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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Twenty-five years ago today, at 1:26 in the afternoon, Hannah Elizabeth Moody was born in Naples, Florida. She weighed in at 9 pounds, 5 ounces, and measured 22 inches long! The first time I held her, I threw up on her (compliments of the anesthesia from my c-section). Thankfully, she doesn't remember that part. But oh, how I remember the awe of holding that little angel in my arms and wondering at the miracle of her.

As with most first-time parents, we marveled at her every expression and giggle and movement. We filled photo albums and logged hours of video, but none ever fully captured the real Hannah, so full of life. That's Hannah (right) on her first birthday after the ceremonial wiping of the birthday cake all over her adorable little face. How cute is she?!

But Hannah was definitely a strong-willed child! When her brother came along, she found meaning in life by bossing him in ways that would have made Donald Trump look like a sissy. The street we lived on when we moved to Largo was filled with all boys (to her brother's delight). And that didn't phase her a bit. She bossed them all equally!

Dr. Dobson taught that strong-willed kids are tough to raise, but they become solid, confident adults. Truer words were never spoken. Hannah blossomed into a smart, beautiful young lady who knew what she liked, knew how to stand up for herself, and knew how to achieve her goals in life.

She graduated from Western Kentucky University in 2007 and was hired by Nashville-based Centre-Source as a graphic arts designer. In September of 2009, she married the love of her life, Ben Schmitt, n a wedding that beautifully represented the personalities of both the bride and groom. At a bar, no less! Or wait, I think they called it a "music venue." Regardless, it was an unforgettable evening and the perfect beginning for two very talented, unique people.

As we speak, the birthday girl is on a cruise to Mexico with her husband and several couples from their small group from church. The trip was a reward of sorts after her first running of the (half) Music City Marathon last Saturday. What I love most about my daughter is her insatiable appetite to live life to the fullest. She is such an inspiration to me on so many different levels. Ken and I couldn't be more proud of her.

On that April afternoon in 1985, we knew we'd been blessed by a precious daughter. We just had no idea what a joy she would be to us!

Happy birthday, sweetheart! We love you!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Anniversary!

On Sunday, Ken and I will celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary! I can't believe it, especially since I'm only *cough* 35 years old . . . (Wait - is it a sin to lie on your blog post?)

Ken and I met in the singles group at the First Baptist Church of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'd grown up in that church, but had been away for several years - off to college, then a couple of years working in Memphis, Tennessee. I'd recently moved back to Tulsa to study court reporting. After getting to know a few people in that line of work, I thought it would be fascinating, not to mention a better salary opportunity. And I had decided that, at 25 years of age, if I was going to be single, I wanted to make some good money!

I'd been active in the singles ministry at my church in Memphis, but I was reluctant to get involved again once I moved back home. But there was this guy . . . tall, thin, loaded with enthusiasm and a sense of humor that kept me laughing . . . who kept trying to get me involved in a Christian-version of Saturday Night Live the singles were putting together. Oh, that has catastrophe written all over it, I thought smugly. Then I went to a rehearsal and was blown away by how much fun everyone was having. I got involved and well, the rest is history.

Now Ken will tell you I invited HIM out on our first date. I disagree, but I let him have his fun, sharing that little anecdote to his heart's content. We started seeing each other every day, completely inseparable. I remember one night in particular - the night before Easter of that year. After going out, we'd come back to my parents' home where I was living and watched Barabbas, one of those awful old biblical flicks. But we didn't see much of the movie. Turns out my new boyfriend was a great kisser!

That December, our singles group was asked to perform a hilarious version of The 12 Days of Christmas as the opening act of the church's annual production of the Living Christmas Tree. Ken played the part of the partridge in the pear tree, complete with a brown rooster suit and yellow tights. (That's him above in all his partridge glory. He is SO going to kill me!) I was one of the turtle doves. One night, before the performance, the partidge in the pear tree proposed to the turtle dove. They were married four months later on April 25, 1981 (sans feathers).
Ken's sense of humor and love of life may have been what attracted me to him in the first place, but I have to say it was deep love for God and his faithful walk that sealed the deal for me. Here was a man who literally walked the walk at every level of his life. No, he's not perfect, and he'll be the first to tell you that (I'll be the second), but his #1 priority in life is to honor God. Surely God knew I needed that kind of influence when He picked out a husband for me. And 29 years later, I can tell you he STILL inspires me to be a better person and a stronger Christian.

We have been so blessed. I can honestly say I love doing life with Ken Moody. Regardless of the ups and downs over the years, ours is the real deal. My only regret is occasionally taking him for granted, spoiled by a rock-solid marriage to the man I love. And I just keep asking the Lord, how in the world did I get so lucky?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Miss You, Mom

I'll be spending today with Dad and my sister Morlee. It's our annual tradition each April 16th. Three years ago today, we said our final goodbyes to Mom. Anita Ruth Hale had fought a five-month battle against colon cancer, and just before 1:00 that afternoon, she took her final breath and passed into the presence of her Lord and Savior. It's so hard, thinking back on those final days. That's why we choose instead to celebrate her life on this date each year.

Most of you never knew my mother. Those of you who did know what a piece of work she was. She had a heart the size of her beloved Texas, and up until the last couple years of her life, she had more energy and drive and passion for life than most people half her age.

Born in Memphis, Texas, Mom was the only daughter of Bill and Ina Hale. She always felt like she lived in the shadow of her two brothers, Billy B and Jim, but that was not really the case. Those guys loved their "baby sister" and old family photographs show clear evidence of their adoration for her.

Mom graduated from Texas Tech University then continued her education at the University of Iowa where she got her Masters in Speech Pathology. It was on that Iowa campus that she met a handsome young man who'd just returned from serving as a B-17 copilot with the Mighty 8th Air Force in WWII. They were introduced on a blind date as a joke, both having the same last name. Glenn Hale married Anita Hale on October 23, 1948. They were married for 58 years.

For more than 36 of those years, Mom and Dad co-owned Bulk Vendors Supply in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Not many couples can successfully work together, but they made it look easy. While Dad was out running routes, Mom would mind the shop, often using any free time there to work on her writing. Like me, Mom was an aspiring writer. She authored several childrens books and also wrote many feature articles for the Tulsa Tribune. One of my favorite stories about Mom involved a book-signing for one of her childrens books. Below her signature, she added the reference of a verse of Scripture that coincided with the subjet of the book. After many such signings, someone approached her and quietly asked, "Are you aware that verse of scripture is about circumcision?" I can only imagine Mom's eyes popping wide open and her gasp of horror! Apparently she'd written down the wrong verse or chapter number. I still laugh out loud every time I envision her reaction!

Mom & Dad loved to travel. They were avid members of Dad's 390th Bomb Group, faithfully attending reunions with other veterans and their wives over the years. On the 50th anniversary of VE-Day, they joined a group on a trip to Europe for a special commemorative tour. We actually saw them on CBS news one night as they attended a special memorial service at a church in England. For their 50th wedding anniversary, my sister and I took them on an Alaskan cruise. And that picture to the left? That's Mom and me sharing a laugh on the Sea of Galilee while on a tour of the Holy Land.

Back in 1983, before the grandkids came along, we all spent Christmas in Williamsburg. At the airport before their return flight home, Mom made a stop in the ladies room. On her way back through the terminal to rejoin Dad and our aunt, a stranger approached Mom to tell her that her "rear view" was exposed, her skirt accidently tucked into her pantyhose. I'm sure that gasp of horror far exceeded the one at the booksigning! No one enjoyed a good laugh as much as Mom, so she always had a hoot telling these stories over the years.

She was a loving mother, an adoring wife, proud grandmother (that's her with our son Ben when he was just two days old), and a dear friend to so many people. I remember as a child returning home from school each day when she would sit down across the kitchen table wanting to hear even the tiniest of minute details about my day. I had no idea at the time how precious it was to have her undivided attention, but I certainly knew what it meant to be loved.
I could ramble forever, remembering stories about my mother. For now, thank you for letting me share a few of those memories with you on this special day.

Love you, Mom. We miss you so much.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Day at the VA

Now I know why I was so hesitant to commit to a blog. Life keeps getting in the way until days and weeks fly by and I realize I haven't blogged a single syllable. Then again, I promised myself I wouldn't let it hang over me like some killer deadline or mandatory task. My only intention was to write when I had something to say. And now I do!

Since I last wrote, my dad had outpatient surgery on his eyes. He did fabulous - in fact, his surgeon told us he was her best patient that day! For 86, he is a most amazing man and I couldn't be more proud of him. We arrived at the VA early last Wednesday (Dad is all about being early, of course) and we waited. And waited. And waited. They finally took him off to the ambulatory surgery unit around 10:45 and sent my sister and me to, you guessed it, the official waiting area which was located in the main lobby of the hospital. There we sat for the next SIX HOURS. Around 2:00 or so, the receptionist called us over to the desk with the message that one of the surgeons was coming to get our signatures for them to biopsy a suspicious spot on Dad's forehead. We gladly signed and off he went.

And again, we waited. And waited.

With no cellular service available inside the building, my sister went outside to make a phone call. While on the phone, she noticed a patient in his VA PJs who wandered out the front door, a pack of cigarettes peeking out of his pocket. Suddenly, his foot caught on the curb and he went straight down - no hands to break his fall, he landed on his face, surely breaking his nose. Morlee ran inside to alert the receptionist who signaled a CODE BLUE on the PA system. Doctors, nurses, carts, and guerneys flew through the lobby as folks gathered to help the old guy who'd bloodied himself and a significant amount of pavement. They loaded him up and off they went. I'm thinking he should consider giving up those cigarettes . . .

Aside for that little burst of excitement, much of the day we suffered through the agonizing horror of being in the same room with a TV showing non-stop Jerry Springer-type programming. If ever there was a reminder of the depravity of humankind, those shows are surely evidence. I would have killed for a pair of ear plugs and some blinders.

Eventually, the room began to clear out. Around 4:00, the staff went home. Morlee and I eagerly changed channels and watched a little Oprah. Then it occurred to us there was no way for the folks back in the surgical unit to reach us now. The receptionist was long gone, her desk phone turned off, and we knew our cell phones were useless. Around 4:30 we decided to make our way through the deserted hallways and see if we could find our father.

We eventually found Dad getting dressed in his post-op "bay," with one lone nurse at the desk nearby. "I've been trying to call you," she said, as she gathered all the discharge paperwork. Yeah, I'm thinking maybe they should invest in beepers (remember those?) if they aren't ready to go cellular. Just sayin . . .

But overall, I have to give the folks at the VA an A+. They go out of their way to be friendly, to give directions (that place is a maze!), and any help you might need. I've heard horror stories about VAs over the years but aside from Jerry Springer, no cell service or wireless capabilities, and the deserted afternoon lobby, all was well.

Dad looked a little scary with his drooping lids, stitches, and bloody tears, but otherwise he was fine. All day long he'd been looking forward to having pot pie at Cracker Barrel on our way home. We gently discouraged that, thinking the other restaurant patrons might not appreciate those bloody tears, opting instead for carry-out. And wouldn't you know, they were all out of pot pie! But we made do, got him home to rest, and took turns staying with him until he was able to get around better. A mere two days later, wearing a pair of those heavy glaucoma-like sunglasses, he joined his buddies (whom we've affectionately dubbed "the grumpy old men") for their regular Friday lunch date at Cancun.

Here's lookin' at you, Dad! (A little optical humor there. My apologies.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Love of My Life!

My beloved husband is having a birthday on Saturday (April 3rd)! If money were no object, I would jet him to Hawaii for a week or two of golfing in Paradise. Year after year I watch Ken practically drool over the Hawaiian golf courses when the pros play there on TV. In fact, one year I jotted in my prayer journal a desire to make that dream come true for him. And who knows, maybe the upcoming book sales will knock our socks off and send us off to the islands one of these days . . .

The picture above was taken on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach. We were there on our 25th anniversary a few years ago. Didn't get to play, but be assured we drooled sufficiently and vowed to return someday.

In the meantime, I'm just grateful the birthday boy is my hubby. How I got blessed with such an incredibly patient and loving man, I'll never know. I certainly never deserved him. In a few weeks, we'll celebrate our 29th anniversary which is utterly amazing. That alone is testament to his patience!

And I couldn't have asked for a better father for our children. He lives out his faith every single day, giving all of us such a solid role model. He works so hard to provide for us, never complaining - even as the economy hit hard these last couple of  years. For the last ten years, Ken has worked out of our home, heading a Christian internet filtering company called Hedgebuilders. And I can honestly say I LOVE having him home 24/7. Thankfully, it's hard to even remember those days when he served on church staffs and was always away from home. Those were such tough years, especially when the kids were small. But Hannah and Ben survived, they love their Dad, and they couldn't be more proud of him. That goes for me too.

Happy birthday, Ken! I love you!

Wish my honey a happy birthday if you get a chance, okay?