Belief and my mom

The best way to make sure that everyone actually reads what you have to say about your mom is to post it on a day other than mother’s day. Also, that extends the holiday, which is a favorite practice in my home. We like birthday weeks and half birthdays and Sundays and any occasion to celebrate people and eat cake or some other delicious food.

So, my mom? I could go on about all the soccer, softball, and volleyball games she attended, skating shows she did makeup for, meals she’s cooked, laundry loads done, ride given, clothes bought, and all those other tasks which moms complete on the daily, rarely getting enough gratitude from the recipients.

I could do that, but instead, I’ll tell you a story, because I love stories.

Once upon a time (don’t all good stories start that way? no? oh, well now  you tell me), my mom gave birth to one daughter. The whole family rejoiced at her birth. My parents were so pleased with their first child that they decided to have another one, who ended up also being delightful (that’s me).

Right from the beginning, my mom believed in me. (My dad has, too, but his day isn’t til June) When I wanted to “learn more about that skating on one foot”, she signed me up for lessons. She believed in me enough to let me start paying for my own private lessons in middle school. She believed in Brooke and me enough to give us baskets of laundry to fold, not minding that we sometimes played with the underwear (why, I do not know) before it actually got folded. Then, in sixth grade, she passed on the beautiful laundry tradition to me.

When I decided that I wouldn’t follow in my mom and sister’s footsteps and could rather play the oboe than the flute, she took me to A to G Music and eventually bought me a clarinet. She didn’t mind that I had a deep need to be an individual and could thus not play the same instrument.

When I went through middle school girl drama, she listened to my cries for security and reminded me that we’d all grow out of it, that drama was always because of insecurity or immaturity, both of which are curable.

When I told her and my dad that I wanted to go to Costa Rica on the school mission trip, the same year that my sister was going, and that we’d both need to fundraise $2,000 (that’s each, folks), I don’t remember them batting an eyelash at the number. I remember them buying stamps and envelopes for us and proofreading our support letter before we sent them out.

When I told her that I had the opportunity to go to India, missing two weeks of school (read: two weeks of Calculus), she looked at plane ticket prices and helped me find appropriate clothing and prayed for me every day that I was there. She and my dad emailed me faithfully every day that I was away and bought me international texting so I could keep in touch.

When my heart felt broken, not just once but multiple times from varying causes, she believed in my ability to bounce back and pointed me to the God who heals all bumps, bruises, scrapes, and fractures. She handed me tissues and listened to my tearful, runny-nosed ventings.

When I told her and my dad that I wanted to go abroad, they said, “we’re coming, too!” and planned their flights just a couple months after I bought mine. They floated me money so I could pay for my ticket, believing in the work ethic they’d instilled in me that I’d be able to pay them back in time.

On the days when I feel like I’m small and like I haven’t accomplished much, my mom reminds me that God has done incredible things in my life and will continue to. He’s working in my failures (or what seem to be so). He’s working in my heart, in my friends, in my everything. She’s lead the way in saying “yes” to God and believing that He is our way.

I’m so thankful for my mom. Thanks for always believing in me.

Mom prose.

For about six or seven years, every year on Mother’s Day, my sister and I would sing a song for my mom.  We usually modified hymns so that they applied to my mom instead.  Lines like, “our mom is an awesome mom” and “we will love you in the morning, and we will learn to do what you say” are pretty characteristic of these tunes.

Fortunately, we had a tape recorder back in those days, so those sweet little voices, singing sort of cheesy but totally heartfelt parodies for our mom are preserved for as long as there are tape players.  Maybe cassettes will have the same resurgence as vinyl has, and they’ll be heard for generations to come.

I sat by the stereo tonight, rewound the tape so that I could get it ready for when my mom comes upstairs for breakfast tomorrow, and wished I had written her another song.  I intended to just rewind it, but I found myself listening to every song, hearing the voices slightly mature with each year’s recording.

As I listened to them, I realized that it might have been slightly sacrilegious to change the words from glorifying God to honoring my mom, but I think the heart of it was right.

As much as I long to be a mother someday, the thought of having the responsibility for another person’s life and upbringing terrifies me. Even pregnancy and childbirth is daunting enough without a lifetime of relationship to follow.  I’m so thankful to my mom for being brave, for facing parenthood with arms wide open (and my dad, too, but it’s not his day yet).

Thank you, Mom, for frequent embraces and reminders that you love me.  Thank you for making Jesus a priority right from the start and putting me in environments where I could learn for myself what my relationship with God should look like.  Thank you for both opening your ears to me to listen and your mouth to share your wisdom and insight.  Thank you for teaching me discipline and how to do my own laundry early on.

Thank you for reminding me of truth when my circumstances caused me to forget.  Thank you for teaching me how to practice hospitality and that food is always the best way to show someone that you care.

This past year has been a constant progression into new seasons of life: empty nest, partially empty nest when Brooke finished college, full nest for the summer even though Brooke works all week, half empty nest when I go back in the fall, totally empty nest when Brooke gets married in January… Yet, through the seemingly constant transition mode, we’ll learn what our relationship as mother and adult daughters looks like.

It’s a challenge worth accepting.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.


The cream filling.

I bought two pairs of shoes yesterday.

These ones are Dr. Scholl’s.  And let me tell you, these commercials where people aren’t bothered by anything since they’ve got Dr. Scholl’s shoes are not just pulling your leg.  The way these shoes feel on my feet makes me want to dance.  That’s definitely saying something.

The purchase is far from frivolous.  It’s just plain practical.  We all know how much I walk all over the place.  Or if you don’t, let me tell you: I walk all over the place in Chicago.

On the other hand, I met a lady who was buying 8 pairs of shoes.  At once.  And she wasn’t done shopping.  She was leaving the shoes at Macy’s to pick up when she was done.  I’m trying really hard to not be a judgmental gal here, but as I stood behind the lady with my one pair of shoes (the other pair I bought yesterday, red high heels), I couldn’t help but wonder: why???????

So, instead of judging her —  because I don’t think Jesus would condemn someone for buying 8 pairs of shoes and also because I’m not Jesus and have no right to judge — I’m going to come up with as many reasons as I can for buying 8 pairs of shoes in one go.

1. She has 8 children who all need new shoes at once.

2. She wants to give the shoes to someone but doesn’t know their size, so she’s buying all the sizes and will return the rest once she knows the person’s size.

3. She doesn’t have any shoes (except the ones I saw her wearing) and needs… 8? … okay, maybe that one doesn’t really work.

So… maybe that’s all I can come up with.  I would like to compare her to this cupcake that I ate this evening.  It was beautiful.  Actually, you can see what it looked like:


Look at that.  It looks just like a lovely chocolate cupcake with a “y” iced on top.  It’s pretty.  And that’s all I can see.  That’s all I saw when I ordered it.  Just like all I could see of my 8-pair friend was the fact that she bought 8 pairs of shoes.  (can you tell that I can’t get over that??)

But sometimes, inside the cupcake – or inside the 8-pair friend — there’s a happy, little surprise.  Like marshmallow cream.  And you had no idea that it was there, but it’s a great surprise.


I’d like to think that I would be delightfully surprised if I found out why this lady was buying 8 pairs of shoes.  It’d be like marshmallow cream filling.

That’s called giving the benefit of the doubt, folks.

Also, cupcakes stuffed with marshmallow cream are just about the hardest thing to eat in public, ever.

*shout out to my mom, who is sitting on the couch adjacent to me and has asked to be included in this post.  She’s the woman who taught me to appreciate the little things, like marshmallow cream filling.*

Ode to special people.

This morning, when I woke up, there were 6 texts messages on my phone, waiting to wish me a happy 19th birthday.  And everyone on facebook wanted me to know that they added their wishes too, along with wishes for lots of cake -eating.

Thanks, all.  I intend to have a very happy birthday and to eat cake every day this week.

As much as I’d love to regale the stories of all my celebratory eating this weekend, I think I have something more important to do today.

I got an email this morning from my parents.  It wasn’t just a happybirthdayweloveyoueatcakeandbehappy email.  No, they were helping me to write my song.  They put it to the tune of “Jesus loves me.”

I really love those people.  Even more now that I’m away from them 8 months of the year.  So, in honor of the two people who helped to bring me into this world, then made sure I’d stick around for a while, here are 19 reasons why I love my parents:

1. They instilled in me a healthy love for food, along with a reminder that it can and should be used to bless people.

2. Instead of squashing my dreams, they’ve helped me to make them a reality, supporting every endeavor I’ve ever made – even little league soccer, which is really boring.

3. They laugh at my jokes.  This is huge, people.

4. They came to 95% of my activities (which, with band, choir, volleyball, student government, and more on my plate in high school was a LOT) and never were absent because something else sounded more exciting.

5. They tell stories about me to their friends and tell me that they’re proud of me.

6. They pray for me and with me and remind me that they’re praying for me.

7. They weren’t ever dismayed when I told them what I wanted to do with my life (which started out as fairy, then English teacher, then forensic scientist, then psychologist, journalist, and now, the ever-ambiguous title of WRITER), never tried to shove me into a different field that wouldn’t fit for me, though they do tease me about trying nursing.

8. They listen so well, even when I don’t make sense.

9. They understand that Brooke and I are different people (even though we are eerily similar at times: you can meet Brooke here) and haven’t ever pulled the “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” card – even though there are a lot of ways I would like to be more like her.

10. They sent me a cake for my birthday.  And they support my habits of taking pictures of food.

11. They’ve dealt with two hormonal girls for quite a while now and haven’t killed us yet.  I’d say this is a big one.

12. They always made Valentine’s Day special for us, never making it all about them, even though it was a day to celebrate love and marriage and all that.  I have so many memories of special Valentine’s breakfasts with balloons for Brooke and me and Whitman’s chocolate samplers and pink socks.

13. When I was sick (usually when I had strep throat), my mom took me to Burger King to get a Coke slushie.  I think this happened more than once – and if it didn’t, it still stuck with me.

14. Even when I forget that he’s at an event, my dad still picks up his phone to let me know that he saw my call and will talk to me soon.  And he always says “I love you” before he hangs up.

15. They set an intentional example for Brooke and me in a lot of respects, particularly by making sure that we knew that you don’t have to drink alcohol to relax or have a good time.

16. Even though my dad can’t always keep my friends and their names and who has what color hair straight, he is always friendly and congenial with them.  And, as a result, they always think he’s great.  And he is.

17. They use their time and resources to serve other people and to live out the kingdom of God.

18. My mom has never complained about being a stay-at-home mom, even though I’m sure she wanted to get away at times and probably missed her career.

19. Last but not least, they remind me on a regular basis that they love me.

I could go on, but I’ll just close by saying: thank you, Mom and Daddy.  Today’s really a “cheers to you” day.  I love you!

Home. Home. Home. Home. Home. Home.

Yeah, I know you’ve technically already heard from me today.  Oh well. I wrote that yesterday and posted it really early this morning, so it doesn’t count.

You wanna know where I am?  You wanna know?  Take a guess.  I haven’t been here since August 20th.

You might have guessed. I’m sitting on my very own bed (which feels very near to the ground after sleeping on a bed with risers for so long) with a cup of coffee that matches the walls around me.  My daddy is in the kitchen, within yelling distance, since he came home early to work at home.  My mom is downstairs, a short 14 stairs away.

Oh, I’ve missed this.

Independence is great.  I love living on my own in the city and being responsible for myself on a daily basis.  That’s my daily life now. But it’s a real treat to have someone take care of me.  And I’m not even sick.

Our society really values independence, don’t we?  I feel like every ad campaign is directed towards showing me how this product will make me more capable, give me an ability to do more.  And if I can do more, then I need people less, right?  We go to school so that we can get jobs and be independent, right?

Or maybe that’s not the goal.  Maybe that’s a lie that we’re being fed.

I’m sure more qualified and thoughtful people have written more in-depth and longer and more Biblical and all around better things about this, but I’m just thinking about it today in relation to how my day’s gone.

I was so independent this morning.  For real.  I rolled my two suitcases and carried my backpack (packed independently, AND I figured out when I needed to leave and how to get to the airport by myself) to the Kimball station – about 3 blocks.  Then I proceeded to try to get all my suitcases and myself through the turnstiles (morning brain… the caffeine wasn’t in my bloodstream yet) and got stuck.

Okay, so maybe not totally independent.  A nice man came and showed me that by collapsing the handle of my suitcase I could fit it under bars, thus freeing me from my incredibly embarrassing position.

Well, I’ll never see them again, I’m sure.

From there on out, though, I was really independent.  I transferred trains all by myself.  I mean, I sort of followed people into Midway, but I read the signs too, so I knew where we were going.  I checked my bags at the correct airline desk and got through security fairly smoothly.  I mean, I did have to go to the bathroom pretty badly from the time I got onto the orange line of the L til after security, but there aren’t any bathrooms at Midway until you get through security, so there’s no way around that.  And I did put my fleece zip-up on top of my laptop in the security bin, which is apparently a no-no.  Needs to go in a separate bin by itself without anything above or below it.  But that’s just because I’ve never travelled with a laptop before.

I didn’t freak out when I was picked for a random shoe test.  I just stood there waiting ever so patiently, while preparing to run to the nearest bathroom as soon and I was cleared of having bombs in my Skechers.  (really?  do I look like a bomb threat to you?)

Jesus is really nice to me.  I mean, for real.  Security took at least 45 minutes, something I hadn’t thought would take so long (and neither had all the people around me either, apparently) so after I had visited the nearest restroom, I got to my gate just as my section was boarding.  Perfect timing, Jesus.

After that I was totally independent until I rolled my luggage out to the car.  There I got in the passenger seat and was driven to lunch.  Paid for (thanks, Mom), and taken home.

Even through all these experiences where I was on my own, I still needed that guy in the Kimball station to help me figure out the turnstiles.  (I have no idea where I’d be right now if it weren’t for him.)  My smartphone can tell me how to get somewhere, but it can’t give me practical advice about how to not get stuck.  When I’m having a bad day, I can’t just smile at myself and make my own day.

(can you do that?  I’d like to know if that’s possible.)

Somehow, doing yourself a favor never feels as nice as having one done for you or doing one for someone else.  We weren’t meant to go it alone.

And that’s probably why it feels so good to be back here, to be back in my support system of familiarity, to be in my childhood bedroom (I’ve been in here since I was a baby… well, I should say I’ve slept here since then) where I don’t have to wash dishes in the bathroom.

I’m about to see if I still remember how to drive.  I’ll let you know if that goes badly.


giving my heart a rest.

Today [just fyi, I’m writing this on Wednesday night, BUT you’re seeing it on Thursday – or later, depending on what kind of relationship you have with this blog] was full of new adventures.  Adventures in absentee voting for the first time (accompanied by coffee and conversation with my friend and witness for my ballot in her apartment), rock climbing for the first time since… seventh grade?

Also, I saw a guy carrying around a fake basset hound.  I’m not sure why or where he got said animal, but he was carrying it while he watched some of his friends play basketball.  Then I met a guy named Willie.  I’ve never met anyone named Willie before, so that was exciting as well.

It’s the little things, people, the little things that keep life interesting and good.

Little things like a little flight home to Minneapolis tomorrow.  Little things like when my mom says that I can pick where we go for lunch after I get in (Chipotle is what I’m thinking right now).  Little things like not having to eat in a cafeteria for four days.  Little things like not needing to shower with flip-flops on and having my own bathroom for a few days.  Little things like hugs from people I love and miss with all my heart.  Little things like not having to work.  Little things like a long overdue haircut with someone who intimately understands my hair. (trust me, I can’t trust just anyone with the crazy curls God gave me…)

Can you tell that I’m excited?  I’m sure you have similar things that you miss when you aren’t home.

I’m going to go back to where my heart is because then it’ll be easier to transfer my heart to Chicago.  I’ll bring back my apron and some other things I have been wanting.  And it’ll give my heart – that sometimes aches for home and familiarity – a rest.

And now for a completely unrelated side note to close out this post:

Sometimes I read through my old blog posts, mostly to remember what I’ve already said before and partly to gain inspiration.  I always cringe at the typos (I’m so sorry… I may be able to compose thoughts decently, but I’m a pretty clumsy typist. Thank you for your forbearance with me.), and sometimes I get taken down Memory Lane so far that I forget the real reason why I came on my computer — probably to look up something for a class or to email someone important.

I was just reading through a post from this time last year, and I came across this verse from Daniel 9 — which happened to be my Granddaddy’s favorite prayer in the Bible:

We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.

That speaks for itself.  Just thought it needed to be shared.

A few of my favorite things.

Meet the latest addition to my list of favorite things: the filtered camelbak.

I’m still trying to decide whether or not it’s name-worthy.  I don’t have criteria for deciding whether or not an inanimate object will receive a name or not.  Thoughts on that?

I have a pretty long list of favorite things and people, I’ve realized.  I try to refrain from saying, “oh, that’s my favorite!” all the time, but, alas, I have made a long list over the years.  I think, today, I’m going to be like Oprah and talk about my favorite things… and people.  But don’t expect that you “audience members” will be receiving one of everything – even though I would love to reward you for your faithful (or one-time, or occasional) readership of this blog.

And I’m not just going to list them for the sake of telling you, but maybe so that it’ll be helpful to you someday.

My favorite things and people:

1. Salt.  Brooke and I have concluded that the things that keep us coming back to certain foods (chips, pistachios – her, not me-, popcorn, cheese, etc) are not those foods in themselves, but rather the high salt content. Maybe not the best one for you, but salt is a great thing.

2. Camelbaks.  Because not only do they make you drink 24% more water than you would if you had a regular water bottle, but they don’t require hands!  You can just bite and sip and keep typing… as long as you have decently strong jaws.

3. The BLB app. Blue Letter Bible.  Probably the only thing that I don’t like about my android is that this app isn’t on the market.  If you have an iPhone and want to read the Bible on it (and have commentaries, tons of versions, the ability to highlight, make notes, and so much more right at your fingertips), you need this app.  Also, it’s FREE.  And we all know that the best things in life come free.

4. Free on iTunes and New Music Tuesdays.  Every Tuesday there’s a whole new slew of free songs and music videos in a few different categories on iTunes.  Indie spotlight, discovery download, latino… Sometimes they come from people you’ve heard of, and sometimes it’s a great new band that you never would have discovered otherwise.  But it’s always free and it’s always fun to hear something new.  Funny story about this:  Before Justin Bieber became a real sensation, a music video of his was free when I went on to check them out.  So, naturally, I downloaded it.  When this little boy with a high voice who was singing about love (which I didn’t think he knew squat about… not that I’m an expert either) came on the screen, I laughed.  And I deleted it.  And when my friends said they really liked this new guy and I made the connection, I was a little bewildered.  And now he’s a millionaire, so obviously someone likes him.  Some millions of someones.

5. Family.  I really like my family.  And I’m sure I’d like yours too. I’ve realized as I grow older that pretty much everyone has dysfunctionalities (apparently not a real word according to the dictionary installed in Matilda… well, whatever) in their families.  what really matters is if they’re central or secondary. My dad days umbrella wrong.  But he always laughs at my jokes like I really came up with a good one and always will get up at 4 in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving to go Black Friday shopping with me, even if he doesn’t actually end up buying anything.  To my mom and my sister, the joke about “hey, we’re having steak tonight… WANT SOME???  *big grin*” never gets old.  But my mom has always been able to offer me perspectives that I don’t have on my own, and she shares her brain with me (literally.  We’ve discovered that we share a brain.  joint custody deal here).  And she’s never forced me to simply eat what everyone else is eating, like the steak.  And Brooke keeps her complaints about my messiness in our shared bathroom mostly to herself. And we just find common ground around ever corner.

6. Going to bed before 11.  And that’s why this list will be continued later.

Brooke’s singing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” right now. So that’s a sign that we all need some sleep.  Good night, folks.


I was going to have a mouthwatering picture of the cookies my mother has been tempting me with this afternoon, but, due to circumstances that are too dumb to recount, the picture is not here.  So, I want you to use your imagination with me.  You know those puffy sugar cookies with the thick frosting (usually colored in a bright color according to what holiday is coming up) that are sold at Target and Cub?  They’re the ones that kids love to bring in for their birthday treats, the ones that leave you feeling happy and fat.

Well.  My mom made those.  Out of a white cake mix.

I just polished off three of them, and I’m still waiting for the regret to sink in.



Okay, so maybe I just regret that I’ve already eaten my allotted amount of the top triangle of the food pyramid for the day and can’t indulge again later.

And now, in an effort to get my mind off of the container full of those delicious tempters, let’s reflect on failure.  It really isn’t a “nice” topic, per se, but I’ve been realizing how much of a failure I am the past couple days.  Now, don’t go feeling bad for me; don’t start thinking that I have no self-esteem and am going to go around hanging my head and always be on the verge of tears.  Healthy people are the ones who know that they are inadequate.  Even healthier people are the ones who see those inadequacies as ways for God to show how good He is.  To show that He redeems us in the places where we fall short.

Here’s an effort at being relatable: does anyone else have days where they feel like 90% of what they said was

a) pointless

b) seen as random by the person to whom it was spoken

c) incoherent or just not well though out

d) all of the above

That has been my week.  I’m sure that my late bedtimes and early wake ups weren’t helping me either.  I look back on how many things I said that were either a,b,c, or a combo of the three and just want to take a nap, to take a break from being conscious for a little bit.  If I’m not conscious, I can’t say stupid things.

And though the thought of just wanting to escape is enticing, the thought that God can redeem my speech to make it useful and powerful and glorifying to Him is much more inspiring.  That gets my heart pumping blood faster.  It makes me want to take care of my brain better to enable it function on a higher level, to go to sleep when my eyes plead with me to make a day of it.  My calculus teacher has the philosophy that “you can sleep with you’re dead!” — as an exhortation to us to stay up late doing our homework instead of skipping the extra problems for extra hours of sleep — but I think that if you don’t sleep, you’ll die sooner.  Which is, perhaps, the objective of those who refuse to sleep.  It isn’t mine though.

I feel like I’m sitting here, holding out my worthless or inappropriate words in my cupped hands, waiting for God to put His words in my mouth.