When it rains it pours, but somewhere there is always a rainbow as a reminder.

My family has gone through a lot of loss these past few years. All together we have lost 4 family members since August of 2015. In these past years I have had ups and downs of emotions that go along with each of the people that are close to me that I have lost and I thought that another way that I could remember them well was to write about them.  So that is what I will try to do, starting with my grandmother.

Today is my grandma’s birthday.  Her birthday has always been special to me because it is 4 days before mine, so I always felt like we had this special bond because are birthdays were so close together. I also felt close to her because she had 4 sons but she really wanted a daughter.

Now don’t get me wrong she loved those boys with all that she had. She worked really hard to care for those boys and that wasn’t easy in the 60s and 70s and 80s in Memphis, Tennessee. But I remember her telling me she really wanted a daughter. She would tell me that when she was a little girl she would play with her dolls and would take care of them like they were her children and when she was young she thought about having a daughter so that she could teach her things and do her hair and she just thought that would be the greatest thing. Well God gave her 4 boys, sorry grandma.

Flash forward her oldest grandson (my cousin) was born 2 months before me and she loved him so much because that was her first grandbaby. But then I remember her telling me that she was so excited when I was born because she finally had a daughter! Well this made me feel pretty special, but little did she know that she would have 2 other granddaughters and 2 more grandsons. All of my uncles would always tell us, especially after she was gone that she loved all of us grandkids so much! But sometimes you could tell that she would spoil us girls because we could usually get away with things that the boys would get in trouble for, like running around the house.

It was always really special when we got to go down to see Grandma and Grandpa Griffith down it Memphis. We would usually only make it down once a year for Christmas, so I tried really hard to cherish those moments.

Some of my favorite memories of my grandma were when she would let us cook or bake with her. This was always a really big deal because you know the kitchen was her domain. And also it wasn’t that big so having a lot of people in that kitchen would stress her out. She would always make everything from scratch. It was rare that she would use a box mix. And also she never in her life had a dishwasher, she always did the dishes by hand. But lots of times she would bake something and then have us build a gingerbread house in the dining room and she would help us put the gumdrops on and just make it look nice.

She would always be up and around doing something. It got to a point where we had to tell her that she should sit down and let us do things for her, which she hated. She loved taking care of everyone that was in her house because she felt like that was her job! And boy was she stubborn. Ooh yes she was. She stood strong to her convictions. That is something I loved about her. She and my grandpa would argue and she would yell at him and say “Virgil!” and he would yell and say “Mary!”

Oh but they loved each other so much, they just didn’t so it like people expected them do. They way they loved each other was by doing things for each other. My grandpa would get up around 5am and make her breakfast and bring her her coffee and the newspaper all the way up those creaky stairs. And she would do everything else for him it seemed like haha. I remember on their 50th anniversary we called them and asked them what they were going to do to celebrate and they were like “Nothing.” I was surprised but that’s just the people that they were. They didn’t think that being married that long was anything special it’s just what you did. You made a commitment and went one day at a time.

Oh and she served her church. That was something that was so important to her. She attended the same church for her whole life and that is something that is so amazing. She would organize events and people and that was something she was very good at. She was always the deciding factor in our family, even though EVERYONE had an opinion.

My grandma died unexpectedly last spring. She was 76. A little over a year after my grandpa, her husband. I feel like when we went back to Memphis it kinda felt like it was all over. Like who was going to drive this Griffith family ship now? Like they were both gone and going into their house, it felt wrong without them there. Something that has helped me honor her memory was actually something that I found while going through stuff in their house.

2 journals/diaries. One from around the time she was 17 and one from around the age that I am going to be soon, 20. And something that was so interesting in these journals, was that even though we lived in different times we had so many of the same feelings. She loved being with her friends. She often felt inadequate. She was worried about her future. She took loving people very seriously. And reading those I feel like am beginning to know who she was, not just the person that I saw as my grandma.

There are still going to be hard days, but I am so glad that I have the rainbow of memories to look back on and smile at.

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Not Being Thankful on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a time when we slow down and think about all the things that we are grateful for and all the the blessings that God has put into our lives, but what happens when there is something that is keeping you from being thankful on Thanksgiving?

Of all of the days in the year some might say that it is nearly impossible to not be happy on Thanksgiving Day. Most people are celebrating the day with food and with family that you love (or tolerate) and you just love the atmosphere of those amazing feelings that the food and family and friends make.

During the Thanksgiving of 2014 that was what my Thanksgiving was supposed to look like. We had everything planned out. I was going to wake up and help my mom cook some of the food before we went to my grandma’s house to eat and watch football and play games and just be happy together.

As it turns out that is not how my Thanksgiving turned out.

For about a year and a half we had a new pastor at our church after our previous one had moved to get married to his new wife. For a year and a half it was great for me. The pastor and his wife had 4 boys that were around my age and I got to be good friends with them because I would see them every Sunday and we would joke and tease  with the other kids and just had a great time making memories with them. I also became a really close friends with one of the boys in the family. He was a really good friend. Even though I did have a crush on him I still appreciated the fact that we got along really well and that he understood how I thought about things. We had a lot of things in common and just got along really well and became really good friends and he was just someone that I could talk to really easily.

I was also really thankful for him because for about 8 years in this church I had been the oldest kid and a lot of the other kids were younger than me, so even the kids in the youth group would consider me more of their mom than a best friend, which was fine I just also wanted a friend who I could talk to and someone who would understand me. I prayed for a long time hoping that God would be able to bring someone (preferably a girl my age) to come and be a great friend to me at church.

Well I do believe God answered my prayers and sent someone who would be able to be my friend and that is something that I am truly thankful for.

Now on that Thanksgiving day in 2014 I was not expecting what was about to happen.

It was around 9:30 a.m. and my parents were in there room while my sister and I were in our beds trying to get the courage to wake up. My mom called both Mariel and I into her room. Both of my parents were sitting on the bed which meant there was something important that they were going to say and usually that means something that I wouldn’t want to hear.

As we were facing them my mom explained that our church elders sent out an email to all of the staff and the youth parents of the church explaining that they had decided that this pastor wasn’t the best fit for our church and that he would no longer be leading our church.

It took a while for it really to sink in that this was something that I did not want. At first I told myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal and that things like this happened sometimes and that it was going to be ok. But no I was 17 year old Catherine Griffith who just wanted my friend to stay and everything was not going to be ok!

It was hard. I cried. But do you know that the worst thing that day was the fact that it was Thanksgiving. Darn Thanksgiving. This was the day that I was supposed to be grateful for all that I have and all that God has given me while I might never see one of my best friends again!

I was mad! I was mad at God. I was mad at the elders. And I was mad at the fact that I had to be happy today because that day was Thanksgiving.

I cried a lot that day which made me very tired, but it was ok to be tired that day because after all it is Thanksgiving and everyone is already sleeping anyways. But I still didn’t stop being mad even after Thanksgiving. One of the questions that I immediately starting asking was why the elders and God could take good people out of my life. Did they not understand that this whole family was important to me? That 3 days before, at my birthday party those parents had given me a card that said, “We are so glad that you’re in our lives!”

There were not a lot of things that pointed out that it would be easy to be thankful.

It took a long time for me to be ok. And ok didn’t mean for me that I forgot everything and that I was happy with everything that had happened, but I got to a better place mentally about it were I got think about the situation in a rational way.

I still talk to my friend. And yes he knew that I liked him. And we both think each other is still pretty cool. But I still go back to all of that and ask God why did it have to happen at all?

I remember one day last summer when I was feeling down about things. I had decided to go on a bike ride to just clear my mind and give myself some space to think. I was thinking a lot and I said out loud, “God why did you have to take good people away from me? If they were good and filled my life with good things why did they have to leave my life?”

And you know what I wasn’t expecting it but God answered me right there on that bike and said, “Catherine they served their purpose. Yes they were good for you but the people that they are and the memories that you have with them will never leave you. They were there to help you and now that they have served their purpose it is time for new people to come around you and help you grow. Those people will never leave your heart. And you need to be thankful that they were with you for a time. Even if that was not all the time that you wanted.”

Woah! Now I knew that was God because if you knew me and this situation that is not something that I would have wanted to hear from anyone. I guess what God showed me a way to be thankful. All of the people that I had to say goodbye to last year in my church, as my friends, and in my family will never leave me and you know what God was there the whole time. He was there when I was crying on my bed, when I all I wanted to do was to be mad at someone and when people around me were trying to help. And he is never going to leave me. He will always be by my side.

Now that is something that I can always be thankful for.

 

Ephesians 5:19-20  “…Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

How am I going to Remember everything?

Senior year. You remember your senior year right? Of course you do. Classic senioritis, applying for college, filling out scholarship applications, and just getting excited for the new beginnings of your life.

There are so many people and things that seem to surround me with advice about how to get my life right. Truthfully I am very thankful for all of these resources. But let me just tell you as someone who is about to turn 18 and legally become an adult, I don’t know if I am ready. Am I ready? Will I know what to do? How will all of these new things change the person that I have spent 18 years discovering?

Right now it feels as though right as I have sort of found who I am I am forced to battle it out with the world. It seems as though the world is on a mission to try and make me certain of the person that I think I am. Constantly is says to me: “Are you sure your parents were right about this?” or “Maybe it would be ok if you changed because these new and exciting people would like you a lot more if you were different!”

As just now start putting my toes in the water of this new life that I am going to experience I wonder if I won’t just crumble under the pressure like I know so many others before me have done. Along with all of the advice that I have been getting, most of all people like to help me by telling me things that they did wrong that they don’t want me to mess up. “Don’t make the same mistakes I made,” they chant at me. “I made a lot of stupid mistakes in college and I don’t want you to waste your college years like I did!.” Maybe it is just me but sometimes I just wonder if some of these people even know who I am? Do they know the person that I am and the person that they have formed me into. Maybe I am just test experiment that they have built up with so much reinforced material that right as they put me into the “real world” the test is to see if I fall apart or not.

No matter what anyone says I need to trust myself, because when I go out and don’t really know anyone else, who else can I really trust. At least I know I have one person one my side. I am so thankful that God will be watching out for me through this whole thing. Through every joy and every struggle and every time I kick myself for doing something that people warned me not to do, I am confident that he will always be by my side.

So in the question How I am I going to Remember everything, I guess I don’t have to. No matter what happened I will always have people around me who want the best for me, which is more than a lot of people can say. And in a month where we are called more than ever to be thankful, that is definitely something that I will always treasure.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”