Wednesday, November 25, 2015

framing the holidays: when "home" is gone

Today I am pleased to share a guest post from Sara Brunsvold, who writes over at Find the Lovely. Her writing is poignant and reaches me at a deep level. Journey with her into the land of a new normal this Thanksgiving.


The day the new owners closed on his house, my father-in-law called me from his assisted living apartment.

His first words were: “Well, it’s no longer ours.”


He somewhat meant the whole family.

He mostly meant him and his late wife, Susan. The house was the last remaining piece of their life together – the place that had centered the family for two years after she passed away.
The pain was present in his voice, though he tried to sound upbeat.

I wanted to hug him through the phone.

Home, as he knew it, no longer existed for him.

Home was no longer a physical place he could retreat to. It is only a memory he will keep wrapped in cozy blankets. It is pictures slipped in an album.

As Thanksgiving approaches, this reality settles in deeper.

The home we knew is no longer there, where we last saw it.

The last time I was in the house with the family was a few months ago, in the days leading up to the sale. We were there to clean. We enjoyed one last meal together in the house – a takeout meal none of us cooked because the pots and pans were gone. The refrigerator contained maybe butter and olives, but that was about it.

Even on that day, the house did not seem like “ours.”

When Susan was still alive, regardless of being frail from cancer, she always, always had a kitchen full of food in some stage of preparation – baking, simmering, resting, sliced, stored, chilled.
One of my primary roles when I was there was to help her cook. She was an amazing cook, and many of the memories I have of her and me together happened around her beautiful blue-tiled kitchen island.
Holidays always seemed extra special at her house. Something about her warm kitchen made them so.

The author and her mother-in-law, Susan, 
at their last holiday meal together in the house. 

Susan with two of her grandchildren during
a baking session

Her kitchen always seemed to be as full as her heart.

This Thanksgiving, the family will be at my house, where the table is smaller, the chairs are fewer and the oven is not nearly as powerful.

We know we will be sad to no longer be in “our” house. We will sit at my smaller table and remember mealtimes of the past. We will eat the food and wish we could taste what we had just once more.

But in our hearts, somehow we will know that all will be okay.

We will know that home is not a place that stays put.

Home follows us.

Home is the memories we carry and the love we have gathered to share.

It is the baseline on which we build all future memories.

Though houses may sell, home never dies.

Home lives, wherever we are.

More than her house, Susan loved her family. More than food, she loved her people. 
This thanksgiving, I will remember what she taught me about making pie and how to make stuffing taste like a million dollars, but I will also remember one of her best lessons of all:

It is the people we gather with, not the place we come, that brings us home.


Sara Brunsvold writes about finding the presence of God in everyday life at Find the Lovely

Sunday, November 8, 2015

7 things I learned in October ...

Here are a few things I learned last month:

1) That re-reading a book I just finished gives me different insights than it did just a couple weeks ago.

As soon as I was done with the book "Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World," by Emily Freeman, I turned back to the beginning and started it again. It spoke to my very soul as I skipped through it the first time, excited and marveling that she captured me right where I am. Right then. Right now, even.

But as I'm reading it the second time, more slowly, I find myself marinating instead of skipping. Thinking deeply about living small, right now, and truly seeing it as a positive, good thing instead of the humiliating bad thing we normally associate with "small."

Fantastic book, one and two times through. I highly recommend it.

(You can order it here: Simply Tuesday -

2) Coloring is good for me and I love it.

So coloring is all the rage right now, I know. But seriously, you guys. It is calming, fun, and even if you're not an artist beautiful things emerge on the finished page. Like this. Hard to capture in a picture but I think this one turned out pretty cool.

And this is my favorite coloring book so far:

(You can order it here: Adult Coloring Book -

So, get some markers/colored pencils/crayons and have some fun!

3) Cuteness overload is when my youngest grandbaby says my grandma-name (Nini).

I mean, this should be obvious too. But for days and weeks and maybe a month or more, I knew for a FACT that he was capable of saying it, evidenced by this video sent by his mama, but he's a teaser and a bit of a punk (in the darling-est sort of way) and refused to say it to ME until just recently.  

(For real you have to watch the cuteness. It's only 16 seconds long.)

4) Figuring out how to Skype was a big deal.

So I have this friend who is a missionary in India, and I really want to see her face, and I'm really technologically challenged sometimes. More than sometimes, ok? But I was determined, and I persevered, and I downloaded and found the right settings, and got the camera up and running, and when she called, I ACTUALLY COULD SEE HER! And it was an amazing conversation and I am super glad I figured it out.

(You can stop laughing any time now.)

5) I miss my daughter a real lot.

A year and a half we had, both home full-time, spending part or all of most weekdays together. Like, finishing each other's sentences and reading each other's minds together. And in mid-September she went back to work, in a job she loves, and I'm happy for her that the job fits her, and I'm sad. We carve out time together still whenever we can, but the beautiful season is over and I can't get it back.

For a good long time I cried and felt like I was missing an arm and wished for what we had. And even now when I still miss our time together so much, I have mostly turned the corner to thankfulness, that we had it at all, and joy, because I have the privilege of spending more one-on-one time with her small tribe than I did before. I've learned that missing what was can co-exist with the joy of what is.

6) Garage sales are seriously fun.

My hubby and I have been haunting garage sales for the past couple of months, looking for stuff to put into a booth we have at a vintage/retro/repurposed super cool place called Green Expressions (in Olathe, KS for my local readers). Big time thrill-of-the-chase sort of thing for us. And priceless laughing time together every Saturday morning. And then new creations are birthed, and there is beauty in the shared effort. Here's a peek from a couple weeks ago:

7) Sometimes dread turns to wonderful.

I'm on a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan (don't think I'm bragging - this is not my first attempt and I'm only halfway done but so far getting to the finish line looks promising).

To be honest, the prospect of wading through those Old Testament books - maybe most of them - filled me with discomfort and a little bit of guilt because I felt a little bit of dread, never mind that I literally some of them, like, ever.

But God is meeting me in the pages, and I'm finding nuggets all over the pages of those old books, and I know that I have seriously missed out, and I am grateful that I've been nudged to give it another try.

I use this app called "YouVersion" and it tracks my progress and encourages me with a "well done!" message every day.

So there you have it. A handful of the things I learned last month. Think back, will you? I'd love to hear what you've learned recently!

To November lessons,