Thursday, December 21, 2006

"I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior- yes, the Messiah, the Lord- has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David!" Luke 2:10-11

On Christmas day of 2001, I was in a hospital, deep in labor with my son. It was the year of 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The months leading up to giving birth were spent in contemplation, anticipation, and even some great anxiety at the state of the world...and bringing a life into it. The world seemed like a very dangerous and dark place that year.

On a similar day, over 2000 years ago, a very young mother, heavy with child, gave birth in a small barn... in a dangerous and dark time. A time when a King decreed that all baby boys must be killed. The events of this birth had been prohecied about for generations......a humble and lowly birth for such an anticipated arrival.

I remember feeling a deep kinship with Mary, mother of Jesus, in those months leading up to my son's birth. I waddled around the campus of the university I was attending, heavy with child, in the snow and ice....thinking about her having to ride a donkey in the winter for hundreds of miles, on the verge of giving birth to God incarnate. And then giving birth in a crude stable with no help or encouragement. What a way for the Son of God to come into this world. And then Mary "pondering all of these things in her heart".......

There was much need for this babe and the hope He brought 2000 years ago, just as there is today. And I felt it very keenly that year of my pregnancy. Such a magical and awesome event in history..... the Hope and Light of the world leaving His throne on high to come and dwell in our midst...among the darkness and strife. And because of Jesus' humble birth and, ultimately, death, I don't have to fear the darkness or the future of this world that I brought life into, because "Light came into the darkness and the darkness could not overcome it". And I am very grateful and will ponder these things in my heart for years to come......

"Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne."

(There is a beautiful song written from the perspective of Mary called "Breath of Heaven". You can listen to Sara Groves sing it Here. )

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas traditions........ Hoedowns.....





And even a little "homemade" mountain liquid refreshment filled the evenings
at my parents annual Christmas jams. All their old-time musician friends came down from the mountains and hollers and gathered at my parents log home for an evening of playing Appalachian music around the stone hearth......fires lit, hearts warm. Even us young 'uns enjoyed the evenings, dancing and singing along. One tradition I love and miss now that I am far from home.....

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I just switched over to Blogger Beta a couple of days ago after numerous problems posting and leaving comments on other sites. Has anyone had problems viewing my blog or leaving comments on it? I'm trying to make sure everything is as it should be..... you can e-mail me via my profile if it doesn't allow you to leave a comment. Thanks!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Songwriter's Circle.......... There's a quote by Anne Morrow
Lindbergh that says, "Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after."

I think I would add good music, too.

My lovely friend Patti hosted a songwriter's circle at her downtown restaurant Wednesday night. It was a great opportunity for local singer/songwriter's to showcase their a cozy, laid-back, and supportive environment.

I arrived just as the evening got under way, and walked into a standing-room only crowd. Fortunately, a fellow musician friend already had a table and offered me the extra seat he had. We sat back, sipped coffee, and soaked up the good music and "creative vibes" that events like this put forth.
For a rural Appalachian town, our area actually has quite the little music and art scene, which is a necessity for me. I thrive in creative environments and like to be in an area with a "pulse", as I call it. I was sad when the evening ended, and vowed to go home and practice so that I'd feel comfortable enough to participate in the next one. We'll see if those "good vibes" keep me motivated!
And, I wonder, was it the good music or coffee that kept me up that night.......

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"The Church In The Wildwood"..........
Words & Music: Dr. William S. Pitts, 1857
(words tweaked by bmm...)

"There's a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier spot in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little white church in the vale

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning
To listen to the clear ringing bells
Its tones so sweetly are calling
Oh come to the church in the vale

There, close by the church in the valley

Lies one that I loved so well
He sleeps, sweetly sleeps, 'neath the willow
Disturb not his rest in the vale

There, close by the side of that loved one
'Neath the tree where the wild flowers bloom
When farewell hymns shall be chanted
I shall rest by his side in the tomb

(Oh, come, come, come, come)
Come to the church by the wildwood
Oh, come to the church in the vale
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little white church in the vale "

- The photos are of the church Aunt Sarah and Uncle Curtis (see prev. post) attended. It lies on a hill across from their farm...Sarah's childhood church. And they are both buried in the churchyard, under a grove of trees. Sarah lying just feet from her childhood home.....

Monday, December 11, 2006


Through fate and serendipity, my husband's job has landed us within an afternoon's drive of a county that has deep family roots for me. My great-grandfather settled here and raised his family in the deep hills of Appalachia. The above farm belonged to my Great Uncle Curtis and his wife Sarah. Sarah was raised in this farmhouse, which was originally a log home (the logs can still be seen inside). She and Uncle Curtis inherited the farm and lived out their lives here- Aunt Sarah never leaving her childhood home.

Aunt Sarah and Uncle Curtis were very resourceful, as the isolation of the mountains necessitated: growing most of their food, making their own clothes, and raising animals. Sarah taught school and Curtis was a carpenter. They never had children, but raised a local orphaned boy as their own. Sarah always had homemade bread and fresh-churned butter waiting for any visitors that stopped by, visitors that included some of her students- some of whom I have run into, living close by, and they have related what a treat it was to be invited into their teacher's home.

My Uncle Curtis died in a tragic accident when I was two- felling a tree on his property, something he had done hundreds of times I never knew him. But Aunt Sarah continued to live there on the farm and teach and we visited her numerous times growing up. I remember her wood cookstove that she would bake fresh bread in, her sparkling eyes that would light up when we came to visit, and playing in the creek running along side of the house. Memories cherished..... and now passed along in the retelling to my son, who gets to relive them vicariously through our afternoon drives to the land of his ancestor's.....

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fertile River Valleys.........

these were taken on
a drive down a winding backroad to where my husband works. I take this route often even though it's a little longer...... you can see why.

Part of this river snakes through a narrow, mountainous trough area that you can't see from the road, and is only accessible by canoe/kayak or by a local scenic excursion train.

There are many bald eagles that nest in the trough and they say you see them 90% of the time when you go through it...... hopefully a summer excursion for us in the coming

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Echos of the past are whispered in the wind....
gently lulling me.....

Lulling me......This is what happens when I see old farms and old
buildings. I'm drawn to them and their timelessness. I imagine what went on within their walls, all the joy, tragedy, heartbreak- mountain life was hard in the Appalachians back when these places were in their prime and every home had it's share of both pain and sorrow. But I also picture the family sitting on the porch in the evening, telling tales, playing the fiddle, banjo, or dulcimer, singing the old mountain ballads- as that was their sole form of entertainment and a respite from the hard life they lived.

I grew up in an an old farmhouse with lots of history. It was, in fact, the oldest house in our county. I always believed there were "good ghosts" there- not literal ghosts, but echos and memories of all its former inhabitants. And maybe that is why I still feel so connected to places with history.

When I see an old farmhouse, church, or school building set against the backdrop of the mountains, I feel a stirring inside my soul, a connection with the mountain people who once inhabited it. So you'll see this theme in a lot of the photos I take. And I hope to soon post pictures of my grandfather's homeplace that he and his brothers built. I am so proud to have roots in Appalachia and am grateful that I get to raise my son in the mountains. I hope he will feel that deep connection to the land where he is growing up, also.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I have had a very busy weekend and Monday and haven't had time to put together a post for a couple of days. As I'm not one to write if I don't really have anything to say, I'll refer you to a beautiful post written by my sister on her blog. It's about the age old question that is asked by children, "How do you really know that God exists?" My sister is a very wise woman and an incredibly gifted writer and as always, came up with a creative way to answer. You can read the post here. And Happy Tuesday!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Raking Leaves...... we still haven't finished raking all the leaves from our yard and it is now December. We have the only yard on the block with trees, so we feel the neighborly duty to rake so the leaves don't blow into everyone's yard. But we tend to rake up one bagful here, one bagful there. And we get plenty of "help"- the kind of help that makes it "one step forward, one step back". But that's the best kind, isn't it?

Saturday, December 02, 2006


“We wake, if we ever wake at all, to mystery, rumors of death, beauty, violence…” -Annie Dillard

The above artwork is a work by my friend, Faryn Davis. Although she originally hails from the mountains of western NC, she now resides in Seattle. Faryn is an incredibly talented artist and uses a lot of mixed media, including natural objects, resin, wood, clay, and paint to make wonderfully unique, organic art. Her resin ornaments and paintings are my favorite and she will even personalize text in them.

Faryn also makes jewelry and sculptures. You won't be able to see the full scope of what she does until you browse her site, which is here. Enjoy!!!