Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Greenhouse Effect

I think it was in 1987 when I ran across an article about affirming children in their early years. One phrase stood out to me and I immediately tucked it into my heart, with a promise to myself that I could use this to be a catalyst in my daughter’s life.


You can do hard things."

...a phrase that has been repeated many times over in her 27 years of life. I cannot recall all the situations and circumstances that caused me to say those words to my beautiful daughter. But I’d like to think that the reason she is so adventurous and ready to accept challenges is that she believed what I told her. She believes in herself and the gifts and abilities God has placed in her life. She is married to a man who is also quite gifted. (They are a match that was covered in prayer from the day she was born.)

My daughter’s name is Hannah. She brightens up rooms when she arrives. Even though she is mine, believe me when I tell you that she is beautiful! When she smiles, her whole face smiles. Her laughter is contagious. She is very opinionated, stylish and quirky. Very quirky...and it is quite endearing! And she can do hard things.

Hannah is an Interactive Graphic Designer for Scripps. You can see her work on HGTV’s website mainly, but also on other Scripps sites. (She is also on Pinterest! Look for Hannah B. and see what she’s pinning.)

She is a designer. And an artist. I am convinced that all the colored pencils and sketch pads we invested in every time we took a road trip are paying off today.

A couple of years ago, I tried my hand at watercolor painting...a floral. I did a postcard sized pencil drawing, then used watercolors my cousin loaned me to complete it. After showing it to Hannah, she saw some possibility there. Next thing I knew, she bought paints, brushes and paper for me to experiment with. Time went by, the things were packed away but not forgotten.

This fall, I started thinking about a certain painting I’d like to try. I had plenty of time to think about it, but by the time I got around to doing it, there wasn’t much time to work.

But I did.

In pencil, I drew the picture that was in my head, then did the watercolor. It was a drawing of the house where Hannah and Andrew live and I was able to match up the colors on their house pretty closely. After the colors were finished, I did something unusual...I pulled out my ultra-fine point Sharpie pen, used very small print and wrote their love story all around the outline of their house. It was written in chronological order with their wedding date and details on the front steps. Looking at it from a distance you can't tell that there are words printed there. I framed it and shared it with them on Christmas night.

They liked it.

Hannah cried as she read it. (I guess that’s a good sign...)

When she came over to me with a huge hug, I told her that she was the reason I tried it. She was the one who saw some potential and bought those art supplies for me. I thanked her for that.

As Hannah let go from the hug, she said something quite familiar...”Momma, you can do hard things.”

I’m glad she told me that. She learned to do new things...hard things...exciting things. And I guess I have, too. 

Lots of times when I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone, my knees were applauding my bravery.

Well, my knees didn’t beat each other to death on this project. In fact, I rather enjoyed it.

Guess I need to be less nervous and learn to ‘practice what I preach‘ because I really can do hard things.

So can you.

If you have a pulse, then you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Joys and Concerns

Have you ever been in a church service where there is a place in the bulletin for the “Sharing of Joys and Concerns?” A lot of churches that have moved to a less formal order of worship will use this time for congregants to share good news (joys) and prayer requests (concerns). I was in such a church on Sunday morning. Needing to use the restroom, I slipped out during the time of greeting one another at the very start of the service and returned during the sharing of joys and concerns.

I had no joys or concerns to share when I went to the ladies’ room...only that I needed to get there fairly soon after downing a 32-ounce Diet Dr. Pepper before my arrival at church that morning. That was a concern that turned into a joy. But when I completed my ‘task’ and flushed...I became quite concerned. That toilet would NOT stop flushing! It wasn’t running over (my other concern, especially while using someone else’s restroom) but it was continually flushing with this great amount of water pressure! I’m not kidding. It went on and on while I washed and dried my hands. I stood there waiting for it to stop but it didn’t. Thinking the handle was stuck, I tried to un-stick it. Nope. That didn’t stop the flow. I pulled the handle in the opposite direction. That didn’t work. Finally, I resigned myself to find someone to check the toilet, but everyone was in the sanctuary.

Lots of joys and concerns that morning...
As I came back into the sanctuary, people were being mentioned with severe health problems, tough situations, and many joys, too.

I decided this was a definite concern. The utility bill for the church was going to be atrocious if that water kept gushing through the pipes. And, as a good steward of God’s resources - water and money - I finally raised my hand for the pastor to allow me to share.

Yes, I did that.

I shared my joy of being there as a musical guest in their church, and then my concern: “The toilet in the ladies’ restroom is still flushing! I’m concerned!”

The congregation and choir began laughing! Several females in the choir loft let me know that the toilet in question always “over-flushes” and assured me it would quit momentarily.

Boy...I was relieved after I was relieved! (insert smile here)

If you have a pulse, then you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Too fast for me...

The other day, I stopped at a hotel to use the restroom on my way from Tennessee to Ohio.

Yes...a hotel.

I started using hotel restrooms when I was potty-training my daughter because they are usually very clean. Years later, I still use hotel restrooms for the very same reason.

Sometimes there are paper seat covers provided above the toilet. I always pull those things apart so that when I put the cover in its proper place, the center drops into the water and it can be flushed away when I’m finished with nature’s call. Always nice to have that added little bit of protection since my mother taught me that I should never, never, ever sit on a naked toilet seat.

All that is fine as long as the “eye” (that tells the toilet when to flush) isn't too quick on the draw. My exasperation came when I would place the seat cover and turn around to sit on it only to hear the big flush before I could accomplish what I came for!

Wait! I didn’t even get to sit down!!!

So I placed another cover on the seat...turned around again and “flush!” It happened again!

Third time’s a charm, they say (whoever ‘they’ are) so I made my third attempt on the task at hand. And for the third time, it happened! Premature flushing.

I felt like that poor, hapless Charlie Chaplin in one of his movies...or Lucille Ball...or maybe I was on Candid Camera! No. I knew better than that. And there was no one else involved in this situation so I knew that it wouldn’t be an episode of ABC’s show “What Would You Do?” John Quinones wouldn’t be lurking outside the stall.

So, I gave it ONE MORE TRY. I got myself ‘ready’ so that when the cover was in place I could drop down quickly and beat the flush!

Didn’t make it.

Mother, I sat on a bare-naked toilet seat. I knew better, but the flusher had me beat.

(Hey...that rhymes!)

I always close my blog postings with this thought:
If you have a pulse, then you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Dobie Tales (not tails)

I’m writing this blog entry while in our Virginia home. My husband and I have the family home, the house we will likely retire to a little coal-mining town called Appalachia, Virginia. Yes, there is an area called Appalachia, but there is also a town by that name where my hubby was born and raised.

The Greens moved into this house in 1950, when Joe was just eight months old. His oldest brother was born in 1937 and one more Green was added to the family in 1960 bringing the grand total of seven children for Roy and Mary Ruth. In fact, the last child was born on Mary Ruth’s 45th birthday. And he was not a surprise baby either! Some folks call them “uh-ohs” or “surprise blessings” but David was planned. Roy asked Mary Ruth one day if she missed having a little one around the house (Joe was 10 years old by this time) and she said she did.

“Why don’t we have just one more?”

“Alright,” said Mary Ruth and next thing you know...David was on his way! His arrival came a little too early and he struggled those first months. But all the while, his mother ‘kept the faith’ and Dave grew to be a strong and healthy member of the Green clan. He is now one of seven undertakers in the family, with the latest one being the fourth generation in the funeral business.

Joe and his oldest brother are ordained United Methodist ministers, so you could say the Greens are a ‘full-service family.’ They can marry ‘em and bury ‘em!!!

My hubby tells people that the hardest thing I had to get used to when we married was learning to sleep in a bed with a lid on it. (Remember that this is the same man who proposed to me in a cemetery, asking me if I’d like to be buried in the family plot!) His daddy saw me putting my makeup on by the light of the kitchen window one day and told me if I handed him my brushes and laid out on the kitchen table he could make me look really natural...just like I was asleep! He was a funny guy so his son comes by his humor honestly.

Back to the house...
We inherited this wonderful old place after Joe’s mother went to heaven in 2009. I think the house was built around 1920...big brick structure with two floors, a full basement and wonderful old attic that is fun to explore. The house has good bones. After the rest of the children got the furniture and things out that they wanted, Joe and I began to move many of our things into the place. It is really special to sit in the living room and look around. Some of the furniture that I inherited from my mother and daddy is mingled in with his parents’ furniture. It gives me a warm feeling to see it all together like that...kind of like the two of us!

When the family gathers here now, it is so meaningful to Joe and me because this is what his parents enjoyed...having a house filled with family, lots of activity, laughter and music.

The only one in ‘our family’ who doesn’t seem to feel content here is our dog, Dobie. When we come up once every thirty days to spend a night here for insurance purposes, he usually travels along. He’ll follow us around as if he thinks we’re going to suddenly leave him here. It’s kind of the way he acted when we first moved into our new home in Cleveland, Tennessee but he finally became contented there. Here...not so much.

It’s almost 3:00 in the morning as I’m writing this. I fell asleep around 10:30 last night and slept soundly until about an hour ago. My sleep patterns have been that way of late. Sure hope this stage passes soon because I enjoy a good night’s sleep and miss having them!

Dobie seemed to know that I was awake and moved around on his chair, rearranging the blanket he is now comfortably curled into. But not long after I awakened, I sent him into a frenzy of ‘poodle proportions!’ All I had to do was mention two magic words in the form of a question.

“Go outside?”

Suddenly he did his little routine that he does each time the question is asked, which is licking his lips...running around in circles...and yipping. Sometimes he cuts such a shine, running in circles even on top of us, that we can’t stop laughing! And we’ll let him go on and on and on, which is kind of mean on our part because he probably really needs to GO!

Why does he lick his lips when he’s going out to do his ‘business?’

I don’t do that.

Joe doesn’t do that.

Do you?

Dobie does it because he knows that when the deed is done, he will get a treat! And he’ll launch into the routine again after he is finished with the job until he gets it.

No one ever gives me a treat when I do my business. If they me, I’d be bigger than I am now because I do my business a LOT!

Dobie is crate trained thanks to our son-in-law, who suggested it when we purchased the poodle. Best idea ever! (Andrew's had other good ideas since then, too.) But the other night, the pooch brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘crate trained.’

Our coffee table is an old chicken crate. My father thought that was a really dumb idea when I was out in the driveway scrubbing the feathers and other stuff out of it. But even he admitted it was a cool idea after seeing it in front of our sofa.

It’s filled with character now...water spots, scratches (that blend in with the ones that were already there) and crayon marks. I smile almost every time I notice them because my little girl (who is now a graphic designer for HGTV) put them there while diligently coloring in one of her coloring books or sketch books.

There are two places in the crate where ‘rungs’ are missing (...those posts that are in place to keep the chickens in place). Well somehow, Dobie squeezed himself in thru one of them the other night. Joe and I were looking around calling him and he wasn’t coming to us. We didn’t see him right away but heard this little pigeon-type noise coming from the crate. Yes, he makes a pigeon sound. Strange for a dog, I know...but look who is owners are! Looking down, there was this pitiful poodle laying in the chicken crate with no hope of escape. We tried coaxing him out by putting our hands next to the spaces where he’d obviously gotten in through. He wouldn’t budge. Finally, Joe brought a treat to the crate. Dobie began going around in circles and licking his lips right then and there before convincing himself that a treat was worth the risk of squeezing through his tight spot.

Even in the chicken crate he did his little routine!

That night Dobie brought a whole new meaning to the term being ‘crated trained!’

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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Beth's Big Adventure

Last week my hubby and I spent time at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina participating in an orientation for new District Superintendents (DS) and Directors of Connectional Ministries (DCM). As the men and women, new in their positions attended their sessions, the spouses in attendance also had sessions. I made some wonderful new friends and got to spend time with one of my favorite people and an old friend...Vicki...who is a ‘newbie’ like me! (And no, she isn’t old...I could have been her babysitter back in the day. We’ve been friends a long time.) Vicki’s husband is the new DS for the Knoxville District in our United Methodist Conference. My Joe is the new DS for Cleveland District, so she and I are embarking on an adventure as ‘Cabinet Wives’ and I’m thankful we’re learning this together. One evening, waiting for our husbands’ return from a meeting, we parked ourselves on a sofa across the hall from the main elevators...and had WAY too much fun, laughing, talking and laughing some more! In fact, we had so much fun that we totally missed our husbands and they were back in the rooms wondering where we were! Nathan texted Vicki, asking where she was and she replied that she was safe...with me. She may have been safe, but I’m not sure I’m the ‘safest’ person to be with. After all, I attract danger.

Yes. Danger.
Not like “Castle” or “NCIS” danger.
Not “James Bond” danger.
Think more like Alfred Hitchcock danger. Yep. That’s it. in “The Birds” with Tippi Hedron.

Here’s the story:
It was a dark and stormy night....
Just kidding.

It all began on a sunny Sunday afternoon as Beth joined her handsome husband on a mission to buy an ice pack and a heating pad. His silver hair caught the glint of the sun as they walked across the Walmart parking lot. She felt warm and comfortable as she strode beside Joe...admiring his handsome, strong profile and sure step next to her pitiful limp because her knee had a catch in it and she was unable to straighten her leg.

Okay, that’s enough of my ‘creative writing.’ We both know it wasn’t very good. Although I liked the description of Joe’s profile. He has a nice profile.

Actually, Joe dropped me off at the entrance because of my hurting knee...something that has plagued me off and on for more than 45 years because of an injury in school. I chose and paid for the needed items to relieve my pain. As I walked out to the parking area, Joe met me, saying there was a falcon sitting on a car near where he’d parked. As we walked in that direction, there were two police cars nearby and the officers, along with several people watching a falcon that was sitting on the roof of a van. The van’s owner had called 9-1-1 because she was afraid to attempt entering her vehicle.

Several bystanders...including me...began taking pictures of the falcon with our cell phones, being careful not to get too close. I made a little clicking sound with my tongue in an attempt to get the raptor to look my way. It did. I took another picture, then it flew down from the van roof to the blacktop of the parking lot. Still keeping a good distance, I took two more pictures. All of a sudden that falcon came after me...flapping it’s huge wings and digging it’s sharp talons into my pant leg!!!

I screamed! And I stood there screaming and shaking my leg (the one with the bum knee) trying to get this creature to let go of my pants! I was too stunned to run until some woman in a car yelled, “Run, lady, run!” (No, Forrest Gump did NOT come to mind.) So I ran, shaking my leg and it let go. Thinking back on it now, I probably looked like I was running with a loaded diaper!

Thankfully, the falcon’s talons did not get my leg...only my slacks. I stood there once it let go, trying to gather my senses, and as I turned to walk away, I heard my husband calling, “Beth! Look out!”

That blasted falcon had me again!
Same pant leg...and this time it had a more ‘fixed’ hold, flapping it’s wings and holding on. I was running, screaming, shaking my leg and crying all at the same time! It seemed like an eternity that I was running and screaming, but it was probably only about ten or fifteen seconds. I was terrified! Running in circles! Screaming again! Once the falcon let go, I never stopped running and then I began screaming, “Unlock the car! Unlock the car!”

Joe yelled, “What?!?”

“U N L O C K T H E C A R ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !”

I jumped inside the safety of our CRV, shaking and crying. Joe quickly followed me. He kept asking if I was okay. I kept telling him to if that falcon would peck it’s way through the vehicle and come after me again (because Alfred Hitchcock would have wanted it that way).

Five miles’ drive and we were back at our hotel. I will still shaken. My whole body was shaking. I could barely step out of the car. Once inside the safety of our room, I took time to check myself. My leg was unscathed. Then and now I will say, “Thanks be to God!”

My slacks, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. There were several little holes where the falcon’s talons had been clinging. Brand new slacks! I’d only worn them twice! And they were from my favorite store, C.J. Banks...they had been on sale...and most important of all, they fit my bum really well. And now they have puncture marks.

I guess I should go ahead and wear them, just so I can make interesting conversation.

Or I could just be really cheesy and say they’re my ‘church pants’ because they are ‘holey.’

Alfred Hitchcock never would have closed with a line like that.

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

Thursday, August 16, 2012

No butts about it...

It’s no good to have a walk-in closet when you can’t walk in it. I realized that weeks ago, but just remedied the situation this morning. Along with thinning out my collection of clothes and shoes yet again, I moved things around to make navigation a little easier. Now the carpeted floor is visible! (...took me long enough to get sick of stepping on things!)

Since our move in mid-June, I haven’t found a good place to store our clean towels and extra rolls of bathroom tissue. So this morning I remedied that situation, too, by installing a shelf over the closet door. Now I have nice stacks of clean towels at the ready. I just have to stand on a little stool to reach them is all...

The bathroom tissue/toilet paper storage issue was solved by installing a similar shelf in our water closet. Yes, it’s a water closet. At least I guess that’s what it is called. Maybe it’s a bathroom stall. Or a toilet room.

I like calling it a water closet. Sounds kind of impressive. Like maybe we have a fancy, big house, which we don’t. But hey, if bathroom talk is meant to be impressive...I’ll settle for water closet.

As I began to unpack the boxes of spare bathroom tissue to put on our new shelf, I had a revelation. We have entirely too much toilet paper for only two occupants!!! There are two bathrooms in this house and 41 rolls of paper. Yes, you read it right. 41 rolls. And that isn’t counting the packages from a Knoxville wholesale club that are on a shelf in our garage. How did two people (with one bottom each) end up owning so much toilet paper? I have no answer. But I won’t have to put that on our shopping list for quite some time to come!

How many people spend their valuable time counting rolls of toilet paper? Your answer doesn’t count if it has anything to do with stocking retail shelves or working for Charmin. It’s just that as I began putting the rolls on the new shelf, I realized there was a ridiculous amount of the stuff!

But compared to the news out last week from NPR, my collection of toilet paper isn’t so unusual. I just wish it were for such a noble cause...
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is buying 50 pounds of fake poop to test high-tech toilets they're creating for third-world countries at their ‘Reinvent the Toilet Fair’ next week.

Read even more by going to:

And how many people spend valuable time reading about funny names for toilet paper? Me, for one. The following are actual trademarked toilet paper brand failures...not the paper itself, just the names.
Tainted Love Bath Tissue
Bear In The Woods (Oak Scented, Extra Strong) Toilet Paper
Quilted Arse-A-Nol
Mr. Poopy Posterior E-Z Single Serve Buttwipers
Cottony Soft Sphincter Delight
Justin Beiber’s Bum B-Kleen

I’d love to wrap up this blog posting with something really funny or clever but I’ve got nothing.
Unless it would be to say that I’m wiped out and just can’t type anymore.
That’ll do.

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

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Joe and I moved into our new house on June 19th. A month later and we’re still surrounded with more boxes than we’d like...stacks of things that haven’t found their place in the place...and a few odds and ends that we may just have to be rid of before the house can look more like a home.

I found a good dry-cleaner, a grocery store (that has a wicked-good deli), a bakery (which I didn’t need to find) and a favorite gas station. I’m not looking for a new hairdresser because when you find the perfect person to take care of your hair...why in the world would you want to look for another?!??!? Same deal with my dentist...except he doesn’t really care about how my hair looks. We even have a new family I found because my daughter works at HGTV with his son. So, all in all, it looks like we are settled in for the next six to eight years.

One thing I dreaded looking for was a new kennel for Dobie to visit when we’re out of town. Dobie is our toy poodle who really doesn’t know he’s a dog. We’ve never told him. The last place we boarded him is the only place he’s ever known. Dobie was born in January of 2004. My daughter informed me that I bought him as her replacement when she would leave for college that fall. Maybe. Maybe not. One time she jokingly told me that she thought I might love that dog more than her. I assured her I didn’t love him more. Sometimes I might have liked him more...but I never loved him more! (insert smile here)

Back to the kennel.
I asked a friend who used to live in Cleveland to recommend a good kennel for us to board Dobie. She had just the right place, so I went to visit the facility and found exactly what we needed for our little guy. He spent one night this week and did great! He even came home with a report card! Yes, these folks sent him home with a “Happy Camper” report card, complete with checkmarks for eating well, making new friends and being the paw-fect pet! There was even a picture of him included in the card!

I call him my baby-dog. Even when he gets scolded, he soon forgets about it and comes back to cuddle. I should learn to forgive and forget so easily!

I wish I knew who wrote the following so I could give credit where credit is due. But I think you’ll enjoy this...


1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride. 

2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

4. Take naps and stretch before rising.

5. Run, romp, and play daily.

6. Be loyal. 

7. Never pretend to be something you're not.

8. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. 

9. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. 

10. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently. 
11. Thrive on affection and let people touch you - enjoy back rubs and pats on your neck.

12. When you leave your yard, make it an adventure. 

13. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. 

14. No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and right back and make friends.

15. Bond with your pack. 

16. On cold nights, curl up in front of a crackling fire. 

17. When you're excited, speak up. 

18. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body. 

19. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

I have #8 and #18 down really well. Especially #18...because I can wag my entire body even when I’m not trying! It wags when I walk! In wags for a few moments when I stop walking! My upper arms wag whenever I’m waving. My thighs wagging against each other could start a small fire.

Okay, okay...I know I shouldn’t make snide remarks about my body. According to Psalm 139:14, I am “...wonderfully made...” and my daughter was one of the first to point out to me that self-deprecating humor is unbecoming. In fact she said it to me in front of my mother who couldn’t hear too well. Mother replied, “Self-defecating humor?!? What kind of humor is that?”

Mother wasn’t really too far off the mark on that. She got to the bottom of that kind of humor, so to speak.

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Blueberries made me cry yesterday...and if you keep reading you’ll find out why.

As I type this blog I am sitting on a comfy, familiar a messy unfamiliar house. But it’s my house. Our house.

On Tuesday, Joe and I moved our comfy, familiar sofa (and everything else we own) from 17 years of living and loving a church family and community in Alcoa, our new home in Cleveland (Tennessee, not Ohio, for the benefit of all my Ohio readers). Joe is the new District Superintendent for this area in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has 69 churches and 45 ministers to look after. Those 45 ministers are our new church family...and already many of them have stopped by or made contact with us and helped us feel at home.

Even with this warm welcome and beautiful home, I feel as though there is a big sheet of glass inside me that just one little push could cause it to shatter and break. I am feeling on the verge of tears at every moment. I know this will soon leave my being, but I suppose I am grieving...

Grieving that I’ve moved an hour and a half from our only daughter. (...and that for this summer her husband is interning in NYC and she is lonesome for him every moment of every day.)

Grieving that I’ve left an amazing church family behind.

Grieving that I left a wonderful neighborhood with exceptional neighbors.

Grieving for a ‘history’ of life in Blount County, Tennessee.

I’m also grieving for some kind of order...a feeling of normalcy. This house is filled with boxes and piles of things that I must slowly move through, unpack and make this new house a home. I’ll have to take my time so I can get it right.

And in the midst of this grief...I am so excited! This assignment for Joe is a wonderful opportunity to be a minister to ministers! Isn’t that a blessing? I know he will be effective as a Cabinet member. He is 62 years old and has stepped from his comfort zone...from a church he served happily for 17 years...and into a whole new arena. I really admire him for this leap of faith.

I’m excited about my role in all of have time with the ministers’ spouses of the Cleveland District. Joe and I have been in ministry for nearly 40 years, so maybe there will be some way I can encourage or motivate. Who knows? Well, I think God does and just maybe that is why Joe and I are in this place at this time in our lives.

I will still miss my daughter.

I’ll have another church family...many, in fact!

I’ve already met several of our new neighbors and everyone is so nice! There are three boys, aged 6 to 8, that live nearby...Hayden, Jackson and Caedon...with lots of energy and personality. As 8 year old Hayden was walking off last night he turned around and said, “It’s a great neighborhood! You’ll like it here!” And yes, Hayden...I think I will.

And as far as a ‘history’ goes...I must remember that when we moved to Alcoa 17 years ago, I left behind a history in Radford, Virginia. I then proceeded to make a new one, and will do the same right here in Cleveland!

As I continue to find my way around the maze of boxes in this house, the virtual sheet of glass inside me that I felt could shatter at just a touch, will soon disappear. I’ll be fine. I’ll never stop loving or missing Alcoa...the same way I’ve never stopped loving and missing McClure and Dryden, Ft. Oglethorpe and Radford and our church families in those appointments!

Not long after it was announced the we would be moving to the Cleveland District, the wife of another cabinet member told me that the spouses of the cabinet call themselves the ‘Spice Cabinet!’ I quickly replied that “ I must be a Spice Girl!” Remember them? I’m not Sporty Spice, Brown Spice, Posh Spice or Baby Spice...I think I’ll be Nutmeg Spice. The “Nut” part because I am. And the “meg” part because that is my monogram! (for Mary Elizabeth Green)

My sweet hubby, Joe, said I should be called “Old Spice” but I hope he’s had time to think about that one.

And about the blueberries...
The first Sunday at our church in Alcoa, the families there gave us a “pounding” which is where food is brought to the new parsonage family. “Pounds” of potatoes, sugar, flour, fruit, pasta, meat, etc. were shared with us.

The Hitchcock family gave us a pound of blueberries. John and Brenda, with sons David and Brian were the folks who gave us our first fresh fruit when we moved to Alcoa. The berries were delicious! They were grown right there behind the Hitchcock house. That was in 1995.

Fast forward to this past Sunday afternoon...
Brenda Hitchcock dropped by with a bag of chocolate chip cookies and a bag of blueberries. The cookies were a nice treat as we worked on the last of packing up the house in Alcoa. I saved the blueberries though. And today, I pulled them out of our new fridge to enjoy with lunch. I put several berries in my mouth and bit into their juicy goodness.

Then I cried.

Joe asked what was wrong. I couldn’t say, exactly. All I know is that those blueberries made me think of Alcoa. They reminded me of Brenda and her sweet family...John, who is now in Heaven; David, who travels to various parts of the world for Apple; and Brian, who is in Seattle, Washington with his wife.

Brenda’s blueberries made me cry. But they brought back a sweet memory from our move to Alcoa.

That was a new beginning in 1995...and in 2012, so is this one. We did fine there and we’ll do fine here. I’ll likely have blueberries for breakfast tomorrow and maybe I won’t cry this time. But if I do, Joe won't have to ask why...

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

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Purging and packing...

This month is momentous for us on so many levels:
My husband Joe, a minister in the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church, is set to become a District Superintendent in Cleveland, Tennessee. Because of that appointment, we are leaving a church and community we have loved for 17 years. I’ve never lived anywhere for this long. It breaks my heart to think of leaving, yet I know we are meant to go. God’s hand has been traced through every circumstance surrounding this move. We sold our house (didn’t even put it on the market because a friend bought it) on a Friday morning and closed on another house (in Cleveland, Tennessee) the same day!

For the first time, we will leave our daughter behind. The farthest we’ve ever lived apart was the 20 minute drive to UT’s campus when she was a freshman in college. Now we’ll be 90 minutes away. Of course, she is nearly 27 years old, has a husband, a job, and a life of her own...but it’s still weird to think about. And before long, she will likely make a move with her husband to a new city and a new life.

We’ll go from one church to 69 churches and 45 ministers and Joe will be a “pastor to the pastors” for the next several years. Alcoa First UMC is likely the last church where he will serve full-time. After this job, he’ll likely retire. (But he’ll never stop being a minister...he’ll find a little church and keep on going just like the Energizer Bunny.)

I have known since late January that we would be moving. I slowly began to develop a plan of action. Slowly is the key word here. I’ve been sorting items that need to go to our retirement home in Virginia and things that need to move to Cleveland with us. I’ve also found out that 17 years in the same house causes one to collect a lot of STUFF!

I have too much stuff. Thankfully, I don’t have so much stuff that I could be on an episode of “Hoarders!”

I have stuff that is still packed from our last move. I’m not sure why I still have that stuff! I’m not sure why I thought I needed that stuff! And since I’m not’s out of there!

I have stuff that belongs to our daughter that she might want to add to her pile of stuff.

I have stuff that belonged to my parents that I cannot bear to part with, so I’ll keep moving it with me till I die. Never have I seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul, so someone else will have to purge THAT stuff.

I read several things about “stuff” in the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus...
stuff: noun
1 suede is tough stuff: material, fabric, cloth, textile; matter, substance.
2 first-aid stuff: items, articles, objects, goods, equipment; informal things, bits and pieces, odds and ends.
3 all my stuff is in the suitcase: belongings, (personal) possessions, effects, goods (and chattels), paraphernalia; informal gear, things.

How could that Thesaurus nail me so easily?!? It’s as if some one from Oxford came to my house and looked around...opening closets, drawers and cabinets! It’s uncanny!

And if something happened to my “stuff” I know I would survive. I’d probably be sad about it being gone, but I could live without my stuff.

I recently sold some antiques that I had purchased over the years. A friend asked me how I could have let one particular item go that I’d enjoyed so much. I told her that I have memories of it and it’s likely in a picture somewhere, but that it is just a thing. And it’s time for someone else to enjoy that thing.

There are other items that I cannot imagine letting go of...and they are just “things” too! But I believe I’m finding a balance here, and if I can keep the momentum going for the next week, I’m all set! The moving van arrives in 7 days!

My brother shared with me a quote he’d heard: “We endlessly define ourselves by what we keep and by what we throw away.”


"Houston, we have a problem..."

And always remember that if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

What if I hadn't tried it...?

I first began my radio career, in Pennington Gap, Virginia at WSWV AM/FM. It was kind of by accident that I began being paid to talk! And if that’s the case, by now I should be a millionaire!

My husband had a weekly broadcast on the AM station and had lost his voice one day when he was supposed to speak, so I sat in for him. For 30 minutes, I was the host of his program. I had music picked out for the guy in the control room to play to start the show. (LP’s...remember those? Long play, 33 1/3 rpm.) I talked for a few minutes, did a devotion, then had more music...interviewed a preacher that was at our church for revival, and closed out with more music and a prayer. All that in half an hour!

The next week, the guy in the control room told my husband I needed to drop by and talk to management about getting a job as a deejay there. When Joe came home and mentioned that, I just laughed. The next week, he brought home the same message. Again, I laughed...but this time Joe said maybe I should seriously consider something like that. “It might be fun,” he said.

But I still didn’t go in to talk with them. And then one Saturday, I was asked to help with the American Cancer Society’s Radio-Thon. I went in and helped answer phones and the two guys running the program handed me a microphone. I started talking with them on the air, and found out my husband was was fun! It was an all-day affair so when it came time for dinner, the guys looked at me just before the next on-air break and said, “You take this next break. We’re going for pizza.” They were so matter-of-fact with it that I thought they were kidding. But they walked out the door! A guy in the control room called out to me that I was “...on in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1.” Silence. I stared at him and he just gave me a look that said: Well, are you gonna talk or what??!? So, I talked!

I found out later that those two guys - David Hartley and Wayne Sizemore - had picked up a pizza, then sat in the radio station’s parking lot, eating and listening to me on the air. At the end of that very long day, David offered me a job. He said I’d have to learn the ropes, get my license from the FCC, and then he would like me to work on Sundays to get used to being on the air.

Sunday afternoons on the AM station were filled with preachers.
Lots and lots of preachers.
All afternoon.
They’d come in with people from their churches and have singing and then preaching. Sometimes it was quite loud preaching. Loud, as in sweatin’ and hollerin’ loud.

On the FM station was almost always Cincinnati Reds baseball, which made me happy for a couple of reasons. I like the Reds. While getting the feed from WLW, my favorite Cincinnati radio station, it would make me feel a little closer to home. And I knew that my mother and daddy were likely listening to the same baseball broadcast that I was feeding to the listeners of our little radio station in southwest Virginia.

I was to do a local Station Identification at the top of the hour. If there was time, I was supposed to give our local weather forecast. On way too many occasions, I’d flip the switch on the microphone in the wrong direction and instead of local weather on the FM, our listeners would get Cincinnati weather from the WLW feed. And on the AM, while the preachers were giving it all they had, I’d talk over them and give the weather forecast. I didn’t know it. They didn’t know it...or hear it, thankfully). But our AM listeners did!

I finally got the hang of things and went on to enjoy a career in radio that wasn’t planned, but turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened to my life. After a year at the station in Pennington Gap, we moved to Chattanooga, where I worked as a reporter, then a deejay at several stations, and doing voice-overs for commercials...which I still do today.

And those two guys that went out for pizza, then sat in their car and listened to me that Saturday afternoon during the Radio-Thon? Together, they taught me the things I needed to know, coached me, cheered me on and became two of the best friends I’ve ever had.

In those early days while I was learning how to “do radio” on Sunday afternoons, I knew that the ballgame was over when I’d hear Joe Nuxall say, “This is the old southpaw, rounding third and heading for home.” I hadn’t thought about that phrase until recently...

My husband began praying two years ago (shortly after his 60th birthday) about what was next for him. As a United Methodist minister, he’d served five appointments in the Holston Conference over a period of 36 years. He felt that he wasn’t done yet. At 60, many of his peers were talking about their future retirement from the ministry. But Joe wasn’t ready for that. He prayed daily about ‘what was next’ for his ministry. For two years he reminded the Lord “...I’m not done yet. I’m rounding third and heading for home. What’s next?”

In January he found out what’s next. We have served at Alcoa First United Methodist Church for 17 years, and in June, he will become the District Superintendent for the Cleveland District of the Holston Conference. He’s stepping out of his comfort zone. And I’m stepping out with him.

I’m getting ready to embark on an adventure with my hubby that neither one of us ever aspired to. Just like I didn’t set out to be a deejay, Joe didn’t have his eye on becoming a District Superintendent...yet that is exactly where he is headed. Next time I write to you, I’ll likely be on that adventure...or at least sitting on the edge of the riverbank, ‘getting my feet wet.’

Until then...remember that if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Friends and Soupbeans

Do you have people in your life that you’re close to even though you aren’t with them often? Maybe you haven’t seen them in years, but when you’re together it’s as if you were just conversing the week before. I enjoy friendships like that. Being in the ministry with my husband for 38 years has allowed me to know lots of wonderful people. Last week, I was with a couple who were our very first neighbors when Joe and I began our life together. John and Dena had two little boys who were adventurous and polite and we loved them. On our very first Easter as husband and wife, they invited us to have lunch with their family. They helped us feel like we fit right in. Today, John still has that same sweet, humble spirit that we came to love in him all those years ago. He’s a man in love with Jesus and his wife...and it’s obvious.

His wife, Dena, was one of my very first mentors as a new bride. I’d go over, sit in her living room and talk about anything and everything. I’d ask questions. She’d give me wise answers and encourage me. When my husband asked me to fix him some “soupbeans and cornbread” I was clueless. So where did I go? Across the road, of course, to Dena...who told me how to fix what is still one of Joe’s favorite meals.

She’s had some health battles but I have yet to hear her complain about any of them. When skin cancer required extensive surgery on her never quenched the sweet smile and tender spirit of this woman! Even skin grafts - which I’m sure had to be very painful - didn’t change her attitude. This week, I saw her not long after she woke up from having her left breast removed because of cancer. Her right breast had been removed years earlier. I walked into her room and there she was...smiling. There was no spirit of tragedy in that room. The surgeon felt he got all the cancer when he took the breast and one lymph node. The only thing I felt in that place was the sweet feeling of three friends visiting with each other...catching up on one another’s families and sharing our hearts. Nurses were ministering to Dena’s needs while John and I talked. He still has that calm, gentle approach to whatever we are talking about. I haven’t been with either one of them for many, many years, yet when we were together there in that hospital room, it was as if we’d never been apart. Facebook has helped in that way because we’ve been able to stay in touch. Thanks to that social media...I knew to drop by the hospital in Kingsport on my way back from our home in Virginia to our home in Tennessee. Many people are praying for Dena to recover well and I am one of those people.

Before I left the room, John asked me to sing one of his favorite songs “Because He Lives” so I did my best for him, prayed with them...kissed them both when I was finished and walked toward the elevators. I felt good inside. I’d just spent a few moments with special people that I don’t see nearly often enough, yet who made me feel as if we’d never been apart. Those are the kinds of friendship every one of us I right?

Now you and I both know that I cannot possibly post a blog that won’t at least make an attempt at putting a smile on your here goes.

When Dena told me how to make soupbeans in 1974, she said to buy a bag of beans and “rock them” so the immediate picture in my mind is me sitting on a rocker holding a bag of dried beans. To this day I smile when I pick the rocks out of my bag of beans!

She also told me that the beans needed to soak before cooking them, so I figured if I wanted a bowlful of beans I should soak a bowlful of beans. I covered the beans with water, left the bowl overnight on top of the counter and came out the next morning to see beans everywhere! I didn’t realize that by soaking them, they would expand! Theodore (our deaf cat that deserves a blog posting all to himself someday) was crouched down on the floor nibbling away at those beans. I don’t remember if it did anything to his digestive system. But I do remember that I cooked up so many beans, we ate them for a week! You can guess the rest of that story, my friends, because Beano hadn’t been invented yet!

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Singing in a bank...

I walked into a bank today, saw a Martin guitar in an open case sitting atop a table...picked that beauty up, sat in a chair and serenaded the customers and tellers. I know I wasn’t dreaming because in a dream I might have been taking a test I hadn’t studied for, speaking in front of a crowd unprepared or walking into a room filled with people when I was suddenly naked. I’m sure there is some psychological reason I would have a dream about being naked but let’s not go there because I have enough problems.

The bank was in Dunlap, Tennessee. The guitar was on display because it is being raffled off for charity. My friend Joan works at the bank where Tom (her hubby) and I dropped in to pick her up for lunch. He encouraged me to play a few chords on the guitar and she asked me to sing the “Chik-Fil-A Song” for her co-workers. After my performance, they asked for the ham in me complied. I shared the latest song I’ve written which contains the lyrics “...if my body were a car then I would trade me in for one with a better warranty.” It contains descriptions of bodily functions, so I hope the bank employees were okay with that. From the reaction, I guess it was.

I like my life. It’s never boring.

And remember this...
If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sense and Scents-a-bility

My face was pampered today when my daughter and I went to the Lancome counter at Belk’s to have her friend, Brian, give each of us a makeover. When he finished with his magic, I felt very pretty and very pampered. It certainly was nice to have him pamper me, so I asked Brian how he feels when he is able to help someone look extra special with a 'spruce-up' like he provided for me. He told me that it is a wonderful feeling...very rewarding. I can imagine that he must go home each day with a good feeling because of what he does for countless women, doing their makeup. This afternoon I had on colors I’d never have tried on my own, but his expertise proved those colors to be exactly what I could wear! Who knew?!? (Brian did...) And I watched as he did the same thing to my daughter, with some of the same colors, but achieving a completely different look!

After getting some samples of Lancome products and a purchase for each of us, Hannah Beth and I wandered around to the other counters in Belk. She took a squirt of Clinque’s “Happy” perfume and as soon as I smelled it, I was taken back to her college days when that scent would linger in the bathroom long after she’d left for classes.

We also went by the Estee’ Lauder counter. I wanted to take a quick spritz of “Private Collection” - the scent that Joe gave me for my birthday while I was pregnant with the beautiful girl standing next to me. I used up the last of that fragrance just before her second birthday and haven’t worn it since. When I leaned over to let her smell it, I asked if she remembered that scent. She did! She remembered it! I thought that was pretty neat. I may have to start wearing it again, because even as I am sitting in my favorite chair typing this blog, I still have that faint, sweet scent in my nostrils...and somehow it makes me feel content inside!

One more thing I did before we left the Estee’ Lauder counter...I took one of the scent cards and sprayed “Youth Dew” on it. That scent always makes me think of my mother. It was her favorite. As she got older and her sense of smell diminished, she would spray on way more than she should...but I didn’t mind because it was “her scent.” I had no idea what memories that scent would later stir...

I miss my mother. She lived a long life and was very ready to go home to Heaven. But I don’t think I was ready to see her go. She could have lived to be one hundred and I still wouldn’t have been ready! Smelling that “Youth Dew” today made me happy. It was a scent-memory that I’d forgotten I had. Just like the scent I sprayed on myself today has given me warm thoughts and feelings of early motherhood...Mother’s scent brought good feelings, too.

Of the five senses that God built into each one of us, the sense of smell seems to be my strongest. Certain odors or scents can stir up memories for me and transport me for just a moment back to the time that matched that scent. It’s a good feeling. I enjoy it.

Now, lest I become too serious in this blog - something I try to steer away from because I’d MUCH rather make someone laugh with my thoughts and stories - I must leave you with another thought: There are smells that take you back to someplace you might not want to go. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that proper people would never talk about in public...or write about on a blog.

Well, no one ever accused me of being too proper, so let me stir up a few scented memories for you:
...the first whiff that lets you know a diaper is in desperate need of changing.
...what is ‘in the air’ the next day after a really good Italian dinner.
...what is ‘in the air’ the next day after a really good Mexican dinner.
...what happens to you when you toot in the grocery store and try to move away from it quickly so no one knows you emitted said toot. (don’t say you’ve never done that. I know you have. I was behind you!)
...what happens when you sneeze or cough and you have an ‘air leak.’

I remember a kid in the sixth grade who had a signature 'fragrance.' Each time he emitted it, he would smile like he’d given us all a great gift. Great gift, my foot! But I have to tell you that after all these years if I smelled that emission today, I’d know that he was somewhere in the was that distinct!

Yes, I suppose this is a tasteless way to end what started out as a pretty sweet little blog posting. But we all know that this is something that every human being deals with. It’s just that most of us don’t blog about it.

Maybe you’ve heard the saying: “The one who smelt it is probably the one who dealt it.”

Again, I know this isn’t a dignified subject to write about in a blog, so forgive me if you’re offended. And if you ARE offended, then think of it this way...if God meant for that air to stay in there, don’t you think He would have made a place to put it? Well, He didn’t...but He DID make a place for it to leave!

P.S. I downloaded a "Whoopie Cushion" app on my phone. I haven't used it yet, but there's always a first time...

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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Divine Appointments

Have you ever heard of such a thing...or experienced one? On a recent Sunday morning, I had just such an appointment. The headache I developed that day was turning into more than just an uncomfortable inconvenience. As I stood in the front of the church, leading music alongside my daughter and our worship leader, my head began to hurt. By the time the music had finished, I went straight to my husbands office to get into quiet surroundings and give the discomfort every opportunity to leave the premises of my head before I needed to teach Sunday school. Even though I hurt during class, the lesson went rather well but I decided not to be part of the worship music team in late service because of my pounding head. I waited till my husband stood up to deliver his sermon, slipped into my regular spot in the back pew right next to my hairdresser Kirk (who is one of my best ‘girlfriends’). As Joe started speaking, I looked at Kirk and told him there was no way I could “sit through this.” No, I wasn’t under conviction...I was just in pain.

I sat in a chair just outside our sanctuary where the sound was much easier to bear and listened to my pastor. About five minutes into the sermon, a young woman appeared in the hallway. I hadn’t seen her for weeks because she is in a job that keeps her away from our little town quite a lot.

She asked if we could talk and I realized right away that she was on the verge of tears as she looked at me. Her first words were, “I think you're the only one who can understand how I’m hurting...” as her words gave way to tears. I spoke her name and asked if she’d had a miscarriage. She nodded, held up two fingers, and then we just hugged and cried.

It was as if God had allowed that headache. I know He didn’t cause it, but He certainly used it. Had I not been sitting there, my precious hurting friend would not have had someone there who knew exactly how she felt. We were having a ‘divine appointment’ right there in the hall of our church! At the moment I’m writing this blog, I’m thankful for that awful headache!

I took my friend into my husband’s office where we could have some privacy. This dear girl had two miscarriages in the last year. She knew that I’d experienced multiple miscarriages and felt that I could help her. I certainly pray that I did...

People want so much to be able to say something to one who has experienced this kind of loss. Words like “at least you know you can get pregnant” or “something must have been wrong with the baby” might make the person feel as though they are comforting the hurting parent. But in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth! Many times over, other women who have experienced lost pregnancies have agreed with me. Let me put it to you this way: Would you go through a line at the funeral home and tell a grieving widow, “at least you know you had a husband” or “there must have been something wrong with him” and that’s why she doesn’t have him anymore?!? Of course not.

In my opinion, this is still a life that ended too soon. Don’t try to smooth things over in an attempt to comfort. It doesn’t help. We don’t need someone to try to smooth things over, we just need someone to listen, hug us and cry with us. There isn’t a single thing, in my opinion, that can make that experience easier to cope with. No, that life didn’t stay around long enough to grow and be born, named and held...but that life was still important. It had a beating heart.

I didn’t try to say anything profound that would make my friend feel better. Instead, we shared a box of tissues as she told me how she was feeling inside and that she was angry with God for letting this happen...not once but twice. I told her that I got angry with God, too. And I stayed mad at Him for a while. I even told Him how angry I was with Him. And when I did, no lightening struck and turned me into a greasy spot on the floor. I was like an upset little girl who couldn’t get what she wanted and made sure that the person who was preventing it would know exactly how I felt. Yes, I even stomped my feet a few times as I cried. I still don’t understand why God allowed me to carry those children under my heart only to NOT allow me to carry them in my arms. I have one wonderful daughter who was a joy to raise and I would have loved every one of her siblings just the same as I did her...but it wasn’t to be. I don’t know why. But I had finally come to the place where I could tell God: “I’m not mad at You anymore. I don’t understand why all this happened but I trust You. I don’t like any of this, but I love You.”

Those are the words I shared with my friend. I hope it helped her find a way to express her feelings freely with her Heavenly Father. He already knows how she feels. After all, His Son died...

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

Friday, February 17, 2012


Have you ever been desperate?

I consulted Merriam-Webster about this and my feelings were confirmed. What I experienced this week in Walmart was true desperation. The dictionary had definitions such as: having lost no ground for hope...moved by despair...suffering extreme need or anxiety...involving extreme danger or possible disaster...of extreme intensity.

I’d been running errands most of the day and needed some items. If I had been shopping for just groceries, I’d have gone to my local Kroger or Food City. But I needed more than that, so Walmart was my store of choice.

You could say I was desperate for “falling prices” but you’d be wrong. (...and this is where you might want to stop reading if bathroom humor or experience isn’t something you like to have discussed in your presence. Of course, I am not in your presence at this, never mind.)

As I shopped, I knew I needed to find the restroom. At first I thought, “you’ll be home in fifteen minutes.” And so I finished shopping for the items on my list.

There is something that a bathroom and a cemetery have in common: when you gotta gotta go. And I had to go.

I’m in the middle of Walmart...restrooms in the front of the store and restrooms in the back. How convenient. So I made my way to the back restrooms because they are almost always cleaner. When I got there, I found out why they’re almost always cleaner. The ladies’ restroom was closed for cleaning. For a brief moment I wished I had been a man. Brief.

Just the thought of not being able to use the restroom right away made the feeling I had even worse. Yes, you could say I started to get desperate.

I grabbed my buggy (AKA shopping cart) and made my way to the front of the store. Suddenly every ‘I’m-just-slowly-wandering-the-aisles-and-looking-at-everything’ shopper was in any aisle that I hurried down! Every time I would make a dodge to another aisle, there they were AGAIN!!!

Desperation. Then a moment of relief. No, not that kind of relief. It was the ‘near-the-front-of-the-store’ kind of relief. Ah, yes! I was getting closer!!!

Then I saw a blasted cleaning cart at the restroom entrance and my hopes were dashed. Desperation turned into flat out panic!

A closer look revealed that it was the men’s room being cleaned. I didn’t actually say it outloud but I was so grateful that I was a woman at that moment that I was saying “hallelujah” in my heart!

You don’t want me to finish this story. Suffice to say the desperation left to speak!

And it reminds me of when I was almost seven months pregnant and my baby girl was tap-dancing on my bladder. We were traveling through Dothan, Alabama on our way home from a vacation at the beach. When my hubby finally found a rest area and pulled in, I was opening the door on our Volvo before he even could stop the car. I ran toward the ladies’ room and flung the door open. There was a little lady who was drying her hands when I crammed her into the wall with the door! I ran into the stall at the same time I realized what I’d done to her. Sweet relief and apologies were flowing. When I came out, she was still in there. As I washed my hands, I apologized again for what I’d done to her. She saw that I was pregnant and smiled when she said, “It’s alright, dear...I heard you coming but I couldn’t get out of the way in time!”

Remember those definitions I mentioned above?
Desperation: having lost no ground for hope...moved by despair...suffering extreme need or anxiety...involving extreme danger or possible disaster...of extreme intensity.
They describe every single emotion I had in Walmart that day. And in Dothan, Alabama. I don’t like having emotions like that.

Now if you’ll excuse me...I need to find a restroom.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


On one of my favorite tee-shirts, GRITS stands for Girls Raised In The South. My daughter is definitely a Southern Belle, complete with the accent and charm that goes along with it. She makes a momma proud!

I was born in North Carolina, spent the first 5 years of my life there, then moved to Virginia. When I was 9 years old, my daddy made be be a Yankee by accepting a church appointment and moving our family to Ohio. I came to love that place and even made my home in Columbus, Ohio for a while. But in my heart I’m a southern girl and always will be.

Once, not long after we’d moved North, our family was taking a Sunday afternoon drive and Daddy noticed I was laying down in the back seat. He said I should sit up and look around at the scenery because you could “...see for miles!” I retorted that I didn’t want to ‘see for miles’ that I wanted mountains to look at. I also remember telling him that when I got big enough to decide where I was gonna live, I was moving back to the mountains. And, many years later, that’s exactly what I did! Now, mind you, I have nothing against Yankees, but I am a southern girl to the bone.

I’m 58 years old and for 37 years I’ve enjoyed eating grits.

My mother didn’t cook grits. She made Cream of Wheat. I didn’t eat it. Still won’t. Never will. You can take that to the bank. To quote “Yankees have attempted to create a synthetic Grit. They call them Cream of Wheat. As far as we can tell the key ingredients of Cream of Wheat are Elmer's Glue and styrofoam.” Amen, sister!

Mother did cook grits in the form of what she called ‘fried mush’. She’d buy it in a block, slice it, fry it and some of the family ate it with maple syrup. I said some of the family. I didn’t eat it. Just didn’t look or smell like something I wanted to try. (I felt the same way about liver, but that’s for another blog.)

Here's something funny I found:
1. Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits.

2. Thou shalt not eat Cream of Wheat and call it Grits; for this is blasphemy.

3. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors Grits.

4. Thou shalt only use Salt, Butter and Cheese as toppings for thy Grits.

5. Thou shalt not eat Instant Grits.

6. Thou shalt not eat thy Grits with a spoon.
7. Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits.

8. Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits.

9. Thou shalt not put sugar on thy Grits either.

10. Thou shalt not put sugar or syrup on thy Grits

Personally, I like to eat my grits with butter, sugar and a little salt. And...please forgive me...I eat them with a spoon!

In 1974, while on our honeymoon, Joe and I ate breakfast at a restaurant in south Georgia. I ordered eggs, toast, bacon and juice. The plate was delivered with a pile of white stuff in the middle. I told the waitress that I didn’t order those. She said they “...come with it.” I asked what they were and she laughed (along with a few muffled chuckles around me - INCLUDING my husband) and made the astute observation: “You’re not from around here, are ya, honey?”

My husband of less than a week was kind enough to offer a suggestion when I asked him how to eat them. He suggested a little butter, a little salt and maybe I might enjoy some sugar on them (although he’d never do that).

Then he told me that “...the traditional southern way of eating grits is to eat them with a knife.” He demonstrated by just sliding his table knife into the grits and picking them up. He said the trick was to keep them on the knife long enough to get them in your mouth. I trusted this man. I loved this man. I had just married this man, even though I’d only known him three months! So, I did it.

More chuckles from the tables around me...not muffled this time. My dear, sweet groom had just begun what would be 37 years (and counting) of teasing me.

It’s been said that the mysterious manna God rained down from the sky to feed the Children of Israel as they wandered in the desert was grits. But I am certain that isn’t possible because:
1, There is no record in the Bible about God raining down butter, salt, cheese or sugar for the grits.
2. A loving father would never provide grits for his children without the butter, salt, cheese or sugar.

But then again...maybe God had it all mixed together when He let it rain down on the Israelites!

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