Marcy Jo’s


It was cold. The only reason I took my gloves off was so my skin could be closer to the coffee cup. Coffee seems to taste better in the dead of winter. It seems to taste better in certain settings, and this place topped the list.

The only source of heat, besides the coffee cup, was the potbelly stove in the middle of the room. This particular morning, I soaked in the warmth and enjoyed my husband’s company. The setting provided a much-welcomed space where we could reflect on where life had taken us and where we hoped it would take us next. Living in a small town far away from anything familiar was not how I expected to spend our second year of marriage. But as I suspect most people do when they are in an unfamiliar place, we clung to people and places which had some elements of home.

Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse and Bakery was one of the most quaint places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. To an outsider, it may look like any old shack, but the inside brings to life a world of music and hospitality that exudes the spirit of small town Tennessee. The walls tell countless stories of songwriters and artists, many of whom had performed in this tiny building. Our first time there, we sat on the “stage” and enjoyed the best breakfast with homemade everything, even the toast.

This picture hangs in my living room.

One Saturday, we reserved our seat for “Songwriter’s Night” in which a local songwriter performed. Just as special as the performance was the meal. While finishing up our Coca-cola cake (or maybe we had the strawberry cake that night?), we noticed 2 famous faces in the back of the room. Joey and Rory, a country singing duet, were a significant part of the origin of this place. I don’t know enough of the history to tell you details, but I know that Rory’s sister is “Marcy” and “Jo” comes from Joey.


They played a few songs that night after the invited guest performed. Whether it was planned or not, I’ll never know, but I’m thankful they did. Joey was the kind of talent and beauty that you can’t take your eyes off of. She was the kind of woman that makes you feel slightly inadequate, but certainly not because she wants you to feel that way. She just shines a light, in talent and personality, that seems to come so easy. She’s the kind who makes you want to find your passion and pour everything you have into it. The love between her and Rory was evident, even in front of a group of wide-eyed strangers.

A lot has changed since that night. My husband and I now have a house 2 hours from there where 2 little blessings running around. Joey and Rory have sung in front of much larger audiences at many different venues. They were also blessed with a sweet baby girl. I had heard that Joey had been diagnosed with cancer a couple years after we moved, but I assumed she was in remission. You have likely seen Rory’s blog post floating around Facebook this week. If not, here it is, but be prepared to cry:

I thought about them this morning when I poured my coffee. God can do miracles. Sometimes he doesn’t, at least not in the way we want him to. Easy for you to say, Kristin; you aren’t the one going through this. You’re right, but I/you/we have all been affected by someone who experienced extreme hardship, or sometimes death, when it just didn’t make sense. When it seemed like God could have done so much more with them. When it left such a large hole in so many hearts that it seemed to lack purpose.

We have to trust Him. He offers the only source of goodness that goes beyond this short life. After all, we are all dying, whether we want to believe it or not.

In the mean time, may we strive to spend less time questioning and more time shining a light in the dark places. May we use the gifts we’re given and the love we have for people to make some sort of impact, as Joey has.

We will pray for a miracle. And may we also pray for peace with God’s decisions in every aspect of our lives, because in the end, as Rory says, “that is enough”.

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