Thursday, March 31, 2011

Love Letters

Hundreds of dewdrops to greet the dawn,
Hundreds of bees in the purple clover,
Hundreds of butterflies on the lawn,
But only one mother the wide world over.
~George Cooper

My mommy wrote me a letter today.  Actually, she wrote it last night.  LATE last night.  I woke up to the little blinking of my blackberry light and was pleasantly surprised to see her name in my inbox.  Oh, technology.  You change so many things and yet, some things do not change...

When I was a very little girl, my mom wrote me notes.  I found notes in my lunchbox.  I found them on my pillow and propped against the mirror in the bathroom; I even found notes tucked into my pile of folded laundry waiting to be put away...

My mom surrounded, encompassed and held my childhood together with little random notes of love.  Sometimes it was a congratulatory note about my most recent test or project for school.  Sometimes it was to tell me that she hoped I'd have a "blessed day." Sometimes it was to remind me that I could "do all things through Christ who strengthened me" and during the rough, tumultuous middle-school years, those little notes usually included reminders that I was "beautiful, inside and out" and that I was "fearfully and wonderfully made."   

I bet I received a mom-note for every event of my life.  Graduations, acceptances into choral groups and school plays, honor rolls, birthdays, milestones, EVERYTHING.  My mom even inspired other people to write to me.  For my thirteenth birthday, she secretly asked all of the most important people in my life to write me a letter.  They did -- dozens and dozens of them -- and my mom collected them into a beautiful scrapbook for me to treasure.  

When I went away to college, my mother's notes stopped showing up at my place at the dinner table and began arriving in Box 845.  Hundreds of letters.  The old fashioned kind that would sit in my mailbox in the Student Life Center and feel so good to hold in my hands.  Those letters were my tangible connection to home.  To love.  To knowing that someone believed in me and was rooting for me and was excitedly looking forward to seeing me. 

There are a lot of women who are good mothers.  And sadly, as I've gotten older, I've realized that there are a lot of people -- a LOT of people -- who didn't have good mothers.  They didn't grow up being sheltered and protected and staunchly defended by the eternal love of a very good woman.  But I did.  I most certainly did.

My mommy wrote me a letter last night.  She had just finished "catching up" on my blog, and she wanted to tell me what she liked about my posts and how she'd laughed at certain ones and been proud of me for others.   She told me a funny story about her week and asked if I was feeling better -- had I worn the green socks she sent me on St. Patty's day?  She ended her letter with love and reminded me that she is always, always praying for me.  She signed it "your own Musmi," because that is what I call her.  

There are people who are easy to love.  

There are people who teach you to love.   

And then, there is my Musmi.  Who IS love.  

If the whole world were put into one scale, and my mother in the other, the whole world would kick the beam.  ~Lord Langdale (Henry Bickersteth)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Divinely Beautiful

In Anne of Green Gables, Anne asks Diana if she would rather be "divinely beautiful, dazzlingly clever, or angelically good?"  

I started to write a long blog about beauty, but honestly -- what could I possibly say that hasn't already been said in a thousand different books written by a thousand different women?  

I know what I should say, and I know what God's word says.  

And yet, here's the brutal honesty of today's blog:   

Today, I gauged my beauty by looking at someone else and wishing I looked "like her." 

O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
~William Shakespeare, 

I emailed my green-eyed monster feelings of discouragement and blechy-ness to a friend, and she listened, supported and then called me to the carpet.  

Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I Peter 3:3-4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

Proverbs 31:3
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

I can’t end this blog by saying “the verses brought me back to my senses and now I feel beautiful from my inner spiritual core,” but I can admit that I’m in process :)  And it’s good to have friends who remind me of Truth when I desperately need to hear it. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

...and so it's a good thing I don't have kids.

We started the weekend well -- with popcorn and a movie: Megamind.  I'd never seen it, but Faith had, so she made sure to tell me what was going to happen as it was happening.  "and this is when Megamind THINKS he killed..." hahaha -- it was lots of fun. 

Finally I get her to bed.  It is 11:30.  This is troubling, but I secretly think that she'll sleep in the next morning, so there is an internal justifying of the late hour bedtime. 

Light woke me at 6:32 am.  When I stumbled into Faith's room, she was reading a book and my croaky, "Faith! What are you doing up -- it's still the middle of the night!" did not seem to sway her back to sleep.  I went back to sleep, though, and got a blissful 40 minutes before I heard "Auntie Ro, can I watch a movie?" I trundled out to the living room, set up the dvd, and went back to bed for another hour.  I mean, wow.   That girl got like 6 hours of sleep, max.  Cuh. Razy.

 When I finally got UP around 8 am, we sloshed through the rain and wind in our pj's to get our donut holes.  Then we came back and watched a movie all morning -- good times, good times. 

My plan was to get us both ready and out the door in time for lunch and then the show at SWU at 2.  I forgot that an eight-year-old doesn't always understand the importance of the "plan." We got out the door, barely in time to make it to SWU, and I'm ashamed -- so ashamed -- to confess to you that I COMPLETELY forgot two things:

1. Someone didn't remember to "do" her niece's hair.
2. Someone also didn't remember to ask her niece to brush her teeth. 

We made it to the play, but without an official lunch, I am ashamed to say.  I am further ashamed that I tried to placate the lunch situation with a zaxby's drive-through, but someone didn't want chicken; they just wanted fries.  Sigh.  So here's the day so far:

Unbrushed hair.  Unbrushed teeth.  French fries for lunch.

So far, Auntie Ro is an EPIC FAIL as a substitute mom.  I freely admit this :)

Because of my epic fail with lunch, little girl made it through the first act, but we had to ditch the second because of grumpy, grumpy hunger-pants.  I would judge, but I can't.  My sisters know how grumpy I am until I'm fed.  It's rather shocking.  So...

I suggested a slice of pizza.  We ended up with cheesy sticks. Considering that her mother specifically asked me to try to keep this weekend healthy... well, the Epic Fails continue.  Forgive me, sister A. 

Potentially, I may have also introduced her to garlic butter sauce, which she'd never heard of before.  <insert apology here>

Niece-a-kiss fell asleep in the car on the way home.  Now she's had her bath, is in her pj's, and we are about to make tacos at home.  I am going to attempt a lettuce-tomato seduction, but she's already warned me that she likes her tacos with "JUST meat and cheese. That's all."  We shall see...

Friday, March 25, 2011


My niece is coming to spend the weekend with me.  Sister A is going to a ladies retreat in the mountains, and she is allowing me to shelter and feed her most precious treasure for two days :) 

This morning, sister A told me that my niece said, "Auntie Ro is the funniest Auntie in the whole wide world!" (or something along those lines), and I've gotta tell you -- it mighta kinda sorta made my DAY.  We have "traditions" at Auntie Ro's house.  Here are a few of them:

* At Auntie Ro's house, there are always "hot chips."
Years and years ago, I brought some Doritos to a lunch or something, and my niece had never tried them before!  She loved them and has been calling them "hot chips" for as long as I can remember...My sister doesn't keep them at her house, because it's one of those things that is special for Auntie Ro's visits. 

* At Auntie Ro's house, we always watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
This is a movie I never get tired of watching, and I introduced her to it last year, I think.  Our favorite parts are:  the fizzy-lifting drinks, where they have to burp to save themselves; the carbonation-powered train, where they get covered in heaps and mounds of frothy bubbles; and the part where one of the dads says, "I've got a blueberry for a daughter!"  We laugh and laugh and laugh.  Usually, my niece rewinds these parts at least 3 times while we watch. 

* At Auntie Ro's house, we always get up early on Saturday morning and drive through Dunkin Donuts in our pj's to order my niece F her very favorite breakfast: Donut Holes. 
We make sure they include powdered, (her fav), chocolate and blueberry (our mutual favs) and "only a couple" jelly-filled (my fav).  Also, we get milk.

* At Auntie Ro's house, F always drinks out of a special pink cup I save especially for her visits. 
It is pink and plastic and she always gets to pick the color straw she wants to put in it.  I have many colored straws.

* At Auntie Ro's house, when my niece comes to visit, she gets to take a BUBBLE bath in the "swimming pool" bathtub. 
It is a 2 person whirlpool tub with jets and my 8 year old niece gets lost in it.  She loves it, although she is always a little nervous about "starting up" the jets.  ("They're so loud, Auntie Ro!")

This weekend, I have lots of fun things planned and my camera will be joining us on our adventures... stay tuned :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Caramel Deeeeelights

This year, I had a special Girl Scout cookie connection -- my very good friend's daughter was trying to sell I-can't-remember-how-many boxes of cookies, so I did my part and ordered ten.  Yes, ten.  At the time, ordering so many seemed like a great idea.  And then I started weight watchers.  Enter obvious joke now.  Haha :)

Now, apparently, one can enjoy GS cookies and STILL stay on WW target.  But just to safeguard myself from what I know will be Killer Temptation, I am gifting most of the boxes to family and friends.  (Which was really my idea from the beginning, to be honest.)

Hilariousness.  Weight watcher books and point counters next to a mound of cookie boxes.  I kinda love it.  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home Sick

I'm home sick with a stomach bug I caught from the collegiate masses.  The bad news is, being sick is no fun.  The good news is, TCM is doing a marathon of Irish movies for St. Patty's Day, so I'm lounging on the sofa in my comfiest fluffy socks and my softest quilt and watching old black and whites with bad accents and silly story lines.

Bad reason to be home on the sofa, but good day to have sunshine and the comfort of old movies.

Joy and Temperance and Repose
Slam the door on the doctor's nose.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow    

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


"True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person or circumstance. People describe intercession by saying, "It is putting yourself in someone else’s place." That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place; it is having His mind and His perspective."
-- Oswald Chambers

"Patience is more than endurance. A saint's life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says--'I cannot stand anymore.' God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God's hands.
-- Oswald Chambers


Monday, March 14, 2011

Papers, Papers Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

Haha -- that is NOT the way the quote goes... but whenever it's essay-grading time, I always feel like I'm surrounded, smothered and encompassed by mounds and mountains of paper. 

Let me see if I can find the real quote!

Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

It's from Coleridge -- "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."  Although I must be honest -- I'm pretty sure I heard it first from Gene Wilder's crazy-haired Willy in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Probably my favorite movie of all time.  :) 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Letters to My Future Husband

When I was fourteen years old, my best friend and I started Letters to My Future Husband journals -- at the time, it was the most romantic thing we'd ever thought of, and we were SURE that we'd be meeting our husbands in four more years (because everyone meets their husbands in college, we thought).  We were practical; our Future Husbands needed to know us as teenagers.  We would write letters to them so that they could.  This was our plan.   

I was so very certain of meeting him.  Of meeting him soon.  In fact, because I was so scared that I'd meet him before I'd filled up my journal, I wrote my letters on only one side of each page -- double-spaced, even.  I told him what I doing in school, where the youth group was going for mission trips, how I was growing in my walk with the Lord.  I told him everything that I thought he'd want to know about his wife when she was in high school.  I was totally honest -- describing my weight and my fears and my secret worries.  I wanted my future husband to know my deepest secrets.  I held nothing back :)  By the time I went to college, the journal was halfway complete.  There seemed an appropriate amount of room left to write my love story. 

In college, I continued to write him letters.  This time, with more excitement.  After all, I thought, I could be dating him right now!  Or, when that relationship wouldn't work out, I would think, "today could be the day I meet him!"  The letters were longer, full of deeper longings and bigger dreams.   

Freshman year. 

Sophomore year.

Junior year.

Senior year.

When I graduated college, I took my first "real" job and my first "real" apartment, and I kept writing.  Where was he?  What was taking him so long?  It felt like I'd been waiting my whole life.  I began using both sides of the pages. I wrote about friends getting married, my travels, my graduate school experiences... I never stopped writing.  He seemed closer, somehow, when I did.   

In my twenties, relationships were sometimes analyzed by asking myself the question: "could I give this man my FH journal?"  The man who would treasure the dorky, hopelessly romantic silliness of the Future Husband Letters would be a man worth my heart.  And when I thought "this could be it" and then, it wasn't -- I was disappointed, but all the more sure that God was protecting me for The One.  The One who'd treasure my silly, secret, worn journal full of letters.  That journal became a symbol; by writing in it, I attempted to reassure myself that it would be read one day.   Although, it must be confessed, I wrote in the FH journal less frequently -- there were so few pages left...

Somewhere between twenty-seven and the big three-oh, it occurred to me that maybe there WAS no Future Husband.  This was, I'm not going to lie to you, a pretty massive realization.  What if God's best for my life was singleness?  What if no one ever saw the Letters?  Something shifted in my heart and I stopped thinking of my life as a "someday" and began to make it into a life I loved right now.  The truths most real to my heart became the following:

God is good. 

Life is a gift. 

I can enjoy it -- FULLY enjoy it -- as a single person. 

I put the journal away.  I embraced my NOW life.  I started buying matching bras and panties, just because I wanted to and even though there was "no man" to see them.  Haha!  (My friends thought this was weird.)  I bought a car.  I did my own taxes.  I bought a house.  I made dinner for my friends.  I hosted Thanksgiving and roasted a turkey without my mom's help.  Lol.  I took out my own trash; I bought my own dishes; I took myself on vacation with friends.  I did a lot of things by myself.  The one thing I didn't do was write in that journal.  It sat in a drawer and I almost forgot about it. 

The year I turned thirty, I was absolutelyandcompletely in love with a man I thought I'd marry.  I wrote him a letter telling him the exact date and time when I knew he was The One.  But I didn't write the letter on one of the final pages of the journal; instead, I wrote in on stationary, folded it, and slipped it inside the journal.  In retrospect, I don't know what compelled me to write my love letter to this man on a piece of stationary rather than on one of the journal's last empty pages... I don't know.  Maybe it was because it was the first time I'd written a letter to a specific man, rather than to "my future husband."  I just know, now, that it was a good call.  Haha :)  It's been three years since I wrote that letter, and I am NOT married to the man it is addressed to.  Surprise, surprise. :)

The journal still exists; there are two empty pages left. I know this because I was cleaning out a drawer the other day and ran across it -- hidden away in a place I never look, full of thoughts I typically don't let myself think about -- and I considered opening it and re-reading. 

But I didn't. 

I know what's in there; I know the longings and dreams captured in adolescent handwriting and college confessions.  I know the lonely nights that prompted me to write in it and the joyous celebrations I wanted to share with him that caused me to open it.  I know that book because I've been writing in it since I was fourteen.

Let me say this.  My life is wonderful. WONDERFUL.  I have a glorious family and the most amazing friends -- and God is so incredibly faithful.  I wouldn't change a single year of my life unless it was to reflect His glory more completely or to know Him more intimately.  I am content.  Very, very content. Contentment is not perfection, of course.  I'm doing weight watchers and trying to listen to Dave Ramsey, because let's be real -- I could stand to lose some pudge and I'm terrible inept with money... but I have a beautiful life.

I have thought about throwing the Letters to My Future Husband journal away -- just as I feel I've finally thrown away the expectation that there is a man out there who will someday read it.  It's enough to know that the Lord saw all of those hopes and dreams.  He SAW and He ANSWERED and He is always enough.  Always.

But for some reason, I have kept that silly little journal. 

It sits in my drawer, tucked away -- no longer a reminder of what I don't have, but a reminder of what I DO: contentment and happiness.  And even though I've surrendered my expectations, I have also walked with the Lord long enough to know that He loves to surprise His children -- to give exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we could ask or imagine.

So, I'm keeping it.  And I'm reserving the last two pages.  Because the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I know that sometimes He does things we are not expecting.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March Madness

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  ~Charles Dickens

In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.  ~Mark Twain

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Happiest Millionaire

"I've been bit on my finger.
It could have been my leg.
It could have been my head; I might have died."

Sister A left this THM quote on my facebook wall last night.  And every time I've thought about this movie, I've had to smile today.  I love how my sisters can say one phrase -- one well-placed, inside joke from childhood -- and my whole day is made. 

If you've never seen Fred McMurray play an eccentric millionaire treasurig his pet alligators and going on chocolate cake diets, you must.  The entire thing is, to sound like my mother, "a hoot."  

"What's wrong with that?  What's wrong with that? My family rushing to my side -- what's wrong with that?"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Puzzle Pieces

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.  ~Frank A. Clark

You can't lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself.  ~Gene Mauch

Talked to a wise person today, who helped me see a central piece in the puzzle I've been working on for the past several months.  A good morning.  Feeling thankful.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

14,000 Things to be Happy About

Years and years ago, my beloved college friend J gave me a thick little pudgy book titled 14,000 Things to be Happy About.  I don't read it cover to cover; it's not that kind of book.  It's the kind of book you grab, flip to some random page, and read.  I used to keep a highlighter near it, and when an item in the list caught my eye, I'd highlight it.  I also dog-ear the pages that are my favorite.  Today's blog is in honor of this little white book that has kept me company for ten years now.  These are the things I am happy about, in this moment and on this Saturday:

Soft spring rain.
The feel of the warm, skinny vanilla latte cup in my hand.
Starbucks colors (warm oranges and browns and yellows)
Writing "to do" lists on brown, recycled paper napkins.
Cinnamon-chip scones.
Mellow music by Sting and Joan Collins.
Good hair days.
The passage in I Corinthians that promises that "when the perfect comes, the imperfect will disappear" (my Rosina-translation)
My favorite pen.
A silent cell phone.  Lol.

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think.  Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.  ~A.A. Milne

'Cuz I Need You Now Tonight...

For the past several months, Friday nights have been a leeeeetle uncomfortable.  A strange kind of horrible chanting-type sound has come from the neighboring apartment, and I've had to sleep with the exhaust fan on to block out the awkward noise.  Now, I've been pretty patient (aka, I haven't called the mgt office to complain) because I thought it was a kind of spiritual chant.  So I've buckled down and tolerated.  Alas and Alack.

Hilariously, my hypothesis was COMPLETELY wrong.  Tonight, I was right next to the wall I share with the aforementioned neighbors, and I figured out the noise.  SOMEONE is "singing" karaoke on Friday nights.  I kid you not.  The human noise was attempting a very painfully rendered but obviously passionate rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." Sigh.  "Once upon a time there was light in my life; now there's only love in the dark."

But there's nothing I can do.  It's a total eclipse of the heart.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Service, not Servant

This weekend was fabulous!  My sister G turned 27 and ALL of the sisters united for a weekend to celebrate her and her awesomeness.  We laughed, we ate good food, we spent hours around the table reminiscing and swapping stories.  It was a fantastic weekend with my four best friends.  I am incredibly blessed to have the sisters I have, the parents I have, the life I live.  Incredibly blessed. 

 Saturday lunch (photo is missing sister C, who arrived Sat night...)

Birthday girl and some of her adoring family fans :) 

On Sunday, we all went to Myabi's for some delicious hibachi-style Japanese.  Our server and chef were incredible, and we cheered and laughed and oooh'd and ahhh'd and generally made sure that they knew they were doing an excellent job serving us.  Because there were eight of us, we took up the entire side of the grill, and that, my friends, was EPIC.  It is the best way to enjoy hibachi, I think.  It's always so awkward to share with strangers...

Anyway, our server kept saying how kind we were, how nice we were, etc, and I was a little perplexed until my sisters pointed out that the group across from us hadn't expressed any excitement or joy over their chef.  They were morose and sullen, eating silently (even the teenagers and kids) and wearing frowns almost constantly.  My sister noticed one of them grab the chef's large container of "white sauce" (possibly the best part of the hibachi experience -- yum!) and pass it around to their family members.  The chef's face was a study in politeness -- my sister felt sure he wanted to snatch it back and teach them a lesson in rudeness, but he obviously felt he couldn't. 

It's a SERVICE being offered, people, not a SERVANT to be treated as a low-class citizen.  Everyone wants their work to be appreciated, whether you're a teacher, a hair stylist or the hibachi chef at Myabi's.  It makes me upset when people aren't treated well; when their work isn't respected or enjoyed.  It fires me up. 

Unfortunately, showering the people across from us with white sauce and screaming at them was not really an option.  Haha.  So, we tipped OUR server/chef really well, gushed about the fabulous experience, and left Myabi's smiling.  Hopefully, our server and chef felt appreciated and valued.

Oh, and as a random postscript -- my dad taught me not to date men who don't tip, or who treat wait staff poorly.  Dad says men who don't tip or act rudely towards the wait staff are scum.  So I always check the tip when I'm on a date :)