Friday, July 14, 2017

Driving Miss Ophelia

It’s been almost 30 years since there’s been a child strapped into the backseat of my car. This morning, as I began my weekend of babysitting our nearly 11-month old granddaughter, I buckled her into her car seat then drove her to daycare. As I pulled out onto the main highway, I told her she was Precious Cargo, and I was being extra-careful as I drove. Then I started singing to her and heard a little chatterbox responding from behind me. I couldn’t help but smile.

I’ve been anticipating this weekend for a month or more!!! When my daughter called to ask if I would be free at this time to babysit, I jumped at the chance! I’m turning 64 this weekend and I can’t imagine a better way to spend my birthday than with little Miss Ophelia!

This is Ophelia’s first time to be away from Momma and Pops over an extended time…ever…so routine is important and she went to her little school for the day. I have to keep in mind that this is her momma’s first time away from the little one for a weekend, too, so have been saying some extra prayers for both my girls!

This morning, I drove into the school parking lot, walked into this special place and delivered Miss Ophelia to her teacher. I wish everyone could’ve seen the look on her face when she saw Miss Lacey!!! She lit up and went straight to her! That gave me a good feeling!

Tomorrow, we’ll be going to her weekly swim lesson. I’m really choosey about who sees me in a bathing suit, so I’m glad my granddaughter won’t remember what I look like in one!!! If she were older, she’d probably ask me if we were taking a long trip since I have what looks like roadmaps all over my legs!

The more I think about it, the more I realize, though, that I need to exude a confidence in this body of mine when I’m around Ophelia. I’ve spent too many years hating the way I look and making snide remarks about my size. I’m extremely thankful that my daughter has a healthy self-image despite the fact that her mother has felt so inadequate for far too long. I am what I am. Weight is something I’ve struggled with so long now, that it’s like this weird friend who never goes home. You don’t really enjoy hanging around with her all that much but at least she’s quiet and doesn’t need much attention (except for the occasional Peanut Butter Milkshake from Dairy Queen).

Once, when I was joking about my big-sized body to my mom, Hannah spoke up and said, “Mother…self-deprecating humor is unbecoming to you.” (Keep in mind that my daughter was 16 at the time and knew absolutely everything there is to know about anything.)
To that, my mom said, “self-defecating humor? What kind of humor is that?!?”

Point taken.

So tomorrow morning, this grandma will don her bathing suit, proudly carry her granddaughter into the pool area at the gym, and not think a thing about how fat I am! I’m in shape! Round is a shape! (Okay. I couldn’t resist that one!) I need to love all of myself. If I don’t, then what message am I sending to my precious Ophelia?

Besides, nobody will be looking at me in a bathing suit…because that little girl I’ll be carrying is so doggone cute that all eyes will be on her!



Always remember this…
If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Monday, May 8, 2017

A letter to my daughter...


My dear, dear Hannah,

Your first Mother's Day is coming soon. I remember how I felt when I experienced my first Mother's Day. I felt "official!" I was so excited to finally be a momma...after eleven years of miscarriages and cringing when that date rolled around every May. Did you know I actually skipped Mother's Day services at our church one year because I couldn't bear to be there?

Something you said to me the other day has stuck in my mind, and caused me to make it the subject of this blog posting. We were in the car, talking about what we'd be doing this Mother's Day and how we'd celebrate it. You mentioned that you wished it didn't have that title, because it eliminated the women who weren't mothers. You were sensitive that there are women who need to be celebrated - not because they are mothers - but that each woman's life is worth celebrating! I like that! I'm glad you have the kind of heart that causes you to think that way.

I remember the Mother's Day afternoon that your Aunt Vangie called me in tears because of something someone thoughtlessly said to her at church that morning. She'd held in her tears when it happened, but the flood came later when I answered her call. It seems that there were long-stemmed roses being handed to all the mothers as they walked into the service that morning. Women whose mothers were deceased received white roses, and the others who still had their moms on this earth were handed red roses. Your grandma and Aunt Van walked into the sanctuary together and Grandma Miller was handed a white rose. Aunt Vangie received a red one. Suddenly the woman took the red rose away from her, and laughingly said, "You're not a mother, you shouldn't get a rose!"

Aunt Vangie's voice kept breaking as she cried, telling me what happened. I'm sure that woman had no idea the impact her words had on my sister that morning. She probably didn't know that Vangie wanted to be a mother more than anything...that she had two babies in Heaven...and that she had the heart of a mother, loving every kid she knew!

From that day on, I asked your daddy that on Mothers' Day mornings at church, we would celebrate the moms as well as all the women in the church. After sharing what happened to Vangie, he has always been keenly aware of that on those Sunday mornings in May.

Maybe she is part of the reason you have that kind of heart I mentioned earlier. For whatever reason you feel this way, I'm thankful. You make me proud in so many ways, and this is just another reason!

But I still want you to enjoy your first Mother's Day for yourself! You easily delivered a most wonderful little girl last August! When I walked into the room after her birth, I went straight to you to make sure you were okay. And you were. You were tired and radiant that afternoon. You were a mother! My baby had a baby!!! Looking at Ophelia gave me new feelings I never knew I could have! And now, I've become the grandmother I used to joke about - being so crazy over a grandchild!

This is something I read on my radio shows around Mother's Day each year after I had you. After what happened to Aunt Vangie, I wrote these words:
"If a woman gave birth to you and was able to raise you, be thankful. If a woman gave you life but knew it’d better for you to be raised by another, be thankful for both of them. Maybe you carried a child but weren’t able to give birth, be assured your baby is in Heaven waiting for you…and if you chose not to be a mom, be blessed that you can love others’ children."

Your aunt had hundreds of kids and you were one of them. She wasn't able to carry but two babies under her heart...but she had hundreds that she carried in it!

So, since this blog is written to you, please allow me to say "Happy Mother's Day, Hannah!" I marvel at the grace you have as you care for your little girl. You're not nervous like I was - you do things with such ease. You definitely wear motherhood well. You're an awesome mom!

I love you a billion-trillion-up-to-the-sky!
Momma


And to all the women reading this posting, Happy Mother's Day to you, too...because you have the blessing to love all of God's children!

Remember this...if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Healthy

My husband and I are trying to watch our weight. Actually, I shouldn’t say “trying” because we are actually watching it! It’s right there in front of us, making it hard to see our toes and our laps! Joe said he’s looking forward to the day when his tie will “hang again and not just lay there!"

I’ve said many times that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, but I've added on a Fellowship Hall. When I was pregnant, it was a Family Life Center. Now that I'm 63 and I seem to have much more 'space' I've become a Multi-Purpose Room! My husband and I are in the ministry, so we're all about church growth! Right?

But we ARE doing better than we were. I’ve lost 11 pounds in a little over three months. At the last check my A1c was 6. My sugar is staying around 97 to 107 because I’m behaving much better with my sugar intake. I sure do miss Coca-Cola though! Both my mother and sister were diabetic, and I guess it was in my genes to have problems with sugar.

I remember when my mother called me to tell me she’d been diagnosed with diabetes. She reminded me of when we were little girls and how she used to sit with Vangie and me at night, just before bedtime, so we could pray together. After all the ‘God blesses’ that my sister and I would pray, Mother would pray over the two of us. At the end, she would always ask for one particular thing about herself…

At age 58, she called to tell me her news. “Do you remember how I used to ask the Lord to help me be sweet with you girls?”

“Yes, I do!” It was one of my favorite parts of the prayer when I’d had an especially mischievous day.

“Well,” Mother said, “God went and overdid it! I have diabetes!”

Bless her little heart, the doctor said she very likely had gestational diabetes while carrying me because I was her largest baby at 9 pounds, 6 ounces. Evidently, when a woman has that during pregnancy, very likely she’ll become diabetic in her fifties.

With my sugar problems and both of us weighing way more than we should, Joe and I are changing our eating habits! This is hard, y’all!!! I'm trying to look for healthy recipes to prepare.

No matter what I prepare for us to eat, Joe thanks me…even if it’s just a peanut butter sandwich. He’s always done that. His momma raised him right!

So, when I made a healthy chicken dish for our dinner recently, it didn’t come out quite like I’d hoped. In fact, it wasn’t good. At all. But I didn’t know that until we sat down to eat. We both ate quietly, and I think we ate quickly to get it over with.

As he got up from the table, always the gentleman, he thanked me for the meal. I told him I was sorry that it wasn’t very good…

He said, “It wasn’t very tasty, but it was healthy!”

I married a diplomatic sweetheart!!!



If you’re a new reader of ‘Life In The Greenhouse’ you’ll find out that I sign off every post with this phrase…one I used to sign off my morning radio show in Knoxville: “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!”

Monday, January 23, 2017

January

I don’t like January anymore. There. I said it!

I didn’t always feel that way. When I was growing up, January carried all kinds of hope!

• Christmas break was over and a brand new year awaited us.
• Mother made sure we went through our drawers and pulled out the clothes that no longer fit. (My sister would pass her things along to me to grow into and my things were shared with someone else, so nothing was ever wasted.)
• Satchels were reorganized, pencils were sharpened, notebooks were filled with fresh paper, new book-covers were made from grocery bags – and everything was made ready to start the rest of that school year. (And yes, I carried a satchel, not a book-bag or backpack. It was red plaid, with metal buckles and brown trim. It even had a detachable shoulder strap! I was proud of that thing!)
• A new diary was started. You know the kind with the lock on it and a tiny key that really worked! And I’d hide the key so no one could read my innermost thoughts about boys, and other things.
• I would sometimes re-arrange my bedroom for a fresh new look (when I finally had one to myself) and for a while, I’d keep it neat.

As an adult, my beginning-of-the-new-year routine has changed.

• On New Year’s Day, I always clean out the pantry, checking food items for ‘best by’ dates, and tossing things expired. Same thing with the medicine cabinets and the first-aid kit.
• A new calendar is filled in with all the things I’ve set up so far for the year.
• My closets and drawers are reorganized, and I usually purge things from them.
• I try to ‘deep clean’ the house, sometimes re-arranging furniture. And for a while, I keep it neat.
• I have dozens of good intentions for dozens of things. (Isn’t the road to hell paved with good intentions? Uh-oh.)

January was a time of new beginnings. Fresh starts. It still is. But other things have taken the place of the excitement I’d always feel. I’ve actually come to dread this first month of a new year.

In January of 2013, my sister became ill quite suddenly. She had a ruptured bowel, kidney failure, and pneumonia. In the blink of an eye, she was gone.

We weren’t done. I told her that as I held her hands and kissed her over and over before saying my final goodbye. We had sister-trips to take…more songs to sing together…more late-night conversations in the dark.

But she left. On January 21, 2013 she left. Sometimes she could drive me absolutely crazy, but my love for her never changed. She’d tell people we were “two halves of a whole” and I thought that was a sweet thing to say. Now I get it. Half of me is missing. And no matter how hard I try…with memories and pictures…that half is still empty. I am a woman of faith, so I know God can fill the void I feel. But to be honest – I think He ‘gets it’ that I’ll never be the same without her, and He’s okay with that. He’s the one who gave me that love for her, so He understands.

Now it’s 2017, and in eight days’ time, I’ve lost four people who were important to me.

• January 12th my cousin Roy died. We had nicknames for each other. He was Roy Boy, his wife was Scooter, and I was Sug (because he said I was sweet). Roy had cancer, but pneumonia set in and his body just couldn’t fight anymore.
• January 14th my good friend Wayne died. He was one of the people who got me started on a radio career that lasted 30 years. Wayne had a massive stroke. We were only 9 days apart in age and I loved to remind him he was older than me whenever our birthdays rolled around. We talked on the phone a couple of times a month and he never missed the chance to pick on me about something.
• January 17th a dear friend from one of our first appointments in the UMC went home to be with the Lord. She was extra special to our family. Forty years ago, she had told us we were in her funeral plans. Several years ago she showed me her handwritten funeral instructions and told me I’d be singing at her funeral. I told her I’d be honored to, but “let’s not rush it.” She just laughed. Betty Sue had cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Even with that horrible disease, she always knew who I was when I walked in the door!
• And now, January 22nd, my dear sweet Jason…one of my kids from Camp Sychar…has passed away. He was a precious soul – someone my sister and I had a special affection for. He wrote the most beautiful tribute to her on Facebook right after she passed away. I just read it on Saturday morning! And now, he’s gone, too. I cannot imagine the pain his mother is experiencing right now. This beautiful woman had a son she carried under her heart - and in it - who adored and admired her and she’s had to let him go.

This month can’t go away quickly enough for me.

Usually, I share funny stuff on my blogs, so I hope you don’t mind that I’ve vented in this blog posting. It’s helped me put into words how I’m feeling. Kind of therapeutic.

I hate death. And the only that that makes it more tolerable right now is to know that each of the people I’ve mentioned here all knew Jesus and will be with Him for eternity! It’s my prayer that you have that hope and that you know our Savior as your Savior. If you don’t, and you want to, please contact me. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than help you as you ask Jesus to live in your heart!






Now, more than ever, this statement means something to me…
I close every one of my posts with this reminder: If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Snow-day Traditions

Snow.

It's a four-letter word.

And it's in our forecast for the next 48 hours.

There are certain things that happen at the Greenhouse when snow is in the forecast.
I make a Pot Roast. When the first flakes fall, we make a quick trip to Dairy Queen for ice cream cones. If it snows a LOT, pillows and blankets are carried into the family room for a campout. And we always have to uncover a big patch of grass for our dog because he doesn't "do" snow...otherwise he gets confused and keeps running, trying to find a place to do business but it's all white out there!

Homemade bread, vegetable-beef soup when the roast is dwindling, and lots of hot chocolate, are all part of our traditions. I'll admit it was a lot more fun when Hannah was still around because she made everything into an adventure for us! But she's all grown up and has a family of her own. They've started their own traditions.

So now it's the two of us again and our traditions will continue. We might even make a few new ones to add in the mix! Maybe a Krispy Kreme run?

One of my most fun memories was the first snow we experienced after our move to Alcoa, Tennessee when Hannah was ten years old. She was already bathed and tucked into bed for the night. The snow was falling steadily and already about five inches deep when I decided she and I should go out and play in it! We bundled ourselves up, went out and immediately started a snowball fight! We didn't build a snowman, but made several snow angels before heading back into the house for hot chocolate with marshmallows and warming up by the fireplace. We both slept really well that night!

I'm heading outside to the garage now, to get the shovel, the sturdy broom, and the ice-melt stuff I bought last season, so I'll be ready for the white stuff. If you're expecting snow, enjoy yourselves, stay safe and warm...and maybe start some fun traditions of your own!




Always remember...if you have a pulse, you have a purpose! Make your life count!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New twist on an old song...

The day after Christmas, we were sitting in a fast-food restaurant, eating lunch along with lots of people likely taking a break from ‘after-Christmas-sale’ shopping.

Amidst all the chatter, we could hear seasonal music playing in the background. I’m a big fan of Christmas music and have no problem with radio stations playing it ‘round the clock from Thanksgiving throughout the holidays. After a while it seems to fade into the background as we do other things…but when a song comes on that I really like, I’m listening with both ears! And that’s exactly what happened in the restaurant. I heard Kenny G. I like Kenny G, even though after a while all his songs start sounding the same to me.

My ears perked up when I heard Kenny playing Ave Maria in his particular style. To be honest, it was a little unsettling.

It’s a beautiful song. Beautiful. But Kenny G’s take on it was too weird for me. Even though he did an amazing job, I could only think of all the love songs he plays with his signature style. Endless Love, When a Man Loves a Woman, My Heart Will Go On – now THOSE songs are Kenny G material.

When we left the restaurant to get back on the highway to Kingsport the song was still on my mind. Then, all of a sudden it made me smile.

In 2003, I sang that song at the wedding of my dear friend’s son in Youngstown, Ohio. The organist at the Catholic Church where Andy and Angie were married was extremely talented and put me at ease as we rehearsed Ave Maria for this special day. Even though I’d taken two years of Latin in high school, I still needed help in pronouncing a few words of the song.

The wedding and all the photography had finished and I went into the altar-preparation room to gather things I’d left before the service. The priest greeted me warmly and said, “Thank you for singing today. This is the first time I’ve heard the Ave Maria sung by a United Methodist minister’s wife – in Latin – with a southern accent!”

And now I wonder if it was as unsettling for the priest to hear me sing the beloved Ave Maria as it was for me to hear Kenny G playing it!




If you’re a new reader of ‘Life In The Greenhouse’ you’ll find out that I sign off every post with this phrase…one I used to sign off my morning radio show in Knoxville: “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!”

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Going To The Dogs

The afternoon went to the dogs (and cats, and critters) at First Broad Street United Methodist Church today!

At 2:00 our church sponsored the first “Blessing of the Animals” event on Church Circle, Kingsport, Tennessee. There were goodie bags, door prizes, and plenty of music – all just for God’s creatures that we love and call our pets. I’d never been to one of these services, so wondered what it would be like. What I found was a bunch of people who, like us, love their pets! Our pastors each had an assigned place of blessing for certain animals, certain sizes. They asked God’s blessing on each pet and thanked Him for their presence in our lives. It was a special time!

Joe had the tent designated to small animals so there were plenty of yipping dogs, quiet dogs, old, young, and sedate dogs for him to pray over.

Sedate is the key word here, because I gave my dog too much Valium before we got there. You see Dobie doesn’t travel well. He freaks out in the car, crying and jumping between our laps or pacing in his crate, so we have to give him a prescription his veterinarian provided. ¼ or ½ tablet is all it takes to make our 7 pound toy poodle calm enough to sleep through any trip.

Following worship this morning and after lunch at a nearby restaurant, we rushed home to change clothes and pick up Dobie to get back to the church by 2:00. So that Dobie would be okay with the car trip and all the action on Church Circle, I made sure he got a dose of Valium. Trouble is, I was in such a hurry I forgot to break the tablet…so he got ALL of it! ¼ tablet is usually plenty for him!

Don’t worry…I found out he’s gonna be okay and just needs to sleep it off.

Now I can laugh about it! Poor little guy was drugged through half the service…eyes glazed…and quite relaxed! I told my friend, Chris Taylor, that the preacher’s dog was ‘stoned’ at church today! Good thing the preacher prayed for him, too!

By the way, Joe said this was the first time he ever prayed for someone who licked his face.



At the end of every blog posting, I’ll tell you this: If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!