Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Several years ago - way back in 2010, actually - I posted a list of symptoms that indicate you may be approaching 50. (For that list, click HERE.)

I "approached 50" a couple of years ago and owned it like a boss. Fifty is behind me now, in more ways than one. I have a few things I want to add to my previous list...

You may be over 50 if...

...you are finally happy with your curves. Well, happy at least until you lie down on the sofa and all those curves slide off and melt into shapeless blobs underneath your armpits.

...you always carry a water bottle with you. Always. Everywhere you go. Because drinking lots of water is healthy, and, although you are middle-aged, you are also health conscious. (Never mind the fact that drinking lots of water supposedly helps alleviate some of the unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause.)

...you know the location of the restrooms in all the stores you shop at regularly, and you know which gas stations have the cleanest restrooms. You never enter or leave a building without making a rest stop. (See "water bottle," above.)

...you prefer to watch the grandkids jump on the trampoline instead of jumping on the trampoline with them, and you reflexively cross your legs when you sneeze. (See "water bottle," above.)

...you buy pantiliners in the 120-count jumbo box. (See "water bottle," above.)

...forget wine glasses...you now drink wine out of an over-sized coffee mug. Or a quart Mason jar. Shoot, why get another dish dirty? Just drink the wine straight from the bottle. Or the box. (Didn't they used to sell this stuff in barrels? Why don't they sell barrels of wine at Kroger?!)

...those socially unacceptable thoughts that sometimes pop into your head? You start having more of those thoughts. And, they start flying out of your mouth. (Lord, please help us!)

...when Bruno Mars's "Uptown Funk" comes on the in-house radio at WalMart, you dance like a dancin' fool, baby! Don't believe me? Just watch. I'm too hot! (Or was that just a hot flash? Ooops. Well, might as well rock it.)

...you cry at everything. Everything. Your grandma's funeral, a cute puppy, the last piece of chocolate in the candy bowl, chicken on sale for 49 cents per pound at Rulers, a sharp comment from your husband, stupid cat videos on Facebook, your daughter's piano recital, cold coffee...e-ver-y-dang-thang. (Maybe I should drink more water.)

...you know - on a deeper level than you have ever known before - that life is good.

Yep. Like you said, Nacho...

Friday, February 24, 2017


About that red-headed boy...

The earliest memory I have of my monster crush on the red-headed boy a couple of farms over was fourth grade. It wasn't until I was in high school, however, that we finally connected and went on our first date. Or, to be more precise, our first not date. It happened like this...

Steve purchased four tickets to a John Denver concert a hundred miles away in the big city of Memphis: a ticket for himself, one for a friend, one for his brother and one for his sister.

As the day of the concert approached, Steve's brother and sister found they had school conflicts that prevented them from attending. Steve knew that my older sister and one of my cousins both liked John Denver's music, so he offered the two tickets to Alice and Ginny.

My cousin Ginny gladly took one ticket. My sister Alice was not free the evening of the concert, but she took the remaining ticket anyway and told Steve she would give it to someone she knew who would appreciate it.

Alice, you see, knew a young girl who liked John Denver and who also had a ginormous crush on the red-headed boy offering to drive everyone to the concert.

After school the day of the concert, the four concert-goers met at Food-Rite in Troy to ride together to Memphis. My little teenage heart was bursting with anticipation when we pulled into the parking lot. Forget John Denver - I was going to spend and entire evening in the company of the boy I'd been drooling over since fourth grade! Who knows? Maybe a magical spark would ignite between us!

My excitement turned to mortification, however, when Steve pulled into the parking lot and I learned that his "friend" accompanying us to the concert was actually a girl from his high school and his date for the evening. Talk about a painful, awkward situation for a lovesick teenage girl!

So, my first date, my first not date, with the red-headed boy was the time I went with him and his real date, S----, on a road trip to attend a John Denver concert in Memphis. The concert, of course, was awesome. Ginny, who was privy to my simmering crush, graciously did everything in her power to remove as much of the awkwardness from the evening as possible.

Still, it was a l-o-n-g night.

When we got back to Obion County in the dark wee hours of the morning, Steve drove Ginny to her house, then stopped at S----'s and walked her to her door. My house was the last stop on his drive home.

For ten whole minutes, between S----'s house and mine, I had the red-headed boy all to myself.

Unfortunately, I was practically unconscious. I've never been a night owl, and I was certainly not accustomed to late-night road trips. Think zombie girl.

Fortunately, a couple of years later there would be another first date - a real first date - for me and the red-headed boy.

But that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


The youngest and I made runzas for lunch today. My friend Katherine introduced my family to these delicious pocket sandwiches many years ago.

Decades after I first stood in Katherine's kitchen rolling out circles of dough on her counter, I still think of Katherine every time I make runzas.

Brown 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, then add sliced cabbage and onions and saute until veggies are tender. Season with salt and lots of pepper!

"You need a lump of dough the size of a clementine."

"A what?"

Katherine introduce me to clementines, too.

Whenever I make runzas, I also think of the many sweet memories Katherine and I have shared over the years.

Take a ball of yeast bread dough about the size of a clementine, and roll into a thin circle. Place a large spoonful of meat filling in the center. Pinch dough together over the filling to create a pocket sandwich. Brush with butter and sprinkle with a tad more salt. I baked these at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Food is more than a matter of physical nutrition. Yes, it feeds the bod; but food also feeds the soul. Although we now live many miles apart and rarely see each other, Katherine continues to feed my soul by her life and faith.

Today, I am thankful for tasty food. I am even more thankful for friends who nourish my heart.


(The beef and cabbage I cooked today was enough for 18 runzas. These freeze and reheat well, and they make great to-go meals for days when we are out running errands. We like to eat them with mustard.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


"When I was a young, single woman," my friend confided, "I prayed that God would give me a husband who would challenge my thinking." She married a genius with a steel-trap memory who, many years later, still enthusiastically pursues knowledge and who is always asking questions.

"You sure got what you asked for," I laughed.

"What about you? What were you looking for?"

"Ummm, me?" After her comment, I was embarrassed to answer. "Well, I really, really liked red hair."

I saw Steve for the first time when I as a little girl in fourth grade. Too young to even notice boys, right? Nope. Steve had the brightest, orangest hair I had ever seen on a human. He looked like a human torch. It was love at first sight.

My girlfriends and I had a game we would play at recess. As we sat on the sidewalk playing jacks, we would make up code names using the initials of our crush-of-the-moment. Then, we took turns seeing if we could guess each other's love interests.

I never had a crush on anyone, never had any initials to add to the game...just had to content myself with being totally awesome at picking up jacks on a single bounce of the ball. Until I met Steve.

"I have a name!" I announced gleefully as we sprawled on the sidewalk one afternoon during recess. "His initials are S.K.!"

"Sauerkraut Kisses," one girl laughed.

"Strawberry Kangaroo!"

"Give us another hint," another girl coaxed.

"He has red hair," I confessed. And then the game fell completely apart.

It just so happened we had a classmate named Steve K------, who also had red hair. None of the girls knew my Steve, and they all assumed my crush was on this other fellow. Needless to say, the girls ignored my protestations that they had guessed the wrong boy, and an unholy amount of teasing and embarrassment followed.

It wasn't until many years later - eight or nine? - that my Steve asked me out on a date. In the meantime, I had dated many boys who did not have red hair. One of the first guys I dated inflicted so much emotional trauma that the relationship ended with my praying, "Lord, is there no one kind out there?"

Someone kind did eventually come along...but, lacking an appreciation for either Cardinals baseball or sports cars, I had nothing in common with the fellow. It didn't take long for the two of us to discover that we were boring each other to death!

Too many years and too many disastrous relationships later, I finally got a call from the boy a couple of farms over, the very first boy I'd ever had a crush on and the only boy I ever had any real interest in at all. He was kind! He was interesting! And he had the most amazing red hair.

Folks, hair just doesn't get much redder than this!

Almost thirty-three years later, I can confidently say that a fondness for red hair is not a strong foundation on which to build a relationship. Steve and I have had a hard go of it at times, and are still struggling to grow in this journey called marriage. This is hard work and has often been painful. (And it has turned us both gray-headed.)

But in the midst of all the work and mess and struggle, I haven't forgotten the red-headed boy I fell in love with way back in fourth grade. Just the thought of that flaming head full of hair, now faded to gray, still makes me smile.

He was the first boy who caught my eye. After all these years, I can honestly say that he is the only man I have ever wanted for my own.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


When the twins were newborns, we lived in a house that had functional heating in only a couple of rooms. The roof leaked in one of the bedrooms - leaked, not as in drip, drip, drip, but leaked as in garden hose on full blast. Nighttime downpours were the worst, because they required trading precious sleep for nonstop emptying of 5-gallon buckets. We ate a lot of bulk oatmeal and peanut butter that Grammy donated to our family pantry and a lot of soup. Twenty-plus years later, some of my kids still don't like peanut butter or oatmeal.

When the twins were 2 years old, we moved to a house the attic of which was infested with raccoons. If I'd been superstitious, I'd have thought the devil lived upstairs. The growling and snarling and screaming at night was terrible. Worse, though, was when the unwanted raccoons shared their fleas with us. Trying to remedy a severe flea infestation - with who-knows-how-many raccoons still living in the attic and six little kids living below - is a daunting task. When the exterminator came, I would have to strip all the beds, load the kids and the laundry in the van, and leave the house for the day. Entertaining a herd of small children "out" all day was exhausting for a pregnant woman!

Twenty-something years later, still, I often wake up in the morning and think, "Thank you, Jesus, that we live in a warm, dry house and that we are all well fed. Thank you, thank you, thank you that we don't have fleas." I am genuinely thankful for those things, because I have not forgotten how awful the alternative was!

* * *
I love birds.

Yesterday, I took a long walk back on the farm. Early in my walk, I startled a large red-tail hawk, one of my favorite birds. I was right beneath the giant oak upon which he perched before he launched into the air with a sharp skreeee! I stopped, breathless, and watched as he circled overhead and scolded me before flying off to find another perch.

As I picked my way down the steep bank to cross the creek, I came eye-to-eye with another of my favorite birds, a great blue heron. He sprang up, flapped his great wings, rose slowly into the air and veered across the field in search of another fishing spot.

Then, as I crested a hill on the far back side of Granddaddy's property, I surprised a huge flock of wild turkeys, the largest I have ever seen. I lost count at 50. Their wings thundered as they lumbered upward into the trees. I stood transfixed and marveled and wept, because the noisy upward rush was so tremendous, so beautiful.

This world is filled with so much beauty.

* * *
A couple of days earlier, on another walk back on the farm, my daughter commented to me, "We sure do have a big God, for being such small people."

Yes, we do...a very big God indeed.

And He gives me so much for which to be thankful.

Thursday, February 2, 2017


While I'm on the topic of relationships within the church...

Yesterday, I listed several reasons I am tempted to avoid the hard and sometimes uncomfortable work of developing deep, meaningful relationships with others within the body of Christ, particularly with those within my local church body. (Read yesterday's post HERE.)

I have thought of a few more reasons intimacy within the church is difficult...

These people offend me. Some are too self-righteous; others are not nearly righteous enough. Some are control freaks; others are way too passive. Some have their theology all wrong; others have their theology so precisely right that they can't afford to associate with anyone less enlightened. Some are way too smart for me - they think and talk completely over my head; others, well, they are just plain stupid. These people smile and pretend affection even as they dismiss me, provoke me, malign me, hurt me, and ignore my needs.

I offend them. Face it, relationship is difficult when you are always stepping on someone's toes or making someone suspicious, frustrated, or mad. I say too much, or I don't say enough. I wear my feelings on my sleeve, or I am not transparent enough about how I feel. One person is afraid that I will threaten his authority or make him look stupid; another needs me to set a stronger example. One fears I am becoming a raving modernist liberal; another thinks I just emerged from the Stone Age. These people, even when I have the best intentions of loving them, I offend them, provoke them, frighten them, hurt them, neglect them.

If intimate relationship is so fraught with complications, why even bother trying?!

Why? Because God saves people into and for community. There are no Lone Ranger Christians. If I am flying solo, you can bet my Christian life is pretty anemic.

Remember those National Geographic documentaries about animals in Africa that we watched on TV way back in the day? As a herd of gazelles stampeded across a grassy plain, I'd watch in fascinated terror knowing that eventually some poor gazelle would break away from the herd, veer to the side, lag behind...and I'd think, "Oh, no! Run back! Run faster!" That wandering gazelle inevitably ended up as dinner for a lion or cheetah.

Running solo is a good way to get eaten. It is not a good way to try to live the Christian life.

But, these people I have to live with, Lord...!

Let me ask you a question (I am asking myself the same question): Do you think this community into which you have been placed is an accident?

Is it possible that the sovereign, good, all-wise, all-knowing God of the universe accidentally put me into the wrong family? That He had another, better, more-like-me, easier-to-relate-to family in mind, but then He got mixed up and plugged me in with a bunch of irritating and easily-irritated yahoos by mistake?

Of course not.

I can pick my friends, but I don't get to pick my family. God picks my family.

It would behoove me to stop making excuses and to figure out just exactly how to begin loving the beautiful, broken messed up family that I am in.

* * *

"Aunty," Jem spoke up, "Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't." - Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird