Making a Difference

Several years ago I became a board member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southwest Louisiana.  I love this organizations mission and the impact that they have on the children in our community.

Recently I started sharing my time with my own littles with their dad which has allowed me a little more free time on my hands.  With that time I felt called to do something productive and something that would make a difference.  Having already been imbedded in Big Brothers and Big Sisters for several years the logical choice was to get involved outside of just the Board role.  I needed a little sister… and that’s just what I did.  I was matched this week with my little sister and am very excited to start spending time with her.

However, I am not writing this blog to toot my own horn.  I am writing to tell you a story.  I went to meet my little sister the other day for the first time.  It was arranged that we would meet at the BBBS office as she was attending the summer camp program that they put on.  I arrive and her and I begin chatting and visiting and playing a game.  The other sweet kids that are also attending summer camp hear that I am her new Big Sister.  One little boy came over to me and asks me – are you really her new Big Sister?  Then he went on to say how he wished he could have a Big Brother and he was still waiting for one.  Then he hugged me every so sweetly and went back to playing.  KIDS need US.  They need mentors in their lives who want to spend time with them.  That sweet little boy broke my heart.  SO if you are reading this and have been wondering what you could do to “pay it forward” or give back (whatever you want to call it)…. Reach out to Big Brothers and Big Sisters in your community.  There are children that are waiting for someone to stand in the gap for them and make a difference in their lives!  There are several programs that you can participate in that impact kids in a BIG way!  Be the change! Get Involved!

Become a Big

One of My prayers last night was that someone steps up for that little boy…..

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Fathers Day

There are just NO WORDS..

 

 

Grief is deep and the void is big.  There is no roadmap to help navigate through this season without my dad.  Tears flow often especially when my thoughts drift to HIM and life without him.

BUT… through my grief, I have found a way to honor my dad and allow his memory to live on in our community through sports.  I will post more details as me and my family finalize our plans.  Be watching for more info…..

My Dad…..continued

 

I have taken a little break from writing just to gather myself after losing my daddy.  Big loss, big void.  As I sit down in front of my computer I’m not exactly sure what I am going to write about but here goes (it usually just flows once I get started).

The days and weeks have continued to move full blast ahead even though my mom and I’s world seems to have come to a screeching halt.  Easter happened, His birthday came and went.  My daughter Lizzy graduated from college and this was the first big event for my kids that my dad didn’t get to attend.  But we pressed forward, we celebrated the Risen Lord, Ate the Cake in my dad’s honor and added another college graduate to his legacy of grandchildren he left behind.  It’s been tough but for me the fog is beginning to lift a little.

 

I often think back to the words my children spoke at my dads funeral and they really have given me clarity.  People who know me and know my family dynamic (with my ex, the bigs and the littles) will comment about how good of a job that I did with my 2 grown children.  They are great people – highly educated, smart, driven, productive, they love their family, they see the world through eyes that want to and will help “the least of these”.  My ex was completely absent from their lives, rarely ever “showing up” for anything, especially when they got older.  So for some people on the outside looking in,  I did do it alone.  When I heard my children’s beautiful eulogy for my dad I finally connected all the dots.  He stood in the GAP for me and my kids.  He showed up in a big way every time he was called or asked to.  He was the most consistent male figure in their lives and mine too.

Think about you and your husband raising your children.  You watch them start to walk, and grow up and you both ooooh and awwww  and talk about the things they do, they accomplish, the points they score, etc.  I never had that in a husband….. most of the time I was alone…. EXCEPT…… that I wasn’t….. my dad always showed up!.  He was the one I would talk to about what funny thing my kids would do or say.  He was the one who showed up for every 5th grade girls basketball game, every soccer game, middle school play, grandparents day celebrations or high school boys basketball game no matter where we were playing!  We celebrated together each one of my children’s WINS and comforted their losses.   When Christopher was in high school I walked into the Boys Basketball Gym and while paying my entry fee the lady said “Your husbands already here”.  I looked puzzled knowing that my husband at the time was not coming – She quickly pointed in the direction of the stands to where my DAD sat, waiting on me. I laughed and told daddy either you look really young or I look old.  We were always together.

I was so lucky to have had my dad in my life for the amount of time I did.  So many people aren’t that lucky.  Below are each of my children’s tributes to my dad…I just want everyone who didn’t hear to know… it’s important to me that people know just what kind of impact and legacy he left us with and give him the credit that he is due for who they have become!

For those of you who don’t know me my name is Lizzy Portie and T-Boy was my grandpa, my poppy. And he was also my best friend growing up. Some of my best and favorite memories included my poppy. When I was 4 he would have tea parties with me, wear a bib and say goo goo gah gah on command. When I was 6 he would sit outside with me and be the judge for my various talent shows for hours on end. When I was 8, poppies love for Everybody loves Raymond rubbed off on me, and as an 8 year old I would get excited to go over to his house to sit on the couch all day and watch everybody loves Raymond with him, until of course he turned on the old western movies and that was always my cue to go back home. He would also take me to the basketball gym with him when he would do the books. he loved when I went and kept letting me come back despite the fact that he knew I would spend $20 at the concession stand every  single time. When I was 11 he came to every single basketball game I had, even though 5th grade girls basketball is probably the most painful thing to watch, he was always there. Throughout middle school and high school he picked me up from school every day, and he would save his change so that he could always afford my afternoon snacks that I insisted on everyday. He was always and I mean always there for me. He would drop everything to make sure that he was there for me.  If I forgot something at home and didn’t realize until we were already in lake Charles, he would turn around without question to go back to get it. He never complained about our busy schedules or the amount of times we made him stop to get us snacks at the gas station, and he never complained when we turned off his elvis radio to listen to our “crap music.” He was always so happy to be at our beck and call. He really was my best friend.

As I got older I realized that he was not only my friend that I would get to hangout and play with, but he was also my role model. He was selfless, caring, strong, protective, loving, and supportive. Little did I know that all of my time spent with him playing tea party or sitting around watching TV shaped me into who I am today. He was one of the most influential people in my life. He showed me what a good father, husband, and grandpa looks like. He showed me what its like to love the people around you uncondionally. And he showed me how to be 100% unapologetically yourself. My life has been shaped and molded by so many people: my mom, my nana, my poppy, and even my brother just to name a few. And they all have one common denominator. We all were surrounded by Poppy. He touched and impacted everyone around him and I am forever grateful that I was one of those people. I am better because of him.

I will never forget the feelings I felt so many times when I would have a basketball game or I needed a ride and I wasn’t sure if my busy parents would be able to make it, but I always knew that my poppy would be sitting in the gym or in the carpool line waiting for me. He was my biggest supporter. He was my constant. I knew he would always be there for me. And until the day he died he was always the most consistent male role model I have ever had in my life. He always showed up, he always answered my calls for help, and he was always supporting me though every step of my life being the most proud poppy. He truly left a legacy for himself, especially in my life.

It breaks my heart to know that he wont be there on Christmas mornings, at my graduation or wedding, and that he wont be able to show my future kids the love that he showed me, but I take comfort knowing that he left such a lasting impression on my whole family, and I know that he will always be with us because we each have a little bit of him inside of us.

This is a picture of kips words (didn’t have the electronic copy)

 

Daddy

My daddy, Clifton Breaux, affectionately known by many as T-boy, was born May 2, 1944. He was 1 of 4 children in his family – His dad a construction painter with no education and his mom a stay at home mom.  He was raised in Sulphur – a community in which he loved.  Many may not know this but when he was a senior in high school his father got another job in another town and the family was moving .  He did not want to leave Sulphur High School – so as an 18 yo he got a job, rented a room and paid his own way so he could stay, as his family moved on…..   GRIT

I would imagine that one big reason why he stayed is for one Linda Breaux…..  He graduated and not long after married my mother and quickly went to serve our country in the Vietnam War….. BRAVERY

And i have read some of the letters out of “the box” of letters my mother saved for over 50 years.  Love letters from a young, homesick 19 year old who was separated from his new wife where on paper he showered her with his feelings of love and plans for the future he would build with her.  COURAGEOUS

And a future he did build…..  He returned from WAR and began his family.  Penny born in 1969 and then ME in 1973….  He stopped with me because he had obtained perfection or maybe because he didn’t want to chance getting another girl lol.

But let me back up for just a second.  I am four paragraphs in and I haven’t even mentioned sports or his amazing athletic ability.  Im not sure when his love for sports began or when he or anyone else for that matter noticed how talented athletically he was but for me when I think of my dad I have to think of sports as they were so ingrained in who he was.  He once told me a story about when he was a young boy who wanted to play ball but did not have shoes or a glove and couldn’t afford any.  He showed up and the coach said he needed those things or he couldn’t play.  He wanted to PLAY…. Ms. Benglis who ran Sulphur Parks and Recreation at that time saw his desire and most likely knew he had an ability found a glove and a pair of shoes that someone had left behind – she told him that if no-one claimed them in a week, he could have it.  He spoke very fondly of Ms. Benglis….  she fostered his love of sports and would help him out in his youth when she could.  He eventually went on to work for her as a basketball referee for 30+ plus years. She was highly regarded by my dad and when I came to meet her in MY youth – My dad called her MOM….  ATHLETIC, PERSEVERANCE

I am sure there were others that saw his ability and love for THE GAME.  Some of who are sitting here today who played along side him or against him.  (raise your hand if you ever play ball with him – any kind) He was a fierce competitor and was equally gifted and talented in ANY sport he wanted to play….. ALL except skiing (he never mastered that – it was mind boggling)  COMPETITIVE

Decades of basketball games, golf games, tennis, baseball and hundreds upon hundreds of WINS.  As i was going through photo albums, there were so many pictures of him posing by trophies and news articles about his sports wins.  When I was a young girl the largest piece of furniture in our entire house was his trophy case that was filled to the brim!….  TALENTED

My childhood and my young adulthood was spent following him and his friends around to basketball tournaments, or tennis matches or softball games.  And i have very fond memories of him playing – I distinctly remember him playing in a tournament and watching him, Paul Champagne and Ronnie Bland run down the court and pass the ball – not looking at where they were passing it to just blindly knowing the other would be there to get the pass, eventually feeding it to him under the goal for the strong lay-up. (Not sure why that memory has stuck with me this long).  I remember the ugly stripped westlake colored pants that Paul Champagne would wear, even though he was playing on a sulphur team.  I remember Ronnie Bland’s comb over flapping out of place while he ran down court.  I remember my dad in his 60’s playing with men who were in their 20’s and hanging with them.    FRIENDSHIP

(I even loved to go watch him play as a young adult – I thought he was GREAT – I saw his talent.)

I remember all the men that played ball with my dad and the camaraderie that they shared.  I saw how people regarded him – they respected him.  He was honest, fair but fiercely competitive.  He stood out and was a leader among his peers. ….  LEADERSHIP

And although He had a big presence and you certainly didn’t want to piss him off – as he was a bit of a bad ass – he was as humble and as good as they come.  In the last years of his life, he allowed his firecracker of a daughter (that would be me) to call the shots so to speak – he always followed my lead and allowed me to seek the best of the best for him and his medical care.  He graciously turned over the reigns and trusted that I would do what was right and good for him.  HUMBLE

He never lived in a mansion, he didn’t have endless wealth, he worked hard to make a living AND what he modeled for me and what has always resonated is to have a good work life balance. He was a master at it.  He worked hard but he played harder.  The memories that we would sit and talk about are not the mundanes of his job (although he did have some funny stories to tell) they were of his sports adventures, good times with friends and his travels.  CONTENT

Here are a few truths about my dad:

– He always respected my mother!  He never wanted me and my sister to be mean to her and would defend her relentlessly (that is fall on your sword kind of love) He committed his love to her and stood by her side for 55 years…… LOYAL

– He Always had a nice vehicle and it was always clean (inside and out) all the time …. PRIDE

– He was forever at my beckon call with me or my kids rarely ever telling me he couldn’t – running forgotten shoes, uniforms, books, etc to school, shuttling kids to practices and games or whatever I needed….  DEPENDABLE

– He was always my champion.  He always had my back.  Even when I made bad decisions he stood by quietly and stepped in only when I asked him to.  He let me make mistakes and boy did I make some doozies yet he was always there to help support me in any way he could!….. SUPPORTIVE

– He did not care one bit what anybody else thought of him or what he was doing.  He forged his own path without thought or worry about anyone else.  He never let people who didn’t matter too much…matter too much. I like to think that he passed this quality to me at birth.  AUTHENTIC

– He was a man of faith.  Countless times I would walk into his house and he would be saying his rosary or his prayers.  I remember all the times as a young girl where we would gather together as a family to say the rosary He Led… FAITHFUL

– He loved my kids and celebrated each one for their own strengths.  I gave him the son he never had.  Kip wasnt overtly talented athletically – but what he did not have in skill he made up in heart and my dad capitalized on that.  My dad coached and worked with Kip to develop his skills once Kip finally decided that basketball was HIS sport.  He watched proudly as he played High School Basketball and then at a Collegiate level.  He cheered his fierce little Lizzy on through Middle School basketball and when she abandoned it for cheer in High School was just as proud of her.  He was super proud that both Kip and Lizzy went on to college and he was just weeks shy of seeing Lizzy graduate from Baylor.    It wasn’t until my 3rd child arrived from China that he got a grandchild that was equally talented athletically as he was…. They had a special bond the moment she walked off the plane and that special connection never wavered.  We all saw it and recognized it.  His grandchild who as a 6 year old would score 20+ points on the soccer field.  He was so proud and excited to see her play.  He would bring a pen and paper to keep track of how many she scored.  She’s a beast – he’d say.  And we would laugh at how crazy good she was.  I will forever be saddened that he is not around to see her athletic career.    Then there is Mia – the firecracker who’s sweetness stole his heart.  She made him laugh with the things that continually come out of her mouth…….  He was so proud of all of my children’s accomplishments big and small and he loved them each one more than they will ever know……LOVE

I look fondly on all those things with my kids that he got to witness however I am deeply saddened by all the things that he will miss….  Graduations, Weddings, Births, Baptisms, Jobs, Promotions, Holidays.  He was a part of my everything – I celebrated, He celebrated.

Grit, Bravery, Courageous, Athletic, Perseverance, Talented, Friendship, Leadership,, Humble, Competitive, Loyal, Pride, Dependable, Supportive, Authentic, Faithful and Love… these are all the things my dad modeled over a lifetime for me, his family, friends and his community.  These are the things that I want my children to see as his Legacy…. their legacy now to continue in their lives and in their communities.  I want them to look around this room and see what a beautiful life looks like and know the qualities it takes to have this.  I  want them to see that we lost a GOOD man, one of a kind and that a loss this profound is one that leaves a deep void.  I ask each of my children, standing in front of my dads friends and our family for you to NEVER forget your grandfather and to carry on his legacy in your life passing it along to the next generations.

I will conclude with those things that I will never forget and I will forever miss:

– Shoes – tons of tennis, basketball, and golf shoes piled by the back door of his house

– the funny noise he made with his mouth – no-one has ever been able to replicate

– his piercing blue eyes – or green depending on what he wore that day

– the smell of his cologne

– Him cooking the most delicious pot of beans

– Getting in his vehicle (always clean) his radio always tuned to  ELVIS RADIO

– Westerns being on the TV when I came over (i think he watched the same one over and over again)

– His voice and him hugging me as I would leave him and him saying I love you Sha

– His laugh

– The way he indulged my children (and me thinking … wait a minute you didn’t do that for me when i was a kid) like running to the store to get my kids mcdonalds or an icy just because thats what they wanted.  He was incorrigible.

– His wallet, which was really just his license and money wrapped with rubber bands

– The crown royal bag of change – mostly quarters that was always in his truck

– His flip phone – one you couldn’t or he didn’t know how to text on.  So he would call instead.  AND no matter what I was doing or who I was with – I ALWAYS answered his call.  Didn’t matter if I was with the most important person  – I answered his call

– I will miss dancing with him.  He was my dance partner (although i had to share him with my mom of course) for my entire life.  Thankfully I got one last dance in January at his Mardi Gras Ball – I savored every moment of that dance.

– Last but certainly not LEAST Basketball season with him.  The local games we would go watch and talk about.  The phone calls during college games… He would call or I would and the first words out of our mouths would be “OMG Did you see that”?! – knowing we were most likely watching the same game.  And if not the other would have to explain what happened in the game that warranted the phone call.  I prayed I would have one more basketball season with him and GOD saw fit to give me grace enough for him to stay on this earth for just that.  Priceless memories….  Basketball season will never be the same without him…..  But I know that Him and Ronnie Bland are having one heck of a basketball game up in heaven.

Thank you all for coming to honor my dad and support us in our grief.  All who know me know how special he was to me and how much i loved him.  They also know what a devastating loss this is for me.  I will forever be crushed and heartbroken without him.  But I know that whatever GOD binds together on earth he Binds together in heaven …. and I know that I will see him again.

 

A legacy of Perseverance

I have written about my uncle a couple of years ago after he passed away and mentioned my grandmother in that piece, noting that her story needs to be told as well.  I wanted to write a tribute to a woman who leaves behind a rich legacy.  Not one of money or things but of love, humility and a whole lot of perseverance in the face of adversity.

My grandmother was a simple woman. She was one of 9 children and was one of the youngest, born in 1912.  She had little more than a 3rd grade education and Cajun French was her first language.  She grew up in the great depression, lost her dad at a young age and married very young.  Agnes was her name.  Agnes had 7 children – all boys and 1 girl – my mother (who is the youngest).  She buried one of her twin boys at the tender age of 3.  When pregnant for my mother and a house full of young boys her husband left her and never looked back.  She was poor and uneducated and had many mouths to feed in a time when the economy was not booming and opportunities weren’t abundant.  Her family encouraged her to place her children in foster care but she refused!   She fiercely loved her children and was determined to keep them together.  The older boys got jobs to help, she worked several jobs and GOD always provided – sometimes by an anonymous delivery of milk or by the local grocer allowing her a little line of credit to purchase her groceries or even by keeping all those children safe from broken bones or sickness (as she had no health insurance or money for medicine).  She was steadfast and faithful.  She was strong and determined even in the fragility of her status of single mother of 6.  I of course am relying on the stories and information my mother and uncles have provided to me about who she was in those young years of her life.

What I remember first hand from having her deeply embedded in my life as a young girl was she was a gentle and humble soul who was so very thankful for everything in her life.  She spent a great deal of time on her knees in prayer and was never bitter about her plight in life.  She found the greatest joy in her family and was a constant source of LOVE – unconditional love for her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.  She always had something to eat for me or anyone that stopped by to visit, she was the first in line to help me out when I needed and did the same for many – although she had little to give she offered her sweet help in any way she could.  She taught me how to cook and I learned through her the true meaning of hospitality.  She had many friends, most of which she outlived.  Upon her death, she packed the house….  People from all over and from varying generations came to pay their respects to this woman who had little to offer this worldly place but made a huge impact on people with her kindness and humility.

My grandmother persevered through some of the most devastating hardships one could imagine.  She pressed on to live her best life – surrounded by the people she loved the most.  She never spoke ill of those that hurt her, she always tried to find the good, the upside to them and she always encouraged forgiveness – through her words and her actions.  You just don’t get a  better example than this…..  Throughout the bible GOD uses the poor and the broken to deliver his message and bring glory to HIM….. that truth is playing out right here for me in this moment.  I have a real life example of the sweetest person I know preserving through difficult valleys to live a beautiful life – and she had greater challenges than me to overcome.  When I think about her and her life it renews my drive to preserve through my own valleys and overflows my spirit with thankfulness that I am part of the legacy she leaves behind.

I know when she got to Heaven God said to her… Well done my good and faithful one!

 

grandmother

 

 

 

From a Mom’s perspective

I often write about my feelings and my experiences from a standpoint of a divorced woman.  Today I want to write from my MOM point of view. Everyone that knows me knows the story about my littles – but very few see the intricacies of all they face and what they have to overcome.  Today is a story about OVERCOMING.

I attended parent/teacher conferences today to look at both girls 3rd nine weeks progress in 5th grade and 2nd grade. These meetings are much different for me than when I went for my BIGS.  The questions I ask are different, the things I am curious and concerned about look wayyy different, my motherly perspective is just different with the littles knowing the challenges in learning and development they face.

To hear a teacher say that Maddie is fighting past her stumbling blocks to master her studies and be able to study and successfully take tests on large amounts of material made my eyes well with tears of joy.  Her time between introduction of new concepts until mastery is much shorter now. And I am realizing that she is able to leverage – on her own – her resources (her homework tutor) to be able to study what she needs to, get help where she needs it as well as work in her extracurricular activities like sports – she is learning to manage her own life at the tender age of 11.  Its quite impressive for an average 5th grader let alone one that has learning challenges, deals with living in 2 households and has to deal with tension and conflict between her parents.  But we all know that there is nothing average about Maddie – she is strong, tenacious and determined – her spirit is unwavering and she is wise beyond her years.  She humbles me when I think of what that child overcomes and the beautiful plan and purpose GOD must be calling her to.

My sweet ball of fire, full of personality MIA – is a leader and a math expert.  She has had many successes and much growth throughout the year that is measurable and quite impressive.  She has fought her way from the bottom to the top of those measuring sticks for 2nd grade!  Her teacher says she a leader in the classroom and with her friends.  Sometimes I see her as overly sensitive and I always say she is emotionally connected to the world in a deeper way than any of us – but when I think of her as a Leader – those qualities may very well bring to her leadership style compassion, empathy and a boldness that many leaders do not possess.

Again I am humbled, truly humbled at how GOD can turn ashes into something beautiful.  Its in the small things folks – the things we tend to overlook that are GOD’s biggest triumphs!  Its those that HE uses to redeem, build, and beautify.  HE has a significant purpose for both Maddie and Mia on this Earth.  My prayer is always that they know this and they are able to discern what GOD is calling them to do.  #REDEMPTION #ADOPTIONISBEAUTIFUL #OVERCOMING #FINDINGGODSPURPOSE

 

 

 

Happy (belated) New Year with a dose of Perseverance

We are already in month 3 of the new year so this post is a little late, however I wanted to pen a post about the new year because I am excited about what it will bring.  2 big things we will see in 2019 is a College Graduation for Lizzy as well as the beginning of her journey called “Adulting” with a move to Houston and the start of a new job with Aire Liquide’s corporate office.  At the opposite end of the school spectrum we will also see the end of elementary school and the transition for Maddie into MIDDLE SCHOOL – where does the time go.

Travel for 2019 hasn’t been 100%locked in but we are off to a good start, kicking off the year with  an amazing ski trip with friends and my big kids.  Me and the girls will be traveling to St. Louis soon to see our favorite guy in the whole wide world and I will venture to explore CUBA later in the summer.  Stay tuned for more exciting travel for 2019 to come.

2019 is shaping up to be a good year already but I wanted to take a moment and focus on the bigger picture for 2019.  Every new year we turn the page and get a chance on a fresh start.  A new set of months to do all over again.  Each year for many years I have sworn off New Years Resolutions and picked themes for the new year.  This year’s theme…. drumroll please…. is PERSEVERENCE! The last few years for me have been transitional… that’s a good word to describe it.  2019, will be the beginning of the end of transition and I see me moving into more of a normal phase of life.  Not to say 2019 wont have challenges, I am just determined to Persevere through them to the life I want…. I have persevered through all the adversity and valleys life has gifted me over the last few years and that perseverance is paying off.  – and yes I mean gifted!

When I look back at all the pictures that document 2018 I smile – It has been quite a year.  Those pictures are filled with adventures, friends – new and old, celebrations, milestones and a new found LOVE…. they document the turning of a corner for me.  The corner where grief and sadness are left and where perseverance takes over!  I am thankful for 2018 and looking forward to 2019 – even looking forward to the Holidays!!!  Happy belated New Year.