Thankful…

Every year like clock work I write a post reflecting on what I have to be thankful for.  This year is no different.  And what a year of things to be thankful for.  Where do I even begin.

I am thankful for:

– Adoption.  November is National Adoption Awareness Month and it always makes me even more keenly aware of the beauty of adoption and what it means to my family.

– Travel.  The ability to travel all over the world and especially with my family enjoying beautiful experiences and making memories.  Some people live their entire lives wanting to travel and see the world and never get to as they age, get sick or just don’t have the funds.

 

– Friends and family.    My amazing friend group and inner circle of family who has stood in the gap for me time after time and who always stand by my side.  I love them with all my heart and am so blessed to have each of them in my life.

– Mended Fences.  For 5 years prayers were storming the Heavens for healing, forgiveness and kindness to be commonplace with me and my ex.  We have finally made it.  Forgiveness is beautiful and our relationship is how it should be.  We are able to finally enjoy the family we built together in peace and unity.

 

– My bigs significant others.  Both Collin and Emily love my children the way I prayed that someone would.  They embrace our crazy family and love each of us. They bring out the best in my Bigs and I see the love my Bigs have for them.  Its everything I prayed it would be.  They bring so much into this family and  I love them just as I love my own.

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– My beautiful children.  I AM SO PROUD OF WHO EACH OF THEM ARE!  I could write a blog post just about how amazing they are and how big I love them!  I’m thankful for who they have become and are becoming and the relationship I have with each one!

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– My person.  Dean loves me and everything about me – even the not so flattering moments I sometimes have. I am so thankful for our lives together and that he will forever be by my side, walking with me through life.

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– Laughter.  Laughter is sometimes the best mechanism for joy in your life.  I’m thankful dean and I enjoy so much laughter in our relationship!

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– New additions.  2 sweet little boys and a new extended family that has welcomed me and mine with open arms. I am thankful for each one of them and look so forward to more time together in the future!

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And last but certainly not least……

– I am immensely thankful for the long list of memories I have of my dad and that I have absolutely no regrets… He loved me and I knew it…. I fiercely loved him and he knew it!

Thankful… it’s a big word this year! Hug your peeps, love them fiercely, embrace your journey.  And if you look around there is certainly lots to be thankful for!  Happy Thanksgiving 🦃

He’s in the Waiting… Part 1

I listened to this song by Elevation Worship numerous times over the past few years called Take Courage.  Here are some of the lyrics:

Slow down, take time, breath in He said,  – He’d reveal what’s to come

The thoughts in HIS mind always higher than mine, He’ll reveal all to come

– Take Courage my Heart, Stay Steadfast my Soul…. HE’S IN THE WAITING

Hold onto your hope as your Triumph unfolds…. HE’S NEVER FAILING

Do not forget his great faithfulness… He’ll finish all He’s begun

I re-listened to that song again today – as I was talking to someone about God being “in the waiting”.  I remember singing that song so many times as a cry and an attempt to hold on to hope in the midst of the storm.  Today when I listened I was moved to tears for a very different reason…. All of those years of being “In the Wait” and now I am living my unfolding Triumph.  It was sweet to think back to all of the times God was faithful in the Wait and what that wait has brought forth for me.

I rarely write about Dean and get all mushy but this post is about so much more.  It is realizing that God did see me through the wait and he is finishing what he began when he removed me from my marriage (kicking and screaming I might add – and Mad that it happened).  But God gently allowed me some time to breath and then on cue – when God knew I was ready and so was everyone else in my life – Dean walked in.  And the walk with Dean has been a journey in and of itself…

God knew that the man walking into my life would need to come with certain qualities.  Dean’s sweet spirit and his enduring patience was instrumental in the healing of my soul and my broken heart.  He didn’t know the depth of my sorrow and the vastness of my pain and guilt when he arrived nor did he ask.  What he did is exactly what I needed.  He humbly let me work out my issues – stepping quietly to the side – letting me have my moments in the valley and being ever present and ready to resume when I would come through, always loving me.

He embraces my life chasing after my 4 kids, bending to their needs and wants, even if they are far fetched, unreasonable or demanding or I am – he smiles, nods and says “wherever you are.. I am.

And in my quest for finding happiness and finding a partner – I guess I just always thought it would look the same….  Exchange one life for the exact other just with a different face.  What I got is a stark difference but one that my heart so needed and so desired.   That previous life where chaos abounded and  life was always blasting forward to bigger better, more stuff, more money… more more more.  A race to be somebody and to be known by many.  In stark contrast  my beautiful new life is filled with someone who is content, has a minimalist outlook, likes nature and outdoor activities, embraces a simple existence with low drama and treasures simplistic, yet deep interactions.  There is no race for fame or to be known, me knowing his inner most thoughts and feelings is enough for him.  A touch, a glance, a conversation is what is highly regarded and valued now.  It was the wait that brought me further away from the chaos and allowed me to see the value in these things and to embrace a beautiful and meaningful relationship with a man who loves me like no other ever has.

The wait was so worth it!  He has healed my soul and opened the opportunity to a beautifully happy loving future!

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And btw I said YES!

 

 

Kindness

My youngest daughter had a recent encounter that has compelled me to write about.  Here’s the cliff notes version of what happened:  We were at a local high school football game.  She was playing with her friend under the bleachers where the other kids play.  When we were about to leave we noticed that she was surrounded by older kids from a neighboring school and what seemed to be innocent was not at all.  They had surrounded her and her friend and were saying mean things to them and not allowing them to leave.  When we approached and said it was time to go – the older children scattered like ants (so we knew there was something fishy) I am not certain what transpired before we walked upon it – what I do know is what my daughter reported that those kids were saying to her and her friend.  One statement in particular struck me to my core, so much that it has prompted this post.  They told them “If you were adopted I bet your parents would want to return you to the adoption center”.  Now…. I am certain that none of those children knew Mia was adopted.  However, they weren’t teasing her because she was adopted or they even suspected that she was… they were using the “adoption dig” as something just plain mean and degrading to another child regardless.

Please teach your children to be kind.  Raise them so that when they are away from you and your watchful eyes that they will always do and say the right thing.  Be an example of kindness as well, in your home and your community – your kids are watching you.  Kindness is easy.  Teach your children Adoption is beautiful and should never be looked at as though it is a “bad” or something to be ostracized or used to ridicule someone.

If you are reading this take time today to have a conversation with your children about kindness and the beauty in all people.

For me, this was the first time that I had to admit that my children just may be targets of prejudice and hateful things that are said and done because they are different.  A worry that no mom should have to carry with her.

I am thankful that we attend a school that has some diversity in its student body and teaches kindness and recognizes the beauty in being different.  Being a part of this school for 14 years I know that those qualities are embraced and supported throughout the school and it shows in the student body.  The world however hasn’t come that far yet.  So please do your part…

 

A praying mother

There is something powerful about a praying mother.  A mother, on her knees, face down, praying over and over, day after day because she sees her child and grandchildren suffer – its the only action she can take, the only one that brings about true change.  I am talking about my mother who has spent countless hours praying that the toxic person that infiltrated our lives and changed our path forever would be removed.  BUT My mom also prayed that she would be blessed as she moved on.  Wow!  Not many of us moms would pray that prayer for the ones that hurt our children.  She did and her prayers were answered recently.

The “girl” that had a hand in the destruction of my marriage is now gone and out of our lives.  Not the ending my ex was hoping for in his relationship but the one we all needed – desperately needed.  With her exit from our lives – we can all begin to heal.  Needless to say it has been a long hard road filled with many battles and a constant state of turmoil.  My ex and I were never allowed to deal with our own stuff that led to the end of our 25 year relationship nor allowed to figure out how we co-parent our children together.  That one person kept us in battle mode at all times.  After her departure, my children and I breathed a huge sigh of relief, almost instantaneously – as well as He did.   I think he realized the grass wasn’t greener and what a mess he had to clean up after her departure – because frankly the carnage of infidelity has a ripple affect that continues and continues –  a hard lesson he has had to learn.  But here’s the thing about family – my children showed up and stood up for him – as did I.

The good news is that We, as a family are healing.  Fences are being mended, relationships that were estranged are being repaired, forgiveness and grace abound.  And although it is not the way I thought it would look 25 years ago – it is good – its just different.  My ex and I are co-parenting our beautiful littles and they are thriving – all of our children have access to us and we communicate fluidly about family stuff.  He has someone new in his life, whom I like and get along beautifully with.

So let me give you just a glimpse at what GOD can do with those prayers from my mother and what my family’s reality is now -Mia’s Gotcha Day celebration brought all of our children, me and my family and him and his family together – United!   At a soccer tournament recently – we all went and sat together as a family to cheer Maddie on and after had a meal; Me, my ex, both of our significant others and our 3 girls.  That felt good.  When I think about our lives and the reality we are now living it brings tears to my eyes.  Knowing how far we have come to get to this point, all the water under the bridge and yet GOD still can heal and bring beauty from ashes.

I never in a million years thought that this was possible – but again never underestimate what GOD can do.  He can move mountains!  He does honor and hear our prayers, especially those sent to him by a mother.

This certainly isn’t the end of the story, but just the beginning.  I finally feel like I have closure with that part of my life and it finally feels “right” and in order.  It frees me to move on.  What a journey…. I’m excited to see the next chapters.

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Surrendered Expectations

Stepping down off of yesterdays soapbox I have brushed my hair, freshened my lipstick and regrouped – to say the least.  Some days you just have to get that stuff off your chest – so to speak.  And as if on que, God always shows up and gives me his word and helps me see things through His eyes.

I read my daily devotion this morning and it was about just that very thing I entitled this post and so relevant to yesterdays post:   surrendering our expectations.  It asked a very poignant question – one I pondered for some time this morning.

Is it possible that God has given you the desires of your heart, but they are packaged differently than you expected?

Wow… what a question for someone like me who really had strong feelings about how I felt my life should be playing out. I have learned a lot during this journey and that has been one of the biggest;  to temper my expectations and trust GOD that he knows my wants and needs and he sees the things I cannot see and he answers my prayers even if they look differently than I expected them to look.

At the root of that question is “Do you really Trust GOD?”  I am learning to surrender to his will and give up the illusion of control – He’s got this – He is in control – He does not need my help lol.

So…. How would you answer the question above?  My answer is …… Yes it is possible and yes they are packaged very differently than I thought they would look – but those desires of my heart are met – they have been fulfilled and they are more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

Perspective gained as I walked off the soapbox.  Almost as if HE listened to me in real time and ran over to talk with me about what the big picture really looks like.  Just step back and take a look around.  ***See below for a small glimpse

 

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My soapbox

I have started this post now 4 times and regrouped.  Here is my final attempt to get out what I am feeling and I may sound a little mad, —–  but I’m not mad… I’m hurt (thank you Jessica for helping me call it what it is) and I can’t seem to write this without that feeling of sorrow coming out on the page.   In this journey and especially when writing my blog I have been vigilant about being authentic.  Well here is authentically how I feel.soapbox

How can people be so thoughtless and self centered?  How can one say in the pursuit of “Them being happy” I am going to walk away and leave chaos in their wake that will affect even the closest of those that love them.  Then after they walk away and you and yours semi-survive their of path of destruction …. their new happiness turns out to be a trainwreck and isn’t happy after all – and they just walk away like ok that didn’t work out.  WHAT!?

I say all of this to hopefully make someone stop and think…. think about someone else beside themselves.  Unless you are the uni-bomber, you do not live life in a silo/alone.  The things we say and do in life affect other people.  The careless disregard for anybody but oneself is reckless and leads to damaged children, damaged friendships, damaged people.  If you are not happy – the only real answer is to look within yourself.  Happiness comes from within….

Here are my key takeaways to pass along out of this whole experience:

– The grass is never greener

– True Contentment and Happiness comes from within AND a deep relationship with GOD

– Things will NEVER ever make you happy

– You reap what you sow,  and if that is confusing for you or you’re just not sure what that means just follow the 10 Commandments and you should be good.

– Respect can never be demanded – it is always earned.

– True commitment isn’t conditional

– and last but certainly not least… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

There are a lot of good people in my life that overshadow the bad.  I am thankful for the many blessings in my life – even those that were painful.  I continue to pray for the peace which surpasses all understanding.

 

“Your ways are higher, you know just what I need.  I trust you Jesus, you see what I cannot see”                                  -Chris McClarney (I’m Listening)

 

 

PS  You may now continue on… my feet stomping temper tantrum is over.  Life goes on.

 

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!

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

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.