Today marks six years exactly since he went to Heaven and this was my very first blog post in 2014:

As this Christmas Season is coming to a close, I cannot help but think of my Grandaddy. I can’t help but think of the lighted wreath that he left up on the garage until the middle of January and that Christmas 23rd was always Christmas Eve’s Eve. This Christmas is so special because he is celebrating his first in Heaven with the King of Kings. He was born on a holiday (Jan. 1)  and went out on a Holiday week (Thanksgiving). His life was a celebration as a whole.

My Grandaddy was the best PR man I knew. I wasn’t known as Jillian at many places in Spartanburg, I was Sonny’s Granddaughter and I wore that title proudly. Grandaddy truly embodied Jesus with his love for others. His loved was constant and unconditional. He told the best stories and some of them he could hardly get through because he was laughing too hard.

One of his favorite stories to tell on me was his experience of grandparents day at Pine Street Elementary School. I invited Granddaddy to our dinner, and he was super excited to be my guest. At the dinner, I led him to our table for the meal. He starts to focus on the children and grandparents coming out of the kitchen with their fried chicken and mashed potatoes. My grandaddy, always the foodie, is thinking that we better jump in that line before it’s all gone. It was about that time that his “Babydoll” pulled out a brown paper sack that read Grandaddy carefully written. First time I ever saw him frown… No I made that up! He wore a big smile the whole time I unpacked his peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch.

It wasn’t till I was 25 that he reminded me how good that chicken smelled as he ate my unevenly distributed PB&J. He always loved a good story. And had some of the greatest to tell.

One of the things that will never be lost on me, is how much he wanted a family, and for that family to endure with love and a devotion to Jesus.

He was the reason my family came to First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, he took our Christian education seriously and he wanted us all together in the place he felt provided that in the best ways. I could say so much about how FBS and other God given opportunities has enriched my faith and prepared me to serve others for Jesus. I know that my opportunities here were a byproduct of my Granddaddy wanting more for me and my family than He ever had.

You wouldn’t guess that my granddaddy was an orphan, he didn’t hide those scars, he let Jesus heal them, and he learned to love people like few can. One of the ways he showed his love for people best was in how he was always willing to strike up a conversation. He made time for everyone. He was never too busy to talk, but more importantly, listen. My granddaddy loved people so much. He was the extrovert’s extrovert. Always smiling, and a lot of that time his lips were moving too… You always felt loved, and you felt safe, and you felt important when you talked.

I am so blessed to have grown up right next door to him, the older I get, the more I cherish that blessing. He was so much more than a sweet man I saw at family get togethers. I’m so blessed by all the memories I have with him. I remember him picking me up from school with my big bows and taking me on milkshake dates. He went to nearly every school function or church service I was involved in, to offer his unrelenting support. My father fought in two wars, the cost of time and worry in a military household is high, and I can’t imagine how different my life would have looked if I didn’t have such a sacrificial and loving granddaddy next door. I was blessed enough to get two very influential men in my life.

Grandaddy was a part of my everyday life, even from 1300 miles away. He taught me how to love others, carry on a conversation, and show people who Jesus was. He was always full of JOY and found JOY at each turn.

My grandfather was a welder by trade and welding many infrastructures in Spartanburg County. His legacy is imprinted among physical buildings and structures and his legacy stretched further to the students he taught. Each one always thanked him for not only teaching them how to be a great welder, they spoke of the impact on how well he prepared them and spoke to him on life. For someone who was an orphan, had a 6th grade education, and few people pouring into him, he poured out all he could to others. He had an innate sense of loving people and allowing opportunity to strike with teachable life lessons.

I’m so blessed by all the memories I have with him. The most amazing thing is his legacy (his dash). He was a Veteran, a businessman, and a educator. More importantly to him; he was a husband, a father, a grandaddy, and a friend. The droves of people who wrote letters, messages, notes, stopped by, spoke of him all had one underlining sentiment… How fun- loving he was and how he impacted each individual in some way. His life was a living testimony on what our life as believers should depict…Pouring out and trusting in Christ to be the constant source.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 has been my life verse since I was 16. This verse keeps me centered and focused. While I strive to live out this verse, my Grandaddy embodied it fully.

“Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances for this is your will in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be full of JOY, pray always, and give thanks. Christ came and we now have hope because of His birth. I pray that because of this birth that gave me eternal life, I will pour out like never before.