Change, Friends, Home

10 Lessons about moving

I keep a five-year journal , a charming little gem that allows me to write five-line entries for five years.


Every day, it tells me exactly what I was doing the previous year on the same day.

My daily entries from last year at this time included :

  • Last visit to our home in Virginia. That house is packed with memories. Not sure I can handle any more tears or goodbyes.
  • Signed our closing papers and hit the road for Utah. I can’t believe it.
  • Staying in Missouri.
  • Just outside Denver.
  • Arrived in Utah at our new home. Stood on the deck and marveled at the beauty.
  • Roughing it with a folding table, two lawn chairs and an air mattress until the moving van arrives.

As I read these entries, I thought about everything that has happened and changed in our lives in the last year.

Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned:

  • While moving is a major life decision and a big risk, it turned out to be easier than I expected.
  • At a going away party last year, a wise millennial friend said, “Don’t compare Utah to Virginia/D.C. Just take Utah for what it is.” Best advice ever.  It’s not better or worse. It’s just different. (Thank you Jason McDonald.)
  • There is beauty everywhere. While I love the green, lush world of the East Coast,  I love the spectacular mountains and scenery of Utah.


  • Being near family is better than I imagined.
  • My Virginia friends are still my friends. I’m grateful for phone calls, texting, social media, and lots of visitors. fullsizeoutput_942


  • While I miss the vibrancy and closeness of the Mormon church community in the DC area, I’ve learned there are unique cultural challenges and tests of faith in different places. Again, one place is not better or worse. It is just different.
  • Going to the Outer Banks is still worth it. Even if we have to fly, rent a car, and go less often, it’s definitely still worth it.
  • Making new friends doesn’t mean I’m forgetting my old ones. I can cherish old friends and still make new ones. In fact, it’s essential. We all need friends — near and far.
Reuniting with old high school friends — “You always go back to the people who were there in the beginning…”
  • Another wise friend who has moved many times in her life told me to give it a year to adjust. She said it takes a year to find doctors, hair stylists, dentists, favorite grocery stores, etc. and to feel comfortable in a new house, new neighborhood, new community. She said not to judge whether I like it until a year passed. She’s right. It requires some patience to rebuild your life in a new place.
  •  Finally, I’ve learned that being happy is a choice. So, I’ve decided over and over to be happy, and guess what? I am.




More From the Homefront…

A Kerr mason jar
A Kerr mason jar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, the news from my brother’s house was the bootleg whiskey.

Apparently, from Kelly’s research, he believes the whiskey was aged in a barrel because charred oak barrels produce deeper colored whiskey. That explains the color that makes it look like, well, apple cider vinegar.

English: Oak wine barrels at the Robert Mondav...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I told Kelly’s wife, Paula, that I could write a blog about Kelly every day because he is so entertaining.

“Do you think he would care?” I asked.

“How would he know?” She asked. “He doesn’t read your blog.”

Good point. Serves him right.

I told him I am writing stories about him, and asked if he cared. He said, “You’ve made my life miserable from the day you were born. Why quit now?”

He’s a sweet brother… He tells me that every time I talk to him.

This is how our one-way conversation today went after I said, “hello.”

“How are you? I can’t believe I caught you home. You’re never home. Where are you off to today? You still can’t sit still for five minutes can you?

“Ah oh! Can you hear that woodpecker? That thing wakes up Chalisse (his daughter) every morning. She’ll be storming out of her bedroom any minute. Oh, here she comes and, boy, is she mad.”

WoodPecker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Where’s the gun?” I hear Chalisse ask.

“You leave that gun alone. You don’t know how to shoot a gun!”

“Then, teach me. I can’t stand that woodpecker anymore!”

“Oh, Laurie, I might have to go and do a little gun safety class this morning. That bird isn’t so bad when he tries to drill a hole in the old wood telephone pole, but when he moves over to the aluminum siding, he about drives Chalisse crazy, waking her up at the crack of dawn.

“Oh, she’s going for the guns. I’ve got a BB gun and a soft air pellet gun. (You know, I scare the cats away with that air gun.) You be careful, Chalisse, if you pick up that BB gun. I think she’s going to plug that woodpecker with my BB gun! I better go. I guess we’ve got a noisy woodpecker to kill this morning. Have a good day. I’ll talk to you later.”

I hope they don’t kill the poor bird. It’s just doing what woodpeckers do. And, there could be some legal issues involved. I don’t think the law allows for “plugging” noisy birds if they wake you up.

Not my business, I decide.

“Talk to you later,” I say.

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” has nothing on Kelly.

English: no original description
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I looked up a Fox News review of the show. They called the male reality stars “bearded bayou brethren,” and it said, the show “provides colorful trappings for a comfortably eccentric and engaging brood.”

It said watching the show makes you want to share a Mason jar of sweet tea with this “quack pack” and join their fun.

This is true in Kelly’s case too. You couldn’t find a more comfortable and engaging brood. And, if you visited him, you could settle in, do a little bird watching, shoot a pellet or BB gun, and instead of sweet tea, you could share a jar of moonshine — Virginia whiskey that looks and smells a lot like apple cider vinegar.


My Mom, the Bootlegger

Moonshine still in Forbidden Caverns
Moonshine still in Forbidden Caverns (Photo credit: Kajvin)

Last week before my mom flew home to Utah after spending nearly two weeks visiting me in Virginia, my brother called her and said, “Hey, before you come home, I want you to track me down some of that Virginia moonshine whiskey I’ve been learning about on TV.”

“What moonshine whiskey?” she wanted to know.

He explained that it was a hooch made in Virginia and sold in Mason jars.

“Do you want me to end up in jail?” she asked. “They’d confiscate that at the airport and send me to jail. Then, you’d see my face all over the news. I don’t think I’ll be bringing any whiskey home.”

Since he struck out with Mom, he asked my sister to track down a bottle for him.

She ignored the request and shook her head, and rolled her eyes like we do when our brothers do something we think is absurd. (Keep in mind this is the same sister who sent me a placard that said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your brother!”)

Trust Kelly to know all about moonshine whiskey and to find a docudrama on the Discovery Channel that tells stories about people who produce moonshine.

These people brew their own shine – often in the woods near their homes using camouflaged equipment, according to the Discovery Channel website.

When Mom got home, she went into her basement, dug out a Mason jar, poured straight vinegar into it, sealed the lid nice and tight, and asked my other brother to take it to Kelly and say she brought it with her from Virginia.

English: Loco diesel in mason jar
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Kelly saw the Mason jar full of brownish-gold liquid, his face lit up like when he was a kid and Santa brought him a BB gun on Christmas morning.

He couldn’t believe his good fortune. I can just imagine him thinking, “Most moms bring home little shot glasses as souvenirs, not my mom! She brings the whole bottle of whiskey!”

He called Mom immediately, “Where did you find it? How did you get it through airport security?”

The lies began spewing out of her so naturally that it made her a little nervous.

He said, “Boy, when I opened it up to take a whiff, it threw be back a little. That stuff’s potent.”

“I took a little swig just to see what it’s like. Boy, it’s got quite a bite! I still can’t believe you tracked it down and brought it home!”

“Oh, you know me!” Mom lied. “If my kids want something, I do my best to get it for them.”

“What if you had gotten caught?” he asked.

“Well, then I’d probably be sitting up at the point of the mountain,” she said, referring to the prison, “and you’d have to tell everybody I was a bootlegger, I guess.”

You know that story about lies don’t you? How you can never lie just once because to support the first lie, you have to tell another one, and then another one, until you are nearly a perpetual, pathological liar?

My mom found herself in that dangerous lying cycle, but she was having so much fun, she couldn’t stop.

“It’s terrible, isn’t it? But, I never imagined he’d think it was the real thing. So when he did, I just had to go with it. I couldn’t believe how easily all those lies spilled out of me.”

The next day when she talked to Kelly, he said, he’d hid the bottle at the back of the fridge so that nobody in his family would find it. He had him some special, illegal whiskey, and by golly, he was going to protect that stuff.

His wife asked Mom where she really got it. “It’s straight vinegar,” she confessed, “but don’t tell him. I’m having too much fun dragging this out.”

“Oh, believe me, I won’t!” his wife said, relishing the fun of it all.

“How am I going to get out of this?” Mom asked. “I can’t believe how I just piled one lie on top of another, and now I can’t bring myself to tell him the truth. I guess I’ll wait until April Fools Day now, but he’ll be so disappointed with the truth.”

I giggle every time I think of him appreciating and protecting his little mountain dew souvenir from Virginia.

I really can’t believe he didn’t know it was vinegar! I hate everything about vinegar. I can smell it from across the county, I think. Yet, he smelled it and tasted it, and still thought it was potent moonshine whiskey with a bite? Oh, my.

Moonshine whiskey must be some awful tasting, smelling stuff if it’s at all like vinegar.

For any of you who know my brother, Kelly, don’t spoil the fun by telling him what’s really in that Mason jar tucked into the back of his fridge. His reaction is sure to be priceless.

And can you imagine this sweet lady traipsing through the Virginia hills looking for moonshine?


Oh, brother…

Community, From the News, Religion

Day to Serve and The Snowball Effect

Last January, I received a new church public affairs assignment.

One of our first decisions was to encourage the members of our church to dedicate a day to serve.

We explored the various needs in our communities.

After reviewing some startling hunger statistics, we decided to focus on the needs of those who are considered “food insecure.”

One in four Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from.

11.8 percent of people  in Virginia, one in six people in Maryland, a surprising 27.4 percent in the nation’s capital, 

and 21 percent of children in West Virginia live in families that cannot afford food

We reached out to the Governors of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia and the Mayor of Washington, D.C. and asked for their support.

They eagerly jumped on board.

They issued proclamations declaring September 29 as a regional Day to Serve.

They reached out to their community faith groups and asked them to join us by organizing and/or participating in service projects to benefit the hungry.

Governor O’Malley in Maryland set a high bar by sending out letters to over 30 faith groups who all wanted to help.

We have held weekly meetings with our planning committee, which includes representatives from our church and representatives from the Governors’ and Mayor’s offices.

Each week, there is more to report.

More people are catching the vision.

More people want to help.

In West Virginia, all the football games played this Saturday will include food drives.

In Virginia, there are soccer games, 5K races, grocery store food drives, clean-up activities and more.

In D.C., there are “pack the pantry” projects to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.

In Maryland, there are activities to clean up the environment and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay, and feed the hungry.

Enthusiasm is building for what will be a historic, unprecedented regional day to serve.

We set up a website at and asked every organization sponsoring a service activity to add a pin to a google map.

If you go to the site, you’ll see a packed map, full of activities in this wide swath of the country, all designed to feed the hungry or serve the community.

In fact, we maxed out the number of pins allowed on a google map.

We are now in the process of redesigning it to accommodate all the projects that haven’t made it on the map yet.

Every day the snow ball gets bigger with more activities, more donations, and more people gearing up to serve.

If you’re not sure, how to help, go to the website, click on a pin in your community and show up.

Everybody is welcome and everybody is needed.