A Love Story

Wedding DayOnce upon a time there was a young man from Maryland who met a young lady from Mississippi while she was visiting her family for one golden summer.

It was as close to love-at-first-sight as love-at-first-sight can be because when the young man laid eyes on the pretty young girl his gaze never really left.

The young girl, she fell hard and fast with a love that lasted the summer and all the seasons to follow. And sure, well meaning family and friends and older sisters would say, “Well what about him? Or him? Or him?” They’d say, “You’re too young, too naive, too optimistic to give your heart away.”

Martie SavageSappy LoveWendellBut the young girl didn’t care or mind because her cares and mind were fixed. This young man would be her first, her last, her only love.

It was an old-fashioned love from the start. Fashioned after the oldest love that fashioned the dawn of time.

The boy and the girl grew up together and loved one another with miles and states in between. They counted the days between visits that became more treasured than gold. They wrote letters so hot and juicy those letters had to be burned. They waited and plotted and planned for the day when they would be together at school.

College DaysThe boy went to college and the girl soon followed and at the end of four years they had dreams, degrees, and rings on their fingers. They gained jobs, and friends, and furniture. They moved here and there and hoped and prayed for God to give them a family.

Good times came.

Heartache came.

Together they laughed and cried.

They lost jobs and friends. They lost beloved old ones and precious new ones.

At times they lost their like for each other but they never lost their love. They never lost their faith or their commitment to God and each other.

In times of poured out tears, of heartache, hurt, and loss, they looked to the verse stitched into cloth that hung by a thread on the wall:

For this God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death.” Psalm 48:14

And they remembered the One who hung by nails and poured out love for them.

It was here at the cross and the crossroads that they found love, and hope, and graceful grit that kept them right on going. Right on living with broken but still beating hearts.

And God, He didn’t leave them hanging. He came to the broken but still beating hearts and filled them with His glory.

He filled empty pockets, empty chairs, empty rooms. He filled their empty, aching arms with one baby girl, then two. Laughter, hope, and dreams were born pink, and fresh, and new.

Baby MelBaby MeDad's FavoriteThis boy from Maryland is now 72, and his Mississippi bride is an exquisite 70. And they’ve been wearing those rings on their fingers for 50 golden years.

Those two baby girls, who filled their arms, now fill their hearts, and days, and home with two sons acquired by law and six of the grandest children.

GrandbabiesAnd the girls and the grandkids and the son-in-laws, too, wish they could give this Maryland boy and this Mississippi girl the greatest gift in all the world to celebrate their golden day.

A journey to Europe! A pair of gold watches! A fabulous piece of art!

But the daughters, the grands, and the sons-in-law know the truth. The golden truth that seems unfair: The gift has already been given, not to the honored couple, but to them.

IMG_2760The gift of parents and grandparents who journeyed and struggled and fought through life but chose to stay together, to stay in love, to stay in the grip of His grace.

The golden legacy of vows made and vows kept.

The portrait of a marriage.

The gift of a mom and dad that would rather sleep in a bed too small than not sleep together at all.

The gift of parents who still kiss and touch and whisper secrets, who still laugh and hug and exchange I love you’s each and every day.

The gift of seeing Psalm 48:14 as more than a fancy cross-stitch on the wall but as truth, and testimony, and family tradition.

This is the gift and it is theirs and all they can really give in return are ten beating hearts full of thanks.

They can take the journey, the golden legacy, the portrait painted before them and fashion their own love stories after this love story, after the love story. After their parents, their grandparents, their God.

One love story molded from and by all the loves that went before, for all generations to follow.

Mom and Dad SappyRingsMom and Dad GoldenBecause this kind of love lasts forever. Rooted not in the soil of earth but the streets of golden eternity. Centered not on the love of man and wife but the love of a Savior and His beloved.

This is the gift of fifty years.

Forged in the Refiners fire, the gift more precious than gold.

~ Happy 50th Mom and Dad (Nannie and Papa)!

With Love From, Melanie, Jennifer, Landon, Chris, Conner, Madeline, Garrett, Aletheia, Tenley, and Cabellea ~

Martha, Martha (Or 70 Reasons Why…)

Mom & MeTwo years ago I wrote a post to honor and celebrate my dad on his 70th birthday. Time has flown by and now I have the joy and privilege of doing the same for my mom. On this, my mother’s 70th Birthday, I can’t think of a better way to show her (and all of you) just how much I love her.

Happy Birthday, Mama. So much of what I have and who I am is because of you. With all my heart, I love you and wish you the happiest of days…

70(ish) Reasons Why I Love You…

  •  The way you look in lavender
  • Your chicken and rice casserole
  • The day you picked me up from school and took me on a spur of the moment date to see Sense and Sensibility at the movie theater
  • Your perfect smile
  • Mom's Bridal PortraitThe way you magically keep getting more and more beautiful each and every year
  • The “Mom” you’ve been to all of my friends
  • Your southern accent and how it gets thicker whenever someone asks you where you’re from
  • Phrases like: “Pushing little ducks in the water” and “Poor little Angeline sucking her cup”
  • How as a kid (and a grown-up) I always felt homesick when you weren’t around
  • Your sweet tea
  • The chocolate cake you make every year for my birthday
  • IMG_0645The way you’ve always made our house so beautiful, comfortable, and warm
  • Everything you did to make my wedding day perfect
  • “It’s fine, but it could be finer.”
  • Decorating together for Christmas
  • Out of all the moms in the world I get to call you mine
  • The way you sound when you sing and how I can still hear your lull-la-byes
  • The fact that Martha Stewart has nothing on you
  • The way the house smells when you’re cooking in the kitchen
  • Countless loads of laundry you’ve done for me and my family
  • IMG_1686The way Tenley looks in your arms when you “rock & sing” or read books together
  • All the fun things you do with Aletheia
  • Your pumpkin-cream cheese muffins
  • The way you can fix anything or in another words…nothing is truly broken until Mom can’t fix it
  • All your down home Mississippi memories
  • The loyalty you have for your sisters
  • The way you love my dad, my sister, me, my children…and yes, even Chris
  • How you’ve taught me to make a house a home
  • Saturday nights watching Dallas when I was a kid
  • How the name Mary Martha suites you so well
  • Your love for books and reading
  • IMG_0748Counting gifts with you
  • All the graces you bring to my life
  • The sound of your laughter
  • Your ugly toes
  • How even when you don’t understand some of the things I do, you love me and support me no matter what
  • The way you’ve always made me feel safe, loved, secure, and happy
  • Your obsession with recipes and the curious way you never end up following them
  • The fact that you think “Rock n’ Roll” music is too “Razz-ma-tazz”
  • Watching you nurse and care for Nana and what that taught me as a young girl
  • IMG_1603The gingerbread houses you made when Melanie and I were children
  • The comfort you bring whenever I’m sick
  • Shopping together
  • How we’ll never agree on Aldi’s, bleach, expired food, and at what point a load of laundry is actually dry
  • Trips to Germany and all the traveling memories we’ve shared
  • The way the blue in my little girls’ eyes is just like the blue in yours
  • IMG_0713The way you drove me and Miranda to school every single morning so I wouldn’t have to ride the bus
  • How I can always count on you for sewing projects (From wedding dresses to curtains and everything in between)
  • How I always think of you when I watch Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music
  • Watching Carolina Basketball together and the way you’ve been known to cuss when the refs make a bad call
  • Your stubborn streak
  • Your southern grace
  • Your soft skin and rosy cheeks
  • IMG_0720Sharing my home with you
  • The way you have ALWAYS been there for me
  • The way you are ALWAYS there for everyone
  • The legacy of faith in God you have given to me, my sister, your grandchildren
  • Your mother’s heart and how you’ve made me the mom I am today
  • The way your perfume lingers in the air, in the car, in the house, and makes me miss you when you’re gone
  • IMG_2760Visits to Charlotte and Virginia and how it was always so fun to spend time with you, scrapbooking, shopping, cooking, decorating…
  • Sharing jewelry, scarves, and purses
  • Your golden touch with all things crafty and/or food related
  • How as a little girl I always, always wanted to be just like you when I grew up
  • Having a stay-at-home mom and the example you’ve set in so many ways
  • IMG_1026The way you used to braid my hair in one long French braid or George Washington curls on Sundays
  • Your likes (traveling, a clean, quiet house, gardening, flowers, time with friends and family, molasses on biscuits, Lizz Curtis Higgs, UNC basketball, the color yellow) and dislikes (swimming, Duke, exercise, loud music, spots on your carpet, pets, your “pug” nose)
  • The way you know the name of almost any flower
  • Watching you relax in the middle of the afternoon or at the end of the day
  • Do I really have to stop at 70??? This list could go on forever…
  • The love and care you have always given my girls and the peace I feel when I know you’re with them
  • The way you make ALL things beautiful

If you know and love my mom please feel free to leave a comment, memory, or birthday wish below and continue the love on her special day!

Fall In Love

Today marks a very exciting day in my life, the date of my first blog post.

For a whole year, I have been writing and posting, and you, my sweet readers, have been visiting me at my “online home,” www.onceuponawriter.com.

Whether this is your first time reading or you like to stop by and visit weekly, I just want to take this chance to say, “thank you.” This year, this blog, and your comments have meant so much to me…literally…nothing short of a miracle.

As I look back, I have no doubt that God planted this task/goal/dream of writing a weekly blog in my heart to teach me about His ways and His love. These weekly writings have changed my life. I have fallen in love with writing and I have fallen in love with Him all over again. He’s written me a love story, and I hope and trust it will never end.

With this in mind, I’m ready to celebrate and I’d love for you to join me.

I am working hard to prepare fresh ideas for my site that I hope to launch this fall. A few of these ideas include:

  • A new, mid-week post
  • Fun resources
  • An awesome ministry spotlight

And, to kick it all off, I’m doing my first ever give-away!!! (Details below)

To say the least my heart is full of thanks, gratitude and love.

If you’ve read my posts, chances are good you already know how much I love the fall. To celebrate this love, to celebrate this season and to celebrate my “Blog-iversary,” I’d like to challenge you to make this a season for falling in love. In love with beauty. In love with adventure. In love with God.

Because when I get right down to it, I know this is what my blog, my writing, my walk with God are all about. The falling in love and the filling of my heart with beauty, adventure, and the love of my savior.

I long to live by my pen. I long to write of the heart. Because everyday spent with the King really is a fairy tale.

Won’t you join me? Are you ready? Let’s fall in love…

20 Ways to Fall in Love This Season

1)      Start your day by reading a favorite verse or a passage from a favorite devotional (My recent favorite is One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp)

2)      Pull out your wedding vows and repeat them with your spouse

3)      Flip through a photo album or scrapbook of friends and/or family

4)      Re-read an old journal. Consider the ways He works, the ways He moves, the ways He answers prayer

5)      Re-read your favorite love story (Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is one of my all-time favorites)

6)      Take time to write, paint, create, build, bake, or sing your own sort of love story

7)      Start a gratitude journal. If you already keep a journal of this sort, take some time to look through it. Re-count the ways He loves.

8)      Give something away

9)      Go on a color tour, a walk or drive through a patchwork of autumn trees

10)   Hug your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews (big or small.) Listen close to sound their voices, get lost in the magic of child-like laughter

11)   Make a memory: apple picking, pumpkin carving, a surprise get-a-way

12)   Compile a playlist of your favorite love songs, as you listen, consider the words and how they echo His love

13)   Take cookies, muffins, or flowers to a friend, a neighbor, a nursing home

14)   Find a need and fill it

15)   Find a vase and fill it, too

16)   Send a text, an email, a card to friend in need of encouragement

17)   Hunt for beauty, find it in places obvious and places unexpected

18)   Do something that scares you

19)   Revisit a favorite movie, because all stories speak of His-story (Les, Miserables, The Notebook, Becoming Jane, and P.S. I Love You are a few of my favorites)

20)   When the crisp chill of autumn fills your lungs, when the warmth of a pumpkin spice latte warms your hands, when the sun catches a branch of golden leaves just right and fills your heart with joy, with awestruck wonder, remember that this is for you. All of it, for you. The love story of a savior.

Will you keep the list going? I’d love to hear from you. What are your ideas for falling in love this season? How has God romanced your heart recently or in the past?

Leave me a comment below and your name will be entered for a chance to win at $25.00 Barnes & Noble Gift card. The perfect gift to help you purchase a new devotional, love story, journal, or warm beverage of your choice.

I told you I was ready to celebrate! The winner will be chosen by random drawing next Sunday, so be sure to check back and see if you won.

Thanks again, sweet friends.

May your fall be happy, your heart full.