Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Tag: stories



If you suddenly had to pack up most of your belongings, but you couldn’t take everything, what would the things left behind say about you? The recent hurricanes have me thinking about things like this.

The other day my husband and I had the chance to explore an old, abandoned home. And not just old, but built in 1870. There were so many amazing features, and some not so amazing due to the lack of care for who knows how long.


The once beautiful stained glass around the front door gave the entry character, as well as this piece inside the home that the camera on my phone doesn’t do justice to. I also loved the double-sided fireplace.


I loved the entrance to the backyard. I’m even more impressed with how I caught the rays of light filtering down. As you can tell from my photos, I’m clearly not a photographer, but sometimes I fancy myself to be one.


The ruined garden showed the previous owners possessed a touch of whimsy. They clearly loved nature. There was a composter on the property and even a small greenhouse built on to what I imagine might have been an art studio, but that’s purely conjecture.


I’ve always wanted a house with little access doors like you see below. They just make my imagination run wild. My cousin had a small door that led into her unusually shaped closet at the top of the house when I was little and I thought that was so amazing. The poet, James Whitcomb Riley, had one like this in his house and he made up poems about it. My gramma used to read this one to me:

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,–An’ when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs, His Mammy heerd him holler, an’ his Daddy heerd him bawl, An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wuzn’t there at all! An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press, An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’-wheres, I guess; But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an’ roundabout:–An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you Ef youDon’tWatchOut! –from “Little Orphant Annie”


As I walked through the house, I tried to piece together my own story of what the owners were like and what they valued and enjoyed. While doing so, it made me wonder what someone would think about me if I suddenly pulled up roots and left pieces of my life behind.


Hmm…what do you think?

So, I did a little online research, and it turns out that many of my suspicions were accurate. It’s fascinating what just a few items can convey and what a home can say about a person, even when nearly stripped empty.

We love to watch home improvement shows at our house. Recently, we’ve been watching Good Bones which is actually based in Indianapolis. Many of the homes they renovate are historic homes just like this one and often have layers of items left behind. How does that even happen? Do the people die? How can they manage to leave all of their possessions behind? Abandoned homes scream tragedy to me, so I love to watch the people who can bring them back to life.

I’ve always had a big imagination. When I was in third grade I got in trouble because I scared my friend Hope with a story I made up about a house in the woods you could see from our neighborhood. Her mom called my mom because my tales of potential ghouls in the house gave her nightmares. I’m not sure whether to laugh now or be mortified! I think the people in this house were a bit interested in ghouls themselves.

So, here are my final questions. Would your home reflect a person you would be proud of if someone were to piece together the leftover puzzle of your life? Is the person you portray to others the person you actually are? Sometimes who we are and who we desire to be can be vastly different. Let that soak in for a bit. For me, these are sobering questions.

Here’s to more imagination,




Writing “The End”


What circumstances have you been dealt that were beyond your control?

Sometimes our stories don’t go as we had planned, or how we would have chosen for them to go given the chance. We can’t choose our family of origin, which for some can be a major detriment from the beginning. We don’t know when a spouse might leave, our job might be lost, or a health issue could present itself.

Lately, I have been dealing with some anxiety (which is thankfully much better). One of the things my doctor said was that I cannot control my initial reaction to a situation, but I can control my body’s response with effort. Focusing on my heart rate and breathing have been very helpful. We often have more control than what we think we do.

You may not be able to write the beginning of your story yourself, but the good news is you can control the end. What is wonderful, is that “The End” cannot be written without your permission.

In the book, Rising Strong, Brené Brown includes a quote by Maya Angelou that says, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Brown compiled research about stories of people who were brave, fell and got back up. She was trying to determine what they have in common that allowed them to rise again. Her research found that these people recognized the power of emotion and were willing to be uncomfortable. They reckoned with their emotions through curiosity, rumbled with their stories to find truth, and were able to create a true revolution in their lives (by the way, I think this book is amazing). As she says, “The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.”

Whatever difficulty you may be encountering today does not have to stay difficult tomorrow. It’s in the struggle that we are able to become an even more beautiful creation full of more grace, compassion, empathy, and bravery than we could have imagined.

“Write Your Story” by Francesca Battistelli (click to listen)

I’m an empty page
I’m an open book
Write Your story on my heart
Come on and make Your mark

Author of my hope
Maker of the stars
Let me be Your work of art
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

Write Your story, write Your story
Come on and write Your story, write Your story
Won’t You write Your story on my heart

What will the end of your story be?



Two Are Better Than One


coffeeFear came to call and brought along Weariness for a visit.

Because life happened. You know, those daily things that begin to seem overwhelming in the midst of everything else.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve experienced one problem after another around our household and heard one piece of bad news after the next.

Worries like raccoon feces on the roof and hornets repeatedly getting into the house. A jammed garbage disposal, stopped up bathroom sink, and computer software that won’t install top the list.

All this in the midst of trying to figure out yet another health issue for my sweet husband. Another appointment with another kind of “ologist.”

Additionally, we were supposed to go to Holiday World last Thursday (a nearby amusement park). My youngest got sick the night before. We thought we would try for Friday. My husband starting getting sick Thursday night. My oldest woke up not feeling the greatest Sunday morning. So, Sunday afternoon I was done. I crawled in bed and didn’t want to come out. Erratic hormone levels weren’t making things any easier, and I wanted to pretend the world didn’t exist for awhile. Do you ever wish you could just press a pause button for a bit, just until you can get a grip again? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Finally, I gained enough gumption to get to the grocery store. This took effort, let me tell you. When I got home I walked smack into another mini crisis. One of the boys had just dumped salsa and nacho cheese all over the carpet in a path marked with a clear trajectory. I proceeded to clean it up as my husband unloaded the groceries.

After finishing the clean-up,  I took the dishes upstairs and started to rinse them off. The garbage disposal jammed for a second time in a month. My temper flared. “Enough, already!” I wanted to scream. The culprit? A Lego gem. And I thought stepping on them was the biggest menace they could create. The good news was it took way less time to get it un-jammed since I knew what I was doing from my previous garbage disposal fiasco.

Luckily, I had scheduled some time with my friend, Keri, Sunday evening. Keri is the one person outside of my family who understands my life like no other person on the planet. When I tell her my worries and she says she understands, she isn’t just placating me. She really understands. She’s lived a lot of what I’m living and much more. Between both cancer and hearing loss in her family, among other items, our stories are eerily similar.

As we talked, the pressure of my burdens started to lift. Sometimes just speaking your troubles out loud frees you up a bit. She didn’t have answers for me, and she knew it, but she listened, nodded, and encouraged me.

One thing she said stuck out to me. She reminded me that unfortunately God often doesn’t take our problems away, but he can give us the support we need to get through them.

I went home feeling lighter. We were going to try to make it to Holiday World again the next day, and I felt re-energized for the trip.

We had a great time, right? Nope. We made it a few miles down the road and Joshua complained of a terrible headache. My husband stopped at CVS and we got some Tylenol. A couple more miles down the road he said his stomach didn’t feel good, and the look on his face said trouble was going to make an appearance. We turned around to head home, because who wants to ride roller coasters all day with an upset belly? A minute later we were pulled over at the side of Highway 37 with two boys retching in the back seat – one because he was legitimately sick and the other because he couldn’t stand the sight/sound of his brother getting sick. Fun times.

Now, you might think I went home and headed back under the covers. Not this time. After cleaning up the mess in the car I washed my hands. The soap was given to me by Keri the night before. As I pressed on the pump, I smiled and thanked God for Keri and her presence in my life. My difficulties may be ongoing, but at least I have good people to keep me from pulling the blanket over my head and staying there.

If you have any struggles right now, reach out. Our stories can keep one another going in a forward motion. Each of us possesses different threads of a story tapestry that when woven together produces a beautiful picture. The final product is much stronger than each individual thread on its own.

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesisastes 4:12






Photo from


© 2017 Amy Lanham

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑