Open Letters pt. 4

Friday, September 14, 2018

June 19, 2018
I've had some words on my mind for a few days. It's feeling very much like fall. Schedules have shifted. People have turned their attention to putting one foot in front of the other instead of skipping around in summer mode. I've been wearing hoodies and leggings and drinking hot drinks every chance I get. The light is changing. The first of the leaves are falling. Summer of 2018 is settling into our memory banks. 

It was a good summer. I've got to get things worked out to share with you here. Until then...Let's get to another round of letters.


Dear Ghiddu,

I still don't eat the crusts of my sandwiches. You were the only one I could convince to cut them off so I didn't have to bother eating around them. Did you know that? I do eat some of them, just not the last two corners worth.

Dear Roald Dahl, 

One of my favorite library moments happened yesterday and I owe you for it. It was a quiet day. Kids are back in school, the tourists have gone home for the season, and the youngest moms haven't discovered the role the public library plays in their sanity yet. I was out in the stacks doing some shelf reading when I heard the familiar back and forth between a grandfather and his grandkids. They were looking for something and didn't know how to find it and he didn't either and so he was trying to encourage them to ask for help. For whatever reason, an adult behind a desk is SCARY. But, a woman hunched over in front of a shelf is always approachable. The little girl came up to me while her grandfather looked on and I said, "Can I help you find something?" She told me she was looking for Matilda. My eyes lit up! 

I got up off of the floor and said, "Oh, that's exciting! Do you know what today is?" She didn't, but I made sure to tell her so that she would...I told her about how it was your birthday and we walked over to the shelf where your books are kept and at the last second, I realized that Matilda was in after all even though it was out of place. 

I placed the book into her hands and she proceeded to wander around the library following her little sister with her nose buried in your book. That alone would have brought me joy, but the fact that it was happening all these years later on your birthday made it mean even more to me. 

Thanks for writing. Thanks for heading out to the little shed in your backyard and pulling out your yellow pad and keeping your pencils sharpened and spending so much time in that armchair. I don't know if what they say about you and children is true, but you've given us all so many hours of enjoyment. You've taught us to be honest about what scares us and you revealed the ugliest parts of us so that we can see how foolish it is to be ugly and mean and rude.

Thanks for giving me that moment with that little girl. And for all those hours in fourth grade when my teacher introduced you to us. 

You had a gift and you didn't keep it to yourself. We haven't forgotten  you and I'm not sure that we ever will. 

Dear People, 

You're all breathing your sighs of relief over how cool it is outside and how perfect it is. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!? It's cold. This weather is perfect cozy up inside with a bowl of soup and hot bread weather. A nice Indian Summer COULD be on its way and I'm just going to warn you. You'll complain about how it is and I'll be soaking up every last ray of sun that I can. It's going to be winter before we know it, so let's welcome all the sun and warm days we can. K? 

Dear 28,

You're here and so far you've been nice. Welcoming you in was special. Looking back on 27 made me realize just how much you have to compete with. The year behind me was one of my best yet in terms of growing and facing things head on and learning to be okay. Can you do me a favor and bring on more of the same? Be gentle about it, but I'm ready. 


I hope you've got a lovely weekend ahead of you! Do you have any plans? Tell me about them, will ya?


Look Who's Here

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

July 21, 2018
It doesn't take much to make connections in this world we live in. It can be as simple as a drawn out conversation in an airport or as complex as running into the same person over and over again before finally introducing yourselves. These kinds of meetings don't always lead to becoming friends who stay in touch and who are a part of each other's lives, but they do breed familiarity. 

You greet one another by name. You wave when you see them in traffic. You send out an email or a facebook message a few times a year to check in with the ones who live far away just to check in on them.

This sense of community is rooted in God, who is in Himself, a community. He invites us into that community and He means for us to be builders of community among the people we come into contact with. 

One thing I've become aware of here in this city full of transplants is just how many lonely people there are. Unlike the farming community I grew up in where everyone was related to someone and saw the same 200 or 300 faces every single place they went, this place is full of people who come here knowing no one and who find that it's really really difficult to get people to commit themselves to one another. 

I've met old people and young people who share this sentiment. Some of them are single, some have young families, some came with a spouse. Some are self proclaimed hippies. Some are conservative Christians. Some are outdoorsy and some are content to sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end. They're all unique, but what they have in common is this longing to know and to be known. They want friends and they want to meet people who want friends and who are willing to BE friends.

And, let me tell you, I get it.

I've spent more time alone since I've moved here than at any other time in my life. I grew up seeing the same 25 people every single day for 10+ years. 15 of us did everything together...We at lunch smashed around the same table, we played during every recess, and then after school was over we looked for any reason to hang out. After those days were over, I found myself babysitting for the same families over and over again and working at the coffee shop and at my Dad's office which were both havens for the regulars that came in week after week. The ranch was a community of its own where the people who ran it become a second family to me. I developed friendships with people back in my hometown and during my time in Massachusetts that STUCK. Living at home with my family meant that one way or another, I was never alone. I was always connected and almost always in the presence of at least one other human being.

Then I came here and I was surrounded by strangers. We all started doing our own thing and those familiar faces were all so far away that staying in touch with them became nearly impossible. I felt disconnected and alone and it left me super unsettled. You know this...I've spent three years writing about the ins and outs of this whole process. 

When I was in SC last month, my brother and I were out one day. I looked down the street and all of a sudden I realized that I was looking at a familiar face. The face is familiar because of blogging, but it was familiar all the same. I yelled her name and when I realized that she couldn't hear me over the traffic, I kept yelling and started running up the sidewalk toward her. When I got her attention, it took her a second to place me...There we were, having a chance meeting after so many years of being blogging friends, it was hard to believe...We hugged and smiled and shared our awe at the fact that this was actually really finally happening. 

I've been looking around lately with that same awe. There are so many patrons at the library that I greet by name and that I know little bits about. There are neighbors that have become friends and who running into means it could easily be hours before I make it back to my own front door. There are people who look for me at church and who are disappointed when I'm not there.

Three years ago, they were all strangers. Now, I can't help but look who's here and smile when our eyes meet. 

What I'm Into Lately: Summer 2018 Edition

Monday, August 06, 2018



I've given you enough words. Right? Let's tone it down with a little list.

*Dragging people on hikes.

*Making new walking friends.

*Toting my steak knife around the yard looking for weeds and stuffing them into a garbage bag.

*All the extra friend time God has been making possible with the people I've missed so much.

*Not being tied to a strict routine and it turning out alright. 9pm dinners, an entire Saturday outside, and as much beach time as I can squeeze in.

*Fires in the evening...again, this is more about being together and less about what we're doing.

*Grilling..I conquered my fear and did chicken. I've done pizzas and burgers and hot dogs too.

*Pickles. WIth everything.

*Co-leading the jr high book club at the library.

*Swimming.

*Heading to the beach to walk or read or write or lay out. Even solo. Even if I'm wearing tennis shoes and a sweat shirt.

*Reading.

*Shooting straight with people and asking them to do the same. Especially boys. Ain't nobody got time for games.

*Writing.

*Adventuring alone. I hate both of those words, but I've been doing it. And it's not terrible.

*Asking God for specific things and trusting Him with whatever He has in store.

What have YOU been into this summer?

Summer Stack 2018

Friday, July 27, 2018



I've been plowing through books this summer and I'm so excited to tell you a little bit about each one. Settle in, I've got a whole bunch of five star reviews to hand out!


An Assembly Such As This by Pamela Aidan // It's been a summer of five star books. After having this on my to-read list for years and then ending up KNOWING the author, I finally read it in almost exactly 24 hours. I was scared to read this one because I'm not big on fan fiction and I didn't want Darcy ruined. When the author came into my life I was even more afraid to read it because I was terrified I was going to have to tell her that I didn't like it. Like most worries, I couldn't have been more foolish to entertain them.

This book was so good. Darcy was so well done, I kept forgetting that I WASN'T reading Austen's actual words. I laughed out loud. I grew to appreciate him and adore him even more than I already do (he's my favorite of Austen's heart throbs). It's a beautiful story and definitely deserves any Austen fan's attention. You won't be disappointed and you certainly won't be sorry.

The Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L'Engle // This book started a new theme...I went to the library one day and snatched a few books off the shelf for a weekend off. Little did I know how much they had in common! I read this one alongside Orchard House because I simply couldn't decide which one to begin first.

Both books were written by women in the stage of life where their own mothers are getting older. L'Engle had had a family of her own and was working to balance that and its continual changes with remaining an individual and a daughter at the same time. Like the rest of the Crosswicks Journals, it's full of anecdotes about writing and being a creative, but it also ties in her faith and her way of looking at life while looking beyond what appears to be to what really IS.

Orchard House by Tara Austen Weaver // While L'Engle was a wife and a mother, Weaver writes about the same stage of life from the perspective of a single woman who never had a family of her own. She faces change and transition in a different way and yet brings the same level of insight to the table. This book is written through the lens of gardening and the way the literal seasons of the year rule the life of the garden and the gardener. Like L'Engle, Weaver has a way of weaving in all the facets of her life and being into her words on gardening.

Together, these books granted me space to think about life and the seasons we all go through. I couldn't help but compare their lives and then weigh my own choices against theirs. While they wrote about their mothers and remembered their childhoods and the way their mothers shaped them, I reflected on my own. And let me tell you, it was good.

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber // I'm not sure what stirred it up now, but Abu-Jaber came to my mind and I decided I needed to read some of her fiction. This one seemed promising and it was. It's the story of a 39 year old woman who lives with her uncle and spends her time cooking in his restaurant in a part of LA I never knew existed. Abu-Jaber is a Jordanian America and she knows Middle Eastern cooking inside and out...If you're a fan of Ruth Reichl at all, you will love her and her writing style!

I fell in love with the main character and her uncle and the life they shared. I toted this book around the backyard and to the beach and it even inspired me to do some cooking of my own. There's something about reaching the end of one decade and facing another one that makes us all take stock of where we are and where it is we're going. This book is about choices and families and history and love. It's about the cultures we carry inside of us and for me, it was like going home.

Hey Ladies by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss // I'll be honest and say that I skimmed this book allll the way to the end. The concept of it was made me pick it up, but as I got into it, I couldn't believe what I was reading. It's told via emails and texts and social media posts between 8 fictional women. The authors came up with a cast of characters who were all so different and yet who truly did seem like they were friends in spite of their differences. If you've heard people cringing over Eleanor Oliphant, then you will have a clue into the thoughts that were going through my mind about each of these women. I was horrified and grateful that I can truly say I didn't recognize anyone I knew in any of the women in the pages of this book.

This is the one book of the summer that I won't be recommending or raving about. Have you read it? I need to talk about these women with someone who has!

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner // I spent a little longer on this book than any of the others because I've  recently become interested in the history of post WWII Germany. Willner's own mother was born in what became East Germany and she managed to escape.  This is the story of the 40 years Willner's mother endured being separated from her family as well as what it was like for the people she left behind. It was well written and balanced historical facts with the family's story perfectly. She doesn't mince words and yet it is tastefully done. I wept my way through this one, feeling the sting of tyranny and knowing what it is not to have a say or a choice. The mental anguish and control they endured is hard to grasp, but Willner's ability to bring their struggles to life gives you little choice. Whether you know much about that time period or not, this is timely reading.


That's my summer stack so far! I'm currently working on three more books...One for my soul, one huge one to slowly plod through, and one because it's July and in July I read him. I'll come back to this post to update it as I finish each one.

Be Still My Soul by Elisabeth Elliot

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald


What have you been reading lately?


No Other Way

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

June 19, 2018

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

For quite a while now, I've been learning something. This morning, as I sat at the kitchen counter drinking my coffee and eating a biscuit and an egg while reading another chapter in Elisabeth Elliot's little book "Be Still My Soul", it all came together. The truth God has been teaching me came by way of conversations with friends, time in His Word, snatches of song lyrics, more time in His Word, examining myself, confessing my sin, and the stack of books I've devoured over the last few months. 

The truth is this...

We Christians know about grace. We know we depend on it, we remind each other that it belongs to us, and we ask God for it regularly. We name our daughters after it. We do our best to grant it to one another. And yet, it takes a lifetime to really truly grasp exactly what it is. If we're honest, we don't really get it. 

Difficulties come our way and we want a way out. We don't want to have to face them, let alone endure them. We immediately seek deliverance and we ask other people to join us in pleading with God. We cling to grace, but we don't really want it. What we want is for things to be easy and comfortable and peaceful and our definition of good. 

I know this is true of you, because it's true of me. Even Christ Himself looked at the road His Father had for Him and asked if there was any other way. 

There isn't another way. There wasn't for Him. There won't be for us. We're meant to face things we can't face. We're meant to look to the Father and to keep looking to the Father. We're meant to depend on the grace He keeps fresh. 

This is how the power of Christ rests on us. This is how our boast becomes gladness in God rather than assurance in our abilities. 

Some people have no problem asking for help. They're not shy about saying they're in over their head. They admit their weakness and look to someone else for strength. I've never been one of those people. I'd mastered the art of looking like  I had it all together before I even started school. I was going places and the way to get there was to make sure my weaknesses appeared to be non-existent. This was partially rooted in my inability to trust people for fear that they'd let me down, but it's also tied to my pride. I don't want to have to trust people. I don't want to let them see who I really am, especially if that includes weakness. 

This kind of living is ridiculous. For one thing, everything we're capable of involved some kind of learning curve. For another thing, nothing we have or are capable of is ours to brag about. The very breath in our lungs comes from Him. 

The most basic truth about humans is that we need help. We need His help. We need each other's help. With that, we're right back where we started...Looking grace square in the face. Help is just another word for grace. 

We plead and plead and plead. We try so hard to do it all and to do it well. We don't want to need God. We don't want to need each other. We'd rather lie to ourselves, to everyone around us, and even to God than to stoop down and say we're in over our head. The situation is too much. Our flesh is pulling too hard. The hate being poured out on us runs too deep. We know it, we feel it, but we limp on. 

We choose sin over grace. Death over life. Darkness over light. A broken cistern that holds no water over fountains of living water. Stones over bread. Mud pies on the side of the road over a vacation by the sea.

He'd get us THROUGH and we'd rather beat our heads against the brick wall of our own pride. 

He knows we need help. If we're honest, we know we need help.

May we recognize our need, admit our need, and humble ourselves to ask. Receiving help and offering help is a chance for the power of Christ to rest on us. He means for us to be strong the same way He means for us to be everything that He calls us to be. 

He shows us how and then He works it out in us. 

Like Paul in 2 Corinthians pleading over his thorn, and Christ in the garden, and the man in this song announcing the fact that he's impotent against his enemies, and Elisabeth Elliot who spent decades of her life writing and teaching truths she was learning in the school of life and faith, and every single human being we're rubbing shoulders with...Our weaknesses are continually showing up thanks to God's providence. 

Where there are thorns and supreme suffering and temptations rooted in our own hearts and losses so great that we're not sure we can go on, He's there saying, "You must. You will. I'm granting you my strength. You are weak. You need help. Here I Am, I'm going to help you. There is no other way." 

The point isn't really the weakness or the strength or even the grace. They all exist to point to God and the fullness of His glory. May we be honest, plead, receive, and then boast. Not in who we are or in the work He has granted us, but in the realization that He is our God and we are His people. 

We boast in this, that we are those who receive help from God Himself.

There is no other way.