Nephews and nieces. I always knew I’d love having my own children, but nothing prepared me for the blessing of my nephews and nieces. The joy they bring to my life is an ongoing delight.
Rosa Parks. And Ruby Bridges. And Brown of Brown v. Board. And so many more. These women gave me the opportunity to have friends I could never have known without their courageous acts.
Carrot cake. As I recall, the first time I tasted it was when Mother was trying out a new recipe. I’ve loved it ever since. Especially with extra cream cheese frosting. The best! If you’re in Western North Carolina, you can get great carrot cake at My Father’s Pizza in Black Mountain and in Weaverville at Well-Bred. I mean, it’s not my Mother’s, but it’s worth the drive!
Diet Mountain Dew. (Don’t judge.)
My kids’ friends. Who knew that my kids’ besties would become friends of mine? What unexpected gifts.
Dinner on the deck. When we were kids, summer meant cookouts with friends and meals eaten outside. These days, as soon as it’s warm enough, my family eats on the deck. Food’s just better out there.
Church. From Five Points Missionary Baptist Church (now Forest Hills) in Wilson, through First Baptist Church of Marion, to FBC Weaverville. I love church: I loved two-week long revivals (I went with Daddy if he preached out of town) and VBS that was also two weeks. Church is truly one of my favorite things. No kidding.
Pop music. When I was in college, a professor told me that adults stop listening to pop music and gravitate towards classical, country, or oldies. I thought that was a sweeping generalization even then and it has not proven true for me. I listen to what my kids do. Well, more or less. I don’t listen to opera or organ music like my son, or bassoon sonatas like my daughter, but you get the point.
The NC mountains. Yeah, I know they aren’t the Rockies, but they are home.
Jimmy Carter. The guy is 92 and is still building houses. That is impressive enough, but he is also still teaching Sunday school! Fantastic!
Clementines. Oranges that are easy to peel=Perfection.
Zero Bars. I rarely eat them anymore, but they are the standard by which I measure all other candy bars.
Boat riding. Oh how I love riding in a fast boat! And
Water skiing. It’s a little like flying, a little like walking on water, and a whole lot of fun.
Queso. Liquid cheese=culinary delight.
Drinking straws. Especially the purple ones.
Purple. The best color of them all!
Porch swings. When I sit in a porch swing, I’m transported to the 1970’s and my grandparents’ house in Albany, Georgia where I listen to my cousin sing and play her guitar. Or I find myself in one of a dozen other special places that are marked by the presence of an inviting swing. Sweet.
Denzel Washington. I appreciate beauty; what can I say?
Ellen Degeneres. Every day, she reminds people to be kind to one another. What a wonderful world it would be . . ..
Tie Dye. My garment of choice is almost always something tie-dyed. Favorite tie-dye? Purple of course.
Tervis cups. Lifetime guarantee, endless varieties, lids with straws. (See #27 above.)
Audiobooks. When I discovered these, it transformed my long drives into time-just-for-me. I listen to my favorite speakers or authors and instead of being drained by driving, I’m energized by new information.
Bananagrams. No other game compares to this fast-paced scrabble-style word game. Want to play? Let’s get together!
Video chat. Of course, there’s nothing like the real thing (baby), but seeing my loved ones faces when we chat is pretty close. I’m grateful for this technology that, at least momentarily, eliminates the distance of my far away friends and family.
Nonfiction. I do love a good story; but I’ve gravitated towards nonfiction my whole life. (I can still picture the biography section of my elementary school library.) True stories always called out to me even louder than their imaginary counterparts.
History. My favorite subject, my undergraduate major. Love it.
Preaching. Never expected to love preaching like I do. Such a beautiful surprise.
Finding Nemo. Best animated movie ever made. This is fact, not opinion.
Board games. There are few board games I don’t enjoy playing. Even when I’m not very good at the game, I still enjoy playing.
Also card games. I don’t remember learning how to play cards. I think I was playing solitaire before I was in school. I played Crazy Eights and Go Fish, Canasta and Rook, and just about any card game you can name. A side note: my mother had played cards all of her life like I did. Daddy though, was never allowed to play cards and knew absolutely nothing about them. My mother taught him the basics (like how to hold the cards in his hand without dropping them all or showing them to the other players) and eventually he could play Rook with the rest of Mother’s clan. Pretty sure she never let on to Daddy’s mama though. That would not have been pretty.
Watermelon. I like watermelon even if it’s not that great. But a cold Congo watermelon? That’s a taste of the divine!
And Tim Conway. Have you seen the skit where they are playing password and Tim Conway goes off about Siamese elephants? Drop what you’re doing and watch that right now.
Children’s books. One of the best parts of my job as a children’s minister is reading picture books to children. Sometimes, like if it’s my birthday or something, my own children will sit and listen to me read their favorites again. That right there? That’s life at its finest.
Robert Lake Park, Montreat, NC. I took my kids there when they were little, and I took the kids from church there last week. Putting my toes in that icy cold creek and watching kids play in the water and the Montreat park—that’s one of my favorite things ever.
Yellow roses. From the first time I saw them, they were my favorite flower. Put those with daisies and you get Aileen’s favorite floral arrangement.
Grace. Grace is my hands down favorite thing. I mess up all the time. When someone offers me grace, it’s just the best. The absolute best.
My birthday! It is infinitely better to get older than the alternative.