Monday, January 23, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Snow-day Traditions


It's a four-letter word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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