Sunday, June 12, 2011


Can't believe it's been since February that I posted a blog! In that last post, I was trying to make some decisions, and I can say I have made them, and things seem to be working out.

After much prayer and deliberation, I made the decision to change churches. As I said, big changes are hard for me, and I don't relish making those decisions. I had been at that church for five years. It's the church connected to my school, so I felt very comfortable there. I sang with the praise band, and those who know me know how much I love to sing. I love the pastor and my church family. The problem was not the church  -- it was me. I was too comfortable. Too stagnant. And it was hard to focus on worship sometimes for thinking about school things. But mainly, there weren't many folks there my age and single. Since my friend Joy moved away, I really didn't have that best buddy to hang out with. I needed desperately to expand my horizons. I was stuck in a safe little bubble, and needed to go out into the big world of Duval County. When I told my pastor, he understood, and said he hoped I found a man! (That's not why I went, but hey, who am I to argue if it happens?)

I've found a new church home, and I definitely have found "fresh wind, fresh fire." I'm working in children's ministry again, and enjoying that, and hope to get involved in music and drama this fall. Ironically, I've also found some new friends -- from my old church. Gotta love God's sense of humor!

Now it's summertime, a period of much needed rest and relaxation. Yeah, right. This week my mom had back surgery, so I stayed at the parentals' to help out. Next week I'm going to an AP Lit Conference at Auburn. So excited about being at my alma mater for a week! Then it's to the beach to celebrate a friend's birthday.

Somewhere in the midst of this I need to get cracking on my Pampered Chef business. I need to book some parties! (Can I do one for you? Fun! Food! Cool kitchen gadgets! Great prices!)

So there you have it. Nothing profound to offer in this post. Maybe next time!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Where's My Billboard?

There's a verse in Psalms that in the Living Bible reads, "Lord, tell me what to do and make it plain." Don't you just wish God would do that? I mean, how much easier would life be if God just wrote on our bathroom mirror every day in detail what He wants us to do? Most of us Christians really desire God's will for our lives, but most of the time, we wander around in the dark bumping into things, hoping eventually to bump into God's perfect plan.That can't be what we're supposed to do, is it?
As I pondered this question driving home tonight, I turned the radio down and began to pray. There are a lot of unanswered questions in my life right now, and what I really need is some divine guidance. I got some, but not in the way I wanted.

"Sure," I felt God say to me, "I could very easily give you daily marching orders, but you don't seem to check in with headquarters on a daily basis and stick around long enough to get them."

"Huh? Well, I pray every day," I answered.

"Oh, that laundry list of sick folks, your needs, and so on? When do I get to talk?

"Um....ok, I see your point."

I've always been a little jealous and a whole lot mystified by those prayer warriors who can spend hours in prayer. Seems whenever I stop to pray, my eyes get heavy, my mind wanders, I get a strange itch, or the phone rings, or...well, you get the picture. Rarely have I spent more than a few minutes in prayer, unless I was in the middle of a crisis or something. It's easy to bare your soul when you're at your wit's end. When things are rolling along fairly peacefully, I have a tendency to set the cruise control.

Decision-making, however, is a whole different story. I'm not particularly good at making the big decisions. I am no fan of major change. I don't mind changing things inside and out, as long as underneath me stays stable. God had to almost knock me in the head to get me to see that moving to Jacksonville was what He wanted me to do. I asked Him to just make the decision for me and close any other options, and whatever door opened, I would walk through it, no questions asked. And He did exactly that. While I'm sure He appreciated my willingness to obey, I don't know if that's how He would have me handle all my decisions.

I've always believed that God gives us a great deal of latitude in making decisions, and that there can often be several good choices we can choose from that God will bless. I'm just not very good at making them. So what I got today was maybe I need to hang out with Him more often, and talk things over. That means including time to listen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How Can Some Women Be So Stupid?

Warning:  Not for the faint of heart!

Recently I was talking to lifelong friend, and I asked about a mutual friend of ours we’ll call Bob. I knew Bob’s marriage had been on the rocks, and was hoping to hear that things were better. But no, I learned that his wife had told him that she wasn’t in love with him and didn’t even find him attractive, but she had no plans to leave the marriage, as they have two young children. Bob, on the other hand, is still very much in love with her, and lives in that heartbreak every day.

If I could have gotten my hands on that woman I would have shaken her till her teeth rattled. Bob is a handsome guy with a wonderful personality, funny and affectionate. He’s a great dad, and loves nothing more than doing stuff with his family. He’s a social person, and loves to get together with friends and their kids for cookouts and fun times. On top of that, he has a great job, and makes well over six figures, so his wife doesn’t even have to work. She has everything in the world she could ever want, and she takes it for granted.

I wish I could say that’s the only situation like that I know of. I have another friend who has checked out of her marriage sexually, and can’t understand why her husband feels the need for a sex life. She admits she isn’t really in love with him anymore, but she doesn’t want a divorce either, as they have four young children. She just expects that he will suck it up and take the marriage on her terms. I know several other women who checked out of their marriages and into affairs.

Now I know it takes two to make a marriage and takes two to break one, but as a single woman who is tired of trying to find a relatively undamaged man, I am ready to scream. The complete unfairness of women who have a good man, children and a family, and then stomp on it drives me crazy. I know it’s true that you never really know someone until you are married to him, but I’ve known these people for many years, and think I have a pretty good idea what kind of men these are by seeing them with their children, and in the years of friendship, both before they were married and since.

I don’t advocate divorce, but I don’t think it’s fair for one spouse to hold the other one as an emotional hostage either. What I wish these women would do is realize what they have, and move heaven and earth to make their husbands happy. If you loved the guy enough to marry him and then have children with him, what gives you the right to decide one day that you don’t want to love him anymore?

In my many years of singleness, I’ve observed a lot of marriages and relationships, including my parents’ 50-year example of how to do it right. I’ve learned how men think, and what men need, and how to make a man feel like a man.  I’ve studied the biblical concept of marriage, and understand why marriage is the toughest relationship on earth because to make it successful, you have to eliminate selfishness. And selfishness is our nature. Selfishness is what makes a wife withhold love from her husband. Selfishness is what makes a person decide they can find something better somewhere else. Selfishness is what makes someone say, “He’s just not meeting my needs.” That’s the problem – too many women get married thinking they’ve found the person that will “complete” her and meet all her needs, without thinking about their responsibility for meeting the needs of her spouse.

I’ve also learned what not to do by watching many people around me crash and burn. What I haven’t learned, is how to overcome the damage inflicted by women who abuse their men with emotional blackmail and other manipulations. There are good men out there, but there are also many who find themselves stuck in loveless marriages, or kicked out of marriages, and find themselves alone, separated from the person they vowed to love ’til death, and often separated from children. For all the damage that divorce causes children, I’ve also seen the damage it causes men who never wanted to be an absentee dad.

It seems that dating past age 35 is like a bowl of granola – once you get past the fruits and nuts, all you have left are the flakes.  The single life is hard.  It’s hard financially, it’s hard emotionally. It’s lonely. Trust me – you do not want to be out here. For all the “freedom” I have as a single woman, I would trade it to be part of a loving partnership. I have to believe there are good men out there. I have to believe that it’s possible. I don’t know why God hasn’t seen fit to send that special man into my life (and believe me, I have asked), but if and when that happens, I will guard and protect that relationship with every fiber of my being. I just don’t understand women who take a good man for granted.

So if you’re lucky enough to have a good man, be grateful – and stay grateful.

Disclaimer:  I know there are selfish men who do the same thing to women, but those are kind of easy to spot out here in the dating world. I know I don’t want one of those!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I've never been one for making New Year's resolutions. I figure, why make some grand plan, and then feel like an epic failure when a month later I've blown it? Better to not risk that.

But that's the problem. Without risk, there is no failure, true, but also without risk there is no reward. So this year is different. I'm still not calling it a NewYear's resolution, but more of a reevaluation and reassessment. My inspiration is somewhat from the movie Yes Man, in which Jim Carrey has to say "yes" to everything. Now, I'm not going to go that far, but what I am going to do is get out of my comfort zone.

I'm old enough to be past the point of caring what people think. I've always been a little too concerned with that. I hate that I never learned to ice skate because I was too embarassed to get out there and go for it. To learn to ice skate, you have to be willing to fall down...and fall again. Not me. I often thought if I could have one hour in an empty rink, I'd soon be twirling and spinning across the ice in no time, but in a rink full of people, I wasn't about to fall on my butt and be the butt of jokes. So I never learned to ice skate well, and I regret it.

My comfort zone has left my life a little too isolated. I go to work and church at the same place, and while I love it and all the people there, unfortunately there are no single people close to my age. I have a lot of great friends, but not one BFF who is single and can go to Target or Seven Bridges on five minutes notice.

So I'm getting out there this year. I'm finally going to go to one of those Meetup Groups and meet other likeminded people. I'm going to start taking tap dance classes again. I'm going to audition for one of the local theatres and hope to get a part, even if it's just in the chorus. I'm going to quit talking about all the things I like to do, and I'm going to get out there and DO them.

So, look Mom! Here I go!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Name change

I decided to change the name of my blog. I didn't like "Leisha's Life" when I chose it, but at the time I couldn't think of anything better.

When I was at Tallahassee Community College, I became the sports editor of the newspaper, and got to write my own column. I named it  "Out of Left Field" because that reflected my somewhat offbeat sensibilities. That title went with me throughout college and into my professional sportswriting career.

I thought about naming my blog the same thing, but as I am pretty staunchly NOT leftward-leaning in any way, shape or form.

So "Out of Right Field" it is... After all, isn't right field where they put the weakest of the outfielders?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The 50th Anniversary Party

The 50th Anniversary Celebration is in the books, and it was a smashing success. More than 100 friends and family members gathered on Dec. 18 to share this incredible occasion. I even managed to get through my speech without dissolving into sobs! I had to stop listening to my brother when he was speaking – his quoting of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 just about did me in!

Here’s an excerpt from what I said about my parents:  Their life has always been together. They were born the same year, graduated from high school the same year, both became teachers, and since meeting at Ga. Southern, have never been apart. For most of the last half of their working lives, they even worked together. Even after they retired, they continued working together in their consulting and antique businesses.

My brother and I have always felt like we grew up in Mayberry. We moved around some before settling in Chattahoochee, which was a wonderful place to grow up. We were part of the last generation who could ride our bikes all over town without worrying. And if we were doing anything we shouldn’t have, news of our escapades usually made it home before we did.

Michael and I loved football, but neither of them cared much for it, but they bought season tickets to FSU games for years. Mom became a huge fan – just ask her about her favorite players, Rohn Stark and Dennis McKinnon!  They were always doing stuff we wanted to do,  and supported whatever it was we did.

They were strict when they needed to be, merciful when we didn’t deserve it, and always made us laugh. One thing that we have always had plenty of is laughter. And when the tough times came, we managed to laugh and love our way through those too.

I’ll never forget my senior year in high school. The family business was suffering and on the verge of failure. Of course, Michael and I had no idea. Mom and Dad had always been frugal, and I didn’t miss out on anything that I remember. But I had big dreams of going off to college and making my way in the world – I even dreamed about going to New York. We had been talking about moving to Tallahassee, as Dad had gotten a new job. Mom and Dad sat me down and told me that they wouldn’t be able to afford to send me to college. I was stunned, but they told me that if I would live at home and go to TCC for the first two years, they would do everything they could to send me wherever I wanted to go my last two years.

God’s hand was all over that situation. Their business losses were so large that my first two years of school were basically paid for. At TCC I got to be the editor in chief of the student newspaper, and got to go to the College Press Association conference in New York! Plus, living at home, I kept a 3.5 GPA! And true to their word, they sent me to Auburn for my last two years of school. It was truly the best decision I could have made.

Also during that senior year, they knew I would need a car, but couldn’t afford to buy me anything new. We’ve always been a Volkswagen family, so they told me I could have a VW Bug. We started looking, and I fell in love with this orange convertible I saw. But, it was out of our price range, so I was content with this yellow one with a sunroof and cloth seats. But when Dad came driving up with my car, it was the orange convertible. Somehow, they pinched pennies, with a little help from my Grandmother, and I had my dream car.

But when I did leave home, like a lot of kids, I wandered away from God. Mom and Dad knew it, but never let that detract from their love for me. I would come home from Auburn with photos of the long-haired, heavy metal rockers I was hanging out with, and they would grit their teeth and smile. And Mom would write me letters, reminding me that I needed to put God first in my life. At the time, I was kind of irritated, but I love that she never gave up on me, or condemned me. She and Daddy loved me through it all.

And I have given them a lot of those gray hairs on their heads. But no matter what scrape I get into, what crisis befalls me, or whenever I need a loan from the First National Bank of Dad, they have always been there for me. I’m so happy to have them here in Jacksonville. I love having my whole family in one place.

Not having a family of my own, I cling to my Mama and Daddy a lot. I’ve always said the reason I’ve never married is that I want what they have, and that doesn’t happen anymore. But I thank God every day for giving me to the best parents in the world.

Here are a few photos from the day. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Legacy of Love

My parents will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary this month. That’s right – 50 years. Fifty. Five-O. To put it bluntly, that just don’t happen much these days, so pardon me if I’m a little proud of them.

When I try to describe my parents’ relationship, I usually tell people that they would be perfectly content if they were the only two people on earth. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it is true that they would rather hang out with each other than with anyone else. My brother and I always knew growing up that we were not the center of the universe.  We knew that we were fortunate to be along on their ride. We were the products of their life together – not the purpose of it.

I always loved the story of their meeting. In 1959, Dad was a sophomore at Georgia Southern College, and Mom had transferred there after spending a year at “the Baptist Convent,” otherwise known as Tift College, an all-girls’ school. (What was she thinking?) When she got to Statesboro, her dorm room was not finished being remodeled, so she had to stay for the first month in the school’s infirmary.

The Baptist Student Union was hosting a Fall Welcome Social, and my dad had volunteered to drive all the girls home in the bus. (He was no dummy!) He had noticed this dark-haired, big-eyed girl with the big smile who looked a lot like his favorite actress, Natalie Wood. But how to separate her from the group of girls she was with? He quickly devised a plan. The infirmary was in the middle of the bus route home, but he drove past it. When the girl saw that he missed her stop, she let him know.

“Oops, sorry,” he said. “And the bus doesn’t have a reverse gear, so I’ll just have to take everybody else and come back.” Like I said – no dummy. So he dropped off everyone else, leaving her as the last one on the bus. Opportunity created – opportunity taken.

He also worked in the cafeteria, and every day at lunch, he would save the biggest, prettiest fried chicken breast for her. Funny thing was, she didn’t like white meat. She was a drumstick girl. But she couldn’t fault him for trying. They began spending time together, mostly going to church and BSU functions, as there wasn’t much money for extravagant dates.

The path to true love did have a bump or two. Dad sort of still had a girlfriend from high school, and when Mom found out about that, she put her foot down. He was going home for a weekend, and Mom told him to either end things with her, or she would end things with him. He came back to school on Sunday evening and old girlfriend was no more.

It didn’t take long for them to find they had much in common. Dad was attracted to Mom’s sense of fun, and he liked that “she was a Christian and serious about it.” Mom liked Dad’s sense of humor and the way he made her laugh. Things progressed, and by the start of the next school year, they were both pretty sure they had found the person they wanted to grow old with.

As children of parents who had come through the Great Depression, they both had a wide practical streak. It wasn’t that they didn’t have dreams – they just had a way of assessing the reality of the situation without a lot of fluff. The story of Dad’s proposal lacks a little bit in the romance department, but knowing the two of them, it fits.

Sitting in the coffee shop one night in the fall of 1960, they were discussing the possibility of getting married. Money was tight, so they were trying to figure out how they could make it financially.

“She told me that we couldn’t get married if we didn’t have enough money to tithe,” Dad recalled. “So I got a napkin and started working out all the numbers and figured out how we could make it happen.”

Evidently they found enough money to cover expenses -- and a tithe --and set the wedding date for December 17 of that year. They decided to get married in the break between quarters, making for less than three months of engagement. Why so fast?

Why not?” Mom replied when I asked. “When you know, you know.” She said at least one person in her hometown speculated that there might be a shotgun involved, since it was happening so fast. (If so, that was the longest pregnancy on record – one week shy of four years later, I was born!)

So in a borrowed dress, using the Christmas decorations already in the church, Mom and Dad exchanged vows on December 17, 1960. I’ve always loved looking at their wedding pictures, especially the one where Mom is looking at Dad instead of at the camera. You can see the love on their faces. Fifty years later, they still look at each other that way.