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If these walls could speak



Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 | 6 comments


A week ago we sold the house my children will always remember as home, the one they will dream about when they are the age I am now, when sleep makes them think they are young again.

We’ve packed and we’ve purged and we’ve cried – a lot – but we’ve also seen precious people who mean a lot to us, friends who’ve sat around our table through the years, and kids who’ve grown up right before our eyes. They’ve helped us put things into boxes, and loosen my grip on anything that didn’t make sense to keep. I’ve found that being a sentimentalist about e v e r y t h i n g has the potential of making me a hoarder.

Even now, just the thought of that is offensive to me – I am not a hoarder! Except the two-and-a-half filled and emptied curbside dumpsters would suggest otherwise. And the Goodwill truck locked and loaded with stuff that used to live in my house. And the things we sold on Craigslist. Not to mention all the stuff we’ve stored for our kids or later use, or given to friends who had the eyes to see the treasure in our trash.

It made my day when Abbie texted me a picture of my old copper cookie canister that had been gathering dust in my pantry (the holder of rarely used cookie cutters) sitting on her shelf alongside her wedding-new copper cookware.

We haven’t lived in that house full-time for three years – a long story that makes sense for us – so I didn’t expect…I wasn’t prepared for, the depth and breadth of emotion attached to selling it. We moved there the summer before our children began 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade; 13 years later we said our final good-byes. It is the summer before my babies’ sophomore and senior year of college, and the oldest is engaged and a year past her graduation.

If it sounds like I’m in mourning, I suppose I have been. I mean seriously – if I have trouble tossing a pair of ratty short-alls, so shredded you can barely figure out which hole to put your leg through, just because Tad gave them to me as a gift when Thomas, now 21, was born – it makes sense that selling the house we lived in during our children’s most formative years would be difficult. Shout out to Stephanie and Paige who looked at me like I had grown another head for wanting to keep those short-alls.

Still, Glory! Hallelujah! It’s sold and we’re thankful.

In addition to all the packing and purging and crying and good-byeing, we’ve been remembering.

We’ve watched our children’s lives pass before our eyes.


WoodyCowboy BootsBaby Blanket

Three kids makes for many a keepsake. The things they’ve made for us. Treasured school and artwork. Love notes to us. Their special lovies. Every single thing stacked in their closets and crammed in our attic meant something. Stood for something. Held precious memory.

Every time I held a thing, whether to keep or toss or give away, it was an exercise in remembering. Memories are powerful.


Maybe something fun or important or special, or I don’t know, something less concrete. The boys sword fighting with light sabers. Thomas reciting all the lines from his pull-toy Woody from Toy Story – “There’s a ‘nake in my boot!” The way Rachel negotiated holding the most fragile of collectibles – “I just gonna ’tiss it.” Blond, curly mop. Wide, determined eyes, pudgy hands carefully holding. She never broke anything. The way Stephen would build with his Legos. His patience and persistence played me.

It’s an interesting phenomena to me, this conjuring of emotion. And despite all the tears – barrels of them – I’m not sad. Well, not exactly; there’s a tender melancholy to this closed door. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad or I wish it didn’t have to happen. It’s a saying good bye (for good) to what was, which enables us to fully grasp what is, and what is to come. 

We’ve had three years to get used to the idea.

Still, a Band-aid pulled off slowly still stings at the end.


Our house sat perched at the end of a long, steep driveway, on nearly three acres of, shall we say, a challenging yard. The master bedroom was upstairs. Thirty years old, wood-sided, and roomy, its primary competition was new construction. We loved that house and took good care of her, but three years with no one in it full-time took a toll. It was still a great house, but it would take someone who looked skin deep to find all her beauty, a buyer who didn’t want a perfect and new home, but a perfect for us home. 

After a fair number of showings but no offers, I decided people needed a little help seeing a home and not just a house.


I’ve fully explained this imaginative tip for helping to sell a house at The Art of Simple so I won’t go into it here, but I wanted to share a few pictures of my idea since they aren’t included with my post. (Do click over and read it, it’s a good ‘un.)

Why I love this home

House Lovenotes

House scripture

House notes


There’s this great old song by Amy Grant that perfectly captures the power and beauty of reminiscing, of life with all its complexities, and how a house is an incredible vessel of stories and secrets and dreams. (She does a fair amount of reminiscing to begin; the song starts at the 2:12 mark.)


  If These Walls Could Speak
~ Amy Grant

If these old walls, if these old walls could speak
Of things that they remember well
Stories and faces dearly held

A couple in love livin’ week to week
Rooms full of laughter
If these walls could speak

If these old halls, hallowed halls could talk
These would have a tale to tell
Of sun goin’ down and dinner bell
And children playing at hide and seek from floor to rafter

If these halls could speak
They would tell you that I’m sorry
For bein’ cold and blind and weak
They would tell you that it’s only
That I have a stubborn streak
If these walls could speak

If these old fashioned window panes were eyes
I guess they would have seen it all
Each little tear and sigh and footfall
And every dream that we came to seek or followed after

If these walls could speak
They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay
Here’s someone who really loves you
Don’t ever go away
That’s what these walls would say

They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay
Here’s someone who really loves you
Don’t ever go away
That’s what these walls would say

That’s what these walls would say
That’s what these walls would say

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Posted by on Jul 4, 2015 | 5 comments

Farm pano

In the distance I hear a rooster. He’s persistent, this one, afraid we didn’t hear him the first time. He repeats his song–a cockle, an alarm, a lament. It’s midday and he’s waking no one.

The air conditioner just cut on. I’m sitting by the return and its breathy strum is the most familiar white noise of the South. What they did before this blessed invention was to fan a lot and sweat a lot, and it’s a reason to thank God with all manner of enthusiasm for a man-made thing.

A wind chime signals the softest of breezes but the purple martin’s cacophony is annoying to me. They try too hard to make their presence known, all that swooping and swirling and spinning in circles. What is it they’re after? They remind me of people I know, and it hurt more than a little to realize they remind me of myself at times.

Music is playing somewhere outside where the men are working, our men. Two husbands–a son and a father shoulder to shoulder. They’re getting things done that have been languishing, waiting. I suppose for such a time as this.

It’s not so much work as it is….investment. Love. Treasured moments.

We’re sitting at the kitchen table and she’s handwriting recipes. The famous ones, at least to our family, and maybe to the lucky ones on the receiving end of her gift through all these years.

Our playlist is quiet but there’s noise inside my head. So much. I long to hear what’s inside hers. I hadn’t noticed when she started getting quieter.

The ice maker just emptied into the freezer bin. The back door squawked open and when he walked by her, he stole a kiss.

And somewhere along the way the rooster stopped crowing.


* * *

Inspired, in part, by Emily Freeman’s new book, Simply Tuesday. Reading brings with it a call to settle into small moments…like this one.

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…open a new door…!



Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 | 6 comments

Oh, hai there internet people, long time no see.

Colorful Doors of London

Well, I have reasons, lovies, and good ones.

I’ve kinda-sorta been occupied, some reasons to which I’ve alluded online, but mostly not.  For an over-sharer who lives with private people, I imagine they’re probably thrilled I’ve been too busy to write.

You know this March Madness thing? And all the NCAA collegiate championships for Divisions I, II & III winter sports? I have a fun, little seasonal job for the company that arranges their ground transport.  This is quite the departure from my heady (ahem) literary pursuits, but it’s a fun, frantic and fast-paced ride that leaves my head all spinny and not writerly AT. ALL.

Also, we moved into the smallest house we’ve ever owned, and I’m near giddy to report downsizing is a beautiful thing.  There are lots of things to do with moving to a new house in a new city in a new state, so, yes, these things make my head spinny, too.

Decorating, however, is not my forté so I depend on the kindness of friends for help making decisions.  Hence, the reason for this post.

When we traveled to London for our 25th Anniversary, I fell in love with the colorful doors we discovered walking the city’s streets.  With every unexpectant color I declared a new favorite, and by the end of our trip I was ready to build a house that had no windows, just doors…lots and lots of doors.  This is neither obsession nor compulsion–

Aren’t doors simply the windows to the soul of your home?


Now, a door subtly painted to blend in is one thing; there’s certainly nothing wrong with that choice.  But a colorful door can be the first indicator of the personalities that reside within.  They speak welcome and invitation, and sometimes demand attention.

So we have a new home and her front door is white… Not that there’s anything w r o n g with it, except it when I look at it I see a blank canvas practically begging to be painted.

For fun (and seriously, for ideas) I posted a picture of our front door on instagram, and I was taken right back to our city stroll of London.  With each new suggestion, I was ready to paint our door that color.

Front Door Paint Ideas


My favorite answer came from Mary DeMuth, because she didn’t tell me, she showed me (don’t you love her door?).  Then my DaySpring boss sent me an entire Pinterest board with his suggestion–and I found myself wanting to paint my front door mint green.

Because I’m visual, pictures are better than words.

I’m inviting you to link your front door or pictures of your favorite ideas!  

Got a blog? It’s a simple post for the day.  On Pinterest?  Link to a board.  You can even link Instagram images below by adding the direct link to your image there.

DO chime in with your thoughts about doors and why you prefer one color over another, and link pictures if you’ve got ’em.  I’ve got decisions to make and you people are very influential :).

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when it snows, i write love letters



Posted by on Oct 28, 2012 | 1 comment

beautiful snow melting on red leaf

snow fall and tear drop

No matter the number of children you deliver, how can it be that each is your favorite, for reasons as many and varied as the things that shade their differences? Intense and deep affection, seemingly dulled by the dailiness of living, is fierce lion lying in wait, patient and certain.

You never see it coming.

When it springs, it grabs you by the throat and has its way with you.  You're completely at its mercy.

Love is a king. 

You never see it coming but don't you always know it's right there?

* * * * * * *

It's too quiet today.  The silence screams for notice, and I do, because this silence means something.  He's home.

Home is where his heart is, home is where his friends are, home is his comforts and familiarities, home is where they speak a language he understands.  

Home is not with me.

This is my son, my always-baby by virtue of birth's order, the thing he didn't ask for but will always be.  

He's done a hard thing without complaint, believing a future purpose that didn't feel true in the present.  Well done, we tell him.  Well done, and he knows we mean it. 

He's earned a pride that swells my chest and stings my heart the good way, and I sing this lovesong to him as best I can and he hears it as best he can.

But he won't be able fully to hear it until he sits where I sit, a lifetime from now.

Photo-43This one is light and life, kinetic energy, noise maker.  He thrives on laughter, he's friend to all, his concern is for others, he can't hold a grudge.  He has no idea the rippling of his super powers, they're boundless; which is yet another of his super powers.

Six weeks ago, he came with a plan.  There were many things he couldn't control so that plan was lifeline, full of things that mattered to him.  It had a beginning, and more important an end, and it compassed his way til he was done.

There was one thing in the plan, though, that he couldn't control:  the weather.  Did he really put weather in the plan?  THAT was ridiculous.  



Rose in snow

Wow–click this to enlarge the photo and you'll see a beautiful, perfect snowflake on the rose's petal!

Snow in October?  A rarity, even here.  Last year it was minimal and didn't arrive until later, but that didn't matter to him.  He had hope.  And, I understand it, I do, because I share this fizzy delight in snow's fall–enchanting, frozen pixie dust as far as I'm concerned, likely my adoration shaped by its scant in my life.


And then, wouldn't you know it–the weather inched toward winter and at the beginning of the week snow, indeed, was forecast.

Oh, ye of little hope, all hail the one with great hope!

…in a thing that mattered to a boy…

But timing is everything and he was already flying above the snow when it finally showed up below.

And what normally thrills me to the center of who I am, that which sends my spirit dancing and happy, this morning it is only reminder that he missed his wish by inches and hours.

Love is lamb and lion, king of beasts, conquerer.

First snow…the beautiful letdown.



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An Ode to Spring Cleaning



Posted by on Apr 4, 2012 | 1 comment

Spring-Cleaning-GiveawayWowza…my friend Christine at I Dream of Clean is hosting a huge Spring Cleaning Challenge with some pretty big prizes at stake.  Though I won't have opportunity to Spring Clean until I get home, my family assures me they've kept our house spic and span in my absence.  We'll see soon.

I wrote this poem a while back and thought I'd dust it off and clean it up a bit to post along with Christina's challenge.  Isn't Spring Cleaning more fun when you set it to poetry??

An Ode to Spring Cleaning

I have really been a' meanin'
To begin some fresh Spring cleanin'
But there's always somethin' else I'd rather do.

But, the house, she's just a' callin'
Cause the windows, they're appalling!
Kitchen walls, splattered with a sticky goo!

Name in dust, my fingers tracin'
And my heart is really racin'–
Cobwebs filling all the corners of each room.

Oh, the baseboards are so dirty!
Scummy bathtubs, it's not purty–
Where's the mop?  Grab a rag!  I need the broom!

Counters filled with paper fountains
Stinky socks build laundry mountains
Mile-long list of things to do, I think I'm drowning!

Wash the dog or wash the car?
Who needs it worse?  The dog by far!
Sees the soap and runs away, so now I'm frowning.

Ceiling fans–I'll have to climb
Cause they're caked in dusty grime
Keep me safe, Lord, when I'm standing on the table

Crack the whip, recruit some help
Yes, they're gonna scream and yelp
Kids will protest but they're strong and fit and able.

Self-cleaning oven, praise the Lord!
A frenzied mother's sweet reward!
Start the vacuum 'cause the carpet is repulsive.

Now it's time to stop my stallin'
Cause the house is still a' calling,
Oh, I wish I were obsessive or compulsive.

I won't update a single status
From any techie apparatus
Not my iPad or my laptop or my cell.

All my friends will have to wait
For my next riveting update
What will they do?!  Will they survive?!  Guess time will tell.

Yes, it's time to walk away
Stay offline for all the day.
If I'm ever going to whittle through my list.

When it's done, I'll be so happy.
I'll probably write a post so sappy.
Posting pictures, if it's clean, I can't resist!

Robin Dance

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Joie de la NETTOYAGE?!?
[Simple Mom :: project simplify + book GIVEAWAY!]



Posted by on Mar 21, 2011 | 72 comments

Projectsimplify2 There is no greater evidence of God's twisted sense of humor than when he pairs a Messy with a Neat Freak 'til death do us part.  

It's a combustible combination that will have both parties at times tugging and warring.

In our family, I'm the messy.  

I'm pretty good at cleaning, mind you, but that organizing and decluttering business?  Well, sometimes the mere thought of it strangles me in paralyzing chokehold.  It's not that I don't have the want toI do, I really do!–I just don't have the follow through.  

Can we call it adult-onset A.D.D.?  Or genetic?  My dad was the biggest clutter-hound on the planet (well, I thought he was until I saw an episode of Niecy Nash's Clean House…!).

In spite of my natural tendency to multiply clutter like a dozen libidinous bunnies, I actually enjoy seasons of organization.  I can't predict it, I can't manufacture it, but when it strikes me SWEETMERCYcarpe that diem!  

W e l l, lovies…it hit me last week when my husband traveled to God's Country, an energizing, irresistible force of Spring Cleaning meets project simplify.

Maybe it was a case of sympathetic, transferred nesting for Lisa Jo; or perfect timing with the start of my kids' Spring Break; or all of that coupled with inspiration from…

I met Tsh/Simple Mom years ago at the first Blissdom Conference; I've admired her ever since.  With great design sense, clear vision for her site and an obvious heart for God and family, she leads by example.  When she asked me to guest post about parenting teenagers** in her Seasons of Parenting series, then invited me as a regular contributor for that niche, I was honored and thrilled.  To the max.

Book03 Her book, Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living, is six shades of fabulous

practical, beautiful and inspiring, and one of you have a chance to win one!  We'll get to that in a minute.

Simple Mom is midway through project simplify, a five-week series challenging readers "to roll up their sleeves and clear the clutter from the different “hot spots” in their homes."  

By focusing on specific tasks each week, she makes de-cluttering doable and almost downright FUN by having her community do it together, celebrating accomplishment with before/after photos.  

This week's Hot Spot:  kids' clothes and toys.

Did I mention it's Spring Break at Chez Pensieve?  Me thinks the kids might suddenly come down with Mama-induced Spring(break) Cleaning Fever.  There's only one cure for that…. 😉

While I'm not following project simplify to a "T", I'm reading along gaining inspiration and encouragement from those taking part.  Simple Mom is all about doing what works for you…and honestly?  For the first time ever I was more about the cleaning/decluttering/organizing process than I was about photo-documenting the occasion!!  Wonders never cease….

Wanna win a copy of Organized Simplicity?  (trust me, you do!)  Please leave a thoughtful comment below relevant to this post by Friday, March 25th at 11:59 EST.  ("Great post!" or "I want to win!" comments mean nothing to me and will be disqualified.)   Maybe share your favorite Spring Cleaning and organizing tips or let me know if you're already taking part in project simplify. 

After you do that, feel free to enter as many times as you like by leaving a separate comment indicating you've done any/all of the following.  Winner will be chosen by Random Integer Generator (unless you write a really cool cleaning-related haiku or poem and I'm swayed to pick favorites….).

  • Subscribe to PENSIEVE in a reader or by email.
  • Tweet a link to this giveaway and comment its specific URL.
  • *Like* or Share this post on Facebook.
  • Stumble, Kirtsy, etc. this post.


**  If you're interested, here's my two-part series for Seasons in Parenting:

Parenting Teens, Part 1
Parenting Teens, Part 2


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