Sunday, December 6, 2015

On turning 40...

Tomorrow when I wake up, I'll be 40.

What the crap.

I remember *vividly* when my Dad turned 40.  He was O-L-D.  His old friends made fun of him and he laughed it up about being 40.

And tomorrow it's my turn.  I'm not sure how that happened, because I'm kind of sure that I'm still 18.

Other than the fact that I'm still confused how I'm actually 40, I'm okay to be 40.

My twenties were a blur of newness... my first job. My first husband. (Kidding, Dan...) My biggest decision ever in choosing to say "yes" to the kindest, sweetest, nerd I had ever met- and having no idea what in the world I was in for in the years ahead.  We embraced ministry together, made friends together, and then picked it all up and moved to Winston- together.

Our life here began with the excitement of trying to find a church, learn our way around town, and begin the process of starting our family.  It was in my twenties that we lost our first child... and unfortunately I would know that pain twice before I turned 30.

I rounded the corner into my thirties- having no idea the hell that was going to unfold.

To celebrate my thirtieth, Mom and I went to New York.  We waved to you all from the Today Show courtyard and saw the Rockettes.  We shopped and ate and I took her to Starbucks for her very first time.

What I wouldn't give to spend tomorrow with her at Starbucks.

Dan finally "gave in" and gifted me the best 30th birthday present ever... a sweet little mutt named Webster.  He comforted my tears for 10 years before I held him on the floor of the vet while his fur caught my tears one last time.  He left a hole in our family that is still a fresh wound each time Julianna asks "Where Webster go?"

Shortly after Webby joined us, all of those doctor visits and blood draws paid off when we experienced the miracle of all miracles: we were expecting a baby girl.  Because she decided to show up a month before her due date, we were all surprised to end up in the hospital earlier than planned.  What a crazy day it was to kill time waiting for my labor to progress in a room watching Food Network with Dan, Mom, and Daddy.  (And maybe some doughnuts that sweet Abby snuck in... whoops.)  That funny looking preemie entered our wold with a (literal) earthquake and has shaken our lives up ever since.  Every day I am grateful that she shares the name of my sweet Momma, and that those two had such a precious bond before Mom got sick.

In my thirties, we had our eyes opened to things we could no longer ignore.  I walked with friends through their adoptions and traveled the world to meet some of those precious kids.  And after Dan's persistence and patience... I finally "agreed" to a life of caring for those children in Foster Care.  That "yes" would change my life and give me the daughter of my heart.  It would also give me more grey hair, more frustration with a broken system, and more compassion for those who others than I could ever imagine.  One of the joys in all of our process of becoming a Foster family is knowing that Daddy gave us his whole-hearted blessing on our decision.

My thirties brought about inexplicable pain when we lost friends to death.  I still attest that we are far to young to have experienced so many peers gone.  I miss my friends.  I miss them for their own spouses and families, and I miss them for me.

And most of all, I miss my Daddy.  16 months before he died, we lost his beloved Mary.  I was beyond fortunate to have the World's Best Stepmother... and I am so very sad that my girls don't get her wisdom, her charm, and her humor.  And I am so very sad that they won't grow up with their Dadaw to give them a hard time about their first boyfriends, their lousy driving skills, and their first jobs.  I am grateful that his legacy lives on with the Do Good movement... but dang it, I miss him being the one doing the good.

So forties?  Come at me, bro.  I've survived my thirties and that was no joke.  And while all of the things I mentioned before about killed me... they didn't.  Because in my corner I have Dan.  And Elizabeth.  And Julianna.  And all of you.  And the chance to figure out my ever changing faith.  And my ever changing self.  I can take classes to help me, to challenge me, to teach me.  I can admit when I'm wrong.  I can say "I don't know."  I can laugh when I mess up.  I can find help to fix whatever needs fixing.  I can cry in front of you and not feel like I have to apologize when it gets awkward for both of us.  I can say no to commitments that drain me.  I can walk away from things I don't enjoy.  And I am almost to the point I can step away from relationships that are toxic... I'm not there yet, but I'm trying.

I am ready to be done with my thirties.  They were painful.  So maybe my forties are my time to soar.

If not, then we'll look forward to 2025 and claim that my 50s will kick ass.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

a recap of our day.

September 24, 2012.  I was terrified of this first.  The first year after Daddy died- I wasn't sure how the day would go, but I knew that it would be hard.  And it was.  We invited some of our friends over for dinner- I made my favorite foods that Daddy used to make, and we collected donations for Meadowlark Meals (a still relatively new program at E's school.)  My heart stumbled over that first year and kept on going.

September 24, 2013.  This year was- without a doubt- the hardest Do Good Day.  This was not only my Daddy's birthday... but it was what was supposed to be our baby's birthday.  Sadly, we never got to hold that baby... so that day was grief upon grief.  We decided not to hide in our pain (like I, honestly, wanted to) and threw a big ol' party.  All day long we enjoyed the company friends, surprise visitors, donations galore... and slowly the day turned joyful.

September 24, 2014.  This year felt so much easier.  Because I didn't dread Daddy's birthday.  It wasn't just his birthday... it was actually Do Good Day.  So many people sent me so many stories- it seemed like it was catching on.  I loved hearing how people blessed those around them throughout the day.

But then this year.


This year I'm not sure where to begin.

I woke up this morning and texts started pouring in with your stories.  Facebook started blowing up early on with people reminding each other to Do Good.  People challenged each other.  People bragged on each other.  And this year it went BIG.  Here are some of my highlights:

- Classrooms across the state were inspired by students and teachers who shared with them the concept of Do Good.

- Homeless individuals had breakfast provided for them.

- Coworkers were celebrated for their friendship.

- Lost dogs were helped home.

- Children were not endangered by parents who were already past their limits. (Purely in jest, DSS...)

- Donations to charities were made.

- Meals were paid for.

- School employees were told how much they were valued.

Y'all.  It truly feels like a MOVEMENT.  Because of you.

Those of you who have been here from the beginning know that I started the concept of "Do Good" as a tribute for Daddy... as well as a way to make sure that his idea of Doing Good wouldn't die with him.  And it's FAR surpassed what I envisioned.

Please know how grateful I am that you are a part of this effort.  And know how grateful I am that some of you were able to honor our friend John.  Tonight alone we raised almost $1400.  We're waiting on a few more donations before we send a check to Arizona... please know if you'd like to contribute, I'll gladly send your money with ours.

It truly takes a village... I am so very thankful you are mine.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Do Good Day, 2015

Suuuuuuper quick recap:
-My Daddy always told me to "Do Good."  It was his "thing."  Now it's mine.
-He died in 2012.
-September 24 is his birthday, so we've made that "Do Good Day" in his memory.
-Previous Blog Posts about Do Good Day are here, here, and here.


There is so much pain.

Just. so. much.

This year, Do Good Day falls right in the middle of the
pain.  In the middle of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Days before a Walk to End Alzheimer's that I will be doing in honor of my sweet Momma.  And now, days after one of my very favorite people has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

I don't even know where to begin.

My hope for this September 24 is that you will Do Good.  I don't care how you do it, I just want you to do it.

But if you are looking for how and where to give money- I'd love for you to donate to any of the above causes.  St. Baldrick's.  Alzheimer's.  Or even to my buddy's medical bills.  (More details about this soon.)

As always, I am CONSTANTLY collecting gift cards.  I have a file of "Do Good" cards that are donated throughout the year as needs arise.  I'd love to add any that you'd like to share.

For now, I just wanted to put it on your radar.  It's coming.  I can't wait to see what we do, together.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

For the Love...

Once upon a time, I had a fake best friend.  Well, let's be honest.  I've had several of them.  Jay-Z thinks I'm awesome, Jimmy Fallon thinks I'm hysterical, and well, Jen Hatmaker thinks I'm her real life bestie.

None of those, sadly, are true statements.

However, one of those mentioned has caressed my face.

And her name is Jen Hatmaker.

If you have spent any time with on this blog, on my social media pages, or in person... you know I love Jen.  She's funny, she's smart, and she speaks Truth in a way that so many people "get"... she's just fantastic.

The short version of my love of this "celebrity" (she hates that term, btw) is this: in 2008, 4 of my not-yet-but-soon-to-be-best-friends and I decided to get together to do a Bible Study.  We knew-ish each other, but thought because of our similar places in life, maybe we'd have a connection.  (Side note: I highly recommend this method of finding your people.  Pick people that you might like, pick something to do together, and give it a season.  It might work.  It might not.  I've been in groups that will never let go of each other and groups that enjoyed the season and moved on.)  Two of those in our group went to our local Christian Book Store, sat on the floor, and looked through studies.  We stumbled upon one written by Jen, bought it because it looked cute, and started living life together with Jen as our unspoken 6th Group Member.

It wasn't long until I friended her on Facebook.  Because back in 2008, I thought it might make this sweet pastor's wife feel good to hear from little ol' me that her words had made a difference.

Ahem.  Yep.  Cause she needed a fan.

Shortly after she started writing big things... like Interrupted... which did just that and interrupted our lives.  Several of you will say that "Seven" was your favorite Jen book... mine was and will likely always be "Interrupted" because it changed us for the better.  Permanently.

I began to share her books with friends- putting them in the hands of ones I loved hoping they would love Jen back.

Then she had this moment where she made us all say "amen"... and the World At Large fell in love with my Fake Bestie.

Her life went along at lightening speeds... HGTV found her and did a show about her amazing house. People started mentioning her to me asking if I'd ever heard of her.  I started to feel a little territorial of her for a while (she was my fake bestie first!) then realized how beyond childish that was and embraced that people loved my Love... and it's so good.

Yesterday, her newest book hit the shelves.  I was fortunate enough to be able to read an advanced copy with 499 strangers who have banded together on Facebook.  I have learned more about them than I know of some of you- and I'm excited (and terrified) to meet them all in Austin in a few weeks.   I watched "Launch Day" blow up my Newsfeed yesterday and sat back feeling a bit like I hadn't turned in my homework... I had failed to alert you all about how her book was now AVAILABLE and how YOU NEEDED TO RUN OUT AND IMMEDIATELY BUY IT.

So, in true Becky Fashion... here we are "A Day Late and A Dollar Short".  Y'all want this book?  Fine.  Let's do this.

In the spirit of Love and Doing Good, I'm sponsoring a bloggy contest.  I'd love for you to enter.

Here's how to get "entered":
* Like this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram= one entry (per each site!)
* Share this post= two entries
* Tell me how you are Doing Good (privately or publicly)= 5 entries

And here is what you will win...
* A copy of Jen's Book, For The Love, which is both hysterical and uplifting
* The world's best pen
* Your very own "Do Good" coffee mug
* Your choice of a "Do Good" T-shirt or Tote Bag
* A gift card to my super favorite place in Winston-Salem, Camino Bakery (Not local? No problem. I'll send you a Starbucks card and gift the Camino one to someone local.)

Not enough reason for you to enter?  How about some more cute pictures of me with Jen?

The Six of Us.  Laurie had just moved to Phoenix, so she was there as Flat Laurie.

Did you want to see a better picture of when I first met her?  Sorry, this will have to do.  "Someone" kinda forgot to take a picture while I was busy making sure she had her own with Jen.  If you'd like to see *that* picture, you might want to ask my friend Michelle... oh, whoops... I see what I did there.

My life has been enriched by her words.  You will love this book.  The "Thank You Notes" alone are worth it.  It's perfectly timed for the beginning of school- it gives us a pass from all of the things that the world (and Pinterest) tells us we "should" be doing as Mommas.  I can't wait to hear what you think about the book... and I'm happy to autograph your copy if Jen isn't available to.

Need more?  Here's a link to what I wrote about my first meeting with Jen.  Sigh.

Now get to sharing/posting/entering.  FOR THE LOVE, people!

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Company I Keep

In recent days, I have been filled with memories of wisdom I gleaned from my Mom.  She taught me tons about the ways of the word including the necessity of quality paper towels, spending money on good framing, and how to make lasagna.  She wiped up behind me before I had even spilled and was able to make me "straighten up" with just an exhale of breath.

One of her very favorite sayings during my formative years was "You're known by the company you keep." The fact I have been friends with the Trashy Cable Twins for 35+ years may cause some to wonder whether or not I've fully embraced those words... but let me go on record by saying that I, indeed, have.

Just this week, my Company showed up at the Sticht Center with brand new pajamas for Mom never having spent any time with her in her healthy days.

My Company continues to reach out with words of encouragement- "This book was helpful to me..."; "Remember to take care of yourself..."; "How can I help...."

My Company brought meals to us in the hospital.  My Company also understood when we just weren't up for visitors.

My Company understands when I have to change plans to deal with out of town guests.  Or trips to Mom's facility.  Or because I just can't.

My Company has us drop Julianna at their house for an unknown amount of time- only to have her spend the night.  They send me pictures and videos of the fun she has so that I can be assured my little ones are well loved and happy while I am away from them.

My Company plans dates with my girls in the days to come so that they will feel continuity while I feel chaos.

My Company knows when to pour the wine and when to stop.

My Company loves me well.

I am sad/ mad/ discouraged/ angry/ disappointed that my girls won't get to hear some of Mimi's lessons straight from her... but I know that they will feel the effects of her wisdom through the love of my Company.  And while we were able to giggle as Mom rolled her eyes at some of our conversations in the hospital, I'm grateful that her words will live in my heart even when she can't speak them to me anymore.  I've lived almost 40 years trying to please my Mom... and I know that the quality of my Company pleases her even now.

Monday, April 6, 2015


For the last 3 years, I have been in a state of holding my breath.

I feared we would never hit "normal" again.  Nothing could be normal without Daddy ... after learning of my Mom's dementia... after losing friends to death... after feeling like we lived in a continual state of loss.

And yet here we are.  Normal.

This is what my new normal looks like:

I have an 8 year old who is funny, too smart for me, and helps me navigate our new world.  She keeps me thinking through my answers as her questions challenge me daily.  She is light and laughter and consistency in my days that are chaos.

I am the proud legal guardian of a beautiful, stubborn, and sweet 2 year old.  She has brought us hope in times that we couldn't conjure it up without her.  She loves loudly and deeply and fiercely... and we are thankful for the charge to help guide all of that energy in a safe and loving environment.

I have a mother who is constantly losing who she is.  Her face and sometimes mannerisms remind me of days gone by, but her current dementia filled days make me ache for our old "normal".  I go through times where I can't remember the good... and I am grateful for those who come along side me and fill my heart and mind with memories of her grace, dignity, and wisdom.

I have a precious husband who is often my barometer of pause.  He tells me when I should slow down, encourages me to write more, and will often bring out the next bottle of wine when days are as lovely as they were yesterday and our deck is filled with an impromptu gathering.

I have a faith that is changing and growing... I feel a bit like it's made of Silly Putty- words of days gone by are still imprinted on it, yet in moments I've allowed it to grow harder than is malleable.  I long for the soft and stretchy ease, yet I'm certain that I'm to learn something new in this season.

I have a home that is messy and fluid.  This past week was our Spring Break and we saw friend after friend come through our doors, leaving their mark on our hearts as we enjoyed what spice they add to our home.  Never have I enjoyed a Spring Break more... although I need to detox from the food and drinks and sleep for about 34986 more hours.

And this is our new normal.  Days filled with love and loss and joy and pain and heartache and celebration.  Normal.

I have cringed a bit lately as a few well-meaning friends have suggested that the addition of our sweet  girl is somehow supposed to fill the gap of losing our most recent baby.  While we love that their stories overlap and intersect (we think that Baby J was born right about the time our baby died), one is not a replacement for the other.  One brings hope and mothering into a bleak heart of loss... yet a life cannot be traded one for another.  Yet that is where we are- celebrating the life of one as we remember the loss of the other.  Normal.

I guess this is what being fully human is about.  Holding on to normal quite loosely, realizing that it changes moment by moment.  Trying not to get stuck in the longing for easier days, trying not to wish away the current moment while still anticipating the next.  Reaching out for spicy friends when our own bowl has become bland.  Returning the favor for others by pouring the wine when we are able. Reading and praying and writing and hugging and laughing and crying.  Encouraging others- no matter what their normal looks like- that we will gather with them through it all.

Peace and grace.
And hope for your Normal to be filled with Light, as we exhale together.