Her name was Elsie and to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much more about her except that we lived in the same trailer park carved into the side of the Appalachian mountains running through Franklin, New Jersey.

Her name was Elsie and, to my best recollection, she had to have been in her late 60’s and  sparrow in a treenot much bigger than I was at the age of 9 or… 10.  I know we could see eye to eye.

As far as I could tell, she lived alone in a little single-wide on the side of the mountain that we shared.

I really can’t tell you how I came to spend so much time with Elsie back then, except that I was never in a hurry to get home after school.  “Home” was a place of frightening abuse and lonely uncertainty. So I’d just wander the neighborhood for as long as I could and typically make my way from the bus stop half a mile up that mountain and the 4 rickety steps leading to Elsie’s door.

And while I know it just can’t be true, it seems to the recollection of my little girl mind that Elsie was always at home and I was always welcome inside.

Honestly, I don’t remember a lot about her home. It couldn’t have been much really; just a little trailer and a few rooms furnished with only the necessary items.

But here’s what I remember best of all:

sitting in the center of her kitchen table was the cutest little wooden box shaped like a little loaf of bread and full of little cards. I loved looking at that thing which said “Our Daily Bread” on the side.

I remember thumbing through those cards..not really knowing their value, soft light filtering through thin curtains and Elsie’s calm voice in the background reading some aloud as I looked–occasionally scolding me in an easy tone for talking too much and asking too many questions.

Most clear to me was the overwhelming sense of peace I felt in Elsie’s presence. I had no name for this peace I felt,  but it was something I recognized that was painfully absent from anyplace else in my life. I loved way I could breathe and relax into myself at Elsie’s…a little sanctuary from the storm of my young, hardcore life. 

I  rested in her presence as we shared our day over a plate of sugar cookies and icy lemonade in thin aluminum cups….Elsie’s steady voice and gentle laughter. It was delicious to feel so safe.


And OH! The most wonderful thing of all; there in her tiny living room…an parlor organ! Not every time, but on good days, Elsie would take her seat and shuffle her way through a dogeared book of songs she called “hymns”.  As I stood at her shoulder, she’d play and we’d sing song after song, belting them out with all the joy we could muster!

I never wanted to leave.

But eventually, I’d just have to go. She’d send me out the door, no doubt exhausted from my endless chatter and little girl energy.  I’d wave goodbye till next time watching the door close and with a little bit of happy held in my heart, head home to bravely face whatever lay ahead…till next time.


Gradually, my life deteriorated to the point where I could no longer move about so freely and my visits to Elsie’s house were stopped altogether. I’m sure she must have wondered why I didn’t come anymore and I’m sure she never knew how much I missed her and loved her.

I never knew what became of Elsie only that, after some time, it seemed that someone else lived there instead. But I’ve never forgotten her and now, some 30 + years later, I can still feel and sense those moments so clearly.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness, Goodness. Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control; the fruit of the Spirit-– this is what I experienced in Elsie’s life. And now that same Spirit within me timelessly testifies to what I saw alive in her then. As far as I can remember, Elsie never preached me a sermon; she simply opened her door, invited me in and showing me Jesus;

she lived me one.

In those visits that couldn’t have lasted more than an hour, sugar cookies and lemonade took on the flavor of communion and as we sang and worshiped in that little trailer on the mountain, we were having CHURCH!

Someday, I will see Elsie again. Someday, I will get to heaven and I know she will be there. I’ve heard we’ll be singing and I’d like to think maybe together we’ll sing one of our favorites; His Eye Is On the Sparrow.  It was then, it is now… “His eye is on the sparrow…and I know He watches me.”

Performance by Selah


22 thoughts on “sparrows

  1. Better late than never to the memoir party — I’m so glad you posted. I enjoyed this loving and wonderful tribute to your friend, Elsie. We need more like her in the world.

  2. Thank you for sharing your wonderful tribute at “Tell Me a True Story.” Elsie planted seeds into your life that grew and someday, you will meet her again and thank her for her love and kindness to a lonely little girl.

    1. Thank you Hazel….it is truly a wonderful memory for me and I pray that I will always so willing to “open the door”…and hope that this story will encourage others to do the same. I was just one girl….and as the memory and miracle plays itself forward, Elsie’s legacy continues to speak Jesus into the lives of others.

  3. Thank You Rachel and I want to hear from your heart too. This may be the best thing I’ve ever done to feed the fire and have iron sharpening iron! God’s peace Sister! <

  4. Just found you from Better Writer Facebook. No wonder people press you to weird, speak, share. You have something very unique. Special. Can’t wait to follow you and see where God leads you! This story was captivating and sweet.

  5. No wonder people pressed you to share! (Just came from your Better Writer Facebook post.) You have something special. I loved this story. I’m adding you to my google reader now. 🙂 Can’t wait to see where God takes you!

    1. TFDMF? You got me there Sandra! What does that mean? Thanks so much. The Spirit within us both testifies to the Truth that is in us…Jesus is the beautiful, beautiful Savior.

  6. Awesome Lorretta. I am going to read this over and over when I get discouraged with my special girl. You my friend have very special gift…..keep writing….keep encouraging!

    1. There is much good in this world and it’s much beautiful to be able to share it with you. I’m watching you turn the corner into the next season of your life and I am thankful that God gave us both to each other to make the journey. He is good!

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