Letters from Lee

My college career and plans were interrupted when God changed my location. I had big plans to move away from Montgomery, Alabama and never return.  So I moved to Nashville, and before I could blink, life pulled me right back to where I ran from.

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I had to adjust to a new school, with new people who had already settled into their friend groups and schedule.  It was a transition that was occasionally hard to navigate with joy.

I found this friend though. She and I had been in church together my whole life, but I never really treasured who she was.

*But she treasured me.*

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Her name is June.

June would have me over for snacks and coffee. We would sit in her little apartment for hours while she told me story after story that left my heart completely uplifted.  On days where I felt insanely lonely, I would call June and we would visit.  She really is one of my best good friends. June gave me a break from all my transitions in life.  She shared her time, her cooking, and her coffee with me, even her letters from Lee.

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Lee Dillard was June’s husband.  He died the year I was born, but their love story could seriously be the next box office hit. They married during the second of the world wars and just days after they wed, he left to fight for our freedom. He was gone for nearly two years, and all they had to communicate with was a paper and pen. The jewel she always waited for? Letters from Lee. She treasured them and still keeps them in a hat box in her closet.

Did I mention June and I are 67 years apart? 🙂

You see, June writes letters too. They are the sweetest , almost as sweet at her short bread cookies!

Her letters are heart felt and kind.  They are written for any occasion, with perfect penmanship and words that keep you going.

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I always felt like letters were pretty pointless. I have a cell phone that can write a”letter” in less than a minute, but spending time with June changed my mind.  I love that intentionality was all her generation had.  Letter writing kept their relationships alive and their hearts growing fonder of each other.

Don’t you desire intentionality? For a moment where you can read a letter and know that it took someone time to write, stamp, seal, and mail? I know I do. June teaches me about loving people with intention, even with a coffee cup in hand.

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I know it takes time, but pick a person this week to write a letter to or even put your cell phone down for. June was worth it to Lee, make someone else worth it you.

*If you like these adorable greeting cards, be sure to check out mkt.com/khards-by-nalin to buy these custom cards! 

Write a “khard” this week and have someone over for some Bell Blend coffee 🙂

8 O’Clock Coffee

My father grew up on a farm in a tiny town of Northern Alabama.  Every one in his family for generations were farmers so their lifestyle was full of community.  All Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents… you name it, they farmed.

A few years ago I was sitting in the kitchen of my parent’s home.  My dad and I were talking with each other and catching up on the latest news in life.  He walked to the pantry and pulled out a small bag of 8 o’clock coffee.  He looked at the already opened bag of coffee and his eyes welled up with tears*he’s always been an extremely emotional man.*

I rolled my eyes, “what’s wrong dad?” I asked, knowing he was about to tell me a story I had already heard a million times.  Instead… He told me a new one.

He looked up at me, shook the bag of coffee and said “Every night when I was a boy, all the farmers would come over for a cup of 8 o’clock coffee.  They would wind down after a long day in the fields and talk.  This coffee makes me miss the days when that was the normal.  8 o’clock coffee was the coffee to gather with. It created community Lou Lou.”

He said his small short story, shook his head, and walked to the coffee maker to put on a fresh pot.

This story never seems to leave me.  It is constantly in the back of my mind.  There really is something magical about coffee.  It is the only source that drags my 5’11 self out of the bed each morning, the pick me up at 3 pm, and the desired drink to go with dessert after dinner.

So, my husband and I came up with a plan to start roasting our own.  It was a little test at first.  We didn’t think it would be something we loved so much, but it completely captured us.

We order our raw beans from a company called Sweet Maria’s and the beans are imported from Columbia, with notes of honey and dark chocolate.  Cody tirelessly roasts the coffee to a medium roast and we now sell it for $10 a pound! I marvel at how this all came about.

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We call our coffee the Bell Blend.  So original right? 🙂

One day we hope to create a space in our city for coffee to be sipped and community to be formed.  A place where any person can be family, sitting around a table, sipping coffee… Bell Blend Coffee.

For now, instead of our own space, we gather around the living room of our tiny apartment, and sip coffee with any friend who wants some, even at 8 o’clock.

*If you are interested in buying some Bell Blend from us, click on the sub link under the coffee shop tab titled “Support our shop”.  The tab will send you directly to our square up website to purchase your very own bag!

The Table

Family is not about sharing DNA, but sharing time.

When I was a kid, the console TV was turned off, homework put away, American girl dolls put back in their trunks, and three little, blonde, curly-headed girls and their parents sat around an old table to have a meal together.  It never mattered the meal, it mattered the people.  We would sit for hours while my dad told us stories and asked us history questions. We would beg him to tell us how he met mom just ONE MORE TIME.  Mom would sit and gaze at him, giggle when he exaggerated their love story, and sip sweet tea.  Table time would last hours on end in our house, it made meal time the best time.

I watched as I grew older the way that my parents used a table to create family, to know souls, and to love God’s people.

About a year ago, my history professor and American dreamer of a Dad walked out of his office and discovered a line of African men sitting on the floor.  The men were soccer players and students at the University where Dad works.  They looked at him with desperation in their eyes and stood to greet him.

“Dr. Plunkett”, they quietly spoke in their thick Zimbabwe accents, “We hear you give people work, and sir, we need work.”

My dad nodded, they conversed, and work was given. My dad grew up on a farm and would gladly distribute work to anyone willing, it made him proud to see those young men eager to earn.

He gave them yard work and odd and end jobs that helped him day to day. But work was not all that was given, the table was.  My mom made extra food each day those boys would work and sent home endless amounts of food filled to the brim of her never ending amounts of tupperware, believe me, she does not lack in tupperware.

The boys began celebrating birthdays and holidays with my parents, giving above and beyond.  They began inviting others on their team, guys from other parts of Africa, to join them. On Fathers Day they flooded my Dad’s phone with text messages thanking him for being the best dad, for pushing them and believing in them.  On his birthday, they slipped a card under his door reading  “For our Dad.”

WHOA. *tears*

The boys became like family. They came to gatherings at my parent’s house, around the table. Every time they came, the TV turned off, phones were put away, and sweet tea was sipped. The laughter would erupt as the boys learned my parents love story and mom routinely rolled her eyes with a bashful smile. *She loves his exaggeration*.

Christmas day was different. Different for the “Zimbabwe Boys” (as my mother calls them), and different for the Plunkett Family.

The three little girls from years ago have grown and gotten married.  One was away with in-laws, while me and the other were sticking close to home.  Christmas felt weird, a little sad, and slightly unnatural.  We weren’t three, blond, curly-headed girls “oo-ing” over new dolls and a game of dream phone.  We were grown ups.

Nostalgia flooded my mind as I thought of what Christmas was once like for all of us together. Before I could get too emotional, the smell of pot roast, turkey, casseroles, and desserts flooded the house, erased those thoughts, and replaced them with a stirring of deep hunger in my belly.  And I realized. The table was about to be filled.

I helped mom with her finishing touches on dessert and in floods five, strapping men, dressed nice and smelling like a fresh shower.  *The Zimbabwe boys had arrived*, along with their friends from Cameroon and Morocco.  I realized right then that thousands of miles separated these handsome men from their culture, their blood, their DNA. These boys weren’t just soccer players from a foreign country to us though, they were family. 

It was no longer DNA that gave us all a sense of community; it was the table that brought us together.

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I wish this picture wasn’t so grainy.  It was the sweetest time sitting and learning from these awesome guys!

How often are you turning off your distractions to truly spend time with each other? May be something fun to try this week 🙂