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How I Came To Be Living In Florida

Frit’s and my home, on the night I pulled out of the driveway and shut the garage for the last time.

Last May, when I knew Frit was about to get engaged, I started looking for a new place to live. Once she got married, she’d be moving to Iowa and I didn’t want to live in our house without her. There was also no way I’d be able to cover the mortgage on my own and I had zero desire, at 34, to start again with new roommates. Salt Lake City seemed like the logical place to look. It was closer to work. And it would provide a (sort of) “fresh start” in a (sort of) new city. I looked at dozens of apartments, but I couldn’t find anything that felt right.

Some might say that doesn’t matter–the “feeling right” bit. Just go where you want to go. Be where you want to be. Make a choice and God’ll use you wherever you land. But I firmly (stubbornly) hold to my expectation that Heavenly Father owes me at least that–a place where I can tangibly feel confident that it’s exactly the right place, at the right time, for me. If I’m to live this unexpected life on my own, then yes, He owes me at least that. (“And hardwood floors, a garden plot, and a walk-in closet, would be nice too,” I told Him one night, only half joking.)

But like I said, nothing felt right. Pretty soon Frit had the ring, and I felt the pressure. I began to feel very frustrated and very anxious. I kept searching, but to no avail other than stress. Plus, I was just … heartbroken. I would miss her so desperately. And I didn’t want to leave our house. Our happy, peaceful, welcoming, spirit-filled-garden-in-the-back-neighbors-we-adore house filled with seven years of memories. I just wanted everything to stay how it was. Continue reading →

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The Preface … to Something

My house is dark and still. Quiet, if not for the hum of cool air pressing its way through the window screen, filling my room with the breath of life. Outside, the wind bends the world to its whim as the rain taps on rooftop, slides down the gutter, and spills into puddles of rippling rest.

I sit, curled beside the open window, watching the sky turn gray, then grayer. It’s almost electric with anticipation–the sky and I.

My life has become dichotomy personified as of late–an island girl, trying to make home in a desert. A sunshine lover, hungry for rain. A responsible adult, wishing for a wind storm in which to lose her caution. A contented woman, dreaming of other paths.


I am reminded of a night, similar to this, wherein I wrote:

I just deleted three paragraphs of honesty … simply because I’m not ready to be honest. I’m too scared of it right now. Afraid of what it will to do me and where it will put me. But I know I need to write. To get something out of me. And so, I write.

This weekend I’m staying with family friends. Sandra lets me come when I need. She hugs like a mom and listens like a friend. They have a lovely home–quiet and serene with a yard full of Aspens and a trail that leads to the hills. Bill plays the banjo on the porch each night before dinner and I find myself looking forward to it all day.

Friday night I was reading on the porch and stopped to look out over the valley. It was raining lightly and I could tell a storm was coming. I watched the medallion leaves flutter on the Aspen branches, quivering as the wind rushed through them. Maybe they knew a storm was coming too. Maybe they shook with fear. Or maybe they didn’t know at all and were simply dancing, excited for something they didn’t understand.

Their usually white trunks turned seal-slick gray as water streamed from sky to ground. Slippery wet, the rain rolled off their backs sinking deep into the roots. I could feel the wheels of my brain begin to turn. Cranking to draw the parallels. Churning with lessons I ought to learn. But I stopped. I didn’t want to think.

And then I saw it. Right there in front of me. How had I missed it? A perfect little nest. It was empty and I was fascinated. I stood up and leaned over the rail to get closer. Tiny twigs carefully woven, placed, and perched in the crook of a branch. It was lovely. Simply lovely. I wondered how on earth it stayed right there – perfectly balanced without falling. It looked as if nothing at all was supporting it.

The breeze turned cool and I went inside to read. Sandra came to join me. Darkness fell quickly and the wind kicked outside, howling down from the canyon. Rain poured sideways, lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled. As I gazed out the window, I remembered being a little girl huddled under blankets listening to the summer storms shake outside my window. Sandra looked up. “Storms make trees strong,” was all she said, and she turned back to her book. I too returned to the pages in my lap. I still didn’t want to think.

The next morning I woke up wondering and worrying how the nest had fared through the night. I ran upstairs and out to the porch, where there, in the crook of the branch, it sat. Not a twig had blown away. And not only that, but in place of yesterday’s emptiness was a robin. Wide-eyed with amazement, I suppose I leaned too close and startled the tiny bird because she chirped and flew away. And there on top of the twigs and moss sat two little blue eggs, no bigger than a couple of grapes. I offered a silent “thank you” to heaven. I felt as though I had been given a secret view of something special–a quiet peek into an intimate corner of Mother Earth, and I needed to thank the source.

I checked on the eggs all weekend. Not that I could do anything for them. And not that I needed to. They had been created in the midst of a storm and had weathered the wind perfectly fine without me. But I couldn’t help but want to make sure they were okay. It was as if checking on them and finding them safe meant that everything else in the world–my world–was safe too.

I know it all represents something. I’m certain of that. But I still don’t want to think. And I still don’t want to be honest. It’s just too much effort right now and I don’t think I have the stamina to see the corners upon which honesty will shed its light. But I know someday, sooner or later, I will write more. And what I will write will be about a life that quivers when the wind blows through. And about rain that smooths the outer edges as it sinks into the roots. It’ll be about the almost invisible support that cradles and balances the nests I build. About storms that make me stronger, and the quiet, perfect tokens of life found when I look right in front of me. It’ll still be about birds I suppose. But next time it’ll be about me too.


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Longing For Home When I’m Home

I just got back from a four-day weekend of playing and hiking in the red desert of Utah.


It’s always a joy to be “away.” Away from responsibilities. Away from work. Away from the monotony of normal, daily life. But …


… it’s always nice to come home too.


Home. I suppose that’s what this is. I suppose that’s where I am. In a lovely little house, in a lovely little neighborhood, in a lovely little town (with very lovely neighbors I might add), in the middle of a parched valley shrouded by towering mountains. Three-thousand miles from what used to be home.


And yet, when I go home, to my old home that is, I say things like, “Remind me to pick up some grits to take with me when I go back home to Utah.” (Back home to Utah?) Or I find myself peering out the tiny window of the airplane as we make our descent in over the Lake, and I feel a sense of …


… of …


… “belonging” isn’t the right word. Nor is it “excitement.” It’s not “relief”–but it is. Kind of. A sort of “peaceful relief” knowing this is where I’m supposed to be. Not there. That this is home. For now.


But still. While I know the desert has her own majestic beauty, and while I know the mountains are muse to many, and while I relish the view from her peaks and marvel at her colors below, it is still the sea, and only the sea, that speaks to me. Way down in my bones. It is the ocean that quenches my thirst and brings me back to life. Oh, what I wouldn’t give right now to sink my toes into her cool wet sand as the waves dance around me.


So here I sit. A girl with two homes. Longing for the one when surrounded by the other.

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Small Town Life

I had always planned on going back to the Southeast coast once I’d graduated from BYU. I’d wanted find an old white house with a wrap-around porch in a sleepy beach town. I could see it all in my head. I’d wear white linen, flip-flops and straw hats as I cruised around town on a bike with a basket. And I’d earn my living traveling the world writing for magazines like Conde’ Nast and National Geographic.

But like most of my best laid plans … that just didn’t happen.

When I graduated, God led me elsewhere. He showed me His best laid plans. And though at times it’s hard for me to live in a desert (mostly on days like today when the air’s so cold it hurts), I’m grateful for where He’s led me.


I may not have an old white house surrounded by sand dunes. But I do live in a lovely little home, in a lovely little neighborhood, in a lovely little town.


Most people don’t even know our town exists. Situated across the railroad tracks on the west side of the freeway, it’s a charming “Mayberry-like” place that sits quietly on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Dotted with pastures, it’s not uncommon to see families riding horses down the street, chickens trailing. Children race their bikes to school and the crossing guard who tends to the corner of 8th and Pages waves to everyone on their way to work. A cow and a family of goats live at the end of our street. We’re all friends here.


And every few weeks, on a night like tonight, the citizens of our town gather together at City Hall for an evening of music. Frit and I breezed in just a little late this month and it was standing room only. Tonight was country-western music and cowboy poetry and everyone turned out to see the show. Children ran around in the back, grey haired couples sat holding hands, a few wore their cowboy hats and boots. Everyone was smiling. Laughter and chatter filled the hall.

We stood in the back soaking it all in. The goodness of community. The friendship of a small town. We clapped for the poets and sang with the crooners. I cried when the young Soby girl sang “Proud to be an American” and swelled with love for this city I’m making home. I’m happily a small town girl I’m afraid.

If only this place had an ocean.

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