Giving Thanks

When I look back at the last 12 months, we have had quite a few difficult things to work through.  Continued pandemic, two surgeries, a death in our family, health scares, a wreck…..

I found myself using the word ‘overwhelmed’ often.  Generally, I can take things as they come and make the best of them.  Hasn’t been as easy lately.

In the seasonal spirit of gratitude, here are some of the things that bring thankfulness to my heart:

1) My parents. I am who I am because of their example.
2) My siblings. My brother is two years younger than me and my sister is four years younger. Being the oldest is harder than it looks! Right, D?
3) My salvation. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son …
4) My man. In 1974 he was too old for me (according to my daddy). Funny how by 1977, he wasn’t. He provides me security, wisdom, comfort, and many laughs!
5) My in-laws. They are both living in glory now but gave unconditionally over and over again.
6) Jacob. While it is not what I planned, being able to aim to meet his needs is my greatest privilege.
7) Josh. What a blessing to watch him marry, become a successful entrepreneur, and parent three girls.
8) Sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law. We may not always see eye-to-eye on topics but I know I can count on them. And it is super fun anytime we can have a game day!
9) Granddaughters. Nothing like ‘em! Oh, that I could see them every day!
10) Extended family– aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews.
11) Friends—some go way, way back and some I’ve not known nearly as long. But, the blessing of friends cannot be overstated. Be a friend whenever you can.
12) My small group. Friends are friends forever when the Lord’s the Lord of them.
13) My Sunday School class and church family. We haven’t been able to go as much but it doesn’t mean they aren’t important.
14) Pets. We have two golden retrievers right now. They are our 3rd and 4th of that breed. Yes, there is hair, hair, and more hair. But in exchange, there are snuggles, silliness, lots of love, and bouncing excitement. Every single day those brown eyes light up mine.
15) Neighbors. There’s something special about knowing your neighbors. It takes effort but the reward is great.
16) Sitters. I cannot say enough about dependable sitters. They are a Godsend that makes our lives easier.
17) Jacob’s Day Program. We are so very grateful there is a place where he enjoys going!
18) Health. I’ve had a couple of scares in the last few months but nothing life-threatening. Grateful for that!
19) God’s provision. We have everything we need and more.
20) God’s protection. Nine days ago, a Fed Ex truck backed into the side of my moving vehicle. I didn’t see him, heard it first. While I was quite shaken, I sustained no injuries. Jacob was not with me which was a huge blessing because it hit on the side he rides. Mike was nearby so he got to the accident scene quickly. The vehicle is beyond repair from the damage but we have so much to be thankful for!
21) God’s peace. When I’m overwhelmed, I can call on the Prince of Peace. His spirit lives in me to bring calm to my chaos.
22) God’s promises. Having said goodbye to my dad just 4 months ago, I know that he is in heaven and I’ll see him again.
23) Prayer. God gives a way to talk to him and listen. It’s always the best thing to do in any situation.

If you find yourself alone today, reach out to someone else who may be alone as well.  If you are with friends and/or family, look around and count your blessings. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

God has been so good to me that my heart cannot help but overflow with thanksgiving! 

November photos from several years in the past to last week. The first one shows Jacob snoozing at his aunt and uncle’s house one Thanksgiving. It’s the only one I could find of him on that day. If there’s a crowd, he’d rather not be in the middle!

No Tricking Him

I like a challenge.  That’s part of why I enjoy being in the kitchen.  Trying new ingredients.  Taking risks.  Mastering anything new things doesn’t usually happen on the first attempt.  Progress happens when I make a mess of the first or fiftieth try.  Starting over if the first experiment doesn’t have the results I expected.   All in the name of learning.

A while back I experimented with two things I was sure Jacob would enjoy:  cinnamon rolls and donuts.   He turned his nose up and would have nothing to do with either.  Was offended I even offered.  I decided he was put off by the crazy colors.  Okay, I can deal with that.  He’s a purist. That’s cool.

Not to be thwarted, I was determined to try again.  Recently I made a batch of yeast dough.  Halved it and made a pan of cinnamon rolls and with the other, donuts and donut holes.  Simple. Glazed.

I was pretty excited about the process and the possibility that my lucky day had arrived.  Maybe I was about to win Jacob over. I wasn’t pleased with how ‘loose’ the dough was and the donuts wouldn’t have won any appearance awards. They tasted soooooooooooooooooo good!

I told my mom, Jacob’s Granny, about hoping Jacob would like the donut holes.  Surely, they were better than the two dozen I’ve purchased at Pillow Donuts.  I didn’t add any food coloring. Not a single sprinkle. Simple and glazed. That’s all. She asked if I had a white bag to put them in.  Why, yes, I did.

I carefully did so and closed the top.  Told Jacob that I had donut holes for him and to come to get some.  He came right away.  He touched the bag and wanted to see what was inside.  I took out two and put them on his plate.  He smelled and took a tiny bite.  And then handed it back to me.  Can you believe it? I was so sad.  His dad wasn’t.  More for him.

I felt a little devious pretending they were from the bakery.  But obviously not much.  He has me figured out.  

Texted Granny and her reply:  Now we know Jacob’s taste buds are very sharp!  Don’t try to trick Jacob.  I think he said,  ‘I like what I like!’

The next morning he did decide to sample a cinnamon roll and ended up eating three for breakfast.   Tiny victory.  I’ll take it. 

Granny is right.  We made them available to him multiple times to the same response.  How, oh how can he have such willpower?!?!?

Don’t try to sneak Nestle’s Quik in place of Chocolate Milk.  He won’t have it.

Jacob knows cheese. Some processed cheese works great for cheese toast. Don’t use the one that is better for a bologna and cheese sandwich. He knows and won’t have it.

Don’t try to sub Honey Wheat bread for Whole Wheat bread.  He won’t have it.

And certainly, don’t try to sneak in homemade donuts for those from a bakery.  He will not have it. 

His lack of appreciation for my kitchen experiments should be enough to make me put away the spatula.  His dad and I sure don’t ‘need’ the calories.  Our grands live too far away to get in on taste testing.  Our friends can only take so many macarons, meringues, and marshmallows.  While I’d love it if he got excited over something I’ve made for him, it’s okay that he’s not.  I’ll probably keep trying.  Who knows but one day he’ll change his mind. A mom can hope, right?  

In the meantime, good for Jacob for knowing what he likes!!!

Days Like This

Having a hard day? Do you ever find yourself in a slump?  Mama said there’d be days like this…

No one certain thing can explain the feeling.  Looking around it seems, life is good.  “I have so much to be thankful for.”  And yet, it was one of those days.

Saturday I woke up to the vivid recollection of a terrible dream.  Bordered on a nightmare.  As I sat at the kitchen table that morning, I told my husband, “last night I dreamed that Gracie died”.  My eyes filled with tears, as they are as I type this now.  Of all the dogs we’ve loved and lost, it was the first time I’ve dreamed such.  It was a sweet comfort, upon my waking, when she snuggled up to me that morning, kisses, and tail wagging to my hugging her around the neck.

Sometimes you can’t shake a dream. This one stuck with me.  Knowing the day would come when we’d have to say goodbye.  If you are a dog lover, life with them is never long enough.  And, often once the good-byes come, the next thought is “I can’t possibly go through this again.  It hurts too bad.”  And before you know it, you find yourself welcoming another into your heart.  The love outweighs the loss. 

This is the lamp. (He is obviously rearranging blankets when photo was taken.)

When Jacob’s Mamaw passed away in 2020, we brought some of her belongings into our home.  One was a lamp and I found a perfect spot for it in our living area. It reflected her personality and made me smile thinking about it being on her end table for many years.   The only problem was, the new place was in a space that Jacob passed by daily, and more than once, I saw him sliding the lamp or moving the table it was on.  His dad mentioned that I needed to find a new spot for the lamp.  That one day, it would get broken.  I knew it could happen but there wasn’t another spot that seemed just right.  I took a chance to enjoy it as long as I had it. 

It was always baffling to walk in and discover that Jacob had moved the table.  Sometimes a good 12 inches. It wasn’t all that large, it WAS heavy.  My dad made the one-of-a-kind tabletop.  He secured it to something that, if I remember right, was used at service stations in the tire changing/repair business.  HEAVY metal.  For some reason, Jacob enjoyed moving it.  Maybe testing his muscle strength. 

It was Sunday afternoon and I was engrossed in a book and heard Jacob playing in the den.  I had looked at him on the monitor and watched him chilling on the loveseat with his MP3 player at full volume.  Not a minute later, I heard a crash.  Jumped up to discover this:

My heart sank.  I didn’t yell. I didn’t fuss.  I got both dogs out of the room.  I took his loud MP3 player and calmly walked back to Jacob’s bedroom telling him to follow me.  He did.  Without a word about it, he knew I was upset.

My eyes filled with tears.  The day had come that Mike warned me about.  It was beyond repair.  I grabbed the broom, dustpan, and vacuum cleaner.  Slowly cleaned up the broken pieces. While I still had the memory, the lamp of Mrs. P’s would go in the garbage.  I enjoyed it until its unfortunate end.  Scolding Jacob would not have done one thing to help the situation. 

My mood was going downhill fast.  “This is why we can’t have nice things.  Jacob destroys them.”  “This is why we need leather furniture so spills can be wiped up easily.”  “This is why any carpet we have needs to be the color of dirt.”  blah, blah, blah

Days like this hit us all, I know this to be true.  The next day I was in the mood to rearrange, hoping to have Jacob’s approval of a new spot for the table.  One he wouldn’t be tempted to test his strength.  He walked through the room and studied the change.  For now, he seems to accept it.  I did quietly tell him that I was sad that he pushed the lamp off and to please try harder not to break things. 

I love this table made by my dad’s hands. It has nicks and is more distressed than it was years ago. It is a treasure and makes me appreciate the gift of memories and making new ones. 

A couple of days before the dream about Gracie, I had a dream about my dad. It was the first one that I’d had since he relocated to heaven. We were in a room that looked like rehab. He appeared to be doing great. He was telling me and my sister to remember something and she assured him we would, because she was recording it. Upon waking, I had no idea what I was supposed to remember. The memory was fleeting and I wondered and wondered what daddy was saying.

It could have been something like this: there will be good days and there will be hard days, always remember, God cares for you.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

I hope you know the truth of God’s care.

Doctor, Doctor

Jacob’s sore toe needed medical attention. It’s not the first time we’ve been through this but it had been years.  I started ‘treating’ it with a prescription ointment that didn’t help.  Then switched to an over-the-counter, again, to no results.

I had noticed some redness around the nail and then a couple of days later, he was bruised and had a cut. Obviously had dropped something on his toe. That is one of the hard parts, not knowing what happened. But knowing enough to know it hurt. After several days, I realized, we needed his doctor to take a look.

Going to the doctor with Jacob is always a hassle.  It. Just. Is.  His long-time family physician is accommodating, kind, and does all the right things.  But, Jacob would rather not be there.   Fortunately for us, depending on the case, there have been times where a reply to a simple portal question we submitted was sufficient. 

Covid has brought some changes that have sure helped us.  One of those, that we took advantage of recently, was a video appointment. 

None of, getting Jacob ready and into the van.  Then convincing him to sit in his wheelchair to go into waiting area.  Standing on the scale for his weight is always hit or miss.  Taking blood pressure works sometimes.  It required both of us to be present which makes for a crowded exam room when it is the three of us and his doctor, plus sometimes the nurse and/or a resident shadowing. 

Instead of going through all of the above, Mike got a text when it was time to connect.  We Facetimed with Jacob’s doctor and he got a good look at Jacob’s toe.  He made a diagnosis and gave us instructions along with a prescription med to start. 

1) Daily, soak Jacob’s foot in a bucket of Epsom salt water for at least 10 minutes a day.  I smiled as the doctor was saying that because I knew there was about a 0% chance of accomplishing that simple task.  So we went with the nice soak in bathtub approach instead.

Then this happened:  I was running water in the tub and calling Jacob to come get in.  Our male golden heard the water running and hurried to the bathroom to join the party.  Before I could stop him, Lucas stepped right over into the Epsom salt bath.  Yes. He. Did.  Silly boy.  He didn’t want to get out but finally did with clean paws. 

You would have thought it was torture for Jacob to soak in the tub. Rather than relax and enjoy – some soaks he would just stand the entire time. Fine with us, mission accomplished with the toe. Other times, he’d decide to sit and enjoy. We’d have a timer to be sure we got at least ten minutes in. One evening, I texted his dad, ‘thirty minutes in tub and still chilling’. By then, he probably was as the water sure wasn’t warm anymore!

2) Continue to apply over-the-counter ointment I had already started.  Cover with band-aid.  Jacob wasn’t going to leave a band-aid on so we could either try to keep socks on him (which was unlikely) or take a chance that ointment would get on things around the house.  We took that chance and reapplied frequently.

I had to work fast to get medicine on the toe.  He would willingly put his foot in my lap but as soon as I’d move toward the toe, he would jerk it away.  Over and over and over.  I know he was afraid of pain. 

And, 3) Start on a 7-day round of an antibiotic.  A capsule big enough for a horse.  Jacob cannot swallow a capsule.  So, I emptied the contents into a spoonful of applesauce.  First dose, he took it pretty well with his regular cup of apple juice washing it down.  Second dose, he remembered how unpleasant the first one was so he ran from me.  And tried hiding in the pantry. I switched to sprinkling in a small amount of juice.  Cooperated but not well and worse the next time. 

Then it dawned on me that he LOVES chocolate milk but we do not have it often.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Trip to the store and we were good to go!  Next dose came in the form of antibiotic sprinkled on applesauce with the promise of chocolate milk and it was the winning combination.  We completed the medication with total compliance! 

After 7 days, there was definite improvement. 

So thankful for technology and a willing physician that made this much, much easier for us. 

And for chocolate milk.

Breakfast Pizza

When Jacob likes a certain food/dish/meal, he can REALLY put the food away. Although, from one day to the next, he may push something back as if he never wants to see it again. Keeps us guessing!

One of his favorites, that I make fairly often, is Breakfast Pizza. The recipe was first given to me by a friend in the early 90s. It was prepared in a 12-inch pizza pan. Once I discovered how much Jacob liked it, I made a couple of changes to simplify and started doubling the recipe to be sure we had leftovers to freeze or just for him to have for several days if the mood were to strike.

If you’ve gotten bored with the same meal or are adventurous and not afraid to try something new, your family might like this.  

Breakfast Pizza

1 lb. *precooked turkey sausage crumbles
2 pkg. refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
2 c. grated Cheddar Cheese
2 c. grated Mozzarella Cheese
12 eggs, beaten
1 c. whole milk
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp pepper

Line a 13″ x 18″ baking pan (half sheet) with **parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 375F.  
Separate crescent dough into rectangles and using fingers, press into pan to seal and form crust.  Bake for 5 minutes.  

Reduce oven temperature to 350F.  Sprinkle sausage and cheeses over dough.  Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the sausage mixture.  Return to oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until eggs are set and starting to brown. 

Cut into squares and serve.    Yield:   24 squares

*I’ve found Jimmy Dean and Butterball make the turkey sausage crumbles. Probably prefer the Jimmy Dean brand but both work great.

**Tip:  The parchment paper step can be skipped.  From experience, I found using it, makes for fast clean-up as otherwise, egg and cheese baked in a pan, can be stubborn to remove.

When I cooked this last week, Jacob waited patiently for it to get done and cool enough to dig in. And then ate five squares as fast as I cut get one on his plate.

As I mentioned, the original recipe called for a smaller pan. Also, buying already cooked sausage wasn’t an option when it was printed but sure makes it quicker to put together:

1/2 lb. bulk pork sausage
1 pkg. refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1 c. grated Cheddar Cheese
1 c. grated Mozzarella Cheese
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. whole milk
3/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp pepper

Cook sausage until browned; drain and set aside.  Separate crescent dough into 8 triangles; place triangles with points toward the center in a greased 12-inch pizza pan.  Press to seal and form a crust.  Bake at 375F for 5 minutes. 

Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Sprinkle sausage and cheeses over dough. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over the sausage mixture.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes.  
Cut into triangles to serve, pizza style.  Yield: 8 slices

“Try it, you’ll like it.” At least, we think you will.

Is Honesty Always the Best Policy?

We have a definite bedtime routine for Jacob- 

Take meds.

Remind him to use the bathroom.

Pajamas on.

Get him to put toys away in his closet.

Check under bed for toys.

Also check around and under chair plus ottoman for toys.

Turn on fun lights.

Turn off strip that powers TV and VCR.

Turn off ceiling light at fixture.

Lock closet door. 

Once those are done, he listens to a Wheels on the Bus app on his kindle.  Sometimes for minutes and sometimes only seconds.  He’ll hand it back to us when he has had enough.

Say prayers.

Cover him up.

Turn off mirror ball lights.

Turn off window icicle lights.

Kiss him good night.

Leave the room, closing the door behind us.

The process is a nice routine for him.  The putting away all the toys and making it where he can’t turn his TV on, is to make sure he doesn’t watch TV all night or stay up playing with toys.  Every once in a while, we will forget to do something or miss a toy that gets left out. 

Sometimes a musical toy may be discovered shortly after it’s lights out for him because one of us will hear him playing.  Sometimes, one will be seen later on the video monitor or found the next morning either on his bed or nearby—thus explaining why he might be harder to wake up than usual. 

Last week as Mike was getting him to bed, a funny thing happened. They did their usual listen to the song and then Mike went to cover him up and Jacob leaned over the side of the bed, reached behind his chair and handed Mike this treehouse toy:

He knew he would be guilty of playing with it during the night and that it needed to be put in the closet and locked away. 

Bless his honest heart!!!  His dad had missed it in the clean swept to be sure toys were put away.  Jacob had spied it and knew he couldn’t be trusted. 

I wonder if he regretted it as his dad closed the door. Or could he have smiled knowing he did the right thing? 

I imagine he was asking himself, is honesty really, ALWAYS the best policy?

Special Birthday Wishes

She is a daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, aunt, niece, cousin, grandmother, seamstress, home cook, polio survivor, friend, homemaker, stained-glass artist, prayer warrior, cancer survivor…

She is Jacob’s Granny, and, today is her birthday.  It might be (I’m guessing here) the first one she’s had in 87 years, that she woke up alone.

But that does not mean she isn’t loved!! She is loved BIG, far, and wide by all who know her. While we are separated by miles and miles, we could not be closer in our hearts.

See for yourself-

Granny /’grane/noun ~ 1. Someone who loves unconditionally. 2. Someone who teaches, motivates, encourages, and gives the best hugs. 3. Someone who makes the best homemade bread. 4. Like mom, but way cooler. But you’re more than a definition, you are a cornerstone in this family that can’t be replaced. As we celebrate your birthday, I hope you feel all the love and know how truly special you are. You are the best granny EVER and we are so thankful to have you in our lives. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Love, Nick and Regan

 

Happy birthday Granny! We love you! Have a great birthday! Travis, Whitney, Mary Gwen, and Betsy

Happy Birthday Hilda Jo, a special friend I have known and loved almost all of my life. Many happy travels, games, and so many memories at the camphouse. Love you so much, Becky

Mom I don’t know where to begin except to say, I’m glad you are mine! God gives his best to his children and he gave me the best Mom. Hope your birthday feels extra special this year. I love you deeply, Terri

Mrs. Hilda Jo, I think about you and pray for you every single day. You are truly one of a kind and I’m so lucky to be able to love you, if even from afar. I hope you have a wonderful birthday full of love and laughter. You are always in my heart. Love, Cheri

Happy Birthday Hilda Jo! I remember meeting you for the first time back in the 50s when I wasn’t ‘family’ yet. I was only 18 and you were a college graduate with a job. I was nervous and you were welcoming then as you are now. And the fun times with you and Bobby, me and Hiram, along with your mother, cooking in their country kitchen! Seems like later when we were each pregnant with our first, that it was Hiram and Bobby who had morning sickness, not us. So, so many wonderful memories we made together. While the family tree shows you as my sister-in-law, you are so much more than that. I feel like you ARE MY sister. On this first birthday without Bobby, please know, dear sister, that you are loved so very much. I hope this day is as special as you are to me. Much, much love, Charlotte

Happy Birthday to one of our favorite people. I’m so thankful for you in our lives. You’ve always been an example of faith, strength, and love to us. I pray your day is filled with all the joy and love you give everyday to so many. Big hugs and love from your other kids, Dennis and Toni

Hooray! Our wonderful mom is 87 years young today! Mom, you are SO loved. We pray your special day is filled with joy, peace, love, and happiness! God blessed us big when he gave us a mom like you! Thank you mom for your courage, your faith, and your unconditional love. As you are facing this new chapter in your life, just know that not only do we want to celebrate your special day today, but we want to celebrate you each and every day of your life in the days and years ahead. May God bless you especially today, but also everyday with HIS favor and goodness as you allow him to be your husband for this season. Big birthday hugs! Love, Steve and Shellie

My wish for you is to know how much I love and admire you. And, to know that you are the role model for me with my family. Dianna

Happy Birthday Granny! We hope that you have a fabulous day and we love you bunches!! Sam, Natalie, Bryson, and Brody

Dear and precious friend, have a very happy birthday. I wish you all good things on your special day and of course, many, many more. You are so special and I am so thankful that God blessed me with you. Love you bunches, Mary

Happy Birthday to the sweetest and most talented lady I know!  I hope you have a wonderful birthday—and that means I hope your family pampers you and gives you lots of hugs and presents!  Much love, Ginger

We hope you have a fantastic birthday. We definitely hit the “Granny Jackpot” when God gave us you! We couldn’t ask for a better Granny. We love you so much, Zach and Stephanie

When I think about a Titus 2 woman, Mrs. Hilda Jo is one of the women that immediately comes to mind. She embodies all of the things I strive to be! She is a true example of a Godly lady! She embodies the love of Christ and I love how she shows everyone. I’ll never forget her teaching me how to make sourdough bread and the most delicious cinnamon rolls ever. We had the best time laughing, talking, learning, and making memories. She always makes it a point to ask about my kids and how they’re doing…and she always remembers what’s going on in their life…she’s truly one of the sweetest, most extraordinary women I know. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Hilda Jo! The Savells sure love you!

Happy Birthday to a special lady! Wishing you a happy day! Randy and Deborah

Happy Birthday to Granny! We love you very much and hope you have a wonderful birthday! Trevor, Jessica, and Tenley

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, the Matriarch of the Woods Family! Hope you know how much you are LOVED! We celebrate YOU today in our thoughts and prayers. Thanking God for the example of faith you have shown us over the years and for this birthday He has given you. Hope your day is filled with all the things that make you happy and feel special! Enjoy your day! We love you, Joy and Mike

Happy happy birthday Aunt Hilda Jo. I hope you feel so loved and cherished today. Your faith and kindness is such a legacy for our family. Thank you for always loving us and praying for us. You are adored by all of us, Elizabeth

Hoping your birthday brings you a favorite song, scrumptious desserts, and smiles all day long!  Frances

Happy Birthday Hilda Jo! Thank you for being a dear friend, trusted confidant, and wise counselor. You are my “go to girl” for almost everything. You are very special to me! Hope your day is filled with blessings! Love you, Debi

Happy Birthday to my most favorite Mother-In-Law from your favorite, (well, you know!!!!!)

When I think about what Mrs. Hilda Jo has been to me, I simply must say she is whatever I need her to be. When I needed encouragement, she was my encourager. When I needed prayer, she was my intercessor. When I needed instruction, she was my teacher. When I needed a grandmother, she was my family. When I needed comfort, she was a comforter. When I needed wisdom, she was my advisor. When I needed friendship, she was my friend. Mrs. Hilda Jo, you have made my life sweeter by knowing you and being a part of your life. I could never thank you enough for what you have been to me. I love you. Happy Birthday! Natalie Duncan Emmons

Happy Birthday Granny! We love you so much and hope that you have a wonderful birthday. Can’t wait to have another donut day with you soon. Love, Josh, Ashley, Sindy, Marietta, and Savannah

To Hilda Jo, a friend for many, many years. One of the best cooks I know. We have had so much fun playing board games. Wishing you a very happy birthday and many more. Love you like family! Love, Sarah

Wishing you health, peace, wonderful memories and much love on your special day. Happy Birthday! Love you, Anna Katherine and Les

I am so thankful to have such a role model to look up to as I try to live my life for the Lord. On this special day, we celebrate how blessed the world became when God gave us you! Happy Birthday! Much love, Heather

Happy Birthday, Aunt Hilda Jo! I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating your birthday. Shelia

There are people in our lives that hold a special place that no one else ever could. Want to wish this sweet, precious lady a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Lissie and JD

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, Mrs. Hilda Jo! The mother of one of my dearest-sweetest-talented friends, Terri…you taught her well! Wishing you a very, very blessed birthday…so thankful our paths crossed. You are loved! Alecia

We cannot put into words how much we love you! We hope today is just as special for you as you are to us!! Happy Birthday!! Love, Tanner and Kara

Happy Birthday, Aunt Hilda Jo! We love you so much and are thinking about you today! Leslie

My sister, my friend, and my mentor. Always the same: dependable, loving, and faithful. What a comfort you have been to me! I’m so glad the Lord put you into my life! Wishing you the best birthday ever!! Love you so much, Stacy

Aunt Hilda Jo, When I look back on my life, some of my earliest and most special memories are of you being a huge part. As I became a mom, I knew what kind of mom I wanted to be because I watched you. I knew what kind of daughter I wanted to be because I watched you. I only just recently realized that you may not have known what a big impact you had on my formative years, but that impact never left me. I treasure having you as such a big presence in my life. I hate that I haven’t been able to get down to Mississippi more through the years that I was raising my kids, but am happy that I’m entering a time in my life where I think that can happen more. I look forward to each time I can see you and hug your neck! I love you so much! Lea Anne

Happy birthday Mrs. Hilda Jo! We hope you have a very special day! Larry, Becky, and Lacy

Happy Happy Birthday!! I wish you all the love and still keeping you in our prayers. Love you much, Paul and Robin

A true woman of virtue, character, faith, and beauty. She is a Titus 2 woman in my life. An example to follow, an encourager to run to, a prayer warrior to call on and my sweet friend. I love you to the moon and back, Mrs. Hilda Jo, Nicole Smith

Happy Birthday, Granny! We are so thankful for how you love and take care of us all so well. No day in Forest is complete without a visit to your house and PB&J and/or ham sandwiches on your delicious bread. Maddie has also loved getting to hear you share memories about your life. Thank you for sharing your love of stained glass with us, too. We will always adore our cross project we all made together. We love you so much and hope you feel as cherished and appreciated as you truly are today! Tanner and Madeline

Miss Hilda, when I think about you, I think of someone who has been the greatest support system that Larry and I could have. All the cards of encouragement, every phone call you made just to check on us. And for every time that we felt like we could not keep going, you held our arms up thru prayer. You will never know the impact you have had on our lives. I hope you have a very happy birthday our sweet friend. We love you! Bro. Larry and Pequita

Happy Birthday Granny, I love you sooooooooo much!  My all-time favorite of yours is Mac and Cheese.  Pictured is when I had some for my birthday. I hope Mom makes me some more real soon in honor of your birthday! Thought by Jacob

Happy, Happy Birthday Mom, Aunt Hilda Jo, Hilda Jo, Granny!

She is the most selfless person I know.  It took me becoming a mom before I could even begin to understand what that suggested.  Growing up, I really didn’t have a clue what it meant to put others before my teenage self.  Looking back and continuing to this day, I have seen her sacrificing for her family. It came naturally to her. Self is the last name on her list.  Always, always thinking of others was the example she set. One I strive to follow.

Granny doesn’t enjoy or need to be in the spotlight or the center of attention but, like all of us, she likes to know she is being thought of! And today, she can be the center of attention from her recliner as she takes each of your wishes to heart.

Hope we’ve made it a birthday to remember!

Thank You!

Sunday Special Edition, https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2021/08/15/sunday-special-edition/, published August 15, 2021 was my 150th post.  I’ve been blogging for close to 3 years now.  There were times when I’d have 2-4 posts in the queue waiting to go live.  And others times I’d be getting my thoughts together and finalizing down to the last few hours before my goal of a new post scheduled for early each Thursday morning.  It has been everything from good therapy to painful memories while telling stories about my boy and our family life.

As I’ve openly shared, the last year has brought so many unexpected things for us to process. Learn a new normal. I want to be intentional in my days while remaining transparent and real in our journey.

To that end, I’m approaching this next year a little differently. It is time to reevaluate rather than start repeating myself!  I had no goals for how long I’d call myself a blogger. I have given myself permission to back off and drop the goal of a post every week. I don’t know what that will look like – maybe some weeks I’ll share twice and some months, only once? When a blog does go live, I will continue to share the link on the Facebook page, Jacob’s Problem Free Philosophy. Feel free to follow along there. If you aren’t an email subscriber, now might be the time to join so you will be notified rather than count on something new each Thursday.

While Jacob is the star of the show, I’ll keep him in front because we know he is who y’all want to see, amiright?

He is hanging out at home with us these days with the upsurge of the Delta variant. Tuesday afternoon I was chilling, feet propped up in the bedroom recliner and reading. This sweet fella came in and wanted me to get up.

“Jacob, how ’bout you sit down and I’ll sing to you.” He quickly took me up on the suggestion. I proceeded to sing a simple tune with one line, “sing a song about Jacob, tra la la la, sing a song about Jacob, tra la la laaaaa!” Notice the blur in the first picture on his left side? Every time I’d take a breath, he would slap one or both hands on the couch meaning one thing, KEEP ON SINGING! And I did for what seemed like hours! It was fun to make him happy and have him chill out with me.

For you who have taken the time to comment whether here, through a text, on Facebook, or in person, it means so very, very much. Every single comment! When I set out to blog, I was fully aware of the millions, yes MILLIONS of blogs that could draw you in. I cannot thank you enough for your support and following.  Stay tuned.

I love how you have loved us! 

Sunday Special Edition

Is there any hope of me getting better?

I don’t know Daddy.  You have worked so very hard and made progress.  Now it seems you’ll have to work harder and I’m not sure it will be enough.

He nods but doesn’t comment.

What do you hope will happen?

I hope I’ll go to heaven soon.

My eyes overflow with tears and now it’s my turn to only nod.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry.

Oh, daddy, heaven is what I want for you.  It’s okay.  I’m thankful that is what you want, too!

He pats my arm and his eyes water.

I will miss you like crazy but I will see you again one day.

Again, he is watching my face and patting my arm.

It is okay!  We will be okay.  I promise we will take care of mom.  She will be okay, too.

This morning was four weeks since my dad relocated to heaven. I don’t have to wonder what happened when he took his last breath in Baptist Hospital. I know with all of my being because my dad believed in this promise of God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

My family was given the gift of time in my dad’s last weeks.  So many don’t have the chance to say what’s on their heart to a loved one.  They think that opportunity will come another day.  Instead, their loved one is taken in an instant and they’ve missed the chance.

My mom, my siblings, and our spouses were each handed that gift. To say I love you soooooooo much before we left his room and for him to say it back. That happened countless times in the last few weeks. The conversation above took place a week before he passed into eternity.

In those last days, we witnessed him point toward heaven, open his mouth in expressions of awe, and mumble words we couldn’t understand. Knowing angels were near and God was with us brought unspeakable peace.

I had the privilege of spending a big portion of his last day with him.  He was unresponsive.  When it was time for me to leave, I hugged him tight and whispered in his ear.  “Daddy, I love you soooooo much.  Angels are all around you, Jesus is coming to take you home.  We will be okay.  I’ll see you soon.” 

About 9 hours later, my brother called me, “he’s gone.” 

I was too emotional to tell Jacob about his granddaddy.  Mike did and Jacob listened carefully.  I’m sure that night he fell asleep with his granddaddy on his mind. 

Jacob was the first grandchild on my side of the family. Through Jacob’s years, his granddaddy was always looking for ways to make Jacob happy.  To DO something for Jacob. To help us and help him.  He built Jacob’s toybox (which is still in use today).  When he renovated an old mill into a cabin for our family, Jacob had his own bedroom.  Jacob would come through singing and twirling and he’d say, “Jacob likes that”. Often, he’d say something like, maybe this will help with Jacob.  Or, maybe Jacob will like this.  Jacob got his love for hot dogs and cheese from his granddaddy. 

Two weeks after the funeral we took Jacob to his Granddaddy and Granny’s house. Attending the funeral wasn’t possible for him. I talked to him beforehand explaining that Granddaddy wouldn’t be at the house because he was in heaven. Again, Jacob got very still and listened to every word. I saw a tiny smile as if he was saying, “I know where he is, mom.”

When we got there, Jacob went into the house immediately. That in itself was unusual because he’d often just sit in the van for a while, or perhaps go sit in a chair on the porch. He walked in exploring. Granny and I stood back just to let him look around. I knew Jacob had gone into the master bedroom and decided I’d peep in to see what he was doing. He was standing in the closet and quickly shut the door.

I eased it open and watched him. Slowly looking at the contents, touching a few things. Soon Granny came and he took her hand and pulled her into the closet with her talking about Granddaddy’s clothes. He got a suitcase and gave it to Granny. I have no idea, NO IDEA what that meant. I like to think it was his way of saying, let’s pack this and go where Granddaddy is.

That day, he was nosy as usual, opening drawers and cabinet doors.  He played on Granny and Granddaddy’s king-size bed for a long time, listening to music. Maybe his granddaddy was smiling from his heavenly home, knowing Jacob likes that.

I think if Jacob could talk, he’d say what he likes most is that he knows he will see his granddaddy again because heaven is real.

Other grandparents who’ve loved Jacob before leaving this earth are there, too. There is Big Mother his great, great grandmother; Great Gran and Grandmother, his great grandparents; Mamaw Jewel, another great grandmother; Papaw and Mamaw, his grandparents.

I pray you know Jesus Christ and have the assurance that you will one day meet him face-to-face. And, also get to see your loved ones and meet ours, who are believers and spending their days worshiping the King of Kings along with my dad, Jacob’s Granddaddy.

Is there any hope of getting better? I hope I go to heaven soon. His hope became reality, he is healed, and he is better than he has ever been!

Many Faces of Jacob

“Jacob smile!” “Say cheese” sure doesn’t work with a non-verbal kid. While I’ve never successfully gotten a posed picture of Jacob smiling. I have gotten some really fun photos.

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:13-16

Don’t have to tell me to smile when I see this sweet fella’s face!! So thankful God created this handsome face for me to love!