15 Things You Might Not Know About Me

I follow Inspired by Life…and Fiction because I read three of the authors who blog there. Recently they all took turns doing a “10 Things You Might Not Know About Me” post that was really fun, so I thought I’d steal borrow the idea. It’s ok because they confess they stole borrowed it from someone else as well. πŸ™‚ But as I contemplated what to share, I decided to expand it to 15.

So here we go:

1. I think I come across as a mild-mannered, quiet person, so I think people would be surprised to know that I can be really competitive. Not in anything physical or athletic. But if we’re playing a game, I’m not going to trash talk or bluster or be cutthroat about it, but I am going to quietly and stealthily do everything in my power to sneak up behind you and WIN! (Bwahahaha!)

2. I’ve spent my whole life in the Southeast: I grew up in southern Texas and spent most of my adult life in SC, but I don’t have a Texan or Southern accent.

3. When I get really tired, I get either weepy or giggly.

4. I don’t like for anyone to touch my feet. I can’t stand the thought of a foot massage or pedicure. And don’t even THINK about tickling. πŸ™‚

5. I made a D in my college Food Prep class – and I was a Home Economics Education major. That was quite a blow. Failing at any other subject is one thing, though that would sting, too (#1 applied to academics as well, and I had been an A student all through high school), but failing at food preparation was another. I felt like I was failing at being a woman. I had been cooking since my teens, and my family seems to like my cooking and no one has died from it in all these years. But I did not know how to manage my time well in college, so trying to get everything done on time (and failing to do so and getting lower grades because of it) was a major stressor. Looking back, I was taking more hours per semester than any of my kids did when they were in college plus working part-time. Why did I do that?! I wonder if colleges now have reduced their requirements or if that particular major just required more. I could do better at that part of college life now, but I think there would be other stressors at this stage. πŸ™‚ I couldn’t count that class toward my major requirements, so I took Advanced Child Care to replace the credit, which I think was a big help to me in the long run.

6. I originally wanted to major in English but talked myself out of it, because what can you do with an English major besides teach? Sigh. If I could only go back and talk to my teenage self about that now. With my interest writing now, that would have been a big help. But I saw that most of my female classmates did not go on to college, so I reasoned that Home Ec. would be practical thing to teach. I had thought it would center on…well…home. But I never felt like I fit in to the “professional home economist” role portrayed in college, and yet I never felt the freedom of conscience to change. My husband and I talked about this a lot when we first married and concluded that, no, I wasn’t a failure and didn’t miss God’s will in college. Several of my classes were home, marriage, and child care classes, in a Christian college, so I was taught a lot there that I needed and would have missed in another major. So even though a lot of what learned in college didn’t show up in my grades, it did sink in. (And after all of that, when I graduated, the last thing I wanted to do was teach high school. πŸ™‚ But I think my education classes did benefit me in teaching my children and in general people skills).

7. I don’t spring clean. The thought is overwhelming. I’ve always disliked the idea of having to turn the whole house inside out cleaning just because the calendar says it’s spring. I tend to take care of things as I notice they need attention, whether it’s removing stray cobwebs or cleaning out a closet, so I think I get around to everything eventually. As I was contemplating this post, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to admit this, I was encouraged by Dianna’s post and her quote from Laura Ingalls Wilder. So I am in good company and don’t feel guilty any more. πŸ™‚

8. I secretly would have loved to have been on one of those makeover shows that used to be on. Well, maybe not be on a show, but I would really love for someone to show me how to do makeup, what hair style and clothes would look best on me, etc. I’ve only worn mascara (because I feel like my eyes look half closed without it), and because when I was younger, my natural complexion looked ok (my cheeks always looked like they had a little blush on them – I always figured, why cover all that up and put artificial blush on?) But as I got older, the complexion got more splotchy and too red in places, so it would be nice to know how to look “made up” yet natural. Whenever I have tried it on my own, though, it hasn’t looked right. Plus I have never been completely satisfied with my hair, at least since high school. I’d like for it to have a little bit of a wave to it. In its natural state, it’s straight as a board except the ends, which look like an old straw broom. I’ve never been able to figure out how to put it up attractively. It slithers out of pins and combs and usually has ends sticking out every which way. Even though the “messy bun” is stylish now, I just can’t stand it on myself.

9. I don’t like flavored coffees. I don’t know why – if I did that would give me more of a variety of warm things to drink in the winter. But I guess it saves me a lot of money at coffee places. πŸ™‚

10. Scented candles, soaps, lotions, etc. give me a headache.

11. I am sorry to say I have horrible handwriting and it’s only gotten worse as I write less. My first bad report card grade was in handwriting in 3rd grade. When I was in first grade, I was in a classroom with 1st and 2nd grades combined. I wanted to do what the second graders did (see #1 again), and was trying cursive as they were learning it. When the teacher noticed, I was sorely chastised and told I was not to learn that yet. So I blame my bad handwriting on being traumatized by that experience. πŸ™‚ But that probably had nothing to do with it.

12. I am the oldest of six. We’re spread out across 17 years, five girls and one boy, poor guy.

Me as a teenager with my youngest sister

13. I don’t travel well, mainly due to IBS, but even before developing that, I just always felt yucky traveling. I wish someone would hurry up and develop that Star Trek transporter. πŸ™‚

14. I once dated a mannequin. Or rather, a real guy who worked as a fake mannequin. There was a newspaper article on him around that time where he said the hardest part was not responding to people, especially when they tried to make him laugh.

15. My husband was once in a magazine ad for the company where he was employed at the time. His boss was supposed to be, but they couldn’t find him when the photographer was ready to shoot, and Jim was there, so he was asked. I know we have a copy of it here somewhere – if I knew where it was, I’d scan it in, but I think it used this photograph or one like it:

Isn’t he cute? πŸ™‚ I know this is technically about him and not me, but we are one, right?

And there you have much more about me than I am sure you ever wanted to know. πŸ™‚ How about you? What about you might others be surprised to know?




10th Blogging Anniversary!


Ten years ago today I published my very first post to begin this blog!

Wow, a lot has changed in 10 years.

If I am calculating correctly, my youngest was in junior high, my middle son had just completed his freshman year in college, and my oldest had just graduated. Now they are all young men, out of school, and working (well, except one got laid off recently but hopefully will find a new job soon).

We’ve added a sweet, beautiful daughter-in-law and the world’s cutest and smartest grandson to the family. After a rough start in the NICU due to arriving 10 1/2 weeks earlier than his due date, he’s doing just great.

We moved my mother-in-law from ID to SC to live near us in assisted living, and just three years ago moved her into our home.

We moved from SC to eastern TN.

My husband and I have enjoyed another decade of marriage and our hair is a little greyer than it used to be. We’ve helped each other through his kidney cancer surgery and detached retina and my heart rhythm problems.

But a lot has remained the same. I wonder sometimes if I should change my blog, with all the talk of “branding,” platforms, and niche in the last few years. But I have always felt comfortable with this hodgepodge of “stray thoughts,” just sharing personal life, amusing or interesting observations, and what God has been teaching me along the way.

Earlier in the year I anticipated this anniversary coming up and thought about doing some kind of big giveaway or planning some kind of hoopla. I forgot about it and just now remembered that today was the day.

So I’ll just quietly observe it without a virtual party. But as an anniversary gift to me, I’d love for you to say hello in the comments! Tell me something about yourself or how you came here.

Thank you for reading. You make this a lot more fun than if I was just talking to myself. πŸ™‚ I treasure the friendships I’ve made along the way.


Themes of My Life

Sherry at Semicolon commemorated 12/12/12 last year by posting about 12 themes of her life. Though it’s way past that particular unique date, her post got me to thinking about the themes of my own life. Here are some of them, and, as she said, they’re reflected in much of my blogging:

1. God. Even before I knew Him, I thought Him to be kind, loving, and wise, and I had something of an affection for Him. I came to know Him by believing on Jesus (“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3) when I was a teen-ager and have only grown in my appreciation and esteem for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

2. The Bible. I am so glad that the church God led me to when I was a teen-ager had an emphasis on reading the Bible through. That was a vulnerable time in my life, and I could so easily have drifted into who knows what, but God used His Word to ground me not only personally, but in the faith. I took it in like a thirsty man drinks water, like a hungry man eats food: it was my lifeline. It still is. And I am glad for the emphasis on reading all of it, because it is all inspired, and because it keeps one balanced spiritually to read it all and interpret it as it relates to the whole. So many false doctrines come from an emphasis on one part while neglecting or deemphasizing another or taking a text out of context. One of my passions is getting people into the Word of God for themselves: one such post along those lines is Reasons to Read the Bible.

3. Family. My mom was my best friend as I was growing up, and though my relationship with my father wasn’t as close, it was still devastating when my parents divorced. Even before that, in all of the aspirations of what I might want to be when I grew up, a wife and mom was always a part of it, and after I became a Christian I longed to have a Christian family. I’ve been so blessed with a close, loving family, and with my kids almost all grown now, I like to encourage younger moms along the way.

4. Homemaking. I ‘ve always felt that every woman is a homemaker whether she is single, married, whether she has children or not, whether she is working or not, because we all live in some kind of home, and God has given it to us partly as a refuge from the world and partly as a ministry to others. Being a homemaker has not been highly regarded in our culture in the last few decades, and I long to encourage women that homemaking is a high and honorable endeavor.

5. Ministry. Every Christian is given gifts with which to minister to others, and is “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10), whether we’re called to “the” ministry or not. This is probably the area where God has stretched and grown me the most in recent years, drawing me out of my comfort zone and teaching me to depend even more on Him to work through me.

6. Missions. I thought at one time that God might be calling me to be a missionary, but over time I realized my calling is more in assisting missionaries. I’ve gotten to know some of the dearest people through some of the ministries in our churches that have particularly ministered to them. Plus a love of reading missionary biographies and their impact on my life has encouraged me to minister to and learn from these fine folks on “the front lines.”

7. Church. I mentioned the Bible being a lifeline: a good church also was in my early days as a Christian. People who loved me and cared for me and were unwitting examples to me helped me so much. God made us to minister to one another. Though no church is perfect, and though the church at large is fraught with flaws, “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;Β That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,Β That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25b-27). If He loved it that much, and we love Him, it follows that we should love the church as well.

8. Books. I’ve loved reading ever since I first learned how. I could write another whole post on why I love reading (maybe some day…), but books have been a major part of my whole life. I have to have one or two books I’m currently reading at any given time, and I have to take a handful when traveling (the Kindle app sure helps with that!) If I go too long without reading I feel like I’m starving. I wrote about the 98 books that have most enriched my life a couple of years ago — I probably need to update that with a few I’ve read since.

9. Music. I am not a musician, but I’ve loved music for years. Christian music was another lifeline in my early Christian life, and so many times God has ministered to my heart with a particular hymn or spiritual song at a particular time. But I also enjoy some classical music, Irish, English, and early American folk music, some songs from musicals, Emile Pandolfi’s piano-playing, and assorted other types. I quite often have music playing while my hands are busy or have a song going around in my head.

10. Beauty. Not the obsession with personal beauty prevalent these days, but the beauty that causes God’s hand to be seen and inspires worship and praise to Him, beauty that reflects truth, beauty manifest in nature, music, art, writing, color, even a lovely table setting.

11. Creativity. I used to think either a person was creative, or they were not, and I didn’t think I was. I used to associate creativity with artsy people. But over the years I came to realize that there are different kinds of creativity. A dear friend was a wiz at coming up with simple yet really neat lunch ideas or activities for her children. Another friend I used to do bulletin boards with used to say she could staple and pin and cut things out for it, but she didn’t want to come up with ideas — but often she’d have an idea while we were working or an adjustment that was just right. I really enjoy other people’s creativity (Pinterest has been a feast for that!) and love to have some type of craft or project going on the side.

12. Writing has been a lifelong outlet. As a child I wrote stories and poems. I don’t have much of that any more except a folder of poems I had written as a teen and one poem from my childhood. I kept a diary as a teen but, sadly, threw it away. I’ve written a few magazine articles, a few newspaper columns, and a few years’ worth of newsletters for the ladies’ group at church. And, of course, there is this blog. πŸ™‚ I think things through by writing and like to encourage people through writing. I think I express myself better through writing than speaking. I don’t know how the Lord may use it in the future, but I am grateful for the outlets He has given so far.

13. Learning. I always loved school. Maybe not every single class or teacher, but I loved school in general. If college hadn’t been so expensive, I could have stayed on another couple of years just taking classes that sounded interesting. I still like to keep the brain percolating by learning new things.

As I was thinking about what to include in this list, I thought that, honestly, overarching themes of my life would have to include “besetting sins.” I try to keep things real here and not hold myself up as some kind of paragon of virtue: I’ve shared some of my faults and failings and struggles here. On the other hand, I don’t think it is necessary or even wise to lay it all out here, either. Let’s just say that most of them involved self in some way — self-indulgence, self-righteousness, self-promotion, self-protection. Be assured God is continually convicting and working on me!

What are some themes of your life?


“Getting to know you” questions

Whew! It’s been a very full but very fun holiday weekend for us. We just took our oldest back to the airport this morning — always a little sad to see him walking into the airport alone. But this time he’ll be back in a month for Christmas.

Carrie suggested some “getting to know you” questions for a post today, so I’ll jump in to answer a few..probably most of them.

Do you attend church and, if so, what denomination are you a part of?

Yes. We’re members of an independent Baptist church.

What social issue are you the most passionate about?

Right to life issues, on both ends of the spectrum: the unborn and the elderly or disabled. It’s God who gives life and should be God who says when it ends. Life is a gift that is not ours to take away from anyone else. God has a purpose in every life He allows.

There are some thorny issues when it comes to turning off machines, etc., that are keeping a person alive. I’d highly recommend Joni Eareckson Tada’s When Is It Right To Die? for thoughtful treatment of the difference between sustaining life and prolonging death.

Do you home school/use the public system or enroll your kids in private school? Any particular reason why?

My oldest two went to a private Christian school except for four years when we home-schooled. They both went to a Christian college. My youngest went all through school in a private Christian school but is now attending a state community college.

My husband and I both loved school and thrived there so we saw no need to home school. The four years we did so were when we lived in an area that had a couple of Christian schools, but for various reasons we weren’t comfortable with them. I read a lot about home schooling at the time and there is much I liked about it: knowing exactly what my kids were learning and experiencing during the day, shared experiences and increased family time, opportunities to pursue other interests, etc. But it was also overwhelming to me, and they didn’t much enjoy it. I had a one year old when we started and the older two were beginning 5th and 2nd grades. I think if we had started when they started school or kept with it longer I would have eventually found my footing. For instance, because I was insecure and didn’t want to “mess up” their schooling and wanted to prepare them for eventually going back into the classroom, I was very classroomish and kept closely to the teacher’s manual. But if I were teaching them now, it wouldn’t matter to me whetherΒ  capitalization was in chapter 3 for one of them and chapter 7 for the other — I’d teach them together, rearrange the coursework to what best fit our family, do more with unit studies, etc.

We also tried video school for a while the A Beka curriculum. It was adequate, but, frankly, boring. It did free me up to be involved as little or as much as I wanted to be, but I don’t think it was the best choice for us: it would have been better for just one or two courses, like Algebra, that I wasn’t comfortable with.

We’ve been pleased with Christian schools. They are not perfect, but nothing is. My kids have been blessed with some very good teachers and great friends. Yes, a couple of times we ran into situations with less than ideal peers, but we ran into that at church occasionally, too, and at some point in time it is something they need to learn to deal with before they are launched out into the world. It provided good conversations about why we do and don’t do certain things.

I could not in good conscience put my children in public schools. I was in public schools from 3rd-10th grade, heard dirty jokes as early as 3rd grade, was subjected to other unwholesome influences in older grades. Yes, we need to train children to be salt and light in the world, but in their formative years we need to protect them and give them a good foundation.

How long have you been married? How many kids do you have, or want to have? Have you ever thought of adopting, or have you?

We’re coming up on our 33rd anniversary in December. We have three kids, all young adults now, only one still at home and one is married. I only briefly considered adoption when we were waiting for our first child: we were married for five years before he came along and were just beginning to wonder if there was a problem. I wasn’t really ready to think about adoption yet: at the time I felt I would only consider it if there were no possibility we could have children biologically. Nowadays I know people who have biological children but still consider adoption as a ministry, and that is wonderful, but it is not something we have felt called to pursue.

What is your greatest personality strength? Weakest?

Hmmm. That may be something I should ask my husband. Off the top of my head I’d say maybe that I am detailed and analytical. If I have a job or ministry to do, the details and the fulfillment of it are very important to me and I won’t do a slipshod job. On the other hand that drives me crazy sometimes.

Biggest personality weakness? Either cowardliness or struggling with self-control.

What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?

There are far too many excellent ones to have just one favorite, but one that has ministered to me often through my life is Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

What is your real name? What does it mean?

My real name is Barbara and it means “stranger.” Whenever this topic would come up when I was growing up. I’d always hear lame responses like, “Well, you’re the strangest friend I’ve ever had!” πŸ™„ I was named after my mom’s sister (and my middle name is after one of my dad’s sisters). I didn’t really like it until my pastor preached a message on Christians being β€œstrangers and pilgrims” in this world, and that infused it with new meaning. Then I came across Deuteronomy 10:18-19: “[God] doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt,” which helped, too. πŸ™‚

Just please don’t call me “Barb.” One meaning of Barb is sharp, mean things people say to one another, and I know people aren’t thinking of that when they call me Barb, but it still makes me cringe. And “Babs” makes me nauseated – no offense to any Babses out there. I knew a very nice and capable woman called Babs, but when I first knew her it was almost more than I could do to say her name.

Are you a bold and trendy dresser, or are clothes “not your thing?”

I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m definitely not bold, and I see no need to follow after all the latest fashions, but I don’t want to look several decades behind the times, either. I do like nice clothes, but what I think of as nice and what the modern world deems nice may not always match up.

If you were to write a book, what genre would it be?

I discussed what kind of book I might be interested in writing here: probably nonfiction or biography.

What is your favorite thing about where you live (country, neighborhood, etc.)? Least?

Eastern TN is beautiful country, especially during autumn. And I love seeing mountains from different vantage points. The Knoxville area is a nice size — not as big and busy as Atlanta or Houston, but big enough to have some shopping and diversions close by. The thing I like least is the false idea the rest of the world seems to have that TN is full of “hick” or dumb people.

Bonus question of my own: what is your favorite hymn and why?

This is almost as hard to choose from as a favorite Scripture, but one of my all-time favorites is “Before the Throne of God Above“, especially the stanza:

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Set to this melody:

But I also like “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” (both the old version and the new), “The Sands of Time Are Sinking,” “His Robes For Mine,” “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us,” and many, many more.

I’ll close with a couple of photos that probably won’t make it into the Christmas cards but that were fun anyway — I almost enjoy these as much as the nicely posed ones.

This one will probably make it into the cards, though we had a hard time getting Grandma to look up, much less smile at the camera:

House Tour

Annette at This Simple Home and Dorie at These Grace Filled Days have teamed up to create Together on Tuesdays as β€œa casual way to meet and connect with other women” over the summer. They’ve created a schedule of topics to discuss in order to get to know one another better, and the topic for this week is where we live, either our local area or our home.

We moved to the Knoxville, TN area almost two years ago, and I promised some blog friends last year I’d post some photos of the house when I got it all together. Well…it’s still not as together as I’d like it, but I decided to go ahead and show it.

First, though, I’ll share a little bit about the area. Eastern TN is a beautiful place. I love the hills and the fact that, though it’s a landlocked state, it has plenty of lakes, rivers, and streams. Knoxville is a manageable city: I’ve lived in both Houston and just outside Atlanta, and it can be such a headache getting around cities that size. Where we live, we’re just a few minutes from downtown in one direction, and a few minutes from rural countryside in the other direction. This is big University of TN country, and though we’re not sports fans, it’s fun to see the team spirit for the UT Vols and even the local high school.

Now for the house itself. I do love our home. I think it is a bit smaller than our old one, though I am not sure about square footage. But it is more compact, so it’s much easier to get around and to clean.

Here is the entryway:

This is the living room — though it’s not quite a full-sized room. But it’s nice if one of us wants to take a book or something when someone’s watching TV or playing video games in the family room.

This is the dining area:

Just off the dining area is this little alcove we’ve made into an office:

I’ve been trying to decide whether to make valances for those windows or just leave them be.

I love my kitchen. This was taken before we bought the house — it looks the same now except for stuff on the counters. πŸ™‚ In fact, that’s why I didn’t take a picture of it as is now: we had a party for Jason last Saturday and a lot of their supplies from it are still there.

All the lights are great for working, but they do get hot on one’s head.

This is the family room:

And this is the other side of the family room, taken from in front of the fire place:

Here’s our bedroom:

And the master bathroom:

The sewing/craft room is the one that still needs some organization, as you can see:

This we call Jesse’s bathroom, though of course it’s not exclusively his. But since he’s the last son at home, he’s pretty much the only one who uses it unless we have company.

And we’re blessed with even a third bathroom, nice when we have company, not so much at cleaning time. πŸ™‚ Sometimes it’s even nice when it’s just the three of us at home. πŸ™‚

Some of you might remember that when we first moved here, our garage was listed as a three-car garage. It was an L shape, and we (I say we — Jim) walled off the “L” part and made another room. We call it the “prophet’s chamber” or Jim’s room. There is a futon in there for company and Jim’s desk, microscopes, telescope, etc., are in there. He put the closet in and sheet-rocked and painted the walls. Some time we need to put carpet in, but there’s an area rug for now.

And that’s about it.

Some of you may remember that our previous house was much more colorful (and girly) — most rooms were painted or had wallpaper on them. Some times these neutral walls seem plain, but most of the time they seem more restful. I don’t know if I’d ever do wallpaper again and since the paint is in good condition, we’re not thinking about painting any time soon.

So that’s our humble abode. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by!

Together on Tuesdays: Favorite Places

Annette at This Simple Home and Dorie at These Grace Filled Days have teamed up to create Together on Tuesdays as β€œa casual way to meet and connect with other women” over the summer. They’ve created a schedule of topics to discuss in order to get to know one another better, and the topic for this week is our favorites spots, either locally or a vacation spot.

Honestly, my very favorite spot is my own home. I’m not much of an adventurer and don’t travel well. I feel more at peace and rest at home than anywhere else. But it is necessary to get out of the house every now and then.

Many of our vacations have been to visit family, but we’ve had a few other outings over the years. Probably one of my all-time favorites was SeaWorld in FL. We had gone down when my oldest son was checking out colleges to see Clearwater Christian College (loved it, but they didn’t have the major he wanted at the time.) We were so near all the Orlando attractions, we took an extra day to do something fun. We had been to a similar place while visiting Jim’s brother in CA years before when Jesse was just a baby, and I had always wanted to take the family back to something like that when he was old enough to remember it, and this was our chance. I just loved the dolphin show.

I grew up near the beach, and didn’t realize how much I missed it until a family reunion when my older two were small. Unfortunately the standard of dress (or undress) has gotten so bad that we didn’t feel comfortable taking our guys out to the beach much, but some years back when our school’s spring break was a different week that the pubic school’s we took a few days and went to Charleston, SC, and stayed at a hotel right on Folly Beach. This photo was taken from a gazebo out at the end of a pier looking back at the hotel.

Folly Beach hotel

It was lovely. We had the beach mostly to ourselves. I loved hearing the sound of the ocean at night while going to sleep, and because we were right there we could go out on the beach at any time. Jim and Jesse liked going out in the early morning.

Folly Beach sunrise

But we were also close enough to everything else in Charleston that it wasn’t far to drive into town and see a few things there. We took a buggy ride around the city and a harbor tour and took the guys to visit the Yorktown and Naval Museum. It was a perfect blend of sight-seeing and restfulness. I remember coming back and feeling more rested than at any other vacation return. We had been to Charleston as a young married couple before we had children, going with a tour group the local Christian radio station had gotten together, and then we revisited it on our 30th wedding anniversary. At that time Jim had enough hotel points that we got to stay at a hotel right on the heart of the downtown area. It was fun to be right there in the city (for a visit — I wouldn’t want to live where it is so busy!) with restaurants, museums, and tour homes within walking distance.

Another place we’ve enjoyed visiting is the Asheville, NC area. We’ve been to the Biltmore House a few times. On one anniversary — maybe our tenth? — we went there, stayed in a generic hotel, and ate one dinner at the Grove Park Inn. The food was wonderful, and at first we were concerned when we read there would be live music (we’re not prone to rocking out πŸ™‚ ), but it was a lovely string quartet. I said I’d love to come back some time and actually stay in Grove Park Inn. We did on our 25th anniversary. Inside — it was pretty much just like any other hotel room, so I doubt I’d be inclined to do that again, but I love eating there. I don’t really like the outside of the building, either, but their fireplace in the lobby is gorgeous. One of the restaurants in the hotel (there are 5 total, I think), looks out over the mountains, and I always wanted to take my folks out there some autumn, but we never made it before my mom passed away. She loved the fall colors. When we went for our anniversary during December, there was a Gingerbread House contest, and it was fun to look at those (some of them are here).

When my kids were little, some of our favorite places were the library and the Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC, about an hour’s drive from where we lived at the time. We went camping a lot then, honestly not my favorite thing but Jim and the kids really enjoyed it, and we had a couple of favorite spots at Paris Mountain State Park.

A favorite activity at one was feeding the ducks at the lake. This is Jason at about age 2 or 3.

Feedig ducks

I think we only rented paddle boats there once or twice. They didn’t have them available all the time. This is Jeremy and I when he was maybe 5. Jim was on a different paddle boat with Jason (the back of whose head is in the foreground) and took the picture from there.

At the lake

But mostly we did the usual camping stuff: slept in a tent, cooked over an open fire (including s’mores!) took walks, etc.

A couple of times Jim received an award or bonus or “thank you” from his work in the form of a trip, once to Chattanooga (we enjoyed the aquarium there) and once to Callaway Gardens in GA: the Butterfly Center and the little chapel were really nice.


Chapel window at Calloway Gardens

Another favorite outing was to the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in Sevierville, TN. We lived in SC at the time, and my mom loved to come visit in the fall because she didn’t have all the pretty fall colors in TX. It was a gorgeous autumn drive, and the food was superb. Plus they had some little shops connected to them, so we could do some of that kind of thing without getting into the more touristy parts of the area. My mom’s brother and sister-in-law lived close enough that they met us there. It was an all-around good time.

I’ve really enjoyed going back and revisiting these memories. Thanks, Annette and Dorie!

Together on Tuesdays Introduction

Annette at This Simple Home and Dorie at These Grace Filled Days have teamed up to create Together on Tuesdays as “a casual way to meet and connect with other women” over the summer. They’ve created a schedule of topics to discuss in order to get to know one another better, and the topic for this first week is introductions.

We’re encouraged to be a little creative in our intros, so I’ll share the top ten things that I would say characterize me.

1. My name is Barbara.I go by “Barbara H.” around the Internet because when I first started blogging there were a number of Barbaras. Please don’t call me Barb.

2. I’ve been married to a wonderful man named Jim for 32 years.

3. We have three boys….really young men now. The oldest two have “left the nest,” one of them is married, and the youngest just graduated from high school.

4. I’ve been privileged to be a stay-at-home-Mom since my first pregnancy.

5. I was a Home Economics Education major not because I was proficient in that area but because I needed all the help I could get. I had always wanted to major in English but at the time Home Ec. seemed more practical.

6. I’m naturally very shy and introverted, but God has helped me to get beyond my comfort zone.

7. I like reading, writing, and some amount of crafting when I have time.

8. I love pink roses and heart-shaped things. I like pastels, especially pink, slate blue, and sage green. I don’t like orange, peach, red, or yellow (except on fall leaves. πŸ™‚ )

9. One major life-affecting and life-altering event in my life was having transverse myelitis almost sixteen years ago. It’s an auto0immune reaction that occurs when a virus attacks the spine, causing one’s body to attack the spine as well as the virus. It was pretty rough the first few years, but now I can function about as well as I need to despite some residual symptoms. I am so thankful for the recovery God has allowed (some do not gain back what they lost at the beginning of TM) and what He taught me through it.

10. The most important thing about me is that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He graciously led me to Himself when I was 17: you can read more about how that happened here. I am forever grateful.

There is probably much more than you’d ever want to know about me in the 100 Things About Me post I that I did on my one year blogging anniversary and 7 Quirky, Random, Little-Known Facts About Me.

I hope you can join in on at least some of the Together on Tuesday posts! I’m looking forward to getting to know you better.

Thirteen thoughts about my birthday

1. I turn 51 today!

2. That sounds so much older than 50! I’m still trying to figure out how I got there!

3. While standing in line somewhere I saw a headline saying, “50 is the new 30.” Sounds good to me!

4. This is a good week for birthdays: Barb‘s was a few days ago and Janet‘s was yesterday.

5. I got offered a senior citizen’s discount at Jack in the Box again today. πŸ˜• Actually, they didn’t even offer — just rang it up, and I had to correct them. Then the cashier said, “How old are you?” Not exactly tactful! My husband thinks I should have just taken the discount.

6. We get to eat out at Outback tonight! Love the food — not crazy about the darkness and music. We only get there maybe once a year.

7. Barb had some good thoughts about reaching the over-50 mark here. My favorite line: “It doesn’t matter how many years you actually live. What matters is what you do with those years and how you impact the people who will live beyond you.”

8. My favorite cake is chocolate (preferable devil’s food) with chocolate icing (preferably fudge chocolate).

9. I miss talking to my mom on special days.

10. I could join the Bloggers Over 50 Blogroll. I could have last year, but I wanted to wait til I was over 50 just as a matter of principle. πŸ™‚

11. Last year I posted some perks of being older and some neat quotes about aging.

12. One of my favorite “older” quotes not listed there is the following:

“It is love in old age, no longer blind, that is true love. For love’s highest intensity doesn’t necessarily mean its highest quality. Glamour and jealousy are gone; and the ardent caress…is valueless compared to the reassuring touch of a trembling hand. Passersby commonly see little beauty in the embrace of young lovers on a park bench, but the understanding smile of an old wife to her husband is one of the loveliest things in the world.” Booth Tarkington

13. Seen at ivman:

More Thursday Thirteeners are here.

ABCs of me

I saw this at Dawn‘s and thought it looked like fun!

Accent: I don’t think I have one though I lived in Texas for 22 years and South Carolina for 28. In college people were surprised to find out I was from TX because they were expecting the over-drawn drawls you hear on TV.

Breakfast or no breakfast: Yes, breakfast is a must. I have low blood sugar and get a headache and then other unpleasantness if I don’t eat.

Chore I don’t care for: A toss between cleaning bathrooms (icky) and dusting (to do it right you have to pick up everything on the shelf, table, etc.). I like the results but not the process.

Dog or Cat: A dog, Suzie, half collie, half German Shepherd.

Essential Electronics: My cell phone and computer.

Favorite Cologne: I don’t wear any now — a lot of scents give me headaches — but I used to wear Emeraude or Wind Song.

Gold or Silver: Depends on what it is; I have some of each. But I probably prefer silver.

Handbag I carry most often: Just a basic black one with lots of pockets.

Insomnia: No.

Job Title: Homemaker.

Kids: Three boys, ages 23, 20, and 14.

Living Arrangements: I live in a medium-sized town with my DH of 28 years in house we’ve been in for 10 years — the longest we’ve lived in one house.

Most Admirable Trait: Dependability.

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Portraying heavily embellished stories as truth.

Overnight hospital stays: Seven. Three babies delivered, three surgeries (tonsils, gallbladder, thyroid), and onset of transverse myelitis.

Phobias: My family would day I probably have a phobia about unclean hands. πŸ™‚

Quote: Oh, I love many, but one of my favorites is “God does not waste suffering, nor does He discipline out of caprice. If He plough, it is because He purposes a crop.” β€” J. Oswald Sanders

Reason to smile: God is in control!

Siblings: One brother, four sisters, all younger.

Time I wake up: 5 a.m. most days.

Unusual Talent or Skill: Hmmm…. I’m stuck on this one…

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Turnip greens (shudder!)

Worst Habit: Eating too much/wrong things.

X-rays: Yes.

Yummy Stuff: Chocolate, Mexican food, pizza.

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Monkeys

Let me know if you play along!

Personality type quiz

Saw this at Janeen’s, and she’s right — it is eerily accurate!

You Are An ISTJ

The Duty Fulfiller
You are responsible, reliable, and hardworking – you get the job done.You prefer productive hobbies, like woodworking or knittings.

Quiet and serious, you are well prepared for whatever life hands you.

Conservative and down-to-earth, you hardly ever do anything crazy.

In love, you are loyal and honest. If you commit yourself to someone, then you’re fully committed.

For you, love is something that happens naturally. And you don’t need romantic gestures to feel loved.

At work, you remember details well and are happy to take on any responsibility.

You would make a great business executive, accountant, or lawyer.

How you see yourself: Decisive, stable, and dependable

When other people don’t get you, they see you as: Boring, conservative, and egotistical

What’s Your Personality Type?