The Little Country Church on the Side of the Road

By Marianna Boyce

LittleChurch2

Growing up in the Bible Belt, there was never a question where my family would be every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night. It was important then, and even more so today. However, with all the social distancing, slowing the spread, and flattening the curve, I’ve been staying home to live-stream church services instead.

This past Easter, as I laid in bed with my eyes wide-open, many thoughts filled my mind. Realizing this would be the very first time I physically wouldn’t be at my home church for Resurrection Sunday, I had a tug to visit a notable place from my childhood.

My little journey required an early morning drive across Lake Murray Dam. I turned onto Highway 176, and plotted my course for a small town about thirty miles up the road. As a child, my family traveled this route often—at least three times a week.

LittleChurch

Old barns still stand along the two-lane country highway. The dilapidated storehouses intrigued me as a young girl, and, as much as I wanted to stop and explore some of them, today was just not that day. Instead, a small country church on the side of the road was beckoning for a visit. This special place holds some of my earliest childhood memories. It was the church my dad pastored for much of my young life. My siblings and I recently talked about Victory Baptist Church, which is probably why I had such a desire to go.

When I spotted the white cinder-block building in the distance, I slowed my car to a crawl. There were no other cars out that morning, so I stopped on the road just before turning into the deserted churchyard.

Once I entered what used to be the driveway, my car sat idle on the overgrown weeds and grass, I allowed my mind to wander. I thought of nothing in particular, but everything in general—all at the same time.

LittleChurch3

Nostalgia got the best of me, and I was immediately transported back in time.

My dad’s ministry started the year he married my sweet mama in 1956. I was born twelve years later. Since I was the baby of five, my memories are vague at best, but I know this little church will always be an integral part of my Christian heritage.

When it was organized, there was no running water—which meant no indoor plumbing. Kids weren’t constantly going back and forth to the restroom during the preaching hour. They simply had to wait. If they couldn’t, there was a bush behind the building. The church underwent a remodel years later and small restrooms were thankfully added.

The children all gathered in one Sunday School class. That’s all we had. We squeezed into that tiny room to learn about Adam and Eve, Noah and Jonah. Most importantly, we learned about Jesus. My brother, Lewis, also learned the books of the Bible here. He felt incredible when he was able to recite them all from memory.

On hot summer days, we’d open the windows in hopes of feeling a gentle breeze from heaven. Since none of them had screens, that gentle breeze periodically brought in a wasp or a bee, but we’d fight ‘em off with those old-fashioned funeral home fans with the wooden stick handles.

In the winter months, gas heaters were fired up to warm the cold air. By the end of the sermon, we were always toasty and warm. It could’ve also been the convicting power of God. Who knows? At the time, I was too young to understand, but I totally get it now. Conviction can certainly make anyone a little “hot under the collar.” My brother, Tommy, recalls one particular winter day in 1962 when he experienced that true power of conviction. He knelt at the alter with my dad’s sister and Aunt Emily led him to the Lord. It was a wonderful day, indeed.

Mom played the piano while Uncle Ralph led us in songs from yesteryear. We didn’t need more than “Amazing Grace,” “Victory in Jesus,” and “Sweet Hour of Prayer,”—my Grandma Caldwell’s personal favorite.

My sister, Beverly, held me on her lap until mom finished playing the piano. There was no such thing as a nursery in this little church. If children misbehaved, their parents would simply take them out and “have a little word of prayer with them.” Many times, the kids would start crying before that “necessary prayer” even took place. We knew what was coming. It didn’t take long for us to learn to sit up and behave for an hour or two…ish.

As the preacher’s kids, my siblings and I always ran the risk of being called down from the pulpit. Don’t worry. None of us bear permanent scars created by the embarrassment of our childish misbehavior. We’re all thankful for parents that made us mind. Discipline never hurts anyone. It only hurts when there’s none.

My sister comically recounts a story when she decided to rest on the front pew during dad’s sermon. This was okay given Cindy’s age, but when she raised her arms and legs straight up in the air, she garnered more attention from the preacher than those sitting behind her. I’m not sure what she was thinking, but immediately sat back up when daddy called her out. Needless to say, she never did that again.

After church, we’d all run outside to play chase, red rover, or mother-may-I until it was time to head home. The older kids would stand by the road waving at the occasional passerby. Of course, no one would hear of allowing this today—and for very good reason.

We had some good times at this small country church on the side of the road, but as you can see from the photos I recently took, this building sadly sits empty as it gives way to the elements. The green grass and beautiful wild flowers I remember have been choked by weeds and suffocating vines. Those weeds are now taller than me and my sister when we stood in the churchyard proudly holding our umbrellas so long ago.

LittleChurch4

I’m not sure why I needed to visit this special place from my past. Maybe I just needed to reconnect with a time and place that anchors my Christian heritage. Living in an unprecedented day of change and uncertainty, there is one thing that is still abundantly clear—God is in control of it all. I continue to find much comfort in that.

A Mother’s Intuition

By Marianna Boyce

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and my mind is full.  For those who have either lost their mom, or a bereaved mother that has lost a child, I cannot fathom how difficult it must be.  I pray fond memories comfort your hearts, especially this weekend.

Roses

With so many ideas, I wasn’t sure which direction to take.  Instinctively, I began writing about my amazing mom and quickly concluded this blog could not contain all the stories of her loving kindness in just one post.  She is absolutely the best!

Another fun idea was to share my motherhood blunders.  I didn’t write much before realizing I had enough material to write a novel.  As a contributor to Every Woman Blog, there are countless opportunities to share these stories in future posts.

MomAfter writing and deleting several rough drafts, a reminiscent and relative story kept finding its way to the forefront of my mind.  It’s about the day my intuitive mom revealed to me a little secret…

Soon after I married, I invited my mom and daddy over for supper on an unusually cool evening in September.  Mom taught me to cook when I lived at home, but I wasn’t up for cooking a huge meal with all the trimmings.  I made homemade vegetable soup instead.  Everyone raved how delicious it was, and they also enjoyed homemade brownies I made by reading the instructions on the back of a box (wink wink.)  Their praises made this young new bride beam with pride.

After dessert and coffee, I felt nauseous.  Breaking out in a sweat, I thought I’d up-chuck right there on my living room floor, but let not your hearts be troubled:  I thankfully made it to the bathroom just in time.  The best mom in the universe followed me down the hall to help her baby girl.  She placed a cold cloth on the back of my neck, and another one to wipe my forehead as I was hugging the porcelain throne.  I was mortified!  How horrible would it be for everyone to get food poisoning from something I lovingly cooked for them.  Luckily, no one else was sick.

I felt much better after my unfortunate episode, so mom and I tidied the kitchen.  She tried making me sit down to relax, but I stubbornly refused.  She looked at me and said, “Honey, I think you’re pregnant.  There’s something different about you, and I believe you’re going to be a new mommy.”

What was different?  How did she know?

After scheduling a doctor’s appointment, I invited my intuitive mom to accompany me for support.  It turns out she was right and knew it before anyone else.  She was truly ecstatic, and I was scared to death!  Her baby was having a baby.

BabyI was married on July 18, 1987, and my due date was April 18, 1988, exactly nine months to the day.  I am 100% positive that Cody was conceived on my honeymoon night.  There’s a comical story to share in another post how I know that for sure…

We never need a special day to honor our mothers.  We just need special mothers to honor everyday.  I’m blessed to have two.  To my mom, Mary Lee Caldwell, and mother-in-law, Eleanor Boyce, I love you both dearly.  To my amazing bonus daughter Tiffany, remember being a mom is the most difficult, yet most rewarding job a woman can ever have.  You’re a terrific mom!  Happy Mother’s Day ladies.

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.

 

The Best Thanksgiving

By Kate Morrow

Thanksgiving has always been my most favorite holiday. A time for cooking, wearing comfortable clothes and lounging, catching up with family, playing games, watching football. It’s just such a cozy holiday that truly kicks off the entire holiday season.

Last year, Thanksgiving took on a whole new meaning. Our babies came home.IMG_6781

In the NICU, they never really tell you when your baby will discharge because things could literally change in the next moment. But on the Friday morning before Thanksgiving, our nurse practitioner excitingly told us the babies would discharge that Sunday and they would be home for Thanksgiving.

We were beyond thrilled! My husband, our families, and I came together like an Army— finishing the nursery, washing all the sheets and blankets, and getting all of the last-minute items. Cam and I went on a date night Saturday to celebrate and have one last “date” before we knew life as we knew it would get a little crazier with newborn twins at home.

I was like a kid on Christmas Eve and could not sleep at all on Saturday night. When the alarm finally went off, I sprung out of bed. The car seats were packed. Their coming home outfits were finally packed. This was truly going to be the best day ever.

It took a good while to pack up our 76 day adventure in the NICU and get everyone loaded in the car. We arrived home to all of the grandparents standing on the porch, complete with balloons, storks announcing their homecoming in the front yard, and an excited dog anxious to meet his brother and sister.

I dreamed of this day. I longed for this day. I wanted this day so badly and it was here. We were finally basking in the beauty and joy we so desperately dreamt of for those 76 days and during my favorite and the most wonderful time of year.

IMG_6834On Thursday, we celebrated Thanksgiving. Because we were technically in medical isolation, only our selected caregivers could be there. We all sat down at the table—Cam, me, Yaya, Pops, Gigi, Poppy, and Jack and Lilly in their bassinets. We held hands and we prayed. We ate. We shared stories. We tended to the babies. We snuggled.

I can distinctly remember looking around the room and thinking there was no absolute way I could ever possibly get any happier. Everything and everyone I loved most in the world was finally together.

This year, their Poppy— my dad— will be missing from the table. I find so much peace and comfort in knowing that our last Thanksgiving with him was the best Thanksgiving of my life. This is our first big holiday without him and my heart hurts. My heart hurts for the cranberry dressing he won’t fix this year. My heart hurts that he won’t scold me for picking at the trimmings as he carves the turkey. My heart hurts that we wont sneak a few midnight snacks of leftover macaroni and pecan pie.

fullsizeoutput_f6But just like the changing leaves and cold air that are upon us—I know this, too, is just a season of life. I can remember some of the very best Thanksgivings I have ever had. I can remember some of the ones that weren’t as easy. But, I am thankful for them all. And I know easier and better Thanksgivings are in my future.

Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, Happy Thanksgiving!

Poppy’s Cranberry Dressing:

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 package of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons of orange zest

Method: 

Add sugar, a half of cup of water and orange juice to a sauce pan. Bring to boil and then add cranberries. Allow to boil. Reduce heat and boil for 9-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add orange zest. Allow to cool. Refrigerate.

Treasured Traditions…Fire It Up & Pass The Biscuits!

By Marianna Boyce

It’s that time of the year when many of us may experience feelings of nostalgia.  I love reminiscing about holidays past.  pic 2On Thanksgiving Day, rest assured, my Daddy will be outside raking and burning leaves in his brick fire pit.  (He will probably also be sporting a tie!)  I adore watching him stand there stoically with his hands propped up on the rake while he watches the leaves burn.  It always sparks great conversation when my son and I smell a fire off in the distance in crisp autumn air.  I’m thankful God has blessed us with another year for Daddy to light his traditional Thanksgiving bonfire.

I also need to introduce you to my maternal grandmother (Maw).  She was the only one of my grandparents that I remember.  She was no bigger than a minute but she owned a large personality.  She passed away many years ago at the tender age of ninety.  One thing I always loved watching her do when I was a child was make homemade buttermilk biscuits.  She would scoop out a handful of lard and circle it around the huge mound of flour in her “magical” wooden bowl.  She would “squish” flour and lard as she slowly poured buttermilk into the bowl with her arthritic hands.  She would incorporate and knead it until it possessed the consistency of perfection. That small handful of lard “magically” transformed into a large ball of dough.  Maw would then pinch off a bit and roll it in her tiny hands.  As she placed that ball of dough on her baking pan, she would gently place her knuckle prints across the top of each biscuit.  This was a must!  She often remarked without the knuckle prints, they just wouldn’t taste as good!

pic 3My precious Mama has continued making these biscuits after Maw passed away.  I had always wanted to learn but it just looked so daunting.  Every Thanksgiving at Mama’s house, I watch her in action.  She always makes it look so easy!  Last Thanksgiving (2017), she just wasn’t herself.  She was experiencing a great deal of pain in her back and could hardly stand, but she just HAD to make those biscuits.  I told her to sit next to me in the kitchen and teach me to make them instead.  It was time to pass the torch!  Mama didn’t realize I was also experiencing an excess of pain in my body related to RA, especially in my hands; however, I was willing to suffer through the pain for my sweet Mama!

pic 1I grimaced when I started pouring cold buttermilk into the bowl incorporating it with the lard and flour.  After a minute or two, a Thanksgiving miracle happened!  It turned out, this was VERY therapeutic for my hands.  Once I finished, I felt fantastic!  The smell of freshly baked biscuits wafting through the air was enough to make anyone’s day!  I could hardly wait for both of us to taste one piping hot from the oven!  My oldest brother Tommy was certain we would be using them for weapons, but I’m happy to report that my first batch of biscuits turned out quite good.  I had a great teacher, but of course Maw AND Mama’s biscuits remain unmatched!  Maybe this year she will teach me to make her homemade giblet gravy.  I’ll be making the biscuits!

We truly need to pass on precious memories and treasured traditions to our future generations.  I’m wondering if we should even revive some that we’ve “forgotten.”  So much seems to get lost along the way.  When did we get in a big hurry to do everything?  The answer is…just one moment at a time!  Let’s just slow down this holiday season and simply enjoy the journey.  God bless you and your family!  Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

  •  I have lost one additional pound since my last post (for a total loss of 5 pounds). I hoped to be further along by now, but you know…Halloween candy and all.  I have a fondness for Reese’s cups!  (Who knew?)  Only 15 more pounds to lose!

One thing at a time: Happy Halloween!

By Jeanne Reynolds

I was in a large national discount chain store that shall not be named but whose name rhymes with Stall-Wart a couple weeks ago. This was September, mind you – and what to my wondering eyes should appear but … well, not quite a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, but most of what goes along with that. Yes, Christmas decorations. Lots of them. In September.

C’mon, people. We haven’t even had Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving or even the end of Daylight Savings Time (or is it the beginning? Whichever one is “fall back”) yet. Can’t we reign in our reindeer just a tad?

So I’m focusing on Halloween today. One of my favorite Halloween memories was when I was nine years old and my grandmother made me a genie costume. The TV show “I Dream of Jeannie” was all the rage in those days, and my name is Jeanne, so I just had to have that costume.

I Dream of JeannieAnd boy, did I think I looked good in it. Picture Barbara Eden (eek, I just saw online that she’s 86 now – my mother’s age) … except as a chubby nine-year-old … and plain brown hair instead of blonde … and a sweatshirt on top of the whole thing because it was cooold that Halloween night, even in our northern California neighborhood. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) no photo evidence remains to show you what a great costume it was.

And it would probably be a great costume even today (although a tad tight and short on my current adult frame). Halloween is an incredibly popular adult holiday these days. Travel & Leisure magazine even has an article on the best Halloween events and festivals of the year. (Spoiler alert: Greenwich Village, New York and West Hollywood, California top the list. Won’t be making either of those.)

Franz & HansMaybe you yourself are one of those people who can’t wait to dress up as a sexy French maid or sexy vampire or sexy anything (do you sense a theme here?). Apparently you have plenty of company. Personally, I’ve always favored creative homemade costumes, like the time my husband I donned gray sweatsuits and stuffed the thighs and arms with newspaper ala Hans and Franz of Saturday Night Live fame. Didn’t cost a dime, plus it was a lot more comfortable than a sexy costume. The only thing I had to worry about falling out was some crumpled newspaper.

And then there’s the candy. There are two camps here: Those who buy just enough for the expected number of trick-or-treaters, and those who buy extra … you know, so there’ll be leftovers. Since I tend to buy cheap candy or varieties I wouldn’t eat (because I will), I fall in the first camp. So consider this fair warning: If you want those miniature Hershey’s bars or SweetTarts, head next door.

At least it’s better than my former neighbors, the retired Army dentists. Yep, toothbrushes and dental floss.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

 

Our Fleeting and Pivotal Moments…

By Marianna Boyce

We all experience them.  More fleeting moments may be the first day of school or becoming a teenager.  Ahh…we knew it all then, didn’t we?

What was your first job?  Mine was working at Hardee’s in Lexington.  It was there that I learned the value of an honest day’s work, and I actually had some fun along the way.

I also recall the purchase of my first car. My daddy wasn’t sold on it but I HAD to have it. It was a yellow Pontiac Sunbird and it was also a lemon!  My daddy was right…again.  Yellow was indeed, the perfect color.

The next car I bought was a brand new Mustang.  Working at Hardee’s actually did pay my bills.  It was my car payment, insurance, and gas money.  I lived at home until I was married.

As for my first date with Gerry, he invited me to his ten year high school reunion. It was 1986 and I actually had just graduated high school myself.  I probably should’ve been intimidated, but I wasn’t.  I had a blast!

More pivotal moments…IMG-0623

Gerry and I married the following year.

I also became instant mom to a pretty, blonde haired, blue-eyed, independent, headstrong little girl.  I was nineteen and she was eight!  We both grew up together…God bless my sweet husband’s heart!

Pictured is Tiffany and me on my wedding day.  I don’t recall if this was before or after we told her she couldn’t come with us on our honeymoon.  Based on her stuck out tongue…probably after!

IMG-0622

I gave birth to my son Cody nine months after Gerry and I were married.  Yes…that was a close one!  He was indeed a honeymoon baby!  This is a story all in itself.

My promotion from mom to “GiGi” is a phenomenal moment in my life. Avery is now five and she is the mirror image of that pretty, blonde haired, blue-eyed, independent, headstrong little girl that Tiffany was when Gerry and I were first married.  This is Avery sticking out her tongue too…just like her mama!

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I’ve taken several amazing road trips across the United States of America. The most pivotal one was our Arizona adventure in June, 2016.  This was the full-out, purely unadulterated, top down, wind in your hair, road trip!

 I experienced an unforgettable pivotal moment the instant I arrived home from this whirlwind trip.  I stepped out of the car and onto my driveway.  My body immediately told me something was wrong.

My pain began in my feet and ankles.  Gerry and Cody initially thought it was from being in the car for extended periods of time.  Although that idea was worth entertaining, this pain was much different.  Within two short weeks, this pain would quickly spread and intensify.  I was completely blindsided.  My life would never be the same.

It’s not so much the fleeting moments, but the pivotal moments in life that define who we are…good and bad!  I do not want to forget my very humbling and intimidating journey, but I will not allow it to define me either.

No one has a perfect life, but life itself…It is a gift.  God gives me breath, therefore I breathe, therefore I live.  I will live life to the fullest!

Music, The Virtual Time Machine

By Shannon Boatwright

“The music that touches you in your youth is magnified as you get older. Each record can be a virtual time machine – all you need is to hear a second or two and you go back to that place and time when you first heard it.  It’s a brilliant feeling when music touches you so profoundly and stays with you through time.”

  • Rob Halford

Music, for me, is an incredible source of inspiration on so many levels. Rob Halford is considered a Metal God. His voice is out of this world – his vocal abilities and range have put him on the top of the lists as one of the best voices of rock.  After reading up on him, what I really like most about him is his passion for music and his recognition of its ability to truly transport people.  One of my favorite drummers, Brad Wilk, posted this quote by Rob on his Instagram. It really caught my eye because I truly cannot imagine life without music. Music is what helps to fuel my world, keep me motivated, keep me inspired.  All types of music have this lovely ability to take you away, envelop you in its graces and flood you with memories, visions and dreams.Music, The Virtual Time Machine

When I hear certain music, I am most definitely transported to another time. Sometimes instantly. For example, if I hear “Coming to America” by Neil Diamond, I am instantly transported to my living room back in my elementary and middle school days when my mother would blast his music while we cleaned house. She would have it playing loud and proud and I secretively loved it, especially this song. I can see the room, I can smell the fragrances of our home, I can see my Mom singing along and getting taken away by the passion of the song. Growing up with a professional pianist mother who loves music immensely and music is literally her life, well, you get influenced! It’s inevitable. Whether it was classical music, Neil Diamond, Abba, Julio Iglesias, gospel music, classic rock or Yanni – music has always filled the homes that I grew up in.

Music was and is a source of therapy, a source of freedom, a source of great escape. And goodness knows, when I hear certain songs, I am totally transported back in time!  I can hear a song from the movie Annie and instantly be transported to the early 1980s when I would act out the entire movie in my living room for my family. I can hear the song “Dumb Dog” from when Annie is singing to the dog Sandy and instantly feel myself back in my childhood backyard where I used to sing the song to my own dog as I wandered around my yard pretending I was on the streets of New York. I can even smell the pine trees!  When I hear the Guns-n-Roses’ song, “November Rain” I am totally taken back to 1992 when my best friend Tammy and I went to the Metallica/Guns-n-Roses concert at Williams Brice Stadium and thought we were the coolest chicks ever.  Or, “Crockadile Rock” by Elton John, which takes me right to my varsity cheerleading auditions in which I overcame insecurities and went for it, having a blast with the choreography, making the varsity team.  I think of my team and Coach Elliott every time I hear that song and I can literally feel the school carpet under my sneakers as I rehearsed and auditioned.

I could fill page after page of the songs that create a time machine for me that transports me back to glorious moments and memories in which I can still remember the setting perfectly, recreating the moment in such a way that I feel I could close my eyes and still feel, see, and touch everything around me from that special moment in time.  It’s a brilliant thing indeed to be touched so profoundly!  My wish is that my mind and heart are able to always hold onto to this sensory ability that music brings out in me. Here’s to hoping my virtual time machine never breaks down! I hope and pray that music will always have this magical ability to transport me, allowing memories to flood my senses.

Where does your virtual time machine take you? What songs transport you to fabulous moments and special memories?  Pay attention and take note of these priceless songs and allow them to take you back, so that they can stay with you throughout your lifetime!

Front Porch and Kitchen Memories

By Chaunte McClure

By now, you know I love to reminisce about growing up with Grandma. I was scrolling Facebook on Sunday night and came across a meme with an image of peas in chipwood baskets, and of course, my mind traveled back to summer months sitting on the porch at Grandma’s.

On occasion, she’d shell peas or butter beans while we, the grandkids, frolicked in the yard. Some days I didn’t have that privilege or thought I was “too grown” to play with the others, but my time wouldn’t be idle because I’d have to get a bowl and help shell peas. Geez, if Grandma could’ve seen the eye roll I imagined upon her demand. Of course, she always knew whether or not I wanted to do what she asked. I’ve heard her say, “If you can eat ‘em, you can shell ‘em.” That meant get your fingernails ready to open the seams of 2,000 pods. (Clearly, I’m exaggerating.)

fresh-peas

It just seemed like it took forever to see the results of my labor, for I thought my bowl would never get full and the pile of unshelled beans always looked so large.

We snapped beans too. I’d much rather the snapping because it was much easier to break off the tips and snap the stems and that was easier on the fingernails, thumbs and index fingers.

Those are classic moments because today I don’t eat fresh vegetables often enough nor do I have a garden like many families did during my childhood. Food was better for you and oh, the memories we made just with food. Picking, peeling, cutting and bagging tomatoes. Canning peaches, apples, and beans. And making biscuits from scratch. I only watched Grandma knead biscuit dough and even at 42 years old, sadly, I’ve never made homemade biscuits nor have I canned fruits and vegetables. But some of my fondest memories were made on the porch and in the kitchen at Grandma’s House.

What are some of your fondest memories growing up in the South?

Rearview Mirror

By Katie Austin

As I log into my laptop to write my next Every Woman Blog article, I close my eyes to allow my mind to wander as I try to come up with a topic to write about.  It feels good to sit still, thinking about life in general. It’s not often that we find those quiet times in our busy days to just think without having a deadline or having to be somewhere.   I try to come up with something and look at my calendar to see if there are any life events coming up I should write about.

Then it hits me.   The day on the calendar is the only one I see.   It’s like there is a glow around it and my mind begins to race, my emotions flooded with memories of that moment.  When my life stood still and everything changed.

I will never forget that day.  It was Friday, March 5th 2010 and the time was 11:15.  My parents and I were at the house waiting for a phone call.  You see, I had a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, and a biopsy the day before and the hospital’s breast health nurse navigator, Kelly Jeffcoat, was planning to call me by 11:30 with the results.  I already had a feeling there was something wrong just by the reaction of those around me the day before.  I tried to take my mind off things all morning but all I could think about was wanting to know.

Then the phone call came.  Nothing can prepare you for that moment.  I actually let it ring two times before picking up because I wasn’t sure I wanted to know.  I needed to know but I knew picking up that phone could change everything.   I was right, my life was going to change forever with that phone call.   I was told that I had Stage 2 breast cancer.

From that phone call, I underwent eight rounds of aggressive chemotherapy, surgery (lumpectomy), 26 days of radiation, and then another six months of chemotherapy (Herceptin).  Shortly thereafter I had my port removed and then was on medicine to lower my estrogen levels for almost five years.   I met the most amazing people along the way and their friendships continue to this day.

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Katie with Sharon Nipper (her infusion nurse)

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Katie with her breast friend Brandy

It’s hard to believe that on March 5th of this year it will be eight years since I was diagnosed!   As I let my fingers move across the keyboard, I think back to the day I rang the bell and how much I couldn’t wait to get back to normal.  Over the years, I would try to motivate myself to get healthier and it would work, but then I would fall back into the same habits.  I would allow myself the excuse that I am lucky to be alive so I shouldn’t worry about that.  But that’s not true.   It’s been almost eight (8) years since that fateful day and I am no closer to finding that new normal than I was then.

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I spend more of my time thinking back to when I was in shape, when I felt better, when I had more energy, when I didn’t have cancer.  As I type this, I realize that during my cancer batter I had to be strong.   After my treatments were done, I had to be strong and to get back to life I had to put those feelings aside so that I could enjoy myself again.  I realize now I never dealt with the emotional rollercoaster that comes with the diagnosis.   I need to take the time to deal with those emotions.  It’s ok to think about and miss my survivor sisters who are no longer here.  I need to be ok with being afraid of my cancer coming back but not allow it to hold me back.  I need to put God first and my health needs to be a priority.  I want to be ready if/when my cancer rears its ugly head

As I sit here writing down my thoughts, I realize I wrote quite a bit and my next blog post 🙂

I can’t change my past but my future is what I make of it.  I can’t expect things to work out on their own.  Sometimes they do, but for the most part I know that I need to heal before I can move on.  Then I will be ready to take on the changes I need to make in my life.

Life isn’t how quick you get there, but the steps taken to get to where you want to be.” – Katie Austin

Wishing each of you a great day and I look forward to seeing you back on the Every Woman Blog,

Katie Austin