family | grandmother

i’m not really sure how to start this post…
…how to even attempt to sum up the life that was my grandmother’s.
she went home to be with Jesus, my grandfather, father, and mother last friday afternoon.
and i miss her.
i miss the conversations.
the small little laughs.
her embellishing stories.
the crooked smile.
the wisdom.
the genuine compassion and peace that came from just sitting with her.
her class.
and etiquette.
being soft spoken yet stern.
her beauty.

there are so many memories i have with her and my grandfather.
the many nights/weekends/weeks spent out at their property.
chasing dalmatians and staying out to watch the sun set on the water and marsh.
running down the dock full speed to jump into the river.
climbing trees and getting lost.
toasted cinnamon raisin bread with peanut butter slathered all over it for breakfast – and maybe sneaking a little cup of coffee into the river room.
nights full of stories.
and quiet.
and crickets.
and staring at the stars laying in the grass.
yard work on yard work
and dirty feet from running down the oak-lined avenue.
my grandmother calling us for dinner
and my grandfather making sure our hands were washed.

the fireplace crackling in the winter.
the absolute quiet of a house without the need for being sucked into wifi and tv.
books on books on books and sharing the fiction stories we were immersed in.
the creaking of the stares climbing up to bed.

our countless conversations of what the future holds.
the questioning of the direction i’m heading.
her re-assuring me that God has a plan.
the “hello amy, this is grandmother, i just want to tell you i love you” voicemails i still have.
the joy she had when my brother came home on break and sat with her.
the truly calming presence that she gave.

there was something different about her.
something mysterious and full of class.
stories you know she held onto and smirked to throughout random parts of the day.
the almost ringing quality of her voice that sounded like bells throughout the house.
the stern eye when you stepped a toe out of place.
the affectionate hugs and hand holds.

mary ann lived a beautiful 82 years.
she traveled with my grandfather while he was in the air force.
she had parties.
raised two awesome children.
and knew how to decorate…man she knew how to decorate.
she loved the Lord and walked quietly.
all while carrying a little mischievous smirk.

i’m still learning more about her life.
the adventures she went on, the childhood she experienced, the true awesomeness that is our lineage.
i’m blown away by the life she lived.
and the memories people hold of her, i can’t wait to keep learning.

my gosh she was incredible.
i’m so thankful for the many conversations i had with her.
and i’m so sad i will no longer have them.
it still doesn’t seem very real…but we’re processing.
and i feel that this post doesn’t even do an ounce of justice to how much i love her and respect her.
how much joy i have for her and how much sadness i have that she is no longer here.

i love you grandmother.
thank you for your wisdom.
your love.
your passion and sweet words.
for the life you lived and the lives you brought into this world.
my goodness you will be missed.

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fiction | at first sight

i don’t have another installment of cayden & james or bailey for you today.
i’ve been trying to expand my writing, be challenged, really dig deep.
so i found a list of writing prompts that i’m working through and i thought i would share one with y’all today. hopefully you’ll enjoy it – i enjoyed writing it.


writing prompt: write about the first time you saw him.

it was dark. 
after 6pm in march as she drove to the airport to pick him up. 
Tina was in the back seat – her security blanket for meeting him face to face. 
they were about to spend a week together and she was terrified of their first meeting. 
what if she wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, creative enough, alluring enough.
yes all these things a typical 18 year old thought of – vanity. 
her hands gripped the steering wheel tighter and tighter as the miles ticked off towards the airport. 
she called him “i’m almost there – where are you?”  she could hear the smile in his voice as he answered “at the american airlines terminal – outside…i think i see your car” 
her heart was in her throat.
i can’t do this she whispered.
you have to – he FLEW here tina laughed. 
she was going to be sick. 
she saw his silhouette against the outside lights, duffle bag draped over his shoulder. her eyes didn’t reach his face.
deep breath in – deep breath out. 
she parked her car and got out to help him put his bag in the trunk, not that he needed it. 
his shoes were blue – tennis shoes, covered by faded dark jeans that were sitting low on his hips. he was wearing a zippered jacket.
she still didn’t meet his eyes. 
his arms snaked around her back and pulled her into his chest – he smelt good. 
she felt him move as he started to laugh. 
“hi” he whispered into her hair. 
“hi back” she spoke into his chest. 
his hand ran over her curls – finding rest at the small of her back 
“we should probably get back in the car now right?” he said tugging on a curl. 
“probably” she responded. 
her feet shuffled away from him. once she was back behind the wheel she checked her mirrors and left the airport.
her knuckles white around the steering wheel. 
“are you ever going to look at me?” he asked.
“uh – yes …i’m just driving” she responded nervously. 
“are you nervous?” he laughed.
“ ..i mean yes a little bit” she half laughed half croaked. 
his hand covered her knee – and he squeezed. 
“look at me” 
she slowly turned her head while keeping her eyes on the road..
…and she glanced towards his direction. 
“i’ll take that for now” he said keeping his hand on her knee. 
When they got to the music hall she got out of the car a bundle of nerves. 
he came around the back and took her hand in his. 
her eyes examining the concrete.
“look at me” he smiled. 
slowly, very slowly, she made her way from his shoes, to his pants, to his jacket, to his strong chin, to his high cheek bones, to his eyes. those ocean blue eyes.
“there she is – why are you so nervous, it’s just me!” he pulled her close.
she embraced him then pulled back staring at his face.
“i can’t believe this is finally happening – you’re really here” 
they walked hand in hand into the hall – excited for the next 7 days. 

hopefully you enjoyed the story. check out the fiction tab up top for more.

get your posts ready for frankly friday tomorrow – i know mine is going to be really raw. 

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September 17 – a memory you would love to relive.

a memory you would love to relive… {there are so many}

The air in the house was stifling.
July was bleeding into August with a fiery haze.
Windows were open, ceiling fans cranked high, glasses of iced water littered the kitchen table.
I walked into the den to find my father laying on the ground in his shorts with his arms splayed out, a stack of cds leaning at his feet, listening to some classic rock.
What are you doing dad?
He patted the carpet next to him. I laid down, splayed my arms out, and listened to the guitar solos with him. Do you know who the bassist in this band is? he asked. He always asked this; or the drummer, guitarist, lead singer. It was a running game – if we guessed right he would buy us a SoBe at our next gas station visit. I don’t know…i replied. He laughed and explained the guys talent and what the background of the band was.
At some point in this conversation my brother had walked into the room and laid down opposite of me with his head butting up against mine. The three of us laid there for a song more when mom walked in.
I wondered where y’all went, i should have known we would take a music break.
We were supposed to be cleaning.
She laid down with us and listened to the music.
There we were, a family, listening to music, building faint memories.

. . .

Dang it all, Jennifer won again. She always won…i think she was cheating. It was summer time and we were at our family beach house for the week. Sand still wedged in between my toes even though the sun had set long before. My cousins surrounded our table with decks of cards sprawled out in front of us. Another round? Jonathan asked. It was already after 1am and past a few of our bedtimes; but this is what we did during the summer – got sunburned, played rummy, ate too many bags of chips, went ghost crab hunting, played bingo, and built memories. We heard one of our parents slip out of their room and stand in front of us, Do y’all know what time it is? ….just one more game! Someone has to beat jennifer! The score sheet showed that she was a solid 50 points ahead of all of us. I looked around the table, jennifer, jonathan, jason, jade, ty, and bo, and a friend or two scattered throughout. This was so fun, staying up late – playing cards – getting frustrated – laughing. My hand closed around my sweet tea glass, condensation dripping between my fingers, i need a refill, anyone else? Everyone else needed a refill, as always … grandma’s sweet tea was just too good.

. . .
joining jenni today for her blogtember challenge.

{etsy crushes link-up tomorrow}
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September 10…Life Changing Moment.

Q: Describe a distinct moment when your life took a turn…{i have 2}

It was really hot for the middle of July – like really hot.
Mom was at work, my brother and cousin Jade were at the neighborhood pool behind my house. I was sitting in the lazy boy recliner with the tv on eating a big ol’ bowl of ice cream…something I was not supposed to be doing. I heart the front door open – crap mom is home early – I stashed my bowl beside the recliner where it couldn’t be seen, I really didn’t want a lecture. I heard two sets of heels, my mom walked into the den followed by my aunt darlene. “Amy, where are Bo & Jade?” …uhhh down at the pool? i answered. “Go get them please”. I thought i was in more trouble than just sneaking ice cream. what have I done now? I thought as I walked down to the pool.
I got Bo & Jade to come back up to the house – they kept asking me what was happening…I didn’t know, I couldn’t answer. When we got back to the house, Aunt Darlene held jades hand and pulled her to the living room – mom took me and Bo back to her & my fathers room. At this point my parents had been separated for a small season – trying to work some things out together while needing some space to do it, it was a complicated situation. Mom sat down on her bed and put her head in her hands, she took a few deep breathes. I remember her sitting up straighter – looking back now I could only imagine her trying to gain some courage and strengthen her spine to deliver the news. We sat in front of her, Indian style, and just looked at each other. What was going on? Mom took our hands in hers and said “You know I love you…you know Jesus loves you…and you know your daddy loved you…” I was only 13 at the time but I was old enough to pick up on that one small letter…that ‘d’ that changed a word from present to past tense.
She said loved not love.
“Your daddy has gone to be with Jesus – he is in Jesus’ arms.” I remember Bo busted out in to tears; at 9 years old not fully understanding what that meant, but knowing enough to know that Jesus is in Heaven…and that is where Dad must be too now. I sat there for a minute just looking at my mom – stunned, not fully understanding…not really wanting to understand. Does this mean I’m fatherless? Where is my dad? He just wanted to see me a few days ago…but I wanted to hang out with my girlfriends.
The tears came slowly.
I was 13 years old – less than a month from starting high school – and I was now without a father.
Mom had been sick for over 6 months now.
I hated cancer – leukemia.
The summer and fall had consisted of hospital visits, phone calls, and a brief season where she was home for two weeks. I was living with my aunt & uncle some days/weeks and others I was living at home – too anxiety ridden to be away from what was comfortable to me, what was my normal. My grandmother (mom’s mom) stayed with my mom every. single. day while she was in the hospital and my grandfather stayed with me most nights (some other family members/friends stayed other nights). Some nights I remember going to sleep to the sound of an empty house…hearing my own heart beat…wondering what was next. The night before I was at youth group. We prayed for my mom. All of my friends and youth leaders surrounded me, laying their hands on me, prayed for me, my family, my mother. At one point my friend Niki said, “God, if Mrs. Donna is meant to be with you…then that’s ok, she can go be with you.” I remember being furious with Niki, how could she say that…that was like wishing my mom to die. My friend Andrew prayed something similar…I was still angry.
That night I was laying in bed, my next door neighbor aunt Gayle was staying with me that night (my brother had been living with my aunt and uncle), and I prayed to God. I finally understood what He had been pressing on my heart. You see, I was down to one parent – my mom – she was in the hospital for my 16th birthday, promising a “blowout 17th” for the next year. She still heckled me to clean my room…and do dishes, and learn how to cook something other than mac and cheese from a box. She still talked to me about Jesus and asked how school was going – how was I doing with my grades – all while she was confined to a hospital bed.
At this point mom had been in a coma in the ICU for about a month…I hadn’t seen her. I had the choice, but my family warned me that she didn’t look like herself. She had put on a lot of water weight (my mom was a petit 5’3 115lb woman), her eyes had gone from brown to blue, she had lost her hair a long time ago…my mother wasn’t herself. So I didn’t go, I didn’t want to see her like that at age 16.
As I was thinking about all of that, I whispered some words to Jesus.
Jesus…I’m ok if you take my mom.
I don’t want her to be in pain anymore, if she will be better with you in Heaven – then I’m ok with it, I won’t like it, I’ll miss her….I really want her to stay with me and Bo…but I’ll be ok.
I fell asleep.
Hands were on my shoulders, my body was slowly being shaken awake, “Amy, wake up”.
My eyelids peeled open, my bedside table lamp was on.
My grandmother was sitting at my side. As my eyes adjusted I looked around my room – Aunt Darlene, Aunt Diane, Aunt Debbie, grandma…my Aunt Darlenes eyes gave it away; she had the same eyes when she walked in with my mother to tell me my father had passed away. My grandmother opened her mouth, “Amy, your mother went to be with Jesus, she is in Jesus’ arms…” I remember becoming fascinated with the popcorn ceiling in my room. “Mom, do you think she heard us?” …one of my aunts said.  “I’m an orphan?” I said out-loud. They all started crying – I started crying. Where is Bo? does he know yet? They told me he was at my aunts house – still sleeping – it was 3am and they were trying to let him sleep some more but they wanted me to know, to wake up. I went out into the den where my grandfather was sobbing, my aunt gayle and uncle dave were crying, my moms boyfriend was there in pieces. I remember going back to my room, sitting on my bed, and being silent for a long time – thinking I’m only 16, what do I do now? I remember 530am rolling around and my friend Ashlee calling to see if was running late or on time since I was her and kaylees ride to school. I told her I wasn’t going – she asked why – because my mom died. She started crying – asking if I wanted her to come over, no, not right now…but thank you. They came over later as did many other friends and family. I won’t go into detail today about when we told my brother later that morning – but that was almost as hard as hearing I was parentless.

Tragedy happens.
Joy happens.
You learn from both.
I’ve learned from both.
I miss my parents – every. single. day.
Some days are easier than others – some days harder than others.
I find solace in the fact that God knows more than I do.
His plans are greater than my own.
And glory was brought to Him through their passings…people heard the Gospel through their lives.
Jesus was preached.
I’m sure people were saved – or put on the road to salvation.
I’ve trusted in God through all of this – I will continue to trust in Him.

Joining jenni today for her blogtember challenge.

Memory Boxes…

So i saw this pin a while ago and knew i wanted to replicate it once my trip was over this past summer. 
{which i just now realized i never finished posting about…hmm…maybe i’ll write a few more posts}
. . .
I ended up going to Michaels craft store to see what kind of boxes they had in stock. 
Truthfully i couldn’t find anything that had a flat front (without hinges or a lock) so i landed on these two boxes. I wish they were a bit longer so all of my maps could fit in without me having to fold them – but you make do with what you can find right?
I used some of my sample paint jars from when i was deciding what to paint the foyer hallway.
I wanted a “washed” look on the boxes so the wood grain would show through a little.
In order to get that look i grabbed a plastic cup with some water and some paper towels. 
I used one of my sponge brushes, dipped it in paint, then water, dabbed a little on the paper towel and started painting the box, easy peasy.  

I had bought some stencil letters to make “scotland” & “ireland” all professional and pretty.
Wouldn’t you know that i could not find them when it was time for me to write on the box.
So i said screw it and just freehanded some bubble letters.
Are the perfect? heck no – but they work for now!
I used some paint pens i happened to have in my craft box – i currently can’t remember which kind.

. . .
I could see so many uses for boxes like this – a graduation party, babies first birthday, wedding cards…the possibilities are endless. I will definitely be making more as the years (and trips) go on.

So that was one of my latest little diy projects.
Have you done any diy lately?

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15 DC | Memories

Day four of the 15 day challenge.
Life of Love
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
. . .
Oh man so many, so many great experiences, vacations, sleep overs, etc that there is not one that i put above another.
I think one of my [many] favorites is laying on the floor of my den with my dad listening to some rock’n’roll band and him teaching me about the members of the band and which instrument they played etc. My brother and mom would come in and out of the room and hang with us and listen to the music…all great fun.
Another fun memory is being at the beach house with all of my family (including my parents) laughing, running around, and having a good time. We (the girl cousins) used to choreograph a dance to either the Spice Girls or to Nysnc/Backstreet boys and then perform it for our family. Everyone spent days at the beach and staying up late playing games and acting goofy.
Such great times.
. . .
What about you?
What is one of your favorite memories?
How are you enjoying the 15 Day Challenge?