Saturday, November 28, 2020

Roots and Pansies

Since we've been staying home MUCH MORE since March, Mark and I have really enjoyed our courtyard. In the spring/early summer we planted pretty flowers in pots. I loved having the splash of color in the space. Several weeks ago we realized that we needed to dump the old flowers and plant pansies for the winter/spring season. Mark and I made a trip to Home Depot early one Saturday morning to beat the crowds and we brought home a flat and a half of pansies. I particularly love the ones that are yellow and look like they have their sweet faces turned to the sun but evidently everyone else in town was planting pansies so the selection was limited. We were able to get the big pansies - Mark searched until he found them. I love those big sweet faces!!

Jump back a few months -- for my birthday, we had ordered a new firepit from Absco but we still had our old firepit from Frontera and we didn't want to get rid of it. We decided to "repurpose" the old firepit and use it as a planter in addition to the pots. Mark filled the firepit with rich soil and it was ready to go. We wanted to reuse our pots so Mark started to pull the plants from the pots. Two of the three were totally rootbound. Even though they look rough in the pictures below, they were still viable plants. They had deep roots that were drawing nutrients from the soil.  The moment Mark slid one from the pot I knew I wanted to write about those roots (and the thoughts have been percolating for weeks now). I immediately thought of these two scriptures (taken out of context here):

Colossians 2:6-7 -- So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, ROOTED and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Mark 4:4-8 -- As the farmer was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no ROOT. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew, and produced a crop, some multiplying 30, some 60, some 100 times.

lots of roots

The pot below held a plant that was not thriving. Look at the difference in the roots.

We planted our pansies and the plants have been watered by the rain and the sun has been shining on them and we planted them in great soil. They are growing beautifully. During this pandemic, some days I have allowed my roots to go down deep and to breathe in the nutrients from my heavenly father. On those days, I am healthy and I turn my face to the son, much like the pansies I love. If I'm honest, I must admit that there have been many days since March where my roots were like the pot above. My roots were dried up and I felt shriveled inside. As a matter of fact, I went through one of the longest "dry valleys" earlier this year. It has been many years since I felt that way. I thank God that he kept tending to my soil and my roots. Even when I couldn't feel Him anywhere around me, He was there. 

Now I turn my face toward Him and thank him for good care. Maybe some of you have felt like I did earlier this year. How are you doing during this crazy 2020? How is your soul today? How are your roots? Are you able to turn your face toward the son?

be like the pansies - bask in his love

be like the pansies, turn your face to the son

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart Hodgepodge

1. It's Thanksgiving week in the US of A so let's talk turkey. And by turkey I mean the elephant in the room because it's still 2020 and our blogs are a record of sorts of the times in which we live. 

Do you live in a state (or if you're outside the US, a country) that's instituted restrictions on the size of gatherings in your own home? What do we think about this? (keep it classy folks)

We live in Alabama and our case numbers have sky-rocketed. They have not imposed a number of attendees but our county health department has posted things like this, “celebrating virtually or with the people you live with is the safest choice this Thanksgiving. Limit the number of guests.” They have also posted safety tips. The state department has posted the picture below and I think it is pretty good. We will have some of our family at our home for Thursday evening, but it is a small group and we have all been together at some point most every week since June. I plan to open the door to our screen porch to allow some fresh air and I plan to ask folks to wear their masks while serving their food and to wash hands or use hand sanitizer before they serve. I’m going to use paper plates. Paper plates will not be a popular decision with some family members because they love a more formal table . . .but this is covid.

2. Let's move in a cheerier direction. Will there be corn on your holiday dinner menu? How so? Cornbread-corn pudding-corn chips and dip-cornbread dressing/stuffing-corn chowder-or regular canned, frozen or fresh corn in a bowl...which of the 'corns’ listed is your favorite? 

I made two skillets of cornbread last week and froze them to use in my cornbread dressing. My hubby loves it hot right out of the oven so each pan has a small slice missing!! I LOVE cornbread dressing with turkey gravy. I would be happy with that alone for Thanksgiving 😊 Usually, my daughter-in-law’s mother joins us for Thanksgiving but she is not going to do so this year due to covid. She always brings her mother’s recipe of corn casserole. We won’t have it this year. What is my favorite? Well . . .I don’t buy these but I love Fritos – corn chips!! Oh my goodness – they are so delicious but they are sooooooo fattening. I love fresh corn on the cob – bi-color sweet in the middle of the summer is delish!!

3. What is there a cornucopia of in your home, job, or life currently? 

This is a hard question. What do I have an abundant supply of . . .or plenty of . . .I know! Masks!! That is a lousy answer but I do have a lot of masks. I also have a lot of love in my life – a wonderful husband, great kids and grandkids, other family members, friends (even though we don’t get to see each other) 

4. Have you ever quit something (such as a habit, a food, a time-sucker, a relationship) cold turkey? Is there something you need to quit cold turkey? 

I gave up sweets about three years ago for Lent. I still don’t eat desserts or candy.

5. Share a favorite verse, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to gratitude. 

This is an old song – “Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ his son.”  

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Our senior pastor just finished a sermon series on the "Enemies of Gratitude" and the series was so good and so timely. To go along with that, I taught a 3 week series on gratitude for our Sunday School class (via zoom). One of the points that has stuck in my head is the need to give thanks in ALL things. I need that reminder more than once a year. How about you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

M I C . . .K E Y . . .M O U S E

Today is Tuesday so it must be time for a hodgepodge of answers! Visit Joyce at From This Side of the Pond, copy and paste the questions, answer on your own blog, and link up!

 It's Mickey Mouse's birthday (November 18)...happy birthday Mickey! He reads here, right? Have you ever been to Disney, any of the parks at all? Are you a Disney superfan or something less than that? They're open right now so tell us, would you go if you had the time/money/a free trip?

Happy birthday to Mickey!! I’ve been to Disneyworld 2 times. When our twins were almost 9 we met my sister and her husband and son (also 9) at Disney – they flew in from one part of the country and we flew in from Alabama. We had adjoining rooms and stayed a week. We had so much fun! Then a year or so later, Mark had a meeting at Disney and we checked the kids out of school and flew down with him. This trip was in late October and there were no lines. The kids rode Space Mountain about 12 times in a row. Both trips were awesome. I would enjoy going to Disney again but I’m not sure that Mark would want to go again.

Your favorite place to go when you want to be quiet as a church mouse? Would those who know you well describe you as more church mouse or perhaps more like mighty mouse? 

Since I work in a church and we have had many church mice over the years I may have chuckled out loud when I read this question. One time I moved a piece of furniture in my office and found a mouse SKELETON. Another time, a mouse ran across my desk while I was working! Sorry – I am off topic! When I want to be quiet as a church mouse, I might go sit in the empty sanctuary. I’m not sure about my answer to the second question. I think I might come across as a mighty mouse.

The day before Mickey's birthday happens to be National Homemade Bread Day. Did/will you celebrate? Do you bake your own bread? Last time you had hot out-of-the-oven homemade bread?What's your favorite kind of bread? 

I had no idea that there was a holiday for homemade bread so we didn’t celebrate. I don’t bake my own bread. I have made bread over the years but it is too hard to resist fresh baked bread. There is a frozen bread dough that you can purchase and I probably baked a loaf of that bread over  a year ago! Remember I live in the south? I did make cornbread on Sunday night and on Monday night to go in the freezer to use for my dressing on Thanksgiving day. On Sunday night, we both had a little slice and then Mark had a piece from the pan last night! Hot cornbread with butter is delicious. We do NOT put sugar in our cornbread. I’m trying to decide if I have a favorite bread. Good hot yeast rolls are pretty awesome and hot cornbread is really yummy. Does pumpkin bread count? 

What's something you might say is 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'? 

Facetime?? I love facetiming with our granddaughters. 

 Let's keep the gratitude theme we started last week rolling on through November. Share with us five little things you're grateful for today. Small blessings. One catch-they all must start with the letter T. Gotta keep us thinking, right? 

1.     The family (ha! That is cheating, isn’t it?)

2.     Taco salad

3.     Time with friends this weekend

4.     Trinity UMC (our church!)

5.     Tuesday nights with young professionals 

Insert your own random thought here. 

Today might be Mickey’s birthday but it is also the day our twins were born – 34 years ago!!


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hodgepodge on the 11th

Hodgepodge Questions-Volume 394

Here are the questions for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog then join in the fun with Joyce at From This Side of the Pond.

1.      It's the 11th day of the 11th month and bloggers often make lists on days like today. Let's go with a list of eleven things you're feeling grateful for today.

1.      My husband

2.     My children and their spouses (who I think of as my “children”, too)

3.     My granddaughters!!

4.     My friends

5.     My job (I love!)

6.     My church (faith/church/God/spiritual life?)

7.      Our home – it is just right for us at this stage of our lives

8.     My sisters and my in-law siblings

9.     The fact that we live in a city where there is excellent medical care

10. Clean drinking water – at the tap of a faucet

11.  Diet pepsi (boy, that is a sad sad answer!!)

12. I should go back and lump #1, #2, #3, #8 together as family which would give me more slots (I'm doing that which means I now have 3 more numbers!)

13. Sunrises (and sunsets) – I can see the sunrise from our house – his mercies are new every morning

14. Good health – including strong leg muscles that can walk 1.5 – 1.75 miles every morning and ride the recumbent stationary bike for 30-45 minutes every night

15.  The ability to buy whatever groceries I want to buy at the store – fresh produce, good meat, seafood – food on our table and food to share


2. What's something you decided to do or act on at the '11th hour'?  I can’t think of a single recent thing. There have been times where we thought we didn’t want to go anywhere but at the last minute decided to jump in the car and go. You know what I mean? Sometimes when you get home from work and change clothes you think, “yes, we were invited to so and so but we are just too tired.” Then at the last minute, one of you decides that you both should throw on your nice clothes again and go. Make sense? Anyone else?

3.  Apparently the Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe contains 11 herbs and spices. What's a dish you make that calls for exactly eleven ingredients? Feel free to share the list and/or recipe. I prefer recipes with fewer ingredients! I have probably made a million several hundred pans of these Brown Sugar brownies and I think they have 11 ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350

1 & 2 - In a glass mixing bowl, melt two sticks butter

3 - While butter is hot, add 1 pound of brown sugar (whole box or ½ bag – I love it when I can get the 1 pound boxes!)

Stir well with wooden spoon

4 & 5 & 6 - Add 3 jumbo eggs and stir with wooden spoon

7 - Add 1 ¾ cups up to 2 scant cups self rising flour and stir gently until mixed with wooden spoon (do not use a mixer – they will be tough and unfit to eat – I’ve tried it!)

8 - Add 1 tsp vanilla

9 & maybe 10 - Add 1 cup butterscotch chips (I added a few mini chocolate chips to the batch today). Mark likes me to use all chocolate chips and a mix of those big dark ones and mini semi sweets but my kids always preferred the butterscotch when they were younger.

11. Add 1 cup chopped pecans.

Gently stir.

Spray 9 X 13 pan with pam (I have an old metal one that is my brown sugar brownie pan – I have probably made 1000 batches in it.)

Spread batter into pan – batter will be thick.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan before cutting. (they fall apart if you try to cut while hot). As you know, different ovens cook hotter or colder. When my oven was new, I had to cook for about 27 minutes. My oven in this house requires 26 or 27 minutes.


4. Something you remember about your 11-year old self? I turned 11 in the summer of ’69 and I guess I started 6th grade in fall of 1969. I can still visualize the school classroom. I was one of the smart kids and I remember giving a speech at the 6th grade graduation. I’m pretty sure I was Salutatorian. I remember at some other point that year having to memorize a poem or something from a play and I remember reciting it over and over but I cannot remember what it was. We wore lots of dresses and it seems like we wore knee socks with our dresses. I’ll have to see if I can find a picture. We had the sixth grade banquet and I do remember a picture of me and Susie Battles (she died this year!) and Mariea Allen Bridges all dressed up for the banquet. Back then, dressed up for a banquet meant a Sunday dress.

5. The 11th of November is Veterans Day in the US of A. This is a day to honor those who have served their country in war or peace-dead or alive-although according to the government's website it's largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices. 

Memorial Day is when we honor military personnel who died in service to their country. 

Share a thought relating to Veterans Day or tell us something about a Veteran you know-love-admire. 

Yesterday, one of our ministers went to visit a man in our congregation. He was able to visit with him outside at the Veteran’s nursing home located about an hour away. This Veteran will be 100 years old on Monday. His mind is still sharp. He flew airplanes and was shot down. He told the minister yesterday that he wasn’t supposed to be on that mission but his superiors woke him in the middle of the night and told him that the pilot was drunk and they needed him to fly the mission in the place of the drunk guy. He was shot down and he wasn’t even supposed to be on that mission!! He was hidden by the French underground and moved from place to place until he was rescued by U.S. soldiers.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I think I mentioned this last week – we had our children and granddaughters over for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate 3 November birthdays. I was a VERY HAPPY momma. We had family photos taken at 4 and then hung out and had a beverage and ate dinner together. I made 2 Tollhouse pies for birthday dessert – one with pecans and one without. I decorated with icing before serving. Here is a partial pie! I also made two apple rolls. You can check out this old recipe here

Just FYI, the apple roll on the left literally slid out of the oven when I opened the door. I had a cup of boiling water in one hand and an oven mitt on the other. I opened the door and slid out the rack and that pan went flying through the air and hit the hardwood floor. The pastry and apples you see in that pan stayed in the pan. The remainder – probably a stick of butter and a cup of apple chunks blew up everywhere. It is funny now but it wasn’t funny then! I’m going to have to paint two walls (they are small walls) with kilz and then wall paint. It took us a roll of paper towels, several dish towels, a bath towel, and 3 cleanings with Shaw Hardwood floor cleaner to get it off the floor. There were apple bits clinging to the woodwork. There were even apple bits and butter in the pantry. I should have taken a picture but I literally walked out of the kitchen and went to the garage and said to Mark, “I need you in the house.” He said, “Are you bleeding?” I said, “no, but I need you in the house now.” It was definitely a two person clean-up!

Thursday, November 5, 2020


Back when our kids were in high school (they will be 34 this month), I was able to go with them on our church’s youth choir tour each summer. Those trips hold some of my favorite memories. This morning, I was looking through a drawer for a toboggan that hubby has misplaced and I found an envelope. I pulled it out and read it . . .and remembered the day with 2020 vision (not 2020 the year but 2020 as in perfect clarity). Our choir director always tried to schedule at least one mission activity into each summer’s tour, along with concerts in churches, and a “singing of the national anthem” at a baseball game! We even sang on the field at Fenway Park! (another story for another day) One year we traveled to San Antonio, TX and our mission project was a day with SAVE – San Antonio Volunteer Experience. Even before COVID-19 hit, I was a bit of a germaphobe. My husband would say I am an over the top germaphobe. We arrived for the day and I was assigned to work in the daycare with a bunch of germy children (I wasn’t a grandmother yet!!). The day was a life changer. At the end of the day, we had a time of decompression and we were asked to write a letter, put it in an envelope, address it to ourselves, and turn it in. They mailed those letters to us at Christmas that year. Here is my letter:

Dear God,

I couldn’t decide whether to write this letter to you or to myself because I want to remember it ALL. Then I thought, of course it should be to God – To God be the glory for an awesome day.

Lord, I never want to forget Esperanza and her sweet face when she looked up at me at lunch and said, “I used to have a home.”

Lord, I never want to forget that.

Lord, I never want to forget what it felt like to see white, black, and Hispanic children all together all in one room.

Lord, I never want to forget the sweet group of 4 siblings (3 little girls and a brother) and what they sounded like as they sang “Jesus Loves Me.”

Lord, I never want to forget how our kids – Jon, William, Marty, Timmy, Anna, Lindsey, Lydia, and Ashley – taught those homeless kids “you are mighty, you are holy.”

Lord, I never want to forget how a cup of jello was special to a 5 year old!! Nor how they ate their food without complaining.

Lord, what an awesome day. We went hoping that they would see Jesus on our faces and there YOU were – everywhere I looked.

Lord, thank you for loving me.

Y’all – as I typed those words, I felt the emotion of the day. I could see pictures in my mind’s eye of the area outside where we played, of the room where we sat around the table. I could hear the sweet voices singing and talking. I don’t know about you but sometimes I need to slow down and be thankful for all of the things in my life. I need to remember that God shows up in the most unexpected places.

Thanks be to God.

Just a few pictures of scrapbook pages from that trip:

our son playing the guitar - far right
our daughter was one of the singers (can't see her)

As a chaperone, it was so fun to get to know
other adults from our very large church. After
you spend a week on a tour bus, you feel like
you know people really well! Haha!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Hodgepodge - Peace and sandwiches!


Thanks so much to Joyce for our weekly Wednesday Hodgepodge questions. Answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link at From This Side of the Pond.

1. How do you define peace? 

Peace is the absence of turmoil. Maybe it isn’t lack of turmoil but the ability to handle that turmoil with grace. When I hear the word “peace,” I always chuckle because I think of beauty contestants answering the question “What matters most to you?” with the answer “world peace.” (remember the movie Miss Congeniality back in 2000?) In all seriousness, I think of “the peace that passes all understanding” and I remember how many times I have experienced that in my life. The times where the world is crumbling around me but all of a sudden a peace washes over me . . .and that peace does indeed pass all understanding! It is truly unexplainable on a human level. I always feel like someone must be praying for me at exactly that moment (probably poor theology).

2. November 3rd is Election Day in the US of A, but did you know it's also National Sandwich Day? Let's vote, shall we?

egg salad or tuna salad? Depends on the day! Neither of those is my favorite though I do eat both of them a couple of times a year.

chicken salad or grilled chicken on a bun? I love a good chicken salad – no raw onions please!

peanut butter and jelly or a bagel with cream cheese? Could I have a bagel with peanut butter? I love both of those pbj and bagel with cream cheese.

turkey and swiss or ham and cheddar? Turkey and swiss!

grilled cheese or pimento cheese? Once again, a tough choice – depends on the day. I love a good grilled cheese with a bowl of chili but I love a good pimento cheese (again, don’t put any onion in it!) sandwich!

roast beef-corned beef-or make mine veggie? I detest corned beef. I’m not a picky eater but I have never liked corned beef (except corned beef hash out of a can that my mom used to serve . . . I wonder if I would like that now.) I like homemade roast beef sandwiches but not very fond of roast beef lunch meat. My daddy used to make a roast beef sandwich on Sunday nights (roast for Sunday lunch) and he put mayo on the bread, roast beef, pickles, and a little barbeque sauce. I would still like that one!

3. When did you last say (or feel) 'no rest for the weary'

Last week, I realized I am suffering from pandemic fatigue. I guess there is no rest for the weary regarding covid. I’m weary of not being with friends. I know that isn’t the actual answer you were looking for but that is what came to mind.

4. This time last year, where were you? 

Last year, we were attending the Moss Rock Festival in our neighborhood. There is a large neighborhood park two blocks from our house that is open to the public. The Moss Rock Festival has been there every year in early October. As a resident, we received 2 free passes and we would walk down and look at all of the expensive art. My husband would check out the beer garden. We would buy a couple of small things. This year, they are moving the event to a larger outdoor facility due to covid. I don’t think we will be attending. I hope it comes back to our neighborhood next year! Pictures below are from last year.

5. Share a favorite song, verse, or quote featuring the word 'peace'. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

I’m so excited. This weekend, I’m going to have my son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter #1 and my daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter #2 around my table. Having us all together brings me such joy. Our daughter and son (twins) and our daughter-in-law all have November birthdays. We are celebrating at our house on Saturday night and then we will celebrate on Sunday at my mother-in-law’s house.