Friday, May 25, 2012


I sat next to her in the crowded doctor's office. Soon I wished I hadn't.

"Good morning, " I innocently nodded her direction.

"Well, it WAS til I got here. I had a 10 o'clock appointment and here I sit an hour later. It IS a waiting room for sure! I got this bug from my daughter who brought it home from school. Parents today don't care about their kids or anyone else for that matter. They just send them out with fever or whatever and spread the germs around."

I picked up a magazine, trying to be invisible. Didn't work.

She glanced up at the TV news and spouted, "I get so sick of politics, politics, politics. Bigwigs in Washington are all corrupt. They don't know nothing."

Bet they know about double negatives, I thought, turning the pages more quickly.

"It's who has the most money that gets elected anyway. The whole country's going to pot, if you ask me."

I didn't.

Yet her whiny drone continued covering topics from weather, traffic, cell phones to causes of cancer. She had the news on everything, and it was all bad. A human double negative herself.

That's the tale of one sittie I landed beside.

Another day I sat down beside a business man awaiting our call to jury duty.

"Good morning," I nodded innocently. Slow learner. I reached into my purse for my Reader's Digest.

"Yes, it is!" he chirped.

"You sound happy. Most folks don't like jury duty."

"It's not that I like it but, ya know, our system of justice works better than in most countries. It's not perfect. But it's an honor to serve. I used to be military and saw quite a bit."

"I grew up military too. Lived in Cuba awhile."

"Then you know what I mean!" he sparked. "We're so blessed just to live here and don't even realize it. Fresh water everywhere, freedom to move about, even an education and the ability to read. The poorest in America would seem rich in some third world countries."

I smiled, nodded, forgetting my magazine, still closed in my lap.

"I grew up dirt poor," he continued, "but my parents gave me everything I needed for life. . .love and a good work ethic. Because of that I grew up with far more than they ever dreamed of having in education, jobs, everything. Opportunity! It's everywhere! Just gotta seize it."


He was my sittie #2. I was glad I chose that seat.

How do people sitting near you feel? Are you a complainer, griper, whiner? Or do you see the good, the blessings around you? Both are habits and you choose.

"Out of the same mouth come both blessing and cursing."

Scroll back over your recent facebook posts and see what they reveal. Mentally replay your usual conversations with your spouse or kids. Hear yourself, tone of voice included. If you have developed a critical spirit, there is a cure. This excerpt from Proverbs 31 ministry may jump start you:
~     ~     ~
Try to identify the root cause of the critical spirit. It’s in there. What benefit do you get by being critical? Do you feel ever-so-slightly better about yourself because you’ve identified a flaw in others? Do you think some people deserve to be put in their places? Are you resentful that others have what you don’t? Do you hope people will be motivated to change based on your critical observations? Sadly, most of those “benefits” aren’t healthy or true – only harmful to everyone.

Once you’ve identified the root, start to work on that. Most of us need God’s help to deal with these tough issues. If the root cause is insecurity, we need God’s truth to remind us of our value. If the root is judgement and pride, we need God’s forgiveness and humility. If it’s resentment we need to be content.

The best of times? The worst of times? You have the choice!  Next time you sit down with someone, lift them up with your words!


Friday, May 18, 2012


Our feet dangled in the water right in the middle of this picture when Doug said, "Let me see my high school ring for a minute, Kathy." I slipped it off and handed it to him.

Back in the '60's it was called going steady. Girls wrapped yarn around their guy's ring to make it small enough to wear. He reached for my hand as if to return his ring to me but when I looked down, he had replaced it with a diamond ring.

"Will you marry me?"

The rest is history. I want our children and grandchildren to have a detailed record of our lives and this blog is part of that.

The replica of the Parthenon is a landmark in Nashville, Tennessee where we attended college. Centennial Park is a nod to Nashville being the Athens of the south. We often went there on dates. So it was a perfect place to say, "Yes!"

Doug traded out rings in his pocket that night and I traded out the single life for a family of my own. I swapped my childhood doll babies for our three precious children. Later that engagement evening we realized Doug's high school ring was lost during the exchange. It probably fell out of his pocket by the lake. It may even be there in the bottom of the water today.

About 30 years later we renewed our vows and he upgraded my diamond. Today is our 43rd anniversary. 

"To have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. . ."  

I do.

Happy anniversary, Doug.  They're playing our song!

Friday, May 11, 2012


(Happy Mother's Day!  As you enjoy a meal around the table, honoring your moms, I'm taking this occasion to tell the truth about myself. . .as a mother, concerning food and cooking.  True confession time.)

Mothers and young children have strange conversations, like when our first born was about four years old.

"Mama, can I have a cookie?"

"No, Kimberly. It's too close to supper."

"Mama, ple-eeease ma-aay I have just one cookie?" She thought adding two words, please and may, might yield results.

"No, Kimberly Ruth! It'll spoil your supper."

"But I'm hungry now."

"Kimberly Ruth Henderson, I said no cookie! You'll have supper soon. And stop asking!"

"I wish I could have a cookie."

My head spun her way and my eyes threatened her, when she decided to clarify her statement, "I didn't ASK, I was just wishing!"

"Well, young lady, you better not ask or even wish for a cookie! End of discussion."

And it was. For about 15 seconds. She muttered the inevitable last word, "I wish I could wish."
My mama was a good country cook and baker. I did not inherit that gene. A few months before my wedding, we both realized that fact. So she gave me two things:
  • a crash course in cooking
  • a little book of her recipes
I still have that tattered book and treasure her hand-writing on the pages. I laugh now at how detailed it is. Beyond boiling water, I needed full instructions!
A recipe for CANNED HAM!  Seriously?
That's just sad.

At this empty-nest stage of life, I rarely find myself in the kitchen. Even our supperclub ladies know their way around mine as well as I do. A friend posted on her facebook page:
I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.

I totally get that. But my daughters and daughter-in-law absolutely LOVE cooking. I totally DON'T get that.

Kent reminds me sometimes, "Mom, you gotta realize Mary loves being in the kitchen just like you love playing piano." Passions vary vastly.

Katy observed my kitchen-shunning and was puzzled at first when I informed her, "Honey, I hate to cook!"

"But, Mama, you used to LOVE cooking. You always made us good meals, even desserts!"

"That doesn't mean I enjoyed it!"

I do find it strange that God gave me a passion for eating but not cooking. Maybe that's His diet plan for me. The combo genes would make me super-sized in my jeans!

Doug and I sit down monthly to coordinate our calendars.

"Kathy, on Monday I have a meeting and we're eating at Jack's."

"Good. I don't need to cook."

"Tuesday night B-Men are having a low country boil supper."

"Great!" I'm so happy. For him.

We both have Wednesdays penciled in for church supper. Spaghetti this week.

"Doug, remember Thursday night we're eating out with friends then going to Florence Little Theater."

Suddenly I realized I cook on Sunday then not again until the next weekend. Doug smiles, knowingly, "Honey, it's gonna be a great week for you. No cooking for four days straight!" He gets me.
Doug tells people, "She thinks the oven is just another cabinet that happens to be metal."

That was funny until recently. For over a week I couldn't find 2 pot lids and a baking sheet. I searched and so did Doug. He offered, "Maybe you took them to some event and left them."

"But, Doug, I would't take a baking sheet, nor bring home pots without lids." We were both at a loss.

Until one evening I opened my oven door to roast some vegetables. Doug came running when I squealed, "I found 'em! I FOUND 'em!" I'd placed them in there to dry. They were pretty dry after a week and a half. My own version of the lost coin, sheep and prodigal son. . .rejoice with me!
I have quite a deal with my friend, Cathy Steinert. She runs our church sound room and takes piano lessons from me on Mondays. A few years ago we worked out a bartering system. Home-cooked meals are swapped for lessons. After teaching, I'm hungry but want to stay home. Works beautifully for us both. I take my cooler to church Sundays and find it filled by the final "Amen!" It might be a chicken pot pie or baked spaghetti, maybe a roast or chicken and dumplings. It's like opening a Christmas gift every week! Then Doug and I eat off it for two or three days.
Recently my trip to New York City included rooming with my friend, Ivy Spera, in her apartment. I wondered how we'd get along. When she opened her 'fridge to show me where to find creamer for my coffee, I smiled and said, "I feel right at home." It sparkled and held only 3 things: coffee, creamer and an open box of baking soda!
We ate out a lot. Soul sisters.  NYC has the best in pizza and cheesecake!

Ciao! Chow?

Friday, May 4, 2012


Reader's Digest runs a series of articles with an inside look at various professions. This is my own article and version of the same list from my occupational viewpoint.

1. Musical talent matters far less than you think. When you bring your kid to sign up and begin by bragging about good he is on Heart and Soul, we are not impressed. Actually we become skeptical. Most parents are not good judges of musical talent. Your biased opinion often indicates a lack of commitment to learning and a desire for instant results. It's 10% talent and 90% work.

"Everyone wants to play piano.
But not everyone wants to LEARN to play piano."

2. The teacher's musical talent also matters far less than you think. How we relate to your child and teach music outweighs actual performance skills. I've seen great pianists ruin a child's zeal to learn, for lack of teaching skills. Conversely, a fair pianist might be an excellent teacher because of her honed abilities to instruct and inspire students.

3. We can spot a future success story for your child by simply observing YOU as a parent. A structured, disciplined home provides one of the most crucial factors in learning music. Moms and dads who schedule, organize and see that their children follow through on responsibilities are the wind beneath their wings. We teach. You oversee practice.  Lost or forgotten books, late arrivals for lesson or poor practice habits are reflections of home.  The child is a product of that.

4. Buying an expensive piano or the latest in keyboard technology will not make your child a better pianist. I usually suggest beginning with a used or inexpensive instrument until skills and commitment grow. Then an upgrade will be appreciated and cared for. Too many grand pianos morph into mere furniture! A man I know who plays beautifully could not afford a piano as a child. So he taped butcher paper to a coffee table, drew the keys in black marker and practiced silently on his imaginary keyboard. Once a week he actually heard himself play on a real piano at church before lesson time.

5. Trophies, awards, competition and recitals are not the goal. It's art, not sports. Some people don't do well in competition but are still excellent musicians. Why add unnecessary pressure? It focuses more on pride (sometimes of the parents) than

6. The benefits of playing the piano stretch and improve your child way beyond music itself. The discipline of daily practice builds character and responsibility. The thought processes in learning piano also improve critical thinking and spacial skills used in math and science. Students who stick with piano lessons develop tenacity and good work ethics. Other instruments are easier after learning piano.

7. Playing piano will bring enjoyment for a lifetime. Unlike cheerleading, dance and sports, one's musical skills only improve right into old age. The investment reaps lifelong dividends.  It's a therapeutic gift to yourself when you can work out emotions on the keyboard. Cheaper than a therapist too!

8. No matter how great your efforts to keep them taking piano lessons, if they quit, they will one day blame YOU! Most adults later say, "I wish my mom had not
let me quit!" They may even grow up to thank you if you keep them at it, but I never heard an adult say, "I'm glad my
mom caved and let me quit after the first year."

9. Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice does. Since there are no perfect musicians, we strive for excellence instead. Perfectionists are bound to fail. I tell my students if they make a mistake in performance, to F.I.D.O. (Forget It & Drive On!) They learn P.U.P. (Poise Under Pressure) Practice, however, is the key to learning to play piano well. That means what happens daily at home far outweighs what happens weekly at lesson!

10. We love what we're doing but love your kids even more.  Well, actually I sometimes DO tell my students and parents that. But the teen boys aren't big on the mushy stuff so I use it as a threat.
 "Jaye, you better tell me goodbye or I'll kiss you!" He only tried that once.
Now I get a big smile and, "GOODBYE, Mrs. Henderson!" before he walks out the door.

We do all we can!