Favorite #126: Chevy Tailgate and Love

Enjoying the new bench made from Pawpaw Mike's Chevrolet tailgate.

Enjoying the new bench made from Pawpaw Mike’s Chevrolet tailgate.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

What a blessing to have two son-in-laws who not only care about my daughters, Kristin and Kelly, but also care about me. From all the mother-in-law jokes that circulate around, I know I’m a lucky lady.

During the last four months as I’ve experienced a roller coaster of emotions from the death of my husband, Michael, it’s been a great comfort to have my family close, including my son-in-laws, Brian and Ben, willing to help in any way they can. Kristin’s husband, Brian, recently surprised both Kristin and I with a little project he had been working on in her dad’s memory.

Knowing Michael loved all things Chevrolet, one day while walking around our back yard, I noticed Michael had a few tailgates stacked together near the woods. Mentioning to Kristin and Brian I had seen a wooden bench on Pinterest using a Chevy tailgate for the back, I said that would make a great project someday. I forgot about the bench. Brian didn’t.

A few months passed until a couple of weeks ago when Kristin called saying Brian was on his way over to get something. She explained he was making something for me and wanting it to be a surprise, made me promise not to look. Thinking he was going to get something out of the garage, I figured that wouldn’t be too hard, so I promised. Little did I realize what he needed was in the back yard.

After I saw Brian drive in, I waited a little while before looking outside again. Thinking the coast was clear, I was wrong because just as I looked out the door, Brian was picking up one of the tailgates. I pretended I didn’t see, but it was too late because right at that moment Brian turned and saw me standing at the door. I could tell by the look on his face, he knew I knew.

Having spoiled the surprise, later that day when I went to Brian and Kristin’s for an evening meal, Brian took me to the garage to show me the bench he had already made. Explaining this one was for Kristin, he said he was planning to make two more, one for me and one for Kelly for Mother’s Day. Jokingly, he said, “Happy Mother’s Day.” We all laughed.

In the above photo sitting on Kristin’s bench is Brian, my grandson, Carson, and their new puppy, Bailey. Kristin posted this photo on Facebook with the following message …

My husband is an amazing man. He has been my strength these past four months after losing my dad. I couldn’t have made it without him. He surprised me, my mom and my sis with benches made from dad’s old tailgates. I’m in tears writing this. Even though it’s not possible for Dad to be with us, a part of him will always be with us through our benches. Brian couldn’t have made a more priceless gift. Although I don’t go an hour without thinking of Dad and our future without him, having a husband who cares about me and my family means the world.

Since I started this blog about both of my son-in-laws, it wouldn’t be fair not to share what Kelly’s husband, Ben, made as well. If you want to find out what it is, you’ll have to wait until next week.

What treasure has someone made for you in memory of a loved one? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Love it. Can't wait to get mine.

Love it. Can’t wait to get mine.





Favorite #125: Boy Scout Adventures

A group photo in front of the American flag on the Yorktown.

A group photo in front of the flag on the Yorktown. Thomas is fifth from the right in the front row.

Trip to Patriots Point

My nephew, Thomas McCullough has been a Boy Scout since he was seven years old. Now in 7th grade, he recently shared info about a trip his Scout Troop #173 took in December.The destination was Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum-Charleston Harbor, SC.

I was particularly interested in this trip because my husband, Michael, and I made a visit to Patriots Point ten years ago. A tour of the aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown was especially meaningful to Michael because his dad, Roger McCullough, served on a similar ship during the Korean War. When discovering photos of his dad’s ship, the Essex CV-9 along with the names of the men who served, Michael was especially happy.

When Thomas shared what he had learned and seen on the trip, he was so excited I had trouble keeping up with his enthusiasm. Explaining how the scouts spent the night on the ship in the officers’ quarters, he said a highlight was exploring the flight deck. It was during that exploration the scouts discovered a group doing astronomy. Thrilled when invited to look through the telescopes, Thomas said the scouts thought the lights of Charleston was really beautiful.

The next morning, after a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, the troop was energized, ready to tour the USS Laffey submarine. Amazed at how narrow and tight everything was inside, Thomas was especially amazed at the lack of space in the bathroom. He said there was barely enough room for the toilet.

A mid-morning tour of the USS Laffey was then followed by a tour of the battleship USS Clamagore. During that tour the troop learned even though at one time the battleship could have been called into active duty while at Patriots Point, since the hull is now rusted out that is no longer true.

Following the tour of the battleship, knowing the weekend was coming to a close, as the scouts took a few last minute photos they said their good-byes to the crew, thanking them for a wonderful time. Although a little tired, Scout Troop #173 left Patriots Point not only with fond memories, but a better appreciation for the price of freedom.

In addition to learning about history and the world around them, the scouts are encouraged to participate in service-oriented projects in the community as well as work on personal goals for growth and development. These goals and achievements often are reflected in the badges they earn. Scout leader, John Crawford says he enjoys working with the young men in Troop #173 and is looking forward to new membership next year. Sponsored by Fair View United Methodist Church and Centre Presbyterian Church of Mt Mourne, NC, to learn more about Troop #173 contact the Chartered Organization Leader, Bill Hicks at 704-528-3288 or check out the following link.

Were you a member of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of America? If so, what were some of your favorite activities? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com





Favorite #124: A Dream Horse


Enjoying a morning visit with the goats.

Enjoying a morning visit with the goats.

     Dreams Do Come True

Although boys and girls often grow up dreaming of owning a horse, for some that dream never comes true. One of the lucky ones happens to be my niece, Miracle Cline. Miracle saw her dream come true several weeks ago in a most unusual way. This is how she explains the event …

Although I was supposed to get my first horse next year for my 16th birthday, the surprise came a little early. As a little girl growing up, I always wanted a palomino, so when Momma found my dream horse and heard the owner was giving her up for adoption, she went ahead and called. The owner has cancer and because of health issues felt she couldn’t give the horse the much needed attention. As a result, she was looking for a good family to adopt her. Mom was the 20th person to call, so I never dreamed they would pick me, but they did.

Hope Cline, Miracle’s mom shared how Miracle as a young girl fell in love with Roy Rogers and his palomino horse, Trigger. Now having her own palomino horse, Miracle had no problem in deciding on a name. In the movie, My Pal Trigger, Trigger’s mother’s name was Lady. In real life, Trigger’s original name was Golden Cloud, so Miracle combined the two, naming her horse, Golden Lady.

Working with Lady over the last few weeks, loving every minute of it, Miracle routinely posts updates on her Facebook page. Sometimes people make comments or ask questions, to which she responds. Following is her response to someone asking if Lady enjoys snow.

Even though we haven’t had any snow this year, Lady has found a favorite pass time, chasing goats. (As you can see in the photo above, the goats love Lady as much as she loves them). For exercise, three times a week Lady and I walk to my good friend’s house to borrow her arena for lunging. On our walk up there, she gets excited and starts talking baby talk to the horses in the pasture beside the road. Last Thursday, seeing Lady with extra energy, Momma suggested I jog along side her as we walked to the arena. Lady’s going to be a fun jogging partner for me. God truly had all this planned. I prayed for a horse my entire childhood and he answered that prayer.

What a blessing not only for Miracle and her family, but also Lady’s previous owner knowing her beloved horse is in a good home. It’s stories like these that help to warm our hearts during the long, cold winter.

Miracle’s willingness to work hard on the family’s homestead, helping where needed, as well as volunteering in the community, is truly an example of Psalms 37:3 … Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (KJV) If only we all could learn that lesson.

In what areas has God given you the desires of your heart? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook, or email dicysm@yahoo.com





Favorite #123: Friendship

Friends, Food, Fellowship and Fun

Friends, Food, Fellowship and Fun

       Fellowship and Fun 

Although traditions often dictate when and where families get together, that’s not necessarily so for friends. While it’s true plans are sometimes made ahead, it’s not unusual for friends to call on the spur of the moment and say, “Hey, I’m on my way over.” Or call and say, “Let’s get together for lunch.”

A friend of mine, Mary Nell Coblentz, who now lives in Mississippi, but is originally from North Carolina was traveling home for New Year’s and wanted to get together. Mary Nell and I became friends when I became the organist at Back Creek Presbyterian Church in Mt Ulla over twenty years ago. Her husband, Alex, was the pastor there at the time.

Not having a chance to visit since my husband’s passing a few months ago, Mary Nell thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do something fun. Her idea of going out to eat with a few mutual friends at McAlister’s Deli in Mooresville, NC was a wonderful idea. Not only was the food great, but the company was, too. Everyone had a fun time catching up on children, grandchildren and plans for the future.

Seeing each other first in the parking lot, Mary Nell and I hugged and began talking as if we had seen each other yesterday. One by one as friends arrived, chatter and laughter filled McAlister’s Deli on a beautiful New Year’s Day. In between bites of food, fun and fellowship, I looked at my watch, amazed two hours had passed so quickly. Where had the time gone?

Before leaving that day, of course we had to take group pictures. In the photo above, Mary Nell’s in pink on the front row, while I’m in the back dressed in black. After a round of hugs and a promise to keep in touch on Facebook, we all said our goodbyes.

When I later shared with another friend, Peg Robarchek, that I was writing a blog about friendships, in her way of getting me to dig deeper, she asked, “How do you define friendship?” In thinking about that question, my mind went to a few Bible verses (KJV) which go straight to the heart of the matter. After all, isn’t that what friendship’s all about, anyway?

Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

A friend loveth at all times … Proverbs 17:17

A man that hath friends must show himself friendly … Proverbs 18:24

While there may be many layers to a friendship, as you can see from the verses above the bottom line for true friendship is love.

What’s your definition of a friend? How have they made a difference in your life. Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.





Favorite #122: Storehouse for Jesus

Enjoying a moment after a day of service at the Storehouse for Jesus. My niece and nephew are on the right.

Enjoying a moment after a day of service at the Storehouse for Jesus. My niece and nephew are on the right.

  Serving Others with Love 

While Christmas is a time of joy and celebration for many, it’s a time of loneliness and heartache for others. What a blessing there are places like the Storehouse for Jesus in Mocksville, NC where people can come for help, not just at Christmas, but all year long.

Founded in 1992, the Storehouse was the vision of Marie Collins who wanted a place the needy could come for food, clothing and medical care. Growing out of a vision of one in a small house with no electricity, the Storehouse now has approximately 600 volunteers in a warehouse-sized facility. Knowing every task matters, volunteers range from office clerks, custodians and food pantry organizers  to doctors, nurses and dentists. All work together to serve the needs of those who come through the doors, with no one every being charged for the items or services. The motto posted on the Facebook page of this non-profit organization is, “In everything we do, we will conduct ourselves with compassion and caring and in keeping with God’s word.”

My sister-in-law, Hope Cline, a witness to the growth of this wonderful outreach program, has been volunteering at the Storehouse almost from the beginning. Her two children, Miracle and Righteous have grown up understanding people often come to the Storehouse not only in need of clothes or food, but also in need of compassion and understanding. All those who volunteer show the love of God through caring and kindness.

Hope explains, “We will never get tired of serving our Lord through serving others. It’s real easy to get into a, “poor me attitude” when comparing yourself with others. That is unless you seek out those not as fortunate as you. Volunteers, including the four young people in the photo spent hours on their feet during the Christmas holidays humbly serving those in need. They were all joyful workers and did their best to meet people’s needs. Laughter and singing was always going on, along with tears for a 5 year old homeless girl who came in with her family to tears of joy when an 8 year old little girl brought in 800 cans of food she had collected. We hurt terribly for those who have lost loved ones this year and pray God’s comfort.”

I was humbled when I heard the story of how my niece and nephew along with their two friends, Wesley and Kassidy had given up time during the Christmas holidays to volunteer at the Storehouse for Jesus. How many of us are willing to give up a day to help others? As the scripture says, “And a little child shall lead them.”

If interested in learning more about the Storehouse for Jesus and this amazing program, click here.

Is there a special outreach program in your community that is making a difference? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.





Favorite #121: A Daughter’s Love

Kristin, enjoying a Carolina Panthers game with her dad.

Kristin, enjoying a Carolina Panthers game with her dad.


      SpendingTime Together

The holidays and especially Christmas seem to be some of the hardest times to get through when losing a loved one. It’s been three months since my husband, Michael passed and since then my daughters and I have been finding different ways to cope.

Recently, my oldest daughter, Kristin, wrote a tribute to her dad on Facebook. Both Kristin and her dad loved football and often went to Carolina Panthers games together. She especially was proud of the fact he coached youth football for many years and that she even played for him in elementary school, fielding a position on special teams. She says writing is therapy for her. Wanting to help others find a way to express their grief, she gave me permission to share her thoughts on this blog.

My dad loved football and sharing that passion with young men was his mission in life. Seeing him live it out year after year is what I admired most about him. Without being paid one penny, he lived day in and day out to serve his community to influence young men towards a right path. Giving them the tools to know right from wrong, striving to have good grades and pushing them to work for what they wanted was his goal. I wanted nothing more than to have my dad’s approval while growing up. I wanted to do the things he was interested in and be where he was.

These past few months have been the hardest months I’ve ever lived. Going though his things just doesn’t seem right, when I feel like anytime he’s coming back for them. I constantly have to remind myself, he isn’t. But that’s ok, I know I’m healing and working through things. I have to … life goes on and my boys depend on me. Dad wouldn’t want it any other way.

My boys ask about him all the time and want to see pictures … knowing he’s in heaven with Jesus. When I’m especially sad, my husband, Brian reminds me, “Your dad’s where we’re all trying to get to.” Brian is so right. Love you, Daddy!

There’s nothing more heart felt than a daughter’s love for her dad, except maybe a dad’s love for his daughters. Michael was proud of both Kristin and Kelly and loved nothing more than seeing his two daughters come to visit. He especially loved his three grandchildren and would do anything for them, looking forward to the day he could teach them about the sport he loved the most, football. Yes, he probably would have taught his granddaughter too. As the grandchildren grow, learning more and more about their grandfather, it’s great to know Michael’s legacy will live on through them.

We had our Christmas celebration early this year and at the end of the evening the tears began to flow. My oldest grandson, Carson wanted to know what was wrong. I told him I was missing Pawpaw Mike. He understood and said he missed him, too, afterwards giving me a hug. When I said he made me feel better, he was happy with that and went off to play. What a blessing.

Thanks to the many friends and family members who have been supportive and kind through this new season of life, but a special thanks to my daughters and their husbands, along with my grandchildren who have helped bring the sunshine back on the darkest of days.

In what ways have family members helped you in a time of grief? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com








Favorite #120: Family Traditions

Building a gingerbread house at Aunty Kelly's.

Building a gingerbread house at Aunt Kelly’s.

          Making Gingerbread Houses

Christmas is a time for family, fun and making memories, with traditions that often include presents under the tree, cookies for Santa, Christmas caroling and programs at school or church.

Whatever your traditions, the ones that include children always seem to fill a room with laughter and wonderment. My four-year-old grandson, Carson, enjoys spending time at his Aunt Kelly’s because she always has something special for him to do. This past week they made a gingerbread house together.

Carson was amazed how icing could hold the walls together like glue and that different kinds of candy were the decorations. Kelly laughed when Carson asked if he could eat some. She in response, said, “Why, of course.” Those memories for both Carson and his Aunt Kelly will linger long after the gingerbread house disappears.

While traditions often include activities, events or beliefs that have been passed down through the years, it’s never to late for a family to start new ones. If you enjoy making gingerbread houses, perhaps next year you might want to participate in the National Gingerbread Contest held at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville. People from near and far bring their original designs to the event each year, hoping to win the highly acclaimed contest. This year the response was so great, with 156 entries, Grove Park Inn is partnering with local not-for-profit individuals and organizations, donating the houses where needed. These beautiful works of art will be on display at the Grove Park Inn through the holidays. To learn more, including design tips and recipes, click here.

What are some of your favorite Christmas holiday traditions? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com





Favorite #119: Author Event at the Mint

Author day at the Charlotte Mint Museum.

Author day at the Charlotte Mint Museum Uptown. Jason Mott is second from the right.

            Authors, Books and Fun

What a wonderful event for authors and their adoring fans during the second annual holiday author event at the Charlotte Mint Museum Uptown on December 4. Sponsored by the Charlotte Observer, there were approximately 25 authors in attendance, sharing knowledge and experiences with fans who stopped to chat, buy books and get autographs.

Best-selling authors, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Leake, Jason Mott and Charla Muller were invited during the day to participate in an Authors’ Chat forum with Observer’s book editor, Dannye Romine Powell as moderator. During the forum Dannye asked each author how they came up with ideas for their books. Jason Mott said the idea for his novel, The Returned, developed from a dream. This book later became the catalyst for the television series, Resurrection. Even though each author had different stories to tell, they agreed writing is an art that has to be developed through practice. Jason said it’s almost like being an apprentice. “No one expects a carpenter to make a beautiful cabinet his very first try. Writing is no different. It takes practice to string words together.”

In addition to giving shoppers the opportunity to buy books, this event also gave authors a chance to network. I especially enjoyed comparing notes with other children and YA authors such as Linda Vigen Phillips and Karon Luddy. Co-ordinator for the event, Observer Innovations Editor Jen Rothacker, proud of the success of the day, hopes even more authors will participate next year.

If you had the chance to ask a famous author like Jason Mott, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Leake or Charla Muller a question about writing, what would it be? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.












Favorite #118: Thanksgiving

               Attitude of Gratitude

Enjoying a great Thanksgiving meal with family.

Enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with family.

Every year excitement can be felt as Thanksgiving Day approaches, building until the day families get together for food, fun and fellowship, thankful to be together once more.This year our extended family met at my sister-in-law, Hope Cline’s house, with about sixteen in attendance.

Even though we had sixteen in attendance, we still felt a void because of loved ones who were no longer with us. Hope suggested lighting a candle for each family member who had passed away, including my husband, Michael. When it was my turn, daughters, Kristin and Kelly helped light the candle in memory of their dad.

Afterwards, Hope’s husband, Joey, said a prayer and then it was time for food and fellowship. The country home Hope and Joey restored in Davie County, NC was a perfect place for a Thanksgiving meal. As we ate turkey, stuffing, home made yeast rolls and a multiple of vegetables, it somehow seemed fitting to look out the window and see chickens and goats enjoying their own feast of feed and seed on property known as Miracle Farm. Later, the older kids and grandkids enjoyed an afternoon of roaming the fields and woods, probably like children did years ago at the first Thanksgiving feast.

While Thanksgiving Day is a time of reflection and expression of gratitude for blessings, a friend of mine, Garrett White shared how this past year he started writing down one thing he was thankful for each day in a journal. He said, “As I look back over the year and see the long list of things I’ve written down, it’s amazing how even when I struggled to find one blessing it was the seemingly small things that really added up to make a great life!”

With permission to share his thoughts, here are a few of his entries:

-A library full of books and the ability to read, learn and grow from them.

-The opportunity to learn from mistakes.

-Unanswered prayers and God’s perfect timing.

-A family full of women who are great cooks.

-Hugging dad after a successful turkey hunt.

-Friday lunches at What a Burger with mama and sis.

By keeping a gratitude journal this year, Garrett made an interesting discovery. He said, “Keeping a Thanksgiving Journal has taught me not only there is always something to be grateful for, but it has also served as a constant reminder circumstances don’t determine your attitude-you determine your attitude.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 … Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (King James Version)

Is Thanksgiving Day a once a year occurrence for you or do you have an attitude of gratitude everyday? In what ways do you show gratitude? Share your thoughts below, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.





Favorite #117: GG’s Art, Frames and Gifts

Celebrate Small Business Weekend

A day of shopping and fun at GG's in Statesville, NC.

A day of shopping and fun at GG’s in Statesville, NC.

Although most people know about Black Friday, many have never heard of small business Saturday? Formed as a way to help businesses compete for dollars during the Christmas holidays, this idea is catching on across the country.

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Gloria Hager, owner of GG’s Art, Frames and Gifts in Statesville, NC. Gloria is thrilled small business owners are finally getting the attention they deserve. She says not only does this help local economies bring in shoppers, but it also encourages new businesses to open.

Gloria especially loves helping customers find the right gift for friends and family, bragging her shop is “a one- of-a-kind shop in a one-of-a-kind town.” Having many loyal customers, one way she shows gratitude is to throw a party. This year customers enjoyed finger food and drinks as they browsed, shopped and socialized. Favorite Christmas melodies could be heard in the background performed by soloist, Brenda Wallace, accompanied by instrumentalists J.P. Vanhoy and Shawn Ervin.

Browsing the aisles, I was amazed not only at the selection of items Gloria had available, but also how beautifully they were displayed. Gloria makes use of every nook and cranny, with items such as toiletries, fine art and kitchen accessories lining the walls as well as on tables. With Gloria’s expertise in framing, I learned she especially enjoys preserving memories through framing unique pieces for customers.

To learn more about GG’s Art, Frames and Gifts as well as Gloria’s journey as a small business owner, check out a recent article by Lauren Davidson in the Statesville Record and Landmark.

What about you? Are you a small business owner? If so, share info about your business in the comment section below. If you know a business that needs recognition for a job well done, leave a comment, message on Facebook or email dicysm@yahoo.com.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! And don’t forget to count your blessings!