It Used To Be Somebodies Home

It used to be someone’s home. The old rusty mailbox leaning on a rotten wood post just off 2243 said so.

It used to be somebodies home and children played in the yard with the new puppy they got for Christmas running back and forth laughing to the sound of frost crunching beneath their feet.

It was somebodies home when they ran out of the house late, to the car waiting in the drive with the engine on, then turned back round taking the porch steps two at a time for a forgotten brown bag lunch, then back out the house just as it started to rain. Maybe still on time for the bell.

It used to be someone’s home and one spring she planted marigolds right there out front of the box woods, while the kids napped. Later she ran up and down, in and out of the house over and over bringing in groceries to the clap of the screen door, wood banging against wood and freshly oiled, still creaky springs. Later that summer the neighbors rooster ate the marigolds and the dog ate the rooster, but no one was sad.

It used to be someone’s home and first days of school turned to last, both painfully slow and in the blink of an eye. Summer and the smell of fresh cut grass turned to crisp autumn apples and scarves with a chill that settled in the eves. 

It used to be somebodies home when an old yellow dog sat on the porch and lifted his nose to the scent of change in the air, eventually wandering out to the pecan tree to stare up at a squirrel who no longer bothered to chide him.

It used to be somebodies home and an old man leaned against the front porch post in overalls fiddling with a tooth pick in his mouth, more for something to do than for necessity.

It used to be somebodies home but the paint was already starting to peel even as the squirrels watched while they buried the yellow dog beneath the old pecan tree patting down the earth just as night fell, then walking back into the house slowly, dirty and tired.

It was still somebodies home when they all moved away and the old man died, but people still drove by and remembered so and so who used to live there.

Just sit.

Time passes slowly when I visit my mom. It’s impossible to rush. What takes 5 minutes, becomes 20 or 30. Sometimes I think she’s a bit like the Ents in Lord of The Rings. She’s been around long enough that an hour passes in a blink. Time isn’t currency to her; It’s meaningless. Nothing has higher value, than lingering over a cup of tea.

When I’m with her, I realize how different we view time. I feel impatient. Always rushed. Time is my most valuable commodity. I’m stingy calculating every minute. 30 minutes to get ready 10 for breakfast, 15 by the fire with the cat and my book, 20 to walk the dog, 12 to the office, 10 to open, 3 hours for emails. 2 hour appointment, 10 for lunch, 2 minutes for a bathroom, every minute accounted for. Treasured. Never enough minutes.

So I’m inwardly groaning when she offers me a cup of tea after helping her with errands and I make myself say yes. I know how much it means to her. 30 minutes I tell myself; Just 30 minutes.

I’m squirming on her couch cup in hand and she notices. She peers at me over the top of her glasses, evaluating. I make myself sip slower and look out the window at the rain coming down on her flowers. She always had the most beautiful flowers. I take a breath. Slow down Ursula, You can do this, I tell myself. Just sit.

My mother gets up to nuke another cup of tea and I decide to buy her and electric teapot, relieved to have a task, but in a couple clicks it’s done. I’m back to staring at the rain. It’s hard this sitting, so I pick up a book and leaf through pages while she piddles in the kitchen, taking her time. Breathe I remind myself again. You can do this, you can sit.

Happy Easter folks. I hope we all learn better to just sit. I’m thankful to my mom for the reminder.

She’s In The Rain.

Where do we go he asked looking at the black and white photo of a little girl long dead whose name no one recalls. And I paused because I almost didn’t have the answer until I remembered. She is in the rain she taught her daughter or friend to love, who taught her daughter and so on and even though her name isn’t remembered, she is in the rain. 

She is in the air and the smell of cornbread stuffing on a thanksgiving recipe long passed down from… who was that again?  But she’s in the air. 

Maybe she is in the smile on the round toothless face of a child who will never know her name, but there she is, in her smile.

Cliff Diving

I hyperventilate on ferris wheels. My children made fun of me endlessly after a trip to Disney world. “Mommy cried on the ferris wheel,” they told everyone. I was embarrassed. My husband is the opposite. He can balance on the edge of a sky scraper (and has) with no fear.

I’ve tried to overcome this. I’ve gone rock climbing, and cliff diving. I’ve sat on the edge of sky scrapers and forced myself to look down. The shaking is uncontrollable, But I won’t let fear win, so I went skydiving and that’s when I learned something interesting. I’m not afraid of jumping out of a plane. It made no sense. After the parachute opened and I was floating peacefully down, I said to the instructor strapped to my back, “Fun fact; I’m terrified of heights.”

“Are you afraid now?” He asked, and I said no. He went on to tell me he’s also been afraid of heights his whole life, but observed people like us, frequently aren’t afraid of planes, or skydiving. He theorized perhaps our brains are unable comprehend that great a depth. Since then I’ve thought about this long and hard.

Once on vacation, I looked over the edge of a boat down into the endless deep sea and realized it went on forever. I felt fear just for a second, like a flicker, but then it was gone. The depth was too much for me to take in.

So maybe it’s to be expected I’m too scared to speak when someone’s dying. Yet I laugh at funerals and cry at weddings. Theres a fine line between overwhelmed and incomprehensible.

Recently I rode a ferris wheel all the way to the top and said goodbye to a dear friend in hospice. I was terrified to see him and googled what to talk about when someone’s dying. I settled on reading a list of jokes, or trivia so I couldn’t say anything dumb. But when I arrived I just stuttered and mumbled awkward apologies for not knowing what to say. He looked at me with complete understanding and told me there were no words and that was fine. For the first time, I felt like we were sitting on the edge of a cliff together looking down, but instead of fear, all I felt was love. I don’t know what’s down there. I don’t know how far it is. I wish no one had to jump alone. But we will all be together in the end and I will never let that fear win again.

Love and Loss

She said loss was just love with no place to go and I sat there stunned. I was so surprised. She was one of the happiest people I knew. She was always going, always giving, always ON and she was always extra on holidays. She decorated every inch of her office with thoughtful details and enthusiasm she shouldn’t have felt. I had watched her passion for life, friends and her job, enviously and wondered how she had the energy.

That particular day, I had decided I needed a break and walked over to her office for a visit. Valentines was coming up and she had cookies. I was enjoying our chat and admiring the vintage pink and red floral details, when I finally asked her how she always had the energy. I wasn’t expecting her answer to involve such tremendous loss.

She told me she lost her only child when he was 23 to a tragic accident. After he was gone she learned loss was just love with no place to go, so whenever she felt sad and missed him, she took that love she had for him and gave it to someone else in his honor. She didn’t have a family anymore, so this was how it came out. I’ve considered her words frequently since then. They breathed new life into the meaning of love, for me. This Monday I’m having a few guests and as an ode to her and the season, I put a little extra love on the table.

Goblin Glass

I’m thinking about goblin glass this morning. That part in the Snow Queen (the original version) where the goblin mirror shattered and bits of glass scattered in the wind, landing in the heart of one and the eye of another. When it got stuck in someone’s eye they saw the world ugly forever after. I’m pondering the glass in my own eye today.

So many of my friends here are caregivers. The ones who will wake before the sun comes up and still be on their feet long after the sun goes down cooking and cleaning, arranging flowers, setting the table “just so” making everything perfect for our families and friends. In the midst of chaos, labor and aching backs, it’s easy to lose sight of just how lucky we are to have loved ones to serve. So here’s to all of you, the ones who serve. Today especially, let us see the opportunity, not the responsibility. Let us savor our blessings like our food, one bite at a time, chewing slowly and enjoying each morsel. Happy Thanksgiving all.

Matching undies

Today I almost laughed out loud as I searched my dresser for matching undies and bra. Who on earth cares? That’s not MY life, just a habit. I imagine I would be a great candidate for one of those makeover shows. One of my glamorous daughters would volunteer me. I can just hear her sympathetic voiceover script perhaps against the backdrop of trees blowing in the wind, fading to an up close of weathered hands drying dishes. They might need a stunt double for this. I never dry dishes. My daughter would say, “Mom works so hard she just hasn’t had time for herself, I would love to see her get a makeover”. Then they would proceed to do something horrible to my hair and everyone would act impressed. Maybe someone would cry happy tears at the big reveal. Probably not me, but who knows. It’s a high pressure situation after all.

I’m late getting the Christmas decor out this year. It’s been a crazy month with my daughters wedding at the house last Saturday. I didn’t even have time to buy a dress for that event. Instead I pulled something out of the closet a few hours before and decided it would do.

I’m embracing the bare tree today. Maybe I’ll decorate it, maybe I won’t. Mr. Butters has the right idea.

40 years later

It was 1981 and I vaguely remember my dad saying she hung on just long enough to see us, and meet me, her namesake, but I didn’t remember she died that same day. Born in 1883, she was 99 and the oldest surviving member of our family. Imagine how much the world changed from the time she was born! Before we left she handed my dad a bible to save for me. They let me look through it as we drove away. The back seat of the car was hot and my legs stuck to green leather as I flipped through the pages, I thought it pretty boring, but paused over the few pictures I found, before handing it back.


The week of her birthday, 40 years later, my dad came across it cleaning out his garage. Neither of us remembered it existed until that moment, but he called me and told me to come get it. I got tears in my eyes when I realized the woman I was named after, was also a Christian, something I thought unheard of in my dad’s family. I knew he wouldn’t understand why that meant anything to me so I was glad he couldn’t see my face over the phone. I was a teenager when I first felt the Lords presence and after that, every time I heard one of the many scriptures about how He is faithful to the generations, I wondered who I should thank that came before me. Sometimes I searched faces in old black and white photos, looking for some hint, but I never thought of her. I can’t believe I forgot. 


This hot summer Sunday morning I laid the bible out, to snap a photo for posterity. But when I opened it, a newspaper clipping and a photo fell out. That’s when I realized she hadn’t just given me a bible, she had given me HER bible. As if she knew she wouldn’t need it anymore. I wondered at the photo and clipping and went to our records and that’s when I found the dates. She died just hours after she signed this over to me and for some reason it all seems too perfect. So I want to say thank you to her and to the Lord for humbling me, and reminding me AGAIN, He is faithful to the generations.

PS. Mr Butters is never one to be left out of a photo.

Tiny Miracles

This isn’t what it looks like. It looks like I’m taking pictures of my grandsons enjoying the fort I made them. What it really is, is me documenting proof the Lord really does restore the years the locust have eaten.

What can I tell you to make you understand the magnitude of Gods grace represented here?  Would you even believe me? Or would you think it simply good fortune and hard work that brought me to this place?

I’m sitting on the floor, quietly watching them play in wonder (it never gets old) while my daughter rests up. They’re best friends as you can see.

Palmer, two front teeth missing, looked at me over the dinner table tonight and said, “you’re pretty Morai” then giggled with his mouth full and spaghetti on his face. He’s always the cheeky one, and my husband put him up to it, but even those words are a miracle. 

It’s such a long story, and if you know me, you already know it. I’ve never been one to keep secrets. If you don’t then let me tell you this, When you come by my page and get a window into my life, if it looks orderly and peaceful, filled with blessings and love, there was a day 31 years ago where I was a scared teenager alone in a dark room in the middle of the night, listening to thunder and watching lightening flash on the wall while trying to breath through the pain of bringing a daughter into the world I didn’t know if I would ever see again.

It would be 19 years of praying and writing letters until I did. That daughter is mom to these boys before me now, who I get to spoil and snuggle and tuck in every night for the next 4 days.

The road from that dark stormy night until this place was long, but peppered with miracles of grace too numerous to count. So if you happen by my home, or family, here, or in person, just remember, it wasn’t always this way

The Music

We were 18 when we met. I was looking for a 6’4 Dr. He was 5’ 9 musician. It took some convincing. But what can I say? He could play Journey. Later he confessed he only learned Faithfully because chicks dug it. Whatever. It worked. I still make him play it sometimes.
In those early years, there were times we didn’t have enough money to pay the electric bill; but when the lights were out, piano and candlelight were free. He would play to cheer me up until the lights came back on. 28 years, 3 kids and two grandkids later, this place in our home represents so much more than you can see in this photo; so much more than I can describe to you in this short post. Music has been the center of our lives. There’s been a song for every celebration and tragedy, holiday and birthday. This is where he practiced for weddings and funerals. Sometimes he laughed while playing and sometimes he cried. There’s the everyday music, the music that pays bills, then there’s the music he plays just because he loves me. But there is also music when he’s too mad to speak, or just plain bored waiting for me to finish getting ready. He’s even documented silly and embarrassing moments in song, memorializing them forever, often to my mortification.
After all these years, I can tell how he’s feeling just by how his fingers hit the keys. This photo is for him, to say thank you for hearing the song in my heart and playing it back to me

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