I Am From: The Roots Of Me

Abigail, Age 2

I Am From

I am from
A hard-rock maple, leaves-in, dining room table
A rusty Ford Granada and Dad’s brassy menorah

I am from
A parsonage beside the red barn church
A little white goat barn and the huge console radio where the Sugar Creek Gang came

I am from
Vegetable field gardens
Whose open arms taught me there’s return on work and never to mind some dirt

I am from
Narnia and Little House on the Prairie
Harvey and Elaine and Hazel and Al

Hard-working, God-fearing, straight-talkers
Hay-baling, deep-thinking, goat-milking farmers

I am from
Football and hymn-sings after Thanksgiving dinner and fish and bread at Easter dawn

Dad’s creamy oatmeal and Mom’s squash pumpkin pies
Great-great grandpa’s flu-time raising to life
and from
Never knowing vivacious Grandma Joanne

I am from
Weeding rows and milking goats, from hiking country lanes, from a family who whips real cream in stainless steel and prays

And from always God with us.

From always knowing that. From God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 90:1-2

🥧 🎶 🌽 📖 🐐 👩‍🌾 ⛪️ 🌱 🦁

👉 Now it’s your turn. Where are you from?

Need help getting started? This site has a 👍 template to help you write your own “I Am From” poem. I’d 💗 to read it when it’s ✅ .

L-R: Harvey & Elaine, Abigail & Jim, Hazel & Al

You Have Been My Friend: When A Friend Moves Away

Two friends moving day
My friend Cathe and me.

You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.

-E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

She writes fiction very well. I write nonfiction not so well.

My Friend Cathe

But my friend Cathe is the one who called me up after reading a post one summer dayand said, “Abigail, there’s something wrong.”

I braced for the worst. Because one thing I love about Cathe is that she speaks the truth. She’s gracious and discrete. And direct and sincere.

So I prepared to hear, “You’re too long-winded, dear. Your message gets lost in your words.” Both true, still true.

But that’s not what I head. Instead Cathe said, “That post you just wrote was good. More people need should see this. I think you need a website.”

But my friend didn’t stop there. Cathe hooked me up with her website host, then took time from her writing with real deadlines to walk me through the nuts and bolts of my little website design.

Earnest Counsel

Proverbs 27 says, Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. It’s true.

As we were loading in the van last night Cathe leaned in- not to talk to me but to my 15-year-old son. “Sam,” she started, “I have some advice about girls. Mind if I share?” We both stared at Cathe, rapt.

Find a girl with a cheerful disposition, she said. I like that. Because the moodier seem to grow moodier still. Sage advice, and kind.

You can see, Cathe doesn’t waste words. She uses them kindly and well.

The Sweetness of a Friend

It was Cathe who broke the ice after a month of estrangement from church, and asked, “Abigail, want to join the Thursday group?” I did. And with 3 week old Gabe in tow I joined the ladies in Cathe’s home over Cathe’s magic carrot nut muffins and spicy sweet tea.

Now 13 years later, I lead “the Thursday group.” It goes on with new faces and a handful of good old, including Cathe, though lately we meet via Zoom.

But after 20 years in our local life, as I write, Cathe is moving away. Last night, Jim, the boys and I got to help fill the U-Haul to its squid-ly brim. Totes, bins, washer, dryer and (Yes, Pat.) even the big brown sofa fit in.

Cathe is candid with herself too. I heard that last night. When she looked toward the sunset, maybe a little wistfully, and said,

“You know, Abigail, heaven is described as a city.

Because Cathe is a country girl, even more than me. So as my friend makes her way to a big city in Minnesota today, I’m back in the country thanking God for her- a friend who goes and chokes me up when she moves.

My tears come, in part and probably a selfish part, because I realize that Cathe is a keeper of my story. She has a valuable perspective on my life that I don’t have. She sees me in a way I can’t.

Friends, the Keepers of Our Stories

While Cathe is a gifted weaver of made-up story threads, she took a few minutes away from loading bins last night to tell some of my own real story threads. Threads that can get all tangled up in my head.

Like the one about how we came for dinner almost 20 years ago. After dinner, her tween son who knew that Jim and had been married a while and still didn’t have kids, leaned in and asked,

Hey mom, are you sure the Wallace’s know how?”

But Cathe also remembers the Sunday in November 2005 when we walked in to church holding our son, fresh from Korea. And how on a Sunday one year later, there was a collective, congregational gasp as my sister announced, “Abigail is expecting in June.”

Then, next June when Gabe was just a baby, Cathe broke silence and breached a tender subject. She broke that ice and welcomed me to the ladies’ study that met in her home.

Cathe has shared some of her precious story threads with me. They’re not mine to tell. But I do want to say, Cathe, that watching you endure with joy spurs me to do the same.

You Have Been My Friend

You know I’ll miss your real hugs and earnest counsel and practical kindness. And, as a keeper of my story, I will miss you because you know- and keep- my story so well.

Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for being a keeper of my story the last two decades. I’ll miss you on Sundays and Thursdays and I’m excited to see how God writes this next chapter in yours.

Cathe, you have been my friend. That, in itself, is a tremendous thing.

Thank you.

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

-A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Sunset on moving night with friend
Unfiltered view last night

Our Dwelling Place

Lord, you have been our dwelling place, throughout all generations.   Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.                                                   Psalm 90:1-2 

Old house-an acre on the main drag.
New house-five acres in the hinterlands.

Old dwelling-two-story brick schoolhouse.
New dwelling-brown cedar ranch.

Old house-wood burning stove.
New house- natural fireplace.

Old dwelling- great big deck.
New dwelling- great big dining room.

Old house- built-in pantry.
New house- built-in bookshelves.

Old dwelling- 3 car detached garage.
New dwelling- 2 car attached garage.

Old house-plentiful perennials.
New house- plentiful hickories.

Old dwelling-friendly neighbors.
New dwelling- where are the neighbors?

Tonight is night 6 in the “new house.” A mere 3 miles from the “old house,” the “new” one inexplicably seems half a world away. Routines and patterns developed in 16+ years dwelling in any one place don’t fade in a week. Memories mingle.  Our married life begins in the hand crafted “master pad” Jim built. Sam’s first night after we picked him up at O’Hare. Bringing Gabe home from the hospital. Countless happy parties under the old maple on the deck.

I miss the sunshine and the neighbors, the roses, the deck.  I enjoy the spacious living/dining room (that doubles as a workout room and Lego Ninjago battle stage), the hiking path out back (notwithstanding ticks aplenty) and cool, quiet night air in our bedroom (skunk spray aside). All life’s choices bring trade-offs. Perfect moments-yes, by God’s grace.  But absolute unbroken perfection, absent this side of heaven.

More than once this week, my mind flashed back to a night seven years ago.

Days before their return to Ethiopia, our missionary brother and sister-in-law share dinner with us. Nieces and nephews wrestle with our one year old Sam, then we play a few hands of Rook, all delaying the inevitable.  Their six-month stateside furlough would conclude and three more years would interrupt our fellowship. When we can put if off no longer, we prepare for good-bye. We gather on the living room floor and Dan opens the Word.  He reads the prayer of Moses, the man of God.

Moses, whose own “old house-new house” move shrinks my own to an infinitesimally tiny hop. Moses,    who by faith chose to suffer the affliction with the people of God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin for a season. I venture to guess, part of that affliction, may have been his lack of a permanent home.

Moses, whose 40 years of wilderness wandering, tent time travel, surely must have made him crave a more permanent dwelling. Moses, who the Lord spoke to face to face, as a man speaks to his friend, dwelt where I want to dwell. Wooded acres or sunny corner- no matter.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place. All of ours:  Missionary family and friends, who find new homes for the Kingdom’s sake, refugees from Syria, Nigeria, Egypt forced out, homesick college freshman living first days in dorms. Our dwelling place.

Moses’ and mine.

And I’m home.