Saturday, April 30, 2011


Last night was the event of the year -- in my humble opinion.  The City Rescue Mission Fashion Show "Metamorphosis".
The women in the shelter have spent weeks working on self esteem and their walk with God and last night what has been happening in their hearts was put on display in a beautiful runway show. 
They were stunning.
Can you imagine the faith and bravery it takes to strut your stuff to an auditorium crammed with women you've never met?
Some of our women don't have teeth.  Some of them have bodies that have been abused. 
But our God is big.

Before (The woman on the left only has three teeth so she is very self conscience)
As much as the donated makeovers meant to these women (who have bravely left the streets for a new life in Jesus) the cheers, claps and wolf whistles from the women in the audience transformed their hearts. 
Those new and transforming sounds will be tucked into their broken hearts and they will know from last night forward
"For I know the plans I have for you , says the Lord,  plans to give you a hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, April 25, 2011

Look What We Got for Easter!

 Mr. and Mrs. Goose stopped by to show off their new babies. 
They like to stay close to momma.

Saturday, Momma wood duck had her brood on the ramp cleaning up for Easter.  Yertle didn't mind the company but he was going nowhere.
 Neighbors stopped by to check out the new kids on the pond.
All in all it was a delicious time.
The Lord has risen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A dear girl in my neighborhood has kept a blog for Lent.

90% of Preperation is Persperation

But it is so  much fun setting up for a celebration of Easter!  Our front yard looks like Mr. E.  Bunny threw up on it but we're ready for our guests.
Some of them have arrived early but I don't worry about rollers in my hair with them.
Glorie Hallelujah Honeycutt can hardly wait for the front door to open so she can go on her own egg hunt.  Ummmmm nothing like a hard boiled egg served up on freshly mowed lawn.
 The table is set.

Favorite old decorations are put out once more.
And we are waiting for our guests to come through the door.
Papa Joe and I sometimes wonder -- where would we be without the good news of Easter?

Friday, April 22, 2011


Oh, I'm having a day when I'm missing my Aunts.  I had the best Aunts. 
I had an Aunt Jack and an Aunt Bill just to name two.  The fact that we never questioned their unusual Aunt-names says a lot about how our family embraces our inner quirkiness. 
My Aunt Bill loved to spruce things up with paint.
There was always a new project or two drying on her back porch.  The fact that her prized possessions rippled with so many coats of hope springs eternal never deterred her from applying just one more fresh coat. 
I wish I had seen this sign and sent it to her before she went to heaven.
She did rule our world.  At her funeral her pastor followed her instructions to single out her son and tell him to get right with God and go to church.  It was by no stretch of the imagination a politically correct sermon. 
There he sat.  We knew who it was and so did he.  Every one's ears turned purple and that pastor -- God love his soul  -- just kept at it per Aunt Bills instructions. 
It was a welcome relief to get back to the church, eat fried chicken and change the subject.
But you know what?  The next Sunday morning found her son darkening the doorway of Pleasant View Baptist church and he's been a regular ever since. 
I wonder if she's looking down and thinking "Now, that is a pleasant view after all."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"You're Gonna Die"

Who can forget that line coming from Olivia Dekacus in the movie "Moonstruck?"
My girlfriend Sandra sent me a copy of the obituary for Jill Conner Browne's mother.  I just had to share it with you  I would love for mine to be half this FUN:

Anybody who knows and loves us–will totally “get” this and love it and know that MAMA would love it. Anybody who either doesn’t know or doesn’t love us will no doubt be scandalized–and you should just TRY to IMAGINE how LITTLE we care!

Here’s Mama’s Obit:

Janice “Jan” Louise Wendt Conner

Janice “Jan” Louise Wendt Conner, wife of the late and much lamented John A. Conner of Ethel, Mississippi, died peacefully at the Lake Caroline home of her favorite daughter Jill Conner Browne on Wednesday, September 30, 2009.

Mrs. Conner grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the daughter of the late Mr. & Mrs. Walter Wendt. As a young woman, her statuesque beauty won her a spot among the models at the John Robert Powers Agency but her mother disapproved of that career and so she became a buyer for the J.L. Hudson stores. During World War II, she and many of her friends worked tirelessly at the USO, where she met the only man she ever really loved, her sailor boy, John Conner.

She became a devoted Southerner by choice when she finally defied the wishes of her mother (who was by all accounts and evidence, the Meanest Woman Who Ever Lived) by marrying and following “that hillbilly” back to Mississippi, where they lived happily until Mr. Conner’s untimely death in 1982, after which Mrs. Conner never gave so much as a thought to another man.

The Conners’ home was a haven for all the children in the surrounding neighborhoods, having a wide-open, fully-stocked kitchen, a refrigerator full of Cokes and the only swimming pool for miles around. (It should be noted that the 20’x 40’, 7 foot deep hole for this pool was personally dug, with picks and shovels, by the two of them. If you’ve ever tried to dig even a small hole in Yazoo clay, the extent of the Conners’ devotion to their children can be extrapolated from that endeavor. It should also be noted that this pool was the pet project of Mrs. Conner and there was no peace for Mr. Conner until it was completed. He might have initially thought that she would be discouraged when she saw firsthand how difficult the digging proved to be—one of the many but more significant times He Was Wrong.)

They were active members of the Alta Woods Presbyterian Church where they, for more than 50 years, provided thousands of cookies as Sunday bribes to the children of the church.

Mrs. Conner’s daughters, the aforementioned Jill and that other one, Judy, were finally sources of pride for Jan as they both became bestselling authors. It did remain a lifelong disappointment to her, however, that neither of them ever chose to pursue the career she would have preferred for them: writing messages for greeting cards.

Both daughters give much credit to their mother for spending countless hours reading to them until they finally started reading for themselves. Mrs. Conner also taught her grandchildren to read and to love it. Blessed be her name for that.

Jan’s only two grandchildren—Trevor Palmer and Bailey Conner Browne—were born 23 years apart; thus, each was able to enjoy the many benefits of being “the only grandchild,” a position both exploited to the fullest and with great felicity to all parties.

Mrs. Conner was well known in her younger years for adopting families in need and browbeating them into prosperity via the many donors she “persuaded” to join the effort and her relentless and most often successful attempts at placing them in gainful employment—often without any particular desire or willingness on their part. She would and often did give “the shirt off her back” to someone; but, if her own didn’t happen to fit the need, she had no qualms about obtaining, by whatever means necessary, the more suitable shirt off someone else’s back. Her daughters dreaded the annual Christmas Flooding of the town of Flowood, knowing that the pantry would be emptied and their own closets would be raided, in support of the victims.

Jan Conner was an advocate of the homeless—be they human or otherwise—long before it became fashionable. She never passed a panhandler without giving him something (along with an admonition to “go eat something”) and she never turned away a hungry creature of any species. She basically, over time, stole the neighbor’s non-descript brown dog, Rascal and was somehow able to elicit from him that, although before moving in with us he had considered himself fortunate to get a dab of dog food now and again, all he truly liked to eat was chicken livers and that furthermore he only liked them fried very brown and crispy. Rascal ate crispy brown chicken livers every day of his 10 years with us. Whenever Jan left town, it was only after giving John strict instructions on How to Cook the Chicken Livers for the Dog, lest he (the dog) suffer in her absence.

To this day, Mrs. Conner’s entire family has an inordinate fondness for Brown Dogs.

Mrs. Conner is widely known as a world traveler as she frequently arranged group trips, which she sometimes guided or at least herded. A most interesting aspect about all of Jan’s travels was her high and constant level of disdain for Other Countries, or at least all of Europe. She did love a cruise, though—any time, anywhere—which accounted for her enjoying 50 or so of them. As much as she disparaged all of Europe, she loved Alaska and anything west of Hawaii. All things Asian were wonderful to her and she made numerous trips to the Far East.

Since 1999, no St. Paddy’s Parade was complete without the lead car carrying “The Queen Mothers of the Sweet Potato Queens®” and while she shared this title with dear friend and fellow Queen Mum, Caroline Hewes of Gulfport, it cannot escape attention that Jan always rode in the front seat.

Jan is survived by the aforementioned favorite daughter, Jill Conner Browne and husband Kyle Jennings, and that other one—Judy Conner Palmer of New Orleans—granddaughter Bailey Conner Browne of Oxford and grandson Trevor Palmer and his wife RuthAnna and their daughter Riley and sons Conner and Mason, of New Orleans.

The family wishes to lovingly thank Barbara Whitehead for her devotion and support to us all and to Marie Fenton of Hospice Ministries for her sensitive care to Jan and to us.

No flowers please, Mrs. Conner was allergic. Because of Jan’s lifelong propensity for taking in strays, be they four-legged or two, she would love for you to make a very generous donation in her name to the only no-kill animal shelter in Rankin County—Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi, founded by Sweet Potato Queen Elizabeth (Pippa) Jackson, located at 1963 Holly Bush Road, Pelahatchie, Mississippi 39145 or

There will be a mercifully brief and joyous Memorial Service on Monday, October 5, 2009, at 5:30 PM, at Wright & Ferguson on Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, followed by Celebration of a Life Beautifully Lived and a Very Fun Reception, until around 7 PM.

(Just so you know—and before you start writing scathing e-mails and/or Facebook post to me—Judy herowneself wrote the part about me being the favorite and her being “that other one.” Judy will be wearing a nametag at the funeral with “That Other One” on it! Don’t you just love her!!!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Practically Perfect in Every Way

Several years ago my Bible study of 350 women needed a substitute lecturer and Elisa was asked if she would pray about stepping into that role.
She said "Yes. Yes."
She asked me for some pointers --  as I was traveling the country as a motivational speaker at that time.
Elisa was a buttoned up girl.  She was a Bond Trader on Wall Street,  had two children who were well behaved and a handsome husband who worshipped her. Practically perfect.
I knew that whatever she presented would be thoroughly researched and accurate but one thing I had learned from my mentor Marcia Riley was that at the onset of any presentation  the speaker should become vulnerable to the audience.  There is always a little resistance to "the expert" at the front of the room.  Who does she(he)  think she is anyway?
Marcia struggles with her weight  so she usually opens with  a funny story about her weight issues. She knows the problem is evident anyway.  They all have a big laugh and the group shifts from being critical of her to being her cheerleaders. 
People connect with our vulnerabilities not strengths.
'Mary Poppins' aka Elisa must have taken my advice to heart.
On her first day she was dressed in a designer suit with not a hair out of place. She opened with the story of her son's birth.  This is a  universal story women love to share.
She had ignored her labor pains because she wasn't sure it was the real thing (no sympathy yet from those of us who bit bullets in two at the first twinge).
When she finally called her husband to come home from the office she was in soap opera pain.  She called the police and told Dave they would meet him at the hospital.
She didn't know much about what to expect from childbirth but she did understand that the baby's head coming out in the backseat of the cruiser was an important thing to share with the officers in front.
They pulled into the emergency lane of one of the busiest streets of  Mainline Philadelphia, flung open the back door (facing traffic) peeled off her pantie hose and oh, my gosh delivered that baby in rush hour traffic.
A hush fell over that sanctuary and every woman in that room saw her in a whole new light.
She assured us she had not been the least bit concerned about vanity she was just happy to have that bundle of joy out of her and safe.
We surmised this is a woman to have over when the house is a mess.  This is a woman to be trusted when my life isn't turning out as planned.
This was a woman that  earned the right to be heard.
And we did listen for years of teachings.  First with our hearts and then with our heads.
It was perfect.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jesus,J-Lo and Me

Fame is a fickle thing.  If you don't believe me ask Jesus or
She has gone from being an overnight star to being the  butt of  Ben-iffer jokes to now being declared the most beautiful woman in the world.  What a ride.
Yesterday we remembered Jesus returning to Jerusalem on the eve of the Passover celebration.  He was a rock star.  The common people who had followed his fame were so excited about his premiere in town that they paved the path He was following with whatever they could get their hands on.  Tree limbs. Their clothes whatever.  By the end of the week many of these same people yelled "Kill him!" when the masses sentiment changed.
On the other side of town Pontius Pilate, a political powerhouse, was entering also to the cheers of his fancy political peeps.
Power and humility.  Fame and shame.
Someone once told me "What others think of you is none of your business.  Your business is to do the right and loving thing."
This week of fame then shame was a litmus test for the teachings of Jesus and I have to bring that home to my house by asking how do I suffer in affliction?
There is much wisdom in this quote by Thomas Case:
“In affliction God reveals the unknown corruptions in the hearts of his people: what pride, impatience, unbelief, idolatry, distrust of God,murmuring, and unthankfulness. Sin lies very close and deep and is not easily discerned until the fire of affliction comes. The furnace discovers the dross. In the furnace we see more corruption than was ever suspected. What self-love is there boiling and fretting within me, what pride, distrust in God, creature-confidence, discontent, murmuring, rising against the holy and righteous dispensations of God! Woe is me, what a heart I have!….
In affliction, he empties us of ourselves to make us fly to Jesus Christ for righteousness and strength. He lets us see what is crooked that we may straighten it; what is weak that we may strengthen it; what is lacking that we may supply it; and what is lame that it may not be turned out of the way.
Affliction also teaches us to pray. They that have never prayed before, will pray in affliction. They will pray more frequently and fervently…In our affliction, God keeps us upon our knees. Christ himself in agony prayed more intensively. So with David. He gathered up all his strength to pray, and like a true son of Jacob, wrestled with God, and would not let him go until he got the blessing.”

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday Meditation

Psalm 113:3
3 From the rising of the sun (view from our office)
to the place where it sets, (View from our front yard)
 the name of the LORD is to be praised.
Psalm 113:3

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Bills Are All Due and the Baby Needs Shoes and

I'm Busted 

I wish I had a three second delay on my mouth like they do on TV in case someone says a cuss word.
When we were first married and I moved to Philadelphia we were invited to join a couples Bible study. I was thrilled. I hoped that this would fill the hole left in my heart for my Bible study I'd left behind. That group had been a rambunctious lot and we had outrageously fun times.
Not so much the conservative, intellectual gathering we'd been invited to join in Philly.
I struggled to keep my mind in the game when the discussions were solemn and the mood drop dead serious.
The husband leader mentioned a fascinating fact and when I asked him where he had found this nugget of information he answered "The Enquirer."
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
"You read the Enquirer? Me too! But only when I'm on an airplane with strangers and out of town. I feel so much better knowing you do too!" I blurted.
A hush fell over the room. Papa Joe turned some shade of purple and the Most High and Holy Man replied, "The Inquirer is the city paper."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Make Way for Ducklings

I'm afraid that Papa Joe has been playing a lot of Barry White songs on our outdoor speakers because love has definitely been in the air while I was out of town.

We have three sets of brand new baby ducks drifting by our window.

The mommas are so attentive and the ducky-daddies strut along the bulkhead looking proud.

When the ducklings are first hatched they stay so close to their mommy in the water you can barley distinguish them. Each day they get braver and further away.

When they reach a certain milestone they take off and virtually run across the water.
Something to see!

This is all BIG news on Lakewood Pond. 
"Can't get enough of your love baby"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Anybody Home?

Once when my  Bible study girlfriends were discussing their spiritual gifts like mercy, administration, service and so on, my friend Mary Jo pronounced her spiritual gift to be "I'm home."
"I'm not an organizer, don't speak in tongues or lead Bible studies -- I'm home.  All of the young mothers have me on their 'first to call list' in case their children have an emergency at school.  People stop by and know my kitchen is open for business.  You don't have to set up a time to see me because I'm usually -- home"
Who's home any more?  Certainly not me.  I'm not even in town often.  
Although I'm grateful to have the flexibility to travel to where I'm needed I must admit I'm a little envious of you women who have the daily pleasure of being  in their home.
While I was in Louisville mother and I had time to dig through some of her old poetry books.  This poem is one of our favorites:

I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.

I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain’s blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.

Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things–old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.
Grace Noll Crowell

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Four Ingredient Wonder

Last night the Rock and Roll Mothers got together for dinner.  I couldn't wait to serve them my new favorite entree.
Chicken Saltimbocca

Pound chicken breasts that have been sliced thinly.  The butcher can do this for you.
Place three or four large, fresh sage leaves on top of chicken.
Cover with a thin slice of

Fry Prosciutto side face down in a cast iron skillet  with half butter half olive oil until the kitchen smells like bacon and Prosciutto is golden brown.

Turn the chicken in the pan and top with a thick slice of Swiss cheese.  Cook until done.  All of this takes about eight minutes in a hot pan.
De glaze the pan with white wine or chicken broth or whatever else you need to get rid of in the refrigerator.
Make sure you take advantage of being the head chef by being "Miss Bossy Pants" as Tina Faye would say to the hungry hoards.

They will sing your praises and kiss your ring.  Guaranteed.

Modest hearing loss on the part of the Rock and Roll Mothers has led to many a hilarious and random conversation at these gatherings.  Look for a video on YouTube soon.
"Say what?"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The REAL Tea Party

Not the one that is shutting down the government.
Yesterday I met my friend Diane at Sister's Tea Room for tea with our grand children. 
 After a week of being "Nurse Rachett" to my mother this was a fun reprieve.
 Tea sandwiches, scones, and little desserts were a hit.
 But it was the huge selection of hats, jewels and shaws that really lifted our spirits.  What -- you don't have a hat with a pidgen on it?
 Aunt Minnie.
 Even Cole Thomas couldn't pass up a chance to strut his stuff.
 Corrie filled her tea pot with pink lemonade.
 Avery posed in the queen chair.
Silly Hats R Us.

I'm happy to report that my mother is showing great improvement with each day.  We love her new caregiver and feel so happy to be in a solid routine.
Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.