After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now.
Ecclesiastes 5:18 (MSG)
It was a beautiful July afternoon despite the clouds that lingered in the sky. It was sticky and humid, as Georgia summers are.
My mom and I were spending time with Pop and Gran for Pop’s birthday. We had spent all day deciding where to go eat dinner to celebrate.
Gran wasn’t feeling too great so she decided to stay home and rest. Pop, mom, and I got ready and headed out to dinner at an adorable restaurant in downtown Clayton. The sky was brewing a seemingly small storm and the wind was whipping.
We got out of the car and shuffled into the restaurant before the rain began falling. The waitress sat us down at a table; suddenly we could hear the piddle paddle of heavy rain on the roof of Clarks on Main. Then the lights began flickering and then poof.
We had completely lost power.
At the bar some men were discussing how all of downtown had lost power.
Pop and I just looked at each other and burst out laughing.
He pulled out his phone and turned on his flashlight, with a smile on his face.
The entire restaurant was illuminated with phone flashlights. It was surely a sight to see.
The waitress came to us and said that she was unable to start any food for us or do much of anything. So, we just sat in the dark, joking and laughing.
This is when this photo was taken of us.
We were laughing. We were joking and cherishing our time together.
This is one of my favorite memories with him.
I was going to begin 2018 with a whole different post. I had a completely different idea in mind about God’s timing; however, on January 2nd, 2018… Pop passed away due to a peaceful, but unexpected death in his kitchen with Gran by his side. This changed my writing material just a tad.
I remember receiving the call from Gran at 8:10pm. She was absolutely shocked and none of us could really process what had just happened.
We knew that he was not feeling his best but we did not expect him to pass so suddenly.
After we received the call, we packed up and headed to the medical center in Clayton where Gran was waiting for the whole family to arrive. We were the first ones to arrive: my mom, my dad, and I. We were waiting for the arrival of twelve more people. The hours after this are a blur to me. I don’t remember majority of what I said or did. I just felt like the clock stopped ticking when we got there.
Losing someone is one of the most disorienting and trying things ever. I had never experienced a loss until a few days ago, which is a blessing from the Lord.
As — I would venture to say — most of the people in the world aren’t ready to lose someone, I was not ready either. I was ready for more time with him and I wish I could have spent more time with him before he passed; however, God’s timing is a strange thing, one I still fail to understand majority of the time.
Gran and Pop spent Christmas with us and it was time that I needed. This is the last time I saw Pop and I remember one of the last things he said to me was, “I called the beauty police. They’re coming to get you because you’re too pretty.”
Pop was complimentary, always going out of his way to make sure there was a smile on my face. Pop always had a story to tell whether it be about someone from the Civil War or about a short man from Asia on one of their many trips out of the country. He was always up for an adventure whether that be down the street to Ingles or to the African savannah, petting a lion. Pop was dedicated; he would always find a way to make things work, always saying, “we will figure it out.” Pop was positive through every single situation that life threw at him. Pop was always ready to learn something new like the history of Germany or how to build a table from this random pile of wood sitting in the corner. Pop always had a hilarious joke, one that would make you laugh until your sides hurt. Pop would always pass on his knowledge to others, eager to give whatever he could. Pop did what he needed to do whether that was love you more or yell at you to teach you a lesson. Pop would always take me searching for the bear in the mountains as a kid and would always sing itsy-bitsy spider with me. Pop would always let me sit in his lap and we would swap jokes for hours. Pop always had a laugh that would fill the room with joy and a full belly because of Gran’s cooking. Pop was a master builder and painter. He is one of the most talented people I have ever known and will ever know.
It’s still hard to believe that he is gone but that is not the point of my post.
My point for this post is simple and straightforward for once: cherish those around you.
Think about this.
When was the last time you told you best friend thank you for supporting you and being there for you through the hills and valleys?
When was the last time you told your mom or dad that you appreciate the time they have dedicated to raising you and being good role models?
When was the last time you gave your grandparents or other extended family big hugs and asked them to tell you stories of their lives?
Pop used to always look at us and ask, “have I told you today that I love you?”
When was the last time you told those closest to you that you love them and you cherish the memories you have with them?
You simply cannot do this enough in one day. We don’t do this enough.
In John, we are commanded (not asked) to do just this.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11 (NIV)
God has truly blessed you with relationships in your life that keep you at bay, that encourage you, that make you happy, that lift you up.
Are you taking those people that God has specifically placed in your life for granted?
And are you appreciating the community you have around you enough?
Friends, it’s a gift that God didn’t have to bless us with; however, He did graciously because He doesn’t want for us to go at life alone. He wants us to build one another up, to love one another, and to spur one another on to great deeds that grow His kingdom further.
We must love one another, but not love quietly. We must love boldly, intentionally, and vocally. We must tell those around us that we love them. We must tell them that we appreciate them. We must tell them that we adore their company. We must tell them that they make us happy and that they make us smile. We must appreciate the community we were so blessed with by God.
It’s just that simple.
It’s as simple as sending a text, writing them a note, making a phone call, going on a lunch date, or just spending some quality time with that person to make sure they know you love and appreciate them.
There’s no gimmicks, no catches, and no loopholes.
It’s just simply quality time and words of affirmation people.
God is commanding us to love one another and I just cannot stress it to you enough that those people around you need to know just how much you appreciate their place in your life.
I have many favorite memories with Pop because he was one heck of a grandfather.
Picking just one favorite memory would be too difficult. Picking just two or three or four would be too hard as well.
For the sake of time, I am just going to share one of my favorite memories I have with him.
Pop was very creative and silly. He invented quick naps. Since I was about three years old, Pop and I took quick naps. I would crawl in his lap and he would look at me with eyes bright and say, “do you wanna take a quick nap?”
Of course I would always say yes because I loved being in Pop’s lap and taking naps.
So, we would close our eyes, snore really loud, and wake up about five seconds later.
We loved quick naps.
One time when I was about ten years old, he asked me if I wanted to take a quick nap. On this particular day, I was really tired.
I closed my eyes and it was lights out.
Two hours later, I woke up and Pop was just laughing at me.
I hadn’t taken a quick nap, but instead an actual nap.
For years we laughed about this.
I cherish this moment and always appreciate it. I always told him I did.
So, what moments do you cherish with someone you love? It could be a grandparent, a parent, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a best friend, an aunt, an uncle, a teacher, a mentor… anyone.
Think of some moments you cherish with someone close to you, someone you love, and someone you appreciate and then leave them in the discussion below.
Make sure you find a way to tell them you cherish this memory.
Spend some time with them. Make sure they know you love them and appreciate them.
I promise you, it’s time well spent. It’s time well spent to expand God’s kingdom, it’s time well spent to spur each other on to good deeds, and it’s time well spent to love. To love deeply, to love boldly, and to love intentionally just as God calls us to do.