one thing to add to your Christmas list

Show of hands: who’s feeling the push and panic of the holidays? That would be both hands up for me. I have purchased exactly one present so far. One.

And yes, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, but we kind of lost steam with the tree after an initial burst of decorating. It’s still angel-less and surrounded by hideous brown bins of ornaments from the attic. If I wrap the bins, they could stand in for the absent presents. Read More

the stories that make us

The blaze began at the cookstove. Sparks whooshed up the chimney igniting dry-as-tinder wood shingles. The father, an Alabama farmer, was away working the fields, but a hero was waiting in the wings: a fifteen-year-old who refused to let her house burn down. Read More

the tough stuff that made me

IMG_4432If you caught my last post, you’ll know I was a mash-up of competing football loyalties this weekend. Let’s just say 3 out of 4 wins ain’t bad, and one contest pitted two of my favs against each other for an upset that has the whole SEC wondering what’s next.

All I’ve got to say about the hunt for a champ is “Roll Dawg Eagle” and may the best team win. Read More

the places that made me

This week I’m thanking God for the places that made me. I am a Southern girl through and through, but I admit that the Deep South is a complicated place to be from. For all our churches, hospitality, and genteel manners, we can’t deny a legacy of racism, classicism, illiteracy, and poverty. Turns out, though, we’re not the only place on the globe where humans hurt each other or just plain hurt. So I’ll keep being thankful that I’m a Southern girl, and I’ll keep pushing to change the things that need changing where I’m from and beyond.

So where exactly AM I from? I’m thankful to call four Southern states home–or perhaps I should say Southeastern Conference states. When I say I’m from the South, I mean all over it. And yes, I did just make reference to that hallowed football conference, the one that churns out the best games of the season every year.

img_5724 Read More

The People Who Made Us: An All-Saints Meditation

Happy All Saints Day! Though my church tradition doesn’t specifically celebrate the day, I tend to pause on Nov 1st to think about the people who came before me. Looking back can help us move forward, especially when we celebrate the examples of those who rose above their circumstances and failures to press on in the faith. They are part of the “great cloud of witnesses” cheering us on:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Who is in your personal great cloud of witnesses? The chapter preceding this passage gives a Hall of Faith Fame that we can all share, with remembrances of everyone from Noah to Rahab to David. However,  I’m also indebted to my mom for making All Saints Day resonate with me as I celebrate the Hall of Famers from my own past. Several years ago, she did an All Saints writing project with her junior high students to explore their heritages. Her students thought and wrote about those who had influenced their lives, and they were able to move toward gratitude for those people.

Her point was that the people who came before us (whether they are from our family of origin or are simply people who have impacted us) contribute to who we are. They are the people who made us.

Whether those people looked like “saints” or not, we can find things to celebrate about our connection with the people of the past. Did they overcome adversity in some area? Then, we can, too.  Did they teach us something that has helped us? Then, we can do the same for others. Did they fill a void where someone in our natural family failed us? Then, we can thank God for providing friendship and love from an unexpected source.

I am starting this month of Thanksgiving, then, with a moment of thankfulness for my cloud of witnesses: godly parents and grandparents, neighbors and friends who were like parents and grandparents, English teachers who taught me to love writing, mentors who taught me to love the person I was becoming, Bible teachers who didn’t just preach me a list of do’s and don’ts but taught me to love God’s word, bosses who gave me career opportunities, and a multitude of friends who’ve brightened my life.

I am profoundly grateful. Won’t you join me in giving thanks for the people who made us?

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