“…For they shall be comforted”

In his arms


“Blessed are those who mourn…”

This scripture was one of the first to jump out at me as a child, as I sat in church, doodling on attendance cards. I took it with a grain of salt, as if that were truly an option. Surely the writer was mistaken, or perhaps had never faced grief himself.

But then I realized those words were written in red.

And as it turned out, these words were written for me.

Because I had been ‘blessed,’ apparently, and I was still trying to figure it all out.

What the experts might refer to as ‘mourning’ was really just me searching the night sky wondering why all the other Daddies came home after work every night, but mine couldn’t.

Someone once asked me how old I was when I lost my father. I knew the answer. I had heard it all my life. I was six months old and then there was this car accident….

But the question was all wrong.

So I corrected that person.

“I didn’t lose him. I never really had him, and really, I still don’t.”

There is no bolder truth than what is spoken from a heart that’s been reshaped by grief. Because it comes out in all the wrong places, raw and unfiltered, and can’t fully be explained to others.

There is no time limit. It moves you to an alternate universe, a place from which there is no return, far away from everyone and everything you’ve ever known before.

In retrospect, I had it easy. There was no ‘before’ and ‘after.’ I never had to experience that  phone call or witness the news reports or hear the doctor use forever words that changed everything. But I’ve been on my knees beside others as they’ve gone through it. I’ve cried endless tears and clinched their hand in mine to keep them from free-falling into the abyss of grief. I’ve watched it all unfold as people move from ‘before’ to ‘after’ through no choice of their own.

None of those who’ve clawed their way through would describe it as a ‘blessing.’


So, I had a tough time with that scripture and those glossed-over words.

But Jesus wasn’t mistaken when he said those words. Trust me.

I read the scripture again, this time as a complete sentence.

Matthew 5:4. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

For they shall be comforted?

Because the comforting will last as long as the mourning does. And that’s where the blessing comes in.

And Jesus spoke those words as a promise. A commitment.

He will take care of the comforting–if we let him.

The comforting comes in those dark moments in the middle of the night when all we can do is whisper his name.

It comes in the morning, when we make the decision to just get up and get dressed, because that’s the best we can do.

It comes in finding a reason to keep on living.

It comes in making sure there is no one who doubts how we feel about them.

It comes in facing the holidays with a sense of dread, because the joy that used to come so naturally is impossible to find. But we try.

It comes when every new memory is a lonely one.

It comes when people stop talking about our person.

It comes when we sometimes wonder if he ever really existed at all.


Jesus comforts in intensely personal ways, as he whispers over us to prove he knows our story. To prove he is there, in the middle of it, even.

I believe comforting also comes in the way those of us who mourn are drawn to each other.

Like deep calls to deep, when the hole inside of us longs to be with someone who understands; someone who is as plugged into Heaven as we are.

This is truly part of the blessing– finding all the others, so we won’t have to face this alone.


Mourning is asking Jesus to show you what matters most.

Being comforted is finding out the answer.

It’s you and your pain.

You and your person.

You and your story.


The comforting lasts as long as the mourning.

Until forever.

Well, at least 48 years for me, so far.



Daddy – the mysterious man in the picture




My Fathers in Heaven

published on Open to Hope on 6/11/15.

Both my fathers are in Heaven. For me, it has always been this way. If God watched me from the moon, Daddy rested on the brightest nearby star.

I grew up dreaming of the time I would get to meet my Daddy, face to face. I sought out his footsteps, so I could somehow follow a shadow never seen for myself.



Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine

This is an annual magazine. See pages 31 – 35 for my articles from last year. I had the chance to interview some wonderful authors who call Nashville home.




If I Could Write the Story….


They say every picture has a story to tell.

On the surface, this one nothing special, really.

Two brothers sitting on a couch, apparently watching television back when that was probably a thrill. Underneath all those blankets, my Daddy is holding a baby in his lap, giving her a bottle.

Could that baby be me?

That possibility rocks my soul to the core. If it is, this is the only picture we have of him holding me.

For a little girl with no memories of my own, this is priceless.

Either way, I love this picture. For its simplicity. For who is in it. For what it shows, and what it does not.

Just two brothers, hanging out in a living room. Raising their families together. The way it was meant to be.

If only….

Daddy died from a car accident on November 15, 1967.

His older brother, Jerry, died from a motorcycle accident on November 14, 1968.

We all grew up in the shadows of this truth.

Still, we will never fully understand it.

But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

Because it’s November. And this is what I do.

I study pictures, and allow myself to imagine:



It’s a lazy summer Saturday, sometime after lunch. Daddy rests on the sofa, giving me a bottle with little effort. It’s easier the second time around. 

Jerry yawns, suddenly aware that the house is too quiet. Baby Steven is down for a nap, but that rarely lasts long enough. . 

Outside, Jeanna squints in the sunlight, peering from between Mommy’s legs, her left hand twiddles the ends of her ponytail. She’s the shy one; never sure what to do around the boy cousins.

Mommy lifts her up so she can see better, but Jeanna buries her head into her shoulder instead.  

Aunt Betty steers Charlie around on his tricycle, trying to keep him out of the street. Tiger circles them all on his bike. The training wheels about ready to come off, wobbling him back and forth across the grass. He jumps off the bike, letting it stop on its own. 

“I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink?” he asks.

“Sure, let’s go inside.” Betty answers. 

Tiger clamors inside before she can finish the sentence. The screen door slams behind him.

“Watch the door. Your brother is sleeping.” She calls after him, more out of habit than of hope that he will listen. It’s too late anyway. 

Charlie follows in his brothers footsteps while Betty careens the bike and tricycle together by the sidewalk. 

Mommy takes Jeanna inside, stepping around the open refrigerator door, where Tiger is trying to pour his own drink.

Jerry scoops Charlie into his arms as he steps into the kitchen. “Need some help there, Son?”

“I got it.” Tiger answers, sloshing the red kool-aid pitcher back to the counter. Betty pushes the refrigerator door shut as she enters the kitchen. 

Jerry rustles his fingers through Tiger’s sweaty hair. Charlie reaches for the pitcher of kool-aid, so his Daddy  rummages through the cabinets to find a cup with a lid.

In the living room, Mommy places Jeanna on the couch, standing next to Daddy.  I’m asleep on Daddy’s shoulder, so Mommy reaches to take me into the hallway, away from the impending noise. 

Steven cries from the back bedroom. Betty rushes past Mommy to get to him, before he wakes me up. 

After Betty changes him, she carries Steven on one hip into the living room. His hair bounces as she walks. The automatic twinkle slowly returns to his deep brown eyes. Betty sets him down in the kitchen. 

Mommy and I settle into the rocker in Steven’s room. The door is cracked just enough to hear the voices and laughter from the living room.

Jeanna cuddles in Daddy’s lap, facing him, her hands clutched against his chest. She giggles when Steven toddles into the room, wearing nothing but a diaper. 

Jerry has returned to his corner of the sofa. Steven climbs onto the couch and quickly finds his way underneath the crook in his Daddy’s arm. Charlie stands between Jerry’s legs, propping his elbows on his elbows on his Daddy’s knees.

Tiger lays crossways on a recliner across the room, about to realize he’s bored. Aunt Betty leans against the doorway with her hand on one hip. 

Daddy pokes Steven in the belly. Steven chuckles. Charlie takes the cue and does the same from the other side. Tiger meets his Daddy’s eyes from across the room, then jumps to his feet. 

Uncle Jerry scoots Charlie over and drops to his knees on the floor. Tiger jumps on his back, then Charlie does the same.  

Jeanna twists around in Daddy’s lap so she can see better. 

Aunt Betty jumps back as the conglomeration of Jerry, Tiger and Charlie rolls toward her in a fit of laughter. Steven slides off the couch to join his brothers. 

Daddy slips Jeanna off his lap, then grabs Steven and collapses in the other direction. 

Jeanna watches for a few seconds, kicking her legs to and fro. She scoots off the edge and jumps into her Daddy’s arms, willing to try this wrestling thing after all. 

“Shhh. You’ll wake the baby.” Aunt Betty cautions. 

But it’s too late.

I can hear every beautiful minute of it. 

The most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard. 


If every picture has a story to tell, this is the story I choose for this picture. And it’s my favorite.

Tiger (Jerry Dale), Charlie, Steven, Jeanna & Janet Morris. It's been almost 50 years, and still, there's no place we'd rather be than in this living room with these two heroes.

Tiger (Jerry Dale), Charlie, Steven, Jeanna & Janet Morris. It’s been almost 50 years, and still, there’s no place we’d rather be than in this living room with these two heroes.


For Tiger, Charlie, Steven and Jeanna. Because it still matters. I love each of you.

For Mom and Aunt Betty. Because you are amazing.

For Daddy and Uncle Jerry. Because it’s November. And I hope you know how much we love you.

Letter to my new Daughter-in-law

To my new Daughter-in-law

Here’s the thing about being a writer; even a writer who feels like it’s been forever since I wrote anything of significance.

My words, always ready and waiting to burst from my seams, express how I truly feel much better than any greeting card or pre-packaged or framed poem. I waste a few hours searching the internet for the perfect gift that says exactly what I want it to say, then I give up in frustration.

This is usually a good thing. Because then, I know it’s time.

I lock my door, turn on some music (usually whatever song matches my mood, on repeat) and give myself permission to release it all to the page.

This happened a few weeks ago, when I was asked to write a letter to the girl who would soon become my daughter-in-law.

My first thought was to promise to never intervene in her marriage or with her family; to give her the support she needed from a distance. To respect her as a wife and mother. To love the love story she has created with my son. I wanted to tell her my son is a better person because of her; and that he was pretty special to start with.

I could easily have written a 30-page letter. I’ve been known to do such a thing.

But instead, I cried for hours. Happy tears. Prayerful tears. Tears reserved only for life-changing moments.

And this was the result.

My Dearest Lauren,

On this night so perfect,
Of something old, something new,
I want you to know that
I prayed for you.

From Andrew’s first heartbeat
To the one that found you,
For all of his life,
I prayed for you.

From the sparkle in his eyes
To the ease of his smile,
I prayed for the one
Who would make it worthwhile.

The one you see here –
This man of your dreams
Was once the son who believed
He could climb moonbeams.

So I prayed for someone
Who could dream with him too.
You’re the one who completes him.
I’m so thankful it’s you.

His heart is of gold,
Fiercely loyal and true.
And you are the one
He has given it to.

His determination, his spirit,
His drive to succeed.
I prayed for the family
He would one day lead.

You are such a treasure,
Chosen. Adored.
His treasure, now ours.
A Grimes, forevermore.

So live, laugh and love
And hold on for dear life.
It’s your journey now
For you are his wife.

Your story will last
More than borrowed and blue
I know this because
I prayed for you.

I simply adore you.


The Hour I First Believed


Published on Inspire a fire on January 27, 2014.


I remember it like it was yesterday.

I rode on the back of a bike driven by Sandy, my sister’s friend. My six-year-old legs dangled as we sped down the hill, my arms wrapped tightly  around Sandy’s waist. Jeanna, my nine-year-old sister, followed a few feet behind us. I turned over my shoulder to see her stand up on the pedals to coast all the way down.

But her front wheel wobbled back and forth, and then I heard the crash and a scream. Sandy hit the brakes. She threw her bike down and  we scrambled back to Jeanna. She lay face down in the middle of the street. A crowd of grownups already circled around her. Someone knelt down to roll  her over. Her arms and legs flopped around like a rag doll. Her face was covered in blood. Her eyes wouldn’t open. Sirens blasted in the distance, growing closer to us.

“Please don’t let her die!” I cried out to anyone who would listen.




The Fog of Grief

In his arms

Published on Inspire a Fire on January 13, 2014.


Dear Jesus,

I never thought these words would come from my mouth.

And I’m not sure how to say this, really.

But I have to try.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2013, and how it was filled with unexpected twists and turns that in many ways crushed many parts of my soul. It left me frightened and uncertain. Stunned. Damaged. Heartbroken. Untrusting. Immobile.

It brought me to my knees, which eventually led me straight into your arms.

And for that, I am so thankful.



Favorite Place I’ve Never Been

Cherish my bride

Published on Inspire a Fire on November 16, 2013.


The emptiness is always there, just beneath the surface. Never the focus, rarely mentioned, but ever present.

But twice a year, I allow myself to feel it, raw and unfiltered. November 15th is one of those days. Because as of today, it’s been 46 years since I lost my father.

It’s how my story began, and I never want to reach the point where it doesn’t matter, or it ceases to hurt. If  I ever cross that line, that probably means I’ve stopped feeling completely.

And what kind of life is that?


Read more:  http://www.inspireafire.com/favorite-place/

Assisted Living


Published on November 4, 2013.

She came in late, as if in a rush, and looked around nervously before taking one of the few available seats. She exhibited more energy than the rest of them, and stood out because she was able to move about without assistance from a walker or wheelchair. Her posture was straight and firm; a stark contrast to her uncertain demeanor. Her clothing – perfectly ironed mauve colored pants with a matching plaid blouse. In her seat, she fidgeted with her hands like a first-grader. Her white tennis shoes tapped to an imaginary beat throughout the abbreviated worship service.

I had not noticed her there before.

She picked up a hymnal and rested it in her lap while she fingered her way to the announced page numbers. I couldn’t tell from across the room if she sang aloud or just mouthed the words, but she participated and seemed comforted by the church setting, even if it was in the open lobby of the Care Stone Nursing Home.


Read More: http://www.inspireafire.com/assisted-living/

Father’s Day Walks. Father’s Day Talks.

As published in Inspire a Fire – June 10, 2013. 

Dear Daddy,

I did it again tonight.

I went looking for you. Well, at least the faint outlines of your footprints.

I found the street you used to live on and tried to figure out which house it was. I wandered. And wondered.

I knew you lived in one of the upstairs apartments on Observatory Drive. I searched the older houses, the ones that may have been there almost 50 years ago. From the street, I gazed into the upper windows, and pictured you watching, waiting, waving. Was it a front entrance up the side or would you come running from the back yard? I assume you would be wearing dark pants and a white dress shirt; the ones from the pictures. You should be over 70 by now, but I just can’t see you that way. So I guess you will still be 27. Eternally 27.

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