Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Friend, Brian, is celebrating with the angels

My friend and brother, Brian Dahl, would be turning 30 tomorrow...if we were blessed to still have him on this earth. Instead, my friend and brother Brian, is celebrating his 30th birthday with the angels while we remember an incredible friend, man, and brother in Christ here on earth. I wrote the following about Brian the week he died back in August of this year. At the time, I couldn't bring myself to post another blog about another loss in my life. However, for those of you who read my blog or check to see that it's never updated...you should have the opportunity to know a little about my friend Brian and remember him with me on this special day!

For only knowing Brian almost exactly one year, I have pages and pages of memories and stories I could write. I was introduced to Brian and James P. by Eric (Brian's dad) the first time I ever went to the student center, but the first time I really met Brian was a few weeks later at my condo. Deborah Bone and I had an Ole Miss football party for the 1st game of 2006. I provided the location and she invited all the people since I really didn’t know anyone in Oxford yet. Brian came and entertained us. I knew Brian was going to be a great friend. I also remember that day that he made sure he didn’t eat more of the party food than James P (they were both in training for bike races). I didn’t know of their competitive relationship until later but Brian really liked these cinnamon things that Lisa Beard made and ate almost the whole pan of them (it was really small). He just kept telling us…”Don’t let James know how many of these I have eaten.” Knowing what I know now about their relationship, this story is even funnier.

One of my favorite Brian memories is of Halloween 2006. It is a Williams family tradition to make a big pot of soup on Halloween and have friends over to eat it. So when I got to Oxford, the tradition continued. We told Brian that it was going to be a costume party…but really we hadn’t decided on whether or not it would be. Most of the guests came in their regular clothes from work or school and very few dressed up. Brian dressed up. He showed up at the door in full Russian Army regalia, stern face and all. It was awesome…everyone in the whole room thought it was hilarious. The funniest part about the whole outfit is that his shoes had started to dry rot, due to their age, and ended up crumbling all over my living room floor. The next little bit of the party was spent watching Brian crawl around the floor picking up pieces of his shoes.

I have many more memories of Brian – most of them are snippets of conversations or moments at the Dahl’s house with Deborah. I loved that Brian and I had a running argument over who was taller…we measured at least twice. Technically I think Brian was a little taller (even though I never admitted it) BUT I had the advantage of heels AND effectively manipulating my place in pictures to make sure I looked taller!

I loved playing tricks on Brian. Deborah and I loved changing his Facebook profile picture often to some of Brian’s “favorite people” – Jeff Probst and Patrick Dempsey! We even created a group from Brian’s profile and named it “I wish I was Patrick Dempsey so women would call me McDreamy.” He always returned the favor. At one point, pictures were posted of both Deborah and me complete with mustaches, devil horns and a spikey tails.

The best Brian memory I have is his SURPRISE graduation party! Eric, Melanie (Brian's mom), Deborah, and I schemed and planned a wonderful party for Brian’s graduation. Deborah and I invited Brian to a night at P.F. Changs, one of his favorite restaurants in Memphis. We made up some crazy story about not wanting to go to Memphis by ourselves and after hearing it was one of Brian’s favorites, we decided he should be the one to protect us and accompany us on our dinner. The funny thing about that is that I’m allergic to Chinese food and can’t really enjoy P.F.Changs if I do go but Brian didn’t know that. He took our bait, hook, line and sinker. It was too easy to get him to agree to go. Eric and Melanie even jumped in and asked if they could go…and Deborah and I made up some excuse about the three kids needing some time by ourselves, etc. My favorite Brian line of all times was said that night after we left. He told Eric, “Dad, when two pretty girls invite me to go to dinner, feel free not to invite yourself.” I thought that was so funny!

I had the most fun planning the party! The Student Center “eating room” was packed full of people, and I met a lot of Brian’s really close friends. After everything was ready, I had the task of picking Brian up. When I got there, by myself, I told him Deborah was in a meeting that was running late and we needed to go by and pick her up at the SC. Supposedly, this was the first time Brian was suspicious…To me, it’s a pretty successful surprise party when the person doesn’t get suspicious until on the way! When we got to the SC, Brian got a glimpse of his parents’ car and at that point, I wasn’t sure I was going to get him in the building. By this time, Brian knew something was up and was obviously not too excited about being a part of it. Luckily, he was a good sport and walked through the doors surprised to find a room packed full of people who loved him and were so proud of him. I’m so glad he knew how many people he had touched before he passed. By the end of the night, he seemed to have forgiven us for all the lies and deceit.

But....Brian had another trick up his sleeves. He was in charge of the devotional at small group on Sunday night and had brilliantly woven in a trick on me. In a devotional centered on how to deal with anger, Brian requested that I read Revelation 21:8. As a good little Christian girl, I recognized the verse…but not as a verse on anger. I questioned Brian and he said, “It’s the right one, I’m looking at it right here.” I started reading… “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, …” It wasn’t until I got to the part saying “liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur” that I realized it was all a trick on me because I had lied to him about going to P.F. Changs. I had been gotten and it was sweet for Brian!

There were many things I loved about Brian, my brother and my friend. He cared for others. I loved that Brian loved my family. He loved seeing Liam being introduced to Nelson (the cat) as Liam almost took off flying since he was flapping his arms so hard. When he heard Liam was coming to town, he always asked if he needed to get Nelson ready for another Liam visit. He loved my dad. If he told me once, he told me 1,000 times how much he really liked my dad and thought he was so funny. When my dad had his heart attack and surgery, it meant to so much to me that Brian was always checking in and even came to the hospital in Nashville bringing woodcarving magazines and some of his favorite Far Side cartoons. When my cousin, Erin, had her accident, Brian regularly wanted to know how she was doing and was concerned about her family after she lost her battle to the infections that plagued her body. More than once he sent me facebook messages asking about how they were doing. He joined us in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and worked several hours this summer. He was also quick to take his lunch break while at Habitat to work on Shannon Baker’s car after the gate of my condo complex “attacked it” on the way to the build that morning.

My year of knowing and loving Brian was truly a gift from God. I will miss the laughs, smart comments, and occasional sweet comments from him. I will miss the man Brian was and will look forward to see him in heavenly glory for eternity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My hilarious sister

Scott & Carol have the most hilarious sense of humor and wit. It amazes me. This video was taken over a year ago when Carol was in the early stages of labor with Liam. They've recently put it on You Tube because of the large number of people who have begged them to see it. I was lucky enough to see it in real life (as you'll see in the video) but it is equally as funny now! ENJOY!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day of School

Classes started at Ole Miss today. It was a strange feelings as the three new PhD students, Russell, Alex & Miriam had their first statistics class and I didn't have to go. I start class tomorrow - both as a student and as an instructor. We took a few pictures around the graduate office today to document the momentous occasion!

1st years - Russell, Alex & Miriam

I'm the only 2nd year

Jacob - 4th year (the last year)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Words from Tuesday

So, I'm taking my sister's Wordless Wednesday from last week and turning it into "Words from Tuesday" this week. I've been in Nashville for a couple of days and have been spending as much time with my favorite little man as possible.

My favorite Liam story this week - I invited Liam to spend the night with me on Monday night when I got in town so we could play Tuesday morning. I was taking him to meet Carol for lunch on Tuesday. He was sitting in his carseat in the back seat eating Crispix cereal on the way when all of a sudden pieces of wet Crispix come flying at me in the front from out of his mouth. I turned around and asked, "What was that?" and he answered, "WIND!"

What a JOY!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Summer to Remember...

Tomorrow I leave Oxford for two weeks and when I return, life as a PhD student will be in full swing again. Today, I've been reflecting over this summer. I've included a brief summary of its events along with a few pictures.

This summer has been one I will never forget - both for the good and the tragic moments. It is the first summer of owning a house, the first summer for Liam to have a week with his Aunt Lulu all to himself, a summer of new friends and new hobbies like triathalon training, the corn hole game, Mexican Train Dominoes, the exciting world of Harry Potter, and boxing on the Nintendo Wii. It's been a summer to remind me that family is the most important thing! I've been reminded of this through celebrating a healthy dad who is doing so well six-months after a heart attack and open heart surgery and through the tragedy of losing a wonderful cousin due to complications following a tubing accident.

Erin Arnold Smith
October 21, 1982 to July 16, 2007
Erin was full of life and fun and excitement, and I take great comfort in knowing that she's in heaven - no doubt bringing laughter and smiles to all those around her. Chris Smith did an amazing job at her funeral of telling stories of Erin that allowed everyone there to have a chance to get to know her. She would have been so honored by the words that described her and the people there to comfort those who loved her. I didn't know this about Erin, but apparently as a small child she climbed on top of buildings in downtown Franklin looking down through the skylights into the stores and restaurants below. As Chris ended the eulogy, he ended referencing Erin walking on the skylights of heaven. I love that picture! Although we will miss Erin tremendously, I'm thankful to have the hope of seeing her again in heaven. I'm thankful that she ended life here surrounded by family who loved her dearly and she was welcomed in heaven by our Papa, our aunt Anne who we've never met, and her other grandaddy.

Here are some pictures from my summer.

Girls' Weekend - Lake Trip with Lindsay, Hayley & Amy. This is the weekend that Hayley told us she was pregnant! YAY!!!

A Day at the Memphis Zoo with PopPop, Grammy & Liam.
(It's a little blurry since they were in full-speed ahead riding on bee--r as Liam said it.)

Bath Time at Aunt Lulu's House.

Liam at Cousin Janice & Cousin John's pool after a day at the Memphis Zoo - This is one sleepy boy!

Liam at the Huntsville Hospital visiting Cousin Erin. This is his response to "Smile, Liam."

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Habitat for Humanity

Trigger (the trusty) Sawhorse and Hi Ho Silver (the sawhorse) Away!

Our Life Group at church has been volunteering at Habitat for Humanity in Oxford during the month of June. My good friend, Shannon, and I've had so much fun we've gone every weekend. We've learned to use a jig saw, a table saw, a skill saw...and next week we've been told we're going to get to learn to use the nail gun. Our group has worked on building rafters and saw horses, we've put anchored studs in the frame of the kitchen for future cabinents, hung sheet rock, and today some of us started building the roof. Here are a few pictures from the past two Saturdays. I'll add more as we go.

Shannon (a.k.a. Spiderwoman) working on the roof

The sawhorse team - Me, Shannon, Daniel & John

The house - prior to the fabulous roofing
And me...silly as always!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wait For It

My favorite show these days is Grey's Anatomy. Carol and I often find God-inspired thoughts and revelations through this show, believe it or not. I found peace during dad's heart attack, open heart surgery, and hospital stay partly through what I've learned from my favorite Grey's surgeons. In my Bible study today I remembered a scene from a Grey's episode where Meredith was sad because Derek had just broken up with her...Christina and Izzy were trying to make her feel better by taking her to see a patient they had stolen from the psych floor. This patient was a "pregnant" man. (Later it was discovered he really wasn't pregnant...) As they approached the door, they asked Meredith if she was ready to see what was inside. Upon entering the room all Meredith could see was the back of a very normal looking and acting man. Meredith was like, "what's the big deal?" Christina replied, "Wait for it." It was then that Meredith saw the apparent medical miracle before her.

The theme of today's Bible study is "Wait Patiently For It" with Habakkuk 2:3 being the primary verse: "The visition is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay." Although I can see some application of Scripture with the Grey's episode, it was a simple little reminder for me that God is all around...even in the most unlikely places...putting scripture right in the middle of such a worldly symbol of popularity. God promises us that he has made himself known in the world...a general revelation through nature, beauty, etc. that he is indeed God (as pointed out by Priscilla Shirer in the introduction video of this Bible Study). Paul says in Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Priscilla spoke about specific revelation that God wants to speak to us...answers to our own questions of what decision is best?, should I stay in my own job or find another one?, which direction should I head, etc., but this specific revelation is only available to those who are HIS. Those who know His voice and seek His path. This blog may seem weird or may not make much sense. You may read and judge...thinking this girl watches too many Grey's Anatomy episodes (which you might be right). But, for me God used this scene and this study today to remind me that although He can be found all around...in the world, His specific glory, His specific revelation is found when I seek Him and when I stand guard while keeping watch for Him, while I wait for it...not to simply find a good medical case, but to hear and to know His purpose and plan for my life. Habakkuk tells us "For it will certainly come" and 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow about His promise." Priscilla had us read Genesis 18:9-18 and the story of God's promise to Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. In Genesis 21:1-2, God gave them a son "at the very time God had promised."

The command,"Wait for it," is so much easier when you know what you are waiting for is the promise of God and that He will deliver. I hope this blog has been an encouragement...and wasn't too out there in TV land. May God bless us today as we wait for Him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Two Days Late and A Dollar Short

So much for my renewed commitment to blogging. Well, I am back...I had a few technical difficulties but I think I have some of the kinks worked out.

Today I started a Ladies' Bible Study that meets at my house on Tuesday nights. We are studying Priscilla Shirer's "Discerning the Voice of God." What a blessing it has been already and today was just the introduction. Tha main point today is that we should anticipate that God wants to say something to us. The main take-a-way for me today is "The good shepherd I serve has something to say that cannot wait to hear!" I have a feeling my blogging over the next several weeks may reflect what God is doing in my life and teaching me through this study as I learn to listen for His Voice. What a blessing to be able to be part of such a study.

As for other things going on...I'm training for the Rebel Man Sprint Triathalon which will be in Spring 2008. You may wonder why I am starting my training 10 months in advance...the answer is simple. The race is a 400 yd swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 5K run and currently I do not swim, ride, or run. I'm starting very, very slow. I have set this goal because the race is most likely the week of my 30th birthday. I couldn't think of a better goal than being in the best shape of my life the day I turn 30 (which is the new 20 by the way). (:

I am also excited because I found out today that Liam is coming to visit me next week. We're going to have a few days of just the two of us...the 1st annual week with Aunt Lulu. Since he's just a little guy it won't be a full week this time, but I'm glad to get to spend some time with him. He's started saying "Lulu" which is a new development since the last time I saw him. On Monday he was at my parents' house and walked over to the bottom of the stairs leading to my room and started calling "lulu, lulu." He apparently started crying when Scott & Carol explained to him that I wasn't there. Sounds like that cute little boy needs some QT with Aunt Lulu. He's stolen my heart for sure!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sister's Inspiration

So, my awesome sister Carol has inspired me to start back with my blogging so here I go. Since the last time I wrote, I have finished my first year of my PhD program and have settled in to this little town of Oxford, MS. It's been a great AND tiring first year. I know there are many, many details to include between September of 2006 and today, but the thought of documenting a summary of them is overwhelming. So, tomorrow I'll start over...with a renewed "commitment" to blogging. It'll be good to share this journey with those of you who choose to endure it with me.

(By the way, this picture was taken at Scott & Carol's wedding a few years ago, but I just love it!)