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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year

Like many people around here today I'm pretty bummed about the whole Mike Leach thing. So much so, I have nothing nice to say about it. So let's just get on with our lives.
Can you believe it's almost 2010? Can you believe how wrong the movie was? Can you remember what the movie was about?
Ive been thinking about new years resolutions and if I should set myself up for failure again this year. Maybe I should go a little easier on myself and set attainable goals. Like, I resolve to watch more TV in 2010. Or I resolve to drink a glass of red wine everyday, you know, for my heart. Also I will take more bubble baths and eat more chocolate. I'm going to read books just for fun and listen to more music.
I am going to watch more baseball and I will go to at least one Rangers game this year. I'm going to see one new movie every month and watch some old favorites in between. I will enjoy my husbands company and find more reasons to laugh with him. I'll see my kids as often as I can and never end a conversation without "I love you".
I hope you all have more of everything you love this year. Have a happy 2010!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Babies!

I made it. I finished everything I needed to do before Christmas. Well, actually, I ran out of time and I'm just making do with what I have gotten done.

It snowed yesterday and it is beautiful. It kind of messed up our plans, but that's OK, because I really wanted a White Christmas. I didn't want it to take my son and his girlfriend 14 hours to drive from Austin, but they are here and that's what matters. Now if we can just get Sarah and Jonathon here safely. They are flying in this morning. Maybe we can be snowed in together for a while.

I will post pictures as soon as I can.

Anyway Merry Christmas to all, and Jesus, thank you for being born.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

More Christmas Distractions

Are you ready for Christmas? This question is getting old. For me these days it rates right up there with, how old are you and how much do you weigh. I have never been less ready than I am this year.

I don't know what's wrong with me. I haven't had fun at any of the Christmas parties so far. They weren't terrible. I just felt sort of blah. I think I miss my kids.

Shopping has been harder this year than ever before. I don't know what to buy for anyone. I'm getting more and more behind.

I was looking at board games at Barnes and Nobel. (Don't worry, kids, no one's getting a board game.) I noticed there are trivia games for every subject or interest you can imagine. There appears to be a great need for useless information. And the Monopoly games are getting out of hand. There is Star Wars Monopoly, Seinfeld Monopoly, Peanuts, and my favorite Grateful Deadopoly. That's going too far.

I like the Grateful Dead. I own several Cd's and once owned them on vinyl. I have driven hundreds of miles to see the Dead in concert, but I am merely a fan, not a Dead Head. How do I know? Because I like other music, also. To a Dead Head, the worse thing you can ever say is, "Can we listen to something else?"

I don't think I have ever finished a game of Monopoly before someone got mad and quit. When we were kids we hated that game but played it all the time. I think it started something like this. It was Christmas break and the weather was bad so we couldn't play outside. Mom would yell at us to quit fighting or turn off the TV or whatever we were doing to get on her nerves. Steve would pull out Monopoly and say "Ya wanna play this stupid game?" We would say no as we raced to the table to fight over who was the dog or the race car, who got to be the banker and so on. And then it began, sometimes lasting for hours. But we never finished a game. It would be years before I realized there was a way to end it without game pieces flying and someone getting in trouble with Mom.

By the way, Isn't it fitting that Monopoly is made by only one company? hmmm..........

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Christmas

I watched Gone With the Wind last night and I don't know if you can tell but I am writing this with a deep southern drawl. Isn't it funny how a movie can affect your speech for days. And I don't know why, but if a book is set in the south I read it with a southern accent.

I am from Texas, and in case you are wondering, I do not speak with a drawl. I speak with a twang.

As you can see I have nothing of any interest or importance to say tonight.

We had our Christmas open house today, and I heard the same songs sung by every school in town. There were a few variations. Some classes were more unruly than others and some were very well behaved. One little boy danced like he had the Holy Ghost. I don't think his teacher appreciated it.

Well you probably can tell by now that I am posting Christmas picture this week. The ones tonight are very special. One was taken in 1975 when My brother, Danny and his family came home for Christmas. They had been living in Hawaii for some time. It was the first time our family, all the brothers and sisters, had been together on Christmas in ten years and we had a White Christmas. The other pictures I bar owed from Jamie's facebook page. It's Jamie, Amy and my sweet Lauren. Aren't they gorgeous?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life On The Naughty List

I kinda had a bad day. I cant really say much about it because of privacy laws. But this was the kind of day that could have ended on the evening news with the words "before turning the gun on herself". But it didn't. I kept my cool and didn't kill anyone or kick any puppies or yell at any old ladies. I am learning, these days do end, this too shall pass.

After work I went to the dollar store to finish up my Secret Santa shopping. No I am not that cheap. The dollar store was agreed on by everyone. Anyway it took me ten minutes to find what I wanted and another thirty to stand in line and pay for it. The place was crazy and people were angry. All except the young lady in front of me. She was having a lovely time showing me what all she picked out and even complementing the cashier on the nice tall bags they had for her wrapping paper. She was a joy to stand in line with.

I got home and my husband, who was in such a lousy mood last night was all smiles this evening. His boss told him he has so much vacation time left he had better take off all next week. Suddenly he's Mr. Happy! It will be wonderful for him to be off, as it is Christmas week. He can do all his shopping and gift wrapping. He can bake and make Christmas candy and get the house ready for the kids to come home. Oh wait. Those are my chores. Well, at least he can rake leaves.

It would be so nice if I had that sarcasm font.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Christmas Memories

My family has been through a lot the last couple of weeks, but I guess we have to do the Christmas thing anyway. Although, I think we would be better off hibernating for the winter. I think I may be part bear, as I have this overwhelming desire to sleep through cold weather and hard times. But seriously, it just seems wrong to carry on like nothing happened.

We tried to get some Christmas shopping done yesterday and the stores were so crowded I couldn't even think. I have a feeling I am going to be shopping on Christmas eve. I don't know what to buy for my kids. They live in a warmer climate so they don't need sweaters and scarves. They are renters and students who move a lot and don't need more things for their homes. I don't like to give cash because, well people know how much you spent. Besides it seems lazy and thoughtless. Why do I put myself through the torture of trying to find the perfect gift every year? I think it to death and then become frustrated. When my kids were growing up, I tried so hard to make every Christmas perfect and memorable. Chances are, they didn't care. Why would they? They were children, Christmas in its self was perfect.

When I was a child no one had to convince me Santa was real. I never got to see a department store Santa because Mom went to see him alone. That's what she said and I believed her. When I was around four or five we had snow and I wanted to go out and play. Afraid to be told no if I asked first, I went to the closet to get my coat. I opened the door and saw all these toys. Before what I was seeing really registered I felt someone grab my arm and pull me out. I think it was Greg. Everyone was standing around me asking what I saw. I honestly couldn't remember. My mom said Santa had to bring some toys early and I was to stay out of that closet. I believed her and of course never looked in the closet again. I knew Christmas would come and I could wait. I cant imagine it now, but I really had no anxiety about it at all. I got my little piano that year.

We never had stockings but we hung up our socks. I can remember my dad trying to get an orange out of my little anklet sock. How Santa ever got it in there I don't know. We always had fruit and nuts and ribbon candy on Christmas morning. My dad loved ribbon candy. Daddy would drink his Christmas morning coffee out of my tiny little tea set just to make me happy. I know he needed a bigger cup of coffee after being up all night helping Santa.

Another strange memory I have of Christmas in the 1960's was advertisements for gift boxed cigarettes. I wonder if anyone ever gave cigarettes for Christmas. I don't think Santa would like it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Last night my brother lost his wife to cancer. We had spent the day with them and their family and received the call about thirty minutes after getting home. When we left I really thought she had more time. I didn't realize I was saying goodbye for the last time, or maybe I would have said something more profound. Probably not.

My brother Danny left for the Navy when I was about seven, but I will never forget that day. My parents were taking him to the bus station and he was trying to tell me goodbye. I remember crying because I wanted to go too. I refused to hug him in my little hissie fit and some time later realized he was gone and I had missed my chance. Later that day I walked into the kitchen and saw my dad sitting at the table crying his eyes out. He was so broken hearted and believed Danny was too sweet and naive to be pushed out into this cold world, as he himself had a few years earlier. Now he is watching his son go through another trial he has also faced and can not do anything to help him.

Regrettably, I have not spent much time with my sister in law, Shirley for the past few years, but, she was a God send in my youth. While Danny was overseas she was so good to my brothers and me. She believed children should be taken bowling and fishing and whatever. She taught me how to bait a hook and play spades and other card games. I loved coffee and hot tea with milk because of her. She would talk to me and explain things to me like I mattered. Most of the time these conversations took place over a fishing hole. I hope I get to fish with her in heaven.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Long Winter's Nap

I am missing water aerobics again tonight. It's too cold and icy out and they will probably cancel it anyway. I do enjoy water aerobics. It's the only exercise routine I have ever had fun doing. It does make me tired, though. You know how exercise is supposed to give you so much energy? Well, I sleep like a baby after water aerobics. It's a good kind of sleep too. Kind of like sleeping in a poorly ventilated room with an open flame heater after having too much cold medicine. There I go, thinking about my childhood again. (This is where I really need a sarcasm font on my computer)

I love winter sleeping. I didn't even like naps until I had children. Way up into my twenties it was like I was afraid I would miss something if I went to sleep. These days with the sun going down at 6:00, I could be in bed by 7:00. I could put on my flannel jammies after a hot shower, jump in bed, turn on a movie and settle in for a long winter's nap. With a dose of NyQuil, a little depression and self pity I could get a good 12 or 13 hours in.

It's a good thing I don't live somewhere like Alaska.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Is This The Price For Having Learned How Not To Cry?

I have said in the past I never cry in public. I also said it was becoming increasingly harder to control this emotion. Maybe it's age, hormones or just life's experiences, I don't know, but I am more emotional these days.

I have a good reason for not wanting to cry in front of others. I don't like a lot of attention and if I start crying I will draw attention. I'm not one of those people who can quietly weep, tears rolling down their faces, occasionally dabbing them with a tissue. When I cry it's loud uncontrollable shoulder heaving sobbing. It requires many tissues.

I try to avoid situations that will bring on these episodes. Sometimes it just can't be helped. If it happens at church, well I know I will not be the only one.

This time of year everyone is trying to make you cry. Coffee commercials are the worst. They are like mini episodes of The Walton's or Little House On The Prairie. On the news they will have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan wishing their families a merry Christmas. OK, so no TV. But what about work? When we have our open house you know there will be children singing Silent Night and such. How am I supposed to handle that? I have to work with these people.

In the town I lived in before, there was this young African American Man, named Cory. He was around thirty but had the mentality of a six year old. He was one of the sweetest people I have ever known. He would come into the bank to see me all the time and talk about Jesus. He loved Jesus and he loved his church. He would tell me about a revival or something they were having and he would say" I'm going back tonight to get me another blessing". He always wanted to play the guitar in his church but he didn't know how. He told me his pastor would say "Cory that's not your gift". And he was happy with that answer.

We were having our Christmas open house one year and he came in for punch and cookies. He was so excited about Christmas, telling me what he was getting his grandma. He said " I want to sing you a song for Christmas". I said OK, not realizing he meant right then. He closed his eyes and sang Oh Holy Night. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. First I had chill bumps, then came the tears. His voice was amazing. I said "Cory, that's your gift". He said "I know".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Past

It's that time again. I have my tree up and my house all decorated. It's cold and wet outside and I plan to make fudge and Martha Washington candy today while Jon watches, of course ,football.

So far, I think Christmas is going to be easier this year. I still miss Lauren as much as ever, but like a thorn in my side or a rock in my shoe, I'm getting used to it.

I like Christmas music, but it gets old. It's the same songs sung the same way by different artist. I prefer the old stuff, or my mom's music. You know big bands like Glen Miller or the crooners like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole. But what I really love is the sixties stuff.

I used to have a Christmas album, or vinyl for those of you too young to know the lingo, that had Lou Rawls and Mary Wilson, among others. I have looked for it on CD but never found it. This was the kind of music we heard in the bus stations when Mom and I went to Washington DC in 1963. This music, along with Coca Cola Santa's always takes me back to that time. I even have an ornament on my tree that is a Coca Cola Santa with 1963 printed on it.

There was a time, when I began this season by making matching Christmas dresses for my girls. Soon they were too old for this little tradition. It broke my heart, but at least it was one less thing I had to get done. A few years later I was making red twirling suits with Santa fur on the skirts for the Christmas parade in Plainview. Lauren was thrilled the last year she did this parade when she got to lead the Plainview high school marching band. This band marched about 300 more students than her high school band and is kind of a big deal around here.

Hard as it may be, I know we will move on and make new traditions and memories. We'll just have to see how it goes.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks For The Memories

This morning I awoke to a lovely memory. The aroma of Thanksgiving turkey roasting in the oven and my parents moving around, talking in the kitchen. I remember my dad playing with our Pekingese, Puddles, who's senses were overtaken by the smell. He would say, "You want some turkey?", and she would stand on her hind legs and make this sound like she was talking back to him.

I got out of bed and made myself a cup of coffee, and there was my own little Pekingese, Mia, looking up at me. She looked so sweet, so I gave her a little saucer of the heavy cream I was putting in my coffee. She loved it. I had no idea Jon had already given her some milk, it's so unlike him. Spoiling the puppy is my job. Well anyway, I never would have thought such a little dog could throw up so much.

Judging from Thanksgivings past, I would say the thing my family is most thankful for is football. Dallas Cowboy football to be exact. But football in general, goes on for days. This is why I don't mind working the Friday after Thanksgiving. There will be football from now through Monday night, for sure, but sometimes they surprise me with even more.

I have a niece, Jeanna, who is more like a sister to me for many reasons. She is only three or four years younger and we were raised together. Of course, like a sister, I may see her faults, but you better keep your opinions to yourself.

One Thanksgiving she and her mom and step-dad were living down the street from us. After having our fill of food and football, we snuck off to her house and watched Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, played barbies and just laughed and had a good time. No one even missed us, but football was on so.........

Today I miss my mom. I can't believe she left this world without giving me her dressing recipe. Thank goodness for Praters.

I miss Lauren sitting on the kitchen counter talking while I make ugly pies she and Sarah will make fun of, but still eat. I miss her watching the parade and telling me every few minutes that I just have to see these twirler's uniforms.

I will take my turkey to my sister in law's house and eat with my dad and brothers while they ignore me, and I am thankful I can do this another year. I am thankful for the women my brothers married, they have been the sisters who stood between me and total despair.

I will talk to Eric and Sarah on the phone tonight and be thankful they are only a few hours away. I will pray for them and ask God to bring them home quickly and safely.

Happy Thanksgiving. May your hearts be full as well as your belly's.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Old Hippies Never Die, They Just Flash Back

Driving home from work today, I heard on the radio they were having a Thanksgiving giveaway called Free Bird. They were giving away Butterball turkeys with Lynard Skynard Cd's inside. It made me laugh. But then I realized Thanksgiving dinner will likely be cooked by fifty year olds. Or those of us who discovered Lynard Skynard back in the 70's when we were fifteen and sixteen, never knowing we would ever be this old.

It's funny to me how my generation has had such a hard time growing up. We run industry and politics, and are responsible for most of the mayhem in the world, waging war and brokering peace. And yet, we still love to crank up the tunes on the radio. There is no better feeling than hopping in your car on Friday after work just as a Zeppelin song starts up. And no better time to get the Led out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The big topic at church and in our small groups right now is, "defining moments". Everyone seems to have one, some have several. I guess my big Ta Da was when I realized how much I need other people. I know that doesn't seem like much, but believe me, it was hard to get there.

I always had a lot of friends in school and didn't spend many weekends alone. But somewhere along the way I quit trusting people. Maybe it was the bitter sting of all the knives in my back or the constant ringing in my ears from the gossip. But I learned to keep people, even friends at a distance.

After I was born again, got married and had children, I felt like I needed friends even less. I was quite comfotable being alone. I had everything I needed.

I never cried in public. This was a skill developed over many years and I was very proud of it. My mother was a crier and it embarrassed me. I also married a crier. So many times, Jon would give one of his "mini sermons" at the dinner table and he and Sarah would break down in tears while Eric, Lauren and I sat in awkward silence. I wasn't heartless. I understood what he was saying. It just didn't make me cry.

Things started to change around the time my mom was diagnosed with A L S. I was constantly blinking back tears, and I had to carry Kleenex in my purse just in case the radio played a Vince Gill song. I don't know what it is about his voice, it just makes me cry.

After she died, it took me a while but I finally was able to suck it up and go on. After all everyone looses their mom at some point, right? It's just normal.

But the loss of my sister was different. It took months for it to sink in. There is something about the death of someone with your exact DNA that makes you realize how mortal you are. She was the one person I always turned to, and now she was gone.

I made up for all the years of not crying the night Lauren died. I cried until my eyeballs were sore and then I cried some more. I never knew it was physically possible to cry so much.

We had driven all night to Sherman, in hopes of bringing her home to get well. She was gone when we got there. The doctor let us see her before the coroner took her away. Then there was nothing else we could do, so we drove home. Everyone was so nice, offering us a place to stay. Telling us not to worry, they would pack Lauren's things for us and help us get her car home. We were in shock and all we could think to do was get home to Sarah, call Eric, take care of those we had left.

On the way home it occurred to me, I needed help. I couldn't do it alone. I was talking to my sister in-law on the phone and she asked what she could do. I knew we would have company when we got home, and so I set aside my pride and asked if she would clean my house. This was huge for me. Something I would never ask another person to do.

So many people came and helped. They fed my family and took care of all those heartbroken kids who had been such good friends to Lauren. It was amazing. Ive never known such heartache and felt such love.

I think to really experience God's love you have to let His people love you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hand-me-downs and Tshirts That Prophesy and Comfort

There is one thing all the Armstrong grandchildren have in common, besides a biting wit and the smart _ ss gene. That is a yellow Kermit the Frog t shirt. They all wore it, from Cory to Lauren. We should have had it framed but in those days a hand-me-down t shirt was not near as sentimental as it was functional.

Little kids love getting hand-me-downs from older siblings or cousins. Our son, Eric was once given some play clothes belonging to his cousin Lance. There were several stripped knit shirts that were worn and baggy, but Eric loved them. I remember one Sunday, I had him dressed for church in a blue pullover with his name monogrammed on it. He was so cute and, I thought, way to young to care what other kids would think. After Sunday school, I walked into church and there he was, waiting for me on the front pew wearing one of those stripped shirts, his sweater crumpled up beside him.

Then there are those great finds or vintage clothing. We found a few neat old things in the attic of an old house we bought in the country. This included a fully in tacked cat skeleton. That's a story for another time. But what Lauren found up there was an old thread bare t shirt with "Lake Texhoma 1985" on the front. She washed it and wore it for many years. We had never even seen Lake Texhoma. A few years later she started to college in Durant Oklahoma, which just happen to be right by Lake Texhoma where she and her friends spent so much time. She was wearing the shirt at home one weekend and I said "Who knew when you found that old shirt, you would be hanging out at Lake Texhoma all these years later?" She said "Yeah, and I was born in 1985".

I think my favorite old clothes story is one about a S M U (Southern Methodist University) sweatshirt My husband Jon bought in the 70's. It was one of those old styles with a hood and front pocket, very soft and warm. After we married, SMU was on probation for something, I don't remember, and their football teams were really bad for several years. Anyway, too ashamed to wear it, Jon gave it to me. I wore it through three pregnancies and for some time after. At some point I decided I was too old for a hooded sweatshirt and packed it away.

One weekend, Sarah and Lauren were both home from college, arguing and picking at each other while I was cleaning out my closet. I pulled the sweatshirt out of a box and, not expecting any kind of a response, I said "Who wants a vintage SMU sweatshirt?" I think it was the word vintage, but they started to fight over it. Of course Lauren won, or maybe Sarah just gave in.

After Lauren died, I saw a picture of her very good friend and roommate, Amy wearing the sweatshirt. I smiled and then I cried. I hope when she is cold she finds comfort in the sweatshirt. And I also hope when she misses Lauren, Amy will bring the shirt to her face and take a deep breath. That's what I do with the Lake Texhoma t shirt. It kind of helps.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Girlie Girls

I am a "girlie girl". I always have been. That's just how my mother raised me. I don't like to get dirty and I see no reason to ever jog or run unless someone is chasing me with a gun or chainsaw. I have had too many abusive P E teachers in my life to consider volleyball as anything else but a form of punishment.

I know women can be tough and I have, at times, had to suck it up and be a little tough myself . My sister pierced my ears before the ice had time to numb them. I walked around on a broken foot for two weeks before I knew it was broken. I gave birth, naturally, three times. The third one was nine pounds and my doctor hadn't even shown up yet. I know a woman can do anything she has to do, but why volunteer?

For instance, women in combat. Sure she can do it, I have no doubt about that. But it wouldn't be all that comfortable at certain times, if you know what I mean. She couldn't just call in sick, have a glass of wine and watch her soaps.

A few ears ago, my husband and I were youth directors at our church. We, along with two other couples, took the youth group camping over night at a nearby campground. My friend, Debbie, chose one of the primitive sites for us and as the kids and husbands were setting up tents we went looking for facilities (out houses). She told me she wasn't feeling well and had a yeast infection. I said why in the world did you pick a primitive sight? I mean what could be worse, right?

That night a huge thunderstorm rolled in and seemed to last for hours. We were soaked to our bones, and all packed into the one tent left standing. It had been sprayed by a cat and smelled like a litter box. Frightened, wet and suffocating from the stench, all I could think about was, poor Debbie has a yeast infection. No woman should ever have to live like that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day

My brother sent me this picture today. It is my brothers, Danny and Greg, with Grandma Bell. They were returning from Vietnam.

Happy Veteran's Day to all you Vets out there and to all who just love a Vet.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Precious, the Terorist Cat

Over the years Jon and I have had some cats we loved dearly. They have been sweet, playful and loyal and really just great companions. Before all these little dogs came into our lives we were considered cat people. But for me, this was not always the case.

I only had one cat when I was growing up. My father had very strong opinions and a deep rooted hatred of the creatures. We could have dogs, rabbits, chickens or goats, but he would not live with a cat.

When I was in the sixth grade, our house was destroyed by a tornado. We moved into a rent house while we were rebuilding, and our dogs stayed at the old place, where they could run and play and watch the property. We went to feed and play with them every day, so we were not just abandoning them. Anyway, with the dogs in a different location I thought this would be the perfect time for me to get a kitten. I begged and pleaded with my dad until he finally gave in.

My brother's friend said he had some new kittens and we could have our pick. Now, I had this picture in my mind of a sweet little white kitten, named Chantal, after Sandra Dee in my favorite Bobby Darin- Sandra Dee movie. She would sleep curled up on my baby blue bedspread beside my baby blue princess phone and my world would be complete.

When my brother, Jerry, and I went to pick out my kitten we were sent to the barn. We picked the one we could catch. It was yellow and dirty and MAD! I thought, "Oh, you just need some warm milk and a bath". The milk was a good choice, but the bath didn't go that well. You know how sometimes you look at an old scar and wonder why your parents didn't take you to get stitches? Well I wonder why mine didn't insist on skin graphs.

Chantal turned out to be a very large male cat. He hated us. He would hide behind furniture or in the hallway and attack when you walked by. We lived every day in fear. All of us except Mom. For some reason he loved my mother. She called him Precious, and when he meowed you would swear he was saying Mama. He was a real Tom Cat, staying out all night only to come in when Jerry, another Tom Cat, came home.

One night our house was finally finished so we packed up as much stuff as we could and started the big move. After the final load was ready we had intentions of spending the night in our new house. Someone said, "Where's the cat? " We looked around quickly, agreed we didn't know, jumped in the car and drove to safety. The next morning we went to get a few more things and clean the rent house. The screens were torn from the doors and windows, but there was no yellow monster cat in sight.

I know this sounds awful, but we had been through so much with the tornado and all. I felt sure Precious had found a new family to terrorize. Who knows, he may still be frightening children in that same neighborhood today.

Friday, November 6, 2009

All You Need Is Love

I have a hard time hatting people. I may think or say I hate someone who has committed some horrible deed, but I know I don't mean it. For one thing, I suffer from Anne Frank syndrome, where I can't help but believe everyone is basically good. Like maybe something bad from their childhood is causing them such mental anguish they must lash out at the world, but really they just need a hug. Remember Peter Pan's little girl in Hook? She told Captain Hook he needed a mommy.

Also I know, to God, hating someone is the same as murder. Sometimes I do this thing where I imagine someone I think I may hate, being hurt. Even if it's just hurt feelings, not actual punishment, I feel awful.

I know a woman who, in the past, did things to hurt me and my daughter that were so ridiculous, well no one would believe it unless they were there. I thought I hated her, I really did. But then one day some women who went to high school with her told me about all the mean things they used to do to this woman and I wanted to cry. Lately she has had some hard times, divorce and loss, and I have to pray for her. I want her to know I do not delight in her suffering.

I always get picked for jury duty, and I'm the one who holds everything up, trying to justify the actions of the defendants. "He was just a kid, give him another chance", or "People do desperate things when they are hungry". Why do they keep picking me? I can't pass judgement on another's life.

But this guy yesterday, who shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, I felt like I hatted him. I prayed, God forgive me, but I have a hard time loving Muslims. What could be worse? It's not only hateful, it's racial. I know God does not honor these feelings. He showed me in a dream last night, my ears were full of dirt and mud. He was saying, turn off the news and hear my voice. Listen with your heart.

I will pray for this man and all Muslims every where. And I will pray that God will keep our hearts tender and open. What happens in this world isn't what matters anyway.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My heart is broken for the soldiers killed and wounded at Fort Hood today. I can't think of anything else to say.

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.

Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My Famous Grandpa

Do you remember the first time you said, "I love the Beatles", and the person you were talking to said, "What are the Beatles"? Or that day you realized you weren't going to be a rock star or Broadway actor? My point is, everybody is nobody to somebody. You have to have done something wonderful, like Lincoln, or horrible, like Hitler, for the world to recognize your name forever. Trust me, one day your grandchildren will say "Brittany who?"

When I was a little girl, I thought my grandfather was famous. He had a famous name, Francis Marion Bacon. But famous names kind of run in my family. Seriously, my father is Calvin Coolidge. Anyway, I don't know if it was the way my mom and her siblings looked up to Grandpa or maybe it was the stories he told.

He had been a bit of an outlaw before Jesus and my grandma changed his life. Both of his parents were half Native American, one Chickasaw, the other Choctaw. And his grandfather was a well known missionary in eastern Oklahoma. His mother died in childbirth and his father soon after was shot for being an Indian and riding his horse into a bar. And Grandpa grew up to be a bank robber. His wanted poster hung in post offices all over Oklahoma for some time. After some trouble, involving an unwed mother and her angry brother, he headed for Texas and never looked back. He rode with a man who was also hiding from the authorities, and married that mans daughter, my grandmother. They were married for sixty five years and had fourteen children. All this led to him becoming the grandfather of me, the apple of his eye. He died when I was only six, he was ninety. To this day, when someone says "unconditional love" first I think of Jesus, then I think of Grandpa. I am so glad God had grace for this man.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just Thinkin....

People say a lot of things thinking they are quoting scripture. For example, cleanliness is next to Godliness. What does that even mean? Or how about, God helps those who help themselves. I could preach an entire sermon on why God doesn't need my help, as I have learned from experience, I tend to get in His way.

But the one that has always bothered me is, The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. You've heard it a hundred times at funerals. It must come from the Bible, right? I mean it sounds spiritual and the Lords actions even end with the holy "eth", but I cant find it anywhere. Ive looked in my concordance and searched Bible Gateway and found nothing even close. If you are reading this and you know where in scripture it can be found, please leave a comment. I would like to know.

The reason I started looking was, it's not comforting. I don't know what it is supposed to mean, but it is always quoted in times of loss. I thought maybe it was taken out of context. God has given me so much in my life, I would never accuse him of taking away anyone I loved and needed.

A few years ago, there was an elderly woman in my church, who my kids referred to as "the smiley lady". She was a very small framed lady who always wore a hat and gloves and homemade dresses. I am almost certain she lived with a cat named Sylvester and a bird called Tweety. She smiled all the time, that's why my kids called her the smiley lady, and always had something the Lord had told her to say. After my daughter, Lauren died, she told me about loosing her son in the Vietnam war. With the smile never leaving her face, she said, " The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, He gives us joy and takes away our sorrows". Now that made sense. He gives us peace and takes away our fear. He gives us health and takes away our sickness and He gives us life and takes away death.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I went to a women's retreat this weekend. I am too tired to know yet if I am refreshed and revitalized. It was fun, though, and I think I may have learned something. I just need a few days to sort it out.

I was talking to a woman I had just met and said something about my daughter, Sarah. She said she had a Sarah too, and did mine live up to her "princess" name, as hers did. I said no, but thought about it later and wondered, when did princess become so derogatory? What used to imply royalty, and was an affectionate name a father might call his daughter, now means spoiled and self centered.

I really don't like this. I don't like the tight fitting tshirts with princess printed on the front or the shorts with it on the butt. I don't know why we want to dress our girls like junior hookers or why we would raise them to take so much pride in being selfish and demanding.

My Sarah is a princess. She is a kind and thoughtful servant, not unlike Cinderella. She is sweet and sensitive, as in The Princess and the Pea. And like Abraham's Sarah, she is royalty, her daddy's the King.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Walkin' on Sunshine

I was about four or maybe five when this picture was taken. I, for some reason, feel very happy when ever I see it. I think it must have been a good day.

There have been times all through my life when I have stopped to realize, I am very happy. I'm not talking about overwhelming joy, caused by some wonderful event. More like the peaceful contentment when all is right with the world.

Music seems to always trigger memories of these times. When I hear Sam Cooke sing, We're Having a Party, I see my sister, Sherry and her husband Si dancing in our living room on Christmas Eve, 1964. The Beatles, Hey Jude, takes me back to a warm summer night sleeping under the stars, with the best friends a sixth grader ever had.

I remember July 4th, 1985, Jon and I took our kids to the lake, like we did many times that summer. There was a sandy beach and swimming area for kids, and the local rock station broadcast from there. I was sitting on the beach, very pregnant, watching Eric and Sarah play. I suddenly thought, I am truly happy. Just then the baby started dancing in my belly as the radio played, Katrina and the Waves, I'm Walking on Sunshine. Lauren was born six days later.

Monday, October 19, 2009


This is a picture of my brothers as young boys watching TV, a scene that will be played out a million times over the next fifty years.

I have six older brothers. I have been asked all my life, what was it like growing up with all those boys? How did I survive? Honestly, I cant imagine my life without them. Not that it was all so easy. Anytime there are that many kids in one house, there will be battles. One of my brothers has a fork prong shaped battle scar on his forehead. Family dinners are great, aren't they? I feel a little sorry for them. Had I been in competition with five sisters, I might not be so well adjusted.

As much as I love baseball, because of my brothers, I hate football for the same reason. I believe it was invented so all males, young and old, have a reason to ignore me.

Standing at the check out stand in the grocery store one day, I picked up a book on cats. I flipped through the pages and read"The unaltered male is extremely hard to live with." I thought, "Wow is this from the Bible?"

If there is any wisdom I can pass on to a little sister of brothers it would be, always check to see if the toilet seat is down. And also, if your brothers say they want to work on your bike, they are just looking for spare parts.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Halloween Memories

Up until this year I was living and working in a very small town south of here. Every Halloween the Down Town Association would hand out candy to the trick or treaters, starting about 5:00, or sooner, if the kids showed up early. It was quite a sight. All those children and dogs in their costumes up and down the street. They were so thick the one and only policeman in town had to direct traffic. It was like Norman Rockwell painting. I think I will really miss it this year.

I loved Halloween when I was a kid. My brothers and I had the best neighborhood to trick or treat in. There were big scary houses with gnarly old trees, and of course lots of crazy old ladies. Crazy old ladies make it Halloween, don't they? There was one house we went to every year, expecting to be eaten by the witch who lived there. We slowly and fearfully approached her big dark scary house, knocked on the door and waited. I swear, every year, she came to the door, talking about how she always forgets its Halloween and all she has is popcorn.Then she puts big handfuls of popcorn in each of our bags. We put ourselves through this for popcorn she handled with her bare hands.

We had those hard plastic mask back then. The ones with the rubber band to hold them on your face. If the rubber band didn't break before Halloween, it tangled and pulled your hair. It also was very hard to see out of the holes cut in the mask for eyes. Then there was the breathing thing. Between the hair pulling, being blind and asphyxiating it's strange we never lost anyone.

I have not been comfortable dressing up for Halloween since Ive been an adult. Someone always tries to talk me into it, but I just don't care for the attention, I guess. One Halloween, a young woman I worked with, tried to get everyone to agree to wear a costume. We all kept saying no but I guess she thought we didn't mean it. Every day she would say,"Sheila you're gonna dress up, aren't you?" And I would say no. On the morning of Halloween, she walked in wrapped from head to toe like a mummy. She had on white makeup and could barely walk because her feet were bound. She looked around at everyone and said" I thought we were gonna dress up!"

Now that's scary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Remember 1963

I just read a great book I would like to recommend. It was called The Help. Sorry I don't remember the author and Ive already returned it to the library. It's set in Jackson Mississippi 1963. The book is written from the perspective of three different women. Two are black maids. The other, a young white woman who made the awful mistake of leaving O'l Miss with a degree instead of a husband. I have never been a Feminist, but after reading this book, that may have been because I was too young to know it was bad when it was bad.

It's shocking to read what these women went through. And the lies people told to keep them down.

My mother and I rode a bus to Washington DC in November of 1963. Just the week before, I was sitting in my first grade class room, when my teacher tearfully announced, President Kennedy had been shot. We were being dismissed from school to be with our families. We were all so sad, but our parents were frightened. We didn't know about all the civil unrest in the country. Hey, that was life before 24 hour cable news.

Anyway, the trip to Washington had been planned for sometime before all of this, because my sister was getting an artificial heart valve courtesy of the U S Army. She was one of the first, if not the first to receive a new heart valve, and it was being done at Walter Reed hospital.

Our trip began after dinner on Thanksgiving day. We rode the bus for two days and nights, down through the deep south and up to the east coast, all the way to Virginia. I was young but I did notice people and their rules changed from state to state. I remember a pretty young black women who sat with us and talked until we crossed into, let's just say, one of the more southern states. Right on cue, she took her place at the back of the bus and didn't make eye contact again. Another time, I woke up to shouting and cursing. The bus stopped and the police were there waiting to take someone away.

I didn't have any idea what was going on around me. Honestly in 1963 I had not seen very many black people in person. It's hard to believe so much has changed in such a short time but our lives are better for it. Think what you would have missed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Long Drive

I haven't posted in several days. I meant for this blog to be more upbeat and I know I've been a real downer lately. So I tried to wait until some of these feelings passed, but, forgive me, I just have to write them down. I hope this is the last one.
You see it's started again. This time every year kids around here start dying in car wrecks. The latest, a student from our local university, was killed by a drunk driver Saturday night. She was twenty and here from another state. About four years ago two students from that same school were killed in a wreck during Fall break. Both were friends of my daughter Lauren, and I knew the parents of the young man quite well. The other was a dancer. Ballet. She was the one that saddened me the most. I could just imagine her parents driving from New Mexico, knowing their daughter was dead. How hopelessly long that drive must have seemed. A year or so later that girls mother wrote me the sweetest letter when we lost Lauren. I never responded. It was too hard.
I thought Lauren would be alive when we arrived. On the drive home,I went from wanting to shield my other two children from the pain, to wishing we had hit that deer in the road, had an accident and died without ever knowing what the very near future held.
After the accident on Saturday I thought about this latest victim and her parents making that drive. The longest drive.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sad Daze

I went to my water aerobics class tonight. My doctor suggested water aerobics after I hurt my back and it turns out I love it. Most of the people who go, are going for some kind of physical therapy.

Tonight there was a new face in the crowd . She was someone I had known in another place and time, but I didn't recognize her at first. She was always so cheerful, bright eyes, big smile. But tonight she had a blank stare and a forced smile when she saw me. After the class we were talking and she said she was coming to this class as part of her therapy. I asked what she needed therapy for, expecting her to say something about her back or knees, whatever. But then she looked at me and said depression. I don't know how I didn't see it. I wanted to know what happened, if anything, but knew I couldn't ask.

When my daughter died, I wondered if it showed on my face. I could be in a room full of people and felt so alone. My doctor gave me a prescription for antidepressants, but they didn't take away the sadness, I just couldn't cry anymore. I needed to cry, so I quit taking them. But they gave me that same look I saw on her face tonight. My heart broke for her.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Seasons Change

My backyard is covered in gold and brown leaves and the Rangers have played their last game of the season. It must be Autumn.

A good friend of mine talks a lot about seasons, as in the seasons of our lives. You know, when we were young girls we were in Spring, then as young wives and mothers it was Summer. Now it is Autumn. This is supposed to be the best part of our lives. Our children are grown and some ladies I know even have grandchildren. Our homes are paid for and we actually have a little savings. It's all about freedom now, or that's what they say. Let's see how it goes.

I can't help but wonder, is it the Autumn of our lives because, like the leaves on the trees, gravity has taken over and everything is going south? Or maybe because we are shedding brain cells like the trees shed their leaves in the fall. At any rate I won't have to face it alone. Ive got good friends like Estee Lauder and Mary Kay to help me, as I go kicking and screaming into Winter.

Enjoy these burnt orange and gold days.


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A wife, mother, and spoiler of small dogs, I grew up in a small West Texas town, with my eyes full of sand, and my heart full of joy.

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