People of The Ville: Matthew Jones

 

 

Years ago, my husband, Coach Tim Green, was sitting in his office when he heard a knock on his door. Looking up, he saw a small young freshman who had recently completed the opening football competition known as The Night of Champions and had finished in last place. Recognizing the frustration in the young man’s face and suspecting that he had come to say that he was going to quit football, Coach Green patiently waved him into his office and offered him a chair, hoping to convince him to stay. Instead of quitting, though, the freshman had come to see Coach Green to find out what he needed to do to get better, explaining that he was embarrassed by his performance at the recent competition. For the next few minutes, Coach Green outlined the simple but basic plan of the importance of nutrition while also explaining the level of commitment needed for the workouts as well. Flash forward to his senior year, the same young man walked up to Coach Green at the team meal after winning the State Championship game. He had not only improved enough to place in the top four at The Night of Champions that year but he was a starter on this historic 15-0 team. As he approached Coach Green, he held up a coke and smiled,

“Hey coach, you know what this is?”

Coach Green looked up and answered, “A Coke?”

The young man smiled and proudly answered, “It is the first Coke I’ve had since we met that day in your office.”

This is the kind of dedication and commitment that my husband, Coach Green, and I have known from this young man for years and I am so happy to introduce Matt Jones as the next recipient of The People of The Ville.

Matt and his wife Jill are both from Rome, Georgia but didn’t meet until after college. They have a one year old son, Preston, and a small dog named Lucy. Matt describes his family as his “rock” and his wife Jill as an “incredibly supportive coaches wife.” He later went on to say,

“She knows what football means to a community and what it means to me, you cannot be a successful coach without a wife that it is firmly in your corner!”

Matt, or Coach Jones, has been coaching high school football for 17 years now, starting back when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia. He has been the head coach for Kentucky Country Day School here in Louisville for the past 7 years and is now the winningest football coach in school history and was named both the District Coach of the Year and the State Coach of the Year for football this past season. When I asked him who inspired him to coach and teach, he answered,

“The influence that all my coaches had on my life inspired me to be a coach. I started playing as many sports as I could play beginning with football in the 2nd grade and was fortunate to have so many good experiences along the way. I played basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, football, swimming, gymnastics, and others and always seemed to find a good influence in each one. I was a child of divorce, single-parent home, and needed structure, direction, love, and guidance from authority figures. I also realized at a young age that I needed to seek out people that were happy and content and try to do what they were doing as a career, if I could. Fortunately, coaching came natural to me and my coaches were always some of the happiest men I knew.”

He goes on to describe some of these coaches:

“After 1997, my high school coaches were and remain the most influential men in my life. I keep up with almost all of them to this day, nearly 20 years later. They were more than coaches to me, they were Father Figures and men that I could model myself after personally and professionally. Jerry Sharp, Mike Carswell, Tim Green, and Tommy Atha are some of the finest husbands, fathers, and men of character that I have ever known. They influence me to this day and I take a tremendous amount of advice from all of them. Another person that is a great influence in my life is Mitch Jordan. Mitch and I coached together at Darlington from 2004-2007 and I talk to him every day. I value his opinion and guidance as a man, a husband and father, and as a coach.

Influences on Coach Jones were not limited to just coaches, though. He describes his late grandfather, Wade Hoyt Jr. in this way:

“He was the most influential man on my life until he passed away when I was only 15 years old. He was a man of unquestioned character and unconditional love, truly special, a throwback to a different generation. He was an attorney in Rome and always reminded me of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.”

He also gives credit to his mother:

“My mom, Beth Paulson, is the final major influence in my life. She raised me and my 2 sisters as a single parent and her unconditional love, wise advice, and constant shoulder to lean on were, and remain to a certain extent, our rock of stability. She is an incredible person and a winner.”

Sitting down with Coach Jones is always a pleasure. Here are a few other questions I had for him:

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

“I wish that I would’ve had or known more about small college options to play football. When I graduated High School in 1999, it seemed that there were very few small colleges playing football and even fewer out recruiting actively. Today, I have 15-20 smaller schools, looking for less talented or undersized kids that love the game, come through my office each December. Back then, I do not remember seeing any! While I had a great experience in Athens as an undergraduate and even got my start in coaching there, it would have been nice to have played football at the next level, or to have had an option to!”

Currently, my newest writing project is about the 1998 Tiger football team. Can you tell me about what it was like to be on that team?

“The 1998 Darlington Tiger football team was truly special. It was a true team in every sense of the word. Unselfish, led impeccably by our coaches, team chemistry all over the field, and a group that just absolutely loved to play the game of football. Most of us had been together for years as friends and teammates, which added to the experience. A group of young men that achieved something as a group that our individual talents alone could never have. It was a special time and a special place. That magic formula has not, and probably will never, happen again.”

What is your favorite memory of that year?

“My favorite memory from the 1998 season was taking the field at Lincoln Co. for the State Championship game. I still get goose bumps thinking about the crowd, the atmosphere, the stakes, and the overall energy there. Another great memory was arriving at the now-demolished Georgia Dome on our charter bus and walking through the tunnel to the big garage door and having it open to the field of play—I had never even walked on AstroTurf before, much less been at Field Level in a Dome that sat 75,000 people! What an experience, since we were the first game of the day, we had about 45 minutes to just walk around the field, take pictures, and enjoy it.”

You recently won District and State Coach of the Year. Tell us about this past year’s team.

“The 2017 KCD Football team was an outstanding group of talented players that had been looking forward to their Senior season for 5 years and even longer in some cases. We knew that we would be good, and it was a great ride to coach the young men on this year’s team through the season. They were unselfish, passionate about the game, and very talented guys as well. We were led by 13 committed Seniors, a huge number for a Class A Team. Our assistant coaches, Ed Long, Dylan Sims, Arthur Pollard, Cam Sample, Chris Radford, and Tim Green were also a special group—they worked very hard all season and we were always prepared to play. There are no honors and accolades for the coach without excellent, committed football players and parents to work with!”

What do you like most about Louisville?

“Louisville is an awesome place to live. There are so many ‘big city’ advantages to the city, yet it is easy to get around, everything is relatively close, and the people here are so warm and friendly. Jill and I have met many, many people that we call some of our best friends. We live in a great neighborhood that is only 4 miles from KCD and we try to take advantage of the city’s entertainment, dining, and sports options as much as we can. We are learning that Louisville is also a truly great place to raise kids and Preston is going to be lucky to grow up here going to and spending time at Kentucky Kingdom, The Zoo, and so many other cool places just minutes away from home.”

This is the last thing…tell me something you want us to know about you that we haven’t already covered above.

“I just think that young people today should truly want to pay their dues and earn everything that they get. My Dad always said: “If you think there is nothing to do at work, grab a broom and start sweeping.’ I have been fortunate to have had a lot of success by living off this advice. When I started coaching at Cedar Shoals I filmed practices, washed jerseys, weighed players in and out of Summer 2-a-days, dubbed highlight films, and anything else that needed to be done. When you are on the bottom of the totem pole, which we all will be at some point, the best thing to do is to put your head down and learn and work. At Darlington in 2004, I was hired to be a football assistant, do dorm duty, and be a middle school lacrosse coach. I was given a small apartment on campus, meals in the cafeteria, and $4500 per year ($175 every 2 weeks). It did not matter to me, it was about the experience that I could gain and the hard work that I could do. When you are 22 years old, the experience outweighs anything else. I tell that story because I am proud of it and of the experience that I gained. When you earn it, it is more special and you can enjoy it.”

It was a great privilege to get a chance to highlight a hard-working and dedicated man like Coach Matt Jones. My latest book project is scheduled for release in the coming months and highlights him and his teammates from the 1998 team from Rome, Georgia. The character of Coach Jones is indicative of the entire team from that year. Congratulations to Matt Jones for being the latest People of The Ville honoree! He and his family are welcome assets to our community.

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Inversion Hike: Can You Conquer the Valley?

 

Psalm 121: 1-2

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

My husband and I like to hike and we have been on many trails through the years. I’ve heard several people speak about their experiences on a mountaintop or a trail and how this proximity to nature inevitably produces the proverbial “mountaintop experience” of feeling closer to God. In life, these experiences don’t have to physically be on the top of a mountain; but as a hiker, my husband and I often speak of the spiritual experience we have as well as the physical one of conquering a difficult climb.

Recently, we took a trip out west and reversed our hiking experience by hiking down into a canyon. When hiking on a mountain, you typically climb up for a few hours and reach a summit and then pause to enjoy the views and you feel exhilarated that you have conquered the climb. The hike back down is a more relaxing pace, giving you time to reflect on the experience. Canyon hiking is quite the opposite. We started our 17 1/2 mile trek the first day by going down for about 1 1/2 miles and then found ourselves in the valley of the canyon for most of the remainder of the hike that day. Although there were a few areas we had to climb, most of the hike was not too hard and the only danger was the rocky trail, which made looking up at the amazing views of the canyon more difficult. I found this type of hiking so interesting. For years we have worked our way up a mountain and savored the views at the end but this time the views were in the middle of the hike and the most difficult portion of the hike was at the end of the second day 8-mile hike, where we had to climb back out of the canyon when we were already exhausted. I termed it an “inversion hike”, a play on the term inversion, which we sometimes encounter when the clouds are below us as we summit a mountain.

Something occurred to me during that experience in the canyon. When I was walking through the canyon floor and picking my way through the rocky terrain, I couldn’t help but feel the analogy of a “valley experience” of life just like the mountain ridge has always reminded me of the “mountaintop experience”. The feeling of being surrounded by canyon walls on all sides was intimidating as I knew the only way out was to climb back up. That revelation was a powerful reality that proved physically difficult as well. While standing on the canyon floor, we were able to look up and be amazed by God’s creation all around us but we also knew that those canyon walls were tall and our battered bodies would face the most difficult part of the hike when we were the most tired. We finished day two with the 1 1/2 mile ascent and when we reached the top of that canyon wall, as tired as we were, we both felt great that we had conquered the trail. This time, however, we weren’t at the top of a mountain at all, we were just dead even—on level ground. All that work and we were back where we had started. It made me reflect on how I approach a “valley” in my own life. As I thought about the days on that trail, I realized that maybe we don’t always understand how to get out of a valley. Do we depend solely on God to get us out or do we understand that it might take a great deal of effort on our part to climb the side of the wall? My husband and I are in good shape but even so, we had to encourage each other to get out of that canyon the second day and it was a great asset to have each other along the way. It made me reflect on how much my friends and family have meant to me when I needed them…but there were times when I tried to do it all alone and found myself slipping back into the valley over and over again. God wants to be our helper and our guide out of that valley. Although He has the power to do it without any help from us or anyone else, I believe that the climb can be part of our healing and the lessons of dependence on Him and others may be the most valuable part of the experience. As my husband and I reached the crest of the canyon wall we were exhausted and spent but our journey was not over. We still needed to drive back to town…another four hours in the car… another journey was just beginning. This made me realize that our mountains and valleys are just a small part of the overall journey.

This excursion was a good physical analogy for me as I reflected on the “valleys” in my walk through life. The next time I find myself in a valley of some kind, I hope that I will remember the “inversion hike” example and these three things: First, it takes an effort to climb out of a valley. That mile and a half back up the side of that canyon was tough after hiking so much. We were tired and ready to finish but there was no way to get out of there until we got up that trail and we just had to take it one step at a time until we reached the top. God is there for you and will help you but you’ve got to make an effort yourself. Second, it’s much easier to get through a bad time with some encouragement from someone else. If you know someone who’s having a struggle of some kind, a simple word of encouragement might do more for them than you will ever know; but if you’re the one in the valley, remember not to turn away help from someone who is reaching out to you. It’s hard to get out of that valley alone and there’s no reason why you should. Third, even though my husband and I worked incredibly hard to get up the side of that canyon, we ended up on level ground—not one step higher than where we had started…and that was difficult to know that we were just at the start of another journey… it wasn’t over. I think sometimes we expect God to not only deliver us from our valleys with no effort on our part but we also expect Him to deliver us to a place that we feel that we deserve or at least to an ending point where we can rest, but it may only be the beginning of a new direction or journey in our lives.

In reality, we need valleys to understand our dependence on God, our friends, and an understanding that not everything can be a mountain. Even in the depth of that canyon, I saw God all around me in the amazing cliffs that loomed overhead. Valley’s in our life can be deep and require a long climb up and we will need to put in some effort to get there. Along the way we might need some friends to encourage or even help us and we definitely need Him every step of the journey. When we finally find ourselves on flat level ground again, the journey is not over but is just starting in a new direction. Whether you are on top of a mountain, in the lowest of valleys or somewhere in between…He is with you always.

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The People of the Ville: Bill Beam

 

With strong family ties to the area, our latest People of The Ville honoree gives us a look into the past of our great city. Bill Beam, Jr. and his family have a long residence in Louisville with family history dating back to 1798 when his fifth great-grandfather, Captain Peter Fontaine, whose property later became known as Fountain Ferry Park, arrived in Louisville. Bill also explained that this was not the earliest arrival to Kentucky and “many family members lived in Kentucky (primarily in Frankfort, Shelbyville and the Bardstown area) years before the state’s admission to the union in 1792”.

Bill attended Kentucky Country Day and graduated in 1976. He then went to Tulane University, where he graduated with a degree in political science. Bill knew his wife Monette for several years via mutual friends and when they encouraged him to make contact, he did. His first attempt to take her on a date was thwarted, but she accepted his second try and they will soon celebrate their 20th anniversary this New Year’s Eve. Monette is also from the area and works as a real estate agent. They are both avid Louisville Cardinal fans as well as fans of the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and Tulane University Green Wave.

I asked Bill about some of his family tree and the response was typical of him in that it was modest yet thorough. The following is the set of questions and the answers that he gave:

 

The Plainview area is connected to your family. Can you share a little about this part of your family?

“In 1832 my fourth great-grandfather Jacob Garr settled in the Louisville area including having a large cabin on a large section in eastern Jefferson County. Garr is buried today in that area known as the Plainview subdivision (off Hurstbourne Blvd) which evolved into a dairy and American Saddlebred farm. My great grandfather (Robert C. Tway Sr) expanded the farm’s boundaries and developed those agricultural businesses while his wife (Estelle Bennett Tway) named the farm. Estelle noted the area was a “plain view”; thus the name “Plainview Farms” was created. My grandfather (William T. Tway, Sr.) sold the property to developers in the 1970s as family members did not care to live in the historic register home of R.C. Tway…thinking Plainview Farms was so far away from Louisville activities…oh my!…times have changed.”

Folks who know you are aware you have many notables in your family tree. Can you name some of your connections?

“You may regret asking that question, but I feel truly blessed to be a direct descendant to so many dignitaries who served as military figures, politicians, government officials, distillers, businessmen and real estate barons. I don’t mean to ignore some of my relatives, but to simplify matters I will list the most notable ones by generation:

Fifth great grandparent
Isaac Shelby: Kentucky’s first and fifth governor, Revolutionary War hero, namesake of Shelby County and Shelbyville

Thomas Todd: United States Supreme Court Justice (appointed by Thomas Jefferson as the first Supreme Court Justice west of the Appalachian Mountains), Chief Justice Kentucky Supreme Court

General Jonathan Clark: Revolutionary War hero, Oldest brother of Louisville Euro-founder George Rogers Clark and William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame

Fourth great grandparent
Colonel Charles S Todd, Sr.: U.S. diplomat, U.S. ambassador to Russia, first Kentucky Colonel, Kentucky’s 10th Secretary of State, Kentucky State Representative)

Jacob Beam: the original master distiller of Beam Whiskey (evolved into Jim Beam Bourbon)

Daniel P Weller: the original master distiller of Weller Whiskey (evolved into W. L. Weller Bourbon)

Jacob Garr: owned several large tracts of land in Jefferson County including what is today known as the Plainview area.

Captain Benjamin John Head: Revolutionary War figure, early ancestor of Middletown where his home housed a general store and law firm which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places

Third great grandparent
Nathaniel Wolfe: notable advocate for Kentucky’s neutrality in American Civil War, nationally renowned criminal defense attorney, namesake of Wolfe County, Kentucky, Kentucky State Representative and Senator

John Baylor Temple: Kentucky’s 6th State Auditor, President Kentucky Military Board during the American Civil War

Richard Alexander Robinson Sr: created the largest drug company in the south, organized several Louisville businesses, Director of Louisville Bridge Company (first bridge connecting Louisville to the north)

Great-grandparent
William H Veeneman, Sr.: Served 19 years Chair and 7 years as CEO of Churchill Downs Racetrack, racehorse owner, President of Frankfort Distillery (Four Roses), Chair Citizens Fidelity Bank & Trust

Robert C Tway Sr: Owner of R.C. Coal Company, Kentucky Trailer, Plainview Farms Dairy, two-time World Champion Five-Gaited American Saddlebred “Plainview’s Julia”, built a majestic home listed on the Historic Registry.

Please note I love my parents and grandparents with their notable achievements, but I am sure boredom has already cemented in your brain going back seven generations.”

 

What do you like most about Louisville?

“Louisville is a first-class mid-size city. A few decades ago, I thought the city lacked investment and a sense of pride. Louisville has transformed from being more than just a “family” town as residents enjoy enormous venues (arts, sports, parks, restaurants, special events, urban bourbon trail, unique neighborhoods, universities, museums, concerts). Although Louisville experiences all four seasons; I just wish the cold periods of winter were eliminated from the equation.”

 

Tell us a little about your children.

“I am truly blessed to have both a son and a daughter which allows me to witness and process a vast array of experiences. Both children proudly followed me as graduates of KCD. My son is my namesake and is constantly reminded of how he looks and acts like me. He will survive. My daughter who profusely loves sports likes to quickly introduce herself as my second son. Both are building blocks to their careers and should shortly have paved very navigable roads to their personal and professional success.”

 

If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?

“I wished I went to law school. I served as an adjudicative hearing officer at one time in my professional career, but a formal law degree would have probably brought some stimulating career experiences.”

 

Who was the most influential person in your life and why?

“Two men brought tremendous influence to my personal character, my grandfather William T. Tway Sr and former Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton. My grandfather provided me with a male form of love, trust, and loyalty. Governor Patton displayed to me the value and significance of hard work and positioning that labor with an ability to fully complete a task.”

As you can tell from his answers, he is smart and witty and incredibly modest about himself. The truth be told, I’m sure his ancestors will be telling their children that they knew him. He and his wife Monette are valuable parts of our community. When asking Bill these questions, I knew he would answer them well and he did. I left one final question for the end when I simply asked for him to tell us something that we haven’t already covered that he would want to say; and he answered like this:

“I hope to always to live by the motto, ‘treat someone like you would want to be treated.’ If I forget to live by those words, kindly kick me in the shin and remind me. It is that important to me.”

I honestly don’t think any kicking will be necessary. Thank you, Bill, for being our next honoree for The People of The Ville!

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Thankful for M&Ms

1Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Thankful…for so much

Years ago, when my children were small, we used to have a “Thankful Tree”. The idea was not my own but borrowed from somewhere long before the internet was so large and ideas for such things were plentiful. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s simple. I would draw a large tree on paper (I used to get the end rolls from a newspaper office) and then tape the picture on a prominent wall in our home. I used colorful leaves cut from construction paper—enough for all six of us for every day in November. Every day, each of us would take one leaf and write on it something we were thankful for and then tape the leaf to the tree. By the end of the month, the tree would be full and the visual was excellent for the girls to see how much we could be thankful for instead of dwelling on what we didn’t have.

The interesting part of this story is how little we did have at the time. I was staying home and my husband was a teacher and coach. Raising four kids on that small salary was challenging but God was so much bigger. When we first decided to keep me home, we had no idea how it would happen; but as I’ve posted before, He came through in mighty ways. One post years ago I told the story of how I continued to dip into a box of detergent that was essentially empty and yet there was always enough for one more load. At a time when I had to do at least three loads of laundry a day and with no money to buy more detergent at that time, it was a testimony to me how He had my back…even on laundry.

We were not really poor…but we didn’t have any excess. We had a home, cars, clothing, and food so it’s hard to say that we were really destitute; but we were at the very least struggling every month to make ends meet.

I remember one time when we lived in Charleston…I took the girls to watch a basketball game at the school just so they could see their dad, who was then and still is an athletic director and is gone many hours from home. We usually brought snacks from home to go anywhere and never dreamed of using a concession stand (way out of our budget). Occasionally, I would buy one small pack of candy and split it among us all and that was a splurge for us.

We went to the game that one night and something wonderful happened. A sweet and amazing woman from the school asked me if she could buy each of the girls a pack of candy from the concession stand. I was dumbfounded but agreed to let her. It was one of the sweetest gestures anyone had done for us in a long time and the girls were so funny. I sat and watched as their large brown eyes absorbed what was happening with disbelief. They each timidly reached for their candy and stared at the bag as if it would disappear if they looked away. It made me sad and happy all at the same time and it was beautiful to see how much they appreciated every last piece. One of them only ate a few pieces that night and saved her bag of M&M’s to eat over the next week— a few pieces at a time every day.

Even though we had very little, I baked that Christmas and we gave away some simple baked goods to all our neighbors and the girl’s teachers. It wasn’t much, but our girls witnessed our giving out of our small supply.

About two years later something else happened that amazed me. We were working on our Thankful Tree and one of our girls took a leaf and wrote what she was thankful for just like we always did every day. When I collected the leafs to tape on the wall, I noticed her leaf simply said: “M&M’s”. Turning to her, I had to ask what she meant by such a bizarre response. Not that we didn’t like candy or anything, but I wasn’t sure what she meant.

“What do you mean by M&M’s?” I asked.

My daughter, who was now only 6 answered, “I’m thankful for our friend who gave me my own bag of M&Ms.”

As I turned to place the leaf on the tree, I choked back tears and thanked God one more time for all He has provided through the years…even M&M’s.

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What Do You Have to Give?

I have been a football coaches wife for years. It’s a unique and awesome experience and my new book (still working on) is about one year in particular but is also about the incredible and sometimes heartbreaking times that we all have to endure for that one moment when it all comes together.
 
This season and last I decided to experience it all in a new way. For years, I have sat in wind, rain, snow, and heat. I have stood along the fence to allow my kids time to stretch their legs. Many years I spent in the stands cheering and crying alongside the other parents. Several times, I sat in a dark van along the parking lot with a sick child to try to catch glimpses of the struggle on the field. There are moments when I wanted to scream for joy and others when I felt anger well to the point of a near explosion. Whether it was a poor referee call or a comment from someone in the stands or maybe a rowdy group across the field, I was always a Tiger…or a Cyclone…and the last 15 years a tried and true Bearcat.
 
The past two years I elected to give the parents a break and time to enjoy their own young men and took my camera to the sidelines. I have enjoyed the fresh perspective and everyone was amazingly respectful. Most who know me well know that I took a rather hard hit last year and had a bruise that covered the inside of my thigh for weeks (I still have some pain from it). Last night, I watched our team fight and struggle…and eventually lose to end their season. We had an amazing year like we knew we would. The guys gave all that they had…
 
I remember a few years ago one team that was similar and very dedicated. When their season ended, several seniors placed their cleats on the Bearcat in center field and left them there to symbolize that they gave all that they had and left it all on the field. This stuck with me last night as I watched these young men fight. As I walked over to hear the speech after the game, I lifted my camera and shot pictures of the young men kneeling before their coach. I do this every time but this night was different. I clicked as many as I thought I needed and turned to walk toward my camera bag to pack up and leave. That’s when it happened…
 
There isn’t much that a 51-year-old woman can give a team to help them on their journey through the season. I gave up my husband to the hours of film and coaching, but I found that I had given something else that I had no idea would happen. I pulled my camera up one last time to try to capture the field but it wouldn’t turn on. The battery had failed…but the camera was dead too. This camera has clicked thousands of pictures through the years and I’m honored that it plowed through this season so well. Smiling, I packed it away and felt another layer of sadness and I thought about those cleats mid-field so many years ago. Part of me wanted to leave my camera there last night…I gave what I could…my husband…my time…and now my camera.
 
The 2017 Bearcat Football season has ended…but now we will see what these young men will accomplish in life. To them I say…give LIFE all that you have.

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What do Kim Kardashian and Warren Buffet have in common?

1 Peter 1:24-25

For, all people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this was the word that was preached to you.

What do Kim and Warren have in common? Well…not much except for money…

If you’re a movie buff, you have probably heard or seen the movie Hacksaw Ridge which portrays the amazing story of Desmond Doss, who saved 75 men without carrying a weapon or firing a gun during WWII. This story is truly amazing and I’m sincerely glad that it was brought to the theater for us all to experience and understand what this man accomplished. There are so many people who are never really exposed as heroes and in my series The People Of The Ville, I’ve tried to highlight a few. More on that later.

This verse from 1 Peter above reminds me of how short our time is here in this world. So many people today are in the news: athletes, movie stars, musicians, politicians…all with a sense of self-importance and maybe they even think that they will be remembered forever…but they will not. Can you name a single musician from 100 years ago? Some of you might be able to do so but the point is that we are “like grass” and our “glory is like the flowers of the field.” No matter how much we might adore someone today, they will be forgotten in a short time and replaced by other names. I find it amusing and somewhat sad at how many people spend their lives amassing fortunes or trying to leave a lasting impression of some kind. I think it’s ironic that a small girl during the Holocaust has become a hero of sorts with a name that most people are familiar with and she had no idea that her diary would become the focus of so many books and movies. I’m sure Anne Frank was only dreaming of a day when she could be free to be a normal teenager instead of fearing for her life every day.

Keep your eyes fixed on the word of the Lord which this verse says will “endure forever”. There are only so many days here for each of us…make them count in a way that brings glory to Him and not to yourself. Our glory will fade…no matter how important we might think we are.

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Are You Afraid?

Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

As a child, I was afraid of going into my basement. I remember running down and up to get something and singing at the top of my lungs, thinking that would help. When I was older, I was staying with an aunt when I had a horrible experience.

In Physical Therapy school, you do rotations that are similar to a residency but shorter. One of mine was in Birmingham, Alabama, where my mom’s twin sister lived. She had a wonderful room in her basement that opened out into a large family room, complete with workout equipment and a large TV. When she invited me to stay there, I was thrilled.

One weekend, my aunt and uncle went out of town and I was left in the house alone. I came home on Friday after my shift at the rehab center and decided to enjoy a quiet evening studying some of the articles given to me to read. After making my dinner and working out, I took a shower and bundled up in the bed with my articles, thankful that I could sleep in the next day.

Propping up on my pillows, I was about halfway through my second article when I heard a loud noise above me. It was distinct and purposeful like someone had knocked over something in the dark. Immediately, my heart began to race and I tried to remain calm. This was years before people carried any kind of cell phone and the nearest phone that I could use was outside my bedroom in the middle of the family room.

After a long pause, I sighed, remembering my aunts’ cat and almost laughed at my own fear until I realized she was laying at my feet. This meant that there was no way she could have caused the noise. Even though I knew this, I still felt like there had to be a logical explanation and hopefully, I’d just left something on the edge of a counter and it had just slipped off the edge. After my mind sped through those options, I began to relax and leaned back again on the pillows. Within a few more seconds, another sound triggered my heart rate again—it was footsteps. Someone was in the house and there was no doubt about it this time. The footsteps continued and I could hear this person clearly moving above me.

Fear gripped my heart and all I could think to do was pray. I clasped my hands together and prayed a simple prayer:

“God, please protect me.”

Almost immediately, I felt calm and even though seconds before I could barely breathe, suddenly I was clear-headed and I knew what I needed to do. Slowly, I slipped out of my bed and flattened my body to the floor, moving toward the phone to call for help.

As I reached the phone, instead of calling 911, for some reason I called my mother. Whispering to her over the phone, I told her what was happening and she was so upset; but she told me to do something strange. I still don’t know why I called her first; but she made me hang up to call 911 but also do the other thing that seemed crazy. After I punched the numbers into the phone, I did what my mom told me to do: I shouted,

“I hear you! I’m calling the police!”

As soon as I the operator came on the phone, I could hear the person above me run toward the front door and exit the house. Within seconds, I relayed to the police operator what was happening and they sent help right away. After all the investigations, they determined that I had arrived home and startled a burglar, who in turn hid in a closet until he thought I was asleep. He was trying to sneak out when he heard me yell and he panicked and ran away. 

This event scared me so much that I had difficulty staying alone for some time; but I eventually conquered that fear. During that night, I remember just praying and crying out to God to keep me safe. The police told me that I was incredibly lucky and that I could have been murdered that night or in the very least, assaulted. For some reason, that man didn’t do either and for that I am thankful.

I believe with all my heart that God heard my prayer that night and He protected me. Why did I call my mom first? Why did she tell me to do that? She didn’t remember even telling me that the next day. It was so strange. All of it. And no one could explain any of it.

I sincerely, hope that you are never in a situation like that; but we are all scare of something at different times in our lives. Not just sudden gripping fear like I had that night; but fear that is gnawing at us and controlling our emotions in a way that God never intended. He tells us repeatedly (hundreds of times actually) not to fear and to trust in Him. This verse, though, says that “when I fear” so I think He fully expects us to have some fear at different times. When we do, He wants us to “put our trust in Him”. I can tell you that I had no other choice that night. I had to trust that He would keep me safe. I did all that I could but I was helpless and trapped. He rescued me and reminded me that He was and always is in control.

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Is God listening?

Prayer seems so simple. We are told to just ask and God will hear us; but do you feel like you’ve been ignored?

Some time ago I went through a difficult time with my health. There seemed to be no answer medically and my symptoms only worsened over time. My weight was dropping and I was scary thin. I remember preparing myself for death and thinking through all that I needed to do in order to get my family settled. I started cleaning out cluttered areas and even gave away some of my clothes, trying to make it easier for my family if I passed away. The most difficult part was thinking about my precious daughters and my amazing husband. I was so grief-stricken for them, not just for myself; but then one day…I fell apart.

I tried to understand why God would let this happen to me and why would he give me such a great family and then strip me away from it all, leaving my children without a mother and my husband without a wife. It was then that I found myself helpless and alone and afraid…for the first time in my life.

Weeks of testing and thousands of dollars out of our own pocket were squeezed, leaving our family budget a mess as the doctors tried everything. For a while, I think that they might have even thought that I was having some type of psychological illness. Depression enveloped me but I choose to swallow it deep inside and never let anyone see how bad it really was. As my clothes hung from my body, I was annoyed when people said things like: “You look great!” I was under 100 pounds when one woman said this to me and I seriously thought about punching her in the mouth.

As I laid in bed each night, exhausted from not being able to eat anything, I would wait until my husband and children were asleep and I would either sneak down to the basement alone or lay in the darkness as quietly as possible and pray. I cannot express to you how lonely I felt. There was a deep and terrible pain that engulfed me and I couldn’t share it with my best friend (my husband) because he was grieving too and trying to hide his fear as well. We never said it but we both knew I was dying.

Heaven seemed silent, although I felt some comfort when I prayed. Why couldn’t I get better? Why had my body seemingly rejected food? The tests were all either inconclusive or negative, so in a way, I was glad they didn’t find cancer or something incurable; but not knowing and your body shutting down are just as bad at that point because there is no answer.

Without going into all the history, I was basically unable to eat anything without getting very sick or having terrible pain or both. Even water was difficult at times when my body would be at its worst levels of pain. The only thing I could do was sip on sweet tea to try to get some sugar in my body to stay alive. Occasionally, I would try to eat again and the pain would be back. Most of the time, I choose hunger over pain.

After multiple GI tests and a CT scan, they determined that maybe I should see my OBGYN since my mother had died of ovarian cancer. I’ll never forget when they found the mass that had been missed on the CT scan. There was a sudden change in the demeanor of the nurse and she quickly went to get a doctor. Within minutes, they were scheduling surgery and three days later I had a total hysterectomy and oophorectomy, where they found additional tumors on the other ovary as well that had also been missed on all other tests. Fortunately, all were benign.

My ordeal didn’t end there, but the pain levels were better and I could eat some again. Someday I may go into more detail; but let’s say that after that day, I still had another year of torment until my husband saw a pattern with my pain and my eating that led me to get off corn and wheat as much as possible and I can now say that I am about 99% symptom free today.

During those dark nights praying alone, I found something that I had never experienced before. At first, I was dedicated to prayer daily and then I became frustrated when nothing seemed to be helping. I would venture to say that I was actually mad at God for putting me in this situation and I didn’t know how to fix it. I don’t know when I downloaded this app, but it was definitely years before my ordeal. The Bible app gives me a verse of the day and one day it popped up on my phone. I missed it, so I tried to find it again and somehow ended on this verse instead:

Isaiah 55:9
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Staring at my phone, I could almost hear God saying for me to relax and that He had this. Trust Him. It will all be okay.

Part of me scoffed at the thought of relaxing but from that time forward I changed my prayers from “Please heal me” to “Please just help us find a way to get through this” and almost instantly I began to feel Him more every time I prayed. Something changed in my heart every day as I increased my prayers and stopped asking for Him to heal me. Incredibly, it was the very next day that my husband realized the pattern with my symptoms—something no one else had seen before even after creating a food diary for weeks.

Even though my body was never healed, I was able to find a path to eat again and now I’m healthy and happy and feel great. Without a doubt, I will always believe that He put the idea in my husband’s head about the relation of my diet and my illness.

This is the second time that God has taught me this lesson in such a drastic way and I’m sure He is amazed that it took so much to get my attention again. God knows me better than anyone and knew I would be okay; but even if I hadn’t, His ways are still better than mine. Whatever His path is for my life, I choose His.

The story is not over, though. Through all of my tests and problems, I learned an incredible amount of information that has helped me explain and understand much of what is happening with the children that I work with in my job as a pediatric PT. Any child with GI issues has my immediate sympathy and I’ve been able to help their families understand more about the issues as well as recognize them in advance. Even though my ordeal was less than pleasant; it has become such a blessing in my work to be able to help others with their journey.

I sincerely hope that you all are healthy, well, and happy; but remember that this is not what we are promised. Pain and trials are coming to us all and we can find our best hope on our knees.

 

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Hurricane in Life

The Hurricanes in Life

  1. Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

The hurricane coverage is dominating the news right now. The stories of loss and devastation are difficult to watch; but there are other stories of survival and the camaraderie of the human spirit. Every time a natural disaster hits some part of the world, it makes me realize once again how much we depend on God for safety and security.

This verse is one that I love. There are many others with the same theme, like

Psalm 46:1

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.

I lived in Florida during Hurricane Camille years ago. I remember having to leave and not knowing if we’d have a home to return to. Fortunately, we were spared; but many others were not. Even though I’ve not experienced a hurricane while it raged around me, I’m sure many of you, like me, have been hit with a “hurricane” of life. Recently, I was hit with a few category 1’s and 2’s but I’ve been hit with a 5 before with the loss of my mom a few weeks before my wedding. There have been other “storms” in my life that were not as severe but all left some type of mark on my life.

Through these times of devastating “winds” and “rain”, I had to learn not to let the “storm surge” overcome me. The only way that I could do that was to lean on Him. It was during those times that I discovered what it was like to let God “strengthen me” and “help me”.

I pray that you will find His peace and strength during your times of trouble.

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Selling Your House…Buying Your Dream

The People of The Ville:

Melissa Seelow

Interest rates have risen but homes are selling faster than ever. To get your next home, you need to move fast and with confidence.

One local realtor is helping people do just that and has risen to become a multimillion dollar producer this past year. Her name is Melissa Seelow of Semonin Realty and she is this month’s featured pick for The People of The Ville series.

Melissa was born in Richmond, Missouri, which is located right outside of Kansas City. She has lived in several states, including Colorado, South Dakota, and of course Missouri but now resides with her husband in Louisville. About 15 years ago, her husband was offered a job here but she states, “Now that our children and more importantly our grandchildren are here, we plan to stay!”

She and her husband have two grown children. Her son, Tyler, is Vice President of Investments for Chase Bank and her daughter Malarie is in the final stages of completing her nursing degree and works at Baptist Eastpoint. Tyler is married to Lindsay, whom Melissa describes as a wonderful stay at home mom; and they have two children, Peyton and Barrett. With all of their family here in town, Louisville has become their home. When asked what she liked most about Louisville, Melissa quickly answered,

“I have loved the traditions here. Even though we aren’t technically in the south, I feel like I live in the south with Derby and all of the fun surrounding it!”

Louisville is definitely a mixture of north and south—a blend so unique and noticeable that many dub it “Kentuckiana” or as one native once said “Indiucky”. Either way, the mix is wonderful and leads to a lot of local cultural flare, much of which translates into the food and restaurants. Melissa describes herself as a bit of a “foodie” since being here and quickly adds “it’s not good for my waistline!”

Other things she noted that she loves about our city:

“We enjoy the college sports opportunities here. There are great country music concerts and there is the ability to attend Broadway plays as well as see local talent. I also love the beauty of Louisville and the green hills. Louisville is a growing city which is exciting to be a part of!”

When asked who was the most influential person in her life and why, Melissa responded with the following:

“I would have to say that my Grammie was. Although I grew up states away and only got to visit for holidays and in the summer she always made sure that I knew she was there for advice no matter what. She sent me weekly letters if not more and called it her Grammie Landers letters. She had a great sense of humor and always appeared happy with her life although it was simple (she ran the rural general store and beauty shop where I loved to hang out). You learn a lot about people in that environment! She taught me to be forthright and honest. She said, and I quote, ‘if you ride the fence too long, you’re bound to have a sore crotch’. I guess she would laugh now at our society’s attempt to be endlessly politically correct. She always made the most with what she had and created a fun and loving environment for me. In college I lived closer and went often on weekends to see her and my PaPa— she told me it made her feel younger! Simple life lessons were learned through watching and listening to my grandparents.”

I have known Melissa for several years through work. About two years ago, she left to become
self-employed in the real estate business. This took some time for her to adjust after having dedicated her life to social work up to this point. After praying hard and feeling led to do so, she started this adventure and says, “It has been a great fit and God has blessed me more than I could have imagined!”

Blessed and talented at her job, for she was nominated as one of the Rookies of the Year in her first six months and, as mentioned earlier, is now a multimillion dollar producer.

“I love being able to help people work through the process of buying and or selling their homes. Searching for the perfect match and then working through all of the crazy stuff that can go on in the process of making an offer, home inspections and repairs, appraisals, banking and finally closing. I tend to wear many hats and my psychology background has come in handy more than once as it’s an emotional roller coaster sometimes. It’s always fun to see my buyers happy in their new homes!”

Her love of this business shows and her happy personality resonates with the customers. It’s no wonder she has found success. When asked if there was something that she would change in her life, here is what she said,

“I think it would be to slow down and enjoy the little things—quit feeling rushed through life. I think that’s why I love hanging out with my granddaughter Peyton who is three! Everything is new, fun, and amazing. If I am stressed, I will often go see her. I think we can be in such a hurry that we can go through life trying to move on to the next thing, a new job, home, the next phase with our kids etc.; and before we know it, we wish we could have a mulligan! Maybe that’s why grand parenting is so awesome—I enjoy those moments and watching all the firsts that are so exciting for them!”

One final question I asked was for her to tell us something about herself we haven’t already discussed.

“I’m an introvert! Really I am. When my husband was getting his Doctorate we had to take tests on our personalities and we were both amazed to learn that I am classified an introvert. If you met me you would think ‘no way’! I’m usually pretty chatty and outgoing! I think I’m analytical and sometimes I just need time away from others to process; but I love being with people and building friendships.”

Introvert or not, I find Melissa easy to talk to and personable in every way. She has proven her success in her family, her faith, and her career as well as developed a deep commitment to them all. We are happy to have added her and her family to The People of The Ville!

 

If you are in the market to buy or sell, you can reach Melissa using the information below.

Office Information
Semonin Realtors
600 N Hurstbourne Pkwy Suite 200
Louisville, KY 40222
Office: (502) 420-5000
Cell: (502) 649-7902

Website:
www.melissaseelow.semonin.com

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