Friday, March 30, 2018

ROY G. BIVing Living

Several years ago, when I reentered the retail world, I had to relearn an elementary school science lesson: ROY G. BIV, the acronym for the colors that make up the rainbow - Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. It sounded simple enough, but what about the other colors?  I learned that Pink is light red, peach is light orange, teal comes before blue, black goes after violet, and grey is light black.  Why was this important in retail?  Like an elementary school classroom, our store took science seriously and arranged apparel in an orderly ROY G. BIV fashion, perfectly lined up against the wall or at a wooden table. 

Arranging solid shirts according to ROY G. BIV was easy enough, but I soon learned that prints didn't have to follow ROY G. BIV as strictly as the solids. Perhaps they were the teacher’s pets.  A red, orange and yellow multicolored shirt could sit wherever he pleased as long as he didn't sit next to another print. ROY had an important color story to tell, and a print sitting next to a print was a visual interruption.  And if the pampered print shirts weren't annoying enough, I learned that G. BIV considered himself to be a cool color and didn't want to hang out with warm ROY.

I spent nine years watching apparel tell their color stories: the little black dress revealing her sophistication, elegance, and style, and the white dress indicating her purity or simplicity.
I haven’t forgotten ROY G. BIV. It reminds me that we, too, have a story to tell. We can do a little ROY G BIVing, too.

Symbolizing excitement, energy, and speed, a red sweater might be a wise choice when we drag in on Monday, but it also symbolizes aggression; in fact, some car insurance companies charge more for red cars.  December in retail was a nightmare.  Sometimes I wondered what would happen if we changed our store’s d├ęcor to pink (caring) and beige (pleasantness)? Or what would happen if I change my busyness to caring?

Orange demands attention and symbolizes enthusiasm.  When Clinique promoted their fragrance, Happy, we enthusiastically participated by sporting our different shades of orange.  At work or play, enthusiasm is a worthwhile addition.

Yellow, which happens to be my favorite color, symbolizes imagination, friendship, summertime, and hope.  After the cold winter, spring is a season of anticipation. We run to our windows praising the warm sunny days, knowing vacations and gatherings with family and friends draw closer. 

Green is not only associated with envy but also luck.  What color is our money? What a coincidence. 

Blue, another favorite of mine, has been known to have a calming effect and lower blood pressure.  If a cold, dreary week is followed by a blue sky, let it remind you of God’s calming hand and of his faithfulness.

Purple, or violet, is a popular color for Easter because it symbolizes royalty. It’s also believed to relieve migraines.  I once considered sending a note to corporate: paint the shoe department purple during the Easter season.  Purple is also a mysterious color.  Wow, what if the fresh coat of paint brought back all the missing "other" shoes?

Easter. There isn't a better season to talk about a color story.  Retail stores want their products to be as appealing as a basket of dyed eggs.  The Greek word baptizo was often used to describe the procedure in which a piece of cloth was dipped into dye, resulting in an entirely new color.  

I've never dyed cloth but have baptized many Easter eggs with my kids.  We never ROY G. BIVed them, though. The eggs that always stood out to me were the purple or green.  Green is not only luck and envy but also renewal.  Purple is not only royalty and mystery but also transformation.  We have a chance to renew and transform our living with strength, balance, joy, generosity, truth, sincerity, and wisdom.  Easter is a time to find new life, to be baptized by a Savior who transforms our living.  
Happy Easter,


Monday, December 18, 2017

There is Hope

An event in 1974 led to a major decision twenty-one years later. It wasn't Watergate or the disbanding of the Beatles.  It was a television event, and I fell in love with a name, Hope. 

I grew up in a world where teenagers watched soap operas, so a few hours before The Brady Bunch, I watched Days of Our Lives.  Here's a little Days, that's what we called the show, history.

Addie Horton discovered that she was pregnant but also ill with Leukemia. Instead of harming the baby with treatments, she let the cancer take its course.  Addie and Doug named their first and only child Hope. Soon afterwards, as Addie was walking with Hope, a car spun out towards them, and Addie (realizing she wouldn't live long) pushed Hope's stroller to safety and let the car hit her instead, killing her instantly.

This was an emotional event for a Days loving adolescent girl, and I remember thinking, "what a beautiful name, so positive," and because I dreamed of prince charming, a house, and perfect children, Hope was placed in the back of my head for a future baby name.

Each time I read a verse with the word hope, especially Hebrews 11:1  "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see," I feel in love with the name again, for I was a daydreamer with many hopes.

My Grandmother King, a gracious, sociable lady, suffered with an immune deficiency for many years.  Seeing her ill so often, I once said to her, "I know you're tired of always being sick."  She replied, "Honey, where there is life, there is hope."  I remembered those words when I was pregnant, and although I often heard, "That's an old name, isn't it?" and "There are so many popular names to choose from, what about....,” I didn't waver. On December 18, 1995, one week before Christmas, baby Susannah Hope was born.

Hope cried night and day for two months and went through the terrible twos at the age of one, but other than that, she was, and still is, a delight. Teachers described her as “the sweetest.” Friends and family describe her as sweet, funny, beautiful, and caring.  

Hope wasn't the most popular name for a baby then nor is it now, but I look at her with a mother's heart and believe she genuinely lives up to her name.  Even though Hope shares my love of sarcasm, she lights up every room she enters. 

The name stayed with me because it was positive, and so is my daughter. She offers so much to her world: patience, kindness, laughter, and compassion. I cannot imagine a world without my Hope.  As a sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece, and cousin, Hope brings life to our gatherings.  She shows us the Holy Spirit.  

"And his name will be the hope of all the world." Matthew 12:21

I also cannot imagine life without the hope of all the world, Jesus.  


....what we hope for.  Of course, I hope for material and selfish things. I hope for good health for myself, my family, and my friends.  I hope for the best in life even though I often don't know what that looks like, which is where faith enters the picture.  I hope for peace and salvation for family, friends, and people I meet.

There are many reasons to feel hopeless: poor health, poverty, relationship problems, depression, loss, and uncertainties. But there is hope.

In Taylor Caldwell's short story, "My Christmas Miracle," packages from a stranger arrive unexpectedly on Christmas Eve to a single mother with a hungry daughter and no job.  And she writes, "and a sweet peace flooded me like a benediction. I had some hope again."  Even in the darkest times, there is hope.

It's the season to offer hope to all the world through Angel Trees with names of strangers, gifts to co-workers and neighbors in need, encouragement to friends with life-changing uncertainties, visits to families who feel forgotten.  With every dollar given, present unwrapped, meal cooked, hospital corridor walked, or encouragement offered, we give a promise.  There is hope. 

Happy 22nd Birthday to my Hope, who has makes our world more positive, our home more joyful, and our hearts more grateful.

We Love You,

Dad, Mom, Luke, and James

I hope each of you experience Christ, the Hope of the World,


Anderson Area Charity in Need: New Foundations Children and Youth Services in Anderson, South Carolina.

A story of hope and good Christmas read, written by a dear friend and author, Laura Hodges Poole: "A Christmas Chance."

Two short stories about the hope we can bring to others during this season:

My Christmas Miracle by Taylor Caldwell

A Gift of the Heart by Norman Vincent Peale

During my "research," on Wikipedia, I found an interesting fact about the actress who played Addie Horton on Days of Our Lives. Patricia Barry played Addie from April 19, 1971 to June 28, 1974. Barry reprised her role as Addie for one episode on December 18, 1974.

Friday, December 15, 2017


Nostalgia -a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
My sentimental longing began this year when I delivered a Poinsettia from my church to Mrs. Evelyn Wilson.  She cannot hear, but I knocked on the window of her door until she looked up and saw me.  On her notebook, I wrote my name, my husband’s name, and the name of our church.  She nodded and talked to me.  When I wrote my parents’ names, Mrs. Wilson smiled brightly and said, “I remember you when you were a little girl.” 

    My childhood was more than a few decades ago, and I’ve seen her many times as an adult, but the sweetness of her memory filled me with joy and made me laugh.  We talked for about ten minutes. I had a prior commitment and regretted leaving, but I drove away grateful for sweet personal associations like Mrs. Wilson who filled my past with kind words and wisdom.

I promised myself and my daughter that I’d carefully sort through my Christmas decorations and purge, and I’m proud to report that I’ve been successful. However, some treasures cannot be discarded. Three hours after visiting Mrs. Wilson, I found something I had forgotten about, a small, red, wooden musical jewelry box given to me by my childhood best friend, Allyson.  There’s a Hummel angel on the box along with the year 1975.

The hinges are broken, so for the past ten years or more, I’ve returned it to the storage box. That night, I placed it next to a musical figurine on a table in my living room, grateful for dear personal associations like Allyson who filled my past with delight and generosity.

    The following day, my mom and I relived past Christmas Eves with my dad’s family, the Browns.  We shared these memories with my son Luke, laughing as we recalled our varied Christmas dinners. No matter what the menu, Mom cooked her famous meatballs, there was always some kind of sandwich, and Dad brought boiled shrimp because it was Luke’s favorite.  One year, instead of a ham or roast, Aunt Glenda (Dad’s sister) made lasagna.  Another year, our Christmas Eve dinner was breakfast. We enjoyed our smorgasbord at the table, the hearth, the sofa, or an ottoman.  

As a child, I drew names with my cousins and remember how excited I was buying one of them a gift.  The adults drew names as well, and Mom and I shook our heads at the chaos of everyone loudly opening gifts at the same time. 

When we grew up, the cousins began exchanging names with our parents and aunts and uncles.  After boxes, ribbons, wrapping paper and tissues were ripped and tossed, we took the volume to a low roar and semi-listened as each family member, beginning with the oldest, gave a lengthy show and tell of gifts, each requiring a story or a joke from another family member. 

     When the cousins became parents, we passed our babies around, tied ribbons on their heads, then when they were older, let them play dress up and fight over toys. 

     A few years ago, we abandoned the gift exchange for the Dirty Santa game. As if the Brown family needed another reason to argue, this Dirty Santa involved both useful and gag gifts, so our chances of taking home a gag gift increased with each steal. 
Dad and his siblings are no longer with us, and several of my cousins live too far to stop by for Christmas Eve.  But, we have the in-laws (or out-laws as Uncle Sam calls them), and we try to be together.  The menu might be soup and sandwiches or a Christmas Eve feast, but I promised Mom there'd be meatballs. 

 We may not bring gifts. We may only meet for an hour or two.  But, we will laugh. We’ll create memories, grateful for decades of love and laughter provided by the most personal of our associations, the Brown Family.