Fall

Fall called me out for a walk today. The air was barely cold enough to leave a chill on my cheek, but I wore my coat anyway because it’s the sort of day when you want to stroll along with your hands in your pockets. Everything was so still and so beautiful. The blue sky was mottled with white. The trees were speckled with reds and oranges, and gold leaves glowed from the bushes.

As I rounded a corner, I met a man who was walking a big dog. I tried to give the two a wide berth, but the dog was curious and kept wandering toward me. The man assured me that the dog was friendly–“He just wants to love on you.” I smiled and started to lower my hand so the dog could sniff it, but I never got a chance because he jumped up and put his big paws on my stomach. I was so surprised that I exclaimed, but I didn’t mind. The owner was embarrassed and scolded the dog, but I laughed and assured him that everything was okay. We wished each other good afternoon and went our separate ways.

Peace reigned everywhere, and I felt like there were memories all around me. As I picked up bright leaves and enjoyed their warm colors, I remembered my childhood . . . Running from the school playground to my mom’s car on crisp October afternoons, my feet flying over the straw-colored grass. Tearing corners off maple leaves to smell the rich, heady scent of autumn. Carrying around a smiling plastic pumpkin on chilly Halloween nights as I knocked on strangers’ doors in search of candy.

I passed a house at the end of a street and saw an old friend–a playful German shepherd that’s still in his puppy days. His owners might have bought him for security, but he’s too much of a sweetheart to be a good guard dog. When I used to exercise faithfully, I’d wave and call to him as I jogged by. He would follow me as far as he could inside his fence and then look after me with those big brown eyes. Today he barked at me for the first time, but then he fell silent and followed me when he recognized me. I guess more exercise is in order if he’s forgotten who I am!

As I walked farther and listened to the silence around me, I thought: How do you describe fall? Are there single words that can sum it up and evoke the feeling of autumn, even on hot summer days?

To me, fall is crisp. Mellow. So calm, yet so full of contained excitement. A celebration. A walk through memories. The year settling back in an armchair.

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Two Years of Wonderful

I’m sitting here at my computer, looking at the calendar over my desk and not believing that it’s October already. I used to dread fall, but now that I’m done with school, I love everything about fall…. the pumpkin everything, the bonfires, the sweaters, and the showers of leaves.

I also happen to love October specifically because it’s my anniversary month. Now that I’ve almost reached my second anniversary (I can’t believe it’s been so long), I find myself looking back over all the wonderful times I’ve had with Ryan and thinking about all I’ve learned since I met him.

Before I met Ryan, I thought I was pretty familiar with video games. (I have four brothers, after all.) But I was wrong. Ryan loves video games, and he doesn’t play any one game for very long. During the past two years of watching over his shoulder, I’ve explored a futuristic floating city, laughed at the antics of a spunky yellow robot living on the edge of nowhere, watched a long-awaited hero master the Dragon Shouts, heard Creepers explode, and watched a young Florentine man embrace the legacy that his father left behind in a secret brotherhood. And I could keep going.

I’ve also learned to appreciate the wonders in math and science. I still can’t say I love those subjects, but I do love the delight that Ryan has for them. I find myself saving up articles about robotics and deep space, just to see how Ryan will react to them. I think I understand why God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them (see Genesis 2:19). When you love someone, you love to watch them interact with the world around them. In listening to Ryan, I’ve learned about ferrofluids and the Higgs boson. I’ve listened to him theorize about asteroid mining and driverless cars. I read Contact on his recommendation, and I still like to ask him about Dune because I love to hear his thoughts about the intersection of science and humanity. And I think it’s adorable when he watches videos about the Mars rovers. He even got a bit sad when the rovers started to show signs of wear and tear and got chunks of Martian rock stuck in their little treads.

Believe it or not, Ryan taught me to cook. There, I said it. I should have learned growing up, but I never took the time. So there I was in my first year of marriage–24 and completely unable to cook a meal without help. That’s when Ryan stepped in. He never ridiculed me, and he never lost patience. He was there, night in and night out, guiding me and cooking alongside me as I browned meat, learned the best way to chop onions, and fried my very first piece of chicken. Little by little, he moved aside and let me do things alone until finally–I was flying solo. The first meal I ever made by myself was chicken enchiladas. Ryan was gone, and I did everything by myself. And I was so stinkin’ proud, even though (through no fault of my own) we ended up hating that recipe. (Too much mayonnaise–bleh.)

I could go on and on. Two years have flown by, but I know I’ve learned so much from Ryan in that short amount of time. If I tried to list everything, you would probably huff in frustration and leave my blog forever, so let me just end on this very important note: Ryan’s taught me what true love is. It’s not always what you see in the movies. It’s refusing to be upset and say mean things, even when your frustrated wife is being unreasonable because she had a bad day. It’s saying “There’s nothing to forgive” when that same wife realizes what a jerk she was and asks for forgiveness. It’s learning how to make tiny origami robins and slipping them into cards as an eternal reminder of your first date, even though you have big hands and it’s probably crazy hard to make all those little folds. It’s sleeping on the floor in a makeshift sleeping bag because your wife felt too sick to leave the couch and you didn’t want to leave her. It’s singing along to Weird Al songs in the car with your wife because–hey–it’s Monday, and you’re so happy just to be together. It’s sharing a thousand inside jokes with your best friend. It’s learning, teaching, hugging, smiling, helping, and laughing day after day. Because in the words of 1 Corinthians 13–love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I love you, Ryan. Here’s to the rest of our lives together. :)

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When Shadows Fall

I guess we all have to cope with discouragement sometimes. To my shame, I tend to get discouraged easily because I allow myself to be disheartened by others’ accomplishments. For example, I’ve always longed to write children’s books, and when I hear that someone I know is writing a children’s book with a clever story, I often think something like “Well, that’s just great. I’m never going to get published at this rate. Oh well, I knew I wasn’t good enough anyway. . . .”

Or sometimes when a task just seems too hard, I find myself ready to quit. Whether I’m learning to crochet or garden or write better, I have that time when I make one too many stitches, or overwater (and kill) that little plant I was trying to coax along, or suffer a stretch of writer’s block. And I think, “Forget it! I wasn’t meant to do this anyway. It would be way easier to stick to easy things–like loafing on the couch and watching fifteen hours of Spongebob until I go into a Lazy Coma.”

Or sometimes when I’ve been trying to do the right thing, adversity comes, and I get tired. Tired of smiling, tired of helping, tired of teaching, tired of praying, tired of  . . . trying. Once, when I was feeling frustrated and weary, I confessed to Ryan, “I’m tired of reading my Bible. It just seems so . . . boring sometimes.” And he understood. He said, “I feel like that sometimes.” But rather than patting me on the back and advising me to shelve my Bible and take comfort in a pint of ice cream, he urged me to persevere. “You’ve got to keep trying. Don’t give up.”

But it seems so easy to just give up. How many times in my life have I taken the easy (wimpy) road and decided I was too tired to be kind or too tired to learn a new skill? But I know that God forbids lazy surrender.

I know I’m not the only one who’s ever been discouraged. I think about Elijah–after he received a death threat from Jezebel (1 Kings 19). Elijah had just enjoyed a major victory on Mount Carmel, but when he heard about Jezebel’s anger, he fled into the wilderness. And he asked to die: “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” When God asked Elijah why he was hiding in the wilderness, Elijah let out the complaint in his heart: “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”

How did God respond to this hurting prophet? He didn’t pat Elijah on the back and allow him to stop doing the right thing . . . but He didn’t ignore Elijah’s needs, either. Verses 5 through 8 show God’s care for Elijah. God gave him time to rest and sent him food and water. And when Elijah explained why he fled into the wilderness, God listened . . . and then gave him a task. He wouldn’t let Elijah give up.

I think about this passage when I’m discouraged, and I remember the three lessons it’s taught me:

1. Identify physical weaknesses. Just as Elijah needed rest and food, sometimes I find that my frustration stems from physical weariness or hunger . . . maybe because I skipped a meal while I was fretting. In those times, it helps to step back, breathe, and take a nap–and eat a sandwich when I wake up.

2. Take action. Discouragement can’t be conquered with laziness. Even though I feel like quitting, I must keep trying. And when I feel like dissolving into a self-pitying puddle, it’s time to look outside myself. Fretting over my problems won’t help me, but helping others can bring joy and prevent the stagnation that I so easily fall into.

3. Call on Jesus. He’s the Good Shepherd. He’s the fortress and deliverer in Psalm 18:2. He’s the one who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The examples go on and on. Jesus is listening. He really is. He wants to hear, and He wants to help. (If you’ve never called on Him to save your soul, please read Romans 6:23 and 10:9-13 and accept His free gift.)

I won’t pretend I’ve conquered discouragement . . . because I definitely haven’t. In fact, I feel hypocritical for writing this post because I’m such a work in progress, but I hope that the lessons I’m learning will help you as well. The only solution for discouragement is found in God. Although He knows all our weaknesses, He doesn’t scoff at them. And He won’t give up on His children, even when they give up on themselves.

 

 

Cute Hairstyles and Other Woes

I was on Pinterest the other day when I saw a video that promised to teach you three easy hairstyles that would look great after only a few minutes of work. Perfect for those mornings when you wake up late and still want to look great. I watched, enthralled. The girl in the video made it look so easy. A few twists here, a few twists there–POW! A twisty side ponytail. A cute, messy bun. An adorable, carefree braid.

I felt so excited about the possibilities that I decided to search for more easy hairstyles. A few clicks led me to a site owned by a beautiful girl with a splash of cinnamon freckles and red hair to match. Her site was full of easy-to-follow tutorials that offered the key to simple but elegant hairstyles like Mermaid Curls and the Half Crown Braid.

I was inspired. I hurried off to the bathroom and dug out my supply of bobby pins. I was going to try the Gibson Tuck, and it was going to be fabulous.

A few twists and tucks later, I put in the last bobby pin and held up my hand mirror to see the back of my head. Crushing defeat. Instead of a lovely little bun, I saw the twisted, furry wreckage of a hairstyle gone wrong. I dug out the bobby pins, untangled the thick knots, and tried again. But the second time was just as bad as the first.

Okay, I thought. So that one won’t work. No biggie. I’ve still got these other three hairstyles to try.

Several minutes later, I gave up in a huff of frustration. Apparently, my hair wasn’t long enough to do justice to any of the hairstyles, and whenever I tried to make a cute braid or a twist, my layers poked out in wild little sprigs. My hair looked like a crazy bird’s nest, and all I’d succeeded in doing was transforming my hair into a mass of tangles and lost bobby pins.

I went to bed depressed, knowing I was doomed to repeat the same three (boring) hairstyles for the rest of my natural life. Hair in a ponytail. Hair down. Hair tucked back in a little clip. Blah.

I decided it was time for a change: a new haircut. But I still had one big problem: I had no idea what haircut to try. So I spent an evening playing with a website that lets you place different hairstyles around your face and snooping through my friends’ Facebook pages to find a style I liked. The next day, I headed to a salon, clutching a printout of a cute hairstyle to give the hairstylist an idea of what I’d like.

I figured it would be easy. I figured I would just show the woman the printout, and she would say, “Oh, yes. I know exactly what to do. Thanks for being so helpful.” And I would leave in fifteen minutes with a completely new look.

Unfortunately, my talk with the hairstylist went something like this:
Hairstylist: “What can I do for you today?”
Me: “Umm–Well, I have all these layers that are giving me trouble, so I’d like to let them grow out. Then I’d like to get my side bangs trimmed a bit. And please trim the bottom of my hair, just to get rid of the split ends.”
HS: “How many inches would you like to trim off ?”
Me: “Uh, two. No–one. Aargh, I mean–how much is one and a half inches? Can I do that?”
HS: “We can do whatever you want. Just let me know what you’d like.”
Me: “Well, um, I’m not sure. I brought a picture along. I thought it looked good, and I’d kinda like my hair to look like that eventually, so, um . . .” *desperately hoping that she’d take over and give me advice*
HS: *waiting patiently*
Me: “. . . . So, just, uh, please cut off one and a half inches, and please trim my side bangs.”

I felt like a fool, but once I finished blushing, I told the hairstylist about my hair woes. And I apologized for being completely indecisive. She seemed like a nice person, and I hoped that my apology and confession would make her pity me rather than secretly doubt my sanity.

And I was in luck. She was very nice. She said that she understood, and she confided in me that she was glad I didn’t get a short haircut because they can get a bit boring after a while (she had short hair herself). And she encouraged me not to give up on trying new hairstyles; after all, some things just take practice.

I left feeling refreshed. Even though I didn’t get a dramatic new hairstyle, my hair doesn’t look ratty anymore, and I feel hopeful that someday–with practice–I might master the Gibson Tuck. Especially if the magic hair fairies take pity on me.

A Whole New Year

Yes, I’m back. Apparently, being a procrastinator and a perfectionist doesn’t help much when one is trying to faithfully write a blog. Sigh . . . Well, maybe (hopefully) 2014 will be better.

2014. Isn’t that crazy? I was realizing today that my freshman year of college happened about seven years ago. Good grief. Where has the time gone? Here we are, at the start of another year. And it’s completely fresh and unopened, full of possibilities. What could we all do in the new year? I like to list things, so here’s a list of possible goals that might inspire you.

  1. Read books, if you don’t already. Especially the classics–Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, you name it. You could probably spend a whole lifetime reading and still not finish them all.
  2. Go somewhere new for vacation this year. If you usually go to the country, try the city. If you usually stay at a bed and breakfast, try camping in the mountains.
  3. Be more adventurous with food. Hamburgers and ice cream are fun and familiar, but why not try bruschetta or grilled asparagus? There’s a whole world of flavors out there. Don’t get stuck in the usual!
  4. Keep a diary. And don’t give up if you think your entries are lame. You’ll get better at it, and the thoughts you record will be extremely valuable to you or others in the coming years. (See my post “Write About What You Love” for more on this subject.)
  5. Create. Write that novel you’ve been meaning to write all these years. Paint that picture. Compose that song. Express yourself in wood or stone or clay . . . or crayon. Just do it. Stop waiting.
  6. Interview older people about their lives. Don’t let their memories and wisdom die with them.
  7. Get a massage.
  8. Going along with #6–research your family history. If you have old photos in a drawer, ask an older family member to help identify the people in the photos or to share memories about them. Buy a membership on a genealogy site. Visit a graveyard and take notes about the headstones. Draw a family tree.
  9. Have more quiet time. Take time to breathe and relax and enjoy the blessings around you. If you’re a morning person, sneak out of the house a few hours early to walk in the cool morning air or enjoy a cup of coffee on the front porch. Ignore your chores for a while and put together a puzzle or read your favorite book or watch Star Wars again. Whatever floats your boat.
  10. Get rid of stuff you don’t want/need anymore. Personally, I’m a packrat, so this is a constant goal of mine. Join in the fight with me. Together, we will be brave and toss out/donate every ill-fitting sweater and random bear figurine.
  11. Organize. With all the room you’ll have after you toss out unwanted stuff, start putting your surviving belongings in logical places. Art supplies aren’t happy in the kitchen, and shoes and ties feel positively insulted when you toss them in a muddled heap on your closet floor.
  12. Laugh more. Your life may be hard right now, and ten thousand terrible thoughts may be weighing you down. But a laugh here and there will help you through it all (Proverbs 17:22). So . . . I recommend watching more of those stupid YouTube videos that make you snort-laugh until the tears are rolling down your face. Or playing more pranks (just not on me).

I’d write “exercise more,” but I think the angel that punishes hypocrisy would smite me if I wrote it, so I’d better stop there.

See you in the new year!!

Wisdom from Red Bowl

Over the past few months, Ryan and I have made many trips to Red Bowl for lunch. It’s kind of out of our way, so we don’t always get back to work as soon as we’d like, but the food is so worth it. (Especially the egg rolls. If I ever become queen, I shall demand a daily egg roll. Or maybe five or so.)

I’ve gotten into the habit of saving our fortunes from the fortune cookies after each RB trip because one of my coworkers loves to ponder their truths (or make fun of them, as the case may be). As the months have passed, my little pile of fortunes has slowly grown, and I decided to share them with you so that you may profit from them (or have a good laugh, if that’s what you need). So here you go.

“We treat this world of ours as though we had a spare in the trunk.”

“There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.”

“You will enjoy good health, you will be surrounded by luxury.” (Explain that to my head cold and my secondhand couch.)

“You can lead a horse to water but cannot force him to drink” (Unless you moosh his head down into the river, but that might be more trouble than it’s worth, come to think of it. Dumb horse.)

“To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

“Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together.” (GAH! Turn off the stereo!)

“A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”

“Listen not to vain words of empty tongue.”

“You become known for your generosity.” (Give me back my wallet.)

“If you are afraid to shake the dice, you will never throw a six.”

“Failure is the virtual way to prepare you for great responsibilities.”

“It’s the crying baby that gets the milk.”

“Hard words break no bones, fine words butter no parsnips.” (Still trying to figure this one out.)

“You will always be surrounded by true friends.”

“You are the only flower of meditation in the wilderness.”

“The Chinese ancient civilization attracts you.” (Its food does, at least.)

“Patience is the best remedy for every trouble.” (Except head lice.)

“The only people who never fail are those who never try.”

“You always see better with your heart.” (If someone steals your glasses.)

“Put all your unhappiness aside, life is beautiful, be happy.”

“The other line always moves faster.”

Aaaand, as an added bonus, some of the fortunes include Chinese words to learn. So far, we’ve learned “bean sprout,” “pear,” “pumpkin,” “roast duck,” “excuse me,” “quench one’s thirst,” “sugar,” “apple,” “peach” (x2), “be full,” “please,” “to taste,” “today,” “gooseberry,” and “ginger.”

So, I guess if we ever come across a Chinese smorgasbord, we’ll be ready.

“Excuse me, may I please taste the pear, pumpkin and roast duck? No, thank you–no apples, peaches, or gooseberries. Today, I have already quenched my thirst with the ginger and sugar. Ignore Ryan; he is full of bean sprouts.”

A Very Apple-y Morning :)

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This morning, Ryan and I rolled out of bed, went to Chick-fil-A for breakfast (I’m addicted to those hashbrowns), and then hit the road to head to Sky Top Orchard!

I love the drive to North Carolina, heading toward all those beautiful mountains. This morning was overcast, so everything was wreathed in fog, but there was still so much to see. Sheer rock faces with streaks of brown and beige, bright yellow goldenrod, and tiny shops with odd names (like Cranky Yankee Woodworking).

After going the wrong way and almost rolling our car into a ravine, we got to Sky Top around 9:30. It was still early, and there weren’t many people there. When I got out of the car, I was surprised at how damp and chilly it was–just right for picking apples! We walked toward the shop beside the orchard (with me rubbing my arms the whole way because I didn’t bring a jacket). Our friends Dan and Jess were inside, sampling some Candy Crisp apples. We all picked up some red wooden baskets (big enough to hold a peck of apples) and walked to the orchard.

Everywhere, there were lines of apple trees–so many different kinds. Jonagold, Honey Crisp, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, . . . fortunately, not all the apples were in season, so I didn’t end up with a titanic stomachache from trying to sample them all. Our first stop was in the Gala section (my favorite), but–to our surprise–the trees were nearly empty! Most of the surviving apples were smaller than my fist (which is already pretty tiny) or still green. Then we looked at the top of the trees and saw them. Giant, red apples. Just what we were looking for. But how to get them down?

After a brief childish moment, in which Ryan and I both suggested throwing rocks at the apples, we tried the more mature method of grabbing the limbs and bending them down. Which resulted in a lot of outbursts like: “Aaagh!! Quick! My arm’s breaking!” Then we tried climbing the trees (sssshhh.. don’t tell Mr. Sky Top). That seemed to work a lot better. I stood on the ground and held baskets up to Ryan, who’s quite spry. A few apples bounced off my head in the process, but a little excitement never hurt anyone.

Originally, Ryan and I planned to pick about half a basket each (we had waaay too many last year), but we went a little crazy and forgot that rule. An hour after we started, we headed back up the hill toward the shop, baskets heaping with apples and hair full of twigs. And then came the grand finale to the trip–apple cider doughnuts. Oh yes. Pretty sure I forgot my name while I was eating those.

We left the orchard just as a light rain started falling, and we started the drive back to Greenville. I entertained Ryan on the way back with my ADD music choices (CD in. CD out five seconds later. CD in. etc.). I really enjoyed the ride. My favorite sight to see was a small boy attacking a tree with drumsticks.

Now apples are all over my kitchen counter, and Ryan’s mocking me about thinking that we wouldn’t have enough. Stop by later if you’d like some homemade applesauce!

Ice Cream Trucks of Terror

Ryan and I just had a nice little walk outside . . . the temperature was just right, the mosquitoes (for once) weren’t sucking the life out of us, and a beautiful butterfly drifted past our heads. To complete the perfect perfection of the evening, there was even a Mr. Chippy’s ice cream truck parked nearby, playing merry tunes for the kiddies.

Or, at least, I thought the song was merry until we got a little closer. The closer we got, the creepier the song sounded.

I elbowed Ryan. “Don’t you think that song’s a bit weird?”
“Yeah . . . it sounds more like a dirge. Or like the Harry Potter theme song.”
“Hey–What if the driver lunges out when we go by, and he looks like the clown on It?”
“Ugh. Stop it!”

We passed the truck uneventfully, and our only regrets were that we left our spare change at home. As we turned the corner of our block and walked toward our house, we talked about enlightening topics like Choco Tacos and whether bats ever see daylight.

Then–all of a sudden–I heard the soft purr of tires behind us. And Mr. Chippy’s eerie death music floated up the street. I turned . . . and saw the ice cream truck slowly drifting toward us.

I poked Ryan. “Aah! Walk faster.”
He only laughed and pretended to power walk. (Which tells me he’ll probably be the first to go if there’s ever actually a crazy ice-cream clown on the loose.)

Despite my visions of being scooped up (haha–pun) and churned into a new ice cream flavor, the truck only drove into another neighborhood and waited patiently for the kiddos to hear its siren song.

I laughed. “Phew! That was close. What if they caught us and turned us into ice cream slaves? Would you like to be an ice cream slave?”
“Depends on the benefits.”
“What do ice cream slaves do all day?”
“Eat ice cream.”
“That’s not a job.”
“Sure it is.”
“What if you ate all their ice cream and got super fat and they kicked you out?”
“Well, good. I guess I escaped, then.”

Glad to know we’re prepared for every possibility.

“Write About What You Love”

Somewhere in the crevices of my bookshelves or in one of the many boxes that line my storage room is a very special stenographer’s pad. It’s tattered, scribbled on, and probably would’ve been thrown out years ago if it didn’t mean so much to me. If you were to find it and turn to the first page, you’d probably see a journal entry (garishly written in hot-pink pen) that says something like this:

MArch 3, 1993. I lOve MaRk.

I was about five when my dad decided that I should start journaling. To get me started, he gave me the green stenographer’s pad. I was really excited about having my very own journal, but when I started to write, I realized I had a big problem. What would I write about? I asked my dad, and he had a simple answer: “Write about what you love.”

So, for days afterward, my little journal filled up with entries like “I LoVe MOm,” “I loVe my Pollie-pocKets,” and “I lOve MaRk” (my brother). As I got interested in other things, that first journal gradually began to serve other purposes. Like holding descriptions of the “discoveries” I made with my plastic microscope (my first big purchase).

When I turned eight, I started journaling semi-faithfully again, this time in a little baby-blue journal with a picture of Peter Rabbit on the front. My first entry went like this:

Dear Diary. Tuesday 3/5/96. Warm and Windy. I Got my Free Shoney’s meal. I turned 8 today. I felt big. For lunch I got my free Burger King happy meal. We had School.

In the following days of 1996, I journaled about things that were important to me, like my struggles with math (“I was mad. I was also sad.”); a snow day (“I played outside today, and I broke off icicles. We hardly had Shcool at all today.”); and parties (“I knocked the Pinata’s Head off!”) On one particular day, I was pretty busy:

We had School. We play follow-the-ball. I made a mud pie. I unscrewed the screws out of the trailer. I played with a nail. I played with Luke. I played with sidewalk chalk.

I wrote in that journal on and off from 1996 to 2000, telling about things that were happening in my world, whether they were big (“We are just playing around, and waiting for 12:00 when Y2K comes. . . . The power may go out. We are prepared.”) or small (“6th grade is the best!”).

As the years went by, I stopped journaling about happy meals and mud pies and started writing about crushes, teen camp, and high school. New journals began to pile up–some were covered in fake jewels and felt flowers, one had a weird picture of Shakespeare on the front, and some were just simple hard-cover journals with one major color on the outside.

It wasn’t always easy to keep writing in my journals every day, especially when I got to college. Part of a journal entry from September 2006 shows what a stressed little freshman I was:

So much homework–so much juggling. Very scared. The college monster is bigger than I thought–sometimes I feel like running home. God’s here tho–He reveals Himself in so many little ways throughout the day.

And another entry just ends with “My . . .” because I was writing after lights-out and got caught.

In my senior year of college, I began writing faithfully in my journal every day, but I found it increasingly hard to write as that year ended and my (CRAZY) grad-school self appeared.  Notes at the beginnings of entries show that I started writing at times like 1:21 AM and even 3:21 AM. But on March 9, 2011, my friends somehow got me to take a little break from my constant studying and go to dinner at Zaxby’s. Which is when I found out that they’d lured me into a blind date. My entry from that night shows my indignation:

We went to dinner at Zaxby’s tonight with Ryan Guide (? . . . “guy-dee”). . . . The actual setup was a failure tho–he was friendly enough, but . . . he seemed more interested in his fries than in me.

Ultimately, I was the one who was wrong. Here I am, over two years later, happily married to Ryan Geide, but it’s still fun to look back and read about how blind I was. And as the months have gone by and we’ve shared so many adventures together, my journaling continues.

Over the course of my life, I’ve written about amazing, exciting days when everything felt like sunshine. And I’ve written about days when everything felt dark and broken. I’ve written about being lonely and about being loved. About births and deaths. About the life that God’s blessed me with. And I’ve never regretted writing it all down.