Hey Y'all!

It took me awhile to get here, but alas I'm finally joining the blogosphere of bloviation. It took a rant floating around in my head to send me toward this journey, but so be it. We'll have some fun here too. I promise. Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to leave me a comment or two. ~ diane

Friday, December 31, 2010

A Little Cheese With My Whine?

First, let me apologize for the long absence. I actually wrote two long posts over the last few weeks, then dumped both of them. I was in a bit of a funk and it just didn't seem fitting to whine so much during the holidays, when in fact, I know I've been so blessed this year. In the end, we had a beautiful white Christmas and a wonderful time with our family.

That said, on this last day of 2010, it seems only fitting to serve up a little whine with my cheeseball. "It has been a year," as they say. I've got both barrels loaded. Consider yourself warned.

Most of my ranting here is trivial, but some of this stuff has aggravated the snot out of me this year. Number 1 on my DROVE.ME.NUTS list was the purchase of our long-awaited new kitchen appliances. Our oven hasn't really worked in years. Turned itself off whenever it felt like it. Beeped obscene messages at us, flashing "F3" or "F4" - whatever that meant. Our separate stovetop had basically given up the ghost as well. Only one burner still worked and it was either hot or not. And not to be left out, our dishwasher was dying a slow, quiet death.

Finally the day came when we took out a home equity loan and headed to Lowe's. We immediately loved our new stovetop and dishwasher. The big, gorgeous oven? Not so much. Apparently self-cleaning ovens now come with mandatory fans. Whenever the oven is on (and even long after it's turned off), the fan blows. Problem is, the fan causes a serious rattle of the sheet metal encasing the oven. In the greater scheme of things, I know it's not life-changing. But having paid almost $1000 for this new oven . . . I DON'T WANT IT RATTLING!!!

Long story short, after several repairmen have visited, including one who replaced the fan, it STILL rattles. My demand to Lowe's? I want a new oven! One that does not rattle. Three months later we're still fighting Lowe's over this. They couldn't have been nicer, but they have yet to offer to replace it. Mama ain't happy . . . and you know what they say.

Whine #2. Car repairs. Yesterday I spent all day in Franklin after dropping off my Beetle at Hallmark Volkswagen for some repairs: a recall on the transmission and a power window that still shreeks when it closes, despite the fact they "fixed it" a month ago for $300. Mid-day they called to let us know they were out of the parts necessary to fix the transmission. HUH? Hello? I had an appointment! You couldn't have told me before I traveled 40 miles down there? Then they informed us the window issue was "an entirely different problem" and it would cost another $114 to fix it this time. HUH?! It's doing the EXACT same thing yet you tell me it's a "different problem"??? People, where is your integrity?! Do you really think we're that stupid?!

Whine #3. Painful feet. I've been fighting severe plantar fasciitis (commonly called a heel spur) for several months. Excruciating pain when I stand or walk on it. Had a cortisone shot in it about a month ago (talk about painful!) and a brace put on my foot. Recently I started shopping for shoes with better support. I learned that specialty shoes cost a fortune (anywhere from $95 to $345), but they don't even come close to what these foot specialists charge for inserts. At the local Good Feet Store, the sales lady didn't even blink when she told me the set of inserts would cost me $600!!! I bit my tongue, but desperately wanted to scream, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?! What, are they made of GOLD?! THEY'RE PLASTIC, for the love of Pete!!!" Needless to say, I hobbled my way right out the door.

Whine #4. Product changes. I have a real beef with the marketing brainiacs who think it makes good sense to change up their product names and packaging from time to time. Just about the time you find something you like, they change the color of the product, change the packaging, and give it a new name. So you waste money trying out all these "new" products just to find the one you liked before. Then there's the whole industry change on products like deodorant or hairspray. I'm extremely sensitive to smell, so I need "unscented" products. For some reason, those are very hard to find these days. Or, if you buy them, you get them home only to find they reek! Why is it "unscented" ISN'T?!? How hard can it be to use non-toxic smelling ingredients?!


Okay, this one is self-inflicted. Let's be honest here. None of these complaints are THAT bad. Like I told my sister the other day, it's not like I watched my home float away in the flood this year . . . or lost a child . . . or battled cancer . . . or watched my husband walk away from our marriage . . . or a thousand other things that are extreme and life-altering. Trust me, I don't equate my little whinefest here with any of those things. Still, sometimes life is messy and pesky and yucky and exceptionally aggravating! And if you're like me, every once and awhile, you just need to VENT A LITTLE!!!

So thanks for allowing me to vent. Thanks for not rolling your eyes. Thanks for putting up with me. I'm all better now. Really. Believe it or not I really am looking forward to the new year and all that God may bring my way.

And yes, even the messy-pesky-yucky-aggravating stuff.

Happy new year, my friends! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giving Thanks for Good Books

Thanksgiving is upon us, and a more perceptive blogger might take this opportunity to list all the things she's thankful for this year - family, friends, blessings, yada yada . . . I'm thankful, of course, but my friends & family all know I love them. Instead I've opted to use this post to give thanks for some other loves of my life: BOOKS! I cannot imagine life without books, can you? It's been almost four months since our last book chat, so we've got a lot of catching up to do. I'll try to keep my comments brief. There's a link on each book's title if you'd like to read more.

For Laci: A Mother's Story of Love, Loss, and Justice
by Sharon Rocha
Who doesn't remember the dazzling smile of Laci Peterson who went missing on Christmas Eve of 2002? Laci's mother wrote this tribute to her daughter so we could get to know the beautiful young, expectant mother beyond the headlines of her brutal murder and that of her unborn child by her husband Scott. It's a heartbreaking story to read, but I'm glad I read it.

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb
I couldn't put it down, but I really didn't like it - as is often the case with most Oprah Book Club selections. If you like depressing stories about seriously dysfunctional characters, you'll love it. For the record, I haven't eaten a Mallomar cookie since reading this. Just sayin' . . .

A Mile in My Flip Flops by Melody Carlson
Two of my best reading buddies hated this book, but I enjoyed it! Thirty year old Gretchen Hanover, recently jilted by her fiance, turns to house-flipping for the summer. Hey, I'm a sucker for those makeover shows. What would you expect?

by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
This is a life-changing read and a true story. Its subtitle best describes the premise: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together. Sounds bizarre but I adored this book. Treat yourself and read it. Did I mention it's life-changing?

Under the Cajun Moon by Mindy Starns Clark
LOVED this novel about the daughter of a famous New Orleans chef who gets framed for murder. With the help of a handsome childhood beau, she must clear her name . . . a process that takes her deep into Louisiana's rich history. Grab some cafe au lait & beignets, and take a trip down south!

Heading Home by my friend, John Robinson
As I wrote on my official review, "Heading Home was extremely hard to put down! John Robinson has crafted a compelling story that kept me flipping pages long into the night. I'm a sucker for stories about Viet Nam vets because I still feel we owe them such a huge debt of gratitude . . . but this tale far exceeded my expectations . . . I have to say, the last four chapters were the most riveting final chapters of any book I've ever read!" Don't miss this one!

Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman
There was no way I could NOT read this book, written by the wife of singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. Mary Beth tells the heart-wrenching story of the accidental death of their five-year-old daughter Marie. How this family overcame such a devastating tragedy is a tribute to their rock-solid faith in a God who's always there - even in the face of such unspeakable loss.

by my friend, Alice K. Arenz
WOW. Alice has spun an incredible story of mystery and intrigue that kept me up reading several nights! Rookie journalist Cassandra Chase is assigned to cover a murder case; the victim, a woman who looks exactly like her. I love when a plot catches me off guard, and this one certainly did. Don't miss this roller coaster ride!  

June Bug by Chris Fabry
“I believed everything my daddy told me until I walked into Walmart and saw my picture on a poster." Talk about a great hook! From the promo material: For as long as she can remember, June Bug and her father have traveled the back roads of the country in their beat-up RV, spending many nights parked at Walmart. One day, as she walks past the greeter at the front of the store, her eyes are drawn to the pictures of missing children, where she is shocked to see herself. I laughed, I cried, but mostly I just adored this book, told primarily in nine-year-old June Bug's whimsical voice. A modern day re-telling of Les Miserables, this is one of my favorite reads this year. Put it on your Christmas wish list!

Out of time, so here's a list of the other books I've recently read:
Eclipse (Book #3 of the Twilight Saga) by Stephanie Meyer (I know, I know . . .)
Draw Near by Sherry Blankenship - a mother's touching memoir written by my sister's dear friend
The Loop by Nicolas Evans (Odd book. Who knew you could write from a wolf's point of view?)
Until the Last Dog Dies by John Robinson (1st of his Joe Box series - can't wait to read the rest!)
Kiss Me, I'm Irish - by Bella Street (pre-pub reading - loved it!)

And the book I'm currently reading: Decision Points by George W. Bush.

Happy reading, my friends, and may you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book Signings: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

After a recent road trip, I promised to post on the subject of book signings. Obviously I’m new to all this, and I have to say it’s been quite a learning experience. Mostly I’ve learned what doesn’t work. I’d heard horror stories from other authors, so I wasn’t totally surprised. Still, some of my first “adventures” were just plain weird.

Like the manager of a conference center bookstore who wasn’t the least bit interested in helping making the event successful. No signage. No advertising. When I offered to supply her with bookmarks to give out in the store that weekend, she said no thanks. She set up our table in the most off-the-path location on campus. The signing was scheduled during the dinner hour when everyone was racing to get in those long cafeteria lines. The result? *Cue the chirping crickets.* I think I signed six books. (The nice lady in the photo didn't even buy one!) One of the other authors left half-way through. I didn’t blame him. *Yawn*

Then there was the last-minute event at a major bookseller here in Nashville. I'm biting my tongue here, so I won’t point fingers, but clearly there was a communication problem because the date was (supposedly) scheduled months in advance. Less than 48 hours before the signing, there was nothing about our event on their webpage, no signage in the store. A phone call sent them all scrambling. A table was set up - in the back of the store. A sign was hastily printed – with two of the authors' names misspelled (including mine). They even had the name of our publishing house wrong. The result? *Cue the chirping crickets again.* I signed one book. But let’s be honest. If no one knew we were coming . . . ? So we passed out a few bookmarks to the handful of midweek mall shoppers and called it a night. *Yawn*

And then there was the recent book festival. The roar of the crickets chirping that weekend was deafening. Didn't see too many people buying books. I didn’t sign a single copy. I'm sure it's just the economy . . . yeah. That's probably it.

But enough about the bad ones.

Let me tell you about Martha Brangenberg, bookstore manager extraordinaire of Charis Christian Bookstore in Largo, Florida (that's Martha in the photo between Teresa & me). The bookstore is a ministry of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. My good friend Teresa Nardozzi started that bookstore 25 years ago and today, it is a thriving, beautiful store there on the church campus. Weeks before my visit to Florida, Martha contacted the distributor to make sure she had plenty of copies of my book. She put a blurb in the church paper. She gave the media folks an ad to post on the TV screens throughout the church buildings. She made sure there was a notice about my book signing in the church bulletins for all four church services that weekend.

Martha set up an end display in the heart of the bookstore and a table for my signing where we’d get the most traffic. And did we ever! It was such a blast to see so many old friends of mine, make so many new friends, and sign soooooo many books! (I think we sold around 85! Not too shabby for a first-time author!) 

On Monday, Martha had set up a beautiful table for me to sign more books after I spoke to the monthly MOPS gathering. I was blown away by the response and interest of that enormous group of women! Then on Tuesday, Martha made sure we had plenty of copies of my book at both the morning and evening Ladies Bible Study gatherings where I spoke.

What have I learned through these book signing events?

1. There are those who have a passion for what they do, and then there are those who do only enough to get by - if they feel like it.

2. There are those who are genuinely happy to host book signings, and there are those for whom it’s nothing but a big bother.

3. There are those who love to connect readers with authors, and yes, Virginia, sadly there are people who work in bookstores who don’t even like to read.

4. There sure are lots of crickets chirping out there . . .

Bottom line, THANK YOU, Martha Brangenberg! Your passion for what you do shines through your Christ-like attitude, your hard work, your efforts, your sweet smile, and your many kindnesses. The booksellers of our world could learn volumes through you! (Pun definitely intended!) I cannot thank you enough for restoring my faith in this whole process and exemplifying the way it’s supposed to be done. I'll never forget it. You've set the bar high, Martha! May God bless the socks off you!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blogger M.I.A.

Not that you'd missed me or anything . . . but I've been on the road! And you should be warned: I passed the State of Exhaustion about three weeks ago and haven't recovered yet. So if I sound a wee bit incoherent, chalk it up to utter fatigue. This may be a long one, so feel free to grab a cup of coffee and catch up with me!

I've learned a lot about myself these last few weeks. For starters, I've always thought I loved to travel. I've been to some wonderful places over the years - Israel, Rome, the Bahamas, Alaska, Canada, San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C. - and I have a long list of many more destinations I'd like to venture to. But right now I'm wondering about all that. Turns out I'm apparently a home-body! And being gone for long stretches of time absolutely wears me out.

Beginning the first week of September, I took a road trip with my sister to Ridgecrest, a Southern Baptist retreat center in North Carolina. She helped lead the annual Labor Day Singles Event. No, she's not single - in fact her 30th wedding anniversary fell on the day we were heading back to Nashville! But one of the many hats she wears as a retiree from LifeWay Church Resources is  leading this event for singles. I helped Morlee behind the scenes and in the process got to meet so many wonderful singles. They had a blast! They did the coolest poster testimony I've ever seen (see photo above) and even had a square dance one night and a line dance the next. These folks know how to have FUN. I also did a book-signing while I was there through the LifeWay Bookstore on campus. I'll save my comments about that for another blog. (*Bites tongue*)

A couple weeks after we returned, Morlee & I joined our father for a trip to Norfolk, Virginia, for his annual 390th Bomb Group Reunion. This was my second time to meet with these wonderful veterans and their families (I missed last year's gathering here in Nashville after contracting a nasty case of swine flu). This year's event only rounded up 35 vets, where only a few years ago there were well over 100. But for all who attended it was a terrific weekend, and Morlee & I always love sharing these reunions with Dad (he's the handsome one in the dark jacket on the back row just below the light).

When the reunion ended on Sunday, we hopped in our rental van and drove three hours north to Washington, D.C. with a stop in Historic Williamsburg for lunch at the King's Arm Tavern. Back in 1983 our extended family spent the Christmas holidays in this wonderful village, and it was such a treat to spend a few hours there again. Peanut butter soup. Yum!
The next day in Washington, we spent one whole day touring the fabulous
"Newseum." If you haven't seen it, go! Then, my daughter's mother-in-law (and my dear friend!) Barbara Bouton, who lives in the area, drove us over to the World War II Memorial, which was the focus of our visit. Along with Dad and our precious friend Iris Taggart, the widow of one of Dad's 390th buddies, we were struck by the deep emotion that surrounds that sacred memorial. How tremendous that our country finally saw fit to honor our WWII vets with such a moving tribute! Later Barbara took us to Chadwick's, a delightful restaurant right on the Potomac, for a delicious dinner before we headed back to our hotel to crash! 


The following day we toured the American History Museum, part of the Smithsonian, which was fascinating. Get a load of Julia Child's kitchen (above left)! How fun is that?! But oh to be young again with enough energy to tour ALL the museums in DC! On Wednesday, we caught our flights home to Nashville, arriving late that evening.

 By the time I got home, I was pooped and just wanted to SLEEP. But in less than 48 hours, I was back on another plane heading to Tampa, Florida. My dear friend Teresa Nardozzi had set up a whirlwind book tour of sorts, lining me up for talks and book signings, and two TV show tapings. It was SO good to see so many friends from First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo (that's adorable Judy Gussler with me on Saturday night). And what a thrill to get to sign so many books for them! We had signings before and after four services that weekend. Charis Christian Bookstore, which is housed there in the church, hosted my signings and WOW! What an AMAZING job they did! In fact I'll be posting a separate blog about the beautiful way manager Martha Brangenberg set that all up. (Other bookstores should take lessons from her - believe me!)

On Monday I was the guest speaker for a huge MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers) and loved sharing with those precious women! Then I spoke briefly to two Ladies Bible Studies on Tuesday - one in the morning, another in the evening. I can't tell you how much it refreshed my soul to reconnect with so many friends from way back when, and to see how much they're all growing in their faith! Yea God! In between those Bible studies, Teresa and I taped two shows of "Homekeepers" with Arthelene Rippey which airs on the Christian Television Network (that's Arthelene on the left below).

What an experience! Everything was great right up until Arthelene asked me about a term I'd made up in my book (P.A.D.D.) - and I went completely blank! (Note to self: read your book before being interviewed on air!) Thankfully Teresa came to the rescue (as she so often does!) Those shows will air this coming week - the first one on Tuesday, October 12th, and the second one on Friday, October 15th, both at 1:00 p.m. EST (noon CST). Check here to watch online at the specified times.

Wednesday arrived and suddenly it was time to say goodbye to Teresa and my hostess-with-the-mostest, Carol McFarland - both of whom happen to be two of our four YaYa Sistahs (we missed you, Deb!) I arrived home in Nashville that afternoon and less than 48 hours (sound familiar?) I was heading to downtown Nashville for the annual Southern Festival of Books. My publisher, Sheaf House, hosted a booth and several of our authors were on hand to hand out bookmarks, talk up our books, and BROIL in the heat!

As you can see, it's not been so much "Missing in Action" as just on the road! If you've read this far, I'm humbled! Apologies for such a long post but I wanted to catch up as well as make up for so many weeks away. Thanks for following me along my journeys . . . more to come! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap!

P.S. By the way, look up your local listing for Lifetime Television's The Balancing Act (I believe it airs 7 a.m. EST, 6 a.m. CST). This Thursday, October 14th, my good friends Dick & Debbie Church will be guests on the program to discuss the book I co-authored with them, Don't Ever Look Down: Surviving Cancer Together. Can't wait to see them!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Life is Messy

I wish someone had told me that when I was young. "Diane, life can get messy sometimes. People can be weird. Situations can get ugly. Learn to deal with it." Chances are, if someone had tried, I would have scrunched up my face, gave them a confused "huh?" and gone on my merry way. When you're eight or ten or twelve, who cares about that stuff! Unfortunately, it's one of those life lessons you have to learn as you go.

Fast forward to mid-life and around every corner there seems to be a mess. Big ones. Little ones. Ones you can avoid fairly easy. Those you can't no matter how hard you try.

Lately, I seem to step into these messes every time I turn around, and the insuing stench of what I've stepped in as it hits the fan lingers for days and weeks and months. I feel like I'm trying to give birth to an ulcer and my headaches are constant. Why is that? And why can't I seem to just blow them off like I used to? Perhaps it's maturity finally seeping into my bones. Then again, maybe it's the opposite. Maybe I'm to the point in my life when, like that great line from the movie Network, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" I'm tired of slithering away from conflict simply because I despise confrontation!

Don't get me wrong. I truly, truly despise conflict and confrontation. It's not in my nature to enjoy the fight and constant contention. Not at all. But I'm smart enough to know it's unavoidable unless you live in a secluded cabin in the Rockies somewhere, cut off from all civilization. Which, for the record, appeals to me more and more every day now.

With even the best of friends comes conflict. It's inevitable. But it's what to do about it that gets totally weird sometimes. "Can't we just agree to disagree?" Yeah, that's the ticket! Sometimes I feel like branding those six words on my forehead. Because even amongst those dearest of friends or family, we won't always agree on every subject in the universe. And isn't that okay?

Yet as I get older and perhaps crankier with each passing year, I'm just tired of having to cave on certain subjects. If someone's trying to manipulate me or take advantage of me, I'm not as willing to just lie down and take it anymore. I am SO over letting people walk all over me for the sake of keeping the peace. According to personality surveys I've taken over the years, I'm a sanguine. That means I want us all to get along! But my sanguinity (yes, I made that up) is worn out and weary after years of abuse.

Unfortunately, I don't have much experience in handling these situations, so I either (a) get tongue-tied and flustered, totally incapable of expressing myself; or (b) explode in a rash of unkind, often sarcastic barbs that I later regret and must apologize for.

What about that whole "turn the other cheek" concept taught to us in scripture? I did some research on that very subject and learned that the reference has more to do with accepting an insult (offering your other cheek for a backhanded slap) than merely taking abuse. The verse in Matthew 5:39 reads, "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Picture that. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, the only way he/she can slap you on the other cheek would be to backhand you, which represents an insult. Its intention is to humiliate, shame or belittle. And Jesus wanted to teach us that our dignity comes not from others but from Him. Hitting back only lowers you to the offender's level.

But that doesn't mean you can't stand up for what you know is right. In my case, I'm realizing I need to learn how to do that better without letting my emotions carry me away. State my case, stand firm, but not go on the attack because I've been taken advantage of or challenged. When someone tries to manipulate me, I need to keep my cool, let them know I will not cave to their manipulations, and move on. It's not always easy, but I'm learning.

What about you? How do you handle life's messes? How do you handle those who willingly create conflict and confrontation in your life?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Amusing Ourselves to Death

There's actually a book by that name, though I admit I've never read it. But the title has stuck with me for years, and from time to time, I find myself lamenting those very words. We are indeed a culture that seems bent on amusing ourselves to death. As technology unveils more and more devices for our entertainment, it seems our appetite for them - and for untold hours of distraction their new and improved capabilities enable us - seems insatiable.

And to think that book came out long before reality TV or iPads.

Don't get me wrong. I love that technology is making the world around us as accessible as the touch of a screen. I love that my friend's son Scott, who's stationed with the Army in Qatar, can Skype 24/7 with his new bride back home in Texas. I love that my daughter could tap into GPS on her iPhone when we got lost on a recent road trip and immediately get us back on the right road. I love the concept of reading any book on the planet by simply downloading it into a Kindle or some other such device. (Though I'm personally a hopeless die-hard for having book-in-hand when I curl up to read at night.) I also love that we can watch new movies OnDemand on our home television or computer screen with the press of a button. Who needs a trip to the video store? And I do love the idea of keeping in touch better with friends and family via Facebook and Twitter. How fun to reconnect with folks I haven't seen since we were kids!

But I also miss my life. You know - the one when I had time to call my own.

The one when I wasn't constantly hearing the familiar tone on my cell phone letting me know I'd received a text message. (Something urgent? Usually not.) Or the one without hundreds of emails bombarding my inbox. (And that's a totally spam-free account!) Sometimes I could swear I hear them screaming "READ ME! READ ME!"

When did this happen? Or perhaps the better question is, when did I LET this happen?

And let's be honest. We justify the umblical chord of these gadgets because we "need" to stay in touch. We "need" to know what's going on. Riiiiiight. But the truth is, they're often just glorified electronic games. Do I really need to "retweet" the fact that Susie just found a killer bargain on kumquats at Whole Foods? Will life go on as we know it if I don't read all 125 of my friends' blogs the minute they're posted? Or am I subconciously just "playing the game" of Who's Where, Who's Life is More Interesting & Important, or Who's Got the Most Friends?

I contend it's probably all just masquerading as electronic entertainment. Right up there with the endless garbage that's parading across our flat-
screen, HD TVs day in and day out. Seriously, people, how many bachelor and bachelorette shows do you need to watch before you realize NONE of them stay together? How many talent shows do we really need, especially after a blockbuster season of American Idol when no one can even remember who won last year? And are we really so desperate we turn to shows like WipeOut, which pits contestants against each other in ridiculous obstacles courses (mud tanks anyone?) I mean, do we miss junior high that much? And to think, back in the olden days, we gasped when contestants on Fear Factor were made to eat life cockroaches! Oh, how far we've come.

It does make you wonder. Are we really that bored? Is real life so horrible that we opt to waste hundreds of hours plopped in front of this kind of mindless programming? Then again, what do I know? Once upon a time those living in the Roman empire used to flock to the Coliseum by the thousands to watch lions rip apart Christians. All under the guise of "entertainment."

Might I suggest we learn from their mistakes? As I recall the aforementioned Roman empire fell mightily, never to recover.

Just sayin . . .

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!

It's awfully late, but I can't let the day slip away without wishing my dad a happy 87th! That's him (right) a couple years ago with our Darby when she was just a puppy. Dad's never been much of a dog lover, but she's got him wrapped around her little paw!

I'm mighty proud of my father. He's lived a wonderful life since that July 17th in 1923 when his parents, Lee & Betty Hale, first welcomed him into their arms. His two older brothers, Harold & Ralph, were no doubt thrilled to have a new little guy to pick on!

This morning I told him I was wondering what Chicago was like that summer day when he was born. Probably pretty hot, as those were days long before air conditioning! That year, his beloved Cubs had more wins than losses (83/71) but it wasn't a great season. Not that little Glenn Hale would have known!

As most of you know, Dad served in WWII as a B-17 co-pilot in the Eighth Air Force. Those years made a tremendous impression on him, and to this day he can tell you where he was on any given day back in 1944-45. He was so proud to be able to serve his country. And if you want to see him get riled up, just mention how our freedoms are being eroded by the nitwits in Washington . . . but let's not go THERE on his birthday!

Dad graduated from the University of Iowa, compliments of the GI Bill, and that's where he met a co-ed from Texas named Anita Hale on a blind date. Yep. Same last name, but no relation. They were married for more than 58 years before Dad lost the love of his life to cancer in 2007. Oh my, what a legacy of love they gave us!

Dad moved to Nashville after Mom died to be closer to us and to my sister and her family. He has a home in Harpeth Meadows, a beautiful retirement community in Bellevue. That's him the first year he lived there, proud as punch of that gorgeous red tree out front!

Today we celebrated his 87th at Red Lobster. We enjoyed reminiscing with him, hearing stories of his childhood and a few favorite birthday memories, including a family feast in his honor when he first got back from the war in '45. I sat across the table and looked at this man who could easily pass for someone much, much younger, and marvel at his good health. He's got a way more active social life than I do! And loves every minute of it.

God has been so good to Glenn Hale. And oh, what a blessing he is to all of us.

Happy Birthday, Daddy! We love you!