Archives for September 2014

Home Place

Author:  Crescent Dragonwagon
Illustrator:  Jerry Pinkney


This is a book for those who love to imagine, for those who love to make up their own story.

For what started out as a simple family hike became a mental journey back in time.  In the quietness of the woods, the family has stumbled upon a field of bright golden daffodils, then a stone chimney, where surely a house once stood.  Intrigued, they begin to dig in the dirt around the old foundation.  Unearthing a round blue glass marble, a horseshoe, a piece of a plate, and a china doll’s arm, their minds begin to wander. . . imagine. . .

Listen. Can you listen, back,  far back?

 But listen back and hear a man’s voice, scratchy-sweet, singing “Amazing Grace,” a rocking chair squeaking, creaking on a porch. . .

If you look, you can almost see them: the boy at dusk, scratching in the dirt with his stick, the girl, upstairs, combing out her long, long, hair. . .

Along with the few broken remnants found in the dirt, all that remains to tell you that a family was ever there is a single rotted almost-gone piece of rope swaying on a black walnut tree limb.  Yet in that quiet place, honeysuckle vines still flourish, deer and raccoons and squirrels live happily, and bright golden daffodils come up to trumpet their good news forever.


1.  Can you explain what is happening when the family “hears” the old man’s voice and “sees” the boy and girl?

2.  Have you ever found something special buried in the dirt and wondered how it got there?  That would be a great “small moment” to write about!

Mary Byrne Kline




Mike Glenn on Millennials: Marriage & Parenting

Joe Hendricks Photography

What is it like to be twenty or thirty-something and trying to build a lifelong marriage when your parents couldn’t? How does it feel to begin parenting when you have a broken relationship with your own parents? In this new Chasing Fireflies Podcast we talk about these challenging family issues with Mike Glenn, a Nashville pastor who specializes in helping Millennials build successful homes.

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For more information on Mike Glenn’s ministry to Millennials…

The Great Blue House

Author:  Kate Banks
Illustrator:   Georg Hallensleben

518i0sdjzNLBanks and Hallensleben offer another winning title in this deceptively quiet story about a well-loved vacation house.  [Kate Banks was the author of another Fireflies’ pick – Max’s Words.]

In summer, the rooms burst with life–the crickets sing, laundry floats on the line, and children’s voices rise “like dandelion puff.” Then fall comes, the people leave, and the empty house is quiet. “Or is it?”

Banks’ describes the house’s secret life through fall, winter, and spring: the faucet drips, snow falls, a bird builds a nest, a cat roams and sleeps. At last, another summer arrives, and new kittens and birds share the house with the returned family. In spare, poetic sentences, Banks’ precise sounds and cyclical rhythms amplify the hypnotic sensory impressions, which Banks invites listeners to imagine: “The cat stretches out across the bed and settles into a secret dream. Listen to her purring.”



Another artist might have chosen subdued grays and purples to depict a house shuttered for winter, but Hallensleben’s beautiful, thickly brushed, impressionistic paintings evoke a sense of noise and life in rooms painted shocking blue and rich, bright red. Scenes of rooms glimpsed through half-open doors and of quiet corners extend the words’ message that many of life’s exciting stories lie in small moments and partial glimpses. A beautifully crafted story filled with wonder.  Booklist Review

Grateful for Home

        Home. What do you think of when you hear that word? Do you see a picture of the house where you grew up as a kid? Or how about the face of someone you love? Maybe it’s even a certain smell or feeling that comes over you with the memory of “home”. I distinctly remember a moment in time where my mom, sister, and I decided that “home” was wherever we all three were together. Up until that time, at 12 years of age, “home” had simply been representative to me of our physical house…the place we lived. You see, the pain of losing my Dad had caused us to realize that no matter what our situation was or how challenging our new normal had become, we were going to lean into each other to keep that sense of “home”. We started realizing that we could experience that feeling and place of belonging even while traveling the world. Why? Because we had navigated the roughest waters of our lives together and were learning how to swim above the surface instead of letting it take us under.IMG_2359

        This past summer, I was able to take my three littles down to Auburn, Alabama, to visit my Mom for a week. After the crazy rush of meeting deadlines and making sure all of the schedules are kept through the end of the school year, we were all in need of some time to slow down. While my Mom does not live in the same house that I grew up in, or the same city either, I could not wait to get there because SHE was there. I could almost feel my blood pressure lower and my muscles relax as we pulled into the driveway. As she greeted us in the driveway with arms open wide, I felt that deep sense of “home”. We walked in the door and followed our noses straight to the kitchen to grab a slice of her freshly baked, cream cheese poundcake. Are you with me? I’m sure you are wanting a piece, too! The memories started flooding back of all of my favorite things she did and continues to do to create a beautiful, hospitable place of belonging.


        That week ended up being such a peaceful respite from our busy life. We took daily trips to walk my Mom’s dog around a little pond at the park, cooled off with a swim in the pool, went to story time at the library, took a day trip to visit an awesome Wild Animal Safari in Georgia, had afternoon tea parties, went exploring for bugs to put in Will’s bug catcher, visited my sweet Grandparent’s graves, and the list goes on! Most importantly, I slowed down enough to watch my Mom continue to create those unique memories of “home”. Of being together. I watched her foster the curiosity and adventurous spirits in my children as she dug her beautiful hands down in the dirt to help Will catch bugs (something I don’t remember ever seeing her do as we only had girls in my house growing up!), and as she offered space for them to run and play.

As the week came to a close and we started our journey back home to Tennessee, I was reminded of an E.E. Cummings quote that I love…”I carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart. I am never without it. Anywhere I go, you go, my dear.” The sadness of saying goodbye for now was comforted in knowing that the memories we had made that week and the love we shared will be carried in our hearts forever. My children will be able to look back on “that one summer at Ami’s” where they felt loved, celebrated, and encouraged to see the world with adventurous eyes. Do you have any memories you can recall where you were able to experience a deep sense of “home”? Have you been able to help create those kinds of memories for your children? Is there a certain person in your life who helped model this for you? I am so grateful to my Mom for her ability to center me and to help me remember what really matters most when spending time with my children. I spent less time looking at screens that week and more time looking into the wonder in my children’s eyes. Turns out, the old saying is true…home really is “where the heart is.”


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