Wednesday, January 20, 2016

When I was a little girl, I had the prettiest little pink bike complete with a basket, horn...and training wheels.  I was such a little scaredy-cat, I was quite content with those extra two wheels, but they drove my daddy nuts. He was determined I would learn to ride without them and I was just as stubborn determined I wouldn't!
Daddy knew I couldn't just coast along, relying on them to keep me balanced.  Not on the bike...not in life. day, out came his tool box and off came those wheels.
I begged, whined, cried, pouted, threw a hissy and used just about every trick in my tool box of emotions to stop him, but for once, he was firm. His mind was made up and no amount of wheedling on my part was going to change it.
At first, I wouldn't get on, but somehow he convinced me to. (Might have been the look of exasperation he was wearing that had something to do with it.) As I climbed aboard, he gently told me not to be scared. He'd be holding onto the back and he wouldn't let go until I felt confident.
I still remember vividly, pedaling as hard as my little legs could while looking back over my shoulder and yelling at him "don't let go Daddy." and him laughing back "I won't."
After looking back about a gazillion times and always seeing his smiling face (albeit red from exertion), I started to get the hang of it and with that came a feeling of exhilaration.  Without those two little wheels, I could go faster and believe you me, I liked it. I loved the feel of the breeze on my face and knowing that with Daddy's help, I was getting my first real taste of freedom.  So much so, that after a bit, I forgot to look behind me, so busy was I looking at the world in front of me. Imagine my surprise, when after rounding a corner of our block, I glanced back to see my daddy running to keep up, both hands clasped together over his head in a sign of triumph.
Of course y'all know what happened next. I crashed and burned and still have a tiny scar on my knee to prove it.
As Daddy knelt down to check me over, I didn't start crying. I was too busy fussing at him for letting go. Man alive, I was one mad kid! Picking me and that bike up, he told me he would never have let go if I hadn't been ready to do it on my own.  Falling was necessary to learn.
Looking back, I know he wasn't just talking about riding a bike, but about my future. A man of little words, he was preparing me for the bumps and bruises life hands out. But in his own quirky way, he was also letting me know he would always be there to pick me up when I fell.
When Daddy went to Heaven I was angry with him. Once again, he had let go when I wasn't ready for him to, but God had called him home and he had to let go. Even now I still feel the bittersweet tears welling up, but not because I'm angry. No. It's because even after 27 years, I still don't want to let go of him.
(Image via Pinterest)
I've wrote this for four dear friends who have recently lost their dads. While I know the grief and heartache losing a father brings, I can't begin to imagine what they're personally feeling. Everyone is different and everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. It doesn't matter if the lost one is young or old, it cuts to the bone.  We feel cheated as the grief overwhelms, numbs the mind, and slashes our hearts into a million pieces. Pieces that one starts to believe can never be put back together.  Even if our dads could live to be as old as Methuselah, it still wouldn't be enough time with them.  We want an eternity with them.
And that is where hope and faith rebuilds what is broken.
God never lets us go...not as long as we believe in Him.
 He is there to comfort where man can't.
He holds us when our own legs can't.
He catches and picks us up when we fall.
He gives us His word time and time again through prayer and in the Bible to never forsake us. Even when the world and events say different.
His ways are perfect even when we don't understand or fight to accept it.
He promises us eternity.
And in that eternity,  just on the other side of the mountain, when the day comes I too must let go, I pray that Daddy will be waiting for me, his hands raised in triumph, laughing and yelling "You did it kiddo! I knew you could!"
Laura, Holli, Patsy and Richard...right now the pain is unbearable, the tears unstoppable.  Having been where y'all are now, I feel helpless for there are no words of comfort I can offer other than the ones God gave me for this post.
What I can and do offer is my prayer for y'all to feel God's love through this. This is what I pray for with all my heart.
I also want you each to know when God gave me these words, He also reminded me that not all the really important people make front page news. Your fathers were important. Not just because they were good fathers, but because each one of them was a unique, fine gentleman. The work and their good works...important. Their mark on the world...indelible. Mighty big men with mighty big shoes to fill. Humble men who never thought those shoes too big for a little girl to dance on or for stepping out to help another. Those footprints will never be erased. Little by little, you'll feel the pieces of your heart gathering into them, healing the ragged edges.
And when that day comes, you'll realize (as did I) it wasn't you he let go of. He just needed both hands to reach for his savior. 
I know they were as proud of you as you are of them and I know this without ever having met them. I simply look at y'all and I know.
I know.
(Image via Pinterest)
From my heart to yours.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


It's me.
I've been waiting for you.
(Found on Pinterest)
I know my older sister was a little rough on you.  She thought you needed a little toughening up and I see it worked.  You look a little beat up, but all in all...not bad, not bad at all.
Now, I'd love to promise you that I won't be quite so hard, but you and I both know, I can't be trusted.  I won't make promises I possibly can't keep.  What I can promise is that I'll be different with my own twists and turns.
You'll get a new sunrise each morning. It may appear to be a sunrise you've seen before, but it isn't. Not unless you choose to gaze at it with yesterday's eyes.
Daily, without fail, I will give you 24 hours and you, without fail, will foolishly try to stuff some of those minutes into your back pocket for tomorrow. But it won't work. Time is fragile and after sitting on it for too long, it will crumble into tiny pieces.  So tiny in fact, that when you reach into your pocket, all you will find is dust.
And do I really need to remind you the 24 hours you are given are yours, but not yours?  There are obligations to be met, mundane tasks to perform, doctors' appointments to keep, the daily annoyances that is life.  What you see are distractions preventing you from doing what you really want to be doing, but in reality are the nuts and bolts of every day living. And sandwiched in between is being.
And that's the questions you have to ask yourself. What is being and what do you really want to do?
I'm going to let you mull that over for a while, but judging by your showing up here today, I think you already have part of your answer. And for that, my friend, I'm going to give you one extra day this year.
Use it wisely and I'll meet you here (if God permits) tomorrow with a fresh 24.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Praise the Child and She Will Flourish

~Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the parents the pride of the children.~ Pro. 17:6
Dear Graycie,
I'm pretty sure you thought today would never get here...the day you become a teenager. For us that love you, we selfishly wanted you to stay a baby forever, but that just wasn't matter how hard we tried.
You stand beautifully...all 5'8" of you. One foot poised toward young womanhood and the other firmly planted in your childhood.  Staring at you, I feel the breath leave my body as the tears roll down my cheeks.
For me darling, I treasure our little "talks" and since this is your 13th birthday, I thought I'd put a one-way "talk" down on paper. (I'm hoping this way I can stay focused and hopefully won't go all squirrel on you!)
Being a girl...and in this day and age, a teenage never easy.  Not to be a drag, but you're going to encounter haters in other girls, clueless boys that are all big talk and as much as I hate it, at least one broken heart.  If I could, I'd wrap you in saran wrap and hide you in the closet to protect you, but I've been told that's against the law. Instead I'm going to give you a little advice to help you along the way. This isn't a lecture, but for the sake of argument, let's call it the 10 Commandments for teenagers. Or at least until your 16 which more than likely will require a whole 'nother list!
1. You are given 365 days each year. Sounds like a lot doesn't it baby girl, but believe you me, they go fast. Always start your day off with a prayer of thanksgiving. When you think about it, every day is a birthday. Every day when you wake up, you will be given a fresh 24 hours to correct mistakes, make friends, give away a smile, and live to the fullest. Do it. Treat each day as if it were a lemon. Even when it starts out a bit sour and tart, sprinkle it with sugar and make it...and your words...sweet. Did you know a lemon has natural cleaning properties. Use it to cleanse yourself of anything that went wrong the day before. Don't dwell on yesterday or tomorrow. Take a deep breath of lemony goodness that today holds and at the end of the day don't toss out the peeling. Let it simmer and as you drift off to sleep, dream of the sweet smell of lemon cake.
2. Always keep your clothes on in public. Now I know right about now, those fabulous eyebrows of yours are raised as you exclaim "Nana!", but let me explain. I know you're not, nor will ever be, Lady Godiva or even Lady GaGa, but I've seen how girls dress this day. It's as if they never gave a second thought of how it looks. I've also seen how ads sell these ideas to girls of all ages. TV, movies, Internet, your friends...they all make it seem perfectly acceptable, but it's not. You want to fit in. I did. Your mom did. Your dad did. But when we say times are different, they really are. A bikini was pretty daring back in my day, but no one blinks an eye at two band aids and a piece of string. Don't let yourself fall into that trap. Confusing much? Then think for a moment how confusing it is for those clueless boys I mentioned earlier. Just keep asking yourself  as you're getting ready to go out, what's the message you want to send out. Remind yourself to never dress to the point some boy tries to read that message in Braille.
3. Use all your willpower to fight the urge to skip steps or take shortcuts to get to 16 faster. Trust me.
You don't want to miss anything that is going to come your way in the next few years. Just like you should never look back over your shoulder at yesterday, don't chase tomorrow. Concentrate on today. There are going to be dances, new friends to meet, first kisses, lessons to learn...all part of preparing you to face the world as an adult. Trying to skip these steps is almost like cheating and by doing it, you'll be cheating yourself out of memories...wonderful memories. Remember, growing up is like Christmas. Half the fun is the anticipation and if you peek, you only set yourself up for disappointment.
4. Resist tampering with God's I'm not saying you can't enhance your natural beauty. Law no! Goodness knows I love makeup and feel naked without it. But don't alter it so much that you don't even recognize yourself in the mirror. God knew what He was doing when He created you. Why on this green earth, do you think you could possibly improve on His work?
5. Try not to be a follower. This is going to be a hard one. Again, I know about wanting to fit in, but each of us were born to be standouts. The trick is finding the confidence to do that. Your friends will tell you how talented you are, your teachers how smart, your parents and family how unique, but you see, it's like this little one. You have to believe it and in yourself. Do you think all these people are fools and don't know what they're talking about? Would you say that to their face? Why then think it? Just as no one else has your fingerprints, you yourself are just that unique. Picture yourself as a snowflake. No two are alike, but each are beautiful. Floating down from Heaven, no one snowflake more beautiful than the other...just different.
6. Be kind. You are going to meet different people, each with their own insecurities and doubts. Be kind to them. Kindness heals. Sadly, you're also going to meet mean girls. Be kind...even if it kills you because generally there is pain behind cruelty and if you feel anything, let it be pity for their own unhappiness that they must attack your joy. Besides, it's can kill someone with kindness...or at least their unkind words. If you are truly a kind person (and not just faking it to be popular), no one will ever believe ugly rumors about you. Why should they if you've sincerely always tried to help others regardless of which group they run with at school or how much money their daddy makes or who has the nicest clothes. Being kind is going to be a piece of cake for you though. Your heart makes it so.
7. Never choose anything you wouldn't want God or your parents to know about. Honey, in case you didn't know it, God already does, and chances are extremely good it's just a matter of time before your parents will. The truth always comes out...especially in a small town!
8. Following that thought, never think for one moment you can't talk to your mom and dad about anything and everything. It's okay to talk to your friends, but don't expect them to have the answers. They're too young to know anything from anywhere. But when your mom and dad decided to become parents, they knew the rules and what a big responsibility they were taking on. They knew God was entrusting them with the most precious of gifts...a child....and they took that to heart. Just as God listens to us when we pray, so do your parents. If you're unhappy tell them. If you have matter how embarrassing for you or them...ask. If you've done something wrong...confess. Will they yell and possibly cry? You better believe it, but they will also help you, give you direction, and never stop loving you. If you think it's hard for you, put yourself for a moment in their shoes. All the things you want for yourself, they want to give you. And when it's out of their control to give them to you, they cry. Safe, happy and healthy...that's what they want for you. Trust them. I promise you up and down...they'll never abandon you. They love you too much.
9. Honor thy father and mother. When from time to time they have to say no, never get so angry with them you say the words "I hate you!".  Even when you think you do, why would you want to hurt the two people in the world who love you more than themselves?  God tell us no when it's wrong for us and they are following Him. They have a responsibility to protect you in the best way they know how. When they say no, it's because they are doing just that. Not as punishment, but to keep you safe. Remember, they were once 13 too and with age comes wisdom. Doesn't mean you can't are only 13 after all. It means respect them. They've earned it...if for no other reason than for not yanking a pouty 13 year old bald headed!
10. Always put God first and seek Him daily. In all your decisions and choices, from the smallest to the biggest, seek His counsel first. There is a plan in place for your life...His plan. Follow where He leads you and listen for His voice daily. But if at a point in the journey, you happen take a wrong turn., don't give up. Not on your dreams...and never in yourself. He never will. Trust in Him only and you'll safely find your way.
Graycie, you are an amazing young woman, even at such a tender age. You probably knew all this without me telling you and I hope you don't think I'm an old fogey for writing it, but it's because I love you so much I had to. I hope that's okay.
Love forever,
P.S. I think I should add a couple of more to the list...if that's ok with you.
11. Have fun as only a 13 year old can and have a wonderful birthday each and every day!
12. Life is beautiful and so are you!  Always remember that. Tell it to yourself daily and thank God for it every morning and every night.
~For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."~Jer. 29

Monday, May 18, 2015

Twists in the Road

If you've visited here before you know I'm pretty transparent. I believe in truth in advertising...warts and all. And believe you me, the past weeks have shown me to be pretty warty. But the past 3 months I've been hesitant about sharing something very personal. So much so in fact, I've avoided most social media. I'm not sure why, but I think it was because I was afraid of doubt creeping into my thoughts while waiting for test results to come back. And we all know how much Satan loves to work on us when he senses even the tiniest doubt.
I don't know any other way to say this than to just say it.
Cat Daddy has renal cell carcinoma and will be having his right kidney removed in June.
To look at him, you'd never guess anything is wrong. In a way, it's very surreal.
This all began with a routine yearly exam.
(Do y'all remember me saying in my last post about our plans and God's plan for us? Stay with me here and you'll see His plan for Danny unfold.)
Our original plan for Antique Week was a space inside Zapp Hall for me and him down in Round Top at The Show. Silly us!
We had gone down a week ahead of time to drop off a small load at the storeroom when we got a phone call from the doctor's office. His chest X-ray had revealed shadows on his lung and the doctor wanted a second, more detailed X-ray performed. He also said that if he still couldn't tell what was going on, he wanted a CT scan done.
(Keep in mind, this doctor called on a Saturday...a Sat.Ur.Day! Step one.)
Not knowing how soon they could get these ordered and as we continued on down to Warrenton, we decided we needed to be close together during the show. If he had to go back to Dallas for tests, we both knew our Zapp family would be there for us. And they were. Between Cheryl squeezing him in at the last minute, right in front of the hall, Brande and Kevin being so understanding of our having to cancel at the last minute, and those few who knew the situation being so helpful, we were blessed.
(And when we had one of our top 5 shows ever, we knew we had made the right decision and were working within His will. Step two.)
The second X-ray came back inconclusive as well and the imaging department was able to squeeze him in for the scan shortly after we returned home from the show.
Then began the merry-go-round between doctor visits and imaging departments.
The good news was his lungs were fine. Just scarring from a previous surgery, but the scan had caught a little of his thyroid gland and the upper part of his kidney. Both showed abnormalities. Nodules in the thyroid and a possible cyst in the kidney. Dr. Gomez then ordered a sonogram to be done on his kidney to determine what was going on. He felt the thyroid could wait, but the kidney needed to be addressed PDQ.
(Most kidney cysts and tumors go undetected and are only found either after symptoms appear (of which he had none) or during a CT scan for something else. Step 3)
The sonogram revealed a mass roughly the size of a baseball. At this point, his doctor scheduled him an appointment with a urologist. Dr. Shuford, the urologist, couldn't be sure if the mass was benign or malignant and ordered another CT scan to make a definitive diagnosis. He did explain what the best and worst case scenarios could be, but considering the size of it, we kind of knew what to expect.
(The mass was 10 cm, his kidney 12. While this sounds scary big, if the tumor had been just a little smaller, it probably would not have shown on the initial CT scan and gone undetected until symptoms appeared. Step 4)
This past Wednesday we went in to get the results. Yes it was renal cell, but thankfully, it had not spread into the lymph nodes. It was fully contained in the kidney and Dr. Shuford was confident once the kidney was removed, there would be no need for chemo or radiation.
(I keep repeating the same thing over and over to our friends and family. Not the diagnosis we wanted, but definitely the prognosis we prayed for. Step 5)
When we asked what sort of time-table/urgency we were looking at, he reassured us it didn't have to be done immediately then asked what we had in mind.  Please don't think us crazy, but we had really wanted to take a short vacation to Tennessee. Of course that was before all this and we were prepared to do as the doctor ordered. He assured us waiting a few weeks wasn't going to change anything, but he wouldn't want us putting it off for six months! And then said "Go!"
(I don't know if that's the direction we'll head or not. God's been steering our course since the get-go and we'll continue to go with His perfect plan for us. Step 6)
I know this is a long post...even for me...but I also know we wouldn't be where we are now without God's grace. He has surrounded us with the most loving and positive people. They have covered Danny with their love and prayers. I can't help but believe that one of the ways God speaks to us is through the folks He plants in our lives...both friends and family. Their gentle touch and hugs, His. Their words of encouragement and hope, His. Their compassion...all gifts from Him that they freely share. I cannot thank them enough for their unshakable loyalty to us by their quietly respecting our privacy while keeping us in their prayers. I thank God Almighty for each of them every single day. Knowing they are there, only a phone call away, gives me a peace that cannot be measured nor bought.
In all things, God will be and should be glorified. That is why I'm writing this post. From the start of this adventure back in March until now, God has had His hands on Danny. We aren't promised a perfect existence. We lost that with the first bite of the forbidden fruit. But what we are promised is He will never forsake us. I am most beholden and I will praise Him and His mighty name...I AM...with every breath I take.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Greener Pastures-Chapter I

I've been trying to figure out a way to tell y'all about the spring show concisely, but it appears concisely is just not in my skill set, much less in my vocabulary. Instead, I decided to break it down into several posts beginning with the beginning.
As always, we had made a plan and as always, God had another. Suffice it to say, His was the better. In fact, it was so perfect, it is now our permanent plan...that is until He chooses to change it!
I'm still inside Zapp Hall, but now Cat Daddy is located right outside the front doors of the Hall.  He's an outdoorsy fellow and I'm a roof over my head kinda girly. You could call us the Lisa and Oliver of the Zapp Hall Antique Show.  Shoot fire y'all, I even sold a concrete Arnold!
 (~Big D is where I rather stay. I get allergic smelling hay.~ Not really y'all. This is my ideal of born in a barn! No shovel required!)
As I said, there are many things to talk about, but first I want to share with y'all just one of the many blessings I received while in Fantasy Land...aka Antique Week.
Every show, there is a special bloggers' luncheon held at Royer's Round Top Cafe. This spring it was the Social + Network Luncheon hosted by The Vintage Round Top and Round Top Register and sponsored by The Vintage Round Top, Round Top Register, the Original Round Top Antiques Fair, Marburger Farm and our own Zapp Hall.
The famous Royer's Shrimp BLT or as I like to call it..."How to say I love you with your mouth full"!
 Cheryl, our lovely Ringmistress at the Greatest Show on Dirt, had graciously invited me to attend and I was richly blessed for it.

Proof positive I was there!

Courtney Barton of Mela&Roam was the featured speaker and oh mylanta!

(Mela is a sanskrit word meaning a gathering or fair. As junkers, we all know what roam means. Put the two together as Courtney did and it's almost the perfect definition for Antique Week!) 
I've always loved handmade textiles, but I now have a new appreciation of those from far away exotic lands! Absolutely the most luxurious designs and artistry!
Lunch was lovely, company beautiful, conversation sparkling and laughter abundant. We all received a fabulous tote filled to the handles with treats from each of the sponsors and speaking of treats...we all left with a parting gift of a homemade Ding Dong courtesy of The Bake Shoppe.
I'd show you a photo, but mine just poof, disappeared, all in a matter of seconds! Can you say chocolate rush?

Paige and Smoot have done an outstanding job of creating an atmosphere of inviting serenity in this haven of  quiet white. After that lunch AND Ding Dong, I had to fight the urge to keep from planting myself on the abundance of comfy surrounding me!

Afterwards, we were invited to the Vintage Round Top for Wi-Fi networking, mimosas and a tour of the inn.

Where's a "Drink Me" potion when you need one?
 I returned to reality with a full belly and a heart full of gratefulness.
What a way to spend a Monday...right?
Better yet.
What a way to spend a life!
Next up...
Chapter II
The First Annual Zapp-Chat

Friday, February 6, 2015

Yoga for the Brain

The other day I got to thinking about when way back in 1979, I was fortunate enough to go to work for the post office as a part time clerk. And when I say "fortunate", I mean blessed. The salary and hours afforded me a luxury few working mothers have. I went in at 6 am and was off by 1 pm. While I wasn't able to see my kids off to school, I was home before them, got to be a home room mother, never missed a school program, was a PTA officer, and best of all, I was given precious time with them when they were small.
One of our station managers during that time was a cute as the dickens woman named Linda. Linda worked right along with us and twice as hard to see that all went smoothly. She was also a great people person. When an irate customer came to the front window we had a method for trying to help calm them down. First the full time clerk would try, then if they were still ranting, I was next to try. I'm the original peacemaker and hate confrontation of any nature, but when even I couldn't soothe the savage beast, then it was Linda's turn.
I can still see her, coming around the corner, walking up to the counter, smiling pleasantly and looking straight into their eyes, very calmly asking "What will it take to make you happy?"
For whatever reason, that one question would shut down their anger and allow her to talk them off the ledge. Oh, they'd sputter for a bit, but when she'd repeat the question, you could actually see the wheels turning. Try as they might, they really couldn't pinpoint why they were unhappy with their service...unless of course their paycheck had been delivered three streets over on more than one occasion!
But the point is, most customers left our PO satisfied and happy. Satisfied because they believed they had won the battle and happy because all they wanted in the first place was to vent, to be heard and know they mattered.
As I sat in the bathtub ('cause y'all know that's where I do my best thinking and listening),  the thought popped into my head, "what if no one is really happy."? I see all the negativity on FB, the slurs, tacky comments, braggadocio, and wonder if they know what happy is.
Is it like those customers at the Post Office? Do they have the need to pick and win fights, if for no other reason, to demonstrate their superiority. Or could it be frustration and a feeling of inadequacy brought on because everyone else seems to have it all and to have it altogether?
Is it that the Internet has a way of unleashing our evil twins, allowing us to say things we would never think, much less do, in the real world?
(For the record, I'm not pointing any fingers here. If I'm going to be honest, I find myself resembling Kermit on more than one occasion.)
I asked myself this question last night, so now, in my best Linda voice, I ask you the same one.
What will it take to make you happy?
And before you answer, dig deep. Go beyond happy for the moment or the day and contemplate having it for a lifetime.
Children bring happiness and it's an incomparable joy, but with them can come unbelievable heartache.  Too many times, we build our world around them to the point they are our only happiness. And when the time comes for them to leave the nest in search of their own happiness, we are at a loss as to what to do with the rest of our lives.
Outward beauty is only temporary...unless you're Dorian Gray. All the makeup, plastic surgery, etc. can't change our insides. We can plump it, pump it, suck it, augment it, but until the day comes when sunshine can be injected into our veins or a mirror to reflect our true heart, all the Botox in the world won't bring lasting happiness.
I hate to keep using cliches, but it's true...fame is fleeting...sometimes going as fast as it came. And depending on the type of fame, with a heavy price tag beginning with a lack of privacy and ending with a "he/she used to be..." 
Money can't buy happiness. It can only buy things for temporary gratification and things don't last. It can bring peace of mind, but only for the physical needs like food and shelter. It can't protect us from life's dings nor provide nourishment for the soul. And no matter how much money we have, it can't buy us one more day than our creator gives us.
Expecting life to move smoothly with no hiccups along the way is impossible. We gave up the chance for a perfect existence with that first bite of the forbidden fruit.
So, I'll ask you once more.
What will it take to make you happy? 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

With a Side of Grace

I recently heard the term gospel bird and was instantly taken to another time with the memories those two words conjured up.
Fried chicken and Sunday dinner.
Being from the South, I heard supper and dinner used interchangeably for the noon day meal. In fact, I've heard arguments over which is correct! Growing up, Mother referred to mealtimes as breakfast, lunch and dinner...except on the Lord's Day and that was always dinner. Didn't matter if we ate after church or in the evening, it was always Sunday dinner...period!
A special meal, made even more special by what was served. Pot roast, cooked all morning, so tender a fork was all that was needed for digging in. Coconut cream pie with meringue high as the sky and lightly browned. Freshly snapped string beans, floating in a rich pot liquor, spiked with bacon drippings.  New potatoes awash in peppered cream gravy. And cake...lovely, decadent cake.  Sometimes a Hershey bar chocolate drizzled with ganache and sometimes a rich pound cake, but always made from scratch...never from a box. It's a wonder I didn't weigh two hundred and plenty by the time I was a teen. Second helpings weren't only expected, but encouraged!
You would have thought my mother and grandmother were feeding Coxey's army the amount of food they fixed, but they knew there would always be at the very least, one extra pair of shoes under their table when the dinner bell was rung. Sometimes the preacher and his family, sometimes a friend brought home from church, but always enough for everyone.  No one ever left that dinner table hungry...not if those two had anything to say about it!
Chicken and dumplings, chicken and dressing, all hard to beat, but my most favorite Sunday dinner had to be when my grandmother fried chicken. To this day, I've yet to meet the or woman...who could fry up a chicken like my grandmother. She always cut up her fresh fryer and used a perfectly seasoned iron skillet to fry it up in. Slowly and painstakingly, she let it turn brown before turning, but only after it was the right shade of brown would she lower the flame and cover it with a heavy, vented lid.  How she got that bird so perfect is a mystery to us all. Never burnt, all the beautiful, perfectly browned, crispy crust in place, tender, moist, but never greasy. The special piece, the pulley bone?  That she set aside for Mother, her only child and no one dared reach for it. Only after Mother was licking her fingers, were we given it to pull apart and make a wish.

What I would give for that bone. I promise y'all up and down, my one wish would to be sitting at the table with all of them just once more.

Nothing was wasted including the drippings. Law, armed with a can of Pet Milk, she turned those little flakes of fried goodness into another brown masterpiece.  Brown gravy, liquid gold, call it what you want. All I knew was as she slowly stirred until the gravy took on a glossy sheen, the waiting seemed like eternity.  Just waiting for my turn to take a hold of that big old serving spoon and start ladling it over fluffy, buttery, creamed potatoes whipped together with guessed it...Pet Milk seemed like forever. It was an art and sadly, a secret recipe she took with her to the better world a'waiting.
Gospel bird?
Marie's fried chicken was a religious experience commencing with prayers of thankfulness, a chorus of hallelujahs and ending with heartfelt amens.

I feel certain she arrived at Heaven's gate with the perfume of fried chicken clinging to her like a robe of silk. And if God, in His infinite wisdom, sees fit to have it on the menu for Sunday Dinner?

For me, that will be heaven indeed.

~Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never grow hungry and whoever believes in me will never go thirsty.~John 6:35