So I did something different during my pregnancy with baby Jack – I didn’t weigh myself at all.
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Normally I watch my weight gain pretty closely because I try to keep it at a certain amount, but this time I decided I wanted to focus on HEALTHY, not a particular weight. I wanted to really focus on eating well; satisfying my hunger with fresh vegetables and some fruits and healthy fats, lots of protein, and limiting my carbs and sugars. I’ll readily admit that I’m not a food purist at all – I ate healthily much of the time, but I did cheat too. I didn’t follow a “plan” but that was my basic rule of thumb. Oh, and I did take my favorite supplements every day too. ;)
I’ve talked about my health journey a bit before, and in case you’re wondering, it’s still continuing with results I am so thankful for! I could write an entire post on my pregnancy itself and what a world of difference it was this time around (4th pregnancy being the best ever – whaaaaat? But it’s true!)!

And my take at the end of the 9+ month experiment – I loved it! It felt very freeing to not be watching numbers and making food choices based on that. The only times that I knew anything about weight was when I’ve have my checkups, and my nurse would weigh me and I’d get a little sneak peak when she wrote the amount down on my chart. :) As best I can figure (because I don’t know my exact pre-pregnancy weight either), I gained about the exact amount as I did when I was closely watching my weight.

It was my 4th pregnancy, and it was the very best ever. I could not believe how good I felt the whole way through! I felt like I paid attention to what my body was needing to nourish a little life within me – which made me in awe of God all over again, because it’s He who created our bodies so intricately, and with such amazing intuition.

It was freeing to be able to make good food choices, and be able to exercise much of the way throughout my pregnancy (running until 30 weeks, and then a bit of walking and workout DVD’s after that).
I didn’t have a day of morning sickness (thank you, blood sugar balancing supplement!!), I had AMAZING energy (like maybe 5 naps my entire pregnancy – and we moved 800 miles, remodeled a house, homeschooled two kids…..), didn’t have any of the “normal pregnancy bowel issues”, and I absolutely LOVED being pregnant (something I could not say before; being pregnant was a gift before, but the *process* of pregnancy was difficult for me) and felt great until my delivery date. My midwife just laughed when I walked into her office at 9 days overdue, because I was wearing heels and lipstick, and felt awesome. :)

My conclusion on the matter is – HEALTH MATTERS. Giving my body health before pregnancy through healthy eating, exercise, and natural supplements, gave my body the things it needed for a wonderful, healthy life to develop.

And my post-partum recovery? I feel so well, and my recovery has been the best yet too. Oh, and another favorite part? Getting back into size 4 pre-pregnancy clothes just two weeks after delivery. Not bad for the 4th pregnancy, me thinks (I am super pumped about that one – ha ha!). I’ll be the first to say that weight isn’t everything – health is by FAR more important. But then health and weight are both in beautiful balance? Well, it’s a wonderful thing.

So today I’m so very thankful for good health, amazing supplements, and great genes (thanks, Mom & Grammy)! :)

There is something about springtime that is so absolutely wonderful. The thrill of the vibrant colors after the grey and browns of winter, the song of the birds celebrating the warmth returning, the fresh air bringing soft breezes… it invigorates my very soul, and breathes life and vitality! I just love it!

This was our first winter in the north in ten years, and while we really did enjoy all the snow and even the cold, there is something even more refreshing and exciting when springtime returns in this part of the world!

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And, having a baby in the spring is a wonderful thing. It fits right along with the beautiful new life that is springing up outdoors all around, and I love being able to take little Jack into the fresh air and having him take naps outside in his little basket. It seems so healthy. And I feel a little European. Ha! :)

Just up the street from where we live is a sweet little park with the most beautiful blossom-covered branches, and one evening we spontaneously walked down and snapped some pictures.

Downers: it was past the golden light, the kids just wanted to play, we didn’t have on anything other than what we were already wearing that day (except for Ben who changed out of construction clothes ;)).

Positives: it’s real life right now, it’s not perfect, but it captures us in this beautiful stage we find ourselves in and I love it. Sometimes a quick capture of an imperfect moment is the very best.

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Being in the stage of life again with an infant is a beautiful thing. It brings out a softness and a tenderness in all of us that I haven’t seen in a long time. The girls are natural little mommies, both so different from each other, but both so loving and gentle. Hudson has to be reminded to be gentle and not to suffocate his poor new brother in his loving attempts at brotherhood, but his love is unmistakable and absolutely precious.

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I love watching my husband with his children. He is gentle, he is strong, he is tender, he is firm. He is exactly what we need in a father in our home. And seeing him with little Jack makes my eyes puddle tears. A six-foot, strapping-man, with a little baby less than 11 pounds, held with tenderness and receiving the light of approval and love from his father’s eyes. It’s melting.

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He’s a good, good daddy.

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And a really wonderful husband. I’d pick him again, a million times over.

It’s a miracle, a new little life, and what it can do for the family it enters. I’m a mother four times over now, but each time it is just as amazing and full of wonder as the first time. Maybe even more so.

During the many times I day I sit and nurse my sweet little babe, I’ve been reading Sally Clarkson’s new book, “The Life-Giving Home.” You know how there are certain authors you enjoy, but then there are others that you connect with deeply on almost every page and feel like you could be bosom friends if you’d know each other in real life? Sally and her daughter Sarah, the authors of this book, are like the latter for me.

I read a paragraph that stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears a day or two ago. This is it:

‘Even as an orchestra needs a conductor to choose the music, lead rehearsals, and unite all of the instruments into a harmonious sound, so every home needs someone who conducts what I call the life music of a home – it’s atmosphere.  The one who conducts it is responsible for bringing out its swelling themes, the steady bass notes, the drama of percussion kept in its place, the soaring melodies and intricate counterparts – all the instruments sounding together in a symphony of grace.

In our home, for the most point, the conductor of life within its walls is me…”

-Clarkson

You see, as a teenager and even in to my 20’s, I lived and breathed music. My parents gave me the gift of learning piano as a young gift, and I loved it. I had amazing teachers who loved Jesus and loved music and inspired me tremendously. I played at wedding and funerals and church and with friends and almost daily – music was such a huge part of my life, and I dreamed of it being something I’d be a part of forever.

And then, God brought a time of stepping away from that, where music was something I still loved but wasn’t involved in, for many years. It was a death of a dream to me, and one I grieved for a long time. But I see so much beauty in it all now – of learning to find life in Jesus, not in what I DO or am known for. This could be an entire book in itself, of all the things the Lord is teaching me. Present tense. Because I’m still learning. :)

But reading this excerpt was incredibly beautiful; my eyes were opened to see that I’m still a conductor of music, just not in the way I ever expected. That my role is vastly important, and the music that speaks so much life to my soul is now a gift I can give to my children; the music of life, the creation of a family, building of a home and of love and of passing on the unending grace the Lord gives me. Oh I fail desperately some days.  The music is awful sounding, and I lead all the wrong ways. But we start again, and I think it will take a lifetime to perfect the song that is our own, only a score of music that our family can write and play, but one that the Lord gave us to be all our own. I want to learn it well, and play it well, and let it be a beautiful sound to those who hear it.

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Dance to it. The music that is your own, given by the life of the Lord within! Live it, embrace it, the life that is given and chosen especially for you. xoxo

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Baby Jack

We have been delivered of a child!

Welcoming with tears of joy –

Jack Everest

Born March 28, 2016, at 11:53pm
(born on his auntie Ervina’s birthday with just minutes to spare!)

He weighed a big 8 pounds and 15 ounces, and was 21 inches long.

We are overwhelmed with joy at his arrival, and at the precious gift he is to our family!

Jack means “Beloved of God,” and Everest is a symbol of strength and majesty, representing our Father God as well as a picture of manhood. We pray Baby Jack will grow to be a giant of a man in the kingdom of God!

Mama and baby are doing well, and so thankful for life and health for us both.

And a first picture as a family of six!! xoxo

first family photo

About two weeks ago, my two sisters who live locally hosted a beautiful luncheon for me, in honor of my baby arriving soon. It was hosted at Claudia’s house, which is a gorgeous venue for anything, particularly an event that requires food. :)

Baby Shower at Claudia's House kiddos in the kitchen

The luncheon was Yogurt Parfaits that were perfection, with every kind of wonderful topping imaginable, and the best Chocolate Chip Scones made by Liz, and Macaroons (that were eaten so fast by the kiddos present it was a little embarrassing). ;) And hot coffee and tea, and a Mocha Punch. It was a pregnant woman’s heaven!

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It was a small group of us, as I really enjoy smaller groups of people for some things, and so my two sisters, three sisters-in-law, and two dear old (as in long-time-ago, not as in age-old :)) friends were present. It was such a special time! Maybe because of moving in the past year, and missing the friends I left in the south – times like this make me so grateful for the friendships that I do have here!

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My sister-in-laws and I – they are so much fun! And cracking us up by making the over-used heart on my baby bump. :)

Somehow I don’t have pictures with any of the other lovely women or my sisters? I know they were taken, but must have been on different people’s phones instead of my camera. Which is SAD.

I said NO GIFTS, but these ladies wouldn’t listen. :) I mean, by the 4th baby, I don’t really I neeeed anything. Our house is small, I have baby things from my other kiddos, and I’m trying to be super minimalistic. But, it is really fun to have some darling new things. :)

These three little guys are Ben’s and my nephews, and all of them were born 11 months ago within 2 weeks of each other! I love them so much, these little cuties!!

Canon // Harrison // Benson (their names sound like they could be triplets)

Baby Shower at Claudia's House - three darling nephews

The dining room deserves its own blog post – it’s truly that lovely. Chris & Claudia remodeled this old house about a year ago, completely transforming it from a dingy dark city home into one that is simply stunning and bursting with light and uniqueness. Exposed wooden beams on the ceiling, exposed brick on the walls, beautiful wide trim…  and then decorating touches like vintage snowshoes and chairs that hang from the ceiling?! happy sigh. They are an amazing team. And they have their own remodeling/design company if you live locally. :)

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Thank you, sweet women, for the most lovely time. Your love and friendship is so special to me!

And the anticipation continues! hashtag 40weeksand4days

 

:)

 

 

 

 

I feel like I need to introduce myself again, as I blow off the dust from this blog after, hmmm, 8 months? Hi, I’m Clarita. I used to blog here, ummm, years ago? Remember me? :)

The past months have brought big changes to our family – some wonderful and lovely, some adjustments, some tears, but all in all, we know we are where we are supposed to be. Even if it’s no longer at our beloved Southern Cottage (affectionately known as “The Cottage at 341 South”) but instead at our little city house in the north. Perhaps another post will be about the move, the changes, and what it’s been like for us.

But for today, I’m just going to jump right in as though I never skipped a beat since last July. :)

San Antonio getaway

As the post title suggests, yes, there is a baby coming to our family – and very soon! Actually, a due date of tomorrow, March 19th. :) We are so thrilled about meeting this new little Lovie, and getting to know this active little kick-boxer! We haven’t found out the gender, so that is a huge anticipation as well. Our little guy, Hudson, said that he isn’t going to even like the baby if it’s a girl; that’s how badly he’s hoping for a brother. Thankfully, within the past week he’s reversed his response and said, “Mommy, I’ll be okay if it’s a girl.” Oh, thank goodness.

Ben and I celebrated our 10th anniversary last summer, in June. Just before our big move, and although we spent a lovely 24 hours on the Georgia islands, we wanted to do a little more. Ten years is a big deal!! And so worth celebrating, especially since we not only love each other, but actually like each other more than ever before. :) Being married ten years is fabulous. It only gets better, you guys. It’s the best it’s ever been. Not perfect, since he’s married to ME, but so very wonderful, and I am the luckiest woman ever. Okay, it sounds like I need to write about being married ten years. :) Moving on…. We had talked about a big trip internationally, but guess what. Moving 800 miles, remodeling yet another home, and having 3 kids isn’t exactly the prime time to travel international. Especially when our passports are both expired and we couldn’t have taken a quick trip had a good deal even popped up.

So at 34 weeks pregnant I suddenly realized that we hadn’t planned anything yet, and that if we were going to do something, we had to do it within the next week lest I not be able to fly on a plane anymore! So we did some quick searches, found some amazing deals, and booked our weekend to San Antonio!

San Antonio riverwalk

Riverwalk lush greenery

Riverwalk bridges

I had been there years before (13 years before? Does that make me sound old or what?!) with some friends, so I was as familiar with the city as one can be after a day trip as a 20-year old joy-riding. :) I basically remembered that I LOVED it there, and that was it. But it seemed like a fun place to visit, and it was warm  – a big plus when the weather was predicted to be below ten degrees at home.

And we LOVED IT. My mom, my sisters, my sister-in-law, my friends, and so many people helped with our kiddos to pull the weekend off – it really does take a village, folks. And I’m so grateful for every single person who gifted us by loving on our kids while we were gone!

The Riverwalk was a place we visited, of course. A big tourist attraction, and didn’t seem like a place that locals would go, but just lovely nonetheless.

Riverwalk view Riverwalk theatre Riverwalk bridge Riverwalk and street cards

Riverwalk canal Riverwalk cafes

Both Ben and I love history, so we really enjoyed all the history that is tied in with San Antonio. I knew that the East Coast has a lot of old beginnings, but didn’t remember that Texas did as well. Some of the buildings from the 1700’s were so fascinating to tour, and hearing about the Alamo was even more amazing than it was during my school years. Such a brave, dedicated army that gave their lives at this beautiful spot.

The Alamo

Alamo courtyard Alamo live oak
Alamo tribute

 We got some local recommendations for good restaurants around town, and walked around until late at night, trying to make the most of our few days. My pregnancy has been AMAZING  and the best one I’ve ever had, (thanks to some life-changing supplements) and at 35 weeks in my pregnancy we walked for miles and miles during the few days we were there. It was a great workout. :)

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  The Market San Antonio chapels

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 La Villita was another little area we spent some time in… a very old part of the city. There is so much beautiful Spanish influence there, so many old missions founded in the 1700’s. The bravery of the early pioneers and settlers amazes me, as I think of what it meant for those families back in that day.

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  La Villita grounds

Aaaaaaaand, while we were in Texas anyway, how could we not visit the Magnolia Market? I mean, it was only two and a half hours away. Our whole family loves Fixer Upper, but my husband was very kind to oblige me in my wish to visit the actual place. :)

Magnolia Market

 It really was as amazing as I expected. Chip & Joanna, I love what you guys have done, and are doing!

  Magnolia Market vintage truck

Magnolia Market store Magnolia Market garden Magnolia Market crepe truck

 (I mean, seriously, THE most adorable little crepe truck I’ve EVER SEEN. All the heart eyes. And I loved the collaboration with Magnolia Market and local vendors ~ very noble and inspiring.)

A super fun surprise in my trip was getting to see a dear, sweet friend that I hadn’t seen in years! Not since we’ve both been married and have babies. She is just as beautiful and dear as ever. Lindsay, thank you so much for meeting up!!

Lindsay and me

 And just to document that we visited San Antonio at 35 weeks pregnant, my husband took a few pictures. :)

35 weeks with lovie 35 weeks pregnant

So fun to write on this white space again, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my friends here again in the future!

For those of you who have written and send messages or commented in the past months, you are so dear. I apologize that I haven’t been able to respond to each person, but your words have been so thoughtful. Thank you.

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I think this is the only room in the house I haven’t done before & after pictures of, and I wanted to document this yet before we move! :)

The master bedroom seems to be the hardest room to pull together. Often it’s the most neglected room because it’s the least visible to guests, and so the focus goes to the room that are seen more easily.

But I wanted to make this room be a restful place, a room where we could walk into and feel that it’s a sanctuary. For us women, sometimes we tend to make it look a little too feminine, and I didn’t want my husband to feel uncomfortable in his own bedroom. :)

master bedroom in whites and blue

 

Living in an old house gives some great bones to work with. When we first started working in this room, it was covered with old 70’s paneling on the walls, and with sticky tiles on the ceiling. We were going to remove the sticky tiles and paint the wooden ceiling underneath it, but were going to leave the paneling behind and simply paint it. But after tearing out a small section to work on an area, Ben discovered beautiful old boards behind the paneling! So of course the paneling came down too.

Master, before:

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So, we painted the ceiling a bright white, and I love it.

We painted the walls an off-white creamy color, and then sanded the walls to expose the grain.

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Isn’t it lovely?! Some people have asked if the walls are just primed and need to be painted, so perhaps it’s a little rustic for some people. Our furniture is a bit more traditional and formal though, so I think they work together well.

But taking down the paneling exposed this beautiful brick fireplace! It’s the backside of a fireplace in the music room, and was covered with chipping grey paint. Ben worked so hard to get the paint off of it and expose the original old brick.

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The wooden floors were sanded and restored, and then stained and sealed.

Master bedroom, after:

The sheer panel above our bed was part of our wedding service, as two banners that two boys ran down the center aisle during “Chariots of Fire” processional. I love having it in our room, remembering that special day.

master bedroom

The room is simply decorated, but I added a few personal touches, like framing our wedding invitation.

framed wedding invitation

master bedroom vignette a chair to catch it all

side table

monogrammed pillow

It was last year before I finally decided what to do with this blank space about the two doorways. I wanted something very special, something to do with marriage, but couldn’t decide what. I finally chose to write the traditional marriage vows on a long piece of luan wood, and I loved how it turned out. Marriage is such a beautiful thing, and I wanted the beautiful but practical reminder to love, until death parts us.

wedding vows in the master bedroom

for better or for worse

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wooden wall, and candlestick holder for jewelry

 

This has quite possibly become one of my favorite rooms in the house. I love the clean feel it has, the hardwood floors, and the wooden walls and ceiling. It has so much texture, and I love that!

But mostly, I love that it feels like a retreat, a restful place. This room I try to keep the cleanest of all; no extras or  junk that can easily pile in other places of the house.

I’d love to hear from you! What is it that makes a master bedroom special to you all?

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We are entering a time of much transition and change in our little family. God is directing us, and we are following.  A big move is in the not-so-distant future, and we are saying goodbye to our little cottage and to the people who have made Georgia home for us.

There are so many bittersweet emotions I hardly know how to process them. We are sad about who we’re leaving, and we’re excited about what we’re moving to. But Southeast Georgia has been home for my husband nearly all his life, and home for me the past nine year – almost a third of my life!

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I have reflected a lot on the past 9 years of my life (yikes, that makes me feel old when I think back 9 years!!), and realize what a gift I’ve been given in this time. What makes a place Home is not the house or the location as much as the people in your life. Relationships are what make life rich and meaningful, and without them, life is lonely.

When I moved to Georgia as a bride of one year, newly-wedded, I remember the pounding heart within me. I was scared to death because I knew no one. Ben (my husband) had some family who lived nearly, but I had only met them a few times and really didn’t know them at all. And other people I knew even less. I recognized a couple of faces, but that was it. I was terrified!!

It’s hard to sum up those first few years. I grew up as a northern girl, enjoying the city and classical music. When I moved south, it was small-town and country music. The differences were not wrong at all; as I learned while on a mission trip in my teens or early twenties, “Not good, not bad, just different!” However, I was not prepared for the cultural differences I would face. A culture that I’ve learned to love, and that I will miss tremendously. But I wasn’t expecting the United States to have such different cultures!

These nine years have brought an incredible amount of change. I arrived a young girl-bride: I’m leaving a woman, married ten years, and mother of three precious children. We purchased a cottage over five years ago and turned it into home, and in less than a week, it will no longer be ours.

Bittersweet emotions!! Whew.

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But I’ve been reflecting on the people that I’ve learned to know here. People that have impacted my life, that have shown me community, that have taught me so much. I’m not going to name them because I could never give enough of credit to people, but I want to tell you some things about the people here. I’ve changed, and become a better person because of them.

I grew up in a family of three sisters and two brothers, and let me tell you – that is the BEST thing in the world! I feel so rich, and absolutely love my family!

But the move south took me almost a thousand miles from anyone in my family. And for someone who spent a lot of time with my sisters, that was a big adjustment. Like, HUGE. I’d ask my sisters’ advice on outfits, and we’d talk about anything, and we just did life together. And when I moved away, we’ve still kept in touch and only grown closer, but the reality is, you need people with skin on right where you are.

front porch boxwoods lovely boxwoods

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And that’s when I began understanding more of the beauty of community, and experiencing it for myself. I didn’t have my  family close by; my community became my family. I didn’t have sisters to do things with; but my friends became like sisters.

I’ve learned so much from my friendships and community her, I think it would be impossible to sum it up and give due credit. But I want to tell you about some things that have made life rich for me. I don’t even know how to begin talking about this one. But friends have become family, and they mean so much to me.

We’ve picked strawberries together.
We’ve baked Christmas cookies together.
We’ve babysat each other kids while we gone on dates.
We help each other pack up when we move and help to paint.
We’ve done picnics at the park and beach days together.
We’ve done ladies’ nights out and howl with laughter at the stories we tell.
They brought me freezer meals because we’re moving and eveyrone knows that freezer meals are a mother’s love langue, and made me cry, because they know exactly what helps the most in a busy season.
When we have babies, we bring each other meals.
We love on each other’s kids almost like our own nieces and nephews.

There are ways they’ve cared for me, that have made me think, “Why haven’t I ever thought of that?!”

lilies and crystals

I’ve had friends who have brought me homemade cookies, fresh baked muffins, Frosty’s from Wendy’s, Strawberry Limeaid from Sonic, Blizzards from DQ.

Friends who have brought food, friends who have given gift cards for restaurants… Food isn’t just the way to a man’s heart; it’s also the way to a mama’s heart. :) (And especially to mine.).

I have a friend who have packed little travel bags for my kids when we had to travel north suddenly for a tragic funeral, and I was numb with pain and grief and couldn’t think to do anything myself.

I have a friend who, during a busy day of moving, offered to come get our bedding and wash it. That was five years ago and I still remember it clear as day, because it was SO thoughtful and helpful!

I have a friend who is extremely talented in photography, who has been so kind to me. She knows so much about photography, editing, and pretty much everything picture related. And she has answered questions, taken time to show me things on my camera, explained the edited program in great detail when I was completely lost… I credit so much of what I know about photography and editing to her, and to her kindness in teaching me, whether she realized it our not!

There are friends who are a few years older than I am, but that have taken the time to include me in their life. They have walked similar journeys but are ahead of me a bit in life, and I have loved learning from them, from their motherhood, from their walk with Jesus.

girls bedroom vignette

Some of them have been transplants from other communities, left their families and mamas and knew what it meant to say goodbye to all that they knew. It has meant to much to me to be able to learn from them, and to hear what helped them adjust and adapt. They are the ones who asked me “Are you okay?” when I first moved here, and when I burst into tears at the question because I was so not okay at the moment, they were not scared of my tears. And even hearing what has been hard for them is comforting, and been a safe place for me to sometimes shed some tears on their shoulders. I am so grateful for their friendship.

I have friends who are neighbors, who have involved me in community life, in things like amazing Christmas events such as Lauren’s gingerbread-house-decorating-party that has gone viral on Pinterest because it was just SO gorgeous. Friends who have invited me to local events and helped me to get to know people in the community, who invited me into their world, their circle of friendships, even though that took time and effort. I’ve so appreciated the way they have taught me more about the southern culture, about what is considered proper and culturally correct just by their gracious example.

ferns and panels

People ask me if I’m sad about leaving my house, this little cottage that we’ve spent a lot of time working on the past 5 years. And yes, I am sad about leaving my house, but it’s just a house. What I’m really sad about it leaving people. Leaving relationships that have been years in the making, that have so much richness, so many memories, such love and care and support. While I am anticipating what is ahead for us, the reality also is that leaving is hard. Saying goodbye is hard.

And so I want to say thank you to these people in South Georgia that have made this home for me. That have been patient even with my cultural blunders. That have laughed when I didn’t understand their southern drawl, and liked me anyway. That have accepted me and welcomed me into their world, and let me be a part of it. I am a rich person for knowing all of you, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to live here with you to learn to know you beautiful souls. I will miss you so much.

And so it’s not goodbye, but an “until next time.”
I love you, South Georgia!

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  antique roses