About Me

My photo
Southern born, Southern reared. It's a quirky place and we are unique folk... These are my people and these are my stories.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern

I've been thinking about my daddy a lot lately. His 81st birthday, had God not called him home in 2006, would have been the past August 13th.

Daddy was in the USAF. Recently my husband found this video online and shared it with me. My heart soars with pride ... 1) at being an American (no matter how messed up we are at times), and 2) being the daughter of an American Air Force vet. When we laid Daddy to rest, his casket covered with the American flag, and when that flag was folded and placed in my brother's hands ("On behalf of the President of the United States.") ... well, that was one of the proudest moments of my life.

And one of the saddest.

To all those who have fought and fought well (no matter the branch of service), I thank you.

To my daddy, I love and miss you.

To all: do yourself a favor, take a few minutes, and watch this. Tell me what you think!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday's Southern-Style Faith (Our Story Continues)

The meeting with Detective D was set for Wednesday afternoon at 2. I called my husband, told him, and he arranged to be off from work that day. Feeling that this was just a gathering of information on J's earlier life, her time in the system, and what we'd seen transpire over the last month, I returned from Denver and put the data I'd collected over the years on one of the desks in my office.

I spent Wednesday morning doing what I always do. I worked. When 2:00 was nearly upon us, a wave of nausea swept over me. It made no sense. I had absolutely no dread of the meeting, but now, suddenly, as if the Spirit was alerting me in the way He always has ... I felt sick to my stomach.

I tried to do something "normal." I told my husband I was going to let the dogs out so they'd not have that need once the detective arrived. Outside, the nausea continued. Swelled, even. Inside, I fed the dogs and was just returning their food to the pantry when my husband said, "How many detectives did you say were coming?"


"Well," he said looking out the front window, "there are three cars and four people standing in our front yard."

My heart beat a little faster. "What are they doing?" I asked, unable to move.

"Just talking."

A moment later, the doorbell rang.

Dennis and I went to the door together, opened it, smiled. Our dogs stood at our feet, tails wagging. "Come in, come in," we said, graciously.

Three women, one man. Dennis shook his hand. "I believe I met you at the hospital," he said. Then he looked at me, gave me the "I told you so" look.

Detective D, who was clearly in charge, suggested we sit at the dining room table. They had notebooks and files; it would be easier for them. So, we did. I offered them something to drink. They declined.

I honestly cannot remember how the conversation started. Perhaps they asked us what had occurred on that awful night (as we then knew) when J  had planned to kill us. What had caused us to send her to the friend's farmhouse for a month. What had happened (the cutting) to lead us to being forced to Baker Act her again. I don't know. Because what happened next, I do remember. And I remember it well.

There was a moment of perplexity between the detectives by something I said. I was clearly innocent of any wrong-doing and so I presented as such. I knew about the allegations of cameras in the bedroom and bathroom. And I was honest about the odd things we had found around the house, things that psychologists and therapists had explained to us were signs of early sexual abuse. I spoke as though I were giving them the information they had come for. They'd asked us simple questions (Question: How do you discipline? Answer: take away privileges. Question: Does she have a bedroom door? Answer: Of course she has a bedroom door! Reply: You understand that as the parents in the home, you have a right to remove her door. Answer: But we haven't. We don't allow locked doors for long periods of time, but we allow closed doors. And, we knock and ask permission to enter, even for our children.) Simple questions. Simple answers.

But that was not why they had come, I guess. And thus, the perplexity.

"Perhaps," Detective D said to Detective SJ, you should read the allegations to the Eversons.

"Allegations?" I asked.

"That J has brought against you."

"Okay." I turned my head to the left, to where Detective SJ sat. She flipped open a manila file and began to read.

She wasn't allowed to take a shower unless we watched.
She wasn't allowed to have a bedroom door.
She wasn't allowed to dress unless we watched.
I forced her to pull down her pants so I could look inside her.
Cameras in the bedroom.
Cameras in the bathroom.
We punished her by hitting her.
She was kept prisoner in her room. (Which I found odd, considering she "had no door.")
I was touching the dogs sexually and smiling.

(There's more, but you get the point.)

I looked from the detective to my husband. Everything moved in slow motion. Whirring inside my head blocked most sound in the room. When my eyes finally reached my husband's face, I saw his eyes rolling to the back. His hand was at his mouth, fingers laying gently against his lips. They quivered.

"Oh my gosh ..." I breathed. "Oh my gosh." This could not be happening. Not our little girl. Our precious precious J. Our funny child who we loved and who loved us with such depth. No!

Then I remembered. I looked back at the detective. I had reports from years before, I told her. Reports that proved she was "transferring."

"Do you have that where you can show it to us?" they asked.

"I sure do," I said, jumping up from my seat and then darting into my office where I'd carefully stacked the old files. My legs felt like they were made of jelly. My hands shook. My head ached. My heart shattered. My vision was blurred by tears. How could she have lied. How could she have done this to us? To us, the two people who had loved her so much. Protected her? Adored her? Gave her everything she could have ever wanted? How could she not know the truth?

I managed to get everything back to the dining room table. They looked over my files, asked for copies. I returned to my office where I made the copies. Just then my phone rang. I looked at the Caller ID. The caller was her new doctor who had performed the psychological.

I answered, said, "I can't talk right now. Detectives ... charges of abuse ... I can't talk right now."

I know now that I shouldn't have answered the phone. I should have just let it ring.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week (One Day Late)

You don't hear a lot about "icebox cake" any more. Occasionally, while watching an old TV sitcom or drama, a housewife comes out of her kitchen carrying a sheet pan and says, "I think I'll take some of my icebox cake over to so-and-so." But that's about it.

Yesterday, while flipping through an old recipe book from my shelves, I found an index card with my mother's handwriting on it. Icebox Cake  is written in her perfect script across the top.

Mouthwatering memories came my way. I haven't had Mother's icebox cake in forever, it seems. (And, as soon as I'm off this diet, I think I'll make some.)

But maybe you or yours is not on a diet. If not, try this before summer comes to an end, because it's the perfect summer dessert!

Ingredients & Directions

4 egg yolks (save your cardiologist's number in your phone)
              Put the egg whites aside for later
1/2 lb butter (Mother wrote "oleo")
1 1/2 cup sugar

Mix together at medium speed 20 minutes
(Yes, I wrote minutes.)

Add 1 #2 can slightly drained crushed pineapple (I believe that is 20 oz can)
Add 1 cup chopped nuts

Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites (Did I mention, you should stiffly beat the egg whites?)

Fix a layer of vanilla wafers in pan. Pour mixture in. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving (good luck waiting)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern

Pecan piiiiiiiiiie.

Do you remember the line from When Harry Met Sally?

This was an ad-libbed scene (which is pretty obvious by Meg Ryan's expression and her glances off camera) and one of the best in the movie. One of the best out of all of the best in the movie. 
At any rate ... pecan piiiiiiie. Every time I hear it, I think of growing up Southern, and Mother's pecan pie. (Of course, every time I think of pecan pie, I think of this scene ... )  

If you grew up Southern, you probably spent time picking up pecans in an open grove or at someone's house where pecan trees grew tall, casting leafy shadows on the ground in the summertime and looking all scary in the wintertime, spindly arms stretched toward a gray sky like an old woman begging God to die. 

And, if you grew up Southern and you picked up pecans, you've probably put a couple of them in your hand and squeezed in order to crack them open. Nothing like a nut to crack a nut, I always say. (But usually I'm talking about people, not pecans.) You also probably know what it's like to take one of those little silver dealies to "dig out the meat," as my mother used to call it. And you've probably had the age-old discussion of just how to pronounce "pecan." Is it PEE-can or is it pe-CAHN? I tend to say the latter. What about you?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday's Southern-Style Faith (Our Story Continues)

The day after I admitted J into the hospital, I boarded an early-morning flight to Denver for a business conference. I didn't want to go; I didn't know how to stay.

After I admitted J into the hospital, my next order of business was to cancel a protective order I'd filed against her bio-dad. Having managed to get into her computer and read the emails and messages between them, and between J and the woman I previously called "S," I realized adults--adults!--had planted such disgusting lies into this child's mind, facilitating the madness, encouraging the stories her sweet, sick brain had made up in an effort to understand its own past. My first order of business was to file an injunction for protection against these two people, along with her father's girlfriend. Having filled out all the paperwork, I elected to drop the case against S because I knew it would be a "she said/she said" court case and I'd lose. In spite of knowing I'd told this woman more than once that J could not legally see her father without my supervision or without my permission, and in spite of reading in the emails and messages between them how this woman had facilitation these meetings, encouraging them even, I would lose. Because I knew that any woman who would knowingly say such things to a child as what I was reading in these messages would easily lie in court. No morals. No scruples. No conscience.

So ... no way.

With J in the hospital, and enough paperwork filed out for the time being to help get her into residential (the hospital told me we were looking at at least a year of treatment), I called the judge's office and cancelled the court hearing. "He can't hurt her where she is now," I told the Judge's Assistant. "Nor can he get to her."

How foolish I was.

And so I flew to Denver.

The first day there I received a phone call from my husband. He'd been asked to go out to the hospital to have a family therapy session with J. He was so hopeful. He couldn't wait to see her, he said. And, if she would let him, to hold her. To tell her he would take all this pain if he could. He would make everything as it once had been--happy childhood. Happy memories.

Later, he called again. It had not gone well, he said. "When I got there," he went on, "a Casselberry police officer pulled up about the same time. We went to the locked doors and rang the buzzer for entrance together. I said, 'Good day, sir,' but he really had nothing to say to me. When the therapist opened the door, she whisked him inside, turned to me and said, 'I'm sorry, Mr. Everson. We cannot meet today. J is not doing well right now.' Something is up," he said. "I think the officer was there for J."

"Why would an officer be there for her?" I asked. "There are hundreds of kids in that hospital. What makes you think it's J they came because of?"

"I don't know," he said. "It's just a feeling."

His feelings were right. Later that day my cell phone rang. "Mrs. Everson," the woman--J's new therapist--said, "This is C, from University Behavioral Center. I need to talk to you about allegations of abuse J has made against you and to tell you that, by law, I have had to call the authorities. I also want you to know that I believe J is a very, very sick child and that I don't believe what she is saying based on her case history and what I have learned from the courts about your relationship with her and who you are. But I have had to file the report."

I asked what it all meant.

"It's not good," she said. "And all I can tell you now is that your time with J. may be over. I don't see this going anywhere but south."

I told her I was a woman of faith. That I believed in a God who could do the impossible. I told her about the abuse J had sustained by father and mother and select family members, about the emails, both from her bio-dad and from her friend's mother, S. She agreed that their interference had accelerated J's illness, but that much of this was also genetic, based on hospital records. And, she told me, I should look for another call to come within the next few hours.

The following day, a Sunday, as the conference was wrapping up, I sat outside the auditorium doors, listening to the keynote speaker when my phone rang. The number was from the courthouse. A 665 number. I answered as I made a beeline down the hallway to an abandoned ballroom of the hotel where we were meeting. Looking for privacy, out of instinct, I suppose.

"Mrs. Everson," said the woman, "This is Detective D. I'm with Seminole Country Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Children. We need to speak to you and  your husband as soon as possible ..."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday's Southern-style Tune

I went away for a week, to the beach, to write.

And sleep.

And watch nature at play. At work. An amazing time with God, my old friend, and some new.

It's not uncommon for me to listen to Pandora Radio while I write. One of my created stations is John Michael Talbot radio.

If you haven't heard of JMT or his music, I encourage you to look him up, spend some time with his work. As it draws me to the Father, it helps center me. Calm me. Purpose me.

Allow me to share one such song with you. This song is not a Southern Song, exactly, but it ministers to this Southern gal's heart and spirit. What about yours?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern

We had guests this past weekend. They arrived on Friday and left not ten minutes ago. Already the house is empty. A bit sadder for their departure.

Growing up I heard a lot about Southern Hospitality. My aunts and uncles, grandparents and neighbors all gave tribute to the term. I don't remember a time ever driving up to someone's back door and feeling a cold reception upon entering. Instead, the doors swung open wide, the host and/or hostess of the house stood, framed by the door. "Y'all made it," they'd say.
Dennis and our guest, Kenneth Jefferies, do some fishing

Or, "Come on in before the mosquitoes take you away."

There was always plenty to eat. Plenty of sweet iced tea to drink. Loads of conversation and laughter.

But there was something else, too. There was the feeling that you (the guest) actually belonged there. You were not a visitor. An un-welcomed interruption in a sea of busy days. Instead, your host/ess had anticipated your arrival. Washed the linens. Fluffed the towels. Made certain your favorite "this" or "that" was in the fridge. And when it was time to leave, there was a let-down of the heart."So sorry to see you go," they'd say.

Or, "Wish y'all didn't have to leave so soon."
Dinner out with our friends

They meant it, too.

We've just said goodbye to our friends LeeAnn and Kenneth. I feel sad. But I'm excited that--maybe because of our Southern hospitality--they said they'd come back.

We're already looking forward to it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday's Southern-Style Faith (Our Story Continues)

The call came while I was getting ready for a business trip to Denver. J had been staying with friends while we worked through getting her psychological testing done. Staying home was not an option; she had admitted to our not being safe from her actions. My husband and I had been called into the doctor's office several times to discuss the bizarre behavior, her history with bio-families and being jerked back and forth between bio mom and dad and a great-aunt, and the "stories" J had begun telling. Stories that went beyond "cameras in the bedroom." These were stories about having been in the car with her mother during a store robbery gone bad. Someone had been shot. The only reason J was still alive was that she hid behind a Dumpster. This was just one of a new list of about 15.

Of course none of it was true.

We brought in our paperwork. Our proof, if you will. We poured our hearts out, expressed our concern. Our love. Our desire to see our little girl get whatever treatment she needed so she could come home.

And then the call came. J's aunt had asked to take her shopping two days earlier. I'd said yes, told the aunt where she could pick J up from, and then asked her to stop by and pick up some money. "She needs jeans," I said. And so the aunt, who happens to also be my dear friend, did so. We shared our hopes that this nightmare would soon be over. We had no idea...

The day after the shopping spree, she called. J's arms were covered in cuts. She asked J about it, and J claimed she fell while going over a fence. But the aunt was wise. Persistent. "Did you do that to yourself?" she asked.

J admitted she had.

Self-mutilation. This was new. I called the friend J was staying with; she confirmed that J's arm held somewhere between 30 and 50 cuts, elbow to wrist. She'd just been told by her daughter and was about to call me, she said. She took a photo and mailed it to my phone.

My next call was to J's therapist.

"That's it," she said. "We have to do something. I'm having her Baker Acted."

I spent the rest of the day forgetting about packing and, instead, talking on the phone with the hospital where J had been admitted just five months earlier. Ironically, the admissions clerk said to me, "I knew she'd be back."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"I just knew. I knew she wasn't really ready to go home back in August." She then said I may want to think about residential. Not that it was her call, but I needed to prepare myself, based on what she knew about J previously, added to the current issue.

My only question: would it bring J back to us? Not just physically ... but emotionally and mentally as well.

I was scared. And I missed my baby girl.

It was a call that changed everything, but it didn't hold a candle to the one that came a few days later.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday's Talk About a Book

A little over 10 years ago I was blessed to make the acquaintance (which blossomed into a friendship) of Miriam Feinberg Vamosh. At that time she was the guide (and interpreter) to a small band of journalists visiting Israel, most of us for the first time. Our group being so small (less than 10 including Miriam, the IMOT representative Dana, and one crazy driver) gave us all the opportunity to bond.

Five years later I returned to Israel to travel through Israel with Miriam, just the two of us, for a book project she and I were contracted with Thomas Nelson to write. Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel went on to win awards, but more importantly, it drew two hearts to beat as one.

I returned to Israel in 2009 with another small group of journalists for one of the most satisfying trips to anywhere I've ever taken. During that time, Miriam and I talked further about a book project of hers, a novel based on a scroll discovered from the time of the Masada tragedy (73 AD). One of the journalists on that particular tour was writer/speaker Cheri Cowell. Cheri's work also includes an e-book conversion service.

Two years + since, Miriam finished her project,contacted Cheri, and decided to e-publish the book.

I'm excited to tell you about The Scroll because it brings history to life. This may be a part of history you are unfamiliar with (just as someone from another country might say, "What's Antietam?") For Jews it is obviously important, but also for Christians because it helps explain so much as to what happened to God's chosen after the earthly life of Jesus and what was happening when some of the New Testament letters were being written.

Beyond that, of course, is the entertainment factor. If you love history, archaeology, and a good read, allow me to encourage you to check out The Scroll by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh. Let me know what you think!

(And, if you are interested in e-publishing, contact Cheri Cowell via her webpage. You'll learn much more about Cheri, her ministry, and her marvelous new book, which I'll talk about soon ... as I get my copy ... hint hint. :) )

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday's Recipe of the Week

We had a slew of folks at the house on Saturday. Kids. Grandkids. Friends. Friends with children. The house was hopping with activity, the lake was sparking in the late afternoon sunshine, the boat full of guests wearing life jackets, the conversation was nonstop, and the grill was smoking.

For dessert I served my "famous banana pudding."

I had not made it in a while, so I had to look for the recipe. When I couldn't find it, I nearly panicked. So, I went by memory, which served me well. You will not go wrong if you bring this to a picnic, a party, or serve it to your family.

You will need:

1 box vanilla wafers
5-6 bananas
1 small carton of whipped topping
1 small can of Eagle Brand (I always buy the nonfat kind)
1 large box instant vanilla pudding


Mix vanilla pudding according to the directions on the box.
Fold together whipped topping and Eagle Brand.
Fold together pudding with second mixture.
(I typically slice the bananas into the pudding)
Layer pan with wafers, top with pudding, layer with wafer, top with pudding ...

Refrigerate 24 hours.

To die for!!! Believe me, they'll be scraping the sides of the pan!