiming that I would just die or at best, wither away to nothing if I had to wait a whole hour for dinner. Afterall, I knew best the needs of the stomach that was attached to me, not her. The more I begged, the more frustrated she became until she eventually said ok, knowing full well what was going to happen.

With the green light in my court I proceeded to help myself to a rather sizable amount of junk food, undoubtedly stuffing myself silly and meeting my seemingly "urgent" need for sustenance. Shortly thereafter, mom called us down for dinner. Wouldn't you know, she had made my favorite -mom's world famous (ok, maybe not world famous...but it sure is #1 in my book) spaghetti. Just the sight of it though made my full little stomach ache. I knew that there was no way I was going to be able to put one single bite of that in my mouth without getting sick.

My mom was right, I had spoiled my dinner.

At first I was just sad because I was missing out on something great, something I loved. And then I felt guilty, when I saw the look on my mom's face...she had worked hard to prepare a good meal for us, something far better for me than all the chips and cookies I filled myself up on, and what did I do? I wasted it.

I thought about this moment today, and it made me many times have I done that to God? How many times do I want something so badly, that I beg and plead with Him until He gives me what I want, knowing all along what I will miss out on as a result - rather than waiting for something better that He is preparing for me? He created me, why do I sometimes lose sight of the fact that He knows my every need, and knows when they need to be met?

I'm not sure I really know the answer to that. Maybe it's the fact that we live in a "get it faster" society. Maybe it's the fact that patience is often a learned trait for me - I don't always execute it naturally. Maybe it's because we live in a fallen world and we are all tempted by the enemy who knows our weaknesses.

Maybe it's none of these.

Maybe it's all of them.

Lord, it is my sincere prayer today that you withhold from me selfish or impetuous desires that I might 'think' I want for my life right now, especially if receiving the means that I might miss out on an opportunity to better glorify or serve Your kingdom. I ask that in times when I want something before you're finished preparing it for me, don't just tell me no...shoo me out of the kitchen. :)


Family, Food, Freaks and Football...

What a wonderful Thanksgiving! So many fun memories - here's a quick recap of my weekend...

First, it started off with our usual massive family Thanksgiving lunch. In the words of Buddy the Elf, my family is kinda "ginormous" we all gather at the FBC of Smyrna for our traditional lunch. Homemade dishes as far as the eye can see, Turkey and desserts galore...we're all stuffed when we leave there, ready for an afternoon nap!

Then, it's on to my sister's house for our annual shopping extravaganza/slumber party! My sisters, my cousin Julie and I all spend Thanksgiving night together every year, watching Christmas movies, eating leftovers, and getting ready for our early morning shopping rush on "Black Friday" with all the other crazy shoppers! This year we hit the Mall of Georgia, and we were not disappointed. When we hit the parking lots at 4am (yes, I said 4AM) would have thought it was the middle of the was packed!! If you ever want to get in some GREAT people watching, head to any local mall the day after Thanksgiving. It's sure not to disappoint - and you might find a good deal here and there too...if you get there early enough!

After 12 hours of fighting crowds, being silly and burning a hole in our checkbooks, it was time to unload our SUV that was busting at the seams, and head home to collapse. I made it home just in time to drop my bags and pass out on the couch...needing to rest up for Saturday's big tailgate!

Saturday morning brought cooler temperatures and the anticipation of an afternoon full of exciting football! We all decked ourselves out in our respective team colors (GO DAWGS!) and headed downtown for a little friendly rivalry fun. It was a great afternoon of hanging with friends and cheering my boys on to victory! And we even got to witness a Tech fan relieving himself off the side of the bridge onto the interstate....uh, yeah....gotta love those college kids. wrap up the weekend with a big red bow, we watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation last night while eating cookies by the Christmas Tree. I have so much to be thankful for always, this perfect weekend was yet just another reminder!

Ahhh....let the Christmas season begin!

Well done, good and faithful servant (A tribute to Billie James Waddy)

My chains are gone, I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood, His mercy reigns;
Unending love
Amazing Grace

It's been a long and emotional week. The day that i've been both praying for and dreading for some time has finally come to pass...on Saturday I said goodbye to my Grandaddy. It's been an absolute miracle that he has even been with us this long - especially after two years ago when the doctors called us into the hospital and told us that we needed to start making "arrangements" because he wouldn't be coming home. But God had other plans. After months in a rehabilitation facility Grandaddy, although bedridden, did come home...I know that's where he wanted to be all along.

For the two years that followed, my grandmother stayed by his side day and night - often spoon feeding him three meals a day - and doing whatever was necessary to make him comfortable. No matter what condition he was in, Grandaddy would always smile and light up when one of us came in the room, but there was always a special sparkle in his eyes when he looked at his precious bride. In his last few weeks on earth, I witnessed one of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking moments of my life. Grandaddy had been having a hard time breathing, so my aunt and I were helping give him some breathing treatments. He really didn't like the mask being on his face, and he fought with us a little bit, so my grandmother had to hold his hands down while we gave him the treatment. Even as he struggled with each breath, I watched as he looked over at my grandmother, smiled through the breathing mask, and began raising his eyebrows at her...even through all of that, he was still trying to flirt with his wife! My heart wept with sadness at the pain she had to watch him endure, but it also wept with joy in witnessing a love that was still strong after 62 years of marriage. That night I finally learned what it was like to stop selfishly praying for him to stay with us, and start praying for rest for his weary body and soul. God gave me a peace that although the end was near, it was all part of His ultimate plan.

A week ago as I packed for a three day camp with my high school girls, I knew that there was a good possibility Grandaddy might not make it through the weekend. I felt so torn, wanting so desperately to be there for Grandaddy, Grandmommie, my dad and family, but also knowing that I very much needed to be there for my 18 girls that had given up their weekend to learn more about their relationship with God. I once again selfishly prayed that God would just let Grandaddy hold on until I got home Sunday night (even though I trust God, I still secretly hoped things would go how I wanted). I began to fear my cell phone, afraid to look at the caller id every time it rang that weekend, terrified that I would get "the phone call," and on Saturday Sept. 29th at 6pm, I did. Dad called just before we all went into dinner and calmly told me that Grandaddy was gone. I barely made it back to the cabin before I lost it. I sobbed for what seemed like an eternity filled with heartache over losing someone who had played such a major role in my life, and then later crying out rejoicing - relieved for the freedom I knew he had so deservingly earned.

I immediately wanted to jump in my car and come home, but Dad said to stay - and I felt my heavenly father telling me to do the same. Even though every bone in my body wanted to grieve with my family, I knew too that there was a reason I was still with my girls. We went into session that night and as I began to listen to the words of a familiar song, I found myself (along with all my amazing high school girls) jumping, smiling and yelling out these words of praise to God...

When I stand in that place,
Free at last, meeting face to face;
I am yours Jesus, you are mine.
Endless joy, perfect peace
Earthly pain finally will cease
Celebrate Jesus is alive....HE'S ALIVE!!

I knew in that moment exaclty why I was not home when Grandaddy left. Had I been home, I probably would have cried and grieved and wallowed in my own self pity and selfishness of losing a great man, but God wouldn't let me. He made it poignantly clear that this was a time to celebrate...for another one of His precious children had completed his work. All praise be to Jesus!

The week that followed brought with it a roller coaster of emotions. As we planned out every meticulous detail of his memorial service, we began to go through box after box of pictures and mementos...laughing out loud at some of the funny stories that they brought to mind, and crying over some as well. I knew that I had one final act of service to complete for Grandaddy...I had to remember him at his memorial service on Saturday.

I'm a writer, by hobby and passion, however this was the absolute hardest thing I have ever had to write. I stared at my computer screen for hours, not even knowing where to begin. I'm sure it's not the most perfectly composed speech, but I think Grandaddy would have liked it...

My Memorial Service Tribute to Billie James Waddy
When I sat down to write out what I wanted to say today…I got stuck. I had no idea how to even attempt to sum up Grandaddy’s life in just a few paragraphs. And then I realized, I didn’t have to. It occurred to me that everyone in this room is here because in some form or fashion, your lives were touched by this great man. We all knew and loved him, and each of us have our own unique stories we could tell about the mark he’s left in our lives. So I’d like to share a few of my favorite memories that always make me smile. (and sometimes laugh out loud) ☺

I believe that when we leave this earth, we each leave behind a legacy…something that is passed down through generations. And when I think about Grandaddy’s legacy, three words come to mind: Learn, Laugh and Love.

I think of the word learn, because even my earliest of memories revolve around Grandaddy teaching me something. He was a great historian and the ultimate storyteller…both qualities that I came to appreciate more as I grew older. I can remember as a child Grandaddy loved to take us to different historical museums or battlefields, and he always threw in a story or two of his own days in the military. And I can remember in high school I had to write a paper on our family history – Grandaddy sat with me for hours going through old pictures, and stories and page after page of the family tree…he was determined that I’d get an A on that paper, and I did.

Now I don’t know if this really counts as “learning”, but he did teach me all of the best card tricks he knew, so if you want to get stumped at a card game, come see me…

The second word that comes to mind is the one that holds the most memories for me…laugh. If you knew Grandaddy for even five minutes, you knew one thing about him…he LOVED to laugh. He was the ultimate prankster, and in fact – more times than not, when he told stories about the jokes he pulled, he would laugh at himself just as hard as the person he was telling the story to. Just the other day, Carol was telling me that when she was a teenager, Grandaddy would wait until she got in the shower, had just enough time to get shampoo in her hair, then he would sneak around the outside of the house and shut off the water...but she knew exactly who did it…and he would laugh hysterically as he heard her yelling at him all the way from inside the house. That’s just one of the many MANY prank stories we could all tell…in fact, I’m positive that if there’s a way he could play a prank on us from Heaven…he’d surely find a way to do it.

A lot of my favorite memories that make me laugh all revolve around family vacations at the lake. Grandaddy loved to camp and he loved to fish. I think that most of the time he was the only adult that was ever brave enough to swim in the muddy lake water with all of us kids. Julie and I were laughing the other day about how he could do this thing with his hands and pelt you with a squirt of water from 20 feet away. No one was safe from the aim of Grandaddy’s handmade water pistol. Inevitably at some point on the camping trip, one of us kids would get a scrape or a cut, and then it was Dr. Waddy to the rescue. He would bring out his first aid kit that he always carried around with him, and we would run and hide because we knew that whatever he put on it was going to sting. But he’d fix us up, and we’d be on our way.

There was, however, a time or two that we had to “doctor” Dr. Waddy…like the time that he and dad went out fishing in the boat, and they came back with dad’s fish hook in Grandaddy’s lip. One trip to the emergency room later, I think he was the only calm person in the entire place…including the ER nurses. He just smiled and laughed it off…not worried at all.

The third word that exemplifies Grandaddy’s legacy is love. When you spend enough time with a person, you begin to realize what’s most important in their lives. To Grandaddy, that was love…love for his family, love for his country, and most importantly, love for his savior. He was a dedicated veteran, active in his church, and a committed spiritual leader to his family. (Although, we could always determine how hungry he was by how long or short his blessing was over the meal.)

One of my favorite quotes says “you don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” I feel like God has blessed us abundantly by allowing us to be a small part of Grandaddy’s life. I will carry his love and legacy with me always.

Ecclesiastes 3 says “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”

I believe today is a time to dance and rejoice in a glorious homecoming for a beloved child of God.

I love you, Grandaddy...can't wait to give you a big hug again one day.

Billie James Waddy
December 26, 1924 - September 29, 2007
Decorated war hero, son, brother, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, loving husband and devoted man of God.

Home Sweet Home

This past Saturday afternoon was wonderful...I chilled at home. And by home, I don't mean Dunwoody - I mean H-O-M-E...where my parents are, where I grew up, and where I have all of my fond memories from the last 18 years.

Casie came with me - we went to hang with my parents and see my little nephew they were keeping for the day. She and I relaxed out on the front porch swing, and I remembered all those lazy summer days when I used to spend hours on that swing - writing, making up songs in my head and daydreaming about anything and everything. That little corner of the porch was my haven - my hideaway; it was my space that I claimed in the house. I camped out there on rainy days, wrote so many poems and stories, and when I was older, even had a first kiss there. Casie and I sat there and tried to remember what life was like before cell phones and boys, work and stress and responsibility... days when we could daydream about being a fairy princess rescued by her prince, and believed that one day we would live in a castle filled with anything we could ever want. I began to long for the days when all I had to worry about was what time Saved by the Bell came on, and which friend was going to come spend the night so we could stay up gabbing 'till the wee hours of the morning, ingesting every calorie in the pantry like we had the metabolism of a tapeworm and not thinking twice about it.

In the true spirit of reminiscence, we decided to "fast" from our cell phones. I did something that I haven't done since probably my freshman year in college, I (gasp) turned my phone completely off. And so did she. We hopped in the car and drove around the neighborhood to find a garage sale that we saw a sign for when we pulled in. As we drove around the block, I remembered it like the back of my hand...I pointed out where the bus used to stop for all my friends, the house of a boy I had a secret crush on, and all the neighborhood kids I used to babysit for. After some vintage record purchases ( you remember them? I used to love to listen to my parents old 45's!), we headed out to eat lunch with the family. What a perfect day.

My head may be in a million places sometimes, but home is definitely where my heart is. :o)

Wednesdays with Mema

With a busy and often chaotic schedule that keeps me all over the place, sometimes its nice to have just a little bit of pleasant consistency...

I know that I can look forward to this every week...I know that no matter what other crazy things are going on during the week, Wednesday evening means that im going to make the weekly trek up to Acworth for dinner with my grandma, a tradition we started when I moved a year and a half ago. She lives alone, and was so afraid that if I moved away from her (we used to live in the same neighborhood), that she would never see me again. So to make sure that didn't happen, I promised to come take her to dinner once a week to catch up, run some errands and just have quality time.

We go through the same routine every week - I call her when im on the way, and ask her where she wants to go eat. It's always the same response.."I don't know, where do you want to go?" When I get there, we ponder ideas of locations to eat while watching GSN (for those of you not in "the know", that's the Game Show Network....yes, ive gotten rather skilled at Lingo, Jeopardy and Who Wants to be A Millionaire...look for me on Wheel of Fortune one day!). One of her favorite things to do is have breakfast for dinner, so we frequent IHOP complaints here, I love a good stack of buttermilk pancakes for dinner! One night, a man eating at the table next to us asked if we were sisters...we both looked at each other and died laughing. She was flattered (of course), I started to wonder how bad those smile lines on my face really were...but we both knew he was just a lonely old guy who wanted to strike up a conversation with someone...anyone, and flattery is always a good way to get people to talk back to you. Who doesn't like a compliment?!? ;o)

Our dinner conversations often center around the events of the week...the weekly bingo update with how many prizes she won, and of course how "so and so" wasn't there this week because they had health problems, or how "so and so" has a new great-grandbaby. I fill her in on my week, and then we'll often talk about her next field trip with the Senior Citizen group at her church, or how her next door neighbor is driving her nuts because he keeps taking her trash can from the curb instead of his own. And aside from someone mistaking us for sisters, we often have good laughs like the time that she tried to cut a baby tomato on her salad, but it flew across the table and landed in my drink. Our waitress saw the whole thing, and I thought she was going to fall in the floor from laughing so hard - we were all in tears.

Dinner is often followed by a late night trip to Kroger to pick up a few items, and get her weekly case of water that she cant pick up by herself. We do a little shopping, and when we get to the register, she always asks me if I have her "Kroger Plus Card" ready, and make sure to tell them to give her the Sr. Citizen discount! I just smile and say yes, as always (if I haven't gotten that routine down by now, then clearly there's a problem..haha). I'll fill up her car with gas (because she is still scared to pump it herself), and we head home.

Back at her house, im put to work...performing little tasks around the house that she needs help with, like changing light bulbs, etc. We'll sit around and watch her favorite Christian TV station, and sometimes we'll pull out old boxes of pictures to sort...we laugh (and sometimes cry...I miss my grandaddy dearly), and make fun of old hairstyles and clothes. But I always love to hear the stories that go with the old pictures of when they were young.

When it's time to go, she always walks to the door and says the same thing..."I love you, be careful, call me when you get home." Yes, im almost 26, and I have to call her every week to let her know I made it home safely...if I forget, she hunts me down. Even if it makes me feel like im 8, I happily oblige, because I know she does it out of love.

Our weekly rituals may be monotonous and expected, but I look forward to them every week. I know one day when im older, ill look back and long for that simple while I can i'll cherish every Wednesday, and all of the prized predictability that comes with it. :o)