Becoming Russell: Snow Globe


“How many more will wander past to find me here among the ashes,
Will You hold me? Will You stay?
So I can raise this broken praise to You, oh.”-Broken Praise, Todd Smith

We live a snow globe life, frozen in place with no way out. People come and look on, but really can’t do anything. Dead isn’t the right word, but neither is alive. It just feels like everything’s frozen in place, in this middle place–struggling usually, rich never, okay sometimes. It’s roller-coaster effect: one week you’re eating Moe’s and the next week you can’t afford toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, and your car’s being taken away.

But why eat Moe’s when your car is being taken away? Well, to be frank…the damn thing is going to be taken whether we like it or not so why not go eat nachos covered with queso?  You know…$20 at Moe’s is much easier to come up with than $250 for a car payment.

I digress.

This is our story and this is how we’ve felt, year after year. If something is going well, don’t expect it to last. Because it never does. The minute we finally have arrived in a place where we could start to tackle the load of debt we owed, someone would get fired or something would break.

You learn not to talk about it because you don’t want pity, you don’t want someone to give you money because then you’ll feel awful, and you don’t want someone feeding you answers because every pat answer has been explored. You clean up, show up, and shut up.

And I think I’m tired of it. Our story needs to come from us for a change, not anyone else. It’s no one else’s business, but after years of our name being drug through the mud I just want you to know…it’s not what you think.

Some have suggested that we’re cursed. Most that my dad did something to deserve this, that he’s lazy. But here’s the thing…my dad has had 55+ jobs in his life. And I sit here, looking over the extensive resume of a man who’s worked since 11 years old and…I don’t see a lazy man. I just don’t see it. Because I don’t think you can reasonably argue that anyone who’s had over 50 jobs is lazy unless you have a personal, strong dislike of that individual.

However… the older I get, the more I see God in the hard times. Beyond all the hurtful rumors, beyond all the hurtful struggles. I am always more than willing to express how bad it could feel to grow up in poverty–how much it could hurt. How much it could tear you down. But now I choose to see it as a strength. I like to think poverty was God’s way of bringing us to Himself. I see Him whispering, “Ah, not you, love. You won’t be like the others. I’m making something really beautiful.”

Different. But beautiful.

It was January of 1999 when we moved into a missionary’s home while he and his wife were abroad. My mom tried explaining to the man that we weren’t stable enough, but he assured her that it would be fine and that he wouldn’t charge us for 3 months until we got our feet on the ground. So we bit.

My dad quit selling for the cemetery in late 1998 and transitioned to a position as a parts man for a cabinetry shop. But for a family of 5, $1,200/month isn’t enough and my mom was struggling with anxiety over how the bills would get paid. A friend of my dad’s told him about a job selling cars where he would make $500/week for the first 8 weeks and then the company would transition him into full commission, which meant if he could sell 2 cars a week he could make $750-1,500/week.

And one thing you should know? My dad is a good salesman. He knows how to talk to people and he’s very down-to-earth. In his mind, this opportunity was the best bet at having a good life.


New job: check.

Place to stay: check.

Things were looking up, but then the snow globe was drop-kicked.

Six weeks into his new job, my dad was laid-off along with all the other new people because of a change within the company. And then my parents were late to pay April’s rent and were about to approach the missionary to tell him we couldn’t afford to stay there any longer. But he beat us to it and gave us a week to get out.

So we did. With that, another puzzle piece shifted into place: we were re-acquainted with the people whose church we would attend for 13 years. The pastor of that church knew our grandparents and allowed us to live in their camper. Mom and the three of us only stayed for 2 weeks, but my dad stayed there for the majority of that summer while working Home Depot and saving up. As for the rest of us, Mom placed a call and it was off to Michigan to stay with her dad for 2 months.

My grandfather lived in this small town in this large, Victorian-style blue house. He was this fascinatingly reserved person and it seemed that everything about him was gray, from his hair to his beard to his cat. I stayed in his spare bedroom while my brother and sister slept in the same bed as my mom.

That town, in my view, was magic. It was the sort of place where Fourth of July parades were held and a gas station also posed as an ice cream shop and the library was a block away. That summer was like something out of Huckleberry Finn in its ordinary beauty. We walked to the library often and after bath time, Mom read books to us. That was the summer I learned to ride a bike; that was the summer Anthony turned 5 and Dad sent him a Mickey Mouse watch; that was the summer we got a kitten and named her Snowflake; that was the summer I learned how to stand on my hands underwater. And to this day, there is a mirage of children’s paintings on an alleyed-brick wall that we made messy contributions to.

The only problem with that summer? I still missed my dad. #daddysgirl

By August we were back in South Carolina and everything was flipped upside-down. We were in a new church with new people. Anthony was in kindergarten and I was in 1st grade, so we attended the school attached to the family-operated church. Dad was still at Home Depot and worked a second job where he sold trailer parts. Then in late-August or the beginning of September, my dad was offered a job with a local heavy equipment organization. So he quit selling trailer parts and held onto his job at Home Depot.

Roughly ninety days later, my dad’s newest boss found out he was working two jobs and made my dad choose. He chose the more-steady income.

But a week later, that same boss who made him quit his other job fired him.

Mhm. The life we lead, people. The. Life. We. Lead.

By that point, 1999 was coming to an end and well…

Mama went back to work.




Liebster Award Nomination, Baby!


Well, hi there. I have been nominated for the Liebster award by Go check out her blog! She’s doing pretty awesome things over on her blog!

To qualify for the award, each blogger has to do the following:

  1. Thank the blog that nominated you on a post in your blog.
    2.Answer the questions asked by the blog that nominated you.
    3.Nominate 5-11 other new bloggers.
    4.Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
    5. Notify all nominees via social media.

Here are the questions mamajeans had for those she nominated:

1. What is your favorite food?

Oh my gosh. I’m such a foodie. But I have to say tacos. Like Taco Bell tacos, man. They taste like heaven, but will definitely cause heart failure.

…and I might have a small problem with ice cream. Minute, really.

2. What is your style? Do you get all dolled up, or are you sweatpants and a tank top type girl?

I really love dressing quirky, but nice. But I don’t worry about comfy because I’m the type of girl who lounged in church clothes as a kid. I’M TALKING PANTY HOSE. I have a thing for wordy t-shirts and I have an on-going love affair with jeans. And also…Sperry’s are my jam.

3. If you were independently wealthy, what would you do with your time?

Okay, I’ve had this planned out for awhile. Ahem. From January to the end of February, I would own a home in Hawaii and stay there to work on writing while I wait out the winter. (I seriously hate cold weather and winter is depressing. I can’t.) But then from March to mid-September, I would own a little place in the South Carolina countryside where I would still write, but also develop the land and donate the fruits and vegetables to local families who can’t afford to eat healthy. Then I would take a two-week break to celebrate my birthday with my family–or ditch my family to take a cruise. I can’t decide. AND THEN, I would own a townhouse in Greenville, SC where I would write, enjoy fall, and spend the holidays with my family.

And honestly, I would probably donate a lot of money to people who needed it.


I know. I’m an odd bird.

4. Worst habit?

Procrastinating. And eating too many tacos.

5. What is your best quality in your opinion?

I like that I’m really understanding of people.

6. What is your favorite game?

I have this game I play with myself where I see how irritating I can be to my little sister and then I die laughing. It’s funny because all I have to do is give her a hug or walk around with no pants on. She loves me.

7. Do you have kids? If so how many? If not, do you have any fur babies?

No kids, but I have a dog and a cat. (But if it were up to me, I’d have 5 dogs. Straight up.)

8. Who is your celebrity crush?

Theo James from Divergent. HAVE YOU SEEN HIM?!

9. Why did you want to blog? Are you wanting to reach a certain audience?

I’ve been blogging since I was 15, off and on, and I think it started out as a way to talk about my life and ramble on. But now, I really want it to be a way I reach out to audiences who are still in the shadows and feel like no one gets them. I guess I want to be a shout in the darkness.

10. How do you cope with negativity?

Oh my gosh. It depends on who it’s from. If it’s from one of my family members and I know it’s completely unfair, I speak my mind. But if it’s from a friend, I tend to take it all into myself and not deal with it until it’s all bubbling up inside. And then I eat my feelings. GREAT LIFE CHOICES.

11. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?

I would go to Ireland, I’m thinking. It just seems like a magical place. But I would find a way to stop off at the Denver airport first so I could see if anything weird happens. Yes. I’m that person.

And now for the nominees:

I loved the variety of blogs that came my way–each of them offer so much talent, information, and personality. Congrats to all!

  1. (She talks such real talk,but she does it with a great sense of humor! I love it!)
  2. (Hannah writes about everything from makeup to fashion with such ease and a fun sense of humor that you’d be crazy not to follow her! Keep doing you, girl!)
  3. (If you want to learn how to give a room some pizzazz, this is the blog for you, my friend. They definitely know how to make a room bright and clean! …which is the opposite of mine for sure!)
  4. (Wow–that’s all I can say. Not only is this blog in support of a great goal, the blog posts are well-written and thought-provoking. Best of luck in all your goals!)
  5. (This blog follows the life of a pharmacist and mother of two. This blog has a little bit of it all, discussing health, how to deal with others who are going through health problems, celebrity news, and more. I love how honest she is in her writing!)
  6. (This blog follows the life of a mom who talks about a lot of good resources for children’s entertainment by showing you what they read in their house. It’s bound to make you smile!)
  7. (This blogger has a pretty unique perspective on life and tells it all with an easy, reflective style. She talks music and art, writes poetry, and has a pretty legit bucket list!)
  8. (Finally! Someone just talking about everyday life. From growing up to music and much more, this blogger talks about it all with a sense of humor and a down-to-earth style.)
  9. (If you want to know more about SEO and need a resource, this is for you! Lots of good information on this blog.)
  10. (If you love DIY and learning how to refurbish your home in a relatable, fun way then this is the blog for you. Check it out!)
  11. (This is the blog of two newlyweds making their way through married life, tackling each thing (like dinners and taxes!) with humor, wit, and style. You rock!)

Questions for the nominees:

  1. If you were on a deserted island and could only eat one food indefinitely, BUT you could have as much as you wanted of it…what would it be?
  2. If you had to choose either no cell phone or no social media for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
  3. If you could rid the world of one thing, what would it be?
  4. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  5. What is your main goal for your blog?
  6. Are you fluent in any languages?
  7. What is the thing you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of?
  8. Okay, you’re in a burning building and you can only bring one thing out with you. What would it be?
  9. If you could have a conversation with anyone in the world, who would it be?
  10. What is your favorite book and/or author?
  11. And lastly…since you’re on Not Your Average Coffee Bean–ahem–Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? This is the definitive question.

Thank you all for participating in Weirdest Questions Ever–I’ll be here all week!

Not Your Average Coffee Bean out, y’all.