Swattin’ and Sharin’

He drove a pick-up across the potholes and gravels of our driveway for over 30 years. And ever since I have been able to walk through the yard barefoot and say “yes!” when he says “no!” I have went outside to meet him when he pulls up. Thursday was no exception. This time I just had on shoes.
“How’d your day go?”
“Aw, it’s purdy decent. How was your day?” he asked.
“It was good. I took the little girls to their knitting class. It was good to see Myra Frances.”
He propped up against the truck. “Well, good.”
The fuel tank buzzed while the pink fluid filled the 100 gallon tank in the bed of Daddy’s Chevy. He put the nozzle away and tucked his greasy gloves back in their spot. “Let’s go check on the corn. Hang on, lemme get my lunchbox.”
I caught dry dirt between my toes and flip-flops standing between the rows. Two days before, we all came outside and the grass crunched under our feet. We circled up and prayed for rain. We got a little bit. It settled the dust.
“It could use one more good shower. But it’ll be alright, just a little small,” Daddy said as he handed me three sticky, hairy ears of Silver Queen corn.
“We’re gonna have this for supper.” Daddy had ten ears in his hands and we crossed the driveway to our porch swings in the yard.
“Hang on a second, Leah-Joy. I’m gonna do this,” he said with the grin he gets when he knows he’s got a good idea. Brian and Tim’s pick-ups were parked in our yard. They work for Daddy and his brother. They hadn’t gotten back from the woods yet. He opened the doors of the pick-ups and tossed fresh corn onto the driver seats.

The corn wasn’t as big as he wanted, but he sent it home with them anyway. He shared what he had with them even though the corn wouldn’t have made it on the cover of Southern Living. He gave them what he had, and for them, that was more than enough.
“Now, I’ll go get ours, “he said walking back across the driveway to go pull ten more ears of corn to put in his kiddos bellies.
We sat on the swing and swatted mosquitoes. He cut the husks and bad spots off. “Look, here’s some meat,” he said with a laugh.
“Ewww, Daddy! That’s a worm.”
“You just watch. Whenever Brian gets here, he’s gonna say, ‘well, where mines?’”
We kept cleaning and getting sticky. A few mosquito bites and sips of water later, another diesel service truck made dust boil. Tim and Brian moved slowly from a hot days work. Daddy waved his summer-browned hand and help up a shiny ear.
“Hey now, when you get through with that, just send it to my house, alright?” hollered the jokester of the crew.
Daddy looked under his dirty ball cap at me. “See Leah-Joy, I told ya.” He smiled.
“Just look in ya seat right there, Brian!”
Brian opened his door. “Oh, thank ya, sir!”
“Is that Silver Queen?” Tim asked
“Yeah,” came the answer from Daddy.
“Mmm, thank ya, Travis.”
Daddy just waved. “Alright. See y’all in the morning.”
We went back to pulling off silks and swatting and sipping.

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Handcuff the Boxing Gloves

Thursday night, I spent time with my older sister. When we met up, she had just finished a run. Hearing her talk about it, how much it helped her and made her feel better, encouraged me to tie my shoe laces again.

Friday morning I told my Momma I was heading out of the house for a walk. After stretching on the back porch and finding the right playlist, I started jogging down our chirt-rock driveway.

My little brother said, “Momma, Leejoy and runnin’.”
“Do you think she came across a snake?”
“No, I think she’s just joggin,” was the little guy’s reply.

Had you been running with me and asked me how I was doing, you would have known it was the first time in over a year since I had ran when I didn’t answer you. When I run, just the distance of our driveway, remembering to breathe is about all I can do as I pass one rock at a time.

The first part of the driveway goes downhill. It’s so kind. The next section is in the shade. Hooray! And the last section, the wide curve that feels as long as the Mississippi with no trees seems to think it’s always a good idea to tell to take a rest early. I don’t know how the driveway can talk, but it does.

Being out of breathe with my shorts riding up, my lungs want to stop and the voices in my head seem to think it’s a good idea, too. I think the sun drinks a protein shake in between my laps. It gets bigger each time around and pulls the oxygen out of the air. The little sneaks in my head think it’s a fun game to tell me I’m way too out of shape for this, that I should stop. But I have to shut them up. I have to remind myself that I would never through those loaded harpoons at my best friends, so why do it to myself?

The music keeps playing. Rock after rock goes under my feet. The breeze quite. I’ve passed the shade. And I can hear my runner-sisters cheering me on because I know they would if our tennis shoes were side by side eating the same dust.

It happens with every lap. At that curve. I have to put handcuffs on the boxing gloves that I point at myself and hold hands with the encouragement I know I have been given.

Sister, brother, I hope that while you run, work, walk, sit, eat, drive, read, learn, you don’t tell yourself you will never be good enough at what you are doing. I pray you have people who will shoot fireworks for you and your 15-minute mile and meet you at the finish line with sweet tea in a Mason jar. You are worth every spark and cheer because you were knit together by the Creator, God, and Savior of the universe and He loves you and wants you to know Him, love Him, and accept how much He loves you.



Thank you, Mommy

Mommy, thank you for teaching me how to love by loving me. Here is a poem for you that doesn’t even begin to describe how grateful I am that you, dreamer, nurturer, listener, seer, helper, encourager, are my mommy.

I love you.Mommy & Me

Thank You

Proverbs 31:26-30

She opens her mouth with wisdom,                                                                                and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.                                                            She looks well to the ways of her household                                                                and does not eat the bread of idleness.                                                                         Her children rise up and call her blessed;                                                                     her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Your biceps built from tending

Babies could out-last Captain America.

The crows-feet around your hazel eyes

Gather when Miah calls you “Gran-Merry.”

Burn scars on your forearms

Show how many times you made Buddy cinnamon rolls.

Your waist length, curly grey hair

Tickles my nose with every good night hug.

Stirring potato soup,

You ladle out love.

Pouring me a cup of Maxwell House,

You know I like two sugars.

Reading library books aloud,

You taught me to stay awake.

The work truck sounds like a hit-and-miss engine,

But you showed me how to drive a straight-shift.

I can taste Ivory soap when I smell it,

But my words come out slower.

My strong will, stubborn tongue frustrated you,

But you never called the game

And threw your hands up like a referee.

Thank You, Daddy

These words open a door on a piece of my heart that I didn’t realize Daddy had molded until I wrote them.

Happy 58th Birthday, Daddy! Thank you for showing me and giving me love so that I know what it really looks like.

A Girl Named Joy


The sun burned
I could see the tractor in the field
Daddy waved, standing by the hay bailer
My pudgy hand pointed to my hair
It looked like Princess Leia pigtails
I jumped, returning the wave with excitement
To me,
We came to the hay field just to show Daddy my hair
I’m sure that wasn’t the case
I didn’t care

He saw me
And smiled


My phone rang from its perch on the windowsill
My heart hiked into my throat
The cool, front porch air chilled my fingers
I recognized his number
The boy who never wrote me back
He asked how I was doing
Words flew from my mouth
Mumbled and mixed together
Felt like shrapnel coming through my throat
Creating grey confusion
I told him why I called earlier
Putting my hurt heart into words
Saying, “I forgive you,” shook me
He stopped, listened, but he had to go
I said goodbye for the last time
I know how I deserve to be loved

face planting in the snow

The snow started slipping through the clouds around 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon. It piled up on top of my three-shades-of-red car turning it white while I churned out a paper under my Captain America blanket. No playing in the snow for this girl on Wednesday. Robert Frost would have advised I stop and watch the woods fill up with snow, but I didn’t. So Thursday morning I was determined to play, get cold, slide down a hill, build an Olaf, or go for a walk. Something. I wanted to need a cup of hot chocolate.

Clad in layers and armed with my elf beanie, sister and I headed into the woods behind our house to find our favorite spot and see what snow had turned it into. The snow grunted underneath my Merrill’s and sister lead the way between the pines, ferns, and puppy tracks. We hopped the creek and made it to our favorite spot, the straight stretch in the creek with a bath-tub dip at the top. The moss was still climbing the bank and the melted snow fed the stream to create a trickle.

We decided to hike a little ways up the ridge to see the roots of a fallen tree covered in snow. Putting one foot in front of the other up hill was slow going. Our hands got sweaty and we wanted to take off our coats. The tree roots weren’t as cool as we thought they would be. More like just another pile of snow. Sister and I both turned our heads up at the same time and said,

“You wanna keep goin’?”

So we kept sliding our feet up hill, up the ridge.

Sister went up it like a Eskimo.

Me, on the other snow shoe…

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face planted in the snow six or seven times. Yeah, feet looking at the sky, wet mittens, dogs panicking. Then we headed back to the house…going down hill. And I came back to the house with a wet bum and a funny story.

Each time my knees got a little wetter, my beanie covered my eyes, and snow hugged my mittens, I had to get back up. Staying in that wet snow wasn’t going to get me to the top of that ridge.

When I felt my feet slipping and my jeans getting a little damper, I had to get back up. And keep laughing, keep smiling about it because having a sour attitude wasn’t going to help me keep moving.

Climbing that ridge in the snow is something I would have said I couldn’t have done not to long ago. But I have decided to do things that intimidate me. Go on adventures, even if it’s just in my back yard with sister. I am capable of doing more than I think, and so are you. Go climb and don’t be afraid if you fall. The snow will dust off. Climb with someone who will help you up and take a victory-selfie with you at the top. You can do it.

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the heart

These are some encouraging words from my sweet sister. Read them. You will be glad you did.

until i read what i say

“All the women whose hearts stirred them to use their skill spun the goats’ hair… All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD has commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering.” Exodus 35:26, 29

God has given Moses the blue prints for his tabernacle. And there is something for the Israelite women to do. There is something for them to give — their skill. Taught to them by their mother, cultivated through childhood until this day, their ability to spin and weave was important, it was necessary in the building of the tabernacle, the dwelling place of the Almighty God.

The place where the LORD chose to meet with His people needed the hands of His women to make it a reality.

He needed their talent, their knowledge – which He…

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The Luckiest Man in WWII

The sun warm on my face, my only worry as I sat eating my Chik-fil-A chicken sandwich was having to eventually walk back in the restaurant from the patio for a sweet tea refill. My bird companion, pleased with french-fry crumbs falling through the metal table from my meal, flitted about the rock-stamped cement eating area. Blonde girls holding their daddy’s hands and little boys on their mommy’s hips ducked their heads through the “Red Dwarf” door. Ice dream cones, chicken sandwiches, waffle fries, and large sweet teas made their way through the drive-through.

As I people watched, stuffed my face, and satisfied the lion in my belly, I noticed an elderly couple accompanied by a younger man slowly walker-pushing and shuffling their feet toward their mini-van. The black and yellow baseball-cap on the bald head of the old man set my Veteran radar blaring. Both men helped the lady into the mini-van and I slowly and nervously put one foot in front of the other in their direction.

“Sir?” I squeaked.

“Dad,” his son tapped the baseball cap-wearing man’s shoulder and pointed in my direction.

“Yes?” answered the World War II veteran with grinning eyes.

“I just wanted to say thank you for your service to our country.”

With a smile like a boy, he replied with a finger pointing back at his wife,
“Thank her. She waited on me for three years. Wrote me everyday. I was in the medical core. Stationed in England. I tell you what, I was the luckiest man in World War II.”

“My Great-Grandpa was in World War II. He was in Coast Guard. He fought in the Pacific.”

“Oh, well,” he went on to say as he leaned up against the seat in the mini-van, “I had a brother stationed over in the Pacific. He wrote me one day. He said, ‘I’m about to get tired of these KB rations.”


He paused for the cackle this memory had brought with it.

“I wrote him back and said, ‘Oh, yeah. I hear ya. I had pork-chops and potatoes last night. I’m about to get tired of them, too.”

He had us all laughing in that handicap parking spot.

“Yep, yep I sure was. Luckiest man in World War II.”

Shaking his weathered and thin hand, I said, “Well, thank you for all that you did. Thank you for your sacrifice.”

His dentures flashed and his head gave a proud nod.
“Well, I sure ‘ppreciate it, hun.”

He and his son got in their mini-van and left the parking lot of Southern-fried heaven and I made my way back across the patio.

With the sun warm on my face, my only worry as I sat finishing my sandwich was having to eventually walk back in the restaurant for a sweet tea refill because of the sacrifice of people like that sweet man, his brother, and his wife.