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The Kindness of Strangers



Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 | 4 comments


It was a day of inconveniences, the kind where you wonder if you’ll be able to get it all done.


Since I was driving out of town the next day, taking my car to the shop for its past due oil change was top priority. The wait was hours long without an appointment (what? they take appointments?!), and I could’ve kicked myself for not bringing work along, or better yet, a book from my never shrinking stack. I called my son to see if he could leave his job to come and get me. He said yes, but even his time was limited, and he didn’t have the extra minutes to run by the grocery store on the way home so I could grab something to cook for dinner.

Influenced by both our year living in Germany (where we biked or walked everywhere) and my husband’s wellness plan at work (that pays us to track health and fitness), I made the decision to have him drop me at Publix and I’d walk home.

While I had mentally calculated the distance between home and Publix – a little more than a mile – I hadn’t factored in July’s stifling heat and humidity. Mylanta, summertime in middle Georgia is a big, fat, steamy sauna.

I crossed the street into my neighborhood, sweat-drenched and questioning my sanity. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, especially if I wanted to have dinner ready before midnight. Now, I would’ve been happy to troll the pantry and make a meal out of Cream of Mushroom Soup and Ritz Crackers–aren’t they the base of every good casserole, anyway?

About that time I sensed a car approaching from behind, slowing down beside me. I kept a confident and determined stride, staring straight ahead and painting a fiercely intimidating expression on my face (a surefire method for disarming potential kidnappers and murderers). I tried to act like I didn’t notice them…

Which is next to impossible when the window rolls down and you hear…


Please click over to Grace Table today to discover what happens next!
(It’s a story I love.)

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#SolarEclipse2017: A Playlist To Maximize Your Viewing Experience



Posted by on Aug 21, 2017 | 6 comments


Really, truly, it doesn’t make sense even to me:


Ever since my sister mentioned today’s total solar eclipse ages ago – The Greatest Celestial Event since the founding of our country – I’ve been downright giddy at the thought of it. It is even the inspiration for my (in)courage post today. I’m a little jellie, (okay…a lot) of the folks who’ll see it along the path of totality (I’m looking at you, Sissy), and I am K.I.C.K.I.N.G. myself for not getting eclipse glasses (in case you’re wondering, stacking sunglasses will not prevent damage to your eyes. Darn.)

It looks like we’ll have pretty good coverage where I live, maybe 90-95% (HOLLA Macon, GA! The moon will be closest to the sun at 2:39pm. Set your watches, homies.)

I’m back from a long weekend out of town and don’t have time to go deep with All The Eclipse-inspired Thoughts I’m having this morning, so I thought it would be fun to create a playlist of sun- and moon-themed songs to play during eclipse viewing. Please do chime in with your favorite, or share good songs I’ve missed.

And my FAVORITE sun-song:


And for the moon songs?


And because this is an Event for the Ages, I believe it’s absolutely appropriate to end with one of my top favorite songs of all time: 100 Years by Five for Fighting, a reminder of life’s brevity.


Today is a day we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. For the first time in a very long while, it feels like we live in “one Nation, under God, indivisible.” I have this lovely sense of human connectedness that feels both foreign and familiar.

This moment is fleeting but the memory is forever. 

Hold tight. 

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On (my) radio silence



Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 | 5 comments


Most folks reading my blog today don’t know me from back in those early days, the ones after the six months or so when I never actually told anyone I had a blog; the years and years I published daily and when comment threads created vibrant community among virtual strangers.

That season was before blogging conferences en masse became a thing, when BlogHer was the only show in town; it was founded the same year I started my (at-the-time-anonymous) blog. Back then bloggers didn’t trust the internet. We typically didn’t reveal our real name, we didn’t include pictures of ourselves (for years my avatar was my feet), and we would NEVER dream of sharing images of our children.

That last one’s hard to believe, yes?

It was also before Zuckerberg figured out what Facebook was, and definitely before it caught the attention of Boomers and Gen X. Twitter hadn’t even been born.  Pre- YouTube, Instagram, podcasting, and OH MY WORD–I just realized smart phones hadn’t yet been invented! (Technically, I guess they had…Blackberry and all, but I’m talking pre-iPhone….)

There are a lot of years between then and now – almost 12 – and the changes in my life since then are significant.

But this isn’t about that, exactly; nor is it about the seismic shift in blogging and how social networks forever-impacted its landscape.

It’s mostly about all the noise out there. I had to quiet my heart…my head…my soul.

Wait a second…that’s not entirely accurate. The noise does have something to do with it – there is no dearth of opinions about everyfrickingthing, and does what I write (say) add value or just more noise? – but it was more about the way I had my phone in my hand more often than not, the way I was umbilical corded to technology.


While there has been a lot going on this summer – a wedding, travel, moving, and then some – one day it was like a switch flipped, and I couldn’t do it anymore.



For a few weeks I ignored messages, emails, and who knows what else, and I shared next to nothing. It was an unofficial sabbatical of sorts, and I’m afraid that meant missing some writing obligations, too (Please forgive me if you fall into this camp? Can I beg grace??).

But it sure did feel liberating.

Anyways, I’ve been missing writing lately, and that feels good. During my sabbatical I had a revelation of sorts, and it has my brain all spinny. It’s the kind of substantive thing that will take a while to unpack, and I’m trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts; some of them are important, and I humbly believe will bring more value than noise to the internets.

I hope a few of you are still around to listen.








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Amazon Prime Day aka Christmas In July!



Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 |

amazon-prime-dayToday is Amazon Prime Day. and I’m sneaking out from under my unofficial social media hiatus to urge you to try Amazon Prime today while it’s FREE (for 30 days). What exactly is Amazon Prime Day?, you ask. Think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any ol’ retail bargainpalloosa.

Some deals are major, some, less spectacular, but with free shipping and additional incentives, there is no better time to try Amazon Prime. Check these out:

I’m already an Amazon Prime member, and it’s been fun scrolling through the deals (more of that to come, but for now, I wanted to put a little (Amazon) Fire (Tablet) under your behind to pull the trigger and sign up. I think you’ll be glad and get your money’s worth out of it in no time.

DO let me know if you snag a special deal! They ARE timed, so if there’s something you want, get it while you can!

If you happen to sign up for Prime through affiliate links on my post, it’ll be your way of supporting my blog at no added cost to you! The winning doesn’t stop, does it?

(Thank you!)


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Leigh’s (Almost) Famous Shrimp and Grits Casserole



Posted by on Jun 18, 2017 | 1 comment



One of my favorite things is tasting a dish that is so delicious, I must ask for the recipe; and, then every time I make it, I think of the person who now mingles her kitchen with mine. When I had my friend Leigh’s Shrimp and Grits Casserole, I knew it was one of those. It’s easy, a little bit fancy, and diverse enough to serve for brunch or dinner. It’s a turn on traditional shrimp and grits, and if you don’t care for either, well, a) try this and you might change your mind, or b) if you’re a hard-core hater, I feel for ya. (Unless you’re like my friend Holley, who has a worse-than-Will-Smith-in-Hitch reaction to shellfish. She can’t even look at ’em.)

Leigh’s Scrumptious, Easy
Southern Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Pre-heat oven to 350°F
Lightly grease a 9×12″ baking dish

  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup regular grits (not quick cooking)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack pepper cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ pound fresh (or frozen) shrimp, peeled and cooked
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained (Rotel)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Bring 4 cups chicken broth and ½ teaspoon salt to boil in a saucepan; stir in grits.
  2. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir together grits, ¾ cup cheddar cheese, and Monterey jack cheese.
  4. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; add green onions, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté until tender.
  5. Stir together green onion mixture, grits mixture, shrimp, and next 3 ingredients.
  6. Pour into a lightly-greased 2-quart baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle top with remaining ¼ cup cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 30-45 minutes.

Personal notes:

  • Leigh actually got the recipe from her friend Lisa; clearly good recipes keep goin’ and goin’, Energizer Bunnies of the culinary world.
  • Using half each of a red and green bell pepper make this dish especially festive at Christmas.
  • Depending on how much heat you like in a dish, you might want to use more cheddar and less jack cheese; or, if you want to add more heat, use Rotel’s spicier version of tomatoes. You can mix up the dish with your favorite cheeses, too.
  • This divides well into two smaller casseroles; keep one and give the other to someone who could use a meal!


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Dabo Swinney’s White House Speech Will Make You A Clemson Fan (Full Transcript)



Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 | 3 comments

Dabo Swinney quote from national champions White House visit - June 2017

Today Coach Dabo Swinney and the national champion Clemson Tigers visited The White House, and President Trump said a lot of nice words about the team, individual players, Clemson’s president James Clements, and head coach Dabo Swinney. But it was Coach Swinney’s heart-felt speech that made me proud to be a graduate; if I had a son who was competitive as a D1 player, I’d want him to play for Dabo.


Coach Swinney’s speech was so positive and affirming, I took time to listen to it seventy-eleven times so I could transcribe it in its entirety. I’m pretty sure at this point I could give it myself.


If you take a few minutes to read it (or click the video below to watch and listen), you’ll understand why I’m not just a Clemson fan, but also a Dabo Swinney fan. Even if you can’t stand Clemson (haters gonna hate), it’s hard to argue with Dabo’s results.


Thanks to The White House for broadcasting this moment for all Tigers fans to enjoy, and to the ACC Digital Network for posting it on You Tube.


Alright, I appreciate it. Uh, thank you so much, what a, what a special and unique opportunity this is to stand here and look at the Washington Monument and have a chance to also see this trophy, and have the opportunity to speak to all of you today.


It’s such an honor to be a part of such a special tradition, a special and unique tradition, where the White House and the President honor the champions. And that’s exactly what these guys are. They’re the champions. Lets give ’em a hand.


I really thought we were going to be here last year, I really did, but we came up a little short and I am so, so thankful and glad, that my players and my staff has had the opportunity to experience what I got a chance to experience as a player as a part of the Alabama National Championship team in 1992. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to tour the White House and see all the great history and to just experience this great day.  So thank you so much.


I appreciate everyone involved. I know there’s a lot of logistics to make something like this happen. From the Secret Service to all of our folks at Clemson, to all the WH staff and what a special, special day it’s been. So thank you so much for the opportunity.


The Bible says in 1 Corinthians, “in a race everybody runs, but only one wins first prize. So run your race in such a way as to win.”


And that’s exactly what this team did. And that’s exactly what this team epitomized.


They did that with great leadership, belief, accountability, heart, genuine love and appreciation for one another, and they did it with great chemistry.


This was a team that bought in to one of our core values. I believe it was George Washington Carver who said, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”


And eight-plus years ago I had a group of young men come together that bought into that very core value; it’s not the big things it’s the little things, we’re going to do the common things in an uncommon way. And when we do that, we will command the attention of the world.


And this group of young men behind me, that’s exactly what they did.


Yeah, we got good players and good coaches, but they did the little things better than everyone else. And to stand here and have the opportunity like we had today is a great credit to this team and what they did starting last year.


So it’s great to be back together and getting the chance to reminisce with some of these guys that I haven’t seen for a little while. I appreciate Mr. McNair for getting a couple of our players here. But it’s great to be back together one more time.


And I just, I wanna make a message really to our players. Because this is, this is a special moment. Ya know, back in January, that was an incredible moment. What a moment, January 9th, into the 10th actually, what an incredible moment that was.


And then I had a chance to see a lot of these guys put those caps and gowns on and become graduates of Clemson University.  What a special moment.


Some of ’em have already taken jobs, getting their first paycheck. Special moment.


Some of these guys have signed with NFL teams. What a special moment.


Being here at the White House as the nation’s champion? What a special moment.


But I want you players to know that there’s going to be other special moments. There’s going to be other special moments–when you get married, when you become a father, when you buy that first house. There’s going to be other special moments.


Ten years from now we’re going to have a special moment when we have a reunion. Some of you are going to be bald, some of you are going to have big bellies. But it’s goin’ be a special moment when we get back together.


But I want you all to know, all you players, and really everyone, life is not about those moments. Life is truly about how we live between the moments. That’s really what it comes down to. It’s all about how we live between the moment. It’s just doing the little things in a great way. It’s the daily focus and purpose and commitment and attitude that you choose to embrace every single day between those moments.


That’s what we’re all going to be defined by.


So I challenge you players and our team as we come together one last time, I challenge y’all, as we all move on with our lives to take those core values that we have at Clemson, take ’em with you. Take ’em with you. Continue to do the common things in your life in an uncommon way. Continue to be All In, continue to apply Best as the standard in everything you do.


Be a person of excellence in everything you do. As a worker, as a husband, as a father. Every thing that you choose to do, put your heart into it. If you don’t take anything else from this past year’s season, you saw what can happen when you see a group of people come together and really put their heart into something.


When you put your heart into something, you can make up that little extra, that little extra, because you go a little bit above and beyond, and that’s what this team has done.


So, my prayer is that you guys will take this with you.


And most of all, that you keep that windshield mentality that you’ve seen every single day that you’ve been at Clemson. I hope you’ll take that windshield mentality with you ’cause no matter what’s behind us, good or bad, in the rearview mirror, it’s always about what’s next. It’s always about what’s next, and the best truly is yet to come.


And the last thing I want to say is I love all of you.


It’s something that we dreamed about, this is something that we all dreamed about. But we all understand that the goals that we’ve had, they pale in comparison to the daily commitment that it took to get here.


So I hope that y’all will take this with you.


And President Trump, I want to thank you for giving us this special time. I know you’re a busy man. Thank you for giving us this special time, and this opportunity for us to come together as a team and celebrate an incredible moment in all of our lives; something we’ll take with us for the rest of our lives.


And we are truly excited about having a great day in Washington, DC. The food was excellent. We’re gonna head over to the Capital here in a little bit. I’m sure there’s plenty of orange over there. Look forward to just hanging out here in DC for a while  and then getting back to business tomorrow. So Thank you President Trump, I know it is your birthday on Wednesday, so happy early birthday to you.


So on behalf of our team, on behalf of our staff, our board, President Clements and our AD Dan Radakovich, I want to present to you a jersey from the National Champions, a jersey to you and your son, Barron, as well. So I’ll hand that off to you here.

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