I’ve learned a lot the last few years. Day to day stuff. Sure. Managing life on my own. Well, not completely alone. The One who will never leave me nor forsake me walks with me, or rather, I Him. I try to.

Strength, deep down,  surfaced after age fifty. I come from a long line of strong women. I am fortunate to have such great examples of feminine fortitude.

My father was a mechanical engineer and could build anything. He was more than just creative; he was more than just talented. Smart and brilliant.

Now, I know I’m not as smart as my father was, but I can see the potential in ordinary, or worn out, or throw-away things. During this last year of renovating my farmhouse, I have often reminded myself that I am George L. Ellison’s daughter.

Equally so, I have recalled the courage and resilience of my mother Madoline when we lost my father in 1981. My mother’s full name is Berenice Madoline. She was named for one of her aunts, who was named for a character in a book her father was reading at the time of his daughter’s birth.  Berenice is Greek, meaning ‘to bear’. Her name also means ‘victory’. Both describe my Mama. She had to bear much, to finish rearing her family by herself. I never heard her complain or play the poor widow. Deep down, her strength surfaced. God Bless Her! What a lady! She never lost her femininity.

Several people have told me that they couldn’t do what I have done. My reply? “You could if you had to.” Who knows? You would probably surprise yourself.

I have been painting kitchen cabinets the last few weeks. Have I ever done that before? Nope. YouTube is great for finding out how. Sand and prime. Sand and paint. Sand and paint again. And again, if need be. The sandpaper represents the rough times in my recent past. Without the sanding, the coats of satin wouldn’t be smoothe or durable. The sanding makes it beautiful.

My father taught me to figure things out. Mama taught me to be beautifully fearless.



Miss you, Daddy. Love you, Mama.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.


New Milton Testimony

I met Mr. Roache, a  bachelor gentleman, a few years back when he agreed to help my son’s Science Olympiad team with some of their building events. The man was brilliant at everything he touched: artist and  musician. He had been  born and raised in the New Orleans area and his family had owned and operated a hobby shop. He could tinker with anything and make it go.

Mr. Roache got the kids started on their projects and then invited us parents into his music room that chilly January afternoon. His music room was cluttered ( as was the entire house and overgrown property); a roll top desk strewn with photos he had taken, sheets of music here and there. I saw a violin, trumpet, guitar and maybe one other handheld instrument, but the grand piano took my attention. He sat down at the piano and played a few measures.  As he played, he directed our attention to a map of the world, that hung behind the paneled door.  Pins were stuck in nearly every country and continent.

“See those pins?” he asked us. “Each pin represents where I have danced with a beautiful woman.” And he softly smiled.

We politely asked questions about his life and he politely answered. He told of his childhood, his mother and daddy, his sisters. Growing up in Nawlins. The hobby shop. He said nothing negative-started to about one sister, but stopped himself and changed the subject. We all went back out onto the porch and checked the kids’ progress.

An artist, Mr. Roache took beautiful serene portraits. They hung at his back door and the faces followed you throughout the house and wrap around porch. He found value in everything; some would say he was a hoarder. But he would turn everyday household trash into pieces of art. Upcycling is what he called his creations.

I walked out into his yard. Even in the dead of winter it needed to be mowed, but looking back at the house, I saw the bigger picture. I couldn’t see it while in the house or up on the porch. Things  were grouped and had their own place. I bet he knew where each piece was and had it inventoried in his head.

His seemingly disordered  life was like pieces of a mosaic. Up close we can’t make out the image.  It’s not until we step back that we can truly see what’s there.

I have been in my own mosaic, if you will, these past few years. Really up close in the picture and too in it to see it. I have wanted to move the pieces around and figure out what my future is suppose to look like. But I am learning to let The Artist do  His work in me. His imagination is far greater than my own.  His creation in me more than I would have ever dreamed possible. Humbling. Blows me away.

Do I always like the way things are going in my life? No, but I have camped out at Jeremiah 29:11 for three years now. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future.” Again, God’s plans and wants for me are so much better, sweeter, greater, more purposeful than anything I could come up with.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.