Why a Black Cloud?

I will explain the "black cloud". My mother's family from time to time would say that if anything bad that could happen would happen to them and called it the black cloud. I find this to be true in my life almost on a daily basis. Just like a friend my black cloud is present everyday. Let me make this clear...I talk about my black cloud in an entirely jokingly way. I laugh about most things, even when they are bad....it's all going to be alright. My faith is such that the Lord will provide and even if I don't know how in the world we are going to fix whatever has happened, he knows. So please any of my bad things that I mention, know that I am laughing and remaining faithful while I am typing! And please LAUGH because I am!

He that is afraid of bad luck will never know good" -RussianProverb

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


My Aunt Eunice aka Bubba was one of the funniest ladies I have ever met. She could make you laugh even without trying.  One thing I remember her saying about another lady "she must be a good cook" in reference to this particular lady's size..lol. I never knew her husband, Hub, but I am sure there had to be a lot of laughter in that house with the two of them. Here's a story I have been told many times about Hub and Eunice: Hub came home drunk one night and I guess Eunice was up worried about him and waiting on him to return home. When Hub started toward the house, Eunice started to pray and ask Jesus to watch over her poor drunk husband. Hub told her not to tell Jesus he was drunk to tell him he was sick!

Bubba let me drive her around once in her huge boat of a car. I don't remember if I had my license yet or not. If she was afraid, she didn't let me know it, instead she sat there in the front seat with me and smiled the entire way.

 She taught me to make a treat like no other...chocolate rolls...kind of like cinnamon rolls but with chocolate and we all know chocolate makes everything great!. After attempting to make my Granny's biscuits three times and them not ever tasting like Granny's, I decided to make some chocolate rolls..think my family is sick of taste testing biscuits, then telling me they are good and then me saying/whining "but they aren't like Granny's"...lol...they don't know because they never tasted a Granny biscuit. I remember standing in Bubba's kitchen as she made the dough and rolled it out, put the cocoa powder, sugar and lots of butter on it. As they baked the smell of chocolate was intoxicating. I couldn't wait to taste these delectable gooey chocolate treats! If it weren't 2am, I would be in the kitchen baking them right now!

Tomorrow, my children will have a lovely treat of chocolate rolls and I will have the truely sweet memory of Bubba, a wonderful lady and another terriffic cook that shared a little piece of herself with me as a child.

Tonight, I am thankful for Bubba, chocolate rolls and the wonderful childhood memories I have of her. I am thankful that I will be able to pass a little piece of Bubba on to my children, who didn't know her like I did.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chicken and Biscuits

Just thinking about my grandmothers makes me smile. So much love from them and so much love for them. I miss them everyday.  Both were fantastic cooks, mamas and grandmothers.

My paternal grandmother, Nana, taught me a lot about cooking during our summers together. One thing that I held onto was how to fry chicken and make corn bread. My corn bread never tastes exactly like the batches we made but my chicken, seems to be right up there with hers. I fry  chicken for my dad every year on his birthday (in Crisco) and he says it tastes like Nana's. Although she has been gone for 16 years, it's like having her right there with me when I pull out the Crisco once or twice a year and make her chicken.

My maternal grandmother, Granny, made the best biscuits among other things. I loved hers because they didn't have all the fluffy middle stuff, which I know most people like. I on the other hand usually pull that fluff out when I get a biscuit from just about anywhere. I like the crispy outside part. Granny's biscuits were thin and square. She didn't cut them, just pinched the dough off and pressed it in the pan. All were always the same size and the pan was always full (that's why they were square-all pressed against each other in a cookie sheet type pan). These delightful little things I have not mastered. I have tried to make biscuits over the years and they were always OK. So I tried to make Granny Biscuits yesterday. They were flat-yay! They were not square- :(.  They were not good-:(  They looked (and felt ) more like a hockey puck!  But I will NOT give up! When I finally get something  close to what resembles a Granny biscuit, I will sit with a cup of coffee (in my cup that looks similar to hers) in her rocking chair and revel in what I have accomplished. I haven't had one of these biscuits in 26 years, that's how long she's been gone.

Tonight, I am thankful for the love and knowledge that my grandmothers passed on. Even though I wish I had had one more day with each of them to learn more, to write down recipes (if they had used any), to hug them once more but, I know that one day I will be sitting with them talking and laughing, and eating the best chicken and biscuits in Heaven.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stressful Stress Test

Seems the black cloud was hovering over Self Regional today. I guess it followed Jason and me....as usual. We were told we were late when we went to register even though we were 15 minutes earlier than the time we were told to be there and 45 minutes early for the actual appointment. They took us back to start the testing. They started explaining how the test would work and what he could expect. One nurse was asking questions, another was shaving his "sweater" and another was getting the IV ready. They then took his blood pressure. It was 201/105! We were, of course, informed that he couldn't walk on the treadmill today if his blood pressure didn't go down  and he didn't relax...lol.

 "Lets all hover over you ask you bunches of questions, shave ya, stick a  unch of sticky things to you and push a needle in your arm and THEN take your blood pressure. oops too high...lets stress you out by telling you you must calm down and get your blood pressure down so you can walk on the treadmill" LOL. "Well Mr Allen your pressure is still too high 168/97 and if you walk on that tread mill you might have a stroke...ok now you need to walk two miles to your truck and drive to your doctor and get some meds to get that pressure down"  LOL

 Then the poor guy walks into the doctors office and only one person seemed to know he was supposed to be coming even after the call from the hospital. Blood pressure at doctors office 122/something....no meds only a diet plan....wow....think stress made his stress test a no go?

Thankful for the laughs we had together today about the entire situation, thankful they were cautious and thankful there is no blood pressure meds in his immediate future.

School Days

My little angels started school today. I never knew why older people would say thing about how time flies and children grow up too fast until I became an older person AKA a parent. I can honestly say the years have flown. Amanda started her junior year, Tyler started his 8th grade year and Madison started 4K. Seems like yesterday when they were just babies.

Amanda drove to school for the first time today. I know now why my daddy used to draw maps for me to get places and not have to make left turns and why mama worried about if I made it to my destination. Wasn't she just learning to ride on her Sesame Street train in the living room?

Tyler started his 8th grade year sporting a mohawk.  I know now why my parents always looked at my big 80s hair like they did...you know kind of a puzzled why would she want her hair to look like THAT look! Wasn't he  just a blonde curly headed little boy yesterday?
Madison started her first day of 4K without a tear-a big girl with a lot of spunk! I know now why parents miss those days of their "babies" needing them and wanting to be by their side all of the time. Wasn't she just wanting me and only me just yesterday?

 Even though today has been a bittersweet day, I am thankful for it all. I am thankful for the independence and uniqueness of all three of my children. They step to the beat of a different drum. They are their own people in their own ways and I am blessed more everyday to have them in my life.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Motivation: the general desire or willingness of  a person to do something

Beverly and I were motivated to go to the Get Motivated seminar. We were interested in hearing several of the speakers that were supposed to be there...for me it was Bill Cosby.  We got up early and took children to sitters. We went to Greenville-seems everyone else did too! Wow what traffic and droves of people making their way to the Bilo Center. Guess they were more motivated than they thought too.After 3 full parking garages, we had to park at the TD Center and ride a shuttle to the Bilo Center. Again a lot of people wanting to get motivated there too. We stood in line a block long waiting on a shuttle bus. We finally got on a bus and made our way to the Center.  After Beverly was forced to throw out a perfectly good pack of peanuts, we made our way inside. Every where you looked there was people for as far as the eye could see. Oceans of people. We went into one of the entry points and saw that Rudy Guiliani was speaking and also saw NO empty seats. We must have tried about 10 or more entry ways still with no luck in finding a seat. We got robbed the same way you do at the movie theater, at the concession stand-$4 for a pepsi and it wasn't even a large one!  One last try, one last entry way, when Lou Holtz appeared on stage.  We stood-like a lot of people-and listened to his 30 minute speech about life peppered with a lot of humor. He was good-at least what I could understand (ever heard Holtz talk?).  We decided we had had all of the motivating we could stand for one day. We caught a shuttle bus back to the TD Center and had a fabulous driver who dropped us off near our car so we didn't have to walk the block back to the car in the blazing heat. A quick change of clothes-yes I changed my shirt in the car-so hot I had to peel it off of me-I am still hoping there wasnt some freak with a video camera who has now posted the act on youtube!

I had fun, just like always when Beverly and I go somewhere but do we really need 10 motivational speakers to talk about how they over come the worst obstacles in life but still managed to become a millionaire, have the perfect spouse and 2.2 perfect children?  Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to sit and listen to a couple of these folks speak-just because and I do think that their stories of their lives is interesting. We can always find someone who has had a worse life than us, we can always find people with worse problems, etc. So shouldn't that be motivating enough? If Joe Blow grew up in an abusive house hold with a drunk for a mom and druggy for a dad, was homeless for 3 years as a teen, had to quit school to get a job, got married to a woman who decided she would rather do anything else beside staying married one more day, his car broke down yesterday and they repo'd it this morning AND he is STILL living, breathing in and out and making the best of life...then why can't we, who haven't been through the same, keep living, breathing in and out?  Wouldn't his testament of life be motivating enough? Why superstars? Why not your fellow man?

I suppose that is what this blog started out being. Look at all my "bad luck"/black cloud stuff and I am laughing about it...that means you can do the same-at least if you look at life as a whole and not just the bad parts.

I, too, have gone through a lot in life and not just broken down cars and crazy hair choices of my teen aged son, but I try everyday to see what is good about the bad stuff. That is why at the end of every entry I put what I am thankful for in that situation. You choose your happiness or your misery. A lady once told me not to feel rained on. It has taken me a lot of years to choose to see the sunshiney parts of the black cloud and not to feel rained on. Life happens to all of us and we have to decide to make the best of the darkness and rejoice in the light.

Even though we didn't get a seat or get to hear the people we wanted to hear speak, I am thankful for the day with my sister, where people watching took on an entirely new meaning, the giggles we shared and for the realization that we all have rainy spots in life, but it is the way we choose to see the rain that matters.

Monday, August 8, 2011

You Only Have so Many Words to Speak

When I was about 4 (I am guessing), my mother told me "God only gives you so many words to speak. You have to be quiet sometimes so you don't use them all up." The thought of running out of words terrified me just enough to be quiet for a short time. Now that Madison is 4 (almost 5), I understand. She must be like I was at that age because I have found myself wanting to tell her the same thing the last few days! WOW! She is gonna be a talker! She goes on and on about anything-repeating the same thing like she thinks you don't understand what she means.

Don't get me wrong I love that she talks and her wisdom at four is amazing. Her take on the simple things in life is beyond her years.  She really says some funny stuff almost daily.

Madison had fallen twice on her bottom-once when climbing into the truck and once while swinging holding the arm of the couch and the end table-she was complaining  about her hurting hiney. I asked when does it hurt? She looks at me confused...and then the light bulb came on- "on Saturdays" LOL

She told me that her legs were hurting because she had been eating-meaning she was growing.

One of my favorites was when she was playing in the yard and came up to the porch holding someone's hand (someone I couldn't see). She told me that she had prayed and ask Jesus to come play with her and he did. She told me that he wouldn't come on the porch because he was afraid of me. I told her that Jesus wasn't afraid of anything not even me. So she turned around and talked to him and evidently talked him into coming on the porch with me. She then went back into the yard and I watched my baby talking and talking to Him. Later she told a lady at church about it. When the lady said I wish He would come and play with me, Madison, not missing a beat said, "all you gotta do is pray and ask him."

Today, she informed me that she wished she could talk to animals and that she wanted to be able to understand what they say to her.

Even though my mom's statement was in hopes that I would just stop talking for a while and give her a break (LOL), it is a very true statement. We must be quiet sometimes and hear the special things in life and not be so busy talking and not listening that we miss out.

Tonight, even though the talking has worn me thin at times today, I am thankful for it. Thankful for her desire to communicate, thankful for her unique take on daily life and thankful that God saw fit to bless Jason and me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


As a child, I was shuffled between divorced parents who constantly drug the other into court for custody. This isn't what my post is about tonight. I have forgiven both. I think they both did what they thought they should at the time but didn't always only see what was best for me (both very bitter at the other and didn't see as clearly as I would have liked) any way that is a story for another day.

 I have never felt like I had a hometown. I went to day care in Clinton for a while and then on to kindergarten. Then custody changed and I was in Ware Shoals for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and half of 4th grade. Then custody changed in the middle of Christmas holidays and I was back in Clinton-where most didn't remember me from kindergarten or from Young World (daycare). Add to this changing the fact that every other weekend I was carted off to the other parents house. I never felt like I fit in either place....I didn't have those life long friendships a lot of my classmates had from growing up in small towns.

Over the years since graduation, I had only visited Clinton (where I graduated high school) once or twice until last year. I had been away for 20+ years, when I enrolled Madison in 3 year old preschool at First Baptist.  Someone made a "You know you are from Clinton If..." page on facebook. After reading all those posts, remembering a lot things I thought I had forgotten, maybe I did have more of a  "hometown" than I thought.  I loved this trip down memory lane...I had forgotten the "good" stuff about Clinton that had been clouded out by the "bad" stuff I had while there.  I had even made the decision not to list a "hometown" on my profile page for facebook.

I suppose 'Home' is where you decide it is. Tonight when I change my blank hometown section to "Clinton", I will smile and think only of the good things....and will be proud to be a RED DEVIL...again.

Tonight, I am thankful for finally seeing that even though my memories were shadowed by a black cloud, insecurities, and uncertainty, underneath there were some good times, good friends and good memories.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Growing Pains and Orphans

Madison is starting to have leg pains...growing pains. This was our conversation today about her pain:
Madison: My legs hurt.
Me: Why do your legs hurt? Did you do something to them?
Madison: They hurt because I eat
Me: :::giving her a very puzzled look:::
Madison: Now I am growing
She then rolls her eyes at my cluelessness.
I remember the growing pains I had, although I was older than she is. It was the worse pain I had ever experienced-long before labor pains! Growing pains-I guess we all experience them, in one way or another. We go through the leg pain, then the pain of adolescence, the pain of watching our children hurt, and the pain that our children's adolescence puts us through. Having two teenagers and a 4 year old, I have gone through a lot of those "growing pains" at the same time.

We had a tiny little kitty show up at our house...an orphan. Poor little thing was so scared that we couldn't even get close to him (her). Today, Madison picked up this little kitten and held it, petted it and loved it until it was purring so loud! The kitty finally sees we aren't going to hurt it. My little cat whisperer has made sure it has had food to eat, that it knows where the water bowl is, where the litter box is and that it is loved. I have explained to Madison that we can't keep the kitty and that we must find it a good home. We have Choo
Choo and he has herpes which is very contagious to other cats. I explained that we can't take care of two kitties with herpes and how we don't want this kitty to get sick. She says she understands but I know she will be heart broken when we do find it a home. She has such a caring heart.

Children with growing pains and orphan kitties are a lot a like. We love them through all the painful stuff and hope they always feel loved and wanted and cared for.

Tonight, I am thankful for the stages we grow through with our children, even when they are painful. I am thankful for Amanda , who cared enough for her baby sister to want to sit and rub her legs and had compassion for her pain. I am thankful that Madison feels the need to nurture this helpless little animal because I know that is something she will carry with her through life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lyrics, Love, Train

Jason and I have a totally different view on songs...he listens to the music, I listen to the words. wonder if that is a gender thing?
Some of my favorites are by Train and Pat Monahan:
Marry Me: "Forever will never be long enough for me to feel like I have had long enough with you"
                  "together will never be close enough for me to feel like I am close enough to you"
If its Love: "I love you from your toes to your face"
Soul Sister: " Your sweet moonbeam the smell of you in every dream I dream"
Her Eyes: "Her eyes, that's where hope lies. That's where the blue skies meet the sunrise.Her eyes that's  where I go when I go home."

I could go on and on...with the lyrics. Words touch me, say things that I wish I could have said on my own...but someone beat me to it. I hear the words and think about how I love Jason. I am so lucky to have found someone like him. I have said before that it is funny how God puts people in our lives...when we least expect them. Jason was unexpected...by me..I know God had a part in it  and a plan. Sometimes we have to be still and listen to Him and know that He knows all. 

I am looking forward to planning our next date night and our next quick trip. Sometimes our dates are a special meal cooked at home. Like some Italian dish we have never had before, served on matching plates and place mats (its the small things) with a candle...sometime with Madison. :)  Another time it was Mexican complete with appetizers, candles, place mats and cloth napkins. Sometimes we get a coupon and spring for a night out. We are lucky to have grandparents close by that are more than willing to keep Madison for a couple of hours! We took at weekend trip to Gatllinburg back in February to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We stayed in the same cabin we stayed in for our honeymoon.

Tonight/morning, I am missing my husband (working tonight), but am thankful for him, the person he is and the person I am because of him.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Beginnings

Yesterday, my church welcomed its new pastor and his family. This will be the youngest pastor I have ever had. We will be his first church as head pastor. He has a lovely wife and two very small children (6 months and 2 years). I hope this will be my church's new beginning and this family's beginning to a wonderful new experience. We have had some rough spots over the last year within our church. I have been upset with the direction for sometime now. You see this church seems like home. My family has been in this church for many many years. I hated to see it deteriorate. I feel this man and his family are ready to light a fire in our church (and its members) so we become the church that God wants us to be.

In a couple of weeks, school for everyone in my household will start again. I will be finishing up my associates degree, Jason will be starting his second year of Engineering, Amanda will be starting 11th grade, Tyler will be starting 8th grade and Madison will be starting 4K.  Another set of new beginning in our lives.

Although I will be finishing up my associates degree, it will be the start of a new school and four year degree for me-starting in January. This will be the end of a long-very long process I started when I graduated from high school 21 years ago. I started my associates degree, stopped, started again, stopped and started again...now I am almost at the end of this road. In January, I hope to be starting at Liberty University and will be majoring in education with a minor in church ministry. I am not sure what the future will hold with this degree but I feel I am being led in this direction.

Jason's hard work and dedication to his degree has been evident in his making the dean's list every semester. This summer term has been a challenging one for him. I know he is glad it is almost over. Again, we don't know what the future holds for him (and our family) once he is finished-maybe a four year school, maybe a new job.

Amanda and Tyler are one step closer to graduation. I hope this year will hold new beginnings for them both. For Amanda, I hope this is the year she chooses great people to associate with and that there will be one person in her peer group that has a tremendous positive influence in her life. Sometimes we need someone our own age to point us in the right direction. She has this inner beauty that I hope she will let shine through. For Tyler, I hope this is the year that school will make sense (click) for him and he will see the point of school for him. He is a very special boy and I know there are great things ahead for him.

Madison is just starting this education journey. She is a very  bright little girl who is excited about the upcoming year. For Madison, I hope this is the beginning of a wonderful educational experience and that she will flourish.

Today, I am thankful for new beginnings-not just educational ones, not just new jobs, not just new people, but those times in life where we get a new start, where everything falls into place just like it should have if we had been willing to listen to what God had planned.