A story:

When Trey and I were in San Antonio with his family over Christmas, Trey had lunch with a friend who mentioned he was trying to get out of the database world and into music ministry.  Later that night, when our neice Makayla would crawl out of my lap she would say “I coming back, I coming back.”  And I cried when we left because I was afraid it’d be so long before I saw them again that that sweet little girl would have forgotten me.

In early February Trey’s friend got a job as a music minister leaving his Database Director position at Oak Hills church.  Trey filled out an application and submitted his resume and a week later had a phone interview.  A few weeks after that, Oak Hills flew us both out to San Antonio.  Trey spent the whole day in interviews and I spent the whole day apartment hunting.  And later that night, when Makayla crawled out of my lap she said “I will be right back.”  And I cried when we left because she had grown up so much in such a short time and because that sweet little girl hadn’t forgotten me.

Last week, Trey was offered the job at Oak Hills church and accepted it Friday evening…just in time for his birthday.  On Saturday, Trey’s sister Robin called  to wish Trey a happy birthday and the girls (Mary Beth – 6, Isabella – 4, and Makayla – 2) all sang to him.  And when they had finished singing “Happy Birthday,” little Makayla just kept on singing.  About 30 seconds after he got off the phone with them (after much persuasion because Mak didn’t want to say goodbye), Robin called back because “Makayla didn’t get to talk to Aunt Leslie.”  While listening to that sweet little voice tell me she had to drink her apple juice and that she wanted to sing me a song, Trey and I both started crying. 

The first and only time we’ve cried about this move was because we can’t wait to go. 

So that’s it.  As of mid April, Trey and I will be residents of San Antonio, Texas.  I’ve lived in South Carolina my whole life, and every time I’ve moved in the past, I’ve done it begrudgingly behind a veil of snot and tears.  But not this time.  Sometimes, when God has a plan for you, a plan for great  change, he just opens your heart right up and all the sudden, something that used to be so scary and horrible, seems like the best thing that could ever happen to you.

San Antonio, here we come.


I rang in the New Year in the most unlikely place…

Christmas morning, at approximately 12:30a.m., Trey and I hit the open road and headed to Birmingham, AL in order to catch our flight to Austin, TX, where we would be chaufeured (by Trey’s dad) to San Antonio, TX to spend the week with Trey’s entire immediate family for the first time in 3 years.  Sure, we’ve seen them all more recently than that, but this was the first time all 15 of us have been together since New Year’s 2008 at Disney World.  And even then, Makayla was a few months shy of making her debut to the world. 

This trip also marked the first time I truly felt like I was part of the gang.  Back in ’08 I was still trying to remember everyone’s name and whose kids were whose.  The few times we’ve seen the family since then have been so brief that it was utter chaos and then over before we could sit down and take a breath. 

This was the first time I really felt like Aunt Leslie.  And I loved every minute of it.  Whether it was giving piggy-back rides up the stairs or playing Candyland or putt-putt or the Wii, or swimming, or watching tv, or singing silly songs in the car, I was playing my part as Fun Aunt Leslie and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Of all the wonderful things that happened on this particular trip, the best was this…

I fell in love. 

Somewhere between the piggy-back rides and singing Silent Night as softly as I could into Makayla’s ear, I fell completely in love with our youngest neice.  Because, while I already knew and loved each of the other kids, this was the first time I got to really spend time with 2 year old Mak.  And she is completely and utterly delightful. 

She would curl up in my lap and when she would get bored or decide she wanted to go play, she’d slide to the ground, look up and put her hands on my cheeks and say, “I coming back!”  Tell me that wouldn’t melt your heart.

On New Year’s Eve, the whole family gathered for a night of poker (the Hendon’s are nothing if not Texas Hold ’em enthusiasts).  Around 11:30 we could hear the fireworks going off around the neighborhood so we ran upstairs and turned out the lights to get the best view from the second story windows.  I picked up Makayla so she could see the fireworks.  When they were all over, I tried to leave our perch by the window but Makayla would have none of it. I’d tell her that the fireworks were over, that I didn’t see any more.  “I do see them,” she would proclaim.  “I do see them!”

When I finally pulled her away from the window, I sat down on the 0ttoman upstairs and sang Silent Night in her ear and she slowly drifted off to sleep.  It’s amazing the kind of deep love that just sweeps over you when a child falls asleep in your arms. 

I rang in the New Year in the most unlikely place…sitting on an ottoman in San Antonio rocking my neice to sleep.  And that perfect plump little lump of blond hair and blue eyes completely captured my heart. 

I cannot wait to go back to San Antonio.

dog gone

If you’ve met my mother, then you’ve probably met Ben.  If you haven’t met Ben, I’m sure you’ve heard enough about him to know that you want to meet him.

A handful of years ago, Mom and Dad adopted Ben from a pekingnese shelter.  He had been in a horrible accident, leaving his previous owners feeling like they were no longer capable of caring for him. For Mom, it was love at first sight.  This little blonde  ball of furry love instantly took over either mine or Amy’s place as favorite child (we’re not jealous – this way Mom never dresses us up in bandanas with doggie bones on them).  Ben has ridden in Mom’s car more than I have.  He is a trained therapy dog (he can dance, roll over – only to the left, pray, sit, stay and beg). He goes everywhere Mom does (don’t worry, she’s never carried him in her purse) and most people she encounters on a regular basis greet him by name. 

Since my parents have moved back to Spartanburg, Trey and I have been lucky enough to spend more quality time with Ben.  This past week, while Mom and Dad were out of town, Ben stayed with us from Tuesday through Sunday…much to Rufus and Roger’s dismay.  Frank, on the other hand, just seemed to think he was a very strange cat. 

Being a cat person for so long made dog-sitting seem like a bit of a challenge.  For example, the cats never have to “go out,” so I had to remember not to keep Ben indoors for too long.  Also, cats are infinitely more independent than dogs.  If I don’t pet them or speak to them for a few hours, they could care less…Ben, on the other hand, seemed almost heartbroken when I’d leave him to go work on the bathroom for the afternoon.  And cats don’t run to the door to greet you as soon as you get home…this only proved to be a problem once: I had my arms full of groceries, so I kicked open the front door, knocking Ben square in the teeth.  He was so happy I was home that he didn’t even notice that he’d gotten nailed in the kisser…or that his little gums had started bleeding.  This, of course, sent me into fits of hysteria, sobbing and moaning “I’m such a bad aunt!”  Trey assured me that if Ben didn’t seem to notice, then I was obviously over reacting. 

A few Ben-isms I learned over the past week: 

  • When “marking his territory,” Ben prefers to only lift his right hind leg.  So if you’re walking on his right side, he’ll do a complete 180 and face the oposite direction to do his business.
  • Ben knows I love to see him dance, so much so that he’s stopped waiting for me to give him the signal, and just starts doing it every time he sees me reach for a doggy treat.
  • Ben wants to be loved…even by cats.  He wants it so badly that he will follow Frank around wimpering until she swats at him to leave her alone.
  • Above all, Ben loves Mom.  When she came to pick him up Sunday afternoon, he never looked back.  He didn’t want to say goodbye to me, Frank or the boys…he just wanted Mom. 

He never barks, he sleeps through the night, and he wants you to love on him 24/7.  He’s the best baby ever.  But I must admit, the cats seem to be much relieved that they’re furry visitor has left the building.