Leaning Into The Curves


My Aunt, Virginia Miller, better known as Aunt Jenny, leaned into her last curve and made it home on Friday, March 28.  On Tuesday April 2, we gathered and gave her a proper send-off.  It was amazing to see how many lives she touched over the years.  Many of them, like me, people who learned lessons from the way she lived her life. She was the third of my mom’s sisters to go home over the past five months.  A great loss for our family, but what a gain for them to be home with Jesus.

aunt jenny

A few years ago I wrote the following essay about Aunt Jenny, but never published it on my blog, or even shared it with her.  I kept thinking I would send it to her and I wish I had, but as with a lot of things in life, we never quite do all that we mean to.  I know she loved her family well, including her nieces and nephews.  I also know we loved her well.  I want to share the story with you today as a way to remember.

(Written January 10, 2011)

Aunt Jenny is the real deal. A bona fide woman of God. She loves Him. She lives by his book. And She trusts him with everything. I know this because I’ve known her all my life. And I know her family. I know where she’s been and I know where she’s going.

I remember one time we were going somewhere and Aunt Jenny was riding with us. She was in the backseat with my sister and me. We were on a curvy road. I don’t know what I said (I was probably secretly a little scared of the winding road), but it prompted Aunt Jenny to remark that the curves weren’t really all that bad; you just had to lean into them. And she proceeded to do just that.

So, here we were riding in the car, leaning into the curves whether we wanted to or not because Aunt Jenny was. At the time I remember thinking the whole thing was a little silly. I even remember my sister and I laughing about it later. In fact quite a few times over the years it sort of became our mantra – just lean into the curves. Wow, how little did we realize how profound that advice really is.

Now that I’m no longer a silly teenager, well at least no longer a teenager, It turns out Aunt Jenny was right. When riding in cars, if you lean into the curves they don’t seem so bad. They especially didn’t seem so bad a few years later when I had a guy and was in love. Leaning into the curves then was rather fun, but that’s another story.

I’ve come to realize that Aunt Jenny’s advice applies to life. Life throws us a lot of curves and it just works better if you lean into them and ride them out. Sooner or later the road unwinds a little and you can breath again.

I think Aunt Jenny probably knew even then that leaning into the curves is a metaphor for living life. She has had a lot of curves to lean into over the years. She has ridden them out well. With grace and dignity. She taught her children to do the same. She still rides the curves with grace and dignity and so do her children.  There is a gentleness about her in her golden years that reminds me of my grandmother. And those who know me well, know that to equate anybody with grandma is the utmost in status.

I saw a picture of Aunt Jenny on Facebook recently that one of her family had posted. It touched a chord deep inside of me. It was taken during a time when Aunt Jenny was riding out a curve in her life. In the picture she is hugging her son, Jeff, and she has such a sweet expression on her face. You can tell she is holding onto him for dear life as if pouring all her love into him. That’s just the kind of woman she is. That picture, for me, tells the story of Aunt Jenny. It shows her strength and her vulnerability. It shows her grace and her trust. It shows the heritage she is building for her children.

Honestly, it is the perfect picture of how God loves us. I just imagine him holding us for dear life, pouring all his love into us and letting us know that he is leaning with us in the curves.


Thanks, Aunt Jenny. I love you.

Remembering in Grace,




I Have Been With Family

You may have noticed that I wrote everyday in October and have only posted a few times in November.  In fact it has been 8 days since my last post.

I have been with family.  Which is very important to me.  On November 3rd I lost an Aunt.  And on November 16th I lost another aunt (barely two weeks apart). The one aunt had suffered with her health for several months and God saw fit to heal her by taking her home to be with him.  The other had been declining for a few years and had recently been taken to a nursing home.  She no longer knew the family.  So, God in his mercy, also saw fit to take her home where she too is now healed.


I find the way we process grief interesting.  Some people process by celebrating the joy they had in the relationship with the one they have lost, others mourn their loss and cry.  Some find comfort in humor.  But almost everyone finds solace in the company of others.

Companionship is something we all need.  It is sad to me that we sometimes wait until we have lost someone close to us to realize that connection is vital. We somehow think that we have time.  But we don’t.  Life is short and people are too important to wait for the visits.

Growing up my cousins and I were together a lot.  We spent time in each other’s homes, we celebrated birthdays together. We played together.  Even when I started dating my now husband we still hung out with my cousins.  One of them and Rocky shared a birthday so we would get together to celebrate. We had many late night game nights.  We have a lot of wonderful memories.  I am thankful for those memories, but I am more thankful for the opportunities to connect with my family.


After we were married, jobs took us away and over time we didn’t see my cousins as much.  Even though we still felt close to them, our time spent with them was limited by distance and busyness.  We moved back home in 2012 and had a few times of  celebration, but we weren’t together nearly enough.  Then, we lost my Aunt.  Connection became more important than ever.

The week she passed away we were with my cousins nearly every night.  They were at our house or we were at theirs.  Until midnight most nights.  It was good to share memories and just comfort one another.  It made me realize that life is too short to not spend time with family.

During the visitation and funeral for the one Aunt, we met (re-met) one of my cousins and two of his children. I had not seen them since the seventies; Rocky had never met them.  It was a great time reconnecting.  And again, I was reminded that family is more important than our busyness.  This past weekend, my other Aunt, their grandmother, passed away.  And we once again find ourselves getting ready to lay a loved one to rest.

The cycle of life goes on.  God in his mercy helps us part with dear loved ones.  Family gathers around to comfort one another and we connect and realize how important we are to each other.  And if we don’t forget this lesson, we’ll make sure we find time to meet for fellowship and break bread together just because we can.

Connecting in Grace,

Teresa (Sadie Grace)

Favorite Living – 31:18

Today is for living.  Living is a favorite thing of mine.  Who wouldn’t say that?  But there is living and there is living.  There is the living that is about existing and surviving.  We have all experienced that at one time or another in our life.

I’m talking about the really living.  Embracing life. Finding purpose in life.  Enjoying life.  Participating in life.  Today I will participate in life and enjoy time with friends at an event that will have my husband on cloud nine. (Read – sports event). I could personally do without the event, but I love my husband and love to see him happy.

It is also an opportunity to spend time with friends from church.  That is important to me also.  Living is not always about what you are doing, but why you are doing and who you are doing with.  Doing life with family and friends is living.

“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” I John 4:11

Living in Grace,


Favorite Aunt Nancy – 31:8

Aunt Nancy, as a young girl, in the middle beside my mother and her brother. Aunt Ruth is hanging from the porch rail.

My Aunt Nancy has been gone for thirty-two years.  I still miss her.  She was my confidante, my advocate, my partner in fun.  We had such good times together.  I would stay at her house as often as my mom would allow.

I remember once, when she lived in a large house across the corner from our house, she gave me the use of one of her upstairs rooms to make my own.  I would hang out there listening to Jeannie C. Riley sing Harper Valley PTA – I knew all the words.

I don’t remember us ever doing anything profound or taking major trips together.  We just hung out.  We had a soul connection that is rare.  I would go to the grocery with her, or out running errands.  I remember she and my grandmother would hit all three grocery stores in town in order to take advantage of all the sales.  They’d have store flyers in hand, along with their lists and then buy meat at one store, bread at another and so forth.  It was exhausting and took the better part of a day.  I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.

She loved to sing old songs and play her accordion.  I remember once sitting on the front porch with her, accordion playing loudly.  Sometimes I find myself humming a verse of an old song, and I remember it is one that I heard Aunt Nancy sing.

I have so many snapshots of times spent with her.  Like the time we painted a bedroom pumpkin orange.  It was bright.  To this day, orange is my happy color.  I’m sure it has something to do with being exposed to that paint.  And the memory of a good time.

That was the same summer she let me watch the movie Ode to Billy Joe.  I remember her telling me that was probably a movie my mom wouldn’t want me to watch.  I remember it being rather haunting.  I grew up without a TV, so watching at Aunt Nancy’s house was a treat.

During this particular visit, even though I wasn’t old enough to drive, she allowed me to drive up the back country road to the store on the corner to purchase some supplies.  I had my younger cousin with me and when we arrived back home, I gave him the wheel and he drove back up the driveway.  I felt so grown-up.   That was one of the best summers with Aunt Nancy.  I spent a whole two weeks just hanging out with her.  That was the same visit in which I made chili and mistook the cinnamon for chili powder.  We ate it. My cousins still remember this event.

A year or so after that, she was living in yet another farm house and again I was staying with her.  This time, I remember painting the windowsill in an upstairs bedroom for her son.  I also remember catching the oven on fire.  She was down the road at my uncle’s shop and I went to the door yelling at the top of my lungs, but she couldn’t hear me.  I finally managed to grab the flour and throw it on the fire.  I can’t remember exactly what happened, but I know I had the oven on, not knowing that something was already in there and it caught on fire.  She still trusted me after that.

It’s funny how our memory takes snapshots.  I have so many scenes in my head of times spent with Aunt Nancy.  Just a portrait here and there of a moment spent with her.  Moments talking about boys I had crushes on, moments dreaming about the future.  Oh, how short that future was.

The summer she passed away I didn’t realize how sick she was, how soon she’d be gone.  She was in the hospital and wanted me with her.  I was babysitting and couldn’t go until later in the weekend.  The Sunday I arrived, everyone finally cleared out and I was sitting in the chair by her bed.  We were talking about Rocky, whom I hadn’t begun dating yet.  She knew I had a crush on him and she loved the idea of me dating him, because he was related to her husband’s family.  We were just sitting there innocently, dreaming about the future when she asked me to go get the nurse.  I never saw her alive again.  It was the most heartbreaking moment of my life, having to let her go.  I know she is in heaven surrounded by God’s grace and beauty.

I lived with her family for two weeks, just trying to keep a daily routine of meals and laundry going.  But, I had to go off to college.  I was too young to take on such a big role. I wish I could have kept them safe forever.  Safe from the pain of losing a mother and the heartaches they endured as a result.  There is pain in loss, but there is healing in memories.  I treasure the memories I have of Aunt Nancy.  I have an album full of memory snapshots that I browse through when I’m missing her.   Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to have new “pictures” to add to that album.

Treasure the times you have with your loved ones.  Make sure your memory album has lots of snapshots for future reference.  Relish the everyday moments because they are precious. Never forget, that even in death, God knows what he is doing and he always has a plan. He can heal our hurts and give us peace.  No matter how much someone loves us (and Aunt Nancy loved her family very much), God loves us even more.

Remembering in grace,

Teresa (aka Sadie)