Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Love Came Down

Now that the cat is out of the bag and the whole world (or at least ALL 11 of my followers) know that I have an artificial tree....let me introduce you to him/her?

Come on in!There are so many meaningful ornaments on our tree that I really don't even consider that the tree isn't "real". It is what we place ON IT that matters. By the way, isn't that a little like our life and the way we live it? Aren't we just a shell of a being until our God-breathed spirit puts the light in our eyes?

So, I adorn my tree with....

The first shoe for each of my children. Even richer, a life-long friend shared the idea with me. Thanks, Alice. You are an adornment on my tree of life!

Then, there are the ornaments from travel destinations (the latest one is a Mickey ornament!). I am flooded with good memories when I come to these jewels...Once, I went to Las Vegas and had a chance meeting with Christopher Radko....I have several souvenirs for the tree from that encounter! Better yet, I remember my sister Kathy and my mom, who traveled with me.

There are also some sterling silver ornaments that I have collected or been given over the years -some for christenings and others for births or marriage. Many have dates on them. All represent a blessing.

I like a little whimsy...but only recently. When I was a "real tree snob", I was also a purist about my ornaments. Now, I like a little of the un-stuffy! Don't we all need a sense of humor to lighten the load?

Gosh! I almost forgot the pottery of my friend, Susan Lumpkin and her annual ornament. A reminder of a friendship and a celebration of all things Lowcountry! I am grateful to live here and for the amazing way God brought us to Pawleys Island, South Carolina!

Every year since forever, the big kids start to moan and groan after only a few minutes of decorating! They claim "there are enough ornaments on the tree already"! But I keep going...

These are just 2 of the many different styles of painted, wooden ornaments that my first mother-in-law collected for her boys when they were children. Handmade. I think of Jim every moment when I place these on my tree each year and of Nan, the young mother who planned for him to enjoy these alot longer than he did. I do, Nan, I enjoy them and dream....


Love. Came down.

Remember. Forgive. Heal. Cherish. Laugh. Celebrate. Adorn.

In spite of. Because of. In hope of.

That is real.

In Jesus name.


Getting "Real"

Sunday morning, just before we rolled out of my hometown after a weekend visit with my mother, I took a leisurely moment to read the local newspaper. I like to do this when I am back home. Usually, it takes about 30 seconds to go cover to cover. Mostly, those 30 seconds revolve around the obituary section....

Anyway, this particular day it took an entire MINUTE to read the Sunday edition because an old friend of mine has a column on Sunday and I like to read it since I know her, blah, blah, blah. Her column is a lot like this blog, but she is getting paid to do it. Sigh.

Her topic really hit a nerve with me....I am still thinking about it....and since confession is good for the soul - here it goes!

Her topic? Artificial Christmas trees.

She is against them.

They are (among many other things) BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. It turns out, they are made from petroleum or something. Apparently, they last not only several Christmas seasons, but several millennium as well.


I suppose you know where this is going???


I have an artificial Christmas tree. Paid a pretty penny for it, too.

I wish I could say that it was because of allergies. I wish I could say it was because I won it in a contest or something. I wish I could say that I was forced at gunpoint to order it - or else.

I ordered it because I am a perfectionist. It ruins my Christmas when my bazillion dollar, 10 foot, fraser fir is DEAD before the last advent candle is lit.

Before the artificial tree, I had to sleep with a fire extinguisher in one hand and the "dirt devil" in the other!

We live in South Carolina, for Pete's sake! It was 75 degrees today. We put our trees up before Thanksgiving!! How much can you ask of a freshly cut tree?

I gave my real tree aspirin. I gave it fresh water. Once, I went to the mountains and cut down my tree and brought it home and gave it aspirin and it still died before Christmas....little pieces of its' DNA were all over my floor, under my rug, in my hair, my sheets and ugh, EVERYWHERE!

I used to be a real tree "snob". Real tree know who you are.....

I crossed over.

I like my artificial tree and I am really sorry about the environment. I didn't know.

People think it is real.

And it is real, to my heart.

There are some really good arguments against artificial trees. For me, the main one being that my 7 year son has no memories of going to the tree lot and searching for "the one".

He does, however, have memories of me "fluffing" my artificial tree and lighting the pine scented candle and going to bed happy. Happy. Day after holiday day after holiday day.

Just saying.


Sunday, November 28, 2010


Whew! The great feast and ensuing activities are over!

I have to confess the one thing about Thanksgiving that intimidates me (besides the turkey) - listing my blessings. At Thanksgiving, EVERYBODY is talking about their blessings. Some people are really articulate and expressive about such things. I just get nervous. Why? I have too many blessings to just start listing them....what if I leave one off? What if I have another of those episodes where I can't remember the names of my children and I forget to mention them? What about nature and home and hearth and all that stuff?? How do you pick only a sampling or shorten the list?

My solution is to be grateful everyday and not just Thanksgiving. I thank God everyday for lots of stuff. I think it is great to have a day devoted to gratitude and family and friends with absolutely NO gift giving and plenty of dessert but Thanksgiving should be everyday. Wait. Thanksgiving should be everyday without the turkey (remember, the turkey is intimidating). I try to have an "attitude of gratitude" no matter the season. It helps me get through bad days. It helps me to stop whining. It helps me to laugh when I want to cry.

So, in light of the above stated facts, please forgive this rather unorthodox if not a little politically incorrect look at my Thanksgiving 2010:

I am grateful for the AWESOME apple pie that I made with homemade, from-scratch crust. (Yes, I am bragging).

I am grateful for this Dyson hand-vac that sucked up all the flour from the floor (and off my clothes) after the pie production. Rob is very thankful, too. Which explains why he is about to kiss this hand-vac.
I am grateful that the turkey was edible again this year. I calculated that I have made the Thanksgiving turkey for the last 15 years or so and every year something different goes wrong with it. The worst year was the year it was still raw when I carved into it.

I am grateful that Rob learned how to make the giblet gravy and I never have to make it again. Ever.
I am grateful that certain relationships are still in tact even after they were stretched a little further than recommended by the manufacturer....
I'm not mentioning any names, of course....

I am grateful for neighbors who drop by for a visit and bring along their precious children - one being a ripe old age of 1 month. I love other people's month old babies, don't you? I got to sleep through the night that night!
Finally, I am thankful for fall leaves and the changing seasons and good health and firefighters and rock and roll and spandex and the military and electricity and my siblings and sea shells and cotton sheets.....see? Once I start it just feels wrong to showers and internet and gardenias and pepper and pasta and cedar trees and New York City and books and roller-coasters, rosemary, hymns, fire-pits, old friends, new friends, bio-freeze.....

One last thing. See, I almost forgot this one. Bad hair, bad breath, my baby.

OK. I really must stop because my artificial, bad for the environment Christmas tree is waiting. Just do me a favor? Keep Thanksgiving going on a daily basis (and don't pressure me to list blessings). No turkey dinner required!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chicken Soup

I miss my mommy.

She lives way up in North Carolina and I live way down here in South Carolina and we don't get to see each other much.

She came to see me over Labor Day, but that was a long time ago, now.

She will be 80 years old in January. She has been my mommy for almost 50 years. I call her on the phone about 2 or 3 times a week. She lets me whine. She feels sorry for me when I am tired or sick or sick and tired. She "chicken soups" my soul.

Other than my mother, it occurred to me that the other significant "chicken soupers" in my life are:

Noreen the cashier and Bill the bagger at the supermarket. They know I have a big family. They know when company is coming and when the college kids are coming home. They know I am terribly forgetful and that I come back to the supermarket almost daily to pick up something I forgot. They know that I am collecting the little stickers because Martha wants the free Panini press. I know about them too. I know what they did for a living before they retired and left their homes to come live at the beach. I know where they go to church and that one is a widow and the other volunteers at Brookgreen Gardens. If I get lonely, I pretend like I forgot something at the supermarket and I go get my love tank full with Noreen and Bill.

The Post Office Lady. I know that sounds a little harsh, but I don't know her name. But we know each other. She sends the goodies out to the college kids for me. She knows that I send 250 Christmas cards and that ALL stamps should have Jesus on them, in my opinion. She gets migraines and has a little boy who isn't so little anymore. She follows the WHS Competition Cheerleaders because she knows my daughter is on the team. She chases me out to my car when I leave my wallet on the counter.

Susan, the dog groomer. Susan is going through a divorce. She told me last night. She has had enough of being treated badly. She was married 10 years, but they only have poodles, not kids. When her mama died, she left Susan a little money and Susan put a big down payment on her house. It will be paid off in 2 years. Susan would rather rock alone on the front porch of the house she almost owns than rock along with someone who talks mean to her. We hugged. I am praying for Susan.

Sandra, the bank teller. Sandra knows that I forge my children's signatures on the back of babysitting checks, tax refunds, insurance checks and so on.....she isn't telling. She also knows that I am the treasurer of the WHS Cheerleading Booster Club and that I can't add. She lets me make more than 3 transactions in the drive thru window. She has photos of her kids in her window and also photos of her puppies - you want one? Puppies, not the kids.

Bob, the builder. Technically, Bob is at my house to seal off the crawl space. We have moisture problems. But he ends up doing other things....adjusting doors, fixing dimmer switches, moving planters on the deck, hanging bird-feeders, stacking wood. He better hide under my house today or I might have him making green bean casserole and dressing! Bob is a Christian. He tore his rotater cuff, has been married and happily divorced. No kids. He likes music and he sings loudly. I like that about him.

There are countless others that "chicken soup" my soul -the church secretary, the dry-cleaner guy, the florist, the pharmacist (she calls me 'hon'), the pediatrician's secretary, and the store clerk at my favorite local shop, and all the people who read my blog....

Now, these folks don't replace the love of my mother and they can't even compare to the life-long friendships I have forged over the years, but the reality is, they see me more often. If I went too long without showing up, they would worry. That is "chicken soupy" if you ask me. That is why you should smile at these people. Ask them about themselves. Show a little of your sweet vulnerability.

'Cuz your mommy isn't always around and sometimes you need a little chicken soup.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen....

I interrupt this blog for a public service announcement:

13 years ago today, a dear friend came to my house to take my 7 year old son to the local department store to buy a blue blazer.

My son needed this jacket because at age 7, he didn't have the appropriate thing to wear to his father's funeral.

We weren't planning for it.

13 years ago, my world fell apart.

No, it shattered.

(It says a lot to see me in the reflection of his sunglasses. Have you ever loved someone so much that you wanted to photograph him driving a car?)

I would never love again? Trust again? Believe again? Laugh? Enjoy? Rest? What about pillow talk and vacation plans and potty training that third child?

How would I heal the hearts of our children?

I couldn't.

I didn't.

But God did.

There are so many cliches. You know them. Silver linings, luck, karma, astrology, philosophy, self-empowerment.....

Don't believe in them.

God healed our hearts.

His mercy, His grace, His plan.

He carried me. And my children. To a new place. Not the same place. But a place where there is love and laughter and Mike and Michael.

Somehow, I potty trained Martha (in case you were wondering).

Thought: God loves me and my children more than I love me and my children. He was grieving, too. It was a sad day for everybody. I gave a desperate prayer - no, I gave 1,000,000 desperate prayers. He heard them.

We (Me and "the kids") are here today because of the love of Jesus Christ and His infinite mercies. We are not only HERE, but we are at peace. Happy?! Happy! Making adjustments so that we can grow closer to Him.


Folks, please don't be taken by surprise. Take a minute and acknowledge the ONE TRUE GOD and ask Him to take residence in your heart. If you do, you will have the balm that cures all illness. Even death. And a compassionate Friend and Great Comforter.

It is the best deal in town.

You don't want to miss it.

This testimonial/public service announcement is brought to you by me. Jeanne Williams Henry Quinn - recipient of God's Grace.

Thanks for listening.


Part II

We have all heard the speech....."You gave it your best, winning isn't everything, you are winners in our hearts, blah, blah, blah".

We didn't win.

But they gave it their best, winning isn't everything and they are winners in our hearts!!!! Yup.

True story. In our 2A Division, there were 14 teams. They only give a championship trophy and a runner-up. The runner up team was crying because they DIDN'T WIN. OK. I can understand that. But we cried because we came in 6th!! We are happy! This is our best placement since we started this program! Plus, we beat out ALL the teams in our region! It was a victory in our reiterate...WE ARE THE 6TH BEST TEAM IN THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA!!! Heck yeah!

So, we had a little celebration on the side....

And we would have gladly taken that sadly unappreciated 2nd place trophy, scratched out the "2", added a "6" and carried that thing right back to Pawleys Island!!

I love you, Warrior girls!

They started out at dawn with hair and make-up....

(I am sorry, Sarah, but lets be honest....this picture says it all....)

Did I mention "hair"?

And then spit shine, pack your bags, load up the cars, check out of the hotel and make it to the Bi-Lo Center in time for the Parade of Champions!

Can you feel the excitement??
If not, then something is wrong with you! ALL of these teams worked hard to get to this moment. They are full of hope and pride and they are being televised! Oh yeah, feel free to watch it at! And if you actually do it, leave me a comment and I will send you a thank you note. Or a note of admiration, or something like that....

We were at a disadvantage being from the Lower State region. The Upstate teams had a billion fans and they were loud and it made their teams seem so much more significant.....but we didn't let that deter us from giving it our best FAN SUPPORT!Then, the moment came to step on the mats...

And then I took some really awful photos because my camera was on the wrong setting and my hands were shaking because I was nervous, so I can't post them here. But it doesn't matter, because you are going to and watch. Right? Right. Don't forget to leave a comment because it makes my heart go pitter-patter.

In the end, it was a great success. 5 years in the program, 5 years at State, our best placement yet and I had God-given time with my daughter.
(And that's what it's all about, folks).

Do I hear an Amen?


Friday, November 19, 2010

Greenville 2010

This is a story about spirit.

Not just school spirit, but the kind of spirit defined by Merriam-Webster as "a vital principle held to give life to physical organisms".

20 girls and 2-1/2 minutes to perform perfectly. They don't have time outs. They don't have half time or instant replay. There isn't a referee. It can be a blood sport. There are injuries...broken noses, black eyes, dislocated parts, abrasions, blisters, swelling, nausea, sprains and a thousand aches and pains.

Tonight is the eve of the 2010-2011 South Carolina High School League State Championship for Competitive Cheerleading. We have traveled 200 miles to represent our High School in the 2-A Division.

The "vital principle" of Spirit is everywhere!

From the parents, coaches, choreographers and volunteers....

To the strong and determined Warrior team members....

They ARE champions!!! They win in the category that counts: character.

Today and then later this evening, they loved one another, encouraged one another, upheld one another and affirmed one another.

They also walked down a street with twinkling lights,
to eat a celebratory dinner at "Sticky Fingers", and then there was MORE celebrating, speech making and gift giving.

I noticed that there was also a lot of hair twiddling....

NOTE: Hair "twiddling" is exclusively a girl thing.

From the time I was a young girl, cheerleading has gotten a "bad rap"....In all the years since then, I haven't been able to come up with a fair reason why that is true.

In the past 5 years, I have come to know, understand and respect the sport of competitive cheerleading. It is a little bit of cheer, a little bit of gymnastics, a little bit of dance, a little bit of pageantry and great deal of athleticism and SPIRIT.

The kind of spirit that pushes you to go on, to reconcile, to try harder, to pull yourself up and then help the other person up.

I am inspired by these young women and tomorrow, I will be wearing my Warrior colors with pride....and cheering them on!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


There is a storm brewing. I can feel it coming. The foundations are shaking, my nerves are quaking and I smell anxiety.

It is the HOLIDAYS.

#1 I have a broken rib
#2 It hurts and I am not sleeping well
#3 It is basketball season and my somewhat "figurative" husband has disappeared
#4 I have 1 week to pull Thanksgiving together
#5 I lost the contact numbers for my fairy godmother
#6 There is no fairy godmother
#7 I go overboard
#8 Then, the minute the Thanksgiving leftovers go into the refrigerator, WHAM!
#9 Tree, trimmings, gifts, cards, good attitude

The other day, it was Autumn. I could smell wood smoke. The air was cool. I had a pumpkin on my door step. We ate 'Apple Crisp' for dessert. There were no expectations. I took this photo.I'm no photographer, but the setting sun made it appear that the tree was on fire. It was a golden color that is really indescribable and only God can do that.

I am titling this photo CALM. It was a calm day. It was a peaceful moment. I felt the presence of the Lord. "The heavens are telling the glory of God"!

There is a storm coming.

I will be covered in flour. My children will be even more spoiled. I will feel unappreciated at least once a day. My feet will hurt. My rib will still be hurting. My wallet will hurt. But my prayer is that in midst of the storm, the "Birthday Boy" will calm the waters. Please Jesus. And thank You.

In 48 hours, I am headed to Greenville SC for the big CHEERLEADING COMPETITION - oops, STATE Cheerleading Competition. I am coming home to a partially thawed 18 lb turkey and a lot chicken broth. And a partridge in a pear tree.



Sunday, November 14, 2010

10 Unexpected Things

We've all been to Disney, right? I mean, even if you have never had the opportunity to go, you probably still know that there is a castle and characters and parades and fireworks and roller coasters and animals and animation and a monorail and balloons and expensive ice cream. Yes, all that was there when we visited plus short lines, blue skies and warm temperatures. It was a great trip!

Here is the list of 10 things I didn't expect at Disney, but had the good luck to experience:

1. Halloween. A headless horseman, trick or treating trails, an eerily lit castle, costumes, glow
sticks and Cruella Deville!

Michael was supposed to be Michael Jackson for Halloween, but we forgot the "pleather" jacket and glitter glove! It was a lucky break, because Michael (Quinn) is really a pirate at heart! Plus, it seems sacrilegious to NOT be a Disney character while at Disney for Halloween!


2. Character Autographs. This was easily one of the single most important aspects of Michael's trip. He was organized. He was determined. He was respectful. He bought into it! That was awesome.
3. Animal Facts. The safari at Animal Kingdom is on the top of my list. I took way too many photos of animals, but they are so beautiful and fascinating. Did you know that Pink Flamingos are pink because they eat crustaceans? The more they eat the pinker they are? Hence, the flamingos at Animal Kingdom were pale pink....I think because they don't get that many shrimp in captivity? Just a guess.

4. Ageless. Disney is ageless. As in "without age". I know that we hear that all the time, but I didn't really believe it. I mean, I thought that the adults that actually chose Disney for vacation, above all other options, were the people who had never been to the Caribbean. I'll admit to that shallow thought. Especially since I drank the kool-aid at Disney and am now a convert.

If teenage girls willingly eat Mickey-shaped waffles at 7:30 am just to see Snow White....well, I rest my case.

Alice in Wonderland was my favorite. She and the Mad-Hatter were hysterical. Seriously.

5. Boating. We went boating. They allowed Mike Quinn to boat. They must have exceptional liability insurance.
There was also a water slide, karaoke, treasure hunts, bottomless soda cups, ping-pong, and ....a USA Today delivered daily. I like the crossword in that newspaper. Just saying.

6. Photos. There were many photos taken. By me. Trust my overloaded hard-drive. There were also the ever professional Disney Photo Express photographers with their ever present photo cards. AND Martha's exceptionally cooperative and photographically gifted friend, Sterling. But the reason "photos" makes the 10 List is because Disney put my daughter, Martha, in such good humor that I actually was allowed to take a picture of her. Oh, my!

7. Winnie-the-Pooh. Maybe I should be embarrassed, but I didn't realize that WTP was a Disney character. I have been asleep. Or something. Did A.A. Milne know Walt? Did they have a gentleman's agreement? I'm good with it. I like Tigger.

8. Down Time. We needed more of it. 'Nuf said.

9. Imagination is Contagious. I believe this is my favorite of all the unexpected things. Michael was content in the room. He was content in restaurants. He was content on the monorail and bus rides. Why? His imagination was sparked. He had his action figures and little "stuff".

Even acorns sparked his imagination. I am impressed. And a little love-blind.

10. Going Back! I am. There ain't no picture for this one. This statement is a testimonial to the large amount of fun we had. It was my 5th trip. I don't care. It was the best. I may NOT be able to go through the Peter Pan ride again. Well....hold that thought.

Make memories. However you can. But I recommend Disney. Even with $4 ice cream.