Category Archives: Family


Nathan and Deanie

Nathan and Deanie

My grandmother would have turned 99 years old today. Deanie Flexer passed away in May of 2000 after an 8 year battle (on and off) with cancer. She was quite a character! She was also a business owner, hard worker, beloved grandmother, creative storyteller, and funny person. I miss her dearly.

When I think of my childhood, I think of Dee . . .

Sitting on her lap in the box office at our family’s movie theater, selling tickets and straightening dollar bills as she quizzed me on each president’s name.

Sitting at her kitchen table eating chicken a la king. Watching her cook with an apron around her waist and no recipe book in sight.

Going to the grocery store with her (riding in the car on that fold down arm rest in the front seat!)

Sleeping in church with my head on her lap.

Dee and I (circa 1994)

Dee and I (circa 1994)

Spending the night at her house and listening to her crazy “monkey tales” that she made up as she went along.

Making fun of her for ordering a “tornado” every time we begged for Dairy Queen blizzards!

Thinking back about Dee and all of the memories, I see the impact she had on the person I have become. I see it when I’m not afraid to be the only woman in the room during a business meeting. I see it as I write the “stories” in my book. I even see it when I curse my shape of my legs (the ones most likely inherited from her). I definitely see it when I speak my mind and become more like her each year.

I’m so blessed that I had 25 years with Dee as my grandmother. I grew up with a role model who left home at an early age to work and provide for her family. As a little girl, I watched a strong woman run a business, and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t possible for me to do the same.

Her life made an impact, and I hope my legacy is even half as amazing as hers.

My grandparents with Bob Hope

My grandparents with Bob Hope

Happy 99th birthday, Dee! I love you and can’t wait to see you again someday!

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Article in The News-Democrat from 2000:



Filed under Beginnings and Endings, Community, Faith, Family, Photos

To Be Forgiven

I recently came across this essay by Henri Nouwen. I could say so many things to preface it, but I’ll simply say that I felt it was important enough to post in its entirety here. Whether you’re a parent, a child, or both, I hope it meets a need for you.

To Be Forgiven
From: Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Copyright 1994, The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York, NY

“Many of us not only have parents but also are parents. This simple truth is quite sobering because it is not unlikely that our own children will spend quite a lot of time talking to their friends, counselors, psychiatrists, and priests about us! And we tried so hard not to make the same mistakes our parents made! Still, it is quite possible that, while we may be more tolerant than our fathers or mothers, our children may be complaining that we weren’t strict enough! And it is not unthinkable that, while we were making sure that our children were free to choose their own lifestyle, religion, or career, they may be talking about us as weak characters not daring to give concrete direction!

The tragedy of our lives is that, while we suffer from the wounds afflicted on us by those who love us, we cannot avoid wounding those we want to love. We so much want to love well, to care well, to understand well, but before we grow old someone will say to us, “You weren’t there for me when I most needed you; you didn’t care about what I was doing or thinking; you didn’t understand or even try to understand me.” As we hear these remarks or feel the criticisms of those we love, we come to the painful realization that—as we had to leave our father and mother, brother and sisters—they too have to leave us and find their own freedom. It is very painful to see those for whom we have given our life leave us, often in directions that fill us with fear.

It is here that we are called to believe deeply in the truth that all fatherhood and all motherhood come from God. Only God is the father and mother who can love us as we need and want to be loved. This belief, when strongly held, can free us, not only to forgive our parents, but also to let our children forgive us.”

Does this strike a chord with you as well? Do you agree with Nouwen’s essay?

Photo by Allison K. Flexer.


Filed under Beginnings and Endings, Extending Grace, Faith, Family

The Best Advice My Grandfather Never Spoke

Nandy during his Army days

Today, my grandfather turns 90 years old! When I was little, I couldn’t pronounce “Granddaddy.” Instead, it came out Nandy, and it stuck. My Nandy calls me his blue-eyed girl. Everyone else in my immediate family has brown eyes, so I get my blue eyes from him. It’s our special bond.

Nandy is a little unsteady on his feet these days, but he’ll tell you a story about something that happened 65 years ago (or yesterday) in perfect detail. He doesn’t say much. When he does speak, I’ve learned to listen because it’s important. I’ve also learned not to interrupt him. A pause doesn’t mean he’s finished. If you interrupt him, you might miss the best part of the story.

He is not the kind of man to brag or pat himself on the back. Actually, I’ve never heard him talk about himself at all. Unless we’re begging him to tell stories from his younger days. About 8 years ago, our hometown church named Nandy as an honorary deacon. At the ceremony, I heard things I already knew—about his decades of service as a Sunday School teacher and deacon at the church. But I was surprised to learn something I never knew. For years, Nandy led a weekly Bible Study at the county jail for the inmates there. In his typical humble manner, he extended his faith beyond the walls of the church.

During that ceremony honoring my grandfather, I decided something. I want to marry a man whose actions are greater than his words. Nandy rarely talks about his faith in Jesus, but he lives it out every single day. He seldom says much about love, but I’ve never doubted his love for me or our family. Many people talk about love and faith. But it’s rare to find someone quietly and simply acting them out every single day.

Nandy also lives out his love for my grandmother every day. He now does all of the cooking and household chores. He takes care of her basic needs. Recently, she had a short stay in the nursing home. He visited her every day and couldn’t wait to bring her back home. Even though it meant more work for him.

I’m still looking for the man I will marry. Although Nandy and I have never spoken about the topic, his living example serves as the best advice on relationships:

Actions speak louder than words. Love is a verb. Faith is alive.

I’ll keep looking, Nandy. I’ve met a lot of big talkers, but I’ll wait to find the one who simply lives out love and faith every day. Just like you.

Nandy, I love you. Happy 90th Birthday!

Your Blue-Eyed Girl


Filed under Faith, Family, Photos

The Tradition of a Table

Growing up, I ate dinner with my family every night around the kitchen table—the same one that still sits in the kitchen of my parents’ house today. Each Sunday after church, we ate a home-cooked Sunday dinner at my grandparents’ house (dinner = lunch for any non-Southern readers out there). Our family of four plus my grandparents sitting around a long table passing around southern style vegetables and pot roast. I have wonderful memories of those meals and conversations.

As a single adult, I don’t often sit at the table to eat. Sometimes I do, but I’m usually accompanied by a book or a laptop. Occasionally, I have friends over for dinner but not as often as I should. This weekend was a great reminder of why I should make the effort more often.

We were celebrating the birthday of one of my best friends this weekend, so I invited my friend C and her younger sister over for supper at my house on Saturday night. I planned an entire menu—a home-cooked meal of crab cakes, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, romaine salad with mandarin oranges and blueberries, rolls and a pie for dessert. It was so much fun to prepare a meal for my friends!

The table in my dining room (shown above) belonged to my grandmother—the same table where my dad ate dinner growing up, where I ate countless Thanksgiving dinners as a child, and where my mom and dad awkwardly sat as a dating couple while my mom attempted to make an extra-large hamburger disappear into her nervous stomach. Before my friends came over on Saturday, I set my beloved table with care. I lit candles; I used the best plates, silverware and glasses. I wanted to create a special ambiance for them.

C’s younger sister, B, is a freshman in college. Now that I have a home of my own, it’s easy to forget those days of dorms and cafeteria food. B was so excited to enjoy a real meal at a real table. When she texted her friends back on campus to tell them everything about the meal, I realized that my simple dinner was a big deal to her.

And I remembered those days in college when I lived on Captain Crunch cereal and rice with soy sauce. I remembered those days when I could not even imagine cooking a meal for myself, much less inviting people over for dinner. When I saw how much it meant to B, I made a decision. I will not let that dining room table continue to remain empty 95% of the time.

I want to carry on the tradition of my grandmother’s dining room table—a table where you come as you are, where you will feel loved, where you will laugh and eat until you’re stuffed. A table where, if you don’t finish everything on your plate, someone will surely ask, “What’s wrong? Are you in love?”—just like my grandmother asked me every single time I left anything uneaten on my plate.

What were some of your childhood mealtime traditions?


Filed under Community, Family, Friendship, Nashville