And the Days Went By

Over the weekend, my class had it’s 40 year reunion. 40 years!!  Sadly, I was unable to attend, but I heard it went swimmingly well. The photos I’ve seen look like a good time was had by all .

So, while he was in town for the reunion, I had lunch with my old (and I don’t mean old ), but my long time friend, David Chenoweth. David and I have known each other almost all our lives, but have only lately become good friends. David is in the second row, second from left in this, my third grade photo. We didn’t hang with each other in school much because, well, David was a little on the mischievous side and my mother knew everyone in town. Literally. She was the town hairdresser and you know how people love to talk to their hairdressers. So, in an effort to stay out of trouble, I tended to steer clear of poor David. How I wish that wasn’t the case now. It wasn’t that I never got into trouble. That was just it. I got into trouble enough on my own. What really happened, though by steering clear, I missed out on who knows what opportunities.

I used to be the one who played it safe-you know, break up with the guy before he broke up with you, have one or two friends so that, at least I had a friend. Never have too many friends at once because that is when complications set in. Don’t try out for cheerleader  because someone might laugh at you. Don’t make people mad at you because they may never like you again. Stuff like that. Stuff some of us do as kids.

The closest I ever got to cheerleader was pep squad. By the time I was in high school, I hung out with the “freaks”. You know the ones, they smoked, grew their hair long and were most of the time stoned.  So, I didn’t care to be cheerleader then. Ah, but in Jr. High School, I would have given my eye teeth to cheer. To be on the football field and cheer those boys on while they made touchdown after touchdown, winning the game for us. I was just too scared to try out. No one’s fault but my own.

Anyway, kinda went off topic there for a minute, but the thing both David and I realized were the missed opportunities we had during our school years because we just weren’t equipped to know how to have the necessary what-ever-it-was to go out of our comfort zones and be more than just schoolmates, but to be friends with real depth.

I am so glad that we found each other on facebook and had that first lunch. He is truly a remarkable man and has become a good friend. What is it about one’s fifties that we become more adventurous than ever? I don’t know, but I’m glad it happens!  Encourage your kids to branch out, reach out and just try something during their young years. They may just remember it as the time of their lives!

Oh and by the way, I’m the first kid on the right hand side first row, next to the teacher!

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Those Were the Days, My Friend.

Today, I had coffee with an old friend and a semi-new, young friend. David and I go back to second grade and I won’t tell you how long ago that was. Might as well keep an air of mystery  surrounding my story. Poor David was a bit of a roustabout in school and I was the girl whose mother was the town hairdresser and knew everything about everything, including what I did at any particular moment in time.

I saw David about twenty years ago and told him I was sorry I never hung out with him, but I didn’t want to get into trouble.  My mother would hear what I did, who I did it with and what the results were. It never really seemed she noticed when the results were good- only when I’d done something I shouldn’t have with someone I shouldn’t have.  I didn’t mean to be blunt or anything, I was just trying to convey the fact that I was quite capable of getting in trouble all by myself!

The semi-new, young friend was none other than the famous Jackie Smith. It must have been interesting for her to hear our stories about the different world we lived in all those years ago. So, here we were two different generations having a blast. I know she was thinking our stories were like her parent’s stories, but I wish I could have been inside her brain . I bet it would have been interesting.

Growing up, David and I had no video games, no computers, no dvd’s or anything like that. Heck, we were lucky television was around.I don’t think we’d trade our childhood for anything. We had so much fun using our imaginations, playing outside til the street lights came on or the sun set – whichever came first. I can’t speak for David, but I loved playing outside- witch, kick the can, kickball, dodge ball, hopscotch, oh.. and here’s a good one- Simon Says. I don’t know if any kids these days even know what Simon Says is. It was pretty much fun and we played it a lot. Pick up sticks, jacks and marbles were also a favorite of mine. Kites were pretty popular, but I was never any good at flying them. Favorite car games were bingo, I spy , tic-tac-toe and hangman.

I never thought I’d say, “Those were the good old days,” but they were. Down the street from me was a guy who drove an old beat up hearse. That’s right, a hearse. It kinda freaked me out because he told me there were notches inside the hearse of all the bodies that were in there. I was a weanie and believed anything anyone told me. Can you say gullible? That was me!

I don’t want to do myself the disservice of telling on myself,but I will. I dated a guy, whom I married at the ripe old age of 16, who told me he manufactured lint for a living. He told me they manufactured the lint and then had distributors who went to the stores and put the lint in the pockets of the coats for sale. And that was why coats had lint in the pockets. I later told him I thought he had an odd job. He had no clue what  I was talking about . He said, “I work in a mailroom.”  “Oh, I thought you manufactured lint.”

Yep. Those were the days!

The Power of Words

I wonder if many of us stop before we speak to think if our words will encourage or harm some unsuspecting person. I have to admit, I’m guilty of not always thinking before I speak. I want to be an encourager of people, but sometimes, I forget how damaging words can be- not just to our physical selves, but right down to the soul, right where our spirit lies.

The reason I bring this up and the reason I have not been writing are connected. I had reason to doubt myself, my writing capabilities and what I feel God has called me to do recently when I was on the receiving end of criticism regarding my recent book, “The Conservative Congregant.”  You may be saying, as I was, “Oh Paula, put on your big girl pants and get on with it.” But, I was truly surprised the self doubt that came from criticism that came more in the form of an accusation. I called my friend, Jackie Smith and asked if she’d had that experience. She verified she’d been on that end of the spectrum and she had cried. I immediately felt better after her reassurance that all was going to be fine.

However, those words left me with self doubt, doubts about whether I should ever write again and even though I put my big girl pants on, my soul was sad, unhappy.All from the spoken word … or in this case, a written few words.

Just when I was thinking maybe I’d misunderstood God’s call to write, a sweet friend who is reading my book first sent me a message telling me how much he liked it, giving it such high praise. I thought it an amazing sense of timing when it came to me , since I had been so down on myself. Then, when I woke up this morning, there, on Facebook, for all to see was his thoughts on my book! All good. High praise. Encouraging. For me, a sign from God, telling me I didn’t misunderstand, that I was following his direction, right on target as He planned.

So, when you converse with someone, whether it be a constructive criticism or daily run of the mill conversation, think about how your words impact other people.  It could be the difference of tearing down or building up. Thank you, my friend!

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However Dysfunctional, There was Fun!

Everyone’s family has a bit of dysfunction in it. It’s okay. Ours was that way too. But, I like to think we put the “fun” in dysfunctional. We all loved to laugh- my mother most of all. So, you can imagine how confused I was when my mother declared my lifelong friend, Kim Gibson Wallis and I “as silly as blackbirds.” I mean, after all, where did she think I learned it ? No matter, the truth of the matter was that Kim and I thought it incredibly funny! Funny, funny, funny.

As long as I can remember, we had dinners for my mom’s side of the family at our house all the time. My mother and her sister, Ginny, alternated years as to who would host the Christmas dinner. It really didn’t matter, I don’t think to us kids where it was, just as long as it was.  It was our time to see each  other and play like the wild kids we wished we could be all the time.

If we were at Ginny’s house, then my cousin, Matt would be in charge of what we played and stuff. After all, he did live there and he would be the one to get into trouble (mostly) if we did stuff we weren’t supposed to. Younger readers may be confused because we were actually outside, in the sunshine, running, chasing, playing and teasing one another. Yes, that’s what I said- Outside. Sunshine. Playing. All those things kids barely know the meaning of anymore. Well, anyway, no matter whose house we were at (Texan phraseology, i’m afraid), one game was a constant- “Big Kids Run From the Little Kids.” I never was much of a runner, in fact, I was the last one chosen on a team of any sorts at school recess, but I could outrun the little kids! When Gary, my mom’s brother’s kid, his sisters, Jayne and Amy got to come, it was so much fun! Gary, Matt, Phil (Matt’s brother)  and I ran away from poor Jayne and Amy.  Of course, it wasn’t long til Jayne was “one of us.”

A Holiday dinner at our house
A Holiday dinner at our house

Oh my gosh! Our parents could just look at each other and start laughing- something their offspring can do as well. It was always fun to know someone else was thinking the same thing at

Being silly and laughing was a genetic trait for us
Being silly and laughing was a genetic trait for us

the same time. Ever happen to you?

Of course, with all of us, there was the “odd, but lovely” relative. This would be our Aunt Dillie. She came to be Aunt Dillie because someone as a baby couldn’t say Nellie. So, Dillie it was. We kinda made alot of fun of poor old Dillie, because she could sniff more times in a row than anyone else in the world!  Not only that, but she could burp louder than a guy and we thought it was hysterical. Of course, not to her face. We held it til we were out of the room and then we’d really let the hysteria go.

Turns out, poor old Dillie, unbeknownst to us at such an early age, had been set to marry a young man and he left her at the alter. So, these interesting traits of hers probably came about after the fact. She never married or had a gentleman suitor again. Tragic, really. However, as in Shakespeare, some tragedies are comedy and we thought she was plenty funny.

I am reminiscing because my cousin , Gary, will be spending the weekend with me. For the Fourth of July. I haven’t seen him in years and I am so excited to see him. Because it is a holiday, it reminds me of being a kid, looking out the window , waiting for him to arrive- waiting impatiently for the fun to begin!