Happy birthday, Momma

 Hey, Momma!

Happy birthday! 

We love celebrating you - I mean, there is nothing easier in the world that celebrating a loving, caring, giving, selfless person like you. And you know what else you are? 


I know this birthday is going to be hard. I know the next 20 birthdays are going to be hard. But I also know that YOU are worth celebrating big. Even if it feels and looks different than any birthday you've had for the past 55 years with Dad. He wants us to celebrate you because he was so proud to be yours. He was so grateful to be loved by you. And we are, too. This year even more so. 

You've amazed me for my entire life. You're patient with all of us. You're funny when you get mad. (ok, so maybe we just laugh at you when you're mad).  You are fiercely loyal and protective (just ask any sports referee). You want things to be fair. You want us to feel valued. You want us to be happy. You don't love it when any of us are mad or sad or generally inconvenienced (which is why you insist on skipping yourself in a game of Uno). 

You've taught me the art of opening up my home to whoever needs a place to feel welcomed. I recognize the importance of "the more the merrier" and always cook more than I need to just in case. I never feel guilty about ordering the ice cream. I've made it my goal to make sure my home is as inviting and welcoming as the one you raised us all in (including our friends). My fridge is stocked with soda. My pantry has sugary cereal and my snacks are always ready for as many hands that need one. ( I do draw the line at going to 4 different fast food restaurants but occasionally will call an audible and celebrate a "Gigi night"). 

I'm as hard on my kids' friends as I am on them because I love them like my own. 

I cuss a little.  

I prefer jeans and leggings to fancy dresses. 

I wear hardly any makeup. 

I prefer baths to showers any day of the week. 

I love a good pedicure. 

I used reusable bags before they were cool. 

Bread is my bestie. 

A target run with my best-friend can solve any problem. 

I think Jesus is pretty cool but his followers annoy the heck out of me from time to time. 

Basically, I'm you.

All that I am, all that I hope to be, rests in the example you set for me. 

You are a leader in every sense of the word. You have modeled the way for Jody, Jeremy and each of ours to grieve but keep going. To keep Christ at our core. To cry when we need to but to celebrate, too. To find joy within our own sorrow. 

And we do. We will. Always.

We are so glad YOU were born and we take this day and all the days ahead being grateful for the gift of you as our momma. 

I love you, Mom. 

Happy happy birthday!!


Daddy Greg Honey

It's been one month since our world changed. 
One month of catching my breath when I remember he's gone. 
One month of silent tears at the most random times. 
One month of thinking of life as before and after. 
One month of the rest of our lives that will look different. 

26. That's the number of days between diagnosis and losing him. Such a jarring number to think of in those terms. But y'all... in those 26 days I experienced more love than some people get in a lifetime. I was witness to Mom living her vows out loud, just like she did every day, but in a way that was so beautiful and comforting to us. 

I could share more about those days, and maybe one day I will. But today, I want to share about Daddy Greg Honey (a name he got from Jody when he was little). 

To begin with - my dad has seen the face of God. 

Isn’t that amazing?! 

That could be the total of my words today. That is more than enough to say - he lived and loved and lead a life that allowed him to leave this earth and see the face of God. Amen indeed. 

But because I am who I am and he was who he was, you’re getting more than that from me. 

As I prepped to share these words at his service, I began to make a list of things I wanted people to know about Dad. Seems like a pretty impossible task… there is just too much for me to put into words. 

But as I reflected on the 43 years that I got to spend with him, a few things come to mind. 

He valued community. 
Mom and Dad moved to Texas when she was pregnant with me and I think they were like a major popular new couple in town. My earliest childhood memories are filled with the little league fields, small groups at our home, and days at the swimming pool. With Dad in the center of it all - coaching teams, hosting kids, or letting us all pile on top of him. He was up for fun and never too old or too cool to be with us and our friends. He and mom taught us how to build a village that sustains us. 

He was a good little Italian. 
One of my favorite stories about Dad is when they first moved to Waco and began attending this church, he looked through the directory and found the first “Italian name” in the directory - Ben Leonido. He called up Mr. Ben and let him know they were new Italians in town and asked if he wanted to meet at the back of the church after mass. Mr. Ben of course said yes. Well, after mass that week Dad went to the back of the church and looked all around for his new Italian friend. And then Mr. Ben showed up - a short Filipino man outstretched his hand, introduced himself to Dad and they were instantly best friends. 

He hated being late. 
Bless his heart between his mom, my mom, and sometimes me he was hardly on time. 

He was incredibly patient. (See above). Whether he was teaching my brothers how to play tennis, mow the yard, tie a tie, or change a tire - he would keep doing it as long as it took not just until they got “it” right… but until they felt confident in themselves. He did the same for me, too. 

He called me Princess
But he never made me feel too precious to get dirty or try new things or hang with the boys. He made sure I knew I was capable of whatever I wanted to do or accomplish while also making me feel cherished. 

He hardly ever lost his temper.
Seriously … and we know how to push buttons in our house… but I don’t remember him ANGRY very often. We were disciplined for sure, but not with anger. And you would know when he was angry because he’d get a little bit of spit on his bottom lip - and that’s when we got scared. I only saw it twice. Once when I didn’t want to do my homework in the 4th grade and once when I was in college and Jeremy and I spent money on the credit card for some “home improvements” (which Dad knew was just an excuse to throw a party). And there was also that one time Jody drove to Baton Rouge in the middle of the night, but I’ll let him tell you that one. 

He loved Elvis and LSU. 
A lot. He did this funny little dance any time Elvis came on and he loved letting me know that my Aggies were sadly never going to be as good as his Tigers. It only took us several years and 7 overtimes to finally beat them. One day when we were driving into Baton Rouge going over the bridge to our exit, Radley looked over to where the LSU campus is and said, “Pops… I made a decision. I’m going to LSU… And for a split second, my Dad was on cloud nine. and Radley finished by saying, “and then I’m going to a REAL college.”
He loved to shop. 
And he was good at it. I loved going shopping with Dad… he wouldn’t just tell me I looked great in something, he knew which colors looked good on me, which cut of a dress I should buy, and which brands would last. And that’s when mom would come in and just say “buy it” - a great dynamic duo. 

He loved his legs. 
Give that man a pair of short shorts and tennis racket and watch out. 

He wanted us to be OUR best more than be THE best. 
A lesson that has stayed with each of us, I think, and something we have hopefully passed on to our kids. Being YOUR best each day, being kind, and doing what’s right above all else is a lesson I am grateful to have learned. 

He took pride in his work.
I loved visiting him at JCPenney - he was just so good at his job. He knew everything there was to know about every corner of that store. I would watch in awe as he solved problems, made sales, and served customers. Customer service has been ingrained into our lives and I’ve taken the example he has set for us and used it in my own work and I know Jody and Jeremy have as well. It’s a lesson that goes well beyond our jobs. It has bled into our lives and how we interact with everyone we meet. I often think about what Dad would do in my own job - how would he lead, how would he serve - what should my strategy be. 

He gifted us his time.
I know he didn’t make every tennis match, band performance, basketball game, or cheerleading commitment… but I can’t remember one time he wasn’t there when we needed him. Our kids would say the same thing. 

He could sleep anywhere. Literally. 

He was present with us. 
Always in the moment, not distracted. He listened. He never quit wanting to learn more. We didn’t have to agree with him which was such a gift. He genuinely wanted to hear our OWN beliefs, why we believed them, and where he could learn more about whatever we were talking about. 

He was a family guy. 
Adoring son. Steadfast brother. Loving cousin. I know we all loved visiting Baton Rouge and watch him with his crew of siblings and cousins. You could see how much they all meant to him and how part of him always wanted to stay a little longer. 

He loved his grandkids. 
Something fierce. His whole face lit up when he was around them. As sad as I am to have lost him, I ache the most that those 6 kids (plus his many other adopted grands) lost him so soon. But I am so grateful for every single moment he spent with them. We spent Thanksgiving sharing what about Pops we were thankful for and here’s what they said:

Owen: Life lessons and playing golf
Radley: The little moments they got to spend together, from running to the store to being outside - he got to spend a lot of alone time with Pops
Kailyn - His sense of humor and making it a priority to spend time with them
Emmy - For how well he loved her - she knew it and felt it
Landry - For every second she got to spend with him and he was the best back scratcher
Keirstyn - For being the best hugger

He loved my mom. 
Abundantly. Fiercely. Faithfully. He valued and honored their covenant for 53 years. They spent more of their life together than apart. He worked so hard to build a life she loved and if you ask her today, she’d say it was a job well done. 

I could type all day about things I want you to know about Dad. But here’s all you NEED to know about him... 

He loved Jesus. 
He followed Christ. 
He lead us to Him. 

As we spent our final days with Dad we got to say all the things we wanted to say. We told him how proud we are to be his and how thankful we are for being loved by him. 

And then he shared with us the same. A gift I will forever be grateful for. A gift I want to share with you. 

He told us he wasn’t scared of death. He confidently knew what was next for him. 

And then he said this:

Make your walk with Christ your own. 
Go to church. 
Know God. 
Love God.
Honor God. 

Be proud to be Catholic and be humbled by the miracle of the Eucharist each time you receive the body of Christ. 

So in honor of Dad, that’s what I ask of you today. Celebrate his life by knowing Christ our King gives us eternal life and fulfills His promise to us that we will meet again.

Know that a life that knows God is a life well lived. 

Just like Dad. 

Thank you, Daddy, for that gift and so many others. We are proud to be yours. 


Still dreaming...

 Fifteen years ago today I married the man of my dreams. He checked off all the boxes on the proverbial list... 

  • Kind
  • Considerate 
  • Cute
  • Great cook
  • Generous 
  • God fearing

And most importantly, he put up with me. 

We laughed a lot. He smelled good. He took care of me. He was everything I had prayed for in a partner. 

He still is. 

A few months ago I was cleaning out something for probably the millionth time and came across another list... one we had made driving home from a road trip one weekend. I remember the moment, he was driving my Ford Focus (because going anywhere in the jeep was way too windy). My feet were propped up on the dash, shoes on the floor, music on the radio and we started talking about all the things we wanted to accomplish together. So I did what I always do, grabbed a pen and paper and began to make a list. 

Framed bucket list of places to go

Nothing was off limits. No dream was too big. No place too far away. We just dreamed unabashedly without question as if we would obviously cross off every single item. Together we dreamed all the big, wild, crazy dreams... we imagined the adventures and we wrote them all down. 

As he opened the package a wide smile lit up his face - he knew exactly what he was seeing and I was brought back to that car ride home. We shared some laughs over how grand of an imagination we had and then we noted we had checked off exactly three items: visit all Disney Parks (well, all of them in the US), we've both lost (and gained) 10/20 pounds since then, we go on family vacations and we've taken tons of cross country road trips. 

The moment I found these pieces of paper I knew I had to frame them and give them to Ryan for our anniversary, not because of the items we haven't checked off this list... but for the 1000s of others we have. And while we're both a little disappointed that we aren't retired or that Ryan isn't one of the world's 100 richest men... we sure can't complain about all the dreams we have "checked" together. There is no person in the world I would rather have ridiculous dreams with than him... can't wait for 50 more years of checking off boxes we didn't even think to create.