surviving high school

Well that was a nice break from blogging that I didn't know I was going to take. Whoops. As we taught Caroline, "My bad."

Brief update:
- still very pregnant. new bump and letter are forthcoming.
- Brent got to go and watch ku capture the big 12 title.
- I had a wonderful baby shower thrown for me [more on this later]
- Mom made me supper the other night and it was like mana from heaven
- my next door neighbor passed away of a very rare form of cancer. I have two of his sons in class. This has been very tough, but it has been incredible again to see how this small community comes together for the family. [has also sparked the below thoughts]
- Kali was able to come to help throw the aforementioned shower and brought Ellie-girl with her. So good to see them both [even though I think Ellie gave me a cold]
- It's crunch time now and I have to go to the doctor for appointments every week. It's getting so close.

One other thing that I've been thinking about lately:

How did we ever survive being teenagers?

I mean really, if you think back to that time it is amazing we all survived the drama, our own stupidity, and the raging hormones in our bodies. As I'm grading my students' writing to wrap up 3rd quarter I am thinking of this all again. Don't get me wrong: I actually loved high school. But it is a tough place. Though we may think that what they are dealing with is minor, it is all- consuming for them on a daily basis. Some things my students think/deal with, for example:

Drinking. It may seem harmless until one of my classmate's brothers ends up almost dead on the side of the road. How do I reconcile that with what others want me/pressure me to do?

Dating. I really think I love him/her. But why does he still talk to his ex? Why doesn't he treat me better? It is really worth it? But I love him.

Loss. How do I talk to my classmate who just lost his father? What am I supposed to say? How am I supposed to act?

Athletics. I just tore my ACL. I'm out for a year. Where does this leave me now?

Bullying. Ever day I am made fun of. I've tried ignoring it, joining it, tattling. Nothing seems to work. I just want to disappear.

Law. I know I shouldn't have stolen that, but my home life is a wreck and I needed the extra cash. What will I do if I lose the case and have to do jail time instead of just reporting to a parole officer?

Divorce. My home life is falling apart. Is it my fault? Why can't it be like my friend's house?

Appearance. Why can't I look like her? Why can't I lose just 15 pounds? Why don't the "good/trendy" fashions fit me?

Friends. Why does she pretend to be my friend and then talk about me behind my back? Why can't I make any "real" friends? Why don't I get invited to things?

And so much more. Acne. Bad Hair days. Detentions. Flirtations. Homework. Peer Pressure.

Yes, we all know now that most of this will work itself out in the long run. We know that there are other responsibilities in life that are far more pressing. But not to them. To them it is their life and it is all the time and it is all consuming.

My mom gave me a little book she found one time called "Prayers of a Dedicated Teacher." It is woven through with quotes from leaders in the Christian faith, and prayers for teachers to pray. Here are few quotes I marked after thinking about what my students deal with, and what my role may be in their day to day struggles and lives.

"I've never met anyone who became instantly mature. It's a painstaking process that God takes us through, and it includes such things as waiting, failing , losing, and being misunderstood-- each calling for extra doses of perseverance." - Chuck Swindoll

A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could." - Zig Ziglar

"Kids go where there is excitement. They stay where there is love." - Zig Ziglar

"Beware that you are not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge." - John Wesley

With all those thoughts, I thought I'd combine a few of the prayers in the book to create a prayer for myself right now. A prayer that can get me over my pregnancy tiredness, away from myself, and closer to Christ so he can show me how to love my students where they are at in this very difficult time of being a teenager.

Lord, help me always show my concern for my students, not only in the classroom, but also outside of it. May the words of truth I share with my students be the same words of truth that guide my life. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to express my love and concern for my students through words and in deeds. Thank you for the opportunity to teach. Help me to be an influence for the good in the lives of my students. Help me care for the whole student. Help me be sensitive to the needs of each of those I teach, and use me, Lord, as Your tool to draw my students closer to you.

I know that my role as a teacher is an awesome responsibility. Help me to always be mindful of that. Lord, help me love your children more. You first loved me, let me share that. May my teaching be filled with your love. Lord, I am thankful for all the joyous times that teaching has brought me. Thank you for the happiness that I share with my students. Use me to teach these kids with joy always in my heart. Amen.


baby bump: week 34

dear baby,

your mama is a tired lady these days. i suppose it does take quite a bit of energy to keep you growing though, so i don't mind it too much. getting out of bed in the morning sometimes seems like an impossible task, but i get it done.

do you want to hear the funny story for this week? well, if you haven't noticed in the pictures, i'm getting larger and larger because you are. i'm happy you're still growing and chilling out in there, but your current location has begun to make bending over more difficult. for example, when i put on socks i have to remember to balance myself with one arm or lean up against something if i'm not sitting down, otherwise i fall over. which brings me to my story for you: i usually like to keep my toenails painted, even in the winter. this hasn't happened due to the difficulty in getting to my toes. so i asked your dad if he would help out-- he of course said yes, before i mentioned that part of the job meant trimming my toenails. he is quite the trooper, but is always selfless and ready to lend a hand. you'll find this out soon enough.

we were able to take a tour of the maternity ward this week also. the delivery rooms seem nice and big, which is great since i know you'll have several people that want to come meet you as soon as you are here.

we're getting so close, sweet girl, so very close. hang tight just a little bit longer.

love, mom


baby bump: week 33…better late than never

dear baby,

hello, quickly growing peanut of mine. you are getting so big and loving to kick me in my right ribs. i also have been experiencing braxton hicks lately. this is just my body's way of getting prepared for labor, but don't worry, they don't hurt me--they just take my breath sometimes. i don't mind them because it reminds me that i'm that much closer to getting to meet you.

your dad and i also started our classes this week. the first one was all about labor and delivery. though it all seems quite daunting and, to be honest, a little scary now, i keep reminding myself that God has created our bodies for this purpose. i also keep reminding myself that at the end of it all i will get to hold you and kiss you, which will make it all worthwhile.

your movements are very visible now. your dad and i get a kick out of watching my belly roll around. since we're so entertained by you already, i can't even imagine how much you'll make us laugh over the course of the next years.

one funny thing to tell you: you've been keeping me quite warm this winter. which is nice. it's like i'm constantly carrying around a heater. because of this i like to keep the house nice and cool. your dad has been a sport, and can usually be found wearing lots of layers or wrapped in a blanket. your nana even came over the other night and had a quick bite with us for supper-- she kept her coat on the whole time :). but don't worry, i'll keep your room warm for you when you arrive.

speaking of which: i am getting more anxious to meet you. i still love carrying you around with me everywhere i go, and i am quite okay with you hanging out in there for 7 more weeks…but i am anxious to finally see your sweet face.

love, mom


blood pressure

Tuesday was supposed to be a day of L.O.V.E. Hearts. Candy. Happiness. Romance. Wonderfulness all around. And it started out great. I wrote my wonderful blog post to my wonderful husband. I gave my students their Valentine's and they thought I was wonderful. Nana and Papa gave "LaLa" [as they have begun referring to her] a sweet Valentine gift. Life was beautiful.

And then we hopped in the car and drove to the basketball game. THE basketball game. The game we had been anticipating all season long. The game against our nemesis. The game that would bring either us or them to win number 20 of the season. The game that would solidify one of our undefeated statuses in the conferences. A game between rivals that were both ranked in the state.

It was a big game.

I always tell my students that background knowledge is an important part to any story. So here is a little: At the beginning of the season, we faced this team in a championship of a tournament. We hung with them, and played really well. And then in the 3rd quarter things got a little sour. And sour puts it nicely. Let's just say that one of the players on the other team violently threw down Torri [my Torri!], and NO FOUL was called. We're talking, wrapped her up, flipped her down. Torri couldn't catch herself because one of her arms was in the vice grip of the other girl's arm, and so she stopped her fall with her head. Which began to bleed quite a lot. Everywhere. Again, no foul was called on what should have been a technical. Long story short, it took several minutes to clean up all the blood from the court, and eventually Torri came back in the game after they cleared that she didn't have a concussion. Days later though her neck would swell, she could barely turn her head, and had to spend 2 nights in the hospital. That's right, folks, I said hospital. And the girl that intentionally caused this act of aggression didn't even get so much as a slap on the wrist [i.e. a technical, or even a "word" from her coach].

Back to Tuesday. To say there was a little "bad blood" between these two teams is a bit of an understatement. And it didn't settle any of our minds when we walked into the gym and noticed that one of the refs was the same ref that didn't call the technical/ even a regular foul the first time around. Great.

The game got started. Both teams looked great. The gym was packed and hot. The game went back and forth and back and forth and was rougher than ever. By the end of the first quarter, we had fouled enough to send the Hornets into double bonus at the free throw line. Not good.

By the beginning of the second half, things were still looking good, minus the foul trouble we were in. Again the Hornets reached double bonus rather quickly due to our fouls, while they remained at 3 team fouls. Though this seemed lopsided, we do tend to foul a lot, but it felt that the game was getting a bit out of hand.

And then it happened. It was almost dejavu except it wasn't Torri this time, and thank goodness there wasn't any blood. The SAME girl who had played so violently and dirty the last time--the SAME girl who threw Torri defenselessly to the ground-- had the ball. She took it up for a shot, and one of our girls fouled her on the shot. A simple foul you see all the time in basketball games. But this girl had to retaliate. This girl had to grab our girl around the neck and throw her to the ground, then work herself free and throw her foot back in a final kick attempt, just in case our girl didn't get the message.

We expected this from that girl. But this time…the ref's whistle blew! [Oh don't worry, the one who didn't call anything the first time when there was BLOOD was sure NOT to blow his whistle this time…it was the other guy]. We leaped to our feet in anticipation of the call; the technical foul that would finally give us a little justice and the understanding that yes, it is not okay to play that dirty; yes, it is not okay to send a girl to the hospital. But then all we could do was stare in horror as they not only assigned the regular foul to our girl on the shot, but then gave HER the technical. The girl that had thrown her to the ground would AGAIN receive no discipline for her actions. And as she made her way to the free throw line, she smiled.

Let's just say, I am not proud of the way I acted in that moment. Let's just say, I am surprised I didn't go into labor right then and there. And after all, I still consider these MY girls from when I coached them last year.

After that, we kind of went down in flames. They were 31-43 from the freethrow line. We were 1-5. We shot FIVE freethrows to their FORTY THREE.

I yelled and screamed and hollered and sweat and pumped my fists in anger the entire time. I may have even had smoke coming out of my ears. For real.

What in the world?

When I was a player I prided myself on always keeping my cool. Refs miss calls all the time. I had to learn to let it roll of my back. I even wrote a verse on my shoes: "let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, Oh Lord." Apparently I should have written that on my hand before going to the game the other night.

I hate how easily I could be drawn into those thoughts. Brent even said later…much later…as it took us both HOURS to calm down from this game…that he hated how "controlled" he felt by the situation; that he lost control of himself for a bit.

In church right now we are doing a study of Proverbs and looking at how to live wisely. Tuesday we were not living wisely and letting the Spirit control us. We were controlling us, and it was ugly. This was a good reminder to me.

I need to feed myself with the Spirit so I am not responsible for my actions but rather He is. Also, I realized later, after cooling down, that it was a game. A GAME. How could I let my blood boil like that over a game?!

I have now resolved to think more and practice more control, especially at basketball games; to let myself consciously think about the GAME, still enjoy the competition and enthusiasm and atmosphere, but be in control of my words and actions.

I don't know if anyone actually hung with me through this entire post…especially if you don't even know the game I was referring to. I wrote it mostly for myself. To put it out there, somewhere, as something to hold me accountable. I know I will forget this. I know I will have to come back and be reminded at some point in time.

SO the next time you are at a basketball game and you see an insane, pregnant lady hollering and screaming with fiery red eyes, check to see if it is me. If it is, please come and tell me to simmer down.

***On a final note: Brent and I are going to write a letter to the Missouri State High School Athletics Association about the actions that were allowed/not called out during this game. We feel that someone should be held accountable for the actions of that particular player, especially since she is only a freshman and needs to learn that it is inappropriate and dangerous to play in the manner she does. We decided this though when we were calm and in control….though thinking about it again makes me need to take a deep breath…this may be more difficult than I think.


over the years

As this "day of love" approached, I was thinking about how Valentine's Day has changed for me over the years.

In elementary school I remember getting very excited about creating a box. It meant digging through a corner cabinet full of old buttons and ribbons, and figuring out a creative and unique way to make a box that stood out from the rest. It also meant sorting through cards and making sure I didn't give an embarrassing one to any of the boys, and saving the biggest and best ones for my friends and teacher. It meant getting jacked up on sweets by the end of the day and eating cupcakes and drinking red punch until my teeth screamed for a reprieve from the sugar.

In high school it meant lining up a babysitting job to make a little extra cash as parents of children everywhere wanted a little alone time with their Valentine. It meant a reminder that I was single, but still getting a card or flowers from my parents, which always made me feel special and loved just the same.

My senior year it meant a surprise song from a special boy, written just for me, and the beginning of a love story that is still unfolding.

In college it meant being aware of the distance, but still receiving a phone call with a new song every time. It meant a movie night with Renae whose Valentine was also hours away. It meant finding the funniest, cheapest cards available at the local store and passing them out to relive childhood.

In the first years of marriage, it meant doting on one another to reassure the other of our genuine love. It meant long written notes, and special meals, and a day spent together.

As our love grows "older", it means learning that things get better with age. It means a special note on the mirror in the morning. It means a surprise "let's go get dessert out tonight".
It means lingering a little longer during our morning good-bye kiss.

As I've gotten older, it has also meant figuring out a way to make the day just a little bit more fun for my students. It means hanging up a goofy banner,
coming up with a fun writing prompt, and giving them a a cheesy, yet useful, Valentine of their own from me. It means acknowledging that they are, in fact, special when no one else may.

But for me, Valentine's Day has always meant being thankful for the over abundance of love in my life. And remembering, "We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

* * *
To my Valentine for always:
Brent, there is no one else I would want to share life with. Thank you for being a leader in our marriage and always finding ways to serve me, pursue me, and cherish me. No one can make me laugh like you...and NO ONE can make me go from ANGRY to LAUGHING except you. I notice the little things you do for me, even if I don't always let you know. Thanks for putting up with my crabby-self in the mornings, for giving me the last of the blueberry yogurt, for unloading the dishwasher and folding the laundry. Thank you for taking on responsibilities around the house when things need repair, even when you don't feel comfortable in that role. Thank you for ALWAYS letting me choose where we go out to eat [Olive Garden], and for encouraging my passions. Thank you for helping me make tough decisions, for letting me cry when I need to cry, and for rubbing my head for hours when I have a headache that just won't go away. Thanks for forcing me to get off my tush and DO STUFF I don't always want to do, but end up enjoying. Thanks for loving me "big a lot" through the past 8 years. And thanks for already loving this little valentine we've created, and loving me through the journey of pregnancy. I can't wait to watch you fall in love with her more and more. When I asked you what you thought you would be good at with her, your response was, "Loving her mom and showing her that example." You'll be great at a multitude of other things, but I have no doubt she will always know you love her mom, because I have never had to doubt that myself. Thanks for being so stinkin' awesome. I love you.


Our Story: Part XIII

If you have missed any of the first twelve installments to "Our Story," click HERE and scroll to the bottom. Pull up a seat, and a snack…it's gotten fairly lengthy :-) There will only be one installment after this one!

Part XIII:


My phone rings and I look at the caller ID: Jared. My roommates’ boyfriend of seven years.


“Hey Kels…is ‘Nae around because if not I need to talk to you?”

“Uh, no. What’s up?”

“Okay….I’m gonna do it. I have the ring and I’m gonna do it!” He sounds like a little kid.

“Really?! That’s awesome! When? How? Does she have any clue?”

He dives into his plan, the details, the ring--everything.

“Well that sounds perfect, Jared. Are you calling for my permission or something?” I joke.

“No…actually, okay, this might be weird but I need you to figure out a way to get her to move her purity ring from her ring finger.”


“I don’t want to have to take off that ring to put on this one…I don’t know…”

“Actually I totally understand.”

“Yeah, and she’s used to your weird ideas so she won’t think anything of it. Just make something up. She won’t have a clue!”

The next day I tell Renae that we are going to have a dinner date and then a “moving of the rings ceremony.” She stares at me blankly. “Come on! It will be fun. We’ll play music, or something…I don’t know the details yet…and then you and I will move our purity rings from our left finger to our right hand. I think it’s time. I mean, I don’t know about you but I don’t want Brent to have to stumble around and figure out the logistics of all that while he’s proposing. And who knows…that could be any time….” I keep rambling.

“Okay! You’re weird, and whatever, but okay.” Excellent. She has no clue.

* * *

I look out the window at the whiteness. The wind howls through the cracks and the snow piles up in drifts. I can’t even see down to the sidewalk below my second story dorm window. I let out a sigh and sit down at my computer, pulling up Southwest Airlines’ website. There is no way I’m going to be leaving Northwest Iowa anytime soon, let alone make it to airport in Kansas City to fly to Nashville. My trip to visit my sister will just have to be postponed. I make the appropriate clicks on the screen before calling and letting her know.

So much for SPRING break, I think as I bring the phone to my ear.

* * *

I throw my bag into the backseat of my blue GrandAm. It has been packed for three days, ready to make the trip home, but the interstates have been closed. I have gotten sick of consoling my stir-crazy wingmates since I, though their RA, have also been going a bit crazy sitting in a dorm that was supposed to be emptied for a week long break.

But now I have checked all the girls out of their rooms, have double checked that the interstates are passable, and talked to my dad to see what he thinks about the roads. I look at the clock on the dash as I start up the car: 9:42. I should have already been in Nashville for over a day. I throw my shoulders back, determined to still make the most of my time off from school. I have called about subbing to make a little extra cash, and Brent has decided to come up for the weekend, so it will only be three and half more days until I get to see him again. I can’t be upset about that!

I glance at my left hand. It has been empty since Renae and I shared our silly “ring-moving-ceremony.” Hers filled up quickly after that with a beautiful diamond from Jared’s grandma that had been put in a new setting, just for her. But here was my empty hand, four months since our silly ceremony, two and half years since he’d said, “I love you,” and over three years since our initial conversation in that cold car in February. Sigh. I pop in a CD and ease my car onto the still-snow-packed local streets, sinking into my seat a bit to get comfortable for the five hour drive home.

* * *

Standing before the band students while substitute teaching, my mind wanders to this afternoon. Brent will finally be here and, since I haven’t seen him for over a month and a half, I can’t help but imagine the feeling and warmth of his arms around me. Even after three years, the sound of his voice still sends tingles to my toes.

My lunch of leftovers warms my throat as I dial his number. He picks up and I take a sip of water to clear my throat. “Hey you, I’ve got some good news.”

“Hey, beautiful! What’s the news?

“Apparently I’m done subbing at 1:30 today instead of 3:00. Which means…I’ll get to see you a whole hour and a half earlier than we thought!”

“Oh. Great. Um. You can go home and change though. Take your time. You don’t need to rush around.”

What? Weirdo. What is he talking about? Of COURSE I’m going to rush around if it means more time with him, and furthermore how dare he………GASP!! Oh my gosh…he’s acting weird which can only mean one thing…he’s going to propose! Why us women tend to go there at these points in time is beyond me, but now I have to feel him out.

“Really? Cause I could be at your house by two?”

“Yeah, I’m still getting around anyway and doing laundry and stuff. Don’t rush. Spend some time with your mom or something.”

“She’ll be at work still…but okay. I’ll take my time. I’ll probably be there by 3 or 3:30 though, is that okay?”

“Ugh…sure. Just give me a call before you head over.”

“Okay. Love you. Can’t wait to kiss you!”

“I know, Squeeze, it’s been awhile.” I smile at the nickname he’s randomly assigned me over the past couple years. I’m still unsure of how he came up with it or why it’s stuck around. “Love you. See you soon.”

Immediately after hanging up, I dial my sister. “Kali! What-do-I-do-I-think-Brent-is-going-to-propose-to-me-tonight-how-do-I-act-what-do-I-wear…”

As I take a pause to gasp for breath, she cuts in, “Woah, Kels. Why do you think he’s going to propose?”

“I don’t know he’s just acting strange and doesn’t want me to rush over which is just SO weird, right? I mean, right?”

She talks me through my excited anxiety, and helps me think of something to wear that is still casual enough in case my rampaging imagination has deceived me and he is, in fact, NOT proposing. The bell rings and I tell her I’ll keep her informed as students trickle back into the classroom.

* * *

I sit in my parked car in Brent’s driveway. Breathe in. Breathe out. Look normal. I expect to walk in to a room full of daisies and Brent on one knee or…something! Instead, as I make my way into the living room, I find him in sweatpants…and a tshirt…folding laundry!! WHAT?!

He jumps up and I bury my face in his neck. Though I’m disappointed by the lack of proposal material that is happening in the room, I feel my body relax as his scent fills my nose and the warmth of his body embraces me. I feel safe, protected, and loved, even without a silly ring on my left hand. I guess I can wait a little longer if he wants to drag this out.

* * *

After visiting three of our nephews in town, we make our way to Fazzolis. Ever since prom, we’ve decided that cheap Italian food is the way to go. I sit across from him in the small booth. As I suck down my fettuccini noodles, he smiles at me. I begin to wonder how we have made the past three years work. It’s as if being in his presence reminds me of his absence in an even stronger capacity than when we’re away. We munch on breadsticks in silence. He reaches across the table and quietly grabs my hand. I don’t need a ring to understand his commitment in this moment.

On the way home we laugh about old memories, and comfortably sit side by side. I’m so completely happy in sharing this car ride with him that I hardly notice him miss the turn that will bring us back to his house. Before I can say anything he is turning into the church parking lot just a block past the missed road. I assume he is going to turn around, but he throws the car into park. Kissing in parking lots is not above us; after all we are college students in love, but in a church parking lot? I mean, I have my standards!

Before I can begin my rebuttal, Brent steps out of the car. I stare at him through the windshield, trying to figure out what is happening as he opens my door. And then I realize it is a good thing I wore a top that I liked because what I thought may be happening this evening may just be happening right now. I tell myself to mentally hold onto every moment, and grab my purse in which I happened to throw my camera before leaving home.

He leads me to a door on the side and before I notice the note stuck to it, I remember that this is the church where my friend introduced me—braces, bangs, awkwardness, and all—to that quiet seventh grade boy eight years ago. I look at the note, then at Brent, who urges me with his gentle, brown eyes to take it.

“Kels, look inside the 1st book in the 3rd pew on the left side.”

He pushes the door open for me and I remind myself not to run. As I locate the proper pew and hymnal, he disappears momentarily into a side room. I peel off the note, which instructs me to turn to hymn #221, off the top of the blue book. 221. Our high school basketball numbers combined. He has thought of everything.

Just as I reach the page number, an envelope falls out. I don’t even notice Brent slide into the pew next to me with his guitar. I tear into it, open the card, and then open the note that is inside:

“...I wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed the past 3 years, 1 month, and 1 day. It is amazing to see how God was working internally in our own lives and externally in the events leading up to us being “brentandkelsey”. I have learned so much in the past 3 years about you, love, myself, and God.

...I have been able to study you: how heavy your head is after it has fallen asleep on my arm, how your eyes peek open as you slip into a nap just to see me watch you fall asleep, how your hand rests into mine, how you look at me when I’ve said something that is just like my father, how you love me even though I have sometimes disappointed or failed you, how competitive you get at card games, how your smile can take my heart and create peace within the deepest part of my being, how excited you are to have children, how much you adore your parents, how much you hate dogs, vomit, storms, the feel of jeans, and being away from me, how you love kids, cheese, home, hearing how much I know about you, hearing that you’re beautiful to me, kisses on the forehead, and our Father God, and finally how you look at and adore me.

...I also wanted to thank you for giving me a chance and for believing in me to fulfill that dream guy you have prayed for and thought about since you were little.

...I care so much about you, and can’t wait until I can devote my life to serving you. I want to sing you the first and last songs that I wrote for you to show you how much you mean to me. It has been a blessing being with you for so long and sharing all the memories, laughs, cries, and frustrations with you. I hope you know my love for you and my desire to always pursue you.”

I look up and see that while I have been reading his words through now glistening eyes, he has gotten out his guitar. I reach over and place my fingers on the side of his face, tilting my head and smiling. He begins strumming and I hear the chords of a song that I have cherished now for three years...when I look into your eyes...and soon he is beginning the latest one he has written. Knowing now what is about to happen, I cherish the lyrics even more: There’s a day, and I can’t wait...no more tears as I drive away, and all you want is for me to stay. But today, I wouldn’t trade today, for any day no... There’s a day, and I can’t wait, when a little girl calls me daddy. And her hair, curly brown, and all she wants is to have me around. And there’s a day...when our tired eyes tell you a story of a love old in age, but as fresh as the dawn of day. But today, I wouldn’t trade today...

The tears that have been resting just behind my lids now spill down my cheeks. I make no attempt to wipe them away as I am caught up in the moment. As he finishes the last chord, I lean over and wrap my arms around his neck. He holds me for a moment, kisses my wet cheek, and then hands me another note.

“By the front door, where we 1st met, look behind the picture of the old couple.”

I immediately know the picture he is referring to. It is a photograph I have always loved of an elderly couple that used to attend the church. They are walking away from the camera, and it is almost indecipherable which one is holding up the other as they make their way down the sidewalk. I jump up from the pew and walk the long aisle to the foyer. I see the picture resting in the corner of the shelf and, reaching on my tiptoes, I move it to the side. There, resting in the shadows of the room, is a small, wooden ring box. I pick it up, unsure if I am supposed to open it. I spin around to ask Brent.

He is down on one knee, smiling bigger than I’ve ever seen him smile. I reciprocate and hand him the box. He opens it, and reaches for my hand. “I want to grow old with you, Kels. Will you marry me?” He slides the ring on my finger. It is a beautiful, princess cut on a simple, wide band. It’s perfect. This is all too perfect.

“Yes! Yes!”

* * *

Grinning and foolish, we tumble back into the car. I want to say something, to thank him, to form some words worthy of this moment he has just given me, but I can’t seem to get my mouth to function with my brain. So I simply reach over and grab his hand. He smiles and then pulls the car out onto the road...in the wrong direction yet again.

He glances in my direction with a mischievous grin. “I have a couple other things in store for you.” I then realize why he panicked when I said I could come over sooner today-- he had a lot of things to get in order.

As the night progresses I find out what “a couple other things” means. First is a starlit dance on a dirt road that boasts the last name we will soon be sharing. Brent has created a mix CD of some of my favorite love songs, and as we dance in the moonlight he whispers in my ear, “I can’t wait to give you my last name.” Before we leave he pulls out a huge bouquet of daisies that has been hidden in the trunk until this moment.

“A couple other things” also means a trip out to my grandparents’ land. As we pull the car into park, Brent explains that he is excited to marry me here, where I’ve always dreamed of creating an outdoor wedding. As I look out at the landscape and begin to envision the aisle and chairs in the yard of my childhood memories, he hands me a gift bag. I’m too curious to be patient and soon I am holding its contents in my lap: a pink newborn outfit saying, “Daddy’s Little Lovebug” and a blue one reading, “Daddy’s Allstar.” Slightly confused I look over to my new fiance in the driver’s seat and he smiles and says, “I'm so happy you'll one day be the mother of my children and happy that I get to raise a family with you.”

We sit in the silence for a moment, letting the dashboard lights dance on our ecstatic faces, holding this moment in our hands like sunshine on the first day of Spring.



baby bump: week 32

dear baby,

every time i look and see that we are in single digit weeks left until you arrive i get so excited. sometimes i just go stand in your room [which will get done, i promise] and stand by the edge of the crib and imagine what it will be like to lay you there, or watch you sleep there. i also think about how quickly you'll probably grow out of that crib and how our lives will be changing constantly together.
speaking of change, i feel like it is only fair for you to know that your mama does not do awesome with it. and i know that you are going to be a HUGE change in my life. but i also know you'll be one of the best changes in my life, so i'm welcoming this change with open arms the best way i know how.

as i keep looking at these pictures of you and i growing i realize that soon i'll just have pictures of you...without me in them. i'm sure there will be days that i'll want to put you back inside me as i am quite enjoying this closeness that we share on a daily basis [even when that closeness means heartburn!].

your dad and i get to start our birth classes this week. we are going to have to miss some of your "aunt" torri's basketball games for this, which shows just how important it is to us to be prepared in the best way possible to bring you into this world. i think we're both getting a little more anxious about the actual process, but are trusting that the lord has brought us this far and will be faithful through the end as well.

we also put together your dresser this week. though it took a few hours we were both happy with the finished product, and are even excited about changing your smelly diapers atop of it [this may change in a few months!]. i also painted 4 canvases for you this week, each with one of the different character traits we pray you possess: compassion, modesty, joyfulness, and hospitality.

stay safe in there, sweet daughter, but know when you're ready that we are too!

love, mom



The other day I asked my students to write about the future-- if they found it scary, or unsure, or if they were excited about it. I remember sitting in their shoes and thinking about my own future. There were endless possibilities and yet it was a very scary, very daunting unknown.

One of them wrote about prom, as that is an immediate future they have to think about, and worry about, in their teenage saga. Others wrote about a ball game coming up next week, while others were very reflective and honest in their responses. One girl eloquently put, "Words cannot truly express what a gift and a burden the future is. A fog hides what is beyond today, and hides its knowledge until we find it."

Another wrote about a very specific, planned out future she has for herself, which includes becoming an English teacher [sigh, this always does my heart happy]. But then wrote, "Sometimes the future scares me because I have all these plans and I know there's a possibility that they won't work out. I know the future I want, and I don't want to think about that not happening. The unknown can be a scary thing because there's no way to anticipate or plan for it.... But nothing will stop me from going after the future that I want."

Another student honestly wrote, "I feel like I have procrastinated because I have no idea what I want to do in the future...there are so many choices and places I could make my dreams come true, but where?"

I remember having so many of these thoughts myself. If I could go back and tell myself a few things I think this would be part of what I would say:

Dear little Kelsey,

Someday you will be 25, almost 26, and you will be married to a wonderful man and have a sweet little daughter on the way.

Don't waste your time worrying about what guys think of you, or don't think of you. And especially don't worry about why no one asks you out on dates. Brent is worth not dating anyone else, so just hang in there, and be patient.

Even though math homework takes you forever, don't worry, you'll be fine in college and your career with what you do know how to do.

When people tell you that teaching isn't a good choice in career because the kids will drive you crazy, ignore them. When they tell you that it will be impossible to teach the next generation of children, ignore them. You will become a teacher and you will love the kids in ways you never thought possible and you will be creative and find new ways to reach out to that next generation. But you'll care more about the kid's hearts than what you teach them.

Those friends of yours that talk behind your back? Don't let them hurt your feelings. They are just trying to figure out how to love themselves by putting down others. Stay confident, and love yourself by forgiving them.

Be nice to the kids who are different. Dance with all the boys that ask you to dance because you'll regret possibly having hurt their feelings by turning them down.

When you go to college, get to know as many people as you can. You'll think you made the wrong choice to leave Brent, but you'll soon learn that God has it all under control. College will be a land filled with opportunities if you're willing to take them. Don't be afraid to try something different, or learn something new...now is the time.

Someday you'll have to make the decision to move far away from everything you've ever known. Do it with an open heart. Take risks while you're in the new city. Get to know as many people as you can. Do things you think you're afraid to do. You will grow up so much during this time and regret not taking full advantage of all it has to offer.

And someday, you'll get to come back "home" too. It will be tough at first, and you'll struggle with the transition and fitting back into to places you've outgrown, but dive in head first to the opportunities that await you there, and the relationships that have already been established.

Hold onto your friendships. You have good people in your life who love you well. Don't get so busy in your own stuff you forget to invest in people.

Smile. Be confident. Love others.

Little Kels, don't let people try to change you, or tell you what to do-- God made you and knows His plan for you. Cling to that hope. You have a creative spirit, and you're good with people...hold onto that, because the world needs creativity and compassion.



You know the verse in the bible that says, "Your body is not your own, you were bought at a price..."? I know this is in reference to how we should honor God with our bodies, but I keep thinking about the first part of that verse in relation to my pregnancy: Your body is not your own. I feel this couldn't be more true right now.

I haven't been overly sentimental about my bodily changes. Very few times have I said to Brent, "Remember when I had a flat stomach?" or "I'm going to weigh more than you by the time this is all over." But it is strange to watch my body shift and move and change and grow in such extreme ways in such a short amount of time. I can hardly walk past a reflective service without glancing over to see my belly. In those moments I have to remind myself that that is really me. I forget the belly is there, quite often, and will bump it on the counter or drip water or toothpaste onto its rotund surface.

The other day I was looking at my hair, over my shoulder, in the mirror. My back was to its reflective surface and I thought, "I don't even look pregnant..." and then I turned around. It's moments like these that I remember what my body looked like before. I mean, really, I had a small waist. My hips--now that's a different story-- but my waist was little. Brent could almost get both his hands around it. Am I sad that this is now gone? Very rarely, but there are moments when I realize I may never have that waist back and I wonder how I'll feel about it a year or two from now.

It has been an interesting ride, to say the least. I know it has all happened gradually, but looking back I feel like it has all just kind of happened at once. And now I feel my body is not my own.

These changes though have been incredible to experience as well. As I watch my belly expand [so far without stretch marks...hoo-rah!], I have to realize that this means my baby girl is growing as well. She is rolling and kicking and stretching and swallowing and blinking and all of these things are incredible. So an expanded belly is simply proof of God's miraculous work happening inside of me.

Is it tough sometimes to carry around another human being; to be responsible for her in ways I've never been responsible for another person before? Absolutely. Are there times I would love to just slip on a normal pair of pants and be comfortable? Heck yes. Are there moments of selfishness when I wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and I can barely stand up straight because my back is aching so much and I get angry that I'm so uncomfortable? Of course. Do I worry I won't be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes? No question. But do I miss "my body"? No.

Even though "my body is not my own" right now, I am learning to accept the new me in this process: The new me that is going to have to give up a lot more than her uterus in the upcoming years; The new me that is now a mother responsible for her baby's well-being.