Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Some days our cups just "runneth over." We follow our normal routine, and before we know it we end up with a healthy dose of laughter, drama, tragedy, stress, work, joy or trouble all over our lap like the lady who sued McDonald's had her scalding coffee. We think that we are just having a ho-hum existence and then BAM! we are looking for something to help mop up the excess.

Some of these incidents are fairly benign. These are along the lines of the stress caused by hitting every red light on the way to somewhere we don't really want to go in the first place (ie. work) and we start filling our cups. We scream words that we certainly wouldn't quote in front of our mothers at people who we assume are idiots. I know this because anyone who is not doing what I want them to do...is surely an idiot. I think that's fairly universal judging by some of the silent yelling I see through car windows from time to time.

Other days, I get a phone call with good news...a compliment...my kids hug me for no reason...and Big Dave has supper cooked and on the table. Those are the kind of cup runneth over days that I am most fond of if the truth be told.

I have also had days where I have felt incredibly blessed to just be alive. Where I wake up to coffee prepared just like I like it in a mug by my bed, a sunrise that is awesome, and it is Saturday. I turn on the television and watch SEC football all day in my pajamas. Every team I root for wins...and we have a delicious steak dinner to top it off. By the way...that's my idea of a perfect day...

Other times, I am glad just to be part of an experience that is amazing. I am invited to a dazzling wedding. I'm looking at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with my children. I am sitting on the front row of "Mamma Mia" on Broadway. I hold seven tiny puppies just minutes after Dixie becomes a Mom.

Today, my cup runneth over with frustration, nervousness and bad humor. I tried desperately to keep the contents in the cup, but weeks of holding it in, and days of striving to work through it all proved to be too much. So, I lost it. And sadly, once a bitter cup spills...it's quite a deluge.

I've been so lucky in my life. I've gotten to do all of the things that I wanted to do. Maybe not as often as I'd like...as in travel...or as well as I'd like. But my cup has been quite full. Sometimes I forget that I've supersized my cups, as my life has changed...and traded up from a shot glass to the Big Gulp. And yet it still overflows sometimes...both positively and negatively.

So, the next time you are sitting in traffic bemoaning your lot, remember that you have somewhere to go...and the means to go there. You have people counting on you to provide or you have dreams that you are still chasing. There are friends and family who love you and to whom you matter. You still have trails to blaze, books to read, and people to meet. If you are still here...you still have a purpose...and that purpose is an incredible gift.

Look at the cups you have in your cabinet. If they are like mine...some are souvenirs of places you've been, some show what team or what causes you support, and others have your name on them...or are just your favorites. All are different sizes...made of different materials...are different colors or have different functions. And each of these has the capacity to overflow. The trick is to keep the liquid in the glass...or if you can't...you choose a bigger cup. Perhaps the cups run over because we need to learn some moderation or we need to share. All I know is that if we ignore the limits of the cup...we'll have a mess to clean up somewhere along the way.

So, tomorrow...if you find a bitter cup running over...give it to God...share it. I should have done that today...but I didn't. I would have been happier had I done what I know I am instructed to do. But sometimes we are so stubborn!

If you have a cup of joy...share it with others. Making people laugh or sharing of your bounty is one of the most rewarding things that God allows us to do. He owns it all anyway...but He allows us to share by giving us more than we need.

If you have a cup of busyness...know your limits and let it pass by you a few times to keep it all in balance. After all, it is hard to catch the overflow from a cup of joy when you are busy mopping up after the abundance of an overwhelmed schedule and a to do list that extends beyond the limits of your patience.

Today, my cup ran over. And it wasn't pretty. But tomorrow is another day. God gently reminded me that I failed to walk my talk today. I bowed up like a cornered skunk, and the results where about as appealing. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a day where I can share a smile, some joy, or a pearl of wisdom. That's the kind of overflow I can definitely appreciate...and I find that others do as well. Here's hoping...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dark Day

In Montgomery, AL...we lost a child today. I know his parents...having been Sunday School classmates and fellow church members for many years. We were never close, but we were acquaintances...those people that you know of and smile and speak to...but you don't socialize with or normally travel in the same circles.

A year or so ago, their children began attending the same school that son attends and Jill graduated from in 2008. A small Christian school affiliated with a local Presbyterian church with class sizes ranging from 70-80 students...meaning that approximately 975 students attend there in any given year from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The boy was a football player, and seemed to have everything going for him in this life. At least that's the way that most people viewed it. He had two sisters...one older and one younger. He lived in a nice neighborhood, was taken to church, and had friends. Beyond that...there are few things that I know.

Except that he is no longer with us. He was 13.

Today, youth ministers and counselors spoke to children who were given a lot of support but very little in the way of details. There have been no fewer than three prayer and worship services planned today. Everyone is terrified. This is not supposed to happen. How do you speak to Christian kids at a Christian school about the spiritual ramifications of suicide? (Answer? You don't. You explain that the child has died, but you do not explain how. You leave that to the parents.) How do you explain to children awash in angst, drama, and hormonal surges that life is what it is...a struggle? How to you give hope when you can't provide answers?

Well, on a dark day, you are left with little choice but to shine a light.

Today, I sat down with my 17 year old son. I clearly state that I know what a blessing that is. Today, I am not as concerned with the current state of his room (abysmal), his grades (could be better) or the length of his hair (a little too long for my liking) as I am with the state of his heart...and his mind.

My boy has been through some trials in the past 24 months. On Halloween 2007, he was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. Two hospitalizations, two rounds of steroids, and a ton of daily preventatives later...he has put on 45 pounds of weight and six inches of height. He is still shorter than he wants to be and looks younger than he'd like...but he's making progress.

He has experienced pain, rejection of some friends, and even had a girlfriend during the summer. He has been...a teenaged boy. But it hasn't always been easy. Kids can be cruel. Girls can be unkind. Bodies don't always cooperate. That's life. Sometimes we have to accept that we won't get our way...so we can savor those times when we actually have things roll our way...and then some.

It has always been part of the plan that he would graduate from high school, go to college, get a job, and one day marry. At least that has been part of MY plan for him. I just wanted to make sure that a good future...in whatever form it eventually takes...was part of his plans too.

So, I sat in front of my son today and told him how proud I am of how smart, strong, and awesome he is. I had the chance to hug him and tell him no fewer than a dozen times just how much I love him. He already knew...but I wanted him to hear it again today. As we sat there, he tried to figure out what could possibly have gone so wrong. Why we are without a young man today and why his family is dealing with heart-ripping grief.

Suicide is one of those subjects that we don't like to broach with our children because we don't want to introduce the idea. We like to think that we will read the signs and will surely intervene should we suspect a downward spiral. We cannot wrap our minds around the idea that one of our family members would be in so much pain that it would escape our notice. We pride ourselves on staying involved and knowing what is going on. The truth? None of us are mind-readers, and nobody's logic exactly matches our own. We need to remember that our children are a part of us...but they are not us. They do not have our experiences, capabilities or capacities. That's why they have us...to intervene and to teach.

As I was talking to my son, he told me that perhaps a glimmer of light could be seen through this darkness. He said that perhaps hundreds of families in our town will be having conversations much like the one he and I had today. There may have been many children on the edge whose lives will be saved today because parents spoke the truth in love. He wants to believe that there is something that God will use to give a glimmer of hope. That's how God wired him. And that in turn gives me hope.

If you are young...remember that hearts are tender and not always strong enough to withstand abuse, meanness, or careless words. Some are...but others may take what you say as the complete truth. Remember to speak words of kindness to each other...and about each other. Words are like swords at your age.

If you are a parent...remember to cherish your children and try to remember that being a teenager isn't as easy as we tend to remember it. The stress is tremendous. The competition is fierce. The temptations are beyond comprehension. Breakups that we as adults see as "one of many"...are intense and sometimes charged with other complications that we do not fully understand. Family issues seem to be the end of the world to them...because in their world...if there are issues with their family...it rocks all that they've been taught. They don't think ahead...because they are not yet trained to do so...beyond obtaining a driver's license, graduating, or heading off to college.

Today was a dark day. It was difficult to focus. I was feeling the pain of loss of a child in a family across town. I was living the loss of control that every parent feels when the kids are out of sight. But more than that...I was feeling the loss of innocence of many children today. Children whose parents have to speak words of truth to them in response to this tragedy...or choose to miss a powerful teachable moment.

So, please pray for the family. A part of the body of Christ is in agony tonight. We all feel that pain. But shine the light of truth on this subject with those God has placed in your life. Hug the little souls that are in your care tightly tonight. And pray that if nothing else...my son is right...and by having this subject brought up in conversation...perhaps other tragedies...and the resulting pain...will be avoided.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

True Confessions

Note: I sent this to my scrapbooking ladies tonight. I am putting it out here because it is part of the "diary" of my life. I do not mean to bore anyone with these details. This is just how I am coping with the stress of the anticipation of what is coming up next week. Nothing major...unless you are a big wuss like me. Here it is...

Just so you know…

I am having my gall bladder out on Wednesday. Dr. Duncan McRae is the surgeon. He is also fixing an umbilical hernia at the same time. So, I guess the best part of this is that I will no longer have that “I’m a Butterball turkey and I’m done” feeling around my navel. And just in time for Thanksgiving, too.

I am not one of those people who likes to discuss illness. Telling you all about this is equivalent to me marching in a parade somewhere as I feel it is drawing attention to me. That is the only real issue that I have with the gay community. I understand the push for rights, and do NOT mean to minimize that. But frankly…I don’t want to know who you are having sex with. I don't want to know who ANYONE is having sex with except me (and of course...Big Dave...but I promise not to share it with you so you won't have to chant "dead possum dead possum dead possum" to get that particular image out of your head). Who does what with whom is none of my business...much like me making this YOUR business. It just seems weird. Granted, I also get freaked out about viewing excessive cleavage, public displays of affection, big girls wearing bikinis, and don't need to know who poor Jennifer Aniston is dating, Oprah’s current weight and the rehab tribulations of troubled celebrities. I honestly wish everyone would keep certain things to themselves. So, I'm telling you this because one of you says I have to.

I have found that this mindset of "don't ask...don't tell" puts me in the minority. Most people want to know the details of what is being done so that it can be discussed in Sunday School. My school of thought has always been…if I can send you a card or food…isn’t that better for all parties involved? Do I need to know the number of stitches or how many times you threw up in recovery?

Besides…I live a gazillion miles out of town and it is highly inconvenient to be nice to me…if you even want to be. If I don’t make it through the surgery…someone will call you with the funeral arrangements. If you hear nothing…assume that I am fine. If I can crawl to the computer…I’ll be on Facebook. That’s for dang sure.

Illness or surgery makes me have to answer questions…like…

How are you feeling? (Most commonly response historically given: Fine, thanks. The truth? I feel like I am living scenes from the movie “Alien” on certain days.)

What brought this on? (A lifetime of fast food, two pregnancies, and these darn genes. The thought of going through another trip to the emergency room like I did last month was enough for me to agree to have this thing yanked out.)

Is there anything I can do to help? (Yes, please send food, prayers, and cards if you are so led. My mother, who loves me, will see that I am cared for. She hates to cook, clean, or do anything remotely domestic, though. She is a whiz at reheating and plating. If you don’t want to send food…that’s great…but don’t feel like you have to. If you are really ambitious…send Merry Maids. My mother-in-law may also come. This means that I need to label my cabinets this weekend in anticipation for this since my kitchen cabinets were apparently set up by drunken monkeys as she can never find anything in them. At least that’s been our experience every Thanksgiving.)

Do you want visitors? (Do you really WANT to visit? Wouldn’t you rather dust your ceiling fans or watch Nascar?)

How long will you be out? (I’m leaving that one to my doctor. I will probably be back at work within the week as it is supposed to be done laparoscopically. I fear that word is misspelled but I’m not looking it up.)

May I put you on my prayer list? (If it involves people that I don’t know outside of the Montgomery area…fine. If it involves me having to deal with various congregational care ministers, answer questions in the atrium at church, or forces me to receive numerous telephone calls…then change my name and request prayer. I would like for YOU to pray for me, though.)

How do you feel about this? (I’ve been in active denial until today. I was forced to admit it when fifteen people asked me if I was coming to Homecoming at Troy and the truth is “if I feel like I can” which is completely unknown to me right now.)

You seem upset. Why is that? (I don’t like hassles. Any surgery and recovery is by definition…a hassle. I also feel like it is retribution for not taking care of myself and that makes me mad at me. I fear that someone will actually verbalize this to me, and I’ll end up in a ward, on a news clip, or in a cell somewhere. I sincerely hope that this will not be the case…but I can see where it could happen. I’m just not able to handle people who might say something like…”well, I hope that you’ll start taking better care of yourself now…” or something equally brainless. I seem to attract that kind of thing, and I tend to bristle at being told something like that. What they don’t know is that I’m already so hard on myself, that anything they say to correct my behavior only ticks me off. Friends don’t lecture friends…unless they’re asked for input.)

What are your biggest fears about this…I mean, it’s routine, right? (I hate waking up from anesthesia. I prefer it to NOT waking up…granted…but the stuff that they liberally use to coat the tube they apparently shove down my throat seems to gel and then I deal with a medicinal taste for days after the surgery. Thinking about it now makes me gag. I also fear anyone seeing my bedroom in its current condition…although it is far better than it was…and how I know my hair is going to look during the recuperative period. In short, ick, OMG, and egad.)

Is Big Dave a lot of help? (Big Dave is male. He will make sure that I am fed, reasonably comfortable and covered up. He will provide no entertainment, will not sit with me, and will find something far more fun to do like mow the lawn, clean out the pool, or put out ant poison.)

So, there you have it. My big confession. Hope that I have answered your questions…but if not…feel free to call the house. Nobody answers it. EVER. Then you can say that you called…and I won’t know if you did or didn’t. A win-win, yes? I will also not judge, resent, hate, or think less of you if I do not hear from you next week. I promise. But if you send cards, food, or most importantly…a prayer up on my behalf…I’ll be most appreciative.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


As a child growing up in Thomaston, Georgia, I was called by one name at home...and another name everywhere else. My name is Karen. It is pronounced "care-in" (my name at home) as opposed to "kay-run" (my name everywhere else). I wasn't alone in this alteration of my name as every Gary, Sarah, and Mary suffered the same trauma. I arrived in Alabama in 1983 and was called by my name...and so I've stayed...for that and other reasons (of course!)

In 1989, names were on my mind when I was expecting our daughter, Jill. I had all of the requisite books including "What To Expect When You're Expecting" (an original title if I've ever heard one...NOT) and a whole host of baby name books. I took the naming of our daughter seriously after growing up being called by a name my mother didn't name me.

Big Dave's only request was that it be easy to spell. Bless his heart.

I didn't want her to have the same name as eight of her classmates. There is nothing wrong with this...but I just felt led to steer clear of names that I kept hearing every time I asked my pregnant friends ahead of me what names they were entertaining. I liked the name Kayla...after my sweet friend...but ran into a couple of people that were using it...thanks to "Days of Our Lives" having a popular character by that name.

I then compiled a short list of names and ran them by the grandmothers. Needless to say, having a mother who knows a lot of people and a mother in law who taught a lot of people meant that one or the other knew someone by whatever name it was and put in a "it's your baby...BUT" vote.

The first one was Samantha. My mother's logic was interesting. Elizabeth Montgomery's character on "Bewitched" was named Samantha. Elizabeth Montgomery played Lizzie Borden. She associated the name Samantha with Lizzie Borden. Plus, she also knew that they'd call her Sam.

Then I tried Amanda. My mother-in-law had taught no fewer than twelve little girls named Amanda and thought that it was just too much in use...thus going against my desire for a name that was not overused.

I asked if they thought Rebecca would work. My mother-in-law said that they would shorten it to Becky, Becca, or Beck, and my mother said it was forever associated with New York to her.

The name Jamie was suggested, but it met the same fate as Amanda with my mother-in-law. My mother didn't like names that ended with "i", "y" or "ie." Whatever.

I then threw the name Jill out there. My only concern was that it was too short with the last name Mixon. My mother-in-law reminded me that my father-in-law's name is Bill. Yeah...I'd forgotten that.

Before I leave this...I'd like to go on record that my mother wanted to name her Eden Brooke. Eden. Let's just roll that one around the old brain awhile. Mom had been watching a soap opera that she was enamored with...and thought that it would be the perfect name for her first granddaughter. No offense meant if this is your name...or the name of someone that you love...but to me? It sounds like the winner of the National Pole Dancing Federation dance-off. I think NOT.

I did give her the Brooke part, though...which was part of Mom's maiden name.

I tried every combination of family names to come up with something that would work...but it would have left someone out in the cold. My mother-in-law's middle name was supposed to be Jean like my Mom's...but her father changed it to Ann at the last minute. So, I was left with a lot of possibilities...but only one name that everyone liked.


Except that Jill didn't go with Brooke. Enter the baby name book. In it I saw Gillian (with the soft "G" like "George") and I went "aha!" I'll change it to Jillian and so Jillian Brooke Mixon was named!

And then I took the easy way out two years later and named Brian after his Dad. No drama there. No...that came later...as I've struggled to keep their records straight ever since. One is David B. Mixon and the other is D. Brian Mixon. The insurance people think that they are both David Mixon. Egad.

Anyway, I smile sometimes when I see a nametag with a name that I wonder about on it. Names that I have to ask how to pronounce. And to those mothers...they probably thought that those names suited their little precious ones just perfectly.

I love the names that both of my children have. I give kudos to my mother-in-law for naming my second one, and to my mother for helping me name the first.

And I've even found that being called "kay-run" isn't the worst thing in the world. Now? It sounds like Georgia to me. Later!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


This morning, I just realized that I am missing one of my friends on Facebook. Whether that person is a he or a she is irrelevant, so I will use the pronouns interchangably. For the past several days, I have missed the commentary that I normally see, but because s/he travels a lot, I really didn't think much about it. S/he has given me a different perspective sometimes, and I have appreciated those insights. But we are very different people. Almost as opposite as two people can be...with the only common bonds being that we've lived in both Alabama and Georgia and that we were once classmates.

I think that sometimes those differences make it difficult to relate, but I had always believed myself tolerant. I do not always understand the motivations that other people have in the relationship, spiritual, or political realms, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I don't appreciate their wonderful qualities. Truth be told...I have very few things in common with some of the members of my own family. But I love them...and our shared history more than bridges any differences we have...at least in my heart.

Being raised in the South means that we take our relationships seriously. I am not saying that people in the North do not, but I cannot speak to that experience. I do know that my Northern cousins are far better at maintaining family ties than their Southern cousins have ever been, and I have a friend who I met through work who returned to the North who has kept in touch with me...and I treasure that.

So, my Southern sensibilities are telling me that I have apparently been "myself" to such an extent that my friend has chosen to sever the relationship because s/he does not feel me to be supportive. Sadly, I both understand and respect that. But, I will miss the friendship.

I know that we often take people in our lives for granted. We believe that we will tend to that relationship someday, and we get on our hamster wheels and run and run trying to provide for our families and pay our bills. And then something happens. A tearful telephone call comes, a loved one begins to suffer the devastating effects of dementia, or we receive the test results and hear the words..."I'm so sorry."

I hope that being who I am is worthy of tolerance. I have tried to live the past 25 years of my life seeking to understand and being slow to judge. I personally believe that all of us are in a constant state of growth, and that some of us just figure it out far later than others. So, we have to cut each other some slack, and try to focus on our common bonds instead of our differences...real or perceived.

I already miss my friend. I hope to reconnect at a later time, but even if we don't...I am glad for the insights that s/he gave me and wish only the best for her/him in the future. I also hope that if confronted with a similar decision...that I will remember that we are all works in progress...and act accordingly. You never know if it will be your words of wisdom one day that will make the difference in someone's life...or if the reverse will be true. So, keep those people who have entered your life for one reason or another in good standing if at all possible. Love what you can, and overlook what you must. Be yourself, and realize that people who are completely different from you may be in your life to give you a different perspective to smooth out some rough edges...or strengthen your resolve. Either way, the value is unmistakable.


I am from time to time...on my better days...when I am not too tired, too overwhelmed or too lazy...a list maker. I will pull out a sheet of paper and transfer the thoughts that are as impatient as a class of first graders on "show and tell" day from my brain onto the sheet. It may be a short list of groceries needed, things to do, or items to research. But whatever it is...a coping mechanism, organizational tool or evidence of my type "A" personality...it is my version of Linus' security blanket.

Yesterday, I realized that this tendency has been transferred to the next generation. I was a bit surprised by this as I firmly believed that it would skip a generation. My grandmother? A list maker. My mother? Not so much. Both brilliant women...but two women with completely different ways of dealing with the world. But, on my e-mail yesterday afternoon was a Christmas list from my daughter. The date? October 20th.

I may not have taught my daughter everything that she will need to be successful in life, but one thing I have taught her is to think ahead. I refused to assist on assignments that were brought to me last minute. Any help or proofreading of assigned schoolwork had to be brought to me at least two days before it was due. This same applied to any friends of hers who wanted something looked over. Over the years, we ended up with various kids in high school and college who needed assistance with writing a term paper or an essay for class. In fact, one of them stayed in town for his freshman year of college and ended up out here a lot...which helped me deal with her being gone a bit easier. And other than one teacher, who changed part of the assignment for a term paper three days before it was due, I only spent one night in her academic career up late...and primarily because there were four of them out here...all desperate. I don't blame the kids for being disorganized as much so as that particular teacher.

So, thinking ahead has apparently become normal for her, and yesterday, that thinking ahead translated into the list I received. I won't say that this ability is completely consistent yet...but I do believe that eventually...it will be.

There are people I know who hold what would translate to a Ph.D. in list making. I see them in the grocery stores all of the time. These are also the people who are in the grocery store with matching clothing and makeup on. At work, they have the latest Franklin-Covey planner or electronic version of such mapping out their time. These people are capable of managing their daughter's perfect wedding, volunteering 20 hours a week, and taking care of older family members without blinking. These are the people who will call you for an R.S.V.P. if you are too uncouth to bother to pick up a phone, are the ones that manage the lists of volunteers because it truly is no hardship to them, and are not easily deterred. I am not a member of this tribe.

There's another group on the other end of the spectrum that is doing well if they remember somebody's birthday, think to put the garbage can at the curb on pickup day, and also manage to take a shower all in one day. Lists might be made, but that will be the last time that they are actually read. These people keep Blockbuster in business paying late fees on movies that they don't recall renting but must have...because the cases are in the floorboard of their cars. The DVD is missing because it is still in the DVD player...but whatever. A trip to WalMart will net a bag of frozen chicken, three new lipsticks, a box of Fruity Pebbles and a pack of Dentyne. Never mind that the original purpose of the trip was to purchase toilet paper. This will not be remembered until the individual finds herself stranded on the toilet later in the day sans paper...and will then go..."oh, yeah..."

I am somewhere in the middle. I have found that the lists make my brain shut up so that I can actually be somewhat productive. I will write the grocery list, the things I need to accomplish when I get off from work (since my brain shuts off temporarily between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. every day before it revs back up for the night shift), and upcoming holidays or birthdays before I forget. I do keep a calendar on my desk at work, so I normally remember doctor and hair appointments or if I am supposed to be somewhere at some point in time.

Yesterday, I wrote a list of things I wanted to write about. It took me ten minutes. However, had I not done this, I would have wasted the entire day writing a line or two of each in my head and then willing myself to remember it. This is the equivalent of having your computer get loaded down with pop up ads. You'll be trying to pull up some information, and you'll get an invitation to try Netflix for free. To counteract this, I just stop and put it all on paper and then attempt to move on. Sometimes, it actually works.

I suppose that there are many kinds of lists that people make...grocery lists, Christmas lists, or enemies lists. I know that for some of us, we have lists of wrongs done by others that we review from time to time to keep the pain fresh and raw. I have seen evidence of this from the lips of friends or family or by reading comments other people make on Facebook.

We all have our lists of changes that we would like to make, people we would like to find from our past, and dreams that we have for the future. But I think that the most important list is the one in the Book of Life. And hopefully, our name is on it.

My daughter's Christmas list gave her the opportunity to put items that she would like to have in a format that makes it possible for both of us to remember the current desires of her heart. There are items that range from a couple of DVD movies that she would like to own to a new coat. All appear to be worthy and within the realm of reality. The days of "a new baby sister" and later on "a new car" have been replaced by a practical offering from which to try to channel our limited resources devoted to gift giving this Christmas. Plus, her birthday is in January...so anything we miss for Christmas we will hopefully be able to pick up at the after-Christmas sales.

As you go through the next week...try to think of the many lists that are either composed in your head or on paper. Think about easing up a bit if you are the type that is agitated if someone adds a sponteneity challenge to your schedule. If you are organizationally challenged...take some time to write down what you hope to accomplish and then put it somewhere you are likely to find it again...like on the refrigerator or pinned to your jacket (just don't wash the jacket unless you remove the list first...been there...done that.) Later!

Monday, October 19, 2009


A couple of days ago, my son bought a new mountain bike. It was marked down considerably below what he had expected to pay, and was extremely excited that he would be able to hold on to more of his cash. Don't we all love a bargain?

It got me to thinking, though, about how much money we spend out of our budgets on toys. A mountain bike is not a bad purchase...it is a means for him to enjoy time with friends, get exercise, and spend time outside. This is good, right?

With unemployment high, and with the economy so uncertain...I have been trimming the budget and thinking of what all we can do without. Other than the massive $17 a month I was spending on Netflix, it has been a little bit tough.

Eating out was the first to go...but then I realized that if you save money there but don't rein in your Costco addiction or grocery store trips...it is for naught. I was up to a once a week Costco habit that was costing about $75 a trip. I brought home a lot of interesting foods to try (and in bulk, naturally) because I'm a sucker for whatever they are sampling. The chicken, fish, and frozen foods are generally very good. But sometimes I get drawn in. The bizarre salad dressing (that I still have virtually unused in the refrigerator...along with its cousin in the pantry)...not so big of a bargain after all.

We don't drive new cars. Our oldest vehicle is my sister's old car...a 1991 Mazda Miata. Our newest is a 2006 Chevy Equinox that Jill drives...and we just bought it last May. We own no golf carts, go carts, motorcycles, minibikes, or anything other than a riding lawnmower. Granted, it is a pretty awesome lawnmower, but it is Big Dave's...and I can't even drive it. Not because I don't want to...but because it has a weird steering mechanism instead of a wheel like our old one.

Our money does not go to decorating. We love our home, but Martha Stewart? I am not. I have curtains in the kids' bedrooms. There are no other window treatments other than wooden blinds on any of the windows. Our house has hardwood floors...but we have no rugs. Okay, we DO have two $5 rugs that I snagged at Target on the clearance rack that were originally red and are now pink. Our furniture is primarily from the families...and that is fine by us. I love having pieces that were once enjoyed by people that I didn't even know...or those that I loved very much.

Vacation? We spend our time primarily at home. We do go to the beach for a few days every summer...but we have not paid more than $100 as it is a family-owned venue. We went to Cabo San Lucas in 2006 because David's company (at the time) paid for it. We also went to Europe in 2006 (a big travel year...obviously) and blew the travel budget to smithereens...for YEARS.

Last December (2008), we went to New York for three days...and in May 2009, we visited family in Pennsylvania. We just don't go on vacation a lot. Our kids went to Disney World for two days on our way to a family reunion in St. Augustine. There were no character breakfasts or monorail rides. In fact, we didn't even get out of the Magic Kingdom...but we had a great time just the same.

Football tickets are also not in our budget. We would love it if they were...but they aren't. We don't belong to any balls in town...or even do much entertaining at all. We don't have a lake house, beach house, mountain house, or time share. We do have a utility house out back...but we just purchased that. We also have a pool...but we haven't invested heavily in patio furniture, pool toys, or a cabana. I had an idea that I'd love to jazz up the outside a bit, but putting gravel in the driveway seems far more practical to me...and so it goes.

I will admit to being a little addicted to scrapbooking, photography, and books. But these seem mighty small in light of the fact that I don't get my nails done, I shop for clothes only when it is absolutely necessary, and I am completely lacking the "I must have cute shoes" gene.

I honestly do not believe that having toys is wrong. Buying toys are part of what brings us joy in this life. It is temporary joy...agreed...but it is what makes Christmas morning so much fun. In fact, Jill will probably be on Oprah one day lamenting the fact that we never bought her a pink Barbie car that she could ride in when she was five.

But I think I may have just inadvertently stumbled on why we may have so much fun with toys. We like the short term joy for ourselves...but we love even more watching the eyes of other people light up...especially children...or when we find the perfect gift for someone.

A lot of people are downsizing and finding that the toys that were charming, wonderful, and fun are now payments that have to be made on items that are nearly impossible to liquidate. It is also possible that the standard of living that we have known for the past twenty years or so will not be achieved again for a long time. There are so many unknowns right now...that it is easy to put off buying anything out of fear. I think that it is prudent to be careful...but don't let the fear of what might happen steal your joy.

Perhaps due to the days we are experiencing now...we will put more stock in the relationships we have instead of our possessions. We will remember to invest in people instead of in things that will rust, decay, and fade away. Memories of laughter and time spent together instead of huge displays of materialism gone wild will hopefully mark our holidays. I sincerely hope so.

If you have a lot of toys and can afford to have them...good for you! But me? I'm happy with the simple pleasures that I have been blessed with in abundance. And with the exception of that Barbie car, possibly...I'd be willing to bet that one day...my kids will feel that way too.

It is often said that "the best things in life are free." And to some extent, I suppose that's true. But every once in awhile...it is good to have a desire of your heart...a trip...a new puppy...or a new (or new to you) car. Sharing your joy with others...free tickets for someone to a game you cannot attend...the gift of a well maintained toy to someone younger who will enjoy it...or inviting guests to a weekend away in a place of beauty is extremely rewarding.

I hope that I am enjoying the good things that God has given me and have been able to keep the "toys" that I have in perepective. Although I would sometimes like to have more than enough...I find that in many ways...I already do. I have more people in my life and activities that bring me joy to keep me fully occupied...which is a bigger blessing than anything money can buy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


After seeing the temperature in the high 80s and low 90s for the past few weeks, I awoke this morning to brisk weather. I love the word "brisk" because it is one of those words that everyone understands, so it isn't a fancy one. Lipton used to state that their tea was "brisk" but I don't know if I buy that entirely. I mean, I DO buy Lipton tea...but the descriptor? Not so much.

A Fall day that is cool is brisk, as is a walk that is peppy and quick. We can take a brisk walk around the block to see the changing leaves and feel the cool wind upon our face. We can tune in to the unmistakable aroma of a neighbor building the first fire of the season. Quite blissful.

On brisk mornings as a freshman in college, I would walk down the steps to the mailbox from the freshman dorm and be nearly overwhelmed with the scent of tea olives wafting in the air. The fountain would be directly in front of me, and the other dorm buildings were in sight. I am sure that Wesleyan has changed a lot since 1981, but I can still feel the brisk air of a Macon, Georgia morning. I have tea olives in my backyard now...and that scent takes me back.

A couple of years later, I would trek across the Troy State campus at 4:00 in the afternoon to go to the dining hall. Any later, and you'd be walking back in total darkness after the clock reverted back from daylight savings time. I would pass the pecan trees on my way from Pace Hall and Shackleford Hall and pass the art building to my left...which at the time looked like the proverbial red-haired stepchild of buildings on campus. It was leveled to make way for a big new administration building a few years ago, but I can still see it in my mind's eye as it was. I took Visual Arts in that building, and learned that my proficiency in this realm was well below average. I could pick out the Impressionists...so it quickly became my favorite type of art...and still is.

Still later, I would participate in the Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day walks in October 2000 and 2001 in Atlanta. I walked with women (and men) who thought that raising awareness and money for the cause was extremely important...as did I (it still is.) I remember the cool Fall air, the relief when a port-a-potty was sighted, and how much time I had to be alone with my own thoughts over the three days. I walked 60 miles (52 the first year) and felt like I had actually accomplished something grand. Sleeping in the tents wrapped in a cocoon of a mylar blanket was not exactly the Hilton, but it certainly wasn't bad. Never mind that it was 27 degrees in the tent. I actually think sub-zero temperatures pass the "brisk" category straight into "downright cold" but whatever.

Several years ago, I started attending high school football games again, and loved watching a team from the childrens' school become state champions. Several of those boys went on to play college football...and others graduated with my daughter. I watched an old boyfriend of hers play every game his senior year, and I enjoyed sitting with my girlfriends with a blanket on our laps laughing and talking about everything and nothing on a brisk evening. I sincerely miss those days.

But this morning, I am seeing a day that is not the bright blue one would expect from a brisk Fall day, but one that is gray and a little ominous. So, on days like this, I just close my eyes and remember all of the happy times from Fall of the past. The trick-or-treating, high school band halftime shows, riding relatively safe things at the fair, and the feeling that all is right in the world...or at least not scary.

Go outside today...and breathe deeply. Let the cool air remind you that the seasons are constant and changing. Remember that God is in control of all of this...so enjoy the show of the changing leaves, the scents of Fall in the air, and the sound of college football on the television or radio (or if you are lucky...from the stadium).

As for me...I think I might just take a brisk walk for a few minutes. I need to get the old blood pumping before I vegetate my Saturday away watching the SEC. Later!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Great...I've been tagged...

Can you fill this out without lying? You've been tagged, so now you need to answer all the questions HONESTLY. At the end, choose at least 8 people to be tagged. Don't forget to tag me!

To do this, copy this entire message, then go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, delete my answers, and type yours. Easy!

Next, tag 8 people (in the right hand corner of the app). Click publish (at the bottom). Have fun! :)

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth? PB&J half sandwich

2.Where was your profile picture taken? New York City, NY

3.Can you play Guitar Hero? No, but I know all the songs.

4.Name someone who made you laugh today? John Candy

5.How late did you stay up last night and why?- Ten thirty as that is normal.

6.If you could move somewhere else, would you? No, but I would travel.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? No...I'm too enamored with watching them for all that.

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you on your FB list? I have no idea. Several live in Montgomery.

9. Do you believe exes can be friends? Why would you want to?

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? He's been relegated to my "when I was younger I..." group.

11. When was the last time you cried really hard? A couple of weeks ago.

12. Who took your profile picture? My aunt.

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of? Jill and her sorority sister, Brittney.

14. Was yesterday better than today? About the same.

15. Can you live a day without TV? Yes. Computer? NO.

16. Are you upset about anything? Yes, but it is trivial, childish, and I'll get over it.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?-Relationships are the basis of life. The Bible is a book about relationships.

18. Are you a bad influence? I have been, but I don't recommend it. I've spent a lot of time making up for that.

19. Night out or night in? Night in. I'm a homebody that likes to travel. Leave it to me to be an enigma.

20. What items could you not go without during the day? That would be coffee, cell phone, and food.

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?- My mother.

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say? "Hey, when you get home download "Mama's Song" by Carrie Underwood. You're going to LOVE it. Don't forget!!" (from my daughter Jill)

23. How do you feel about your life right now? I like who I am...am trying to lighten up (literally) and wish that I had more money...but whatever.

24. Do you hate anyone? Other than people with the political power at present? No.

25. If we were to look in your Facebook inbox, what would we find? A discussion about sororities, dieting, and activities from the ladies of the Class of 1981.

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass? Yes. Bring it.

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before? That would be NO. I have had someone say that something I've done, said or written was perfect for them at a certain time/place...which is more than enough for me.

28. What song is stuck in your head? "Times Like These" by Foo Fighters

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m. "Big Dave! Someone's knocking on the window!"

30.Wanna have grandkids before you’re 50? No. But 55? Yes.

31. Name something you have to do tomorrow. Pay my AMEX bill online and transfer money from one account to the other to pay bills.

32. Do you think too much or too little? I'm a thinker...so the former.

33. Do you smile a lot? On my own time? Yes. At work? Not so much...too busy.

Bonus Round...

34. How many hours a day do you spend on the computer? Three at a minimum. But before you tell me that I spend too much time on the computer...bear in mind that this includes writing, bill paying, and checking up on the shenanigans the current administration is up to every day.

35. If you could be anyone else for a day, who would you be? Someone thin, relatively happy, and in shape.

36. Facebook or Twitter? - Facebook

37. Chicken or Beef? - Beef

38. Mac or PC?-PC

39. Have you ever punched anyone in the face? What kind of question is that? I'd like to punch whoever thought that question up in the face.

40. Have you ever been punched in the face? No, but I probably should have been a few times.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Lottery

Some days...do you not just wish you could just wake up (when you want to), not clean anything (because you have a staff for that) and take your limitless Visa card with you and go out to play (because you have more money than you could ever spend)? Oh! Don't we all want to just have one day like this? Or a month?

What would you do if you won the lottery? Would you quit your job? Hire a cook? Move? I used to think about this from time to time...before I realized that the likelihood of this happening is about the same as me being named Miss America or winning the Tour de France.

I think the only part of this that I would truly embrace is that worrying about jobs and bills and maintenance would be rendered impotent. Having very little to worry about would totally rock. I know that it says in Philippians 4:6 that we are not to worry about anything. But you know...I'm human and sometimes I slip. I now view Fridays with suspicion instead of with glee after watching people be released from service on Fridays. I breathe a sigh of relief every payday as I ratchet two weeks closer to my childrens' tuition being ultimately paid. I've figured out that if I survive another year on the job, then the worst case scenario? Student loans. That is just incredibly sad.

I'm young (relatively speaking)! I shouldn't be worried about keeping the status quo when my faith tells me that anything that is removed from my life is to make room for something better...or to bring me closer to God. I should be making plans and thinking positively, and believing that life is grand. Because it is.

But if I was independently wealthy...I think of all of the nice things I would like to do for other people...finish redecorating the chapter room at Troy, pay all of the debts of my immediate family, support some favorite ministries and charities and even get a new car. But then I realize how much I'm blessed.

I think what is wrong with a lot of people is that they have had things made a little too easy for them. While it would be great to "bless" my children with all that their hearts desire, it is not in their best interest. So it is with God. He does not want to cut his butterfly out of the cocoon...forever stunting its ability to fly.

Sometimes, we are given struggles to allow us to build spiritual muscle. We are given trials so that we will finally quit living in our own strength. We find ourselves in situations where we have to overcome impossible odds...because in doing so we deepen our faith. We just don't like it when we are in the middle of this particular process.

So, tomorrow morning, I will roll out of bed and go to work. I'll grumble, and I'll wish to be Paris Hilton for about fifteen minutes, and then I'll go to my kitchen. My husband and son will be there...along with coffee (thankfully) and enough food to get me through the day. My daughter is getting a college education at the school of her choice. Everyone is healthy. I'll then get into my old Honda Accord and will leave the house that Big Dave and I designed on a napkin in 2001. My sweet dogs will follow me outside to see me off. The sun may be rising over the pond...or there may be birds in my backyard. I'll pass the horses in the big field on the left and the cows on the right. I'll pass other people who are headed to their jobs. Jobs that either make things or offer services that we barely notice as we go about our lives.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that I am tired of wishing for life to get better. I'm tired of waiting for a cosmic signal that everything is okay...and it is time to breathe easy and relax. That day is coming...but it isn't going to happen on this sphere. And that's really okay with me. Because on that day...I will win something that makes the lottery seem like pocket change...and it will be something that noone can ever take away from me. And that is enough to keep me moving forward. Later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Junk Mail

Although the economy is currently not performing well...an understatement if there ever was one...that hasn't stopped the flow of junk mail from entering my mailbox. The U.S. Postal Service may be in dire straits, but if everyone is getting the volume of mail that I am...I can't see how.

Just yesterday, I received not one but TWO Vera Bradley "Home for the Holidays" full color 43 page catalogs. It even has paperdolls in the middle. This is apparently because I do not get enough information from the daily e-mail that I receive from them. Yeah, okay.

Here's an ad from Stein-Mart. Ooh, a coupon for 20% off any one item! That might come in handy...but it isn't good until the 18th...so I'll either try to use it before then and get angry when they won't take it...or I will go into the store on the 19th. If I had a dollar for every time I misread a coupon...

This notice from the church with upcoming mission trip opportunities for the Youth Department looks interesting. Kenya for $2,700, Domincan Republic for $1,800, or Texas for $400. TEXAS? Why aren't kids in Texas handling Texas?

Ah, there are two privacy notices here...must be notice season again. I always get fired up thinking I'm getting mail, but then I realize that it is just a stack of privacy notices. Kind of reminds me of each spring when I get the annual reports of the companies I own stock in (the 401-k...don't be jealous). Oh, but here's an invitation to dinner to discuss my retirement account at a local country club. Catch...catch...OH...they suggest that "people who have $250,000+ in their investment portfolios (retirement or 401k) typically get the most out of working with us." Really? After last year, you have how many clients and that many fewer prospects? Guess we'll be skipping that one.

There's also an application for the "9th Annual Turkey Burner" a 5K run and one mile fun run/walk. While I appreciate that this was sent to my daughter (or current resident), I won't be doing any turkey burning except for any calories that I expend while cooking Thanksgiving Dinner.

Here's a plea from a local charity, my daily credit card offer from one of two relentless banks that have sent me no fewer than 150 requests for a card (and don't tell me to stop them...I enjoy watching the trends), and an ad from Lowe's. There are three bank statements, one rebate check (for $6...score!) and the Reader's Digest. (I adore Reader's Digest...have since I was a kid...)

I think about all of the jobs that exist to create the ads that I so thoughtlessly toss aside, the advertising budgets that bring me these shopping opportunities, and the various events that are constantly ongoing. The economy may be sour...but somebody's working...

But in all of this mail...there is one piece that I have yet to open...and that is my church commitment card for 2010. It is important for many reasons. Not only does the church know what I plan to do financially...but what I am going to do to help keep the ministries operating as well.

This has always been tricky for me. I have never found my niche with regard to church service...unlike Big Dave. He has been cooking breakfast on first Sunday for the past fifteen years, donates blood (6 gallons and counting), and drives the parking lot shuttle. He is called upon to help with special events (food service related) and he has also taught four year old Sunday school, driven a van for youth trips, and done numerous other jobs that needed doing.

Me? I was a facilitator for a group of 9th grade girls (I had to ban the use of the word "weed" as it was all they talked about), I did some other various jobs within the Youth Department, I brought snacks to the Contemporary Worship Service band, and I signed up to help with the "Apples of Gold" program...and became an "apple" instead of a "mentor". I have no idea which box to check this year. I'm thinking of throwing darts but I'd probably hit the nursery or something random like signing up for a medical mission trip to Haiti (I can think of no person less qualified to handle either of these).

Anyway, I will admit that in my world junk mail is better than no mail at all. I've been a mail fiend since I was a little girl, and I LOVE getting a handwritten note. Rebate checks are definitely my second favorite.

So, I'll figure out how to deal with my junk mail...and maybe I'll even flip through one of my Vera Bradley or LL Bean Catalogs. You never know...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Being An Idiot

In case you haven't figured it out by now...I am an idiot. I am married to a man (and I'm a woman), I am a Christian (including sending my children to private Christian school), and I'm a conservative. Yes! I'm absolutely out of my mind.

I think that Sarah Palin speaks for me. I haven't had a candidate since Ronald Reagan who has. I like the fact that she is smart and capable and makes sense when she speaks (without a teleprompter). I know! Can you believe it? I have an MBA from a local college (Auburn University Montgomery) and a Bachelor of Science degree from Troy University (aka "Troy State.") Granted, these degrees aren't from Princeton or Harvard or Berkeley, but I did graduate. I'd like to think that I learned how to think things through, can express myself, and that I know enough to be a functioning member of society. Apparently that stops at being able to judge who makes sense and who doesn't. Who knew?

I am reminded frequently that because I am not enamored with our current President for reasons that have to do with his advisors and his policies...that I'm an idiot. Really? I think that people who support the President without recognizing what his policies (and those of the Democratic-controlled Congress) are making us less free as a people must be the brilliant ones. Many of these people are too busy to be bothered with details like reading and studying history because they are counting on NBC to lay it all out there for them. Only an idiot would want to form his or her own opinion.

I'm an idiot...but I do recognize that Barack Obama is a black man. He is also a white man. And yet he is the President of all Americans. So, I'm apparently naive for not really caring what package he is wrapped in after the initial historical significance. But because I disagree with him...it must be because he's black...or because I am an idiot.

Did I mention that I watch Fox News? Yeah, that is another strike for me I suppose. I mean...heaven forbid that we actually point out both sides of an issue. I've been accused repeatedly of not knowing the facts. Really? I beg to differ. Whose facts? Liberals'? Is that the reason that I am an idiot? With regard to Fox, I just happen to know that the ONLY place that shows anywhere close to both sides of an issue...is Fox News. NOT the commentators...like Hannity...he's totally skewed...but you know what? We know where he stands. Shocking! But Shepard Smith? Really? The guy is a Democrat. But he's a newscaster...so he presents BOTH SIDES.

By the way, were you aware that the President refuses to do anything with Fox? Guess that being the number one news network means nothing. But we're (of course) crazy (or just anti-Obama) for watching. I suppose that he thinks that it is classy to just refuse to show up...and to constantly denegrate the network in the gazillion speeches and appearances he insists on making every flipping day of my life. My happiest week? When he was on vacation at Martha's Vineyard. But remember...I'm an idiot...so I can't tell the difference between the facts and what I see on Fox News. I mean...facts are facts. And facts show us that only facts that prove that Obama is correct are the only ones I should be paying attention to. Or so I'm told...

I am also crazy because I believe in God, take what the Bible says literally, and don't rewrite it to suit myself. That apparently makes me an idiot. I should be figuring out how I want to live my life...and then figure out a way to make the verses fit my situation. That's intelligent, right? And I'm supposed to be perfect...because I'm a Christian...and not suffer from any human weakness...because if I do...I'm a hypocrite (as well as an idiot). Other people, however, are free to do whatever they want to do, and I am not supposed to say, do, or think anything but embrace their choices...because that's what Jesus would do. Ah, we're back to verse interpretation again.

I listen to Rush Limbaugh. I don't agree with everything he says...but I do agree with a lot of it. I suppose that is because I'm an idiot. What I find is that the people who think that Rush is a horrible divisive person...are the same ones who tune in for five minutes, are offended, and never hear him out. Sometimes he says things that are obviously using his very dry sense of humor. At face value, I suppose I can see why it seems that he is wrong. But this man was not enamored with Bush, McCain, and is certainly not impressed with Obama. He's a conservative...and believes in limited national government. Frankly, I like the fact that he is true to his principles. I know it is idiotic to do that...but whatever.

I tend to not want big government...so I am an idiot. I felt like the people in New Orleans who did not get out as Hurricane Katrina crashed in and ended up at the SuperDome experienced something horrific. Ironically, the current Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal (a conservative)managed to get people evacuated when a big storm (that thankfully did not come to fruition) was forecast. The governor during Katrina...was waiting on the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT to act. Really? Oh, and kudos to Haley Barbour (a conservative) who was the governor of Mississippi during Katrina...and whose citizens had devastation as well...managed to get his people helped without whining on national television and blaming Bush. Because only an idiot would find anything positive that George W. Bush ever did. Aids relief in Africa? Nope. THAT certainly doesn't count...not to the people who call me an idiot.

I am told that I need the government to tell me how to live my life...because there are people even more idiotic than I am who can't manage to figure out how to pull it together. So, I am forced to supplement them...because it is the right thing to do. And why shouldn't it be? The people judging me don't see that the place that should be serving needs is the church. But, wait, I forgot...I'm an idiot for going to church...so we need the government to make us all do the right thing. That makes total sense!

Being an idiot also means that I live in the South, I pay my bills, I want my children to become productive citizens, and I like rock music rather than something sophisticated and artistically relevant. I'm far too idiotic to have any taste, class, or sense. I am apparently in true need of reform. My tastes and preferences are mainstream...and mainstream is just a synonym for "wrong" and "uncultured."

Sadly...I know no other way. I see no other alternative. I try to remain open-minded...but I'm told all of the time how wrong I am. Over time, I am left with two alternatives to explain it...everyone telling me I'm an idiot is actually an idiot...or I am. I am right...but I'm told by the left that right is wrong. Guess time will tell.

And just for the record...I am not an idiot. I'm just sick of being told that I am...and thought I'd just get it out of my system here. Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 12, 2009


About a week or so ago, I turned down my first dance. The very sweet son of a friend asked me to dance at a wedding, and I said "no." I know...so bad. Like anyone was watching anyway. It was nearly dark...about half of the wedding guests had been served a cocktail or two (not me...which also explained my hesitation), and I was among friends. But I just couldn't get past what I perceived I would look like shaking it out there. Picture Chris Farley in a dress...and that's pretty close to what I felt like.

As a very little girl, I would dance on the feet of the men in my family to songs like Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" or something playing on Lawrence Welk. I started dancing lessons at age three...primarily to run down some of the extreme energy I was blessed with (and my mother was thereby cursed with). I twirled in front of the television so much that I would block everyone's view. I finally took it outside when I was in the third grade after exasperating my grandmother beyond belief and just turned cartwheels in the grass or went around and around until I was dizzy. This might also explain why I grew up feeling like I got on everybody's nerves. Precisely because I DID.

In grammar school (now known as elemenary school), my friends and I learned the robot and flung ourselves around to songs like "Kung Fu Fighting" at various spend the night parties. School dances started shortly thereafter...such as they were. When Saturday Night Fever came out, I practiced endlessly...too young for a disco, and too uncoordinated to brave much of it in public. But hey, as for calorie burning...it was a half decent workout. Plus, the music was good. I still hear "Disco Inferno" and have to fight the urge to move.

In college, at the SandTrap Lounge in Macon, GA, we could dance with the regulars and had a good time on the dance floor. We weren't especially talented...but we had a great time. At Troy, I danced from time to time at a swap or in the dreaded Modern Dance class (I was particularly heinous at this style of dance).

I did not dance at my wedding. Our reception was at the Fellowship Hall of the church...and we did not have a deejay or live band. As a married person, I have not had much occasion to dance. Big Dave is many wonderful things...but he is NOT a dancer. So, I'm not only rusty...I'm impossibly rusty.

In my mind, I am able to dance and enjoy myself...and not look like a lunatic doing it. I am able to cut loose and have fun. As I've gotten heavier, I've also gotten more self-conscious. I hope to change that...on both counts.

So, if you see me dancing down an aisle at the local Publix, or while I am doing housework or filing...it is because I figure...hey...why not? I never move if there's a big crowd around...because people would laugh...hysterically. But, it's good exercise, and I'm celebrating the fact that I can still move fairly freely. But to do it other than solo? Well, that's a little harder to do!

I remember my grandmother moving everytime that music would come on in her house. She loved to dance. I don't remember my mother dancing much growing up...but I do know that she is fairly addicted to "Dancing With the Stars" now. The women in our family appear to marry men who do not dance...which is a bit sad. My daughter is not much of a dancer either. She goes to dances and talks. But at my nephew's wedding in 2007, she and her cousin got out on the dance floor and she just laughed and smiled and had a wonderful time. I hope and pray that whoever she ends up is a good dancer and will get her out there more. I don't want her to miss that.

If you have the opportunity to dance...dance. I hope that I'll be asked again someday...and if I am...I hope that I won't embarrass myself too much if I say yes...or embarrass someone else if I say no. But if I do choose to dance...I know I'll look more like a frog in a blender...with no offense meant to frogs...or blenders...than a graceful dancer. Just the same...it is my opinion that we are all born to dance.

Jill and Big Dave are taking a ballroom dance class or two at Christmas. She took the Cotillion program when she was in junior high, and knows enough to manage dancing with her Dad. She never got into the whole "booty dancing" thing (thankfully)...so I think that her comfort zone is the slow dance. Frankly, at my age...it may be mine as well.

As was said in a popular song a few years ago..."I Hope You Dance"...there's something freeing about dance that connects us with something outside of ourselves. It is active and joyful and even biblical in the Psalms. Dancing is a way to connect with others...through movement...by way of music. Can we forget Heather Whitestone of Alabama when competing for the Miss America title dancing although hearing impaired? There is a particular beauty to dance that awes us or inspires us.

And if you want something totally hilarious...look for "History of Dance" on YouTube. I laugh every time I see it.

But as for me...I just want to reconnect with the younger me who loved moving to music. The girl who had fun with her friends dancing around and laughing. The college girl who moved to Rick James and The Gap Band. I'd like to find her again...


There are days when I would love to be bored. I'd love to have absolutely nothing to do. Nothing. No housework that was undone, no unpaid bills, no filing, no correspondence, and no sleep deficit. I'd love to have nothing to worry about, nobody wanting anything, and everything under control. Yeah, right.

This past week, I was under the weather. I felt horrible. Sinuses felt like someone lit a candle in them, coughs and sneezes made me miserable, and my head felt like I had been clubbing without the associated good time preceding it. I'm still not 100% - but do feel tremendously better than I did. Did work stop during this? Well, no. Of course not. And we moved from our office of five years to one of the branches. The five filing cabinets are in total disarray. The moving people actually broke one of them...in addition to three other very expensive fire resistant cabinets as well. Will I be bored at work tomorrow? Hardly. Tomorrow is Tuesday, but it is also Monday and Tuesday because we didn't work today. I have to have the file situation somewhat corrected because we have people coming to use the board room...which is the current repository for all of the files. Great! (Not.)

This weekend I spent Saturday on the couch watching football with my daughter and one of her sorority sisters. All day Saturday on the couch. Heaven. But was I bored? Absolutely not! Who can be bored with SEC football games playing?

But sometimes, I'd just like to be bored. To have everything taken care of so that I can unwind a bit. It is during the times when I am not overrun with the "have-tos" that the "maybe I can..." part of me comes alive. It has been a long time since I've thought of the possibilities of life...because I've been dealing with what I must do...rather than what I want to do. I even want to get past what I want to do...and into what I might want to do. As an adult...that just doesn't happen very often.

I listen to teenagers speak of being bored and I laugh. I remember being bored...I truly do. But, now that I have the means to do many things that I want to do...I just don't have the free time. My time is sold in the marketplace and to the possessions we've acquired throughout adulthood. Want to be a homeowner? You have to clean and maintain it...or hire someone to do so. Cars? They require servicing and cleaning. Children? Bleacher time, enrichment, and a whole lot of maintenance and love. Love for kids is spelled T-I-M-E or so I'm told.

So, those who are at a point in their lives where they can be bored...be glad. Use that time to dream, take the burden off someone else, or just enjoy your time to yourself. Don't fight it...consider it a gift.

As for me, I am hoping for a little boredom every now and again. I look forward to just smelling the roses (or tea olives in my case right now) and dreaming a bit. I realize that the busyness of life is highly overrated. I love a slower pace. And the luxury of being bored would mean that I have taken care of business to such a point that I am only left with time to dream. Sounds good to me.


In every city and every town, little girls are born into loving families. They are watched as they twirl and giggle by proud parents who are completely sure that no other little girl on earth is as beautiful, smart, clever, or talented as their little one. She starts out in pink and lace, and remains their fairy princess.

Sometimes the mothers see their little girls as extensions of themselves. She exceeds their expectations...so they attempt to make sure that her every wish is granted. Birthday parties that not only celebrate, but are events. Gifts are not only to express love, but to impress.

So, the little girl grows up to believe that in her little world, she is the center. She smiles, and mountains move. She is supported, dolled up, and doted on. She asks...and she expects to receive.

As she grows up, her view of how it all works changes to that of a giant pie. She begins to understand that she is not the only princess in the world. She knows the slice that she can claim of the pie, and she figures out a strategy to gain a bigger piece.

Her beauty, talent, personality, family standing, intelligence, belief system, and choices determine the size of the slice of a "pie" that seems to be finite and so incredibly delicious that she cannot relinquish a sliver of it to anyone else. She is told that her high school years are important...and so she battles to keep her position.

These battles are fierce, and any mother of a girl is familiar with the fallout. A girl is beautiful...so rumors are made up about her choices or words she allegedly spoke. A girl has a lively personality, and instantly becomes known as a "flirt." Another is intelligent, so she is considered "weird." Any advantage that any girl has must be leveled, toppled, or skewed. Never mind whether the charge is true or not. It just chips away at her perceived bigger piece of the "pie"...in the hopes that it will soon be available for the masses to fight over.

Once graduation occurs, the realization hits that there are a lot of "pies" and an endless supply of other girls vying for a slice. There are talent "pies" and beauty "pies." Some pies are considered better than others. The beauty pie? Very popular. The responsible pie? Not as many in line. So the girls begin doing an inventory of where they stand among their peers. Some have more expendable income, nicer cars, or more permissive parents. Others have the right boyfriend, the right sorority, and the right friends. All of the wonderful qualities that the parents express pride about seem to pale in comparison...as the girls view it anyway. To them, finding true friends and escaping the "drama" that exists in abundance in the kingdom of Female seems endlessly hopeless.

Every once in a while, a girl will just throw in her slice of the "pie" and walk away from the game. She will stay on the sidelines with others who observe or simply ignore the power grabs, games, and backstabbing. As time goes on...more join her on the sidelines. And those who have been burned by the fire or knew early not to stay in the game...generally become the truly phenomenal women that end up changing the world as we know it.

It is especially heinous to watch the "pie" grab within circles or friends or within a sorority house. To see girls who should be watching each other's backs trying to stab a knife into it instead...is incredibly troubling. These girls...often with no self-respect...do all women a disservice by acting juvenile. It is even worse when it is mothers that are playing this game of knocking other young girls down...simply to elevate their daughters.

So what can be done?

Well, life is wonderful...but it isn't perfect. We all want the best for ourselves, and are disappointed when our hopes and dreams do not pan out the way that we hope. As mothers, we want this even more so for our daughters. We want them to be seen by the world as we see them...as those beautiful, perfect little princesses.

But the truth is...they need to understand that life is not easy...or fair. They need to see the beauty of life, and the ugliness that sometimes sets out to attempt to destroy it. They need to realize that most of what motivates attacks on others is fear.

Conversely, they cannot be allowed to be thrown to the ground because they are underprepared for the battle. Girls need to understand to look beyond the behavior to what motivates it. All women have to figure out their own unique strengths and gifts. They also need to know that over time...the tables turn.

The beautiful girl may never learn to develop her personality...or may use her outward beauty to reflect a kind and thoughtful soul. The intelligent girl may learn to trust herself only, or could end up with a better quality of life that enables her to pursue important dreams. The inwardly beautiful girl may bring a host of people to the foot of the cross or may be content to remain quietly in the background. The talented girl may end up inspiring others with her gifts or simply use that talent to earn a living. What we are given is half of who we are. What we do with it...is the other half.

So, as you watch your little ones mature from precious girls to productive women...teach them that what others think of them is none of their business...but to always be aware of the perceptions of others if they are in questionable territory. Teach them that the "pie" concept is an illusion...and that tearing others down will certainly not build them up. Teach them to be the friend that they would like to have, to give other people the benefit of the doubt, and to understand that the whole story isn't written yet. Make sure that they know that some of us simply grow up at different rates. The girls that they might not like today...might be the women who are their best friends tomorrow.

But above all...remind them that they are princesses...not just as girls...but as women. They are daughters of the King...and it just isn't any clearer than that. In view of that...let them twirl, wear pink, and giggle. After all...it is our birthright! Later!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


The walls of my home are yellow. Actually, the official color is "Oriental Silk" but that tells you absolutely nothing. Yellow seemed a natural color to paint our home since I grew up in a home that favored yellow. The kitchen was yellow...and my bedroom and bath were as well. The trim on the house? Yellow. I suppose that as a result, I equate the color yellow with home.

I have always liked yellow...but it was not one of those colors that I gave a great deal of thought. It is the color of school buses, blonde hair, American cheese, and cake mix. It is one of those colors that is not masculine or feminine...and seems to belong to all of us. Yellow is the color taken to a baby shower when we are unsure of the gender. It is wrapped around trees in anticipation of the return home of someone in service or missing from our lives.

Yellow is the color of lemons and grapefruits, of golden delicious apples, and bananas. It is the color of the leaves in the Fall, the daffodils in spring, and fresh corn on the cob in summer. It is a color that is alive and abundant in nature. It is familiar to us...but does not overpower. It is also rarely one that people list as a favorite...it is that understated.

It is the color of the roses that are my mother's favorite...and every time I see a yellow rose, I think of her and smile. Yellow is the color that we - as children - colored the sun. A half circle with lines extending from it protruding from a corner of the paper. It is warm and inviting, and if I recall correctly...doesn't show up as well as I wanted it to on the paper.

Yellow is the color assigned to fear...of being afraid. It seems unfair to me as it is such a quiet color most of the time. Other times, it is vibrant and neon and odd. It ranges from pale in hue to harvest gold and alerts us to information that we may find helpful on street signs. It is the center color on a stoplight...between stop and go. It is a color that cautions us to pay attention.

To me, though, yellow is the color of constancy and home. It is the color that has seemed most welcoming to me. It is the color that complemented the pink in my wedding decorations, and the bottom of the pieces of candy corn. It is always present, but does not stand in line to be seen first.

Yellow...beautiful and complementary...while also primary and vibrant. The color mixed with blue to achieve green and with red to make orange. Strong enough to stand alone...but also strong enough to not necessarily need to.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Being Sick

Today...like many people all over the country...I am sick. Not sick and tired, or chronically ill, or even mentally ill (although my children might beg to differ)...I'm just not well. It started two days ago as a sore throat and stuffy nose...which has turned to sneezing and coughing and just general malaise.

I have sick days available for use, but I am also in need of those sick days later in the month. I have vacation days, but the whole mental health thing might come into question if I don't get to use those at Christmas.

Am I alone in this? I make a pledge to take better care of myself through improved diet and exercise...and then I get sick. So not fair.

But sometimes we just have to take care of ourselves. We have to pack it in, let it go, and just endure it. We must treat ourselves as kindly as we would treat a child, friend, spouse or parent if they were sick and we were offering care. Easier said than done, however.

I am finding that many women do not take care of themselves adequately because they - pardon me for using a banking term but - overdraw their reserves. We believe that this makes us better women and mothers...but in truth...it makes us less capable to do what we are called to do because we are exhausted...or sick. Plus, it tends to make us into martyrs. In my experience, martrys do not end up particularly well. And me? I want to finish strong.

So, I'm going to see how it goes tonight and tomorrow. If I am sick...I'm going to stay home and rest. If I can make it...then that will be great. If I need to go to the doctor...I'm going. I just know that today should have been spent in bed rather than at my desk. That was a mistake that I do not intend to repeat.

If you are one of those people who feels that you are irreplaceable...know that this is really just an illusion...with one notable exception. You are unique to your family and friends, granted...but you are special to God. He sometimes allows us to have down times so that our bodies and our spirits will rest. He has a plan for us that we sometimes are to busy to hear or follow in our own strength. So, our strength is sapped...and we start to slow down. In the slow moments, we can hear the very quiet voice.

Here's to having a rested spirit and a non-achy body in the near future. Hope it's tomorrow. Seriously.


There comes a point in our lives when we find it nearly impossible to miss the fact that we are getting older. Perhaps it is the fact that our children are graduating, getting married, or having children of their own. Maybe our eyesight is making it impossible to read things close up, or our ears to hear exactly what is being said.

And we think to ourselves..."what is up with this?"

When I was a child, I wanted to grow up. When I was a teenager, I couldn't wait to figure out what I would do, who I would marry, and where I would live. I spent so much time looking forward to whatever the next goal was, that I completely moved through my teens, twenties and thirties at warp speed. Those pictures that I didn't take of myself because I didn't like the way I looked...are lost opportunities. The ones that my grandmother and mother forced me to take are treasures now. I wish that there was additional evidence of my younger self. But when you are self-conscious and young...you think that everyone is more perfect than you are. So you get behind the camera instead of in front of it. You tell yourself that happiness will begin once you lose weight, get to travel, or get a promotion at work.

If you are young and are reading this...know that this hamster wheel is all a big crock. Quit running, exit the wheel, and live your life. Oh! And let the family take lots of pictures. Lots of pictures. You'll be glad that you did one day.

Last night, I went back to the gym with the intention of getting on the treadmill and listening to Foo Fighters for 30 minutes while trying to avoid hyperventilating. I had been building up my endurance to 20 minutes and was going to go for the gusto of 30 minutes instead. Never mind that I was suffering from allergies, had moved offices all day, and was not in the proper frame of mind. I fought myself to get to that parking lot, and forced myself out of the car. I walked in the door...just in time for the step aerobics class.

In case you are not familiar with the concept of a step aerobics class, let me give you a basic primer. The concept is that you are to travel up and down the step (which can be adjusted by placing little risers underneath) doing different dance moves to music. There is normally someone who is in shape leading the class and shouting out encouragements such as "good job" or "stay at it" that keep you from passing out after 20 minutes of said activity.

So, last night, I hop into the class...my first in about a year...and I somehow will my legs to obey. Imagine strapping on some ankle weights and trying to walk. Difficult, yes? Okay, now imagine strapping on twenty ankle weights, and this is what my lower body was experiencing last night. Spastic does not begin to cover it.

My "football run" looked more like a MeeMaw on a walker, but you know what? I did it. I survived the class, and I didn't quit. I did draw the line at hanging off the exercise ball and doing side crunches during the "abs" workout part because I was afraid I'd slip off and wouldn't be able to get back up. Other than that...I did it. I would have stayed for the yoga class, but the last time I did that, I ended up in the emergency room the following morning...so...I'm not that brave yet. I know that it was a coincidence, but I still haven't forgotten.

I have learned that I have a long way to go. But instead of hiding out and acting like the weight will magically disappear or refusing to be photographed, attend reunions, or go to social occasions, I'm going to try to embrace it as I shrink back to somewhere in the normal range. I mean...I'm certainly not growing younger each day...and I'd like to see this stage of my life documented as well. One day, I'll look back at my skin with a tinge of envy. I'll remember hair that I could let remain blonde. Because it is all a matter of perspective.

So, if you are not happy with the way you look right now...allow people to photograph you anyway. One day, you will be thinking how wonderful you looked at this stage in your life. Or even if you don't...you'll know what was...and it will be okay.

I hope that I make my goal of being able to look nice by next July. I have no magic number in my head. I'm going for "the best that I can do" and leaving it at that. Whatever happens...it will not be for lack of trying...and it has been awhile since I felt like I had my mindset right. In the meantime, if you want to laugh hysterically, please feel free to join me anytime for aerobics. I'd be laughing at me if I wasn't focused so hard on trying to breathe.

The truth is...everything is a matter of perspective. My daughter sees a girl being mean to her by trying to latch onto every young man she is interested in...and she thinks that there is something wrong with HER. Nope. I had to explain to her the concepts of insecurity and jealousy and how some little girls only feel better about themselves by knocking other girls down. A young mother sees herself as out of shape and not the girl she was. Although she knows that she has been blessed, she cannot forget the size on the jeans in the closet. Then someone explains to her that the beauty she has is still evident...and she begins to embrace her new shape as that of a woman...and mother.

Sometimes the perspective works in reverse...such as a mother who competes with her daughters for attention in a "cougar-like" fashion, or feels that repeat surgeries are required to fix, replace or repair what the ebb and flow of time has caused to be. I'm not a big fan of these, but I'm also not a fan of getting new boobs for graduation. But that's just me. I think that you need to be satisfied with the basic framework and do what you need to do to enhance...but not replace...what God gave you to work with in the first place.

I hope that the next few weeks will eventually become easier...that the hunger will stay under control and the exercise will be steady and eventually not only tolerable...but actually fun. Life is a journey...and I'd just like to travel a little lighter. My spirits are already that way. Later!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Throwing It Into Reverse

For most of us, if we have been driving any length of time, we learned a few basic rules...one of which was about throwing it into reverse. This is just simply not done unless you wish to risk your transmission and general health of your vehicle.

But with human beings, there are certain times in our lives that we simply have to throw it into reverse. Maybe we are on a path that is leading nowhere, we are stuck in a habit that we need to break, or we have a life altering event that changes the landscape for us.

And as painful as the sound of the gears grinding is...the risk of damage is far less than the risk of continuing on the road we are on. Risking our health, sanity and relationships seems to be a small price to pay sometimes for what we perceive is a big payoff somewhere down the road. This just isn't always the case.

Several years ago, I started a job that meant that I had to work an excessive number of hours to learn it. My children were small and went to bed early...so I would go home and then head back to the office once they were asleep. I managed on six hours of sleep a night...or less. Later, I was able to leave there and take a job that turned out to be even more lethal for me. After five years, I left for a better place, and life has improved dramatically as a result. Other than a hiatus of nearly a year in another dead end situation, I have been happy to merge the best of the job with my natural love of writing into a job that I enjoy most days. It had gotten to a point where a toxic situation meant that I had to shift it in reverse. I have never looked back...not fondly, anyway.

Over the past six months, I have felt more and more trapped by the decision that I had inadvertently made to not take care of myself. By not losing weight, I felt it impossible to accept invitations to attend balls, formals, or weddings. I simply did not have anything to wear, and could not justify the expense for an item that I detested the way I looked while wearing. So, I refused to attend and made excuses. I took lovely invitations to wonderful events lightly...and now I realize how much I've missed in my refusal to just pull myself together. Going to the theater became an issue because I didn't like how tight the seats were relative to a movie theater. Getting into the car meant that I would bump or bruise something at least weekly...including my hip where the seatbelt end would stab me. Every weight gain brought more limitations...and as resourceful as I pride myself on being...there are just limits to what one can actually do to fool oneself into denial.

The problem was...I found out that the more I gave up trying...the more limitations I experienced. Body parts began to ache. Anxiety in social situations became more pronounced. Feeling too embarrassed to go to the gym should have been an "aha" moment, but alas...no.

So, I am throwing it into reverse. Weight Watchers will not work for me right now because I have already been trained to their system. I KNOW what I am supposed to do. I do not need a support group. What I need is to want change more than I want to eat. I think we're there...

After giving up bathing suits, shorts, going to the theater, sitting if the chairs look frail, eating in public unless among friends, exercise classes, money eating out (that could be used for something better), wearing clothes that make me feel pretty, high heels, shirts that aren't tunics, dresses other than sheaths, dancing, bleachers of any kind, excessive walking, and dreams of travel, I think that I'm ready to do a 180 degree turn.

This is not a new mindset to me, unfortunately. The difference - this time - is that I have a reason to lose the weight. It is because I want a better quality of life. I don't expect to look like Halle Berry...I never looked like her in the first place. I just want to be the best ME I am capable of being on this side of heaven.

Yes, today the gears are grinding (stomach is growling) and the turn seems awkward (me on a bicycle...don't laugh)...but it is me trying to undo some of what I have done. This is all I have to work with...and it is time that I did a major overhaul on the external. I do believe that you can spend so much time focusing on the "inner person" that you occasionally need to shift that focus to what people see on their way to getting to know you. I also don't think that's shallow.

So, over the next few weeks, I will be trying to exercise more and eat less. I'll be drinking more water and spending less money on fast food. I'll be sleeping more and stressing less. At least...that's the plan. Say a prayer...wish me well...and keep me motivated. Later!

The Wedding

This weekend, I had one of those rare privileges normally relegated to close relatives or the wedding party. I attended the rehearsal dinner and wedding of a close friend's son to a phenomenal young woman. From this experience, I formed some impressions that I hope I can adequately share here.

Weddings have become more common in my life now...after a drought of years. Beginning with the wedding of my nephew on 7-07-2007, I have also attended the weddings of my two maternal cousins since that time. Another nephew just proposed to a fabulous girl...and we will be attending that wedding next May. Over the years, I have viewed weddings as wonderful and exciting culminations of whirlwind courtships or sweet stories. These were normally reserved for young people far older than my children. I am beginning to realize that this is quickly changing.

The bride and groom both graduated in the Class of 2001 from the same K-12 school that my children attend...or in Jill's case...attended. The graduating class had approximately 70 people in it, which meant that everyone knew everyone else. They did not date in high school and went to college in different states. Their contacts were intermittant and the spark between them was not evident to anyone...even themselves. He was her date to her debutante presentation when they were twenty years old. Otherwise, the threads of their lives would cross from time to time as they lived separate lives in different cities. The details of exactly how everything transpired is a bit fuzzy to me because I remember details of the past year that may or may not be pertinent. The bottom line is...he pursued...she accepted...which is the most important detail after all.

The rehearsal dinner was held on the 21st floor of one of (if not the) tallest buildings in downtown Montgomery. The weather was perfect - in spite of three rain-soaked weekends preceding this one. The afternoon before the rehearsal dinner was spent busily assembling flowers and getting equipment to work and arranging placecards and candles. Just before the guests arrived, the 149 candles were lit (yes, I counted while left alone there for an hour enjoying the beauty and the view of downtown Montgomery instead of going home and relinquishing my parking space) and I made friends with one of the servers, who was probably one of the most helpful and hardworking young men I've seen. I listened to the squeak of him hand wiping the stems of the glassware although I was on the other side of the divider caught up in my own thoughts. The noise finally got my attention and I walked around to see what it was. Nobody was watching him...and I wasn't the host...so I found this to be more a testimony to his work ethic than anything he could gain by impressing me with his diligence.

The flowers for the evening were white roses and lilies combined with magnolia leaves and greenery. The arrangements were gorgeous and so appropriate with the black napkins, dimmed lights, and the room flooded with candlelight. The God-given talents of a small but determined and efficient group of friends combined to transform the space into an amazing combination of bridal elegance with a masculine air. On the table in the center of the room was a photo of the bride and groom when he escorted her to that debutante ball...their official "first date."

The food was delicious...the company was upbeat and the night quickly moved along from pictures and appetizers through dinner and dessert and on to the standard rehearsal dinner toasts.

The first was from the bride's sister. Her sister...separated by less than two years in age...and her best friend. The sister who was in virtually every picture of the bride in the rehearsal dinner video because they were inseparable. Her love for her sister and the emotion of those feelings spilled out in words of gratitude for their relationship and deep respect for her sister's qualities and goodness. Her brother followed with words that also showed the close relationship that the family has as well as his impressions.

For the next thirty minutes or so, different parties stood and toasted the bride and groom...the brothers, parents, and grandfather of the groom, and then other bridesmaids and groomsmen. And then the father of the bride rose to speak.

I'd like to stop right here, because this particular speech made an incredible impression on me. He had written notes...and does have a certain ability to speak in public due to natural aptitude and profession, but that was not what was so moving. What was so amazing to me...was that you not only heard his words but that you saw his heart.

The speech started out in gratitude to the hosts and moved to his wife of over 30 years...and the mother of his children. He spoke of how they met, their life together, and how he credited any success he has in this life in large part to her. I felt that this laid the foundation or provided the backstory for those of us in the room who were not familiar with those details. The foundation of a family. The knowledge that a godly family begins with a couple completely devoted to each other and to God.

He then used songs that reminded him of certain aspects of his life and that of his daughter's. He spoke of her strengths and challenges, of his proud moments tinged with a wish that he could relive some of those that in retrospect now seem so precious. He spoke of the depth of his love for his wife, his family and his Lord. It was a father's blessing to his daughter and her intended. A blessing that his daughter had to hear without the benefit of watching her father so that she could manage the emotion. There was a bond of love evident. A bond that every girl should have before she tethers her life to another man as a husband. A bond that provides a foundation for her to have an above average to excellent chance in life and in marriage.

It is my belief that if nothing else had happened after that moment...but a trip to the justice of the peace and a honeymoon in their new home...it would have been enough for her. The knowledge that you are loved is more important than a gala wedding, beautiful singers during the ceremony, or anything else. Her father's words to her were the most beautiful part of the weekend for me. The video was shown thereafter, and chronicled a beautiful little girl quietly growing up into the beautiful woman that she is today. We saw the rough-and-tumble little boy that was a football player and tough guy...who showed the perseverance to turn his bride's head. Through the pictures, it was seen that the personalities of these two are indeed completely different...but also wonderfully complementary.

The wedding was at 6:00 in the evening in a beautiful gothic style Methodist church with a long aisle. The music started earlier, but on the hour, the chimes rang, and the wedding party started down. Groomsmen in traditional tuxedos with tails, and bridesmaids wearing a beautiful emerald green color...carrying flowers of pink and white. Floral arrangements in the wedding colors were on the altar and around the sides of the church. A precious ring bearer - the nephew of the bride - was dressed in white with ivory lace. His younger brother, similarly dressed, watched from a pew a few rows back on the bride's side.

The senior pastor who had recently retired spoke at this wedding...just as he had for the bride's brother and his wife in 2002, and the bride's sister and her husband in 2008. The current pastor performed the ceremony.

To say that the bride was beautiful would be an understatement. She was absolutely, positively...gorgeous. Her dress was elegant and perfectly suited to her. Her external beauty framed her inner beauty in such a way that there were few dry eyes but a host of smiling faces. She looked like everyone's vision of the perfect bride. The look on her groom's face was that of awe...just as it should have been...and just exactly what you hope to see.

Although the adornments of the church, flowers, music and attendants enhanced the ceremony, the beauty of the bride was impossible to eclipse in any way. Her arrival on the arm of her father took everyone's breath away...such loveliness. Her groom and the bridal party were adorned to complement her...and as the pair climbed the steps to speak their vows and exchange rings, it was not only a holy moment, but one of incredible beauty.

We left the church and arrived at the home of her parents for the reception. Golf carts were employed up and down the street ferrying guests to and from cars. The house was alive with light and flowers. Roses in every imaginable variation of the color pink greeted us over the front doorway. The home had various arrangements throughout the interior and onto the back terrace. Upon exiting the back door, there were two huge white tents to the left and right, with the multitiered bridal cake highlighted in the center.

Servers offered hors 'doeurves of crabcakes and brie cheese in pastry, and every detail from the lights in the treetops to the monogrammed napkins added to the ambiance of the evening. Even the restroom facilities - portable - were suitable and believe it or not...even attractive. (Apparently someone started a company to provide these when a good ole fashioned "port-a-potty" just won't do.)

A beverage area was set up to the direct left of the back door as well as in another location in the rear of the yard and in the tent to the left just beyond...the band was warming up to play. A full band with singers, backup singers, brass, and guitars. A band that belted out songs beginning with the 1960s. Directly across from the tent servers were offering wonderful food ranging from beef tenderloin and salmon to shrimp and grits, grilled vegetables, sweet potatoes, and tomato and basil salad. Lamb was grilled in an adjacent area by the other refreshment center. Tables were set up throughout the yard including in the garage...where a large television was broadcasting the Auburn-Tennessee football game. Heaven knows, this IS the South, and if the SEC is playing, then the SEC game is on.

The cakes were later cut...and were delicious. The bride's choice of green as a wedding color was reflected in the pale green of the icing on the bridal cake. From a distance, it looked white and ivory...but up close...a neat surprise. A gorgeously decorated cake with fabulous white cake inside...just as a bridal cake should be. The groom's chocolate cake was also served and was also delicious.

As the evening went on, some of the guests began to thin out. It was possible to walk from the football game to the food and around by the band and see a number of guests enjoying the evening. The wedding party was having a wonderful time on the dance floor and the football enthusiasts were happy that their team had emerged victorious. Everyone was dancing and enjoying themselves immensely. The parents of the bride and groom were on the dance floor and were having a wonderful time...as much so as the younger set that had graduated to singing with the band and dancing with everyone's mother.

At eleven o'clock, the bride threw her bouquet, and the groom tossed the garter. This was followed by the bride and groom's exit in an antique automobile after being showered with rose petals by those of us who hoped that it was just the beginning of wonderful things that they find themselves showered with throughout their lives together.

As they left, the impression that remained with me was that of happiness. The bride and groom had a wonderful weekend of celebration. The parents were phenomenal hosts whose primary aim was the comfort of their guests. The goal was not to impress people...although the parties were impressive. The weather was perfect, the settings were magical, and the love was evident. Even the Auburn Tigers pulled it out.

There is something special that happens when you realize that you have been tapped to share the joy of others as you cannot help but enthusiastically claim some of that joy as your own. Watching from my vantage point during this weekend...I have found that I saw not only the beauty of a wedding...but many other things as well that were not as obvious.

For me, the wedding was a series of reminders: the faithfulness of God in bringing together two parties at the proper time, the solid foundation of long term marriages when God is the center of the home, wonderful southern hospitality, and the importance of a father's blessing. By being a part of this weekend...I was immensely blessed...beyond measure.