Showing up

I sat on my barstool at the kitchen counter this morning, finishing up my coffee, eggs, and toast and staring out the window. My Bible was open on my left, and I’d read the chapter for the day. Titus something. But I couldn’t tell you what it was about for sure by this point in the day.

It’s a good discipline, to read your Bible every morning. Perhaps it would be more effective if you were the type of person who could remember what you read as well and think about it throughout the day. I do believe that is the intent for those of us who do morning devotions, or at any time of day. I do not remember what I read.

But I do remember what I saw out the window. It was 6:10, usually the time that I would be leaving the house if it was Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, but it was Friday. And I drive to work on Fridays, so I was planning to leave about ten minutes later than normal. I lead such an exciting and varied life.

I stared down the curving street, the one that I know points south because when as a young girl I told my sister I was running away to Grandma’s house and needed directions, she told me Grandma lived in Texas, which was south. And she pointed down the street, telling me that’s the direction I should head in. There was a woman there, running south this morning – maybe to my grandma’s house. She wasn’t the Lulu Lemon model or the poster child for Lifetime. She was just running. Not a sprinter’s clip nor a plodding pace. Fighting inertia, keeping on.

Good for you, I thought, because I am not a runner in the least.

I looked back at my Bible as if trying to remember if there was something more for me there. Thank you, God, for today, for my job and my…

See the time on the clock, glance out the window again, eat another bite of eggs. Strategize about how late I can leave and still get there on time.

Right, I was praying. Thank you for today. Just thank you, really. I can’t remember what else you say when you’re prayingHelp me to show your love to the people I work with today. There, that was something coherent and applicable.

Out the window, the woman is still going down the street. She turns and is soon out of my sight. She wasn’t that jogger you see on the sidewalk who is just barely making it, the one you desperately want to pull over and give a lift to because their faces say they’re dying and their bodies are barely moving though appearing to be attempting to run. Those people are admirable, too, and I say this as one who does not run and hates it. They’re trying, and it’s near impossible. Odds are, it’s not going to be their lifelong passion. This happens for some, but they most likely won’t be runners. Maybe they’ll walk or find that they are passionate about yoga or body pump.

But this lady is a runner. She’s got her route and her pace and her running clothes. She may not run far or go fast or impress the onlookers. But she’s still going.

I tried to go back to prayer. My mind was scattered among the things in my kitchen, out the window, on my calendar, on my (literal) plate. My discipline to at least open my Bible was there, but I wasn’t making grand strides or hearing great words from the Lord. I was just practicing for the next day, when I may show up a little better and listen a little closer.

Paying attention and not paying attention

I strive to pay attention in church. I thought it was hard when I was younger, when I didn’t really understand a lot of what the pastor would drone on and on about teach about. I liked the singing part because I liked singing and enjoyed hearing the people around me sing. But the sitting still and listening part was a little difficult. I drew pictures on the bulletins, sat next to friends and wrote notes back and forth, daydreamed, and thought about lunch.

I remember one time trying to bring Super Fudge by Judy Blume to church, probably because I’d seen a younger child reading a book during the service, and I thought that would be okay. It’d keep me quiet and entertained. My parents weren’t having it. I felt bad for trying to pull something like that at the age of ten, when I was completely capable of siting still. My mom made my leave it in the car, and to this day I can’t think of Judy Blume without feeling a small modicum of guilt. I knew better.

The songs were my favorite part. Even before we went to our church, where music is important and done well and given lots of attention, I knew the words to the songs and liked singing along. We went to a hymn sing at our church one night, and I desperately wanted to suggest “Shine, Jesus, Shine” when they started taking requests, but I couldn’t get up the courage to suggest it. I whispered it to my mom, kind of just so someone else would know what I wanted to sing, and she said (OUT LOUD), “Ashley wants to sing ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’.” Thus, I was outed, but then we sang that song.

Shine, Jesus, Shine. 

Fill this land with the Father’s glory.

Blaze, Spirit, blaze. 

Set our hearts on fire.

Flow, river, flow. 

Flood the nations with grace and mercy.

Send forth your word, Lord

And let there be light.

See? It’s a good one.

The songs we sing in church are still meaningful to me. And I can now sit perfectly still during the sermon, look like I’m paying attention, and on a regular basis actually be paying attention. If I think of something I need to do later, I write it down and put it out of my mind. I try not to think about lunch or how badly I want to take a nap that afternoon or work the next day or anything.

But when the final song of the service comes, I’m pretty much done with paying attention. At my church, it’s typically a pretty short song, a chorus you sing through twice before you are dismissed. They’ve never been the songs that are most meaningful to me, mostly because I’m already mentally gone.

This week I had a stressful day, which bled into a stressful evening, for a number of reasons. I did some things this week that stretched me in numerous ways and stressed me in numerous ways, so when I went to work one day, my stomach was tied up in knots, and despair was near at hand. Not real despair but the thought that you have too much and feel too much and have too little time and ability to deal.

Out of the blue, one of those short songs we sing at the end of the service came into my mind and kept playing itself over and over. It was one I’ve never particularly liked much, maybe for lack of paying attention to what it said. The tune isn’t anything special, and I’m pretty sure we’ve never sung it in the middle of a service. I’m surprised I even knew the words.

It just kept singing to me.

Oh, let the Son of God enfold you with His Spirit and His love.

Let Him fill your heart and satisfy your soul.

Oh, let Him have the things that hold you,

And His Spirit like a dove will descend upon your heart and make you whole.

How did I miss this before? The meaning became quite clear to me as I kept hearing it in my mind on repeat. The things that hold you… not the things I’m holding but the things that keep me captive. Oh, how true that is! His Spirit like a dove will descend upon your heart and make you wholeYeah, because I feel partial when I’m stressed, partially there, partially capable. This is GOLD.

I had texted a friend earlier and told her how I was feeling. True to her record of faithful friendship, she texted me a prayer for peace that surpasses all understanding.

Somehow this short song I had never paid attention to was bringing me that peace, reminding me that God comes in the middle of stress and anxiety and burden-bearing.

It reminded me that the words of the songs we sing in church can have more to them than we think, that paying attention even when it’s rote or almost lunchtime makes all the difference and on the flip side of that I also realized that God can instill truth into my heart even when I’m not paying attention… and bring it back when I’m ready to.

Finished products

In today’s news, for the second time in two weeks I stood in front of an automatic door that wouldn’t open. Automatic doors are supposed to be like the puppies of inanimate objects – even when you feel invisible, they see you and respond. Not this time. It was the same automatic door though, both times. So I’m wondering if maybe I’m not the only one it doesn’t see.

Either way, I know my humanity isn’t determined by a door.

Speaking of humanity, I’ve been remembering lately a poster that hung in the music room at my elementary school. It was posted on the door of a cupboard at the back of the classroom by the sink, so only visible to the teacher at most times.

It had a picture of a little girl on it with a plaintive, pleading look on her face and her hands extended. In bouncy letters above her it read, “Be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

I’m sure those teachers needed to be reminded that the raucous, distracted, squirmy kids in front of them weren’t finished becoming future contributors to society. Not that it wasn’t totally obvious that they weren’t done developing but it wasn’t obvious that we’d all end up being contributing members of society.

I’d like to make a poster of myself some days, wearing a sundress, with plastic beads around my neck and glitter and glue on my fingers, reaching out with the same saying above me.

“Be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

Meaning, I know you’ve probably already been patient, because here I am at 22 still needing to ask you to be, but could you keep it up?

I might need to make these posters for other people in my life, too. Not like I just have to deal with so many people that require patience, but actually it’s everyone who requires patience and grace. None of us are done cooking.

I don’t know if the people who made that poster had some idea that God would be finished with that little girl pictured when she got a little older. They probably just knew how much patience can be needed with little people. I’m sure most of us who have been walking with God for any length of time could attest that we’re just getting started. There really is no finishing while we’re living this life on earth. I’ve never met a finished product. I kind of hope I never do. I’m not sure I could handle it.

I did think at one point that I would make it some day, that my insecurities and hang-ups and impatience and failure would one day take a backseat and I’d be the polished, kind, gracious, whole human being I always pictured I’d be. But I’m finding more and more that I’ve brought the same me on the whole journey that I’ve always been. The changes are small, so minute I hardly know I’ve changed til I get miles down the road.

I’d like to see that poster with an elderly person on it. Yeah, still not finished. Patience still requested. That might be a good tattoo, if I ever wanted to get one, just smack it across my forehead.

Grace and the unrepentant rapist

I know it’s probably not in good form to only blog once or twice a month then come out of nowhere with a post about what grace might look like in the case of the Stanford student who raped an unconscious woman, but it’s just been weighing on me all day.

It weighs on me for a numbers of reasons:

  1. The rapist does not acknowledge his crime of rape, rather is sorrowful that he got drunk and was “promiscuous.”
  2. The survivor of the assault’s statement shows how serious his action was. To say she has suffered would be to put it lightly (follow the link and read the statement).
  3. He got six months in jail and probation when a jury found him guilty on three counts of sexual assault. The judge was concerned that a harsher sentence would ruin his life.

The Stanford student doesn’t own up to the fact that he raped a woman.

And I can’t tell you how mad it makes me that in 2016 a judge is more concerned with the future of a kid who raped an unconscious woman while drunk than with the victim of the rape, in part because he was a star swimmer with a bright future.

In a case where justice should have been clear, where punishment should have been swift and heavy, where there should have been real remorse for his crime – he gets six months and does not apologize.

This is what the victim says about that, at the end of her statement:

“You do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.”

I’m sure my rage pales in comparison to what she has felt over the past year. Really, it would be good for us all to read her letter. I think that to read her speak about what she experienced honors her courage to speak out, honors her voice in this situation where so many are voiceless.

This stupid question has been burning in the back of my mind today though, because I’ve been learning about grace in the past year and figuring out how to receive it and give it.

Oh, it’s such a stupid, dumb, irrelevant question! How do you show grace to an unrepentant rapist? You don’t, okay? You punish him hard.

I’m not asking because I’m gracious. I’m asking because I really need to know.

The question isn’t even how do you show grace to a repentant rapist, but instead one who won’t even say he did it.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.


He should have gotten a harsher sentence.

Oh, he really should have.

Grace doesn’t let us off easy. We do actually have to learn from our mistakes and grow from them. A long prison sentence might do that. I don’t know what else would.

Oh, but there’s Jesus. As cliché as it might seem, I just keep seeing Jesus on the cross, taking the sins of the world and saying, “Yep, for him, too.”

God isn’t the one who pats us on the back after we horrifically offend the dignity of another person. That isn’t the moment where he gently says, “Not like that. Try again.”

I’m grateful for those moments. But when I or anyone else dehumanize another person, God convicts us. He prods us and tells us what we did was wrong and that we need to make it right.

But he also opens a door and tells us there’s a way to live differently, not perfectly but walking alongside the One who loves so well that it rubs off on us and makes us more truly loving.

That’s grace, I think. It’s the smack that tells us we’ve got to stop what we’ve been doing and waits for us to sober up before it offers another way.

I am still so mad at that student. I’m mad at that judge. I’m mad that the justice system I live under produced such unjust results, so I’m praying through my teeth that he’ll know that what he did was wrong and that the weight of it will sink in.

And then that God will show him another way.


I haven’t written in a while. I suppose there are a number of reasons for this. The obvious and perennial reason being busyness. The other that whenever I think of something I might like to write about, I’m at work.

Or, the most common, my gremlins tell me it’s not interesting enough. Brené Brown gets the credit for the gremlin imagery – they’re the voices inside your head that tell you you’re not good enough.

Mine keep telling me that whatever I’ve thought to write about is boring.

No one needs to read about that.
What’s the point of writing about that? It’s not profound. You call yourself a writer (sometimes), and this is what you come up with?

My gremlins are liars, but sometimes I believe them. That word, “boring,” gets me every time.

It must have been some unthinking middle school boy who said it. Or maybe I told myself based on a comparison with the other kids my age. No matter. I got this idea in my head during some formative time in life that I was boring. Like, painfully so.

I owned it for a long time. I guess I thought that if you accept something other people have said about you and say it about yourself, you’re in control. If I tell you I’m boring before you figure it out, it’s better for me. Then you can’t hurt me. There’s a wall there, some protection because you can’t tell me I’m boring. I already have claimed it.

Good friends are treasures. I have a couple good friends who, though they may not know the gremlins who remind me of all the ways I’m boring, have heard me own that I am. Their response astonished me. I expected them to pat my shoulder, nod knowingly, and smile, saying, “Oh it could be worse.”

Instead, they usually cocked their head to one side, looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t think you’re boring.”

At first I thought they were just being nice but I’ve realized that they mean it. Of course, by some people’s standards, I probably am boring. But by my own and my friends’, I am not.

I didn’t have to ask them to counter the gremlins. I didn’t even realize I was believing a lie. And really, in the end, it doesn’t matter if I’m boring. It matters if I think I’m worthy. And thinking I was boring made me think I wasn’t worthy of the friendship of people in my life who were exciting.

By the way, if we’re friends, there’s a good chance I think you’re pretty exciting.

The gremlins were just telling me how boring it is to write about how you used to think that you were boring. Maybe it is. But I think I’ll take the chance.

Cinco de Mayo bookmark

Every year, Cinco de Mayo creeps up on me. It never feels like it should be quite so far in the year – May 5th, already? The day wouldn’t be much more to me than someone else’s celebration if it weren’t also the day I was baptized, 14 years ago. Granted, if the day I was baptized wasn’t also Cinco de Mayo, I probably wouldn’t remember that either.

But because the two coincide, I do remember both. Most years I reach this day and am only reminded that I’m getting older.

I’ve spent some time this year thinking back to what it means that I’ve been baptized.(Marilynne Robinson had a good deal to do with it) One of my pastors used to say–every time someone got baptized–that baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. And it was. But a lot of the time, I saw people getting baptized from whom I’d already seen that outward expression of inward change, a shift from old to new, a surrender. Their lives were already speaking to the Spirit at work in them.

I got baptized in second grade. And I don’t remember what made me think I wanted to be baptized. It could have been a number of things:

  1. Brooke had done it already.
  2. I’d heard people talk about it a lot.
  3. I really did love Jesus and knew that was something people did when they’d decided to follow Him.

But whatever the reason, I told my parents I wanted to get baptized. My dad made a worksheet for me, questions to answer about why I wanted to get baptized. I guess he wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, that I wasn’t making the decision impulsively.

We picked a Sunday night, and I invited some friends.

I don’t remember much about the actual baptism. I don’t remember climbing up the stairs to the baptistry or the temperature of the water or professing my faith in God. I don’t remember being dunked or coming up out of the water. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time. I have a vague and fuzzy memory of seeing the first few rows of the church full of people from my vantage point in the baptistry.

I do remember that afterwards my mom braided my short, wet hair into two French braids that were tied together in the back, and I wore a lavender and navy striped polo shirtdress. We went down to the basement kitchen of the church where we were going to have cake, and my mom took my picture beside it. In the picture I’m smiling behind my pink wire glasses, a recent addition to my face. The cake said, “Congratulations, Ashley!” and it was store-bought, which was rare. There was a gold cross on it made entirely out of sugar. When it came off the cake, I was allowed to lick it and was disappointed that it didn’t taste very good.

I knew I had done something good that day. I remember announcing it to my class at school the next day.

Over the years, as I’ve watched people in my church get baptized and profess that Jesus is the Lord of their life, I’ve wanted to get rebaptized. Did I know what I was doing the first time? I really do mean it now. I don’t think I knew what I was getting into then.

But, as my parents have reminded me, this misses the point. Baptism is a one-time sacrament, a landmark moment. It’s not about whether you’ve got it all together at the time. It marks a step in a life of faithfulness.

There’s something especially holy about the moment where someone chooses to be baptized as a representation of their faith in front of their church family. Every time, something in me calls out, Me too. I choose this, too. 

Not just baptism, although I’d choose that again, too, but the body of believers who profess faith and remind me of mine. I’d choose the church again, the relationship with Jesus again, because it has given me life abundantly.

It really is a gift that Cinco de Mayo bookmarks today for me, that I have a readymade reminder that I’ve chosen to follow the God who loves me and calls me to life.

Independent Bookstore Day

Today was Independent Bookstore Day, a.k.a. something that should be a national holiday. 10 Minneapolis bookstores teamed up to create a bookstore “Passport,” and if you got ten stamps, you would get a gift card from each bookstore for $10.

A lesser prize would have ignited the fire in me, but that certainly did. I mapped out my route and enlisted a friend to meet me along the way.


I even printed out 6 pages of directions from place to place to ensure efficiency.

The day started by struggling to find a parking space because the area around Common Good Books (Garrison Keillor, proprietor) was bustling, but I made it there just before ten and got my copies of Raymie Nightingale just before they ran out then hopped in line to meet Kate DiCamillo and get them signed.

I don’t fangirl over everyone, but this was a special moment. Kate DiCamillo is so kind, took the time to actually talk to every person who came up for an autograph. I watched her signing and listened in while I was in line (unabashedly eavesdropping) and saw her actually paying attention to people. This wasn’t a commercial affair, which made it all the more special.

I was flying high when I left Common Good, headed for The Red Balloon, where I saw the real! live! mouse! from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (though, in reality a human in a mouse costume… but I chose to be duped).

Also spotted: the limited edition “Read-with-me” Curious George plush toys, an unattended baby who was very cute and very asleep (by unattended, I mean, it wasn’t obvious which of the nearby mothers belonged to the sweet thing), and a co-worker. I also saw a couple of the people I’d seen at Common Good… then saw them again at the next place, Subtext Books.

My last stop in St. Paul before crossing the river to Minneapolis, Subtext was a smaller but largely delightful stop. I bought Marilynne Robinson’s The Givenness of Things there because I’ve checked it out from the library twice and haven’t gotten to it before it’s due again. So now I’ll just read it on my own time.

Three bookstores in, and it wasn’t even noon.

I picked up Emma, and we went to Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, then rushed over to Birchbark Books & Native Arts (Louise Erdrich is the owner there) to see Beth Dooley (author of In Winter’s Kitchen, which I highly recommend to food writing/nature/memoir fans). Alas, half an hour after (at least, I thought) Beth was slated to be speaking, R.T Rybak was still reading from Pothole Confidential. It sounded like it was a good book, from what I was hearing, but I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to see Beth. Turns out I had the time wrong.


Emma, saint that she is, had brought along a picnic lunch for us, so we grabbed that and sat by Lake of the Isles to refuel before heading to Once Upon a Crime.

It was a bit windy, but “We’re Minnesotans!”, as Emma put it, and we braved it and even enjoyed it though both our hands turned purple and the warm car did feel nice after that.

On to Once Upon a Crime, which we discovered was not, in fact, on the Passport. But we had a good time browsing there anyways.


Why independent bookstores? you may ask. Why is there a whole day set aside for indies? Because buying books can be sitting alone at your computer and choosing your shipping method, or it can be visiting a vibrant bookstore where the people care what you read and the books are chosen carefully to fit a certain niche. It can be finding a book you have no idea existed and never knew could exist. And it can be supporting wonderful, literature-loving people’s livelihoods.

Also, where else would you find a book called Laying Down the Paw than at an indie mystery bookstore?

Next up was Magers & Quinn, a much beloved haunt of mine. I always find something I want to take home and read when I visit there, usually something I hadn’t even heard of previously.

On we went, energy still up, to Wild Rumpus, an award-winning children’s bookstore, where I bought a picture book that teaches life lessons in relation to cookies. download_20160430_195014

I’ll read that book aloud to anyone. You just let me know when you want, and we’ll sit down and learn about trustworthiness and respect in relation to cookies.

We took an ice cream break at Sebastian Joe’s then pressed on. There was more to see! More stamps to be had!

Next up was Paperback Exchange, where Emma took my recommendation and bought The Poisonwood Bible. That was one store I could see myself spending a good chunk of time in. Emma was amazed at all the books. So many!


I’d forgotten about DreamHaven in my quest to map out my route, so we made a quick stop there to get the stamp before it closed then pressed on to Moon Palace, the last of the day.

That’s another I could see myself spending a lot more time in. They had the funniest greeting cards to go along with their great selection of books.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday. It might seem redundant to go to the same type of store eleven times in one day, but books don’t get old. Not when you’re shopping at places like these. Sure, you’ll see some of the same titles a couple times, especially if they’re new, but the thing about indies is that they all have some sort of niche and offer something just a little bit different than the others. So you’ll see books you’ve never seen before by people you’d never heard of. It’s overwhelmingly fabulous.

All in all, I think I can declare Independent Bookstore Day my favorite secular holiday.

Wattage and cosmic significance

Three light bulbs burned out in my room this week. And one at my desk at work. It is just a coincidence because there’s nothing else for it to be. How could so many the light bulbs in my life conspire against me at once?

The black tall lamp next to my desk in my bedroom went first, but I had the desk lamp and the overhead light to back me up, and the lamp on the dresser for when I need just a little light but not too much in the mornings to make sure I am putting on pants that actually are navy, not black.

Because I’m a strong, independent (ish) woman who can change her own light bulbs, I went to my toolbox and grabbed another bulb. But that didn’t work. So then I wondered if my lamp was broken. That was a bigger problem for another day. No time now, we’ll figure it out later.

Then the lamp on my desk at work went out, but the light under the cabinet and the overhead lights were still on, so I was fine. I could still see. I planned to bring a light bulb in the following week. This was a strange coincidence. Two light bulbs in one week is not that strange.

Then just a couple days ago the bulb in the paper lantern that serves as an overhead light in my bedroom popped when I turned it on. I started to wonder what was going on. Maybe the circuit was having problems, but everything else that was plugged in, my computer, the chargers, the fan, the two remaining lamps (last ones standing) were all just fine. It had to be the bulb. Or maybe all the lamps were breaking at once.

Then yesterday the lamp on the dresser popped when I tried to get a little light to see into the closet. I was down to two low-powered lamps in my room, not enough to make it through another gloomy, rainy day.

So today I finally asked my dad to check it out.

Good sport that he is, he bent down to see if they were plugged in, tried other light bulbs from lamps that were working in them, reset the ground fault interruptor (whatever that is). Turns out the replacement light bulb I’d been cycling around wasn’t good. This problem is fixable.

But four bulbs in one week? Three in the same room? He said there could have been some shock wave that went through the system. Apparently just in my room.

And at my desk at work, 16.7 miles away from home.

Some surge of power, perhaps. Maybe I had put new bulbs in all at once. Maybe I used up the wattage too evenly.

I thought about it a lot, wondered if there was some cosmic, spiritual significance to it. What do you learn when your light bulbs go out in tandem? Is this a special message? I wasn’t getting any accompanying revelation, just confusion.

So I just went to Walgreen’s and got four new bulbs. There wasn’t much else to do.

I’d like for there to be a nice parallel here, some metaphor from which I can learn a truth about how I’m supposed to live, but I think the point is that when your light bulbs go out there isn’t much cosmic significance, and you certainly won’t get very far until you replace them.



I went on a retreat this weekend with this group of women. And knowing me, you’ll know what I want to do with this topic. I’ll want to ask: What does it mean to retreat? Why did we retreat?

And I’ll tell you that it’s stepping back when we know we need reinforcements and can’t handle the battle on our own. And I’ll support it with Webster’s Online Dictionary.

And then I’ll say something about why it’s important to be still and rest because our world is too hectic, and we don’t do that enough.

And that will all be true.

But I figure since that’s predictable, I won’t say that. Because this weekend was anything but predictable. First off, I wasn’t planning to go. It was one of those things that was announced, and I saw it and thought huh, that’s the kind of thing I would like to do.

I don’t normally need a personal invitation to join in on all that life has to offer, but this time I didn’t really get around to deciding until Dena came up on me on Easter and asked me if I wanted to go.

Apathy sometimes keeps us from doing something that might bring great blessing. Do I need a getaway? Probably not that badly. Nothing’s going wrong in my life. Not really.

But she asked, and I said yes.

Then, during my week I started thinking about it and found that I was quite looking forward to Friday afternoon when we’d drive up north. A whole weekend without responsibility with some really lovely women who go to my church, where someone else cooks great food, where the whole point is to connect on a deeper level with each other, and in a log cabin.

I didn’t know I needed the break until I took it. A break from the hecticness, from bring connected to everyone online all the time, from being task-oriented and productive.

Instead we talked and laughed and took a walk to hold bunnies (BUNNIES! My mom can attest to my deep love for them) and played the world’s longest game of Uno. We laughed some more and settled down to share passages of scripture that are meaningful to us. Inevitably, our stories came out piecemeal, and each challenge and joy shared was met with empathy.

We’re more connected than we know.

There’s more to say about it, but I think even if I keep saying more I won’t fully encompass the connections that were made, the fun that was had, and the Spirit that was felt.

Plus, I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again. Don’t get me wrong, I’d sleep on that thin mattress again for such a wholly fulfilling weekend, but my pillow is calling.

Head colds and validation

There are tissues all over my floor. I have made it in the trash receptacle once. I told my dad last night that I’ve sneezed so many times my head feels like a Magic Eight ball that got stuck between responses because you shook it too hard looking for answers.

He was sympathetic to my pain but also wanted to know how I knew what a Magic Eight ball was. “That’s from my era.”

“I think my Barbies had one. Like the seventies Barbie.” I can’t remember her name now and inexplicably feel guilty for that.

I’m really not feeling that bad anymore. There’s just a lot of gunk in my head. I’ve been sneezing. It’s a cold. So many things could be worse.

I’m spacey when I get head colds. I think this is common. Like, I’ve been meaning to make pancakes for about an hour now and getting distracted. I can’t remember where I put my phone, either.

The phone is important because I was texting one of my friends who is still back at school. And now I can’t respond. It was a good conversation; it’s a good friendship. Like my friend who told me that I had a mouse in my glove compartment, this friend is one who makes me better.

We’re both trying to work through what it means to grow up and how we deal with feelings and thoughts and insecurities and all that. There’s no manual for this. But we both know it’s not meant to be done in isolation.

I texted her this morning and asked how her week was. I really wanted to know. I don’t bump into her on the sidewalk or at the library anymore, so it’s important to be intentional about asking.

I also really wanted her to validate a feeling. And really didn’t want to own up to it.

You know the type, where you feel like you shouldn’t feel the way you do because it’s selfish or ungrateful or discontent or inappropriate for the situation. But you still feel that way and need someone to remind you that you’re human and have to work through feelings instead of shoving them  into your closet to fester.

Some days, I don’t deal with it and shove it into the closet. But it always finds its way out for another encounter another day. So it’s best to just own up. Because the only antidote to feeling like you shouldn’t feel the way you feel is empathy.

So I told her. And she said, “That’s normal. You’re human.” And I nodded to myself, and we talked about it some more.

You’d think I’d be able to remind myself of that. Some days, I can. Some days, I need someone else to remind me.

If I needed her to, she’d validate this cold. But I can give this all the validation it needs. Somehow, I feel pancakes will help with this.

And where did I put my phone?