Life on Saturn: A lifetime of Grace in Unexpected Places

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About two years ago, I decided to write a book about various aspects of my life. I didn’t want it to be an chronicle autobiography, but I did want to write about my journey.

It turned into a story about marriage, parenting, and most of all, seeking God over and over again.

You can read the book’s introduction below, and you can purchase it in paperback or ebook form on Amazon. book signing

When I was seven, my brother turned out all the lights, pretended to be a ghost, and chased me into the first-floor bathroom. I sat crying in the tiny room until a note flew under the door—a message from beyond. Something scuffled on the other side of the door as I picked up the paper and read shaky print over a pounding heartbeat.

What could a ghost possibly want to tell me?

“I’m here!”

My scream was so loud that the kids’ parents from three houses away came over and grounded Ben.

Now, at twenty-seven years old, I sat in the same tiny bathroom (different wallpaper) crying over spilled milk, when a pregnancy test slid under the door and sailed past my big toe. It was perceptive of my husband to buy it, though it was not on his shopping list, which consisted of fried chicken and pizza. At midnight.

I stared at it—again, I was intrigued at the possibility but terrified at what it would say. I was ready for motherhood the second we were declared man and wife but really wondered if it would ever happen. Shawn didn’t jump on the baby bandwagon until four years later on the cusp of his thirtieth birthday, which was when he scheduled adulthood—he’s a planner. Now, at close to thirty-one, I heard him breathing on the other side of the door.

Over a pounding heart, I picked up and read the same message from beyond—appearing in the form of two ghostly lines.

“I’m here!”

That moment, I knew I was not alone, and little did I know I would never be alone in the bathroom again.

Purchase Life on Saturn

copyright @ Meg Duncan

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Fate: A Love Story about God’s Mighty Plan

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I have always believed in fate.

I haven’t just believed in it but I have marveled at its power.

God’s plan in action—fate, destiny—we dip our toes into footsteps we were already meant to walk in. That hair raising thing that happens when you look back and see life’s turns that, if missed, would have altered life as you know it.

For me, that was my first job.

Honestly, I didn’t want a job. I was kind of a nerd or geek–whichever one of those don’t make good grades–and generally I was just awkward.

You know, all the qualities I still possess but have learned to hone into the asset they are today (right?!).

Anyway.

My mom and dad made me get a job so I could pay for stuff like car insurance and learn to be a decent hardworking individual.

I was almost at the end of my first shift as a waitress when I had to ask for more sugar to refill the coffee bar.

My response came from eyes as deep as the sea with laughter splashing around on the surface, beside him three waitresses swooned (that’s still a word–right?)

“Gotta be louder than that if you want anything around here,” he said, tipping his head back toward the chaos of a busy kitchen and accompanied by a chorus of giggles.

I was always jealous of girls that could talk to boys. My flirting skills included running into poles when smiling, accidental drooling when attempting to speak, and sudden twitches while making eyes–or whatever that is called.

This was different, though, because it was my job to talk to him.

Night after night I asked for things from the kitchen, and it led to conversation.  He listened to me–he thought I was funny, and he enjoyed watching me stumble with words and nerves–he saw I was genuine.

He put together all my pieces I worked so hard to hide from everyone else.

And he kept me like a treasure–as his best friend.

See here is what I didn’t know all of those years–Shawn needed someone to trust.  Life had left him cynical about love and marriage, and his life motto was “I am never getting married.”

Through six years of friendship, God showed him he could trust me with his heart.  One day he took me to the movies (something we did often anyway) but this time he took my hand.

Everything changed.

All those giggling girls had faded away, and standing there was just me: the girl he loved. I was just as awkward as ever, but he loves that about me.

He has helped me to love that too.

Fate: God’s ultimate plan.

As I now sit in our kitchen with our two little boys buzzing at my feet, I remember all the days that led here.

Long before I met Shawn, my Dad worked in a neighboring town about double the size of ours and we wanted to move there.

But it just never worked.

After one real estate contract fell through, and other trip-ups along the way, my parents came to realize it just wasn’t meant to be.

I was so upset; I hated school and I had only three friends–counting my mom.  I just thought moving away would fix everything.

I couldn’t see the whole picture like God could.

Moving to a bigger town meant I would never have put in my application, and God knew that.

Wrapped in that piece of paper bearing my name and no previous work experience, was everything that has come into being today–my sweet family.

Today might be ordinary, but hidden in our steps is a master plan leading us exactly where God wants us to be.

And not just me–my kids too.

My footsteps align their fate as we make future impacting decisions, and star-crossed in our movements are those that will help pave family generations to come.

God’s plan: fate, destiny–whatever you want to call it.

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2911 West Bird

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2911 West Bird

It is a threshold that will forever remain in my heart—stepping through the doorway was like entering a parallel universe—this was Yes World, a place where no was only heard in conjunction with “do I have to go to bed?”

That’s right, the world was our oyster at 2911 West Bird—Granny’s house.

Drifting through the open doorway were smells of her kitchen. From the best fried chicken on earth to the greasiest burger in town, in her kitchen everything was made to order 24 hours per day. My food obsession cultivated in rays of sunshine pouring from the window next to the small wooden table which was the alter where Granny’s meals were laid.

It was also where Granny liked to watch us eat. As she watched every spoonful and anticipated each swallow, she delighted in that her family’s bellies were being filled.

Enough: that wasn’t something she always knew.

Granny grew up in a single mom home with three other children at a time when no help was available. Her mom often considered sending Granny to the orphanage up the road just to ensure she would be properly fed meanwhile giving her one less mouth to feed. This was the 1920’s when single mothers were frowned upon unless they were widows.

Great grandma wasn’t a widow, but as she might as well have been. Within the course of year Nora Moore went from a married mother of three with one on the way (Granny) to a single mother with four children—three living and one dead.

Granny had a promising future to enter into a loving family as she grew in her mother’s womb but two months before she entered the world, Nora’s world came crashing down. When Fern Charlene Moore was born on September 29, 1920, her father was already gone and her twelve year old sister—who would have been closest to her in age—was already dead.

It was mid-July, right after a celebration with friends. Pregnant Nora and oldest daughter, Golden, were drying dishes and proposing names for the new baby as they tried to guess a gender. The rest of the family scattered around the backyard playing hide and seek as their father, Charles Moore, readied himself on the back porch.

Whether it was random choosing or divine placing is a question not yet answered as each child chose the perfect spot in which to hide. In between the shed and the fence was Cecil’s favorite because his brother Gene, the seeker, didn’t like the poison ivy; Harry from next door tucked himself behind a sticky bush and immediately regretted it as his finger throbbed and his shirt sleeve clung to a branch.

It was Lela who could never make up up her mind quick enough. She darted from place to place as Gene counted down.

“Ready or not here I come!” rang out simultaneously with a loud bang from the back porch.

In the kitchen a plate shattered on the floor at the deafening sound of a gunshot as Nora reached the window just in time to watch Lela collapse where she was standing. By the time she reached her daughter, the grass around her was drenched in thick, dark blood and Lela was lifeless. Her eyes were open and pensive as if she were still pondering a good hiding spot, and Nora wept over top of her barely noticing the tiny kicks fluttering in her womb.

Her husband heard the anguished cries from the chair on the porch where he had been preparing to clean his gun, and where it suddenly shot a bullet into the back of his daughter’s head. The moment he watched her fall, he froze. Too afraid to move from that spot and claim the truth of what he had just done; caught in the web of that moment his terror sucked out his heart and left him as a shell. His insides were empty as he finally approached the backyard scene where his wife was covered in the blood that was on his hands.

Kneeling beside her was Gene, the oldest, whose hand slowly reached for Lela’s eyelids before Nora slapped it away.

“No! Don’t touch her! Don’t touch her!”

No one really saw him slip away in the midst of the chaos; eventually they just noticed Dad was gone. That bullet—resting feet away beside a wilted leaf—shattered Granny’s chance at ever truly knowing her family. She would never meet her father or her sister Lela, and she would never go to church and sit in the favorite pew where the Moore family regularly sat—Mom and Dad sat like book ends to keep the kid’s straight. She would attend First Baptist Church with her mom, her oldest sibling, Goldie, and two brothers Gene and Cecil, but those two missing bodies would always be felt—even by Granny who never met either of them.

Barely meeting ends through seamstress work and a part time secretarial job, Nora Moore continued to get out of bed daily and keeping working when truly she was broken. How many days did she curse the sun as it rose on another day that she just didn’t think she could get through? How many times did she shake her fist at the stars and demand an explanation from God? And did he ever give her one?

I don’t think he did. When God doesn’t answer that usually means we are in the process of a test, and the strongest students are the ones most rigorously tested.

Granny remembered her mother as a faithful woman; a strong woman who loved her family and did what she needed to do. It was Granny who told me that Nora once began the process of taking Granny to the orphanage up the street because she could not feed her any longer. Imagine the heartache of turning your beloved child over to someone else because you could no longer provide; this is a different level of love, a selfless one that many couldn’t bear.

God rewarded and God provided.

Cecil, Granny’s oldest brother, enlisted in the army so that he could send home his pay to feed them. It was exactly what she needed to keep going. None of us can say for certain what happened to Charles Moore after he ran away, but what we can say is that Nora Moore faced mountains that many would never even consider climbing. And she kept going—she kept on moving forward. She relied on God and she allowed those to help who He sent along the way.

None of this was forgotten. In their aging years, the baby of the family became the caretaker. Granny took care of Nora, as she lived with my Grandpa and Dad, until her last breath was taken in 1956 in the bedroom next to the kitchen of that same house where Lela was taken from her so many years ago.

2911 West Bird.

Why I am NOT worried about Merry Christmas

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I woke up this morning, filled my favorite “If Momma Ain’t Happy…” mug, and scrolled through the morning news.

Red cups–they were everywhere. I found myself strangely not offended by the sight.  I was confused at the outrage and a little jealous of the white-topped red cup when my own was lacking anything fluffy.

Anyway.

Here is why I am not offended by the Starbuck’s red cup.

1).  Religious freedom is a give and take–the owner of Starbucks is said to be Jewish. Starbucks has the right not to say Merry Christmas in order for me to have the right to say it.

2). The cup is just red. Nothing else. It does not even venture into the Happy Holidays debate.

3).  I personally don’t link my faith to coffee drinks–my sanity on the other hand…well, that is different.

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A few “courageous” individuals have now ventured into Starbucks and tricked the baristas into saying “Jesus is Lord” or “Merry Christmas.”

So yeah, I won’t be doing that and here are the reasons:

1).  This does nothing to further the Kingdom of God, and will likely push people even farther away. In a world where Christians are labeled “haters” and “extremist groups” I think we are just proving their point here really.

Real dialog and a genuine heart for God reaches people when sharing the gospel–not forced words.

2).   As Christians I don’t believe that it is our job to force everyone to say Merry Christmas. Jesus Christ is at the center of my life and my Christmas, and always will be–I cannot force that on anyone else, though.

My lips will always spill out the gospel and especially the love of Christ.  However, I will never tell anyone they have to say Merry Christmas because Jesus doesn’t force me to.

I say it out of my love and devotion to Him, and that is why I want everyone to say it if they do.

3). This point has been already stated in other blogs, but we should be worrying about feeding the poor and getting gifts out to kids in need. So many better ways to get out the Christian message than through overpriced coffee.

4). Speaking of $5 coffee, how bout we just stop buying the stuff? Not out of some kind of protest, but think about all the good we could do with that money?

Or blow the barista away and buy the guy behind you his coffee instead of getting for one yourself–then just say “God bless.” You always have the right to do that.

Bottom line, I just think we can do better.  I think there are better ways to get the gospel out than forcing Merry Christmas down people’s throats.

There are probably a lot of really good points I missed and feel free to share them in the comments–or disagree with me there too–you always have that right!

Merry Christmas friends…you know after Thanksgiving and all.

Throwing Forks and Picking Teeth: The Trenches of Marriage

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Happily ever after begins with understanding that happiness never equals perfection.

I didn’t marry the profile of a perfect man, I married a real man.

He screws up sometimes and often says exact the wrong thing at the wrong time.

He doesn’t tell me I am beautiful every day either and honestly he doesn’t even make me feel beautiful everyday.

I don’t even expect him to, because friends, I am NOT beautiful everyday.

I have picked my teeth, farted, and snored in front of this man who honestly just impresses me that he is willing wake up next to me everyday without being completely horrified.

Some days my attitude isn’t beautiful either.

I once threw a fork at his head because he told me that he forgot to buy french onion dip.  I was pregnant, but still, the fork barely avoided his eye socket and hit right above the eyebrow.

I am pretty sure it hurt and if I wasn’t pregnant he probably would have grabbed the fork and chased me around the house with it.

I also shot him point blank in the head one time with a paintball gun standing not more than one foot away from him.

Thank God he is hard headed because apparently it could have killed him had I shot him in the right place. I thought his eyes were going to bulge out their sockets, but he took a deep breath and slowly walked into the distance–kind of twitching as he went– before killing me.

I just didn’t know that paintball guns were so intense; I kind of thought that they were like Nerf guns.

And that isn’t the only shot taken in our marriage.

I have yelled at him; he has yelled me. We have taken bricks out of the foundation of our relationship and thrown them at each other to the point I have thought we just might crumble to the ground.

That’s right, we have been there.

Marital problems are easy to romanticize, but the days when you have to diligently fight for your marriage and to keep loving each other during the worst moments of life are painful trenches.

We have been to some dark places together and the only light we have ever found there was Jesus. He is the key to success. When I am totally unlovable, Shawn loves me the way Christ loves me–unconditionally.

Each day we must echo God’s grace.

For He chooses to love me no matter my sin and no matter my fails–He picks me up and offers me unconditional love.

We must do the same for each other.

The rough roads we have been down have taken us to the most breathtaking places, simply because we have been willing to stay in the car.

Flashing Palm Trees and Elvis Impersonating Birds: Just another Day at the Duncan’s

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The day my husband announced he was going to order a fake palm tree to put next to the swimming pool, I was really just fine with it.

Since my gardening skills are limited to raising dandelions and morning glories that somehow grow with no effort on my part whatsoever, I thought a fake palm tree was a fine idea.

Maybe slightly tacky–yet nothing that would rile up the neighbors.

I worry about this because on occasion–and usually unintentionally–my husband riles up some of our neighbors.

He just isn’t used to worrying about etiquette, and especially neighborhood etiquette.

He is a country boy.  He believes that rusted cars are perfectly suitable yard ornaments.

This is the man whose gas-exhausted lawn mower sits in the middle of a half-mowed yard for a week and a half–in the exact spot it ran out of gas and directly to the American flag bearing nativity–our Cheistmas/Independence day decor.

So again, I thought this palm tree thing was pretty mild.

Until the truck showed up.

I was cleaning windows when I suddenly locked eyes with the driver of an over-sized semi who was carrying the parts of what would become the biggest spectacle on our street.

I could see the wonder in his eyes as he stared into my second story window: a look I am used to when it comes to dealing with my husband.

My husband ran out the door like a kid on Christmas as box after box of to be assembled parts were carried out of that truck.

Speaking of Christmas–if you have ever watched The Christmas Story–it was like that.

The sexy leg lamp.

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The night sky aglow with tropical green and orange highlights, groups of men gathered around the house mesmerized by this 12 foot flashing monstrosity of a tree. Women stood closely by with their faces twisted in confusion–possibly despair.

On one side of me was my husband’s tear soaked face as an Elvis impersonating Blue Bird unpacked in one of the flashing branches, and on the other side of me were annoyed whispers.

“What has this neighborhood come to?”

Sorry–it just slipped out.

After clearing airspace with misguided pilots trying to land in the backyard and making sure that neighbors and visitors are properly instructed of all safety precautions.

“Do not stare directly at the tree.”

Even then, who knew that a 12 foot flashing palm tree with plastic coconut trimmings could cause such separation among the people.

Two groups dominated the fight: pro-tree and anti-tree.

My husband, along with most men I know and over half of my friends made up the pro-tree side.

The anti-tree movement contained of me, a disgruntled neighbor, and some people who I never actually met but heard about through the disgruntled neighbor.

Six years have passed, the bird has grown and moved on to pursued its dreams on the Vegas strip, the disgruntled neighbor moved on to the construction of a large and unattached garage (also ours) and I have finally made peace with the palm tree.

I have found it generally makes for good writing material.

And I kind of like making this card with it:

 

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