Archive for January, 2012

The Huxtables

My family is fun. We laughed a lot at home. Home was a safe place, and every memory of my childhood and adolescence is happy. My parents were creative and hilarious, but guided us with a firm hand and there were consequences for breaking the rules. We learned to love one another, and how to be a team. We also learned that what Mom and Dad said, they meant. Discipline was mandatory, and administered out of love. My parents went the extra mile to understand us. They made sure we knew that our home life did not revolve around us, but that our whole family worked according to what God wanted us to do.

Now that I’m a parent, especially in today’s world, I realize how very, very different their parenting approach is compared to so many. I had friends who had much more freedom, but never the complete and total assurance that home would always be the most loving, accepting place to be. I had friends who rarely received punishment for their actions, and as a result never learned personal responsibility. I’m not saying that we always got it right, but I do feel like my parents had a pretty good grip on godly parenting and we had an understanding that they were acting based on love for us. Nobody was looking out for themselves, we were members of a unit, and we strived to work together as a family.

So when I saw the Cosby Show for the first time in my life, I was thrilled. Here was a family that worked hard at being a family. The parents disciplined out of love, and taught their children responsibility, respect and hard work. And they had more fun than anyone I’d ever seen. I felt so connected to the Huxtables on so many levels, but mostly because they represented what we were trying to achieve in our own home. And it worked, both on television and in real life.

Now that I’m a mother, I LOVE watching Claire Huxtable relate to her kids. She knows them. She shoots straight, and doesn’t coddle them. She isn’t afraid to be the only mom standing up for what she thinks is right. She loves them fiercely and protects them, while also teaching them to take care of themselves. She is my “mom hero”. For example:

Theo understands that you can’t treat your family badly just because you feel badly. I work with teenagers every week, and this is not a lesson they are learning. Your actions are not dependent on your feelings. Your actions, and how you treat people should be based on what you know is right, not how you feel. Claire tells him to get over himself, and he does. And his family is ready to forgive and restore the relationship. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

So for eight years, every Thursday night this family influenced me. And they’re still doing it, thanks to Netflix. It’s encouraging to see what I’m trying to do as a parent played out on the screen. I know they’re working from a script, but the writers got it right. And I will appreciate Bill Cosby and his influence on the show for the rest of my life. He’s a true comedic genius, as well as a great man.

This has been a fun week for me. I have one more person to write about tomorrow, and I’m working on it. I am sure that I come across as an eternal optimist with a childlike perception of life…and to that I say, “Good.”



January 13, 2012 at 5:20 am Leave a comment

It’s a World of Laughter, a World of Cheer

Today’s my birthday.

I have a mental list of the three other big influences in my life, and it’s only appropriate that this one falls on today.

I have a lifelong love for Disney.

Yes, I admire the man Walt Disney. He was a brilliant, talented innovator. But when I say Disney, I mean the characters, the music, the colors, the humor, the excitement, the joy.

I mean this guy,


And these guys,

And so many, many more.

I remember being a teenager and becoming constantly frustrated with the movies my friends and I would watch. Horror movies, movies filled with sex and violence, movies with family drama and dysfunction, movies with more bad language than I would use in my lifetime…and I would find myself wishing for Disney.

So yes, I was picked on (good-naturedly, of course) by my friends. But I believed then, and still believe today, that entertainment ought to do just that. Entertain. Movies should make you laugh, but not at the expense of others. Movies could make you cry, but not because of the harsh reality portrayed, but because something spoke to you deep down in your heart. Movies should make you smile and feel like the world is a good place, filled with good people. A movie should be an escape, not a effects-laden version of the evening news. When you see a movie like that, it makes you want to be one of those good people, who sees the world a bit sunnier than you did before.

Disney movies do that for me.

I love music, and learned the words to every Disney song. Even today, my kids and I have the soundtrack to the new movie “The Muppets” memorized and we sing it in the car everywhere we go. You can’t sing “Life’s a Happy Song” and not feel like maybe it is.

I could go on further about my love for Walt Disney World and some of my best memories there. I made some of my dearest friends while on a church trip to the happiest place on earth. DisneyWorld makes me want to sing and dance as I walk around the park. What a wonderful, joy-filled place.

I love to be entertained, but even more than that, I want my entertainment to make me feel good. I’m so thankful for Disney for the quality entertainment, but also for some of the most fun movie lines, songs and memories of my life.

January 12, 2012 at 4:31 am Leave a comment


Amy Grant.

I’ll never forget the day. I was probably around seven years old. I knew I loved to sing, because I wore out my Gaither Vocal Band album singing “I Am a Promise”. My mom has an amazing voice and I knew she was very good. She listened to Sandi Patty and we would play her albums all the time. So I was very familiar with “More Than Wonderful” and “Upon This Rock”, but I couldn’t sing any of those songs.

My daddy came home from work that day with a new record. The cover was kind of a pale peachy color and there was a picture on the front of the prettiest person I’d ever seen. She had long dark hair and wore a white dress. I thought she was just beautiful.

I wanted to look just like that.

Then daddy turned on the record. “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” came on first, and when I heard her sing, I stood there motionless. This lady sang with a low voice, JUST LIKE ME.

I had never heard an alto sing on an album before, that I could remember. And she was singing about Jesus. And she was singing stuff that had a good beat.

And it changed my whole life.

I became a huge, huge fan. There were posters in my room from every album. I was really blessed to know a lot of people who worked at Christian bookstores and they humored a little girl who wanted to be just like the biggest thing in Christian music. I bought every single tape. I wore my hair pulled back in a barrette. When her “Unguarded” album came out, I wanted a pink leopard jacket more than anything in the whole world. Someone gave me an autographed cd that was my most treasured possession. I didn’t have a cd player, so I would walk to my neighbor’s house to listen to it.

As I got older, I started singing in church. I sang “El Shaddai”, and “All I Ever Have to Be”. At Christmas, I sang “Heirlooms”. I knew every word on every tape, and every time she appeared on television, I recorded it on the VCR. She was my hero.

When I was 11 years old, I was able to see her in concert at the Coliseum in Jackson. My brother and I found our seats and my friend Gary came to check on us. He handed me a backstage pass and I don’t think I heard a note of the concert. I was so excited. I met her in a group of people and we had a 45 second conversation. I remember every word she said to me.

She made a huge impact. I attribute so much of my love for music to her. She sang about what I believed and for that time in my life, when I felt very different because I wanted to live for Jesus and my classmates didn’t necessarily respect that, I felt like I wasn’t alone. Christian music was changed because of her. She took it from “church” music to just music about God. I’m so grateful for her and what her music has meant to me.

And I remember seeing her wear this on TV and thinking it was the absolute coolest outfit I’ve ever seen in my life:

Amy, you and your music changed this little girl. I found confidence in singing that I didn’t have. I found a love for singing about my Savior. I found that I have a love for pink satin pants. Grin.


January 11, 2012 at 4:41 am Leave a comment

On the Eve Eve of being 35

I turn thirty-five on Wednesday. Thirty-five just seems monumental to me. It’s not really, it’s just a number. Just a marker of the years I’ve been on the planet.

But years that divide by five are just more celebratory, right? Right.

I’ve been thinking (yikes!) about what makes me…me. So in honor of myself (can you do that?) I’m going to write every day this week (an accomplishment in itself) a tribute to those who have influenced me the most.

But I have to be categorical here, and say that I’m only going to write about the influential people I have never met. The famous ones. If I try to write about the folks who have invested in my life, who have loved me unconditionally and helped me grow, I’ll spend this week in a big puddle of tears. And I’ve written enough gut-wrenchers lately to last me into 2013.

So here goes…

1. Barbara Mandrell.

I adore Barbara. My earliest memories are of shelling peas in my grandparents’ den on Saturday night and watching The Barbara Mandrell Show on NBC at 7:00. I loved her singing, her ability to play ANY instrument, her humor, her clothes, her hair, her stage presence…she could do no wrong. The last time I saw her on television was a few years ago and she was making a tribute to Reba McIntire. She was sincere and beautiful, and it was obvious why she is one of the most respected women in country music.

I also remember listening to tapes of her duets with Lee Greenwood. I think I was probably the only seven year old in town who knew all the words to “To Me”.

Just as sure, as I’m sure there’s a heaven
This was meant to be
No road is too long, as long as you belong
To me.  

It just doesn’t get better than that, people.

My cousins and I pretended to be Barbara and her sisters, Louise and Erlene. I insisted on being Barbara. It worked out well, because I could be in the middle of the group, between the girls I loved most in the world. We would sing for our moms and my Mamaw and find whatever glittery costumes we could find to wear.

If we’d have had these dresses, we would’ve hit the big time:

Aren’t they gorgeous? And then there’s the talent:

I loved her when I was a little girl. I admire and respect her now that I’m an adult. She made country music fun and sparkly, while staying true to the heart of the music. She also proves that talent plus hard work pays off. Her natural ability is astounding, but she had to have worked for countless hours to master the number of instruments that she can play. I’ve listened to country music for a long time, and I’ve yet to see anyone who can do what she did. She’s one of the most impressive entertainers I’ve ever seen.

Thanks, Barbara. You made a lasting impression on a little girl who loved good country music. I recognize quality now because you demonstrated it in your fantastic career. I watched you play every note of that steel guitar and thought you were a princess. Thanks for making music seem like so much fun. You’re the best.

January 10, 2012 at 2:53 am Leave a comment

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