I have often heard it said that America, as we know it, was born around the kitchen table. That being the case, America is alive and well in the home of Nancy and Allen Hardy.

In a tradition dating back to her mother, Lexie (Mrs. Lee Kirkland), Nancy prepares lunch for her family, and whoever, every Sunday. When the head count "squeezes the pot," Allen is on alert to pick up favorite family add-tos.

The kitchen table which is the favorite gathering place for this true American family, was once a bowling lane in the old Orange Bowl Bowling Alley, located in the present site of Sports Unlimited on downtown Beacon Street.

This "family home" has been enlarged through the years to make room for everyone and their friends lucky enough to be included.

There is a table in the den and the dining room for the overflow from the favorite kitchen table, which is the centerpiece of the family.

Regulars for Sunday lunch with Allen and Nancy include their children, Andy, Penny, Nicholas and Georgia Hardy, Dr. Andy, Jenny, Grace and Henry Dabbs, and Ben and Hannah Hardy, and often Babs (Wayne) Kirkland and Amy Kirkland Johnston.

There is always a special place for Allen's parents, Mary and Dewitt Hardy.

The strays on this particular Sunday included Tyler Moore and me, and three lucky dogs, Pup, Lucy and Buddy, who long ago read the sign in the yard, "If you are hungry and homeless, come on in," and became a part of this wonderful family who got its start at the kitchen table.


A spirited, joyful group of ladies from First Baptist Church, known as the Women's Enrichment Ministry, hosted Spring Fling Day at the church Saturday, March 23.

The purpose of the event was to show women of all ages that there is joy to be found in everything they do as they seek a deeper more intimate relationship with Christ.

Quoting Sarah Young, author of "Jesus Calling," "A thankful, joyful heart lifts us above our circumstances."

Joy and Jesus were hand in hand as we were entertained by the Heaven Bound Clowns of Alabama.

God was in their crazy shenanigans and the Jesus stories they told. Sidney Covington, co-anchor of WALT radio's "Mornings in Meridian," was both entertaining and emphatic in stressing the Biblical command that we are "not to find time for joy, but to make time for joy."

Roberta Byars, a.k.a. Citizen of the Year, Juanita of The Casserole Patrol, and drama coach at First Baptist, re-enacted the Biblical story of Rahab, the prostitute, emphasizing the truth that no sin is too big for Jesus to forgive.

He can use us all. Carly Byars Rounsaville suggested that time management and organization make more time for us to enjoy the joy-filled things in life. There were also break-out groups on balloon art and making prayer beads.

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord" was the blessing of the day as guests gathered at the tables for lunch.


There is a lot to be said about family vacations. One truth is that they don't always turn out as planned.

Carolyn and Stanley Dearman and their great-grandchildren, Mason Daniels, 11, and Maggie Manning, 9, planned an early morning departure to Gulf Breeze, Florida to visit Lisa Daniels.

The plan was to arrive in Gulf Breeze before Andra Daniels left to return to Meridian where she attends nursing school.

"What is that I hear running?" Stanley was forced to stay home and await the plumber.


Raise your hand if you have ever been to Flora-Bama. On Sunday? While visiting her sister, Dale Montgomery in Perdido, Florida, Mitzi Stribling worshipped at Flora-Bama with an estimated standing-room-only crowd of 400-plus, in perhaps the most popular bar in this Gulf area.

The bar runs wide-open seven days a week with no closing time.

Come Sunday morning, the tent adjacent to the bar becomes a place of solemn worship. "They come in shorts, bathing suits and flip-flops, often with a beer in hand or perhaps a plate of food from the bar to hear the Word," Mitzi told me.


"Worship at the Water" had its beginning in July 2011. Located on the Florida-Alabama state line, it is an outreach ministry of the Perdido Methodist Church. A Bible study group meets in one of the bar rooms on Wednesday evenings.

Many of the resident-worshipers wear t-shirts which read, "My Church is Flora-Bama." Music is led by a number of praise bands.

While no collection is taken during the service, neon fishing tackle buckets are placed at strategic points throughout the bar for offerings.

In the summertime, bottles of water and fans are available for the worshipers.

"I was engulfed in the amazement of it all," Mitzi told me. "Kent and I went there in the 80's when we were students at Mississippi State, but never on Sunday!"