We Sit In A Circle

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(Painting by Joan Breckwoldt)

We sit in a circle. The circle changes from week to week but for the most part it’s the same group. Some weeks there are tears, some weeks there is laughter, every week there is acceptance. We are as different as women can be on the outside. We go to different churches, our kids are in different schools, our ages are as varied as our incomes but we always find common ground in Christ. Everything from issues with kids to marital questions to how do I find myself in all the chaos. I LOVE the fact that this group has gotten to know me, and loves me anyway! Can I get an AMEN?!?!?

You would think when you put this many women in a room, there would be at least one cat fight every now and then… especially considering this group is made up of everything from southern belles to Yankees to military brats with a Midwesterner thrown in just for good measure. But we’re pretty boring people… there has yet to be a single cat fight!! However, I do love it when as I am saying something I see one of the other gals start doing the “I’ve got something to say” squirm because I know that like it or not, I’m about to hear the truth y’all!

What it all boils down to is that. THE TRUTH. Seriously, how often do you have people speak the truth to you? When you mention a spat with your husband friends say things like “poor you” and “it will all work out.” But not these gals. Nope, they look you square in the eye and say “you realize you were wrong don’t you? Now what are you going to do about it?” There’s no protecting of feelings in this group because when we signed up earlier this year, we signed up for the truth. And good or bad, that’s just what we‘ve got!!

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Leave a Message After the Beep

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If you have known me longer than a week, you know I am not a fan of talking on the phone. Not sure why, but I would much rather text/email/write you a letter/send up smoke signals than have a conversation on the phone. Part of it is the fact that I just don’t hear well on the phone and part of it is I can’t stand it when people call and talk for an hour saying NOTHING AT ALL… just babbling!!  

I’ve noticed that this type of conversation usually happens when people are in the car and have nothing else to do, so to entertain themselves they call me. I know I should be flattered they feel like I have enough interesting stuff to say that I can make their trip pass effortlessly but I’m just not ready for that kind of pressure people! I mean what if I let them down? What if I fail to be interesting? What if I repeat one of my stories? Well, then my entire reputation is ruined and I’d have nothing left but my cats (no, I don’t have cats but that what I’d have to do … get cats!)

So if you need me, you can call me. But the chances of me answering are pretty slim… however, don’t worry… all you have to do is leave a message after the beep and I’ll text you right back! Just living the truth here people, just living the truth.

Dear Mr. Knightley…

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A while back I confessed to you my love for all things written. Over the years I’ve read more books than I can count, much less remember and if I were asked what my favorite book was, I would have a difficult time answering. I might could tell you some of my top 20 but narrowing it down from there would just be futile. Our conversation would go something like this:

You: “So what’s your favorite book?”

Me: “The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseiniyeah, that’s it. No, no it has to be Savannah by Eugenia Price… well maybe Sister Mary Margaret or Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson or Beach Music by Pat Conroy. Oh wait, it’s got to be the Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers or Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin. No, it is definitely The Historian, no Pillars of the Earth or Steven King’s 11/22/63. Yeah, I can’t name just one favorite.”

Until TODAY.

                My Ansley sent me a book. Nothing special because she sends me lots of books but this book had an interesting name to say the least. So I promptly put it on the shelf and forgot about it (Oops!!) Until the other day, I pulled if off the shelf and, no lying, 8 hours later I was finished. It was so much more than I expected and nothing like I ever dreamed it would be after reading the back of the book. I could relate on so many levels and none of them the obvious ones. It pulled me in like very few books ever have and I simply got lost in it. Those people became my friends and I rejoiced when they rejoiced, cried when they cried and it was so bittersweet to see them go.

Now I don’t want to build it up too much because then no matter how good it is, you will be disappointed. And if I’m being truthful, this book may mean nothing to you. You may read it and simply be underwhelmed. I’m okay with that. That is also when I realize again how much I love this book because while I want you to read it and love it, even if you don’t… I still do.

Isn’t that why writers write? To change us, move us, make us more aware of who we really are? To show us a flaw in our character that no one else could point out to us and remain in our life? To let us see if only for a moment who we could really be if we only believe in ourselves and are completely honest with those we love? To challenge us, push us and, dare I say, better us? I don’t read so these things will happen but when they do it is a gift. I read to relax, get away, learn and even to occupy my mind when I’m worried. So when a book like this comes along and I close it knowing I’ve learned something unexpected about myself? That to me makes it a GREAT book.

So, do yourself a favor and go to your local bookstore today and purchase Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay. This may be the first book she has ever written, but friends I can promise you if we are fortunate, it won’t be her last.

 ***Just to be clear, even though I was given this book for free, I have not been paid to read it, write about it or love it! I am nothing if not honest when it comes to books. After all, they were my first love.

The Love of My Life

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My husband is one of the most amazing people in the world (and I’m not just saying that because Christmas is coming and I don’t have a job.) No, Tim is really one of those rare people who are truly kind, always loving and full of grace. He lives life with a song in his heart and on his lips. Which I cannot fully appreciate since he starts singing first thing in the morning (I’m not fully human until after 9:00am… ok 10:00am!) Tim truly embodies the practice of putting other first and is hands down one of the greatest listeners in the world. He is an amazing husband, father, educator and friend.

Now don’t misunderstand me, he’s far from perfect. I mean, he is a hoarder like no other! Just last night we discussed WHY he wanted to keep twenty-six empty prescription bottles…yes, twenty-six!!! His reason? Just in case we need something to keeps safety pins in or if we travel and need something to put all our pills in (yes, the TSA would just LOVE that!!) And don’t even get me started on the nails, screws and bolts on his work bench. Let’s just say if there is ever a shortage, you people know where to come!

He’s also one of those people who I describe as having “wheels on his butt” meaning that he cannot sit still! You give me a book, I’m not moving for hours unless there is a federal emergency. Tim? Yeah, he can barely sit still for twenty minutes. Other than taking our kids to Disney movies, I can truly count on one hand the number of times Tim and I have gone to the theater to see a movie. Our first movie together was “Field of Dreams” in 1989 and it was our only movie in a theater until well after we moved to Augusta in 1999. The few other movies that we have seen in a theater were movies with other couples and, truth be told, he only went then because of peer pressure.

Yes, I am married to the most amazing man in the world and I don’t tell him that nearly often enough. I mean who else would put up with a wife who wanted to “retire” just a year before having two sons in college and two years before having all three sons in college? Only one man friends, and that man I am proud to say is my husband or more accurately the love of my life!

Freedom Isn’t Free

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(me and my sweet daddy)

Today is Veteran’s Day. A day we say THANK YOU to everyone who has fought to keep this land ours, fought to keep this country a democracy, fought to keep America truly the land of the free and home of the brave.

I am blessed to come from a long line of veterans: my dad, Greg Weber, served in Vietnam; my father-in-law, Tom Reeve, served in WWII; my maternal grandfather, Cecil Boatright, served in WWII; my paternal grandfather, Art Weber served in WWII; my great-uncle, Jerry Hall, served in Vietnam and was career military; my cousin, Chad Harper, served in Operation Desert Storm. I have to include my dear friend, Col. Robert Edmonson, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, is currently serving as commander of the 35th Signal Brigade at Fort Gordon and who, along with his beautiful wife Ellen, have allowed me to see what military service really looks like.

As the mother of three sons, I am grateful to these men not only for what they did for our country, but also what they have done as role models for my boys. My sons’ heritage is filled with men who know what it means to sacrifice, who do not take freedom for granted and who embody service over self.

My sincerest thanks to every soldier, male or female, along with their families who have served or is currently serving our country. After talking with one of these veteran’s in our family recently, my son looked at me and said, “Mom, just being in his presence makes me want to be a better man.” I think that says it all.

Doing My Very Best to Do My Very Best

I sometimes laugh when it’s not appropriate… oh not just a giggle but a shoulder shaking, eyes watering, can’t hold the sound in laughing. I know, I know, I’m an adult and I should be able to control myself but I can’t. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a disorder I have, like inappropriatitis or giggle-mania. But really I think it’s simply my lack of ability to control myself…oops!

The very first time I remember this happening was when I was about 14. It was a Sunday night, Lynne and I were sitting about four rows from the front in our church doing our very best to do our very best (let me tell you that was hard at 14!) A member of our church had just begun to sing a solo when Lynne calmly leaned over and whispered in my ear, “I’m pretty sure his name is Mr. Potato Head.” Well that was it. I. Was. Done. The laughter started and could not be stopped (it is 31 years later and I started laughing while I was writing this!) It seemed like the harder I tried to stop, the harder I laughed! Like an out of body experience, I could see myself shaking and trying my every loving best to hold it in but just could not. My rule following self was MORTIFIED! I was certain God was watching and He surely was not pleased.

Many years later it happened at work. It was during a HUGE pre-tournament meeting at the golf club where I worked. One of the young assistant golf professionals was explaining a map of our new practice facility and he was pointing out some of the new features for the players. As he pointed out areas around the equipment office he said, “Upon arrival at the club, the players can get their balls cleaned here, get their balls checked here and pick up their extra balls here if they need them.” Yes, like an 11 year old boy I started laughing and could not stop. I knew full well that I was sitting near the front and there were more than fifty people sitting behind me who were all above my pay grade but once again, I could…not…stop. Horrifying!! For the next week I just knew that at any moment I was going to be called in to my boss’s office and fired or at the least chastised for my behavior. However as time went on no one ever mentioned my inappropriate laughter during that meeting… makes me wonder… had they all been laughing too?!?!?!

They’re Not Pants

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I’m constantly amazed by the females in this world who think leggings are pants. Just to clear this up people, leggings are not pants. I’m not sure who told these ladies they are pants but they have been seriously misled! I’m perfectly fine for you to workout in these pants or even wear them in the privacy of your own home but at the grocery store? Really? I’m buying food…

Now there is no problem with wearing leggings if your top comes well below your read end. That is how leggings were intended to be worn (don’t argue with me, remember I had a very lucrative career in fashion design.) Long sweaters, tunics, butt-covering tops… yep, all good with leggings. But when you walk out of your house with a short top over your leggings, I have no choice but to assume that either you don’t have a mirror or you have no friends or you were accosted and your long shirt was stolen (stick ‘em up and give me your long top!) Not only do I not want to see every contour of your crotch but when you bend over to get the 24 pack of toilet paper and I can tell you are wearing a blue thong… Houston, there is a problem!!

Maybe it’s because I’m the mother of boys that I am more sensitive to this issue. Or it could because I want the girls in my Bible study to know that dressing modest is hottest. But what it really boils down to for me, is the realization that too many women just don’t have anyone in their life willing to tell them truth… so that leaves me. LADIES, LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS! Cover your bum and the world will thank you. Whew!! My job here is done…

Bookworm Wednesday

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Y’all know I love books! But I’m quite certain that I am the last person on the Earth who hadn’t read this book. And I’m really not sure how I could have missed it for all those years. Of course it’s not a very thick book, so it wouldn’t have hit my radar that way nor was it required reading when I was in high school like it was for my boys. That is truthfully how I came to FINALLY read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (just don’t tell anyone that my son recommended it because I would hate for him to lose his man-card.)

I’ve read plenty of books that referenced P&P but yet never read it. Truth be told, I tend to not read old books unless someone enthusiastically recommends them. Well that changed this summer when I was once again trying to reorganize my over full bookcases. I pulled P&P off the shelf and was laying it aside when my son walked through and said, “Oh, that’s a great book! I bet you loved it mom.” Ummmmm, I then had to admit I’d never read it. He was shocked and said he was even a bit disappointed in me. Well, we can’t have that now can we?

The start was a little rocky because of the manner of writing in Miss Austen’s time. The structure of the sentences were not only different but long and wordy. I found myself rereading portions multiple times so that I could figure out what was really being said. That didn’t last long however, since I was quickly pulled into the story and dragged along as Elizabeth Benet journeys through life. I have to say I totally identified with her quick wit and unfiltered speech. Often I read books and it is TORTURE! I want to scream, “Just say what you really think!” Dancing around what you really mean has never resonated with me because I say what I think most of the time. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not rude or ugly about it, but at the same time I see no reason not to be honest and upfront.

Well for the one other person in the world who has not read P&P, I’ll not tell anything further and get accused of “spoiling” it, but suffice it to say, it ends well. Sure you saw some of it coming but because of the delightful way Miss Austen writes, you enjoy it in spite of any predictability. Now, on to another classic recommended by my son…

That Boy of Mine

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Life with three boys has never been dull. They all three have such different personalities and bring something different to the mix. One of my sons (who shall remain nameless!) had the most, uh, vivid personality shall we say?!? I clearly remember the day when he was just under two and we were at Sam’s Club in Atlanta. He was definitely less than thrilled to be going grocery shopping and decided to let me know. I set him in the buggy and as we walked into the store he began yelling at the top of his little lungs, “I WANT MY MOMMY!! I WANT MY MOMMY!!” over and over and over and over… y’all I was dying!! Here I was a young and dumb mom, knowing we were in a big city and thinking they are going to call the police to come take my child! I kept calmly saying, “I am your mommy. I am your mommy.” and then, just like that, SQUIRREL!! He suddenly stopped yelling and started looking around acting like all was normal. I. Was. Dying. I’m sure my heart didn’t stop racing for hours!

That wasn’t the last time he employed his “watch me freak out mom” tactics. We were again out in public (yes, you’d think I would have learned about taking him in public!) This time I had to fuss at him about running off. I sternly corrected him when he grabbed his thighs with his fat little hands and began backing away from me yelling, “Don’t beat me! Don’t beat me!” OH…MY…WORD. You would think I beat him on a regular basis, which I didn’t but at that moment I may or may not have wanted to! Of course, I began to freak out until I looked at his face and realized he was LAUGHING as he yelled this! I can’t even. This little stinker got me again even though he wasn’t quite three. I knew then that if I survived raising him, I was going to be able to do anything.

I’d like to tell you those were the only times he did something like that but I’d be lying to you. He, unfortunately for me, has my sarcasm along with my sick sense of humor and quick wit which he never lets me forget! I finally made peace with the fact that this child was going to be trouble when he was four. Not sure what had happened, but I looked at him and said, “Don’t lie to me.” He looked back at me with that sweet angelic face and said, “But Mommy, I lie to you all the time.” Yes friends, I knew right then it was going to be an interesting ride and he has yet to disappoint.

Thank You Google!

Google taught me to cook. You see, I didn’t take Home Economics in high school. Nope, I thought it way more prudent to take PE and weight lifting… in the same semester. Hello, there were far more guys in those classes and at the time that held more importance than cooking. (Apparently I was pretty good at figuring out the least useful skills in life and pursuing them.) Plus when you were the only girl in the class, the coach said you didn’t have to work out if you’d keep his grade book. Ummm, OK!! Therefore, I’m certain it will come as no surprise to anyone that I was never known for my cooking ability.

Now my lack of cooking skills became apparent quite early in my life. There was the great pudding debacle when I was 10. Who doesn’t love some pistachio instant pudding? I clearly followed the directions putting in two cups of milk and stirring until mixed. Eight hours later when it was still soupy as all get out, I calmly showed my mom the measuring cup I had filled twice and dumped into the powered pudding. She just as calmly pointed out that it was a 2 cup measure i had used and not a 1 cup measure… thereby doubling the milk. Ooops!!

Not long after, I decided to prove I really could cook this time making cherry Jell-O (yes I realize pudding nor Jell-O is cooking but you tell my 10 year old self that.) Who can mess up Jell-O right?!?! I mean it’s water and powder people, surely any idiot can make Jell-O. It was like a chemistry experiment in my kitchen that day with all my planning and preparation. I was certain it would be the best Jell-O ever and was patting myself on the back when after only 30 minutes, my Jell-O was set. Man I was good! I proudly showed mom my success and we tasted it… ummmm, it was not very good. Again mom began to walk through the steps with me when I realized it didn’t say “add 1 cup hot water OR 1 cup cold water” no it clearly said “add 1 cup hot water AND 1 cup cold water”… it was at this point I realized paying attention to detail might not be my strong suit.

It’s here that I tell you once I was married and began cooking on a regular basis, I really got my game on and could whip up a healthy, delightful meal in no time… except that didn’t happen. No, I’ve been cooking for 24 years and until I retired almost 2 years ago, it was just so-so on the food front. I could whip up a mean Hamburger Helper meal or stick a frozen lasagna in the oven with the best of ‘em but not even close to gourmet. (The good news is that I served a salad with every meal so my sons grew up healthy albeit with vary untested palettes.) But now that I have retired, I have to say I’ve gotten quite good in the kitchen. I dare say, I even found that I really love cooking. Maybe it has something to do with me pretending I’m on a cooking show whenever I make anything or it could just be that I have plenty of time for it now but it is probably the fact that one can Google any food and get detailed directions that even I can follow. Whatever the reason, I just want all to know that I’ve finally begun to conquer the kitchen and now make a pretty mean risotto. Yes, I said risotto… bring it on Chef Ramsey!