Sep 28



Once upon a time, their was a little girl with golden curls wild on her head and jelly shoes on her feet (let’s say they were red).  She spent her childhood in the rural countryside of East Texas, down a red dirt road, with the sounds of a saw mill buzzing away through the country skies.

Her days were filled with fresh air, mud pies, and whatever games she could coerce her older sister into playing.  Typically, the day ended up with the sisters finding their way to the blackberry bush.  It stretched the span of the front yard, and felt enormous, as did the berries that dangled from every which angle through the tenacious thorns.  All her summer clothes were stained with purple, and her arms were covered in scratches.  But she didn’t care…..she had her jellies.

Behind the blackberry bush laid a modest garden full of veggies and fruit.  The smell of tomato leaves, blackberries, freshly snapped green beans, and honeysuckle will forever and ever bring her home.

That’s me! Age 5. I practically ooze the word BRAT

Surprise…..surprise!  That wild child was me.  My mother would kick my sister and I out of the house a lot throughout the summer back then.   We lived in a very small two bedroom home, and my mom always had a sewing project she was working on.  I gather we must have been annoying/distracting in those close quarters.  Whatever the reasons may be, we found ourselves outdoors, Kool-Aid in hand, finding something to do.  My memories are so sweetly filled with my mom and dad’s garden.  While modest in size, it provided food on our table, and memories for a life time.


My sister and I obviously being chic. The red shoes go way back y’all.


The Wizard has similar memories, but on a much larger scale.  Growing up on a farm there was always something being planted, harvested, or worked on.  His father was the farmer, and an inventor in his own right.  He always had a project, was growing something, and could fix anything.  (Hmmm…….sounds familiar.  I guess there IS a wizard gene!!)

Just proof that the Wizard was a brat too! We are a match made in Heaven!



The common thread of having fond memories of the garden and growing things in the earth has been an important part of our lives lately here at the homestead.  Both the Wizard and I lost our fathers this past year.  Although the grief runs deep, we have found such peace and comfort by returning to our roots out in the dirt.

As anyone who has ever lost a loved one knows, the grief can sometimes be so overwhelming.  Manifesting itself as anger that our loved ones are gone, and in the next minute it leaves us weeping uncontrollably.  I can attest that getting out in the dirt has been vital to me accepting my new circumstances of life without my dad.  I was able to grab my hoe and kill as many weeds as I wanted.  Viciously may I add.  However, in the next minute I could hit the ground and cry it out, without anyone seeing me other than the Lollipop Guild.  I blamed a lot of tears and a few choice words from my grief on the sand burs out here.  Sorry Lollipop Guild, this mommy isn’t perfect.  Oh….the memories they will have.


The talks I have had with God while in the garden have been good too.  He constantly reminds me to lean into Him.  That He can take all my anger, pain, and grief.  To hand it over to Him because He knows.  I am a selfish toad at heart, and have a hard time when God’s plan and mine don’t align.  Despite that, God has allowed the death of my dad to really deepen my faith.

God has shown Himself to me in so many ways, and usually when I’m outdoors.  Watching the life cycle of all those plants, and how disease can ravage a crop in no time.  How the pests sometimes come in and totally kill your lovely pumpkin plants…..(but who’s bitter?).  However, knowing new seeds can be planted, and that the sun will rise tomorrow gives me hope.  God’s hand can be seen everywhere.  From the amazing miracle we call “watermelon” to the sweet song of a cardinal.  Being in the garden can help bring life back into perspective.  Nature is all a lovely miracle to soak in, and to be thankful for.  My dad taught me that one!

Just after this picture my dad handed me over to the Wizard. It was one of two times in my life I saw my dad have tears.  Although,  it might have been tears of joy to get rid of me.

The memories I have of my dad constantly fill my head and heart.  To sum him up in a few words would be the following:  Try your best and never give up, always thank the good Lord for everything you have, and family matters.

These values have been driven into me my entire life through words and actions.  The Wizard, coming from a similar background, knows all too well the meaning of hard work.  The man has held jobs since he could drive a tractor at age 7!!!  Don’t get me started on that one.  I pray we can install the same work ethic into our children, minus the prepubescent tractor driving.  Initially, that is in fact, the entire reason we wanted to start a Christmas tree farm.  To give the kids a job, let them see what it is to earn what you want in life, and all the while learning what you need.



I am thankful for our fathers, and the time we had on this earth with them.  Two men who pushed for the best, and knew where to send their thanks.  They have given us memories to last a life time.  Hopefully heaven has tomatoes, honeysuckle, and even some work to do.  I firmly believe God will give me janitorial duties one day, but I’m cool with that.  You can find me sweeping that yellow brick road for eternity, and maybe my old man will even help me out.


In memory


Paul D. Gray, Jr. (my dad)


Jerry Garland Evatt (Pa Wizard)




” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7








  1. Like your sister, I too can say my heart is full and tears are flowing. Such sweeet memories we have of the Country home & garden, always something to do outside…flying kites, campfires, riding bicycles, sitting on the porch swing, as well as picking delicious blackberries. Your Dad was one of a kind, teaching that Home, Family, And God were the most important things. Thanks for sharing memories Becky. The pictures were awesome…. 😘

  2. Oh, Becky! I CANNOT get enough of your blog! You draw me in and make me feel something every single post; this time it was sadness and gratitude. I am sorry for your loss, but glad that you have wonderful memories of your dad. Keep writing because you have this non-reader hooked!

  3. My heart is full and my tears are falling. I loved the pictures, even though I’m shocked I was ever allowed to wear that skirt…it was yours after all. Love you.