Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Reverse Bucket List

First birthday!
At the Big Five-O, one starts to be reflective.

I was the firstborn to Mary Alice and Samuel St. Clair Keenan and named Samalee Rose after my father and a grandmother and, possibly an aunt. I'm fairly positive I would have been a "Jr." had I been a boy. Born on June 28, 1964, at 8:08am weighing 8 lbs, 8 oz and was 18" long (all stretched out) my mom said I resembled a shoebox. The good people of Ferriday, Louisiana, in Concordia Parish (there are no counties in my home state) never knew what energy had been released on that day!

My first 50 years have been jam-packed with travel and culture and with the brilliance of laughter and the dull ache of mournful sobs. I say, there is no better way to experience every ounce of life squeezed into a cup and enjoyed than with those dearest to your heart. My husband says my life's motto should be "Let's Go!" YES, HE TRULY GETS ME! If the past is a prediction of the future, I believe the next 50 will be just as full as the previous! So, with that I have tried to encapsulate 50 years with 50 bullet points in a listing of have-dones, instead of to-dos! With the glorious exception of 1-4, there is no order of importance.

MY REVERSE BUCKET half-a-century old!

  1. God answered a young girl’s request for her future hubby to have green eyes when I married Terry Gene Allen on August 23, 1985.
  2. Although considered a “high risk pregnancy,” I gave birth to Jonathan Dane Allen, the joy of my heart, on February 20, 1991. I danced with my son on his wedding day, September 14, 2013.
  3. With my hubby, we raised a son who loves God, still loves us, adores his wife, Emily Marie, and is in the ministry!
  4. While at a kids camp in Woodworth, Louisiana, I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and be my Savior in 1974!
  5. As an elementary student, I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland.
  6. As an adult, I traveled to Denmark with a caffeinated team of students and adults.
  7. Marveled at the famed White Cliffs of Dover from a ferry in England.
  8. Walked the pristine streets and footbridges in Holland.
  9. Zip-Lined and Cave Tubed in the rainforest of Belize on Thanksgiving Day.
  10. Sleighed in a horse-drawn wagon to celebrate Christmas Day with family and strangers at a barn in Montana dining on Rocky Mountain Oysters and huckleberry coffee.
  11. Celebrated New Year’s in La Paz, Bolivia. Elevation: <12,000 ft. sipping warm goat milk and cheese cracker rolls.
  12. Learned to snow ski in Aspen and water ski on D’Arbonne.
  13. Learned to scuba dive with my son in Cozumel.
  14. Ice Skated in Rockefeller Plaza, NYC.
  15. Climbed ALL, repeat.. ALL the steps from the base to the crown in the Statue of Liberty.
  16. Experienced the grandeur of the Grand Canyon’s rim while riding a horse.
  17. Kissed my hubby at sunset on the Ganges River in Calcutta, India, while floating on a small wooden vessel.
  18. Like it was secret nobody else knew, I encouraged my son to listen for the sizzling of the sun setting into the ocean while cruising in the middle of the ocean.
  19. Have lived in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Have been to 40 of our nation’s 50 states and Washington D.C.! Only 10 more to go!
  20. Loaded my Mother, Mother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law into a car for a fast road trip to the Wild West where we rode horses up a mountain, saw snow in summer and stayed in a historic hotel!
  21. Rafted part of the Colorado River, twice.
  22. Rafted part of the Rio Grande River in New Mexico, with my 70 year old momma!
  23. Camped and hiked in the Great Smokey Mountains, in the Cumberland Mountains and in the Rocky Mountains (where we had a snowball fight in August)!
  24. In Colorado, made my son’s dream of climbing a mountain come true. After reaching the top and standing in a field of flowers, it began to sleet and snow in the summer!
  25. Peddled a bike 16 miles (with my hubby and 7 year old son) next to the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon and climbed to Hanging Lake midway during the ride wearing flat, cute shoes. My feet paid the price of me looking cute, that day.
  26. Hiked “The M” above Missoula, Montana, with dear friends.
  27. Wept like a child on the shoulder of a friend standing on the side of a mountain in Glacier International Peace Park on the one-month anniversary of my hubby surviving a heart attack.
  28. Visited Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming where buffalo came close to our car and, later, witnessed a Grizzly with her two cubs on a green knoll.
  29. Peered through a Park Ranger’s binoculars at a Black Bear with her three cubs napping up in the green canopy of a tree in Cade’s Cove, Tennessee.
  30. Got dangerously (and stupidly) close to a hungry, young Black Bear looking for a pic-a-nic basket in that same cove.
  31. Went spelunking in Salt Petre Cave in Grassy Cove, Tennessee, for eight hours with 45 students and staffers. Would do it, again!
  32. Repelled the 160’ drop beside the beautiful Ozone Falls near Crab Orchard, Tennessee.
  33. Youth Pastored with hubby from 1983 until 2000 in 5 churches and 3 states reaching students for Christ and raising bucks for missions! Best Job!
  34. Senior Pastored with hubby for a blazing 10 months in Lebanon, TN, prior to…
  35. …Terry and I accepting the appointment as District Youth Directors for the Tennessee Assemblies of God for the next 11+ years! Next best job!
  36. Taught many students to play piano, to sing, to lead worship and to lead a worship team. Later, watched some of those students teach others.
  37. Almost a portion of every summer of my life has been spent in “Neverland” (a.k.a. kids or youth camp).
  38. Have partnered with Terry in working together in ministry 3 years longer than we’ve been married!
  39. Dates aren’t really sacred cows with us and we’ve spent 28 wedding anniversaries, somewhere and not always on the actual date, together at “Neverland,” with “The Lion King” on Broadway, on the “Vineyard,” and yelling “Boomer Sooner” at an Oklahoma football game.
  40. Skipped church on a Sunday morning in December to attend a Tennessee Titans football game...on the 50 yard line...while it snowed...with a Native American Indian and my hubby…for free! Oddly enough, it was already on my To-Do Bucket List.
  41. I set a new year’s goal and actually accomplished it! <and the crowd goes wild!>
  42. Slowly ran a 10K and crossed the finish line hand-in-hand with my hubby!
  43. Caught over 30 trout in one day and ate 1 grilled over hot coals for lunch.
  44. The actor, Tom Hanks, asked me for BBQ chicken on the set of Castaway in Memphis.
  45. Ate haggis. Ate the top taste-bud layer of cow tongue. Ate octopus. Ate lobster. Ate crawfish. Ate rattlesnake. Ate shark.
  46. Reduced cholesterol almost 100 points by a miracle of God!
  47. At age 13, recorded an album with a singing group! I sounded like a chipmunk.
  48. At age 27, sang on the stage of the Grand Old Opry in Nashville with the first TN Assemblies of God State Youth Choir. Technically, my son has been on that stage, too. I was pregnant!
  49. Started a fruit butter business, Samalee’s Butters, but was too busy in ministry to keep it going. Pumpkin, Apple, Strawberry, Orchard and Banana Nut tasted wonderful! However, Apricot and Pear were exquisite and Plum tasted like Christmas in a jar!
  50. From January to my 50th birthday (TODAY) in 2014, I have run 205 miles and will run many more "miles to go before I sleep."
CHEERS to the next 50 with family & friends! Happy Birthday to Me!


  1. Wow! Happy Birthday to you! What an incredible list!

  2. Thanks, so much! I had a blast recalling each memory attached to each of the 50 items! I am a blessed girl! You're prob not as old as me. When's your next big birthday mile mark?