From the Editor: Eyes on Me, Butterfly House, Planted

Eyes on Me

It was the house that would not sell. It was no longer a home, with the highway in the front yard. It wasn’t seen by potential buyers as a business because, well, it looked like a family should be eating together inside. And the year was 2008. My parents didn’t want to give the place away, but as the plot thickened, it seemed to be headed in that direction.

As I watched frustration and stress build, I diligently wrote my request each and every Sunday on the yellow prayer request card provided by the church I was attending. Soon, my family was responsible for two houses: potentially frozen pipes, yards to be mowed, vacant property, bills and taxes. 

The highway that ran from Nixa to Ozark seemed to be the busiest in southwest Missouri. Drivers — of dump trucks or sports cars or slug bugs — didn’t seem to care to slow down when either of my parents was mowing the ditch that ran alongside. Those same drivers had a way of running off the side of the road and crash-landing into our yard, hitting multiple walnut trees on the way in. I am thankful for the barrier.

Sundays came and went, but the house didn’t. I took a yellow prayer request card and included an extra note to the Lord. I told Him it seemed He had forgotten about my family, about me. I knew He could sell the house. I knew a rough and tumble housing market or stock market or impossibilities meant nothing to Him. Because the yellow card was small with extremely limited amount of space to voice my concerns, I punctuated and placed it in the offering plate. 

After church, we went to mow. My mom used the push mower; my dad was on the riding mower. My mom had moved to the middle of the yard in front of the house. My dad was working on the area on the other side of the driveway, moving from the highway to the fence and back again. In the moment about to happen, my dad was going toward the street, about to meet it. My mom was parallel to the street, not far from the walnut trees.

I heard a screech. I turned and saw a vehicle leave the road, airborne, headed for the front yard. I watched it flip. I watched the driver, a man, fall out. I watched the trees catch it. I was shaking as I called 9-1-1.

The man, insistent on standing up as I talked with the 9-1-1 operator, was used by God to show me firmly, yet gently: His eyes are on me. My dad drove the riding mower to the scene Indy-style, with a clump of grass lodged in a crevice on the hood. My mom walked over, wondering what just happened. Shaken. Not broken. 

Brave reader, the Lord’s eyes are on you too. He sees you. He is with you. Circumstances may yell, “Defeat!” Celebrations may give way to the unknown. We didn’t sell the house for a long while after the wreck. But I no longer wonder if I have been forgotten by the Lord. His eyes remain on me.

Julie Johnson
editor in chief
words + photographs

Whoa there, Butterfly

Toward the end of April/beginning of May, I saw whispers of butterfly weed begin to emerge in the flower bed. Good timing, I thought, because I rarely see butterflies until later in summer, with the majority of monarch caterpillars hatching in August and later. Plenty of time to fatten up the food source. Lo and behold, a few days went by, and I found myself losing count of baby caterpillars when I reached numbers in the 30s. I panicked. I looked at my small, little plant. I looked at all the hungry caterpillars. Plant. Caterpillars. Something had to be done. When they were big enough, I loaded them up and took them to the Dr. Bill Roston Native Butterfly House at the Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park in Springfield. I was surprised to find flittery butterflies already taking up residence, including a zebra swallowtail, with more species emerging. The Butterfly House is free and open daily.

Planted: My Grandma’s Bearded Iris

It is of no importance when I dug up two  of my grandma’s bearded iris bulbs. What is noteworthy, however, is how the petals shimmer of imaginary glitter when the sun hits at just the right angle. And how it gifted us its first bloom on Mother’s Day.

I don’t remember by grandma as a gardener. She did bake the most delicous blackberry cobbler. I have her recipe, but it’s never as good as when she made it. 

I was in charge of stirring up a box of quick-set pudding one visit. As I read the instructions, she told me to just add a bit of this and a bit of that. I looked at her and thought, “That’s not how this works.” Her reaction was probably the same when I asked for the blackberry cobbler recipe. 

Homegrown Journal is on mission to encourage each of us to lead lives worthy of our calling. Every issue features writers who tell their stories with the expectant hope that shared experiences will rally us to persevere in our aspirations, empower us to move beyond the giants in our paths, to be bold in loving our neighbors. Though our focus is on southwest Missouri, we welcome readers and storytellers from all over the world.

Homegrown Journal is published by Jumajo Writing Company, LLC, in Springfield, Missouri. Learn more about Jumajo and its writing, editing and design services here. We also invite you to be part of our social community at

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