And He Heard Me


And He Heard Me

There are many times I have asked God to shield me…hear me… see me… Can I tell you He has been faithful? There have been many times that He has- even when I didn’t see it, when I didn’t feel it, yet in hindsight, I can always look back to the provisions He has made for me and my family.

Sometimes life feels too messy to be untangled. In the midst of every mess, He has had a message. Every. Single. Time. I may not feel like storms are for my ultimate growth, but they are. I can choose to be bitter because of circumstances or I can choose to be better. In the midst of every trial, It is up to me and me alone to choose. No one is responsible for what I choose but how I choose will effect those around me and that can be heavy at times.

Bridges will burn at times so you have no place to go but forward, it’s just life. Nothing stays the same for long. If we stay the same, we will never grow. Life provides opportunities to grow, move forward and learn from every experience. My prayer is that I learn to become better, and leave the bitter behind.

If you know me, you know my joy is in music. No matter where I have ever served, music has always been a huge part of that. It is my joy. Where there is song, I am happier than a bird with a french fry. (true story) I can also be honest and tell you that it has also been some of the deepest hurts in my Christian walk. The enemy is aware of this… I believe it is why this is the area that I am often hurt the most. If the enemy can steal your song.. he can damage your walk and attempt to silence your instrument. Maybe for you that is your talent, your testimony, teaching or another gift He has given you. Your gift is your Praise offering. Yours – and yours alone. It’s okay if they are different than anyone else, for me, it has been music/song.

Several years ago, the enemy had stolen my song. It was silenced for a few years. I felt bitter and I “told” God I would never sing another note, play another note, because so many times it just ended in hurt, sometimes I was the cause, sometimes I was the recipient. I’m being honest here. Can I also say here – Don’t tell God what you won’t do, because He will remind you that you are not your own. We are his handiwork, made to praise and give him honor.

I stuck to “my” plan. When I was encouraged to join a choir… I quickly declined. Not me, nope, not happening. I no longer had any desire to use my gift.

But God.

It took about 6 months of sitting in my seat. I was content. I was like a sponge soaking up the music, the Word, the fellowship. I needed to be fed, and I mostly, needed to heal. God is funny like that.. He gives us some grace to try and do things our way, then He will gently lead us to walk beside Him, not in front of Him – walking our own path. I remember the very moment the choir sang “Thou Oh Lord” like it was yesterday. The tears began to fall and He whispered in my spirit…. I have been your shield, I have lifted your head, and now.. today – I have restored the song in your heart, You will sing for my Glory again.” I can tell you that January could not come soon enough when new choir members were being sought. When God restores, He does all things well. It has been the most joyous four years in my Christian walk. Not only did he restore my song, He gave me Godly friends, I grew in my faith and have made lifelong friends. (just as I have made lifelong friends anywhere I have ever attended and served) when I think of my season in choir? It’s all to Gods glory. He has been faithful to me! I have also learned that “no matter what, may come my way – my life is in His hands. (one of our choir songs) His hands are the only place I desire to be. He has me, and my family. This has been a season of Joy and I am just beyond thankful. It has also shown me that seasons change, I don’t know what my next season looks like, but I am confident that whatever He has for me, it is good. Whatever He has for you, will be good too! He is a good Father.

I have written about a past season… but I am also writing to tell you that today.. even today… He has never failed me. He has no plans to fail me.

For the past month, the only scripture that has been on my mind is Psalm 3. Okay, maybe I thought it was just because it was one of my favorite song lyrics? Although, deep down – I knew it was something more. There have been circumstances surrounding me that have been out of my control. (I like control) -times when I wanted to defend myself, explain my decisions and make sure that people knew my heart… who I am. Every single time I thought I would voice it? I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. All I heard was… “Thou Oh Lord, are a shield for me, my glory and the lifter of my head” – Can I tell you that God is my defender. God will reveal your heart without you speaking a word. God will send confirmation. I found myself sitting in silence at my mother in laws funeral service and by no accident the Pastor spoke on Psalm 3. (I will also mention here that He didn’t know anything about me, had never met me…) Even in a season of grief, He confirmed that He alone is my shield. Our shield. I will not fear what man can do. I called out to the Lord and He answered me- literally ringing out of the Hills (Mountains!!!!!)

In every season, He has been faithful. Every. Single. One. Whether it has been a dry season without a song, mourning loved ones, or when people just don’t care enough to be kind. He is my joy and my song, my comforter and my deliverer. He will always be enough. I am beyond grateful.

Whatever season you find yourself in? No matter the storm.. Seek Him, ~”wait and wade” through the mess, see what is to be kept, and what is to be tossed. Only when the flood waters recede, can you see the clear path you are to take. (thanks cousin Mary for that analogy) I’ve got my waders on…. God has me, in all of my seasons.

Thank you God for your Word!

Psalm 3:1-8

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”[b]

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.


Tea for Two



As long as I can remember, tea time has been a real thing – dating back to my earliest memory around the age of 5 when my Mamaw Birdie would “sneak” a cup of tea just for me. Thankfully, she never put those horrid Saccharin tablets in mine! but it was our time, tea for two.  My first tea set was from her –  a kiddie set made of ceramic in a small gift box for Christmas. From that moment, I was a tea drinker and not much has changed.

One of my memories of my Daddy revolves around tea. He was a manly guy, but still had tea parties with me. A green-plaid table and chairs in our living room where we had pretend tea and my imaginary friend as one of our guest. I’m sure the party didn’t last long, but it was long enough for me to have the memory.

I would move on to drinking coffee with my Momma, but we still had tea time. She always remarked that we may not have been “royals” but we were “rich” in the things that counted. She always said she had rich tastes…but a poor pocketbook!

Now I can tell you that our tea time was nothing similar to the “royals” but we had our own routine. During the summer months of no school, it went something like this……

“Denise, it’s almost time for our “stories” so “polly better put the kettle on!” It was 3pm and we had finished our chores for the day. That gave us 1 hour before Dad came in from his job at the mines and then we would start dinner.

Our “stories” always consisted of General Hospital Soap Opera. We were faithful followers of “Luke and Laura” and we anticipated this time of day. So Momma would prepare the tea, and bring in the tray that she had for as many years as I could remember. It was a Silver Tea Set with a creamer and sugar bowl. We used our own teacups and saucers that come with her regular set of everyday dishes.

We were fancy. It was our Tea for Two… and I miss it even to this day.

As adults, we would still reminisce about our summer tea parties and chuckle because we thought we were living large. Absolutely Momma.. larger than life.

As years would pass on and my daughter came along, she made sure that tea time was a part of their time together. It was more elaborate than the ones we had, because you know, it was the grandchild. Place settings with flowers, tea cakes, a few stuffed bears as extra guests, and of course.. Mommas newest tea set she bought from her favorite Chinese restaurant. It was nice!


Oh, and don’t forget the hats!

These are some of our favorite memories of my Momma and her Mamaw. Priceless. This set was left to my daughter at Mommas request. Always take care of it, but promise you won’t stick it in a closet somewhere.. I want you to use it and enjoy it when I am no longer here.

Since my Momma left this earth in 2006, Hannah and I have used this tea set to celebrate Mommas birthday. Every. Single. Year. It helps to remember the treasured times we had together. Tea for Two is forever a part of us.


This was our last photo together….. so it’s the one we use for our celebration.

I have since looked for an original Silver tea set like the one she and I used. I have no clue where it disappeared to. Recently, I was able to find one very close to hers at a thrift shop – I was so excited to find one.  I’m still searching for the round tray and hope to eventually come across one to complete it. It is still a work in progress getting it cleaned up and polished and I have added it to my treasures.

I still have tea time, normally at the end of the evening when I can sit quietly and sip. It’s not just tea, it is inhaling memories and the warmth of my Mommas time she intentionally spent with me. After all, that’s what we do when our earthly anchors are no longer here, we relish the memories and the things that remind us of our tapestry, our little corners of love. Treasures. You can learn a whole lot from tea!

“A cup of tea is a cup of peace”

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”

“Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?”

“Life is like tea……It’s all in how you make it”

Here are some of my favorite teacups and saucers….








Reading Between the Lines


old family bible

The huge Family Bible was always on my Mamaws coffee table, stuffed with obituaries and newspaper clippings. I can remember thumbing through the pictures and she would say, “Neicy, you can look through it, but don’t lose Mamaws important papers” – I don’t remember reading the clippings, just carefully maneuvering enough to look at the pictures in that big book. I always wondered if Jesus looked like the man on the front. I still do? The photographs always looked more like paintings and they were always “old-looking people, except for the manger scene, and quite honestly? a lot of them looked mad or scared, well, except for the fluffy sheep with the Shepherd.  Maybe you remember them? for a kid, the Bible has come a long way in graphics and color. Today, I took another glance at some of the photos and the memories just started flowing. Not only the memories of the book, but the back story that I would only learn later in my teenage years.

I remember my Mamaw looking at the daily newspaper when it came. She thumbed through catalogs that came in the mail. She and my Momma would talk about events and what was in the sale papers that week. It would seem that they were always chatting away with their tea and coffee at that kitchen table. I also would notice that when it came time to sign anything important.. Momma would put her finger in the place and Mamaw would just make an “x”.  Her mark as she called it.

It would be years later than I started to put the pieces together about those moments at the table.

My mother read to us all the time, Mamaw just told us stories … and lots of stories. Some of them were funny, some scary but mostly it was what she did before I fell asleep. I spent the night with her every single chance I had. She was a wonderful Mamaw that enjoyed my company as much as I did hers. I never noticed when I asked her to read a storybook, she would say.. that reminds me of a story and she would put the book to the side and start telling it with such suspense, I would be totally interested.

The days came that I spent less time spending the night and more time just popping in and out for visits. I stayed busy with school and friends. I don’t recall the moment I realized this truth.

My Mamaw had never, ever in her entire life learned to read and write.

How in the world did she function? I am still amazed when I think of it. Yet, she did, and I don’t think we ever discussed it. I would learn later that she was ashamed. How I wish I could go back, maybe she had lived into my adult years.. I would have attempted to teach her, just so she could have had that opportunity.

She had determination to thrive on what knowledge she had.

I guess when you are a child, you don’t notice people’s limitations? You just know things got done.

Moving forward to the “thriving” on what you know. I can’t say that I was “raised” in church with my parents. I wasn’t. Yet, I rode the sunday school bus or caught a ride with my Aunt Reanie. I have fond memories of her lifesavers during church, and putting the pennies in the little church shaped offering bank. I can still recall the sound of them going in the slot.  I would be nearly ten years old when my parents joined church. It was a new thing for us to go together. From the earliest times, I knew Bible stories, some scripture like John 3:16. What I would come to realize, is that my Momma did not.

Once again, I would come to know the limitations, and the obstacles that she would overcome.

I began reading between the lines.

I can see her sitting at the kitchen table. I called to her to let her know that her favorite singer was on.. 1977 Elvis special. No reply.  I walked into the kitchen and said “Momma? are you not going to watch Elvis on tv?” Looking back, this was a defining moment with my Momma as clear as the one with my sweet Mamaw who never read a word in her life. She told me she wasn’t going to watch the show, but needed to study and read.

“Whaaaaat?” No Elvis??? She must really, really be reading something interesting!!! My Momma LOVED her some Elvis!

What I saw on the kitchen table was not the huge family Bible like my Mamaws..  but this.

childrens bible

I didn’t understand why she had our kids Bible. Remember, kids do not realize limitations.

Just like my Mamaw… she had a secret. Humbling was not even a big enough word for me that evening.

She would go on to explain that she wanted to read the big Bible.. but it was too confusing. She wanted to start from scratch.. learn the stories so she would know what it was talking about. She said she was excited to learn everything she could.

She was 30 years old, and didn’t know as many stories in the Bible as her children. I say this not to bring any kind of negative to my Momma.. but she knew it was important enough for her to overcome her limitations of what she didn’t know.

It would become a part of her testimony the remainder of her short 58 years on this earth. The same as my Mamaw’s lessons in being blessed with knowledge, even though you had to take a different route to get there. If it is important… you make the committment to learn and you trusted God to help you get there.

Reading between the lines.

My heritage.  In the midst of two very brave ladies.

I read, and often… but I never look at written words the same without the memory of my Momma sitting at the kitchen table reading that children’s Bible, oh how she grew to love the written Word of God… I seldom sign my name without thinking of the “mark” Mamaw made on my life and her love for the Savior’s Words even though she couldn’t read them for herself.

I hope you never miss the opportunity to “read between the lines” with the people you encounter on this journey. Tell your stories, share your testimonies… It may be years before they have an effect on those around you.

We all have limitations… and that’s perfectly okay, but we don’t have to let them define us, or prevent us from learning -whether it be from books, or people.

And for today, I can’t seem to stop giggling… thinking of how much Momma and Mamaw would have surely enjoyed this Coloring Page Bible.


Matthew 5:6

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Matthew 7:7

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you

Jeremiah 29:13

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.


















Guard Your Heart


blog2Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

The gate has been installed. There is not a day that I see it that I have not been directed to this verse.  I decided to ponder a little more on this gate… the reason it had to be put there, I was not fully on board to have it. After all, it hinders me walking straight through the breezeway carrying groceries or what have you. Sometimes when I am on the inside of the gate it feels like I am being “locked in” It has taken some time for me to get used to it being there.

It is there for one purpose… for safety.

I don’t despise the gate, but I have yet to get used to it.  It constricts my view of the field out front.. cars passing by and the pear trees.. bars. a lock.

It has already proved to be efficient, so I know how much it was necessary.

I often think of the phrase… “what is in the well, comes up in the bucket.”  A simple reminder from my childhood, drawing the water bucket up from a deep well and finally the icy-cold water we drank from the dipper. We knew what to expect –  water and it was extremely cold on a hot summer day.  We also knew the importance of keeping the well clean.

The same goes for keeping our hearts guarded.. .clean…protecting it from anything that would make it tainted or unhealthy. I was reminded of this very verse after a conversation with my daughter…

If you want to know what is in your heart, just listen to what escapes your mouth. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

So there it was… and I stare once again at the gate.

I am warming up to this gate.. little by little as I start to see it more as an object of keeping things out as opposed to keeping me in. I have never taken a liking to being locked in, crowded out, or confined to a small space. I can manage it, but I do not like it. Same as with the dark, I am not afraid of it, yet I prefer light… lots of light.

My thoughts rewind to this past winter. We needed that gate. It would have saved us a whole lot of trouble in the months to come. It would have prevented an almost tragic accident.

On a very icy morning, a horse got out of a pasture and frantically sped through that very breezeway, only seconds after I had stepped out onto the concrete. The near miss was unnerving enough, only to end up having a spooked horse submerged in our in-ground pool. The end result was a tricky rescue for the equine, a weary and cold group of folks and a destroyed swimming pool that caused me a whole lot of disappointment this past summer.

“An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure” – Benjamin Franklin

I get it now.  Hindsight is always 20/20 and you can’t go back.

If only we had installed the gate sooner.

If only.

The pool was materialistic. The danger that was presented to us that day was so much more. A lot of things could have went wrong. Any of us at any given time could have been seriously injured. The horse could have died. Neither happened.

Guarded from harm…

Often time I think of instances that could have been prevented “heartwise” If I had only put the safety measures in place to keep out the harmful words, thoughts, actions… guarded my responses to insult. Guard. Guard. Guard. Yet how many times do we leave the gate “wide open” and “unprotected” an avenue whereby things can be damaged and stolen.

Philippians 4:8 provides a guide for guarding…

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

The gate installation was not a simple task. It required the right tools, the correct measuring and the adequate amount of adjusting. Had we just tried to “wing it” … I am sure it would have been a disaster. Our hearts require these things… using the right tools, using the Word as a plumb-line and being willing to adjust our thoughts and actions to insure the guard is in place and working to our best interest.

Guarding your heart is not mechanical. It takes effort and diligence. It is intentional and on purpose. Install the gate, realize it is there for your safety, protecting everything that comes through it and providing protection from unwanted trespassing.  It is not there as a prison gate, a place of being locked away and kept out of touch with the outside world. It is simply a divine safety measure. If you guard your heart… it increases the capability to make better choices, better voices and an effective witness.


Okay… maybe the gate is growing on me after all? or at least provoking my thoughts to something positive. Maybe even a reminder that while I have been guilty of leaving the gate unlocked and wide open, or even partially closed… I realize the importance of its presence and that alone… a secure reminder of the grace for the past and the encouragement to keep moving forward in the present and future guarding of the heart.














The Ripple Effect




Growing up with a creek in my backyard, I often found myself in the competition of skipping stones across the water. I seldom finished in first place, that victory usually belonged to my little brother. Perhaps it had to do with my choice of stones, not smooth enough or too large… too small… whatever the reason? My stones seemed to just sink instead of glide across the water. Kerplunk! was usually the disappointing sound that my stones often made. I can say when I finally got one to skip a few spots? I was encouraged to give it another go. I also found that my eyes were no longer on the rock itself.. but on the small little circles left behind in its wake. Ripples….small in number but enough to cause an effect on the water.


Often, my efforts have resembled rocks. I have had good intentions, but when they landed? I heard the familiar Kerplunk! Disappointed, discouraged and defeated. How often do we squander our efforts and talents because we fear the outcome? We convince ourselves that the stones we have to offer are nothing but a handful of chunky rocks. So we hold onto them, or worse… we just throw them down, discarded into our pile we have labeled –

“I’m not enough.”

“It won’t make a difference”

“I’m a failure”

“I’m not worthy”

Let me just stop here and tell you… the above statements are simply not true.

If anything matters… it all matters.

This journey we are on is not a cosmic array of insignificant events. Every single act of kindness, encouraging word, charitable contribution, selfless act… matters. It makes ripples! Some ripples are larger than others.. but they are all worth our time.

I’m not sure what your ripples may look like? I know the ones that have affected me personally… ones that I have seen and felt even if they came in the smallest of gestures, little circles that resonated in the ripples. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the ripples that I create are often times… more than enough… the opposite of failures… and worthy of my effort..

Maybe you create ripples by………………….

Holding someone’s hand when they need comforting.. joining them in a simple prayer

Hugging your children or giving them an encouraging word

Messaging your friend just to say “Are you okay today?” “I’m thinking of you” “Hope you have a good day”

Sharing your story to encourage someone else who is struggling

Being extra kind to the person in line ahead of you

Volunteering your time


Witnessing to others just to say God is GOOD!

Praying for someone else in need

Welcoming someone new on your church pew

Whatever your gift or talent… use it. make the matter how small they may seem at the time.

We all have gifts. Sometimes we hold onto them and they go unused. Stir up those gifts!

I have recently had to pick up some stones that I had tossed into the pile of “not enough, failure, and it won’t make a difference”…. For the most part.. I put them there because of my own fears.. I allowed the enemy to steal my ripples.  Then came the reminder of a ripple that has stayed with me for many years.  A timely reminder to shift my focus…from my kerplunking rock pile of inadequacy.

It came about a few years ago when I was asked to play the keyboard to fill in for an extended period of time. I balked. I complained. I cried. I can’t. I knew all too well my limitations. I agreed, of course…mainly out of guilt.

Finally, after many floundering attempts…and a whole lot of complaining.. a dear friend said… “Denise? I think you should start thanking God for what you can do and let him fill in the gap… instead of telling Him what you can’t do.”

Powerful words that sent a ripple.

Honestly, my season on that keyboard was often pretty rough. It was a season that proved how faithful He was in helping me use what I had. No, it wasn’t what I preferred.. I wanted to sing! I learned that by being obedient, making the effort…He filled the gap. That season of playing music was a lesson that I had to learn to give what I had although I often felt it was not enough.  God already knew it was not my passion, but He also knew it was needed.

He didn’t forget me. He didn’t forget what I had a passion for. In due season, He provided a place for me to do what I love. Sing! Is it perfect? of course not… but I have found that whatever my little ripple is, He will honor it and use it for His purpose.

Make ripples! whatever your ripple looks like? it matters…. it doesn’t matter if you always see the immediate effects they make. I can assure you, when you step out in faith to make yours? He will use it.

He is surely faithful in all things!


I corinthians 10 31














Saying Goodbye to 2017





Last year….2017 only lives in memory. Each year I attempt to say goodbye joyfully, and to others only to bid some “good riddance.”  It’s difficult to list them all, the good and the bad.. without seeming ungrateful for the lessons learned or just for the sake of sounding offensive.  The year also held so many wonderful moments shared within my own four walls. It is here that I am the most thankful and the place where I learn by trial and error most days.

There were lots of “firsts” for us.. our daughters’ Senior year was in full swing.. her first prom.. a steady boyfriend….driving herself anywhere she wanted to go.. As a momma, these were huge changes. Jointly, as parents these were uncharted waters for us to navigate. We failed and wailed on some… some we did okay.  We lived on grace many days, as I am sure we will require even more in the coming year.

A new place of worship for us as a family.

My dearest Uncle.. saying goodbye on this side of Heaven was so very hard. One day… we will make up the time.

Almost three years went by without seeing my younger brother and his family. (I still cry about that one)

Did I mention that I turned 50? That will put your life into perspective!

My closest cousins took a road trip to NC just to surprise me for my Birthday.  (I still cry about that one too)

Another great week of vacation at our favorite beach…making new friends and enjoying so many of our present ones.

I think it was a year that I watched some of my closest friends and family go through some really hard things. There were sicknesses and disease and lots of just plain old heartbreak. Emotionally, there were a lot of train wrecks out there in 2017.

There were a lot of new things that I learned about others and about myself.

There were a whole lot of people I should have taken better care of…spent more time with or just nurtured a friendship.

There were those that I should have trusted less with my offerings of kindness, less with my good intentions and basically left well enough alone.

I should have read more books this past year.

As Thanksgiving and Christmas came…. I wish I could have cherished it more.

I could have watched more Christmas movies and baked more goodies.

There should have been more snuggles with my grown girl while she was on break.

I should have spent more time singing Christmas songs

And just like that, the holidays were over and the year 2017 was a distant memory..

It was also a year to be thankful….

Thank you God,

for being with us through each of those 365

for the upcoming 365 that we will not walk alone

for the Grace we received.. .and the Grace we gave to others

for the blessings we didn’t deserve but received anyway

You are such a good, good Father to us.


Blessings to you all in the coming year





Do you “Wonder” or “Wander” at Christmas


Navigating Christmas… looking at the calendar, counting the days and scheduling activities, another gift to purchase or maybe the last-minute touches on your decorations. I navigate. If you know me? I often have no sense of direction even when using a GPS. So, when I say I navigate….I’m really saying that I get lost a lot. I tend to “wander” when I should be in “wonder”… here’s the difference between the two.

Wonder – To be filled with admiration, amazement or awe; to marvel.

Wander – To go aimlessly, indirectly, or casually; meander.

Honestly, I relate to both at Christmastime.I navigate the highs and lows of the season.

I am a content person for the most part, cautious and careful… okay, maybe the term “boring” is more adequate.. but then again.. send in the crazy Christmas elves that make havoc in my head and we’ve got ourselves a holiday circus act.

I actually borrowed this photo from a friend. When I saw it, I immediately thought “Wonder” –  the magical season of Christmas and all that it embraces. I also thought it should be a visual reminder for the days when I have more “Wander” than “Wonder” in my season. Christmas through the eyes of a child…keep it simple..reminisce.

I find it a slippery, snowy slope that sometimes lands me over the hill (a WV sledding reference) turned up on my head. Since I loved sledding so much, it’s an easy metaphor…you just get up and dust the snow off and take another run at it.

Christmas for so many of us is a balance. I love to paint the Norman Rockwell visual at Christmas.. who doesn’t. It keeps the season bright and cheery, especially for the little people. I enjoy visiting Christmas’ past with my own daughter. Childhood flees.. but memories do not. I balance my Wonder/Wander like juggling apples and oranges out of my Christmas Stocking.

I choose “Wonder” for the most part, maybe even 90% of the time. I choose it because it is far less heavy.

If you have read any other blogs here.. you would know that the other 10% is where I often “Wander” … My best friend aka…my grandmother died Christmas Eve when I was 17, Sometimes my parents argued at Christmas, the times there were less presents (kids remember) because my Stepfather’s  mines went on strike..oddly,  I can’t remember spending one single Christmas with my own Daddy and I still don’t know why. It shouldn’t matter but it somehow it does when I am “wandering” in my thoughts here. My own mother battled depression every single Christmas after losing her mother on Christmas Eve..And even now here I am missing her at Christmas because despite that.. she always  made Christmas special for us…just as I will attempt for mine as well. That other 10% is often heavier than a sack of Santa coal for me..yet.. the truth is..there are always others that carry more than a mere 10% every single day.

The reality of the season… Not everyone has pleasant Christmas memories. Some are pretty horrid and tragic..seems minor even to some of my least favorite memories compared to others? Some folks didn’t  get the opportunity to see “Wonder” …

With that being said, not all of my friends/family love Christmas. Some of them despise it, wish it would just speed on by. However, I can say that they don’t wish my holiday away… and I try to refrain from pushing too much of my  “Wonder” their way. Everything is a balance and a whole lot of Grace for the giving and receiving. Sometimes it’s enough to just say… Me, too, or I’m sorry.

So when I display my beautiful tree… cookies and baking? Just know that the “Wonder” of the season is still being sought out…. and in the quiet of my “Wandering” I’m still working through some things… just as we all are. My heart still breaks for those that are smack dab in the middle of a season of pain.  I often see the quote “All who wander, are not lost” …. maybe so. not indefinitely anyway.

If you have the chance to enjoy “Wonder” this season.. cherish it

If you have the chance to  make someones  Christmas memories better this year… by all means! make it happen!

If you are given the chance to heal instead of harm with your season of  words.. choose healing.. always.

And, if by chance, some of ya’ll need a person to “Wander” around aimlessly in thought or in a store this season…..navigating Christmas.. I’m probably your person LOL.

Here is that adorable “awe” photo again…. I just couldn’t let this one go.

Wishing you “Wonder” while you “Wander” through the season.. Hold tight to the good stuff my friends..










When Your Mothers Words Finally Make Sense


“Just wait until you have children of your own” …. those were often her words.

I rolled my eyes in secret.

“One day you will understand”…. it was the phrase she used frequently.

I dismissed it.

“This hurts me worse than it does you”…. she would say in a broken voice

I doubted it.

“You will eventually find your way”….she said with conviction

I couldn’t see it.

“Children will pull on your coat-tail for a little while.. but will pull on your heartstrings forever”

I thought she was overly dramatic.

Can I just go back and say.. you were right Momma. You were so right.

I can’t because she’s not here.

I wish I could go back, I’m sure most of us do. Regrets.

I wish I could take back my angry words, my ugly attitudes and my dismissal when she would give me her advice. The things I took for granted as a teen, even as an adult.

Instead, I accept Grace to replace the regret.

However, I can’t help but feel her pushing me to keep on going, keep on doing the hard things because with any hope at all? It will eventually make a difference.

I do not have all of the good answers to parent, neither did she. What I do have?  a source…the same one she used more than I ever knew.


His example.

His truth.

His grace.

His wisdom

Having said this in no way makes me a perfect parent, but the total opposite – imperfect. I’m struggling in my current stage of parenting. Those heartstrings are being played like a fast-paced banjo tune and I am trying to exhale before the next run of chords.

When all is quiet, I am reminded to breathe deeply. Pray. Repeat. Listen. Go to the source.

As a child, I thought my Momma surely had to be a super hero of some sort. She held us all together, made sure that we always had what we needed. She was the picture of strength.

Then I became a teen.

I revisited a place in my mind today. You know, the place that you never forget but wish you could? The place you regretted, yet you learned a hard lesson. It was almost as if she knocked on my heart and whispered..”Hey? remember that one time?”

I disobeyed….disappointed her with my poor choices. I knew there would be a consequence, I was just waiting it out to hear the gavel hit, receive my sentence. She delivered it fiercely. I was grounded – from pretty much anything that I enjoyed. Car, sleepover, phone……..

I was angry.

I was furious.

I retreated behind closed doors and vowed that she was unfair. I sat on the edge of my bed and quietly mumbled “I hate her for this!” I made up my mind that I would retaliate by not speaking to her unless I was spoken to.

Hours later, I figured I had gotten my point across to her. I expected to enter the room and find my strong Momma ready to tell me what she thought about my little plan and be in even more trouble. What I found was this….

There she sat at the end of the couch, with a cup of coffee, her opened Bible on the end table and a box of tissues in her lap.


I cannot to this day remember what I had done to be grounded. What I do remember are her quiet words.

“I will always try to do what is best for you, correct you even when it is painful. I will raise you to do the right thing, even if you do not choose it”

and there it was….. and I was so ashamed.

What I learned (other than to never give my Momma the silent treatment) ….. I learned about unconditional love.. the kind that Mommas’ give their stubborn teenage daughters. Within seconds, she steadied herself and said.. “now come over here and let me hug you.. but don’t you ever do that to me again, because we should always be able to talk to one another”


This morning I sat in my own little corner of the couch with my coffee and kleenex.. and my Mommas prayer book.

I get it.

I’m sorry Momma.. now I get it.

My heart hurts when I can’t make it all better, when I can no longer offer a band-aid on a boo boo. My heart breaks when I cannot fast forward past the pains of growing up. I feel broken and tired when I don’t have all of the answers. I’m struggling to see my way through.. say the right things, when is tough love appropriate and when it is not. Why? Why not? How? When?


Go to the Source

It is here I realize another moment of adult truth..

How many times do we do the same with our Heavenly Father.. do our own thing, go our own way and ignore His instruction? Only to realize that we break His heart as well.

I am thankful for Grace.

I am thankful for His forgiveness.

This parenting thing is hard and I would like to think I have all of the answers, I surely do not. There will be days when I really mess it all up.. but with any hope at all.. there will be more that I actually get it right and my Mommas words will still make sense.



Proverbs 22:6King James Version (KJV)

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

















Dear Ocean…….



Dear Ocean, thank you once again for making me feel small beside your great waters…for the shells I carried in my hand every single day and the ones I carried back to my home.  Every year I anticipate the serenity that only you can give. I not only anticipate it, I depend on it the other 360 days of the year. The week catapults from Saturday to Saturday and I spend the hours in between cherishing each and every moment – from sunrise  in the mornings, the crashing of the waves during high and low tides, to the sunsets in the evening ended only by yet another walk under the stars.

This is the fifth year by the ocean for us and every single year that planning begins, I have new anticipations and expectations.  Sometimes they come to pass, sometimes they don’t. Regardless of any plans that do not work out the way I had planned? I have yet to leave the sandy shoreline nothing less than thankful, blessed another year to share my happy place with those I love.

Whether it be a day trip or a week-long vacation, the ocean has always been a gathering place for me, a place that beams with laughter and joy just by being in its presence. A place of memories that go back to my teen years with my parents, special times that linger with the present day.  It is also a place that rekindles our ties that get a little frayed during the year.

Family and friends gather with us when they can during our stay. It changes from year to year but the thing that never changes? those that come to be with us… come because they want to spend time with us, the ocean just happens to be an awesome backdrop for our laughter.

This year has been no exception since I have had cousins travel long distances to the same ocean and we were fortunate to live close enough to join them while they were there.  Day trips with our friends and family have been awesome this year too.  Friends that live in neighboring towns, took the time to join us for a day on the beach which always makes our time special every year. This year one of my brothers made a seven hour-long drive from Maryland just to be with us for a couple of days. I had told my brothers how much I wished to see our children enjoy the beach together at least once in my lifetime – preferably before they are all grown up. Another 360 days have come and gone without seeing them gather together again this year. Maybe one day.

As always, vacation week has to be the shortest week of the year, even on Island time. So what do we do? We take lots and lots of pictures, plan our time carefully and try to squeeze as much from it as possible.  Our routine walks on the beach searching for treasure, browsing our favorite gift shops and of course, waiting for that perfect sunrise and sunset.  The ocean never disappoints – not me anyway. I also know that not everyone loves it as much as I do… but I sure do get excited when I am able to share it alongside my friends and family. It may have seemed to others that we had people with us 24/7 on our vacation.. We didn’t. Whether it was meeting us for dinner.. or a day in the sun? Thank you…. for spending time with us. To our new friends we met in the parking lot? What a joy to laugh with you on the beach. It takes them four days of travel, which they have now done for 14 years.. says a lot about the island we have grown to love.

I am already looking forward to our next vacation and I have yet to unpack all of our belongings. There will be lots of sand to shake out of our bags and beach treasures to sort.. but the memories will last so much longer than the sand that I will continue to find for weeks.  I am truly thankful for this past week.  It is my hope that whether you find your place of serenity is at the beach or the mountains, or somewhere in between? find it. cherish it.

Dear Ocean…. I know you miss me already… I miss you too and to my family and friends… I love you as much as the waves in the sea.









Hope Floats


I have always been very fond of the movie “Hope Floats” …. all about returning home and finding that the people who love you, understand you and support you are there just waiting to give you your second wind when you need it – no matter how much time passes.

This week Hope floated nearly 400 miles through the hills of West Virginia and Kentucky all the way to my back door in North Carolina.

I had no idea.

It was a secret kept for over a month despite our chatting online, telephone calls and exchanging snapchats. Even my husband knew…. not a word.

Little did my cousins know how much of a family time deficit I had been in. It helped to talk to them almost daily, yet it was not the same as being with them as I had done in May during our reunion. Just as a child… I always wanted “more time” and leaving them was always more painful than missing them.

I also had no idea that these plans were actually made by my Uncle James, who had made his journey to Heaven only a few months ago. Since I would be celebrating a milestone birthday (the 50th – Sshhhh) He had told his daughter “now you know we have to go down there and surprise neicy for her 50th Birthday in July” so… the promise was made.

And Kept.






Hearing a knock on the back door was odd enough… and Hannah yelling “Mom! you have to come out here”…. okay, to be honest? I had put my shirt on backwards earlier in the day and was in here trying to hurry and fix it before I went to see what all of the racket was about.

Tears. Surprise. SHOCK!

And there they were…an 8 hour drive later.. standing in my back yard with a Birthday Cake and smiles that would light up the darkest of spaces in anyone’s soul.

After we exchanged hugs.. I composed myself. I said “What in the world possessed y’all to take a road trip?!!!!!!

“Well, it was Dad’s idea actually”

There are no words that can describe the love that I felt at that very moment. I cried so hard I could hardly speak…. Hope Floats in tears too. I loved him so… and He always loved me back so good. I just know he had to be smiling.. and probably laughing because they really got one over on me.








And just like that, my week was filled. For the next four days.. my cup ran over. Hope floated in my swimming pool…. laughter and splashing and watching our girls enjoy some cousin time. They have no idea how much we had needed their presence. They were exhausted.. I knew it but they never complained about making that drive for me, and just like the movie quote.. “they’d walk thru fire for me” if it was required. Okay, Mary may have felt a little heat – like fire after she left here looking like a lobster. I am so sorry Mary… I should have watched out for you better.. like I did when you were little! hahhahahha.

I enjoyed them so much… and knew that when I found out they had never watched the Krispy Kreme process or the meaning of “the hot sign is on” I knew exactly where our next adventure would lead us..








When the only thing they could say was “Oh my goodness” I knew it was a success! They will never look at a gas station box of donuts the same. Of course, there had to be coffee involved too. Not a bad way to spend a rainy day.  I think we could have sat there all night, but we had more visiting to do.. after all, we already knew time would pass much too quickly.








My house was full. So was my heart. It’s not that I have been in a depressive state, I haven’t, but I have surely had some loneliness that seemed to loom over this head of mine. I miss my family..every.  single. day. These girls were like lightning bugs twinkling in my darkness. Hope floats in like tiny lights of joy throughout the sunroom and kitchen. I love lots of light and I surely needed some extra! Thank you girls for being my lightning bugs! (or fireflies if you prefer to call them that.

Our children were more like little kids again.. not seniors and juniors and middle schoolers! That alone was pure joy and seemed to give us a little time out from that reality.

There was another goal that week. Rain or shine.. we would take a day trip to the beach. Boy, did it rain and rain.. all the way there. The ride alone was worth it. All of us talking and catching up, loud music and well, I’ll just say it was a whole lot of laughing. (Best medicine for the soul ever!) Did it stop raining when we got there? nope. We set up our spot in the misting rain, I think we all had our own private conversations with God about Him sending us just a little break in the weather. Did I forget to mention He is faithful in all things? Hope Floats in drops of rain. On the beach.






Oh, and just because she was frowning.. Sarah was not mad – the sun was in her eyes.

This was the very first time the three of us gals were on the beach at the same time and we made use of every single moment. We walked on the beach treasure hunting..splashed in the water.. and may or may not have played a few tricks on Jeanette while she was sleeping on her blanket. (beach birds sure do love a trail of cheese crackers!!!!) I could almost hear my Uncle James laughing in the ocean breeze.. I know we made him proud.. If he had been there, He would have been the one to initiate the shenanigans!

I can’t tell you how many times I cried this week.. from laughter or just being full of gratitude, it was countless. I slept very little at night, because I knew they would return from their hotel the next morning and I could hardly wait. We really did make the most of every day we were together, that’s what we do.

I also knew that it was almost over. There would be a time of packing everything up.. getting the sand out of our belongings and them preparing the GPS for the trip back to the mountains. When they were finally loaded into the car and we had said our repeated goodbyes, prayed for a safe trip and just like that..they pulled out of my driveway..Hannah said.. just don’t look back Momma.. don’t watch them drive away and it will be easier. It wasn’t.

I remembered a line from Hope Floats again.. a story about a lovely ant hill that was stepped on and really damaged only to find that all was not lost..the ants had began to rebuild,, get their second wind.. this is the quote that has always stuck with me..

And I said ‘Why do they do it? I’d just give up. I mean, it’s hopeless!’ And my mama said ‘Yeah, you know, if there’s just one of ya. But there’s lots of ants down there. And they’re all relatives. They’re family, just like we are.’ You know? That’s what families are for. That’s why they invented families: so hopeless didn’t get the last word.

That’s right.. hopeless doesn’t get the last word here either. We will continue to encourage one another.. long for more visits.. comfort when needed and laugh when it’s needed even more. Mostly, we will treasure the time and each other.








Our time was fleeting.. just like the sunset leaving the beach, but everyone knows that the sun will come up in the morning… and set in the evening and we will be there for each other in between the two.

Thank you girls for giving me the best early 50th party ever. I love you to the moon and back. Thank you to my dear husband for keeping this a secret for almost an entire month! It has meant so much to me.


“Just give Hope a chance to float up.. and it will”

….. and it may just be waiting at your back door with cake!