Monica – Friend to the Squatches

Somehow in the course of a texting conversation, we started talking about Sasquatches.  Naturally.  And so the following conversation happened.

Katie – You’ll be the master!  TEACH THEM HOW TO SQUATCH!  It will be a good life skill for them.

Monica – There’s something in the pasture!!  I bet its a squatch…I know it has to be.  I should do some tree knocks.

Katie – AHHH a squatch!!!  Did you do some calls?

Monica – Not this time.  This time I just sat back and listened.

Katie – That’s probably wise.  I’m sure it could sense your presence and you not doing anything communicated friend to it.  I’m sure.

Monica – I told dad too and he thinks it was a good idea to sit and listen because that’s probably why no one ever sees them, they’re always being scared of by noise.

Katie – Agreed.  You took a big step forward with this guy.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Monica – Hopefully contact.  But I won’t push it.  Slow and steady.

Katie – That’s really very wise.  Perhaps he’ll let you see him next time.  Maybe he’ll knock a tree and point at you as if to say, that’s for you Monica, friend to the Squatches.

Monica – I’ll be like the Jane Goodall with squatches.

Katie – Documentaries will be made about you.

Monica – Oh I’m fully expecting the Nobel Prize for my work.

Katie – You totally should.  “Thank you for granting me this honor.  The money from this prize will go towards my Sasquatch Foundation which you are all aware of.  I think you and the Squatches thank you.”

Monica – If Obama can get one for doing nothing…you better believe I’ll get one, best him and bring dignity back to the name of Nobel!

When friends text- Pride of the Serengeti – Part 2

Monica – The baby zebra, having no choice but to relinquish to his dreadful fate at the jaws of the hungry lioness, surges on with little hope of returning to the heard; as they fade farther and farther in the distance.  The despondent mother, braying despair and resignation…

Katie – The frenzied lioness pays no heed to the crying of the baby.  No, she far too hungry to feel any compassion.

Monica – Prospective feasting before her, she pays little heed to the familial ties of mother and foal.  Indeed they are of little significance to this great cat; being driven by pure instinct and desire.

Katie – The lioness sinks her razor sharp fangs into the neck of the young foal and his terrified cries are quickly silenced.  The lioness waits to make sure the foal is indeed dead before deciding to drag the lifeless form off.  It’s interesting that the lioness went for the foal considering the mare would have given her more food.

Monica – But as is so often the case on the plains of the Serengeti, the weak, young, old, or sickly, are targeted for the feed.  Let’s look back and observe our lioness (adjusting binoculars).  Ah, there we are.  Ah ha!  Look!  She indeed has young cubs to provide for!  A dinner of foal will do quite well for them, however it is not being sufficient for the obviously hungry mother, we must now conclude she will not receive any of the fruits of her labor as it is her cubs who take precedence here…Look there! A magnificent young cub has claimed the lions share (pun intended *Brit smirk*) of the life-sustaining foal.  Now that, folks, is a million dollar cub.  No doubt destined to be a great leader of his own pride if he is able to survive the struggles of youth.  From appearances, I’d say he has a good chance (looks back).

Katie – Unfortunately this leaves less meat for the other cubs.  What will the mother do now?  She needs to eat as well.  Look! *dramatic whisper* look!  She has spotted something on the horizon.  It will be a testimony to how hungry she is if she leaves her cubs to go after something else.  Let’s see what she’ll do.

Monica – What could it be?  We shall see.  Let me adjust my Alpen Binoculars (little plug for the show sponsor  as you do)…a lone wildebeest…

Katie – *Booming voice over   Next week on Life in the Serengeti- will our lioness be able to provide for her cubs?  Will she be able to provide for herself? Or will a new pride of lions overtake her territory?!  Join us next week to find out!  *screedly deedly music as camera pans away*

Puppy Love: Monica Edition

After reading Lauren’s puppy love flashback, I felt inspired. I’m sure every gal can relate to the stories of a childhood crush. You remember the first few times your heart went all pit-pat-flip-flop-and-uh-flubba-dub-dub. Am I right? I mean, never mind the fact that some puppy loves were Disney cartoon characters! And what’s more, who cared if he was human or not! Robin Hood anyone? A dream boat right? Ooom hmmm. I’d still take a glowing flower ring from foxy Ol’ Rob any time, thank you very much. But I must digress. Whilst cartoon characters did make me giddy, they never once held a candle to my true live puppy loves. Yes, I say loves, plural, because there were multiple. SHOCK AND HORROR! WRETCHED UNFAITHFUL WENCH! I know *sigh*, I know. However, once I’ve shared the who, what, when, how, and why, I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for my unsteady ways.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a little bit of eye candy… from a child’s point of view.

Enter exhibit A or numero uno: Little Joe Cartwright.

Ah, my first love. Swoon and sigh with me please! The first time I saw Little Joe sally forth from the Ponderosa on his black and white steed, I knew it was love. A girl never forgets her first cowboy love. Who could forget those eyes, that hair, the smile, and that manly getup! I knew Little Joe was destined to be my man! Sadly, my hopes were dashed. It never occurred to my childish mind that Bonanza was filmed years before my time. Alas, when I found out Little Joe was indeed long gone, I was crushed.

R.I.P. my love

So I moved on…and on … and on… and on…

It’s mighty morphin’ time!!: Tommy, Green/White/ Red Ranger

I couldn’t have picked a better rebound love if I do say so myself. Let’s see, shall I list some of his endearing qualities? Ok, here goes- Native American, Check. Handsome, Check. “Super Powers”, Check Check! Fights injustice and saves mankind, CHECK CHECK!! Ding the bell this girl is down for the count!

You know, I don’t recall the reason why our relationship went sour. It was so long ago. I hear he’s into cage fighting or some such thing these days. In hind sight it’s probably for the best we went our separate ways.

I don’t think mother and father would approve…. Hold up! Is that a “Jesus Didn’t Tap Out” tat I see!? Then, on second thought…Oh wait, forget it. The bride of chucky there on the pec? No.

*Disclaimer* I’m about to go against my original claim and insert a cartoon character in this list. Please forgive me.

Tale as old as time, true as it can be: The Beast (in human form)

When the narrator asked, “For who could ever learn to love a beast?”, I jumped up shouting with wild abandon, “I COULD! I COULD! ME! ME! PICK ME!”. However, that reaction didn’t come until after I had already seen the movie once and knew what The Beast would morph into at the end. True I feigned disinterest since who would ever fall for a man with fat lips (the irony, ha!)? Secretly though, I was smitten. After all, he did give Belle a library and pretty dresses.

I like to pretend I’m Belle. I’m sure you can see why.

Perhaps this is where my obsession with red hair began: Gilbert Blythe.

Upon first introduction, I found Gilbert to be a silly boy. How dare he insult red heads! Not that I should be offended, I’m not a ging myself, but I’d like to be. However, Gil’s persistence and genuine kindness began to make an impression on me. I wasn’t entirely sold on him until he finally declared is love whilst lying in feverish state. When Gilbert was dying, I too felt the reaper’s sickle descending upon me. When he gallantly strode through the apple orchard, I was the bird singing of his triumphant march!

The man from snowy river himself: Jim Craig

It is worth mentioning and I’m sure you’ve already noticed, there are two cowboys on my list. Though, I think it’s safe to say Jim Craig is the ultimate cowboy (after The Duke of course). If you’ve never seen The Man From Snowy River, please, do yourself a favor and watch it. If you think you’re safe and in no danger of falling for this Australian mountain man, think again my friend, think again.

Hmmm, something is wrong with this picture…

There we are. The happy couple.

He brought sexy back and his favorite color is baby blue: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE!! *wild-crazy-fan-girl-screams*

You know how Shakespeare once penned, “The sun sees not till Heaven clears”?  My love for J.T. was a bit like that. I had bunches of clouds gettin’ all crazy up in here *waving hand in front of my face*. I will admit, back in the day I’d run to the TV screen and kiss his face whenever NSYNC made an appearance. I felt no shame. Shoot, I still don’t. Would I go for pastel purple glasses and diamond studs now? No, not if I wanted to keep some shred of dignity.  But there in lies the beauty of puppy love, it is informative and a catalyst for character growth. So, J.T., in short, you made me a better woman.

Thus concludes my list of puppy loves. I write this post with the intention of providing a tiny bit of nostalgic humor, but let me give a word of advice straight from Scripture: “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” Song of Solomon 2:7

-M

Be at rest once more, O my soul…

I wrote the following testimony several years ago in response to an inquiry into my personal story of loss and hope. In light of the fact that I am about to share parts of my testimony with an audience, I figured I should post the written form again. It is my background, my journey with the Lord, if you will. And while I could elaborate even more, this hits on the “main” point(s). God has taught me so much (and is continuing to teach me) through the absolute highs and heart/gut-wrenching lows of life. He is my rock. He is my hope. And He is my salvation. To God be all the glory.

Being reared in a loving Christian home and community has been and always will be a blessing for which I can scarcely begin to express my gratitude. With my Mom’s guidance, I accepted Christ when I was three. Due to my parent’s wisdom, support, and love I was able to forge through some very difficult and painful times. God in His incredible wisdom knew I would need to be surrounded by His strength and love working through family and friends.

Simply put, childhood was a blast! I have so many wonderful memories spent with my folks and older brother, laughing and growing in the joy of the Lord. I was also fortunate to develop some very close lasting friendships. One friendship in particular has had an incalculable affect on my life.

When I was three my family moved to the L, KS area. Soon after moving we began attending the L.E. Covenant Church. Thankfully my Sunday school class was large, but due to the fact it was primarily populated by rambunctious boys, I quickly became fast friends with the only other little girl. Kristina and I were inseparable. And when I say we were inseparable, I mean it. She became my sister. Most weekends she was either at my house or vice versa. One thing we shared in common was an intense love for horses. It was our plan to one day build adjacent horse farms and raise our kids together. We had both had horses at different times growing up, but whilst in sixth grade we were sadly, both horseless. It was a grievous malady which had to be remedied! So to pass the time until we could amass our herd, I joined the horseless horseman project in 4-H and she rode her neighbor’s horses. Little did we know what life held in store for us.

During one of my routine weekend visits to Kristina’s house, my life was changed forever. After church on Sunday we both decided it would be fun to ride her neighbor’s horses together. I waited while she made the phone call. A persistent voice kept telling me our plan wasn’t a good idea, but I had no intention of thwarting it. So off we went with smiles stretching from ear to ear. My ride was a mare fat with foal. Kristina’s ride was a beautiful, young, green gelding. Even though the owner and neighbor Mr. R, assured Kristina he would lead her the entire time, she still felt uneasy. She came to me and quietly asked if I wouldn’t mind switching rides with her. I told her no; an answer which took me, with the Lord’s help, ten years to make peace with. Kristina and I mounted up and off we journeyed around the back of the house. As I came around the far side of the house Kristina and Mr. R stopped to make an adjustment. When Mr. R let go, the horse spooked and took off. The next few moments were a blur. I looked back to see Kristina lose control, fall, hit her head, and go still. She had hit a small piece of cement in the yard. Having suffered massive head trauma, she never came to, and died four days later in intensive care. God in all his strength, love, and compassion came swooping in to surround my broken little heart.

A week after Kristina passed, my mom and I took a night walk down our quarter mile long driveway to look at the stars, reflect, and pray. While sitting in the darkness snuggled next to my mom, I secretly asked God if He would give me a sign so that I would know Kristina was alright and He was hugging her for me. Instantly the largest most brilliant shooting star I had ever seen shot across the western sky! My mom was looking in the same direction. When I asked if she had seen the star, she said no. That moment was the beginning of God’s healing process.

Over the course of the next several years I became a rather introverted, awkward adolescent. I grew closer to several friends I had had since kindergarten, but I was still trying to find acceptance and friendship from other peers. Through a series of rejections, my confidence plummeted. Not only that, but I was still dealing with the pain of my best friend’s death. My refuge was home and my family. God was still a huge part of my life, but my relationship with Him wasn’t quite my own yet. I was riding on the strength of my Dad and Mom’s faith.

During my junior year in high school I hit an all time low. Sinking into depression, my heart was crying out for joy and peace again. Through the blunt spiritual encouragement of a dear friend, the love and prayers of my parents and church friends, God snapped me out of my funk. He began questioning me, encouraging me to look at the blessings I was surrounded with, and to see His goodness. My world turned from cloudy to sunny! Finally, my heart was beginning to agree with His heart. God was beckoning to me, calling me to trust Him, and my heart was saying ok. I had made a commitment to Him when I was a little girl and through His strength I was going to hold to that.

The foundation of trust and healing that had been laid initially while watching the shooting star, continued to grow. Having attended church camp as a little girl and then later being a volunteer church camp counselor in high school, I was already partial to that form of ministry. After my freshman year in college I got a job for the summer in Nebraska as a church camp counselor and cook. During that summer God taught me to listen for His voice and guiding. He revealed to me through camp teachings and my quiet times what fully trusting in Him looked like. I needed to trust God fully in order to go through the next few years of healing and character growth.

I had built walls around my heart from the rejection I had received from peers. I still thought that if I appeared tough no one would take a jab at me. What is more, I was still shy. My shyness was based off of fear and self preservation. Oddly enough I was self righteous too. Each of those qualities made for one uninviting individual. This fact was brought to my attention by my dear brother. It had become so bad that he didn’t even feel comfortable to be himself around me. His words shook me to my core because I knew they were true. I wondered how in the world was I ever going to be a light for Christ when my own brother wasn’t comfortable around me? Weeping, I cried out to God, asking Him to melt my cold heart. He did. To begin the process, God led me to *Ezekiel 36:26-27 and **Psalm 116. With this new found freedom I wanted to be able to bless others and serve the Lord with gratitude and praise.

In the fall of my junior year at Kansas State University, a friend encouraged me to apply to work at Pine Cove Christian Camps near Tyler, TX. During the application process I saw there were positions for wranglers. As much as I loved horses, I still had a healthy fear of them. For a time in high school I even had a horse, but I couldn’t quite get passed the image of Kristina falling. So, needless to say my horse and I were not a great match. And taking into consideration the fact I hadn’t really been around horses for a couple years, I didn’t know whether I should apply to be a wrangler or not. However, I couldn’t suppress the love I felt for them. Combining that love with the love of the Lord and my new God given freedom to be personable, I applied anyway. I was hired.

Ten years after Kristina’s death (Fall ’98) God brought about final, powerful healing. His timing is incredible. For ten years I hadn’t had any final peace about her loss. Oh, but when God decided it was time, it was like the flood gates rushed open and I was washed away in His glory!

After only two days of initial training I had complete peace around horses. I was no longer afraid of them. When the first week of camp rolled around (Summer ’08) I knew through the Lord’s help and through the instruction of our barn managers, great things were going to happen. However, I still got nervous when thinking of completely inexperienced campers riding the horses. Monday morning came dark and early. While waiting at 4:45 a.m. for my ride to the barn, I looked up into the night sky wondering if God would again give me a sign. I wanted to know the summer would go well. In my mind I thought why should I even bother with such a trivial request. God instantly spoke to me, telling me He wasn’t too big for such a request and to ask. I did. In the western sky I saw the second largest shooting star I had ever seen. Needless to say it was an incredible summer of pouring love into families and staff and wonderfully receiving it back. Several experiences that summer really stand out in my mind, but one in particular made a huge impact. After an afternoon trail ride, one little camper wondered if she could lope her horse. Swanee (the head barn manager at Pine Cove) looked at me and asked if I wanted to take her for a quick turn up the pasture hill, just me and her. We loped off with huge grins on our faces. She was in sixth grade, with blonde hair, and was as sweet as could be. Kristina died in sixth grade, she had blonde hair, and she was as sweet as could be. Praise the Lord for that little ride! The realization hit me, I had kept her safe. God blessed both of us in that instant. The cycle of fear did not have to continue. Indeed, that day God struck satan down. Roaring in his face God declared, “NO MORE!”

With all the blessed healing and lessons learned that first summer at Pine Cove, I still had one more healing experience to go through. In December of that same year, I went to Kristina’s house and to the place where she fell. After ten years, when standing at the sight of the accident, all I could do was praise the Lord for I knew He had Kristina in His safe keeping. Driving to up to her parent’s home I realized it had been nine years since I had been there. Her family continued to attend church, but as her mom G, would share with me, for many years it had been hard for her to see me without Kristina. That was how it should have been. We should have been together. Momma G shared her process of healing with me and I shared with her. With God’s help I finally worked up enough courage to tell Momma G I had said no to Kristina when she asked to ride my horse. Momma G’s response set me free. She said everyone involved had regrets, but those regrets were not to rule over us. We couldn’t have known what was about to happen. Praise the Lord! Our time together reminiscing, laughing, and sharing was such a blessing. By the time I left it was dark outside. On my way home I stopped at the cemetery to tell Kristina about the wonderful day and praise the Lord. While standing in the dark, looking up into the sky I saw the final shooting star. God whispered to my heart it was finally finished.

I am thankful, glad really, I experienced so much pain as a young girl. Am I glad Kristina died? Absolutely not. I hate that she died. I hate the pain her loved ones felt and still feel. But I praise the Lord that through it all He and I have grown closer and closer. He continually works through life’s highs and lows.

Several years ago another childhood church friend of mine was killed in a car accident. For six years during grade school, it had been the three of us in Sunday school, Joslyn, Kristina, and Me. Now, it’s just me. I know without a doubt God has a plan and a purpose for my life. When He is finished He’ll take me home. Life is short. Our relationships and time are precious. With the help of God both can be maximized. Standing in and on the promises of God will heal and restore any broken heart.

God has brought me a long way since I was a little girl of three praying with my Mom. I thank Him for the journey I’ve been through and am excited for what lies ahead. God continues to mold me and correct me, loving me into submission to Him and His plan for my life. Whatever comes whether good or bad I know God will be glorified. God’s love has blessed me with so much peace, joy, and contentment. I owe Him so much. I am excited for the day I will be reunited with my best friend in Heaven where we will praise our Savior together. Only when I am before God’s majesty, casting my crowns at His feet, will I be able to finally show Him the pure love and gratitude He deserves.

Now may I ask, have you placed your trust in Christ? Have you asked Him to be your Savior and Lord? No matter who you are, where you are, or what you have or have not done, God is greater. He is loving, mighty, and holy. God sent His son Jesus Christ so that you may live a life of peace, joy, and purpose. He is calling for your heart. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) He knows you. He wants you. He loves you. He has a purpose for your life. He desires a relationship with you. “Come near to God and he will come near to you…” (James 4:8) God does not lie. “The Lord Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will stand.” (Isaiah 14:24) He is not fickle like humans. He does not change His mind. God’s Word is truth. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33) He speaks and it is so. “But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious house, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 12:25) Submit to His love. Submission is not an evil word that places you in bondage. When we submit to God’s authority it allows Him the freedom to work in and through us, thus granting us freedom. Allow His truth to set you free from the bondage and pain the liar and deceiver, Satan, would try to keep you in. Christ said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved….The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10: 9-10 italics added) Allow Him to set you free to become who He has created you to be, so that God may be glorified through you, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:36) Beloved, God loves you.  “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed- I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?'” (Isaiah 43:10-13) What a mighty God he is. Trust him. Accept his love and strength which will never pass away. Ask Christ to be your Savior.

* Ezekiel 36:26-27 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

** Psalm 116 “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, save me!’ The lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed; therefore I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’ And in my dismay I said, ‘All men are liars.’ How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord- in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.”

The Beginnings- A Two Part Series: Part 2- Lauren and Me

I have never believed in love at first sight. Never have, never will. It’s not love. It’s infatuation. I could elaborate on my opinion a bit more, but seeings as that is not the ultimate point of “The Beginnings”, I’ll spare you.

HOWEVER, I have to make an exception for one relationship, one friendship in particular. Oh the shock! Oh Gasp!… So, maybe it wasn’t quite love at first sight, but as you will soon learn, the spark was there, oh was it ever.

In 2007, during the spring semester of my sophomore year, I lived in an all girls dorm. My room was nestled away in a seemingly inconspicuous wing of said dorm. Cloistered away in my little room, I listened to original movie scores and read Jane Austen with devotion and without much interference. I thought I was happy. Bless my little ignorant heart, oh what it didn’t know. Little did I realize true joy resided in another room a few doors down.

One lovely day as I floated along on the sweet sirenic melodies of the 2005 film production of Pride and Prejudice, a stranger came waltzing into my room. The sirens had done their work! The lovely stranger was helpless to resist them. She frolicked her way to my desk, exlaiming she shared the same passion for original film scores and Jane Austen. Oh sweet felicity! A spark was kindled! A seed was planted!

But like prehistoric seeds long dormant, so too our relationship tucked itself away, waiting for the opportune time to bloom. True, true, the roots of our souls had become inextricably intertwined, but we needed water to flourish.

The deluge came that next fall!

As I grew in my relationship with the Lord I sought ways in which I could serve others through campus ministry. Subsequently I joined a campus ministry leadership team during the fall semester of my junior year. At the beginning of the semester the entire leadership team descended upon KC for a retreat and preparation weekend. It was a weekend for growth, guidance, building team unity, and… It was the weekend for the Heavens to rain down upon the bonds that tie, that sproutlet of love waiting to grow into a mighty sequoia.

After several training sessions, whilst quietly and dutifully scribbling on some seemingly important scrap of paper at my table, I felt an urgent pang seize my soul, begging me to cease and desist!

My hand froze. The echo of my pen crashing to the table barely registered in my deaf ears. What was this darkness that had descended upon me!? Why could my eyes not see!? Where had all the people gone? Where had my table gone!? I no longer sat upon a chair. Rolling and heaving beneath my dinghy of despair and delusion was an ocean roaring, surrounding me in confusion. Was I under some spell? What manner of trickery was this? Was I to be lost for all time!? But the water would not claim me for its’ own! It seemed to be urging me onward toward an ever growing light. Blessed rays of hope extended forth to greet me. Soft tendrils of light calmed my quavering soul, brushing the shadows from my eyes. Last waves of the once fearsome darkness glided past my feet, retreating to their home in the deep as I heard the sirenic melodies of old burst into song.  I knew this place. I had been here before! The roots of my soul were beginning to take hold of the rich earth.

And then I saw her…

Lauren.

Was she too late?

Okay, so as you’ve probably guessed by now, there were no rolling waves of despair nor were there any soft tendrils of hope. BUT, time did freeze, all else did fade away, and the crowd did part!

While sitting at my EVER-present table, I did happen to glance up and catch the eye of my long lost kindred spirit seated a mere table away. Boy, what an eye I caught. Not only was Lauren looking at me, what’s more, she was making “moony eyes” at me! Naturally, I was obliged to return the favor. This seemingly trivial and commical exchange of secret looks and blushes continued on for the next fifteen minutes or so until I realized we were not the only two involved. There happened to be a third individual caught in our web of love.

A young man, who by innocent choice of chair and who shall remain nameless, was seated almost directly in my line of sight. At first he was oblivious, scribbling away on his own important piece of paper, but then he sensed he was being watched (though, in this case, I wasn’t watching him, I was merely “secret looking” over his right ear). I won’t fault him for not realizing I wasn’t looking directly at him. When our mutually shocked eyes did meet, everthing was made clear. He looked at me and then glanced over his shoulder. Seeing Lauren howling with laughter was enough to set his mind at ease. He wasn’t going to have to propose that day. Thankfully, all three of us ended the encounter with laughter.

But, as for Lauren and me…. this was merely the bonding experience that solidified and made our true friendship bloom.

Later on, at the start of our spring semester, whilst dining at Famous Dave’s and conversing with our waiter friend, Lauren and I made a delightful discovery. The sirens weren’t finished singing their tune for we were to follow them through the land of Shakespeare arm in arm! We were both signed up to take the same graduate level Comedies of Shakespeare class.

At first what we thought would be all fauns, fairies, frivolity, flutes, flaming passion, frilled speech, feasts, farts, and fun turned out to be something quite different (and yes, those are things to be found in Shakespeare’s comedies).  Every monday night we sat through three torturous hours of swollen heads spewing hot air. To cope, we formed our own sign language and pictograms. So even if we happened to be seated separately we could still communicate and share a secret laugh. And thus, we survived.

Blizzard runs, not for the faint of heart.

The best idea that came from that semester and probably that class, was our decision to be roommates. I will refrain from launching into the tales of the Queens of Apartment 2 for many of them deserve, at the least, their own post. But I will say Lauren became a sister to me during that delightful year. I thank God He brought Lauren into my life and in such a comedic way no less. He knows all of us and our needs. It is my hope, Katie included, that as sisters in Christ, and as the “Three Musketeers” we will glorify the Lord through our friendship.

“A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17

-M

F.Y.I. You Can’t Pick Your Boogers at the Opera

Me: “Daddy, you’re not supposed to pick your boogers at the opera are you?”

Dad: “No, you’re not.”

Me: “No, that’s a rule.”

And thus began my love affair with one of the greatest musical genres known to mankind, opera. A strange beginning one might think, but taking into consideration I was a mere five years old, a tender little sproutlet, that sort of thought process is acceptable. At least, I hope you would agree. When you really give it due consideration, I believe it is commendable that such a small child would even enquire after the proper etiquette required for such an elegant occasion. Sufficient booger pickage is just as important as posture, dress, applause, and such. I didn’t want to shame my parents. We were, after all, attending a recital of our landlord’s wife. Just think how awful it would have been had she, in the midst of her aria, looked down to see her serf’s child rooting around for a large cache of gold. She already knew of my eccentricities. Whilst dining in their home on a separate occasion, I had noticed the dainty pickle fork conveniently placed within my reach. Immediately I had decided the time was nigh for dazzling the dinner guests with my impersonation skills. My spot on rendition of Ariel-uses-utensils-for-the-first-time was a sight to behold. I learned that night, pickle forks weren’t designed for combing one’s hair… No, No, I couldn’t disgrace my family again. So, I resorted to being content with the state of my nasal content and became completely enthralled with the wonder that was before me.

Some time before while watching Sesame Street I was made aware of a curious style of singing. As Kermit the frog harmonized with two heifers, I took note of their voices. What was that melodic wobbly noise I heard!? The effect was rather pleasant. I was perplexed. Be they angels? I had to know more! From thence forth I set out upon a mission to make my voice wobble in the same manner. At first the attempts were disastrous, sounding something akin to a yowling cat being beaten with a rug beater (greatness has to start somewhere). Over time the yowling turned into underwater warbles and the underwater warbles turned to something resembling that of the desired goal, a vibrato.

With the recital fresh in my mind, I threw myself headlong into forming my meager warble into a full blown operatic vibrato. As I became increasingly successful I knew my destiny was set. I was born to be an opera star. Talent such as mine was meant to be shared! And share it I did.

 Music time in kindergarten was never the same. A true opera singer sat in the midst of Barney’s buddy wannabes. “You can sing everybody clean up? Well, I can sing Queen of the Night! You can spell red? Well, I can spell Rossini! You blithering idiots.” (My words exactly, to be sure.)

Staircases were meant to be ascended and descended in crescendos and decrescendos of glory!

Delusions of grandeur flitted before my eyes. The glamour knew no bounds. Silk and satin were made for me. Jewels dripped from my body. Oh the lavish life my mind concocted!

But soon other notions caught my fancy and I neatly tucked my opera obsession up on a shelf. I merely tucked it away, mind you. My love was never fully extinguished.

Almost a year ago, I snatched my little obession off the shelf, gave it a good dusting, and once more let it have free reign over my musical heart. Now, more than ever, I have become a true believer in the beauty, passion, and wonder that is opera

Opera my love, never again shall I forsake thee! I will sing you once more! We shall pass through this life as bosom companions. I give you my word.

Yours Truly – M

Double for Your Trouble

Earlier today Lauren and I (Monica) regaled one another with tales of the miscreant deeds of our youths. This topic was inspired by a video of a young actress recounting her near suspension from school. Naturally, in my mind I was replacing her face with Lauren’s. I could only assume she would have a similar story to share; so I posed the question, “Were you ever suspended?”. The following is the subsequent verbatim conversation/ telling of said miscreant deeds brought forth (possibly for the first time) by the simple inquiry.

  • Lauren: Were you? I never got a detention or anything…I have this vague recollection of getting in trouble for something. I know I got sent out of class once in the 7th grade…and I got in trouble during choir once because I was frustrated with the teacher and had an attitude.
  • Lauren: I went into the in school suspension room once…but I think it was to drop something off.
  • Lauren: Shoot, I remember now….I hated going to class, so I’d use my executive board of Student Council pass to excuse myself. Of course, then I’d be a good kid and actually carry out duties. I didn’t want a guilty conscience.
  • Monica: No, i was never suspended, but I did get two detentions in high school for excessive tardiness. However, I didn’t mind because I thought detention was fun! I remember being sent to sit in the hall a few times. I got a pink card (those were bad) in 4th grade. Hmmm, what else? OH, in kindergarten I was almost touched with Mrs. Lindholm’s magic wand (evil magic wand mmrmrerrermm) for blurting out an answer to a question posed to a fellow classmate. It’s not my fault the little pip squeak couldn’t count, yeesh!
  • Monica: My junior year Mr. McClure put me in my place for sassing at him during class…but all of those PALE in comparison to being sent to the principal’s office several times when I was homeschooled. And who was the principal you ask? Dad. dun dun duuuunnn…
  • Monica: HAHAHA! well, I too used my status of being Ms. Music/ 1st chair viola my junior and senior years to excuse my (once again) tardiness to class, Mr. McClure’s class (junior year) no less. Poor poor Mr. McClure. Thankfully, he actually did like me and was really nice to boot. But Jenna and I would get lost in our music, making sweet cello and viola harmonies and playing piano, I just couldn’t help myself! Artists must create! You can’t put a limit on creativity! Give me liberty or give me death! Justice! Justice! Justice!
  • Monica: And I say “Ms. Music/ 1st chair viola” to merely make a point about my royal princess high school brain; because I was NOT a great section leader. Oh heavens, I think I remember on several occasions wacking my stand partner over the head with rolled up sheets of music. “Get it right! You’re so stupid!” I may have even threatened him with my bow a time or two. “You play that note wrong one more time and I WILL dirk you!”
  • Lauren: I guess I should think on elementary school days as well. In Kindergarten I kissed Reed Smith on the cheek and got in trouble; the following week I kissed Ryan McConnell on the cheek and got a frowny face on our behavior ticket; I was mortified and never kissed again…until 7th grade. In first grade, I did a cartwheel in the hall once and got written up for it; the teacher who turned me in was on my list for the rest of my Maranatha days and I never looked at her the same…what kind of justice is that! I was 7 and had unused energy from being forced to sit at a desk all day! I will not be tamed!
  • Lauren: In 2nd grade, I had to write 50 lines for talking during Bible hour. I believe I had some other thing as well but I can’t remember.
  • Lauren: In 3rd grade, I was sent to the principals office because I wrote a story for class and apparently it had inappropriate content in it. One of my classmates was offended and thought I was trying to match her up with one of our other classmates when, in reality, I had been lazy and used names of people I knew rather than create new ones. I don’t know if I ever told my parents about this.
  • Lauren: In 4th grade, I talked in the hall when my teacher specifically told us not to say anything in the hall. I made a comment to her, which I thought was justified but she disagreed. Details. Details.
  • Lauren: In 5th grade…Oh 5th grade was the Year of the Rebellion.
  • Lauren: I was told to redo my science project (when, really…my dad is the one who built the wheelbarrow for me. He didn’t trust me with nails…or maybe it was glue and he still didn’t trust me.) The teach said some mean things about my mom, and …I did the the only thing I knew to be my Ace card….I told my mom. It was full on rebellion after that. I’m serious. Students rallied together, a group of us STAYED IN from recess and wrote letters to the principal for the injustice we were receiving. Little did I know, my poor teacher was going through the roughest time of her life. Did not excuse her taking it out on 11 year olds, but as a 24 year old, I can understand her better.
  • Lauren: After the rebellion in 5th grade, I discovered a love for the adrenaline rush that rebellion brings (I had yet to understand what being a Christian really means… I understood grace because my parents unconditionally loved me through my li…oness ways, but I didn’t get that justification of my own sins was not okay. That’s another story entirely.) So because of this blossoming love for freedom and expressing my opinion, I found ways to avoid abiding by the rules. Tuck in my shirt? No way! Words can’t be on my shirt? All it says is American Eagle! I’ll wear PICTURES! We can’t wear shoes without backs to them?? (But clogs were IN FASHION!) I debated with my principal and won the rights to wear clogs…they do, in fact, have a tiny tiny back on the heel. Miniature, but it counted.
  • Lauren: You know, I bet Maranatha was ecstatic when I left.
  • Lauren: Monica, you and I are two peas in a pod.
  • Monica: Woooow. I never really went as far as staging a coup, but I think that’s simply because I was care free-happy go lucky-the world is rainbows and make believe until 6th grade. Then I was served a huge helping of the fallen real world pie (That didn’t taste so great, but the after taste now is strangely pleasant and it’s been made sweet all thanks to Jesus!). After that, well, I went into turtle mode more or less. Plus, I had an innate drive to please my parents. And I really didn’t like getting in trouble. Not to say i didn’t test things from time to time, obviously. Detention is fun! Yay! I want more detentions! haha
  • Monica: One detention was in the library. Sit in the aisle and read history and art books for the entire hour all by myself!? Don’t mind if i do! The other was in the biology/ chem room. 50 gallon tank full of cute colorful tropical fish!? Oh yes please! Plus that meant I didn’t have to take homework home.
  • Monica: Yes, I would have to say we are peas. But even peas in a pod are different. 🙂

All kidding aside…

In regards to the pea pod analogy and on a more personal note, I (once again Monica) would have to add I believe with all my heart God has blessed me doubly for being faithful after losing my dearest friend in 6th grade (hence the fallen-real world-pie reference). During that time I would have never been able to foresee any of the blessings God had in store for me. But that’s kind of the point isn’t it? It’s all part of the process of discovering who God is and who He has created you to be for His glory. He encourages us in His word to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8) The Lord promises our lives are in His sovereign hands if we will simply seek Him, His will, and ultimately His glory. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11-14) Whilst riding on the wings of such glorious hope the Lord graciously chose to place two beautiful women, Lauren and Katie, in my life. Double for my trouble (crushing heartbreak), if you will. Words cannot describe. God is so good, to Him be all the glory! It truly is miraculous how he orchestrates the meetings of three beings living far from each other, but who seem to share the same soul, being extensions of one another. Cheesy as it may seem, Lauren, Katie, and I are three little peas nestled safely in the pod of our Saviour Jesus Christ’s love. Thank you Jesus!