Life with the Shirley Family

Life with the Shirley Family

Monday, November 16, 2015

Dennis Ray Powell

My dad passed away on November 1, 2015.  It has still not totally soaked in.  He had been so sick since May and never fully recovered.  His problem was he couldn't eat.  Because he couldn't eat safely, he developed pneumonia and was hospitalized from May (Mother's day weekend) until August.  When he came home, he had a trach and a feeding tube.  This was not ideal.  He got the trach removed, which was awesome, but he still had to eat through a feeding tube.  For anyone, to think of not eating by mouth is overwhelming and doesn't make for a fun life.  But he was determined to do his therapy to try to improve his swallowing or live with a feeding tube and enjoy his family the best he could.  He did, of course, pray and ask his church and family and friends to pray for healing from this problem.  God did heal him, but not in a way we would have chosen.  He is healed now in heaven.  He is eating now in heaven.,  And although we are very sad here on earth, he is happy now in heaven.  He is with his Savior.

Some of the things I remember most about my dad that have stuck with me were his devotion to God and his family.  I remember sleeping on the coach at their house and hearing him pray in the kitchen early in the morning.  When I was pregnant with Camden, he was a twin.  I remember dad calling me and telling me how God had impressed on his heart to pray for he thought we were having a girl.  Around that time (about 13 weeks), we lost Camden's twin.  I truly believe that Camden has a twin sister in heaven.  And she is with her grandaddy now.

Being close to Columbia, I have been able to go up there a lot.  So I was able to get to spend a lot of time at the hospital with him and mom.  One day he told me that he wanted me and Jennifer and the grandkids to see him living out his faith.  He said that living for God is easy when life is easy, but he wanted everyone to see that his faith was real in the good and in the bad times.  He remained faithful to the end.  In fact, he visited a sick church member the day he died.

He stood firm in his devotion to God; but he also was devoted to his family.  He loved his grandkids..maybe more than his kids:)  Seriously, he showed love to all of us.  He spent time with us and made sure we knew he loved us and were proud of us and how we were raising our families.  Nathan spoke for himself and Ashton at the funeral.  One thing they both remembered was him leading them in devotions during Grammie Camp.  

Grammie Camp 2015

He also was devoted to my mom.  Jennifer and I wrote about him for the funeral program.  This is what we said.  

Our Dad

We could say many things about our dad and what a wonderful man and father he was. He taught us the importance of loving God and our family. Throughout his life and especially this last year, he showed through his actions how to love us and more importantly his wife, our mother.  When our mom was sick in the hospital 2 years ago, we saw him put her first and take care of her. When he got so sick last May, she did this for him, but he also continued to take care of her and put her first. As he was stuck in a hospital bed for over 3 months, he cared about her by insisting she get out of the hospital at times and do something fun. While he couldn't eat by mouth and had to have a feeding tube, he insisted that she leave the hospital and go get something decent to eat. He also continued to pray for his entire family by name when he was in the hospital, asking how he could specifically pray for us. And when he came home, still having to take all nutrition by the feeding tube, he showed love to mom and his family by making pancakes for us even though he couldn't eat any of them. If you knew our dad, you knew he liked to eat. So not being able to eat was torture for him. But he not only tried to keep living via a feeding tube so that he could be a part of our lives, he insisted on helping us enjoy our food by making it for us. This showed us extreme love.  On the weekend before he died, Amy was able to take mom to the fair. The plan was to take them both, but he didn't feel good enough to go. As she left that night, he sincerely expressed gratitude for taking mom out to have fun, even if he could not go.  He put her needs first as usual. And in the end, when he was too tired to get out of bed, after he told mom he loved her, he thought of her needs and told her to get some rest. Caring to the end, he is now fully healed and resting in the arms of his Savior. And we are sure he is also enjoying a good meal!

I know this has been long, but it could be much longer if I started recounting all the good memories I have of my dad.  From making me feel good about myself as a teenager, to climbing in the back of the car to comfort me from a broken heart to crying the day I left for college.  But I will end it here. And soon I will post pictures of my family as we came together to grieve and celebrate the life of Dennis Powell.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Road trip for Nathan's 15th Birthday!!

Nathan got an extra special birthday present this year.  It started out as a very special present because he was going to go to the LSU/South Carolina football game in Columbia.  He had only been asking for this as a present for about 3 years.  So we thought, sure.  Then the flood hit Columbia and the Wednesday before the game, it was moved to Louisiana!!

Well this actually made Nathan a little excited because he has also wanted to see LSU play in Tiger Stadium,  We weren't sure at first if we could do it because Dave had work obligations that made it impossible for him to go.  But we pooled all of Nathan's birthday money (and some of our own) and hit the road.

Nathan and I left Friday at 11:30.  We drove all the way to Moss Point, Mississippi that night.  We made the obligatory stops at welcome centers (especially the Florida one with free OJ and a Shutterfly book), and arrived for a much needed night's sleep around 11:00.  To make the time pass, we listened to murder mysteries.  We had finished one and started on a second at this point!

The Florida Welcome Center (the MS one was closed for renovation)

To make sure we would arrive on time, we got up around 6, ate a quick breakfast, started our audio book, and left MS for LA.  Because we were so close to it, we decided to add 30 extra minutes of drive time and go through New Orleans.  We had about 30 minutes to look around.  We wanted to get beignets, but the only place that we could find that sold them was very crowded.  So we opted for buttermilk drops (big round donuts) that were very delicious.  New Orleans is a unique town that I am sure would be fun to take the time to explore, but I have to say this, though, is it is not like Charleston!!    

We finally made it to LA!  

Lots of water in this part of the country!

New Orleans

Bourbon Street

After our brief detour, we finally made it to the outskirts of the LSU campus.  We saw a sign at a church for $20 parking and free for South Carolina.  We got to park free, but at first the man said only for SC fans and with our purple shirts, we didn't look like Gamecocks!  After I told him we had just driven from SC, and he saw our license plate, he did give us free parking.

Never have seen pineapple Fanta before!?!

Off to the bookstore was our first stop to buy Nathan a shirt and windbreaker.  We ate lunch at the student union and ice cream at the LSU dairy, and took our seats to await the big game.  Seats that were good for seeing the game, but bad if you didn't want to get sunburned!

Gamecock cheerleaders

Nathan's favorite player...Leonard Fournette

Flying the SC flag!!

The team warming up

Fournette again, warming up

The marching band

The game was fun for Nathan, even if I did embarrass him by cheering for SC when they made the 100 yard touchdown :)  But I had to cheer for our state since there were so few Gamecock fans!  After a decisive win, we looked around the other side of the stadium where they house Mike, the real tiger mascot.
What Nathan wants for his 16th birthday...I don't think so!


Our last glimpse of the stadium.

We then tried to find a place to eat in downtown Baton Rouge, but were unsuccessful.  So we went to a seafood restaurant that was recommended to us.  Tired and hungry, we were very glad the hour wait was only 30 minutes!  Crab and crawfish au gratin, and fish were on the very tasty menu for us.
The Mississippi River in downtown Baton Rouge

Then off to bed in our second hotel.  Nathan was convinced he was going to stay up late with the TV muted and watch baseball.  He was asleep in 10 minutes!  Good thing, because the next day we had to drive 12 hours again and listen to the end of our second murder mystery.  We started a third, but never finished it.  I guess we need another road trip!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thoughts on a second marathon!

I am running my second marathon in a little over a week!  I did my first one as a check off on my bucket list, and said I would never do another.  In my opinion, a half is a doable race, but still a challenge, so why do another full.  But then my friend Tara had her own check off list that included running a marathon to help raise money for Love without Boundaries.  (see link at the bottom of page for information about donating to the cause!)  And this had to be done in LA.  So combining my love for running and my bigger love for traveling, I said YES!

Although I was always excited about visiting LA, I admit I wasn't always excited about training for another marathon.  The way I train involves gradually increasing my once a week long run until my last long run is 22 miles.  It takes a lot of time to run 22 miles during one day on the weekend.  Running, taking children to baseball, and basketball and sleep overs and makes for a tiring weekend.  Two memories I have is the gradual tiredness my body feels and sitting in church on Sunday night (after a Sunday afternoon long run) with very tired legs.

But I also have noticed other things in training for a marathon.  And these are things that I am very grateful for learning.  One thing is almost like a mind change.  Right now I am calling a short run one that is only 9 miles!  And when I am running, if I only have 3-4 miles left, in my mind it is almost done.

I also have found that I can do more than I ever thought possible.  I heard a quote from a sappy Hallmark movie that said, "Life is full of chances.  If you don't take risks, you will never know what you are capable of."  That is a good quote for a marathoner.  When I trained for my first marathon, I remember barely being able to finish my long 7 mile run.  But weeks later, I was doing 17.  It is always that added mile that is the hardest; but if added one at a time, it can happen.  Although I am always tired after running, it is a satisfied tired because of having met a goal.  I enjoy meeting goals and also facing a challenge and conquering it.  In this marathon training, I have been able to push myself and found that I haven't broken.  To be able to do something that initially seemed impossible has taught me about myself and has shown me my strengths and weaknesses.  I have learned a lot about myself by running circles around my house!

While running, I have lots of time to listen to books and music; think about what is happening in my life and what needs to be done with different situations; pray for these situations and pray that I don't die!  I am able to notice all sorts of things in my running course from the new houses being built to the same litter in the same place week after week.  I have started having a feeling about how long a mile is and being able to time it so that I hit water fountains when needed and finish very close to home.

Since this is not my first marathon, and I have no plans for finishing with some awesome time, I am more relaxed for this run.  I still plan on running the whole thing, however, I also plan on enjoying the view and stopping to record the sites with my phone!  I plan on making lots of Instagram and FB posts throughout my run!  This will be a fun run!

So even though this training has been tiring, I still look forward to running and I still enjoy it.  I REALLY enjoyed running a slow short 3 mile run with Camden and not even breathing hard!  But even though I have enjoyed it, I will be glad to finish this journey and stick to shorter long runs :)  I am really planning on this being my last marathon, however, if someone asks me to do 26.2 around the islands of Hawaii, I just might have to do a third!!