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!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mother's Love

Once in a while, my mother would say she had so much love in her heart, she thought it would burst. She said the love she had for my brothers, my sister, and me was an indescribable love…and so strong that she would die for us, if need be.

Mother was a loving lady to everyone, but she could also be fierce if you messed with her kids! Or her husband. She was the proverbial ‘Mother Hen’ and busied herself with the needs of her family, her friends, and her church.

I always knew she loved me. There was never a moment I could have doubted her love. But I don’t think I totally understood the depth of her love until I became a mother.

Thirty-one years ago, I was proudly displaying my ‘baby bump’ (although I’m not sure we called it that back then) and very anxious to get on with labor and delivery. Walking had become waddling and strangers would look at me with either sympathetic faces or utter shock that I was SO big! My hubby used to tell me he was going to start two new Sunday school classes in the church fellowship hall and use me as the room divider. He’d walk away from me in the produce section at the grocery store, just so he could watch peoples’ faces when I’d turn sideways! You see, I didn’t look pregnant from behind, so I was his entertainment on otherwise boring shopping trips.

After a L O N G labor, and some difficulties, Hannah announced her presence with good lungs! The best part: she didn’t look like Winston Churchill. Most newborn babies look like him, don’t you think? And she had hair! Her father and I were both nearly bald when we came into the world!

Who was this little stranger I finally got to hold in my arms? I couldn’t believe how much I loved this tiny, squirmy baby girl. We’d just been formally introduced! But I knew from that moment – finally – what my mother meant. I was in total and complete love! I would do anything to protect, care for, and nurture this small, sweet child. Yes, I’d die for her if need be.

All of Hannah’s life, I’ve tried to show her, to convey how much love I have for her. It’s immeasurable! It’s overwhelming! To this very day, when I first see her, all I want to do is hug her, kiss her, and tell her how much I love her! She’s the one I gave birth to! Several miscarriages made her an only child. That is something I truly regret, for her sake, because she’d have been a terrific sister!!!

Even though I tried to convey it in every way I knew how, I don’t think she’s ever been able to understand the true depth of her mother’s love.

But now, I think she will…
Hannah gave birth to a little girl a couple of weeks ago, and she was such a trooper! The nurse told me she was amazing during labor and delivery. I’m not surprised. She’s pretty amazing, period!

She and James Andrew have named their daughter Ophelia. Isn’t that a pretty name?

My baby had a baby! And now she’s a mother. Over the years of raising her little girl, I hope she can begin to understand the deep, unchanging love I have for her. There is nothing to compare to this!!!

When Joe and I first went into the room to meet our granddaughter for the first time, I didn't head straight for the baby. Surprised? I wanted to see my daughter...my little girl...and make sure she was okay. And she was. Tired, but okay. And the smile she had on her face brings tears to my eyes as I type this. I'd meet her baby soon, but first I had to love on my baby...this woman who stole my heart 31 years ago.

And my granddaughter? I’m smitten! Over the moon! Totally taken by this beautiful little life!

God has blessed our family in so many ways…and especially now, with this little girl who has already stolen our hearts. Thanks be to God!

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


When Joe and I met in 1974, both of us were ‘dating around’ a bit...not planning on getting serious with anyone. Yet, three months after he asked me out, we were married. Today is our 42nd wedding anniversary! 

Joe keeps telling people, “This is the longest I’ve ever been married!”

I realize over and over that the love I had for him at the beginning pales in comparison to what we have now. And when we were blessed with a daughter, seeing Joe as a father made it greater still...

I could wax on all night about the man. Instead, I’ll just tell you that he brought things out of me I never knew were there. He saw the potential in me that I didn’t know existed!

I sewed basic things from the time I was 14 years old, and got pretty good at basics. But Joe challenged me to try sewing more complicated things by purchasing fabric and a pattern as a gift. I was brave enough to make a blouse with long sleeves, cuffs, buttons and a collar! That was a first for me. I even made buttonholes!

When we were first married, Joe taught me to drive a stick shift! My daddy tried a few years before but became exasperated, walked in the house, threw the keys to my sister and said he’d taught three kids to drive a stick and he was too old to try and teach me. (guess I wasn’t a fast learner...)

In 1978, he encouraged me to try radio! Joe had laryngitis and asked me to interview a visiting minister on the air during the 30 minute program he had at a local radio station. I did it, even though my knees were applauding my bravery! When the guys sent word that they wanted to talk with me about becoming a deejay, I just laughed. But they kept asking and Joe kept encouraging me to try it. I did. And that was the beginning of a career that lasted from 1978 to 2010!

When Hannah was a little girl, I would encourage her to try something new. My favorite quote to her was, “You can do hard things.” Guess Joe helped me realize that a long time ago.

Most of all, Joe has shown me Jesus. His loving, forgiving, and kind spirit blesses me. His joy is consistent! When describing him, I often tell people that what you see is what I get. He's the same wherever he is.

42 years...and I love the adventure we’re living! Happy anniversary to the love of my life...

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Coming soon...

Our daughter and her husband are expecting a baby! They’re very excited about “Peanut.” (That’s the baby’s name for now.) They already know if it’s a boy or girl and are keeping that secret to themselves for now, so Peanut is what we all call this “alien creature inside...” as quoted by my daughter from her blog at http://www.hannahandhusband.com/99-surprised/

If they tell us what names they have chosen, we’d figure out what they’re having and all the mystery would be gone. Personally, I think they’re very smart not to tell anyone what they’re naming their firstborn because people always have opinions about names. When one shares a name that they've chosen and another turns up their nose and tells some horrendous story about a person by that same name, it kind of ruins things. Parents don’t need others to weigh in on the given name, so our kids are using their noggins on this one. (I keep hoping one of them will slip and unintentionally say if it’s a boy or a girl. But they’re calling it an ‘it’ and not giving anyone any satisfaction! Ha!)

Around August 25th their world will never be the same...hence the grandparents’ worlds will never be the same. This is a first for all of us! And that due date is only THREE MONTHS AWAY! The word 'excited' doesn’t begin to describe our feelings!

Hannah and Andrew met in 2003, married in 2006, and just before their tenth anniversary, Peanut will arrive.

Joe and I were married for eleven years before Hannah was born. Everyone kept telling us things like, “Boy, things are gonna change around your house!!” or “You are in for some big changes!” Well, duh! We were married for eleven years and were ready for those changes! And she brought such fun and life into our home! What a joy she is! And now Hannah and James get to find out what joy is coming along! They’re going to be wonderful parents!

Hannah’s mother-in-law, Cindy, said it best when she said this kid is going to rock our world! WooHoo! Bring it on!!!!!

I admit that I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that my baby is going to have a baby. She’s going to be a good mom. All of her life she has exceeded expectations. From the time she was a little girl, I’ve told her over and over again, “you can do hard things” and this time will be no different.

People want to know what our ‘grandparent names’ will be. I have no clue. James called his mother’s father “Poppy” and Hannah called my father “Poppy” so I guess I’m sort of hoping that will be Joe’s name.

Poppy came around by accident. When Hannah was born, I’d call my dad “Papa” for her. She said it a few times, but then it morphed into “Poppy.” He didn’t care what she called him! He loved her so much that it didn’t matter!

I guess the baby will name me. Her parents will likely choose what we’ll be called, but ultimately the kids usually come up with what we’ll be...just like Hannah did with my daddy. It doesn’t matter. I’m so happy at the thought of being a grandmother!!!

I usually write something funny in my blog but this time I haven’t. Instead, I’ll just share this funny with you...

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter Traditions

On facebook, my friend Darlene Glick posted some sweet Easter memories from her growing-up-years and invited others to do the same in her comment section. I responded that I’d have to write a blog posting because of so many different and fun memories. So here we go... 

Typical Easter preparations, excluding egg-coloring (which was a job done on the night before Easter, with Mother using food coloring in our Boontonware teacups). 

Mother made sure there were new hats and dresses for my sister and me, new shoes and socks...and new white gloves. She also made sure we both had fresh curls in our hair, which she usually gave us by way of smelly perms on the Saturday afternoon before we colored eggs in the evening.

I remember going to Sunrise Services in our pajamas, all bundled up in blankets...and it would always be dark when we arrived. Daddy and Mother would let us sit in the back of the station wagon, with the door open...or in the trunk, where we’d listen to the music and the devotional while watching the sunrise on Easter Sunday morning.

When I became a mother, I loved getting Easter baskets ready for Hannah Beth and her daddy. And as she got older, we began a tradition that was a bit unusual. It all came about by accident, when I waited until 9:00 on the eve of Easter to begin making her dress for church the next day. For many years, that’s the way we did it. Hannah would pick out the fabric she wanted and I’d wait until the night before and stay up sewing till it was done. How did I fit it to her? She’d be sound asleep and I’d pull the cover back, lay the dress or skirt over her to mark where the hem should be...then finish the outfit and hang it in her room to surprise her on Easter morning! It was a fun tradition. I kind of miss it...

Now she’s going to be a mother in late August and will be starting fun traditions over the years to come! She’s so creative, I can’t wait to see what she’ll do!

But the most important tradition of all...one that I learned as a child and taught to mine...is to rejoice on Easter morning for the Father who sent the Son who went to a cross and laid in a tomb and then on the third day, arose! He said He would, and He did! Hallelujah!!!

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

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Guest Bedroom at Rivermont

Because of recent speaking engagements I’ve had the opportunity to spend a few nights at Rivermont...the home my daughter and her husband share in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s a great big rambling house with huge rooms and a great history. The place was built around 1904 and has only had a few families make their home there. Hannah and James are currently remodeling the kitchen. (Our son-in-law is not afraid to tackle anything! And he does it all well! Can you tell I’m impressed by him?!?) If you’re interested in knowing more about the Slaughters, visit www.hannahandhusband.com

The furniture in their guest room was purchased in 1963. For a few years, it was in my parents’ bedroom...then it became my furniture! It’s built from a blonde, curly Maple that seems heavy as lead! I stood in front of that tall mirror on the dressing table to check myself out before school, church, dates, proms, etc. That table, bed, and nightstand remained in my room from the time I was a girl, and until I moved away from home. After our daughter was born, and my parents were retiring/downsizing, they gave it to her. Hannah slept in that bed for several years. She recuperated from scoliosis surgery in that bed at the age of 14…even attending classes at her middle school via the computer for three months! She did lots of studying, drawing, reading, talking on the phone, sleeping and dreaming in that bed...just like her mother did so many years before.

And now it’s in the guest room upstairs, ready to welcome the next one who’ll enjoy a wonderful night’s sleep in that bed! Pretty soon, though, it’ll be moved to a guest room downstairs because that room will become a nursery. That’s right. My baby is going to have a baby in late August.

And for a short while, that newborn baby will be sleeping in the cradle where Hannah’s paternal grandmother slept in 1915. Then, it will be sleeping in the oak crib Hannah slept in from 1985 to 1987.

We are beside ourselves with happiness for them...and for us! When they shared the news with us in February, my hubby looked down, patted his rounded belly and said, “I knew something must be going on because I’m already showing!!!”

We’re excited for our children. Wanted to share the news with you, so you could share the joy with us!

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Music is Powerful

Fleetwood Mac songs take me back to sitting across from Joe in a Pizza Hut in Big Stone Gap, Virginia...listening to all their tunes I’d punched into the Juke Box.

The Beach Boys’ music puts me back in McComb, Ohio where my sister and I would spray Sun-In on our hair, slather baby oil on our bodies and climb out my bedroom window onto the roof of the parsonage. The identical transistor radios we got for Christmas one year would be on each side of us so it was like listening in stereo. We’d lay there and cook (literally) till we couldn’t take any more sun, then climb back in with radios still on and dance around for a while as our skin cooled down.

Three Dog Night and Dan Fogelberg songs take me back to living with my sister in a trailer in Wilmore, Kentucky, where I’d stack the albums and listen for hours to the same songs over and over again.

The Carpenters? Well, I was a ‘Karen Carpenter wannabe’ and spent lots of time in my bedroom in Sabina, Ohio - trying to sound just like her. She was a drummer. I was a drummer (not a great one) in band, but had moved on to playing the guitar, so I tried to mimic her when I’d sing and play her songs.

I can hear songs on Sirius XM or on the radio today and tell you what years they were hits simply by going back in my mind to those years. It was a handy trick when I was working in radio and needed to know those sort of details. Now, it’s a handy trick with which to reminisce!

Hymns and sacred songs take me back to special moments, too. “Just As I Am” takes me to the age of 20 and an altar where my daddy knelt in front of me and asked if I was ready to say “yes” to Jesus. I was. And I did. Most recently, I’ve been singing around the house the song, “No One Ever Cared For Me Like Jesus.” You see, the last time I sang that song was in a trio with two special friends, Deb DeFine (left), and Ellen Seymore (center).

We grew up together attending a yearly campmeeting in Ohio. For friends who only saw each other once a year, we were pretty good to pick up right where we left off the last time...and run with it! Much laughter abounded when we three got together! It's in our DNA!

Here are the lyrics to the song:

I would love to tell you what I think of Jesus,

Since I found in Him a friend so strong and true;

I would tell you how He changed my life completely,

He did something that no other friend could do.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,

There's no other friend so kind as He;

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,

O how much He cared for me.

All my life was full of sin when Jesus found me,

All my heart was full of misery and woe;

Jesus placed His strong and loving arms about me,

And He led me in the way I ought to go.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,

There's no other friend so kind as He;

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,

O how much He cared for me.

Ev'ry day He comes to me with new assurance,

More and more I understand His words of love;

But I'll never know just why He came to save me,

Till some day I see His blessed face above.

No one ever cared for me like Jesus,

There's no other friend so kind as He;

No one else could take the sin and darkness from me,

O how much He cared for me.

The words in the 3rd verse are the ones riding heavily on my mind today. That’s because Deb, whose voice is absolutely incredible, is getting to “see His blessed face above” this very day. She drew her last breath this morning just before 10:00, but her beautiful voice wasn't silenced. In fact, Deb is now blessing Jesus with her voice in total praise!

She hadn’t been sick long and this disease took her from us too quickly. When we talked on the phone last week for a bit, she asked me to pray with her before we said goodbye. I’m so thankful for those moments now! The song will now take me back to sweet memories of a dear friendship that’s lasted more than 50 years! I’ll bet my sister, Vangie, was waiting close by when Deb came through the gates...arms outstretched with a “Hi, Honeeeeeeey” for our buddy! She left too soon, as well. They’ll have lots of catching up to do.

Music is powerful.
Let music take you places...
Let music remind you...
Let music heal you…that's what it's doing for me today.

With every blog, I close with this challenge: If you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!