“Community” friendships

I spent the day searching. I soak it all in …
years since I’ve made a visit to her home (August ’09)
high up on a “hill” (by south Georgia standards) … nestled against pines
stoic and still amongst fields of grazing bovine, barbed wire and paths of dirt.

I am reminded why we are friends ….
as I peek into corners and crevices of her life
on display on ledge, table top and shelf …
We share affinities for things of old …
like an antique nut grinder that sits in her windowsill.
I have one almost identical on my hutch
four hours north and east as the crow flies.

A jar of candy corn graces the other end of the kitchen window sill ….
candy corn; my favorite autumn treat.

She, too, has a flat bottomed whisk.
I quiz Nina and Bonnie, “Do you reach for it often?”
“Is it your preference?”

She chooses to give thanks ….. a striving goal for me.
Rather than a Christmas tree, she puts up a “Thankful Tree” this year ….
bearing the weight of emblems of faith ….
feathered friends, statements of faith and cones from pines …
that she might focus on being thankful in December ..
this the first year after the death of her mother …
untimely … only a few days before Christmas last year.

The shadows became long and narrow as I looked at this corner of her life ..
like Della and Jeff, I have watched Kevin love Bonnie for years …
always tender and thoughtful in kindness towards each other.
And I teared as I told her how hard it used to be to watch them …
knowing that I would probably never have such.
Little did I know ….

As the afternoon wore on, we sat on her front porch and conversed.
We moved and moved again
as the heat of the sun caused us to need to find shade …
I swung to and fro in the afternoon breeze in amazement
remembering that south Georgia Novembers can be this warm.

Then the sun dipped low behind pines and hardwoods
as the Canada Geese made their way across the sky ablaze with glory.

She told me stories of her mama, her childhood and today.
Mostly, when it was my turn to share,
I spoke of the subjects that sit on the tip of my tongue: God and Stone …
and how He has used him to teach me wonderful new lessons …
about life, myself and Himself.

We began our day
bare and honest,
bathed in sunlight …
unmasked …
and came to a close in the same way.

At one point, I found myself
admiring Bonnie’s gorgeous bracelet
It seems to me that I admired it last time we were together.
This time, I lingered at her wrist ….
not remembering the details in the gorgeous fish.
I thought of Jesus’ words to Simon Peter and Andrew,
Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:19)

Before my visit ended, she extended her arm,
bracelet in hand …  and said,
“I want you to have it.”
I hesitated and even refused …
but Bonnie’s persistence melted my heart
and I agreed under one condition:
this beautiful work of art
would be a piece of “community jewelry”
that I would wear
and return again at another visit.

I find that I have many of these things ….
Heather and I share “community furniture”
in the form of a gorgeous little table
that we found while yard saling together almost a decade ago ….
It has lived at her home, but for the time being, resides in mine.
We share a “community tile ”
because we both love trees and leaves and, yes,  rocks.

Della recently shared a dress with me for several weeks …
it was never named a “community dress”
but I wore it
over and over and over again
in that month or two that it was “mine” …
and thought of my affection for her
while feeling beautifully funky
in the wild brown-and-pink-on-white retro pattern.

And so, I accepted Bonnie’s gracious gift
knowing that we would share this cuff bracelet
inscribed with a reminder
that He calls us all to be
“fishers of men.”

I accepted her gift
as a gift from Him
that I might wear a gentle reminder around my wrist …
a community message that she and I share …
of redemption, love and mercy.

And so I close November
giving thanks ….
for candy corn, the love of a man and woman on display and a Rowdy pup ….
for “community” friendships,
symbols of His love
the blessing of a kindred, gracious heart.

Thanks Giving Mourning

The road to Recovery, my parent’s community in south Georgia,  was beautiful. Joy and I have hopped, skipped and jumped across our gorgeous state since Friday afternoon. We visited Norcross, Warner Robins, Ashburn, Cairo and then traveled to my parents home in Recovery. Shadows draped across us as we meandered our way in Glory’s fun ride, soaking in south Georgia sunshine and the smell of peanuts and soil.

I count my blessings every day, but Thanksgiving is always a time of greater appreciation, deeper gratitude and richer thankfulness.

I knew this Thanksgiving would be special. Today, Thanksgiving day, and we celebrate my dad’s 75th birthday. For several years now, cancer has been in the frame of our vision. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer and treated. He had a re-occurrence, but has been cancer free for some time now.  So, this year, we are thankful for life, family and my father … more than before.

I am grateful for a welcome place to visit my folks. I am thankful for their community – small but dense with wonderful people whom they love and serve with eagerness and zeal.

I am thankful for a chance to visit my brother and his family, his wife so kind … and  his boys, the spitting-image of their daddy at that age, are sweet and kind but boys through-and-through.

As Joy and I drove into the drive yesterday, I knew things weren’t well. You could see the sadness scrawled upon my father’s face. I knew there was mourning, but was …. shocked at the source. Being a Fireman and a First Responder, dad comes in contact with difficult situations often.

This house
is draped with sadness
and we mourn with them.

When we still lived in Atlanta, we began an adventure with the Rodgers – an excursion in friendship. Dad and Russ worked together. Russ invited us to camp with his family. In 1974, in June, we took our first trip to St. George Island, Florida. Back home, in a box, I have a single photograph, square and faded, scratched and cloudy, of Rusty and Robin standing on the beach, the two oldest boys in the family. That was the only photo that I took that day. Even then, I had a camera.

The three Rodgers boys were spaced around my brother and I in age … but I was the lone girl in the group. Soon, we moved south to Thomasville, leaving the bustle of Atlanta behind. We camped through the years … dozens of times …  spring, summer and fall …. year after year …. with a large crowd or just the two families. We fellowshiped, fished and dined.

The same year I married, Mom and Dad bought their little place in Recovery. The Rodgers bought the empty lot next door, built a log cabin and moved in. Dad retired, mom and dad remodeled their cottage into a sprawling home and they left Thomasville to make Recovery, beside the Rodgers,  home.  All of us grew …. children offered grandchildren and we continued to grow in friendship.

Last night, as I drove up, I was met with the news that the oldest of the Rodgers boys
had lost his life suddenly to a heart attack.
Shock settled in.

Rusty had some health struggles, but nothing that would have led us to believe that
this Thanksgiving
we would find ourselves
in mourning.

I knew I would write about my father today.
I knew I would arrive in Recovery and take sunsetting-photographs.
I knew we would have an emotional Thanksgiving.

But, I didn’t know what today would look like.

And so I write
and celebrate my Father’s life
and mourn the loss of a friend’s
and we turn our faces to our Heavenly Father and have to trust
that even in this,
He is in control.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:7

Last chances

They’re twins; Madeleine and Wheeler.  They are marching band members. They’re high school Seniors. And each of them had a special part in this particular game night.

It started with a back-and-forth conversation with Maddie on her Facebook wall about how many games were left, which games were at home and Nutcracker rehearsal interference. Already nearing the end of September, I knew our available weekends would dwindle quickly. This trip had to be one that would work for multiple schedules including mine, Glory’s, the football season’s, and the Lovetts.

For some reason, I felt an urgency. If not soon, the year could slip by. If not soon, the football season WOULD slip by. Fall would swing into Christmas about the time spring would burst forth, and we would stand wondering where the year went. I really, truly wanted to see these two march together … as Seniors. Sometimes, the view deceives us into thinking there will be other opportunities … but we never really know when the last chance will come.

A Tuesday Facebook conversation turned into a Thursday confirmation with Della, behind the scenes. Glory absolutely loves a surprise so we would just s.h.o.w u.p at the field. Friday, I found myself wrestling to free my youngest from the grips of her school so we could leave for this trip. I’m not one to pull her out of school for the drop of a hat. Yes, I knew this would be considered an unexcused absence. We have five of those per year. THIS was worth the loss of less than three hours of school. We had to leave town early to get to south Georgia in time for this game since it’s around a five-hour drive. Leaving no later than one was a must.

We pulled into a parking lot that was already filling at 6:15 and quickly made our way to the band room to hug and yell *S.U.R.P.R.I.S.E!!* It was a wonderful thing!

We watched them march and play. They give 110%.
The pride in the job they do well
beams from the field overpowering the intensity of the field lights.

Madeleine had a duet in this particular game.  At one point, she and another band member marched center field and blew us away with notes. And after their duet, Madeleine THREW off her band hat and whipped her long locks round and round so that EVERY.BODY in the stands KNEW that she was a girl. She did a great job and she knew it! She.was.glowing. She was stunning!!  She is full of life, smart, beautiful. She blesses me!

Della found out on Thursday that Wheeler would be honored on the field just before the game with an earned scholarship.

Advanced Placement classes are high level classes that high school students have to be invited/eligible to take. After the class is completed, the student must pass an additional AP test to receive college credit for the high school class. Just because you pass the class on the high school level doesn’t mean you automatically earn college credit for it. You HAVE to pass the AP test, as well.  Many students aren’t able to pass that test. Any student who passes 3 or more AP tests receives the AP Scholarship Award of $3,000. To earn the AP Scholarship Award is quite an honor. While a handful of students were honored from this year and last, Wheeler was one of five current students lauded as an AP Scholar on the field Friday night.

Wheeler is not necessarily a demonstrative fellow. None-the-less, as he made his way to receive his award, he quietly announced to the principal, “I’m going to hug you. I.am.going.to.hug.you.” When he reached Mr. McCurry, he threw his arms around the principal’s body and squeezed a huge bear hug. It was an awesome thing to watch … the admiration of a student towards a school administrator.

The point of our trip to south Georgia was to watch these two awesome kids
do what they do.
We wanted to see … to cheer and support them.

We celebrated birthdays, rode horses and fellowshipped
but the intentional p.u.r.p.o.s.e of our trip
was to be at that football game.

Look at the photo below and let me draw your eye to Wheeler. Follow the 50 yard line toward the middle of the field and you’ll see him nearest the bass drum line. He’s wearing the white plume, amongst all the red plumed hats. He wears the white plume because he is the Band Captain, second only in line to the Drum Major. He is also the head of the Percussion group. He’s pretty stinkin’ amazing.

This last week, while filming a quick skit as part of a video scavenger hunt,
Wheeler faked a fall
and he broke his wrist.
His arm is in a cast that goes to the tip of his thumb.
Unfortunately, he won’t play a drum again
this football season.

We were in Cairo, Georgia
at the Cairo Syrupmakers biggest rival’s game
on the last night that Wheeler played as a Senior …
on the last night that the twins graced their high school football field …. together.

To say that I am grateful for the feeling of “immediacy” that the Lord put upon my heart …..
the “we can’t let this slip by” feeling ….
the “this is too important to wait” emotion …
is an understatement.

In a world where urgency is common,
we lose our sense of what is important …
because it “all” looks and feels important.
But, people are important.

It was important for us to be at that football game on that Friday in September
and I’m thankful that the sense of urgency was pressed upon me firmly ….
because little did we know,
it was truly our last chance.

Birthday Surprise!

We completely surprised them.

We only made our final plans to head to south Georgia on Thursday afternoon. Things were up in the air as to whether or not Glory could join us. I still hadn’t even washed my dirty clothes from the reunion the weekend before. The house is currently upside down with the rearrangement of living areas. This certainly wasn’t the trip that was planned months ahead like our end-of-summer St. Andrews/south Georgia vacation.

Friday, while girls snoozed and I drove, I remembered that my Mom’s birthday falls right after Joy’s and we would be oh.so.close that we really should find a way to dip over by the lake before we trekked home. I knew it would be a stretch to convince Glory this was a good thing with a boyfriend waiting back in Augusta … but she was game and I was thrilled.

So, Sunday morn, we dug deep into our haphazardly packed, shallow luggage that held clothing for a mere two days and found something that would pass for “church clothes” … quite a feat for a weekend’s worth of horseback riding, football cheering and swimming clothes.  My bag was so poorly packed that I found myself in need of borrowing a dress from Della.  I hadn’t even brought a pair of jeans since our packing was intentionally light as trunk space in Glory’s Mustang is quite minimal. And as the sun crested over the trees to brighten the inside of Summerhill Farm, we showered, packed and drove away …..
with surprise on our minds.

We were a.l.m.o.s.t late. The choir was filing into the sanctuary when we walked into the room … yet they didn’t see us from their vantage point. It wasn’t until Mom and Dad both sat down in the choir loft and surveyed the area that they spied us. We were as pleased as they were to be there!

Mom and Dad attend a rural Methodist church with a pastor who must be in his late seventies, at least. Age is no reason to become dull …. his sermons always ’cause me to think. He steps on toes and challenges and I really enjoy his messages. This week, we heard about Sloth, one of the seven deadly sins.  He, of course, talked about matrimony. The wedding is an event …. marriage is an ongoing labor. “Laziness is a primary reason for failure of human relationships.” I loved that thought … so true … and such a challenge. I think I will paint that one onto canvas.

And what if … we, as women, put as much intentional focus, as great an energy on the details of pleasing and respecting our husbands throughout our lives as we did for those few months that we spent travailing over that small window of time that others gathered to watch us create a union?  What if?

Mom and Dad often enjoy lunch at a Jack Wingate’s restaurant, around the corner from their home. We knew we’d have the chance at fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, several fresh vegetables and yeast rolls. But, better than that, we’d have the chance to fellowship with my folks for just a bit before we had to begin to make our way home.

We didn’t have much time to hang around, but Daddy convinced us to run by their house for just an hour. This gave us a chance to check in on neighbors, chat for just a few and walk down to the dock. It didn’t seem like much, but it seemed to be important to daddy … and I’m so glad that we took that time.

The days are fleeting. We lived in Bainbridge – just a 30 minute drive – before we moved to Augusta. But, my folks lived busy lives just like our young, little homeschooling family. We didn’t see them often. We would certainly travel their way more often if my van were in better condition. The day will soon come when we will have no choice: replace her or walk. I’d choose the first right now, if I was able. But, God has been faithful to keep her running when we need and provide a way to-and-fro when she is not … and I know His faithfulness will continue. This past weekend, we traveled in Glory’s car … which is always a treat.

As we count blessings here in the middle of a week of birthday celebrating, I add to my list of beautiful blessings
things for which I am grateful
my list of  One Thousand Gifts …

364.  a laundry hamper full of dirty clothes from visiting high school friends a week ago …
365.  lush, green south Georgia grass with blades wide and dense
366. the look of surprise on my Daddy’s face
367. a tremendous grin and hug from my Mama
368. baked chicken and fresh salad on a buffet
369. Giggles, a waitress at Jack’s …  and her warm, congenial personality
370. familiar Methodist hymns on a piano played by nimble fingers
371. a pastor who is brave enough to step on toes. He said, “See, you can stay home if you don’t want to hear what I have to say … but I have to be here and I have to say what the Lord has told me to preach.”  And I wanted to stand up and applaud.
372. the gentle roll of hills as you round the bend and head down to the lake
373. a best friend whose closet is filled with an eccentric style like mine
374. a little red Mustang that travels far and fast
375. dozens and dozens of policemen that stopped cars OTHER than ours as we traveled
376. matching traveling pillowcases
377. iPods full of gorgeous driving music
378. peanuts turned and drying in fields
379. the smell of fresh dirt
380. girls who sleep while Mama drives
381. a boy who waters birds and feeds dogs and cats so we can traipse across the state
382. money for gasoline
383. three banana pudding bowls, each with a birthday candle
384. still, settled lake water under a beautifully aging wooden dock
385. a sweet mama and daddy who are always thrilled to see us

Mama, I love you! I hope you have a wonderful birthday!!
{{{{hugs}}}}} and blessings to you!

A Father’s … absence

I am blessed with many friends, but she’s been a constant in my life longer than any other.
Sunday, I watched her gather ’round her husband to help her children celebrate.
Her own father, passed away when we were both in high school.
Possibly her most cherished gift
is this cross-stitched treasure.
Years ago, her husband, Jeff, took a tattered newspaper sliver by Erma Bombeck
to an artist of thread
and had it designed and stitched for his bride.
I still remember his pride …. him showing it to me before he gave it as a gift to her.

It hangs in the most busy and prominent hall in their home.

Erma Bombeck tells how her father did important things like oil her roller skates and tighten her mother’s clothesline … how he brought the car around when it stormed so her family wouldn’t be drenched in the rain … and how she was afraid of other Fathers, but not her own. She used to play with dolls. The father doll would say he was going to work and she would toss him under the bed. When Erma was nine, her own father got sick …. and unexpectedly died.

She brings to light
that she never realized how painful his absence would be
… until he was gone.

Della’s father passed away when she was in high school. He had brain cancer. I didn’t know her well, at the time … our friendship just beginning to blossom.  When I heard that her daddy died, I went to the hospital, just two or three blocks from my childhood home. I reached the lobby as her family was leaving. I still remember them … a mass of huddled, mourning …. walking together … arms and hands and bodies intertwined, holding each other as they walked.

This past weekend, I made an impromptu trip to south Georgia. The trek takes at least five hours. If I was that close … on Father’s day weekend …. I felt I couldn’t NOT go see my own Father.

Saturday, I made that forty-five minute surprise drive from Cairo to Recovery.

My daddy is the fire chief for the volunteer fire department in his little community, Recovery, Georgia. He had a special class to attend that morning. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to “sneak up” on him, but with the help of my mom, I caught him on his lunch break as he dined with other fire fighters at Subway. To say that he was surprised … is an understatement.

While dad finished up his class, I headed over to spend some time with my sweet mama. Dad made his way home fairly quickly. We got to spend several hours talking. It was a wonderful afternoon.

My own father is a man of selfless leadership, constant, consistent support and endearing faithfulness.

I don’t know if my older children contacted their father this weekend.
They have had a bit of a falling apart since the divorce.
I have decided that they are adults and I am doing my best to lay aside my direction.
When they ask me for it, I offer it … but
I am only being honest when I tell you that I am tired …
tired of trying to mend relationships
that are not mine to heal.

I thought a great deal about fathers and fatherhood over the weekend.
I watched Jeff and Della … miss their own fathers, and celebrate Jeff –
an active, strong physical and emotional presence in their home.
I enjoyed my own daddy and celebrated his faithfulness.
And I thought about my own children and their loss.
I was reminded of the joy of presence and the pain in absence.

And like Erma Bombeck,
I never realized how painful a father’s absence might be
… until he was gone.

Coffee & Conversation

Sunday morning began here.

We probably invited at least fifty people. Prior commitments and conflicts prevented many from coming. Emotions and insecurities prevented others.

Mary Ann and I have maintained a college- rooted friendship for twenty eight years. She and Karen and I have gone on many a “girls beach trip.” My best friend from high school, Della, was melded into our circle long ago, so that there are usually four in our circle.

It’s funny how some things change and others stay the same. They have managed to keep the same husbands. They have all lived in the same cities for nearly thirty years. Mary Ann is always the one in charge of the trip and always seems to out-give us all … bringing gifts for everyone almost every time we get together. Karen is always the one adorned in gorgeous flouncy dresses, who makes friends with the cashier, the waiter, the hotel clerk, the bouncer and anyone with a child under ten, an infant or a dog. Della always makes us laugh with her wit and quick quips and drives the vehicle that is the most fun (a red Jeep Wrangler included in that list). And I have always been the one to end up sunburned and needing a sweater I didn’t bring, that wilts around 8:30 pm, then gets up long before anyone else to run or bike or paddle.

About two years ago, we got together with a few college friends that we had not seen in years. Yes, Facebook was a huge factor in finding those people. Having enjoyed our visit so much, Mary Ann began a quest to put together another gathering.

This weekend, Mary Ann, Karen and I  were a part of a group of eight that ate, talked, laughed and cried over the period of one lovely weekend. Some were only able to make it for Saturday night. A few of us were there Saturday through Monday morning.  Each sliver of each day was sweet, tender and delicious.

Sunday morning, I went out on the water in my kayak. I wanted to have some “sunrise over the water” photos to help me remember the beauty of these fleeting days.

After I got back in, Mary Ann was reading on the porch and soaking in some morning rays. With coffee in hand, I joined her and we talked, listened to morning birds and enjoyed the cool tile floor and warm rays of light.

We even took a few minutes to take a tiny, sweet nap.

It’s funny how excitement changes through the years, isn’t it? When I was little and got excited about a trip, I thought I would simply implode upon myself. On the days leading up to the excursion, I felt like I was jumping up and down on the inside. But, in the last ten years, my excitement has a different flavor. I  almost feel like I’m holding my breath with a huge happy grin … as the plans begin to come together for any wonderful event. It feels like the start of a head-spinning, dress twirling, open armed swoon.

And so was this weekend … a swoon … an unfolding of a beautiful blossom. And Sunday morning was a quiet little treat sandwiched between boisterous laughter, tight-squeezed hugs and heartfelt conversations dribbled with a tear.

I always try to leave EARLY when going anywhere in, around or on the other-side-of Atlanta. Traffic there can predictably slow or unpredictable snarl in a matter of moments. So, I got to Atlanta early enough to have a few hours to spare before I was expected at the lake. I had no problem figuring out what to do with my time; I went to Anthropologie. Others head to Ikea. I find my way to Anthropologie. I could completely furnish my home and fill my closet with their silky clothing and eccentric home accessories. It is such a succulent store.

Talk about beautiful. I swooned when I saw these! Look at THIS  link! As much as I would have LOVED to buy at least two or three full settings of this beautiful dinnerware – poetic prose and beautiful flowers on ceramic, earthenware! oh boy! – I opted to choose two coffee cups to bring home.

And so, I sat with Mary Ann, coffee in hand, birds in the air and sweet fellowship between us … and we began our day.

I’m thankful for friendships … ancient by today’s standards
rich by my standards and
deep by any standards.

I’m thankful for little remembrances of special times … like a coffee cup that peek-a-boos flowers with the tip of it’s rim when coffee nears the dregs.

And I’m grateful for renewed friendships … familiarity that is built through shared fellowship, comfort that comes from history and depth that continues to grow.

I Only Wear White Nightgowns

It’s been years now.

I went to Cairo for a visit.
When bedtime rolled around, I realized that I didn’t have pj’s.
Della took me to her closet. She sat down on the floor and, if I remember right, it was the bottom drawer that she pried open.
Spilling over with lingerie,
she began to pull out an assortment of pajamas bottoms, tops and gowns.
It was the white gown that caught my eye.
I believe it was sleeveless.
I know it was tea length.
I remember it had a tear in it.
Its cotton fibers were worn smooth, like silk,
from wear, age and love.
I remember feeling beautiful in that gown that night.

I’ve always thought that Della is one of the most beautiful women that I have ever met.
Somehow, her beauty has nothing
to do with her looks
and yet …. everything.
When she was younger and Princess Diana was alive,
it was easy to see a keen resemblance between the two.
Diana is now gone … but Della’s beauty remains.
I love the cock of her head,
her warm, embracing smile,
her deep, loud belly laugh,
her tell-it-like-it-is attitude,
her strong hands and lovely nails,
her generous heart,
her boldness in Christ,
and her daring, short hair.

She lives in a beautiful place now.
I see that she accepts herself
in a way that she didn’t for decades …
she and I have both made our way down that new road
to self-acceptance, self-love and self-embrace.
While we have our differences, in many ways we are alike.

I only own one shirt that has a peace sign.
I wore it to Cairo on my last visit.
She came out to greet me upon my arrival
and she was also wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign emblem on the front.

Yes, peace is definitely one thing that we are united in seeking.
She spent a childhood without it.
And I have spent my adult life without it.
But, I would have to say that both of our homes are now
filled to the brim and overflowing with peace.

So, I remember the night I wore her white nightgown.
And I decided then
that I would only wear white, cotton nightgowns for summer slumber.
Winter’s chill brings pj’s and flannel …
but summers are meant for cool, white, crisp, flowing, cotton frocks.
That’s been at least …  fifteen or more years.

Somehow, the Lovetts can poke fun at
ping-pong balls, tragedy or raw fish
and make people laugh.
I am the now the butt of all “white gown” jokes.

Last summer, I posted this photo of me walking down the beach.
Our mutual friend, Mary Ann queried me on my Facebook wall:

” **whispering** Karen, does anyone else know
that you are walking around in your nightgown??!!??”

(I have to mention that this little dress was bought
to be worn as a beach/bathing suit cover up …
but since she’s mentioned it, I’ve actually slept in it a few times.)

I accidently left one of my long-sleeved, fall gowns
in the Lovett household about a year ago.
They nicknamed her “Chastity” and have now claimed her as theirs.
She truly has a life of her own.
Sleeping with me in my un-eventful world
would certainly be a letdown
after all that she has seen and done.
She has been taken on many excursions with their family. She’s been seen
at the beach … Panama City or Daytona, I’d guess.

She’s made an appearance at a Cairo High School football game in Della and Jeff’s hometown.

And she was part of Drosselmeyer’s costume for The Nutcracker…. well … behind the scenes, anyway.

She’s gotten to ride a mower and cut acres and acres of grassy, manure filled pasture.

She’s been to a Sweet 16 party, been to board meetings downtown and …
who knows where else!
I wouldn’t be surprised to find she has ridden a motorcycle.

I’m sure their joke in naming her “Chastity”
is that she isn’t very sexy
and yet …. in any white gown, I feel beautiful.
And I am absolutely sure
it is because of a decision made years ago
in the Lovett home.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it?  The family that makes fun of me always wearing a white gown
is where the idea originated in the first place?

And I’m okay with that.
If they weren’t picking on me,
I’d feel a little left out.

So, they call her Chastity,
But I call her “Beautiful.”

Makes Me Happy Monday : Peace

A few weeks ago, I drove to south Georgia for a visit.
I pulled into the driveway and Della came out to greet me.
And there we were …
both wearing peace sign tees.
I don’t know about her
but I only own one.

For years, I have shunned the “peace sign.”  Somewhere along the way, I heard someone say that it began as a broken, inverted cross. I can see how that might be. But, I don’t know that for sure. And I don’t think anybody looks at it that way today.

And peace … is so desirable, isn’t it.
I yearned for it for all the years of my marriage.
My dear friend spent her youth striving for it.

And today,
my marriage
and her youth
are over
.. and I’d say
that we both live lives permeated with peace.
The strife creators and pot stirrers are gone.
I  tried for years, but never was able to truly feel at peace in my home.
An argumentative spirit seemed to rule within the walls of our home.
Long before her mother’s death,
Della walked away and decided not to allow her mom to continue to
create struggle and influence her life negatively.
But, today … there is deep, penetrating wonderful tranquility
in both of our lives.

I hope, like us, you have found a way to make peace a central theme in your life.
Yes, peace truly makes me happy.
What makes YOU happy this marvelous May Monday morn?

A Tire and Twins

This was the sky as I left.
The forecast called for 70% chance of thunderstorms
with gusts of wind from 25 to 30 mph.
I needed to be at my destination in south Georgia by 3:00 pm last Saturday afternoon.

The drive takes about five to six hours.
I didn’t want to take any chances.
I was already close on time.
I pulled out of the driveway at 7:38 a.m.

As I did some final loading, I came down with a
splitting headache.
Trying not to mince time, I considered taking tylenol
without a drink
but the thought of having a pill dissolving in my throat
while I frantically prayed for an exit
to make a quick stop for a beverage
didn’t sound like a good way to start off a trip.

So, while I was still familiar with
the area and the convenience stores,
7:45  and I pulled off at an exit and picked up a V8.

Before getting back into my van,
I circled the rear end to make sure that
those tires that will need replacing soon
looked good
and could take a long drive.

The driver’s side, rear tire was good.
Here is the passenger’s side, rear tire.
It’s not a close-up, but that shiny spot at about 1:00 on the tire
is a nail.

I wasn’t even sure what time Butler Automotive opens.
Yes, the number is programmed into my phone.
And I’m pretty sure Thomas knows my voice
before I identify myself.
I called and Thomas answered.
They open at 8:00.
He kindly said, “Sure! Come on in,”  in the helpful voice to which I am so thankfully accustomed.

I watched the morning shadows cross the  cement floor of the car shop
and wondered about my morning.
Would I need a new tire or could this one be patched/plugged?
When would I finally leave town?
What if I hit more delays once on the road?

Maddie invited me to south Georgia months ago
to photograph her first prom.
I didn’t want to be late.
I wanted to do an excellent job on her photos.

As it turned out,
Thomas and the awesome crew at Butler pulled through.
The nail was small enough that it didn’t fully puncture the tire.
It required no plug … no repair.
Thomas didn’t charge me and I was on my way
shortly after 9:00.

I thought about the chain events.
Had there been no headache,
I wouldn’t have stopped for a drink.
Had there been no stop,
I wouldn’t have seen the nail
perfectly positioned face-up on the tire
rather than on the side or bottom … and out of sight.
Had I driven further,
I would have been out-of-town
and unfamiliar with tires shops along the way.
Had I gone to another tire shop,
someone might have convinced me to buy new tires unnecessarily.
Had my trip not been pushed back by an hour and a half,
maybe I would have been in just the right place
at just the right time
along the road
to have a wreck
or cause an accident.

I don’t know about all the what-ifs,
but I’m always amazed at mornings like this
when things happen that I don’t understand
but I know that there is a God who does.

And so, I praise Him for a headache and a nail.

And the photos? I’m working on them.
Here’s one of Maddie and her twin brother, Wheeler.
They each had wonderful dates ….
and Wheeler was as handsome
as Maddie was beautiful.

Thank you, Lord, for an unusual delay
a wonderful trip
and a chance to take some beautiful photographs
of a special set of twins,
children of two of my favorite people in the world.