“All the Pretty Things”

Choosing to let fire refine you, rather than consume you

I recently finished Edie Wadsworth’s new book “All the Pretty Things” as a part of her launch team.  While I had hoped to be feeding you snippets along the way via social media to entice you to be ready to order this book, it turns out that Amazon released it early and now you don’t have to wait to order your copy.  Wait!  Read on my friends so you will know why you need to order this

I have followed Edie’s blog Life{in}Grace off and on for years, first finding her through a Pinterest picture, I think.  She has an eye for design that is fascinating to me, even if it isn’t my own personal style.  She has amazing soup recipes and a desire to promote homemaking following a career as a physician.  I have to admit that I have not read all of her posts through the years, and while I knew there had a been house fire, I never knew how much fire was a part of her entire life.

 “That afternoon fell into a dark Appalachian night–the kind of night that carried with it a strange sort of loneliness that mountain people knew all too well.  Alone with the night.  Alone with the poverty. Alone with a low-grade hunger that was impossible to fill.”                                                                                              –Edie Wadsworth

Edie has been in the fire and emerged from it, smoky but with a smoke that isn’t awful like burning weeds but rather a pleasant one like what I smell when my husband is smoking a brisket.  She has the “aroma of Christ” from her battles with living in the fire, choosing her own “fires” and walking away from others.  Her smoky smell leaves me with a hunger not unlike the brisket smoke, only this hunger is to be more like my Savior.  A hunger to be more compassionate and understanding and to continue to look for ways to care for the innocent children in this world who have broken families, and these days, who doesn’t have some form of broken family?

Edie’s book begins when she is just a youngster growing up in Appalachia in Eastern Tenneessee.  It ends with her current station in life.  The story takes on a journey of heartache, neglect, love, family, abuse, redemption, perfection, failure, and grace.  It gives us a view of an extended, dysfunctional family from the eyes of a young girl whose heart cannot do anything more but love them despite their failings.  It also gives us a view into the heart and mind of a child victim and what both motivates and sabotages them throughout their life.

13895169_10206993784222328_7146079867776200123_nHaving just finished three years being “mom” to two teenage boys who have similar stories, (only theirs involves water not fire), my prayer was for forgiveness for when I didn’t understand and failed to give them the appropriate response or help to meet their deep needs.  I don’t think being given the opportunity to be on the launch team was accidental.

I finished the book this weekend.  The same weekend as the younger “son” left for college.  He had left our home earlier this summer due to his choices, and while we have no longer been helping with his daily care, we still have had an active part in his transition to independence.  This weekend his “village” of church family who have helped him for years moved him away to another city where he will try and be the first in his immediate family to finish college.  While we have be more than frustrated this past year by his repeated “forgetting” and failures to achieve benchmarks, I read Edie’s book and realize that many of his issues have to be tied to the “demons” in his mind.  All the negativity, all the heartaches, all the abuse, all the hungry nights, all the water trying to drown out his dreams.

What I also was reminded is, that no matter how great your childhood was, as children of God, we all do things we know God does not like, and then we do them again, and then we do them again.  We are human.  HE is perfect.  13920422_10206993787022398_8072257265791258696_oWe don’t have to be, we just need to keep reaching out to him, seeking him, striving to help the children he has placed in our paths, no matter their age.  Read the book, then read your favorite passages of redemption, grace and hope (if you don’t have any Edie does) and then praise your Father through prayer and afterwards through your life.

“May the Friend of sinners, the Father to the Fatherless, the Fourth Man in the fire, and the Finder of lost sons and daughters be our constant joy and peace.  He who became one of us to experience the depth of our struggle is right there in the dirty midst of it all–making all things new and raising what’s dead to new life.”                           –Edie Wadsworth

It is raining here, again.  I think I will go make some soup.  If you read the book, let us all know what you thought of it.

Check this out!

I am excited to tell you that I am 13882654_10153743208480423_2888243565121718030_na part of the launch team for Edie Wadsworth’s soon to be released book, “All the Pretty Things”.  I just started reading it and after the first chapter I am hooked.  I feel like I am there with Edie, as a young child, smelling and hearing and tasting all that is around her.  This book promises to be a book of heartache and heart healing.

Look for more posts from me in the future on this amazing story from deep in the heart of Tennessee.

Yikes! It’s Back to School Time

Some of our favorite school things

Today I realized school is on the horizon.  Not because of the usual signs.  One son is working all day and the other one comes and goes to work and various other activities  so the “end of summer” sibling fighting is, thankfully, not happening.  What did make me wake up to reality, was the fact the boys could get their parking permits for school today.  I know many of you are a long way off from high school, but these are the kind of details that come up when you get to this level.  At our school it involves a couple of forms, copies of their licenses and insurance, and of course, cash.  Oh, and their preference for where to park, west lot or parking garage.  Yes, I said parking garage.  I don’t know this for a fact, but I am pretty sure we might be the only public high school with a parking garage.  Anyway, that was our school task for today.



After all these years of school children, our “back to school” shopping sprees are slowing down.  Now I usually purchase some of our favorite supplies ahead of time, and then (unfortunately) go with the mob to the local office supply store on the first night of school picking up all the things the teachers requested on their syllabi.  When you are in high school, you don’t get those nice little lists in advance.   After 23 consecutive years of sending children to school, 14 of those with high schoolers, I am getting fairly good at knowing what to have on hand.  On Friday I had to pick up a baby shower gift and since it was “tax free” weekend for school supplies, I stocked up on a few things.  I realized that with four, and sometimes six kids, we have had a bundle of back to school experiences.  Today I am listing some of our favorite supplies and systems.  It isn’t earth shattering or anything, just our favorites.

He told me that I am who HE is. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, I have full access to all the characteristics of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. He took all the labels I’ve given myself through my circumstances and the voices of other people, and he changed them out for labels of His own.

August 4, 2016

Check out this inspiring post “My Name Is…” on names I call myself and the names Jesus gave me.

Fishing and Watermelon

A short little summertime story

Well, you gotta love the carefree days of summer where the schedule seems to go out the window.  As a mother though, I have always enjoyed the change in routine that the summer provides and then, of course, sometime in August, I begin craving a set schedule and a return to routine.  I have always been opposed to year round schooling because I love this change so much.

I said all that to explain why I didn’t post last week again and why I am still not quite back to my Monday postings, try as I might. I did write this last week while I was able to spend a couple of days at the lake with my husband, but since I didn’t have much internet time, I didn’t post it.  I did a bunch of other writing too, but more on that in a future post. (Check out LivingFowardBook.com if you want a hint)  For today, during these hot, “dog days” of summer, just get a glass of iced tea or better yet, some watermelon and enjoy this little flashback of mine.  Happy reading.


When I was a young girl, maybe about five or six, I was visiting my cousins in Central Oklahoma, as was usual for us in the summer.  My grandparents lived just “down the pasture” from my cousins’ two story farm house on the hill.

It was hot July day and that morning my uncle pronounced that we were going to go fishing later.  We spent the early morning walking through the pasture collecting grasshoppers for bait.  This was a hot, sticky and yucky job, but we did it none the less.  I wasn’t as skilled at catching as my cousins Larry and Shari were.  Larry kept warning about the “tobacco juice” which the grasshoppers ejected as we caught them.  It seems as we walked across that pasture that it was like an ocean where the tide of grasshoppers kept going farther and farther out to sea just beyond my reaching little fingers.

There is Hope for Haiti

A week with the future of Haiti

I have been trying to write this post for over a week.  I have found it much harder to sum up my experience in Haiti in mere words.  Any words that I try to use to help you understand what I saw and felt and smelled and heard will be inadequate.

Haiti is a dichotomy between beauty and ugliness.  Its people, landscape and produce are beautiful.  Its streets, its poverty, its health is ugliness.  How can an island surrounded by ocean be so dry and rocky and barren in spots?  How can a country who is constantly looking for it’s next meal, have residents who have no clothing or shoes or steady employment, be drowning in trash?  How can it’s people who suffer with such basic needs of running water, a clean food supply, and employment seem so happy and content?

A little over a week ago, my husband and I, along with one of our youth ministers and his wife, had the privilege of accompanying sixteen teenagers to the Hope for Haiti’s Children Orphanage in Thomazeau, Haiti.  It was a week of  new sights, sounds, and smells.  It was a week of hand holding, child holding, hugs, and laughs.  It was a week of singing and hammering and walking.  It was a week of beans and rice and pasta and creole sauce and goats.  It was a week of bouncing in a school bus, sweating like you never had before and drinking gallons of water.  It was a week that you would not want to trade with any other week.


Road Tripping…Part 2

4 Reasons to make your kids turn off the electronics in the car

So sometimes life gets in the way and you just cannot do everything.  Such has been the case this last two weeks.  I am sure you all have been busy too but I wanted to get this out as a follow-up to my last post, “Road Tripping” before this weekend, the busiest car travel weekend of the summer!  I don’t know about your summer, but mine is flying by!

I just wanted to give you four reasons to consider limiting your child’s use of electronics on your road trips.  Here are my list based on many miles logged as a child and as a parent:

Our last road trip...when they are this age, no games are needed.

Our last road trip…when they are this age, no games are needed.

Road tripping

Observations from a cross country trip

I grew up taking long road trips.  It was pre-seatbelt laws so I was all over the backseat.  It was pre-video days so we played all sorts of travel games.  It was pre-cell phone days so we had to pre plan it all and stick to it, or miss a reservation or be late to a family member’s home.  It was pre-GPS days so we had to read maps.  At least my mom and brother were always reading the map.  My map skills are lacking but my mom knows every highway and my brother drives over 100,000 miles a years so I just use GPS and we’re all good.

A week ago we set out to drive from Houston to St. Paul, Minnesota to see our eldest daughter and her husband and help them move into their first home.  We stopped at my parents in Kansas on the way and even were able to make a quick stop to see Robert’s brother too.  Did I mention all of our family went?  Yes, that was six adults (or four adults and two pseudo adults) and one dog with bad breath.  Our new son in law was smart and had to fly home for work on Friday.  Here are some observations I made along the way.

.Packed for travel

Faith in the Future

Fostering is not for the faithless

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and think of something you want to write down but you hesitate to get up and do it?  You think, “no I should lay quiet and not turn on lights and maybe I will go back to sleep.”  “I can write this in the morning, I really need my rest.”  I do this a bunch and I did it on Saturday morning and as usual I should I have got up and wrote down my thoughts because I have not been able to compose them since.  So today you get my rambled thoughts about what has been on my heart and mind.

A long time ago, I worked on a bus ministry where we would pick up children, mostly from lower income homes, and take them to Bible class.  We would sing and teach them the whole time they were on the bus.  It was often hard to see if you were making any difference in their lives.  It was not glamorous, it often involved hugging dirty children in their unkempt homes.  The highlights were when they remembered what you had taught them and of course, their smiles and cute personalities.  Whenever I was discouraged or tired of spending my spare time working on lessons, my mom would always say, “We may never know what difference we made, but if one child grows up to remember that Jesus loves them, it will all be worth it.”

This is what I have been trying to remember for three years.  For the past three years we have had two extra children in our family.  Two teens from a different race, whose mother told them to move out.  She told the older one when he turned 18 that he was a man and needed to move out; despite he was a junior in high school.  Then she told him to take his sixteen year old brother with him.  This is where we entered.  We took them in.  We knew them through our youth group, but we didn’t really know them.  Not the learning disabilities, not the terrible grades, the problems with the coaches, not the undiagnosed medical condition, nor the weak ACL waiting to tear, nor the inability to process audible instruction, nor the ongoing crises of their mother and younger siblings, but we took them in anyway.  We did it on faith.  Faith, that God was the one who was calling in our hearts to do it.  Faith, that God was the one who owned our home and our cars and everything else so we should share them.  Faith that if God was asking us to do this, that he would have give us what we needed to do it.  In a sense, it was blind faith.  We were blind to all the struggles that lay ahead, but we were not blind to the faithfulness of our God.

Two years ago the eldest boy graduated and went on to Job Corps where he learned two trades.  He is totally on his own now.  He has an apartment, a good job and had a car, until he wrecked it.  He has learned so much and while he has a long way to go, he is totally changing his family tree from a life of government assistance and poverty to one of financial independence and self reliance.

Yesterday, the younger brother graduated from high school.  He has employment and plans to continue his education at a community college.  He has moved out to live with friends.  He would have preferred to stay longer, but he also preferred to do things his way so we decided it was time for him to launch.  He purchased his car from us with money he saved by working this year.  He has learned that working makes you feel good about yourself and that it is important to do your job well so that the business will do well.   There are many things he does not seem to have figured out, but he will get there.  Some people have to learn by making some mistakes themselves.  I think we all have an area of our life where that is the case.

So lately, it has been hard to see what we accomplished.  There have been many “hit my head against the wall” kind of days.  I know we have made a difference, but only time will show how much we did.

Yesterday we told the younger one that if he remembers nothing else from us, that we hoped he learned that Jesus loves him, he died for him and that he will forgive him when he messes up.  A few days before, his big brother told me, “Even though I only lived with you full time for a year, I learned what a Christian family is and looks like.”  “YES!”  I thought.  “He got it!”

So maybe we won’t have to wait so long to know, but even if we don’t know here, I have faith we will on the other side.

If you are fostering right now, hang in there.  Don’t give up.  Have faith.