Three of My Favorite Songs

Two of these will seem fairly logical, but the third one may take a bit more explanation.

1.  People Need the Lord

Everyday they pass me by,
I can see it in their eyes.
Empty people filled with care,
Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,
Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries,
Only Jesus hears.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize, people need the Lord?

We are called to take His light
To a world where wrong seems right.
What could be too great a cost
For sharing Life with one who’s lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel
All the grief they bear.
They must hear the Words of Life
Only we can share.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize that we must give our lives,
For peo-ple need the Lord.

People need the Lord.

When this song was first written, it resonated with me immediately.  I started learning about missions and missionaries shortly after I was saved at the age of 8.  I was perplexed by the accounts of people around the world who had never heard the name of Jesus.  This amazed me because I can’t remember a time in my life when I did NOT hear His name.  My parents started taking me to church when I was 6 weeks old, and I missed very few Sundays after that.  How could anyone not know about Jesus?  And yet, I learned then and I know for sure NOW that millions have never heard.  It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to go to every continent except Antarctica and Australia as well as to places in the US and in my own hometown to share the love of Christ and the truths in God’s Word.  People most desperately need the Lord.


2.  God Bless America

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above
From the mountains, to the prairies

To the oceans white with foam
God bless America
My home sweet home


If I had $100 for every patriotic program I directed as a Junior High chorus teacher or an elementary music teacher, I could go on a very nice trip indeed.  I loved seeing children wearing red, white and blue, waving flags and singing about America at the top of their lungs, with choreography added for interest and fun.

But, it was my first trip out of the country to Brazil seeing garbage piled high and walking through the favelas near Rio de Janeiro (slum areas with no running water but plenty of  raw sewage and hovels made from plywood and cardboard), having to be careful to drink only bottled water, closing my eyes because of the seemingly out-of-control traffic — the impressions were indelible.  It was that trip that began to open my eyes to how truly blessed we really are in America. Our return flights were delayed, so we stayed in a hotel in Orlando before flying home.  That hotel seemed to have the whitest sheets I’d even slept on, the cleanest bathroom, and the best water I’d ever drunk.  It was all about perspective.

Then later in Guatemala when we stayed in a small hotel that cost $2.50 a night and had roaches crawling on the bathroom floor, and the sheets and towels were thrown over bushes to dry every day, I saw more.  In Kenya where the women cooked outside over open fires and walked for miles to gather wood and carry water, coming back to huts with no apparent “worldly goods” — I was embarrassed to even answer their questions about the home from which I’d come.  I’ve also seen extreme poverty in Ecuador and in Venezuela and overcrowded populations in South Korea.  Folks, we who live in the United States of America are RICH. All of us!  I will never sing that song flippantly, and it will be my continued prayer that God will keep on blessing America and that we will “humble ourselves and pray and turn from our wicked ways.”

I highly recommend a trip outside the US.  It will make a deeply patriotic person out of you.

3.  Besame Mucho  or

The title means “kiss me, kiss me a lot.”  Follow that link (or highlight and click) to hear what I consider to be the most romantic version of this song ON THE PLANET.  Andrea Bocelli on stage in Tuscany.  Oh. My. Goodness.  You can Google both the Spanish lyrics and the English ones, but, trust me, the Spanish ones are MUCH better.

So, yes, I am a spiritual person.  I am a loyal American.  But, I am also a woman who is still living and breathing and married to an amazing man.  The kids will likely throw up right about now.  Oh well.  I fell in love with this song while we lived in Ecuador.  I dare you to name one that is better.

The first two songs  bring tears to my eyes, but the third song makes me want to slow dance.  🙂

couple slow dancing

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Lone Cornstalk


I have passed this sight numerous times in recent days, and it speaks to me every time.  If this lone cornstalk had human feelings, I believe we’d be best buddies.  There it stands, green, healthy, and alive, but very noticeably out of place.  An accident.  An inadvertent seed that managed to germinate and thrive in spite of what surrounded it.  The farmer intended to plant a field of soybeans, but somehow a kernel of corn slipped through and took root.

That cornstalk is just doing what cornstalks are supposed to do — growing straight and tall.  Just down the road, it wouldn’t be noticed at all because of the thick fields of corn planted there.  It would be “among friends.”  But not here.  The cornstalk is not intentionally trying to “rise above” the other plants or be superior in any way.  It’s just “being corn” while the surrounding plants are “being soybeans.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I have some wonderful friends and a very loving, supportive family, but still there are times when I feel misunderstood or out of sync with those around me.  Like I’m playing in the Key of B-flat while everyone is singing in the Key of C.  It reminds me of my high school days when anyone with any musical skill played in the band (after all, the Charles Henderson High School Marching Band in Troy, Alabama, was one of the best in the state), while I drove to Montgomery every week for piano lessons and practiced in my living room — a much more solitary endeavor.  I’m not a Group Person.  I wasn’t in a sorority in high school or college.  Sororities aren’t wrong, you understand.  I just didn’t want anyone else telling me how to think, what to wear, whom to date, or when to squeal at a pep rally.  

I’m still that same person.  For all of my prissy southerness with a whole dash of Southern Baptistness thrown in, I continue to feel things singularly and often refuse to be swept downstream with the rest of the fish in my emotions and reactions.  A couple of Sundays ago, I was standing in the choir loft having a great time praising and worshiping when suddenly we were singing “It Is Well With My Soul.”  I got through the first three verses ardently, then the instruments swelled, the volume rose, and the words became “And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll.  The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, ‘Even so,’ it is well with my soul.”  I could not for the life of me get those words out.  Tears were gushing down my face, and I was totally overcome by the picture in my mind and the reality of those lyrics.  I’m sure many of the people in the congregation were deeply moved, too, but I was the only one weeping.  I was the cornstalk in the soybeans.  

And a few months ago, I was on a committee that had been given an important task.  We spent hours and months of working and deliberating and were unanimous in our choice, but we were met with loud, angry opposition.  Our committee was like that cornstalk.

Yesterday I passed that same field and noticed that the cornstalk had become yellow and dry while the soybeans were still green and thriving.  What is the lesson?  Is it to go through life in lock-step with those around you and not veer off on your own or else you’ll die?  Surely not.  There are too many Bible characters whose behavior was ordained by God to be noticeable and unique, whose example stood out for others to follow.  

What do you see in this lone cornstalk?  A mistake?  A picture?  An inspiration?  A joke?  I’d love to read your thoughts.


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Counting Down to Cousins Camp 2014

In less than a month, nine eager grandkids will arrive on our doorstep, anticipating a week of fun with their siblings and cousins.  They depend on some things to stay constant.  For instance, they KNOW we’ll have rules, they’ll go swimming in the neighborhood pool, and they’ll get a new t-shirt, but what other things their grandparents have waiting on this year’s Clipboard of Fun??  Well, that’s the surprise part of the equation.  One of their first questions is sure to be “How many Mystery Trips will we have this year?”  We certainly don’t want to disappoint anyone, now do we?

The planning is reaching a fever pitch.  The charts and lists are continually being made, edited, and tweaked.  Just because this will be our 7th year for such an event doesn’t mean that we have this down to an exact science.  Maybe you’d like to get a behind-the-scenes peak at some of our preparations.

DATE.  Well, that has become pretty much etched in stone — the last full week of July, officially July 20-26.  Between the oldest granddaughter spending 5 weeks each summer with her dad, and with 3 in public school that starts in early August, we don’t have a lot of leeway.  Several that live the farthest away will probably start coming in a day or so early, but the whole gang gathers early on the first Sunday afternoon, and they stay until the following Saturday morning after breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, have you counted the number of MEALS that will be served?  187!!!!  Think about it.  You’d probably guess that there would be one or two foods that EVERYONE would say “Yay” about, but you’d be wrong.  Their tastebuds vary from sushi to grilled asparagus to anything-with-ketchup to avocados.  Some like fries.  Some don’t.  Some like chocolate.  Some don’t.  What’s a Grandmomma to do?  Well, we make rules that say such things as “Eat when it’s time to eat” and “Be kind to each other.”  Obviously, everyone won’t be happy with every meal, but hey, maybe they will be really hungry when the next meal rolls around.  Right?  One very good bit of news is that our grandson with the milk allergy has now grown out of it.  That makes me much less anxious about him getting sick by an accident or an oversight on my part.  Whew!

What about TRANSPORTATION for 11 people for the week?  The van has been rented.

What will this year’s THEME be?  Last year was Wild Animals.  The year before that we did Sea Creatures.  Nope.  You’ll have to wait for the unveiling of this year’s theme for awhile longer.  Let’s just say that it is an “active” theme.  🙂

What will we DO every day?  Do you mean BESIDES swimming, fishing, eating, and laughing?  Well, that’s where my Clipboard comes in?  Each day has one or two special activities/trips pertaining to the week’s theme.  And, we like to do lots of CRAFTS.  Again, try to imagine suitable crafts for a child age 4 all the way to age 13.  That takes some thinking and planning.  Just today I have pretty much nailed down my choices for this year.  Now to gather all of the materials.

You might ask, “Doesn’t it cost a lot of MONEY to feed, transport, and entertain 9 grandchildren for a week?”  Yes, it does.  That’s why we have a Cousins Camp line item in our budget.  Oh sure.  We’d LOVE to take them to more exotic places, but we have to keep our true purposes in mind: 1) Spending quality time with our grandchildren away from their parents. 2) Giving their parents some time to invest in their marriages.  3) Providing an opportunity for our children’s children to really know and learn to love and appreciate their cousins (very important since they are scattered through 3 states). 4) Making memories for a lifetime.

Back to my charts and clipboard and menus and lists of craft supplies and meal ingredients, etc. etc. etc.  Can’t wait!!

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“When I’m 64” — Eureka! The Beatles Wrote Me a Song.

On May 17, 2014, this coming Saturday, I will turn 64.

I’ve never been 64 before.  I have a sneaky feeling that it will be a lot like 63 has been, but it’s the “what will happen in the years to follow” line of thinking that has me nervous.

The last few weeks I’ve been going around the house humming/singing/lamenting the old Beatles song “When I’m 64.”

To refresh your memory, click this link

Here are the lyrics:

When I get older,
losing my hair,
many years from now.
Will you still be sending me a Valentine,
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

If I’ve been out
till quarter to three,
would you lock the door?
Will you still need me,
will you still feed me,
when I’m sixty-four?

You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse,
when your lights are gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside.
Sunday morning go for a ride.

Doing the garden,
digging the weeds,
who could ask for more?
Will you still need me,
will you still feed me,
when I’m sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage in the isle of Wight
if it’s not too dear. We shall scrimp and save.

Grandchildren on our knees

Vera, Chuck and Dave.

Send me a postcard,
drop me a line,
stating point of view.
Indicate precisely what you mean to say.
Yours sincerely wasting away.

Give me your answer,
fill in a form, –
mine for ever more.
Will you still need me,
will you still feed me
when I’m sixty-four?

This was obviously written for a man to sing to a woman, but the sentiments apply just as well in reverse — losing hair, knitting sweaters by the fireside, grandchildren on our knees, renting a vacation cottage (if it doesn’t cost too much), wasting away, etc. etc.  Paul McCartney pretty much nailed it.  He actually wrote the music when he was 15 years old and added the lyrics later in honor of his own father’s 64th birthday.  The recording was released in 1967, the year I turned 17.  At that time, age sixty-four could not have been farther from my thoughts.  I was just hoping to pass geometry and be allowed to go to prom, assuming I got invited.


When this photo was taken, I was twenty years old.  Steve and I were married just a few months later.  We had absolutely NO MONEY.  We were deeply in love, and we were very close to receiving shiny, hard-earned college degrees.  In our minds, that was all that mattered.

At age 24, I was a first-time Mom with a 6-month-old daughter.  I was teaching dozens of piano students, and Steve was trying to build up his very young veterinary practice.  We borrowed the money for a down payment on a little house and furnished his first clinic at a yard sale.  As before, our thoughts were “Nowhere to go but up.  Keep working.”

At age 34, I had three children, all in elementary school.  I was getting another college degree, this time in music education, so I could be in school with my children and add more consistently to the family income.  We were busy in church and already planning for the children’s college educations.

At age 44, I had one child at Auburn and two others in high school.  Steve’s practice was going well, and I was teaching in the public schools.  The people of Hartselle, Alabama were very good to us, and the town was a wonderful place to rear our family.  We were in a great church in Decatur.  Steve was a deacon, and I was the organist.  We were living in our dream house, set on 10 acres on the side of a mountain with a pond in the front and a swimming pool in the back.

At age 54, we were living in Cuenca, Ecuador in the Andes Mountains of South America.  All of the children were married, and we had one grandchild.  We had sold, given away, thrown away or stored every single one of our possessions and were obeying God’s call to be missionaries.

Now, at age 64 (if I live three more days), we are both retired, living in Athens, AL., in great health, and our 12th grandchild is due in the fall.  The constant thread of being active in church remains.  But, with the astounding changes that have taken place at each decade marker of my life, can you understand why I’m looking forward now with a lot of pondering and excitement, mixed with a dash of trepidation?  Where will I be and what will I be doing at 74, 84, 94 and beyond?  Will I be in heaven?  Will Steve and I BOTH be in heaven?  Will our grandchildren be married?  Will we be great-grandparents?  Will our physical and mental health stay good?


As you can see, there are lines and wrinkles around my eyes now, and gray hairs make their appearance in spite of the best efforts of my stylist..

Steve, here’s my question for you this week.  “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”

So far, he keeps answering “YES!”

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“Rise Up, O Men of God!”

Because I grew up singing hymns in a Baptist church, these lyrics are a part of my spiritual fiber.  For those of you (us) who now have a mostly blended worship style (meaning both hymns and praise/worship songs), I hope you’ll find this included on a Sunday very soon.  For those of you who have never heard it or sung it, the first verse goes like this:

“Rise up, O men of God!

Have done with lesser things;

Give heart and mind and soul and strength

To serve the King of Kings.”

(Written by William P. Merrill in 1911)

If you question whether the words are Biblically-based, look no further than Ephesians 6:10-20, II Timothy 2:1 and 3 or one I’m particularly drawn to this morning, II Samuel 10:12 (Joab speaking to his soldiers) “Be strong and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight.”

Just what WOULD/COULD happen if God’s men rose up?

“Rise up, O Men of God . . . . for the sake of our nation.  What good is all this whining about Washington doing us?  Where instead is the fervent prayer for our President, Congress, Supreme Court?  How many letters, e-mails, or contacts have you made to your representatives in the House or Senate?  When was the last time you had the courage to express your Christian convictions to your city council, your local school board, your children’s PTO?  For that matter, have you considered running for office yourself?  Do the people in your work environment even KNOW that you ARE a Man of God?  Does your work ethic reflect it?  Do your actions and your vocabulary stand out as being distinctly Christian?

“Rise up, O Men of God . . . for the sake of marriages and families.  Yes, men, a huge portion of your time is spent “bringing home the bacon” to financially provide for your family.  I applaud you for that.  What about the hours when you ARE home?  Are you leading by example in the areas of personal prayer and devotional time?  Does your wife recognize that you are partnering with her to make decisions about the family’s finances, parenting, etc. based on the Bible?  Do you exhibit self-discipline when it comes to sports, time on the internet or hours in front of the television?  Whether it’s working out physically or landscaping your yard, are your priorities balanced?  Do you deliberately create and plan for LOTS of time to celebrate life, laughter and love, making memories with your wife and children?  At the end of your life, what legacy will you have left to them?

“Rise up, O Men of God . . . in our CHURCHES!!  Do you have your pastor’s back??  Really???  Does he know that??  We expect him to preach the Word of God on Sundays.  We expect him to stand beside us for births, deaths, illnesses, family crises, and celebrations, AND we want him to watch over all of the “business” of the church.  Has he been forced to withstand the “fiery darts” of criticism, discouragement, ill tempers, even false accusations with no one creating a wall of protection around him?  Has he been encouraged to take time off to recharge his batteries and preserve his physical health?  Are you ENCOURAGING him at a stronger/faster rate than the ugly voices are attacking him?

Have you used the excuse that you’re an introvert . . . or you’d rather just “work behind the scenes” . . . or you don’t want to offend anyone . . . or you just want to “go to church on Sundays and not get involved” . . . or somebody else can do it??  Have you ignored the Holy Spirit prompting you to stand up and speak up for what is “true . . honorable . . right . . pure . . lovely . . of good repute . . excellent . . . worthy of praise?”  (Philippians 4:8).  James 4:17 says “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  What are the right things that God has told you to do through His Word and through the urgings of the Holy Spirit?


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Southern Living Home for Sale by Owner

Have you ever wanted to enjoy a farm without being a farmer?

Have you ever wanted to watch the boats, the barges, and the jet skis go by?

Start humming “Tara’s Theme” from Gone with the Wind, grab a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade, and join me on one of the three covered porches of this Southern Living plan home.




The view from the front door.




A view from the upper porch.

The back porch looks out over acres of ever-changing crops — corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat — as well as professional landscaping, bird feeders, and a butterfly garden.

Walk in the front door to the dining room on the left and the living room on the right.



Continue on to the family room with massive fireplace wall and coffered ceiling.  Notice the extensive crown molding throughout.



The kitchen and breakfast area are open to the family room.  The kitchen features a pantry, a French-door refrigerator, an induction cooktop, and double ovens.




The master suite has a foyer, tray ceiling, a sitting area, plenty of windows, a large master closet, a tiled shower, and a whirlpool tub.




In addition, on the main floor you will find a study, which could be a 5th bedroom, a 3/4 bath, a laundry room, and the 3-car garage.

Upstairs, there are 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, and a large bonus room.


There are lots of closets and surprises that make it a must-see property.  The back of the house is as inviting as the front.



The house was built in 2010, sits on 1.1 acres, and has 4100 square feet.  The address is 13614 Inverness Place, Athens, AL. 35611.  Even though it is in Brigadoon Village, nestled along the banks of Wheeler Lake on the Tennessee River, it is just a 35-40 minute drive to the Huntsville airport and Gate 9 at Redstone Arsenal.

Brigadoon Village is gated and has beautiful green spaces, a large pool, and pool house for property owners to enjoy.  There is a boat launch 1/2 block from this house or Lucy’s Branch is 5 minutes away.

The price is $565,000.  Call 256-221-8295 or 256-221-7545 today for an appointment to see it.




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A Mango in Guatemala

            In 1991, on our second volunteer mission trip, Steve and I joined with street evangelist Leo Humphrey, singer Dan Moran, and two other willing workers for Holy Week in Guatemala.  During the mornings we would go into cities and towns with names such as Huehuetenango, Jalapa, Quetzaltenango and Guatemala City, find an available spot, set up sound equipment and pass our tracts while Leo and Dan preached and sang.  In the afternoons we would find a likely-looking neighborhood and go door-to-door inviting people to come to a showing of the “Jesus” film in the early evening.

            Several actions utterly amazed me.  Of the hundreds of tracts that we distributed, not a single one was thrown on the ground.  All were accepted graciously and read by the person who received it or by a literate friend.  And, there were no chairs for watching the movie, but people were willing to stand for several hours without saying a word or acting bored or uncomfortable.  Both were such contrasts to what would have happened in the States.  And to add to my amazement, dozens of decisions to accept Christ were made each day. 

            In many ways, though, this was the most dangerous trip we’ve ever made.  Except for the snacks we had in our suitcases, there was no “safe” food available.  We slept in $2.00-per-night dilapidated motels where the sheets were dried on the outside shrubbery, “la cucarachas” (cockroaches) ran rampant in the bathrooms, and furniture had to be propped in front of the door to provide a measure of security.  We were also stopped by uniformed policemen on a remote road in order to be searched, and I still contend that an angel of God kept them from beating and robbing us . . . or worse.

            Through all of the experiences of the week, one incident is forever engraved on my mind.  We had separated to go two-by-two through a pathetically-poor neighborhood using our broken Spanish to invite the people to see the “Jesus” film.  Steve and I were walking down a dusty street when an undernourished brown boy about 10 years old came and started motioning for us to come with him to his house.  He wanted to introduce us to his mother and sisters.  We followed him and stepped into a hut with dirt floors and not a single piece of furniture.  No chairs or tables, just some hammocks attached to the walls but rolled up out of the way during the daytime.  We visited for a few minutes, inviting all of them to the film, and then started back down to the street.  In a few seconds, the little boy came running after us holding a mango that he wanted to give us.  We had seen where he lived and what his family’s “worldly goods” were.  We knew that any money that had been scraped together to buy fruit in the market was precious and that such foods needed to be consumed by them to sustain life, and yet, he was insistent that we take the mango. We thanked him and went on our way.  We learned later that during Holy Week the people are taught to present to someone else a gift of value that they own, and the mango represented that boy’s Holy Week sacrifice.

            What a lesson in sacrificial giving!  I doubt that we’re ever been given anything of such proportional value. 

            It also occurs to me now that if a person has never had a La-Z-Boy recliner, or a couch or even a stool in his home, then he/she has learned to stand . . . A LOT.  That explains the ease with which those crowds of people were able to watch the “Jesus” film intently without needing chairs.

           My goodness!  I’m a mighty spoiled American.


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An “RTR” Even a Good Auburn Girl Can Appreciate

As a self-respecting, degree-waving Auburn graduate (’71), I had never met an “RTR” that I could appreciate. . . until last week.  My husband and I stepped off the plane in Raleigh/Durham and were met with a banner proclaiming:  Welcome to RTR – Research Triangle Region.  There it was in big letters.  No denying it.  But, over the next four days, we came to truly admire and enjoy this part of the country with all of its natural beauty, its cultural diversity, its academic excellence, and its culinary offerings.

We were there mainly to visit my cousin Ginger and her husband Reitzel, life-time Athens residents until about a year ago when they moved to be near all of their children and grandchildren.  Well, “near” as in “outside of a 5-mile radius” as requested by their loving son-in-law.  Ha!  Thanks to their gracious and thoughtful hospitality and planning we covered a lot of the area and were treated to insightful and enlightening commentary.

The first noticeable difference between Alabama and North Carolina?  So Many Trees.  It was beautiful in the early spring.  I suspect it is spectacular in the fall.  The location, too, is great.  Two hours to the coast (think Nicholas Sparks’ novels and the Outer Banks) and two hours to the Smoky Mountains.  In Raleigh/Durham, there are many rolling hills.

Straight from the airport, we went to the Brightleaf District (referring to the tobacco industry that was the main economic source for many years) and a small, retro-looking cafe called Fishmonger’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar (  Since both of our morning flights were so short they “didn’t have time to get out the beverage cart,” I was dying of thirst.  Hallelujah for some cold, sweet tea!  The oyster baskets weren’t bad either.  🙂  Conveniently across the street were some great shops, of which my favorite was Parker and Otis — a broad selection of specialty foods and unique gifts (

Then we went on to the campus of Duke University.  We became Duke fans when our son Matt attended a basketball camp when he was in Junior High School.  A very influential Duke player on the team at that time came as a guest that week –yes, Christian Laettner — and Matt was hooked.  He came back and requested all kinds of Duke paraphenalia for his already orange and blue bedroom.  We started following March Madness.  Matt’s dream vehicle became a “Duke-blue Dodge pick-up truck.”  You get the idea.  Thank goodness, he never actually asked us if he could ATTEND Duke University.  We learned last week that tuition is now $60,000 PER YEAR, and I’m sure it would have been almost as prohibitive in the mid-to-late ’90’s.  All that to say that Steve and I felt a little bit as if we were walking on hallowed ground when we toured Cameron Indoor Stadium,  the Duke University Chapel, the campus bookstore, etc.

Steve and Coach K Court Duke chapel

We ended Day One by visiting a Chick-Fil-A franchise where our hosts’ grandsons work.  They were sponsoring a fundraiser for Jacob’s month-long mission trip to Malaysia this summer, and Austin was “the cow” for the evening.

Steve and Chick-Fil-A cow

We got to Ginger and Reitzel’s house in time to put our suitcases in their Crimson-Tide-decorated guestroom, (It’s a wonder we got ANY sleep.  Ha!) and to watch as they prepared to host a meeting of their Life Group (the way Sunday School is done at Summit Church where they are members — a discussion for another blog).

The next day we drove through the University of North Carolina campus, and the day after that we saw North Carolina State.  It’s a good thing the rivalries between these three schools is respectful and friendly.  With that much proximity, things could get downright dangerous!  On another plus side, my cousin and her family are in a great spot if they encounter health issues.  The medical facilities at these universities are world-class.

Wolfpack stadium sign Wolfpack statue

I will attempt to cover our culinary journey on another blog.

You know how I like to share the details of our trips, so stay tuned for more, especially if you’re planning a trip to Durham, NC in the near future.

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“Never Have I Ever”. . . until now

“Never Have I Ever” is a great getting-to-know-you game that we played recently with both people in our neighborhood and folks in our Sunday School class.  I have just spent the past 13 days adding things to my future list of accumulated life experiences if I should ever get to play again.

1) “Never Have I Ever” (until now) had a CT scan.  Thirteen days ago I went to my family doctor complaining of abdominal pain.  We both suspected that an umbilical hernia I’ve had for awhile had become incarcerated (he taught me that new term that day), but he wanted to be sure there was nothing else lurking around that needed to be addressed.  A couple of hours later, after getting insurance approvals, finding the right location, drinking the required liquids, and waiting an hour for them to do their job, I was on the sliding table going in and out of “the big tube” both before IV dyes and after.  In my case, the hernia was confirmed, and no other problems were found.  So many of my friends haven’t been as fortunate.  I felt (and feel) very blessed in that regard.

2) “Never Have I Ever” (until now) had hernia repair surgery.  I’ve had plenty of other surgeries but never this kind.  And, may I just say — OUCH!!!  I’m still moving more slowly than usual and have a lot of soreness, but those first 4 or 5 days were miserable. Thank goodness for a patient husband and loving friends bearing food.  My Silver Fox did do one tiny little thing that he thought would help my recovery.  He set an app on my phone that would remind me to “get up and move around” every thirty minutes.  The next day I said, “DON’T TOUCH MY PHONE,” and he didn’t.  🙂  Probably not the best thing for my recovery, but definitely best for the “atmosphere in our home.”  🙂

3)  “Never Have I Ever” (until now) met a new doctor and had him operating on me a couple of hours later.  I couldn’t help but think about the Norman Rockwell print I saw years ago called “Before the Shot.”  A young boy is standing on a chair with his pants pulled down about to get a shot but checking out the doctor’s credentials first.  Image  I could SO relate, although I didn’t take time to look at all of the degrees and certificates.  I just trusted the recommendations of our family doctor.  It worked out well.  I really like this man, and now would recommend him to others.  Dr. Randy Buckner in Decatur.  Very personable and highly-skilled.

4)  “Never Have I Ever” (until now) gone a week with no make-up and actually let a few people see me in that sorry state.  Well, I should qualify that.  I can’t remember the last time that has happened.  Mildred Rose Collier’s daughter just simply wouldn’t be seen without properly applied make-up and lipstick.  It’s a sure sign that I’m “feeling poorly” when I can’t smear on a little foundation.  My apologies to those who had to witness the unvarnished truth of my naked face.

5)  “Never Have I Ever” (until now) had a salad featuring Romaine lettuce, red onions, and “blistered grapes.”  After a short break, my Silver Fox and I are back to experimenting with Mediterranean cuisine.  The main dish today was a turkey burger with apples, bacon and basil — yummy!  The salad I mentioned was our “side.”  How do you “blister a grape,” you may ask?  In this case, we tossed about 3 cups of red grapes with 2 T. of olive oil, 4 t. of balsamic vinegar, 1 t. honey and 1/2 c. of sliced red onions. This was placed on a baking sheet with sides and baked at 400-degrees for 15 minutes, until the juice in the grapes began to ooze out. Pleasant and unusual.

And now for two events that come under the heading of “Things I Haven’t Done in a Long Time” —

1) I ate some of Jan Dekalb’s great potato salad.  Ahhhhh.  For quite a few years, Jan helped to prepare the Wednesday night suppers at First Baptist, Hartselle, AL., the very place where my family and I ate our Wednesday night suppers.  I always looked forward to Jan’s cooking, especially her potato salad and hadn’t had any for at least 25 years.  She sweetly brought some to my house the day after my surgery.  As soon as I put it in my mouth, sensations of comfort and familiarity filled my tastebuds and senses.  I felt nurtured.  Thank you, Jan.

2) I let my daughter Laura drive me in MY car.  The last time was probably when she was 16 years old.  She was here to go with me to the Annual Women’s Conference at First Baptist, Athens, and I wasn’t supposed to drive yet.  She did a great job.  Once we got out of the garage, I wasn’t one bit nervous.  Thank you, dear.  I might add that she ALWAYS does a good job of driving me in HER car.  I’m not a bit nervous when that happens.  🙂

Generally speaking I am “all about” collecting new experiences.  However, for the foreseeable future, I’d like to avoid numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 above, thank you very much.

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Pasadena Take-Aways

It felt right to touch down yesterday afternoon in the Land of Cotton, the Land of Sweet Tea, the land of the familiar, but it was also enriching to have once-again added layers of never-befores and fresh vistas to my life.

When our beloved Auburn football team accomplished the unbelievable feat of going from a 3-9 season in 2012 to beating Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and being chosen to play for the National BCS Championship in 2013, we decided to go with them to Pasadena and cheer them on in person.  I’m so glad we did.  Florida State IS the #1 team for this year, but Auburn was a very close #2.  Our boys played hard and “did us proud.”  The Auburn fans clad in orange and blue outnumbered the garnet and gold crowd by at least 60% to 40%.  Our band looked great.  Aubie was fun.  Our game stats were admirable.  We ALMOST won.  And, so far, no embarrassing YouTube videos have surfaced portraying our fans in a bad light.  Whew.  Big relief.

Since I continue to think like a teacher, I think in terms of lessons — the ones learned, the ones to be taught, and the ones to be reviewed and confirmed.  Here are my lessons/take-aways from the trip to Pasadena:

1) Weather conditions anywhere in the US can and will impact a LOT of airports.  You are unlikely to make it through an entire travel itinerary without at least one glitch, delay or hassle of some kind.  SAFETY, however, is something you don’t ever want to be compromised in any way.  Amen?  Leaving Huntsville last Saturday, we had to have something akin to a jumper cable to jump-start one of our engines.  What in the world???  Then, we arrived in Denver amid a LOT of snow and had to walk several yards through said snow, slipping and sliding in shoes that had not planned to be in such conditions.  There was a long delay at our next departure gate, so we were transferred to another gate where we waited another hour.  We arrived in Los Angeles a couple of hours after our scheduled time.  Oh well.  Nothing urgent was missed, besides dinner.  😦

Our return flights on Wednesday were on-time.  However, the first leg required a wake-up call at 3:30 a.m. in order to make the 6 a.m. flight.  And, when we got to Denver, we knew we had a tight connection.  Where were our seats?  On the back row of the plane.  Do you know how long it takes to get from the 40th row to the cockpit?  When we finally emerged at Gate 22, our connecting flight to Huntsville was already boarding at Gate 79.  Silver Fox and his fluffy bride were bookin’ it down Terminal B!  We were the last ones to board before the door was closed.  Whew!  So, no breakfast.  No lunch.  Not even any pretzels.  Cracker Barrel tasted mighty good when we finally got home.

2)  Amazingly, planes can now have DirecTV, but still don’t have food or leg-room.  Go figure.  One of these days, I’m going to have enough air miles built up to fly First Class, and boy, am I going to enjoy it!

3) Airport hotels are convenient to . . . . the AIRPORT — but not much else.  It WAS nice to arrive late at night and have a free shuttle to the Marriott LAX in just a few minutes.  And, it was VERY convenient to have shuttles running 24 hours a day so that someone friendly and helpful was available at 4:15 a.m.  I’m sure that shuttle alone saved us a bundle of cash.  The next morning, AFTER paying 50 bucks for the breakfast buffet at the hotel, we discovered that a Denny’s and a Burger King were only a couple of blocks away.  Guess what we did the other mornings?

We had already booked a city bus tour (downtown LA, Hollywood, Olveda Dr., etc.) and a bus to and from the Rose Bowl, but otherwise, we were looking at expensive taxis or car rentals to go anywhere or do anything.

4) Don’t be afraid to use public transportation.  Large cities generally have good, logical, workable, reasonably-priced systems in place and fully-functioning.  On the morning after the big game, we were considering 1) renting a car, which would have been at least $100, or 2) taking taxis,which might have run as much as $200.  With the help of the Guest Services desk and a handy-dandy map, we opted for the city buses and spent a whopping $3.  Yes. We did shell out some dollars for our tickets to the BCS Championship Game, and we did blow our 2014 travel budget on the airline tickets to California, but, hey, we’re not known for wasting money needlessly.  Am I hearing rousing “Amens!” from those who know my husband well??

Just as a side note, if anyone should ask me whether I prefer Los Angeles or New York City, hands down I’d say NYC!!  Even though “the weather outside is frightful” there this time of year, NYC has an energy and a vibe that I absolutely love.  The sunny skies and warm temperatures in LA, and most definitely as we approached game time, were blissful for January, though, I’ll have to admit. There’s no perfect place to live, however.  Alabama has to contend with extreme temperatures and tornadoes, but Southern California is experiencing a drought right now (3 inches of rain in the past YEAR), they have lots of forest fires, and earthquakes are a constant possibility.  I’ll take Alabama.

Steve enjoying California sun

5) Attending a major sporting event is NOT for the weak, the frugal, or the faint-hearted.  Mercy!  We enjoyed the Rose Bowl setting a lot and had great seats, BUT there was a LOT of walking, the concession stand prices were HIGH, and we STOOD for every play, only sitting during time-outs and for half-time.  This stadium was built a LONG time ago, thus there were few restrooms.  We’d been warned in advance to be sure to “use it before you go in.”  It was good advice.  🙂

Connie Rose Bowl Steve Rose Bowl

6) Great fans and proud traditions are a part of other football programs BESIDES Auburn.  Those Florida State folks had a fantastic- looking horse (where WAS our eagle, anyway?), a fun (intimidating) deal with their spear, their chant drove us slightly crazy (MUCH worse than Mississippi State’s cowbells), and they have the world’s largest marching band.  But, don’t ever doubt it.  Auburn fans were loud and proud.  We were all just so glad to be there.  We made quick friends with perfect strangers wearing the right colors.  And, by George, we are LOYAL!!!  We left the stadium yelling “It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger” and meant it to the depths of our hearts.

7) The tiniest increment of time can make a HUGE difference.  It was a case of ONE SECOND in the Iron Bowl (sorry, Bama friends).  Then, last Monday night Steve looked at me after Auburn’s last score and said, “79 seconds.  We’ve got to hold them for 79 seconds.”  Before the game, my prediction had been that whoever had the ball last would win, and I was almost right.  Think about how short 1 minute and 19 seconds is when you’re going about your daily routine.  It seems so insignificant.  But, also think about how much damage or good can be done with that much time.  Words.  A person’s reputation or a relationship can be destroyed in less than 79 seconds.  On the other hand, a person’s future can be changed forever and for good in a short period, too.  How about “I love you.  Will you marry me?”  or “I accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.”  A few seconds.  All the difference.  A lesson from the 2013 Auburn football season?  Every play, every second matters, and never give up!  I suspect our grandchildren will hear those words from us for years to come.

BCS Game Jan 6 2014 007

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