Saturday, August 27, 2011

And the music played on....

I've always been in love with music.  Grandma Smith said that we were descendants of Bach.  That must explain it.  I've heard that "music has charms that soothe a savage beast" but it's more powerful than that.  I've seen it calm a baby, excite a crowd, help people fall in love, bring back memories for others, help us say goodbye to loved ones and usher the presence of God into a worship service.  I've experienced it's power many times.  It's helped clear my head and concentrate while studying or writing papers in school.  For those of us who have a hard time dealing with or showing emotion, it's the perfect outlet for all those feelings we bottle up inside.

It was on a child's organ that I figured out I could pick out melodies of songs, particularly commercials, on it.  My first "song","I'd like to teach the world to sing", was from the old Coca Cola commercial I heard all the time on TV.

Playing the piano at Grandma Smith's
Eventually Mom bought me an old player piano that had the player taken out.  I started piano lessons when I was in 4th or 5th grade.  I hated them.  I wanted to play music not learn dots on a page.  My mom had to set the oven timer to make sure I practiced.  Before my lessons, I had to wait on the girl before me.  She got to play the theme song from Young & the Restless and I was entranced.  THAT'S what I wanted to play.  Not this Twinkle Twinkle mess.  My teacher told me I couldn't because I was a beginner.  (Never tell a Tolbert they can't do something.)  "Ha! I'll show you!"  I got my old tape recorder and recorded the theme song off the TV and then I learned the melody.  When I had it memorized I played it as my warm up instead of what my teacher instructed me to play that day.  She wasn't happy but I didn't care.  I proved that this beginner could indeed play the forbidden song.  I believe it was then that she realized that teaching me to sight read was going to be harder than she thought.  Thankfully lessons with her only lasted 2 yrs.

Recital night in 4th or 5th grade
Piano was taught at the new Donnie Bickham Middle School (Yeah I know. I'm showing my age.) but I had a bad taste in my mouth from the last experience so I didn't take it.  Thankfully I changed my mind and took it for 2 yrs.  Mrs. Nelson was able to make me love playing the piano again.  Mom didn't have to set the oven timer anymore.  I even actually won awards at piano competitions.  That piano was a godsend.  My family was going through some tough times and I bottled up all my emotions.  The only way I could let them out was by "banging" on the piano.  Mom could tell my mood by what I would play or attempt to play.  I didn't have to see a shrink to get it out.  I just needed to play.  I had to leave it behind when my parents divorced and we moved to my grandparent's farm.  I tried lessons down there but it wasn't the same.  The piano playing bug had died...or so I thought.

Two weeks ago I went with Tate to Shreveport Music to pick up a wind screen for a church microphone.  While waiting on him, I sat on a drum set stool and listened to a couple talk to the piano guy about electronic pianos.  I began regretting that I gave up playing the piano.  An hour and a half later,  I have talked with the piano guy, gotten a history lesson on pianos, purchased a self teaching piano course book for adults and now know what I want for a graduation present.  The piano playing bug hadn't died.  It was just hibernating.

My new toy
Now it's time to teach the next generation the power of music.

Introducing Peyton to the piano

And the music played on...

Playing a tune for Aunt Heather

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"When I say Whoa! I mean Whoa!"

There have been times in my life when it seems things or people just get in the way of my agenda and I get so frustrated because I can't mark an item off my to do list. But then I see God allowed for things or people to get my way so that I would slow down.  Sometimes it's to protect me.  Sometimes it's to teach me a lesson.  Sometimes it's to remind me that He is in control and that I should let go of my OCD and control freak tendencies and trust Him.  And's all of the above.

Yesterday I went to lunch with a friend.  We got back early so I decided to drop off my to-go cup of sweet tea and head to the bank and Hallmark.  I know I could have just sat and relaxed those last 10 minutes of lunch but I had a to-do list.  Anybody who really knows me, knows that I will not relax until my to do list is complete.  So since time is a commodity, I had to mark those two items off.  I got on the elevator on the 22nd floor.  A guy got on at the 17th floor.  We moved for a couple of seconds and then we stopped. And I mean stopped HARD.  Hmmm, this isn't normal.  I press the 13th floor button hoping to restart the elevator.  No such luck.  I buzz the guard to tell her we are stuck.  We were stuck for 15 minutes.  Good thing neither of us were claustrophobic.  Apparently other elevators were being worked on and our car's control switch got tripped.  They got the elevator going again.  Unfortunately it felt like we were on a six flags ride for a few floors. Another hard stop and then a six flags ride again.  (I'm all about saving money but I think I'd rather pay for a six flags ticket so I can choose which rides I get to ride.)  When those doors opened on the ground floor, I flew out.  I was super hot and my equilibrium was off.  It took about 20 minutes for me not to feel wobbly.  I've worked here for over 10 years and that was my first time to experience that.

I didn't want to run my errands anymore so I head back to my office. It wasn't until I got back to the office that I saw the bad weather coming.  Strong storms look even more eery and frightening when you work on the 22nd floor.  My coworker and I just stood and watched it for several minutes.  We watch as the dark, angry clouds roll in bringing with it a mini dust storm and impressive lightening show.  We can hear our windows creak and see them shake as the winds pick up speed and force.  I'm thinking to myself that as powerful as this storm is my God has complete control over it.  It was a comforting thought.  It was later when I was sitting at my desk that another thought occurs to me.  Had I not gotten stuck on that elevator I could have been returning from my errands and gotten caught outside during that storm.  The inconvenience of being stuck in an elevator was actually a blessing in disguise.  God was protecting me and I didn't even know it.

Because I often choose to complete my to-do list rather than sit and relax, I've been told to "stop and smell the roses", "enjoy the moment" or "with life, you need to focus on the journey not on the destination".  That line of thinking sounds good.  I just haven't learned how to apply it as well as others have.  Apparently this is a lesson that I really need to learn because God has made/allowed me to enter many situations that make me stop, put the to do list down, relax and put my total trust in Him.  After yesterday's incident and the realization that not only was God in control of everything but He also had my best interests at heart I couldn't help but think of Yosemite Sam on the horse hollering Whoa! Of course I'm the horse getting bopped on the head while God hollers "When I say Whoa! I mean Whoa!"  Apparently I can be hard headed.  I better learn this lesson soon because I can feel my head getting sore.

Image of Yosemite Sam - Whoa

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Check your freezers!

My mom has always had a chest freezer.  When I was little, she would put two sets of my dad's tube socks on my feet and lower me in so I could hand her the stuff on the bottom.  I remember helping her with defrosting my grandmother's chest freezer on the farm.  I came across a milk carton like this...

I knew we left LA Tech in 1979 so why would Grandma still have a carton...especially one that contained shrimp.  Before my mom could shush me, I had asked the question loud enough for Grandma to hear.  Of course my mother wanted to throw it away but Grandma said, "It's got masking tape on it, so it's still good."

Fast forward to this past weekend.  Mom needed help defrosting two chest freezers.  Thankfully I didn't have to put on two sets of tube socks but I was the one handing Mom and Tate all the stuff.  I told Tate the above story and we all chuckled about it.  Then as I am working my way to the bottom of one of the freezers, what do my eyes behold?  You guessed it.

Instead of shrimp, this LA Tech milk carton had some sort of jelly juice stored in it.  The label was blurry but we figured it was April 1981.  This milk carton was put into use six months before my brother was born!  Thankfully I didn't have to convince my mother that just because there was masking tape on it, it did not mean that the contents were still good.

I was later told by two Tech Alumni that the dairy is being closed and that I should keep the carton as a collector's item.  Yeah well, I donated it to another collection agency.  You know the one that comes by once a week to collect all the other useless stuff stored in black bags that we don't want.

My Mother's Mascot

I went down to my mom's on Mother's Day to spend time with her.  Whatever she was doing, I was determined to try to help her out.  I learned quickly that the reason that my mother collects hummingbirds is because, subconsciously, this tiny bird is her mascot.  Why? Because she flits & flutters continuously on so many projects around the house (especially the yard) that when I blink I can lose her.  She rarely takes breaks and when she's only a few seconds before she flies off to get into something else.  I was reminded of this once again as Tate and I made the trek down to the farm for the July 4th holiday.

My Mother...Oh, how I love her!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Facebook, my frenemy

"Frenemy" (alternately spelled "frienemy") is a portmanteau of "friend" and "enemy" that can refer to either an enemy disguised as a friend or to a partner who is simultaneously a competitor and rival.[1] The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions. The word has appeared in print as early as 1953. (Got this from Wikipedia so it must be true. lol)

Yep, that's what I think Facebook is.  The main reason I'm on Facebook is so that I can keep up with my brother in Japan.  Then I found some more family and a lot of classmates.  It was cool to see what they were up to these days, especially those I had to leave behind when I moved to the farm.  It cracks me up that some of the couples are comprised of people who wouldn't give each other the time of day in school.  I realized quickly that some people have a lot of time on their hands and like to stir up trouble on Facebook.  I've seen adults acting very childish on Facebook.  I've learned how to block those who want to list everything that they did that day.  I mean just because the doctor asks you how often you had a BM DOES NOT MEAN that we want to know all the gory details as well.  Then there are the gamers.  I must confess that at one time I was a Farmville fanatic and loved playing Family Feud.  I quit when I realized that I was spending more time on the computer than with those I loved.  

I'm not bashing Facebook entirely because it's really about having self-control.  I knew I had an addiction when turning on the computer was the first thing I did in the morning.  When did I allow my time on the Internet, especially Facebook, exceed the amount of time I spent with God or with my family and loved ones?  When did I allow other peoples’ lives to dictate whether I was a success or not?  When did I start asking my friends on Facebook about what to do about a situation before I asked God?

My last paper was about how social media sites are used in cyber forensics.  Of course law enforcement uses it to help with cases but others are catching on as well.  With the popularity of Facebook surging, old flames can connect again.  Unfortunately that connection can mean the termination of a marriage and the destruction of a family.  (I won't get on my soapbox this time but PawPaw used to say that the reason the grass looks greener on the other side is because of all the BS on that side.)  Divorce lawyers are having a heyday from all the information that is gleaned off Facebook.  Child custody battles can be swayed by what a parent posts on Facebook or MySpace. (Does anybody use MySpace anymore?)  Employers use social media sites to screen potential employees.  So you might want to rethink posting all those party pictures.  And you might want to watch your language or at least what you say about your job because that has caused people to get fired.

Facebook is a feeding ground for the "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality and the green-eyed monster.  Just because somebody has  _____________(fill in with jewelry, new home/car, vacation plans, spouse, kids etc.) does not mean you are less of a person.  (Sadly, I must confess that I have to remind myself of that sometimes.)  That person may be acquiring all that stuff and doing all those things to keep up with the crowd they run with.  All you see is the great stuff and fun times.  What you don't see is the mountain of debt that this person may have because of it.  I stress the word "may" because some are able to manage their finances better than others.  I’m a big believer in saving money.  My mom’s “rainy day fund” saved our family more than once.  But I also think it’s okay to spend it on something you enjoy…every once in awhile.

Stalkers.  Yep, as crazy as it sounds I had one a few years ago…about the same time I got on Facebook.  How?  I was a novice at Facebook and posted too much personal information.  I’m not 100% sure that that was where it started BUT the next thing I know is some creep is calling me at weird hours at the night and knowing too much for my liking.  Good news is that it’s not a problem anymore.  Being scared in your own home is not the way to live.  So please don’t post your address and phone # on Facebook.  For heavens sake, If somebody wants your #, send it to them in a message or try this novel thought…call them.  And don’t tell us that you’re going out of town because that’s like putting a lighted billboard in your yard saying “Please come and rob me blind because I’m not home to stop you.”

You can get thousands of birthday greetings on your big day.  Who doesn’t like that?  I don’t care how tough you think you are but you can’t help but feel good to see all those comments.

You can rejoice when a friend finds out good news and you can encourage a friend when they are having a rough day.  You can share a prayer request and people will encourage you and pray for you.

You can share pictures of your family, especially your kids, with those who are not close by.  (Hint Hint, Joshua!)

You can find out the latest hot spot to eat at, movie to watch or vacation spot to go to.  Have to change doctors or hair stylists? No problem.  Post that you’re looking for somebody new and a friend will help you out.  Whether you are looking for a new job, new house or starting a new side business, it provides a way to expand your network of contacts.

It’s a great place to post events for a good cause.  Whether it is about your church services or helping someone with a benefit dinner at a local restaurant, people won’t come unless they are told.  Kudos goes to the group raising money for the little girl at Chick-Fil-A a couple of weeks ago.  That group was passionate about helping her and her family.

It’s a great platform for you to be a witness for Christ.  I confess that not all my posts are godly. They should be.  Too many Christians, including myself, act one way when we are at church or around our Christian friends but we act another when we aren’t.  God called us to different.  Everything we say and do should glorify Him…even our posts on Facebook.  We aren’t going to convince somebody that Christ is the answer, when the language or content on our Facebook profile is no different from a lost person.

I know there are others out there that may share my opinion and others who don’t.  That’s okay.  This blog really wasn’t for you anyway.  It was to remind me that God comes first. Period.  It’s not up for negotiation.  And that Facebook, like with anything else in the world, can be used in a positive way or negative way for God.  The question is…who will I put first today, God or me?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


You may be confused at all the Max Lucado postings today but God knew I needed to read them sooo badly.  I posted them because I am pretty sure that there may be others who needed to read them as well.  I get so frustrated and ashamed with myself sometimes over my relationship with Christ.  Some days it's strong while other days it resembles a myth.  How am I to show others how awesome God is, if my actions/words don't back it up?  I know that God forgives us when we confess our sins to Him but why is it so hard to forgive yourself?

A couple of months ago, Lane Corley put the following on facebook:
"Satan doesn't have 2 destroy U to make U ineffective.  All he has 2 do is distract U."
Wow!  That was a powerful statement.  I had to share it with my SS class that morning.  It was no coincidence that the lesson was on being a consistent Christian.  It made me stop to think of the junk I allowed the devil to distract me with that morning.  How about the previous week?  

I picture us taking a walk while enjoying the surroundings. Then all of sudden something catches my eye and my focus goes from our conversation to it.  I've got to find out what that was.  So I basically turn my back on God while I go chasing after the distraction (family, friends, job, church duties, facebook etc).  I don't realize how far I've gotten from God until I realize something is missing in my life.  The peace that I once had is gone.  I turn around to look for God and realize that He never moved.  The fact of the matter is that I was the one who ran away from Him.  And no matter how far I ran this time, He never moved from where I left Him.  He kept watching after me...waiting for me to turn back to Him...willing to accept me back with open arms to continue our walk together.

And for that...I am extremely grateful.

God is for You · Max Lucado

God is for You · Max Lucado

It’s Still True · Max Lucado

It’s Still True · Max Lucado

No Matter What · Max Lucado

No Matter What · Max Lucado

He Is Our Peace · Max Lucado

He Is Our Peace · Max Lucado

He Knows What You Need · Max Lucado

He Knows What You Need · Max Lucado

It’s Not What You Do · Max Lucado

It’s Not What You Do · Max Lucado

He Knows What We Need · Max Lucado

He Knows What We Need · Max Lucado

Two Gardens · Max Lucado

Two Gardens · Max Lucado

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Stranger at Walmart

I just thought it would be another day in the Walmart checkout line when the guy behind me noticed a pair of girls' water shoes.

"Well somebody is about to have fun."
"They are for my niece.  My brother was having a hard time finding her these shoes in Japan."
His eyes immediately widened and quickly asked, "Is everybody okay?"

I have to say that I was kind of shocked at his quick response and concern.  I told him that my brother was stationed over there and that they were safe but that he had some members in his Air Force family that were affected by the earthquakes.  He told me to be sure to tell my brother "Thanks for serving" and that he would pray for him and his friends in Japan.  I thanked him for his prayers and went on about my business.

A simple conversation turned into a reminder to me that there are good people in the world.  It was refreshingly comforting when this stranger spoke a few words of encouragement.  In that moment the world stopped for just a second and two hearts & minds focused on others across the ocean.  I thought about the encounter for the rest of the day.  Maybe God put that man in my life to remind me that it's not all about me but about glorifying Him and serving others so that they may see Him in me.  How many times do I just stand in line wishing the checker would go a little faster so I can go about my business?  How many times do I start a conversation with the checker to see how I can brighten their day?  Maybe that scowl on their face or their negative attitude stems from a need in their life.  Maybe God put me in their line to share a word of encouragement to them.

And to think all this started over a conversation about little girls' water shoes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Can I get an Amen?

I was walking down the street when I was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby-looking homeless woman who asked me for a couple of dollars for dinner.  I took out my wallet, got out ten dollars and asked, "If I give you this money, will you buy chocolate with it instead of dinner?" "No, I had to stop eating chocolate years ago", the homeless woman told me.

"Will you use it to go shopping instead of buying food?" I asked.  "No, I don't waste time shopping," the homeless woman said. "I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive."

"Will you spend this on a beauty salon instead of food?" I asked.  "Are you NUTS!" replied the homeless woman. "I haven't had my hair done in 20 years!"

Well, I said, "I'm not going to give you the money.. Instead, I'm going to take you out for dinner with my husband and me tonight."  The homeless Woman was shocked. "Won't your husband be furious with you for doing that? I know I'm dirty, and I probably smell pretty disgusting."

I said, "That's okay. It's important for him to see what a woman looks like after she has given up shopping, hair appointments, and chocolate."


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Got Beans?

As mentioned before, my goal this year is to cook a dish I've never done every other week.  My first choice was to make red beans and rice from scratch.  In college, Tate and I ate many a box of Tony Chachere's red beans.  SURELY, I can do this.  I wanted to have enough for us and my dad.  We went to the store to get the ingredients.  We found the beans and I asked, "Do you think 1 lb will be enough for all of us?" Tate didn't know so he threw a 2 lb bag of beans in. (This is where everyone's eyes that I've told this story to get huge as moon pies.) I rinse them that night. They only covered the bottom of my stock pot. Next morning I remove the lid and they have filled half of the stock pot up.  I'm thinking, "When I see Tate, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died of natural causes."  When Tate came over I showed him the pot full of beans. He says to me, "We're gonna need some more meat." "Ya think?  WHATEVAH would cause you to think that?" (said in my best southern belle drawl)

Tate had emailed me 5 or 6 recipes from his mom's collection.  Tate forgot to bring over the hard copy he had printed out.  I went to print them out and found out that I ran out of ink.  So there I was running back and forth from the kitchen to my computer trying to make sure I was doing everything right. (Yes, I realize that I could have made it easier on myself and written it down but that would have made sense. Plus I thought that Tate was going to be right back with a copy of the recipes.)  Instead of making just one batch of red beans, I had the privilege of making two.  I had to stop in the middle of cooking them to go out to celebrate Tate's birthday.  When I got back, I let them cook for another hour and a half.  When I tasted them, they were bland, which made me really mad.

At church the next day, I am picking all the ladies' brains on how I can fix these beans.  I tell them my goal and what I did.  God bless each one of them because none of them laughed at me.  Now their eyes got huge and they nodded their heads as I told them what I did but they never laughed.  They even tried to encourage me by saying things like "you live and learn", "honey, don't worry about it because you can freeze it", and "well, at least you tried."  I went home, doused each pot with lots of black pepper and Emeril essence and let it cook for another 20 minutes.  I tasted each pot because Grandma Smith told me that a good cook has to taste their food while its cooking to know what it needs.  (I don't remember her cussin' while doing it though.)  FINALLY I have red beans with some taste.  I smash some beans to thicken it up and let it cook some more.  After 2 days worth of fretting over these beans, they are done.  Funny thing is...after smelling them for 2 days...I have no desire to eat them.  So into freezer boxes they go.

Moral of the story boys and girls...

Only use 1 lb of beans OR just use a box of Tony Chachere's stuff because

Two pounds of these plus all the fixins'.....

Equals two of these, full to the brim...

Which equates to all of this...

Now that may not look like a lot but it's way more than I wanted.  The good news is that I can check this dish of my "never cooked before" list.  Plus, if I eat them now, I won't be so cold.  I would like to take this opportunity to let all the chefs on the Food Network know that their jobs are still safe because I do not see a cooking show in my future any time soon...EVER!

Til the next episode of "Misadventures in the Kitchen with HAT"...

Take care and God Bless!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Recipe Challenge 2011

Can't believe it's the new year already! Where did 2010 go? Not that I want it to return or anything.  I have a new goal for this year.

I want to try a new recipe every other week.  So if you have any recipes that your family absolutely loves and you don't mind sharing, please send them to me.  If it comes out good, I did it. If it comes out bad, then Tate or Josh did it. LOL!

Happy New Year!