Slice of Life Challenge – March 29 – Happy Anniversary, Baby! Cheers to 15 Years!

Fifteen years ago today, I married my best friend. I still enjoy thinking back on our wedding day…..looking at our wedding album photos. Here are eleven of my favorite memories from that day that I’ll be sharing with Briar today:

  1. Those were the days I didn’t even own a hairbrush. I dried my hair on the way to the wedding in the wind by holding my head out the window of the car. Right before I went down the aisle, the wedding director told me I needed lipstick. So I put it on for everyone else, but not for me.

2. Both of our mothers dressed in blue and were alive and excited to see us happy, in love, and getting married. They are no longer with us, and we miss them.

3. We asked three ministers to tie the knot extra tight – your childhood pastor, our good friend minister, and my preacher dad. In one of my favorite wedding pictures, The Lord’s Prayer is playing and Dad is standing over us with a hand on each of us, praying for us.

4. The florist didn’t put the wires in the tulips (my favorite flowers), and shortly after the wedding began, they started drooping….and drooped….and drooped……

5. We turned our wedding around. We didn’t want our backs to our guests; we wanted them to feel like they were a part of the ceremony.

6. I’d wanted a simple pair of gold sandals to match the gold in my dress, not flats and not high heels, but I couldn’t find any that I liked. So I found a pair of white sandals I liked, taped the soles and footbeds, and spray painted my wedding shoes gold.

7. I wanted a fresher, more updated version of Canon in D, so I chose Lullaby by Bond as the processional for the entire wedding party including me, because it makes me feel good inside time I hear it. It just rolled on and we all did our best to walk slowly. I remember that everyone’s face lit up with surprised expressions during our recessional, because at the very last minute as I was heading down the aisle at the start of the wedding, I had whispered up to your brother in the sound booth, “I want to change the recessional music. Ditch the Trumpet Voluntary and play the Hallelujah Chorus, will ya?” And so he did.

8. I remember just having the BEST time planning our wedding to be exactly what we wanted it to be – a small gathering of friends and family, with a short and personal service followed by a catered dinner reception. And we spent hours together making our own wedding favors that matched the candles on the tables. We cut giftwrap to go in bands around the candles and added our names and wedding date. And we are still burning these, fifteen years later.

9. You smudged my nose with carrot cake icing. That’s my favorite cake – so we had carrot for me and chocolate for you. Every part of that day was so much fun, but ironically the only bite of cake I got was the bite for the picture. We tried to eat the topper a year later, but after a year in the freezer, the frostbite had set in and it wasn’t tasty anymore.

10. We each served our new mothers-in-law a slice of cake to earn some brownie points on the front end. And it paid off!

11. And right before we left on our honeymoon, we called all of our children, nieces, and nephews up to gather around us. I gave each of them a flower from my bouquet, and then we prayed for them. We also prayed for all of the students in our community attending prom that evening, that they would be safe.

I didn’t think it was possible to love my husband any more than I did on our wedding day, but fifteen years later……I sure do!

My processional music
Our SURPRISE recessional music

Slice of Life Challenge – March 28 – Making Stones Crystal Clear

My daughter in her desert rockhounding playground, where she locates stones.

When one of my daughters moved to Nevada, she began taking a greater interest in natural foods and overall wellness through diet, exercise, prayer, and meditation. She suffers from anxiety, so the healing properties of Himalayan Salt lamps and hikes through the desert to calm the mind and familiarization with the properties of crystals to alleviate stress are all pathways of interest for her. I made a commitment in February to involve others in my blog posts throughout March, and I invited her to share some of her knowledge of crystals. In today’s first part, our dialogue is exchanged through texting.

My daughter has been teaching me about each stone and what it can be used for – here, she holds an amethyst, used to promote serenity and calmness, and even help with headaches that come as a result of anxiety and tension.

I asked my daughter if it was true that crystals and stones really have healing properties.

What’s fascinating, Mom, is that ancient civilizations all used stones and found the same benefits from them, and this was before the days of communication between these civilizations, yet they somehow still found that a crystal or mineral that could be found in both places had the same benefits.

We were texting about her knowledge of crystals as I was suffering from a tension headache that has been debilitating since February 1, and I was willing to try anything – anything – to get my normal head back.

And they were all using them, especially certain civilizations that were known for it – like the ancient Chinese. Jade is very precious to them (as are many but everyone associates the ancient Chinese with jade) and even Cleopatra would grind down Lapis Lazuli for her famous blue eyeliner. There is an impact glass that formed millions of years ago from a meteorite crashing into the Libyan/Egyptian desert sand (I have a piece of this impact glass called Libyan Desert Glass) that was found set in the breastplate worn by King Tut and was found when his tomb was discovered. The history of people using stones in the ancient world is even an interesting topic on its own. There are even mentions of stones in the Bible.

The hour-long text session was taking us through the twists and turns from history to actual uses of stones, and I found myself growing more and more impressed by her vast knowledge of the topic.

I asked her how crystals fit into religion, because several years ago, there was backlash that stones were being used in place of God.

Honestly, this is just my opinion, Mom – nothing researched – but after working with and meditating with crystals, I am pretty convinced that the prophets in the Bible, I believe they had the gift of prophecy from God, but I believe they used crystals to help facilitate this gift. In Exodus, the breastplate of Aaron was a sacred object used by the high priest in order to communicate with God. It had 12 stones set in it, for the 12 tribes of Israel. During some of my meditations using crystals, when I’m in my meditation and visualizing, sometimes I get very unexpected quick flashes of visions. For example, if I’m visualizing things in my head during this meditation and I’m going through a walk in the forest on this journey, I focus on that, but on several meditations, visions of things have come into my head like a flash, just an image, without me ever thinking about them. I can’t explain it but it’s very cool when it happens. I think the prophets used them for sure. I haven’t researched that topic, but I just believe that.

But what about the people who say crystals are the work of the devil? There are folks out there who believe that, so I asked if she’d explored the reasons and the case for Biblical uses of crystals.

Mom, that’s because some people think they are associated with the occult. But why would God put them in such abundance on this earth if they weren’t for us to use? There are things that I don’t like or wouldn’t ever use when I go into a metaphysical shop that sells crystals because of my beliefs. For example, tarot cards. I don’t know much about them, but there are things in there that fall too far on the extreme side for my beliefs. I would never ever want a psychic reading. First off, you never know if you’re being scammed and second, that’s just not something I need.

She continued her line of reasoning.

As long as people don’t practice idolatry when using crystals, they’re fine. But that can be said for literally anything in the physical world: cell phones, televisions, anything. And why would he put them here on earth for us?? Okay, I’ll play devil’s advocate for a second and say the same reason he put Adam and Eve in a garden with forbidden fruit but he said not to eat the fruit, he never said not to use the crystals. That’s coming from humans, not God. He just said never to worship anything/anyone other than him.

I was following her thinking, even as my eyes landed on the prescription bottles in the kitchen window. What was the difference in using chemicals ground with a mortar and pestle, swallowed to enter my bloodstream to combat the effects of this severe tension headache and using the magnetic properties of stones to alleviate a headache? I had to believe in whatever remedy I was doing either way, but that didn’t mean God was knocked off the top pedestal of priority any more than when I consume the food I eat to sustain my life.

There are those who associate mediation with a variety of religions, like it’s different from prayer, so how do you think meditation is the same or different?

I believe that prayer is powerful, but I also believe the energy the crystals emit from vibrations can help calm you down for more focused prayer, uplift your spirits, help with appetite, anxiety, blood circulation, everything. When a lot of people are passing on into their eternal life, I’ve heard of people laying crystals on them as they’re dying and in all of the instances, it’s a calming peaceful last few hours/minutes. My boyfriend’s sister did that for their grandmother when she died too.

There are extreme minds who will not for one second wrap their mind around accepting the use of crystals in their lives, though, and will even go a step further and disparage anyone who would. How do you respond to these folks?

Mom, people use crystals and don’t even know. Watches are powered by quartz. When you use a barbecue lighter, it’s piezoelectric energy from hitting a quartz that sparks the flame.

I had to admit – – she had enlightened my thinking in a way that took me away from all of the negative connotations associated with crystals and had my mind turning. What could be harmful about a crystal that could have a worse reputation than headache pills? I was opening my mind to the new possibilities……

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Thursday……

Slice of Life Challenge – March 27- A Reverso Concrete Acrostic for MWM on his Birthday

Today is my son’s birthday, and I’m so grateful for the blessing he is in my life! He called me last year on his birthday and asked, “Why do people wish ME a happy BIRTH day? You’re the one who gave birth. So happy BIRTH day, Mom! That’s just him – – always putting others first, even on his own birthday. Happy birthday, Marshall!

 A Reverso Concrete Acrostic for MWM on his Birthday (turn phone on side to format)

My son Marshall - who wishes me a Happy BIRTH day on his
A blessing, a treasured miracle, a gift I cherish
Raising his own family now, another on the way
Sure does make his mama proud
Heart of gold
Admired by all
Loves kayaking waterways
Lives the simple life -hunting, fishing, loving every day
Lives the simple life- hunting, fishing, loving every day
Loves kayaking waterways
Admired by all
Heart of gold
Sure does make his mama proud
Raising his own family, another on the way
A blessing, a treasured miracle, a gift I cherish
My son Marshall - who wishes me a Happy BIRTH day on his

Slice of Life Challenge – March 26- Savoring Saturdays

In January, members of my family and I became intentional about savoring Saturdays with coffee and things we enjoy. We’ve developed a whole new affinity for coffee shop culture – the aromas, all the coffee blend options, the food offerings, the buzz of conversation, the lingering togetherness and our own coversations percolating on the day’s possibilities.

I’ve recently downloaded the Roadtrippers app and saw right away that it was worth the upgrade from the free version to Roadtrippers Plus. Now I can locate coffee shops on the road trips we plan and add them as waypoints to our destination for any of the day trips we plan. So when we set out for St. Simons Island, Georgia on a recent weekend, I filtered the app to show me all the coffee shops along our chosen route.

Queen Bee Coffee in Forsyth, Georgia off I-75 seemed like just what we would enjoy. It was right on our way, and it opened about the time we’d be at its place on the map. We parallel parked on the street and went inside. The sign on the steps assured us we were in the right place. We chuckled, veering a hard left.

Inside, we chose a couch with a coffee table. We sunk into the comfort of both cup and couch and noticed the place – the way it appealed to all five senses and awakened us to this new place!

Yesterday, we spent the day in Winder, Georgia and had coffee at La Gabrielle, a little cafe with a European vibe. I fell in love with the light fixtures! My husband said they reminded him of the television show Bewitched.

I checked my Roadside America app to see if there was anything of significance nearby, and found that either the shortest or the second shortest road in the United States (shortest in Georgia for sure) with a traffic light was a mile and a half from our coffee shop. So we checked it out. It’s basically a named street in the middle of other streets, and one and a half cars can fit on it at once. John Bowen Way.

Been there, done that.

And that’s the way we love spending Saturdays – whether we are on the road, at a campsite, at home, or out of town on business, we enjoy coffee to start the day and something to pique our interest afterward. Even if it’s a short little road right in the middle of everywhere.

Savoring Saturdays has quickly become a self-care habit, woven into the tapestry of our weekends.

Slice of Life Challenge – March 25 – Savoring Saturdays in Pine Mountain, Georgia at F.D. Roosevelt State Park

We savored last Saturday, March 18, in Pine Mountain, Georgia on F. D. Roosevelt State Park Campground. Here’s a slice of our day, in pictures.

There’s something amazing about this door. It feels like a time warp. I think it weighs 500 pounds.
Rock buildings in the mountains on a cold morning give me a feeling of belonging.
Here we are!
We were looking for a coffee shop and found history.
Simply a delicious breakfast. The muscadine muffin was off the chain.
The windows overlooked the valley below. Gorgeous spot to start the day.
We took the boys on a short walk down the trail.
They enjoyed all the new smells and looking over ledges.
Boo Radley found a slice of sunshine after his long walk.
Ollie sunk down into the comfort of the bed for a nap. We love camping!

Slice of Life Challenge – March 25 – Updating Dating

Ken and Jennifer flying kites on Amelia Island Beach in Florida, February 2023

You might remember these two faces with hearts full of love for each other. That’s my baby brother, Ken, and his girlfriend, Jennifer. I featured them on Valentine’s Day on the blog and shared their winning Godiva chocolate preference (dark chocolate lava truffle) after their taste test in March. They were set up on a blind date early last fall by mutual friends, and the rest is history.

As a way of involving others in my blog posts this month, I recently texted and asked Ken and Jennifer one question: if you were giving advice to a new couple on how to plan a great date and spend time really getting to know each other, what would you say?

My brother responded first:

One of the things we did was to try and find things that were new to both of us, or at least that we weren’t experts at – like the painting party. Neither of us were experts at that, but we’d do another painting activity now. Also, something active is good, outdoors. Stay away from cliche’ and make sure there are plenty of opportunities to talk.

Jennifer responded a little while later:

I really loved riding bikes on Jekyll Island on one of our first outings together. We rode about ten miles, then stopped for lunch and a beer. It was a beautiful, sunny day outside, and they had live music. It was amazing. You really learn a lot about someone else by their spontaneity.

They really did follow their own advice. They’ve played golf, they’ve run a 5K, and flown kites on Amelia Island at the beach. They’ve been on bicycling adventures and ambled down Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee checking out the honky tonks. They’ve also attended each other’s churches, finding ways to make two faiths meaningful for both of them as a couple.

They’re adventuring.

They’re sharing life – investing in each other.

They’re savoring moments.

On a golfing adventure
Running a 5K
Attending an Ash Wednesday service

Ken and Jennifer on Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia
On a bicycling adventure
Ornaments made at Paints & Pints

Cheers to Ken and Jennifer for reminding us to be active at adventuring and talking – whether we’re dating, married, or single and loving it!

Long live love!

Slice of Life Challenge – March 24 – Postcards and Praises

I arrived home today and discovered, there in my mailbox, a postcard from Glenda Funk. She’d recently traveled to Thailand and sent me a card.

“Add Thailand to your bucket list,” she urged. She knows I enjoy visiting new places.

A postcard from Glenda!

Glenda is my travel guru. If I’m going on a trip, I’m asking Glenda about what to do in that corner of the world. In fact, she’s shared some travel notes with me over the past few weeks. Our plans to go to Glacier National Park will be delayed for a year since one of the main tours is sold out. So instead, we’re planning to drive the eastern half of Route 66 and eat in some retro diners with 5,000 calorie cheeseburgers and 10,000 calorie milkshakes and stay in some iconic motels (yes, the kinds that are dated with actual bedspreads and have doors that open to the outside world and might have a ring in the tub and stain or two on the rug, and pillows that might only have half their stuffing left but it’s okay because we probably won’t get much sleep anyway with that neon sign humming and illuminating the entire room through the thin curtains in the window).

Glenda had a couple of must see suggestions for me. Please share yours, too. I love comparing travel notes – – (would you believe I just discovered that Pandora has a Route 66 station?? )

I was strolling through a small town recently looking for some next-town-over postcards when I saw a display of unusual ones. They weren’t the landmark scenes I expected for the Walking Dead town I was in, but rather obscure shots of views of the town from unexpected angles with different slants of light. One was taken from the ground, looking up from underneath the water tower with a glint of sun’s rays angling down like a stairway to Heaven. Another appeared to be taken from the top of a hedge near a fence by a livestock feeding trough on someone’s backyard farm.

“I just updated those,” I heard a female voice from behind the counter explain.

“You made these?” I asked of the tall woman, about my age, peering up over her marbled reading glasses on a chain.

She nodded. “I did. I try to change them up every few months to show there is more to this town than our visitors realize. I take the shots and send them off for publication through VistaPrint.”

I complimented her photography, thanked her for sharing her ideas, and selected several cards to purchase.

This all got me thinking about the ways we travel and what we see – – and, more important, all that we don’t see. It led to my thinking about the people whose experiences I value so much – travel gurus and writing community members who give me glimpses into the world from angles I would never otherwise see – those places my own feet may never pass. For today, it also led me to a post from a member who says she almost didn’t write this month because of her grief over the loss of a loved one – – but she courageously took a bold step and climbed over her sadness and honest fears to post. I thought of my own mother’s death and how my writing community was my lifesaver. Those days, my friends, are the longest journeys we’ll ever take – – the inward ones. The kinds of journeys for which there are no postcards.

There has never been a more important time to celebrate the love of a writing community than today ~ to ring the bells and blow the airhorns and fire up the music and dance in the streets for all we have in our fellow writers. We share recipes and book reviews. We gather ideas. We explore hobbies. We take vicarious adventures. We encourage each other and offer our shared experiences, sometimes opening up in ways we would never do with our in-person friends and family. We even seek advice and suggestions. We share health concerns, herbal treatments, and children’s milestones. We pen lines of poetry, we relive childhood, we share the most scenic camping spots and the quaintest coffee shops. We reminisce (and even resurrect moments with the dearly departed). We look out windows, watch snow melt and rain fall and sun shine and flowers bloom. We laugh and cry about stuff.

And we step out into the light of day knowing that we are choosing to connect with others as we channel life.

I’m celebrating this community – and you – today. It’s a day to say thank you, two dozen days into the writing challenge.

Slice of Life Story Challenge – March 23 – Books, Coffee, Campuses, and Authors

Throughout the month, I’ve been inviting the participation of others on my blog. Today’s post is by my sister-in-law, Dr. Bethany Johnson, who is also my friend and travel buddy. She shares about her recent trip to Mississippi.

Books, Coffee, Campuses, and Authors

My sister-in-law and I began taking much needed girl trips together after the pandemic. We both felt the need to get out, explore, be immersed in nature, and simply connect and have fun. We have been to beautiful gardens, historic hotels, stayed in outdated but comfy cabins in the mountains. We have walked around beautiful towns shopping, sought out confectionery treats, eaten in cute cafes and, of course, always found a coffee shop.

Square Books – Oxford, Mississippi

When deciding how we pick our trips, we look at what we love the most and begin centering ideas for places that satisfy one, if not more, of these criteria. We both say a bookstore is our second home, so it’s always a given that books need to be involved. However, we like to go to unique, privately owned bookstores with personality, so no large chain bookstores for us. We both love coffee, so a coffee shop is a must. She is a writer, so any place that has a connection to an author makes her giddy – and for me, being a professor, I love to walk around college campuses.

Square Books – Oxford, Mississippi

Kim and I never return from one of these trips without discussing our next
adventure. One of these discussions led us to a possible trip to Oxford, Mississippi. Why
Oxford? Because all four of our must-haves are in this quaint, beautiful Southern town. It has a campus – Ole Miss. It features two American authors – John Grisham and the late William Faulkner. It has several coffee shops, and it has one of the most unique bookstores in the country … Square Books.

Unfortunately, due to conflicts in our work schedules, we were not able to take that trip together. However, my adventurous sister-in-law, who has taken many solo trips, encouraged me to go by myself when an opportunity to attend a conference in Oxford arose.

So, off I went!

The square in Oxford, alone, is worth the trip. Walking around the square, I found myself slowing down and meandering into the many shops. But I must admit my slowing down wasn’t the first thing I did because I had one destination in mind, the sole goal of the trip (no, the conference wasn’t even the true reason) … Square Books. There are four Square Books stores all within walking distance of each other and each offering something unique. I chose to visit the original and main store. This multi-floored bookstore has everything from rare books to best selling books to books signed by the authors. Each floor offers so many possibilities for a book lover like me. It was only within the aisles of these floors that I finally slowed down while looking at the books, just waiting for that one book to speak to me. I ran my finger along the spines of the books as I took in the smell. I wandered to the rare book section, taking in the history behind them. I stood looking in wonder at how something so small has within its pages something worth so much!

I sat in one of the antique chairs nestled in a corner on the third floor simply listening to the hushed sounds of other people chasing the infinite possibilities within the pages of a book. I smelled the coffee from the small coffee shop and wished it wasn’t raining because I really
wanted to sit on the balcony overlooking the square. That will be my reason for going back.

I lost myself within the first few pages of several potential books trying to decide if I should only buy one. I sat there for a long time finding peace in my heart and letting the rest of the world stay outside of those brick walls.

This bookstore has been written up in many articles nationwide. My favorite article about it is in Southern Living. In this article, it describes Square Books so perfectly: “The little independent bookstore that could has made quite the name for itself, while somehow managing to remain true to its roots.”

So, if you love sweet southern towns and especially love books, I hope you find yourself walking around the streets of Oxford and especially among the floors of Square Books.

Slice of Life Challenge – March 22 – Metaphor Mumbo Jumbo Jam with Denise Hill at Open Write

Denise Hill of Bay City, Michigan is our host today for the final day of the March Open Write at You can read her full prompt here. Today’s challenge is to twist up an idiom or aspect of figurative language to make it opposite or different in some way, then run with it. Since I brought my new chicks home yesterday from the friend who hatched them and kept them for a few weeks, I chose the idiom Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch. My chicks hatched on my mother’s birthday, February 19, and I first wrote about them here on March 10.

Chicks on hatch day
Welcome, Spring Chickens!

Nine Easter Eggers
I didn’t hatch my chickens
Before they counted

Eleven candled
Only three-quarter dozen
Made it out alive

Chicks the day I met them
Chicks this morning, 3/22, a week and a half shy of fully feathered

Slice of Life Challenge – March 21 – Seeing the Stranger Poems with Katrina Morrison

Today’s host of the March Open Write is Katrina Morrison of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who inspires us to write poems from the shadows – from places of memory or distanced wonder. You can read her full prompt here – and join us, if you’d like. Come and peruse the poems today – there will be some moving poems, I predict. I hope to see you there!

I write from a place of childhood haunting – a movie scene that has branded my heart and left me wondering about the thin veil between strangers and friends.

The Speed of Love

When I was little

There was this movie

A man and his chimp

Were best buds

The man gave the chimp

Treats to coax good behavior

Trust was built 

At the speed of treats

Love at the speed of 

Time together

And so it was

Until the scene 

In the biohazard lab

Where the deadly spores 

   Diffused into the air

Where that door 

Got stuck 

And the double whammy -

      the bomb was ticking

Tick tick tick tick tick

No one could

Break the code

   or the glass

The man on one side 

His best little buddy 

   stuck on the other

The fate of mankind

    Hanging in the breeze

The camera panned 

To the furrowed brow

To the moment of knowing

    the heartsick feeling

      in the man's heart

But he had to do

    What he had to do

The man dangled the treat

    at  the window

Pointed to the problem

directed his best little buddy

to deactivate the bomb

The chimp pushed the button

  Saving mankind

     No more spores spewing

        No more bomb ticking

Returned to the window

  for his treat

     for his good behavior

        for saving mankind

But the chimp’s fate was sealed

  He’d breathed the spores

     Opening the door would only kill more

The camera panned to the 

   Man’s hand holding the treat

     Against the glass

       The chimp’s fingers feverishly

         Trying to grasp it

Trying to grasp the treat

   Trying to grasp the truth

       The question mark on his brow

          The tears in the man’s eyes

              The grief in his heart

thud thud thud thud thud 

And that was where the movie ended


But it has never ended

   It still plays on 

      In a quiet chamber

        Of my heart