my legacy

Everyday I am surrounded my 13 and 14 year olds who have angst against their mothers and fathers, and think their parents know nothing. They think their parents are smothering them and stealing their individuality.There is a part of me that understands. I too was a crabby teenager once who thought that my mother couldn't possibly know what she was talking about [rolling eyes for emphasis]. But there is a bigger part of me that tries to tell them how much they will appreciate their parents as they grow older.

However, I realize that who their parents are plays a big role in the growing appreciation as well.

And that is why I'm writing this: because my parents have earned every ounce of my respect as I've become an adult.

Most of you know, at least in bits and pieces, what my parents have been through over the past 3, scratch that, 10 years. And many of you know that battle for justice is finally over. And as our family celebrates this victory, I want to share publicly the letter I wrote for my mom and dad for their past anniversary [30 YEARS!], to say once again how proud I am of them for enduring, and so others can see the blessing my sister and I have been given in our parents.

Mom and Dad,

As I begin writing, something I went to college to learn how to do well, I don't quite know how to put my pen to paper. Sure, every writer is occasionally caught off guard, wondering if they have any good fodder left. But that is not what concerns me this time; what concerns me is that this pen in my hand will not be able to adequately express how grateful I am to call you "mom and dad."

I remember crawling under the big, wooden desk in dad's office, the wood floor icy beneath us, reading and giggling through "Berenstein Bears" or Dr. Suess. I remember pulling up the little chair to the counter in the kitchen to "help" mom mix up the latest evening meal. I remember being trained to answer the phone, "This is the C. residence, Kelsey speaking." I remember being hung from my ankles into a trash can fermenting with smells from a late night summer party, and being informed as I gagged, "This is what beer smells like." I remember having to turn off the T.V. and "spend some time outside."

I remember a mom who sacrificed time and money to spend those young, formative years with her two little girls under her nose and in her arms-- a mom who gave up a paycheck to rock me to sleep and teach me not to talk back. A mom who would always keep the small or burnt piece of chicken so no one in her family had to eat it. I remember a mom who, no matter what, had dinner on the table to ensure we all shared those priceless moments eating green beans and sharing life together.

I remember a dad who worked tirelessly to ensure that his wife could stay home with their daughters and that they would all be provided for. I remember a dad who worked to live, but never lived to work, and taught me the importance of balance in life. I remember a dad who was always at my bedside at a moment's notice when a faint or panicked "Daddy!" echoed through the hall-- a dad who taught me how to hold a pen correctly, and appreciate the beauty outside the window. A dad who taught me how to field dress a deer and shoot a jump shot. A dad who taught me how to laugh, and appreciate history and find a hobby I could be passionate about.

I remember one time stumbling upon some old letters from when you two were dating. I wondered if I should open them, read them, spill over the words inside? It seemed almost dangerous, like I would discover you weren't really who I thought you were. Because I was a bit of a rebel, or maybe because I was simply too curious to let the moment pass by, I opened the letter and inside I discovered you had always been crazy in love.

I remember in late elementary hearing one of my friends say her parents were getting divorced. This scared some of my friends and made them question their parents' relationships. Somehow though, I knew you two were okay; that you would make it. Thank you for allowing me to rest well that night, knowing my parents would not ever be getting divorced.

As I get older, I see in me so much of both of you. Mom: who knew I would learn to love the kitchen, and preparing meals to share with others?! I know how to be hospitable because you have always opened your home and heart to others, without expecting anything in return. I have a prayer posted by the computer that says: "Lord, help me be my husband's helpmate, companion, champion, friend, and support. Help me create a peaceful, restful, place for him to come home to." It is there because I have seen you live that out, and I want that to happen in me. Dad: We've always known I love to be creative, a direct gift from you, but you've also taught me and passed on the ability to never know a stranger, and to face everything as if I have the ability to be the best at it. You've shown me what it truly means to be a person of justice and truth.

Over the past 2 years I have seen your marriage grow even deeper; your love become more palatable. Although emotions have run high, you have not forsaken each other, or your God. I have seen Dad's character be challenged, and have been a proud daughter to see it upheld under intense scrutiny. I have seen you be humbled and broken, and like Job proclaim, "He gives and takes away-- Blessed be the name of the Lord." I have seen mom's faith explode, her prayer life blossom like a flower in the spring. And like Job, you too have held tightly, proclaiming anew every morning, "I KNOW my Redeemer lives." I do not wish this had all happened, but I am thankful, as your child, to have seen that your faith is on the Solid Rock, and that your marriage has not just survived, but grown even in this.

After many birthdays, holidays, struggles, and triumphs, you both were there for me to celebrate in my joy as Brent asked me to be his wife. I was able to say "YES" that night because I had seen a Christian marriage work. And as our wedding day unfolded, as perfectly as any little girl's dream, I remember thanking God that on both sides of that center aisle were two families who were still holding each others' hands as their children said, "I do," confident that they could keep that promise because of the commitments of their parents.

I know I was not always the easiest child to take care of--strong willed and clogged up :-) -- and though we have fought many battles, I love you both deeply. There won't ever be a time that I could repay you [even in grandchildren] for the food you've fed me, the gas tanks you've filled, the games you've traveled to, the friends you've filtered out early for me, the vacations you've taken me on [that's a whole different letter, actually!], the unconditional love you've given, or the way in which you believed and trusted in the best of me, even after all the crap I pulled!

My friends always thought it was somewhat funny when dad would give mom a pat on the butt, or a kiss on the mouth, but I think Kali and I always took pride in seeing that affection. We always knew that your love was still present. Your example of a Godly marriage has made a lasting impact on me, and just as Brent and I poured those two jars of sand together, we know we cannot separate them, and we do not want to separate them because we've seen what beauty is in marriage after 30 years. Thank you for giving us that example.

Someday Brent and I will be fortunate enough to bring our children into this world, knowing they will have such loving and faithful people to call grandparents. I hope our children someday see the love I was able to see everyday in the rooms of our home-- I hope our children will be able to have confidence knowing their parents love each other with the strength of Christ, like I always knew.

When I look in the mirror I see a woman who has learned her life lessons between church pews, dinner table conversations, and bedtime stories and prayers with her parents.

And I thank you both for that reflection.

Love, Delsey Nae


[another] open letter

Dear drawer-under-my-oven,

Good afternoon. I hate you.

This may seem harsh, but I just had to be honest from the get-go. I tried to rearrange so that I wouldn't have to use you, but it was futile, and you knew it. Your rickety hinges and screeching gliders would do the trick, but you insist on insulting me further... you NEVER want to go back where you belong. How many countless minutes have I wasted trying to realign your hinges, pulling and pushing and pushing and pulling until finally you surrender?!

I've had enough! If I could I would throw you over the balcony, but as aforementioned your drawer space is necessary. I wish I could say you are completely useless, but this would be a lie. You do hold pans well, out of sight, and out of mind. But when I read through the recipe [like my mama always said I should do before I even begin baking...], and I see "on a greased baking sheet" I cringe, and a piece of me dies a little. I know that I will have to bend over in unnatural ways just to reach you, and then, while whispering prayers under my breath, gently and oh-so-carefully pull you loose.

There are times you cooperate. But those times are few and far between. When you do, and you slide back into your cubby hole under the oven properly, I raise my hands and let out a cry of victory, for the battle has been won.

But usually you don't. Usually you creak and slither your way out of my grasp and off your hinges. And then you hang, cockeyed and smug, not caring about the time it will take me to put you back together.

Someday I will move away. Someday I will possibly own my own house that comes with an oven, or I will purchase my own. You can be certain, oh drawer-under-the-oven, that YOU will be the first thing I check before giving any of my money away.

Until then the battle continues, and it's only fair for you to know that I am VERY competitive.

The cook


so you want to be a writer?

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unmasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Charles Bukowski



This month has FLOWN by. It is already the 22nd. WHAT?!! I am sad to see this wonderful school year end, but I am afraid that is another post altogether. I have also been reminded that we must have the cold to appreciate the beauty of the sun [again, another post].

Part of the reason this month as been so "mad" is because of college basketball. Now, I don't know how it is in your house, but in our humble apartment the tv is on basketball 24/7. Some of you may think this is me complaining...but it's not. I enjoy it. [We actually watched the NBA finals, Celtics vs. Lakers, on our honeymoon!]. And I was geared up to enjoy it even more as our beloved JAYHAWKS earned the number one OVERALL seed in the tournament after easily grabbing the Big 12 title.

The battle cry, "Rock Chalk Jayhawk," could be heard from our apartment, our pride billowing out the door with us anywhere we went. People would ask, "Are you rooting for Kentucky?" And we would shake our head with a proud swagger, quick to answer, "No. Kansas is my team." And we would then see the opponent's face become overcome with understanding, many of which would then respond, "As much as I love my Wildcats, I had to put Kansas winning it all this year in my bracket." To which we would swiftly, and with shoulders thrown back in confidence, respond, "Oh...my Jayhawks will not let you down."

Rock chalk jayhawk.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. Kansas vs. University of Northern Iowa. UNI said, "Kansas, we see your one big goofy white guy and we raise you a whole team's worth."

And little by little, the Jayhawks crumbled. Missed shots. Weak rebounding. Lazy defense.

Game over. Lost by 2. Championship season vanished.

Brent was at work. I immediately called with my condolences and to check to make sure he was doing okay. He sounded weak. Invisible. Heartbroken.

So I had a few things waiting for him when he got home:
Now, you must know that Brent and I don't keep sweets/snacks, even chips in the house. We both have zero self control with the stuff, so we just stay away from it. However, he was in mourning, so I made this exception. [Sidenote: The Robin Eggs and Crunch Crisps are already all gone. The ice cream has a sizable dent and two rows of cookies have disappeared, not to mention there are only two snack cakes left. Like I said, we have ZERO self-control.]

Luckily we were not left alone to wallow in our misery, but Kali, Dan, and Caroline were visiting. So I also was able to use a very sleepy Caroline to pose some fun pictures to put a smile on his face [and no... I did not pinch her, but it took a LONG time to get her to cooperate in these pictures. She kept smiling!]
Good thing Caroline is wise in her choice of schools for which to root!
So all in all the distractions were a success... and a smile reappeared on all our faces soon.
[Oh and Caroline was my date to a wedding on Saturday while Kali and Dan enjoyed an afternoon alone together. If you ask me, we make a dashing couple! ]



I'm still here.

I promise.


wordless wednesdays: the rest of the caroline trip


Today my writer's notebook invitation was a poem about adolescents. I know I've written about my students' writing before, but I am always amazed when they reveal the depth of their insight; when they reveal a piece of their fragile heart with me and their classmates. Here were some of my students' responses today.

"Maybe the trouble is not the adolescents, but the people who are afraid we are growing up way too fast."

"It's Friday night but I don't dare ask to go anywhere my parents won't be. My parents say no because they don't want the creepers to get me, but behind his husky voice I hear the double meaning to my father's words. What he's really saying is, "You're growing up too fast and I can't stand it.This is the only way I can stop you from going out on your own too soon, so no." My birthday is in two weeks. I'll be 15, but I don't dare get my hopes up for a phone, because my dad says no because I'll use it too much. But behind his tired voice I hear the double meaning. What he's really saying is, " If you get your own phone I have no way to control you. You're growing up too fast."

"I can feel it. It's coming. Adulthood is calling my name. I can hear it as clearly as the cry of a songbird. I know it will find me sooner or later, and though I cower behind my youth, I know I can only hide for so long. Time will destroy my only hiding spot, and eventually I'll be forced to face the horrifying reality: I'm growing up. With age, more memories will come. With them will be the curses of realization, actuality, and maturity. All of them combining into the monstrosity that is adulthood. Why can't I stay a kid? I don't want to grow up; where's 'Neverland' when you need it?"

"The day we enter little girls, excited to be teenagers. New clothes, new school, new ways. We come into adolescents with bows in our hair and the button up shirts our moms dressed us in. We enter not knowing the life ahead, but excited for the journey. The journey through the jungle of adolescents. We enter as images of our parents, because that's all we have known. We face the obstacles: boys, drama, friends. It's when you fall in love with the boy you think you'll be with forever, but the relationship is over after a week. Now is when you meet friends you think you will have for a lifetime. These are the things that change us."

" Adolescents- you may say we're changing, and we are. But we are still what we used to be. We still find it tempting to jump in a rain puddle. Some of us would rather run around outside than text. We're still alive and curious as ever."


uncle b

As you may have read, Brent and I took a fabulous and much needed weekend trip to Nashville.

As you may have guessed, I indulged myself in taking plenty-o-pics-o-Caroline. I have decided to bring them to you in a few separate installments, lest I overwhelm you, and lest I lose my mind uploading for hours on end.

[Special note: for those of you who frequent this blog and don't know my family/Caroline, you may wish to tune back in at a later date, as I am a bit smitten with this little one. Fair warning.]

This installment, as you may have gathered from the title, includes photos of Caroline and her favorite uncle. For those of you that may not know Brent too well, it is kind of a bummer that I married a guy who has such disdain for little ones, as you will be able to conclude from the following pictures. [please note sarcasm]

I know I am in this picture, but the rest are just Caroline and Brent, I promise:

This is the definition of mesmerized. She was in love with Uncle B's guitar...and he was happy to appease her.

This series includes some good ol' fashion, rough and tumble floor time. [And I know technically Brent isn't in all of the shots, but you get the point.]

And this one is just because it is awesome. And I can't wait to share it!