Tag Archives: writing 101

That House on Austin Drive


In spite of how sweet and shy and timid I was as a child, I was still considered a brat.  An” Air Force brat” that is.   Seriously, where did that term come from?   It’s not very flattering is it?   Children in military families don’t need that bad rap!   I had plenty of other things to concern  my pre-teen self with other than the “brat” rep!   Things like how long it might be until my dad was transferred again?  Would I like my new school?  Would I have any friends there?  Would our next house be big enough for me to have my own room?  Would my old friends call me or write letters?   (For any youngsters reading this little blog post, a “letter” was something sort of like a text message or an email.   Except we used a pen or pencil and paper. Stamps and the Post Office were also involved, but I won’t bore you with those details right now!)  We moved alot and I had to consider these concerns often during my childhood.      We always lived in modest but very comfortable homes .   From the trailer park in Florida, base housing in North Carolina to that house on Austin Drive in Arkansas, each home held special memories.  But only one was my favorite.

That house on Austin Drive!  

Oh it was spectacular.   We moved into this house right before I turned 13….at least I think that’s how old I was.  I’ve slept a few times since then!   My first memory  in this house happened the day we moved in.   My parents had hired a moving company so strangers were moving our things.  As I stood in the foyer of the house giving directions on where this box should be placed and where exactly the master bedroom was, I overheard a conversation between two of the moving guys. The gist of the conversation was the enormous length of our back hallway.  It was indeed brag worthy!   After living in many smaller houses, we were finally living in a house with  4 bedrooms ! As far as I was concerned, this house was practically a mansion.  The hallway connecting those 4 glorious rooms was quite long indeed!   

My own bedroom!  Finally!!   After years of sharing a room with either of my sisters, I would finally have my own 4 walls on which to hang my Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond posters!   My own 4 walls in which to have private phone conversations with my best friend!  My own space to have dozens of friends over for slumber parties!   I wouldn’t have to clean up or even look at the mess my sister would leave because I had MY OWN FOUR WALLS!!!    


The neighborhood was also nice.  There were actual 2 story houses on our street!  As an adult that sounds like a ridiculous thing to be excited about, but in my pre-teen mind, the existence of houses with more than one level in MY neighborhood meant only one thing.  We had “arrived”.   Even more proof of our “arrival” was our next door neighbor.  An English teacher from the high school I would soon attend  lived next door to us.  I could see her house from my bedroom window.   I ended up having my teacher neighbor for 10th grade English. She was the only person alive who made me appreciate Shakespeare! Thank goodness I liked her.  There could’ve been many awkward moments at home if I didn’t.   She was also the only person I knew at the time who knew a real live famous person. With my teenage obsession with teen idols and movie stars, this was a very impressive teacher fact for me!   This teachers “claim to fame” was that she taught Mary Steenburgen 10th grade English.  Of course, I stole her claim to fame and now it’s mine.  Have you heard?  Mary Steenburgen and I had the same English teacher!   I still think about that whenever I see her in a movie.  And yes, I do still annoy my family with the no longer new news that Mary and I have something in common!  It doesn’t take much to impress this girl!

I’ve long since moved away from that house on Austin Drive.   I haven’t laid eyes on it since we moved away in 1979.   So out of curiosity, I plugged  my old address into my Google search bar .  And there it was.  Can houses take bad pictures??  Because what I saw wasn’t near as glorious as I remembered it being in the late 70’s. The front of the house was hidden behind large trees.  The bald spots in the front yard would have my parents gracing the front door of Home Depot quicker than I could say “Hey did you hear…” The landscaping was not as beautiful as I remember. The door wasn’t the right color.  So many differences from what my teenage eyes saw.


Memories get fuzzy, don’t they?   Perspectives change.  As I look at the reality of that beloved home 35 years later, it’s still a nice home.  The family who lives there now is blessed.  But it’s not the mansion my preteen self thought it to be.  I wonder if God was working even back then on giving me a desire for a “mansion”.   Was he filling me with HOPE that one day I would indeed grace the steps of my very own mansion?   

John 14:1-2 (KJV)  talks about this...”Let not your heart be troubled;you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so , I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”   

I’ve lived in many nice homes throughout my life but in first world views, not one of them has been a mansion.   Yes, my soul longs for that mansion I’ve been promised and I do believe one day I’ll be there.   Will it have Shaun Cassidy posters hanging on the wall?  Will my friends join me there for parties?   Will the hallway be extra long?   Oh I hope so….

Well, I’ll be OK if the Shaun Cassidy poster is missing!   







Give and Take…A Conversation with The Man Upstairs



I once was a little Catholic girl who loved playing church on Sunday afternoons with my sister. A plain, ice cream cone…hold the ice cream…made fabulous communion wafers. I guess we’d take turns being the “priest” serving each other and saying the words we had long memorized. I’m sure we sang “Kumbaya” when we were done but I can’t be sure of that. I did love a little “hippy folk music” back in the day!


I had a period where I longed to go to Catholic school. I think I liked their uniforms. I was also fascinated by The Flying Nun and pictured all the nun teachers being just like Sally Field. Wouldn’t that have been sweet? Besides, I was such a good girl I had no fear of big, mean nuns blasting my knuckles with their extra long rulers of torture. Sadly for me, the Catholic school thing never happened. I also had visions of becoming a nun but this little fantasy clashed loudly with my desire to have a large family one day. Fast forward many years and I now have 5 kids…the nun thing never happened either.


In spite of my fascination with all things Catholic and religious as a child, I really have no memories of praying a lot. If God and I ever had any convos during my younger days, they might have gone something like this…


Hello My sweet little Princess. I am God and I love You.”


“Ummm, now I lay me me down to sleep? God is great God is good?”


I had no clue how to pray unless I could read it from a book. Original words to pray never, ever came to me…ever.

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I once was a young woman in my 20’s who still loved God , still enjoyed church…though I did go through a phase of trying life without God. That didn’t work out well for me, by the way. I stepped away from the Catholic church and planted myself firmly in a Methodist congregation. I took my young daughter to the nursery most every Sunday while I sang in the choir and played a mean hand bell. I went to Sunday school when I could get up and dressed in time. But you know how it is with young children. Mom gets dressed and ready. Then it’s baby’s turn. You feed her, bathe her and get her dressed. Right as you’re about to walk out the door, baby barfs all over you and herself. You change everyone’s  clothes but as you’re doing this,  baby gets that scrunchy red face that means only one thing. Then you smell it. And well….I was lucky to get to my place behind my C bell before I had to ring it!


In spite of how holy I was with all that church choir singing and bell ringing, praying was still not the most comfortable part of my day. When God and I had conversations back then, they might’ve gone something like this…


Hello again My precious Daughter. I’ve loved you since before you were born. Like an open book, I’ve watched you grow through all the stages of your life. I have prepared great things for you my Princess. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.”


“Ummm, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come …and all that. Ummm, God bless my family and friends. Ummm, thank you for this day. Ummm and God, please don’t let that guy over there call on me to pray out loud!! I may burst into tears if he even looks my way! “


Breaking out of my memorized, rote prayers was still difficult. And scary. And the thought of praying in front of people like those Sunday school teachers made me want to hurl!

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I once  was a young woman somewhere in my 30’s, fed up with prayers written by someone else . Mesmerized by the beautiful words I would hear others pray, I was still mum with my own frilly, pretty, poetic prayer words. Why would anyone want to hear my prayers when that person over there prays so beautifully? So I guess I must practice. It might’ve sounded something like this…


Oh Father as You sitteth on Your holy throne in heaven, be pleased to look downeth upon us, thy faithful servants and bestow us with thy most holy of blessings. Let your love poureth out on us like rays of thy most holy sunshine. …”

“And who exactly is this? You don’t sound like yourself today Child. Don’t be tempted to role play before Me. Just be yourself. There is no formula or program or technique for getting what you want from Me. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Daddy you’re dealing with here and I know better than you what you need. Because I love you so much, you can pray very simply…in your own words. “


Really? But my words are so goofy sounding. And You! You are so awesome. I want my words to be right and intelligent and beautiful and meaningful…..”

Oh my sweet girl, they will be as long as they come from your heart and not the mouth of someone you deem more righteous in prayer! I want to hear from YOU! YOU!! Speak to me as if I’m you’re friend, because I am! “


Again, really? Have you heard me stumble through conversations with FRIENDS? You’re GOD!!  I guess I’ll try this because You , God, really are quite fabulous. I really do love You…ALOT! I’m so thankful for all You’ve done for me. I can’t imagine allowing my son to die for the sins of the world, yet that’s exactly what You did! For ME! Wow God! I’m humbled and amazed by You! Thank You for loving little old me in spite of everything. I trust You and believe You! In Jesus’ sweet, holy, and oh so precious name… So Daddy, how was that? Did I sound OK?”


Oh you precious thing! I do believe you’re starting to get it ! I love you so!”


Awww…I love You too!”

Disclaimer: The words of God were not actual words I ever heard from God. But I did take some from The Message version of the bible.  And I took some from my own crazy head…this is what God sounds like to me 🙂





Serial Killer Part 3…Trust Me!!


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It actually started the weekend before. The feeling that something I might not understand was about to go down. That pull to trust and just go with the flow. It came through songs, through radio messages, through a study I was doing. I had no clue why this feeling was so strong…I really just wanted my dumb ears to stop hurting so bad! I wasn’t really in the mood for a weekend retreat. I wasn’t in the mood to try and figure out why I kept getting this “Trust Me” message over and over. I wasn’t in the mood to be my sweet normal self around friends, old or new. I just needed this ear infection to go away. I was plagued with these babies all the time. In fact, if I had BEEN a baby and not a grown woman in my mid 30’s, I’m sure I’d have needed tubes in my ears. It was bad.

But I stood there on that Saturday afternoon in a room full of strangers. Strangers who I considered in my narrow minded, ear infected attitude as being “odd birds”. No, they didn’t do things like I did. They raised their hands and closed their eyes when they should’ve been sitting politely with their hands in their laps. They shouted out “Amens” and “Halleluiahs” when they should’ve been quiet and listening . Some of them even spoke in words I didn’t understand…out loud in front of people! It was pure craziness in my mind. This former Catholic girl had never experienced “church” like this before and I wasn’t even AT church. I was at a conference where a well known Christian speaker was doing her best to help us know and love Jesus a bit better. If I hadn’t been with a couple of good friends who were actually enjoying this crazy conference, I would’ve taken my sick little self right on home! But I endured as best I could for the sake of my friends. Plus I had to admit, I DID like the music…the one saving grace in the midst of a bunch of stuff I just wasn’t sure about.

Something WAS about to happen and God had been preparing me for this moment for years.

When I stepped out of myself for the first time and made that God-lead trek across the country, something changed in me. That “do whatever YOU want” attitude died a bit. As I became more aware of waiting for and listening to God’s voice in more and more situations in my life, another thing changed. I realized that all the fears I had embraced in my life weren’t doing me any favors. Most of the fears I had were big fat lies. As I began to learn to move away from that all consuming fear and watched it begin to die in my life, something else began glaring at me. Something else I realized no longer had a place in my life…..

…the box I had so neatly kept God in all my life…

He was about to burst out whether I wanted Him to or not. God was about to let me know loudly and clearly that His time in my box was over.


We broke for lunch. I was seriously hoping my friends would be ready to go home. I was trying so hard to be strong and not let this ear infection win but sadly, the pain was winning and I’d had enough. Plus I knew that what was happening after lunch at this conference might be more than I could take. I wanted to leave. They wanted to stay because they were actually excited about what was going to take place that afternoon. Healing services were awesome. I didn’t buy it. But I had no car or other means of escape so I was more or less forced to stay.

The lights went down. The music started. I stood there with my arms crossed, so uncomfortable just THINKING about this healing service that was set to begin after the music was over. I started sweating, breathing harder. The anxiety was getting to me. Then I noticed something odd going on center stage…music still playing, people still singing.  It distracted me from my bad attitude.  The speaker at this event walked up to one of the musicians and was whispering something in his ear. I was sure it involved letting him know it was time to get the snakes out or something. But it was nothing like that at all. The band stopped playing mid song to let us know what was going on. It was a simple song change suggested by the conference speaker. She was sure that God wanted this particular song played for a particular person in the crowd. OK…whatever! But then the song started.

It was a tune I had learned the previous weekend … a tune I had never heard before and was CERTAIN our music chick had made up herself. The tune was set to the words God had been banging into my head ALL..WEEK…LONG! I wish I could sing it for you now or even find a YouTube video of the song but this tune was so random I’m not sure it’s ever been recorded. The words,however, are well known….

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on thine own understanding. In all you do, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path.”


My mouth dropped to the floor. Tears sprang from my eyes!

He had my attention. I opened up the box lid…..but just a smidge.

Still kinda shaken from this simple song, I’m not sure I even realized the THING I was not wanting to be there for had started. One by one, she began to call out ailment after ailment. People ran to the stage to be healed. I was CERTAIN it was all a sham. I felt myself reaching in to close that lid on my God box….it’s funny how quickly I went from “Oh my gracious God just changed that song for ME” to “Oh no You don’t” and slamming the lid again.

But then it happened. That thing that would forever smash the box I’d kept God in forever.

She said it loudly. “Ear Infections” Oh no she didn’t! I WAS NOT going to move from my spot on the back row and be put on display . I stood there , arms crossed once again. But my friend next to me had a bigger faith than I did. She knew I wouldn’t budge so she did something so simple. She reached out and placed her hands on my ears while the room prayed for those suffering from ear infections. And in that moment, I felt it.

The box collapsed with a single POP in my ear.

In that one moment, , my resolve to be hard headed, unchanging and stubborn fell to the floor. If my resolve to keep God in a box had been a real physical thing, the building would’ve shook when it fell from me!

After being ridden with one infection after another, I can say I haven’t had another ear infection since that day. God took away my pain and healed my ears but He did something way bigger that day. He forever escaped the box I had held Him in my entire life.

Y’all God is so much bigger than we ever give Him credit for. He can do so much more than we can ever imagine. As I end this three part “Serial Killer” series, THIS is the most important thing I’ve lost and never gotten back. I lost my little image of God. I’ve lost the fear of allowing God to be BIG! I lost that stubborn resolve that caused me to dictate what God could and couldn’t do in my life. This is how He got my attention. I’d love to hear your own “God is bigger than this box” story if you’d like to share it.

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Oh No! There’s a “Serial Killer” on the Loose!


She went to bed every night crying for her daddy. She was only 2 and honestly had spent very little time with him in her first years of life. But something inside this little girl knew she needed her daddy and she loved him fiercely.

What was I to do? Her daddy and I were separated and our divorce was looming in front of us. He now lived in another state 1000 miles from the comforts of the home we had established together. My family, my friends and my life were rooted in this west Texas college town. How could I make a change this big? This drastic? How could I do what he asked and pack up our children and go to where he was? This divorce was his idea, not mine. His move to the other side of the country was his idea, not mine. None of this was my idea, dadgumit!!

Why should I do things his way?

I would’ve been perfectly comfortable staying in our quaint 3 bedroom home close to my family. I could’ve continued on in my job. I could’ve finished school and gotten that degree. I’d have stayed in my church and continued playing in the bell choir. The school the girls would start in a few short years was within walking distance of our home…it was a good school. My friends didn’t want me to move. My family certainly didn’t want me to move. There was a MALL less than half a mile from my front door! Good grief!!

Why should I do things his way?

My way made so much more sense. If he wanted to live 1000 miles away from us that was his business. I’d stay where I was, with my children, my job, my life. I’d survive, find new love, get married again. I’d stay put … in Texas … surrounded by loved ones, Whataburger and Blue Bell ice cream! Priorities, you know! I mean, who in their right mind would leave all the comforts of home to move to a strange city where the only person you’d know was your very soon to be ex-husband? Why, in the midst of such great trial in my life, would I even consider leaving my support system of awesome people? How would I ever take care of my two preschool age children by myself as a single mom in a town I knew nothing about? I didn’t like to make phone calls…( I still don’t for that matter!) I wasn’t crazy about having to start over on my own …completely on my own!

I would not do things his way!!

Nope…no way Jose!

There was one problem, however, in being insistent on getting my way in this. There was a precious 2 year old crying in her room for her daddy. I was broken. I knew I didn’t want to leave. I worried what staying would do to my children. So one night in a fit of desperation, I stayed up all night crying out to God. This was new for me, a first…this crying out, screaming at God thing. I mean, would He throw lightening bolts from heaven down on my house because I admitted my extreme anger at Him? Would He send a swarm of large flying insects to devour us all because I had the audacity to question Him? I had done nothing wrong! I didn’t deserve this! How could He be letting this happen? It was all so ridiculous and unreal to me.

Worn completely out emotionally and physically , I remember laying on the couch barely able to see out of my puffy cried out eyes. I lay there completely numb when suddenly I heard my answer. I can’t say it was an audible answer but I felt it so strongly in the depths of my soul that it might as well have been someone standing over me gently whispering one word …


What? Go? Really? Go? You’ve got to be kidding me, right?? That is NOT the answer I need to hear !! Surely I heard wrong!


I sat up and walked over to the kitchen table where a workbook I had brought home from a Sunday school class I had visited the previous weekend was sitting. It’s been 24 years since that night and  I so wish I could remember the exact verses I read from that workbook. I could sit now and give a pretty educated guess. But I don’t want to do that. I do remember, though, feeling God was speaking to me through them. It was so very clear to me that He was telling me it would be OK. That He would go with me. He would never leave me, He would never forsake me. But I needed to trust Him and GO.

Why should I do things His way?

Then He told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow Me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?…” Luke 8:23-25 (The Message)

Someone was about to die and it was me. Little did I know that there was a “serial killer” on the loose and I would be the victim over and over and over…


… Stay tuned for part two of this three part blog challenge…








These Are a Few of My Favorite…



There’s one question you can ask me that will stump me for hours. It’s not that it’s a particularly difficult , deep or terribly thought provoking question but I rarely have a quick answer for it.

What’s your favorite________? Fill in the blank…..food, color, TV show, movie, etc. etc. There are just too many things in life to love to pick a favorite anything!

I was challenged today with this super hard question wanting to know what my THREE favorite songs are and why? Oh good gravy!! Do you know how I’ll fret over this question for hours trying to figure this out? Songs are like kids to me. I love them all…..well, not rap songs. PLEASE no rap songs!! Is that really even music? I can’t possibly pick favorite songs for one big reason. With as many songs as have hit the airwaves of my very musical brain, my favorite “ear worm” changes daily. Today it’s a song from VBS this morning…”Can’t stop! Can’t stop singing! Whoa….o…o”! Over and over and over…….please make it stop!!!

That’s actually a great song and it is one of my favorites but if I was to actually tag it as a song that has effected my life and truly been a favorite, well, I couldn’t do that. As I’ve thought over this question, the three songs that popped into my head surprised me. None of them are songs that play over and over in the shuttle of songs in my head. But they are all three songs that create a great stream of emotions in me. If a song can make me feel something, can bring a tear to my eye, or a sweet memory EVERY time I hear it, I think it might have earned a place in my “favorites”. My answers may surprise you…


  1. “Pomp and Circumstance”….I dare you to stop what you’re doing right now and play this song in your head. If I stop too long and do this, I’m pretty sure tears will spring magically from my eyes and leave water spots on my shirt! I think of my own high school graduation and the joy I felt in finally being finished with school . Yes, this song was played at graduations even 152 years ago! And unfortunately , it was played at the high school and college graduations of each of my kids who has reached that milestone in their lives. After carefully making sure I looked just perfect for each of these events, two notes into “P and C” and I was a mess! Why can’t they just change this song? I think kids would enjoy marching down aisles in coliseums and around football fields to say, oh, Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out for Summer”. My mascara would not be in such danger if this was the song they graduated to. Because I’m sure it’s entirely the fault of “Pomp and Circumstance” that I have bawled my eyes out at every graduation I’ve attended. It IS! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
  1. “The Wedding March”…You know, the more traditional song that brides have walked down the aisle to join their groom for a million years. That song….that evil, evil song that causes me to pour rivers of tears down my freshly made up face every .. single…time! It doesn’t matter if the bride is the best friend of my second cousin’s hairdressers boyfriend or if she’s my own flesh and blood, I cannot stand dry eyed watching a bride walk down an aisle if THAT song is playing!! Period….

And lastly….

  1. “Jesus Loves Me”…Like most children raised in church, this is a song I can’t remember ever NOT knowing. Sadly, it became just rote words that lost a bit of their meaning for me until about 16 years ago. I was at a spiritual retreat… one where the love of Christ and the grace He pours out on us was so deeply embedded in me that my life was forever changed. On the last morning of this weekend retreat, we were woken up by a group of “angels” softly singing Jesus Love Me, except as they sang the words of this song, they changed the words to Jesus Loves YOU! I lay in my bed that morning, tears streaming down my face, as I fully grasped the truth wrapped in this song from my childhood. I’ve had many opportunities to return this song to others laying in the same bed I lay in that morning so many years ago. And guess what? More often than not, I have had to stop singing and just let the tears flow.


Adding a video to your post about your favorite songs wasn’t part of this Writing 101 challenge, but I found this video of Whitney Houston singing one of my 3 favorite songs.   So I’ll leave you with that today and hope that if you’ve read this or have taken the time to watch this video, you know how much Jesus does truly love you !