Posted in Faith, Family, Life

Dismantling a Home

Right now my mom and dad and aunt and uncle are at my grandparent’s in the big metropolis of Greeleyville.  It’s been over a year since my Ganny died and close to a decade since my Gandaddy died and it’s now time to start dismantling some of the home they created.  I don’t really like dismantling used in this context, but in the next couple months as family begins to decide what heirloom or furniture or keepsake goes where, it feels a little like that.

My mom called a little while ago and was asking about some of these pieces and what was going where and although I know that we can’t keep the house exactly like it was forever, there’s a part of me now that can’t imagine it any other way.  So I was laying in my bed, pondering what home means and admittedly crying – call me a sissy – yes I cry at series finales, heck sometimes just regular tv shows – and I realized that I could be laying there all night if I didn’t get up and try to write this out.

Growing up as a preacher’s kid, you move to a lot of different places over the years.  We had amazing church families and we always managed to make parsonages home.  You can do a lot with pictures, lamps, and other odds and ends.  I can’t imagine my life though with out Ganny’s.  I seriously can’t.

The very first Christmas we spent out in Greeleyville, was my first Christmas.  So the story goes, there was no heat and the wind was whistling up through the cracks in the floors and the walls.  Apparently everybody slept in sleeping bags together on the floor and Mom kept looking into the crib in the night to make sure I hadn’t frozen. 

It wasn’t fancy.  It wasn’t all dolled up, but it was family together.  It was love being shared.  To say we spent a inexplicable amount of time there is true.  Whether being dropped off as mom and dad led a youth retreat or when Caleb was born, (Josh and I had chicken pox), we weren’t there just for holidays and milestones but everything in between.  It was our safe place when we were children and always a running joke that if the end of the world came, we knew we had a place to go because no one was going to come looking for anyone in Williamsburg County.  We’ve talked about many a dream we’ve had and no matter what was on the outside whether monsters or wolves, a la our fear of Scar Face from Wilderness Family fame, we were protected in that house.

As I think about us packing things up over the next few months and disbursing things throughout the family, I begin to go over each room in my mind and what I love about it.  Even the most random thing can be so dear. 

Before Gandaddy died, their room was upstairs.  I’ll never forget her closet of bathrobes or the huge basket of makeup she kept in the top drawer of the upstairs bathroom (that took forever to build, much less put a bathtub in.  Still to this day, I’ve never seen someone with that much makeup in one place.  Everything was in tip top clean Ganny shape.  Make up in the top drawer with the lipstick worn down in a way that I can’t even describe but I’ve only seen her do.  Her brush, mirror and comb were in the next drawer.  I’m telling you – neat and orderly – no matter what. 

Ganny liked her cleanliness, even in the midst of Gandaddy’s “hunting lodge.”  We heard a lot about crumbs, putting coasters down and not putting our feet on coffee tables and a whole heck of a lot about germs.  “Dog” germs, “cat” germs, “school” germs.  When Ganny would give us baths as children, she would wash our faces and say that she was cleaning the “dirt beads” around our necks that we had missed.  As a child, I honestly did believe that she could see a dirt necklace right there if I didn’t wash up well enough.

I remember watching Dallas and Dynasty and all the CBS soaps – The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and her two favorites that are now off the air – As the World Turns and not Guiding Light, but The Guiding Light as she would call it.  I had no idea what most of these things were as a child but I do remember her getting hopped up about Priscilla Presley being on Dallas and her always reminding me that she had listened to As the World Turns and The Guiding Light on the radio with her mother, Nana.

I’m telling you, each room means so much.  I never slept in the twin bed room upstairs, but I’ll always think of that as Josh and Caleb’s room.  And I’ll always know that the lock to that door was broken because me as a 2 or 3 year old accidentally locked myself in and couldn’t figure out how to unlock it.  I barely remember sitting on the other side of the bed (whose bedspread never changed) and my Gandaddy busting the door down and the lock never working right since. 

The double bed room was the room that I slept in growing up til I upgraded to Ganny’s old room when I married Mike.  There was many a night that I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning reading a book until I finished it.  Ganny never complained or scolded me about that, because a lot of my love of reading had to do with me seeing her read ALL the time.  Seriously, all the time.  I remember the rattly old windows as the wind would blow and thinking oh my goodness, something is going to get me.

I remember Ganny’s upstairs room where, when it was still her room, I didn’t really go into it very often.  It was a little intimidating.  You knew if you moved something or put something out of place, she would definitely notice.  Her crystal jewelry boxes, one with a donkey and one with a swan on them and her perfumes all laid out.  I have no idea why one was a donkey and one a swan.  This may be a little gross, but I’ll also never forget her showing me this stain beside her bedside table where I had thrown up one time as a child and her not saying, well that really is terrible because you messed up my blue carpet, but her saying it matter of factly and almost as if she was proud that it was there because she saw not just the good and clean and nice with us but also the real and sick and wild with us.

When I think about the house and the “things” I might like to have from it, most of them are architectural.  Gandaddy restored this late 1800’s house and there are so many pieces of it that could never be replaced.  The huge fireplace in the middle of the great room, the steps that served as a stage, a boat, a runway, all sorts of things, the wrap around porch where we played for hours on the hammock, the church benches, and the rocking chairs.  All of these things made this house something different.

Some of the stuff I cherish is long gone now.  The “train” of old bus seats that Gandaddy mounted to trailers to cart us around through the woods on a mini tractor seeing “Godwin Land” with Touchdown Teddy and a statue of Mary among other things.  The bus that Gandaddy gutted and added army bunk beds, a tv, chairs, and the most random assortment of odds and ends imaginable – a white clay hand, bowling ball, old telephone.  We played for countless hours in that bus.  These things aren’t there any more and neither is the swing in the grape orchard, but they’re still right there in my mind.

You see, as much as I love that house, and don’t think I don’t, what makes a house a home is the people inside it.  What makes this house special, or at least to me more special than a lot of them, was that Gandaddy and Ganny infused it with their love.  It’s felt in every piece of wood or tile on the island in the kitchen.  Even in all the complaining Ganny did about getting her “new” kitchen.  Have mercy!  It’s felt in every one of Ganny’s sometimes prissy decor choices – liked the fringed curtains in the great room.  This house is not just any house, but love seeps out.  I’ll never forget at the visitation for my grandfather Ganny telling people, that these grandchildren weren’t just the apple of their Gandaddy’s eyes, they were his very eye balls.  (I know that sounds sort of strange but that’s how Ganny was and how she said it.)

So I don’t know who will get what.  And I don’t know what I will do when we start moving things out.  There’s a part of me that wants to just remember it as it was and not step a toenail back.  I can’t imagine seeing some of those rooms empty and I’m glad that Dad is taking pictures now for us to remember and I’m thankful for Lindsay’s pictures of the cotton that she gave us at Christmas and the pictures Karen and Guyeth took of the family all together.  There’s a part of me that knows that the love in that house, is just a piece or a glimmer of the home that awaits, where we’ll all be gathered just as crazy and off kilter as ever.  Both the wonderful Godwin-Burch-Moore clan and the equally as memorable and hilarious McClendon-Jackson clan.  I keep thinking of the line in Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “We are not home yet.”  That great cloud of witnesses may have grown over the past years, but they’re all here in our midst!

We may not be home yet, but I think we can help create a little bit of home everywhere we go.  If we open our hearts and our homes to those around us offering, sharing, giving, than we will experience God in more ways than we can count.  That’s part of what made their home, home.  You never knew who would stop by, from former students (both public educators) to the amazing folks of Greeleyville UMC to family whether blood or bond.  You knew there would be hospitality and almost all the time laughter and stories.  You see, their legacy was not just this house or this furniture or this land, but their’s was all the people they loved and all the lives they touched.

I hope that whether we have the physical Ganny’s as true north anymore or not, that we share our homes, that we treasure our times with our loved ones, and that we pick up and carry forth the legacy.

I’m finally starting to wind down to fall asleep.  Wohoo!  But I leave you with these questions – where is home for you?  What does home mean to you?  What makes you feel at home?  How do we share that with others?

This song always makes me think of all of the granparents and wise elders we have lost – including my beloved and always candid and cracked McClendon family.  I am grateful for the tremendous legacy left to each of us on both sides of the family.

I’ve always enjoyed this song.  Even though it’s more romantic in nature, you can get the sense or “feeling” of the enveloping love in it.

Posted in Camping, Faith, Family, Journey, Lost, Spirit, vacation

Journey for Parts Unknown

We went on “vacation” last week to Garden City Beach with my family.  Some dear, dear folks have graciously given us use of their condo since I was 6 years old and that has been the greatest blessing!  Enoch has been talking about the beach all summer and it was great for Evy to experience it as well!  The first day she was like ew…sand…yuck, but by the last day she was sitting in the mud as we dug a huge pool, river and pond.  I know, I know – who digs a river…and yes, in high tide, someone probably fell over in that deep hole we dug as the “pool.”  But it was good times!

Why is vacation in quotation marks?  Because when you take a one and a half and three year old to the beach or anywhere for that matter on “vacation” is it really vacation?  Trying to get them to sleep, follow directions, eat, nap and overall keep them sane and occupied is a near miracle and is certainly not restful for anyone.  Last week’s lectionary text from Hebrews (11:1-3, 8-16) begins by talking about faith and uses Abraham as an example as he is given this promise of God and sets out on this journey with his wife Sarah across parts unknown sleeping in tents and not knowing what the next day will bring but having this promise.  Dude.  We can’t even make it to the beach without a gazillion toys, snacks, books, and all of the “stuff” that we need to survive for less than a week. 

On the way to the beach (we left on a Sunday night) and I was exhausted.  Like for real tired.  The kids were asleep cuddled up in their child seats with their stuffed animals and I wanted to fall asleep so badly, but I’ve always been the one to drive to the beach and Mike doesn’t know all the cut throughs to get down there the non-GPS way.  So here I am awake telling him to go down Old Marion Road, no not that light, the next one, etc.  And I’m thinking oh wow – Abraham had no map, had no GPS, had no clearly marked laid out plan, and yet he took off, packed himself and his family up, and trusted God.

That is CRAZY.  There are many of us that are anti-GPS or even anti-google directions or anti-maps.  Some of us like to wander.  Some of us like to discover.  Some of us like the journey.  (Not with two toddlers, mind you…but you get the drift.)  J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost.”  Dad actually picked up a t-shirt with those words while we were at the beach.  Of course we gave him a hard time for that because that’s what we do since he loves his Mt. Mitchell camping extravaganzas, but I must say that I secretly liked the shirt a lot.  And I’ve always loved that quote.

Sometimes our wandering is part of the journey.  I was thrilled to return home and get our latest Entertainment Weekly out of the mailbox.  I love that magazine.  I do!  Call me crazy but I love stories and I love a magazine that talks about movies, tv, broadway, and books and has great columns with critical thinkers.  Good stuff.  Anyway – so there was a surprise for me in this issue.  I thought my days of getting little nuggets about the tv show Lost were over, but little did I know that with the new collection of dvd’s coming out, I’d get another gift of an article.  Some of you are like why in the world are you still talking about that ridiculous show and others of you are thinking I need to go get me an Entertainment Weekly.  But seriously it totally made sense to me and this text and this place that many of us are in – this journey.  Carlton Cuse one of the Executive Producers who wrote the show’s finale with Damon Lindelof were talking about how the finale was polarizing – some people happy with it and some people feeling like they wasted 6 years of their lives watching it.  He says, “It seems that the people who embraced the show as a journey and were not fixated on answers probably had the better experience with the show.”  Call me crazy but I completely resonate with that right now in terms of real life…

I’m not saying that we don’t wrestle with the big answers and the twists and turns and the why’s because as I’ve said before – God can handle those and God will give us what we need, but I am saying that part of this is the walk that we are on.  Part of this journey, this path is faith.  Faith that some of the big answers will take care of themselves and some may never get answered on this side of life, but faith that the journey – the life of faith that we lead – is enough.  It’s really easy to talk about faith and a lot harder to embrace it.  It’s really easy to talk the big talk about taking the scenic route and trusting our instincts or the leading of the Holy Spirit, but it’s a lot harder to put our money where our mouth is and not take the GPS.  Sometimes our faith leads us in scary directions with no quick Curious George DVD to plug in and a feeling of vertigo, and that’s tough and it’s scary and it’s real, but sometimes those scary places lead us to mountains of the highest heights and views we couldn’t have imagined and memories we will cherish like my prissy and beautiful little Evy with gritty and slimy beach sand all over her happily playing in the muck and loving it.  If we get stuck in place or if we’re too scared to move or if we stick our heads in the sand or are too busy to notice or care – yeah life seems pretty point a to b to c to d, turn left here, stay straight, this is how you get to your next destination.  But if we let go and let the Spirit lead…yep, we may have some twists and turns, yes, turbulence could be ahead, but what a ride.  What a faith that speaks.

Posted in Family, Health, Music, Tumor

Not going for that annual quite yet…

Hi y’all!  So as always there are highs and lows in a day.  (Can’t decide whether watching The Bachelorette right now is a high or a low…much better on fast forward to the decent parts.)  Mike and I dropped off the CD of the previous MRI/CT Scan at the neurosurgeon’s, I got a quick lesson on all this brain stuff from a wonderful Emory friend, and our GPS got us to Carolinas Medical Center.  I’ve never been to the real one – just having babies at the one in Pinevile.

We parked way far away because we had no clue where to go but we finally figured it out and it made for a beautiful day to walk.  Filled out some more forms and then got to talk to the anesthesologist and a nurse.  I’ll get to the hospital at 11:15 am and they’ll take all of us up to the 5th floor and get them settled in the waiting room, will bring me in, I’ll get to see everyone one last time, and then we’ll begin.  They’ve blocked out the room for up to three hours.  I should be in the neurointensive care for at least one night and then in the hospital 3-5 days.  Okay.  There we go.  So then giving a couple more tubes of blood, we were back in the sunshine.

Time to hit up Rock Bottom Brewery.  Completely randomly they sat us in the same booth that we were in over 9 years ago when we talked to Mike’s parents about us getting engaged and began wedding planning with them.  Oh, ironic.  In the midst of this I get a phone call and it’s not a number I recognize and let me tell you – we are screening some calls these days.  So Mike answers “Narcie’s phone, Mike speaking” and I think okay he’ll probably be on there for a while but quickly he hands it over to me and whispers “OB-Gyn.”  I’m thinking what in the heck do they want at this point?  And the very nice lady says, Mrs. Jeter you haven’t scheduled your annual appointment yet.  I know I probably should have just penciled it in to the looming calendar that I had in my pocketbook but I couldn’t help myself and said – welp, I was told a week ago I have a brain tumor and they’re operating on it on Friday and I don’t think I’ll be getting to that appointment any time soon.  LOL.  We both had a good laugh.  She said to call back any time.  It’s important – keep in good health people – but not in the scheme of things right now.

I didn’t realize until today being in there that my life is going to change for awhile.  I mean I’ve had that realization in pieces over the past week and a half but Mike and I also decided at a certain point that I needed to live my life as normally as possible.  In the midst of that though I’m now thinking oh wow what do I need to do before Friday?  We went and bought some books and some toys for Enoch and Evy for the days to come.  I got to play with the kiddos in the bath tonight and put both of them to bed.  Mike asked the nurse today if when I come back home, I can really come back home.  In other words – in our world here there is no rest, Mommy napping, etc.  There is Silly 1 and Silly 2 – my two wild and crazy E’s.  She said we’ll have to ask the doctor.  Should be interesting.

Tomorrow Enoch will go back to school, Evy will have our 16 month check up, and I’ll do some work at Wesley for one of the last times before Friday.  Then we’ll head to MRI land and will see what Presbyterian Hospital looks like.  This has been a sort of weird medical scavenger hunt.

Earlier I posted one of my favorite Laura Story songs.  I actually like most of her new CD – great stuff!  One of my all time favorites of hers though was when she was with Silers Bald and it’s called “Grace.”

  Glad that we can start each morning with mercies anew and grace afresh!  Check it out…

Posted in Faith, Family, Health, Music, Television, Tumor

MTV Movie Awards

I am totally not telling you to watch them because they are rather disturbing this year and there are so many things being bleeped out that you can’t understand half of it but it is pretty funny.

Mike walked in earlier and he’s like “What are you smiling at?” Guess I haven’t done that much today, and I’m like “They’re giving an award to Sandra Bullock and they’re showing clips from her movies.” So we got sucked in. Although now he’s flipping back and forth between hockey and basketball. It’s a night with absolute nothing on tv and all sorts of things to watch on tv all at the same time.

Thank y’all for the prayers! It had to be prayer that got me through this morning. I totally didn’t crash until after church and I know that had to be prayer so thank you!

The rest of the day today and yesterday has been good – hanging out with the kids, going to the park and the pool and watching Enoch play with his new trains, and watching Evy in her new dresses and bows. It’s been good. And there’s been great food (Mike’s grandmother sent chocolate-covered strawberries – who could ask for better?).

I know this is going to be a crazy week with highs and lows and it’s all going to be fine, but I’m tired and it’s a tired day. Enoch has been staying up til all hours of the night not wanting to sleep, don’t know if he feels the energy in the air or if he needs to not ever take naps anymore!

So not much to report in Jeterland today. Tomorrow begins the week of craziness and thankfully the kids will begin summer preschool in the morning so here’s to a good start for them! Thank you all for the prayers and support! I am deeply humbled, overwhelmed and hugely thankful for them. Much love!

Posted in Culture, Faith, Family, Music, Television

Blest Be The Tie That Binds

So I love this old hymn.  We sang it at the end of every worship service when we were at Wesley Chapel in Lydia and it was played at my Gandaddy’s funeral with Ganny’s alto voice ringing out as always.   It’s not the greatest sounding recording, but it’s about like I remember in UMC’s with a bunch of different voices and a lot of joy in the harmony and singing out as loud as you can even if you’re not the best singer in the history of the world.  The second video – different tune but also familiar and I think the images are cool with the words. Go to!v=9OfSm2LfX48&feature=related.

What is the tie that binds us?

Love that great cloud of witnesses always before us (can’t help but mention the LOST finale) and that great community of Christ followers that is ever behind us, beside us, and before us.  Love, love, love that in this crazy blog system that people’s posts look like patches in a quilt.  God is sewing community together all around us and that is beautiful.