The Season of Hope


Christmas2015Blog2Hope –  it comes in all forms this time of year. Sometimes it is a whisper that it is still possible, and sometimes it is a loud voice that takes you by surprise in a burst of heart-felt laughter. It is here.

It has been heard in several of my circles, seen in many displays of giving, and felt in the inner most parts of my soul. I’m here. Seek me. Embrace me.

Thousands of lights we will see this season – lawn decorations, town street lights, and the glow of our own Christmas trees, yet there has been an even stronger light that I have witnessed in the past few weeks.

There are times when the days are dark for us, for our friends and our families.  We often feel nocturnal, being in the dark for so long. Our vision adjusts accordingly until it feels almost normal. We accept the fact that darkness has come to stay. The time comes when we stop looking for even a glimpse of light. Lost. Discouraged. Broken.

The thing is? Light diffuses darkness. Always.

There are flickers of light in our day-to-day. It’s easy to dismiss them, difficult to see when our eyes are closed tight… closed tight, because if we open them? we know there is a chance of further disappointment waiting. It takes courage to allow the light to penetrate what has been dark for so long.

The season of hope.

Light….diffusing our darkness.

It came in the past few weeks……..

Hearing a discouraged friend, find her second wind to keep hoping, clinging to her faith in spite of her disappointments.

Listening to a young girl sing with peace in her voice during a funeral.

Hearing the laughter of my own child… enjoying time with her friends.

The wonder of a child’s first glimpse of Christmas lights.

The gathering of friends in my home.

The classmate that was able to return to work after enduring chemotherapy for breast cancer.

The friend that courageously teaches her child with learning disabilities.. even when she has nothing left to give.

A kind soul that works at the grocery store..that has more to give than bagging your purchases.

The friend in the middle of divorce proceedings during the holidays..yet her heart of gold remains intact to show love to others.

The grandmother that makes every effort to spend time with her grandchildren, although she is physically in need of nothing less than a miracle.

Those that believe unconditional love is a real thing.

The season of hope….. I will embrace. I believe there is always hope. I have to keep my eyes wide open. Sometimes the light is brighter than others.. wear sunglasses. Press on.



Jeremiah 29:11-29New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.







Moments in my Lens


There is nothing more special than capturing a moment that takes your breath away – Honest moments, the kind that you almost forget to exhale.

I realized about two minutes before I had taken this photo that this would be one of those. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I already knew that if I missed it? I wouldn’t be able to get it back.

There are people in our lives that are forever people. Those that you have known for more years than you can remember, and those that you remember the day they were born.

And life keeps right on moving.. sometimes faster than you can catch up – often times there are little glimpses of fleeting memories.

So we hold onto to those a little tighter…and realize that all we have is now. Treasures that only our hearts can measure.

The purest form of love I have experienced by far is that between a Mother and a Daughter. Unconditional. Imperfect. Eternal.

In our own eyes…. we often feel like we will never measure up, miss the mark or struggle to see the difference we try to make in their lives.

But in theirs?

Heroes… strong and wise.. and know no fear.

If we are lucky….. we sometimes get it right, and grace for the times we do not.

I considered it an awesome opportunity to capture this image.. one I am not soon to forget… and I know that there will come a day when I will be on the other side of this lens…

This pictures speaks to my Momma heart…I hope it does to yours also.

Enjoy the link below…

In My Daughter’s Eyes

by Martina McBride


Hoof Prints leave Heart Prints


When she has been a pony girl since you could remember? The very large dream of your first horse is a mighty tall order, yet… she didn’t beg, she dreamed.. and above all? she prayed for one.

Although there were no sufficient fencing in place, no saddles, feeding bins, or even a decent lead rope? She believed in what she couldn’t see. A horse of her own. I spoke to her of having patience in waiting.

One of our friends had offered us their Pony. (okay, they are not all horses!) Needing a good home for her, they were sad to let her go, but didn’t want her to be sold to just anyone. Availability = the dream.

So we discussed. We prayed. We waited. We called.

A borrowed horse trailer and an anxious Momma later?… the surprise was about to be out of the bag.

At the age of eight years old…. she fell in love with her first equine friend… that belonged exclusively to her. Dreams do come true.. and yes, prayers do get answered. In the eyes of a little girl, a friend to tell all of her secrets to…sunshine to her rainy days… a pony to love.

Did I mention her given name was “Patience” – fitting…and so it remained


She became the first equine “pet” – more of a lead pony.. a companion to feed and the keeper of my little girls secrets. The most memorable things about Patience, was the smiles that she put on my daughters face. We learned a little bit about having a pony full-time and how much attention they required. I think I was just as attached as she was.

Patience2She was a sweet little pony and although she was not broken for a bit? She gave us lots of sunny days and her trust.

Patience4The day would come when we took in Pa’s horses, who were not at all happy to share the pasture with Patience. It was heartbreaking, but as in all things we try to teach our daughter – everything has a season and everything happens for a reason. So we had to figure out what was best for Patience.

Who knew that my daughters’ Aunt had always wanted a pony of her own? Small world of faith and once again patience. We were able to let her go and live out her days in a loving home.

We often stopped and visited her on the way to my sister-in-laws, no matter how much time passed? she never seemed to forget us.

Hoofprints were left on our hearts with this pony – after all, a little girl never forgets her first horse.

And you never forget the pull on your heartstrings when you have to say goodbye…

Rest easy, sweet Patience. You were a promise kept to not one, but two little girls…. that always dreamed of you and for that.. we are thankful to have loved and cared for you.




Bless My Mess… Becoming Unraveled


There is nothing quite like completing a handmade craft to make me feel accomplished. Handiwork and time creates some of the most treasured gifts. I have found that each new adventure takes courage, instruction and a whole lot of patience, of which I often lack, yet I have learned to press through hoping the end result will be worthwhile.

Let me just say? not all of my projects have ended in a glorious accomplishment.

Recently, I have taken up the craft of Crochet. Maybe because it was something my own Momma enjoyed so I figured I would give it a try. Memories of her and my grandmother and other family members sitting in the same space, sharing stories and enjoying the time spent together. So, I joined a class where I can learn and also have the same great fellowship with some other great ladies.

Each project has brought different techniques, stitches and patterns to follow. I am finding that there is a lot of therapy in Crochet and a skein of yarn is a lot cheaper than other methods… besides, I can’t sit on the beach every day, so you do what you can right?

What started out as a beautiful project that I had worked on for over a month… took a turn for the worst. I managed to make a mess. Oh how I tried to fix it on my own, even came up with some shortcuts that might help –  camouflage my mistakes. After all, the colors and stitching were exactly how I had wanted. But the edges were jagged, uneven and getting worse with each row. I asked my friend  if I could just “fix it?” put some borders or tassels on the edges. Easy peasy fix right? Wrong!!!!!! It would require the unthinkable. Unraveling every stitch. Nothing was salvageable, except the encouragement from my friends. Priceless.

unravel2A teachable moment for this gal.

As I start to unravel the first row, I found it discouraging to say the least. By the second row? I listened my soul speak..and I continued to tug on the yarn.

We make messes of the things we want to be beautiful. We have our own plans of how things should turn out don’t we? Thinking we can do it all on our own, hard work and diligence pays off. There is no need to depend on anyone for help. Wrong. I continue to unravel another row.

Sometimes I put my hands to the plow when I should take more time to be idle for instruction. I knew the moment it all went wrong in this project, yet I continued. I can fix it on my own. Wrong again.

How many times have I pressed on when I should have been still. Wait for instruction. My intentions were good, but my end result were different.

Our lives get unraveled. It’s uncomfortable. It’s often unexpected. What I have learned from this mess whether in life or in yarn? It still has the potential to be something beautiful as long as I look toward the right direction for help. This yarn has been taken back to its original form. The beautiful colors did not change.


How often do we see ourselves, our colors remaining beautiful when we make a mess? We don’t. But He does. He sees our potential.

And there comes my favorite words again:

Hatikvah. – Hope.

Grace – newly given at the start of each day.

I wanted the easy way out.. to dress up my mess. Hide it. I didn’t want to start over. I had to regroup as I have often had to do in my little corner of the world.

Sometimes you have to make the hard choices. Start over. Become unraveled. Ask for help. Accept the Grace. And it is perfectly Okay.


As I chain the first new stitches, with my iPod playing in the background… I hear these lyrics…


You plead my cause

You right my wrongs

You break my chains

You overcome

You gave your life

To give me mine

You say that I am free

How can it be?

Coincidence? Absolutely not. I learn the most when I listen with my heart and not my ears.

Sometimes it just takes some yarn……I’m realizing that for Him to Bless my Mess… I have to become unraveled.

Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.





I Can Do All Things…


SchoolBlog1Transitions are never easy. Change will always come. I have found that new beginnings are usually scary. From a mother’s viewpoint? It is my job to be the buffer, the wind in the sails and the soft place to land when it gets a little rough. Sounds like easy/peasy job description huh? Well.. this year I learned some things.. about her and about myself. It “ain’t always that easy”

We began a new journey… one that was anticipated with smiles, and shopping, and all the things that we had gotten away from in the past five years of homeschooling. There were clothes to buy, lunch totes and backpacks.. and the endless list of school supplies. I think we had more on hand from the previous school years than most office supply stores – major “score” for this Momma.

I had taken the first day of school pictures, even during our home school years so I would have them for her scrapbook. Looking at these now, with her huge smile? serves as a reminder. No matter how much encouragement I poured into this girl of mine? Life has a way of knocking the breath out of is here where we are taught the hardest of lessons.

During the first few days? I’m just going to be real here. I had a new realization of the term.. throwing her to the wolves. I felt like the biggest failure as a Momma. I had encouraged her that everything would be okay, it would be a hard transition but it would be fine. What my reality was… it wasn’t. I would love to tell you that this smiling sweet girl returned to me the way she left that morning. She didn’t. These words still haunt me and leave my heart in shreds .. “Please, Momma.. please don’t make me go back.” – I drove her again the next day. and the next.

Let me say this before I move forward. I do not regret one single year that I spent homeschooling. It was the best thing for us as a family. It doesn’t work for everyone. If I could have changed anything? it would have been to transition her during the middle school years – maybe.  Academically? wow. She just continued to flourish. Her yearly testing proved for the majority of subjects, we were above and beyond our target. And no, she was not an anti-social kid..a weird home school kid..or an introvert. (Don’t even get me started on that one…Momma claws are coming out even as I type) My goal was for her to learn, not just academically, but as a student that knew what compassion entailed, being unselfish toward others and growing in her a root system that would be the basis to handle the “real world” – this part? was important and for the most part..the roots have taken hold..and still growing.

What I failed to teach as her Momma were these truths:

1. People are often unkind, cruel and selfish.

2. Hurt people… Hurt people…it can make people mean.

3. Not everyone is aware of the Golden Rule.

4. Life is almost always unfair.

5. Friends and family will cause your deepest of hurts.

What I continue to tell her is this… Be Kind Anyway. Offer Grace when it is not deserved. And no matter what? You are who God says you are. Be that girl. Stand up for the right thing, even when it is uncomfortable. Show compassion to those that need it most…even when it is not the popular choice. Don’t hold grudges, even when it is easier than forgiving.. that boundaries are healthy. Look for good in every bad situation.

Can I tell you that through all of the transitions? We were blessed with good teachers..and I did not take that positive for granted. Little by little, every day she learned what a hard job they had. Not everyone respected what she saw them battling on the front lines of a classroom. – empathy. check.

Fall soon disappeared and winter break was on the horizon. I could at least see some light at the end of the semester tunnel. Winter break would be here..her grades were good.. and we could regroup. That’s just what we did.

SchoolBlog1 (5)Looking back? I think it was the longest “winter” for us. Dark days, cold winds blew across my heart as a Momma. There were nights that I barely slept, my pillow stayed soggy and my knees learned what “real” prayer time consisted of. It was hard. Her Daddy would just tell me the same thing I told her repeatedly..It’s going to be okay. What I learned through these dark first days? I learned how to hang on to what her Pa always told her. “I can do all things through Christ that Strengthens me” – Philippians 4:13. I had to be determined in my own mind, that yes, it would be okay. eventually, although on the inside I was angry- just being honest. I was angry that we live in a world where people treated one another without regards to their feelings. I was angry that I could not “fix this” or shelter her from the ugliness of real life. Of course, my world didn’t change, and for the most part neither have the people in it? but what did change was me. I became diligent and real.

There have been many friends of mine and hers that have proven themselves over and over to the both of us. I would say “I just don’t know?” and they would say.. “yes, yes you do!” – they told me it would be okay. I am thankful that she has had some others at school that shown her kindness. They have no clue what a lifeline that had become.

SchoolBlog1 (7)

So with every accomplishment? we celebrated.. You better believe it. Another semester down.. another one to go. Winter was disappearing and Spring was on the horizon. “I can do all things” we repeated to one another. Often times I would tell her it would be okay.. I promise.. only to hear her words “but how do you know.. you just keep saying that?”

SchoolBlog1 (3)

I reminded her that I could say it now.. because I believed it, mainly because I believed in her…and I definitely have learned that God keeps His promises even more than Mommas do.

Spring would be busy with a drivers’ course and horse shows. Doing the one thing she loved proved to be another lifeline, another outlet that made all seem right in her world. So she rode, and slowly I watched the smiling girl in the picture, on the first day of ninth grade start to reappear.

SchoolBlog1 (6)I began to make new rules for after school pickup. Before anything else? I asked for one positive thing about her day.. just one. After that, she was afforded her rant about the other. Some days it was like playing Russian roulette on the drive home. Slowly, the sweet girl that I had thrown to the wolves, had managed around those wolves and her rants became less. Not all of the days were good, they varied, just as they do in this thing we call life, but when the drive home was filled with laughter and “awesome” days..I can tell you that this Momma’s eyes filled with tears on those too. Happy ones that you learn to cherish.

SchoolBlog1 (8)She’s had some broken and bent wings this year, but all in all? my girl still has them. She’s going to fly. My love for her will always give her roots.. to help her find those wings.

Next year, she will enter not as the new kid.. but as a Sophmore. Will it be easy? I don’t expect it to be. It’s change…transitions. But one thing I do know? She will be fine. I will continue to tell her the good things.. and be the soft place to land during the bad. She’s got a Momma’s promise on that one. I may need to get some knee pads somewhere along the way…but God is faithful in all things. always.

We are going to enjoy every minute of summer vacation… every sleep in morning.. and late night girl time. I have no doubt that she will develop lifelong friendships in the years to come, and look back realizing that every trial has something to teach us, every new experience only broadens her wingspan.

In the meantime? bring on summer…..we’ve been waiting for you.

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I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Philippians 4:13 (KJV)





Promises that are Kept


jeanetteblog2Promises…. we make them all during our lives, some are well-meaning that never come to fruition – others we spend our years making sure that we keep them.

As children, my cousin and I made promises to each other. We promised that no matter what? we would always remain close. This is a promise that has been kept. Only a year apart, we grew up more like sisters than cousins, that hasn’t changed.

When we visited during holidays and summers? we always begged for just one more day…. a few more hours….and always left one another crying – and our mothers crying too. We just wanted to be together, just like our mothers did as well. We grew up in different states, but only a couple of hours drive away. Sometimes it seemed like we were thousands of miles apart. Kids don’t recognize miles, only the separation.

We made plans to travel together when we were adults (we were going to work for Delta Airlines) Our menu would be whatever we wanted to eat, and would always be night owls. Life was going to be easy/peasy. Little girls with big dreams. Well,  as it goes? Real life happened.

After marriages and children… our distance only widened. Phone calls and brief visits were never enough but that is how it had to be. We suffered through expected and unexpected losses of both of our parents, hard life stuff… but we still tried to keep our promises of remaining close. Life hasn’t changed that part.

One of our biggest promises to keep would be this – One day, we would be by the ocean together. She had never seen it in all of her forty-something years. She saw it through my pictures and emails.. and even a phone call to hear the waves in the background. I would often describe how awesome it was, how peaceful and how vast the skyline appeared, but it wasn’t the same.

269In 2014, she had the chance to go to the beach with one of her great friends. Finally, she would see it for the first time. Happiness for her was an understatement and just like I had always known? she fell in love with the sand and salt air just as I had at the age of 16. Yet, our promise of being together on the same beach was still waiting to be kept.

Hearing the news that she would be returning to the ocean again this year was even more exciting since it would be on the North Carolina coastline…my beach. This time, she was keeping a promise to her three grandchildren to experience it for the first time. So, I made plans to make the little two-hour drive to be with them for a couple of days during their vacation. I wanted to take pictures more than I ever have, to capture the moment for them as a family. Her daughter had captured this one.. precious!







I can’t tell you how fast those two days went was quick, but in a sense? time stood still. Childhood promises had dissolved into an amazing reality for the both of us. Forty some years of a promise kept…the kind of happy that will always be a treasured moment.

Topsail42We now add to our bond, the love of the ocean together… smelling the salt air, sand castles with her grands and long walks on the beach and of course, there was coffee on the screened porch and many moments that I fought back tears of happy, promises kept? you better believe it.Topsail58Long after shaking the sand from our belongings upon returning home, we brought back some parts of the beach to our homes, but now? a part of our souls will always remain there – together, a promise kept at last.

I had once sent a quote from my sea glass book to her… but now she fully understands.. why we will always connected by the sea.

My Favorite Find (excerpt from Sea Glass Hunter’s Handbook by C.S. Lambert

 First I smell that smell and am overcome with a sensation of elation. Like a tight faucet turned open, everything floods from me. I scan the view, take a deep breath, and inevitably utter, “God, I love it here.” I stride quickly to where the sand is still wet from the previous tide and then, then I am gone. There is no thinking, just being. I have no awareness of myself. If I am searching for glass, it is rote, with no more or no less consciousness than a jellyfish searching for sustenance….. I am reduced to nothing, but part of everything. I am home, I am free, I am one with the sea.



Tending the Garden of My Heart


GardenBlog5 The season is here, time for plowing and seeding. We wait until the temperatures and signs are compatible for the growing season. There is a lot of work to be done! Physical strains and muscles get used that have been dormant for most of the winter. Why do we even bother? we can always buy produce at the local farmers’ market or grocery store. It is surely much easier to purchase garden items than to grow our own.

We garden because we know that the end result will be the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor. We are sure of what has been placed on this food leaving out harsh chemicals that are used on store-bought items. Gardening is somewhat of a hobby for my farmer, but also one that will be passed onto our daughter. She will know how to raise her own food if she chooses.

GardenBlog2The work begins with plowing, the smell of the tractor fumes fill the air and we know that although running the tractor is the easy part? Well, the rest? not so much. It takes time, lots of it. There will be seeds harvested from last years’ crop, new seeds purchased and then the planting can begin. It is a slow, and sometimes painstaking process, yet it is done because we know that there will be a harvest and hopefully a good one.

So I begin to ponder on the work, turning over the harsh soil, loosening the clumps of hardened dirt. The ground has been dormant for most of the winter. My thoughts also turn towards the places in my heart that have done the same. Dormant… still. I know there are things that need to be weeded in order for something better to grow.

GardenBlog3 I am reminded of Matthew 13.. “The Parable of the Sower”  more specifically.. the parable of the “weeds” which goes as follows:

The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

How many times do we sow the good seeds, neglect them and while we are “sleeping” the weeds come in and take over? It ties up the harvest until it chokes the good out of everything you planted in the beginning.


Before we even realize it? when we look for the good plantings, we notice more and more weeds. Much like gathering our hurts, offenses and stones (words) that we carefully place in our wheelbarrows, dragging them around every single day. It gets heavy! Finally, you realize you need to just empty the heavy stuff and make your load a little lighter.

Thus, comes the hardest part of tending the garden. Pulling weeds, tossing out the things that are preventing a good crop. Choking back my thoughts? I pick up the gardening hoe.. at first the motions are easy, careful. When the plants are secure, I move to the wider spaces of just plain old weeds. I chop with more fierceness. These ugly weeds are ruining everything good. (my thoughts are in a tailspin) Enough! I begin to use the tool with a determination that surprises my own self. No, I tell myself…. and my thoughts, “you cannot stay here” To be quite honest? the thought actually came to me “why can’t we just burn up all of these weeds.. torch it?” just as I often do with my hurts… burn it to the ground and forget it. There is that nudge that just says, no – just do the work. you’ll see.

Some of the things that I uncovered were not ugly weeds, but good plantings that I had failed to see, ones that were being choked out…buried deep. The good roots remained once I cleared the tangled webs of grass. When the roots are established with the good? I know that there is always hope to uncover that good. It just takes a lot of toil and tears.


In reading the Parable of the Sower? I realize that there will be things that come along that are way beyond my control. Too much rain, not enough rain… storms. Yet, I know that I have done the work, prepared the garden for a good harvest. I will continue to make adjustments, take precaution with the new plantings. My final assignment of the evening was to “stake the tomato plants” (trust me, I do not do the majority of the gardening – my farmer toils harder than I ever do)


Tying each one to the stake prevents them from falling over from the heaviness of the stalk, tossed from harsh winds. I couldn’t help but think about the process of binding up my heart with tools I already have…Faith, Hope… Love. It’s all I know to do. When the storms come? I’m sure there will be damage, but hoping it will be less because of the preparation, there will still be good left to harvest.

GardenBlog1So I wait… patiently. Every new sunrise gives a new day..another chance to work the Garden of My Heart. There is still so much to do. It is sometimes exhausting but I know that the end result will be something more than the evidence of a barren plowed field.

If by chance you are afforded to do your own garden? Tend it with care and adjust with the seasons. Learn while you can and accept the Grace that is given to you each day.

Lastly, I offered a particular passage to my daughter this week.. who knew that I was preaching to myself. I will continue to work on the good things, weeding out the bad – and with any luck at all? this garden will learn to produce more harvest than weeds.

Philippians 4:8The Message (MSG)

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.



Her Name was Helen




So many years are passing… so many memories are trying to fade.  The older videos need to be watched again, especially for your grandchildren. How will they ever fully know how much you loved them? You loved them before they were ever born and yet your days with them were much too few.

I say your name often, but as Momma.. or Mamaw when re-telling stories of remember when. All of my childhood years, you were Mommy up until the time I moved further South and I adapted their term Momma.  Everyone else called you by name, Helen. As far as I know, you never had a nickname, unless it was “Sissy” by your own Daddy and your Brother.  You were just Helen.. and often most fondly? Aunt Helen.

Sometimes it is hard for me to write about you in the past tense, mainly because you really should still be here. I will never get used to you being gone.

For today, I will introduce you to those that read my blog, to my friends that would have loved you, and to your grandchildren that weren’t afforded the time to get to know you in the way that I did.

Her name was Helen Marie, born to a Coal Miner and homemaker with one sister five years older, and later a brother who was five years younger. She grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. She skipped Kindergarten because she couldn’t leave her Daddy’s sight, and grew up to despise school so much that she would often be caught drinking Prell shampoo to fake sickness! She said it was a bad kind of sick blowing shampoo bubbles.  The sight of a school bus made her nauseated well into her later years. She never graduated, yet she was one of the smartest women I have ever known.

The family moved to California sometime during her teen years. She loved to talk about Long Beach and the summer nights spent there with her cousins. She had a love for the ocean that never changed – even after moving back home to West Virginia.

Her first marriage was to her High School Sweetheart, Cecil. He would do a tour in Vietnam and return home. They eventually divorced and each began another marriage that resulted in two children separately.

She lived most of that married life in Maryland where her two children were born. I was first, then my brother who is four years younger. She enjoyed being by the bay, catching shellfish and family picnics. The marriage would only last until I was five years old. She packed up her children, and once again the mountains would be home for the remainder of my childhood. She would always say, “you can’t take the mountains out of the girl.” and that is where we made our home.

She would marry again for the last time when I was seven, not to a new love,  but returned to her High School sweetheart, Cecil,  whom had also recently divorced. They were back where they started from, together again, in the same hometown.

She was a homemaker, a common housewife with two children and sometimes blended to four. She loved her children, and also loved many more that were not hers by birth. She struggled as much as any other mother to keep a balance. Although she was not always successful? It was something she always tried hard to manage. She was a mother figure to more than one of our close friends and cousins, claiming them as her own.

Her name was Helen…. but she was always “Mommy” to us and “Baby” to Dad (Cecil). We never went without a hot meal, clean clothes, or kisses goodnight. Ever.

She was an excellent cook and cake decorator. She never missed making a Birthday special for us or anyone that she was close to. She was a giver. She seldom missed the opportunity to invite folks to her table, for a meal or just for a visit. Her front porch swing was a haven for anyone that wanted to just sit for a spell.

She was strong… more than she ever gave herself credit. She had some tough battles throughout her short life. She was stubborn and had often went head to head with the biggest of bullies, but I also came to realize just how tender her feelings were on the inside. She cried more than she thought I ever knew.

She was compassionate and a good neighbor. Countless times did I see her give up her plate just so one of the extra kids that came home with us unexpectedly could eat at our table. She gave more than she ever took from anyone.

We survived some rough teenage years, only because she chose to love us through it instead of killing us. She was our unconditional love, always. She survived us leaving home, and always encouraged us to live our lives. She counted the days until we came to visit and would go back inside so we wouldn’t see her tears when we left. She missed having us at home as any other Mother did.

She was a prayer warrior for her family. She never missed a chance to share the goodness of God in every circumstance. She sometimes witnessed to us when we didn’t appreciate it or wanted to hear the words. We often returned the favor back to her when she didn’t appreciate it at the time either.

She made mistakes too, sometimes in relationships with her spouse, her children, and her friends. She didn’t always get the Mother in Law role right. She apologized often. She was human.

She patiently prayed and asked God to let her live to see her grandchildren.. two out of three that she was there when they were brand new. This, was her joy. She would become my daughters favorite playmate… and adore everything about my first nephew. I watched her eyes light up anytime they were in her presence. They will never know how much she wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. She would have worn a steady path between the Carolinas and Georgia to see them.  I think that made her more sad than anything – knowing she was going to miss out on seeing who they would become.

She was hilariously funny without even trying (My brother has the same genes) She was quick to laugh at herself way before she would laugh at anyone else. She was mischievous and could be the life of a party. I can’t even imagine the shenanigans her and my youngest nephew would have gotten into.  She loved to have fun with her family and she was a true night owl. She loved anything that sparkled, bling-jewelry and the color red.

She loved animals more than people at times. (hmm.. sounds like Hannah) She always had a dog or two, and would take any and all strays. She would have loved volunteering at an animal hospital.

She fought a hard fight with depression. Sometimes she won, sometimes she didn’t, but she always fought. We learned a lot about empathy and the disease itself. She taught us about grace, when it was not deserved.

The last picture I share, is our last picture together. Although her health was failing rapidly, she had her heart on the outside, surrounded by her treasures… her children and two of her grandchildren. This was her “Happy” always.

mom familyShe loved until her last moments on earth. She made sure we knew how proud she was of her children, and how much she would miss us and that she would wait patiently for us on the other side.

She was a good Momma.. and we miss her. Every. Day.

If you didn’t know her? Her name was Helen.  I  hope that you have enjoyed meeting her through my blog today. If you did? I hope you learned something new.

Proverbs 31:17  –   She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.





The Warmth of Friendship




Let’s face it, it has been a cold few weeks. Just when you thought the chilling temperatures were on their way out, in comes another front, another system of bad weather. It is still Winter after all, it is a season that will come and eventually go.

There is no better time to put on something warm, drink a nice warm cuppa your favorite and wrap up in your most favorite blanket! The feel of fuzzy socks, fleece pajamas and your hands wrapped around your favorite book. Nice, Huh?

It is a very similar feeling when I am surrounded by the warmth of my friends. Maybe it is a text that says “Hey, just making sure you are staying warm?” or a phone call saying “Brrr!!! is it cold at your house?” followed by giggles from the end of the line.. Sometimes it is a general prayer for God to watch over us all through the winter storms. This is the most special kind of warming, the kind that warms from the inside-out.

Proverbs 17:17

17 A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

Maybe some of your friendships have gotten a little “chilly” and your blanket has gotten a few worn holes? Maybe you have neglected to mend some of those tattered threads? What better time to share a little warmth, spend a little extra time mending than the current wintry season. Sometimes just a little extra  and winterizing goes a long way.
Our friends can warm the coldest of days. You may want to try a new recipe?
Instant Drink to Warm Weary Hearts
50% Affection
30% Commitment
20% Devotion
0 %  Selfishness
When I find it most difficult to follow the recipe? I often look to the one that created the most perfect blend for friendship – the Creator. We were not created to be alone, we were created to have fellowship one with another.

Proverbs 18:24

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

We can all make preparations for the cold – making sure that we have what is needed to stay warm. Our relationship with the Creator and our earthly friends is like having a warm blanket on a cold day…

My prayer is that you stay warm during this season of cold, taking special care to “winterize” the things that are important….and may you always be surrounded by the warmth of friendships.

Seeing in the Dark


I have never liked being in the dark, however I have never feared it. When the time changes, and it is dark by 5pm? it makes me gloomy and tired and ready for bed by 8pm. There are some things I learn here… that my surroundings do affect my mood just like everyone else, and I have to push harder to adjust my vision –  I have to focus on the task at hand, regardless of the dismal amount of light during this season. It’s dark sometimes on the outside, and yes, it can make me pretty dark on the inside as well.

Let me share a simple childhood story….

My grandmother lived 2 house up from me and it was very common for us to walk back and forth at night. Sometimes, she would walk back to our house for a spell. There were lots and lots of potholes in our road back then… mud holes to be exact. My eyesight was pretty keen back then so she would say “Neicey? since you can see better than me, you lead the way.” Without fail, I would hold her hand and lead her around the mud holes until we reached the house. She never doubted that her feet would stay dry as long as I held onto her. One night, I was not focused on walking, and I led us both through a watery hole. She laughed and asked if I did it on purpose? No, Mamaw… I just got lost in the dark for a minute. I knew this path very well.. and I knew that if I kept maneuvering we would always find our way. I never feared the dark or the boogie man. I always knew that dark was a season, and daylight would eventually appear.

Fast forward 40 some years later, and I am still learning to maneuver in the dark, but I have learned a few simple truths.

The darkness of night is not scary, because I know the light is just beyond the horizon without fail, upon every new day.

The grandest of stars can only be seen when it is really dark.

Finding my way depends on my focus, not on my surroundings.

I believe in the evidence of things not seen – John 16:33

Dark is a season, not a destination.

A candle illuminates nothing in broad daylight.


I may bump into a few things in the dark, I may come away with a few bruises? I may have to really adjust my focus more than I desire to do so? But, I know that if I make the effort, the light will come and I will feel the sun on my face another day.

My daughter often asks me “but how do you know everything will get better?” Because I know… I know that the dark seasons are temporary, I know that there is light just around the bend, and as long as I look for it? I will find it. Every. Time. It may not be as bright as I want, it may not last as long as I would like…but I know that it is there.. that’s what my definition has been regarding having faith. Without it, we are just going to stay in the dark, no matter how much the sun shines? We won’t feel it on the inside.

Your days may be dark…sometimes they just are.. but never stop anticipating the unseen. Hope (Hatikvah) in the things that are on the horizon, even when you get let down, or honestly, when you let others down. Light will always diffuse the dark – always.