University of Georgia vs Auburn University 2014

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“Football is an honest game. It’s true to life . It’s a game about sharing. Football is a team game. So is life.”

Joe Namath, former American football quarterback and actor (May 31, 1943-    )

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The excitement is mounting over a huge football game being played in the Heart of the South this weekend.  The University of Georgia Bulldogs will take on the Auburn University Tigers in Athens, Georgia on Saturday, November 15, 2014 where over 92,000 fans will gather together. A lot of folks love a good football game, and I am no exception.  Admittedly, I don’t follow the players as a faithful fan should , but I do know a few tidbits about this weekend’s big match up.  I know that the AU Tigers are counting on senior quarterback, Nick Marshall to have a mistake-free start and a strong running game while, UGa quarterback, Hutson Mason needs a key win, and running back and former Heisman front runner, Todd Gurley is returning for the Bulldogs after missing four games due to a NCAA suspension and word is that he has stayed in top shape.  This could mean he’ll start, even though freshman, Nick Chubb has done fantastic in Gurley’s absence.  AU has an increased challenge being on the road after a big loss last week.  I’ve  kept up with some other AU and UGa games this season, especially the most recent match-ups.  While UGa is coming off of a big, winning blowout against the Kentucky Wildcats with a score of 63-31, Auburn is getting over a very close loss to Texas A&M, 41-38.  There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that both teams need and want a win if there is any hope of staying in the running for the SEC title.

This game is important to us and a lot of families that we know for the  same reason.  We have both UGa fans and Auburn fans in our immediate family, so that makes us a house divided!

My husband, Donny and I met on a blind date as students on the UGa campus before our 20th birthdays and our daughter, Leah and her husband, Scott are recent graduates of Auburn.  Not only was Scott an athletic team trainer for the Tigers, his family is a many generational AU family, so we have fun ribbing each other about this rivalry. In addition, our new daughter-in-law, Jessica graduated in May of this year from AU.  Thanks to Scott’s grandparents, we were able to get some “hard to come by” tickets to the game so we will be driving over to Athens, Georgia with Leah and Scott on Saturday.  We plan to fly both a UGa flag AND an AU flag on our truck!  We are so looking forward to meeting up with lots of good friends, many that we attended high school or college with. There will be boatloads of BBQ, fried chicken, burgers, hotdogs, and ribs, chips/dips, brownies, and coolers filled to the brim with favorite game day beverages, too.  The parking lots and practically every square inch of this old school campus founded in 1785, will be covered with Red/Black and Orange/Blue, enthusiastic fans, families, friends, and students.   Dozens of kids will be rolling in the fall leaves and throwing footballs to one another.  It will be a truly All-American kind of day.   Leah and I talked today about how we will plan to stay warm as a big chill is coming in this weekend.  With a 7:15 p.m., ET kickoff, we will surely be wearing big coats, gloves, earmuffs and we’ll carry blankets into the Sanford Stadium, too. I bet we will be looking for some hot chocolate as we head to our seats.

And as the school bands are cranking up, the enormous, broad-shouldered players from Georgia and Auburn line the field on each side, the National Anthem is sung loudly, I’ll get that same thankful feeling I always get when I am in a place like this…

It is good to be alive!

See you between the hedges!

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Leah and Scott doing one of their favorite things: tailgating in Auburn, Alabama.

Wedding Tips Things I Have Learned

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Leah, our daughter and Jessica, our daughter-in-law are engaged!

I have learned a few things about weddings as a MOB (Mom-of-Bride) and a MOG (Mom-of-Groom) since  I had the chance to be both this past year, within eleven weeks of each other.  Yes, our only daughter married in March 2014 and our only son was a groom in June 2014.  We are happy knowing that they have married well-suited partners and are looking forward to a bright future for both couples!

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Our daughter, Leah and her husband, Scott become one on March 29. 2014.
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Our son, Walker and his wife, Jessica become one on June 21, 2014.

Fall is a beautiful time for a wedding!  My parents , my sister, Laura Lea and her husband, and we were all married in the fall.  Most weddings, it seems, take place in the spring or summer months.  With that being so, you may be planning a 2015 wedding.  I hope the following lessons I have learned might benefit you:

Advice for the bride and the Mom of the bride (MOB):

Breathe Purposefully and Often (see breathing exercise below).
CRY as needed, and if you don’t want to cry in public, go cry in a pillow.
KNOW that the day will go by no matter what. Do your best to enjoy it.
Also KNOW that one or more things are likely to not go exactly as planned, so as stated above, simply breathe through the circumstances and don’t let a problem ruin these special, fleeting moments.
Laugh and smile whenever you can.

Be happy that your daughter has found the love of her life.

The demeanor of the MOB spills over to the bride which spills over to the groom. It helps for the MOB to be intentional about her overall attitude and well-being.  Exercise often.

Most importantly, PRAY a lot. Pray for His peace that passes all human understanding. The Bible says that those who seek Him will find Him every time. ( James 4:8 & Deuteronomy 4:29) Pray without ceasing, (1Thessalonians 5:16-18) sending up “arrow prayers” throughout the preceding days.
**And lastly, for the Bride and Groom, foster your faith together in God. “Though ONE may be overpowered, TWO can defend themselves, a cord of THREE strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

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FOUR-SEVEN-EIGHT BREATHING EXERCISE

Breathe in
through your nose,

for a count of  FOUR.

Hold for a full count of
SEVEN.

Breathe out
through your mouth
for a full count of EIGHT,
completely
emptying
your lungs.

REPEAT

I also learned a few things as a Mom of the Groom. It is truly a myth that the MOG must wear beige and keep her mouth shut.  Make yourself available for the bride, but recognize that she and her mom will likely be taking care of most details.  Keep communication open and always be ready to listen to whatever is being planned.  Stay connected to your son with one-on-one visits/phone calls/texts as much as possible.  Take JOY in knowing that your son has found a woman who loves him and that he wants to share his future with.  Pray for the couple and share Ecclesiastes 4:12 with them. On the actual wedding day, focus on the groom and his wedding party friends.  They will need to eat (a lot) and you can help attend to details that come up for them.

All in all, 2014 has been a memorable year. Six new babies were born into our family,  our son and his wife graduated from college, and both of our two children were married.

If you have been a parent of a bride or groom recently, you may have advice to add!  If so, please leave your thoughts below.

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Gulf Shores, Alabama, July 2014… 3 married couples

20140329LS_1142 jessica + walker_0440Walker and Jessica now reside in St. Louis, MO where he is continuing his education and she is a nurse.  I try to write them letters a couple of times each month, yes, actual U.S. Postal letters!  We also schedule FaceTime regularly with them.  Leah and Scott live nearby, so we are able to connect often with meals in and we exercise together.  Maintaining solid relationships with anyone, including married children, calls for intentional, conscientious choices.  My husband, Donny and I try to only give advice to the newlyweds when it is asked for, and even then, we give the “short answer”, dropping the subject unless the couple brings it up again.

With the holiday season upon us, I credit my much-loved Fernbank Elementary friend, Jan, who also has two married children, with teaching me that any holiday can be celebrated on any day, so let’s be flexible when it comes to sharing special days with our child’s in-law family.

Life is here.

Life is now.

Let us rejoice in Life.

My Mama’s favorite verse was:

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

NOTE: Since this post was first published in November 2014, both of these couples have become parents. Michael Scott Andrews lll, (Tripp) was born on August 24, 2018 and Elizabeth Noel Page made her debut on September 7, 2018. Donny and I are bursting with joy as we have welcomed our first two grandchildren within a two week period.

Elizabeth Page
Tripp Andrews

The Story Continues…

A Sister Session An Important Appointment

“Our roots say we’re sisters, our hearts say we’re friends.”

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We often meet at Panera Bread near Perimeter Mall, a good halfway point between our homes.
Sunday afternoon, April 2, 2017

With both of our parents now gone, the four Walker Sisters find it more important than ever to meet for our quarterly Sister Sessions.  Today was one of those days and it was grand to be together again.  We all always agree that we feel closer to our Mama when we are at a table sharing a meal, sharing our life and our hearts.  Life is busy, that’s for sure.  Often , are too tired to travel to each other for our gathering. Yet, we all consider it a priority to make a date at least every three months.  And we easily recall how our Mama always said , “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

It is a time we pass along clothes we no longer wear and recommend books we have read.  We encourage and edify each other, and we laugh until we cry over memories we recall. We bring our calendars and note important upcoming occasions.

We all want to continue the loving legacy that began with our parents when they married in 1947.

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Mom and Dad Walker in 1999 with their six grown children

We love our two brothers and we miss them when they’re not with us, but they wouldn’t want to join us for a Sister Session, ’cause it’s all girl talk.

Sunday afternoon, April 2, 2017, Panera Bread, Perimeter Mall
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Kathy
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Joan
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Mary Ann
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Laura Lea
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at Webster Drive in Decatur, Georgia
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Cracker Barrel in Buford, Georgia on 11/4/14

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Girls should always make time to connect whether they are friends, sisters, moms/daughters, nieces/aunts, neighbors and others.

Girls need time to share what is going on in their world with someone who cares.

Our Sister Session is a great opportunity for this.

Memory…the diary we carry with us

[pullquote]“Memory…is the diary we all carry about with us.” Oscar Wilde, Irish Writer and Poet (1854-1900)[/pullquote]

Whether you take your kids Trick or Treating, Trunk or Treat, or just head to your local mall for candy, this holiday will always be a memorable day for both young and old alike.

Since both my sister, Kathy, and a close friend, Randy from our youth group at church were born on October 31st, Halloween was always a big event on 655 Webster Drive in Decatur, Georgia. Mama pulled out all the stops to make the day so fun. There was scary music piped in at the front door, bowl after bowl of delicious beef stew or chili, sweets galore and even a Haunted House in our basement for several of the years that I can recall. The Haunted House was always super spooky, with jello to put our hands on in the dark, thinking we were touching someone’s insides, sheets hanging all around, moaning sounds coming from all corners!

WE laughed and laughed, after we got over being scared out of our wits!

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Leah and Walker in a  Western Get-Up
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Carving the Jack O Lantern with Daddy
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That is Leah, age two with me. We were part of a team that visited Nursing Homes and Hospitals to bring cheer
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Our little “pumpkin” in 1991, before her brother was born the following February
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Our Dalmatians… Big Sis was always looking after her baby brother, Walker and she still does today

We’ve always loved OCTOBER,  our anniversary on the second and Halloween as book-ends, with Leah’s birthday in-between on October the eighth.

Even before our children were big enough to go out for candy, we had fun dressing them up in costumes. As they were growing up, Halloween was a big event, even if their Daddy had to work, which he often did. We would plan weeks ahead what costumes would be perfect and they were ready to hit the streets as soon as possible once they got home from school.  But that didn’t happen until after their tummies were filled with a big, hot bowl of stew or chili. Just like Mama served to us.  Some things never change.   It’s funny how some of the best things, rarely change.

One of the hardest things for me when our kids were small was, “Now, what do we do with ALL of this candy???” Our solution was that the children got to choose one treat out of their stash each day. I’m not sure how well they followed this request of mine, but I do know that many times the candy lasted past the new year! Of course, keeping myself out of their candy was a challenge in itself! The mini Snickers were my favorite.

What are some of your favorite October memories?

Celebrate Me Home Remembering Brad

Last night, my husband and I had the good fortune to join my sister and her husband for a live concert with Kenny Loggins. These loved ones are in the midst of grieving the recent passing of their 25-year-old son, Brad, and these plans were made in hopes to take some time out from being a full-time advocate for their son, who was injured in an accident on June 24, 2008, when he suffered a TBI. (see previous blog entitled, REMEMBERING BRAD for the whole story.)

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This concert was held in an open amphitheatre on the south side of Atlanta. The rain earlier in the day had subsided, leaving behind a wonderful, cool Spring night.

Some of our favorite greatest hits through the evening included: RETURN TO POOH CORNER, FOOTLOOSE, I’M ALLRIGHT, YOUR MAMA DON’T DANCE, and many more.

But when Kenny Loggins began the old tune CELEBRATE ME HOME, the crowd went wild.

As I sat there listening intently to the lyrics of this old familiar song…I thought again of my sister’s son, our nephew, Brad, and sang this song in my heart to him…we spent ten long months not knowing if he would ever return to his normal self and we often wondered when he would get to go “home.” As I took in the words while Kenny Loggins belted them out, it was confirmed to me that Brad is no longer on an uneasy highway, we can now celebrate him home. One thing we know for sure is that Brad was loved and love always wins.

Some of the lyrics of CELEBRATE ME HOME go like this:

It’s time I found myself,
Totally surrounded in your circles
Whoa, my friends

Please celebrate me home,
Give me a number,
please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song,
That I’ll always remember,
and I can recall,
Whenever I find myself too all alone,
I can sing me home.

Uneasy highway,
Traveling where the Westerly winds can fly,
Somebody tried to tell me,
But the man forgot to tell me why

Celebrate, celebrate
Celebrate, celebrate
Celebrate, celebrate
Celebrate me home

Remembering Brad Today

TODAY was truly a gift. TODAY was a day to gather with family and remember our 25-year-old nephew, my sister, Laura Lea’s son. TODAY was a day to remember BRAD.

TODAY was a day to celebrate the truth that God is alive and interested in the details of our lives. “TODAY was the day that the Lord made and we DID rejoice and we WERE glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 ( My Mama’s favorite verse in the entire Bible. She passed away in October 2006 after only 4 months of cancer and she claimed this verse daily all of her life.)

Yes, TODAY was a gift I will remember always.

It began at Atlanta Hospice Chapel with 40 family members and close friends, along with many of Brad’s caretakers from the nursing home where he had spent the past 4 months. We all gathered with Laura Lea, her husband Rhys, and their daughter, Pamela, to celebrate Brad’s life.

Just a little background for those of you that are unaware and may be wondering…On June 24, 2008, Brad was 24 when he fell onto the concrete from his 6’4″ height and suffered a TBI. (traumatic brain injury) We knew right away that his injury was extremely serious and he went through brain surgery 24 hours later. Though Brad did show occasional signs of wakefulness, he never knew us and really showed few significant signs that he would make a recovery, but we, his family, kept hoping and praying. God answered our prayers in a different sort of way…After ten long months, with frequent trips to the emergency room from Signature Healthcare of Atlanta where he was being cared for, Brad passed peacefully in his sleep on Sunday night, April 19, 2009, just after he reached his 25th birthday. (see caringbridge.org re: bradlamkie)

Now, you might be saying or at least thinking, how can we “rejoice” over such sad circumstances? Here are some of the reasons: God’s provision of excellent health care every step of the way; the love, support, and prayers from friends; the realization that when we seek God, we WILL find Him (James 4:8 and Jeremiah 29:13); the comfort that is provided by food from friends and fellowship with family at a sad time like this.

After the service, we gathered in our home to share photos and memories of Brad’s short life. We enjoyed chicken pot pie, salads, an array of incredible desserts, all prepared by friends who care. We laughed, we cried, we shared smiles and sighs. We loved on each other and held each other tightly. Our daughter came home from college to be with us. Brad’s cousins traveled over from Charleston to be with us.

My sister, Laura Lea, Brad’s mother, took each niece and nephew’s face and said, nose to nose, “TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO YOUR FAMILY.”

They all, each one, listened intently.

Yes, TODAY was a gift.

525,600 Minutes

We received some difficult news last night. Our 25-year-old nephew, my sister’s son, Brad, has passed away. This was expected, not shocking, still bringing sorrow to the depths of our souls.

Brad was injured in an accidental fall on June 24, 2008. He suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) and went to surgery the next evening. Since then, Brad has been moved from the Neurology ICU, a Long-Term Acute Care Center, to a Nursing Home.

As I consider the past months since Brad’s fall, I am once again, humbled by this family’s response to this enormous tragedy.

Several images come to my mind today:
*On July 17, 2008, Brad’s father’s courageous acknowledgement when bad news was discussed. The doctor said “I know this is difficult news to hear,” and the response was: “…and it must be very hard news to deliver as well.”

*Our niece, Brad’s sister Pamela, even amidst her deep sadness shared wisdom from her heart just before our Thanksgiving Feast in front of 30 family members.

*My sister, Brad’s mother and the statement she made out loud within 48 hours of her son’s accident: “I know God and I know, He knows me.”

*Our son, Walker, Brad’s cousin, sharing the scripture reference Philippians 4:10-13, and stating that in all of his life, he had never seen a better example of this than the one set by his Uncle Rhys, Aunt Laura Lea, and his cousin, Pamela.

All of this reminds me of a song from the play RENT. “525,600 MINUTES.” Did you know that the young author of RENT was very sick and died before the opening night? This play, along with this song, spoke to the hearts of all who were blessed to be in the audience.

Why? Perhaps it is because everyone wants to experience a meaningful life while on this earth. We all want to take the minutes of our lives and make them count.

The song goes like this:

525,600 minutes.
525,600 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes,
How do we measure a year?

In daylights-in sunsets,
In midnights-in cups of coffee,
In inches-in miles,
In laughter-in strife.

In 525,600 minutes.
How do we measure
A year in the life?
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love.

Seasons of love.
Seasons of love.
525,600 minutes
525,000 journeys to plan.

525,600 minutes.
How do we measure the life
Of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried,
In bridges he burned
Or the way that she died.

It’s time now-to sing out
Tho’the story never ends.
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends.

Remember the love.
Remember the love.
Remember the love.
Measure the love.

Measure, measure your life in LOVE.
Seasons of love.
Seasons of love.

So as we remember Bradford Gordon Lamkie, born on April 16, 1984, we will measure his life in love. It is with great assurance that I can say that the best things in life are not things at all.

They are FAITH, FAMILY, and FRIENDS.