Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Little More Info, Please

It has occurred to me that I need to clear something up. Our choosing the name Blackwater for our home has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the security group, which is also from North Carolina. In fact, if that were relevant, we'd be smarter to call our place something else.

No, David picked out the name because of the color of the water in the creek and lagoon. And, it seemed to fit. We could have called it after the creek itself, which is named Little Cross Creek. That would have been amusing, since I'm a fan of the soap opera Guiding Light, and Cross Creek is (or at least, was) their special place in Oklahoma. But Blackwater seemed more romantic, a little medieval, and just, well, ours.

Plants love it here. The previous owners were devoted gardeners, and we inherited quite a collection of flora with the place. I've never seen gardenia bushes 8 feet around before! And we have magnolia, pine, and holly trees, so I'm set for Christmas. But the houseplants we brought over and placed outside have just eaten this place up! Even with drought, the humidity is so high that they thrive! And our weather is just beginning to cool. It's November 3rd, at 11:30 pm our temperature is 44 degrees F with a humidity of 84%.

Sorry, you'll have to excuse me. Born in New York state and having just spent 24 years in Tennessee, North Carolina is very new to me. I may never get over the weather here.

As well as the different perspective. There's a different emphasis from region to region, depending on geography, economy, philosophy. Here in Fayetteville, with Fort Bragg so close, attitude about the military is vastly different from Nashville, where the emphasis is on music and trying to become a 'great' city. In Nashville, you might ask a 10-year-old if they are going to be a musician, or a pro sports player, or a doctor. In Fayetteville, I overheard someone ask a 10-year-old if she was going to be in the Army when she grew up. And she answered 'Yes.' Matter-of-factly, too. Nashville has a church who always announces when it sends relief to national disaster victims; Fayetteville has set up a support system for military families with deployed members.

We had to fill out special school forms because Dave works on the military base. And when the school medical forms asked where we wanted our students taken in an emergency, the base hospital was the second of two choices.

It's a different perspective, all right.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Faith in All Things

Faith in all things?

You may well wonder, what is she talking about?

When we first decided to move to Fayetteville -- a decision made in 5 days around last Thanksgiving -- we did it solely on faith and the evidence that this was the only option God was showing us. In the near-year we've been working on this, we've had plenty of opportunities to wonder about the wisdom of this move.

Each time we came back to the same stubborn answer. God had shown us this path, and ONLY this path. God had promised us that everything would be all right. He would make it so.

Now, I realize that there are those among you who react negatively to such blatant assertions. I am not trying to evangelize. This is just how it happened for us, and you'll have to ride along to see how it all turns out.

Each time we reminded ourselves of His promise and pushed forward in our plans, we made progress. Obstacles allowed themselves to be overcome, things worked out, and we got closer to North Carolina.

Right up to the day we arrived. Nine-plus very long hours driving from Nashville in a 1-truck, 2-car extended caravan. Actually, Dave and Kelsey went first in the truck. Michael drove Katelyn's car with Kacey. Mack and I took the vanful of animals (2 dogs, 7 cats). In a year with record heat and no air conditioning in either of the cars, this was a spectacularly memorable journey. We stopped frequently to hydrate human and critter alike. Mike had never made this trip, and Mack and I needed help with the animals at stops, so we stayed close together. Dave and Kelsey arrived at the house first, Monday evening, August 20th.

Everyone needed to stretch out, and we planned to unload the next day, so naturally everyone went exploring. Kelsey went down by Little Cross Creek, which meanders alongside and then through our heavily wooded yard. At the opposite edge of the property it cascades down a small falls and through our neighbor's yard on its way to meet up with Cross Creek. Dave and I met this neighbor -- named Dana -- one time when we were looking at the house. She and her husband make a very nice couple, with children a little younger than ours. They'd been very welcoming to us and given us some insight into our new home.

As everyone was roaming around that first evening and checking out the features of the new house -- 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3 fireplaces, a 2-car garage -- the likes of which we'd never had before -- dark was descending. A quick head count revealed 1 missing: Kelsey.

Kacey, her twin, was pretty nonchalant about her whereabouts. "Kelsey went down to the creek a while ago," she said.

Now, beyond the creek is a small but full woods that traces the stream from its source at Clark's Pond to where the road crosses over it. We didn't know exactly what lies on the other side of the woods, or what all the neighborhood is like.

"Kelsey?" I called from the back porch. "Kelsey?"

"I'll go get her," Mack volunteered, his own excuse to go down to the water. He jogged toward the causeway where the water drops about four feet before heading through our neighbor's yard. Across the causeway is the woods.

I went down the steps into the yard, calling Kelsey's name occasionally, just in case she'd wandered to the other side of the property.

"Kelsey!" I heard Mackenzie shout. "Kelsey!" There was the sound of someone moving through brush, and then a strangled cry, "Kelsey!"

"Mack? What is it?"

He called his sister's name again as he turned toward me, his face white, his hand holding something in front of his chest.

"Mom! She's not there! She's not there! I found these -- Kelsey!" he cried again .

I trotted towards him. He was holding her sneakers.

"Oh no," I thought. "Not now, not here. We did not come all this way for this!"

I spoke out loud, "Mack, where were those?" He looked so panic-stricken.

"Down there, on the landing." He pointed toward the bottom of the causeway where the water spilled out. Two streams shot out of two pipes and flowed over a stone platform. With the drought, the space between them was dry, and that was where he'd found the shoes.

We continued to shout for her. Around my head went the litany, 'We did not come here for this; God you promised! ' I had to keep coming back to that: He'd promised us this would be all right.

As Mack and I started back for the house, still shouting, one of Dana's children walked up from their yard. She watched us intently, and when she was close enough, she called out, "She's over here!"

Which she was, strolling along the yard with Dana who said she'd 'kidnapped' her and shown her her roses. We walked back towards our yard, Mack and me teasing Kelsey, discussing the new house with Dana, smiling in the dusk at her children. God was keeping His promise.

As we left Dana and her children and walked up toward the house, a cacophony broke loose from behind the Witch's Woods, the 50 or so trees behind the A-frame we dubbed the Witch's House. Something like 4 or 6 owls hooted amongst themselves, probably complaining over the noise we made seeking Kelsey. A dramatic welcome to Fayetteville.

God often asks us to do strange things, things we are not comfortable with or that we don't understand. It's easy to doubt His hand is involved. But, once we have put our lives in His hands, and especially when we have been assured that He will make everything right, we must cling to His promise. If we doubt, we must rebuff that doubt by reminding ourselves of His promise to us. And, for everyday circumstances, for every circumstance, we must remind ourselves of His overall Promise: abundant, eternal life.

God keeps His promises. We must have Faith, in all things.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

100 Trees

I tried counting our trees the other day. There are 11 in the front yard, about 25 in the back, nearly 50 in the Witch's Forest, and I-have-no-idea-how-many in the forest past the creek. So there are over 100 trees at Blackwater (which consists of only 2 acres).

The Witch's House and Forest are a tale for another time.

But I must express my awe at our trees. Many of them are over 60 feet tall, with some rising to 110 feet. My husband, David, is concerned about what might happen during a hurricane. And, who knows?

I was settling myself in the hammock the other day. We'd been exploring the creek and walking the dogs. Dave and Alex (our bigger dog) and Kacey, one of our twins were stil climbing around. I laid back and wondered all over again at how we came to buy this place. And at the trees. They are so tall!

But, I mused, they've been here long enough to grow that high. They must be pretty strong. A little breeze was blowing through the treetops; I followed its path as it streamed from tree to tree.

There was a snap, and like a giant rustling weed, one of the treetops shook itself, and slowly fell over, crashing through the woods parallel to the creek and landing with its upper branches in the creek itself.

I jumped -- well, struggled -- out of the hammock screaming for David and Kacey, not knowing which direction they'd taken, trusting in the fact that there'd been no screams to prove they were okay.

They were. Nothing was taken out by the tree, except maybe other trees and plants. We examined the tree where it lay. Kacey, concerned that it was blocking the stream on that side of the island, pulled some of the broken branches out to one side. It had apparently snapped off about 2 feet up the trunk and simply toppled. It had looked a little like an ent starting to walk.

While Kacey moved the tree and Dave examined it, I stood watching the tree's 2 'sisters', wondering if -- or when -- they were going to go.

We looked more closely at the woods. Thick as they are, there are several fallen trees among them, most of them propped by their fellows where they were caught as they fell. The creek makes it easy for trees to uproot; hurricanes and storms knock out the taller ones.

I don't think we'll ever know why this particular one fell -- on a cloudless day with only a little breeze dancing through the woods. Maybe as a warning to us that it can happen. Maybe, as a reminder, that anything
can happen.


pictures courtesy Kacey M.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Beginning of Blackwater

We moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina about a month ago. A beautiful home has become ours. We have named it 'Blackwater', and these are our - new - stories.

We've spent a month trying to settle in, but with family busy and scattered and everyone trying to do everything, it hasn't completely worked yet. We still have another truckload of stuff to move here, and we have to sell our other house. We all have projects underway, that we are trying to complete amongst snake sightings, lizard watching, and owl searching -- did I mention that Blackwater is comprised of about 2 acres in the city of Fayetteville? Yet we have all this wildlife, including a heron, and well over a hundred trees, and a 'lagoon' where Little Cross Creek traverses our property. Amazing.

As is normal for me, I have to break off this post before I get to the big stories, because I have to go work on a project one of our 6 kids has me assisting with. I will add more soon, and you're invited to see my slightly more professional blog at


Blackwater photo courtesy of Dave Minnick