Hello. Welcome.

I'm a very determined kind of individual. Sometimes my determination is misplaced and things get very ugly. But, sometimes my determination leads to laughter, deep thoughts, and words on paper.

I write everything. I'm not very good at filtering ... so you will see it all. Maybe there will be a little inspiration for someone else along the way. I hope so. My sister also likes to guest blog and I'm sure you will appreciate her wit and wisdom.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Anecdotes: Part II

Okay, I’ve got to plunge into the anecdotal archives to retrieve one of the arguably funniest things that has ever happened to me. Funny because of how it happened, but maybe more funny because it was my first kiss. Don’t worry – it’s rated way G, so you can read on if you are wondering.

It all started freshman year of college. I was bright with assuming promise of a new life in a new town with new friends. Newly independent and absolutely basking in my freedom, I quickly made friends with Meghan, who was having a slightly less joyful transition. I realize now that I rushed at the opportunity to feel needed and lavished all of my home-grown Iowa loving onto her hurting spirit. We were late to a few orientation events as I listened to her sad stories, but when I asked what her favorite movie was and she responded tearfully, “The Newsies,” well, let’s just say we become attached. Some of our other friends that year thought it unhealthy, but we were lost in the wonder of a new friendship – I’ll never forget when after about a month Meghan turned to me in her room and said, “I want to know everything about you.” I was a little thrown off by the bold proclamation, but it didn’t stop me from surprising my newfound kindred spirit every chance I got.

Meghan wasn’t one to wake up early, but I was up and moving hours before she’d hit snooze the first time. I was anxious to prove my discipline and dedication, so I would leave crafts, verses, and eventually breakfast on her desk to welcome her into the new day. At first it was just muffins or bagels, but then I started thinking she would benefit from a hot meal, so would you believe I snuck an omelette out of the cafeteria and placed it carefully on a napkin next to her chemistry book?

Well, apparently my antics had not only endeared her poor soul, but also that of her family. They were worried about the mournful child they’d left on Hope College’s doorstep and were apparently grateful that someone had gone to the trouble to make sure she was eating breakfast (It really wasn’t that hard – the cafeteria did most of the work). I grew to love her family from the stories, but because her grandparents lived so close we would also go visit them on occasion.

I fell in love with them the first time I met them. Her grandpa admired my farm heritage (I truly think that is something I’ll end up ‘milking for all it’s worth’ in my life!) and her grandma was a sweet soul that never failed to bring a smile. I instantly knew I was welcome and accepted as part of the fold and spent four years grateful for that connection. But this story is really about the second time I met Ken and Barbi (because, of course those really were their names).

Eager to chat and laugh with the family on a particular afternoon, we walked up the deck and Meghan pulled the slider open. She stepped in first and there were excited (always loud) greetings all around, and I followed her into the dining room area. Before I knew what was happening Barbi was reaching for an embrace that ended all wrong.

I know some families have different ways of showing love and I understand we don’t all have to be the same. What I wasn’t ready for was the crossing-over. See, apparently my family doesn’t share some of the traditions that Meghan’s family has and that’s really okay, but when Mrs. DeWitt went in for a smack right on my lips I was slightly confused. Actually, I didn’t know what to do – so I didn’t do anything. Her love met its mark on my stunned lips and I had officially experienced my first-ever kiss.

If I had just turned my cheek ever so slightly things would have turned out differently. But in my stunned confusion, Barbi DeWitt planted her well-meaning affection right on my face!

I’m sure not many can say that their first kiss was their best friend’s grandma. But, I can and whether that makes me lame or hilarious, it is what it is.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Okay – out with it. Though I wanted to save these for “The Life and Trials – Humorous Stories of an Imaginative, Grown-Up Child” (to be my life’s memoir), I resolved that the publishing of such a book would likely get tangled in editing because of its whimsical and nonsensical nature. So, I’m content to settle for the only slightly smaller glory of having the material published in a different way – well, actually there is no glory involved at all. For the few who read this, I can only hope my antics will raise at least one corner of your mouth into a smirk and perhaps a chuckle might bubble out to disrupt the boring silence in which you are now staring at the computer.

Desperate Graduate
So, I’ve graduated. I have a degree – two actually. I have officially felt the comfortable, welcoming screen door of dependence close behind me, knocking as its springs settle. I think I’m still on the porch, looking out into the big expanse. I see big city lights and wind-swept seas, rolling fields and crowded streets, clusters of community and quiet solitude. All this and I’m still just staring, knowing that a few steps down I’m on my own. I feel like one of those blinking dots on a radar screen, wandering around with a little less identity tied to me and a lot less security. I don’t even have insurance right now. I also don’t have a job. Which, amazingly, has not sent me tailspinning into confusion and hyper-active mode, but instead into a joyous search for a beautiful thing called “odd jobs". Yep, I posted my first ever personal ad on our college marketplace website. It read something like this:

BABYSITTER, HOUSE-SITTER, ODD JOBS: I am a recent graduate and looking for work in the Holland area. I love kids and the outdoors and I have my lifeguard and first-aid certificates. I have extensive experience with children of all ages. I am also a very hard worker.

Well, I waited and waited and got one response. I now randomly babysit a couple hours for two adorable little ones. The funny thing with odd-jobs is 1. you’re never sure you’re going to have work and 2. one random job isn’t really enough.

So, I did my own perusal of wanted ads on the college website and just a week before I graduated I found the perfect job: weed picking. Not just any weed, though. An alien plant called garlic mustard. This was originally an herb brought over from Europe for medicinal purposes, but its introduction onto American soil went awry when it neither provided any beneficial remedies nor gave any hint of being contained. Apparently, the weevils in Europe keep the resilient beast under control, but there is no such willing herbivore west of the Atlantic. As sad as this sounds, I was actually quite pleased with the predicament, because it provided me temporary employment! I instantly budgeted for what was advertised as a month of work at $12/hr and saw the cartoon dollar signs leap from my eyes. But, before a week had ended, we (there were others responding to this cry for help) had picked ourselves right out of a job. We were relentless, though. We knew the season ended in May, so I made flyers – an article telling of the horrible fate of garlic mustard infested forests and the names of experienced and willing garlic mustard pickers. I didn’t hear any replies, but it was a commendable effort!

Pleasant Biking turned Tour de la Holland
One ambitious morning, I decided to make the 20 minute car ride into 1 hour and 15 minutes biking to get to my temporary weed job. What a beautiful idea for a spring morning! My friend Tricia thought otherwise, once we were about 30 minutes into it – so many hills! She kept motioning for me to go on ahead, but how could I after I had conned her into making the trip with me? We finally made our way to the garlic mustard forest, winded, but ready to pick with a fury. Tricia had already decided biking back was not an option – at the end of the day she was opting for the passenger seat. Me, on the other hand, I had on the brightest of bright grins as I swung my leg over my sister-in-law’s mountain bike. I never did know why I choose to mount a bike like I was getting on a horse, it probably has something to do with the bikes always being slightly too big.

Anyway, I had my headphones in and I was thoroughly enjoying the scenery when I randomly decided to think about the day – a Tuesday. Tuesday and almost 4:00 and I’m biking my way down the lakeshore. Tuesday, 4:00. All of a sudden, as I was repeating the time to myself I realized that I was supposed to BE somewhere at 4:00 on Tuesday. It wasn’t just any commitment either, it was watching children! I immediately freaked out and called Tricia in a panic and asked her to meet me on the road. Meanwhile, I called my friend (who I was standing in babysitting for) and asked her to call the house so the girls would know I’d be just a tad late. THEN, in all my huffing and anxiety, I got a call from Austin, Texas wanting to make sure the 4:00 interview time was still going to work. I managed to keep my cool and calmly ask for a reschedule for the next day. When I got off that phone call, I was asking myself, “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” Everything was going so well, until I realized I’d left half my mind in the middle of all that garlic mustard. I wonder what they ever meant by medicinal herb.

Well, in any case, Tricia got me to their house, where the girls had only been home a few minutes (PTL). We unloaded my bike and I collapsed for a short moment, before helping with spelling, piano, and baritone. When the parents arrived, I mounted my fast friend and rode again – winding around bike paths and crossing busy intersections. I laughed over and over to myself – thinking how much enjoyment other people would have at the spectacle I’d become. When I finally reached home, I calculated that I must’ve been on that bike a total of 3 hours that day!

Mulching Surprise
With the weeds cleared, I moved on to my calling as a gardener – a mulcher to be specific. My mentor found it in her heart to provide me with a couple days work laying mulch in her garden. To make things interesting – and slightly intimidating – my mentor is possibly the most dedicated and successful gardener I know. Her house stands out beautifully on her street and is the envy of any passers-by. But, she was asking me (an inexperienced admirer) to mulch! So, I was determined to learn quickly and adhere to the rules: generally 3 inches of mulch (more in the sunnier areas), but about 3 centimeters from the plants, and watch out for ground cover. I think I did a decent job, although half-way through I did start to worrying over the proper amount and distance and trenches and edging. I got over it, because, I didn’t really have any other option.

So – I suppose this is the funny part. I got real intense about this mulching business. I felt rustic with the ground under my knees and my garden-gloved hands gently spreading rich smelling bark in the flower beds. Every time I would come to a weed, I’d yank with accomplished finality, as if to say to the gnarly plant, “Hmmph!” I think having my hands deep in nature had the same effect as snapping beans back in my little Chicago apartment last October – useful, productive, things as they ought to be. Anyway, I was intense. So intense, that I think minutes would go by without my looking up from my work. I was working on a certain area, spreading and adding just so when I saw a spot needing attention around the corner. I aptly moved with determination – even swiftly, I might say – right around that corner and BAM! I felt a punch deep in my left cheekbone. I mean, it really penetrated and after I opened my stunned eyes they grew real big and my face drew back. I was extremely confused at my encounter, after working by myself all morning I had yet to meet anything but my own sing-a-long voice to the music in my headphones. As my eyes got even bigger, I took in my adversary: the sturdy, wooden handle of the wheel barrow. I just sat for a moment with my hand on my cheek silently thinking that I could mumble some words to ease my folly and my opponent’s direct hit. Then my friend stopped by and I told her about my little scuffle. She instantly said, “I know, I can see it!” Later, I realized that not only was it noticeable, but I could’ve been in a bar fight, for the sad look of my left side!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

True life begins with a resounding DONE.

I guess this means it's over. We had the ceremony and I got all dressed up and put on a ridiculous blue bag of a gown to walk across a stage and accept a beautiful leather cover with a paper that said in many words, "You might receive your diploma, if your final grades permit."

Today I received my grades and it looks like its final. Yep. Done, accomplished, finished, completed, ended. I've already moved in with my brother and sister-in-law (I couldn't be more blessed!) and I'm busy pulling an alien plant called garlic mustard... more on that later.

I just wanted to post a song that is dear to my heart right now, where I am. With decisions about the fall hanging in the balance, I just want to come to the Lord with a heart that is His. I want to wake up with a joyful peace that THIS day is a blessing where I can in turn bless others! I have been reading the book "The Normal Christian Life" by Watchman Nee... and there is beautiful redemption in the Cross. .. beautiful, perfect, complete redemption. He says the Christian life does not start with a "do," but with a RESOUNDING "DONE!" Christ accomplished the work on the cross. There is nothing -absolutely nothing I can add to the perfect work already completed in his sacrifice. By God's grace, I can take part in the special work of gathering the nations to praise the God of all redemptive work. What a glorious blessing it is!

And now, if I could just surrender my feelings of completedness; my desires for accomplishment; my understanding of contentedness...

Holland is absolutely and wonderfully gorgeous right now. I've been blessed in spending time outdoors with friends, at the beach, and yesterday on a ridiculous 3 hours of biking...again, more to come.
Well, for now, back to the song. Charlie Hall sings it and I'm pretty sure it's called Marvelous Light:

I once was fatherless,
a stranger with no hope;
Your kindness wakened me,
Awakened me, from my sleep

Your love it beckons deeply,
a call to come and die.
By grace now I will come
And take this life, take your life.

Sin has lost it's power,
death has lost it's sting.
From the grave you've risen

Into marvelous light I'm running,
Out of darkness, out of shame.
By the cross you are the truth,
You are the life, you are the way

My dead heart now is beating,
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs.
Now I'm free. now I'm free!

Lift my hands and spin around,
See the light that i have found.
Oh the marvelous light
Marvelous light

Lift my hands and spin
See the light within...