Monday, September 11, 2017

The lessons she taught us, the memories she left us

My beautiful grandmother passed away on September 7th, 2017. My dad and I did her eulogy together with him telling the history and he and his sisters' memories and me telling memories and lessons from each grandchild. I wanted to place it here, so I could have it to look back on, but if you happen to stumble across this, maybe the stories will bless and inspire you too.

         Edith Kate Reeves Sims was born February 13th, 1929, 8 months prior to the stock market crash of 1929 that started the Great Depression. Her father, Gilbert "Gid" Reeves, came from a large family of six boys and two girls and later started a dairy farm. Her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth "Molly" Fowler, was an integral part of her childhood and was one of many strong, driven women who shaped her. After the death of Ameziah Rice Fowler ten years prior to mom's birth, Molly took charge of the Fowler estate of 960 acres, just south of Woodstock. Molly raised 2 sons and 2 daughters. Herbert- the oldest, went to UGA and became a medical doctor. Clyde was the postmaster of Woodstock. The youngest, Ruth Irene, was Edith's mother. Ruth had 4 boys and 2 girls. Mom's early childhood was filled with family gatherings with the Reeves and Fowlers. The small town life was filled with work and play with family all living nearby. Gid started growing plants and selling them in greenhouses he built. He later set up a network of connections with stores across north Georgia to provide funeral flowers and Reeves Greenhouses began. Mom was one of six children. She had an older brother, Tom, an older sister Lois, a younger brother John, and a baby brother, Bentley, 12 years mom's junior. Three years before Mom's birth, her parents had Gilbert Jr "Gil" born who died after 18 days of life. 
      Mom had one other family member that she considered as an older brother. Van "VJ" came to live with the young couple of Gid and Ruth Reeves in the 1920s. The Durham family parents had died and their children were taken in by various other family members. The youngest boy, VJ, was not taken in.  Although never formally adopted, he acted as an older brother to mom. The strength of Ruth to do what was best and needed regardless of circumstance was evident, especially considering that the Durhams were an African American family.
    Throughout mom's life, she faced many tragedies and tribulations. Through the good times and the bad, mom clung tightly to her family and her savior to endure with strength and grace.
   Mom lived through many trying times in history, including World War II. She told of remembering a church service being interrupted by the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Mom's oldest brother Tom was wounded at D-Day and many prayers were given over at her church. 
  Mom idealized her older sister Lois. In October, 1933, Mom and Lois were standing next to highway five at the Fowler homeplace. Lois' clothes were caught by a passing truck, and she was tragically killed.
  Mom's older brother Tom died from a gunshot in 1961.
  Mom lost her younger brother Bentley to a car accident in 1979 and her younger brother        John also died from injuries from a car wreck. 
  The strength exhibited by her grandmother Molly and mother Ruth was passed on to mom at a young age and was critical while navigating loss.
  Mom had many friends at Woodstock Elementary School, which burned down during her time there, and they attended school at her church. She went to Canton High School, and there met her future husband, Pierce Sims. 
  On August 16th, 1942 at 13 years old mom met her Lord and Savior and joined Woodstock first Baptist church. Her faith led her throughout her life. 
After high school, she went to Georgia State College for women in Milledgeville, Georgia, her mother's alma mata. After attending GSCW for one year, her eyesight failed her and she became legally blind due to a genetic eye disease (Best Disease). Returning home, Mom took up her time with Pierce. Not long after her return Pierce and Edith married on April 24th, 1948 when Mom was 19 years old. They lived a short time in Aunt Martha's house while they built "the brick house" next to Edith's parents house. Dad had worked as a typesetter for the Marietta Journal, but started working for the florist business. Like many young couples, they faced struggles while starting their life together including Mom's new car being stolen and never recovered. Dad worked at Baker & Son as a florist and they pinched pennies to make ends meet. 
Just before her 21st birthday, a daughter, Deborah, was born. The I came 1 1/2 years later. Deborah and I remember how Dad had his own flower shop in Canton, and he worked hard to provide for his family, but as with many young couples, money was scarce. Deborah and I remember the times of growing up in a family compound. The neighborhood cousins and friends always at our house. The birthdays and Christmas at Grandmother Reeves. The swimming trips to Noonday Creek. Riding with Mom (who was legally blind) and navigating for her. The fish frys at Carl and Villa Dunn's, the huge meals surrounded by every kid in the area, making taffy, and how our Mom known as "Aunt Sissy" to our cousins and neighborhood kids make life fun and an adventure. 
Mother often talked of visiting the elder women of Woodstock and helping with their needs. Mom was so oriented with Woodstock that she assisted the 1940s census. 

Mother's grandparents had a house in Woodstock and one in Sarasota, Florida. Her parents continued with an annual pilgrimage to Florida. So, we always made our way to Flordia beaches on two lane roads in an un-air conditioned car with two or three extra kids tagging along. The radio did not pick up, so mom and dad would sing. We sang songs like "I wore a tulip and he wore a big red rose", "We take a leg from some old table, an arm from some old chair. I'll take a neck from some old bottle, from a horse I'll take some hair, and I'll put it all together with the aid of string and glue, and I'll get more loving from that gosh darn dummy than I ever got from you! Get out and walk!", "looking through a knothole in Grandpa's wooden leg" and a never-ending of "There's a hole in the middle of the sea".
She cooked and prepared large meals of wild game for Dad as it was his favorite. She even retrieved a large snapping turtle from Bank Hook's on Rube's Creek that provided ten pounds of fried turtle meat. Mom was rarely shaken when I had many trips to the Emergency room for injuries. I remember sitting in the kitchen and announcing to mom that I had cut off my finger.... again. And she said "oh" and threw me a towel and told me to go see Dr. Boddy.

Deborah remembers how clear it was from an early age that the gift God gave mama was "caregiver". If you listen to the examples like helping build churches, Meals on Wheels, running to the hospital every time one of the children were sick or hurt, caring for Miss Kate, our widowed neighbor for years, rocking all our babies while singing, "1 and a 2 and a 1 and a 2" , the list could go on forever. 
But what was clearer than anything was our mama's love for our daddy. Everything she did , wore, cooked and bought was clearly to please and show her undying love for daddy. When mama and daddy were around us together all you could see was the respect, admiration, laughter and pure love they had for each other. This love gave our family and each of our own families a foundation of love for God and love for each other. There is no greater gift she could have given us.

Connie was born when Mom was 30 years old. Connie fondly remember how mother and dad were characters. From our earliest memories of mom to the most recent memories, she was always giving. Throughout our childhood mom cooked for and bought groceries for Miss Kate Hillhouse who lived across the street from us. Mama would even leave her window cracked at night because Miss Kate didn't have a phone and when Miss Kate was scared or needed something she would stand on her front porch and holler for my mama and she would take off running to make sure everything was okay. Then just this past Saturday, when mama was alert she was surrounded by her grandchildren who were singing, laughing and reading scripture together. Even in her last alert moments, she was lifting her families spirits by comforting her family. Above all, mama taught us to care for others and put God first

Mindy was born 3 years after Connie and she recalls being home with mom one afternoon when the pressure cooker exploded. Mindy thought for sure that mom was goner, and sat quietly listening for signs of life coming from the kitchen. When she finally got brave enough to look into the kitchen, mom was hopping around frantically and pulling roast from her hair.
Mindy, the baby, was known to be a bit of a handful, and when she would push her buttons and mom would say "Lord, if you had been our first, you would have been an only child".
Mindy remembers her greatest advice was mom always telling her that when you don't think you possibly can do something "you just back your ears and do it".

Dad moved his flower shop to Woodstock in the 1960s where mom continued to work with him, as she did in the Canton shop. Dad's shop was always a lively place and mischief was never far away. They built their new house on Hwy 92 and grand kids became the order of the day. Trips and gatherings and meals and birthday parties and gifts were constant happenings. 

My name is Chelsea Sims Leming, and if you knew Grandma for any length of time, you have probably heard of my cousins and me. Maybe not by name but definitely by number. WE were the 11. The 11 grandchildren she told every cashier, waiter, and bag boy about...whether they wanted to hear it or not.
We, the 11 grandchildren of Pierce and Edith Sims, although vastly different, are bound together by our memories of and love for this precious lady we are here to celebrate today. She taught us all so many lessons. Many more, of course, then I'll be able to encapsulate today, but the 11 of us wanted to honor her by sharing some of those memories and lessons today.
One great lesson to learn from her life was of her optimism and fortitude in overcoming adversity. As you've heard, Grandma faced a seemingly unbearable amount of tragedy and hardship in her life. She lost every single one of her siblings tragically, was declared legally blind in her twenties and therefore could not drive, lost her beloved husband at the age of 62, and faced numerous health challenges in her later years. NONE of this stopped her or even slowed her down. Despite all these hardships- disability, loneliness, health problems, she never found those to be an excuse. Instead, she would always be quick to tell everyone that "she didn't see any use in giving up or slowing down and that "she was doing pretty good". When she returned thanks at our family gatherings, she always thanked God for her family and proclaimed thankfulness that she had lived a good life.
Grandma was a strong woman. She came from a long line of strong women, and she produced a line of strong women. The eleven of us could never identify with the picture of a grandmother in a rocking chair, wringing her hands or living in fear. For our Grandmother was likely somewhere in a canoe in the jungle ofNicaragua, or building a church in Alaska, or petting a baby elephant, or maybe riding a camel. I attended several mission trips to build churches with Grandma, and even in her 70s she could be found passing out drinks, picking up scrap lumber, and cleaning the job site. At an age when she could have chosen to stay at home cooking and cleaning, our grandmother was working on job sites keeping up with men half her age. She worked tirelessly at her church, Woodstock First Baptist, for as long as her body and mind would allow- making meals, singing in the choir, visiting shut ins, and helping in any possible way she was able to. Her heart lived to serve and we will never know how many lives she touched throughout her life.
Grandma was a generous person. Her refrigerator was always full of pictures of missionaries she supported. She helped fund the building of numerous churches across the world, traveled herself and served and gave, supported her home church faithfully, and personally changed many lives by her willingness to give freely of her resources. She was always there to help and support her children and grandchildren, helping in any possible way she could. Jesus said where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, and that was so true for Grandma. Her heart and treasure lied with her family and her faith in Jesus Christ.
Ours was not your typical Grandmother. She was the epitome of "she believed she could, so she did", and I know all our lives were changed because of that example.
Grandma, who actually went by many names: Grandma, Grandmother, Moo Moo, and Mudder to name a few, was a woman who loved and loved big. She loved her family and was so proud of every member of our large brood.  She gave us all a very powerful gift, the gift of time spent together. So many memories of Grandma and our family flood over me as I look back at my childhood.
  • Loud and crazy Christmases running with cousins through mounds of presents

  • Spending the night with Grandma and raiding her dishwasher full of candy, watching wheel of fortune and eating chocolate chip cookies for breakfast

  • Way too many memories to include from our yearly beach trips, drip sand castles, riding the big kahuna waves, late night card games where Grandma would conveniently remember new rules when they were to her benefit, sea food feats, big breakfasts, dominos, spoons, and charades, roller blading and bike riding, the look of terror on the hostesses face when we would enter a restaurant and say “Sims party of 25”, late nights walking on the beach and just being together.

  • Trips to Helen spent tubing, riding paddleboats and the water slide, pop its, and way too many Jolt Colas from Betty's Country store

  • Hearing Grandma talk about Jesus, feeling the prayers she stored up for us, watching as she lived out her faith.

  • Egg hunts and birthday cakes and Christmas eves, and shopping trips, and card games, and bumblegum, and thoughtful presents, and so many more memories made possible by one amazing woman wrapped up in a little 4'10" package.
Of course each of us grandchildren hold our own special memories of our Grandma.
Denise remembers that anytime she would ask Grandma about what she thought about what Denise or someone else was doing, she always said, "everybody is different and have different ways of doing things. The best thing you can do is let them do what they feel they should, because the only thing you can control is your decisions, not others."
Daniel fondly remembers when Grandma would take him to the hardware store to get pellets for his pellet gun, and also recalls when she used to chase him with a hickory to wear him out.
Jennifer remembers when Grandma told her all about Daniel when he was little and how much she and Pawpaw loved it when Daniel would spend the night.
Delaine said that Grandma was a role model and best friend to her and that she could absolutely tell her anything and Grandma would never pass any sort of judgement. She said Grandma always told her if you put God first in every decision, relationship, and situation that it will all work out. If she was upset, Grandma would say, “now's alright... it will all work out, Gods got it all handled.”
Amber said one of her earliest memories of Grandma was riding in the car with her, when Grandma could still drive, to deliver meals on wheels to elderly people. Amber remarked how appropriate that her earliest memory of Grandma was of her setting an example of serving others and giving your time. Amber fondly remembers staying at Grandmas house when she was sick, and how Grandma would fix a bed on the couch, bring her all her favorite treats and let her watch cartoons all day. 
Amber also remembers all the mission trips she went on with Grandma to help build churches.  Each mission trip was special and whether they were staying in army barracks, a church members home, or even a renovated shelter across from the church, getting to spend those times with Grandma was priceless. Amber says she will never forget all the places she got to see with Grandma and all the laughs they shared.   Amber remembers coming home from college and Grandma insisting on going to the grocery store so that she could buy Amber some of her favorite things to bring back to school.
Above all, Amber says she will remember that in all her memories, Grandma was such an awesome lady.  Grandma set an example of a strong woman, who loved God, loved to give to and serve others, and of course a woman who loved nothing more than to spoil her grandchildren.
Dusty remembers after one of our cherished weeks at the beach together, coming home and helping Grandma get her luggage into the house. He says, although he was pretty young, he vividly remembers Grandma getting tripped up and falling head over heels over her suitcase. He said she just yelled out, “oh dear” as she toppled over. Dusty says he always knew Grandma was serious about something if she said “oh dear” or “fiddlesticks”, and I don’t think any of us can ever hear those expressions without thinking of Grandmother.
Seth remembers how Grandma loved to spoil us with her treats in the kitchen and with our family feasts. From the best brownies you’ve ever eaten to Reeves ketchup and especially with her legendary punch tea, Grandma always had a treat to share every time you went to see her.
Autumn remembers when she was a little girl and would stay with grandmother that Grandma would make the best cheese toast she had ever eaten. No one could make cheese toast as good as grandmother.  She also remembers when grandmother was having a hard time climbing backwards out of the backseat of a car on vacation. Autumn so wittingly started saying “beep, beep, beep” as she backed up. Autumn says grandmother got so tickled that she had to tell her to stop or she was going to wet her pants.
Grandma gave me an extra special gift because she was the one who introduced me to my husband when she took me along on a mission trip. She always loved to joke with me that she had known Jason longer than I had, and would exaggerate saying that she practically raised him. I think though, this was one of my favorite things about Grandma… everyone belonged to her and she never met a stranger.
One other moment I shared with Grandma that really impacted me was when I was in college and struggling with my decision to change my major to education. As a recovering overachiever, I was jealous of the reaction my friends would get when they would proclaim that they were studying to be a veterinarian or lawyer, and falsely felt like being a teacher was in some way small or insignificant. That summer, I took Grandma to the dermatologist, and as the doctor came in, she introduced me as one of her 11 grandchildren as she always did, then she told the doctor that I was going to “make a teacher” like it was the greatest thing she had ever heard. There was never any doubt that Grandma was proud of each of us.
One of Eden's favorite memories of Grandma was the first Christmas Eden brought her new boyfriend, now husband, William, to be with the family. A Sims Christmas is no small affair. Over 30 people crammed into one house giving presents and eating. The volume is enough that you have to shout to speak to the person sitting next to you. Eden described it as loud, happy, and full of love and chaos that is sure to be overwhelming to newcomers. The family had gathered around and Grandma said a sweet prayer, the food was served and it was dessert time. William had gone to get his portion and crossed paths with grandma. She was holding a new plate and silverware and as William walked passed, Grandma swatted his behind with the plate. When Eden saw it, her jaw dropped as she heard Grandma say, "Oh, you know, we do that around here." Side note: Eden adds, we don't really do that around here. You never knew what would happen with Grandma around. Eden will always remember Grandma's ready wit, ever present smile, sweet laugh and catchphrases. Grandma was loved by so many, especially by those blessed enough to be her grandchildren.
Molly said when she was 16, She was dating a boy She wasn't supposed to and fighting with her parents a lot. One night, Delaine, Mudder and Molly stayed up late talking and Mudder told a story about her and her friends stealing watermelons out of people's fields at night. She was the lookout while her friends would roll watermelons down the hill to the car. They all laughed, but eventually Molly asked her what this story had to do with her being in trouble and she responded with her typical mischievous look and said, "you can do a lot of fun things as long as your daddy doesn't catch you".
Molly also remembers, like her mother Mindy, that any time She faced anything challenging, from doing what she was told as a kid, to facing her parents divorce, to navigating finances as a very poor young adult, Mudder's advice on the situation always stayed the same. "Back your ears and do it." Molly says although she didn't get what Mudder meant for a long time, she finds herself repeating those words a lot these days and trying to face things with the same courage, grace and determination that Mudder always has.
Zach remembers how Grandma was always making us laugh. Whether it was a slightly inappropriate comment to a passerby or one of her hilarious stories. He says the hardest he ever laughed was when he was around Grandma and our family at our yearly weeks together at the beach.
Zach also said that he can't even count the amount of times she told him "you've got to make hay while the sun is shining." He says that although that didn’t mean too much to him as a kid, that now as a provider for his family, he couldn't be more thankful for those words.
What a legacy this sweet lady has left us, and perhaps the most wonderful thing is that her legacy does not end today. The Bible says in Exodus that God will show love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments. So Grandma's faith and love for Christ will continue to be felt by our descendants for many, many years to come.
This principle lines up perfectly with Grandmas favorite verse  Psalm 71:17-18
O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
O God, do not forsake me,
 until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.
Our matriarch may be gone from this earth, but we will carry all these memories and lessons with us throughout our lives, and honor her legacy by continuing to proclaim Gods power and might to future generations just like she always taught us.

     Mom's life had always revolved around church, as a 75 year member, she devoted herself to church activities. When we lost dad in December of 1991 to lung cancer, she moved across the road to Cobblestone and her world travels began. She went all over the US with Builder's for Christ, often taking grand kids with her. She traveled to Africa, Thailand, Europe (where her purse was stolen in Paris), but her favorite was Nicaragua. 
She talked of riding a jet, then a small plane, then a truck, then a canoe to get to the construction site. 
Our unofficial and approximate count was 43 trips.
    When she could no longer travel, she continued to serve from home. She sponsored many missionaries and paid for a student named Gay to attend nursing school in Nicaragua. 
She spent the last 40 months of her life at Hidden Lakes Assisted Living where she was known for her Domino, Bingo and card playing, her smile and her speed run using a walker. 
Mom has touched so many lives, she continued the traditions of a Southern woman, she loved her friends, neighbors, family and her savior. 
Although she never moved very far from home to home she always took home with her where ever she was. 
Welcome home mom, welcome home.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


    Something about having a baby makes me have the need to write (as evidenced by the fact that the last time I wrote was when Callie was born). So, here I am. On this old space that has seen me through so many stages of my life, hoping it can hold some of the emotions and thoughts swirling through me.
    Everything about pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum has been different with Carter than it was with Callie. With Callie, I was so worried about everything. It was all so unknown, and everything was an opportunity for anxiety (which is very unlike my personality). Particularly the first weeks after she was born, I was crippled with fear that something bad was going to happen or that I was doing everything completely wrong. Somehow, she survived her first time mother and is a thriving three year old!
     Three years of motherhood has given me the wisdom to know that despite what Dr. Google will tell you, everything is going to be fine and that each stage and each moment is so fleeting. So this time, I've been able to just enjoy the beautiful gift of a newborn baby. I'm trying to drink him all in... his sweet noises, his buttery soft cheeks, his frog legs that remind me of all the times I felt him kick inside me, his long fingers grasping mine, his little eyes as they blink, blink, blink up at me, his little cry to let me know he needs me, his satisfied face when he finishes nursing, his million dollar dimples, the way he snuggles up to me when I lay him on my chest... 1,000 gifts in a little 8 lb 9 oz package.
   I've found myself so many times picturing myself in the future looking back at this week. I can see myself in 5, 10, 15, 20 years looking back at the photos from this week with such fondness. I know these moments are some I will treasure forever, and it's easy to begin to feel like holding onto these beautiful moments is like trying to catch a waterfall in my hands. But instead of despairing over the inability to freeze time, I choose to picture myself swimming in an ocean of a lifetime of beautiful moments with my family. Whenever I look at him, I can't help but imagine all the wonderful things I hope this life will hold for him and all beautiful moments we have to come together.
   There's a song I've had on repeat all day, a new favorite called "What I'm thankful for" by Garth Brooks and James Taylor. It perfectly captures my feelings on this extra special Thanksgiving. It plays in my head as I reflect on these "treasure forever" moments.

What I'm thankful for ain't on no list
For it only in my heart exists
For time has helped me understand
The things I can't hold in my hand

{The first moments of Carter's life as he laid on my chest and took his first breaths of air into his lungs}

For those that came before my turn
Oh, from whom I've gathered lessons learned
That light the path that lies ahead
I see them as I bow my head

{Jason talking to "his boy" just after he was born. I get teary thinking of Carter growing up to be a wonderful husband and father like Jason. And I love thinking of the long, rich heritage of men in Carter's life, and how their Godly example has laid a firm foundation for his life.}

Yes, I'm thankful for the Lord above
The gift of His unending love
The promise kept that there is something more
These are the things I'm thankful for

{Our first picture as a family of four. Picturing all the things we will do together as a family. As Callie likes to say.... Daddy and Mama and Callie and Carter forever!}

For our children hear this prayer
Let love surround them everywhere
And may their children's children know
The one from whom all blessings flow

{Callie is absolutely enthralled with her brother. I'm so thankful they will have each other to lean on through life. I know their little lives won't be without hard times, but I also know that with Jesus, they can endure anything life brings.}

Yes, I'm thankful for the Lord above
The gift of His unending love
The promise kept that there is something more
These are the things I'm thankful for

{I do not take for granted the gift of a baby, and the fact that we were chosen to care for this precious boy.}

And amidst these gifts and presents
We receive this holiday
May we take a thoughtful second
Just to fold our hands and pray

{I love this boy so much, it hurts. I love thinking about all the wonderful things he will accomplish and all the goodness he will bring to the world.}

Yes, I'm thankful for the Lord above
The gift of His unending love
The promise kept that there is something more
These are the things I'm thankful for
  Thank you God for these blessings! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Adjust Your Crown, He is Faithful

    Image by One Girl Photography

Today my girl is nine days old. I think I've learned more about God in the past nine days than I have in a long time.

My mom asked me the other day what has surprised me about having her, and it may sound trite, but truly I have been taken back by the insane love I have for her. People always talk about their love for their children and how there is nothing like it, but it really feels like my heart is outside of my body. I am overwhelmed with an intense love I've never experienced when I look at her. I finally get it now, just how CRAZY it is that God, the creator of the universe, would call us his Children. See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1). Unfathomable.

Then to think that Jesus came as a baby to earth. Jason and I have remarked several times over the past days how Callie depends on us for everything. She can't feed herself, can't soothe herself, can't even wipe her own tears. The God that spoke the world into existence came as this, a helpless babe. 

Perhaps most of all though, with the whirlwind of emotions of the past two weeks, I've learned to depend and trust in God like I never have before. From anxiousness as her due date came and went and  trusting that God would perfectly orchestrate the details of her birth, to breathing through contractions that just so happened to last exactly as long as it took me to sing "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus" in my head and considering with each one how I'd proved Him o'er and o'er. Then finding him faithful through two hours of pushing and honestly thinking I could not go on, but ultimately seeing that sweet girl's face and knowing it was all more than worth it.
  Then having her taken from us at 4:00 am the morning after she was born due to rapid breathing and trusting a promise that a dear prayer warrior and friend, April, sent me that "those that trust in the Lord are like Mt. Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore (Psalm 125).", and picturing his angels surrounding our girl when I couldn't be with her. Sunday morning brought the hardest blow as they told us she would have to stay and that there may be something more seriously wrong. I know Jesus sat right with us as Jason and I cried for two hours while at the same time His church was lifting us up and interceding for us (we later found it was probably just a "bad lab" that showed her platelets as being low and that she was never really sick, but God wanted us to experience that and we trusted Him and found Him faithful). 
His faithfulness has continued this week as we've been home, through hormone crashes and intense bouts of anxiety, thinking I was not capable of doing this and having every fear of what could go wrong plaguing my every thought. But my Lord whispered to me that for me and Callie I can have "no guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man can even pluck me from His hand, 'til he returns or calls me home, here in the love of Christ I stand!"

Faithful, over and over again. We are in a really good place now, just loving our girl and trying to soak up every single moment. But as the NICU nurse told us as we cried, the worry won't ever stop. But I know, we will continue to find Him faithful in all situations we face in this life.

My friend Susan has a catch phrase she often repeats when things feel out of control, and that is to "adjust your crown". Meaning that we know that we are children of the King and that all things that come to us are for our good and from His hand, and that we just need to remember that the God of angel armies is on our side and not to worry or doubt. I'm sure it was no coincidence that our dear friend Kam of One Girl Photography was inspired to take this shot of our princess in her newborn shoot.

Oh yes, oh yes. I'm a child of the King. His royal blood, now flows in my veins, and I who was wretched and poor now can sing. Praise God, Praise God. I'm a child of the King.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Reflections

For the first weeks of my pregnancy, it didn't seem real to me at all. Sure, that little screen had showed the word I had longed for, and my doctor had confirmed the great news, but other than needing a daily nap, I felt the same. Even when morning sickness haunted me, I could think of nothing I wanted to eat, and smells would send me gagging, it still didn't seem real that there was a new life inside of me.

Unfortunately, I've always been a prepare for the worse type person. For example, when I would babysit for people over night, I would make a plan for how I would get the kids out if the house caught on fire. I've just always been the type that wants to be informed and prepared. So, with each doctor's appointment I would prep myself that they could tell me that something had gone wrong. 

I was terribly nervous before our gender reveal ultrasound. We had planned a gender reveal party and I had told all my students, and I kept being so fearful that we would go to the appointment for them to tell us there was a mistake or something had gone wrong. I emailed my teaching teammates that morning and asked for prayer. They all reassured me that they had similar feelings, and my teammate Susan encouraged me to pray against this fear (which I knew was sinful and lack of trust on my part).

I immediately felt peace after praying. Then when our ultrasound technician enthusiastically said "it's a baby girl" and I could see our girl kicking, playing with her feet, and even swallowing that I finally realized. There is a BABY, MY baby, inside of me!

I had felt what I thought were kicks all the way since Thanksgiving, but in the last week, I have felt them for sure. And on Christmas eve morning, Jason was able to feel the kicks for the first time too. His face was priceless. He keeps telling her how pretty she is and how much he loves her.

Up until this point, I really hadn't had an emotional moment. I didn't cry when I found out or when telling Jason or our families. I haven't shed a tear at any of our ultrasounds or at our gender reveal party.
But on Christmas Eve I was driving around doing some last minute shopping. I looked up to see a funeral procession, and for some reason, that just set me off. I started praying for that family and praying that the person knew Christ, and I was just overwhelmed with blessing and thankfulness. I was overwhelmed by the profound love of a Savior who would come to earth to bear such sadness and to give such blessing, The music from my favorite Christmas movie, "A Muppet's Christmas Carol", was playing in my car and singing "Bless us all, with playful years, with noisy games and joyful tears. We reach for You, and we stand tall, and in our prayers and dreams we ask you, bless us all."

I was just overwhelmed at the blessings surrounding me. Feeling the little kicks as I prayed and cried and being thankful for the life inside of me. Thinking of Christmases to come with those noisy games with our daughter. Thinking of how the Lord takes care of us in all things big and small. And in being so thankful for my husband, family, job, health, and so many more things, the joyful tears came (which turned into a full on ugly cry and gagging fest, just keepin' it real!)

But as I sat there and watched the funeral procession pass, I thought about how all of those wonderful things pass away in light of eternity. And even if every single earthly blessing I have was stripped away, I would still be the most blessed because of Jesus....because He came! Then this abundant life He gives on top of that, it's indescribable.

 And although I can't wait for all the fun that will come in Christmases to come, I hope our daughter will know that Jesus coming, that's what it is all about, and that is something worth celebrating.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You are the Best Thing

Hello friends!!

Well, it's been a minute since I've blogged, and much has changed since the end of summer! Going back to school is always crazy, tiring, and time-consuming.

But, in August, my tiredness and lack of blogging came from a totally different source! At the end of August, we got some of the best news ever. We found out we are expecting a baby!

More specifically, it was on Friday August 24th, I woke up to the day I had been anticipating, the day I could take a pregnancy test. I took the test then went about getting ready for work. Jason was still awakening from sleep as I looked for the second pink line. I wished so badly that I had the "pregnant" or "not pregnant" tests, as I squinted to see the line. I thought there might be a line there, but I just wasn't sure. I decided to get some different tests later, and rushed to get ready and get out the door. I didn't even tell Jason that I had tested that morning.

Thankfully, I had a busy day at work so it went by quickly. I went by the drugstore on the way home where I decided to buy some lip gloss so the tests wouldn't be the only thing I bought. As soon as I got home, I went in and tested again. As I waited for the eternal three minutes to be over, I laid on our bed and prayed and sang some songs to my Savior. No matter what the test said, I had peace that it would be what was best for that time.

I went in and looked down, and saw that beautiful word staring back at me. I always thought I would scream or cry, but I just smiled and thanked God. I began thinking about preparing to tell Jason when he got home from work, but for a long while I just stared at the test.
I was pregnant.

Instead of telling you how Jason and our families reacted, I thought I would show you! 

                                   Baby Leming - Medium from Chelsea Leming on Vimeo.

Today, I am 12 weeks and 2 days pregnant! The first weeks were tough with crazy exhaustion (as in...come home from work and nap, wake up and eat dinner, then back to bed!), and the oh-so-fun nausea. I was blessed to have only actually gotten sick twice (in the same day), but strong smells are still sending me running and gagging, but I feel like it's getting better every day!

I hope to be back soon because I definitely want to record this great blessing. 
Love to all!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer 2012

Having summers off is an amazing gift. It's the perfect time to relax, spend time with friends, and get stuff done!! I love summer and 7 weeks ago after waving goodbye to that last yellow bus, I sat down and wrote out the things I wanted to accomplish. 

First I counted out how many days I had and discovered that with weekend days, I had 55 glorious days of freedom, so I wrote down 55 things I would like to accomplish, and today I crossed off the last thing (with 3 days to spare I might add)!

Most of the things on the list were things I wanted to accomplish in the house with cleaning and organizing, and it feels so good to feel like my house is tidy and orderly going into a new school year! And although I'm sure you would love to see pictures of me cleaning all my baseboards, I think what I will want to remember from this summer won't just be what I got accomplished, but all the fun I had in between through what else but instagram photos!

This picture was from day one of summer!! This shows how many of my days began: no alarm clock, hitting the pavement with Katie, and a green smoothie. Perfection!

A whole lot of our summer was spent working on our basement renovation which you can read all about at my other blog rooted in love home, in case you missed it!

Here are Jason and Sophie hard at work one night.

 On June 3rd, I celebrated my birthday, and Jason treated me to a pancake breakfast...

....and some sweet decorations!

The next week, I got to spend some time with my awesome Grandma! We started with a lunch date...

 ...and then headed to my cousin's house to meet her new sweet baby boy!

An unexpected blessing this summer was getting to teach some swimming lessons and make some extra spending money by just hanging out at the pool an hour a day. Yes please! I had a blast with this little swimmer and her froggy friend.

One of my favorite summer activities is reading! I read some great nonfiction books this summer by Malcolm Gladwell including Tipping Point and Outliers. I also devoured a few more mindless reads through some fiction by Emily Giffin including Something Borrowed and Something Blue. All great books in their own rights! Of course reading outside with the company of my pups makes anything great.

One of my favorite days of the summer was taking two of my nieces and a friend to Six Flags!! We had an absolute blast, and they haven't stopped talking about it! It was great to have the opportunity to give such joy to them, they said it was the best day ever! It doesn't take much!

We had the honor of attending my dear friend Julie's wedding at the end of June, our favorite part was seeing the Burdett family!

I also had lunch with Ms. Noelle and her mama last week, but we didn't take a picture. I love this little face!

VBS has always been a highlight of my summer! This year I got to teach at our new church, and it was a blast. Telling hundreds of kids about their creator and savior Jesus is a great way to spend a week of summer in my opinion!

We celebrated our 3rd anniversary on June 20th, and enjoyed a night on the town. It was a great night!

We spent a week at student life camp as well where we got to teach and serve with the students from our church. The theme was on being audacious, the whole experience was awesome!

Our family sang at a church one Sunday, and my sister, mom, and I all accidentally matched in our polka dot dresses, so we embraced the cheesiness. I love those ladies.

 We had a great weekend with some of our nieces and nephews. We enjoyed making cow costumes, cow appreciation day, movies, and pool time!

Some people were more enthusiastic than others, haha...

Our latest fun outing was going to the Dark Night Rises Premier. It was a great movie and a great time, but I'm heartbroken over the tragedy in Colorado. It's a great reminder that life is short, and that we must redeem the time!

I'll end with this picture of one of our weekend dates with our niece Madison from early in the summer 
Pool, laughs, lazy days, and smiles: the epitome of summer.

Although I hate to see the summer go, I'm excited for a new school year and all the adventures that lie ahead too!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Continue in Love

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now continue in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
John 15: 9-12

Last weekend, on June 23rd, my sister got married. "Continue in love" was their theme.

And I couldn't think of a better summary of the weekend either.

Starting with the bachelorette party on Thursday, where I was reminded that there is just nothing like the love between good girlfriends.

Soon after my own wedding, I had been invited to meet some friends for lunch one Saturday. I was debating internally about whether I would go or not, thinking of the things I need to get done and not really wanting to make the drive to the city. But when I mentioned it to Jason, he told me I had to go because if I didn't, I would slowly loose contact with my friends, and that it was important to keep them. What a wise man. 
These girls were great, and although I felt a little bit old around their fresh  21 year old faces, it reminded me of my own sweet friends who I need a meet up with soon (you know who you are!!).

Friday morning began the beautification process (and it's quite a process isn't it?) with a group nail appointment. 
I think this is when it (finally) started to feel real to me that my sister was getting married! I'm not sure why it took so long for it to sink in, but I loved seeing the excitement on her face as she prepared for her day.

That afternoon, I went to our downtown to see if I could help at the reception site, and primarily to set up the slideshow I made for the rehearsal dinner. As I was driving there, I thought a lot about how special it was that the wedding was all happening in our beloved hometown. Anyone who knows me has likely heard me talk about my hometown pride, and the fact that my family has lived in the county for five generations. Eden's wedding was filled with some of our most beloved places. The ceremony was in the church we grew up in overlooking the village where my grandparents lived and raised my mom, and her reception was at the beautiful old theatre in historic downtown.

The rehearsal dinner was at our favorite hometown restaurant: R&M Sandwich Shoppe.  Not only is the hoagie shoppe rooted with nostalgia for all of us and still family owned after 40 years, it also has the best sandwiches. Jason would rather have a hoagie than just about anything else from any fancy restaurant you could name. After setting up, I had a little fun  exploring since we had run of the place.
Yes, I'm a big dork, but I sure did have fun. :)

Next we ventured to the actual rehearsal which was the perfect mixture of laughs and tears.

Laughs brought to you by: 
Slow chicken dancing down the aisle
(slow chicken dancing might just be the next dance sensation, you should try it!)
Further bonding with team-bridesmaid:

And practicing our "wobble" for the reception.

But, there were also sweet tears with the realization of the realness of it all. William's dad was particularly sweet and got choked up a few times. 

The rehearsal dinner was filled with lots of love. William and Eden wrote really heartfelt letters to everyone which was so sweet.

In the slideshow I made, the last slide before each of their baby pictures was a simple line that said "And he/she was very loved". 
This fact was very apparent on that night. The air was thick with love.

After a few last minute wedding errands, I headed over to my parent's house to spend the night with the bride. It was just our original family of five resting in the house that built us on that night, and it was just as sweet as it sounds.

Eden and I slept in our original childhood bedroom in our respective twin beds. We stayed up way too late talking about nothing and everything, both too nervous/excited to sleep. We also spent the night together the night before my wedding, and as we were talking that night Eden said she was excited about "all the sister moments" that my wedding day would bring. Her sentiment touched me so that I had her quote printed in our wedding album. So, all night as we talked I kept saying "that can be my quote". 

I don't know how quote worthy I was, but that night was something I'll treasure. Those walls have seen millions of sweet (and not so sweet) sister moments. From saying our goodnight prayers together and telling Jesus to "save some for himself" to cleaning frenzies while pretending that Mrs. Lisa was on her way to pick us up for an adventure. All the way to making fun of Eden for being scared of storms and stubbornly crying alone after she would flee to Mom and Dad's room, and that one night when she really tried to choke me. It's true, a sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost, and I'm so thankful for mine.

And we awoke on June 23rd, to the day she would be married!

The morning was a blast with hair, makeup, and plenty of laughs.

And suddenly, the moment was upon us, it was time to go get pictures and get married!

I so wish I had pictures of the ceremony to share (but it may have been awkward to carry my Cannon down the aisle with me), so we will have to wait on the pictures from the real photographer, but it was such a beautiful God-honoring ceremony. The bridal party walked down the aisle to "Oh how He loves us" by David Crowder, and I got to walk in to the epically awesome "I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves us!!" Yes, it was very hard not to throw my hands in the air and sing like I typically do during that beautiful proclamation of truth.

One of the officiants elaborated on the "continue in love" theme and noted how Eden frequently testifies about the love of God, and how when you are around Eden and William you can feel their love for each other, their love for God, and their love for you. My Dad also did a part in the ceremony that included communion to unify the families (which was really cool), and also a heartfelt prayer. It was really sweet, and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.

It was on to the reception at the theatre which was SO fun!! They had a candy bar, popcorn, and glass bottle cokes which were adorable and an absolute hit!

Dad and Eden danced to "In my life" by the Beatles, which was perfect since that is the song that plays in my head when I think about the places from my childhood. There was some awesome dancing including the Wobble and an incredible "Time of my life" dirty dancing lift between William and his brother. It was just a great night. 
Before long, it was time for them to ride off together as husband and wife.

And right now, they are still on their honeymoon, and it's killing me to not get to talk to her about everything!! (Hence the long post maybe, bless you if you made it to the end).

Congrats to my sweet sister and new brother-in-law! 
Love you guys!