Archives for category: Life Stories


In honor of my sister’s birthday, today’s Blast from the Past is a true story of best sisters and friends forever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

It’s true, it really is…
Cooler Near the Lake

In Wisconsin I guess I took for granted all of the accessible lakes. I grew up approximately 22 blocks from Lake Michigan, though I’m often heard bashing our bay’s high pollution level being situated right between Milwaukee and Chicago. Seriously, hazing for summer lifeguards involves swimming from a boat to shore and then they are never actually on duty because the pollution levels are too high. They just put up these “No Lifeguard on Duty: High Pollution Swim at Your Own Risk” signs and interact with parents who say seemingly ridiculous things such as, “Oh, no, I wouldn’t go in there, but it’s okay for my kids to swim, right?”

Then there were other lakes. Community lakes rimmed by large cabins, houses, and rickety old docks with anchored rafts floating 15-20 feet away. Public lakes with grassy lawns edging sandy beaches. My sister got her license just before I turned nine. That next summer she would pick me up from intramural drama classes (yes, during the summer; I know, I’m a dork) and have to “watch me” for the rest of the day. On days when all the stars aligned (my sister didn’t have to go to work, we had enough money to get in, or it was free), we would head straight from class to Silver Lake.

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tombstone-with-broken-vaseHere’s my first Blasts from the Past installment. Even though this post is a decade old, it still hits particularly close to home, as I’ve been thinking about this story a lot over the past year and a half since my sister died. I even called the chaplain to thank him for his example in grieving in grace; knowing that it’s okay to let your sorrow show, seeking and accepting grace from others, but also to give others grace as they navigate the turbulent waters of loving you in your grief.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Till Death Do Us Part

In all my quarter-life thoughts about marriage, this is not a phrase I have spent enough time contemplating, or at least not in the right way. I have recently realized that in spending a considerable amount of time weighing the gravity of the lifetime commitment of “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, till death do us part,” I have overlooked the eternal ramifications of “for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

A week ago, one of our chaplains lost his wife to a long battle with a particularly rare form of cancer. He’s taking it very hard, as well he should. He’s lost the women who he fell in love with at first sight. I’ve heard the story once or twice, but it’s just as beautiful no matter how many times I hear it.  Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been sifting through old blogs, looking for pieces to include in my quest for freelance content writing gigs. I feel like a kid in a candy store. Well, maybe more like an antique candy store. The voice was so clear and the content so open. It all feels so bold to me now. Then again, this was back in the days before the general public considered “blog” as an actual word; before people could “google” each other. It’s so much easier to be candid and bold when you know you’re writing for only a handful of people.

There’s so much there, it’s amazing. Not to mention all of the posts/ideas I’ve started over the years but never finished. So, I’m going to do a little recycling. In the name of staying fresh, however, I think I’ll do a little reducing with my reusing. Plus, that will give me an excuse to flex my editing chops too.

All that to say, it’s nice to see you again and expect a few pieces here and there in the near future.

Poets and philosophers have waxed poetic about it since the first icy thread rent the first broken heart. They fill tomes and tombs with tales tall and true. Yet, I’ve spent more than a year trying to conjure some eloquent expression and not a one finds the grace to relent. No, they twist and trip down my tangled tongue then to stick to the tip, frozen, unmoving, unyielding, unsaid. There comes no song; no lay of lament. No sonnet to silence a cacophonous confusion. Only the aftermath, the end; the beginning of some perverted version of what ought to have been. All that is left in the din and the darkness is a single ray, as clear and cruel as the night is dirty and dank. Ruthlessly, it rings with what I’ve always known: The words do not come because, in truth, there are none.

It’s not elegant.
It’s not poetic.
It’s raw.
It’s ragged.
It’s real.

It’s painful and it’s plain:

My sister is dead.

Yesterday, I read a bit of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. So much spoke to me, resonated deep. I had to share.

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“I hope there’s still some coffee,” I said to Asher as we crossed the street, fashionably late for service. “Is it too much for a girl to expect to get a cup of coffee at church?”

“No,” he quipped, “some expect to get a husband.”

When a female friend recently brought up how dissatisfied single women in the church are with the action or, rather, the perceived inaction, of single men in church, I couldn’t help but flash back to that brief exchange from oh-so-long-ago.

Sadly, it’s a tune women in the church screech like a broken record: single guys not asking single girls out on dates. As a woman, I’ve felt that frustration and have been involved in my share of disgruntled conversations…especially about the “hang” phoneme. Hell, I even wrote a post about it (which, in case it wasn’t clear, was meant to be a call to women to chill the peace out and stop trying to step into men’s roles in an attempt to fulfill their own presumed destinies).

Then, I got the slightest glimpse of the frustrations of men. I am not into myself enough to presume that I fully understand, but, from what I have seen and heard, I honestly believe it’s time for us ladies to “woman up;” accept responsibility where responsibility is due; respect men, especially for discerning who to and who not to ask out; and edify them in glorifying God in those decisions.

To paraphrase one man, “Two-thirds of the church body is female, and it’s going to stay that way as long as churches keep telling the men who do show up that they are not man enough.”


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Note to my dearest friends and relatives: The following is a true confession that I haven’t told very many people. You may find it shocking. I am sorry I haven’t told you in person. I love you. Thank you for loving me. You have been warned. Proceed with caution.

I tried to run away from home several times throughout my childhood. I say, “tried” because I wasn’t very successful. Growing up on a dead end road opposite a cornfield in the middle of the boonies didn’t afford a pre-license lady many exit routes. In fact, I may not remember how old I was the first time I tried to run away from home, but I do recall that I didn’t even leave the house; I just curled up in the hall closet for a bit. Apparently, my young mind hadn’t completely grasped the concept.

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I was born deaf. My mom figured it out when I was a toddler by devising a little experiment. First she locked in my attention. Next she told me to do something. Then she covered her mouth and said something else. As long as I could see her lips moving, I responded to her instructions. She took me to the doctor and, voila, diagnosis confirmed her suspicions. I was 80% deaf in one ear and 50% in the other. The doctor put tubes in my ears and all was again right with the world.

Aside from the annoying necessity of wearing earplugs when I swam, I remember little of having the tubes in my ears, or even when they were removed. My mom remembers it differently.
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Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, over-thinking might just turn out to be my fatal flaw. While the prince of Denmark came to ruin because he thought too much when it was time to act, my troubles come from thinking too much about actions already taken.

This summer has not been the best for me; some rough patches left me hurt and dejected. I believe there’s a greater purpose to it all, but that doesn’t make it any less painful. What’s worse, my mind keeps reliving it all over and over and over, like a broken cinema reel.

Whether you believe in it or not, the Bible makes a good point when it instructs its readers to “take captive every thought.” With someone like me, who dwells on too many things too much of the time, taking captive every thought turns out to be quite the challenge. Taking this into consideration, I decided I needed to start small. Baby steps.
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While walking along the shore, I happened upon a sand castle. It seemed to have been made with loving care; intricate designs scalloped into its surface. Only the best sand had been used to make this castle. Cylindrical turrets stood sentinel along the mighty fortress wall and in the center loomed a stately tower. Little windows were carved in a couple of centimeters so that one might pretend to see inside. I planted myself a few feet away from the sandy manor, rolled onto my tail bone, wrapped my arms around my drawn-in legs, rested my chin on my knees, and imagined sweeping ceilings lined with crown molding, marble pillars, and intimate trinkets lining handmade shelves and cases.

I dreamed of enormous ballrooms with brilliant chandeliers and private quarters with crackling fireplaces and cozy down comforters. Perhaps the tower housed an octagon-shaped library with one of those attached rolling ladders, each wall book-lined from floor-to-vaulted-ceiling. Except, perhaps, for a large bay window kissing a cushioned cubby seat where one could curl up with whichever fruit of literature was picked from the surrounding grove of paper, glue, and weathered bindings.
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