Turquoise Frame
Turquoise Frame
Turquoise Frame

The Great Bar-b-Dog Heist

Alright. Who stole the Bar-b-Dogs?

I’m pretty sure that I know the culprit. It’s the same one that has stolen our family get togethers, our vacation time and our fall festivals. 2020, you are under arrest. You have the right to remain silent.

It’s one of our favorite fall treats from our little hometown drive-thru restaurant Pal’s. See, every Fall Pals has Bar-b-Dogs on the menu. It’s a once-a-year thing – barbecue on a steamed hotdog bun. Last year the Doublewide Husband and I stopped to get Bar-b-Dogs, fries and Pal’s famous tea on our way to our local University football games. We “tailgated” in the car before going in to find our seats. I know 2020 is the culprit because I emailed Pals and got a response from the CEO explaining that the pandemic caused them to not be able to offer Bar-b-dogs this year. (note: this year also saw the passing of Pal Barger, the man who brought us Pals)

Even if we’d been able to get our beloved Pals barbecue, there would be nowhere to tailgate. Yep, 2020 messed that up too. Those football games have been moved to Spring 2021. Spring ain’t football season, people… The nip in the air, big sweaters and coats, bonfires – that’s all Fall stuff. The country song, “The Boys of Fall” clearly explains it.

What else is 2020 going to try to steal?!

Well, now they’re threatening to cancel Thanksgiving and Christmas. Really? Who are “they” anyway? Let me tell you, they are not getting any more of my 2020! I’m taking it back! If I have to wear a mask while eating my turkey and dressing, I’ll do it. I’m not giving up any more celebrations.

Actually, if you look back on the year since the plague hit, people have been really creative about keeping their beloved traditions. I love the pioneer spirit. Birthday celebrations have turned into parades. Who doesn’t love a parade? People are working from home (me included). Meetings and some family gatherings have gone virtual. Those are not the worst things in the world. I like working from home. Meetings are more casual  and you can wear your pajamas – well the bottom part of your pajamas.

Why cry over spilt calendars?

I think I’ll focus on all the good this year has brought me. It’s easy to focus on the bad things, and there’s plenty of bad that’s come along this year, but I choose to look at the good things. It’s been a year to spend more time with immediate family, cook more at home and eat healthier (unless you’re grilling hot dogs every day).

How about you? How will you remember this year — focusing on the bad things or remembering all the good that happened?


Peace and Promise

Peace and Promise

A few weeks ago my friend, Cynthia, had an idea to put together a devotional. She emailed one day and asked me to collaborate on it with her.

Me? Write a devotional? I’m not a preacher. I’m not even a Sunday School teacher. I’ve written a children’s book, articles for magazine and newspaper and a blog. Don’t you have to go to Bible college to write a devotional?

I guess not.

Well, I said yes and we started planning. (Note: both of us learned to say “yes” to the press and then figure it out along the way from teacher and writer extraordinaire, Michelle Medlock Adams). We wanted to create a booklet to encourage people during this crazy year that is 2020. If we could make a difference in any way, it would be worth all the work.

Cynthia and I met a few years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and became fast friends. That’s a story in itself — she’s from New York and I’m from Tennessee. Yee Haw! We missed not being able to hang out in our favorite coffee shop on the Ridgecrest campus this past spring. We’re looking forward to a grand reunion in Spring 2021!

So, after all the writing, editing, fixing — I actually had one devo in there twice under two different names… had to write a whole new one. And then I used the same scripture on two different devos. That’s a little behind-the-scenes info. Writing is fun. It’s the editing and rewriting that can take you out. In the end, though, when you finally have the finished work ready – that’s the coolest. (I’m never taking the words “cool” “coolest” and “cool beans” out of my vocabulary no matter how old it makes me look, so there).

I have to say a big THANK YOU to Cynthia for thinking of me to help with this project. It was and is a labor of love. When I started my writing journey many years ago, devotionals were never up there on my radar. I didn’t think I had what it took to even attempt it. Just reading scripture and praying about what to write, even if I never wrote a word, strengthened me and gave me an even greater love for God’s Word.

We ended up posting the devotional on Cynthia’s website as a free download. The link will eventually be posted on my site — technical difficulties slowed that down. I’m also posting the link below. I hope you will download it and read it. There are thirty devos — thirty days worth of peace and promise. I also hope that our writings will help you find a place of peace in the war zone that’s going on. Though we need God’s Word, protection and strength every day. We need Him in good times and in bad. We would love to hear your stories of peace and promise. How has God brought you through the tough times?

Download the free devotional Peace and Promise During a Crisis

To All My Mother Figures

To All My Mother Figures

I’m a dog mom. Does that qualify me to celebrate Mothers Day?

Maybe not – but I have a lot of moms to celebrate. This isn’t a new idea I just came up with. I wanted to post a special tribute to some of the women who have been like a mom to me. And to my own mom, Nancy

All the love and memories came crashing in while I was frying potatoes (“fried taters” in these parts) for supper, because it reminded me of my Aunt Bobbie, my mom’s sister. She taught me how to fry taters. She also taught me how to make cornbread. I remember it well, standing in her kitchen on Riverside Drive many years ago. I was so excited. She had two wonderful sons who she loved with everything in her, but never had a daughter of her own.  She became like a mom to me.

All of my mom’s sisters (I believe there were about eight girls in all) were like mothers to me in one way or another.

Aunt Shirley taught me to laugh and have fun in the kitchen. I loved her kitchen with all its aromas — especially the smell of Uncle Dempsey’s Butternut cakes. She also taught me what proper sweet tea should taste like and that you shouldn’t ever let anybody leave your house hungry.

Sunday suppers at Aunt Faye’s house came complete with Pistachio cake. My cousin Valerie (Faye’s daughter), always had to wash the dishes and I helped. I loved looking out her kitchen window over the sink while I rinsed and dried.

I loved going up to the country to my Aunt (Lucille) Cille’s house. It was a treat riding those curvy roads to Nickelsville, Virginia. I spent summers there riding my bike all over town with my cousins and their friends. Aunt Cille and Uncle Bruce had the biggest gardens of anybody and the best fresh vegetables. There was always a big meal on the table. Evenings after supper and Sunday afternoons were often spent sitting out on the carport, warm summer breezes blowing in.

My Aunt Nina taught me that you should always look your best wherever you were going. I watched her put on makeup and curl her lashes and hair to go out. It fascinated me. She, my mom and some of the other sisters would put Toni perms in each other’s hair. The smell of the perm solution just about ran me out of the room, but I sat there taking it all in, gaining a lot of fashion knowledge, along with a little news about the goings on in the family.

I surely don’t want to leave anybody out — there was also Aunt ‘Rene (Irene) who had the cleanest house this side of the Mississippi. She let Uncle Everson put his deer heads on the walls, but they had to be placed just so. I could tell, even with their beady eyes following me everywhere around the room. Aunt ‘Rene’s house was at the top of what’s probably the highest point in Weber City, Virginia. We could see all over the place sitting outside in the front yard — even over into Holston View Cemetery where my mamaw and papaw rest.

My Aunt Joyce taught me the importance of being strong no matter what. One of most resilient women I ever knew, she passed way too young.

My dad’s sister, Sarah, raised four boys well. All of them grew up to be fine men. She taught me the importance of adapting to changing situations. She, too, would have loved to had a daughter to go with all those boys and took me home with her to spend the night whenever she could.

Grandmothers can teach you a lot, too. My Mamaw Moles (my dad’s mom) taught me that a girl can drive a big ol boat of a car (made entirely of real metal) through the interstate traffic of Greensboro, North Carolina without an ounce of fear! Well,  she had no fear — I saw my life flash before my eyes a few times the day I took that road trip with her.

Mamaw Dockery taught me the worth of a good story. Told just the right way, it can hold a kid spellbound and out of mischief (like jumping on the bed). How I would love to sit and listen again to her tell the story about the headless Civil War soldier she saw walking up her front steps over in Fort Blackmore. Ghosts seem to be more prevalent out in the country.

Saving the best for last, but not nearly least — my own mom taught me about Jesus and the importance of being part of a church family. It’s something I still value so much in my life. Mom also liked to cook and put big meals on the table. Her Sunday suppers were some of the best. We usually had roast and potatoes with plenty of home canned green beans. If it was summer when gardens were in, there would also be a salad or killed lettuce and onions. Ok – now I’m hungry again.

I guess the thread running through this quilt of family memories is that all of them fed me in some way. Whether it was food or a life lesson, I am better for having known each of them. They are and will always be influences that helped shape me into who I am today.

I’d love to know — what are some memories of women who helped shape you?



Pandemic Life in Hooterville

Pandemic Life in Hooterville

Is it ok to say this whole “pandemic” thing has had me the least little bit stressed?

I don’t even mean the virus itself. I pray over that whole mess and leave it there. The sudden change to my predictable rut is what’s had me out of sorts. 

The biggest obstacle I’ve had working from home turned out to be unreliable internet. Rainy days ruined any hopes for connecting to the work world. For awhile I felt like I lived in Hooterville –  went outside looking for a telephone pole to climb.

It turns out my former internet supplier had things hooked up inside a plastic box by the side of the road where rain runoff could flood and/or a car could slide into and knock the whole thing to kingdom come. I do live in Hooterville! I even had to set up shop at my neighbor’s house for a few days until we switched over to a new provider.

In the midst of all this, my day job hasn’t slowed down a bit. This is probably the busiest time of year for a medical school, so I have been mucho busy (and stressed!) learning how to lend support via electronic means and making sure the learning environment still happened for our group. 

My technical creativity went up, while my writing creativity took a bit of a nosedive. Writing anything worth reading was just not happening. My brain felt like it had taken one too many rides on the tilt-a-whirl. Jesus take the wheel!

I decided that the tide had to turn or I was going to go get a job at the doughnut factory and forget everything else. That’s my contingency plan, anyway.  Getting up early every morning to go make the doughnuts isn’t the worse thing that could happen.

Until I resign myself to rolling out dough for a living, I will be writing the dough. Maybe I’ll invent blog doughnuts with messages on them. See, I know God has a perfect plan for me. Why else would He give me all these whacky ideas? Some will come to life in this blog, some in books and in other avenues. 

The bottom line is that even though I get stressed, I don’t have to let stress overtake me and have me so turned around that I can’t even find my way out of a paper bag.

I think it’s the same for all of us. Fear will present itself. It tries to look like a big ‘ol bully coming in to steal your lunch, eat your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and then pop the bag  in your face. Fear don’t care.

The truth is, fear is only as big as you let it be in your life. There is a defense that’s way more reliable than gloves and masks (no, I’m not saying don’t wear your gloves and masks). When you get into God’s Word and find out what He says about you and about standing up to fear, you’ll realize that you don’t have to run off and hide from everything. You can stand strong in faith.

So, make a decision to live! Live in the face of all the bad news. In fact, turn off the news. Let go of stress. Live like you’ve never lived before.

Go forward on purpose.

Don’t Fence Me In

Don’t Fence Me In

Thank goodness I have plenty of room to roam during all this quarantining that’s going on. I know everyone doesn’t have a farm next door to wander through or neighbors you can sit with in the driveway waiting for sunset so you can take photos. I’m sorry for all of you living in crowded cities who are in that predicament and I’m praying for you.

I’m praying for all of us.

We aren’t used to this. Saturdays are for running the roads and stopping to eat lunch wherever you have a mind to. Weekdays are for being at work with your workmates and meeting in the kitchen for coffee and talking … ahem … discussing important work matters.

Working from home really isn’t so bad. I’ve always wanted to work from my living room office and have my own private bathroom stocked with all my stuff. Another bonus — my dogs are here! Every day is “take your dog to work” day!! Yep, it’s kinda nice. I know I’ll miss this when we return to our offices. Do you think they’ll let me bring my dogs with me? Pets help relieve stress– it’s been proven.

I also miss going to church and seeing all my friends up close and in person. (well, not too close — I was never one for that even before the pandemic hit)

People, we’ve got to figure out a way to get back to semi-normal and still be safe! I need my Hobby Lobby fix!! You can only shop online so much. I like to browse and look at stuff, feel the textures on the fake wood and imagine how I’m going to decorate a room or whatever I’m fixin’ up. I want to wander through the aisles listening to the church music. It’s so relaxing. I could almost lay down in the floor and take a nap right in the middle of the place. Maybe I should take my pillow and blanket next time — I’ll go in when they’re about to close and hide out in the candle aisle. They’ll never know I’m there until the next morning when the opening crew comes in and finds me snoozing away, with a snowman from the Christmas clearance section tucked under my blanket. Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it. I don’t steal from the Lord’s home decor store (or anywhere else, for that matter)!

I know all of this will be over sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’m going to look at all the good going on in my life and enjoy the *pause*.  I am still working everyday, but there’s something to be said for not having to put on makeup and then drive through traffic and redlight cameras to get to work. And gas prices are down!! Though I’m not really using much gas right now. But that’s another point to ponder.

The key is – Count your blessings. Help your neighbor whenever you can. Be kind.  And know that you’re going to have to wait a few minutes outside in line at the Mexican restaurant when you go pick up your order of burritos with extra salsa.

When all this is close to being over, you just might find me by the door at Hobby Lobby waiting patiently for them to open back up. I might spend my whole vacation week in there. Don’t judge.


AARP, I’m not Ready for Thee!

AARP, I’m not Ready for Thee!

Just because I’m watching The Waltons on a Friday night does not mean that I’m interested in a policy for final expenses.

I’ve realized the drug and insurance companies love to advertise on the tv channels I like to watch. They think only senior citizens watch the oldies. I have to endure ads about incontinence and Jitterbug phones right in the middle of  Andy Griffith. The nerve of them assuming that I need any of that, because I’m watching  reruns of shows I saw in their original form in the 60’s and 70’s.

I’m a tad offended.

“Do you have frequent urges to go to the bathroom?”
“Does sitting for long periods of time seem like torture?”

No! I want to watch The Lucy Show and not have to see somebody cringing in pain while dancing to “Boogie Nights” on a gallbladder commercial.  Please get off my tv. Just because I’m over 40 and like the oldie shows does not mean that I have the heartbreak of psoriasis.

I’ll tell you what heartbreak is — having to sit through those commercials.

Pharmaceutical companies are using  pop songs that were popular in the 70’s and 80’s to push their drugs, too. If I have to listen to another Earth, Wind and Fire song while hearing a voiceover tell me all about stool softener… Why do they think I might even need that? My stool habits are none of their beeswax. Watching Lawerence Welk and Gilligan’s Island isn’t fun anymore.

What’s coming next? Nursery rhymes advertising wrinkle cream? The younger set will be combating the aging process before they even start grade school.

I can see it now– the spokesperson would probably be a kid from a baby food commercial. A whole dance team dressed like characters from Frozen twirling around on screen with a jar of snowflakes that claims to freeze everything it’s applied to so little ones can maintain that “just born” look throughout life. “Quick – act before you turn eight — or it will be too late!”

I think I’ll pass. In fact, I’m starting my own revolt against all the so-called experts who  invade my late night tv viewing. While the geriatric ads are running, I’ll make my way to the kitchen and eat something loaded with bacon and butter – all the stuff they warn you about.
Pour some sugar on that.

Rock On, my friends. Rock On.


Just Drive

Just Drive

I’m not always so nice when I drive. I admit it.

There’s something about being behind the wheel, trying to get where I’m going. I tend to see other drivers as the cars they’re in or I identify them by the county on their tag. I either yell at the Lexus or the F-150, or at Sullivan County, Greene County, what in the world are doing on my highway, North Carolina? … you get the picture.

It usually goes a little like this:

“Come on! Let’s get a move on!

“Hello — I’m right here! Road hog!

“Alright, Ford, the light’s green… you can go anytime.”

It’s easy to yell at somebody if you see them as a hunk of metal or an entire region of the country going down the road.

Turn that perspective around.

What would it be like if we drove invisible cars…? We would be able to see everybody around us much better – they wouldn’t be behind tinted windows and doors. Yikes! That means I would have to keep my car clean. Oops. It currently looks like a rolling Salvation Army resale store. Need a shirt, pants or pair of shoes? Just be careful opening the doors!

I think I would definitely see people with a different attitude if I could see them that clearly. I don’t think I would yell and rant … quite so much.

The nicer me would surely be there behind the wheel, smiling and waving them on. I know I would be a lot more thoughtful.

We’re all in the same boat.. er.. car.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus, even after seeing us with all our junk in the trunk, loves us unconditionally? I sure am. I’m glad He gently reminds me that I need to be nice and treat people more like He does.

He knows everything about us. He knows our beginning and our end and accepts us. He sure won’t leave you the same — you can’t stay the same old you after encountering Him.   You’ll see the world around you differently.

You might even be a better driver.  I know I’m going to be more thoughtful when I go down the road.

Now, outta my way! 🙂





Mules in the Mountains

Mules in the Mountains

I had a lot of neat adventures back in the late 80’s working as a reporter for the Whitley Republican in Williamsburg, Kentucky. There was always something going on in that little mountain town.

Sometimes a little weirdness going on, but interesting nonetheless.

One experience in particular is still dear to my heart – the day we went up into the mountains to do a feature on mules hauling pipeline. My friend and newspaper comrade, Teresa, recently found a copy of that article and sent it to me. Reading it again brought back a lot of memories.

When nothing else works – bring in the mules.

A company working to lay pipeline in the Kentucky mountains were not able to take the big trucks into the area where they needed to go. So the foreman had the bright idea to take mules up there to help do the job. It still kinda fascinates me.

The newspaper photographer, Bill, got wind of the story and off we went to find them. We had to drive a little way up in the mountains. When we got there, we found it just as we’d heard – mules were doing the work where trucks couldn’t. It stands as my favorite experience from my time at the paper. (Well, that and getting free supper every Tuesday night at the Bonanza steakhouse. But that’s another story.)

I interviewed the foreman (and the mules ?), and Bill took lots of photos – it turned out to be a very nice feature spread and we also won photo feature of the year, and feature article of the year from the Kentucky Weekly Newspaper Association. Cool beans.

I moved on from newspaper work, but never forgot my love of writing about everyday life – neat stories about people, places and things.

In the back of my mind, I missed newspaper life and thought that I would like to do that again.  I wanted my own publication, though. Then I heard about the One Christian Voice network of online news sites.

I messaged the editor of Nashville Christian Voice and found out that they were looking for someone to start another site in Tennessee.

Pick me! Pick me!

Long story short – I’m now the editor of my own news site, ETN Christian Voice! I’ve been slow out of the gate, but it’s coming along. I get to choose the stories to feature, I’m writing about the things I love to write about and my dream is happening.

Don’t ever let go of your dreams. They’re there for a reason.

Keep moving forward and do what you know to do. Pray, give your plans and dreams to God and He will take it from there.

Have faith.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,  the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1




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