Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Eulogy for Dotty

A few years ago I prayed a very specific prayer: “God, I know this is kinda weird but could you please make sure Dotty stays alive until I find my husband?”

Somehow I knew He heard me and would answer.

So when Dotty was put down last week, I cried lots of fat, salty tears but I was also reminded of God’s faithfulness and the intimate ways He cares for us.  Only He knew that 15-year old Katie was going to need that kitten for a long time.  Only God knew that “Dot,” named after my favorite Animaniac, would become Dotty- my faithful cat who lived to be 18 (96 in human years).

I can still picture myself in the locker room 18 years ago.  Sarah Rangle was telling me about the kittens her cat had just had and I couldn’t wait to go home and ask my parents if I could have one.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned myself 18 years later, finally saying goodbye to that kitten.

Dotty saw me through my teenage angst years.  I’d come home from school and collapse on my bedroom floor, exhausted from all the homework and the basketball practices and the drama that only teenage girls can truly understand.  Dotty would silently approach and lay on my back.  No questions asked.

When I switched high schools and my best friend moved away, Dotty was there to keep me company on lonely Friday nights.

She was there when I was wearing cropped sweaters and she lived long enough to watch our beloved puppy Swish grow old and eventually die.

Image-1Dotty forced me to keep “our” room clean and would pee on any pile of clothes left lying on the ground.  Who knew a cat could teach me to tidy up?  She once peed in my open gym bag and I had to practice wearing a jersey soaked in cat urine.

Dotty was a feisty cat for sure.  To be honest, not many people liked her when she was young.  She was fiercely loyal to me but didn’t let many others touch her.  If, on the off chance, she did let you pet her, she’d be purring one moment and in the next, she’d attack your hand.  Sometimes drawing blood.  Her mood swings were fast and dramatic.  She sometimes tore up my homework and she often terrified small children.

But when my grandma died and I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone, Dotty was the one who nuzzled close to me, purring hard, while I cried myself to sleep.

When I went off to college, I left Dotty with my parents.  I’d come home for Christmas and again collapse in my room.   In college, the homework was longer, the basketball practices were harder, and sleep was a precious commodity not easily found when there were adventures to be had.  So on that first night home, I would sleep for 14 hours straight.  My mom would check to make sure I was breathing and Dotty would remain curled up next to me until I awoke.

Dotty was there when I first started teaching.  I had moved home after college and was pulling 12 hour days at the school and discovering that being a first year teacher is even more exhausting than being a 15-year old girl.  I’d come home from work too tired to talk.  But Dotty never demanded conversation.

When I moved to Mozambique, I again left Dotty with my parents.  I came home over Christmas and again collapsed in bed with my faithful cat purring by my side.sleeping

When I moved back to America and found a new job and roommates, I decided to take Dotty with me.  My parents had acquired a new puppy who didn’t know his know own strength and was terrorizing my poor cat.  She meowed the whole way to our new place since she had never left my parent’s home and was terrified, but after a week, she loved her new set up.

For the first year, Dotty stayed upstairs.  She spent her entire day in my room or sun-bathing on the balcony.  This was the year I needed this cat the most.  I was experiencing reverse culture shock and felt wildly out of place everywhere I went.  I came home from the grocery store in tears because I was so overwhelmed by the excess.  I felt like no one understood me- understood how I’d changed in Africa and how my world had grown so much bigger.  But Dotty understood my sadness and continued to comfort me by simply sleeping by my side.  Or on my back.  Or my stomach.  Or my face.

After a year at our new place, Dotty started venturing downstairs.  My gracious roommates let this frisky cat roam our halls and when I’d leave on vacation, Dotty would sleep in Becky’s bed.  I forgot to warn her about Dotty’s need for a tidy room, but luckily Becky has a good sense of humor and laughed when my cat peed all over her stuff.  Dotty once brought a giant bird into the house and my other roommate, Rachel, put on gloves, caught the bird, and literally threw it out.  I’m so grateful for these girls who put up with me and my crazy cat.

I was in my late-20’s, living in a house with single girls and an old cat.  There were lots of “crazy cat lady” references made, but I didn’t care.  I loved that cat.  And I loved my life.  Even though there were many lonely nights.IMG_2578

I’ve known Dotty longer than I’ve known most of my friends, so they all know her well.  They’ve sat on my bed and found themselves covered in cat hair.  They’ve shared my bed and been pounced upon in the middle of the night.  Two of them have learned the hard way that your clothes will be drenched in piss if you don’t zip up your suitcase at night.  One of them even found a turd in her bag, courtesy of Dotty.  (Sorry about that, Lindsay!)

Dotty was there every time I hung a new bridesmaid dress in the closet.  Twelve in all.  She was waiting for me as I came home from bachelorette parties, from bridal showers and weddings and later from baby showers and little kid birthday parties.  She was by my side as I checked out profiles on e-harmony.  And she was there when I’d come home after yet another awful first date.

She laid beside me as I journaled and cried out to God, “When?! When will it be my turn?”  She accompanied me on the balcony as I studied the scriptures and found comfort in my Savior’s words and contentment with the life I’d been given.

When Rachel got married and Becky and I decided to move, this is when I pleaded with God to keep Dotty alive.  I was 30 and still had never had an official boyfriend.  I had a wonderful job, wonderful family, and wonderful friends, but I still spent every night alone in my room.  And I needed that cat.

After 5 years in the single girls house, Dotty and I moved back in with my parents.  The puppy that had terrorized her before had grown into a 90-pound beast with a gentle soul.  This massive chocolate lab, who was more afraid of Dotty than she was of him, now joined us on my bed at night.IMG_2568

These two became unlikely friends, forced to enjoy the other’s company when no one else was home.  I enrolled in night classes at Biola’s seminary so I only saw Dotty from 10 pm to 6 am during the week.  Again, I would come home exhausted and collapse in bed.  Again, Dotty would crawl on my back and we’d drift off to sleep.

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A year later, I met Paul.  This was the first boy I brought home to meet my parents.  And to meet Dotty.  I told him about her on our first date.  I needed him to know that I was 31, lived with my parents, and had a cat.  I was giving him an out if he wanted one.  But he didn’t.

Paul would lay on my bed and watch TV with me and I knew Dotty was miffed.  She wasn’t fond of sharing me, but eventually she got over it and let Paul pet her.

Dotty got real sick right before our wedding.  I took her to the vet and found out she was dying.

She wasn’t in pain though, so I took her home and when we got married, I decided to leave Dotty with my parents.  If she had come with us, she would have been alone all the time and very unhappy.  She and Nike, the giant lab, had become friends and in her old age, Dotty had become more fond of humans and wanted company.  The vet said this often happens.  When cats get really old, they often become kinder.

Paul called it the “9-life theory,” believing cats must sense when they’re on their 9th life, so they drop the snarky attitude.  Dotty still shied away from small children (she wasn’t stupid), but now she demanded attention from everyone.  When my grandparents from the Philippines stayed with my parents for a few months, they didn’t realize this cat would want to share their bed:

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When I came home to visit, I’d always run upstairs to find my cat in our old room.  My niece and nephews were fascinated with Dotty and in her last days she started letting them pet her.  She had grown sickly skinny, but she still chased birds, insisted I pet her while I was on the toilet, and refused to allow her stomach to be touched.  She kept some of her sass until her last breath.

My parents cared for her until the very end.  They didn’t sign up for this job 18 years ago, but I’m so grateful they let my cat live out 13 years and her final months with them.

This is the last picture I took with Dotty:Image-1-3

And this is the very first picture I posted on Instagram:

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I never did teach her to cross her eyes, but she was the inspiration for many blog posts (see the category entitled “Dotty”) and the subject of many other Instagram posts:

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I came in and out of Dotty’s life- jetting off to college and Africa and my new married life- but she never held that against me.  I mean sure, she’d sometimes poop on my bed when I had been gone a long time.  She knows how to use her feces to voice her displeasure.  But she always welcomed me home, no matter where I had been or how long I had been gone.

Dotty was there for more than half my life.  She saw me through the mountaintop moments and the lonely valleys from age 15 to 33.  She was a constant when everything else in the world was changing.

At age 15, I had no idea how much I would need this cat, how much she would comfort me in the next 18 years.  She was sassy, often puked on the carpet, and clawed me when giving a “massage.”  But she was faithful.  And she was mine.

Dotty was truly a gift from God.  Her long life was an unexpected and undeserved measure of His grace, for which I am forever grateful.

Bookworms, Unite!

It’s the first week summer and you know what that means….It’s time for book recommendations!!!

Before we get talking books, two quick things:

1) You can subscribe to the blog.  Don’t worry, I don’t think I’m big time now.  The only reason I did this is because my cousin Jamie requested it since she isn’t addicted to Facebook like the rest of us, but still wants to know when I update this baby.

Over to the right (or at the bottom if you’re on your phone) there is a place where you can enter your e-mail and get notified every time the blog is updated.  Now you’ll never miss a word I say.  Unless you’re a student of mine.  In which case, you’re probably tuning me out this very moment.

2) Post # 3 in the series about my closet is coming but is delayed.  Paul and I fly to Alaska today and considering the fact that we’ll be sleeping in a tent with a gun (in case of bears), I’m guessing I won’t be blogging much during the week.  And if you never hear from me again, assume I was eaten by a bear.  Kidding, Mom!

Okay, now it’s party time!  Time to talk books!

Non-book nerds, feel free to skip this post and come back in a week.

Fellow worms, I love when you share your recent recommendations, so don’t be bashful!

Perhaps you recall the time I offered book recommendations HERE and HERE.  If you’ve never checked out those lists, they include most of my favorites.  Also, several people left really great recommendations in the comments sections.  Thanks for that!

The following list is of the books I’ve read recently.  So without further ado, here is the 2015 Summer Reading List:

1. Red Queen

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If you love teen fiction as much as I do, you’ll LOVE this new series.  But if you’re tired of reading about dystopian societies with a an unlikely heroine, you may want to skip this one.  It’s the next Hunger Games/Divergent type of series and it had me completely captivated.  Paul bought this book for me because he is learning to speak my love language of gifts, and more specifically, gifts of teen lit.

2. Legend

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My friend Hilary recommended this series last year and I was instantly hooked.  I am such a sucker for this genre of teen lit!  Warning: it’s not the best writing.  In fact, it’s kind of terribly written and you might feel patronized by how simple it is.  BUT the story is fascinating!

It’s another messed up society but it’s more realistic than some of the other series because it is based on a future where there is a giant flood that separates the east part of America from the west and completely destroys whole continents.  It’s a future where the chaos of the flood opens doors for dictators to rise and the geopolitical nature of the world to shift.  Plus, there’s another girl who saves the day.  Girl power!

3.  A Land More Kind Than Home

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If you want a book with more depth than all the teen fiction novels, consider this one.  To be honest, I read this one 2 summers ago, so I don’t remember the story.  I just remember loving it!

4. Tattoos on the Heart

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My friend Jeff gave me this book and since he is the one who gave me Father Elijah (now one of my all-time favorite books ever!), I knew it was going to be good.  These are Father Boyle’s true stories of working with gang members in LA in the 80’s and 90’s and HOLY MOLY- it is fantastic!!! I would lend you my copy but it’s covered in notes and highlighted to heck.  This book made me laugh and cry and live life more intentionally.

5. Edge of Eternity11389875This trilogy is a definite favorite of mine, but it is not for the faint of heart.  These books are looooong.  But in a good way.  And if you bust them out in public, people will think you’re really smart.  Or really nerdy.  Probably both.

If you don’t have the time for such a serious commitment, you don’t have to read the first 2 books of the series to understand and appreciate this final book.  It follows 4 different main characters living in Russia, the US, England, and East Germany during the Cold War and Civil Rights Era.  The only problem is that I was reading this book while I was teaching those units and I kept confusing actual history with the story.  Whoops!

If you love historical fiction, this will keep you entertained for days, weeks, maybe even months.  Like I said, it is super long.  And super good.  (ps- Follett tends to get a little too graphic at times.  This one is not as crazy sexual as some of his others, but there are still some scenes that made me blush and quickly turn the page.)

6. Yes Please

yesplease_1This book is what you’d expect it to be- a light, hilarious, quick and easy read.  It’s been on my bookshelf for the past few months and whenever I need a break from whatever book I’m reading, I pick it up and chuckle through a chapter.  If you love Amy Poehler, you’ll love her book, but be prepared: Amy swears A LOT more than Leslie Knopp.

Of all the funny girl books I’ve read, my favorite is still Mindy Kaling’s, but this one is for sure entertaining.  Someone recommended the audio version since Amy reads the book aloud- wish I had known that sooner!

7. The Happiness Project

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I started reading this book the day after Christmas.  I wasn’t unhappy.  Quite the opposite.  But it was day 3 of Christmas family gatherings and this introvert was WIPED OUT.  So when Paul’s aunt lent me the book, I pulled a typical Katie and while others held conversations that I was just too tired to hold, I stuck my nose in these pages and found refuge.

It misses the main point of happiness: God is the source of all our joy.  These pages could be filled with reminders of Jesus and how to live a happy, God-honoring life, but they’re not.

However, it is still pretty entertaining and has some interesting tips like,“Keep a gratitude notebook” and “Don’t expect praise or appreciation.”  I hadn’t realized my own need for gold stars every time I cleaned the toilet or made dinner until I read this.  I did not, however, agree with the finding that people who hugged others 5 times a day were found to be happier.  Non-huggers are happy people too!

8.  The Snow Child

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Jenny recommended this book and it did not disappoint!  Set in Alaska (go figure) in the 1920’s, this story is beautiful.  It is full of sadness and sprinkled with a little bit of magic.

9. A House in the Sky

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If you too are a bit of a wanderlust, you will most likely love reading Amanda’s travel stories from around the globe.  However, if you are sensitive like me, you will be wrecked by the story of her kidnapping and time in captivity in Somalia.  I haven’t cried this hard while reading a book in a long while.  Maybe ever.

The fact that this beautifully written story is true makes it remarkably intense and powerful.  Often times I wished it was fiction.  Halfway through the book, I recommended it to my friends.  A few days later I took back my recommendation.  “It’s too hard.  Too sad.  You might not want to read this.”

If you’re looking for a heart-wrenching story of adventure and tragedy, this may be your ticket.

10. Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?

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I’ve mentioned this book before because Cindy is a friend of mine and a letter I wrote to single girls is in the book.  All the single ladies should put your hands up and buy this hilarious book.  It will make you laugh and remind you that you are not alone.

11.  Z: a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

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If you enjoyed The Paris Wife, chances are you’ll love this one too.  It’s sad but super interesting- especially if you’ve ever wondered what Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald were like in real life.

12. Savor

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I totally judged this book by its cover.  Because the cover is awesome.  The book looks so cute on our kitchen table that I’d keep it there even if I wasn’t reading it.

I love Shauna’s writing style, and really enjoyed Bittersweet, but I offer the following caveat about this book: don’t expect it to be a devotional like Jesus Calling.  My sister-in-law told this to me and since I had switched my expectations, I wasn’t disappointed when I found the “devotions” are sometimes just Shauna’s stories peppered with some recipes and some words of wisdom.  Shauna is a wonderful story-teller who offers some great advice.  Plus, I’m going to try out her spicy Thai noodles tonight, so I’m not complaining.  But if you’re looking for something theologically “meaty,” this probably isn’t what your’e looking for.

13. Perelandra

PerelandraSpeaking of theologically meaty, if you love C.S. Lewis and you love Sci-Fi, this book might be exactly what you need this summer.  The first book in the trilogy, Out of the Silent Plant, was good, but this one is even better and you can understand it without having read the first one.  Paul told me to skip the third book altogether, since this book is the best in the series.

Warning: this book is weird.  Like really weird.  Or maybe it’s just “Sci-Fi” weird and I’m not used to that.  In any case, this is no Chronicles of Narnia.  But another world is involved.  Venus, or Perelandra, to be exact.  It’s short, but really dense and I find myself re-reading entire paragraphs and having to stop and think about what I’ve read.  Not exactly an easy, beach read.

The premise is that a man travels to Venus and discovers a world with only one man and one woman; a world with mermaids and bubble trees and beauty and wonder.  A world without death or pain or evil or sadness.  A world much like earth before the fall.  It makes me long for heaven.

The story resembles the Genesis 3 account where Eve eats the forbidden fruit, since the devil tries to persuade the female character to disobey God.  I’m halfway through the book and find myself yelling to the woman, “DON’T LISTEN TO HIM!!! HE’S EVIL!!!”

C.S. Lewis has a way of awakening in my soul a deep, hidden longing for God.  He also has a way of giving the enemy a face and reminding his readers that we are daily fighting a battle against invisible forces of evil.  While reading this book, I am continually reminded that there is so much more; that my time on this planet is limited and I am a tiny player in a giant, cosmic story of God’s kingdom in heaven and on earth.

14. What’s My Pee Telling Me?

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I include this only because my friend Katie has a weird aversion to odd numbers so I’m ending this list on #14 rather than # 13.  This is a legitimate book that Katie gave to me (along with What’s Your Poo Telling You?).  Ironically, it is so funny it might make you pee your pants.  If you’re looking for some reading material for the commode, these books are quite perfect.

Now for the list of books I plan on reading…

Here’s my stack of summer goodness from the school library:IMG_2165

Two of these are re-reads but the rest are new to me.  If you see any in the pile that were awful or boring, please let me know.

And if I was rich, I would buy all of these books from Costco:

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But alas, I am not rich, so I will most likely buy 1 or 2 of these books.  Have you read any of them?  If so, please let me know which books you liked or didn’t like.

Again, I’d love to hear your recommendations.  Happy reading!

A Closet Full of Stories (Part 2)

This is Part 2 in a series about my closet.  (You can find Part 1 HERE)  And because I am so long-winded, there will be a Part 3 in a few days.  Who knew I could talk about old clothes for so long?

God often speaks through His word, through sermons and nature and music and people.  But lately, He’s been speaking through my clothes.  He’s been reminding me of His truths and His faithfulness through shorts and dresses and tank tops.  Here are items # 6-8 in my closet that God has used to point to Himself.

6) My lacy summer shorts

On this, the first official day of my summer, it is only fitting that I tell you about my “summer shorts.”

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Over the past few years, a plain-colored t-shirt paired with these shorts has become my official “summer uniform.”  Does anyone else wear the same outfit 3 or 4 times a week during the summer?

Heidi originally bought them for me from Wet Seal.  Yes, that Wet Seal- the store for 13-16 year old girls.  Stop judging.  You can do karate kicks in these shorts without fear of ripping them.  You can eat a pint of ice cream and never have to unbutton your pants because they have an elastic band- perfect for a girl who gets monster food-babies.  They are basically maternity shorts for the non-pregnant girls who love to eat.

All my shorts get packed away during the winter, so whenever I pull these shorts out of the closet, it means one thing: summer is coming!

This past teaching year was my easiest and most enjoyable year, but there have been other years when I start a summer countdown in January.  Some years are hard.  Some seasons of life can be frustrating or disappointing or sad and might feel like they’ll never end.

But they will.

They always do.

In the middle of those seemingly endless winter seasons, these shorts remind me we must cling to the hope that no season lasts forever.  Psalm 30:5 says, “…the weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Or in my translation: “….the crappy times may last for a while, but grab your lacy shorts because summer is coming!”

7) My Iron Well tank top

Paul finds it a little bit ridiculous/ hilarious that my college friend group not only has a name for ourselves, Iron Well, but has made merchandise with our name on it:matchy awkward

That picture was taken 5 years ago.  Since then, there have been moves, marriages, and babies.  Lots of babies.  But while our families have grown and life-stages have changed, one thing has remained the same: the seven of us are still committed to each other.

Our most recent Iron Well attire is a tank top Anne’s husband designed for us to wear on our cruise:IMG_7445

Yes, we are that group of girls.  The group that proudly wears matching shirts, laughs obnoxiously loud in public places, and has a thousand inside jokes.

These girls are one of God’s greatest gifts to me.  Lesley recently was cleaning out her garage and discovered a tub full of our old love letters to each other.  We were creepily infatuated with each other in college and were determined ours would be a friendship that would last.

Our determination has paid off.

Because we’ve been so intentional about our friendship, we’ve remained close.  Almost every year since graduation we’ve had an annual Iron Well get-together.  This can be expensive and difficult (especially since there are now 15 Iron Well kiddos!), but we decided long ago the expense was worth it.

Lately we been using the “Glide” app, where we leave videos for each other every week.  Even though we’re spread across 3 different states and 7 different cities, we know what’s going on in each other’s lives.

We know when someone has a sick kid, a bad day, a theological question, or a good book recommendation.  We’re currently in a discussion about the upcoming Supreme Court decision concerning gay marriage.  But we’re equally invested in the conversation about whether or not jean capris are still in style. (Are they?  Aren’t they?  Feel free to weigh in.)

If you don’t check your phone for a few hours, you might miss 37 new videos from these girls.  So while we fold laundry, dry dishes, curl our hair, cook dinner and lay in bed, we watch our friends.  And we laugh.  And cry. And ponder.  And it’s almost like we’re back in the dorm rooms.

Paul has only met these girls once or twice but recognizes their voices and their laughs.  He knows their personalities and the names of their husbands and kids.  Because he overhears our endless videos to each other, he feels like he actually knows these girls.  I love that.

Every time I slip on my Iron Well tank, I am reminded that God has LAVISHED His love on me through these girls.  We may not live down the hall from each other any more, but we continue to invest in each other’s lives from a distance, and have learned that friendships like these are far too valuable for a price tag.

8)  My bridesmaid dress from Lindsay’s weddingIMG_2159

This dress is one of my favorites.  Not only is it super cute, it also has one of my favorite God stories behind it.  At Chris and Lindsay’s rehearsal dinner, I gave a toast and cried as I shared the story.

Lindsay and I met in an unlikely place:  Mozambique.  We taught in the classrooms next to each other and were instant “Africa BFF’s.”IMG_2146

Then Lindsay moved home to Texas and I moved home to California.  We called each other on occasion, but the calls became fewer and farther in between, and it seemed we would lose touch over time.  It appeared ours would be a friendship for just one chapter in our lives.

But God had other plans.

Because while we were in Mozambique running together, laughing with orphans together and eating raw cookie dough together, He was doing something wonderful behind the scenes.  He was setting up the foundation of a friendship which would become crucial for both of us in the next stage of life.

A year after we returned to the States and life was back to normal, I got a call from Lindsay.  A relationship had ended abruptly and her heart was broken into a thousand little pieces.  Coincidentally, the week prior, I too had lost a relationship I had thought was going to be long-term.

We cried together and then I had a stroke of genius. “Why don’t you come out here?  Get on a plane and come stay with me this summer.”

So she did.

And God did something special that summer.  He began the healing process in each of our hearts and used each other to do it.

Lindsay came out every summer for the next few years:

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Together we hiked and shopped and explored just about every single strip of coastline in southern California.  Our hearts were mended and we began the waiting game.  “Okay, God.  We’re ready to meet our husbands.  Now where are they?”

We both finally tried online dating and both failed miserably.  We called each other after terrible dates and talked about potential set-ups.  We were two girls in their 30’s, still living at home while most of our friends were married and turning into baby-making factories.

And then one day I got another call from Lindsay.  She had met someone.

She was behind him in line at Subway but didn’t say anything.  However, since he had on a name tag and they live in a small town, some quick online-stalking revealed they had a mutual friend.  The friend called Chris.  Chris called Lindsay.  They went out the next night.  Crazy talk.

Even crazier?

Three weeks later, I met Paul.

Even crazier than that?  Both boys were 26.  Lindsay and I laughed at our cougar status and marveled at the fact that the previous summer we were both single and now we both had 26-year old boyfriends.

A few weeks later, I called Lindsay to tell her things were getting serious.  Paul had dropped the “L” word.  Five days after my call, she called me giggling, to tell me Chris too had said, “I love you.”

On May 12, Paul popped the question.

On May 14, Chris did too.

Paul and I were married on September 20.

Chris and Lindsay said, “I do” on November 15.

As I told this story of bizarre timing at Lindsay’s rehearsal dinner, I talked about how cool it is that we serve a God who cares about us so intimately.  Only He knew Lindsay and I would need to wait for years to find our husbands (perhaps because they needed time to grow up!)  So during those years of living in the scary unknown, God provided for us in a way so like Him- He gave us each other.

His word and His presence provide amazing comfort, but sometimes you need flesh and bone.  Sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on, ears to hear you, and arms to embrace.  So God comforted us during our single years with each other.  He used our shoulders, our ears, and our arms to be His.

God entangled our stories and made it very clear He was behind it all.  I mean, come on, both of these guys are 26 and we meet them just days apart?!?  Then we fall in love, get engaged, and tie the knot on nearly the exact same timetable?

Maybe it was just coincidence.

Or maybe it was the work of a sovereign God who has perfect timing.  Maybe it was the work of a Father who loves to provide for His children and bless them in ways they could never imagine.

I’m inclined to believe the latter.

(Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series.)

Sunday Morning Confessions # 7-9

In an effort to force myself to blog regularly, I’ll be making 3 confessions on Sundays.  Seems like the right day for it.  Please don’t judge me, but do share your own confessions in the comments.  I need to know that I’m not alone on some of these.

7) I am OCD about the dishwasher.

I didn’t know this about myself until I got married.  For some reason when I became a wife, I also became a Nazi when it comes to dish placement in the dishwasher.

I consider myself a pretty laid-back kind of lady, but when Paul does this:IMG_2156

something inside me explodes.

BECAUSE THE BOWLS GO ON THE TOP RACK!!!

Really, Paul?  One little bowl is now taking the place of 4 potential plates!  Surely you can’t be okay with this.

At this point, when he doesn’t rinse his dish thoroughly or he, heaven forbid, puts a cup on the bottom rack, I honestly think he must be messing with me.  He can’t ACTUALLY think the cup belongs there.  Surely, he’s just joking.

BUT HE’S NOT!

Doesn’t he realize the cups belong up top with the bowls?  Doesn’t he see that there is clearly a place designed just for them and putting them anywhere else disrupts the entire system?!?

Why does he insist on bringing chaos to my order?

I don’t know where this OCD side came from.  I’m certainly not this way when it comes to vacuuming or cleaning mirrors or dusting.  (Because do real-life people actually dust on a consistent basis?)

But for whatever reason, I am a crazy person when it comes to the dishwasher.  Perhaps this is karma since I used to laugh at my brother-in-law for being so weird about the placement of dishes in the dishwasher.  Heidi always told me not to put my dishes in the dishwasher because Dan would just rearrange them later, anyways.  Dan, I apologize.  I understand you completely, now.

8) I have pregnancy brain.  But I’m not pregnant.

My level of forgetfulness is beginning to worry me.  It’s gone past your typical, “Why did I come into this room?” routine, and progressed into a whole other mess of scatter-braininess.

For instance, I helped plan a potluck for our staff last week.  E-mailed about it the day beforehand.  Texted with a friend about it the afternoon before.  And yet somehow, at 9:30 PM, Paul mentioned something about it being Wednesday and I said, “Wait!  It’s Wednesday?!?  So that means tomorrow is Thursday?!? I have to make beans!!!”

A confused Paul watched as I threw on sweats and ran out the door to the grocery store.

And then when I got to school, I plugged in my crockpot of beans and then FORGOT TO TURN THEM ON!!!  What is happening to my brain?  Is this what aging feels like?

Despite all my calendars and post-it reminders, it feels as if the older I get, the more things seem to “slip” from my brain.  I think I’ll call it slippery brain syndrome.  Anyone else experiencing this?

9) When I got married, my net worth was $15.

Literally.

I had been working for 10 years and all I had to show for it was a closet full of clothes, a fancy education, and albums full of pictures from far away lands.  When Paul recently mentioned the 15 dollar thing, I was actually a little excited.

Me: Wait, I’m not in debt?  Even with all those student loans and my car payments? This is fantastic!

Paul: Yeah, but you were one new shirt away from being in the red.

I suppose it should also be a confession that my husband knows much more about my financial situation than I do.  Apparently when we bought our house, a bunch of the documents said how much money I had after my car payments and student loans would be paid off.  I supposedly signed these documents about my net worth being $15, but I have no recollection of this statistic.  (Perhaps due to my slippery brain.)

At least I know Paul didn’t marry me for my money!

Now it’s your turn.  Do you go a little crazy when people mess up your order?   Are you a little nutty about the dishwasher like I am?  If not, is there another area you are a bit OCD about?  Does your brain seem to be malfunctioning like mine does?  Is there something you’re supposed to be remembering today, but you just can’t seem to remember what it is?  Did you have to tell your future spouse that you were brining college loans and a cat into the marriage? I’d love to hear any of your “me too” confessions.

A Closet Full of Stories (Part 1)

My closet is full of stories.

I’ve got all these shirts and shorts and dresses that bring me back to times and places I loved so much I can’t bring myself to throw them out, even when they’re torn or faded or terribly out of style.  Maybe this is why our guest bedroom is really “Katie’s second closet.”

Just as certain smells can bring back certain memories from long ago, when I slip on certain pants or old hoodies, I am transported back in time and can’t help but smile.  These clothes are lined with memories; the pockets are stuffed with laughter and adventure.  They hang in my closet and remind me of God’s goodness.

Does anybody else get this weirdly attached to their clothes?

I was thinking about this last week after I split my favorite pair of jeans.  Put them on, did my usual lunge/stretch, and riiiiiiiip! Giant hole in a very unfortunate spot.

I fell to the ground and yelled, “Dang it!!!!”

Because I’m not very dramatic.

I was so bummed because those jeans have been places with me.  They’ve been bundled up in suitcases and worn all over this planet.  They’ve traveled with me through my twenties and into my thirties and were even there when I licked a glacier:IMG_8936

They’ve been like an old faithful friend, and have, pardon my french, but covered my ass on many occasions.  Literally covered my ass-  these pants never showed my butt crack when I bent over.  They were practically magic.

There are a bunch of other items in my closet about which I am overly-sentimental.  Items that, if ever lost or destroyed, would really make me sad.  Here are some of their stories:

1) My Alaska flannel.

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Three years ago, I bought this flannel in a consignment store in Alaska.  All my shirts felt way too California, and I wanted a more “rustic” look so I could blend in with the locals.   In a few days Paul and I will be packing our bags to visit Jenny and Chris and their (now much bigger) kiddos.  You’d better believe I’ll be reaching for my flannel; it’s itchin’ to go on more adventures.

However, I will not be packing those shoes from the picture.  If you recall from THIS POST, we had a minor sewage spill and human poo splashed on them.  No memory is fond enough to make me keep poo-splattered shoes.

This shirt travels with me whenever I’m heading for a mountain adventure.  Not only are we going to see Jenny and Chris this summer, Paul and I will also be road-tripping it out to Fort Collins to see Katie and Cameron:IMG_2124

Jenny and Katie are two of my weirdest friends.  In the best way possible.  I met them both my freshman year at Westmont, Jenny a roommate and Katie a teammate.  I instantly knew our quirks were compatible.  At a time when I was quite vulnerable, with no idea how the next four years would pan out, God provided in one of the greatest ways:  He gave me these girls.

I’ve been adventuring with them for fifteen years now.  Fifteen years of sweet friendship, fifteen years of laughter and weirdness.  It’s been a remarkable fifteen years.

Both Jenny and Katie live in picturesque places a bit off the grid, and they both are on the lookout for adventure.  When I’m with them, I laugh so hard it hurts and I typically bust out this flannel.  So when the school year feels long and the days seem to drag, I pull out the flannel and remember that I have “quirky, mountain friends” just a phone call away.

2) My sequin dress

I found this treasure on the clearance rack at TJ Maxx.  I bought it with no event in mind, but now laugh at the places it has been.

First, chaperoning a Winter Formal.IMG_2096

Here I am with several of my girls who were in my Wednesday lunch Bible Study for four years.  Now they’re off in college becoming real-life adults and I am reminded how blessed I am to get to point girls to Jesus during such formative years.

Next, my cousin’s wedding.IMG_2087

I love this picture with my sisters, but there’s a picture from this day I love even more.

This was the day I introduced Paul to my extended family.  My aunt Laura ran over and embraced him before I could make introductions.  My aunties had been praying for Paul for years.  They just didn’t know his name.

When we were practicing our swing dance moves, my sister took this picture:IMG_2088

Later that night, I asked Paul if I could post it on Instagram.

This would be our first Instagram post.  Our first announcement on social media that we were “together.”  For a girl who had never had a boyfriend and let tons of students “follow” her, this was  HUGE deal.

But Paul still had a dumb phone and didn’t realize the magnanimity of posting a picture together, so he shrugged and said, “Sure, go for it.”  I was giddy with excitement as I hit “Share” because I knew what this meant for me.  I was telling the world, “Look, world, look what I found! Isn’t he wonderful?  I plan on keeping him forever.”

Don’t worry, I didn’t say that to Paul.  Might have freaked him out.  On second thought, he proposed 30 days later, so it probably wouldn’t have scared him.

Most recently the dress made an appearance at my friend Cindy’s book release party:IMG_2078

Yeah, I have a friend who wrote a book.  And it is awesome!  Single ladies, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Who’s Picking Me Up From the Airport? 

When Cindy first started writing the book, I was in the same boat as she.  Single with no prospects in sight.  Throughout the book there are letters written by Cindy’s single friends talking about their experiences.  In case you can’t find my letter, it’s the one with the mention of my date with the 47-year old janitor from Compton.

When I was writing that letter, I had no idea I would one day bring my husband to Cindy’s book release party.  And Cindy, confession time: Paul and I stuffed my purse with those sugar cookies at your party.  They were delicious.

3) My pink shirt

The ironic thing is that my mom originally bought this shirt for me to wear on a first date.  Yes, I was over 30 and my mom was still buying me clothes.  And no, the date was not with Paul.

I remember the day my sister took me to Nordstrom to pick out the perfect first-date outfit for what would hopefully be the perfect first date.  I hadn’t been on a date in a long time and we were all hoping maybe this guy was “the one.”

But he wasn’t.

We both knew it right away and there was never a second date.  Story of my life.  However, what Heidi and I didn’t realize is that when we were searching for the perfect “first date” outfit,  we were actually buying the shirt I would wear when I got engaged.  God must have been giggling in heaven.IMG_2077

Often I have these plans in my head of how everything will work out in my future.  And I really do wonder if God laughs.  He has such better plans in mind.  Such grander things in store.  If I would but wait and trust Him.

So this pink shirt reminds me sometimes I need to simply wait.  Sometimes I need to stop and trust His plans are better than I can even imagine.

4) My collection of international hoodies

Paul owns two sweatshirts.

Two.

So he was more than just a little shocked when I moved in and brought over a tub overflowing with only sweatshirts and hoodies.  I assured him I had already gone through it and had given away everything I didn’t absolutely love.  Again, I get way too attached to my clothes.

My problem is I get cold easily and assume the weather everywhere on the globe will be like Southern California.  So I arrive places and end up buying a sweatshirt out of sheer necessity since I didn’t pack warm enough clothes.

Case in point:IMG_2095

If you were wondering, yes, Trent is holding a stuffed ferret.

I love my collection of warm-weather attire from around the globe because it reminds me life is full of adventure.  And like my pink shirt, these sweatshirts remind me God’s plans are better than my own.

So so so much better!

If I had met Paul when I was in college, I never would have been able to travel like I did throughout my twenties.  (Plus, he was still in Middle School.  Ew!)  But since God’s plans required me to wait, I have gotten to see places I had never imagined.  I’ve collected memories and hoodies I will keep forever.

Now that I’m married, I don’t anticipate the adventuring to end.  I might not cross the Atlantic Ocean as often, but now I’ve got a partner in crime to search for adventure all around us.

5) My Boston Marathon jacket

This jacket hasn’t been many places.

Yet.

But that’s simply because it’s fairly new.  Here is it’s story:

When my friend Christina qualified for the 2015 Boston Marathon, I gave her two pieces of advice:

1) Bring your own toilet paper.  The hardest part about running the Boston Marathon was using the porta-potty before the race.  Thousands of people stand in long lines to “unload” in these germ-ridden, private poo-holes, aka: the bowels of hell or Satan’s stench-room.  I estimate roughly 300 people had already stankified the stall I entered with their morning dumps, so the toilet paper was long gone.  I looked around frantically and discovered my only wiping option:

The cardboard roll.

Desperate times, people.  Desperate times.

2) Buy the jacket.  Each year there is a new jacket for sale for those who run the Boston Marathon. The Dutch in me couldn’t fork over the dollars, so I settled for a cheap t-shirt instead.  Though I do wear that shirt all the time, I deeply regretted not buying the jacket and insisted Christina buy one for herself.

You can imagine my shock and delight when, a few weeks later, after Christina had run the marathon, she presented me with an early birthday present from e-Bay:
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This jacket will always remind me of Boston, but more importantly, of Christina._MG_0972

She’s the kind of friend everyone needs.  The kind that not only buys incredibly thoughtful gifts, but tells you what’s up.  Christina is the reason I have the wedding ring I wanted.  After I told her I wanted to marry Paul, she pulled up the Tiffany’s website and made me pick out styles I liked.

Then when Paul got ahold of that info and bought me my dream ring, it was Christina who noticed I had never washed it.  She is the kind of friend who will point out when your diamond ring looks grimy.

Not only that, she offered her tip of cleaning rings with denture cleaner and a toothbrush.  And when I procrastinated, she brought me the denture cleaner.  See what I mean?  This woman is an answer to a prayer I had never thought to pray for myself- a friend to help me navigate “adulthood.”  A friend to tell me what’s up.

And this incredibly loud jacket will always remind me of her friendship and the way God puts people in our lives we don’t even realize we need.

I’m not done yet.  I have five more items of clothing with stories of God’s goodness I want to share, but this post is getting out-of-control long so I’m stopping here.  Tune back in later this week when I’ll tell the stories behind my wedding dress, yoga pants, and more.  And if you have a story behind your clothes, I’d love to hear it!

Sunday Morning Confessions # 4-6

In an effort to force myself to blog regularly, I’ll be making 3 confessions on Sundays.  Seems like the right day for it.  Please don’t judge me, but do share your own confessions in the comments.  I need to know that I’m not alone on some of these.

4) I am turning into my mother. 

People always say this happens.  Apparently it’s a  thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom to pieces.  There is so much kindness and joy and generosity in her that I hope is somewhere in me too.  But she has some quirks that I used to mercilessly tease her about.  That is, until I discovered those same quirks may have rubbed off on me.

For instance, without a doubt, she will ALWAYS fall asleep while watching TV at night.  It could be 9:30 and after 10 minutes of watching a show, she’ll have her head back and be sawing logs.  This used to be really funny.  Until it started happening to me.  Some nights I don’t even make it past 9.

When we were younger, she used to turn off the car radio and say, “I just need some silence” all the time.  I used to think this was so bizarre.  And  then last week, I turned off the radio and said those same exact words to Paul.  He replied, “Soooo, am I allowed to talk to you?” He was.  But apparently when you turn 33, music just starts to get kind of annoying after awhile.

Also, my mom gets super dramatic when she’s carsick.  She flips off the radio, rolls down the window, and takes deep, over-exaggerated breathes.  This used to always make me giggle.  But one of the down-sides of growing older that no one told me about is that you might get much more motion-sickness than you used to.  Even the regular ol’ swings at the park, get me queasy now.  So when we were driving back from Big Bear, I became my mother and turned off all the music, put my head out the window, and began a lamaze routine.

I wonder if this is God’s way of teaching us not to make fun of people.  Karma, man.  It sucks.

5) In middle school, my favorite shirt was an oversized maroon shirt that said “MESSIAH.”IMG_5740

Talk about a real-life Jesus freak.

I loved the Bible-book store more than your average 13-year-old.

And I realize you can’t read the shirt since this little girl is copping a feel, but you get the idea.   This shirt was huge.  It had a Bible verse.  And paired with a classic turtle neck?  It really is a small wonder that I wasn’t more popular in middle school.

6) I gain weight when I train for marathons. 

All this running makes me hungry.  The other night I couldn’t decide between spaghetti or pasta with chicken and bacon.  So I had both.  I have a race in two weeks, but it seems I’ve gone a bit overboard with the whole “carbo-loading” thing.  I love pasta a little too much.

Friday was National donut day.  So naturally had three.  I figured I’d run off the calories later.  I love donuts a little too much.

What’s the point of running all those crazy miles if you can’t eat whatever you want?  Right?  Truthfully, that is a big motivation for my running.  That logic might have worked when I was 17, but this 33-year-old body isn’t playing by the same rules.

A few weeks ago my legs felt heavy on a 10 mile run.  When I complained about it to my friend Christina, and told her I thought I needed new shoes, she replied, “Do you think it could have anything to do with the fact that you had three bowls of ice cream yesterday?”

ZING!

And she was right.  I love ice cream a little too much too.

Now it’s your turn.  Are you turning into your mother?  Do you fall asleep watching TV, need silence in the car, or get carsick now that you’re older? What was your favorite outfit in middle school?  Do you struggle saying no to pasta, donuts, and ice cream?  I’d love to hear any of your “me too” confessions.