Goodbye Letter to My Old House

My dear old house,   It's time for us to part ways. (Sniff) Yes, I asked for this, but still . . .   I'm really going to miss you.   When we first met 11 years ago, I thought we'd be together "'til death do us part". After a few months, I thought death might come sooner rather than later as day after day my sweet husband and I shed blood, sweat, and tears to bring you back to life. It was really hard work.   You were worth it!   Honestly, thanks to my Renaissance Man, you were a dream come true. I'd long wanted to restore an old house, and heaven knows you needed some help. With your sagging porch, three-foot-wide hole in the entry floor, and layers of peeling and painted-over wallpaper, you ... Keep Reading...

25th Anniversary Disappointment . . . and Surprise

I'll tell you the surprise first:  The couple celebrating their 25th anniversary are in their 90s.     The disappointment was that they'd planned to celebrate out of town with family, but a recent hospital stay and the resulting move to assisted living kept them in town. Their church family stepped in and planned a celebration . . . because this couple is a blessing to so many—and the least we could do is bless them!   After church last Sunday, they entered a basic "fellowship hall" quickly transformed to bring sparkles to their eyes.     Several ladies created the delicious food with the idea of "old school" bridal shower in mind.     I created the ... Keep Reading...

Dream come true: Farm Wedding in Amish Country

Picking up where I left you . . . (asking if there's a farmhouse in my future)   Yesterday was The Day. Really.   After two-and-a-half years of trying to sell a big ol' house in a little ol' town, our beautiful home built in 1907 is about to meet its fourth caretakers—and Renaissance Man and I are finally going to build our farmhouse.   Buyer #1 YAY!   Six weeks from now, the woman (and her husband) whose heart beats like mine for old houses will be the next owner of the Witt-Turner House. It's a farm-themed dream come true. Thanks to all of you who've wished us well and pulled for us—and Buyer #1. It means a lot!   But there's another farm-themed dream come true I got to experience recently, ... Keep Reading...

Is there a farmhouse in my future—finally?

After two-and-a-half years, today just may be The Day.   So began my update to you last Friday. (I never sent it.)   If you're a regular friend here, you know Renaissance Man and I live in a wonderful old house in a small town in East Tennessee. It's a house we rescued and restored, transforming it from an uninhabitable eyesore to a welcoming, arms-open part of our community. I told you the entire story.   Two-and-a-half years ago, we put a For Sale sign in the yard. It was time to upsize faith by downsizing life. I believed we were being obedient by refocusing. We had too many unused "treasures".   Where your treasure is, there your heart is also...   And the update ... Keep Reading...

Celebrating 22 years of something old, something new—and not a bride in sight

How was your weekend?   Around My Place it was busy, exhausting, satisfying. Did I say it was exhausting?  It's the same every year at our church's Yard Sale for Missions—and this was the 22nd year!   Saturday started very early. When Renaissance Man and I pulled up to the church at 5:45 AM, others were already there, scurrying around doing their tasks in the dark.  We parked and began our own.   Eventually we all started gathering inside for a short time of final announcements and (most important) prayer for the events of the day, dedicating ourselves and our work to God.   We are blessed to have high school and college students to help with the final set-up (and take-down!) of the shops, ... Keep Reading...

Caramel Apple Craze

Happy Friday to all!   Have you ever made caramel apples? Until this week, I had not ... but now I'm a pro. Just kidding!   Tomorrow is the 22nd annual Yard Sale for Missions at our church, and it is a BIG deal, raising $20,000-$30,000 for local and global missions. Our congregation is not large, but it's filled with very dedicated members, and for the past three evenings I've hung out in the church kitchen with several of them making caramel apples.   Community members have been pre-ordering these babies for weeks!   Here's a quick peek at the process...   Tomorrow starts before the crack of dawn with set-up and prayer time—then it's "off ... Keep Reading...

MOOD SWING: Summer to Fall

Finally... The first day of Fall!   Hello, old friend! I've looked forward to your return for a whole year.   I'm beginning to feel the mood swing coming on. Summer's sunflowers are moving out . . .     and warmth and texture are moving in!     The metamorphosis of seasons is upon us!   At this time of year, some people like to decorate with the traditional:  vibrant colors of red, orange, gold, and brown ... pumpkins, gourds, and colored leaves ... corn stalks, bales of hay, and chrysanthemums. While I sometimes do that, too, Fall decorating for me often includes ... ... Keep Reading...

Breaking the silence

When it's quiet here at My (virtual) Place, it's almost always noisy at My (in real life) Place.   It's been quiet here for quite awhile. I've really missed you.   At home it's been crazy-noisy, ridiculously yo-yo-ish, and an emotional roller coaster. It's been a long time since I've experienced a period so chock-full of travel on top of Life... and it's not over yet.   Through it all, I've been a student. Sometimes intentional. Sometimes by necessity; almost unwillingly.   Learn to walk slowly through the crowd. When you truly understand God's abundance, there is no good reason to be in a hurry. Summit Leadership Foundation newsletter   Since April we've celebrated several birthdays, ... Keep Reading...

ONE WOMAN’S IMPACT: Pat Summitt (1952-2016)

It is what it is. But, it will be what you make it. Pat Summitt Legendary Lady Vols basketball coach University of Tennessee   Pat Summitt, the "winningest" coach in NCAA Division I basketball history, died today—two weeks short of her 65th birthday.   This post is not about sports.   If you're interested in women's basketball, you already know Pat Summitt "by the numbers". They're very impressive. She was impressive, and flags fly at half-staff today here in Tennessee in celebration of her life and legacy.   There is, however, one number associated with Coach Summitt that gets my ultimate respect:   100% of her student athletes graduated from college.   She set the bar high for ... Keep Reading...

When Grown Men Cry

The first time I visited Alex's home, he had built only its block walls, but I was impressed by his choice of location:   a bluff overlooking Hope Mountain— in gratitude for what Hope did in his life.   Our group prayed with Alex, asking God to bless the house he was building—and the home that would one day be created there.     The next time Renaissance Man saw Alex, he learned of his engagement to Adriana (not her real name), and called me with the good news. You see, unlike Alex, Adriana has a rich heritage of family.   When their wedding day finally arrived, our missionary friend and Alex were tasked with picking up Adriana's parents. Before Adriana's father would leave his home, he ... Keep Reading...

BEAUTY FROM ASHES

A week ago, Renaissance Man and I arrived in Brazil. A day behind schedule already, we hit the ground running, not even slowing down to rest after our overnight flight.   So much packed into the first few hours . . . Re-connecting with old friends—and making new ones Rejoicing over campus improvements at the City of Youth Visiting the newest Hope Unlimited for Children thrift store Grieving with a friend who lost his wife very suddenly a few weeks ago (H1N1 flu? Test results not available for 90 days...) and rejoicing with a young staff couple over their precious 5-month-old son.  . . . My tired body grasping for a balance of emotions.   Early the next morning, we headed to the airport—again. And after ... Keep Reading...

UP, UP AND AWAY… Made it to Brazil!

Finally . . . Familiar sights (Some nicer than others.)     After a smooth (though delayed) overnight flight, we arrived in São Paulo, Brazil and rode almost two hours to the city of Campinas—and straight to the City of Youth where we were welcomed by children, staff, and board members of Hope Unlimited for Children. It's been two years since I was last here, and it's been a nice day of seeing campus improvements, familiar faces, and new faces of children who now have life-transforming hope.   The U.S. board and the Brazilian board met together this evening; joint efforts on behalf of children once abused, abandoned and neglected, often by the very ones who should have cared for them: their ... Keep Reading...

UP, UP AND (no)WAY

My, my, my... What a day.   Yesterday, after a busy morning of work and errands, we packed Renaissance Man's truck with suitcases and tubs of goodies (your Valentines, soccer uniforms, and things for Hope Unlimited's thrift stores in Brazil) and headed to the airport. Too many miles down the road—but not close enough to our destination—we stopped.   Involuntarily.   Fortunately we'd left home much earlier than necessary because the truck decided to go on strike. Seriously? It's not like we were asking it to take us all the way to Brazil!   And fortunately... We were in the right lane, so when it went KAPUT and died, we were able to coast to the shoulder. And there we sat in the heat until our new best ... Keep Reading...

Building on the Past — Envisioning the Future

It's finally happening. The too-long-neglected downtown in our community is coming back to life! Over a year ago, I told you it was a new day in the Mossy Creek Historic District, and I'm happy to report that we've stayed on track!  Today we're crossing Ts and dotting Is—and getting ready to break ground very soon.   Empty lots where classy old buildings once stood are going to become a Festival Park for community gatherings and family picnics. The park will include a grassy hillside amphitheater, event pavilion, restroom facilities, playground, and. . .   insert drum roll   . . . one of my favorite features:  an oft-requested by our community Veterans Memorial       The Battle ... Keep Reading...

TABLE FOR TWO: Happy Anniversary, Renaissance Man

Twenty-six years ago we said, "I do." Today we celebrate the ups and downs, highs and lows, surprises and longtime dreams that comprise a marriage.   We celebrate the commitment and the faith that are our foundation. We celebrate each other.   No big plans this year. Our June calendar is packed full of travel and responsibilities, so today we'll take it easy. Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, fresh asparagus, and apple pie.   But I've set a Table for Two in preparation for our quiet evening at home. The inspiration was this gorgeous china Renaissance Man gave me for our 20th anniversary.   And then I added the salt and pepper shakers his grandparents received on their 50th wedding anniversary ... Keep Reading...

CONVERSATION OVERHEARD: Teaching the next generation

Dear young dad, I wasn't eavesdropping. It was just hard NOT to hear you and your daughter sitting at the table right behind me last night at dinner. Even as my husband and I conversed, I heard you order. Mini nachos and a taco, please. And a chicken chimichanga.   I smiled when, mere minutes later, your daughter asked, "when is our food coming?" Hungry, was she? You and I both know how efficiently-run the restaurant is—and that food comes quickly—so it didn't surprise me to hear you chuckle in response.   But I love that you chuckled! It seems many parents of young children are just angry and self-absorbed these days and don't speak to their children with kindness. Their children deserve better. Fortunately, your ... Keep Reading...