story of the fish

If you were wondering about the fish in my title box that I recently changed, then here is the story. If you weren't wondering, then here is the story.

For those of you that don't know, I like to change things up every once in awhile. And right now I love this deep eggplant purple. [And yes, we are just now finishing up painting all the rooms in our home and I'm wondering why this color did not make an appearance anywhere?! Oh well, my fickle mind will change again soon]. I also like fall and its colors. Thus the orange. So then I began hunting amongst my millions of pictures for a picture that incorporated one of these two colors. And I came across the photo I snapped a few Christmases ago of STRIPE.

My nephew, Hawkins, had recently gotten Stripe and wanted us to be introduced. Hawkins also thought it necessary that I take several pictures of Stripe, and that I be photographed with Stripe. [He is a budding young photographer, isn't he?]But here is the real kicker-- he wanted me to video tape him telling stories about Stripe's day. He is pretty creative with the ideas he has for Stripe's future.

After remembering how excited he got about his fish, I thought it was the perfect picture to adorn my blog. Because it really is the little things that matter.

AND-- for you faithful first followers, you may remember the reason my blog is entitled "words that sing." It came from a piece of writing from the poet Neruda and in that writing it said: it's the words that sing, they soar and descend...I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down...I love words so much...The unexpected ones...The ones I wait for greedily or stalk until, suddenly, they drop... Vowels I love...They glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew...I run after certain words...I catch them in mid-flight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish,...And then I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go...Everything exists in the word...They are very ancient and very new....

I know it isn't silver, but once I remembered that connection I knew the picture was perfect for right now :) And that is the story of the fish.



I love poetry and for that I know I am a rare breed. In it I find words to put to my messes of thoughts. There is a song I currently love by Sarah Bareilles with the line: I've got a thick tongue, brimming with the words that go unsung... And for me, when I find a poem that sings the words I want to but can't quite place, I get so excited I just can't contain myself. I have watched my husband jump out of his seat while watching a KU basketball game and pump a fist high in the hair while shouting; this is how I feel when I read a good line of poetry.

So it did not come as a shock to me when a fellow language arts teacher friend of mine [yes, that is her official title] and I were in a store [anthropologie, to be exact! great store] that primarily sells overly priced, trendy clothing and vintage-type [overly priced] decorations and we gravitated to one of the few books that were interspersed throughout. We each picked up a copy and then forgot the other person existed for almost an entire ten minutes. Finally we pulled ourselves away from the pages and looked at each other with that knowing "i-have-to-own-this-book-i-don't-care-how-much-it-costs-it-smells-good-it-is-beautiful-and-don't-let-people-fool-you-teachers-make-enough-money-to-splurge-every-once-in-awhile" look. [What? You don't know the look I'm talking about? Ask an English teacher near you.]

Anyway, the "book" is actually a journal of sorts entitled "The True and the Questions." It is created and written by Sabrina Ward Harrison [whom I had never heard of but the blurb on the front says she has three books of poetry. I will include their titles here in case any of you have started a list of Christmas possibilities for me ;) : Spilling Open, Brave on the Rocks, and Messy, Thrilling Life.] Anyway, fellow language arts teacher friend and I decide that we could buy one another the book, as an early birthday present for each of us [to justify actually spending money on ourselves...yes, we understand what actually happened]. Since that time we have been emailing and messaging one another lines from the book. She even used some of the prompts for a writing activity in her classroom and, if I am brave enough to explore that territory with my students one day, I will too.

Here is a recent poem I stumbled upon on one of the pages:

life is a growing expedition
through the tangled and unfilled-in parts.
What happens after age nine?
Because of the fear we don't trust
our own life?
our own story?
our colors?
To be afraid and leap regardless
there is such power in that.

to live into the questions of our lives
when nothing feels clear.
We have this chance to do absolutely
to reach out to another,
vulnerable and true.

to dance on the roof in euphoria
to pray into the ocean and let go.
We have this chance every moment
to be alive and give to this world,
which needs each one of us.

We must show up for our own life
Be brave
Be messy
Be loud
Be strong
Trust yourself.

Okay, so I don't know if you had a jump-out-of-your-chair-and-pump-your-fist-in-the-air reaction to that poem like I did. I just feel like right now this poem speaks volumes of the fears and questions I have about where I am currently. My life is still unfilled-in. There are still SO many questions. But like the poem says, I want to LIVE INTO THOSE QUESTIONS...be AFRAID AND LEAP REGARDLESS.

God will provide my daily bread...but I must do the leaping.


our house

I don't have time to do an extensive tour of our new home, but will show you the kitchen for now. There is still some work we want to do [tile the countertop and extend one section out for a barstool area], but we are very proud of our progress so far. We have gotten A LOT done since we got the keys June 11th. We have had a ton of help and are so thankful. We have one bedroom left, and then we'll focus on our mudroom and landscaping.

So for now...here is our kitchen before and after:

This was taken day one or two. That is kitchen carpet folks. And wallpaper [no offense, Kelly :)]
Please note the built in desk and shelving on the left [that will soon be gone]

Grandma and I had the idea to tear out these cabinets that separated the kitchen area from the dining area; you couldn't even see someone if they were standing in the kitchen and you were on the other side. So Grandpa and Uncle Kirby went to work and....
I can't believe how much BIGGER the kitchen feels! By July we had the cabinets down, the walls painted, and Grandpa m.e.t.i.c.u.l.o.u.s.l.y. patched the ceiling and wall where the existing cabinets had been
Then we hired a lot of help to paint the cabinets. Oh my goodness this is a process! Here is Hawkins :) Our parents helped a TON as well
And Grandpa [see a pattern? Grandpa has put more hours into this house than anyone! He's incredible...and talented] closed the cabinet back up and it looks as if there was never a gaping hole! :)
Once the cabinets were painted this beautiful turquoise [my favorite color in the whole house!], and all the ugly, sixties, bronze hardware was changed, and we hung the cabinet doors back up [which was a NIGHTMARE because the 1/10th of an inch of paint on the edges made them not want to close...Grandpa to the rescue... after a day and a half we had all the doors hung back up], it was time to start on the floor. We started by tearing up the nasty carpet, and were left with this linoleum.
Brent and Beck went to work...
And by the end of the day...
[and yes folks, that is GREEN carpet!]
We had a beautiful laminate floor laid that resembles slate. We LOVE it.
And now we have a fantastic kitchen [counter tops coming soon], and are happy with the way it all turned out. Brent trusted my color palate, and allowed me to test some pretty bold colors!
Notice something different on the left?! This is the FANTASTIC pantry that my Uncle Kirby [with the help of my Grandpa] built for us. We tore out the existing desk, which opened up the kitchen even more, and decided to build a pantry. Kirby went to work and in a day and half...poof! A custom built, fantastic pantry and additional storage [I have SO much storage in this house!!]. When we tile the countertops we will also tile the buffet on the pantry.
Eventually I have a vision to tear out the windows here and put in french doors that lead out into our wonderful backyard. But...that will take a little time. We also have our eye on some different lighting, but will wait a little while for that as well.
And there you have it folks. It has taken many hours and a lot of help, but that is a peek into our kitchen, the first room of many we have been working on.


what's in a record?

What is in a record? Blood. Sweat. Tears.

Yes. All those cliche nouns people say make up sports.

Sacrifice. Hard work.

Very true.

But there is so very much more that goes into every season; so very much more that, to the untrained eye, is not represented by a team's record.

Last night my girls ended their season in a triple overtime game in the bottom of the tenth inning. Their season record: 17-6. As we packed up the equipment and the girls gave one another teary hugs, I couldn't help but remember seven years ago when I was doing the same.

It's hard to explain to someone who has never been a part of a sport's team exactly what that 17-6 represents for a player.It is more than wins and losses. It is more than proof of how many games were played. It stands for more than showing a winning or losing season.

It can also be deceiving, for although the first number stands for games won, it doesn't always represent a happy ending. Many times, though a win was achieved, the seven innings it took to accomplish that feat were painful, even ugly at times, and not a showcase of the team's true talent. And on the flip side, the number representing losses might also stand for proud moments of endurance or late game rallies that barely fell short but left heads held high. Sometimes though, as we proved last night, a number on the left may stand for a game of ten innings- scratching, clawing, pulling one's teammates to the finish the line.

But what is often missed in the record by those looking from the outside is the dash. For the dash in between the wins and losses is what has made athletes come back to the game since competition was first invented centuries and centuries ago.

The dash, deceiving in its inconspicuous size and placement, is the heart of an athlete. It is the practices in the summer, sweat trickling on tanned skin. It is hearing your friends shouting and splashing at the pool across the street while you do one more push up for an overthrown ball. It is weight lifting in a gym with no air conditioning to be half a second faster and capable of throwing the ball harder than your opponent. The dash is staying after school day after day to practice, sometimes wondering what it feels like for your classmates who get to be home before 5:30 or 6 every night. It is setting up the pitching machine, filling up the water jug, and running three laps around the field. It is taking a ball to the shin, face, arm, gut, or ankle, and waiting with anticipation for the bruise to show up. It is dirt in your shoes, clothes, hair, fingernails, car and room for four months. It is laughter at practice while a teammate imitates the coach. It is a joke at the mound to relieve tension. It is 123 bags of sunflower seeds.

The dash is also laughter, frustration and tears with teammates, high fives and pranks. The dash is bus rides and sandwiches and fudge rounds and capri suns and grapes. It is giving up Saturdays for a tournament that requires you to wake up at 6:30. It is scars on your knees when you're in a dress on the homecoming court. It is a prayer before games, hands held in nervous anticipation. It is breaking from a huddle, thundering "ALL HEART!" for the other team to hear. It is lucky underwear and superstitions, and the school song sung off key.

The dash is a community that believes in you and follows your games and cheers you on. It is parents who leave work early, make food, cheer the loudest, and bring you your cleats you left at home. It is a loyal fan who comes to every practice and beats the bus to every game. It is catchers and pitchers who get to practice early and stay late to throw more pitches and work on their rise ball. It is wanting to win a game for your coach who has stuck by your side since t-ball and taught you fundamentals. It is blisters and bruises and smiles and small victories that the crowd doesn't see. It is a crucial steal to second, and a beautiful slide into home. It is a diving catch, or a routine play at first.

You see, the dash is what distinguishes the athletes. It is the dash that creates a team and it is the dash that teaches respect. It's the dash that made me want to be a part of a team again and makes players wish they could all make it to the pros. It is the dash that will be remembered well after the wins and losses are forgotten.

So what is in a record?

It's hard to explain unless you've put on the helmet and pulled up your sliders. If you haven't spit dirt out of your mouth after a slide, or caught a pop fly against the fence, ran so hard and fast that you broke another new pair of cleats, or hit a double on a full count than you may look at the dash between our 17 and our 6 and not know all that it contains.


What a story it tells.



At the time eleven years felt like an eternity. After all, I was only 13 so 11 years was most of my life time. I do remember thinking about that at the funeral: Eventually will I forget all of this? Will I forget him?

However, the remembering tends to be clearer after eleven years.

Eleven years ago today Sgt. Bob Kimberling was killed in the line of duty as a highway patrolman. Eleven years. Last year reflected on this event as well.

It has been a little different for me this year though. Most of you know that Brent and I moved back home this summer. For those of you that don't know though, we bought the house that Bob and his wife Kelly used to own before moving. I have had several people ask me things like, "Is it/was it difficult to move in because of the emotional connection to the house and the memories it would stir up?" But I think Kelly said it best after visiting one afternoon, "They are all happy memories here."

This past week we discovered we have two hot water heaters. One is underneath our house in a crawl space. This heater was leaking water and we had to shut it off, which left us with hot water only in one end of the house. The bathroom we normally use is currently not receiving hot water, which means we are having to shower in the other, smaller bathroom. Why do I tell you this? Because every time I use that bathroom I think of Bob. And I am happy.

I think of him walking into the mudroom in his uniform, and slipping back into the little bathroom to wash up and change into his "regular clothes." I think of his life, and not of October 6th.

Many other memories have come crashing to mind unexpectedly since we purchased the house. As Brent and I moved our bed into the master bedroom I instantly recalled getting spanked by Bob in that same room. As I folded towels and put them in the closet in the bathroom I remember countless happy pre-bedtime baths with his daughters when we were little. When we were trying to figure out how to use the attic fan, my dad took the styrofoam cover off the slatted opening, and he immediately called mom and I over and pointed out the custom-Bob-made hooks that held it in place. Bob's ingenuity never ran dry. And just two days ago when mom [yes, my mom], Brent, and Beck had to crawl under the house to check out the leaking water heater, I remembered the time that Bob gave the four of us girls our own flashlights and we got to crawl under the house with him. Going on an adventure with Bob, or helping him work, was always a treat.

So no, it's not sad. Being in the house is one of the best ways to remember Bob. And I know he would be proud of Brent and me for purchasing it and working on it, and making it our home now.

It wouldn't be fair if I said there weren't also moments of sadness. I wish he could come and have a cup of coffee at the kitchen table with me. I wish he could explain to Brent how he put new belts on the attic fan when needed. I wish he could see the new carpet we laid and laugh about the old, green carpet we tore up.

When I was watering our new grass in the front yard yesterday, I thought of the story that the picture above represents. The picture at the top is obviously of Bob, with his genuine smile and hospitality in his eyes. However, the "medal" to the left of the picture is its own story. It is a medal that I made for Bob when I was probably 5, after he played a vital role in capturing an escaped convict from a local prison. The whole town knew of the escape and was buzzing. Bob and Dad were called out and so Mom, Kali and I walked across the street to the brick house on the corner. The four of us girls played in the front yard while Mom and Kelly kept tabs on what was happening from the front porch. Eventually we found out that Bob had found the man, and the four of us girls shouted in joy! I wanted to make Bob a medal...because after all he certainly deserved one. I found some purple yarn and asked mom for some tin foil, and in my young handwriting drew a picture that represented the story in my innocent mind: Bob is standing next to a bush, under which the escaped man is laying on top of his bright orange jumpsuit, trying to avoid being seen.

From the time I gave it to him until Kelly passed it on the my dad, it hung proudly from Bob's dresser mirror.


I think of what the writer Sharon Dubiago once said, "My mother is a poem I'll never be able to write."

Though I could write memories and heartache, I can't capture it all. But I think that is okay too.

On October 6th, 1999, Bob was killed. I would be lying if I said I never asked, why. However, I don't believe that what happened that day was the active wrath of God: I don't believe God took Bob that day, but I do believe He welcomed him.

And now I am making peace in living with the "remembering."

The Lord gives and takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

And I believe that with Bob, the Lord mostly just gave.