Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Letter to Inspiration

Dear Inspiration,

Where have you gone? Why did you leave so soon?

Its only been a few short months and I was not ready for you to go yet.

I looked for you inside every door I knocked on as a US Census Taker but you weren't at any of them (but I'm still looking...)

I went all the way to the beach, confident you  would show up there. The ocean was breathtaking, the atmosphere relaxing, but you, my so-called friend, were not there.

I thought surely you would be lurking around my flat tire yesterday but you took off before we had a chance to chat.

I've tried to find you through therapy, counseling, long talks and even longer times of silence, but you have chosen to stay away.

But I have not given up my search. I will continue to search for you in the smile, or a frown, of a stranger; in the funny words of my family; in the hummingbirds that now come to feed, or in the overwhelming fragrant of a gardenia (that will always invoke wonderful memories...) or in a simple blade of grass.

My dear Inspiration, you may be on vacation now, but you cannot hide forever.  I will be here when you're ready to return.

Your Faithful and Patient Friend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kenny's Very Happy Place

Once a week my nine year old asks the same question, "Mom, can we go to the library?"

How do I say no to that?  Last week I did. I was busy. Very busy...I forgot exactly what I was so busy with, but trust me it was important. And besides, I believe its good for a child to be told "no" occasionally, just so they understand the real world. It went something like this:

"Mom, can we go to the library?"
"Mom, what do you mean, 'no'?
"I mean, 'No, Kenny."
"Do you mean 'not right now no' or 'not today no'?
"I mean, 'No.'"
"Okay........Mom. When do you think we can go to the library?"

He starts middle school in the fall and when he went for the tour of his new school he wanted to see two things, the computer lab and the library.  Someone asked if he was going to go to the private school. He asked, "How big is the library?"  I'm glad. There are certainly worse places he could be.

Yesterday I said yes and we went to the library. He checked out ten books about trains. Model trains, history of trains, steam engines, toy trains. The child LOVES trains....and libraries.

Tell me a little about your child. What do they absolutely love?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Has it Really Been a Decade?

Ten years? Has it really been ten years since I said the words "I'm NOT moving to Milledgeville?  Ten years since we put down roots in the double wide parked behind the church? Ten years since my husband accepted the position of pastor and said the words, "I have no idea what I'm doing" ?

The church family honored us throughout the day yesterday in celebration of the last ten years. The evening included a potluck dinner and skits by the youth group.  The night even had a theme: chocolate. My husband, pastor is always saying there WILL be chocolate in heaven because Revelation says there will be no tears there.  That's of course, a loose interpretation but it did make the evening special.

The morning service included a guest choir and a few of the songs the pastor has said "Sing that one at my funeral." 

Thanks to modern technology and Power Point, no appreciation/memorial service is complete without an embarrasing slideshow.  This was no different. It is encouraging when people tell you that you look much younger now than you did ten years ago, but there's a good reason for that. I was nine months pregnant.

When our youngest child was seven, one of us thought it might be fun to have another baby. He agreed. What I didn't count on was moving 200 miles away toward the end of the eighth month. People started asking if I was having twins during my third month. (That is just as bad as asking someone when they're due when they're not...just don't ask, please.)

The picture that brought this to mind was of me sitting in front of the ocean backdrop for Vacation Bible School. We just moved a couple of days earlier and were in the middle of unpacking. I didn't look very happy.  I was holding a child's inflatable inner tube in front of my stomach trying to disguise something...not sure what.  I would love to share the picture but I can't seem to lift it out of the presentation. I'll keep trying but there's no way I'm posting it here!

At nine months we drove 200 miles to my doctor to beg her to induce labor.

"Two more weeks," she stated.

"WHAT? Look at me! I look like I'm having triplets, my feet are swollen, we moved 200 miles away. People get induced now so they don't miss their manicure appointments and you're telling me two more weeks?"

"Yes," she said (maniacally) "its too soon. Two more weeks."

What I wanted to say was, "Look, lady. You get this baby out of here now or I will CUT YOU."

But I didn't. I cried. In the office.

"Go home. I'll see you in two weeks, unless you go on your own before that."

Hubby drove back to new home, new church. I stayed in town with my mom. I called him eight hours later and said, "Get back here. I'm in labor."

He rushed back, which was silly because the combined time of my last three labors was six weeks. And this one was no different. 164 hours of intense labor later I was admitted to the hospital. The doctor shook her head and prepared to deliver my little bundle. I gave birth to the world's largest preemie, weighing ten pounds, eight ounces. The doctor almost dropped him as she was prepared to deliver nothing more than six pounds.

"HA!" I mustered up enough energy to look that doctor in the eye and say, "I told you I was ready!"

My smallest baby was 9 lbs 1 oz. When they started hitting double digits we thought it was a good time to stop.  We bundled up our toddler and headed back to Milledgeville and its hard to believe this is only home he's known, after ten years.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Coca-Cola came to town. Pepsi Cola shot him down. Dr. Pepper fixed him up.

Another memory of my Mama....click on the button to read other trips down Memory Lane.

My little Southern Mama was raised in the heart of Atlanta (properly pronounced "Atlanna"...the second "t" is silent. If you hit that 't' its a clear sign you ain't from there or anywhere near there for that matter.) and took great ....that's GREAT pride in the wonderful, accidental invention, of Coca-Cola, which happened in a soda shop in Atlanna...AtlanTa. 

In case you're wondering, yes, Coca-Cola did indeed have traces of cocaine in it, which makes sense as it was originally produced for its medicinal purposes, mainly for headaches, "nerves", and "vapors".  Yep. From what I hear, a little cocaine will do the trick.

My Southern Mom worked for a couple of years answering the switchboard (never say she just answered the phone!) at the Cloister Resort on Sea Island. To some of you this may not sound like much, but trust me, this was a huge deal. Over the years the Cloister was THE vacation spot to TONS of celebrities, politicians, etc. Anyone who wanted to truly hide away without a lot of fuss could do so at The Cloister on Sea Island. Many Georgians still don't know about one of its best-kept secrets.

Mama would turn on that Southern charm every minute she could. She loved speaking to the celebrities and public officials and say things like "Weah so glad to haave you heah at the Clawstuh. How can Ah help you?  May I send you up an awdu of bald peanuts?"

"Can we please have some Diet Pepsi sent to our room?" asked one guest.

"Suh, (she didn't talk like this all the time, just around people she really wanted to impress) ah don't know where you ah from (side note digression: ...some of you may be thinking she would use the word "y'all" here, but NO. For the love of all that's Southern, I'm going to let you in on something...if you EVER, EVER use the word 'y'all' while only talking to ONE person, its a definite indication that you Ain't from around here. "y'all is a contraction of 'you' and 'all'. The only exception is when you're asking about the person you're talking to and their family who may or may not be present during the conversation, as in "Your Mama said y'all were going to the monster truck rally on Thursday. I thought y'all were going to the wrestlin' match."  You know immediately that the whole family (probably 12 or more) will be attending either the monster truck rally or the wrestlin' match...likely both.)

"Suh, ah don't know wheah you ah from but dowun heah in the South we only drink Coca-Cola products." (She was being hospitable...its ingrained...)

"Pardon me but did you know that there are 14 towns in Georgia where Pepsi is consumed three times more often than Coke?  And in the "South" as you call it, Pepsi is preferred by one out of four consumers?"

PLEASE NOTE: The above statistics are totally mythical. It was a long time ago and I don't remember the facts. The point of the story was he spewed a lot of statistics out about how much better Pepsi was than "Co-cola".

"Excuse me, suh," Mama really turned on the charm now..."Do you happen to work for PepsiCo?"

"As a matter of fact ma'am, I do. I am the Executive Vice President of PepsiCo."

"We will gladly have your Pepsi delivered to your room within the hour, along with a complimentary awdu of our very own bald peanuts."

Twelve cases of Pepsi product found their way onto Sea Island that day. And Mama got a raise.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life's Ups and Downs

I always loved roller coasters.

When I was growing up, we lived thirty minutes from Six Flags Over Georgia. Whenever a new roller coaster opened we were among the first to try it out. 

My cousin and I went to Six Flags and rode one of the roller coasters 41 times. The last fifteen or so was in the rain. We stopped riding because we got bored.

The last time I rode a roller coaster I got so sick. Nothing came up but I sure thought it would...I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Now I just want this emotional roller coaster ride to be over.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Always Special. Never Simple.

Attention FRIDAY FOLLOWERS, you're in the right place. Please keep reading or scroll to the bottom for button and comments. Thanks!

This was my second post ever...originally posted on February 17th.   I was compelled to post it again in memory of my mother, Sunday being Mother's Day and all...

"Shoes?" Check.

"Dress?" Check.

"Hose?" Check.

"Extra hose?" (sigh...) Check.

"Thirty pounds of pulled pork bar-b-que with outside meat and extra sauce?" Check.

"Twenty quarts of Brunswick Stew?"

"How do you expect us to get all this on the plane?"

"STEW?" (sigh...) Check.

"Four crates of peaches?"

"California is the leading peach grower in the country. We don't need to take more peaches into the state."

"They are not Jawja peaches!"

"Yes, ma'am."

Thus my brother's rehearsal dinner the night before his wedding was unlike any rehearsal dinner before or since. And it was beautiful. A complete barbeque meal (Not a barbecue beef in sight!) basically catered by my brother and his buddies' favorite restaurant located only 2500 miles away as a special surprise to him.


My mother also requested the church hostess, who was responsible for setting everything up, to serve water and sweet tea. The hostess repeated the words slowly, "ssswweeett tttteeaa?"

Apparently people in Yukaipa, California, who are we kidding? no one west of the Mississippi had heard of sweet tea.

The hostess recovered slightly and said "Oh, out here we offer artifical sweetner packets with the tea beverage but very few people use it."

To which Mama replied, "And how many people drink iced tea out there?" (I love how she always referred to any place outside of Georgia as being 'out there' like it was on another planet).

"Very few, ma'am. We mostly drink bottled water or hot tea."

"That's because you people don't sweeten it."

I don't know why Mama didn't just tell her how much sugar to add but I heard the hostess called a friend in Kentucky to ask her how to make sweet tea.


My husband coined this phrase to describe my mom after we had been married about six years. He had no idea how perfectly this phrase encapsulated the woman's entire life.
But for him, it took root when we moved our family from Georgia to Ft. Worth, Texas with a three year old, two year old and six month old in tow...and my mother. My father committed suicide just a couple of months prior to our moving. We considered postponing our plans. We were going west for Jody to go to seminary, and we talked and prayed about waiting until the following semester.

Mama wouldn't hear of it.

"Your father wouldn't want you to disrupt your plans. And it would be good for me to get away awhile."

"I'm sorry. Could you repeat that last part?"

"It would be good for me to get away awhile."

"What does that mean?"

"Honey(for emphasis)I'll go with y'all and fly back. You can't handle those babies by yourself all that way. I'll watch them while you drive."


Jody and I looked at each other. He turned ecru (that's off-white I think).
He shook his head back and forth so slowly I wasn't sure if he was saying "don't think about it" or if he was trying to coax a fly to land on his head. I assumed the latter.

"That...would...be great! Wouldn't it dear?"

He apparently went to chase the fly because he started running around the yard, waving his warms wildly and calling out something to the fly. Fortunately, I couldn't make out the words.

We TIGHTLY packed six years worth of belongings, three carseats and all the paraphanelia one would need to occupy two toddlers, one infant, and a mother-in-law for a twelve hour ride. There was not an inch of leftover space in the moving truck or car, and five minutes before we pulled out Mama dramatically and ceremoniously took two GIANT vinyl tote bags out of her car and presented them to our older children. She hugged them close and told them the bags were filled with games, toys, snacks and wrapped surprises. They could open a surprise at every stop we made and every time we crossed a state line. I wondered if we should leave the TV or the microwave behind in order to make room for the two "Barney Bags". After some quick measurements and figuring I decided the TV and microwave were both luxury items we could do without. Jody was chasing the fly again.

After many long hours Mama started talking to me about a restaurant she's always wanted to try at Natchez Trace.


I had no idea what she was talking about or even what she said.

"Natchez Trace, Mississippi. There's the sign. Its not far."

"Mama, this is not a pleasure trip. We looked at the map and I-20 goes directly from Dallas, GA to Dallas, TX. Its a straight shot. No detours are necessary."

"ok. Its just your Daddy and I always talked about going to Natchez Trace and now we'll never go."

So we veered south toward Natchez Trace to the tune of "Not much farther; its the next exit; we're almost there!"

I began noticing steam coming from the moving truck. Not from the engine but from the driver's window.

NINETY MILES later we passed a sign that read "Welcome to historic Natchez Trace".

"Where's the place, Mama?"

"Oh, I don't know exactly but it can't be that hard to find."

I noticed steam billowing from the driver's window in the moving van. Suddenly the truck pulled into a parking lot and Jody emerged from the steam. He slammed the door, walked around to the passenger's side to remove Brad and then through gritted teeth said "Move over." And I did.

"Well, there it is!" Mama was pointing across the street at a beautiful Antebellum house with a large sign on the porch that read "Closed on Mondays". Yesterday was Sunday.

"I'm saawry". No one could say those words like she could. We still say it in her beautiful Southern drawl when we truly want to make that point.

"I think there's a place down by the river that is supposed to be good."

We rode in silence and found it and it was.


Even her death, two years ago today, carried out this philosophy. She elected to have a surgery she knew would most likely kill her and the doctor told us once she opened her up and saw what she did she also knew Mama would not make it and almost changed her mind. But the doctor looked at us, with tears in her eyes and said "Your mama was a special lady and she said she would rather die than to live like this. So I did the best I could."

Just like she would have wanted. Very dramatic. Not unlike something you would see in a Hallmark movie. And then we sang. Family and friends circled her bed, held hands and sang her into the arms of Jesus. The mylar balloon my brother gave her for Valentine's with the words "I love you" bounced behind her, or was it in front of her?

Always special. Never simple.

Handmade Valentine's, birthday parties that none of the neighborhood kids will ever forget, Christmas treats that are now Facebook discussion topics, and oh! the trips!
What I wouldn't give to hear her say one more time "I'm saaawwryy."

I think her first words in heaven must have been "Why this is bee-u-ti--ful! You do serve sweet tea, right?"


Friday Follow

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Are you employed, sir? No. Not Anymore...

Apparently he didn't really need this job.
He said he needed a job, but apprarently not that much.
He looked like he needed a job to support his drug habit, but that's a little judgemental on my part.

 I'm now an employeed of the U.S Census Dpt.... You know those annoying people that come knocking on your door just as your sitting down to enjoy your evening meal, and want to ask you these nosy, somewhat ridiculous questions ("Mr. Smith, you're a male, correct?"  We HAVE to ASK!). Please be nice. It may be me, and I would hate to have to blog about how rude you were....

We've been traning since Monday. 6:00pm-10:00 pm.  Its really not that big of a deal. The first night a few of us straggled (is that a word?) in after 6:00 because the weather was atrocious! (I know that's a word.)
But our fearless, slightly ditzy trainer stressed the importance of being on time for the duration of the training.

Second night, college-aged Joe Blow who smokes his cigarette up to the door and blows his last puff into the training room, struts in at 6:05. Ms. Trainer rebukes him, makes a spectacle of him, all but threatens him to be on time tomorrow.

Do you think he was? I really had hopes for him. I did. His seat seemed to blinking with neon signs reading "Loser! Not here! Don't Care!" at 6:00pm.  At 7:05 we ALL looked at the clock on the wall as Joe Blow (not his real name) entered behind a puff of smoke and plopped down in the blinking chair.

Trainer said "Excuse me," left the room and no one looked in Joe's direction. Joe closed his eyes as if trying to sneak in a little nap before getting down to some hard core Census training.

"Let's get back to work." We continued with the training for another hour and a half. After the break, he was  dismissed, but only after he was told to complete his pay form for that evening. Huh? We all knew he wasn't going to last, but rather than disrupt our training, she allowed him to be paid for an hour and a half work, PLUS travel, KNOWING he was going to be dismissed. Hmmmm.....

None the less, Joe didn't seem to mind, although when he introduced himself on Monday, he clearly said "I'm here because I need this job."  Apparently, he needed his nap more.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tennessee Flood

I'd like to introduce you to two lovely ladies.

Beth from Just Me and My Life   and
EthelMaePotter from The Adventures of Fred and Ethel.
you may also read this article about the Flood.
Both of these precious friends live in Nashville and have written touching posts, both with heart-wrenching pictures about the recent flooding of their hometown.

Please visit one or both of these ladies and don't just visit.

Pray. Repost. Act. Do Something.

These are two of my friends and I care about them, even though we've never met. Show them you care.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"The Story of a Boy, a Girl, and a Universe"

Do you know what today is? We've been celebrating this holiday for many years in our family. We once even talked the church into letting us have a party on this date, complete with Wookie Snacks and Jedi Punch! That's right! its....

Get it? May the fourth? Well anyway, even if you're not into robots and light sabers you should enjoy this trailer from the original 1977 movie.

 "From the man who brought you 'American Graffiti'.

"Its a big, sprawling space saga of rebellion and romance." 
(Sounds like the next Nicholas Sparks movie!)

Happy Star Wars day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

My Life, My Blog. The Musical.

I am a musical geek. That doesn't mean I play a lot of instruments. I do play piano (how cliche' is that, for a preacher's wife to play piano?) But that's not what I mean. By "Musical Geek", I mean I love musicals!

"High School Musical" and "Glee" are not musicals. They are posers. Wannabe's. I watch Glee occasionally because several of the stars (Matthew Morrison, Lea Michelle) and guest stars (Kristen Chenowith, Idina Menzel!) were first stars on Broadway.

When I was five years old a cousin gave me an LP (record) of Broadway classics for Kids  and I was hooked! I listened to that and "Songs from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" over and over. Then I discovered my mother had original soundtracks on LP from "South Pacific", "West Side Story", "The Music Man", and "The Sound of Music". I learned every word to every song and acted them out in the living room long before I even knew they were made into movies.

In high school I learned about "Cats", "Chorus Line", "The Phantom of the Opera" , "Le Miserables", and "Little Shop of Horrors".

Then my daughter was born. She entered this world singing. Literally. We thought she was crying but soon realized it was a melody. Its been almost twenty years and she hasn't let up. She introduced me to new musicals such as "Spamalot", "Wicked", "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", and my newest favorite: "Next to Normal", that brings to light the nightmares of mental illness and the effects it has on the family. Its dark but wonderful.

I've had a part in many musicals, including Summer Stock Theatre at Jekyll Island where we ran three musicals all summer. I've written several musicals for church settings and am presently pursuing publication.

And now there is a trend that I just have a difficult time swallowing. That's taking a book, a show, whatever, throwing in a couple of songs and adding the words "The Musical" to it. Thereby, making it officially a musical. It makes my heart hurt for Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loew, Sondheim, Andrew Lloyed Weber, who spent countless creative hours poring their hearts into book and lyric to make the musical magic. (in my opinion they could have spent a little more time on "Carousel", but that's just me.)

I understand that many of the former shows, including ones I've mentioned, were not original ideas but to add the words "The Musical" is just so .....cheesy. The musical world is itself already full of cheese product so why must you add "VELVEETA" to the title? 

But they've gone and done it. In order to keep musicals alive with the new generation, and to offer a complely "family-friendly" arena ("Avenue Q" has puppets, but trust me, is NOT family-friendly) you can now see "Little House On the Prairie, The Musical with Melissa Gilbert as "Ma"." 

I'm not criticizing the show, just the title. If you have to tell us its a musical, I'm a little nervous. And I think today's generation would be better reached with "CSI, The Musical", "Southpark, The Musical", "American Idol, The Musical" (Isn't that redundant and trust me, that one's coming...) and check out "Harry Potter, the Musical" that was written and performed by HP fans.  And actually its pretty good.

So I'm going to go sing and dance my way through this Monday. Its a lot better than dragging through it.

Is your life a musical? A sitcom? A mixture? A reality show? (haha) or just a series of commercials?

What TV show/story would you like to see made into a musical?