she is comfort
the sound of rain on the faded tin roof
the hum of the needle making stitch after stitch
the first ice cream of summer, dripping down the cone
the smell of tea olive blossoming beneath the starlit sky

the sound of her voice
on the other end of the line
reassures me
reminds me
rejoices and refreshes
like a balm to my aching soul,
sore from too much too soon

she listens to my stories,
my worries, and my joys
she remembers what I never knew,
and tells of days past, people gone
mending the cracks in my foundation
that come from time and distance and loss

she is the voice of those who can no longer speak
she is the shoulder of those I can no longer lean on
she is the counselor, speaking for those whose wisdom is now a whisper in the wind
she is the love for those who loved us

she is
as she always has been


and as I watch her head bowed closely next to my child,
their voices joining together in lyrical conversation
with notes of laughter for the chorus
I am thankful
thankful for who she was then
and for who she is now
now that they are gone

she can never replace
she would not want to
nor would I ask it
but her stitches
of love, day in day out,
help ease the gaping wounds
her touch brings healing
and her heart brings light

and warmth
as the scent of vanilla and patchouli
waft from her back door, welcoming us
as we climb the steps of the porch

where she is



Cold Sun Landscape

By Emmanuel Huybrechts from Laval, Canada (Cold Sun Landscape) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The “M” Birthday

When Aub turned 3, I planned, with the help of my Joyful friend, a party with the theme of “Pink Pigs, Puppets, and Pizza.”  (I do love alliteration!) It was a lot of fun, as all of the parties were back then, and I even had her third birthday picture made in her favorite pink nightgown with all of her pink pigs sitting beside her.  I love that picture.

Tomorrow my girl turns 21.

I don’t know how that happened.  Cliche’ but true.  The days were long and the years were short.

And now–here we are.  21.

Tonight I mentioned to my older friend who is the epitome of wisdom, love, grace, and spryness that I guessed I was done.  Twenty-one equals grown, right?

I was walking behind her, and saw her shoulders shake with her mirth before I heard her laughter.  “Oh me…..okay.  Sure.  We’ll let you think that for now.”

I know better.  I really do.

My girl wanted a very laid back birthday this year.  I was good with that.  It seems like the world right now is a cyclone of chaos and to do’s and needs and what not, so a chance to sit.  And be.  And not much else.  SURE. YES.  The gift that keeps on giving.

We gathered in the backyard with the fire going (I’m getting pretty good at starting them now), and I set out the hot dogs and fixin’s along with the sticks for roasting.  I had a few decorations I’d put together for the day with a small sign with the theme for her 21st birthday “party.”

I returned to alliteration eighteen years later.  (I was in a play in Junior High with Beta Club, and my one line that I still remember was “I just love alliteration.”  I looked up what that was, and you know what?  Turns out I do.  To this day.)  Only the letter has changed.  This year’s theme?


Mason Jars, Mermaids, Makeup, and Monograms.

My baby girl who isn’t a baby anymore loves most things Southern.  Traditions, cornbread, grits, pearls, and Mason Jars for anything from drinking out of them to storing things.  I tried a Pinterest project (ha–close to a fail, I’d say, but since I learned from it, we’re moving it to the WIN column) and “frosted” some jars with mermaids inside.  If you want to know more, let me know.  I’ll do my best to tell you the right way to do it, which the folks on Pinterest most definitely did NOT do.  As for the mermaids,  a dear friend of mine and I talk about them as a symbol of not only adapting but transforming into something beautiful wherever you are.  Aub is about to enter a whole new way of life, with this “official” adulthood thing.  I don’t want her to feel like she’s underwater…..I want her to grow a tail and swim–take off and make the new way of life her own.  As for the makeup, she loves it.  Since she’s 21 and not 11 anymore, I’m okay with that.  She is beautiful inside and out, makeup or no, and as long as she remembers that, I don’t have a problem with her enjoying the world of makeup.  (I do have a problem with the folks who didn’t recognize that her cake, designed and made by her loving Mama, was a compact and NOT a toilet.  We won’t even go there, folks.  I’m about to get sappy, and I can’t if I revisit my emotions attached to that experience.)  Monograms needs no explanation–I’ve written about that before.  She loves ALL THE THINGS monogrammed.  Even her cookies.  Today we were talking about her monogram, and she said, “I do love it.  It’s so asymmetrical.”  You’re welcome, boo.  Of course I thought about that when naming you.  Ahem.

Tonight as I remember where I was exactly this moment 21 years ago (calling my parents, his parents, my dear friend, heading to the hospital), I am thinking about that letter M and all of the other things it could have stood for–Mercer (where she might maybe perhaps go to grad school), Mouse (her nickname before she was born), Mama (who loves her dearly), Mic drop (something she does regularly), Mississippi (because she is a really good speller and knew how to spell it almost as soon she knew her alphabet…..and so many others.  But as I sat down by the fire last night, and realized how far she’s come, and yet this is only the beginning, I thought about the things I wish for her in the years to come that start with the M.

*Make time for the things you love.  Don’t toss the things you enjoy doing aside permanently for the sake of your career or even another person. If you love it, make time for it.

*”Make hay while the sun shines.”  Work hard when the opportunity presents itself.  Never go halfway.  Give it your all.

*Make a difference.  In whatever you do, do it in kindness and with good intent.

*Make someone laugh or smile.  At least once a day.  And it’s okay if that person is you.

*Make other people feel important.  Because they are.

*Meander on the less traveled path.  Learn to love the other way around.

*Mix it up.  Try new things.  Attempt something you never thought possible.  Eat a new food.  Read a different genre.  Take archery lessons.

*Move.  Your arms.  Legs.  Head.  Dance.  Walk.  Run.  When you are moving, it’s harder to sit on your pity pot.  Trust me, I know this.

*Middle.  Sit there every once in a while.  Or more often.  It offers a different perspective, and different perspectives can be very good to try out for size.

*Master something you’re curious about.  Painting.  Knitting.  Piano.  Underwater Basket Weaving.  No one can ever take your skills away from you.

*Music. Listen.  As much as possible to as many kinds as possible.  Music can lift your spirits or rest with them where you are.  Never be without music.

*Make.  Create.  Share.

*Motivation.  Seek it.  Offer it.

*Move on.  Move beyond.  Don’t get stuck in that one bad moment.  Or bad experience.  Or held up by that one person who doesn’t get you and never will.  Let it go.  (Yeah, I said it–I sang it too.)  I feel that it will be okay.  It will be okay.  

*Muse.  Listen to her.  Let her guide your thoughts and your words.  Write.  Please.  The world needs your voice.

*Metamorphose.  As much as it takes.  Change.  Adapt.  Grow.  Never stop growing.  Adapting.  Becoming.

*Miracle.  You are mine.  Be good to my treasure.  Because I love you.

And I give thanks for you every single day.

May Light shine upon you, today and everyday–chasing the darkness away, so that you can reflect all the good that has gone before you and offer a glimpse of all the good you will bring in the days and years to come.

Happy 21st birthday, Aub!  

You are loved.


The first pink pig is on the left.  Squealer.  He went everywhere with us way back when.  


My attempt at a Pinterest project.  Win some, learn some.  Definitely learned some on this one.  


Monogrammed Mason Jars made by our sweet neighborfriend. As delicious as they are beautiful.



It’s a compact. And completely safe for our food allergies, so this is a definite WIN, and definitely looks like a COMPACT!


Our girl’s post about one of her gifts.  The one about adapting.  And making this new life work for her.  After all, who doesn’t want a mermaid tail of their own?  Just keep swimming.  



Catching Sight of Him

Cooter is enjoying his drama program.  Each week he heads through that door and doesn’t look back.

Well not much anyway.  When he is on stage delivering his lines (yes, he’s already memorized them! what a relief), he will glance over and smile with this “nailed it, did you see that?” look on his face.  I smile and sometimes offer a thumbs up.  He’s in his element, and that is a joy to see.

They’ve progressed to the point in rehearsals that all of the children wait backstage for their scenes.  Once they begin, I don’t see him except on stage until it’s time to leave.

This week there were a group of parents waiting for their children near the front door close to the end of rehearsals.  Since I stick around the whole time, I had already walked over and signed him out.  I stood off to the side, waiting.  As the crowd of children headed our way from the back, I finally saw Cooter.  He was moving with purpose towards our direction, but his eyes were steadily searching…..for me.  Oh my heart.  And then that moment when I moved into his line of sight and he saw me…..


His eyes lit up and he smiled that smile, and his stride was a little more relaxed.  It warmed my heart and soul and made my life to see the expression on his face.

And then just like that, I was his age–or maybe a year or two younger–again.  I was on the playground right after school was dismissed, and I was carrying something that Mama had sent treats to school in.  I was looking for my someone to find me and take me home.  I can still remember that exact moment the crowd parted, and there he was, that handsome, smiling fella I called Daddy.  In that moment, I was relieved, safe, and home.

So it was a very precious thing, this moment that Cooter and I had, where I got a small taste of what that day was like from Daddy’s perspective.  He found me just as I found him.

March 23 is my Daddy’s birthday.  The day to make a cake, light it up with candles, sing, and have him blow out the candles.  It’s the day I give him way more than one card because there were always several that made me laugh and think of him.  It’s the day that we all try our best to make him feel loved and bigger than life.  Because he was.

This will be the fifth year we celebrate his day without him here to give me a pickle or two off of his cheeseburger pizza.  The fifth year I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time in the card section and perusing ideas of what to give him on Amazon.  The fifth year we don’t hear his laugh or watch the children trying to help him blow out the candles.

But it will still be special.

Tonight I’m thankful for the man who first looked for me and never gave up finding me, no matter how far away I wandered off.  I give thanks for every single year of his life that I got to spend with him, listening to his wisdom, sharing my ups and downs, and swapping stories.  I am especially thankful for that day that I was feeling so lost and there he was.  And I know that’s how it has always been–when I was the most lost, Daddy has always been there to help me find my way back.  And in a way, he still is.

Most of all, I am thankful for my little guy whom my Daddy named Cooter because he loved cars just like that mechanic on that TV show years ago.  Because I was loved and looked for, I can do that now.  Now I get to see what being found looks like from the other side.

And it is beautiful.

May you all have someone to look for and who looks for you.

Love to all.


My sweet Daddy, at age 26, and me at 9 months old. The man who has always looked for and after me.  Love you, Daddy.  Thanks for everything.



holding my hand

if we are all, as the writer Ram Dass says,
walking each other home
then I am so thankful that you are here
to listen when I laugh and when I cry
to take in my stories
and keep them safe

and when I lose my way,
it is you, always you,
who gently takes my hand,
just as you did when I was little–
I do remember–
and walks me back down the dirt road
to the little house
that holds all those we love
and their stories

all I can offer you in return
are eyes that see all the beauty you are
the sweetness of your soul
and the depth of your heart

and my hand
as we take turns walking each other
back up the path
to find what is sure to surprise all of us
at the end-shaped beginning


Always Heading East

Tonight after the pizza supper that Cooter requested special for his 9th birthday (I can’t even with this whole 9 year old thing y’all, so that is why we are NOT talking about it right now), we were headed home.  The sun was setting, and as we do from everywhere we are at any and all given times, we were headed east to go home.

Apparently we never travel east of our home because we always seem to head into the darkness this time of night.

The Fella had to stop for something, so he pulled off the main road into the store parking lot.  I sat, peering into the darkness feeling, well frankly, sad.  Tired.  Listless.  It’s dark.  I can’t see.  There’s so much I can’t see in the unknown ahead.

To get out of the parking lot, my Fella had to turn the car around to the west before getting back on the main road and heading east.  When I looked up from my gloomy thoughts, what met my eyes was breathtaking.

One of the most beautiful sunset paintings I’ve ever seen.  I can never get enough of those, but this one–this one was truly spectacular.

We started back on the road to home with the painting behind me.  I turned in my seat to see it just one more time.  When finally I had to turn back and face the darkness to the east, I was different.  I felt different.  I was better.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the darkness, by what’s ahead.  Maybe when we get to that point, we need to take a moment to turn all the way around and see what else is out there. What is directly in front of us is rarely all there is.

I believe in the power of pulling over.  Of taking a breather.  Or a shower.  Or a nap.

You know.  Whatever it takes to change perspectives.  To lighten the load.

Love to all.


Happy Birthday and Being Held Close

A few years back my friend told me about how, in the Celtic culture, the Holy Spirit is symbolized by the wild goose.  Since that time, I’ve found comfort in seeing a flock of them grazing in a field or near a pond and in the sound of them flying overhead in the grey winter skies.

Today was no different.  On a day that was filled with the things that needed to be done and called me here and there, it was a precious day.  My Mama’s birthday.  Since my brother let the cat out of the bag about her age about 35 years ago, I don’t think she’d mind my sharing that this is her 70th birthday.  And our third one without her here.

I held her especially close today as we sat in a class about animal predators and prey and parasitism and other interesting things to know about animals, and as we went from one appointment to another this afternoon.  But it was when I saw the geese today that my spirits lifted just a touch, and I knew that we were also being held close today.




May you find just what you need to bring you comfort right when you need it most.

Love to all.

Watching Her Become

We’ve been excited about tomorrow for MONTHS.  And now, it’s finally here.

Our Princess’ 11th birthday.

Standing on the precipice of growing up and staying small, of childhood and adulthood, of elementary school and middle, of little girl and young woman, of joy-filled wonder and emotional angst, she is a sister and friend and daughter and student and swimmer and dancer and gymnast and pianist and scooter rider and ball tosser and bicyclist and laugher at jokes and unloader of dishwasher and our imagination-run-wild gift from God.

She is.  A blessing.

Born in Japan, she surprised us two weeks early.  I barely had my bag packed, but it was enough so that I was able to grab it and drive myself and Aub to the hospital when my water broke.  The funny thing is I felt no fear.  Each morning when I changed her diaper in those early months, I would say out loud to her, with her: “Thank you, God, for another day.”  And we would laugh together.

Her name is an old English name meaning joy or happiness.  Spelled differently, it’s also the middle name of one of my favorite cousins.  She carries her name well.  For the most part, she is a loving and affectionate child who loves hugs and laughter and games and being with people she loves.  And Minecraft.  How she loves Minecraft.  Other times, when she’s not so loving, well, she’s a Scorpio.  Watch out for that.  When her voice deepens (and it’s laughable if it’s not your name she’s saying), someone is in deep trouble.  And she knows how to let loose and do some correcting.

We recently saw an old video of her and Cooter on his first birthday.  We were all encouraging him to dig into his little mini-cake.  She was bouncing around talking about cake and wanting some, but when he went for it, and we all got excited, her voice deepened, and she immediately started reprimanding him in her three-year old voice: “Cooter, no!  Do not do that.  Mama, he is making a mess!”

And so it is.  To this day.  She’s his best friend and his third Mama all rolled into one.

She has her own sense of style and is unapologetic as she somehow pulls off the oddest of combinations.  I’m envious and a little bit in awe of that.  She has a very strong sense of justice.  Don’t let that sweet face and smile and twinkling eyes fool you.  Say something to her that lets her know you don’t see women as equally capable of living life, and she will. LET. LOOSE.  All the madness.  I do hope she will see a competent woman President in her lifetime, because as we are studying government and elections, she is about to lose her mind over this issue.  She is constantly checking with me to make sure no one is leaving any other group out.  When she senses injustice, something she just cannot fathom, it upsets our whole home because she carries it with her constantly.

Tonight I’m thankful for this next chapter in our girl’s story.  What a beautiful unfolding of her soul we get to see.  The one who came into this world loving pink and dresses and dancing and playing dressup is growing into someone who still loves those things but also loves jeans and hoodies and blue and purple and dressing up as real people who have made a difference in this world.  She talks about traveling and being in the Olympics or coaching or teaching or being a Mama or all of these things.  Our girl already knows where she is going to college and is ready for me to make a room deposit for her at the “Oldest and the Best,” where her Maemae, her sister, and I all learned.  She dreams of a day when race and gender don’t matter, that a good heart is seen only for that, and of the day when food allergies will be cured.  She loves biographies and Harry Potter and books about fairies, and each night when I sit in the quiet house, I hear a creak that means she’s gone into the library searching out another book to help her fall asleep.  She is a beautiful, unique soul whom I get to love and learn from up close and personal.

And for that I am most thankful.

Happy birthday, baby girl!  May it be the best one ever. yet. always.  Love you mostest.

Love to all.

Just for fun, a sample of the art in our birthday girl’s room, which shows her beautiful and complex spirit.  

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

Her spirit flies and soars and fills our home with love and laughter and a lot of wonder.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think.  She loved it, because Disney and all those movies--her FAVORITES.

A Christmas gift from her big sister last year I think. She loved it, because Disney and all those movies–her FAVORITES.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess.  She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday.  And so it was.

A gift from our cousin who shared a birthday with our Princess. She actually wanted our girl to be born on her birthday. And so it was.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

A gift from the brush of her big sister, with whom she shares a love of all things Potter.

This year's gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her "returning to college" sister.  This one melts MY heart.

This year’s gift from her big sister, just given early tonight by her “returning to college” sister. This one melts MY heart.