“But for the Grace of God Go I…”

This is not the post I was going to write today.

This is actually a re-vamped re-run from last year.  But Wait!!!  I promise you there is nothing I could have written that would be any better or more pure, than this true story during this season of gratitude.

A year ago when I published the original post, I had just 3 family members and 4 friends who actually read my blog.

Let me say right here that I am grateful for all of you – because of your reading, your likes, and sharing – this blog has been catapulted into the stratosphere!  I thank each one of you so very much.


This is the true story that taught me the gift of empathy.

I grew up hearing this phrase …

“But for the grace of God go I.”

Those words had a tremendous impact on molding the person I would become.

Perhaps we listen more carefully to words that are muttered, and not spoken directly to us.

Words that are not meant for our ears – but just an utterance seem to capture our attention.

My grandma was driving down the old dirt road instinctively swerving to dodge the familiar mud holes.

On the radio, Marty Robbins was crooning “Out in a West Texas town of El Paso”, while we sang along, chomping our juicy fruit gum to the rhythm, when her singing suddenly stopped – and I heard her solemnly whisper these words to herself,

“But for the grace of God go I”.

Craning my neck to look out the windows of her pink & black Rambler in an attempt to see what she was talking about.  Just one glimpse and I knew exactly what my grandma meant by that phrase.

From an early age, I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents on their little farm in one of the poorest rural communities in our state.

Our closest neighbors lived in a little tin shack, right across the road from our dilapidated barn.

Every Saturday in every season, from the time I turned six, I would make the weekly trek from grandma’s cozy kitchen through our pasture and out our farm gates, up to this tin shack.

I will never forget my first visit, the eerie sounds of the corrugated metal creaking and flapping in the north wind resonating in the cold crystal air.  It was a patchwork of mismatched pieces of tin in various stages of rust.

The door bounced back against my mitten-covered fist as I knocked.

A pale weather-beaten mom and her 3 little children, 2 toddler girls and a baby boy lived inside.  I handed her the basket my grandma had prepared for them.  As she unloaded the basket onto her single shelf, I stood quietly soaking in this family and their lives.

No bigger than a bedroom, there were no interior walls, no windows, no plumbing or electricity and no furniture.  Just a pile of blankets in the corner where they all slept.  There was a wood stove chugging warmth into their tiny space.  I could see the same scrambled rusty pieces of metal on the inside of the walls that were on the outside.  The only shelter from the cold north wind was this thin raw metal.

Their floor was dirt.  My six-year-old mind was impressed to find the dirt floor had such a glossy sheen – glossy from the damp earth being hard packed by tiny bare feet.

In the winter all three kids would be huddled under a heaping pile of blankets in an effort to find warmth in each other. There was a man, but in all my visits, I never saw him inside the shack.  He was always outside, chopping wood in winter, tending their mule or working the garden in the warmer months.

When she had emptied the contents of the basket onto her shelf, she expressed her sincere gratitude and sent me on my way back to my grandparent’s house.


Sometimes, when my grandma and I would drive past the tin shack and cross the creek – her singing would stop – I would look out my passenger window and see the weather-beaten mom doing laundry in the creek while her little ones bathed.  I can still hear my grandma’s voice muttering…

“But for the grace of God go I”.

When hearing this phrase, your mind takes you to that place of those who are afflicted, broken or less fortunate.

I would continue to visit this family in their little tin shack each week for the next 3 years. Their lives are seared into my memory.  After all these years, I still think of them often.

This Thanksgiving holiday – Take a moment to be grateful for all you have and remember those less fortunate.

Special thanks to my grandma for giving me the gift of empathy

and the meaning of

“But for the grace of God go I.”


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All thoughts, opinions, and photos are my own.

Copyright © Lost Mule Lodge 2017 All Rights Reserved


  1. Sherry Baker

    Wonderful story Teresa, you are one of the most caring people I have ever met. Thank you for all the kindness you have shown me as your mail carrier and friend. I miss seeing you. Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Sherry – I miss you! You are one who will take time from your own busy world to pay a visit to a friend face to face! Thank you for your kind words and for making us feel welcome in our new community.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Thank you for your kind words Jane. Looking back on this memory, I am so blessed that my Grandmother allowed me the opportunity to know this family. It was a lesson of compassion, generosity and empathy learned at an early age. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  2. Maddy

    I don’t think I can read this too many times….thankyou for sharing this again.Such a humble reminder of the “Grace of God”……love your stories!!!

  3. teresa.peters@live.com

    Thank you Maddy – you are so right, it is a good reminder of the many who are in need, but hidden from most the world. I seriously doubt that most the people in that small town even realized this family existed.
    Thank you for being a follower of my blog, and for finding the time and words to comment.

  4. Katie @Pixiedustandwhiskey.com

    So beautiful and timely! We tend to get so busy during the holidays it’s easy to forget those less fortunate than us. <3

  5. teresa.peters@live.com

    Hello Katie, Thank you so much. I think there may be families just like this in our rural areas today. Where people are not aware – where they are hidden from help or assistance.
    Thank you for your kind words and for being a loyal reader. I appreciate you so much.

  6. Ellen Peters

    I hadn’t seen this story before. It was so interesting and thoughtful. so here’s to sending to my relatives that enjoy short stories such as this. Your writings are always lovely, Sis. Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful with your kids and grandkids. Tell George that Denis will call soon.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Thank you so much for your kind words. This was a long time ago, and times were much different. But I am so grateful that my grandparents allowed me the opportunity to visit and get to know this family, instead of shielding me from them.
      I so appreciate that you took the time to read and leave a comment.

  7. teresa.peters@live.com

    I agree Renee – it is a phrase we should be teaching our children today. Thank you for your kindness and welcome to my blog!

  8. I opened these post, whilst waiting for my dinner to cook. I was anticipating a new update on the build; As I read the story, I transported way back. Such a lovely story, humble and kind. I thought straight away that I must share it with my mum. Thank you for sharing the memory with us.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Thank you so very much – you comment let’s me know that you have also learned the gift of empathy my friend.

  9. I loved this story. I wondered what ever happened to them. Did they rise above or sink below I wonder. My mother grew up this way. They weren’t as bad as that but grew up without electricity or water and my grandmother would so their close out of feed sacks. She tells me stories that just break my heart.

    • teresa.peters@live.com

      Thank you for your heartfelt comment Rena. I have often thought about this family and the children. It would be interesting to record your mother’s thoughts and memories. I bet she could write a book!

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