A Letter to Fathers

My first real memory with my Dad began with a Coca Cola.1006136_10200807684686917_806961173_n

I was sitting in front of our console TV, with gigantic bunny ears covered in aluminum.

My Barney tape was being re-wound for the 47th time, so my heart was content.

I saw candy on the kitchen table, butterscotch hard candy to be exact, and asked my mom if I could eat it.

“Yes” came from her lips…

Dreams really do come true.

I plopped down in front of the TV once again and threw that candy into my mouth and INSTANTLY it went right down my throat.

I panicked.

I wasn’t choking, but it hurt. I could feel that candy SLOWLY moving it’s way down my throat, through my chest. THE WORST, especially at 4 yrs old.

I became hysterical.

For those of you who don’t know me, I was, and still am, REALLY dramatic.

My dad ran in, swooped me up, and walked with me to the kitchen. He opened the door of the refrigerator and together we sat on the floor.

He pulled out a can of Coca Cola, poured a little into a sippy cup, and said,

“take you a little sip a’ that.  It will make you feel better.”

It was a moment that created more moments for us.

10513245_10203476264879754_5871342365286394621_n

I sipped that goodness called coke and dad rocked me in our old recliner. It was our secret. Mom only bought those cokes for dad and they were off limits, but he shared his coke with me and created a safe place for a moment.

He was always known for that in our house. The safe place. The one who could tell the best stories and give the best hugs. He spoke enormous amounts of life into the identities of his daughters and never once made us feel that we weren’t enough.

10320525_10203027347177092_3040880428791838808_n

He was always up for hide and seek, racing down the beach, chasing us up the stairs (which was weirdly our favorite part of when dad got home), never got frustrated when all of his t shirts went mysteriously missing and then found when his three little ones woke with those t shirts as night gowns.

10483166_10203476117876079_8080868405875320818_n

He loved our mom. He still loves our mom. He dotes on her, he admires her, he kisses her, he jokes with her, he’s wild about her, and with his actions in loving her, he has shown his daughters how a man should love his wife.

10500511_10203493593472958_1706419009577875511_n

Saturdays were adventure days with Dad.  Some may think that buying live worms for fishing and getting a candy bar is no big deal, but to us, it was everything.

He taught us how to love rock n roll or as he calls it “real music”, and pushed us to see the beauty of history.

He showed us what hard work was and never let us give up if something got hard.

He was forgiving when all three of us wanted to be dancers and piano players rather than basketball stars.

38674_1470856483870_3958985_n

In fact, he never missed a recital.

He taught us what grace really was, he never lacked in patience, he was steadfast in fearlessness, and consistent in kindness.

More than anything, my father taught me and my sisters about the character of The Father.

We got to experience a piece of heaven with a dad who chose to present himself with the qualities of heaven.

Today, I know that my best conversations happen when dad and I drink Coke together.

He still gives the best hugs and tells the best stories.

IMG_1149

His laughter is wildly contagious.

He has made his sons-in-law his own and understands the importance of family.

To all the Fathers out there, biological or in spirit, thank you.

Thank you for defying the odds and statistics of fathers today. Thank you for filling up that place in your child’s life that needs filling and for being a representation of Father God in the way you are actively present for your children.

Thank you for creating a safe place for your kids to go, no matter what they have done.

Thank you for choosing to be a father.  Your lives, your leadership, your characters are changing this world, for the better.

Daddy, thanks for the coke.

Thanks for the safe place.

Thanks for who you are.

Happy Father’s Day.

10440887_10154201741750333_2912581847069160015_n

Sweet Home Montgomery

The other day I drove downtown to meet a friend for lunch at a cute little food truck called “On a Roll”.

I found a parking spot, scrounged around for quarters to put into the meter, and made my way towards the food truck that awaited me with the worlds BEST Pimento cheese sandwich.

colorboxphoto_3

Upon my arrival to eat, I purchased cookies from a local baker, Simply Sugared.  I waved at her kiddos and remembered, once again, how adorable they are.

Also, I was reminded how beautiful (and yummy) her cookies are and how sweet her spirit is!

colorboxphoto_2

I walked up to make my order at “on a roll” and Nick, one of the owners, greeted me with a “Oh hey Mrs. Laura, you back for more Pimento Cheese today?”

He knows me so well.

colorboxphoto_29

I enjoyed lunch with my friends and most handsome husband, and headed to the post office.

colorboxphoto_20

Before I walked through the doors of the post office, sweet Mrs. Eleanor was waving at me with a big smile on her face.

She works at the front desk of the post office, and always rocks her post office blue cardigan.

I walked in with a bag of cookies to ship off, and she looked at me confused…

“No coffee today Mrs. Bell?” she asked

“not today!” I said.

“Until next time!” she replied while she helped me pick out the cheapest form of shipping 🙂

colorboxphoto_5

colorboxphoto_9

The next day I was on my morning run through the neighborhood, cutting through to my favorite park a few blocks over.

My friend/neighbor, Kelly, was sitting on her porch and waved as I ran by. I stopped to chat for a minute, which turned into thirty minutes and a tour of her porch side garden.

Be still my heart.

I love her.

I am obsessed with her garden.

She reminded me why I love the South.

colorboxphoto_47

I finished up my run by cutting through the parking lot of Richardson’s Pharmacy.

I waved to the “security guard” as he hollered “How was today’s run?”

He’s not the security guard, in fact I am not quite sure who he is, but he sits and keeps watch over the place ALL DAY and EVERYONE loves him.

I don’t know his name, but I know his spirit, 

and to me, that’s all that matters.

colorboxphoto_55

colorboxphoto_39

I hopped in my car and drove over Anehlich’s Automotives.

Yes, it is a service station.

A real one.

You drive up, a little bell dings, and they fill up your tank.

The same fella’ helps me every time.

He knows my name, checks my hood, my tire pressure, washes my windshield and gives me the same advice on marriage.

I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

colorboxphoto_37

Our city, the one we love, wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for the people that made it so spectacular.

The places are great, every city has cool stuff,

but the people, oh the people, are what make this Capital City so fantastic.

Also,

(how gorgeous is my beautiful Becca? Shy, reserved, but always up for anything I ask her to do.  The camera loves her. What a babe!)

colorboxphoto_57

Cody and I are traveling away from home in just a few short months.

Traveling to a city, a country, that needs love like what Montgomery holds.

The orphans need attention and affirmation and our hearts are so excited to distribute all that we have within us.

We have a little more fundraising left to do.

So, to any and all who know this city, love this city, and want to help people from your city, your opportunity lies within these adorable t shirts.

colorboxphoto_50

If you purchase one of these shirts, all the proceeds go towards mine and Cody’s Mission trip to Moldova.

It’s simple.

And Y’all, these t shirts are SO comfy.

colorboxphoto_30

Our friend, Nalin Khantisouriya, designed these adorable tee’s and a local non-profit, Urban Seed Xchange printed them for us.

The awesome pictures were taken by Brooke Glassford with Colorbox Photographers, also known as the “prettiest blonde in Montgomery County”.

Not kidding, her golden locks are a dream.

colorboxphoto_51

Our city has a vision and is changing daily.

I love all that God is doing and moving daily for our community as it is re-vamping itself into what is was created to be.

Sweet Home Montgomery,

you still got it.

Be sure to buy a t shirt and know that your purchase goes towards an amazing mission trip!

Buy T shirts Here!

The Truth Is:___________

Yesterday I received an email from my favorite Cody Bell.

Yes, my husband sent me an email, it’s 2015, that’s what couples do right?

The email was titled “What do you want?” and reading it I felt a big lump swell up in my throat.

IMG_2406 (3)

Cody began telling me how much God loved me and wanted to pursue me more… but one particular line struck me more than all the others…

The line wrote:

“He wants to know what we want to do, and He joins alongside us in the journey, so happy and so in love with us.”

This insane swelling turned to alligator tears and I kept stopping to read that line over and over and over again.

God genuinely wants to know the desires of my heart, in fact, He knows them before I know them.

IMG_2394Cody began listing all the desires he has laid out for God to come along side him in and together we have journeyed in partnering with God to fulfill those places.

But he was curious what God has laid upon MY heart, and what he could partner with God and me in.

But it got me thinking, how often are we seeing beautiful things, dreaming big dreams, and telling the Godly desires of our hearts to go away?

How many times are we telling God no in the ideas that He has laid out in front of us?

IMG_2373 (1)We matter to God.

We. Matter. To. God.

Period.

End of story.

IMG_2397 (1)

The truth is: God knows what we want in this life.

The truth is: God is not intimidated by your dreams.

The truth is: God is un-offended by our process to get where He is taking us.

The truth is: You are known and pursued.

The truth is:  He will provide for you in the season of trying.

The truth is: God never asked you to be perfect, He asked you to be YOU.

IMG_2401

Cody and I are in the journey process.  We are processing and adventuring, slowly and beautifully.

God is directing our footsteps, telling us where to go, and giving us the most delightful people to meet.

We met the owners of the best coffee shop in Opelika, Alabama… I dare say, the STATE of Alabama.

You should venture to this blessed place, have a latte AND a popsicle.

Even if you don’t visit a local coffee shop…

dare yourself to live courageously enough to visit the places that you dream of…

even if it scares you.

The email ended on this note:

“I think we have to tell Papa what we want. I bet He has asked us and we just don’t realize it at times. So, what do you want? What are the desires of your heart? Tell Him! He will journey with you and love you through it!”