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Gardening saved my life.

It feels like I’ve been living the last 8 months in my garden. My itty bitty garden. With perpetual mud under my nails and in my hair, this garden has been an unexpected source of joy for me.

It was drizzly and a bit chilly one night last fall as we walked up and down the quiet aisles of the Lowes garden center. You may already know of our current journey dealing with infertility or that I have been struggling with depression over the last year. This day had been a particularly rough day and Dan wanted to get me out of the house. So we wandered. We couldn’t hear much outside of our own conversation and the buzzing of the dim garden center lights and sprinkling on the tin roof. That’s when I spotted her… a camellia bush. It was small with a few whitish blooms. Something about those ruffly flowers and deep evergreen leaves called to me and I had to have her. I couldn’t wait till morning … I took her straight home and into our dark yard and dug her a place to live. By this point the sprinkling had turned into a downpour. I was soggy and cold and desperate. Something about my hands in the mud, the smell of that wet soil, the freedom of being soaked to the bone and not caring one bit… these things, they fed my soul. My pastor mentioned in service one Sunday that we each have a point of worship. Something that connects us to God. For many, it’s through music and song. For years that was mine. At this point I had been feeling so disconnected. So lonely. So worshipless. I didn’t even know how to pray, but I felt something that night that was overwhelming.

I began to frequent the garden center. I bought hundreds of bulbs, something I knew nothing of, but I couldn’t resist! I spent days digging small holes. When I ran out of space to plant more, I began the wait. That tortured wait. Unsure if I had done it right. Unsure if the beautiful blooms on the package would actually exist in my yard. Would they grow? Since last fall I’ve been out every day with my face to the ground waiting for them to peek up through the soil… and then to grow leaves, then buds, then to bloom. This spring our yard was full of breathtakingly beautiful blush, bright pink, peach, yellow and purple blooms! I squeezed summer bulbs in the small spaces between these spring flowers.

The whole process makes my soul fly! To be in the yard with bare feet and hands buried in the soil. To smell the earth and watch it give and take and the magnificent way the rain brings life to it all. This ground tastes my tears when I feel extraordinarily broken and it’s where I dance with overflowing gratitude. I am with God here. He consumes my shambled soul with healing water and makes it swell and grow and beat. I become less heavy. I fall in love. I mend.

These flowers are so much more beautiful than I imagined they would be! They remind me that patience is worth it. God created these blooms to grow slowly and steadily so that when the moment was right they would burst open to expose the beauty that’s been growing inside.  I believe that is His way with us as well. Waiting is hard. Whatever you are waiting for:  your job, a relationship, a baby… peace.  But friends, this is a season of unseen growth. Lean into the unknown and lean into Him while you wait.  That is where you will find your comfort and one day you will see the beauty that’s been growing there all along!




  • Stephany Anderson - June 14, 2015 - 4:50 pm

    This is beautiful. You are a really talented writer! I live how open and honest you are, you are an inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - June 14, 2015 - 5:56 pm

    beautiful, friend!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Wagler - June 14, 2015 - 6:04 pm

    Liss… You are wonderful and this is great. And the Lord is doing a great work through you.ReplyCancel

  • Mae Taylor - June 14, 2015 - 6:41 pm

    I love you! You are beautiful and good in every way! Your words resonate deep within my heart and soul. Hugs to you friend!!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey - June 14, 2015 - 8:59 pm

    I love the way you paint a vivid picture with your beautiful words. I love the way you find God continually because your heart is so deeply tied to Him, no matter what you’re going through. Let’s keep positively anticipating the beautiful that’s going to come from all this painful separation from a dream not yet come to fruition. I love you!ReplyCancel

Lake Antoine



My heart nearly burst when I found this old photograph while cleaning out our attic.  It’s of my cousin and I sitting at the end of my grandparents’ dock in Iron Mountain, MI as children. Grandpa painted it on a big canvas using vibrant oils and hung it in the family room where he would spend hours listing to Frank Sinatra on vinyl while Grandma had this one, the original,  framed next to the mirror in her bathroom. After they passed, I thought it was lost forever… but there it was, dusty, stuck between an old Southern Living magazine and an unused picture frame. “Lissi and Tyler 9 yrs 1993” scribbled on the back in Grandma D’s handwriting.

A piece of me is tucked into that corner of Lake Antoine and that rickety old dock.

When I look at this picture I remember summers with all of the cousins together. We’d lay belly down across the dock planks, heads peeking over the edge, sticks in hand poking around for crawfish. I can hear the water gently washing against the aging wood and see the sun dancing on the rocks just below the water’s surface. I still feel it’s warmth wrapping around my bare shoulders. The air is thick in the summer and it carries the scent of the lake wherever it goes. I remember sitting there for hours and hours chatting about everything and absolutely nothing.

As teenagers, we’d sit on that dock with a guitar and a handful of witty lyrics and harmonies we came up with on the fly. We’d sing and dream until the sun had gone to bed. Once night had fallen on the lake, we would tell stories… scary stories. We’d squirm, sitting in the dark, listening to the frogs and crickets and all other creatures of the night making their way out of hiding, until “CRACK!” a deer or fox would step on a branch and send us racing back up the hill to the house, screaming and laughing all the way!

I am thankful for the time our families spent in Iron Mountain together. My memories are rich and full of warmth. I learned hospitality from my Grandmother and drive and determination from my Grandfather. They paved their own path and walked it proudly and were loved by all. But mostly, they adored us. Their large, beautiful, sometimes obnoxious, family. They lived for us. They were my number one fans, and told me every chance they got! I miss them terribly, but I am grateful for the memories I hold.

  • amanda - January 26, 2015 - 10:26 am

    this post makes me so happy. when I read things like this, I am reminded how special it is to spend time with family. I think life is what we make of it. when adam and i think about moving, and then i read things like this, i realize that it doesn’t matter WHERE we live, we can travel anywhere we want if we play our cards right, and we can make memories in any city…including our present one. thank you for posting something that reminds me that nothing can replace the memories you collect by being close to those you love.ReplyCancel

finding a love story

Do you ever have moments so perfectly timed that they resonate into your soul in a way that can only be from God? For as much as I can’t comprehend the frustrations of the unknown, there is is small voice that cuts through just in the knick of time and reminds me that it is OK. It’s OK to question. It’s OK to not understand what was not meant to be understood in the first place.

This is mine.

Some weeks ago, a friend made a comment  at our Church’s ladies night and I’ve played it over in my head. She said “why does it always seem easiest for us to talk about our problems after we’ve already come through them?” We aren’t usually inclined to spill our ugly while we are in the midst of it. There is still the uncertainty that we may not come out on the winning side. We want to share our victories, as nasty as the process might have been, we have a happy ending to tell. But what if we shared during the pain? What if we told others just how weak we feel in the moment? Could there be healing through vulnerability? I believe so.

I’ve been dealing with depression for a little while now. It took me months to say that word; even to my husband. Why does it feel wrong to admit that? The joy in simple things seemed to be harder and harder to reach until I finally found no pleasure in my days at all. I lost all gratitude. My walk with the Lord faded and I became bitter and… stubborn. I pushed my relationships away and cut myself off from social activities. Simple interactions became overwhelming and I began to loose myself. Sheer exhaustion filled my every hour and I found myself missing who I once was. Wondering if she was even still in there somewhere buried beneath my sadness. Sadness that I was well aware wasn’t warranted… but non-the-less so real that I was overcome to the point of tears daily.

I use passed tense because I have seen her. She is currently fighting to come out.

After admitting that I was not OK to my husband and best friend, I decided to seek help. The week I made that decision changed everything. Along with the encouraging conversations I had with these two, I received multiple emails from long distance friends who were just checking in. Multiple… as in more than one friend… in the same week. God intervening? One dear friend was just reaching out to simply tell me the things that she loves about me… she had no idea the power behind her words. She spoke of the girl that I miss and that I long to be again, but there was a specific line that hit me the hardest and brought me to the kind of tears that cleanse a wounded heart. The months of questions and fears became undeniably clear.  She said,

  ” You go to God with an open fist, ready for the next challenge, wrestle with it, and then find a way to make it a love story with His name on it.”

I hit my knees in desperate prayer. Between our struggle with infertility and needing to feel joy again, this season may be the biggest wrestling match of my life. But it is just that, the wrestle. The love story hasn’t been written yet, but it is there… waiting to be discovered. I know that now. I have to let Faith take over and refresh the parts of me that have grown stagnant. The steady decline that had been occurring for months is now starting to feel a little less heavy and I have far more good days than bad. I am sharing this here, in my corner of the internet, in hopes that someone may read it and feel a little less alone. I truly believe in the healing powers of conversation. I’ve been blessed with incredible people in my life, who have been so patient with me.

Gratitude is slipping back in. :)



  • Jenny - December 8, 2014 - 9:11 pm

    i love you, friend! wish i could give you a big hug! i’m so grateful you’re in my life and i’m always here… xo!ReplyCancel

  • Lori - December 8, 2014 - 9:32 pm

    Oh my friend! I wish i could hug you.
    I too, deal with depression and seeking help is the beginning of more sunshine ahead. I found when I decided that the depression wasn’t me, changing, it was a bully, trying to ruin me, I was able to separate from it and fight it better.
    I sure do admire your open-ness.
    I love you!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Wagler - December 8, 2014 - 9:35 pm

    Oh Liss. I love this. And I adore you. You are such a treasure. And the Lord is using you. He’s doing great things. And His grace is sufficient, for ALL our needs. Thank you for sharing your heart.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - December 8, 2014 - 9:52 pm

    Alissa!!! I just love your honesty and heart. Your are such a treasure and I’m so lucky to know and be friends with you.

    2 Corinthians 12:9 He said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

    I love you, and will (continue) to pray for you! Sending you cyber hugs!ReplyCancel

  • Edel Johnson - December 8, 2014 - 11:49 pm

    Alissa – I love your heart & how you express that on paper. You have a gift the world needs to hear – write a book and let the healing flow through prayer. Bless you!ReplyCancel

  • Sara R - December 9, 2014 - 5:56 am

    Hey! So glad you wrote this. I thought of you the other day in a passing thought kinda way and then just stumbled across this. I also lose myself sometimes and for me it’s hard to break away from work and take some me time because truth be told I’m not sure what’s ‘me’ any more. The years of infertility, drugs and ops have taken it’s toll and you’re right, it’s often easier to talk about our struggles after the event. I hope you find the time this holiday season to take a break from it all and spend it with close family and friends. The more I do that, the more I get back to being me ;)

    Hugs from across the pond! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Katrina - December 9, 2014 - 8:05 am

    I happen to come across this and I know we have really never been friends but I have always admired you. I remember when you used to sing at church and your voice was so lovely!! I wanted you to know that I think you are an extremely talented person. I may not know you very well but what I have seen (your beautiful photos and words) and what I have heard (you beautiful voice)I know God has given you many gifts. May He restore you!!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - December 9, 2014 - 10:45 am

    Alissa, you are a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing. Let that light of the Lord within shine! Peace, my friend!ReplyCancel

hello 30

Thinking about this night still fills my heart and puts a huge smile on my face. I can’t get over the thought and energy that Dan and a few of my closest friends put into making my 30th birthday incredible!

Since Dan and I started rehabbing our tiny backyard, it has been a dream of mine to throw a garden party in it. We had, what seemed to be, a decent amount of work still to do before it would be ready, but little by little we’d been working on it and it was coming along.

That August morning I spent with my mom and a friend getting pampered and then had a delicious lunch at The Chocolate Covered Strawberry. Later in the afternoon they brought me back to my house where Dan was waiting for me in the driveway with his mischievous grin and a surprise. He led me to the backyard where a gang of familiar faces were waiting for me. Guys….I lost it. I didn’t get teary. I sobbed. Together these incredible friends and family transformed my backyard into the most magical garden party I could have ever imagined!!! Lights and pretty little bottles filled with wildflowers hung from the fence. Half of the yard was turned into a quilted snuggle heaven with pillows and more jars full of flowers and bunting decorating the chicken coop! The most delicious foods filled the kitchen and the little vintage tables that were lining the fence.  It was so much better that what I could have dreamed up on my own! But the best part was seeing each of their smiling faces! One by one, I took in each friend.  A wave of gratitude washed over me and I couldn’t help but feel that I was truly the luckiest.  This night was so special and will go down in my book as epic!

Oh, and my hubby and dad installed a slamming screen door :) seriously…best.birthday.ever!

  • jenny - December 3, 2014 - 10:46 am

    ahhhhhh! now i’m even more sad that i couldn’t make it out there! so, so beautiful! good work, daniel. a beautiful celebration of a beautiful soul. xo!ReplyCancel

  • Josh - December 3, 2014 - 11:02 am

    Yes yes yes!! Also, now I like you even more, because of the slamming wooden screen door! We want one so bad because it reminds me of my grandparents old farmhouse in MO, but our dogs like to rip apart screen doors :(ReplyCancel

  • amanda - December 4, 2014 - 8:30 am

    oh this party was so beautiful and meaningful! you are dearly loved. you reap what you sow, and you sow a lot of love. :)ReplyCancel

  • Mae - December 4, 2014 - 2:55 pm

    I so wish I could have been there!!!! When Dan told me what he had planned I was so excited for you!!! You are so lovely and sweet and deserve endless amounts of surprises and love like this!!! Miss you friend!!! Hugs!! XoxoReplyCancel

the best recipe


This is the best recipe I think I’ve ever seen, and for so many reasons!! I love that it is my hubby’s great grandmother’s recipe for her famous drool-worthy cinnamon rolls. I never met her but I know that she was an amazing woman through the stories she left behind.

My father-in-law wrote out the recipe on notebook paper as Great Grandma Ross taught my mother-in-law how to make the rolls from scratch. I love his little doodle of her up in the corner! :) frazzled? My husband was only a baby then! I adore the little comments throughout the recipe of life happening behind the scenes and the butter and coffee stained paper. I imagine them all in her old farmhouse kitchen with flour and sugar strewn everywhere. The house filled with the scents of fresh brewed coffee and baking bread with a babe at their feet.

There are so many wonderful memories that have been shared with me, attached to her and that farmhouse kitchen where everyone gathered year after year. So you see… This is not just a recipe scratched out on a piece of paper, but a story of a woman with a teaching spirit and hands that made “the world’s best cinnamon roll.” I never met her but I get a glance into what she would be like through this messy scribble. I have a feeling she and I would have hit it off. :)


  • Luke saylor - October 19, 2014 - 6:19 pm

    I am the father in law who wrote out the recipe all those years ago. Alissa is right on the mark in her description of the kitchen ,the coffee brewing and fresh baked smells everywhere. And she would have got along famously with my Grandmother who left a void in our lives that can never be filled when her time came to meet her God.I think these two ladies will meet one day and exchange recipes. Thank you,Alissa ,for putting this on your blog. you bring back memories for me as well and honor Lydia Ross in a special way!ReplyCancel

  • amanda - October 30, 2014 - 4:46 pm

    i adore this. my mother gave me a cookbook filled with old recipes from my grandmother, and with them, she gave me to copies of the recipes in her native German. one day, i hope to leave a legacy that makes people say such beautiful things about me. :)ReplyCancel