She calls me Darlin’ yet we’ve never met in person. Her witty emails sound like letters from home to me so I always love to see her name in my inbox. It should come as no surprise then that her latest email brought me to tears yesterday. Last night, I handed off my laptop to Matt before I headed back to bed and told him, “I think you should read this.” A few moments later, he appeared in our bedroom and I could tell he too was choked up. We love seeing the photos that accompany her writing. It’s with Brooxie’s permission I’m sharing this with you below. Thank you Brooxie. I don’t know how you found me, but I think I know who sent you!

Inspired by my Precious-Pastor-Son-in-Law and his ONE WORD series, my word for this year is Presence…. to be present in all situations, to feel God’s presence, to know the presence of those who influenced my past. Which brings me to this incredible painting, and it’s darling Birmingham artist, Amy Crews (no relation, but don’t I wish!).

Last year my word was green – the verdant, abundant, life-giving color present everywhere here in my new home state of Mississippi. So, I painted my kitchen green, but there was a wall that needed a “presence”. Then, at some point through the year, this incredible piece of art caught my eye – green! a magnolia! I couldn’t quit thinking about it, and looking at it on Amy’s website. On Amy’s website, the painting was entitled, “Back Home”. Amy also said, “I began painting magnolias in honor of the strong women who raised me.” Finally, in November, I returned to Oklahoma to conduct a training …. and I contracted COVID. For 4 weeks while I isolated, I looked at and longed for this painting. 

It was a life force – reminding me of God’s presence through illness, through nature, and of the strong presence of the women in my past:  my grandmother, Mollie Marie, and her sister Jessie, who came from Indiana to Tennessee in a covered wagon, my great-great Aunt Ainnie and my great grandmother Huffman who ran a dairy farm during the Depression, my paternal grandmother, Susie, who sent 4 out her 5 sons to fight in WWII, my own Mother who suffered hardship as a girl only to go on to Mississippi University for Women and graduate from Memphis State as the first college graduate of her family. 

It also reminded me of my life-long love of the Magnolia tree. There was always a giant magnolia tree in my presence – a huge one in our yard that a family of six could live under, floating magnolia blossoms in the spring, magnolia branches on the mantle at Christmas, a porcelain ceramic one my mother made, needlepoint cushions in antique chairs, the list goes on. So I contacted this dear girl and told her of my lifelong connection with magnolias and purchased the painting. It’s presence does not disappoint. Everyday I am reminded of the powerful presence of my God, nature and the presence of the strong women who went before me. I am truly “Back Home”.


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