on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

New Dreams

Sunset at Smith Lake, March 2012.

Change can be exciting, challenging and exhausting all at the same time.

Mary Bea has been home from her first year in seminary for this summer and her presence has been a wonderful gift for me.   I’m so thankful.  But it is almost time for her to go back.

Many of you know that we have had our house on the market for the past two years.  For many people in the country, this has also been one of the hardest time to sell a house.  We finally have a contract to sell, and have decided to rent in Birmingham close to my work until Mary graduates in 20 months.

First, the grief of leaving.

Ten years ago, just a few months before I fell in love with Mary Bea Sullivan, I built this house on a bluff overlooking beautiful Smith Lake in North Alabama and have enjoyed countless sunsets, clear clean water, and a canopy of stars on clear nights.  This is where our love for one another was nurtured.  Our children lived here through their high school and college years.  Our house has provided the space to share meals together, swim, water ski, laugh, and cry together.

The first night after we signed the contract to sell it, I had to let it go.  Mary was wise and just held me while I cried.  Sobbed would be more descriptive.  No words were necessary.

I learned again that good, wise decisions in our lives can be painful, and yet still be the right thing to do.

Second, sometimes we have to let go of old dreams in order for new ones to be born.

We have decided to rent for the next couple of years so that we can be “lighter on our feet” when Mary graduates.

Our new place is ONE mile from my work.  After driving 40,000 miles per year for 10 years, I will walk or bike to work each day.

It is the beginning of a new dream.  A dream to live closer to work, to own less, to live more simply.  More about this dream later.

What kind of dreams are you letting go of these days?  And what kind of new dreams do you want to see?

Peace be with you.




  1. Carol Henderson

    I’m so grateful to have visited you two on the lake, that you took me on a glorious sunset boat ride, and that Mary and I walked the country roads.
    I am so grateful you will now be one mile from work and closer to community and friends, especially with Mary away for the academic year.
    I am grateful she is living her dream of going to seminary.

    We have had big changes here too. Our older daughter was married in October, our younger two weeks ago today. And last night I celebrated my new book–about working with a group of bereaved mothers for the past decade–at a launch party in Winston-Salem that brought out over 200 people, and we sold over 200 books!

    I feel the excitement of new dreams–of this book, we’re calling it a memoir with a mission, reaching many people, the bereaved and those who work with them. I look forward to spending a week in France writing with these amazing women from the book and to all the upcoming events and transformations this book will bring our group.

    I dream of coming to Birmingham and offering restorative writing workshops there–for staff and families.

    I guess right now, still bursting with joy from last night, I see the entire future as a glorious yet real dream.

    Best of luck to you and Mary and the children with this move.

  2. Jeff

    Change has been a norm for your family over the past year. Blessings to you on the latest.

  3. Robert


    Susan and I are both struggling with our decision to leave the comfort and familiarity of SC…a place we lived for 24 years. We watched our children grow and develop, served 2 congregations, enjoyed family hikes and beach trips, etc… Now, we are in the middle of the country and nothing is familiar and we are out of our comfort zone at age 50. We, too, echo your statement that “sometimes good and wise decisions can be painful along our journey.” Truly, we are glad to be here, however, it is not an easy road. Yet, the call this place at this particular time in our spiritual journey was too compelling and we had to travel down a road less traveled. As always, thanks for your thoughts, honesty and shared stories. Susan says, “I really needed to read this one tonight.” PS…I reconnected with Richard Hibbs earlier this week. Small world indeed:) Courage for your jounrey and ours!

  4. Malcolm

    Carol, I am so happy for the birth of your newest dream with your book, Further Along.

    I want my readers to check it out at http://carolhenderson.com/farther-along/ and order a copy. Congratulations to you my friend.


    You certainly know about transition with your dear wife becoming an Episcopal priest this year. I am so excited for the two of you in your new journey! Peace to you my friend.


    You and Susan are dear to me for many reasons, not to mention you have an amazing daughter, and that we have a Clemson connection. Transition is not a smooth road because it forces us out of our comfort zones, which is never easy. I have noticed that I feel more alive in the new adjustments and my prayer is that new friends will step forward to embrace you and Susan in the days ahead.

    Peace to all three of you!

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