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.