Manna In A Jar : Childhood : A Little Family History

A few orders of business, first.
1. If you are looking for the post about the give away, please go comment on the Welcome and Giveaway post.   It will help my head from exploding when finalizing the giveaway.  :-)
2.  I plan on posting Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I need boundaries for my family to thrive, or otherwise they will lose mama to blog-la-la-land.  I will do my best to stick to this schedule, but probably won’t be perfect.  :-)
3. This post is long.  I hope for my posts to be short and to the point. But, this is history, and this is for my children one day.  There is a lot of ground to cover in this portion of my life, and I wanted to keep it all in one post. 


I have wanted to write my story for years.  I want my children to have it.  I want to recount God’s faithfulness – not just in one circumstance, but over my lifetime.  I want this to be my ‘jar of manna’ (Exodus 16:33) ‘Moses told Aaron, “Take a container and put two quarts of manna in it.  Then place it before the LORD to be preserved throughout your generations.”

This is my story of His faithfulness.  I invite you to read along to glimpse into my life.  Sometimes, there has been so much pain in life, it is hard to see the good.  I hope that by me writing through the good and the bad that you will see God’s hand, and maybe realize how He has been faithful to you, too.  I would encourage you to record His faithfulness in your life.  Yes, there will be some painful parts.  No, there will be no way to cover it all.  But, I do believe we will be able to see Him when we are done.  Let me know if you decide to take this on, but let me say, it is not for the faint.

This is my Manna In A Jar.

My Mom carried me a week past my due date.

Surprised Debbie

Debbie at her surprise baby shower

I was born on a Monday morning in October (1981), and only because my mom drank castor oil the night before, which, sent her into labor. Well, that and it was God’s appointed time for me, but, He used the castor oil – amen?!  However, I was breech, so I was delivered by cesarean.  I was 9 pounds 11 ounces. I was fed formula and my mom did not think twice about it. :-)

ML in Mom Tummy

Bump pic circa 1981!

I was born to Paul and Debbie Miller.  An amazing couple who built an incredibly successful business together.  They had both retired from their jobs, moved into their dream home, and were traveling the world when they welcomed me.


Paul and Debbie Miller – 1979

I learned once I was a bit older that my mom had heart-brokenly miscarried a few months before she found out she was expecting me.  I think it is fascinating and heavy and crazy to think if that baby had been born, I never would have been.

Mom and newborn ML

But, here I am!!


Dad and newborn ML

apple of his eye

My mom and dad were both raised in different tiny towns in North Carolina.  They had humble beginnings, and incredibly hard working parents.  My dad came from a family of 6 (4 children), my mom from a family of 7 (5 children).  I knew my dad’s side of the family while growing up, but wish I had gotten to *know* them more.  But, I still have time!

I do know that my Grandfather, Hall, worked for Dupont.  He was faithful and trust worthy. MeMaw, Mary (I was named after her), passed away when I was five. They had 4 children very close together.  I just feel a kindred heart to her, knowing that she has walked this path before me.


Memaw would have us pull surprises out of a bag that were attached to strings.

My mom later told me she can remember visiting my grandparents when my mom and dad were just dating.  She said my grandparents would be working out in the yard during the hot summer.  Then, they would come inside and brew coffee and drink it together.  That just makes me smile.  I know where my love of coffee came from!


Hall (Grandaddy) and Mary (MeMaw) Miller


My Dad is top right, holding my brother, Johnny. Buster, his brother is kneeling. I’m in the Minnie Mouse dress. MeMaw is standing in the center. My Aunts are standing to her right (your left). Ann (long hair), Margaret (short hair). Grandaddy behind Margaret. The rest are my cousins and uncles. :-)

My dad has an older brother, Buster , older sister, Margaret, and a younger sister, Anne.  I love that my dad still has friendships with each of his siblings.  He and Buster get together several times through the year.

My aunt Margaret is a minister.  She has also been fighting cancer like crazy (and kicking its tail) the past few years.

My aunt Anne (known as Annie Pie) is a lactation consultant and has been such a help to me as I have nursed my children over the years.  I would love to know this heritage of mine even more.

So thankful that I was able to meet my great-grandmother, Mimi.


Great Grandmother Florence Crews, Grandaddy’s mother (side note::I had a perm! And bless my teeth)

Since I was the first baby born on my mama’s side of the family, all of her brothers and sisters pretty much claimed me as their own.

Toos Nean J and B

top left – Bill, top right – Jean, bottom right – Jack (scary look there!), bottom left- Susan


I have wonderful memories of my uncles and aunts.

My Aunt Susan was and is the best story teller.  She has some crazy life adventures (running onto an airplane runway to stop an airplane, crawling through tunnels at her college, swimming in the pond, etc).  She is fascinating!  I remember driving in her car- her dashboard covered in post-it notes, begging her to tell me a new story that I haven’t heard about her life.  We were stuck in a snow storm in NC together when I was about 7 years old.  She woke me up at 6 am one morning to go sledding.  To this day, we still call each other when it snows and talk about that weekend!


Aunt Susan taught me how to swim & is also going to teach my kiddos how to swim this summer!

Aunt Nean (Jean) kept me from the time I was itty bitty. She traveled with my parents and would be my babysitter when I was a baby.  I actually went on dates with her and my uncle (Steve) when they first met and were dating.  She had the coziest house – still does.  Her bed is the most comfortable in the entire world- mix matched sheets, tons of squishy pillows, an old fan blowing on the bed- I am ready to go to sleep right now.   And when we get together, we laugh until we cry usually within the first hour of being together.  She always helps me paint or do some sort of craft when she comes to visit.


Aunt Nean & me (Uncle Steve, her hubby is in the background)

Both of my aunts were (and still are) so much fun.  They would build these amazing Barbie house complexes out of encyclopedias and shoe boxes and then would sit and play with me for what felt like hours (even though it probably was only 5 minutes).  I never felt that life was rushed when I was with them.

My uncles are identical twins and two of the funniest human beans (they would totally call themselves beans instead of beings) that I know.  They were 22ish (?) when I was born.  Laughter is the word I think of when I think of them.


Look at these two. They are hambones for sure! They are very stable, family men. But when around each other, this side (the jokester, not money bags/cigar smokers) emerges! Haha!

My grandparents lived on a golf course, so my uncles would come in from playing golf smelling like sweat and beer.  Today, that is still one of my favorite scents.  They would play a game with me and all of my siblings and cousins that they named ‘travel along.’  We would ride on their backs, like they were horsies, and they would sing this ridiculous made-up song called ‘travel along’ while we rode all over the living room laughing our heads off.

And then there are my precious maternal grandparents.  I have such sweet memories of them.  Mama Dot was hilarious.  She loved people and loved to make people laugh.  She never liked for things to get too serious.  And we all loved her for it.  The best was when she sang the song,’ I lost my poor kitty…’ very loud and very off key.  She lived the longest of all my grandparents, and passed away just a few months before I found out I was expecting Harper.  I really miss her, and I know she would have been tickled to know she had triplet great-grandsons!  I, too, feel connected to her knowing she went through multiple boys, too!


Doris Nance (Mama Dot)

My sweet Papa (said PawPaw), was such an honorable man.  He was a doctor, fought in World War II and he cared deeply about people and animals.  He graduated from Wake Forest and Bowman Grey Medical School as Valedictorian.  He could have gone anywhere in the country to be a doctor, yet chose a small town in North Carolina so he could truly take care of people and not be a big name.  He loved the outdoors.  He cut off all the ‘alligators’ on his Izod shirts so that he would not be separated by name brands from his patients.  When he was younger, he had some cancer on his vocal cords, so as long as I knew him, his voice was raspy and he barely spoke above a whisper.  And he wore plaid shirts, a watch with a stretchy band, and a pocket protector.


Dr. John Nance (Papa – said Paw Paw)

His mother, Bessie Boone, loved the Lord dearly.  My mom has so many memories of her telling Bible stories and fervently praying.  I am so thankful for this picture.  I am the only great grandchild that she was able to meet.  I know she prayed for me and for me to know Jesus one day.  And I cannot wait to meet her again one day and thank her for her prayers!

ML and Grandma Nance

Bessie Boone (Grandma Nance) Great Grandmother

Even though my parents traveled a lot, I always felt very, very loved.  I knew I had many people that I could trust and many people that loved me.  I am thankful that was never violated.  And I do not want to take those gifts lightly.  I wish that it could have always stayed this peaceful and loving with out heart break, pain, divorce, and death.  But, even though those things entered along the way, God remained the same.  He didn’t cause these things to happen.  He wept with our family as we walked through life. He comforted and lead us, even in the very dim light.

Family is the beginning of my story.

17 thoughts on “Manna In A Jar : Childhood : A Little Family History

  1. Weepy weepy over here. This is precious. You are an amazing writer, and this post was not too long at all. And those pictures! That one of Mom during her surprise shower is priceless! (Her hair!) And Mama dot holding that sign that “children need love when they least deserve it” is absolutely priceless. We have a wonderful, wonderful family. Thank you for this. Love you so much Minks.

  2. I too could have read for hours. I was expecting to after your warning! You are so blessed to have known your grandparents well enough to know their history! My paternal grandparents have lived in another country my entire life. The last time I saw them I was incredibly young. I have faint memories, but I hold on to them with a tight grip. You are an engaging writer. I was thrilled to see you had a new post up! Thank you for being so open about the faithfulness of The Living God. He is so faithful. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see you so openly writing about Him. Blessings!

  3. Sissy, what a gift you have given all of us to write these things down! I love the pictures you used, and you did such a great job of capturing everyone. You are a wonderful writer (compliment from an English teacher!), and I love your blog. We all treasure it already, and your children are going to treasure it even more one day. I missed you during the snow this year!!! (David the Gnome, and Sebastian and Belle) :-)

    Thank you for taking the time (where do you find the time, by the way?) to do this.
    Aunt Toos

  4. What a (as others have already said) precious post! I adore all your vintage pictures…and that you took the time to post them on here. Especially the baby bump one with your mom’s bright red nails and chunky rings. Love it! I never knew either of my grandpa’s, but yours sounds like just the sort of man I wish I’d had in my life at that age. What a blessing, Mary!

    What’s your absolute favorite childhood memory?

  5. Just beautiful. You are so precious, my friend. All of your family would be, and are, so proud of you, I am sure:)

  6. Also, Andrew looks just like dad & uncle Bill in those pics. And is that Michael or uncle steve behind aunt nean? 😉 twins

  7. Love this sissy! Why does dad look so unbelievably creepy in that picture of you as a baby..? Typical. This made me tear up reading about mama dot & papa. miss them so much! love this post & love you!!

  8. Oh my goodness, how precious is this post! How wonderful that your children will have this one day! I could have sat here reading for hours! You should write a book! For real!! Precious precious pictures and memories!

    One question, Did your parents sell Amway? If you don’t want to answer here my email is

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