It hardly seems possible that this sweet couple has been married for a whole decade. They work together as a team to raise their growing family, and they make us so proud. We love Marshall and Selena and wish them a Happy Anniversary!
#VerseLove April 18 – with Fran Haley
Fran Haley of North Carolina is our host today at http://www.ethicalela.com for Day 18 of #VerseLove, inspiring us to write a triolet. You can read her full prompt here and see the form for this 8-line short form with rhyme scheme. Fran is a fellow teacher, a bird enthusiast, poet extraordinaire, and she named one of my plants on my front porch: Leafy Jean (which led me to a name for the other plant – Leafy’s brother, Leon Russell – – children both buried in a cemetery Fran visited as a child). Today I am keeping yesterday’s blog writing topic with the Rose of Jericho and changing it to a poem – a triolet!
Choose to Live! Rose of Jericho ~ brittle, brown, dry unfurl your fingers! choose to live! mixed tears of grief and joy I cry Rose of Jericho ~ brittle, brown, dry my gaze drifts heavenward, eyes to the sky reassurance of faith and hope you give Resurrection plant ~ tears green you, oh my! unfurl your fingers! choose to live!
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:
- 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!
Slice of Life Challenge – March 25 – Updating Dating
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 sharing life – investing in each other.
They’re savoring moments.
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 5 – A Godiva Chocolate Review
In February, I started thinking about all the interesting ways I might involve others in my blog posts in March for the Slice of Life Challenge. Product reviews were one of the ideas I had, and so I sent products to several of my friends and family members asking them to dive into a fun experience and to share some feedback.
My brother came to mind right away, and since it was Valentine’s Day, I sent him a text:
I considered several brands of chocolate, but landed squarely on the one with a little bit of spicy history in its name. I ordered two boxes of Godiva – one for my brother and one for the woman he loves – and had them shipped to his front door.
No one ever says no to reviewing chocolate.
In February, I introduced my brother and his girlfriend on the blog when he shared a great strategy for deepening their relationship through a game called Let’s Get Deep. I promised in that post that they’d be back in March with a big announcement about their tastes. So here is the announcement: they love Godiva chocolate, and there is a clear winner on the exact piece that they both think is the best.
Their overall winner is the Dark Chocolate Lava Cake Truffle.
They shared their review: “The lava cake’s consistency is good, with a dual filling of a fusion of molten chocolate and decadent dark chocolate, which is representative of our love. It’s our favorite flavor, but also a metaphor of how filled we are with love for each other. Although the name of the candy is over-complicated, it’s a lot like our relationship – an easy, simple, and flavorful experience.”
Long live love…..and chocolate!
Valentine’s Day with The One and Only Kona
Today’s guest blogger is my dad, Reverend Dr. Felix Haynes, Jr., sharing the story of his best Valentine’s Day gift – and his deep love and gratitude for his best girl!
Two key words on Valentine’s Day are BE MINE. Kona has officially been mine now for two loving years!
I celebrate her surprise appearance into my life on that Sunday afternoon of Valentine’s Day 2021 when my children conspired and collaborated on this life-changing rescue. Kim rescued an 8-month old Schnoodle from Tallahassee, Florida and drove her to Tifton, Georgia. There, she met her brother Ken, who drove the last leg of the journey to my home on St. Simon’s Island.
Ken Facetimed his sister as he disclosed the terms of the deal for me.
“Dad, Kim rescued this dog, and you have 48 hours to decide on whether you want to keep her. No pressure. We had you in mind, but Kim fell in love with this sweet puppy, and I did too.”
Within thirty minutes, I knew she was mine! Kona remains the love of my life! She is the best gift ever and the best definition of true Valentine love! I couldn’t let the day go by without celebrating my cherished girl – Kona! My Valentine!
Within a few days, she had already put me on a strict routine. She makes sure I get a walk to the pier and village area every morning at 5 a.m. She licks my face and breaks into the full body wag, her nub of a tail a language of joy all its own.
Time to Go!
I grab our gear and leash. She’s more excited than a kid on Christmas morning as we step out into the fresh morning air – – a beautiful start to every day for both of us. She eagerly greets a couple of other wee hour canines and their walkers as we make our way toward sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.
When we return, she leads me to the kitchen to fix our breakfast, still vigorously wagging her tail. I move to the easy chair with my coffee, and she cozies up beside me, snug and warm, bringing complete peace and love into my heart and home.
She takes me on rides in the car, mid-day walks, and quick trips to the grocery store, where she accompanies me inside on the leash and sets an example for me to behave as well as she does. Cashiers and customers alike know Kona and shower her with attention and praise as we make our way down the aisles shopping for each item on her grocery list.
She brings me home to rest in between our outings. We recharge our batteries and sit a spell as she climbs into her very own chair – – the one covered with the big beach towel. She knows when I feel tired or stressed and cuddles up to say, “It’s Ok.”
My Valentine is the queen of the dog park family. I take her there each afternoon, and every occasion is one big family reunion. We meet people from all over the country who fall more deeply in love with St. Simons Island because of the dog park. Glynn County acknowledges that the Mallery Street Dog Park has been the number one amenity they have provided through the Recreation Department (pickleball courts are a close second, but even pickleball can’t compete with dogs). Kona and her buddy Seamus, a pug, are two of the most present magnets of this fun loving community.
Kona knows when I dress up (by which shoes I put on) that she is not going with me on the occasion. She asks with her inquisitive eyes, “Why can’t dogs go to church?”
Her intuition is astounding. When I see Ken arriving and announce, “Kasa is coming,” Kona runs to the door to welcome her cousin canine! Any time I return home, she hears the distinctive sound of the car door and waits by the door to welcome me back.
I cannot even begin to enumerate the moments of love that Kona provides. She is simply the best Valentine’s Day gift ever. I can surely say how much I love my children( their mother raised them so well), but I love them a thousand times more for the gift of Kona.
Let’s Get Deep
In the early fall when I was sipping my coffee and gazing out at Lake Juliette from my camper window on a Saturday morning, I got a call from my brother.
“I went on a blind date, and I like her a lot,” he told me.
I knew when he was ready to talk about her so soon after the first date that something was different – he’s never done that before. He’d sworn he was going to throw himself into his work as a real estate agent and enjoy the life of a single man, but he’s an attractive guy – as much as any brother can be – and when friends of friends start talking and matchmaking, a strange sort of magical chemistry happens. Friends see in their single friends a compatibility factor between two yet unintroduced soul mates. A seed is planted, and love blooms.
I was also surprised – though I shouldn’t have been – that he’d ordered a game as a Christmas conversation starter that has become a relationship-strengthening part of their courtship.
According to my brother, you can play the game Let’s Get Deep different ways, but they choose times to draw cards and take turns answering three levels of questions – from icebreaker, deep, and deeper categories.
“I’d recommend this game for any couple progressing to a more serious phase of a relationship. It gives you a chance to gain valuable insights into the shared values and dreams – and yes, it gets deep,” he told me. “In fact,” he offered, “I can also see how couples who have been together for a long time and seem happy should perhaps avoid this game. It has the potential to shake things up, but it also helps clarify how close or far apart you stand on issues.”
That, he explains, is why they keep holding their breath, holding hands, and taking turns drawing cards.
I’m pretty sure an ever-deepening love is in the cards for them, and on this Valentine’s Day, that’s worth celebrating! This adorable couple will make another blog appearance in March with a big announcement about their tastes. Stay tuned!
Gratitude for Felix on his Birthday
The key to loving how you live is in knowing what it is you truly love. – Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
Today is my dad’s birthday. He’s a classic!
Felix Forever a collector~ Eloquent officiant Lover of books Incurable love of dogs Xenial pastor
Dad’s Valentine/Birthday dog he rescued a couple of years ago, a Schnoodle named Kona, has brought a whole new realm of friendships through the local dog park, which he visits more than once each day to let Kona play and to chat about life with other dog owners. He held a birthday party for her there last year (complete with dog treats and ice cream) and in a characteristic Dr. Dolittle move, blessed all the animals – including a parrot who showed up for the party and sat on the fence. This past week, he officiated at a dog park memorial for the unofficial mayor of the dog park and made the paper. Here he is, in true Felix fashion, officiating:
Happy Birthday, Dad!
Pet Rock Relationships
Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves. – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
In 2006 when I was going through a divorce, I did a lot of self-help reading as I climbed out of the rubble to begin a new life. Somewhere in all of those books, I came across a line that still causes me to stop and reflect: Trust is more important than love.
Apparently, several different authors have used the line, because it’s attributed to a list of names on a Google search. For nearly 20 years now, I have wondered about ways that the trust vs. love question could be true.
The Aha! moment came in a conference on building community partnerships that are categorized as connecting, cooperating, and collaborative. The speaker said, “Collaboration is built at the speed of trust.”
I’d never really considered the foundational position of the trust factor. A roof is as important as a foundation of a house, but without the foundation, the roof cannot stand. The Faith, Hope, and Love Bible verse tells us the greatest of these is love. I’ve returned again and again to this thought-gnawing statement about trust and love. But being the greatest, being the most important, and being the most foundational are pivotal superlatives.
So when the speaker explained the development of community partner relationships, the importance of trust became clear all at once. Trust is foundational. It happens first. It’s the prerequisite for relationships to grow. If there is ever a chance for love to bloom, it must first be rooted in trust.
No marriage, no friendship, no partnership will ever be anything more than a pet rock relationship without trust.
Finally. Finally, I have chewed long enough to reach the marrow of truth. I’ve grappled long enough to be satisfied that trust is more foundational than love, but that love is in fact the greatest of these. And that the importance of each may simply remain a matter of perspective.