Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thank you, Danielson

I'd almost forgotten how much I love this song.


Did I step on your trumpet
Or did I lump
Lump them in with you

I put your name on the ballot
'Cause you should run
Though you don't want to

I've been called the wet blanket
By cranks who I out rank with no thanks
Who do not have a

Yes I know how to be quiet just one more thing
I made you something

I wrote for you a lovely sonnet
'Bout two great friends
Yours truly and you

We'll grant just one social skill
Share a gesture of good will

I try
To relate
With my shipmates

Then I just start blurting out the first thing on my mind

How am I lookin' in your frilly bonnet
With the diamond on it?
I guess I'd better go

I'm a people magnet when I wear your jacket
Good luck getting this

Pleasing people
Is so predictable
We love you now
Then stab you how many

Times I obsess
And I'm making a mess
Failing to impress you
In all that I can't do

Would you take care of my pet parrot
And feed him please
(He speaks less than me)

Would you take care of his pet parrot
And kill him please?

You speak so much about my casket
My body basket
Did I do something wrong?

We'll grant one more social clue
The landfill shall be home to you

All my ships
Sailing relations
Have finally found

Who I am made out to be
Me and free of

Pleasing people
Is so predictable
We love you now
Then stab you how many
Times I obsess
And I'm making a a mess failing to impress you
In all that I can't

Be just who you're made to be
Poppa is so mighty pleased with thee.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


When I hear or see someone threatening to violate the boundaries of one of my dear ones, I feel ready to suit up Joan of Arc style, mount a draft horse, and storm said violator's yard with a jousting spear under my arm.

Even though, truth be told, I am not really sure what I would do once we got there. Sit there awkwardly on the horse, I suppose. Maybe wander aimlessly until the horse decides to take a crap on their porch, and then cantor away feeling semi accomplished.

I should... figure out a better way for that scenario to end.

Meanwhile, though, that "suit up" feeling is constantly a flicker in my gut, waiting anxiously to take flame whether I'm in the mood for it or not.

I can not even sit through a sweet little small group meeting, these days, without squirming in my seat (I feel certain it is visible squirming) and even voicing little noises of discontent when I hear something being said that I cannot reconcile with my value system.

How many times have I longed to be one of the sit-quietly-and-listen personality types!

And I think pregnancy has made it temporarily more intense than ever.

One of my dearest friend's reasoning was something to the affect of, "Well, we have the Holy Spirit (so, God) living inside of us, plus God is in there knitting that little one together and dwelling inside of him. So it's kind of like you have double God! No wonder pregnant women cry! I mean, sure sure, hormones and all that, but you are walking around with double God!"


Either way, there is just no avoiding who I am.

I've been thinking about women oppressed by patriarchy.  I know that sounds like something our culture has outgrown, but honestly, I don't think it has. It might not be as blatant, but it is something that I do see perpetuated a lot in Christian sub-cultures.

Whether it's more prevalent in the south, I really don't know. I have seen it in many denominations. Scripture used to keep women in a place of believing that all men are born to lead and all women are born to follow. Submit.

It makes me crazy. Yes, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands, but he then tells husbands to lay down their lives for their wives as Christ did for the Church. He doesn't say "rule over your wives as Christ rules over the Church." Nope. And then he goes on to tell everyone to submit to each other lovingly. That means women submit to men. And it means men submit to women.

There is no hierarchy.

Even in the Old Testament, God is constantly elevating those deemed lesser by society to a higher status.

So many stories sound unfair to the women and incredibly harsh, until we understand the culture and that every other option she could have had would have been worse. God did not condone the worse conditions, nor did He desire for the new standards He was elevating society to to become society's stopping place. He never condoned those standards as a stopping place, either. He is constantly still elevating those looked on as lesser than. Because He made no lesser thans.

The last time a man with the "men are leaders" mindset found it impossible to control me, my mother had this to say about it:

"Poor guy. He doesn't know a thing about the line of women you come from. My grandmother's family told her that she couldn't go to school because it was culturally unacceptable, so she left Czechoslovakia by herself and hopped on a boat for America to go to school.

You know how feisty your grandmother is! When my dad told her that a woman's place is in the home, she went right around him and got a job. He never said another word about it again.

And on your Dad's side, your grandma pretty much did what she wanted... and her mother's nickname was The Battle Axe.

And your middle name means Warrior.

That man has no idea what he is up against."

Yep. Women in my family are fierce. We were made and nurtured this way. It hurts me to think that so many women have been pressured into laying aside who they were made to be - and worse - that they were made to think that who they are is displeasing to God.

Scripture calls a wife her husband's "helpmeet".

This has been used (like much of Scripture) to tell women they are there only to be a helper to the men. To do their bidding.


And grossly misinterpreted.

"Helpmeet", as it turns out, means "The help who opposes". That a wife is to help a husband when she sees he is doing right, and to oppose when she sees he is doing wrong.

That sounds fair. I would expect that out of my husband in return.

I am beyond grateful to have a husband who not only cringes as hard as I do when we hear a male friend say, "Well of course I would take her thoughts into consideration." (Seriously? You get to consider and then decide? And we're supposed to call you a hero for at least considering her thoughts?), but who also welcomes and appreciates opposition from me.

We will not move on a decision until we can both agree.

He is not susceptible to poorly researched church rhetoric regarding what our relationship should look like.

For this, I am Thankful.

If any of you know a girl up against patriarchy who needs a little extra ferocity, I'll be happy to share some.

These days, I've got plenty to go around.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


A dear friend of mine once told me of a dream she had.

There was a babe in her house that she and her family were caring for. They were drawing little tattoos of adoration on the soles of his feet, and when they put their ears to his chest, they could hear his heartbeat.

And his heart beat, "Abba loves you... Abba loves you...".

Joseph and I drove down to SC yesterday evening for our first prenatal checkup with our midwife. 14 weeks in, and we got to hear that tiny, galloping heartbeat for the first time.

I don't know who's in there, but it is someone with a healthy and strong little heartbeat.

Someone being knit together by our Abba with the utmost love.


Thursday, September 8, 2011


I was talking to my dearest friend just moments ago and I mentioned the trampoline my dad got my brother and I when we were kids, momentarily forgetting that said best friend would remember the thing. She responded with, "I have fond memories on that trampoline. Remember when we used to lay on it on fall afternoons after school? I wore that old Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt... Why did I wear that?!"

Many old friends from the town I spent my middle and high school years in would not consider us having "grown up together" because (small town that it was), most of them actually crawled around the same living rooms together as wee babes.

If I am honest, though, I cannot deny that I shared a piece of childhood with them. Friends from school and friends from summer camp. There is something really priceless about simply having known someone since one's teen years or even early twenties.

I think this is because who we were was still forming then. We weren't really walking around with these big opinions and passions and cultures we have taken in that begin to define us to newcomers in our lives.

Some of these old friends from my more tender years are people so different than I, it seems unlikely a connection would be made if I met them for the first time in some other context today.

The precious thing is that it doesn't matter. We don't have to see eye to eye and connect in ways that we would each probably subconsciously require from a newcomer to invest time and energy into that person. We have history. And it connects us.

We don't have to be endeared to each other for any other reason. The foundation is already there. We are a piece of each other's childhood, and there isn't a thing in the world that can change that.

And sometimes... just sometimes, the fact that we are already all endeared to each other gives way to a chance for ideas and opposing views to be exchanged in a way that is kind and acceptable. As iron sharpens iron? We have a chance to grow.

And if we don't change our minds, if we choose to stick with our original viewpoint in it's entirety, it's okay. It's just old so and so being old so and so.

My brother once said to me, "Isn't that what it is to love and accept someone in friendship? They have idiosyncrasies and you just accept it and love them regardless. You just say 'Oh that's just Adam being Adam.' and you roll your eyes and grin to yourself as you say it because even that annoying thing is something that you secretly find amusing. Because it's your friend."

I missed a call from an old friend a month or two ago. He is oh so different than I. We live in different worlds in a way, I think.

But in his message he referred to me with a term of endearment... an old nickname from high school and I hugged the phone. He lives in his world and I in mine, but we can visit the old one, where we used to live, whenever we please.

It is such a sweet kind of connection. So simple and unassuming.

In this vein of thought, I am a little overwhelmed to realize that God has a longer and deeper history with each of us than even our oldest and dearest friends.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Turning Out

This is what I keep seeing around Facebook:

"I have to laugh at people who are against spanking. My mom sometimes smacked me when I was naughty.. . I didn't hate her.. I didn't have trust issues with her cause of it... I didn't fear her... But I darn sure respected her! And I learned what my boundaries were, and knew what would happen if I broke them. I wasn't abused, I was disciplined....SINCE WE TOOK THIS SOFT APPROACH LOOK WHATS HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY & YOUNGSTERS *Re-post if you got your rear smacked and survived"

And I am appalled. 

Okay, I know the first thing that will cross the mind of many is, "But how would you know? You have yet to parent a child!" 

This is true. So I will start by linking to 3 women who have years of parenting under their belts, who have written beautifully about the ridiculousness of the idea that spanking is okay as long as it is not in anger, and who have spoken out against this very status already

The third has given an eloquent breakdown of the "Rod Verses" (the Scripture in proverbs used to build an argument for the idea that spanking is Biblically mandated. I 100% do not believe this is the case. For the reasons given in the linked post and also because Proverbs are proverbial. They are vivid and often hyperbolic word pictures. They are sayings of wisdom, not commands. Truly, how many Christians do you see putting a knife to their throat if prone to gluttony? Nobody. Because it obviously wasn't a verse meant to be taken literally.)  

There's some seasoned parents for you.

And Here's my piece:

1) "Since we took this soft approach" makes no sense to me. I don't know what soft approach they are talking about.  I don't know the details of most people's childhoods, but I have met opposition from my peers when I talk about my unwillingness to spank my future children. The most common argument I hear is, "But I was spanked, and I turned out fine!"

Okay. Here's the thing. What does "fine" even mean? Sure, people can be spanked and turn out successful, hardworking, compassionate, and all manner of complex beautiful human things.

But there is no evidence that spanking is responsible for good qualities displayed. However, there is plenty of evidence for spanking resulting in difficulties people develop that they end up having to work hard to overcome.

People can also be spanked and develop depression, low self esteem, poor boundaries, and a slew of other hard hard things that they will have to fight through in their adult life in order to find a level of health.

2) It annoys me when any generation goes whining and fussing about the generation younger than they. The whole mentality of "Look what a mess they are!" Is destructive and... in my opinion, childish. Humanity is the same as it ever was. It is the same as it ever will be. If there are differences, it is technological, but the temptations and vices are the same.

3) There is a VERY big difference between permissive parenting and gentle parenting in which a parent disciplines (teaches), engages, and sets appropriate boundaries without punitive measures.

4) My mom did not spank me. My mom was a social worker with a background in early childhood development when she got around to having me. She knew how to instill age appropriate boundaries in our home that allowed me and my little brother to flourish and thrive. She never had to hit me to have my respect. She never used violence or pain to show me where my boundaries were. And yet I knew where they were, I respected (and continue to respect) her, and I "turned out just fine". Whatever that means. (Really... when are any of us officially "turned out"?)

5) My dad did spank us a handful of times. Mom ended up putting a stop to it pretty quickly. It's a good thing she did. I adore my dad. I adore my dad, he was and is an excellent father, and it was wrong for him to spank us. Those two things can and do coexist. 

I think I am finished with this rant now. Thank you, anyone who read it. Obviously this much text would be all kinds of lost and useless on Facebook.

Good gravy.


Friday, June 17, 2011


I read somewhere that shalom means so much more than simply peace instead of war. It means peace in our lives, in our homes, and in our spirits. It means safety, fullness, health, wholeness and an absence of irritation and bickering.

I really believe this is what God wants for us. Shalom. 

He tells us to simply be still and know He is God. Maybe because this is most conducive to shalom. He knows we need it. He wants us to have it. Rest in the depth of our souls. 

Sometimes things happen that absolutely will shake the shalom out of our core. I won't go making a list here of everything that can happen to harsh our groove. Too much time is spent thinking on those things as it is. 

But one of those things is, naturally, the economy.

 My husband got laid off a few days ago. 

Breathe, stretch, shake, let it go. 

Yeah, right. 

Jesus could probably roll with things more than any of us, I'd imagine, being so connected to the Father, and all. But sometimes even He needed a moment to have His feelings about something. Lazarus died. We all know that He cried when Lazarus died. Even with His perfect faith and His miracle working abilities. Something sad happened and it brought Jesus to tears. 

I'd guess, though, that He still had His shalom. It seems that one can have one's feelings and one's shalom at the same time. Just like there can be joy and sadness all at once (which is quite the awkward emotion if you ask me.) 

I don't know anyone right now who doesn't lose their shalom at least for a moment when shit goes down, though.  Because none of us are quite so connected to the Father yet as Jesus was.

This is what we talked about with a dear friend of ours when we went to her house with every intention of curling up in a ball on her couch to cry. 

She met us in the doorway with sweet potato blueberry pancakes and milk that she had put in the freezer to make extra cold. 

We lay in the grass under the stars and talked about, oh, everything. 

But the point we took home (besides the usual extreme gratitude for the friends we are beyond blessed to know/have in our lives) was that when things like this happen, it is a chance for us to grow our faith muscle. The job isn't what provided for us. God and Joe's God-given talent provide for us. 

As time goes on, and we grow stronger in our connectedness to our Abba, our shalom is less vulnerable. Of course it still gets shaken. But where last year I would have been out of whack for a month, it's taken me a little over a week to get my shalom back this time. I'd say that's progress. 

I'm still mad at Joseph's boss. I think it was a right ornery thing for him to do - hiring Joe, knowing we would move all the way out here and sign a lease, only to lay him off with no warning whatsoever before his probationary period was up.  Telling him by emptying out his desk before he came into work in the morning. I would really love to march down to the office and empty a few cans of silly string, and perhaps a carton of rotten eggs on his desk.

But forgiveness is not something that really is between the person who is hurt and the person whose actions caused the hurt. Forgiveness is between the hurt party and God. 

It's for me and God to work through it so that I can let it go. 

And yes, I do wish there was a switch I could flip. 

In the meantime, though, there is peace. 

I think, the more peace I grab onto, the more forgiveness sinks in. 

Funny, how that works. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sha Na Na

Sing to the Lord a new song; Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Psalm 96:1

It wasn't even written as a "praise song". It was a silly song on an album that my best friend's 5 year old daughter adores by a band called Tennis. Buried in this carefree song about playing on the beach under the moon are the sha-na-na's. They don't mean anything, all by themselves. They mean sha, na, na. They mean the song is more likely to get stuck in one's head.

But on a soulful morning with my Poppa's presence heavy in my car on the way to work, they were a shout of gratitude for the colors in the sunrise, followed by the wet-eyed ache of how pricelessly purposeful the life we have been given is. The sha-na-na's became a plea that I would fulfill my purpose for that day. And the next. And the next.

On the way home, I am listening to the same silly song and losing myself in the weight of how important friendship is. How insane it is that I have the friends that I have. I sing sha na na, and my God hears, "Oh, thank You for my best friend, my sister. Thank You for everything that she has been to my life. Please help me be half the blessing to her that she has been to me. Oh please, oh please."

Ten minutes from my husband's office where he is waiting for me to pick  him up, a semi truck - juggernaut of the road - pulls a crazy move that sets my adrenaline surging, and those sha na na's are now a prayer for protection of myself and everyone else who holds a wheel that guides 4000 lbs of metal and glass at 70 MPH on asphalt highways day after day.

He sings back to me. Sha na na. "I'm here. I've got you."

Music is a balm and a conduit for communication. When words aren't enough, and my soul needs an outlet, give me something - anything - that I can sing/listen to with the One who loves me the most.

Give me a new song that I can sing to my God.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Passion of My Heart

I have debated whether or not to ever write a post like this. But it's been tumbling about in my head for ages and I think perhaps it will be good to just put it out into a tangible form where I can see it.

I disagree with everyone. To some degree, always. Mostly it's healthy. If I ever agreed totally with anyone, I suppose I would be a might concerned I had lost my ability to think, consider, and examine.

The way my mind works is sometimes exhausting and even, at times, quite a bother when I find myself trying to explain my thinkings, musings, or passions to someone who hasn't known me intimately for many many years.

Even as I write this, I am aware of the indulgence and possible narcissism of self disclosure and yet hope that it will be worthwhile to myself and others in some way. So I forge onward.

I have a lot of thoughts about many a subject. I can argue and counter argue all day long all inside my head about a multitude of things. Sometimes I find that I agree wholeheartedly with both the argument and the counter argument.

Because in a very complex way sometimes things contradict each other on a surface level, and yet in the deep recesses of it, they don't.

I verbally process. My thoughts and feelings come out (in whole or in part) rather frequently, despite any desire I have to keep it all to myself. I feel like Brian Regan when he said, in reaction to his own standard verbal blunderings, "Oh no! Words are comin' out! Oh no!"

I fail at glossing over, fudging, and being vague. Especially when questioned point blank.

Not to say I'm incapable of these things, but at the very least it is far from my natural inclination.

My desire to be authentic typically trumps any hope I had of remaining stoic or (at the very least) maintaining any sort of an air of ambivalence.

This is troublesome at times because I have found that I can be terribly controversial.

As it turns out, being controversial with feelings as big as mine can be a bit off putting. I have seen it in the faces of people I absolutely cherish.  I also feel it (their antsy-ness/discomfort/possible irritation) as if it were my own when my passionate feelings and interpretations of things oppose theirs.

Empathetic to my core, I also find it hard to believe (however illogically) that everyone isn't always sensing my true feelings about things just as much as I am sensing theirs.

This makes it even harder for me to sit quietly - the feeling that everyone already knows how I'm feeling, so I might as well just spit it out. In turn it also makes it harder to speak - knowing that I'm probably about to make everyone awkward, explain my concept poorly, and basically just throw a wrench into the whole conversation.

Here I feel a need to back up and clarify that when I suggest that I believe I will explain my concept poorly, I don't meant that in a self-depreciating way. I mean to say simply that when I am about to try to put a concept out there, I am suddenly thinking about it in a very global way. Everything I believe about it as it relates to Scripture, creation, my day, my friend's day, the past, the future, and everything else down to the way crickets chirp at night.

Suddenly I have no words. I am stuck. All the old stuff from my brain is mixing with all the new input from the people around me, their emotional state, their arguments, and on and on.

I stumble. I put my foot in my mouth. I say things that I mean for the moment I am saying them, and then re-evaluate and realize I don't mean that exactly anymore. I have to try again.

I worry that my friends might think I am judging them when I disagree with them. But it isn't true. I am not judging. I am well and fully aware that everything is what it is, and we're all just trying to figure it out.

And here, I will add one of the most exasperating things of all. How it feels when someone tries to talk me out of one of my passions.

Just the fact that someone thinks they can change my mind about a well developed passion is exhausting to me. They are unaware of all the evaluating, re-evaluating, and processing it took for me to get so firm in this belief. Especially if it is something I previously didn't believe/know.

Yes, I do realize how this must sound. Closed minded. Oppositional. Unwilling to be challenged.

I want to throw up my hands. Like a five year old, "Nuh uh!"

I relish a challenge.

But, I also believe it is healthy and okay to know when it's time to close the book on something. Yellow is yellow. Please don't try to convince me that it is blue. I used to think yellow was blue. But then after an in depth study of color theory, I realized that it is yellow. I am finished with making that assessment, and am now looking into the origins of yellow, the future of yellow, and what shades of yellow sunflowers are made of.

And oh, if only it were that simple.

But it's not.

Because the issues are about humanity. Ever complex, and ever transforming.

I do not want to argue over theology.  I just want to find a church that believes like I do about issues that make me sweaty and shaky when I hear the opposing viewpoint.

Most people don't understand what I'm so worked up over. Can't I just hear out the other side? Just because they make an argument for it doesn't mean I have to put it into practice.

Logically, yes. But emotionally, it is like listening to someone arguing for why it would be fine for me to eat my dog.

Koreans eat dogs, and that's fine. It's cultural. But just because a perfectly logical argument can be made for it, doesn't mean that it wouldn't make me all high pitched and squeaky if I tried to explain why I do not, and will not ever want to eat my dog. I do not believe that I am closed minded for being unswayable in my conviction that my dog should remain my pet and not my dinner.

This is how I feel about punitive parenting being preached from the pulpit as if it were Biblically mandated.

This is how I feel when I hear Pastors proof texting for the idea that wife only submission is Scriptural.

This is how I feel about the conversation of women's role in the church, as if spiritual gifts come in pink and blue.

I love my friends who disagree with me. With my whole heart, and fiercely. Just as I know that they love me when I disagree with them. And I don't want their passions to feel trampled either, or to be someone who is exhausting for them to have around.

And I am grateful beyond all thankfulness for those steadfast and precious people in my life who have heard me out, let me stumble and stammer and try again, and understood the resolute nature of my heart, accepting me in all my complexity, perseveration, and angst.

To be patiently understood against all odds - to be known - by my family in Christ, has been one of God's sweetest gifts to me in this lifetime.

I have a feeling it's a taste of what Heaven is like.

Now if Joseph and I can find a church in our community that has in all it's congregation and pastorship, what these precious people have in one pinky finger, I will ecstatically pee my pants.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Teenage Dream

Longish ago and not so very far far away, I was in my early teenage-hood. This was back before I knew that being embarrassing around boys I found even remotely attractive would soon become a regular pastime of mine.

My 13th summer was spent mostly at the home of my dad's boss's family. It was a better option for my extroverted self than staying home with just my little brother day after day, watching Aladin over and over again.

Don't get me wrong, we made that entertaining. But there are only so many ways to watch the same movie ("Only pay attention to Abu this time!" "Okay, and next time we will just watch Eago!") before one runs out of inspiration.

My dad's boss's family consisted of my dad's boss (who was almost never there when we were), his wife, and his four kids. There was an eldest daughter named Tara, a boy named Andy, a girl my age - Anya, and  a little sister, Kiera, right about my brother's age.

Tara was theatrical, older, wiser, and intriguing. We enjoyed the rare times when she was around and not off hanging out with her friends.

Andy was silly, playful, and fun. Also older than us, we felt privileged to be allowed to so fully participate in his hijinks.  When Andy was home, it was going to be a fantastic day.

Mostly, though, we had to make do with Anya and Keira's ideas of fun.

The thing is, that Kiera was actually quite the explorer. She and Weezle spent countless hours outside climbing trees and running amok.

I was completely and fully, the total embodiment of jealousy.

You see, Anya was the only sibling who was my age and was also the only sibling who was thoroughly impossible. She had one favorite thing to do, and one thing only.

Plastic horses.

She would set them up before I arrived. Stables and fences and farms all over the floor in the dark shadowy basement. Every horse was named. Stormy. Thunderbolt. Lightning. Sunshine. Sparkle. Dewdrop. Dandelion. Dawn.

Every horse had a backstory. Every horse had it's own drama to participate in.

This was the kind of game that I would have rejoiced over 6 or 7 years prior. But months shy of 14, I had passed "moving on" about 5 exits back.

Unfortunately for me, the need I had felt to humor her as much as possible in the early days of our hanging out had set an unintentional precedent.  She fully expected my complete and total participation in the days of those horses' lives, and was deeply offended if she detected an attempt on my part to squirm out of it.

This family had a pool, even, and the days that I could talk her into taking advantage of that fact were surprisingly few and far between.

Once in a blue moon Andy would trot downstairs and rescue me with a game of Twister, or a Donkey Kong challenge, and I would be in bliss.

Finally the school year started. I was relieved of my imaginative duties at long last, and found my way back into a setting I felt more natural in.

We had moved into a house that was owned by missionaries, to rent for 2 years while they were away in India. There was only one catch.

Because they had experienced previous tenants who were rather destructive to their lovely home, they left their eldest son behind with the task of checking up on us at random times. His name was Isaiah.

My parents were annoyed.

I was enthralled. He was beautiful. An older boy with straight, swooshy, shoulder length blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and a laid back college style. As we were introduced to him, I became suddenly aware of just exactly how I was standing, and just where precisely my clothes weren't fitting perfectly.

In the months that followed, his occasional drop ins kept me on my toes. Because his parents told him to be sure to peek in every room in the house, my usual messy tendencies were kept largely at bay. Never in my life have I had such a clean room.

Finally a fateful day showed up in it's usual unassuming way, shortly after I had turned 14.

Mom poked her head in my bedroom to tell me that Dad's boss's kids missed us and were dying for a sleep over.

Oh no. Anya.

I told Mom that I didn't know what to do with Anya. That I was ever so relieved to be away from those silly plastic horses. I admitted guiltily that I felt I had really and truly out grown her.

Mom said that she understood, but regardless, having Anya over would be the kind thing to do. It would show gratitude for their hospitality towards us all summer.

I begrudgingly obliged, wishing bitterly that Andy had been their kid that was my age. I'd take Donkey Kong and falling off a skateboard repeatedly over plastic horses any day.

And so Anya came over, and so did the plastic horses. All of them. It hadn't been 25 minutes before my room was covered in fences and stalls and plastic haystacks. It was as if they had always been there.

I cringed through one last make believe horsey drama, and went to bed.

When I woke in the morning, I heard voices downstairs. I rubbed my eyes and listened closer.

Oh. My. Gravy. Mom and Dad were talking to Isaiah!

I leapt out of bed and changed out of my PJ's and into the coolest outfit I could find on such short notice.

Anya was awakened by my closet rummaging, and asked what was going on.

"Anya", I said firmly, "There is a boy downstairs who is really very cool. In just a few minutes he is going to be up here, and by golly if those flippin' plastic horses and fences and stalls and fake food and stuff isn't good and hidden, he will think they are mine! I know that you love them and they are your favorite, but they are not my favorite! I don't want him to think that I am... not me. So please, please, for the love of donuts, HIDE THEM! I'm going down stairs. I'll help you set them up again when he's gone, okay?"

I zipped up my JNCOs and loped downstairs.

Isaiah beamed at me, said hello, made some handsome small talk, and then excused himself to check on the upstairs rooms.

When he came back down and disappeared into my brother's room, I snuck back up to check on Anya.

Upon creaking open my door, I was greeted with the sight of every horse out where it had been moments ago. Everything was exactly where I had left it, except that Anya, instead of hiding the horses, had hidden herself.

"You went under the bed?!" I whispered fiercely, "What are you thinking?! Now he'll surely think those horses are mine!"

I was livid.

I stormed into the hallway, straight into Mom, and began babbling in exasperation.

"Mom! I can't believe this is happening! Isaiah is so cool, and I really think he's kind of cute, and he's already way older than me, and I don't want him to think I'm just a baby, and Anya's stupid plastic horses are all over my room, and now he thinks they're mine, which means he thinks I still play with plastic horses! This is so totally lame! He thinks I'm a huge dork, I just know it!"

No sooner had I finished my rant then Isaiah declared, on his way out the door, "Bye guys! Everything looks great! See you next time! And Sarah, I don't think you're a dork!"

I blinked.

Oh dear stars. He heard me.

I flopped onto the floor. Defeated.

Anya came out of my room to point and laugh at me.

Fortunately for me sometimes, just... sometimes, life has a way of coming full circle.

Years and years later, when I was a college kid, I went to a bar with a dear old friend of mine. It was 80's night at Schotzkies. Not that I'm really the go-to-a-bar type. Mostly bars make me incredibly awkward. But that particular night, dressing up in mismatched 80's attire and dancing like Elaine (yes, from Seinfeld) with my girlfriends sounded downright triumphant.

Just so happened Isaiah had the very same idea. Minus the girlfriends and the Elaine dance, mind you. I ran into him, was annoyed by him, and absolutely (to my own dismay) shot him down.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Closet Monster

It was a usual day in my 8 year old life. One sandwich-making experiment gone horribly wrong, one dark purple bruise rising on my shoulder from one attempt at shotgun target shooting with my dad, and one hamster gone missing.

Cinnamon was up to her usual escape artist tricks. No stack of encyclopedias could hold her back. Our home was her playground, and she would have at it, by Jove.

I imagined her pulling a ragged bandana up over her whiskers and plopping a pirate hat down atop her tiny head. Stuffing her cheeks full of sunflower seeds for her perilous journey.

She'd never survive out there! It had only been a short month or two since her predecessor had met his bitter end.


I had heard him scuffling in the wall moments before being called to dinner. Reluctantly I went,  promising myself I'd find a way to get him out of there after we ate.

Probably, I would have succeeded and Mercutio would have been returned to his cozy home, except that it was a deliciously warm summer night, and the kitchen window was open.

Halfway through our meal, a biggish black rat snake came slinking in through that window.

Dad was working late.

Mom, knowing me all too well, immediately (as she climbed onto her chair) forbade me to go try to catch it with my hands.

My 4 year old little brother, Weezle, stared with wide blue eyes as the snake made it's way with a slow sort of ease down the wall, under the table, and then disappeared into the hallway.

I sat with crossed arms, annoyed.

When she was sure it was a good distance away, Mom got down from her chair and sat.

"Just uh... finish your dinner, kids. Your dad will handle that thing when he gets home."

As antsy as I was to go and try to trap the snake and add it to my menagerie, I must have been hungry enough to decide it could wait.

We sat perhaps 7 more minutes before we were shocked to see the snake's villain-y form moving back towards the kitchen and us.

Under the table, it slithered, back up the wall, and out the window. Back into the night. And with it, I realized (as I noted a new bulge round it's middle), Mercutio.

That thing just came in, ate my hamster, and left! The nerve!

Once I had sufficiently grieved, Mom found me a replacement hamster. Cinnamon.

And now Cinnamon was in the wall! I just knew it! It was up to me to retrieve her. Even if I was supposed to be asleep half an hour ago.

I plowed into my closet with determination, despite how terrified I was of the farthest back reaches of it. I was positive that giant cretinous beasties lived back there. That or Narnia. Either one.

Until now I hadn't had the courage to find out. But my poor little honey colored fluff ball was back there all by herself!

I burrowed through old coats and suitcases, toys long forgotten and clothes I'd hoped were lost. I found my microscope and gleefully pushed it back towards the front for future re-discovering.

At last I'd reached it. The back of the closet. Perfectly dark and perfectly still.

Perfectly still... except for a faint scuffling. Was it in the wall? I wasn't exactly certain where it was coming from. I grabbed the edge of something and pulled. With the tiniest "ping", the wood paneling of the wall came undone.

I gasped with joy! The wall was detachable! I carefully, ever so quietly, tugged around each tack until the whole wall came free.

There I sat, holding the paneling in my hands, nervous to peer around it. Could it be? Had I truly found Narnia? Why hadn't I done this sooner? Anything could be on the other side of that wall!

I shuffled the paneling over to the side and looked up.

An old electric blanket, a soccer ball, legos, and ... Oooooh! Jackpot! I was in my brother's closet! My brother's closet was connected to my closet!

There was only one thing to do! I had to sneak under my brother's bed and make monster noises.

This was a master evil plan if ever there was one.

Without a sound I crawled across the floor and slid under the bed.

I counted to three, and... "RRRAAAAAWWWWRRRRR! I'MA EATCHOO!"

Weezle screeched and dove under his covers.

Trying to contain my laughter, I readied myself to freak him out even more... but then there was something scampering up my arm. Oh it tickled!

I rolled out from under Weezle's bed in a fit of giggles just in time for the lights to click on - showcasing a tired and disheveled mom and dad.

"What are you doing up?!" Dad glared.

"I found my hamster!" I grinned, holding Cinnamon up proudly for all the world to see.

"I think you were scaring your brother." Mom said with narrowed eyes.

"Oh Mom!" Weezle chirped, "It's ok! Now if I hear something scary in my room at night, I will always know it is just my stupid sister!"

So there you go, that is the story of how one hamster went missing and was found again. And how my little brother quit being afraid of things that go bump in the night.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If I was a Boy

There were two times in my life that I found it necessary to attempt to trick people into believing I was boy.

The first was around age 7. I was a girl scout. I was a girl scout who longed to be a boy scout. Why? You ask?

Simple. Girl scouts had to sit around knitting things and making doilies. This was long before knitting was cool and even if it had been cool back then, my hyperactive little self would not have been having any part of it. I had little to no interest in reading American Girl books or sewing clothing for dolls. I liked baking things, but not nearly as much as I liked more lively pastimes like catching potentially dangerous wildlife with my bare hands.

It just so happened that the boy scouts got to participate in activities that were exactly conducive to that sort of thing. They camped and built fires and fished. They earned merit badges for things like archery and survival skills. They made little wooden cars with their dads and sanded them down all smooth and then raced them to see whose was the fastest.

I knew. I had a little brother in boy scouts. And I was jealous.

My best friend, Deja, also had a brother in boy scouts, though her's was older.

Fortunately for me, Deja was jealous too. So Deja and I devised a plan. We would stuff our (already boyishly short) hair under baseball caps and sneak into a boy scout meeting. They would take us in with open arms, and we'd be camping and building pinewood derby cars before we knew it!

I remember walking in with her, our hands in our pockets, trying to look tough. We thought it was going to work until her older brother appeared from another room and shouted, "Those aren't boys! That's my little sister and her friend!"

We were promptly ushered out.

Not willing to consider ourselves doomed to live only vicariously through our brothers, we quit girl scouts (well, after the year ended as our mothers wanted to teach us to follow through on our commitments) and started our own club. We called it the Straight A Team. Nobody else joined it because they all thought that "Straight A" meant they had to have perfect grades when really A only stood for animals.

Fortunately that wasn't our only club. We also had the Last Chance Detectives, which I'm pretty sure we just swiped the name of from some really cheesy television show we both watched.

Our activities for the Straight A Team largely consisted of dragging the same 3 tires out of the river in our school playground at least once a week, only to find that adults had put them right back in again the very next day. I have a feeling, in hindsight, that those tires were probably a tool to maintain the structural integrity of the river bank or something. As kids, though, every time we hauled them out and onto the grass, we were convinced that we were saving the lives of countless otters and... probably even some dolphins.

As for the Last Chance Detectives, our attention was focused on one caper. The reoccurring mailbox bandit. Someone was knocking down Deja's family's mailbox. Violently.

Whoever it was had to be brought to justice.

We noticed a hapless wanderer who limped up and down the road that ran parallel to the embankment at the edge of my yard and took it upon ourselves to spy on this man with binoculars. We also made notes about him in our club journal.

"Man walks with a limp today but he didn't yesterday."

"Man walks with cane."

"Limp is gone. Looks suspicious."

"No cane today, but now he is wearing a bandana over his face. What is he hiding?"

"Man is growing a beard. Must be changing looks to hide from cops. We'll get 'im!"

This poor guy. We even had plans for some kind of tripwire trap that would have him hanging by his foot from a tree like in the movies. Fortunately for everyone involved, my dad refused to help us set that one up.

The second time I thought it imperative to be mistaken for a boy was when I was 13. The reasons had changed immeasurably, however. This time it was because I had a crush on a boy or two in the tiny class I was in.

Again, a friend collaborated. My classmate Mandy also had a thing for one of the guys in our class. The only problem was that we, being just newly teenage girls, were convinced we could never know what boys talked about (namely, whether or not they talked about us) unless we could be a fly on the wall in their conversation.

The only way to make this happen was to become one of them. To infiltrate undetected into their camp.

Mandy and I planned this hoodwink thoroughly for weeks in advance. We chose our boy names (she would be Brent and I would be Tré with a little accent over the e ) and figured out the best ways to hide our hair. We even got our teacher in on it.

In order to explain our absence when Brent and Tré showed up, we would stage a mock fight with our teacher (who we actually got along with beautifully) and she would pretend to have us suspended from school. This part of the plan was executed with precision. Our teacher took us out in the hall, and we three pretended to shout at each other as we stifled the giggles that threatened to blow our cover.

After going outside to walk around in the sunshine and compose ourselves for a bit, and to make it look like the principal was calling our mothers, we sulked somberly back into our classroom to say goodbye to our classmates and leave early.

Mandy's dad drove over and picked us up. We spent the weekend disguising our hair and ourselves to the very best of our ability. I was frustrated when my amateur quest to dye my hair red produced only a subtle tint on my dark chocolate locks.

When we walked back into the living room after my hair was dry, Mandy's pops said, "Hey that looks good!", to which I replied, "It's not supposed to look good! It's supposed to look different! Really really different!" I sighed heavily before I thanked him for the compliment.

Mandy and I stayed up all night before school began again on Monday putting our hair into a million tiny braids and folding the braids in half as a last ditch effort to make it appear shorter.

There I was again. Monday morning, strutting into a room with my hands in my pockets, trying to look tough.

The boys we had crushes on, the very ones we sought to fool, were the only other souls about as early as we arrived. They took one look at us and said, "Sarah? Mandy? I thought you guys were suspended! Why are you dressed like that? What happened to your hair?"

"Uh" I said in my best guy-voice, "No. Sarah and Mandy got suspended, so they sent us in their place. My name is Tré, with an accent over the e, and this is my friend Brent."

There was a momentary pause.    

And then Nathan and Eric burst into uncontrollable laughter. At a loss for explaining ourselves, we made up a story on the spot about dressing up as boys to infiltrate their hang-out talks... as a research project.

Thankfully, they were amused enough with the whole situation not to question us further. Instead, they decided to sneak us into a closet to try and help us make our disguises more convincing. Nathan tried to use mascara to paint facial hair on us, and Eric... mostly just made a mess.

Needless to say, we didn't end up deceiving one single classmate.

But somehow, as with the silliness when I was 7, the endeavor was not entirely fruitless.

Ever since then I have been more than content being a girl. Even if it means that sometimes catching dangerous wild animals is frowned upon. Last I heard, boys aren't exactly encouraged to bring home adult wild raccoons either.

Though that is another story. And shall be told another time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 56)

That morning finally arrived. Star pulled me out of bed and insisted that I go find something to put in my stomach, so I sleepily stumbled out in the direction of the hotel lobby.

The second we walked in, our sleepy eyes were met with Joseph's whole family, all dressed and ready and wide awake. Joseph's dad hummed "Here Comes the Bride" as I tried not to think about the fact that I was still in my sleeping shorts and tank top. We swiped a few donuts and got the hell out of there.

Grey and Star helped me get ready while my sweet friend Meriah took pictures.

Meriah is a fantastic photographer. You can check out her work here

I got so engrossed in this process and in conversation that I certainly would have forgotten to eat lunch had Dayanara not stopped by with a sandwich and some sweet tea and required that I partake. 

When it was getting close to time to go, I gave up on anything resembling shoes, and hopped into Meriah's car barefoot. 

Genevieve met me in the driveway, took my face in her hands and gasped, "The Spirit of God on you!". I smiled thankfully to her. There was no other statement that could have melted my stage fright jitters faster. 

As if that wasn't enough to kill my nerves, Adelaide ran over and leapt into my arms for a hug. 

Everyone was mulling about excitedly around the yard while we waited. 

Just before the ceremony, we were all rounded onto the porch to huddle up for a prayer. 

Meanwhile, as Joseph and Jim made their way to the alter, 

the Hanwell's cat (not to be caught at a wedding empty pawed) dragged a dead rat up the aisle and dropped it at Joseph's feet. 

Our wedding party was fabulous. Everyone was so lovely.

As a matter of fact, Rosie and Jett looked like so much fun together, that a few of my unaware guests asked them if they were married! Jett, confused, said, "No...", and Rosie (not missing a beat) looked aghast and replied, "And to think that I gave you the best years of my life!"  

My Dad had started bawling halfway through the rehearsal and was not about to stop as he walked me down the aisle. 

Almost there, I tried to focus on Joseph's eyes. Dad tripped and I heard a rip. It was because his foot had gotten tangled in my train. 

My pops has never been one to do much of anything delicately, so his attempts to untangle himself consisted of shaking his leg violently until there was another tearing sound and he was free to walk again. 

Jim accidentally forgot to do the ceremony and skipped straight to our vows. We were secretly a bit grateful that it worked out that way because it meant that we could just stand and listen to it all without worrying about our part. 

My cousins read Scripture over us, and my beautiful friend Chloe sang "Meet Me by the River" (by Enter the Worship Circle) from the Hanwell's balcony. 

We had planned to exit at the very end to The Darkness's song "I Believe in a Thing Called Love"  - which we did. The only thing was that there was a slight delay. Star's husband spaced out for a few awkward moments before he hit play. 

We just kind of stood there looking around, hoping he would notice. 

He did finally figure it out, though, and we dashed out into the parking lot to make a receiving line to hug everyone. It was overwhelming and sweet to have one dear friend after another in my arms - many of whom I hadn't seen in ages. 

Everyone went down to the reception, and Meriah made quick work of the wedding party pictures so that we could swiftly be on our way as well. 

Joseph and I stopped by the hotel before we joined everyone at the reception so that I could switch my dress out. I thought I'd wear it all night, but the part Dad ripped accidentally was hanging all bejiggidy, so I was relieved to find that I randomly had something else that I figured was appropriate to wear instead.

At the reception, Eddie Kindle (who had come early to help set up tables) engaged me in conversation about his latest romantic conundrum. He sounded as though he would reach a resolution soon, and Maggie would have her boyfriend back. 

Adelaide played in the grass with my childhood friend Deja's daughter. 

The doves miraculously got along beautifully with each other for the whole reception. They had everyone well fooled by their peaceful cooing and occasional rustling of feathers as they dozed.

Star's husband called a line dance that even my mom and dad (who until that point, I had never seen dance in public... or... at all, for that matter) participated in. 

And at the very end of the reception after almost everyone else had gone home, just before Joseph and I headed off ourselves, Joseph's three best friends called me over. 

James and Starbuck stood sheepishly behind Jett, staring at their shoes and occasionally looking up to nod in agreement with him as he confided quietly to me, "We love Joseph. We have known him forever and he is our bro. We all three have his artwork all over our dorms and apartments. He has had a few girlfriends in the past that we just knew weren't right for him. But that day we all hung out at the waterfall, and he carried that little rock with mica on it down to you, and you saw the same beauty in it that he did, we knew." 

He went on to tell me with his precious eyes gleaming that they knew I cared for him and that he cared for me in the way that they had only hoped they could see happen for their friend. 

Shortly after that, I hugged the remainder of my friends and family goodbye and climbed into our car (that Banjo and BestfriendDavid had snuck away to "decorate") to embark on some new adventures. 

Star later told me that the very second that she had placed the last of the decorations into her car and shut the trunk, the sky opened up and the rain that had stayed at bay all day long came pouring down. 

So there you have it. That was how I became acquainted with a new world in the heart of my God. How I saw that He is a God of restoration. That He is for the healing of all relationships broken, and the finding of all cherished things lost. 

I did nothing to bring about the mending that took place in my friendship with Eddie, or in my husband's relationship with Jesus. In fact, my attempts only caused more strife in most cases. 

Even my best efforts in finding the lost turtle only resulted in a significantly messier room. 

It is just that I belong to one seriously faithful God. 

And if you are wondering about anything in this story that still seems unresolved, do not worry. There are always more things aching to be restored. 

But that is why He has promised to finish the work that He started in us. Because, in the end, for those who love Him, all things will be made whole. 

The end 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 55)

A few months prior to the wedding, when Joseph and I were in the thick of wedding planning and classes, there were a myriad of preposterous ideas tossed around.

If there is one thing I've never been able to stand, it's being usual. Predictable. Boring. Sometimes my judgement can become a bit clouded when exciting possibilities enter my mind that buck the monotonous rhythm of normalcy.

Such silly business as our vows being written Dr. Seuss style, the attendance of various barnyard animals, and providing people with picnic blankets instead of chairs to sit on were (thankfully) flatly refused and kindly refuted by those closest to me.

One thing nobody managed to talk me out of, however, was my plan to replace a unity candle with doves. I wanted doves at our wedding, but due to the hawk that lived not far from the Hanwell's backyard, I didn't think the standard release-them-into-the-wild-blue-yonder route was the best to go. My plan was to have them in separate cages during the ceremony and then somehow magically morph them into one cage for the reception. It was brilliant. The symbology of unity would be there, but it would be in the background instead of blazingly stated with candles and fire and it's own moment that could very easily turn awkward if we took too long trying to get wicks to catch with our trembly stage-fright hands.

Our pet store searches only produced a number of little brown doves. Not a single white dove was there to be found. I don't know why I was so adamant about obtaining white doves. I was on wedding planning crazy pills, I think.

What happened in the end was that we found a guy who lived in a minuscule dot of a town, way way way back in the mountains, whose hobby was collecting and raising rare and exotic pigeons and doves. Who would have guessed that such a thing could be a real passion for someone?

This guy was delighted with his birds. He had crafted multiple nesting sheds for them with his hands, and longed for nothing more than to fill our ears with everything he knew about what they ate, how they behaved, how many breeds there were, what they all were, and bird-related stories of his own.

When he found out he was talking to Christians, his eyes lit up even more. He told us of a pigeon that had been his son's absolute favorite. The kid took this bird everywhere with him. He even snuggled it as he watched movies.

The pigeons could fly free during the day, and they always returned back to their pen at night. One day, his son's favorite pigeon flew into the sky only to be snapped up immediately by a hawk. Panicking, the father had run at the predator, waving his arms and throwing things. When the hawk dropped the pigeon, the father saw that it was too late. The pigeon's neck was severed down to the bone. He thought there was no way the bird would live.

He carried it inside to show his wife. Neither of them could bare to tell their son, so they tucked the pigeon into a warm little crate, prayed over it, and left it be for the night.

When they woke in the morning, the father almost couldn't bring himself to go look and see how the bird was doing. He couldn't have been more shocked when he peeked in, and saw that the pigeon was alive and well and healing.

"He was good as new in just a few days!", He proclaimed. He then went into the coop and brought that pigeon out to show us it's scar.

Before he got to our doves, he showed us a pen after pen of pigeons that looked like elaborate works of art. At one pen, he stopped.

"These little guys don't look like much, I know" he noted, "but they are some of my favorites. They are called the rollers and the tumblers. People bred these pigeons for centuries to stick close to their owners. Eventually the flight was bred out of them. See?"

He picked up a roller and gave it a gentle toss. The second it hit the ground, it began doing somersaults. Literally. This bird moved along the ground doing speedy little somersaults by tucking it's head under it's body and propelling itself into a forward roll with a flurry of winged flutters.

When he saw that we were adequately astonished by this, he took a tumbler out and repeated the light toss. This bird did a flip on it's way down and landed on it's feet. It then flapped it's wings, which sent it into another flip.

Joseph and I watched in awe as the roller somersaulted all over the barn and the tumbler followed behind with flip after flip.

The guy, who we came to refer to affectionately as Dove Man, was grinning from ear to ear by the time he replaced them into their dwellings.

He finally trotted over to the white doves and brought out the youngest two adults he owned.

They were huge! Why I had thought doves were small, I'll never know. These two were at least the size of small chickens.

Despite being blindsided by their size, we took the doves and were on our way.

On the way home, I realized I had not planned this out as well as I had thought. The birdcage I assumed would accommodate them nicely was obviously out of the question now. One of those doves could easily fill it up on it's own, leaving not even enough room for it to stretch it's wings.

Before we got back, we stopped at Lowe's and purchased a few coop-building supplies.

We spent the rest of the night learning a new hatred for chicken wire as we cut and bent and sculpted and resculpted and complained to each other about the scratches that were turning up all over our arms.

By the time we were finished, we had a top heavy, totally impractical dove-keeping structure in our living room.

The doves themselves were also ridiculous. As a symbol of unity, tranquility, and peace, we thought they would just sit nestled in their hutch and coo all day. For the first week or two it seemed we were mostly correct, but as the wedding day drew closer, our doves became increasingly homicidal.

They began fighting with each other all the time. I came home from class one day to find one of them with a gaping neck wound and was forced to separate them for a week and a half so the wounded one could heal.

When they weren't assuming fencing poses and dueling to the death with beak assaults and winged right-hooks, they would go back to the contented nestling and cooing.

Apart, they seemed miserable, so we decided to put them back together and see if they outgrew trying to maim each other.

So intense was their feud for the higher perch, that whichever dove obtained this goal would suffer more for it, knowing that the other was constantly watching for a moment to steal his ground. Higher-perch dove would literally sleep with one eye open, always on anxious guard for a sneak attack.

Said sneak attack always came with full force the very second high-ground-dove nodded off completely.

In interest of keeping our doves alive, they were separated again by the time the night before our wedding was upon us.

I had relegated the task of moving them into the same cage again after the wedding ceremony to Grey. I knew that she was fearless, yet gentle enough to handle it.

I only hoped that they wouldn't fight each other into a bloody pulp at the reception. The symbolism of that couldn't be good.

(Continued here)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Restoration of All Things (Part 54)

The week before my wedding finally arrived. My mom flew down early to help me work out the details. Things I never would have thought about. Like table clothes.

Joseph and I were preparing for an outdoor wedding. The Hanwells had been planting beautiful things in their yard and making everything lovely and perfect for us and I couldn't believe how incredible it was looking.

We would be getting married under the tree that Joseph and I had sat under on my Mexico blanket to work out our pasts.

One thing we didn't plan for was rain. We had no backup plan for rain whatsoever. Mom immediately set about figuring out pricing for tent rentals so that people would have somewhere to huddle in case of a downpour. Joseph made it his mission to check on the weather online every chance he got.

5 days to go. I wanted my bridesmaids to have dresses that they would like and wear again, so I had given them a deep earthy burgundy/purple and told them to find a dress they liked in any color that remotely resembled that swatch.

This request turned out to be more stressful to fulfill than I anticipated, so I amended that request to include white cottony dresses that I could dye for them.

3 or 4 of my bridesmaids went the white cottony dress route and sent them to me in the mail. They came  just in time. Kentucky came over to help me dye them, and it was an adventure in and of itself. Mom chuckled at how different each one turned out. One was bright neon purple and one was eggplant and marbled. Yet another had polyester stitching that didn't take the dye at all and left a bright white pattern all over the dress.

I personally loved how they all turned out. I only hoped my bridesmaids would, too.

4 more days. Joseph pulled me aside and noted that he felt like we hadn't seen each other all semester. He felt disconnected from me and didn't want to feel that way when he said his vows. We blew everything off and went to the park to lay in the sun by the river we were baptized in and just be still for hours and hours. It was exactly what we needed.

3 days left. Mom, Joseph and I were at Men's Warehouse trying to find something appropriate for Joseph to get married in when Star called to tell us that her car broke down. She would have to wait until the day of our wedding to come over because her husband couldn't get off work to come with her until then. He was going to be our sound guy and call some contra-ish dances for us at the reception, so his truck would be full of instruments and electronic type things.

I had to have my best friend. I told her we would come to Chattanooga and get her. Joseph purchased the first combination of clothing that somewhat fit him and we dashed out the door.

We got to Chattanooga in the wee hours of the morning. Star put Adelaide in her car seat in the back with my mom and we turned right back around to go back to Cullowhee.

Adelaide woke up and sleepily asked Mom in her raspy just-awoke voice, "Did you see the fish?". Star was in stitches. This was the first time she had heard her little one's just-awoke voice. It was the first time Adelaide had ever spoken in such a half-asleep state.

2 days more. My childhood friend Deja arrived, and so did Josephs old buddies (James, Starbuck, and Jett) from back in high school.  We all went to the double waterfall (where I had admitted my more-than-friends feelings for Joseph) together as the beginning of bachelor/bachelorette celebrations. The plan was we would all go there and play for a while, and then the guys and girls would split up and Joe would hang out with his buddies at the house, and the girls and I would hang out at the hotel we were staying in.

When we got to the waterfall, the guys climbed up to the top, and Star, Deja and I stayed below to chat and wallow in the sunshine.

Deja went over to a pool at the bottom of the waterfall and stretched out a leg to put a toe in. One false move, and she slipped and tumbled in. She came back up treading water and swearing. That water was cold!

Star and I felt a little guilty for laughing at her, so we decided to suck it up and jump in too.

As the sun began it's journey down and the three of us were drying out on the rocks, Joseph and the guys trotted over and flopped down. Joe pulled from his pocket a sparkly little rock with mica on it and handed it to me, noting that he found it lovely.

I thanked him, grinning, and validated that I, too, thought it was a thing of beauty.

We packed up and started to head home. James helped us swipe a little mountain laurel on the way back because flowers for a wedding are expensive and it was just so pretty.

In the evening, I was reunited with Dayanara, my dear friend who worked at a summer camp with me, and all of us girls went to Walmart to pick up Grey.

Grey's phone wasn't working, and we weren't exactly sure where she was. It didn't take us long to find her, though. She was outside on a bench with an oldish lady who had evidently had way, way too much to drink. Grey was listening carefully and patiently to this lady's stories. She hugged her goodbye tenderly and did her best to make sure she had someplace to go for the night before we left her.

Back at the hotel, after we did a yarning with shiny white wedding yarn, we sat around outside just relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

Dad arrived with my brother and his girlfriend, Charlie.

Everyone went to bed tuckered out. The only one who was fighting sleep was Weezle.

"I can't sleep! I have a cough drop in my mouth!"

"So spit it out!" Charlie grumbled.

"I don't want to! It's at the good part!"

"So chew it up!"

"Eeeeeew nooooooo!"

"Well then sit there quietly and suck on it 'til it's gone!"

"So boring! I don't wanna!"

"Fine! Put it in your butt crack and save it for later!"

That shut him up. Everyone wished each other sweet dreams and fell right asleep.

1 day away. The rest of the bridesmaids and groomsmen came on over. It was priceless to all be together.

There was a very sweet and giving lady who worked in the flower department at Lowes, who had offered to let me come pick flowers from her personal garden for my wedding.

We tried to take her up on her offer, but after a half an hour's drive in the direction of Franklin, we failed catastrophically at finding her house. In the end, we gave up.

It just so happened, though, that the wildflowers on the side of the road were exactly my wedding colors. Star and I pulled over and piled a bunch of them into boxes, ducking whenever we heard a car coming, lest it be a cop and we find ourselves in trouble.

We still didn't know if it was going to rain or not the next day. The forecast was iffy. We were a little nervous, but at this point, we mostly just wanted to get married.

The guys took the chairs we had rented and went to line them up in the Hanwell's backyard so we could have the rehearsal. When they were done, it looked great... except that they forgot to include an aisle.

Genevieve and Star stared at it in silence for a moment before Star finally said, "Um... where is she going to walk?"

Genevieve, relieved someone else had noticed it too, set about helping Star sort this issue out.

They sent the guys to go put up some this-is-how-you-get-there signs.

My dad almost didn't show up for the rehearsal. I think he knew that he would be so emotional and he didn't want to face it. When he finally came, he was fine all through the actual practicing, but later got all choked up randomly while telling one of my uncles a story about our dogs. 

Jim was officiating for us, so he taped his lines into his Bible so that it would look like he had them all memorized. I spent the make believe ceremony trying not to giggle. 

Star teared up when we said our pretend "I do"s and hid behind her white paper parasol. I had given all the bridesmaids white paper parasols. 

When the rehearsal was over, we mulled around a bit. 

Dayanara had brought with her the hat that we told secrets under at camp. It was our secret-tellin' hat. I was happy to see it again. 

There was time for some hugs and some pictures, 

before we pranced on down to the picnic area on campus to partake in stuffed shells, garlic bread, salad, and sweet tea that Joseph's mom was so gracious to provide us with. 

When the day was through, Star made me promise to go to bed before midnight. 

"It's the night before your wedding!", she reminded me, "You will need all the sleep you can get!" 

I did go to bed, dutifully, around 11:00pm. I lay there, staring at the ceiling, wide awake. Until 3am. 

Suddenly Weezle came in and said, "Sarah, you have to get up!" 

"What?! No I don't! I have to go to sleep! I'm getting married tomorrow!" 

"No, you have to get up. Charlie and I want to go to Walmart and get something gross to eat. You do want to come with us, don't you?" 

"But I promised Star..." I stopped. He was making that face at me. The liddle brudder face. The face that he had used since he was a child to get away with murder. "...Oh fine! Wait, I've got to put on some shoes." 

I scanned the room for an instant and realized that I had no idea where my shoes were, and it wasn't likely I would ever find them amid the jumble of wedding madness I was surrounded by. I decided to go without my shoes. 

Weezle and I are tall kids. I am 5' 9" and he's definitely over 6 feet. Charlie, on the other hand is 4' 8". 

When we all trooped through the sliding doors at Walmart, and I attempted to tell Charlie under my breath to walk to the left of me so the "greeter" (aka, the guard) wouldn't notice my shoeless feet, my words had too far down to travel in order to get there on time. Or I was simply too much bigger than she to be hidden at all by walking on her other side. Either way, when I looked up, I saw that the greeter was staring straight at my feet with crazy eyes. 

He began to take a step towards me, and without giving it a second thought all three of us bolted. The greeter took chase. We spent the next 12 minutes or so zipping around the store trying to lose him. Finally, Weezle peeled off to the right and was gone for a bit before jogging back to tell us, "I had him tailing me until I got to the toy section, but I lost him somewhere back there around art supplies." 

He slowed to a cantor, "Come on you guys, let's go to the food department." 

Weezle and Charlie chose some kind of sherbet... cups. They did look pretty gross.  

When we were in the checkout line, I peeked over at the greeter's post and accidentally made eye contact with him. He shot me some daggers. 

I looked at the clerk and said, "I'm getting married tomorrow. I'm getting married tomorrow, and that greeter is going to kill me!"

The clerk glanced over at the greeter and then looked at me, yawned, and said, "Huh. That's too bad. $3.17 please." 

That was it. The other doors were closed because it was so late. There was no way of avoiding him. I took a deep breath and marched towards my fate. 

We tried to give him as wide a berth as we possibly could, but he dashed in front of us. 

"Next time you come here," he bellowed, "you'd better bring a pair of shoes!" 

We ducked around him and ran for the car. 

Once we were safely in the car with the windows rolled up and thoroughly out of earshot, Weezle shook his fist and shouted, "Next time you come here, you'd better bring a better FACE!" 

When we got back to the hotel around 4:30am, I face-planted into bed and fell asleep almost immediately. 

And that is how I spent the last unmarried night of my life.