It’s hard to imagine that just twenty weeks ago, I launched JL PARISH socially. It’s been the most amazing ride, and I’m so grateful to be on it. And, each of you, well, your presence in this has made the journey that much sweeter. So, thank you from the bottom of this little country heart of mine.
Speaking of, you know, I’m never afraid to let people know that I’m “country (as if they couldn’t pick that up from my East Texas accent).” As my beloved friend and partner in crime, Alan Eskew often reminds me, “I’ve never known a country person to be so specific on how their Italian soda should be served.” But, hey, even a country girl can have an evolved palette, right? I mean, I do like my tofu fried. I know, I know, I’m SO full of contradictions.
That said, growing up in the country is like no other. You know, most often, what we grown up with, we like. We hold a sacred space for it in our hearts that nothing else can really compare to no matter how far we travel from home. As my Mom says, “Jilly, I don’t know what it is, but the Coca Cola at McDonald’s in Canton, Texas is like no other.” Again, we love what is familiar to us. We yearn for it. And, oh, how we treasure it.
But, of all things the country holds that I love so, the people are what really take the cake. This last week was a beautiful reminder of that. Our beloved neighbor (who lives ten minutes deeper into the country than my family) was accepted for a clinical trial to treat his Renal Cell Carcinoma. At first, his precious family only shared this with closest friends, and I was so thankful to be on that list. You see, Robert, or, as I call him, “Roberto” isn’t the kind of guy that really wants to be fussed over, but he believes in the power of prayer and positive thinking. So, he gave his family the go-ahead to share his journey with people so that they could lift him up in their thoughts and prayers but, also, to raise awareness for Renal Cell Carcinoma. His beautiful wife, daughters, son and grandkids were showing their support for their “Paw” on social media. Before I could blink, #wearorangeforpaw had gone viral. Friends of Roberto and his family were tying orange ribbons around their trees, fashionably sporting orange clothing and sending so much love and encouragement and prayer and good juju his way that it would make anyone’s heart smile.
On that Friday, when we were all wearing our orange and Roberto was gearing up for his first treatment in the trial, I texted him as a reminder that I was rooting for him one hundred percent, praying him up and feeling mighty confident that this clinical trial would assist him in kicking cancer’s bum. And, his response was spot on. He said, “Jillo, I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds my future.” I held my phone, staring at that response in total awe. That kind of surrender is the Mt. Everest of one’s faith, and Roberto had achieved it.
The country, in all it’s beauty and solidarity somehow produces people who echo just that. Proximity might have made us neighbor’s with the Briley’s, but God made us friends. How could a girl not love the place she grew from with beautiful people like the Briley’s surrounding her. In the words of the rapper, Big Sean, “I’m way up, I feel blessed.” Oh, shoot, another contradiction. Shouldn’t I be quoting some lyric from a country song being that this blog is about being so countryfied? Have mercy!
Wherever you’re going, don’t forget where you came from. And, while you’re at it, traipse on over to a swanky little coffee shop for a Italian Soda made to your liking and pray for Roberto. That’s Robert Briley, but, as his Fan Club President, I give you full authority to call him Roberto.
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