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valerieluesse
Alabama
Freelance writer/editor and Southern storyteller
Recent Activity
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A couple of nights ago, we had meatloaf balls for supper—not just any meatloaf balls—Mama Sue’s. Dave loved them, and so did I. We’ll be raiding her cookbook again very soon. And I love watching the YouTube videos that I’m pretty sure her daughter, Amy, talked her into making. My... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Goin' Down to Mama's
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During my brief sojourn as a freelancer, one of my clients was a magazine for the Association of Recovery in Higher Education. They created a national, well-organized network of Collegiate Recovery Communities designed to help young people who were recovering from addiction return to campus and successfully complete their degrees.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 10, 2021 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I’m turning into my Mother. So there’s that. But I don’t mind really. If you’re going to turn into somebody else, Mama’s not a bad choice. After years of teasing her about being The Bird Lady, I found myself looking out the huge front windows of the Story Shack, where... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2021 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Daddy and me posing in front of a long-ago Christmas tree at Grandme's house. I think we can all say it together: This Christmas was different. And while there were things that I missed, there were others I didn’t. Number one on that list is crowds. The older I get,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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This December, despite all the hardships and "not normal" of 2020, I'm doing something I've always wanted to do but never had the opportunity: I'm embracing the quiet side of Christmas. As an introvert who relishes solitude, I realize I have a great advantage this season over those who thrive... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 Last week, my publisher sent me a list of questions to answer about my fourth book. They’ll be used to generate press coverage when it's released next year. One... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I’ve heard everybody from pastors to parents say it. And I’ve said it myself many times: This year has been hard. And it will get harder before it gets better. But it’s going to get better. The closer we get to that light at the end of the tunnel, the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 6, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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This morning I stumbled onto a video by cellist Wendy Law, who played the same classical piece on three different cellos: one cost $5000, one cost $180,000, and the last one cost $1 million. She encouraged viewers to comment on whether they could tell a difference in the sound among... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15 Let the peace of God rule. Be thankful. If I can hold onto those two things alone, I can deal with anything. But sometimes I don’t.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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A cool wind is blowing through the trees this morning. With the possible exception of ocean waves, I think that’s my favorite sound in all of nature—wind in the trees, be they pines or palms. Dave and I have been known to hurry onto the nearest porch when a storm’s... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Anything in particular been on your mind this week? I feel like we all need a month at the beach to decompress. But we should probably check to see where the latest hurricane is before we head out. Dave asked me why I keep yelling “LOCUSTS!” at the TV whenever... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
It doesn’t take a lot to do a lot. A single candle can bring enough light to break through the scary unknown of a dark room. It may not illuminate the whole space, but it’ll give you enough visibility to take one step and then another. I think we’re all... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Yesterday, I got to enjoy a simple pleasure that has been mine since childhood: I watched a cotton picker roll through the red dirt and begin the fall harvest season. When I was a kid, there was no greater adventure than riding on the pickers with my uncles—now run by... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I woke up this morning with nothing to say, so I gave myself a present and didn’t try. Instead I sat on the porch of the Story Shack, coffee cup in hand, and felt the rainy mist blow on my face. I don’t think Estee Lauder sells anything that makes... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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We’re about to go through annual evaluations at work, and that has my mind drifting in a corporate direction this morning. Nobody has ever suggested that I have a head for business—or even a passing interest, for that matter. Math makes me queasy. I wouldn’t know how to read a... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I was looking up some Bible verses this morning and stumbled onto a passage that contained “and your heart will rejoice.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since because it goes deeper than laughter or happiness—your heart rejoicing. I’ll be honest here—lately I’ve found it difficult to achieve any of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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There’s a cool wind blowing in the trees this morning—what my mother calls “a little touch of fall in the air.” The heat of another summer is passing, the chilly winds of harvest season are here, at least in the morning. As the weather cools, we’re coming to the end... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I’ve always loved pretty boxes—wooden, glass, fabric-covered, floral-printed—containers that don’t look like they’d be doing something as utilitarian as hiding letters, stickie notes that have lost their stick ’em, story research, and all of my “to be dealt with later.” If the box in question has a hinged lid with... Continue reading
Posted Sep 13, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
Sometimes we feel more than we can verbalize. Sometimes words fail us. We can only be still and quiet and receive God's grace and peace. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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There’s an image in my mind that will never go away. A few months after Hurricane Katrina, I was riding through Biloxi, Mississippi, with a friend and Southern Living photographer, both of us stunned into silence. I had never seen anything like it. Recent footage of Laura’s damage brought those... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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This morning I was looking for a Scripture passage I could only partially remember, so I went to BibleGateway and typed in “gathered together.” There were 148 results. There’s an awful lot of gathering together in the Bible, which explains why we miss it so much when we can’t do... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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My mother’s favorite hymn is “Blessed Assurance.” Probably a close second is “For the Beauty of the Earth.” I never connected those two before, but this morning when I was sitting on the porch of the Story Shack, having the coffee that is required to make me human in the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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Yesterday I went to the mailbox expecting the usual ads and bills but instead pulled out a card from a dear old friend who took the time to write the sweetest message. In a nutshell, what she said was, “Sometimes I think you need reminding that you matter.” My. Goodness.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I guess this year has made all of us a little philosophical. We've definitely had more time to think. This morning, I've been thinking about my job and what a big part of my life it has been. Southern Living has been a life-long enrollment in continuing education, and I'm... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's
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I’m thinking this morning about photographers. They’re like poets because they can capture a whole spectrum of emotions in a single image. Whereas writers expand on ideas, photographers distill them. They can tell a whole story in one shot. (Hence, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” You can quote me... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2020 at Goin' Down to Mama's