Yesterday I realized I had reached 400 posts on this here blog of mine. Although I wish I had more time to write, I am thankful that I started this my senior year of college. Now don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with a list of 400 things about me or anything, but I thought I would share a list of 4 reasons why I write here: [Hint, if you click on the links that are different colors they will take you to a something I wrote about that topic]:

1. Just like under my heading, I write to "feel the wind on my face." So often in life we experience something that makes us question and wonder, or we experience something that makes us grieve or laugh… but we let that moment pass by. One of the main reasons I write is because I want to be able to really immerse myself in the things that happen to me, not just have a beautiful spring breeze wash over me and then forget about it. I want to capture what it feels like to miss a place, or the pain of caffeine addiction, or even the power of smell. I don't want a smell or feeling to pass by; I want to be reflective of what is happening around me, and in me. So, I write to feel the wind on my face.

2. I also write here to "remember the moments." I love remembering. I love to get lost in the patchwork of my past. To curl up with a mug of coffee and recall the things that have made me. Whether it is trying to picture my Grandma in English class, or the loss of someone I loved deeply [and here], or reminiscing about family vacations [and here], places that have made me- ME, or moments in teaching that have defined me and made me cry and laugh, I write to remember those moments.

3. I write to "feel the breath of God."It's pretty incredible how much life has been lived between 400 blog posts. It's pretty incredible how much I've had to grow and change and accept so many responsibilities since I first started typing in my dorm room my senior year. It's pretty incredible that all the while God has been right here with me, writing my story long before I ever touch a finger to the keyboard. For that reason I'm not linking up past stories I've written on this one because they way I look at it, they all are very full of the things of God. One of my favorite hymns says, "O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best! 'Tis an ocean vast of blessing, 'tis a haven sweet of rest. O the deep, deep love of Jesus, 'tis a heav'n of heav'ns to me; And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee." What sweet assurance that no matter where life leads, no matter what the next 400 blog posts may read, I have a Savior to follow; a Savior who is leading me-- and that is also worth writing about.

4. And last but not least, I write because of community. I once had a mentor tell me that if you don't have a group of people with whom you're living messy with, then you're not really living. Here is where I like to live messy. Where I can share how much I'm resisting change, or my fears, or about leaving things I love. I can write about growing up. This is a place where I can live messy with those of you who dare to read. So thank you for being on this journey with me, whether you leave comments or not [leave comments!], just knowing someone is reading this writing helps me keep writing for all of these reasons.

**And I will be gone for a bit…leaving on an Alaskan cruise tomorrow with my dear friend, Micah. I am greatly looking forward to it and will write all about it when I return!**


Our Story: pictures

The first mission trip to Branson. Here is the original "quad." Brent and I were 15!
Top left to right: Brent and Brandon
And that is Micah next to me.

Summer camp-- 2003
Brent's hair was ridiculously long this summer. Derek is next to me. Can you tell this is when I lifted weights for basketball? Check out my quads! :-)
Here we are on the Colorado mission trip, summer of '03 also. This was on our hiking day in Estes.

We were just little boys and girls, but I knew what I was feeling… and boy oh boy did I like that kid with the mop of hair!


Our Story: Part VIII

To read this story from the beginning, click HERE and scroll to the bottom. Enjoy!

Part VIII:

I walk into the church and slide in next to Heather, Jon's girlfriend. It's been two weeks since the backseat conversation and I still find myself checking to make sure I'm breathing. I have managed for three years to contain, hide, and run away from my feelings for Brent, and in one moment jeopardized being exposed. I especially didn't want him to find out and feel obligated to talk to me about our feelings- yuck!

Heather glances up at me as I slide my purse under the pew. That's when I see it: a smile pulling just slightly at the corners of her lips. Unbelievable! I request one vow of secrecy and he can't even… She grabs my forearm and squeezes it, letting her smile fully blossom. "What?" I ask, trying to unclench my teeth.

"Nothing. It's nothing. I mean…" she's rambling, so clearly he's told her everything, "It's, well, it's just, it's just SO perfect!" The way she enunciates her T at the end of the word makes me want to crawl under the pew--no-- crawl inside my purse, under the pew.

But instead, chalking it up to the thing that killed the cat, I turn my head ever so slightly to the left and, feigning disinterest, ask,"Perfect?"

"I'm sorry. Jonathan told me." She hangs her head in mock shame for a second, then grabs my forearm with that joker-faced grin again.

I look at her grip on my arm, wondering why I've never understood the female need for physical touch in moments such as this. I look at her teeth staring at me in their pearly whiteness. "And what? I'm not gonna do anything…it was a mistake saying anything to Jon."

"No, it's not a mistake! He can drop some hints, see what's going on on the other side. Oh my gosh! We could double date!" she is squeaking now. Between the touch and the squeaking I'm really not sure I was supposed to be born with a uterus. "Kels, this is perfect! Why didn't you say something earlier?"

I glance over at Brent, merely 20 yards away. "Because I didn't want to make a scene."

But it was apparently too late.
* * *

Sunday evenings have meant bible study for me for nearly as long as I can remember, but I don't remember feeling the compulsion to put on perfume and lip gloss before. However, like I have so many times before, I decide to throw my hair in yet another pony tail, and leave on the jeans and tshirt I'm currently wearing. I don't want to appear to be trying to get attention, especially since at least two others know.

I jam my red Escort into park and tumble out into the parking lot. I throw my red parka over my shoulders and jog towards the door. January has just given way to February and in Missouri that means it is still frigid. Blasting cold air in with me, I walk through the basement door into the church. Several others are already there playing ping pong or sitting on the ratty couch talking. I throw my coat in the corner, continually averting my eyes from the guy in the back corner. I can't believe I used to think he was a jerk. I almost wish I could remember what it felt like to not know him, to not constantly think about him, to not shake with excitement every day when I received an email from him. Almost.

Kali couldn't believe he was still emailing me everyday. "He totally is into you. Guys don't just do that," she had told me a few months ago. But I had responded that he was just a great friend; he wouldn't want anything to get in the way of that.

"Hey, Kels." I turn to find that overly sized smile again. Heather just wasn't going to let this go. "Anything new?"

"No," I say, half statement, half question. "Why?"

"Well, I probably shouldn't tell you this but," she's touching my arm again, "Jon told me the other night that Brent came over to his house. And Brent said, 'Jon, if you were me and I knew what you know, would you want to know?' Confusing, right? But basically I think he figured out that Jon knows something. So anyway, Jon said, 'Yeah.' And then Brent said, 'Okay.'"

My stomach is in my throat, "And then what?"
"Well, and then Brent turned around and went right back home."
"Yeah. So I think he likes you."

I will never understand how girls interpret things.

At that moment Lee, our leader, hollers at us to grab a seat at the table. My mind is complete mush as I make my way to the metal chair closest to me.
"Hey, when we're done tonight I want to talk to you real quick before you leave. Okay?" I look up into his brown eyes, and my heart is beating faster than the little drummer boy.
"Okay. Yeah."
"Okay." He grabs his guitar and walks to the head of the table.

I crumble into my chair. I don't hear a single word that is sung or spoken. All I hear is Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why did you let anyone know?! He hates you now. Now he thinks you're like all the other girls that can't think of anything else but what boys they like. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I foggily hear the last "Amen," and make a beeline for Heather. I pin her against the wall in a far corner and relay the "conversation" that I'd had with Brent.

"Okay, did he say he wanted to talk with you, or that he wanted to talk with you? Or did he want to TALK with you?"

"I don't know! I don't know!" I've never been a nail biter but in this moment wish that I had a bad, nervous habit I could rely on to distract me. "Heather, he know! He knows. And it's all because Jon knows. I'm so stupid!"

"Kels, calm down. He's probably gonna tell you he feels the same way."

"Yeah. Right. Because that's how my life works. No! He's going to say, 'Well Kels, it's been real fun, but I found out you like me or whatever, and I just don't feel that way, and so that makes our friendship really awkward now. We probably shouldn't hang out or talk anymore.' THAT is what he's going to say!"

Heather grabs my shoulders, and in her calmest voice says, "Probably not."

Probably!? I want more than probably right now, lady! "Maybe he forgot?" I suggest. "I think I'm just gonna head out. If it's that important we can talk some other time."

"Whatever. You'd be fine talking to him, but go ahead."

I give her one last look, attempting to come across confident, but look more like a kitten that's been scared up a tree. I wave at a few other people and then, grabbing my coat, walk briskly for the door. I'm inches from my escape, my hand is on the chilly doorknob…

"Kels, you really need to get going or can we have that talk?"



My first year of teaching I had a student named Jeff. Jeff was a character and there are many, MANY, stories I could share [including him having to stand up in the back of my classroom because he kept falling asleep at his desk…eventually I looked up and sure enough, he's still standing, but he's completely asleep]. Well, I had Jeff the last period of the day. And everyday the bell would ring, they would stare at me like dogs waiting for chew toys, all anxious and whiney, and I would wave my wrist toward the door, signaling they could exit. Without fail, everyday, Jeff would stand up, pump both fists in the air, and channeling William Wallace would yell, "FREEDOM!!" [Yeah, didn't do a lot for my self esteem].

Well, yesterday I had a moment in which I thought of Jeff. I wanted to throw my head back, slap on my best Braveheart face paint, and yell "FREEDOM!!"

Because yesterday we decided to pay off the rest of Brent's student loans. And then, because we were feeling crazy, we decided to pay off the rest of one of my student loans. MEANING, we only have one of my loans left to pay off. FREEDOM! Even though it was a big chunk of change, we are thankful for the ways that God provides, and humbled that He entrusts us with His money.

However, I still feel like THIS about the remaining loan :-).



This morning I went to the school and "coached" my softball girls through weightlifting. On my way home I decided to stop at Joan's house. Joan is a sweet lady from the church I grew up in. I wrestled with myself, thinking it was too early and that I hadn't called ahead, but then I just pulled in the drive and knocked on the door. Two and half hours and a cup of coffee later I was so thankful I had. It reminded me of a piece I wrote back in college about these sweet moments of fellowship that pepper our life. Thanks for the wonderful morning, Joanie! Here is the story [I wrote a collection of stories about this group of friends but haven't shared many of them here since they are MY friends and you probably don't care ;)]:

I was reading in the Psalms today while I ate my lunch, the obsessive November wind licking at the window. I was eating my noodles and the words and letting them happen to me, the way puberty happens to a person.

I put down my fork and read Open up your mouth and He will fill it, and I took a sip of water and read again Open up your mouth and He will fill it. In the margin I think I should write beautiful so I will come back to this page and read it again and see beautiful written beside it and think beautiful again. But I don't. I stop my pen and I don't write because I want to stumble across this psalm again, and I want to feel the beauty instead of thinking it.

Open up your mouth and He will fill it and I wonder what this means and I pray it wil become a part of my marrow. And then, in my mind, I am there in the simple living room with all of them: Brent is at my right side, Derek at my left on the rose colored couch, and in the blue Lazy-Boy is Jon, kicked back. Cody lies on the floor in the center of the room, stomach down and Brandon, on the cream couch, sits opposite me, a throw pillow behind his neck.

I come back to this moment with Open your mouth and He will fill it knowledge and I hear our conversation anew. Derek tells us he will definitely be going overseas in the near future and shares a few stories from his last trip to Africa. Jon then enters the conversation and says he will marry the girl he is now dating. Brandon asks if she has a sister, and then asks Brent what they're going to do for his bachelor party. Brent says he just wants them to take one last road trip together. I ask if I can come along and only get facial responses. We all think Cody is asleep, but he lifts his head and says he is hungry-- and that he's pretty sure the girl he could marry is mad at him because he didn't call or write for four months.

Open your mouth and He will fill it in those moments in the living room when your conversation is not meant to be prayer.

I look back and I realize those moments of nothing were so full of God. We sometimes tried to be intentional about having conversations concerning theology or the Holy Spirit. We never realized these things of God were happening to us when we stopped thinking about them long enough to let them.

These memories are sweet on my tongue like the juice from freshly squeezed apples. I now realize the beauty of moments with friends and how, when you let them happen to you, it's like letting a psalm happen to you. This happening fills your mouth and becomes prayer-- a deep kind of prayer-- a prayer that happens with every memory of a living room conversation.

Open your mouth and He will fill it and things that are not prayer become prayer, and moments that are ordinary pierce us and fill us and we become holier because of them.

I thank God for these friends of mine, but I know I thank Him more when I send Derek a card or give Cody a call.

I know I thank Him more when I let Him fill my mouth.



Here is your back story:
Joan [Brent's lovely and wonderful mother] has predicted that I will have 5 boys in my future. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. She's mostly joking [I think].

Here is your story:
Tonight at Lowes [because Home Depot and Menards are the WRONG stores] Brent and I were walking through the lighting department. While he was looking up at the displays and contemplating, I happened to spot a family. A family of six. One father, one mother, and onetwothreefour- FOUR boys. All boys. The eldest was probably 16. Then maybe a 13 year old. An 11 year old perhaps. And the caboose boy was maybe 8. The following happened in mere seconds:
Boy #4 shoves boy #2 in the back. Boy number #3 is trying to pull something heavy off of the shelf by himself. Boy #4 is haggling with the mother to try to convince her to buy him something while boy #2 is also trying to convince her that boy #4 is trying to kill him. Dad turns to her and asks, "What about this fixture?"

I didn't hear her response because I was too busy saying, "Brent, I don't care what your mom says, I can't do it!"
Brent: "Huh? Do you like this fan?"
Me, looking for a brown paper bag to breath into: "A fan? Are you kidding me? Look at that family!!! I can't have all boys. I need girls. GIRLS!!! I am a girl! My sister is a girl! I know girls! I like girls! Boys smell!! Boys try to precariously push each other off of cliffs! I. JUST. CAN'T. DO. THIS!!"
Brent: "So you don't like the fan?"

Here is your reflection:
I know when Brent and I decide to have children the Lord will give us whatever sex He chooses; possibly even whatever sex He knows we can handle. But I am going to begin praying FERVENTLY that I do not have FIVE onetwothreefourFIVE boys.


Our Story: Part VII

To read this story from the beginning, click HERE and scroll to the bottom! Enjoy.


"Start with the first point whose coordinates you are given or can figure out. Imagine the infinite number of lines that could pass through the point. You can simulate this by thinking of the line as a spinner, anchored by the point…"
I barely look up, doodling flowers in the margin of my notes seems far more important than whatever my teacher is talking about. Besides, I think, like any of THIS is going to help me figure out how in the world I'm supposed to get over Brent. Because that's what I have to do. Get over him. OVER. DONE. The feelings need to stop existing. I am seventeen. SEVENTEEN for crying out loud. I am going to Northwestern in a year. I am going to study secondary education. I am going to move on, make friends, grow up, become more responsible, and GET OVER HIM!
Spritzing on some "Hawaiian Ginger," I slide into my tennis shoes. I take one more glance in the mirror before flinging on my coat.
"See ya, Mom. We'll be careful."
"Okay. Have fun. Be home before 10:30…and grab anumbrella, it looks like rain!"
"Eh, we'll be alright," I bound out the door as Micah pulls in the driveway.
Fastening my seat belt, I peer out the window at the incoming gray clouds. Following my gaze, Micah laughs, "What? Never watched a football game in the rain?"
I smile, adjust my seat, and try to suppress the fact that I am worried what my curly hair will DO if it rains. After all, this is the first football game I am going to get to see Brent play.

Twenty minutes later we pull up to the football field. I see the blue and gold uniforms and quickly find number 3. Oh how I want to be wearing a t-shirt with that number on the back, proclaiming that he is mine, taken, off the table, unavailable, with someone,…
"Kels, come on!" I blink my glazed over eyes and trudge forward. I am always looking forward to seeing him, but the pounding in my chest sometimes makes it nearly impossible to know how to respond to normal moments with him.

I plop onto the bleachers just as he begins huddling up his guys and calling out the play. A quarterback. Sigh. And football pants. Oh, thank you Jesus for football pants! I hardly notice the first rain drop, but by the time the next one hits it is a full on downpour. Someone comes over the loud speaker abruptly, "Sorry but we will delay the game thirty minutes. Please clear all players from the field." We high tailed it to the car, and occupy ourselves with food for a bit as the storm blows over. The next couple hours are a blur of soggy socks, muddy cleats, cheering, and him-- never taking my eyes off him.

As time expires I find myself following Micah down to the edge of the field. Wet, frizzy, and elated, I spot him at the fifty yard line, slowing making his way toward the sidelines. He has stripped himself of his pads. My toes are tingling as he walks toward me, wet hair, muddy pants, rib protector, and undershirt. He has never been more attractive. I am completely sunk. Getting over him seems impossible.
I scrub the dirt that has made its way between my fingers at softball practice. I can't help but think of number 3 from time to time…all the time. I saunter to my bedroom, grab a pen and notebook, and begin scribbling furiously.

Jesus, I can't do this anymore. I want to let him go. I want you to be in control of this situation. But, if I can't have Brent please give me someone as caring as him. Let me end up with a guy who loves his family as much, who is as good looking and sensitive as him; someone who love YOU as much as he does. I trust that you know what you're doing, and if I can't have Brent I just ask that you give me someone that has all of the qualities that he has. Jesus, I need less of me and more of you in this situation.

Rolling over on my stomach, I bury my face in my pillow.
"Happy birthday, dear Brent, happy birthday to you!" I take a side glance at the others in the room. How much can they tell about the way I am feeling about this birthday boy? 18 years old. My mind races back, picturing him at 13 standing in the foyer of the church. I stood opposite him, an awkward 13 year old myself: retainer, bangs, knee high socks. Rebecca introduced us, he reached over and shook my hand, and then was off to find his friends. And now here I was, 5 years later, watching him blow out birthday candles and completely and utterly intrigued by him.

The others meander off towards the living room to get the movie started, and I lean on the counter offering my assistance cutting and plating the cake.
"Sure. And thanks for coming. I didn't even know who all ended up being invited, but I'm glad you could come."

Has he said this to everyone, or is he glad that I am here, that it is ME in the kitchen with him cutting the cake? "Yeah, of course. Besides, I hear we're going to watch "Finding Nemo" and I still haven't seen it." I throw a smile on my face but have no idea why everything I say sounds so incredibly lame
"I think you'll like it." He plops a piece of chocolate cake onto the plate I'm holding out. "You still thinking you're going to go to Northwestern next year? I know in your last email that's what you said, but I'm still holding out hope you'll change your mind."

"Really?" REALLY!!! "Yeah, that's still the plan."

"Well, I think you need to come to Ozark." He slides his finger carefully down the plastic knife, transferring all excess icing onto his finger and into his mouth. My mind is exploding and I'm trying to hold the loaded cake plates still in my hands.

He NEEDS me to come to Ozark!? "Oh yeah, why is that? So you guys can continue to make fun of me throughout college," I say jokingly and as coolly as I can muster.

"Well that, and the fact that if I can get someone to sign up I get $100 off my tuition." He throws the knife in the sink and it clatters against the other dishes. He turns around, flashes me a smile, then picks up the other plates and heads into the living room.

Seriously? This guy has NO CLUE. I shove some cake in my mouth and force my dejected self into the other room.
I slide into the back seat of the cherry red Passat. Brent hollers at Derek, and soon the four of us take off: Derek in the passenger's seat, Brent driving, and Jon in the back with me. We stack our bibles in the middle and begin the 25 minute drive to St. Joe for youth group.

Turning on the radio, Derek leans over and engages Brent in an intense discussion. With the speaker in my ear I can barely make out what they are talking about.

"Brent?" Jon whispers over at me, indicating that he has been watching me watch Brent the past couple of miles.
"What? Huh? What do you mean, 'Brent?'" I defend myself a little too much.
He grins at me and shakes his head like an older sibling who has just caught his little sister in the middle of something he knows he can use against her for years and years.
"I mean…what do you mean? And no. It's Brent. I mean, it's Brent. He's my friend. My really good friend. I wouldn't want to…He wouldn't want to…"
"Kels." I'm still trying to whisper as passionately as I can my defense. "KELS!" We're both leaning towards each other in the back seat because I don't know if any of this is registering to the two up front. I look down at my hands. I look out the window. I have done such an excellent job of hiding all of this, how could Jon know anything? He doesn't know. He can't know. He's just making this all up.
Slowly lifting my head, I peek at Jon again. His eyes bore into me.
He knows.
He knows.
How does he know!?
As if reading my mind he simply says, "I just know." I look at him, my eyes pleading him to stop this conversation yet also begging him to give me hope.
"Please. Don't tell." It's barely audible over the front seat conversation and the music and the beating in my chest and that look in his eyes. "Please."
"I wouldn't."
"You would too."
"Shhh. Jon, I'm serious."
"Promise me."

I throw myself into the possibility that he actually won't tell, and resume watching fence posts out my window.



I grew up with a father who constantly had one foot in the 17 or 1800's and the other in the present…well, to be quite honest, sometimes both feet were in the 1800's. Reenacting was always a part of my life because he was immersed in it. Tri-corn hats, muskets, loin clothes…the whole nine yards.

Because of his love for history, my life was steeped in it. Whether it was the bedtime stories of Jemimiah Boone or Sacajawea, or it was family vacations where we stopped at a historical landmark/museum/battlefield every one hundred miles, I learned more history than most kids. In Social Studies class I already knew the stories. I knew about Antietam and Gettysburg and the surrender at Appomattox because I had been there, walked the fields, and heard the stories pour out of my father like water. I knew about the Treaty of Paris and was ahead of my classmates when I knew there was a French and Indian War. The battle at Bunker Hill, and Cowpens…the names and places are in my brain even still.

That is why today, Independence Day, is less about fireworks and more about history to me. I grew up with the flag flying high at my house, and sometimes it was the flag of the thirteen colonies. I understood the beautiful significance of that flag because I had gone to a battlefield with my dad and saw men pretending to fight the British for the right to fly it.

John Adams predicted in a letter to his wife that this independence would be celebrated for generations, saying:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

The battles are not over. There are some men and women that do not have to reenact to face guns and war. But our freedom is still intact. Our forefathers believed in fighting for this country-- believed in a country where we are free to live and worship and continue to fight for our freedoms.

If you have ever travelled to another country, you know how incredibly blessed we are here. You have seen the extreme poverty that our poorest couldn't even fathom. You have smuggled in Bibles just so someone may know there is a God who loves him. You have bought bottle after bottle of water because there is no clean water to be found. You have worshipped in private homes with the fear of being thrown in jail.You know how incredibly blessed we are here.

Even if you didn't grow up with a father who read to you from the journals of Lewis and Clark, and even if you didn't go to battlefields instead of beaches on family vacations, you can appreciate our history.
You can appreciate this holiday.
You can appreciate our soldiers.
You can appreciate this country.

Happy Independence Day!