Skinny Lil’ Legs

A glance at the dashboard clock told me it was 5:40 a.m. It was a quiet moment in the cab of the car, even though my daddy, who was riding shotgun, was talking. He had been pondering out-loud non-stop since we left the hospital parking lot. A consuming, thick fog had settled over the roadway since we first started out on this early morning journey.

“I just don’t understand it”, he said. “It seems to happen every couple of years. Hmmmm. Just doesn’t make sense.”

Before he finished that last sentence, I saw them. Four, skinny little legs testing the waters of the asphalt in the distance ahead of us from the right shoulder of the four-lane highway. I stealthily slowed the Subaru so as not to alert my passenger.

“Out of the blue it seems”, he continued. “For no reason, really. I wish they knew why my blood pressure does that. And my head and arm ache so much…..” he trailed on.

I couldn’t be sure if it was a male or female deer thanks to the cloud of fog hiding most of the animal from view, but I began surveying both sides of the road now, searching for additional legs. There were none. I slowed the car even more, as the legs proceeded to cross before me. As they reached the median, I relaxed the slightest bit. And that’s when it happened.

Unaware that there was any other vehicle traveling in our direction, a midsized SUV came speeding passed my 25 mph crawl, and then I knew.

It was a male. A young buck. Maybe 6 points or so. The headlights from the passing auto reflected off his dew-covered rack.

In an instant, he turned to face the direction from which he came, and he darted out in front of that SUV. We both slammed on brakes, albeit my stop was less severe than that of the faster companion driver in the left lane who made contact with the animal.

A piece of antler flew over my car. Half of a silver bumper catapulted into the air and landed beside us. And those legs. Those delicate, skinny lil’ legs. The buck was tossed in the air, and the legs were scrambling to right his summersaulting torso. Buck landed directly in front of our car. On his side. Flailing about, still trying to right his body. What seemed like 15 minutes, I’m sure was over in a handful of seconds. The two front legs tried desperately to pull him to the safety of the grass just beyond a roadside mailbox.

“Oh, daddy, he’s suffering.” The first words I had said since leaving the hospital parking lot moments before.

“No, no, he’s going to be alright”, reassured my anchor.

And in an instant, Buck got his back legs to agree with his front two and he raised up and walked out of the spotlight before us.

I pulled over to the right side. The SUV pulled over the left. I rolled down my window to ask if the driver was okay, when an unknowing work van barreled between our vehicles, crushing the already broken pieces of deer and SUV. The driver was alone and already calling for help on her cell phone. “Thank goodness!”, I sighed.

Just hours earlier, as I sped out of my driveway to hopefully beat, or at least meet, the ambulance in my daddy’s driveway, I prayed: “Lord, Your will, not my own, Lord. Your will, not my own. Even though I’m going to tell you, Father, that I want my daddy to stay here for years to come, if that’s not part of Your will, please help me accept that and be ready.”

Daddy was having chest pains. His blood pressure was high. Daddy is almost 82.

“Father, please keep our travel safe and help it be swift. Please keep deer out of our path tonight. Amen.”

The ambulance trip was fast. The rescue workers were really good to daddy. The hospital staff was the best. I’ve come to expect really great care from everyone in this particular medical center. One nitroglycerin and positive lab results a few hours later, and I was driving my daddy back home.

When we pulled out of that hospital parking lot, all thoughts of the prayers I’d laid out before the Lord earlier were gone. I was, instead, tired and focussing more on getting daddy home so that I could get a couple of hours of sleep before heading to work.

Valley versus Mountain.

I was valley-dwelling, in the unknown, when I called out to Jesus and asked for help.

I was mountain-dwelling, in anticipation, when I didn’t call out to Jesus to say thank you right away.

Praise the Lord, He doesn’t keep score the way I do over what I see as my own strengths and weaknesses, as pertains to my relationship with Him.

God knew those skinny lil’ legs would catch my attention.
God knew I would slow down and remember asking Him to protect us in our travels.
God knew tangible evidence of His protection would go miles with me.

And just like that, from my point of view, God showered me lavishly in showing his protection.

I became aware of the skinny lil’ legs.
Thank you, Lord.
I slowed and was cautious.
Thank you, Lord.
The deer didn’t hit our car.
Thank you, Lord.
Nor did the flying antler.
Thank you, Lord.
Not even the airborne bumper.
Thank you, Lord.
The SUV driver was not injured.
Thank you, Lord.
And Buck walked away.
Thank you, Lord.

I couldn’t help but think of how much our Father loves us.
How He loves me.
My dad.
The SUV driver.
He sent His only Son –
a Sacrifice for us.
For me.
My dad.
The SUV driver.

God reminded me in an instant of my prayers.
And I saw them answered.

As I think about that deer, Buck, I also was thankful that I didn’t have to watch him suffer and die. It was a hard hit. I can’t imagine he survived it. But I didn’t have to see him struggle. It was heartbreaking to see such a beautiful creature flailing about like that, right in front of me, knowing I couldn’t help it. And this train of thought lead me to think of Jesus hanging on the cross. All the beating and flogging leading up to the cross. The crowd of people witness to His suffering. His willingness to take on that suffering because of us.
Because of me.
Because of my dad.
Because of the SUV driver.

And my daddy?
I didn’t miss that, God.
Thank you for giving us more time together.
Thank you, Lord! Your will be done.

In This Early Hour

Before chaos has a chance to shake things up this morning, I have stolen away to a quiet corner on the couch by the glowing Christmas tree, yesterday’s mail in hand – three unopened Christmas cards. I open each very slowly, fitting for a moment that feels reverent, and gifted.

The three, all traveling long distance to reach us, are from

a Sunday school couple who moved away years ago as a family of two, and are now a family of four;

an elderly couple who were lifelong friends to my mother, hence, being a part of my own growing up years, who now live in a retirement community in NC;

and relatives – a cousin, her husband and daughter, who reside in VA – a cousin who was more like a sister to this only child when I was her own daughter’s age, spending much of my weekends and summers visiting her family.

All three, precious.
All three, strands of the tapestry that is who I am.
All three, a blessing in this early hour.

I continue to sit in the quiet, pondering the wonders of His love – his vast, unconditional, unending and overwhelming love. The wonder. The awe. And I am grateful for all the ways His love is lavished on me through these people whom I may not see often, if at all these days, and whom I talk with even less, but am remembered by, and I remember, so fondly, in reflection of nothing less than the beautiful gifts they are.

My hope for all this Christmas season, and for for all of 2022 – May peace and gratitude surround all whom love you and whom you love this season. May your tapestry come alive with the memories and knowledge of His overwhelming love woven into every strand.

White Shoes After Labor Day

It’s November.
The weather is behaving like it ought to.
54 degrees.
An ushering in of all things not spring.

In honor of this gray, not-quite-blustery day, I’m wearing white shoes.

Never a slave to fashion, or the latest trends,
nor to the “dressing rules” that have been held over the heads of little girls growing up in the south forever,
I choose freedom from all of that stuff.

This morning I had to heave the Rubbermaid, clear plastic box from the top shelf in my closet, so that I could find something with long sleeves to wear. You know, because “Baby, it’s cold outside” in South Carolina. The first thing I spied when I unsnapped the lid was a gray and white striped sweater. “Perfect!”, I thought all excitedly in my noggin’, “because I can wear my favorite Espadrilles with it!”

Not only are these shoes an open-toed no-no this time of year, being akin to the treasured flip-flop, this particular pair is white, which is probably the bigger no-no of the two after-September characteristics.

Without missing a beat, my next thought was: “Jesus has freed me from all the silly human-made rules”.

So today, I’m wearing what is comfortable to me and what I think looks great with my white and gray sweater. And now these white shoes will be a reminder to me all day of the freedom I have in Jesus. It’s a struggle when the day’s chaos smacks you in the face first thing every morning to keep Jesus at the front and center of thought, so I’m recognizing Him from the get-go today as I strap on these rule-breaking shoes. ❤


So I looked up “wearing white after September” in the all-knowing Google box, and this is what I found:

Why don’t you wear white after September?

Since Labor Day typically represents the end of summer, a ‘rule’ was established that you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day if you didn’t have the money to take fall and winter vacations. It was also used as a way to identify those who needed to work and those who didn’t.

Wow! Now what I’m doing is even funnier, because I’m wearing my no-no shoes to work.

Another “established”, man-issued rule busted. Thank you, Jesus!!

Pulling Up A Chair



Most always…YES!

Most always it’s hard for me to keep Jesus in the forefront of my minutes. Especially when the chaos of some moment is screaming that it needs my attention. My help. A solution that only I can work out. Right now. As in yesterday. Demanding minutes that snap their fingers at me and sway their heads, telling me, “Fool, you need to fix this NOW.”

The competition for putting out fires as I perceive them can be taxing, Outright exhausting. The yoke. It can be restricting. Stifling. And very, very heavy.

I know that I never am alone when making decisions, dousing upheavals, fixing stuff. I know this, sitting here, typing. But in action, I forget this totally. Most always.

So today I am pulling up a chair.
An extra one.
Gonna place that right beside me, such that I have to move it every time I get up from my desk. Gonna put it where I have to bump it out of the way to open my desk drawers.

Have you ever trained someone at work by pulling up a chair beside them to help?

Have you ever helped a youngster with school work by pulling up a chair beside them?

You see where I’m going with this?

Today I’m pulling up a chair for Jesus.

Not because He needs one, but because I need Him. I need Him to train me. To help me. TO COACH ME ALONG ALL DAY!! Especially at work. I need the reminder that He is always right there with me in every situation.

He is with me every time the phone rings at my desk.
Every time the door opens and a job applicant walks in.
Every time an email pops up, a co-worker peeks in, a vendor stops by.
He is with me every time I write a letter, greet the delivery person and wave at the next-door office worker (and when I don’t wave, too).

Dear Lord,
On the mountain tops, I’ve seen You work.
In the valleys, too.
You’re in every season of rain,
and in the drought, You quench my thirst.

Wash over me, sweet Jesus.
I need You constantly.
Help me remember this.

Help me to know You’re near all the time,
in all ways, always.


Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Book Club Dream


I walk down to the shore from the sandy, splintery staircase that leads off of the fishing pier, into a classroom filled with elementary styled pupil desks.  It is a very full room, though I can’t see the faces of any of the people in there except for two.  This is a book club meeting, but it feels like a college classroom with desks that are too small and restricting.  All of the students sit facing the front of the classroom, where the facilitator, who is my 4th grade math teacher from 1970-something, is perched atop her teacher’s desk, facing the students.  I am in the room, but I am not.  I am just hanging out, observing the class from the side.  The work for the day in this book club is to either share some books that are your favorites, or to elaborate on your hopes for the novel we are 1/3 of the way through at this time.  The facilitator calls on students one by one, but only with motion, not by name.  In my right hand is the novel we are reading, held open by my thumb to the exact 1/3 split. Without being motioned to, I speak up and say, “I want to express my hopes for this novel.  I hope that I come to love the female antagonist.  I mean, we are only 1/3 of the way through, and though the author is working hard to make me believe she is a bad, bad person, I am hopeful that there is a twist in the story that leads me to like her.  I really want to like her.”  And then I see my son.  He is sitting in the very center front of the room, right in front of the facilitator.  He looks my way, and I recognize those twinkling eyes and that sweet, sweet smile.  He holds up two books, a smaller one atop a larger one, and I recognize them immediately.  The book on top is Love You Forever.  It’s a square-ish book, light blue, with the familiar fictional boy on front.  I really like that book and immediately think of the tune I used to sing when I read the book  the to my children when they were little:  “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”  That’s a nice book.  My son motions for me to recieve the books he brought.  His favorites.  Sharing with me!  I slide the top book aside and realize that the second book is a colorful ABC book.  It’s a well-loved, well-used book, all about letters.  My son is just beautiful. Healthy.  Happy.  My heart is filled to the brim.

Class is over.  Every faceless student leaves, and the one student with a face I love so much leaves, too.  I am packing my bags. I have a lot of bags.  A lot of stuff.  I heave one onto my shoulder while I organize another.  I am clinging those two gifted books in the crook of my left arm while doing so.  The facilitator says to me, “I don’t want to put too much on you, are you sure you can handle this?”  And I say to her, “I have to let you in on a secret.  That young man who gave me these books?  He is my son.  And I haven’t seen him in a very, very long time.  I can handle this book club.  Carrying all these bags with all my stuff is a small price to pay for what I just got out of this class.”  At this, the teacher stands up from where she was leaning, and I say, “Oh my word!  You are tall!  Gosh, how tall are you?”  And she says, from way above me, “Eleven foot, ten.”

Drawing Near

In the late hour
when I finally fall to rest
my head is busy –
busier than it was before my feet left the floor

But last night
when I fell to rest
my head quieted
and stillness filled that small space
between awake

and I said, without a voice:

Lord, please protect my boy.  Please wrap Your arms around him.  You know him, exactly where he is.  And I’m so thankful for that.

And Lord, I’m sorry for not spending time in Your Word like I should.  You must be so disappointed in me.  I feel like I let You down all the time…

And Jesus said, without a voice (loudly, as to stop my downward spiral of thought):

Remember when you were broken in February 2018?  You didn’t know how to feel, how to think, how to act about the circumstances the world had you wrapped in. You were confused and hurt and experiencing a pain that was foreign to your identity as a mother.  You didn’t even know how to begin to earthly put pieces back into order, or even if there was an order to be restored at all…but what you did do was lean into Me.  Remember riding down the interstate, shouting Philippians 4 as loud as you could?  Remember sitting at the kitchen table, with tears that wouldn’t stop flowing and kept interrupting My Words you were so desperately clinging to?  There is so much beauty in your drawing near to Me.  You tend to do that when you run out of answers or when the work of darkness pulls the rug out from under your feet.  And that’s okay.  But you don’t have to wait until times like that to lean into Me.  I’m here.  Always.  In the highs and in the lows, I Am with you.  Beauty as I intended it is the product of your leaning into Me.  Beauty is what I see.  Not disappointment.

What happened next?  The soundest sleep found me.  And I woke the next morning, refreshed and ready to put my feet back on the floor for another go at another day in this world that is not my home.

Ride With Me For A Minute


That should be a thing.  Starbucks should totally embrace this idea and boost Monday night sales of sweets.

I think I will have the lemon loaf, after all.  I deserve it.  And I’m hungry.  And it’s been one Monday after another Monday after yet another Monday.  Let’s do this!

As I pull away from the drive thru window with my tall Americano in hand and a small brown bag full of promise, I am already feeling better.

Before making it to the first stop light, I’ve already traded that Americano for a blind pinch of what temps me from inside the bag.  THE ANTICIPATION!  I know well what I’m expecting.  Lemony graciousness so dense that the brisk bite of the practically pure lemon juice frosting on top seems to seep into existence from the magical ingredient makeup itself.  Oooo-Lah-Lah!  It is heavenly.

Speaking of heaven, how spectacular is it that our God would so lovingly create this citrus sensation for me to enjoy?!  Not kidding.  I feel like once I enter into eternity, the things farthest from my thought are going to be these silly questions that I’m banking on a daily basis, and have been for abazillion years. Abazillion.  I’m sure that’s a word.  Not all of them are silly-silly.  Like, I always wanted to know about Lazarus, and whether or not he was starving when he was called back to the living.  And did he stink?  And did he have any memories of not being present in his skin?  And I always find it fascinating to think about Mary, mother of Jesus, and how she was very human, as was Jesus, except that he was also very not human at the same time, but she wasn’t.  I wonder all the time about her parenting struggles and worries.  Did she have those?  But….then there are lemons.

LEMONS!  And Oranges.  And Limes.  And don’t forget the Grapefruit, too.  It has its place in the affection scale.  Hello, Fresca.

It’s not just the taste, but the joyful colors, and the amazing scents.

I have a bird feeder hanging in my back yard with about 9 tiny tangelos in it.  They are not for the birds,  They are for me.  When I sit and admire God’s winged creations, I get great happiness out of seeing the backdrop of brightly colored oranges.  It just adds happiness to that giving tree outside.

What if orange and yellow and lime green things were scratch and sniff?  Like cars.  Imagine how crazy cool it would be if an orange car driving by, when it accidentally bumped the non-citrus car in front of it, would leave in the aftermath an amazing fragrance of a 40-acre orange grove?  Would it make getting a traffic ticket less stressful?And yellow cars!! Oh, my goodness.  Imagine the breezes coming off of those when a random rock flies up from the Oxbody work truck in front of it and scratches the hood.  Would it be like the scent of the wind blowing across a field of lemon balm?!  ROLL DOWN YOUR WINDOWS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.  Let the rocks fly!

But really, I’m so thankful for citrus.  The colors.  The scents.  The tastes.  I don’t have to wait until I enter eternity to tell God thank you for His awesome design.  I CAN SHOUT IT FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOP from my very car seat.  As I’m driving.  Thinking these crazy things.  The Creator gifted this lemon loaf to me, in this very moment, so that I could savor and rest in blissful thankfulness.  He loves me so.

And in that moment of soaking in His love, I notice the pastel, it’s-almost-eveningtime skies that lead me home every Monday, after every Monday, yet still after every Monday.  His love is vast.  His care enormous, and endless.  His gift bags abundantly bottomless.

And just like that, I’m home again.

These literally were the last few minutes of my drive home this evening.  Thank you for riding with me.  ❤ Sherry
Continue reading


A friend stopped by the office today.
Friendly chit chat was had.
Catching up is always a nice reprieve from the daily.
I noticed a wedding band.
He was all smiles when he shared the story
of his fall destination matrimony week
and gorgeous pictures
of a gorgeous young couple
before a gorgeous backdrop of sunsets and ocean waves.
The title of husband suits him as if he always was.
We talked briefly about business,
the thing that introduced us to one another.
He asked about my kids.
About how life was going.
And then we dwelled a few minutes in greens
and rice
and blueberries with almond butter
and foods that make you feel good
and bad.
It reminded me of how when I was a little girl,
barely a child old enough to voice my likes and disdains,
I knew there were just certain foods
I didn’t want to eat.
Like ice cream.
And cheese.
And watermelon.
And bananas.
I couldn’t have explained to you why not at the time.
I just knew they were not good for me.
Fast forward to my adulthood when I paid good money to find out that I
(me, myself personally)
should not eat
nor melons
and surely not bananas
and a whole list of other things that since my childhood
I just knew I shouldn’t eat
because they were not good for me
(myself, personally).
I just knew.
Growing up, my nurse-by-trade mother said there was no way I was allergic to any of those things.  That it was all in my mind.
But I knew when I was younger what I should and should not do
(as pertains to eating certain things)
but somehow when I was older
the busyness of the world made me forget how much I knew,
all by myself,
what was good for me
and what was not.

Enter:  Lightbulb.

My friend and I were still engaged in conversation,
though quietly I questioned in my own skin
and in my mind
and more so in my heart:
Is this what is meant by a child-like faith?
Just knowing, and not questioning?
just because it’s something I
(me, myself personally)
know to be true
and so?

I used to know stuff.
But as I’ve aged, I am not so certain about many things.
I listen to the opinions of others.
I watch the news.
I peruse the internet.
I read (too many) magazines.
I let life’s chatter exhaust me
and confuse me
and leave me unsure of
the smart person
I used to be
when I
was a




The Road That Is Transparency

Somewhere between 2010 and 2012 I stumbled upon a new-to-me road.  It was named Transparency, and it seemed to be THE place to be.  Everyone began talking about it.  Bible study groups and Sunday school classes often provided a front row seat from which to gaze upon a traveler of this road, hanging on every exposing word.   And slowly, more and more people began to share their experiences through storytelling they safely called “being transparent”.  At lightning speed, actually, this thing became a modern-day buzz word in Christian roadway mapping.

This road seemed safe, as more and more people got on board.  Initially, I was envious of those who were brave enough to set foot on that pathway.  I wondered, “does it hurt to tread along a  trail made up of brokenness and discord?”  But then I imagined, “it must be awfully freeing to let it all hang out whilst cruising Transparency Road at a moderate speed with the windows down”.   Just years before this, it would have been unheard of to take a trip down Transparency Road.  It would have been a road avoided by all.

I jumped on the bandwagon at some point, believing that if I shared the raw details of my experiences from Transparency Road, somehow someone who heard may be encouraged, or helped.  I wondered if sharing out loud would somehow justify things that had happened and bring salve to wounds that had yet to completely heal, all while sparing someone else from going through a similar experience.

I realized soon, though, that the more and more people talked about themselves from a safe-to-them vehicle traveling down this road – the more I shared from my own Transparency Road car – the less satisfying and intriguing the position from this highway.  Stories from Transparency Road are initially captivating, leaving spectators hanging on the experiences, wanting more.  It’s almost like socially acceptable rubbernecking.  Who doesn’t love a good story that makes you go, “Wow, that happened” or “I can’t believe you did that” and so on?  We like the shock value of hearing raw details.  Why is that?

But here’s the thing:  Transparency Road is not a final destination.  It does not stand on its own.  It is not a cul-de-sac.  The Transparency Road is literally a self-serving route when the traveler never leaves its pathway.  That’s why stories that start and end on Transparency Road seem unfinished.  That’s why often a weird, haunting feeling of emptiness lingers.  Transparency is simply a road to journey on to get somewhere else.  It’s not a place to waller.  Is waller really a word even?

I can tell you all day long about things I did that I wish I didn’t do.
About things I said that I wish I didn’t.
Things I ate that I wish I didn’t.
People I hurt.
Scars I have.
Sins I’ve committed.
All day long, I can tell you this stuff that I wish I didn’t do.
I can share with you the dirty, ugly stuff that is who I have been – who I am – as I speak to you from a rolled-down window in my car as I travel Transparency Road.
But until I turn the corner onto Transformation Way, I am doing you a disservice in sharing my unfinished tales.

Transformation Way.

You know, if I ever for some reason go into development of neighborhoods, I will definitely have some good name ideas for streets.  Who wouldn’t love to live on Transformation Way?!  Or how about Transformed Place.

Transparency is great – WONDERFUL – if it leads you to be a TRANSFORMED PERSON who can share the story of His wonderful work of transformation through our journeys.  Our trials.  Our dirty, self-promoting, sinful missteps and off-road ventures.

Transparency is talk and transformation is action.

Transparency can make us feel “okay” and “excused”, or that our sins are less than tawdry, if we shove our weak, sinful moments into the light of inner and outer circles for all to gaze upon.  It puts the focus on the hands of the stone-throwers, and somehow makes our sins more palatable.  If care is not taken, being transparent can become a safe deflection.

At some point, Transparency Road needs to be abandoned for a smoother route along Transformation Way.

Think of Paul.  Lord knows, he traveled Transparency Road boldly.  In the face of those whom he had persecuted, Paul didn’t linger on Transparency Road long, but instead, shared of making that turn onto Transformation Way.  That is what makes sharing travels along these two pathways a Kingdom Builder.

There was this paramour.
And I hated her.
Loathed her.
Didn’t know her, only the act that gave her the paramour title.
Everything in me said, “Stone her”.
And Jesus said, “You who is without sin cast the first stone.”
And I knew instantly that I was guilty.
Dead in the dust.
The stones fell from my hands.

Now, in telling you this, I’m being transparent.  I hated.  I wanted to cause pain.  I did cause pain.  Name-calling.  Finger-pointing.  Ugly, ugly, ugly.

If my story ends there, I’ve shared nothing good, and made myself feel better for telling you how awful I am.  If I stop there, my story-telling ends with selfish motive.  I’m helping no one.  There may be other people who can relate, or may feel a connection to me and say “I did that, too!”, but if I don’t follow through by sharing with you how this very instant transformed me, I am not doing you any favors and worse, I’m not giving glory to the Father for His great transformation in me.

The rest of the story is this:

Though it took me years, I finally dropped the stones.
In doing so, I allowed the Holy Spirit to direct me.
I reached out to the woman, whom I previously identified with an accusatory name.
Gracefully, she reached back.
And ONLY because of My Savior’s great forgiveness, mercy and grace, I am filled with genuine love for this woman I now call my friend.  Family, even.

Only God can do that.  That is transformation.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Because of this experience, I am slower to judge.  And I’m more quickly to notice when my backpack becomes heavy with a stone or two.  I’m not saying I don’t judge.  And I’m not saying I don’t pick up stones.  Both things I am not proud of.  But they are things that I notice and rid myself of much quicker than I did years ago.

Transparency to Transformation.

The road that is Transparency leads to the way that is Transformation.

Thank you, Jesus, for being The Light and The Way.



“The family was shrinking”, It Read.

I picked up a new read at the book store recently, Educated.  This is my first read of the new year.


Standing in the store, reading the blurb, I instantly felt compelled to give this book a go.  It’s a non-fiction, memoir of sorts, about a girl who grew up in the mountains of Idaho with her mom, dad and boo-coos of siblings, she being the youngest.  It chronicles her family life and the nest, as fledgling older brothers flew away, and eventually, her journey in leaving it as well.

Not gonna lie, once I opened the book at home from my comfy reading chair, I almost closed it for good before getting to Chapter One.  I’m one of those weird book lovers who reads the whole thing, including all those miscellaneous pages at the beginning before the story actually starts with “Once upon a time.”  The author’s note, which precedes the first chapter in this particular book, opens with this sentence:  “This story is not about Mormonism.”

There were a couple of sentences following that one, but they didn’t matter because I was stalled out on that one, six word sentence.

Why did the author feel the need to state that from the get go?

I am not a Mormon.  I have some friends who are.  But I am not.  I am friends with them and they with me, yet we do not press our views, opinions, thoughts on this subject matter into each other.  I wonder, “Will reading this book in some way impress thoughts about Mormonism into the tapestry that is who I am?”  Because who I am belongs to The I Am, I know that I have to take care to guard my heart.  “Be careful”, I’ve always warned my own sons, “of what you read, listen to or watch, because you cannot unread, unhear or unsee what you take in”.  I believe this with all of who I am.  (Thank you, I Am.)

So, was this my warning to put the  book down?

I didn’t.  And I’m still reading it.  But had I read the author’s note at the book store, I probably would have laid it back down on the table where I found it.  I’m not saying that’s the right thing to have done.  I’m not saying reading it is the right thing to do.  This presented a small personal fork that I have chosen to navigate carefully.

Since I did not close the book and chose instead to proceed forward from the author’s note, today found me in Chapter 6, where I reached my second place of stalling.  The book read, from the first paragraph,  “The family was shrinking…”  It didn’t even take an entire sentence to bring me to a stand still.

Again, I read the words, “The family was shrinking…”, and I felt the weight of a previously unnamed something stirring in me.

2018 was a tough year.

2018 found me listening to the whispers from dark places.  To the lies.  It found me reclining in hurts.  And in uncertainties.  Quite frankly, it was the most difficult string of months I’ve ever torn from the calendar.

Sometimes we know why there are seasons of disappointment, despair, and sometimes we don’t.  I’ve never really been able to put my finger on one solitary culprit for the funky year 2018 was.  There seemed to be lots of things, and nothing, all at the same time.  But I think this book that I’m reading that I almost didn’t has spoken to me the unnamed source of where most, if not all, of 2018’s negatives were birthed.

“The family was shrinking…”

That’s it.

Like breathing in and breathing out, my immediate family has increased, and is now decreasing.  Changing, like the seasons.  In an inevitable, natural rhythm, this change crept about gradually on the increase, and seemingly suddenly on the decrease.  Crept suddenly.  There’s an oxymoronic coupling if I ever saw one.  But it’s true.  Crept, because this change happened under the radar.  Suddenly, because it was harsh and immediate.

When our oldest son stoically left home in 2011, we were included in the details.  Plus, his two younger brothers were home still, providing companionship for each other and distraction enough for us to avoid hemorrhaging over the empty chair at the table.  This change was hard, but manageable.  We knew (sort of) where he was going, and (sort of) what he was doing.  Our communication was not severed.

When our middle son left not quite a year ago, it was different.  We were left out of the details.  We were left out of the thought of details.  In the middle of a cool night, he took off.  Was it done stoically?  Couldn’t tell you.  We weren’t there.  We didn’t know where he was, where he was going, or what he was doing or planned to do.  This change was hard.  Drastic. Resembling a theft.  It was stealthily carried out without our knowing.  Without our inclusion.  Our communication was severed.  Completely.  Bluntly.  Though there was one younger brother still at home, he was old enough to feel the head-spinning void this type of desertion brought.

And this is where 2018 was spent.  This is how it lingered forever and resulted quickly in lost time.

It was spent in retreat.
Huddling up with the immediate family.
Shutting out familiar routine.
Tending to the gaping wound.
Doggy paddling.
Keeping our heads above water.
Taking the waves as they came.
Sometimes constantly.
Oftentimes without warning.
After another.
And another.

Waves titled:

Holding hands with:

Fueled by:
Not knowing
Feelings of defeat
The hushed rumor mill of a community we were once a part of
The blaring rumor mill of a community we were never a part of

Rejection, in it’s rawest form, facing the saltiness of each wave that came.

Daily.  Sometimes hourly.  Occasionally by the minute.

Almost an entire year spent trying to figure out what our family whole looked like and who we were becoming.

“The family was shrinking…”


I might pick the book back up soon and read the rest of that sentence.
The rest of that chapter.
Maybe even the rest of the book.

But it will be later.

After this tsunami.


Educated | A Memoir
BY Tara Westover

So far, I give it a very good rating.
Tara’s use of imagery in describing the mundane, often overlooked , is incredible.  So far, I have found that the author’s note is exactly what it states.  The author’s experience as chronicled is not about Mormonism, but instead, an age-old, shared instinct to separate at some point from our families in chase of our own identities.  I have been been both that young woman who was chasing, and now the older woman who has been left.  It would be neat if there was a companion book to this one written from the perspective of Tara’s mother.  Two points of view on the same experience.  But that’s my two cents on a book that I’m still to finish.  I’ll let you know when I reach the final word if my advanced review needs some editing.  At this point, I am really glad I didn’t read the author’s note while I was standing in Barnes & Noble.  Who knows how long it would have taken for me to acknowledge the normalcy of the thing that I felt was causing a bleed out in 2018.
Thank goodness I’ve entered 2019 on the mend.