Sweetest Little Fellas

By Shannon Boatwright

“Sweetest little fella, Everybody knows, Don’t know what to call her, but she’s mighty like a rose, lookin’ at her Lolli, with eyes so big and brown, makes ya think that heaven, has just come to town.”

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My sweet Lolli, my Mama’s mother, used to sing this song to me. Now, all of us Vaughan Girls, the ladies of my family, sing this same song to our own “little lovettes,” as she’d say.

This past week, over my Spring Break, my own babies and I had the opportunity to visit family in NC. We were able to meet our newest cousin for the first time. He is such a precious addition to our awesome family. It was a sweet moment when we felt the urge and calling to sing this special song to our newest angel baby. My Lolli would always adapt the song for boys and girls and for brown eyes or blue eyes.

I personally have very vivid memories of laying my little head on my Lolli’s chest hearing the ticking of her incredible heart. The heart that had been operated on back when they still broke open your ribs to get to your heart. The heart that had a pig’s valve that ticked so loudly, you could hear it in any quiet room if you stood next to her. It was a normal, comforting sound for me. A sound I grew up with and that represented peace and love to me.

I can still think back… the priceless memories allow me to smell, feel and hear all those sounds that remind me of my childhood. It’s such a lovely, unbelievable thing. I can hear my Lolli’s voice singing this song. I can feel her skin and her hands as they hold and love on me. I can hear the rhythm of her fantastic heart creating the baseline of love as she sings that lovely song to me. I’d have the pleasure of hearing it in sweet moments, in fun moments, and in moments of sadness.

It’s only now that I’m older, in our moments of admiring and adoring our newest addition to the family, that we actually thought about and had a discussion about the meaning of the song. This was the only part I knew and that I remember being sung. But it’s an angelic thing that suddenly brings a bit of magical understanding to why I always refer to my own children as my angel babies. Looking into their precious, innocent eyes truly does seem like a slice of heaven. When those angel babies look up at you with such purity, it seriously is as if heaven has come to town. How true the song is!

It’s a lovely thing indeed when we take time to treasure the sweetest lil fellas in our lives. Treasure the moments with your angel babies. Allow yourself to feel and be a part of that little slice of heaven!

Celiac Awareness Month 2019

May is Celiac Awareness month, and so for the next few posts, I’ll be sharing facts and figures about Celiac disease and ways that you can spread the word and possibly even raise funds for more Celiac research.

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Let’s start at the beginning. What is Celiac Disease? The Mayo Clinic has done a great deal of research, and so I’m going to use their definition (this can be found on the Mayo Clinic website directly from the overview section of their pages on celiac disease): “Celiac disease […] is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction damages your small intestine’s lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). The intestinal damage often causes diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and anemia and can lead to serious complications.”

Celiac disease is triggered by a combination of genetic factors, environmental factors and by eating gluten. The exact triggers are not known and may be different for every individual. Speaking personally, no one knows exactly when celiac disease was triggered in me, but it was very likely in early childhood. My mother said that at the age of two, my hair began to fall out. All that the pediatrician could tell Mom was that I had a vitamin deficiency, but he didn’t know what caused it. He told my mother to start me on vitamins, which she did. After that, I always teetered on the brink of anemia, though doctors couldn’t explain that either. I was told to take Geritol (vitamins with a high iron content) at age 12. My mother had full-blown anemia and was diagnosed with celiac disease in her fifties, after suffering most of her life with the symptoms of malnutrition. My maternal grandmother said that when Mom was a toddler – about four – that she was so thin and small and sickly that Mom’s great-grandfather tried to nurse her back to health by spoon feeding her. My mother has never been healthy and neither have I. We are both celiacs.

The symptoms of celiac disease vary greatly from person to person and most of the gastrointestinal symptoms that people commonly associate with the disease – bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain – don’t set in until adulthood. I personally never had gastric pain or problems until I was about 19 years old, but up until that time, I suffered with borderline anemia, fatigue, joint pain, etc. In high school, my symptoms got worse: a serious inability to remember things started to set in and my friends and teachers began to ask me if I thought I might have Attention Deficit Disorder. My grades, which had always been good, began to plummet, and I skidded into college on a prayer. I have vivid memories of waking up for school in the morning feeling almost more tired than I was when I went to bed. I felt so tired that it hurt all the time. No amount of sleep or rest ever alleviated that feeling.

I drank insane amounts of caffeine and in my freshman year of college, adult-anxiety-black-and-white-1161268-e1556631409895.jpgwas falling asleep in classes in the middle of the afternoon. It took a Red Bull and a candy bar to get me through a one-hour lecture at 3pm. I remember this because it was my daily strategy. I never gained any weight, though, despite eating badly. I was hungry all the time and my cravings were weird. I craved salt more than anything (a symptom of anemia). My eyes would water at times when my salt cravings were really bad, and I found myself drinking shots of soy sauce, whole jars of the brine that green olives come in and – only once – eating a bouillon cube straight out of the little silver wrapper.

I will get to my diagnosis and subsequent adventures with the gluten-free diet in my next couple of posts, but I wanted to share all of the above with you all to remind everyone (I know, I do a lot of reminding 🙂 ) that celiac disease is a very real and serious condition, and that it can manifest itself in many different ways. If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or if you know someone who has been (you probably at least know someone since it affects about 1 in 133 people) please, please take it seriously! Once you know you’re a celiac, there is NO CHEATING on your gluten free diet. You’re not a fad dieter, you’re the same as a diabetic. Your life depends on what you eat! Spread the word, it’s Celiac Awareness Month!!

Tradition

By Tina Michelle Cameron 

20190403_233418Little did I know when my son Corey started college in 2009 at The University of Alabama, that there was so much tradition at this school. Over the years since he graduated, I have learned to love this university more every day. As many of you know, I began school in January 2016 taking prerequisite just to apply to UAs BSN Distance Learning (online) program. Well, I did it. I graduated in 16 days!

Bama, as I and many others affectionately refer to UA, as is all about tradition, family, and friends. I am a huge college football fan, and every third Saturday in October Alabama plays the Tennessee Vols. I am from Knoxville and love UT, so we are a house divided. After a win over UT, the guys and girls in the stadium all light up cigars. This tradition started many years ago, and this is the only time lighting up is allowed in Bryant Denny Stadium.

Another wonderful tradition I found out about last year when I was accepted to UA is the class ring ceremony. I knew if I could get in and do well in the program, that upon graduation, I wanted a class ring. Every April the university holds a class ring ceremony for anyone who wants to participate. My ring ceremony was held on April 4, 2019 in a beautiful conference room in the Bryant Conference Center. There were 400 students who participated, and I was proudly the oldest! The tradition starts 24 hours before at exactly 18:31 (military time), and the ceremony starts at 18:31—this time is significant because The University of Alabama was founded in 1831.

Starting the day prior to the ceremony, the rings are delivered via police vehicle to our beloved Denny Chimes (our clock tower). It is sacred to all who love UA. It is escorted to the front of Denny Chimes by two UA Air Force ROTC members until the clock chimes at 18:30, and once that is over at 18:31, someone unlocks the door and the ROTC members escort the beautiful hand-carved wooden chest into the main floor of Denny Chimes. And for the next 24 hours, there is a police officer guarding Denny Chimes and our precious class rings. This tradition started in 2016, the year after my son graduated.

Twenty-four hours later, everyone participating in the ring ceremony and their families join the President of the university (President Bell) in the conference room and watch a live stream of the ROTC removing and escorting the chest containing the rings to a awaiting police SUV which is then driven with lights and sirens to the ceremony and escorted in. Each name is called of those students receiving their rings and they are given their ring and then cross the stage to meet and take a photo with President Bell. At the end of the ceremony, the students are then instructed to open their boxes and place their beautiful rings on their fingers. The ceremony is followed by a reception. It was a beautiful ceremony and a beautiful tradition that UA has, and I am honored that I took time to go participate in it and that my mom went with me to see it. I have wanted a four-year degree since I was 18. I am now 50 and have been a RN for 28 years, so this has been a long time coming.

Life After Loss

By Lisa Baker

Hope everyone enjoyed time with friends and family for Easter and Spring Break!  Remember that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of our sins.  We only need to believe and ask for His forgiveness.

As always, life has been busy for us.  Dad has tried to get out of the window in his room.  Thank God for the alarms.  He managed to get the screen out but never made it out the window.

He continues to progress in his dementia.  Some days he knows us, and some days he doesn’t.  He has told us and staff that Mom has come to see him.

Attach0It’s hard to believe she has been gone a month now.  I often find myself wanting to give her a call to tell her about things going on in my life.  I’ve been going about the things to handle her estate: getting copies of her death certificate to the appropriate parties, going to Probate court, and endless paperwork.

Grief is a funny thing.  You find yourself in tears sometimes over the littlest thing.  Other times you find yourself just living a somewhat normal life, yet she is always on my mind.

My son and his wife have celebrated their second wedding anniversary, and we will soon celebrate the birth of their first child.  The baby is due in May.

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My husband and I went to the Easter sunrise service at Macedonia Lutheran Church.  It was a beautiful service.FB_IMG_1555848606683

Make memories with your loved ones.  I’ll see you next time.

“…the LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm…”

Nahum 1:3a

by: Marianna Boyce

What’s unusual about attending church on Sunday night in the Bible Belt?  Nothing really, but when the sermon is interrupted by inclement weather alerts sounding on everyone’s phone, it is somewhat troubling.

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On March 3, 2019, two EF-1 tornadoes were barreling toward Lexington.  Our little church was directly in the path of the tornado south of I-20 in Red Bank.  My eyes widened as I glanced at the alert on my phone.  All I saw was, “IMMINENT DANGER…TAKE COVER NOW!”  I certainly love a good thunderstorm, but having never seen this particular alert, so it was somewhat disconcerting.

Our sound man, Ben, calmly gathered everyone (except for my daddy) in the back of the church where there were no windows.  Daddy bravely prayed in the sanctuary alone asking for God’s protection during this ominous storm.  He organized Beacon Baptist Church in 1989 and retired from the pastorate last year.  He remains a faithful charter member.  Pastor Lawson, our new preacher, prayed with the congregation huddled in the back section of the church.

I’ve heard Pastor Lawson say before, “Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the hand of God.”  We all sheltered in place and waited for the approaching storm to pass, but we never experienced the wrath it was packing on the radar.  All was calm and peaceful.  If that storm was overhead, it was like a “Casper the friendly ghost” tornado.  I believe prayer is exactly what kept this tornado aloft.

With no weather-related drama at church, I headed home, not knowing this tornado visited my neighborhood just a few miles down the road.  It was already dark outside because daylight savings time hadn’t begun.  My husband arrived home from work about the time I did from church.  Other than our cable being out, everything seemed normal.  This was no big deal for us because we watch very little television anyway.  Gerry played his guitar while I wrote my next blog post.  We both slept soundly.

The next morning, we opened the blinds facing our backyard.  We were surprised to see two trees across our privacy fence.  I’m sure if I would’ve been home, I would’ve heard that ruckus.  We walked in the backyard to check for missing shingles from our roof, and other possible damage to our property.  Other than the trees across our pitiful fence, everything was perfect.  We needed a new fence anyway.

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When I left for work, I realized my neighborhood didn’t fare as well.  Many of my neighbors were outside assessing their damages.  Clean up crews were passing my house and stopping just a few houses down the road.  The side street off the main road I reside was mostly affected.  There were shingles strewn everywhere.  Trees were twisted from their roots, haphazardly situated in other people’s yards.  Detached carports, sheds, and fences were destroyed.  Although extensive cosmetic repairs were needed, these wonderful neighborhood homes were all structurally sound.

Our sweet friends who lived next door promptly hired someone to remove the trees and damaged section of our fence.  Once everything settled down, we called Total Interior and More to replace it entirely.  I am not being paid to advertise for this company, but they went well above and beyond to make us happy.  I truly appreciate all their hard work.  Our fence looks great.image3

In order to better prepare your family for our unpredictable spring storms, visit https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.  Always listen when your emergency alert instructs you to “Take Cover Now.”  Keep your eye on the sky.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

“…and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”  Nahum 1:3b (KJV)

Easter Memories

Hello Everyone!

Easter Egg HuntEaster was this past Sunday, and as most, we had a special sunrise service at our church.  How wonderfully blessed I am to be able to worship and remember the ultimate sacrifice our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, made for all of us.  I hope you and your family attended an Easter Service, too.  I am sure many new Easter frocks were worn and eggs and candy were in abundance. I can hear my grandmother singing the Easter Parade song, “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it…”  Many probably participated in a church breakfast and/or family lunch, as was the plan for our day. Egg hunts (more like eggs just scattered all over the lawn) for the little ones took place as the adults cheered them on to “find” the plastic eggs with treats hidden inside. Lots of photos were taken and games were played, including croquet. However you celebrated Sunday, I hope you enjoyed and remembered the real reason the day is celebrated.

Last Easter (along with most other holidays and celebrations) was odd without my sweet husband. We were married on Easter weekend and always made it a point to celebrate our anniversary with dinner out, a trip to the beach, or a cruise like we took for our honeymoon and a few more milestone years following. The last cruise we took was in celebration of our 35th Anniversary. He was so proud and excited to tell me he had booked it himself…a suite with a balcony!  This year would be our 40th Anniversary.  I am blessed to have spent most of those years together, and that is a great testament to our love for each other. It is hard not to miss your best friend and soul mate.  Much “rain” has fallen along with the April showers. Without a doubt, we would be on a cruise in a suite with a balcony right now.

This year, the timing was off for my class to make and sell our hand-made and decorated peanut butter eggs. Our Spring Break came the week before Easter. The annual sale of 500+ of the confections preceding Easter was just not possible.  Many of our customers were disappointed, however my students were not. One class made a few batches, dipped them in chocolate and decorated them for both classes.  When we first started making the Peanut Butter Eggs years ago, I remember having some of the filling left over and bringing it home to make a few for my sweet husband who LOVED peanut butter eggs.  They were shaped and placed on the island in my kitchen to dry overnight so I could dip them.  He had already left for work early that morning before I came into the kitchen only to discover some were missing!  I called him to ask why he ate them before I finished them.  He replied that he had not eaten any of them. Puzzled, I turned around to see our Jack Russell and realized she had to have jumped up on one of the island chairs and helped herself to the missing eggs!  It was like she was giving me the, “I was just making sure they were fit for human consumption” look.  She was immediately banned to the yard for the day!

I am including the small recipe we have used for years to make the peanut butter eggs, though converted to make very large batches!

May God bless you and your family as He continues to bless ours,

Chef Woods

Peanut Butter Eggs

@ 16 1.4 oz. (@ 3 T.) Eggs before dipping in chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. Softened Butter (3 sticks)Peanut Butter Eggs
  • 3/4 c. Peanut Butter, Smooth or Crunchy
  • 1 T. + 1 1/2 t. Light Corn Syrup *Tip-Spray measuring spoons with pan spray before measuring
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 lbs. Powdered Sugar
  • 1 package @ 20 oz. Candy Coating Chocolate, Ghirardelli Chocolate Melts or Wilton Candy Melts
  • Royal Icing or Fondant Decorations

Procedure

  1. In a mixer bowl combine butter, peanut butter, corn syrup and vanilla.
  2. Gradually add in powdered sugar a couple of cups at a time to form a stiff dough-like filling.
  3. Line a sheet pan with waxed or parchment paper.
  4. Weigh 1.4 oz. or scoop 3 T. together of the filling.
  5. Roll each portion into a ball and then shape into an egg shape.
  6. Loosely cover with a paper towel and allow to air-dry overnight or several days. The more dry they are, the better for dipping.
  7. Melt chocolate per package instructions.
  8. Dip each egg in chocolate and return to waxed or parchment paper to harden.
  9. Carefully trim any excess chocolate from bottom of each egg.
  10. Place each egg in a paper cupcake paper cup.
  11. Decorate as desired.
  12. Store at room temperature.

 

My Baby Boy

by Tina Michelle Cameron

On November 30, 1994, I had a scheduled c-section to deliver my second little boy. Well, there was nothing little about him. His name is Hunter Samuel Stout. He was two weeks early and weighed in at 9 lbs. and 15 oz., 22 inches long and 14 ½ inch head and chest. He had to be rushed to the Special Care Nursery because of a low blood sugar and the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck. He was by far the largest baby in there! He was beautiful and perfect.

IMG_20181129_222114There are certain days that stand out when I think of him. One is the day I picked him and his older brother Corey up from daycare, and he started crying in the backseat. He was 4 or 5-years-old and was sitting in his car seat behind me, and I asked him what was wrong. He cried, “I don’t want to leave you when I go off to college.” How sweet was he?

Growing up he played soccer, and I was his assistant coach for several seasons. He looks just like me, however, he towers over me at about 6’3”. He loves to rest his elbow on top of my head when I stand next to him (I am 5’5 1/2”).

Hunter is smart and funny and loves music, movies and football. He is a diehard Tennessee Vols fan (I am from Knoxville). He is now 24 years old and has his undergrad degree from Winthrop University where he majored in history. He is also an alumnus of the Pike Fraternity. He is completing his first year of grad school at The Citadel in Charleston. He is getting his Master of Art in Teaching. His goal is to be a high school social studies teacher and eventually earn his Ph.D. to teach at the university level. He also has a part-time job at Groucho’s Deli as a server.

I love this kid more than he will ever know, and even though we may not always get along because we are both stubborn and just alike, I am so proud of the young man he has become and so proud that he wants to make a difference in a kid’s life. I cannot wait to see what his future holds for him.Screenshot_20190403-050746_Facebook