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a week since molly



A week ago today, our beloved poodle breathed her last. It was not. a. good. day.

She was fifteen, we had had her since I was seven. It was an agonizing little funeral. I still cannot really write about it, but I will say that our family and friends have been so sweet and sensitive about our loss and we appreciate that very much. Also, God orchestrated things to be as good as they can be on this broken earth. We were almost all home when she went, Joey was able to get off of work early (when he’s usually swamped) to be with us and she never seemed to be in pain. Still, WE are in pain. Just today, I cried my eyes out driving to the grocery store. She was a dog…but she was not a dog.

So, let’s get back to the part where I’m crying my eyes out. My only hope was that some handsome guy would see me and show some concern/marry me, but alas. I wiped my eyes with my palms like a two-year-old, pulled my cap over my face and jumped out of the suburban. There were groceries to be purchased. Before going in, I remembered to walk around to the back door and slam the sliding seat (you know the one?) back into it’s place. My tearful journey had only been made more nauseating by the fact that at every red light and stop sign, the gigantic middle seat had slammed into the front seats with the force of a torpedo. I gently pulled it forward and then, with all my might, taught it a lesson. I bet that’s the last time that seat interrupts my snotty blubber-fests.

Sloshing through the parking lot, I commandeered a basket and then did my shopping. People were probably friendly, but I don’t remember. I was too busy having a crummy day.

Through the remainder of the day I parked diagonally, squirted soap up my arm, spilled several things, forgot how to do laundry, picked dandruff out of my hair, filled out an application incorrectly, served myself a rotten potato, said angry words to my internet connection, ate potato chips and thought about what I a failure I am. If there were check lists for crummy days, I would be an over-achiever.

It had been a week since Molly died, over a month since Meggie left, a day since I found out a didn’t get the job. Wah.

And then my little sister bought me a ticket to see The Vespers in concert. And a children’s book arrived in the mail. And I ate a Creme Saver. And read my Bible. And prayed. And  listened to music. And (finally) put my laundry away. Maybe this day was redeemable after all.

As I was making my chocolate milk to go along with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (no cooking today) my older siblings discovered the pile of mail that has been discarded disinterestedly on the entry way table. And there’s a letter. And it’s from Meggie.

We have never received a letter from her before. We had heard nothing from her. And then this-a letter on purple paper! “I love femaly” she writes. And “happy valentine’s day” and “xoxo.” There’s a picture of each of us with our names and then a tiny little picture of herself. The littlest one with the big dreams of coming home to a “femaly” someday.

Though the adoption process is barely moving forward at all, we still hope to see her this summer. God orchestrates everything, even on this broken earth. Come home soon, Meggie. That will redeem every crummy day.

the art of silliness

“Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.”

-Shel Silverstein


I have recently come to the conclusion that people who don’t embrace silliness forfeit a huge percentage of the joy life has to offer. Silliness is essential to happy days upon happy days. The mundane becomes delightful when you understand the art of silliness.

All my life people have asked me how I get along so well with my siblings. Everyone knows we’re not perfect, and some of us have closer relationships than others, but in general, we’ve always worked well together and been friends. When I was seven and eight we lived on a ranch out in the middle of nowhere. During that time, we had few friends and were only able to see them sporadically. The four of us (there used to only be four, if you can imagine) were not only siblings, but great friends. We did our lessons, chores, adventuring and make belief together. It was lovely.

One of the greatest things we’re still nurturing from those earlier years is silliness. It is also, in my opinion, one of the keys to getting along with one’s family. Silliness isn’t just acting dumb (though a lot of times it is dumb) but intentionally finding humor and joy in small, ridiculous things. I’ll give you some examples.

  • Whenever one of my sisters is sick or has some sort of physical ailment, we always rebuke them for “not making plans like the rest of us.” (Which everyone knows is the reason Beth March had to die.)
  • Making up goofy songs about people or places we pass while driving.
  • Birdie going up the escalator like Buddy the Elf in Macy’s while strangers stared.
  • Looking for the piece of broken sidewalk that resembles a turtle.
  • Pretending to be on Iron Chef while baking cookies.
  • Doing random, annoying things like silently grabbing the elbow of the person sitting next to you at the dining table. Just hold it as you continue to eat.
  • Knocking on the bathroom door and using a fake voice and name when the occupier asks who it is.
  • Leaving funny pictures in surprising places (like that terrifying thumbnail of Dwight Shrute, or the hilarious-looking dog from the shelter ad.)
  • Always singing certain songs together no matter when or where they come on. Our main one is I’m Gonna Be Strong by Cyndi Lauper. You have to have a “microphone” for this (we’ve used kitchen utensils, hair brushes, and yes, tampons.)
  • That time we watched Tombstone and started quoting it for weeks, replacing one word in each quote with the word “stroganoff”=hilarious.
  • Patting a baby’s open mouth as they cry (this makes a funny sound, and usually makes them laugh instead!)
  • Singing background vocals to songs that don’t have background vocals.
  • “Collecting” purple cars (we always tell each other when we’ve seen one.)
  • Nicknames galore.

You get the idea! Any of these things could just be plain irritating if both parties are not using the art of silliness. The art of silliness, at it’s core, is a willingness to find humor or joy in any and every situation. It makes time pass quickly, strengthens relationships and makes you laugh, which is really, really good for you. Being silly turns an ordinary, boring, sad, frustrating day into a day that you’re sad is over. Sometimes I just lie in bed and smile, thinking of all the funny things that were said, the dumb games we played and the way my family made the best of each situation. I think if more people allowed themselves to be silly and allowed others to be truly silly in their presence, their world would be opened up to a million more opportunities for daily happiness and humor and our world, as a whole, would be a brighter place.

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

one of those days

alfred eisenstaedt

Do you ever have one of those days in which you wake up and feel like you’ve been put through a pasta maker during the night? You felt fine when you went to bed, but the world turned into a cold, dark place while you slept. Yesterday the sun was cheery. Today it makes you sneeze. Yesterday your family was funny. Today they’re irritating. Yesterday you felt motivated. Today you feel useless.

For (seemingly) no reason at all, you’re having a miserable day, but the biggest issue is, you feel like you have no excuse. In your less foggy moments, you are able to see that today isn’t really all that different from yesterday. It’s the same sun, the same family, the same you. But you have changed. Your perspective is small and murky. Your energy levels are at an all-time low. You don’t want to talk or see people, but in your avoidance of them, you find yourself still blaming others for your unhappiness. They’re so unappreciative/annoying/demanding/loud/insensitive/fill-in-the-blank today. And why aren’t they coming to find you and see if anything is the matter? Why didn’t they invite you to eat lunch with them? But when they do come to find you, you want to be left alone, don’t ya?

Yeah, I have those days too. I try to tell myself that nothing is the matter, so just get over it and on with it already! And yet my day rarely amounts to much when I’ve woken up feeling like sludge. I spent my entire day ping-ponging around from one thing to another, trying to simply achieve something-anything! I spend too much time on the Internet. I beat  myself up about how much time I just spent on the Internet. I remind myself that I’m a spoiled, first-world brat. I have a little cry. I eat. I keep eating. I beat myself up about how much I just ate. Rinse and repeat.

It’s usually about halfway through the day that a tiny beam of sunlight comes through the clouds and lands on my mentality and I say to myself, “You know, for some reason or another, I’m having an off day. Blame hormones, blame spiritual warfare, blame the weather or the news or the Obama administration, but no matter the reasoning, I’m bummed today. And that’s okay. Everyone gets bummed sometimes. And when an introverted, sensitive, highly-emotional girl such as myself has a bummed day, there is very little reason to try to salvage the day. It’s like trying to salvage ice cream that’s been dropped on a grate in a hot parking lot. You can try…but it’s pretty close to hopeless.”

There is hope, however, in having the day end in something other than tears. You can, instead of trying to accomplish something, try to rest. Spend time away from people if people just aren’t floating your boat. It’s better to take time to oneself than to force yourself to hang out with people and continually be biting heads off. If you need to vent, write or communicate with someone removed from the situation. If you need to eat-eat! I mean, make good choices if you can, but feed thyself! If you think you need to cry, go up to your room and try to cry. The funny thing is, you probably won’t be able to do it then and you’ll just end up laughing at yourself. Laughing at oneself is a great start to a better day. Do something that doesn’t take a lot out of you. Today I worked on my ever-so-important Favorite Names List. I added some ultra-hippie names (Courage, Amaryllis, Lively…)

Now, this may sound like a major cop-out. “You don’t feel super peppy today and so you decide you can just slack off and do nothing?”

Well, yes…kind of. If you’re a useless puddle of melted ice cream sliding into a hot grate, don’t try to pretend to be anything else. Today I got the week’s menu planned and did a very few other odd things that needed doing, but I didn’t respond to emails and I didn’t clean my room and I didn’t cook, because sometimes it’s okay to “cop-out.” Sometimes you need to give yourself a break and some downtime. Or at least I do.

Now excuse me as I go and watch a movie with my mom and sister. Cinnamon toast and chocolate milk for dinner…

life at home

I am not a huge advocate of the SAHD* movement because I believe that everyone is unique and what is best for one girl may not be best for the rest, but I am an advocate of staying at home, especially in the case of daughters. There are many, many benefits of living at home, ranging from financial to spiritual. I am twenty years old and rather content to be where I am today (which is just above the kitchen) but that doesn’t mean that I will always live here, nor that I chide my friends who live in apartments, dorms or abroad.

But there are days, even several this Summer, when I don’t want to live at home. The lack of privacy and independence can wear on me. The complications of working with the family schedule. The obligation to submit to my parents’ authority and guidelines. The close quarters. The noise. The responsibilities.

Even still, I am very thankful to live with my family and be a part of each of their lives. I am glad I didn’t move away at eighteen and miss all this growth and exploration of my younger siblings. I am glad I can assist my parents. I’m glad I can still keep up my friendship with my older siblings. It is a very good life.

But I’m not here to argue the pros and cons of living at home or moving out, college or no college. I was simply impressed over the past couple of weeks with all of the things I enjoy about living at home and all of the reasons I love my little siblings. Mostly, they make things interesting.

Two days ago, while I was minding my own business and preparing some chicken to be oven-fried, Willin (10) came up to me and asked me, “Why do meteors catch on fire? And what’s a concubine?” Is it bad that I had more trouble explaining away the first question than the latter? You never know what situation a ten-year old boy is going to put you in.

There are many awkward moments when you have little siblings around, but more often they just try your patience. Like a few days ago when Jubilee (9) followed me from my room, down the stairs and to the kitchen (which is basically a full lap of the house) saying, “I scratched the heel of my…the heel of my…the heel…the heel of my…” It took a boat-load of self-control for me to refrain from whipping around and saying, “FOOT. It’s called a FOOT for crying out loud!”

And then there are plain-ol gross moments. These became fewer as the children grew up and diapers and potty problems lessened, but then came Smelly Teenage Boy Smell. There is apparently no amount of deodorant that can disguise a Smelly Teenage Boy. A couple of days ago, I reached into the washer to pull out what I thought was a small load of clean clothes. Right as my hand clinched around the wad of fabric with full intention to chunk it into the dryer, I realized that it was something dry. Only not completely dry. Slightly moist, in fact. At this moment, my eyes locked on the garment in my grip. It was not a load of clean clothes, but rather Sam’s dirty football uniform (complete with special underwear I have no words to describe) which had been tossed into the washer so as to not have to be touched by anyone who was willing to wash them. Great, I thought. Now I have to cut off my hand.

But haven’t I mentioned that it’s wonderful to live at home? That I love it? Well, I really do. {Almost} all the time.

For example, when I took this picture in June and came across it again the other day, I was overwhelmed with how lucky I am. Who else gets to see something so freakishly adorable every day?

 And then there is said Smelly Teenage Boy’s said Smelly Football Games. I will go to the second game tonight, and I’m actually looking forward to it. If you haven’t noticed, I spend most of my time in a room above the kitchen, typing. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading or cooking or grocery shopping or going to some church function. It isn’t very often I get to sit in stands with a bunch of interesting (to stare at) people and see Sam do what Sam does best. It’s awesome. He has a real skill for football and knows everything about it, but he’s still such a gentle guy. Today I heard him say, “I feel bad for hitting them, but my coach keeps telling me that that’s the game.” That is a little hard for me to wrap my mind around (that we have organized Hitting Each Other Time) but I know that, because of his love of the game and dreams of playing football in college and becoming a coach, he will learn to be braver. (Which will be great, as long as he never gets hurt and is always gentle off the field.)

There’s also Willin’s obsession with cats, dogs and pretty much every other kind of animal. He knows the most bizarre (but true!) trivia, which he blurts at random. I fell asleep listening to him talk about wild cats the other day. I felt bad, but I’m not sure he noticed. I went to Hastings a few days later and found him a neat fact book about both cats and dogs. Pretty sure I was his favorite person that day. Which makes that my favorite kind of day.


*Stay-At-Home-Daughters, a movement of people who believe that women should stay with their parents until they are married, no matter the circumstances.

Satan’s idea of a joke

I am such a holy person that I worry about important things. I worry about my friend in Haiti and the children at the cholera clinic where he is serving. I worry about our own country and the direction it is taking, the way people don’t seem to know what they believe anymore. I worry about my family, that maybe we’re not as close as we used to be or that we’ll move on and lose touch. I worry about such righteous things! God must be well-pleased.

I spend sleepless nights imagining what will happen if I never write something anyone wants to publish, if I never get married, never have a family, never see the mission field, never become a better person. I toss and turn over thoughts of the worst scenarios, just so I’ll be prepared by the time the day begins.

Oh, I am worried about just the sort of thing Jesus must be worried about! God must love the way I reach out to every corner of the earth…with my mind, and take in all of the wrong that is happening. Yes, I love God so much that my brain is like a crumpled ball of fear, unable to function-so concerned am I about His work!

It’s a good thing God has laid all of this on my heart…otherwise I might be blissfully ignorant! You know, full of joy, as if this life were a gift from God! Or I could even be living everyday to it’s fullest, comforting and encouraging those around me. I might even be contented! Oh, this is really beginning to worry me…better go back to thinking about the negative things in this life-the important things in this life!

Until next time, if there is one,

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