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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Monday Through Friday (This Week... 'cause I've been swamped)

Monday's Musings on All Things Southern: 

Last Friday, I was kidnapped. Huggy Hubby said, "You need a break and I want you to come with me." So, okay. It wasn't technically a kidnapping. I was the willing victim.

So, where did he take me? First, we stopped at McDonald's for a McMuffin. One each. I swore I didn't want one, but then I smelled all that high-fat cooking and said, "Oh, whatever..."

Then we went to a farmer's market. Bought some fresh veggies, baked goods. Saw a dog with one blue eye and one brown. It wasn't high tea at the Ritz, but it was fun.

But THEN, we went to a pawn shop. I'm talkin' this thing was FILLED to CAPACITY with two things that bring harmony to our home: 1) jewelry (especially estate jewelry) and 2) guns.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Eva Marie found a broach she liked. Or a ring. Or a necklace.

No. I found a gun I want. Ruger Mark III, bull barrel, .22/.44. Price was decent but here was the best part. On the sites were these little white dots that made it easier for me to line my vision to the target. See, I am right-handed but left-eyed. In other words, I cannot close my left eye and keep my right eye open but also I can't shoot with my left hand. So ... these little white dots ... well ...

I want this gun, people. Mother's Day is just around the corner. Y'all can call me "Big Mama."


Tuesday's Southern-style Tune: Montgomery Gentry's "Gone"  I love this song! Just click on the song title for a good-un!


Wednesday's Southern-style Recipe: Sweet Pickles (what says the South better'n Sweet Pickles??)

7 lbs. cucumbers
2 cups lime
1 cup alum
1 can pickling spice
5 lbs. sugar
1/2 gallon colored, distilled vinegar


Mix lime with 1 gallon of water and soak cucumbers for 12 hours. Wash cucumbers good. Then, mix alum and 1 gallon of water and soak for another 12 hours. Wash good again. Mix sugar and vinegar in a big pot and add cucumbers and pickling spice (tied in a cloth). Bring to boil and boil for 15 minutes.


Thursday's Talk About a Book

I finished 98% of my work on the novelization for Unconditional, the movie. An amazing movie and I can only hope what I've done will complement it to the fullest. This book challenged me in more ways than one, the most obvious (for those who know me and my writing habits), I was forced to go waaaaaaaaaaaay deep into my personal pain, which I don't like to do. I don't mind feeling things, but have always feared that if I opened a door too wide, I'd fall into the abyss and never find my way out. Remarkably, I'm still here. And there's more ...

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

... this will be brief. Mainly because I'm running out of time before I leave for the Florida Christian Writers Conference. If you've been reading this blog, you know that our "daughter" (we had permanent guardianship of her) started showing signs of mental health issues during her 12th year. We'd been told to expect it, that it could happen, but we'd hoped so against it. We'd prayed against it. We'd done everything we thought was right. But ...

Jordynn, age 10
When we were forced to put her in the hospital for a second time (she was cutting), the state of FL got involved (more on that later) and--instead of helping us help her--they took away our rights, threw her into foster care, placed her in the ghetto, and said, "this will take time." Every concern I've had for her has come to pass. Then, this month, she didn't bother to come "home" after school and was listed as "missing" from Wednesday afternoon until Saturday afternoon when she was sent back to the foster home.

We had hoped that this act would cause the state of FL to take notice, but it didn't. Seems foster kids running away is normal, not news. And, when this news came to me (bio family stays in touch with us), that our hopes of getting her medical help were once again pooh-poohed away, I was writing these words for one of the final chapters of Unconditional:

. “I’m so sorry. I’ve wasted precious time. Your precious time, another one of your gifts to me. Thrown away. Tossed aside like the trash littering the Commons. But, I know now. I understand. I get what you’ve always had for me. A purpose and a plan. And I also know now that sometimes those plans mean losing the ones we love the most, and giving them back to you.”

Well now ... doesn't God have just the most remarkable sense of timing?

[Comments? Register for my next "off my bookshelf" book by telling me what you think about any or all of this!]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday's Talk About A Book

First, let me apologize, again, for not having the recipe up yesterday. When I share this news (below) you'll understand why I have been a little stressed in the time department.

We have long heard about books becoming screenplays becoming movies. And sometimes stage plays become movies (think Steel Magnolias and Loving Leah).

But there's a new movement that is seeing movies become books. In Christian circles, we can quickly name movies-to-books like Fireproof by my new friend Eric Wilson and Courageous by (someone I've met twice) Randy Alcorn. There's also The Nativity Story by by precious friend Angela Hunt.

Well, now there's going to be another one! Unconditional by Eva Marie Everson! I am so excited I can hardly sit down. And yet, sit down I must. I'm writing like a maniac. Like a writer on three pots of coffee (which isn't that hard to imagine, actually).

So, let me tell you about Unconditional. It's based on the true story of Papa Joe Bradford, a remarkable man of God. The screenplay was written by Brent McCorkle, who also directed the film. I "met" the producers, agent, etc. (by phone or email) before I received the screenplay and movie. And I can tell you that I know that I know is that these men and women love God and want to bring His message through story to the world.

They've chosen a powerful one in Unconditional.

I could sit here and type all day on my feelings for this film, this story, and the huge honor of being allowed to write the novelization for it. (But then I wouldn't be working, now would I?) So to do this any justice, I'm going to encourage you to go to the website (www.UnconditionaltheMovie.com). Take some time. Study the pages. Watch the trailer. Tell me what you think.

Write those comments here and register to win a book from my bookshelf in this week's drawing. And remember, "it's not a dead end, if it takes you someplace you need to go."

Blessings ...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Southern-style Tunes

A few weeks ago I told you about my trip spent listening to some classic country mixed with recent past classics and some of the newer tunes.

You cannot know country music and not know who Tim McGraw is! Nor, can you not know who Hank Williams was. Without the early sacrifices of one, the other may not have a career.

What you may not know, is that Hank Williams--regarded as one of the best Country & Western singers, songwriters, and musicians of all time--died at the young age of 29. Think about that. Twenty-nine. Think about what he accomplished in such a short period of time. But, most people believe, drugs and alcohol were the bottom line in his pre-mature death. Such a sad statement. Wonder what he could have done without them ...

Before we look at any classic Hank, let's look at the song recorded by Tim McGraw in tribute to this great king of Country & Western. Sit back and enjoy: The Ride.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

In the South, one can find foods you've otherwise never heard of.

Livermush, for example. Ever hear of it?

In the South it is common to hear it called "poor man's pate." So, what is is made of? Pig's liver, for one. Head parts. Corn meal. Sounds just awful, doesn't it? Well, would it help to know that it's high in protein and low in fat?


Would you believe Shelby North Carolina has a Livermush Festival every year?

Yes, I'm serious.

How to eat Livermush: it's a breakfast food. You can put it on a pizza. You can eat it cold in a sandwich. Or, you can do like me ... avoid it. Even if it is fried.

[photo from: http://www.cigarasylum.com/vb/showthread.php?t=19705]

[This week's winner of a book from my bookshelf if Angela! I'll contact you personally, Angela... If you want to be a possible winner for next week's drawing (from this week's entries), tell me what you think of "livermush"!]

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday's Talk About a Book

I'm reading Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber. It's been a few years since I've read anything by Ms. Macomber, and I'm wondering why.

The story is about a widower named Michael Everett. He's young. He's a pediatrician. He's a catch. Problem is, he is still head over heels in love with his wife, Hannah, who died of ovarian cancer a year earlier. On the one year anniversary, Hannah's brother Ritchie brings Michael a letter his sister had given him before her death, asking him to hand deliver it to Michael on the one year anniversary.

The letter asks Michael to remarry.

Hannah knows her husband well enough to realize he won't do this. He won't even date. Or look to date. So, she gives him a list of women to choose from. Not only does she offer this list, but she tells Michael why each one would be the perfect mate for him.

Michael now has to pursue the three women in an effort to honor his wife's dying wish. Of course this is going to require him to get on with his life ... and he's not sure he can.

I'm enjoying this book so far. It's perfect for a lazy day out by the lake, sitting under the ceiling fans in the screened patio, or lying on the sofa, fire crackling in the fireplace while the world outside is doused with rain showers. If I had a full day to myself (I'll tell you more about that next week), I'd head over to the beach, find myself a large umbrella where I could sit in the shade (no more skin cancer for me!), and finish the book while the waves crash upon the shore. You know, the basic Southern way of reading ...

What are you reading right now? Let me know and you'll be entered in this week's drawing. If you are so interested, tell me "I want to win Hannah's List" and, as soon as I'm done, it'll be on its way to your house!

Until next Thursday (when my secret will be revealed),

Read on ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's Southern-style (Romantic) Tunes

Wedding Day, 1979
Thirty-three years ago today, my huggy hubby and I were but one day away from saying our vows to each other in a preacher's living room with about four people in attendance.
We basically eloped.

Ashley 1979
The pastor who'd had the most influence on and in my life from childhood now lived about an hour or so away from Albany, Georgia. Dennis had basically grown up there; I'd moved there a few years previous. We were walking around the Albany Mall one evening when we happened to see Brother Charlie (Culbreth) and his wife Ruth, discovered they lived not far away, and exchanged phone numbers. 

So, when Mr. Everson asked me to marry him (that's another story for another day), I called Bro. Charlie and asked if he'd marry us, in his home, the following Thursday evening, February 15, 1979 (not the 14th). He said he would.

Chris 1979
Why not Valentine's Day, you may be asking. Well, February 14 was "out." For one, it was a Wednesday and Bro. Charlie had Wednesday Night Service. For another, I'd married my first husband on February 14 years earlier ... a sad, disastrous marriage that only survived 13 months. In reality, it had only survived one month, we just hung in for the next 12. To marry again on that day was just too plain weird.

Jessica and Me 1981
So, February 15, 1979, my sweetheart and I, along with our two best friends and their twelve-year-old daughter, piled into a car and drove to Cairo, Georgia. We said our vows (I giggled through the entire ceremony!), signed some official documents, ate cookies and drank punch made by Miss Ruth, and then drove home. The next day, after we put in 8 hours of work, Dennis and I drove 4 hours, across state, to my mother's home (and my hometown) where I introduced her to her new son-in-law (she'd met him before, of course. She was not aware we were planning to marry). The next day we were to go to Hilton Head but we woke to so much snow, we were stuck at Mother's for the next four days. We've basically never had a honeymoon. There are some things I just won't do with my mother only two walls away. I don't care how cool she was.
Jordynn 2006

Thirty-three years.

We've had some ups and downs along the way and he's still the best thing that ever happened to me. I cannot imagine nor do I want to imagine my life without him.

Has he been difficult at times to live with? Yes.

Have I? Oh, yeah ...

But, still, I don't know another human on this planet who can make me laugh like he does, who brightens my world by just walking into a room, who I trust and depend on more. I don't know a kinder soul, a deeper thinker, or anyone who "walks the Christian walk" quite like he does. He's amazing and he's cute and he still thinks I'm sexy. I am blessed for having him in my life.

In the course of our marriage, he also gave me three very precious gifts: 1) a ready-made family (I love you, Chris and Ashley), 2) our daughter Jessica, and 3) he allowed/wanted Jordynn in our lives at a time when the nest had just gone empty and most husbands want anything but another child. Also, like me, he has grieved her loss more than anyone can imagine. (To read more on our life with Jordynn, come back on Fridays.)

This song is for you, "Mr. Everly." Alan Jackson (dancing with his sweet wife), singing "Remember When."

I love you. Forever ...

[Give a shout out to your own huggy hubby, wonderful wife, or special someone and enter for this week's drawing!]

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

Last week, as I was writing about catsup bottles, I found myself having to deal with the little squggly red line under the word "catsup." Meaning, this is not the way you spell it.

Well, I knew it was. So, I looked it up. And lo and behold, you will not believe what I found. There was actually a Supreme Court case on this issue. Ketchup v. Catsup.

If you don't believe me, read about it here: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Ketchup_v._Catsup

Hey, now. A true Southerner will go to war over how to spell catsup ... er ... ketchup!

[ Tell me what you think and enter your name in the weekly drawing for a book from my bookshelf. Last week's winner is Donna Tinsley! Donna, send me an email with your mailing address and whether you prefer fiction or non.]

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thursday's Talk About A Book

Have you ever been well aware of something and yet not aware of it at all? Such it was with me and the Ancient Book of Jasher.

Jasher is not a persons name. It's not like "The Book of Ruth" or "The Book of Esther." It's not a letter written by a man named Jasher, such as 1Peter. The word "Jasher" means "upright." It is, therefore, The Book of the Upright.

The Book of Jasher is a history book written over 3500 years ago; approximately the same age as the Book of Genesis. It clarifies and expounds on the Books of Moses--Genesis through Deuteronomy--as well as The Book Of Joshua. It is mentioned several times in the canonized Holy Bible: 

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon, 

   and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” 

So the sun stood still, 

   and the moon stopped, 
   till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,

   as it is written in the Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13 NIV).

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):
“A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.    
How the mighty have fallen! (2 Samuel 1: 17-19).

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected (2 Timothy 3:8). 

While this last verse does not mention "Jasher/Jashar" by title, it mentions an incident from the book of Exodus 7. However, in the biblical account of the two magicians who opposed Moses, names are not given. In the Book of Jasher, they are. Therefore, we can note that as Paul wrote the 2nd letter to Timothy, he did so with the knowledge of this ancient text. 


Having read this phrase "the book of Jasher" many times, I decided to get the book. I've been reading for a week now, completely mesmerized by the stories, the explanations to questions I've had my whole life, and by the way these verses of ancient text move me.

One section in particular moved me to the point of crying. It comes from Jasher 6, the story of Noah and the Flood. I want to share it with you now because, tomorrow, as I share more of our story ... well, you will understand.

Jasher 6: 28 And the ark floated upon the face of the waters, and it was tossed upon the waters so that all the living creatures within were turned about like pottage in a cauldron.
29 And great anxiety seized all the living creatures that were in the ark, and the ark was like to be broken.
30 And all the living creatures that were in the ark were terrified, and the lions roared, and the oxen lowed, and the wolves howled, and every living creature in the ark spoke and lamented in its own language, so that their voices reached to a great distance, and Noah and his sons cried and wept in their troubles; they were greatly afraid that they had reached the gates of death.
31 And Noah prayed unto the Lord, and cried unto him on account of this, and he said, O Lord help us, for we have no strength to bear this evil that has encompassed us, for the waves of the waters have surrounded us, mischievous torrents have terrified us, the snares of death have come before us; answer us, O Lord, answer us, light up thy countenance toward us and be gracious to us, redeem us and deliver us.
32 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Noah, and the Lord remembered him.
33 And a wind passed over the earth, and the waters were still and the ark rested.
34 And the fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained.
35 And the waters decreased in those days, and the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat.
36 And Noah then opened the windows of the ark, and Noah still called out to the Lord at that time and he said, O Lord, who didst form the earth and the heavens and all that are therein, bring forth our souls from this confinement, and from the prison wherein thou hast placed us, for I am much wearied with sighing.
37 And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Noah, and said to him, When though shalt have completed a full year thou shalt then go forth (emphasis, mine).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday's Southern-style Recipe of the Week

More goodies from "Miss Betty's" Hand-written Recipe Book!

Apple Crisp


4 cups tart apples ( about 4 medium)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
3 T sugar
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t cinnamon


Grease a shallow, 6 qt. baking dish. In a small bowlmix flour, milk, nutmeg, salt, 3 T sugar and 1 t cinnamon. Using a fork, mix in the butter or margarine until crumbly. In a large bowl mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 t cinnamon. Add 4 cups of pared, sliced, tart apples. Stir until apples are coated with sugar mixture. Pour coated apples into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly on top of apples. Bake on center rack at 325 degrees for 45 minutes, or until apples are golden.

[Tell me what you think about this recipe. Or, share one of your own. Doing so will enter you in this week's "book off my bookshelf" contest!]

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday's Southern Style Tunes

Before the Super Bowl there was much speculation about what Madonna would do, how she would look, if her clothes would be on or off. There was talk about last year's performance and the years previous and how few really add up to the hype. (Did I just dream the nightmare, or was The Who the too-old-to-be-doing this entertainment a few years back?) 

Someone in my group said, "They ought to have a country artist give the half time show" and I piped in and said, "YEAH! GARTH!"
Here's why:

You gotta love the energy of this man!!!
(Not to mention his talent!)

Double-click to watch it on YouTube.
Respond with an OH YEAH!!! and be entered to win a book from my bookshelf!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Musings on All Things Southern

And speaking of barbecue, the most important thing you need to know is not so much how you cook the meat but what kind of sauce you use.

True Southerners don't use anything bought at the grocery store. They make their own. Or they know someone who does. And that someone will never, ever reveal the recipe. The family will inherit it upon their demise, but until then ...

Moats IGA, in my hometown, is owned by ... well, Mr. Moats. He has a barbecue recipe that'll make ya wanna slap your mama. Whenever I go home, I make sure to take an empty catsup bottle so I can get it filled with Mr. Moats barbecue sauce. It's just that good.

I think the key to making your own barbecue sauce is to find a recipe or three (or four) and then mix and mingle. Eventually you'll find your own secret sauce recipe that you can "hog" till you die.

[I apologize for not blogging on "our story" on Friday. The child I've been writing about was missing from Wed. until Saturday. On Friday I was working hard to help find her.]

Last week's book winner is Jennie !! I'll notify you privately by email!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thursday's Talk About A Book

First, allow me apologize that Wednesday's Recipe of the Week didn't get posted yesterday. Life has a way of interfering every so often ...

I first met Robert Benson at a little function of about 16,000 in 1999. CBA (Christian Booksellers Asso.) held its annual international convention in Orlando that year; I somehow made it into the closed event. It was here I met two people who would become important in my life and in my career. The first was Susan Schlabaugh. Susan was the Acq. Ed. for Barbour Publishing. Until two weeks earlier, she was Susan Johnson. Her business cards still said Susan Johnson but there was a blue ink line through her old last name and the handwritten new last name above it. I still have the card.

I shared with Susan a book I'd been wanting to write about marriage proposals. I had no idea she was a new bride. She was quite taken with the idea and, 9 days later, she called and offered me a contract. My entry into the world of publishing began with the words, "Quick! Tell me your parents' marriage proposal story."

I was staying in a house with about 9 other women writers or wannabe writers. During the day we worked hard at meeting new people and seeing new things. But at night we played just as hard, swimming in the pool, sitting around on the floor with cups of coffee, talking and laughing. One of my housemates was a woman named Paula who mentioned--during one of these chats--that she had seen that Robert Benson was going to be at the Penguin booth at some point. The next day, I happened upon said booth and upon a decorated stack of Robert Benson's latest book, Living Prayer. I stopped, picked it up, and a sales gal told me to take one. I ended up, stupidly, asking if I could take one to my roommates. I suppose I should have said housemates, but I didn't. She said yes. You can imagine the look on her face when I picked up close to ten copies! It's a wonder I was ever allowed back in, but I was a sure hit that night back at the house. Paula (as well as a few others) went on and on about how wonderful this man was as a speaker. They couldn't wait to see what he could do with a "pen."

I had an appointment with the Penguin Acq. Ed. the following day. Truly a miracle, considering I'd nearly annihilated their supply of Living Prayer. I approached the booth and was relieved to see a new stack of books by Mr. Benson. Apparently, they had more in the back somewhere. A man with a long dark ponytail, thick beard, and John Lennon glasses stood a little off to the side. He looked official so I told him I was there to meet with [insert name here; I believe it was Carolyn]. He walked off, told someone, who then returned with the man and said that Carolyn was a little behind schedule but would be with me shortly. She left, leaving me and the man.

Have you ever stepped into an elevator with a stranger. You have no idea what to say. So, with nothing to say, I pointed to the stack of books and said, "I got this yesterday. My housemates told me this guy is a really good speaker and they hope he's as good a writer."

The man answered back. I don't remember what he said but his voice was soft and kind. So were his eyes. Looking back, he probably saw me as the dunce new to all this and himself as the wiser one. Whatever he said, he kept me from looking positively stupid. We talked for about five minutes during which I shared everything I'd heard about this man named Robert Benson. He nodded. Said "Mmm-hmm" a few times. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Paula making a mad beeline for the two of us. Her arms were outstretched and she was smiling. "Oh," I said. "There's one of my housemates now."

Two seconds later, she introduced me to the man I'd been talking about Robert Benson to as being Robert Benson.

Everything we'd suspected about Mr. Benson's work was true. It was pure poetry on paper. Not too long after, I found myself in the fortunate position of being called Robert's friend. We even got lost together along the back roads of Central Florida's untamed area on our way to a retreat in which he was the speaker and I was the driver of said speaker. I still laugh when I think about how we spotted a sign that said, "Police Department--->" and Robert said, "They'll know how to get us to where we're going."

I slid my Mustang into the driveway of the small brick building with POLICE written across the front. Robert got out, ran to the door, and immediately ran back. "Apparently, it's a volunteer force," he said. "The doors are locked." I believe we sat and laughed for a good five minutes.

We finally made our way to where we were to be. Late, but we arrived. Somewhere in the course of that retreat (which included long periods of silence), Robert said words to me which have resonated within my spirit ever since. "Eva Marie," he said. "The only person who knows what God has whispered into your heart is you. But you won't hear him if you don't hush."

Since reading Living Prayer, I have read approximately ten Robert Benson books. I have come to love him  and his wife Sara as a sister loves another sibling. My highest respect goes to them both. There is a bookshelf with nearly nothing but Benson books. They are not given away. They are not loaned. If you want to read them, you must either read them while in my house or buy your own copy. Living Prayer is nearly falling apart, I've read it so many times. It holds three things I consider special: 1) a letter from Robert sent to me from his home; 2) his signature, which includes 3) the word Namaste. 

I am currently reading The Echo Within. It's not a big book. Or a long book. But it's a book to be savored. It brings to light the words you see written by Robert above. Reading it makes me want to be a better writer. A better person. And, most of all, a better daughter of God.

Do you have a book that has changed your life? Or words spoken to you that have done the same? Tell me about it ... and put your name in for this week's drawing!