Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Question is.....

I remember going to Watch Night services as a child. Some churches still observe this custom, but not nearly as many. We would take nap that day so that we could stay up til midnight. Around 8:00 we would head church where there would be preaching and singing from then on until midnight. We would take a break around 10:00 for pie and coffee and fellowship, then it was back to worship. Sometimes when the appointed hour came and went everyone would still be praying and praising the Lord, caught up in His goodness and blessings. Most of the time I could not hold out until then. I would fall asleep on the pew or in the floor beneath the pew--at least until the shouting and music got so loud it would wake me.

Most of the time the sermon revolved around The Second Coming and Will You Be Ready themes. I remember the line, "Jesus could very well come back before midnight. Would you be ready to meet Him?" Or, you could leave here tonight and before you make it home be hit by a drunk driver. None of us knows when our time will come. Would you be ready?"
There was always the prefacing remarks: "With every head bow and every eye closed." And I was always the one peeping to see who would make the walk.

New Years was the perfect time to make that argument. It was the perfect time for turning over new leaves, for becoming repentant, for making the change. I remember making that walk to the altar many times as a teenager. I was always certain that hell was one breath away. I imagine that kept me out of more trouble than I knew. And although I don't believe you should be frightened into serving God, I do think a little more reverence for Him is in order. We should have a wholesome fear of Him. He is the Judge and Ruler of all. Yet, we should serve Him out of love. Now that I'm grown, I fear disappointing Him more than His judgment. I want Him to be proud of His child. Yes, I know He can throw me into outer darkness. Yes, I know He can bring His wrath down upon me at any time. And I know I would be deserving of it. But I also know that He is a merciful God. And He is merciful because He loves me. And I am so humbled by this great love.

I'm not perfect. I still fall. I still fail. I still disappoint. I still have thoughts I should not entertain. I'm trying to conquer them. But I resolve to do better in the coming year. I'm sure that means He will ask me to stretch my boundaries. He might ask me to do something difficult. He might ask me to sacrifice something hard. But whatever He asks, I'm sure of this one thing: He is deserving of more than I can ever repay. And yes, He could very well come this very night before the stroke of midnight. Are you ready?

Friday, December 30, 2005

I Resolve To...

  1. Smile more.
  2. Speak more kind words.
  3. Criticize less.
  4. Spend more time with my son.
  5. Work on my physical health.
  6. Love more.
  7. Grieve less.
  8. Give more.
  9. Spend less.
  10. Be more myself and less of the person that I think others expect of me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Peas 'n' Greens

I was in the grocery store the other night and overheard a young woman chatting with an elderly lady. She was saying that so-and-so had never eaten black-eyed peas on New Year's Day, had never even heard of the tradition. At once my mind went to my grandmother. Every year she has the traditional meal of black-eyed peas and turnip greens. This is to herald in a new year of prosperity she says. I always took her word for it, but never tried it myself.

Today I began to research this seemingly Southern tradition. I found several responses in a forum: I found it interesting that so many people prepare this meal, and yet they have no idea why. Some said it was because the peas represented coins and the greens represented bills. Some said it was because Yankee soldiers raided the homes and took all the food except the peas in the field, which they presumed were weeds. Another theory is that peas were so plentiful that they would last the winter, even dried. It's amazing what you can learn from a simple search engine request.

If you follow the forum, you begin to find recipes for peas and greens and debates on who's recipe is best. Some went as far to say that bacon drippings masked the flavor of the greens. Now that would be an outright offense to my granny, I'm sure. To my knowledge, she never cooked a tasteless meal in her life!

Still another forum sheds this light: Peas are for health; greens are for wealth. "The belief that peas are for health and greens for wealth is a direct translation of many African proverbs regarding the tradition. Some West Africans still eat the dish to honor a certain god, while most of us in the U.S. associate the tradition with superstitions that have some sort of Southern basis." That quote is attributed to Jeff Elkins at this forum: It seems to me that this would make sense as many cooks in the South were slaves brought over from Africa. Perhaps they brought this tradition with them.

In any case, I think it is a great tradition. Some would frown on it as an old wive's tale or as superstition. You're entitled to your own opinion. As for me, I don't believe in superstitions. But I do believe peas and greens to be mighty tasty, and for the most part, excluding the bacon drippings, healthy. Maybe I'll just have to cook me up a batch this year and test the theories for myself. My best to you and your families. Happy New Year!!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to All....And to All a Good Night

Just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. May your days be merry and bright...even if your Christmas isn't white. Don't forget to invite Christ to all your holiday gatherings. Don't leave Him on the outside looking in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mama's Christmas Fudge

Here's a recipe for you that we make every year. Make sure you have a heavy stewer to cook it in. I have many fond memories of making this with my mom every year for teachers and friends. She also has a chocolate recipe. But that's for another day. And I might have to charge you for it, it is so divine. My sisters and I decided to continue this tradition after Mom's death. The first year we were all tears and memories, but as the years go by, it has become a great day of fellowship. We save some for our Christmas Day get-together.

Mama's Christmas Fudge

1 cup milk
3 cups sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp. salt

Cook this over medium heat until it begins to boil. Boil until it reaches the softball stage. For those of you who are newbies to cooking, this means to put a little bit in a bowl of cold water. Drain the water and see if the residue forms a soft ball between your fingers. This is the only tricky part of the recipe. It is very important that the candy has reached the proper stage. If you cook it too fast, it will become crumbly when set.

Remove from heat. Put in 3 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Use your electric mixer to beat this while still in the pan. As soon as it begins to thicken, pour into a buttered small rectangular pan. (I know that is vague, but I use a glass casserole dish that is one size smaller than a sheet cake pan.)

This recipe makes 3 lbs.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Dear Santa,

Here are a few things on my list that I just can't seem to get in Paris. Please, please try to bring them. I have been a very good girl this year.
A mall. City officials fuss because I don't spend my money here in town, but lack the stores and items I need.
A great bookstore. Sometimes I would like to sit and drink a cappuccino while reading the latest bestseller. And sometimes I would like to buy it and take it home to sip my cappuccino.
A dinnerboat cruise at Paris Landing for my anniversary. Branson and Nashville have them, why not Paris?
Please bring back Gary's. People came from other towns just to see what all he had.
And last, but certainly not least, a MORNING paper. By the time I get my PI, the internet, the television, and the local gossips have all filled me in.
I hope this isn't too much to ask. I believe. I believe. I believe.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Did it work?

It's not Ivy...but it's pretty. I'm just trying to learn to post pictures.

Mystery Solved

Some of you have inquired about the title of my blog, so I thought I would share with you how it came to be. It really is no mystery to some of you, if you think about it.

I have a home office/receiving room off my front foyer. It's where I write, receive company, and go when I want to curl up with a good book away from the television. It has a vaulted ceiling and a very big arched window. I like to think of it as my library, although I have books scattered in every room of the house.

On the wall high above me, above my husband's and my diplomas, I hung an 18" ivy wreath. I thought it looked classic and fit in with the theme of the room, and with the high ceilings, it took up alot of empty space. I can look up from where I am seated at my laptop and see it.

I suppose it is stretching the title a bit to give it a double meaning, but if you think about it, the Roman officials wore ivy garlands on their heads. So, if you picture me with an ivy wreath on my head, what is in my brain would naturally be what is beneath the wreath...and voila, there you have it. Mystery solved.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

To Write or Not to Write, That is the Question.

Today I contemplated restarting my novel, the one I lost 50 pages of to my last computer crash. I got exactly one page written while waiting on the school buses to depart this afternoon. And that one page is completely different from the original. Maybe there are two different novels going on. I don't know. Or maybe the first just wasn't meant to be written. As I finished my first page I discovered three things:

1. Characters are hard to name. You would think this would be the easy part.
2. Dialogue is even harder to create.
3. Writing something that has never been written is virtually impossible.

With that thought in mind, I must attempt to take something that has already been thought of and make it wholly mine. I believe they call it, "finding your voice."
The magazines I subscribe to say you must outline your novel. This strikes me as odd. If I had a full outline, I would have written the book already. Don't they understand that? I like to see where the characters will take me. If it has to be planned and forcefed, where's the fun in writing it?

Then, I have to wonder, am I still chasing a dream? I must be crazy to carry around all these notebooks and pens and ideas in my head. I must be crazier to think that by getting those ideas out and onto paper is somehow going to magically tranform my life. After all, what writer doesn't dream of seeing his words in print? And how many of them actually do? But hey...Rome wasn't built in a day. And I grit my teeth at the cliche' I just used. I keep forgetting all those writer rules. Can't a girl just do it the way she hears it in her head, for Pete's sake? Besides...I'm the one that has to live with the finished product ultimately. If it ever gets finished...

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I've Turned to Mush

Today we went with the Children's Church group from our church, The Church of God of Prophey, Paris, TN. to the nursing home to sing Christmas carols. There were about 12 children and several adults who roamed the halls singing "Joy To The World" and "Away in a Manger." I made it fine out in the commons area, but when we went to the first room, I could not help it. I am such a softie. I broke down in tears.

You should have seen the look of joy on that elderly lady's face as those little ones sang their heart out for her. It was such a simple thing--a few children, a few songs, a few smiles. But I'm sure that made that lady, someone's grandma, very happy. It was probably the highlight of her year.

As I was out in the hall sobbing on my husband's shoulder, a nurse asked me if I was related to the lady. I shook my head no. She said, "Do you know her?" Again, I shook my head no. She said, "Honey, don't cry. She is nearly 100 years old. That is where we are all headed. She is fine." All I could manage to croak back was, "I know."

You see, the nurse did not know about my 86-year-old grandfather who is in the nursing home in Humboldt, Tennessee. This is his first year there. He's been there since September, what time he was not in the hospital next door. This has changed all of my family's lives, not just his. For all my 40 years we have celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas at his house with Granny. This year, he was in the Emergency Room with pneumonia. We will visit them at the nursing home for Christmas this year and for as many years as he has left. Time has changed the way we do Christmas.

This will be the first year in 40 years that I will not go back to my home church, Gregory's Chapel Assembly of God, for their Christmas program. It's not that some of my extended family won't be there. It's just that we are trying to lay roots for my son here in his hometown. I have to learn to let go sometime. My son needs his own traditions, memories of spending Christmas in his home church. I can't help but wish that he could relive my past Christmases, but I know that some things you just can't bring back.

Still, visiting the nursing home today brought back memories of me as a child visiting the Humboldt Manor nursing home. We used to go sing for them at least once a month. We took fruit baskets at Christmas. Now I put myself in those patients' shoes and realize what it must mean for them for someone to care. I put myself in my Grandpa's shoes. I hope that my home church is planning to visit and sing--even if they are a bit uncomfortable. Even if they, like me, can't help but cry. It is a ministry, and as much a blessing to me as it was to them. I'm sure they have seen it all in their lifetimes, but it is the soft song of a child that still makes them smile. That much will never change.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

December 8, 2005

School was closed today due to threat of bad weather. Now that's a funny thing to me. When we went to school, back in the good old days, we did not get out of school unless there was at least 3-5 inches of the white stuff on the ground. But having the technology we do today, we jump the gun at the slightest blip on the radar screens.

It didn't snow. It rained all morning. Last time I checked the temperature was 38 degrees. It is supposed to get colder tonight. At least I got to spend the day with my little boy, who was overjoyed that he did not have school. He was even more thrilled to find that on the Sci-Fi channel was The Incredible Hulk marathon, the old series. He was in kid heaven all morning.

I don't advocate hours and hours of television. I like to see kids play outside and use their imagination and muscles. But it was raining. He got his blocks and army men out and played for a couple of hours this morning. I figured The Incredible Hulk was harmless. That is, until he got to scuffling with me on the bed and kicked me right in the eye. I guess violence does have a greater impact than we think. Even if he was just play-acting, it still had a negative impact. I'll live. LOL.

I guess it wore him out; he's napping. That's what is great about being a kid. You can still nap whenever you like. Even if you fall asleep at a restaurant or movie, the grownups generally let you stay asleep because they enjoy the peace and quiet. Sigh. Peace and quiet. I remember those days.

Well, I hope everyone is getting all their shopping and entertaining done. Me, I'm just sitting around in my wool socks drinking coffee. And trying to stay out of the line of his feet. Be sweet y'all.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Live Nativity

New Harmony Baptist Church has a live nativity every year. They do it early, so people can enjoy it before the rush begins. Last night was their first night, so my husband and son and I decided to go drive through it.

We topped the hill right before you get to the church, which is on a winding two-lane road in the county, and traffic was already backed up a 1/2 mile. It was just 6:05, and the Nativity was from 6-9 p.m. Evidently alot of us were in need of some Christmas Spirit to get us in the groove of things.

It was a beautiful, clear, cold night in Henry County. I bet those participants had long johns on under their costumes. The drive was lined with plastic milk jug luminaries. Scripture was painted on big signs by each scene. We were met at the beginning by a group handing out programs with the Christmas story imprinted on one side and the plan of Salvation on the other.

The first scene was John the Baptist standing at the entrance. Every few cars, he would raise his staff and shout, "Prepare Ye the way of the Lord." You could hear him down at the road. The next scene was the angel visiting Mary, complete with a little bedroom scene. After that it was Ceasar upon his throne with his guards giving out the decree.

Mary and Joseph heading to Bethlehem really caught my son's eye. By this time I was crying and trying to read all at the same time. I would read between his excited commentary. "Look at those sheep, Mama." "Look at those shepherds."

The angel choir was awesome. There were about 20 angels robed in white up on a high platform with a black light shining on them to illuminate them praising God in the Highest. Angel music was piped in as you drove by.

The actual Nativity scene always softens me to mush. I am transported to Bethlehem. I am in awe of the Holy Birth. What a privilege to serve this awesome king that came to earth in a stable.

The next scene was the marketplace of Bethlehem. There were all sorts of costumed families milling about, selling fruits, vegetables, and meats. They had freshly butchered meat laid out. They had freshly killed duck hanging from the doorways. They had fish laid out to buy. The children would walk around chasing geese through the marketplace. Livestock was everywhere. There was a beggar begging alms. It was all so beautifully done.

I heard my son yell from the backseat. "Camels!. They got camels!." He had looked ahead to the next scene which was the wise men. And there munching straw, kneeling in front of the wise men, were two huge camels. I turned to my husband. "Where do you suppose they got live camels in Henry County?" My son thinks they borrowed them from a circus. Maybe so. It was impressive for a rural town in Tennessee.

The next to the last scene was "Wise Men Still Seek Him." There was a big platform with risers. There was a newlywed couple dressed in their wedding finery. There was a cheerleader, a man on a Harley Davidson, military personnel, a nurse, a man in a wheelchair, teenagers, and some others in a group. The message was obvious. Jesus is for all of us today. He loves us all. We should all seek Him.

The final scene was at the exit. A cross lit with the scripture, John 3:16. They gave out peppermint sticks as we exited. I was still crying as well pulled out the drive. No matter how many times I hear the story, or read it, or see it done theatrically, it will always get to me.

"Son, this is the real meaning of Christmas. It is not Santa Claus. It is not presents or trees or parties. This is it. Jesus came to save us from our sins--all those bad things we do. He died so we don't have to. Do you understand that son?"

"Yes, Mama. Today's his birthday, isn't it?"

"Well, we don't know for sure what day it is, but we will celebrate it all month, and especially on the 25th, in a few weeks."

And really we should celebrate it every day in our hearts. Because of his birth, we have new birth. We have reason to celebrate every day of our lives. Lord help me when I start to feel sorry for myself. I am the richest woman on earth.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

God Works Through the Net

I had a rather interesting day yesterday. After my posting I went on to read a couple of other blogs. One, in particular, was an update page for Gordy and Debbie Schmidt. Gordy is in the hospital in Tampa after experiencing a brain bleed. I could not help but post. My heart went out to them and their desparate need.

Not long after that I got an email from JLGlass, the site's owner saying how surprised Deb and Gordy would be to know I had stumbled into their lives and was praying with them and for them. I hadn't really expected a reply, so it was great to hear from someone firsthand.

Then, later that night, as I got on to do a little bit of work, I noticed another email. This time it was from more friends of the Schmidts, Diane Viere, thanking me for praying for her dear lifelong friends. She described them to me, and this made them all the more real to me. One line in her email really struck home. "To be known by God is...eternal." I cried when I read her email.

I started this blog because I had been laid off of work. I decided to pursue my dream of being a writer. I knew it would not bring in a decent living, but it gave me something to dream about, and hope for, and do while I was searching for employment. Several of the jobs I have applied for have asked for writing samples. To keep in practice, I blog. And sit and wait for rejections or acceptances for my submissions. For an entire month I have submitted works to magazines and publishers. I haven't heard anything. But that doesn't stop me. I have read that it may take months to receive answers. Needless to say, I find myself getting discouraged.

But yesterday was a red-letter day. God reminded me that I am not alone in this life. That there are others who need desperately my prayers. There are those that are fighting for their lives. There are those who sit where I once sat, feeling the same things I once felt. They needed to hear from me.

I was 22 when my father's illness struck him. His was a rare neurological state brought on by brain trauma. Who knows which trauma it was. My father had been in several vehicle accidents, twice breaking his neck. God was merciful both times. He was never paralyzed from it. Nevertheless, his illness came on suddenly. He seizured for 20 minutes before they could get him to a hospital. He stayed in intensive care for 10 days. My mom brought him home and cared for him for five years. I wish I could say it had a happy ending, but he passed away at 51. But God was with us through it all. Every moment. We were strengthened by the prayers of people with faith. So I know what it is to feel those prayers.

Some day I am going to write a memoir of sorts. My mom passed away in 2001 from her second bout of breast cancer at the age of 61. She is my inspiration. She was a godly woman. She was a true servant. I miss her so much. Her story would take many pages to tell. Her philosophy during her illness was to pray for the best and let God have the rest. She did not fear dying. She worried about those she was leaving behind. I remember her telling everyone she came in contact with what a peace she had about it all. What a woman. What a God!

So you see, Diane, I am no stranger to hospitals, illness, trials, and heartache. At one point during my mother's illness, my mom was in Jackson General and my mother-in-law was in Vanderbilt hospital at the same time. Both were on chemo. My mother-in-law died of leukemia in 1998. I look back at that year and know that it was the grace of God that kept me going. And he will keep Debbie and Gordy going too.

We just have to keep the faith. I'm so glad I blog. Smiles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Of Trees 'n Things

The day after Thanksgiving we put up our Christmas tree. I finally decided to invest in one of those pre-lit ones. It is so much easier and faster. My son wanted to decorate all by himself. I could hardly contain myself as he put all the little ornaments in a tidy little group in the front. I encouraged him to spread them out and vary them. Watching him was the joy of my day. His eyes danced at the sight of his creation. He raced to the CD player and put on his Christmas CD. What a beautiful thing childlike enthusiasm is--unspoiled by commercialism and greed. At least so far.

Yes, he has asked for every toy he has seen on Saturday morning cartoons. But when asked which ones he really wants, he just shrugs and says, "Whatever Santa brings me." I know it won't always be this way. But it is nice to know Santa still has options, at least this year.

Every year we go through his old toys and sack up the best ones. Not the broken ones. Not the ragged ones. The best ones. And take them to the Salvation Army. I am trying to teach him that there are children less fortunate, and that it is better to give than receive. He sometimes is a bit sad at losing some of his toys. But he always gets to choose which ones. And sometimes he will say, "Mom, I bet those boys are really enjoying my Hulk Hands." Or something like that. And I tell him, "Of course they are. They are taking really good care of them."

In a way I miss the good old days of tromping out to the field to chop down a live tree. The smell cannot be duplicated. There was just something extra special about bringing it in and fighting to get it stabilized. It was worth all the scratches on your arms. I imagine us getting a live tree had more to do with us being broke than anything. But it makes for fond memories at least.

We also made paper snowflakes the day after Thanksgiving to put in the windows. I learned how to make those many years ago. It was fun teaching my little boy how to do it. And I think he has gotten addicted to it. I am still cleaning up little jibbles of paper out of the living room floor. It was a great lesson in how each one is unique and beautiful in its own right. And so are we. So are we.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Teenage Mayor?

I have my reservations about a teenage mayor. Have you seen Michael Sessions? He's from a town in Michigan. He got voted in as a write-in and won by 2 votes. He's been on Letterman already. I suppose the town banded together and decided to do this historic thing for publicity's sake. I just wonder who, exactly, will be running the town.

Can you imagine what would transpire if a city disaster like New Orleans took place? He has absolutely no real world experience. And his first real job is mayor? Give me a break. The things people will do to get noticed.

Yes, you have to admire the guts it took to run against a 51-year-old incumbent. They say he ran his campaign on $700 dollars. Wouldn't it be nice if all our politicians would be that frugal?

I guess it's not as farfetched as it sounds. There were two kings in the Bible that reigned at a tender age, and they weren't even teenagers yet. One was Josiah. I will have to look the other up. Good topic for today's Bible lesson, I suppose.

Friday, November 18, 2005

My Gift

Six years ago today I lay in a hospital bed with a fetal monitor strapped to my belly, an IV in my arm pushing Pitocin, a blood pressure cuff strapped to my other arm, and a nurse's hand up my vagina saying, "Poop a watermelon." I know, I know that part sounds hilarious now. But all I could think of at that moment was if giving birth was like pooping, I was severely constipated.

After 14 hours of labor, 6 hours of that pushing and straining to get my "watermelon" out, the kind doctor suggested forceps. I was adamently opposed. I did not want my poor baby's face to be all smashed and bruised. But the doctor won out. And still, my "watermelon" refused to budge. He tried the suction thingie with no better results.

Finally, in desperation I screamed. "Get him out, now!" which seemed to garner much better results. Within twenty minutes I was prepped and in surgery. Within 15 more minutes, my bundle of joy had arrived. He was no watermelon. He was my gorgeous 8 lb. 2 oz. baby boy. I got to kiss his little forehead before they put me out to staple me up. My husband got to carry him to the nursery and give him his first bottle. To this day when my husband and I argue, guess who is on his side? That's right. My baby bonded first with his Daddy. The one with the formula always wins.

Later on after arriving home I finally got to review the video. I got to see the parts I missed while I was in the Twilight Zone. There never was a Papa more proud. And that child sucked down 2 oz. before you could blink an eye. Yep, no doubt about who is father and mother are.

I got to see everyone's reaction on the tape. I'm still a little jealous that everyone was gone by the time I got to my room at 10:30 that night. But I'm so glad someone had the forethought to tape it. My grandmother held my tiny son in her arms. She looked at him so sweetly. And she prayed over this blessed new life.
My husbands' family took turns burping and cradling. My sister sucked the mucous out of his mouth with a bulb like a pro. And finally, my mom got to hold him. She had been ever so patient, knowing she would be at the hospital when everyone else had left. I never will forget how proud she was. She had waited a long time to become a grandma. Both my sisters had been married 9 years and produced no offspring. I felt justified that this was payback for both of them marrying the same year, leaving me at home and single. There is a God. Laugh.

When I got back to my room, they let me hold him. I never knew what joy a baby could bring. True, I felt like I had been through combat. My body was bruised and sore and exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep for hours on end--and watch this little bundle of joy. I would keep waking up and saying, "Ain't he pretty, Mama."
He had the most beautiful head of hair. That was the biggest surprise. Was it worth all that laboring and pain and nine months of throwing up, losing 40 lbs, having 27 staples, and breaking out from the anesthesia? You bet it was.

You know what? Even though six years have passed and my beautiful boy is now in kindergarten, I feel as if I were back in that room, marvelling at God's blessed creation all over again. It's his birthday today. But I got the best gift. Happy Birthday, Son. May God Bless your life in countless ways. I love you with all my heart.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Christmas Buffett???

Today, just out of curiosity, I did a search on Warren Buffett--one of America's most wealthy. In particular I was searching for Berkshire Hathaway holdings, of which there are many. Did you know that Mr. Buffett could build an entire home using only materials from the companies he owns? He has manufactured home factories, carpet factories, paint companies, steel warehouses, and insurance companies to insure it all. Now there's a catch, ladies.

I sat here in a daze as I read his listings. How does one begin to buy up America? He must be a financial genius. Wouldn't you love to have that on your resume. "Acquaintances recount his uncanny ability to calculate columns of numbers off the top of his head - a feat Warren still amazes business colleagues with today."( I sure could use him on my weekly trek to Wal-Mart.

Think of all the fun he has at Christmas. If I had that kind of wealth, I would spend the entire holiday season looking for ways to spread holiday cheer. But then again, it doesn't take a billion dollars to do that. Just a bit of time, love, and tenderness. I'm sure Mr. Buffett donates to his share of charities. I just wonder how sexy he looks in a Santa suit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Wicked weather rolled through Henry County this afternoon leaving some people homeless not very far from us. It seems the tornados have gotten particularly dangerous in the last decade. Maybe it's the technology we have to predict them and follow them that makes us more aware of them.

My son was sick all night, so he was home from school. We hid in the laundry room with Maggie, my little weather dog. She had scratched on the door a full 20 minutes before it hit. We prayed that God would keep everyone safe. Inside I was secretly glad that he was home with me. The schools were under lockdown. Some kids in Stewart County did not get home until after dark.

Our power went out, and the telephones as well. We had no way of knowing if the storm was truly over and what damage had ocurred. Finally when the power returned we saw that some homes a couple of miles from us had been obliterated. Several went to the hospital, but no fatalities that we have heard yet. I was so thankful we were all ok.

My family lives in Jackson, Tennessee where a major F5 hit a couple of years ago destroying downtown and many other sections of the city. It was no surprise that my sister called me to make sure we had weathered the storm. They know the power of nature. They know when the weatherman says to take cover to not delay.

It is heartbreaking to see the families that have lost all. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Yes, we have much to give thanks for...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Tragedy in Pennsylvania

I saw on Yahoo News this morning where an 18-year-old has shot the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend and taken flight with her to parts unknown. How frightening to think that two parents lost their lives because they insisted on a curfew for their barely-a-teenager daughter. What was the boy thinking? Now he will either be a fugitive the rest of his days, or more likely, a prisoner. Who knows what will become of the girl. It is still up in the air as to whether she was abducted or participated willingly.

I think I know my child. I want to say he would never gun down two adults. I want to say that I have taught him that violence is never the answer. However, it is difficult to determine how much of what I am teaching him is sticking with him at his impressionable age of nearly six. I pray over him every night that God would keep him safe in his surroundings, that he would be a good child, obedient and loving. I know there are things out there in this world that will influence him. Will their influences overshadow that of mine and his dad's?

I'm sure that girl's parents never dreamed they would face the wrong end of a gun--especially for just doing the right thing and being concerned parents. Could it have been prevented? Were there predictors? Was there something they could have done differently? I doubt it. And that is the scarey part--knowing you are doing all you can, and that all you can do may not, in the end, be enough.

What do we do then? Just sit back and let the world take our children? No, parents, we must fight for them as if their lives depended on it, because they do. And not only that, but OUR lives depend on it. Think about it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday in the South

Sundays in the South usually revolve around family. Most decent folk attend the church of their choice here in the Bible belt. For some it is a means to assuage our guilt from the weekend's activities. For others it is a social gathering, a time to fellowship with neighbors and community. For many of us it is family tradition; our roots go deep in the local church. And still, there are a few of us left who attend church as a true act of worship and thanksgiving to God for his blessings. At some point in my life, all these reasons were true. It depended on the stage of life I was in at the moment.

Most Sunday afternoons revolve around big family dinners and naps or recreation. I remember, as a child, going to Granny's house every Sunday. Her table would be overflowing with homecooked goodness. My cousins would all be there, as well as my uncles and aunts. It was an extended family gathering. Without fail, there was fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and sweet tea. And the blessing was said before the meal.

There is a bit of sadness that we have lost that somewhere down the line. Families don't always grow up and stay in the same town. They don't always attend the home church. They don't always keep up with the cousins. Grandparents grow elderly and pass away. Some of our traditions fall by the way. And I think it is a shame that my son will not have those memories. What will he have?

At the very least I want him to have memories of the three of us spending Sundays together--enjoying each other as a family. I want him to have a solid foundation in faith and God. I want him to know the Bible stories I was taught as a child. I want him to cherish the hymns of the church. I want him to be able to pass them down to his children someday. Times and seasons may change. But God will never change. And that big black Book--that Book that has meant so much to so many through the ages, that roadmap of life, has not changed, nor will change in the ages to come. When my son grows up and Sunday rolls around, I want him to know where his Book is...and take it with him to the house of God. That's my mother's cry. Is it yours?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Saturday Mornings at Our House

Another Saturday home with my son. Who knew having wrestling matches and building clubhouses could be so much fun? Still, I can feel that I'm forty. All I want to do is get my housecleaning done and put my feet up. Yet, they are only little once.

He wants me to play Finding Nemo with him. Next it will be Monopoly, Jr., Candyland, Operation, and on and on and so forth, until he has depleted his supply. This is the problem with only children. Sure, they mature faster, having only adults to converse with, but do they really learn to relate to their peers in a way that they should? I was so proud of him. We went out with some friends last night to eat at Cracker Barrell. He was such the little gentleman. Of course I credit this to my threatening him within an inch of his life before we ever got in the car.
Still, it was nice to have a meal out with another couple, and not have to discipline him all night.

Here in the South, many children spend the weekend with their grandparents. I wish it could be that way with my son. He has one grandparent locally who doesn't get out much anymore. He has the beginnings of Alzheimer's. We take my son to visit him regularly. I still fear the day will come when we will visit and be strangers to him. I lived through something of that nature with my father. It is not something I wish for my husband to have to endure. Three of my grandparents are still living, and I try to glean as much as possible from them before their candles burn out. I think we as a society tend to discard our elderly instead of giving them the honor their lives deserve. Some day we will be old. Will my son still want to spend time with me then? I smile as I think of him, and realize he's waiting. Maybe today he will let me win. Smile.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Seriously though...

You have to admire a profession where you can get a job without ever submitting a formal resume-- based on the merits of your labor, whether recognized or not. True, it is much more difficult to catch an editor's eye without that coveted agent. But it can be done. Give me that challenge my soul says. If I am to claw my way to the top of the slushpile, let it be because I have bitten my nails to the quick, spent countless sleepless nights weaving plots and characters into tidy packages that I will ultimately hug to my breast and kiss goodbye with the morning sun. Whatever it is that I gain from this soul bleeding, let it be worth the price I have to pay. There is no fame locked away in nightstand drawers or on the backs of overdue bills. We are only failures if we do not try.