Counting Mercies

It’s a most unusual Thanksgiving. Instead of the typical flurry of preparation, I spent the morning scouring the internet for antique slag glass lamps (I’m obsessed) and historic wallpaper patterns. Afterwards, a leisurely ramble through the pasture with the animals, and lunch in the yard—it’s mild enough here in the South to eat outdoors, at least in the middle of the day, but brisk enough for a sweater and Daddy’s old hunting jacket.

Late in the day we’ll gather at the home of beloved friends across town for a traditional feast and the best of fellowship. But right now, we’re savoring the quiet of our place, the sunlight kindling amber-colored lanterns in the hickories, the clucks and squabbles of the hens in the barnyard and the crackle of squirrels foraging in the leaves.

We’re so thankful to be here on our property. So very grateful for this refuge of an RV which (dare I say it?), is becoming homier by the day. We’re thankful that our house did not burn utterly to the ground, as the firefighters assured us it very well might have done. And oh-my-heavenly-goodness, we’re thankful for the work that’s been accomplished around here in the past week.

This is actually what progress looks like!

On November 15 our restoration began in earnest, and the air has rung with the music of hammers and power tools ever since. I never imagined how sweet that sound could be, or how I’d come to reverence the scent of sawdust and the traffic jam of contractor’s trucks in my driveway. (I also never imagined the full-on chaos once the work finally commenced, or the myriad on-the-spot decisions to be made and fixtures/doors/windows/hardware to be sourced yesterday.) In many ways, it’s like building a house from scratch—with very clear existing limitations in place. A fascinating puzzle, to be sure, and one requiring a rather heady blend of flexibility and ingenuity.

And we’re thankful for our general contractor. He is the answer to our prayers—and to many of yours, as well. I told him the other day that he’s like a conductor directing an orchestra of subs (including us! ;)), and it’s true. You’ve never seen such a combined force of humor, brilliance, kindness, and drive. We are glad, glad that Danny and his crew are part of our story. And under the ‘staff work of the Omnipotence’, we know that it’s no coincidence.

Finally, I just want to say how deeply, dearly thankful I am for all of you. The little community that has gathered here has always been a source of grace in my life, and never more so than now. Every comment, every assurance that you’re praying for us and that you have faith in the beauty that will be given for these ashes, means more to Philip and me than we could ever express.

I was touched and overwhelmed by your response to my query about an email newsletter chronicling our restoration story. I’m utterly delighted to know that this idea resonated with so many of you! It will be fun for me to share this journey in such a personal way. Thank you for being excited with me—and for your friendship here in sunshine and in shade. Truly, to think of you is to thank God for your kindness and virtual companionship.  

I hope to have the first newsletter ready to go in the next week or so. Soon I’ll have my software engineer/gentleman farmer husband arrange a proper sign up, but, in the meantime, if you’re interested in following a more detailed account of our home and its story, feel free to leave a comment here or on the previous post.  

I hope you all have a most blessed Thanksgiving, and that your year is indeed crowned with blessings. Know you are in my prayers, even as I send these words into the world, and that I’m grateful today that God has allowed our paths to cross.

Under the Mercy,



There is no “better” place than this, not in this world. And it is by the place we’ve got, and our love for it and keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven.
~Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry


  1. Love this and you. The Hebrew word picture for widow can be “desolate house” so for past few years He has been rebuilding this desolate house. He is a Master Builder as I am sure you are discovering.

  2. Thank you for your love, Lanier, extended to us across the miles. One day, we all will meet around the Throne…..won’t that be a wonderful reunion! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your dear ones.

  3. How encouraging to be hearing the sound of power tools, smelling new lumber. Watching a space become a house is a fascinating process–so glad you have the ‘bones’ to work with and restore.

  4. I have not commented before, but I love your writing and was heartbroken when I read about the fire. I am so happy that your house was able to be rebuilt instead of demolished. I would enjoy getting email chronicling the restoration process of your home.

  5. Please add my name to the list receiving your newsletter. May
    God continue to bless you as you re-build. Love your attitude of gratitude.

  6. Oh my! The photos are heavy with hope. There is beauty in the becoming; the rafters and studs ring with hope. Please add me to the newsletter list. I share with you in the wideness of His mercy. How blessed we are regardless of our circumstances ♥

  7. The old lady has revealed her lovely bones and is now telling you how to introduce a new chapter of her story. So excited to be listening with you. Sign me up!

  8. Oh Lanier, your words and your faith are so beautiful. I am enriched every time I read a new post. What a blessing it is to be allowed a window into your journey!! Please sign me up for the newsletter.

  9. Your words stream across my heart like refreshing waters. In the midst of home repairs from the devastation of Hurricane Irma, they speak of the patience and peace I crave in the center of surrounding chaos. I’ll look forward to the coming story so add me to the list if I’m not already subscribed.

  10. Lanier, I’ve been reading along with you for 10+ years, thankful for all the beauty you share here, especially through seasons of heartbreak. I’d love to follow your journey of rebuilding, too.

  11. Hello Lanier!
    Last night at Lancia and Peters fabulous Thanksgiving feast, L shared
    What happened to your
    Beautiful antebellum Georgia home. As a Southerner I ached to hear
    Of this tragedy but thrilled
    To hear of how you together with the Lord are making it work together for good.
    I’m on your prayer team now . It is a privilege!
    (Regina’s mom in law)
    Kathrena? oh and of course keep me updated!!

  12. I’ve been reading your blog for years and following along with you through many of life’s up and downs, and Lanier, your words have always been a sweet source of joy in my life. I would love to keep up with you and your family as you continue to rebuild. What a beautiful picture of our God’s redeeming work!

  13. That Hannah Coulter quote at the end about did me in, Lanier. 🙂 So grateful as always for the beauty of your words and your vision, which reflect the beauty of your soul. Sending much love across the miles! xox

  14. I would also love to be put on your newsletter email list. Your journey this year has paralleled my own devastating extended illness, which has altered my life radically. Your honesty and transparency have encouraged me and watching the rebuilding of your home gives me hope that my own health will be renewed and joy will come again.

  15. I was reading in I Kings 19 this morning and thought of you. “…and after the fire a still small voice.” Please sign me up for your newsletter. Thank you!

  16. Dear Lanier, You are a gift. I rarely comment on blogs … but I think I wrote last post that your writing stirs my heart. Thank you for being so … well, thankful in the middle of difficult times. I would love to stay connected through your newsletter. Have a wonderful holiday season and blessings on your sweet little head.

  17. Please put me on your email list. I am so glad progress is happening. That must give you new hope. Your courage,your faith,your writings have been an encouragement to me through my own difficulties and discourments. God bless you! Lucinda

  18. Lanier,

    I know I emailed you a while back, to say yes, but just in case it is easier to transfer all the email addresses that you’ll be sending your updates to, from one place – I’m saying yes here in the blog comments too!

    Dear Hannah Coulter – how often she speaks our thoughts for us.

  19. Dear Lanier,

    Years ago, our paths crossed at Jekyll Island on our shared birthday. I’ll never forget the shock of the extra-ordinary at walking into the hotel lobby and seeing you and Philip sitting there conversing in French; it truly was like walking into a storybook, as your words on your blog had encouraged my heart so many times already. And then you whispered to the waiters to bring a surprise birthday dessert to our table-an episode that’s become a sweet family legend.

    Just this summer-a few weeks before July 27-I was married, and now my husband and I are daydreaming about restoring or building a home, while we pass the meantime in a vintagey 1930s apartment. I would love to receive your email newsletter as we look forward to embarking on a similar process someday!

    And may I just say too, after reading your blog for years and learning so much from you about Beauty, the last post may just have delved the deepest into my heart. It’s one thing to have confidence in a Beauty that is laborious but within reach; it’s another to have confidence in a Beauty reached only by faith in resurrection and expectancy of miniature miracles. That, I think, must be the Beauty of those who “look for the resurrection and the life of the world to come.”

    Thank you and praying for you!


  20. Lanier, your last couple of posts have encouraged my heart so deeply. Your faith is amazing and abounds in your writing. Thank you for sharing your heart with the many of us that you will never meet in person and yet you have impacted us (me) so much. Yes, please add me to your mailing list.

  21. Please add me to your email list as well, I’d love to follow the journey of beauty for ashes!

    A fellow Southern girl,

  22. Please add me to your mailing list as well!
    I loved your encouraging fanfare on “Golden Hours”. Pondering these days to simplify or just skip christmas this year altogether, it really made me jump. And feel guilty a bit… Really, it did me a lot of good to see that you are prepared. Even this year. So now, our house is decorated, four kinds of cookies wait in tins, a new christmas cd was purchased and there is light in my heart. Thank you so much.

  23. Please sign me up to receive the mailing of the progress of your rebuilding effort. I have followed your blog for years. I also look forward to the posting on Golden Hours.

  24. Please put me on your email list for the newsletter. I look forward to each blog, you and Philip are an inspiration.

  25. I would love to receive your newsletter. Thank you.

    God Bless you and keep you and make His Face to shine upon you and give you peace.

  26. Please add me to your newsletter mailing list! Hope you had a beautiful Christmas day and continue to enjoy this Christmas season.

  27. I would love to follow along on the adventure of restoring your beautiful house. Please send me the newsletter.

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