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Thursday, July 29, 2010

LOVE

How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the
depth and breadth and height
my soul can reach,
when feeling out of sight.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
My Dearest Seth,
I will never be able to tell you just how much I love you because there don't seem to be enough words to express . . . When I said I DO, I loved you, but I had no idea really . . . for I love you so much more today than I ever did then! I had no idea it was possible to love anymore than I did, but I do. You are my prince, my knight in shining armor. I have decided that spending the rest of my days with you is not enough and will never be enough . . . it's not enough time. I never grow tired of being with you or holding your hand or watching you breathe or laughing with you or feeling your touch. That's the absolute best part of my day!
Thank you for being so strong and tender. Thank you for working so hard for our family. Thank you for taking me to False River on July 4, 1999. Thank you for asking me to marry you on December 24, 1999. Thank you for making me Mrs. Bayham on July 29, 2000. It has been the best TEN YEARS yet . . . but I know that the best is still yet to come!
MTY LTT
Loving you always,
Julie


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Five Years Old

Dear Mason,

I will never forget July 13, 2005. I was admitted to the hospital at 3:30AM. I am not a morning person, you know. But I couldn't wait to meet you! Fourteen hours and nineteen minutes later, I finally got to take it all in . . . the baby boy I'd been carrying for nine months! You were absolutely . . . breath-taking! I could not believe you were my child. I was so amazed at the tender, loving, perfect way my Heavenly Father had knit you together in MY womb. MY womb!

You are my first born. My baby. You always will be. But, really, five years old?!? Can't be! Where has the time gone? I remember, although vaguely, the days when it was just you and me, the days before your sister was born. I held you for hours on end. I took you for stroller rides around the mall. We read books together. We took wagon rides and long walks. It seems like only yesterday, yet so far away.

I look at you today . . . and I still can not believe you are mine, the child that God has entrusted to my care for a time. I love you so very much! I know I have failed in so many ways and so many times, but I want to be the best Mama I can possibly be for you. Sometimes when I look at you, I want to take you in my arms and hold you and never let go! Sometimes I wish time would just stop - or at least slow down! - so I could savor just one moment more.
I look forward to everyday with you. We have some really exciting adventures ahead, little man. Of course, I'm not quite ready to let you go yet, but Kindergarten starts in two weeks. You have been looking forward to going to school for a very long time. We've always told you that you can go to school when you're five. So when you woke up on July 13, 2010, our conversation went something like this:
Mason: Today is my birthday. (More of a question than a statement)
Mommy: Mm hmm.
Mason: So I'm five now?
Mommy: Mm hmm.
Mason: So I can go to school now?
Mommy: Well, let's wait until next week to talk about that, especially since we have Vacation Bible School again this morning. (Yes, this was my exact response. Stellar.)
Mason: (After a moment's pause) I want you to take me to school first so I can see what it looks like. I want to see what school looks like.
Alas, my boy, you are so full of wonder and adventure. There are so many times that I look at you, and I wish I knew exactly what is going through your head. You make me laugh so much! You might look like your daddy, but you have my eyes. And my knobby knees!
Happy Birthday to my bright-eyed, blonde-headed, beautiful boy! I love you! ~Mama~


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dream Come True

I had been dreaming of this day ever since I was 12 years old . . . and now, 20 years later, my dream has come true!

Yes, my friend, this gorgeous instrument is sitting in my music room at this very moment! I can still hardly believe it. While I had dreamed and hoped, I'm not sure that I ever really believed it would happen. Everytime I look at this piano, everytime I play this piano, I am reminded of . . .

My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - There is not a day that goes by that I do not thank Him for giving me the GIFT of music, of playing the piano. I am humbled beyone measure that He chose me for such a blessing as this. I will always play for Him and Him alone. All of this . . . is because of Him!

My Mama and Daddy - I had to learn how to play . . . I desperately wanted to learn how to play! So they spent 10 years paying for piano lessons! Most Mondays my mom left work early so she could come home and take me to my lesson. And I have no idea how many countless hours of practicing they endured! When I was competing during my freshman and sophmore years in high school, I would often times practice for two hours at a time. And it wasn't always pretty either! At this point, I should probably mention my brother, too. Unfortunately, the piano was in the hallway just outside his room. I don't know what was louder - my playing or his radio!

My Granddaddy - If you're going to take lessons, you have to practice. And you can't practice unless you have a piano. My Granddaddy had purchased a piano for my MeMama in 1978. She later got an electric keyboard, and I think she enjoyed her keyboard moreso than the piano. I can still remember the day in 1986 that MeMama's piano showed up at my front door. I'm not even sure that I knew it was coming or exactly how it all came to be. I just know I was begging for lessons, and I needed a piano. So my Daddy backed the truck up to the front porch and rolled it right out and into the house. In 2000 that piano even made its way to Louisiana (again, thank you to my Daddy!). I will always cherish that ole Kimball console piano. One day I envision Hannah Kate (or even Mason!) on one piano and myself at the other. I have lots of memories on that piano, and I'm sure there are more to come!

Mrs. Jamie - She was my first piano teacher. She was so sweet and gentle and kind. She did such a super job teaching me the fundamental aspects of playing the piano. I was very sad when she told me that she felt like I needed to "graduate" to another piano teacher.

Mrs. Sallie - I can not even tell you how much fun I had with Mrs. Sallie. I'll admit . . . I was scared. As a matter of fact, I was real scared. I had heard (and I don't even remember from who!) that she was hard. Real hard! So I didn't know what to expect. All I can say is that she was passionate about playing the piano, and I could only hope to play like she played! Not only did she teach me, but she played with me, too. My absolute favorite was the Christmas concert we hosted. She was on one piano, and I was on another. We put an ad in the local newspaper and asked folks to RSVP their attendance for seating. Yes, I'm serious! And this wasn't the first time. We did another concert in the spring. Anyway, we had planned to do a 5:00 performance and another one at 8:00. We had so many responses that we had to add a 6:30 performance! I still have the RSVP list . . . and I still have that music because I keep looking for someone to play it with me. When I was in 8th grade, Mrs. Sallie chose "Shortnin' Bread" as my recital piece. Can I just tell you how much fun that one is?!? I can still play it (mostly) from memory today. As a matter of fact, I think the first time my husband really noticed me was when he heard me playing that piece. I didn't know he was listening. But that's another story. Anyway, Mrs. Sallie and I played a one piano four hands duet arrangement of "Exodus" for one of my later recitals. I can still hear it today, and it just sends chills up and down my spine. Love that one, too! She just had a way with those black notes and lines and dots and slurs on the page . . . she could teach me how to make them come alive! Because of her, I won the regional piano competition two years in a row and placed second at the state piano competition when I was a freshman in high school. Bach's "Invention No. 8" and Chopin's "Nocturne in E-flat Major" won that. The next year it was "Golliwog's Cakewalk" and "Invention No. 13." I'd love to sit and play with her again one day . . .

Sara Beth Turner - I started playing the piano in church when I was 12 years old. Sara Beth was the organist. But she wasn't just that. She was also the choral director at my middle and high schools. And she was my FRIEND. When I was a freshman, she immediately recruited me to play for the One Act play competitions. I played for the quartet, trio and solo competitions. I played at the Baccalaureate services each year. And I loved every minute of all of it, especially One Act! She gave me every opportunity possible to play the piano wherever I could and however I could. And she spent so much time hauling us off to different venues to perform . . . the Concord Jubilee, Christmas concerts, church concerts, New York, Disney World, the cruise . . . I still remember selling candy bars at school to raise money for all of those trips . . . and the big purple egg (not really . . . it was just a purple bus, and it just so happened that we left on Easter Sunday so the name stuck) we rode on for 16 hours to get to New York . . . she loves music, and she loves the Lord, and I'm so glad she shared that with me and took me along with her, too.

My husband - I have my Baby Grand. But he still doesn't have his boat yet!



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Jones's

***SIGH***

Wow . . . A LOT has happened during the past couple of months . . . yes, we finally moved into our new house! . . . but that isn't what I want to talk about today. My heart is so full lately . . . I'm in a season of holy discontentment. I'm not exactly sure what it all means or how it will all end up . . . I just know God is up to something BIG! And I can't wait to find out what it is!

In the meantime . . . I'm up for the WORST AUNT of the year award . . . My brother is a daddy! Jones Pierce Connell was born April 2. I have met him only in pictures, and I am just dying to get my hands on the little guy. I mean . . . with these eyes . . . are you kidding me?!?Once I finally get to cuddle this sweet baby . . . I've already decided I just might cry!But, you see, there's more to the story.

Jones is named after my Granddaddy, my Mama's daddy. Everyone knew him as Mr. Marvin, but his given name was Jones Marvin Cannafax. Let me tell you about this man. He is one of the godliest men I've ever known in my life! So humble and gentle and strong . . . he was a farmer. He loved the land. There were three things he loved more than the land - his God, his family and his church. I have lots of memories on that old farm . . . rows and rows of tomatoes and silver queen corn and snap beans . . . mud pies in the driveway . . . fishing on the dock (which really Granddaddy didn't care too much for, but MeMama sure did!) . . . popcorn (he'd always make us some popcorn the ole fashioned way, and it was the best!) . . . the musty grain bin . . . Thanksgiving night around the TV watching the lighting of the Macy's tree . . . Old Spice . . . the sound of the John Deere tractor and the smell of fresh cut hay . . .

I remember the last thing he told me, too. It was my last conversation with him before the cancer took its toll. We were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. It was summer 1996. I had just graduated high school and was getting ready to go off to college. He told me to do my best in school and to wait for the right man God had picked for me to marry. I'm pretty sure he'd be proud of both!

I can think of no greater honor for my Granddaddy than his great-grandson carry his name!

MeMama (my Granddaddy's wife) and Jones


Aunt Gail (Mama's sister) and Jones

Mimi (my Mama) holding her Daddy's name sake

Pop (my Daddy) and Jones

My brother and his son

It is so hard to put into words exactly who my Granddaddy was . . . and the legacy of faith he left for my family . . . and the life of character he lived . . . but I always think of these words in Deuteronomy as I remember him:

"Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth." ~Deuteronomy 11:18-21

When we moved, I stumbled upon my box of high school memories and spent some time reading my old year books and newspaper articles. I found lots of pictures, too. This is me and my Granddaddy at a piano concert my piano teacher and I performed on May 8, 1995. Yep, my Granddaddy came to all of my piano recitals. And notice he has his camera in hand. Oh! That reminds me of another story . . . when I was a senior in high school, we sang at the Lighting of the Tree at Underground Atlanta. It's televised every year. Granddaddy was glued to the TV screen looking for me. How do I know this? Because he took a picture of me on TV! So I have a picture of Granddaddy's old TV with me on the screen! Anyway, I can't remember exactly what Granddaddy was telling me, but I sure wish I could . . .