How We Write Our Story

How We Write Our Story

IMG_4091I wonder if my Papaw ever dreamed his chair would one day be filled with Minnie and Lambie and Baby Ariel. I wonder if he knew a feisty girl with wild, blonde curls and mischievous, blue eyes would one day use his chair as a bed for all her stuffed critters. I wonder if he imagined a great-granddaughter with the middle name Anne after his beloved wife, her beloved great-grandmother, Annie Frances.

That’s the beauty of legacy–we write a chapter in a story without ever knowing the ending. We cling to a heavenly promise but can’t imagine how will it all be fleshed out one day. We are writing a story right now–this day–whether we want to or not. Honestly, some days I feel like the paragraph I penned is one word long–Survival. But if a bunch of those get written together the page starts to take a monotonous tone like having a PB&J sandwich for the 89th day in a row. Sometimes PB&J is our saving grace, but sometimes it’s just an excuse to stay in the box you’ve been living because it’s known and comfortable and easy.

My oldest loves to declare any day “the best day ever” so naturally holidays are her jam. Today, she woke up and said, “Mom, Easter was so much fun. I wish it could be Easter every day. But today is just a regular day, isn’t it?” She wanted a reason for today to be something special. But I told her today can be as special as she wants to make it. And the same is true for me. It’s a Monday, and it’s been rainy and overcast. I had five loads of laundry to catch up on from taking a break over the weekend. It’s easy to think, “It’s just another day. Let’s get through it and survive.” But I don’t want my chapters to be about survival. I want them to be about life and life abundant.

Yesterday morning as I was getting ready, I kept saying to myself, “He’s alive.” And every time tears welled in my eyes. I’m alive because He lives in me. Not just alive, like I’m exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide, but alive like I can see the beauty in what others call mundane. Alive like I can trust in the middle of a dark Saturday because I know the promise of Sunday. Alive like I can see purpose in piles of pink laundry and smushed up Goldfish crackers.

Alive and spilling every drop of precious ink onto the pages of my story because He spilled out His sacred blood for me.

This is how we write our story. It isn’t through a highlight reel. It’s through the daily pouring out of ourselves into the lives He has entrusted us with.

This is my story. This is my song. 

On Salt Licks, Lemon Ice Box Pies & Leaving a Legacy

On Salt Licks, Lemon Ice Box Pies & Leaving a Legacy

IMG_6037This past weekend, we embarked on a little road trip to Sweet Home Alabama to visit my Mamaw and meet our new niece. Fueled by iced coffee and the Love Does book on audio (me being the audio), we made the trek to Leeds, Alabama, a small town just north of Birmingham. My grandparents have lived in the house my Papaw built since the day they were married, and my mom spent her entire childhood in this home. My Papaw went to be with Jesus almost five years ago, but his fingerprints are all over this home and this land.

So many of my childhood memories are on that farm. The golden sun breaking through the blinds, the smell of sausage and biscuits wafting from the kitchen, the sound of the train rumbling across the tracks just over the highway. Mornings spent in the garden where I would play underneath the trees bursting with apples, pears and figs. And where I secretly wondered how that odd looking fruit came to resemble the Fig Newtons Papaw would keep in the pantry for an afternoon treat.

After Mamaw finished picking the ripe vegetables, we would head inside. Some days we shelled peas. Some days we snapped beans. But whenever we were done, I would assemble my grocery store on the wooden table in the dining room. I would drag out Papaw’s old scale and separate everything into baskets. The plump eggplants were my favorite, weighty with waxy skin the color of a moonless night. Once I had everything just right, I would invite Mamaw to come shop at my grocery store. As she made her selections, I tallied up her total on a yellow notepad. A few years ago, we came across a small stack of these now-wrinkled and faded receipts. She had kept them all those years.

In the late afternoon, I would go out to the pasture with Papaw to check on the cows. I loved sitting on the tractor with him and hearing all his stories about his beloved bovine friends. He would tell me how each one came to the farm, its age and its personality. He would tell me about the bull too and how he had to be careful with that one. We would ride past the salt lick (which I know from experience is quite salty) and make sure the cows had plenty of fresh water. Papaw used an old bath tub for their water trough. I would run around the pasture while the water ran, Papaw warning me to watch out for “fresh patties” and to never ever touch the electric fence. Even though I knew he’d already checked it a half dozen times to be sure it was off.

At night Mamaw and I would make lemon ice box pies, two at a time, and watch I Love Lucy marathons. And I would always sneak out to the back porch where Papaw would be reading his Bible. Every Christmas he had only one request, a new Bible. Because his one from the previous year would no longer be attached to the binding and the pages would be falling out from being read so often.

And every time I had to leave to go home, they would stand on that porch and wave goodbye. They tried to cover their tears, but I knew they were there. I didn’t even try to cover mine. I would look out the back window down the long driveway, waving one last time and at the top of the hill we would enter the highway, giving a little honk and a last goodbye.

My Papaw went to be with Jesus November 2008. A few months later on January 17th, his birthday, the first one he wouldn’t be here to celebrate, I found out I was pregnant. That baby would join him in heaven a month later and then another baby would join them both later that summer. But as I watched Lydia running and Charlotte crawling on the lawn in front of that porch, I smiled. The same patch of grass my Papaw once mowed. The same patch of grass my mom played in as a child and then me and my siblings a few decades later. And now my two girls enjoying the magic of that farm, lost in the sweet smell of country air and a lifetime of treasured memories.