Weekly Photo Challenge: Autumn Nostalgia

Alabama dirt road

These photos may not be the most technically adept, but when I see them I’m always reminded of home. They bring back such vivid memories of fall in southern Alabama – football games, bonfires, snuggling with boys, laughing with girlfriends, baking with my mom and grandmas, and the start of the holidays. I’m immediately a teenager again and I can still feel that same confusing tug deep in my heart for some great unknown.

This week’s challenge is “nostalgia.”

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Autumn Equinox

Happy Fall Y'all photo with seasonal tree background

Normally I cringe a little every time I see this particular phrase on a sign or Pinterest, but today I’m embracing it. This summer has been particularly challenging for many reasons and so I am even happier than usual to leave it behind and dance right into autumn. Granted the weather hasn’t really caught up with the calendar yet here in the desert, but I see the beautifully shining light at the end of the tunnel! So here’s to my favorite time of year – the cooler weather, the longer nights, and all the glorious colors. (blissful smile)

  “Come said the leaves to the wind one day, Come o’er the meadows and we will play. Put on your dresses of Scarlet and Gold, for Summer is gone and the days grow cold!”
George Eliot

Quote borrowed from Nuggets of Gold who shares lovely and insightful thoughts each Tuesday – be sure to check her out!

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: River Reflections

Lake Eufaula, Alabama, black and white, lilly padsb

Lake Eufaula, Alabama, black and white, trees, reflection

This week’s black and white photo challenge topic is “reflections and shadows.” As a bit of an interesting side note, these were taken along the river that runs into Lake Eufaula, where this behemoth was just captured. I stick my hand in that water when we go fishing there – eek!! Even so, I still wouldn’t mind being back on the water over this long weekend… (wistful sigh)


Cee's Black and White Photo Challenge

Sweet Home Alabama?

The topic for this week’s Travel Tuesday is “where you’re from and why you left.” I feel like I can sum that up in two words: Alabama + family. But that wouldn’t make much of a post would it? (smile)

sunset over Alabama field

Sunset on the farm

I am from the quintessential small southern town. We lived within 10 miles of the majority of my family, all of the neighbors were friendly (well, they knew one another anyway), schools were small, trucks were large, and church was supposed to be your second home. I grew up on a small farm with a variety of fuzzy creatures. I know where peanuts come from – and how to grow them. I also know how to castrate most any animal (TMI?). I can appreciate green fields and dirt roads just as well as any skyscraper or shopping mall. There’s a quiet, where I grew up, that is healing.

Alabama, outdoors, nature

From the dirt road

So why did I leave? Well, honestly, it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to truly appreciate where I came from. When I left, all I could think about was conquering big cities, seeing the world, and hopefully gaining some anonymity along the way. I love my family, but I’m pretty independent and prefer my privacy. My family all seems to translate that into stubbornness – so be it. I was determined to go forth and make my own mistakes; something I’ve rather successfully accomplished. (smile)

The question I frequently ask myself (generally because my family is frequently asking me) is whether I would ever consider moving back. The answer is usually a very hesitant “maybe.” Truthfully, I would only do it under specific circumstances and even then I’m not sure it would be permanent. I love my dad’s place – it’s in its own little bubble and absolutely gorgeous – but I’m still not so sure about the people. Perhaps a vacation home? Moving back would be just that for me – moving backward instead of forward. Forward for me is moving abroad. I will always have a soft spot for Alabama, but it no longer feels like “home” in the traditional sense. My home, in my heart, lies across an ocean.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.


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The Only Heathen in the Church

Or, at least that’s what it felt like. Exactly one week ago today, I stood in front of the multitude who showed up for my grandfather’s funeral to deliver the words written at my grandparents’ request. I was on the program with three (yes, 3) good Southern Baptist preachers and a younger guy destined for seminary school, none of which found it remotely amusing that I myself am – technically – an ordained minister. Really, no sense of humor…

To go back to the beginning, last Thursday night I dreamed of my mother. It’s something that I rarely do, but it inevitably leaves me feeling a bit off kilter the next day. On my way to work Friday morning, I received the news that my grandfather had passed away during the night. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but then again I’m not sure death can ever truly be anticipated either. It certainly set my calendar on a totally new trajectory. I booked my plane ticket and headed east on Saturday morning.

I had known for some time that I would likely be speaking at the funeral, but I hadn’t written anything down yet – partially from not knowing where to begin and partially from a superstition of writing a eulogy before it was absolutely necessary. Saturday night, it became pressingly necessary. After struggling to find words that rang true, I reread my post from last year on my grandparents’ love story. Upon reading that post, I decided that there could be no more fitting thing than sharing my own (slightly edited) story of their great love.

Public speaking is certainly not my favorite activity, but I can do it when the occasion calls for it. I was so nervous – and desperately trying not to cry – but I made it through. The other guys gave their mini-sermons and spoke about how happy my grandfather is now in Heaven, and what a religious man he was (both true for sure); I spoke of my memories and didn’t quote a single Bible verse. I’ve never been more proud (smile).

Afterwards, I had an unexpected number of people tell me how moved they were by my words and, much to my delight, do exactly as I had requested that afternoon – share their own stories about that great man. I found peace in those stories. I will miss my grandfather dearly, but I know that wherever the afterlife takes us, he is there waiting. And thanks to that dream-visit, I know he’s in the best possible company, with my mom. I’ve lost him physically yet gained another guardian angel. And I will always have those wonderful memories of our time together.

Of course, not to be outdone, one of the preachers did get in the parting shot – as he was wishing me good-bye, he assured me that he would be “praying for [me] a husband.” Touché. (smile)

I’ve decided to post the text of my speech on the next page of this post. I’m doing this for posterity, and to share my memories of him. It only seems right, seeing as how this blog helped me find my words to begin with.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Wood

I’ve been back in Alabama this week (more on why later), and although the circumstances aren’t ideal, I have been enjoying this January weather. Most people will think I’m crazy for saying so, but I adore January and the dreary weather. When you live in the land of perpetual sunshine, it’s nice to have a break!

Since I had a little downtime today, I was catching up on some blog reading when I came across Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – this week’s topic “wood.” I’ve actually taken some specific black and white photos this week (fits the mood I think), so thought it would be an opportune time to share some of those (smile). Hope everyone is having a great week!

black and white porch swing

The old wooden swing on the front porch

Black and white tree with horse

One of the original homestead trees


Cee's Black and White Photo Challenge