Friday, April 5, 2019

The Sleepover Manifesto - Why We Won't Do Sleepovers


The childhood sleepover. It is high up there on my Wish-I-Didn’t-Have-To-Deal-With-It areas of parenting, right along with questions like, “When can I have a cell phone?” and “Can we get a puppy?” Sometimes I just don’t feel like I have the energy to withstand the backlash that comes along with saying the hard “no” and doing what I feel to be my parental duty. Especially when “all the other families get to do it” which I hear no less than twelve times a day. “Well, we aren’t the other families, are we?” I hate saying it just as much as they hate hearing it. I’m still waiting for someone to hand me the user guide for these kids of mine, the easy how-to guide for getting it “right” and raising excellent humans and contributors to society. Somehow that instruction manual must’ve slipped out of the diaper bag when we took them home from the hospital. So I’m left to just sort of wing it. For the most part, I try really hard not to parent out of fear. I work hard to make decisions based on sound reason, evidence or conviction. This was one of the reasons we opted to put our kids in public school. We knew that they would be taught some things we didn’t agree with. We didn’t want to hide these differing beliefs from them. Rather, we wanted them exposed to diverse beliefs and opinions, knowing we would have to amp up our game at home to have intentional conversations about how these ideas might contrast with our own values. We don’t want to shelter them. We want to equip them. This felt really important to both Graham and I. Sometimes I have to stop and really think about whether I am making parenting decisions out of fear or out of sound logic. It is easy for the line between fear and wisdom to blur. We make concerted effort to talk to the kids about hard things, to not keep uncomfortable topics hidden from them. We want the kids to know why we make the decisions we do. Enter the the ever-present request for sleepovers with their friends. We were at our school’s science fair when another mom I’ve spoken with only once approached me. Our daughters are in class together and enjoy each others’ company, though honestly I haven’t been hearing her name around the dinner table at all recently. This mom told me that her daughter’s birthday was coming up and I knew what was coming the instant she opened her mouth. She said they were planning a sleepover and that Emma was on the must-invite list. “Oh how exciting,” I started. “Emma would love to come for all the evening activities but we have a ‘No Sleepover’ policy in our house so I would be happy to pick her up before bedtime.” The mom looked at me, obviously a bit shocked. “Like no sleepovers at all?” she asked. “Yeah. Unfortunately that’s our family rule right now,” I told her. She heard the words “right now” and spotted the space for a loophole. She began to push a little and, under the pressure, I accidentally let it slip that big sister had done a sleepover with a couple very close family friends when she was a little older. “I mean,” she said. “I know you don’t know me or anything but….” she faded off. On the one hand, it sounded like she was hearing my reservation. But on the other, she was continuing to press. My level of discomfort was growing and I began to babble awkwardly, as I’m prone to do in situations like these. “We let her sister do a sleepover when she was 9 so we’re waiting until then,” I finished. Now, what I’d intended to be my iron-clad no sleepovers family policy, was slipping. How could I let this lady know, without offending her, that I was not going to allow my 7-year-old to sleepover at her house? I was feeling pressured and guilty. I was starting to second guess. Was I drawing this line out of wisdom or out of fear? This wasn’t the first time a fellow parent had given me pause and caused me to reconsider whether our stance was in fact a bit ridiculous. After backpedaling some more and finally giving her a few more awkward lines about how we just weren’t doing sleepovers with Emma, she responded with “Good luck with that,” and we went our separate ways. I felt sick to my stomach after this interaction. I had nothing at all against this mom in particular. In fact, her invitation was incredibly appealing on numerous levels. It ministered to a tender space in my heart that was hurting for my daughter, who had been struggling socially. I wanted her to expand her friend pool. I wanted to foster better, closer relationships with her friends. In a weaker moment, I might've fully sacrificed my “bigger-picture” values (no sleepovers because safety is my top priority) to remedy the hurts of the “now” (I want her to have friends!) But the bottom line was that I wasn’t okay with sleepovers. I had heard enough from friends about the unsafe encounters that take place when kids sleep together unsupervised and I just didn’t think it was wise. This decision was based in wisdom, not fear. Despite all this, my self-talk after this encounter was pretty ugly. I chided myself for buckling under the pressure and not presenting our philosophy with greater confidence. “Decide something and then own it with conviction!” I tell myself. This will perpetually be an area of great struggle for me. I teeter dangerously on the ledge of caring too much what other people think of me. To cement my conviction, I want someone else to tell me the decision I’ve made is the right one. I’m trying to have grace for myself, to realize not everything in life can be that cut and dry. To allow my own personal experiences to be reason enough. I was still wavering a little on the sleepover issue. There was a sliver of space remaining where someone could have squeezed in a really solid argument to convince me to permiss them. Until yesterday. My 4th grader reported that one of her classmates had shared with her about a co-ed sleepover that he had participated in the night before. After the adults went to bed, the elementary-aged kids present decided to play “Quack Diddly Oso,” a clapping game where kids sit in a circle and place their hands together and clap around the circle to the words of a song. The person who receives the clap on the last word of the song loses. This particular group of kids decided that the loser of each round should have to kiss the feet of all the others. This lasted for a little while until it lost its novelty and they decided to up the ante. One thing led to another and pretty soon the loser’s penalty involved both nakedness and other body parts that need not be named for you to get the picture. Yeah. That was all I needed to hear. These kids are in FOURTH GRADE. Curiosity killed the cat, y’all. And if this is what happens at ages 9 and 10, use your imagination about what might be coming down the pipes in the teen years. I don’t think I need to say more. If ever I needed evidence to cement my opinion, I got it this week. And, for the record, my stance on sleepovers is the same regardless of whether it is girls only, boys only, or coed. We’ve all got body parts that can be used in unsafe ways. And I’m just not willing to risk it with my kids. I think this is wisdom, not fear. So, if ever you want my child to sleepover, I can politely decline and refer you to this here “Sleepover Manifesto.” It’s not personal. It’s just how we’re gonna do it over here. Plus, no one ever gets any sleep at sleepovers anyways.


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Monday, March 25, 2019

Farro Salad with Castelvetrano Olives, Walnuts and Lemon


Lately, I’ve been on a farro kick. Had you asked me fifteen years ago for a farro recipe, I would have looked at you cross-eyed. Even though I was raised in one of the hippy-est of Pacific Northwest cities, I somehow grew up a farro virgin. I’ve always been a bit embarrassed to read the word aloud when I see it on the menu, for fear of mispronouncing it and looking like an idiot. But honestly, it wouldn’t be the first time. I’m not exactly known for saying words correctly. 

One summer, when my husband and I were just dating, we decided to dine out at an upscale French restaurant in downtown Seattle. They had a narrow outdoor patio, barely wide enough to fit a two-person table. The waiter, when taking our order, had to nearly sit on the railing that bordered the patio, to keep from hovering directly over us. But it was outdoors! In Seattle! With a happy hour! It’s the little things like eating outside that excite us northerners who are so accustomed to being bound to the indoors due to rain.

We perused the happy hour menus our waiter had handed to us and were ready to make our selections when he returned. 

“We are going to share a few things,” I told him, always feeling better about announcing our budget-friendly approach to eating out beforehand. “We will start with an order of the Haricots Verts en Salade and then the Pommes Frites and Petit Lamb Burger please.” 

My pronunciation of the starter, rolled off the tongue like a man without rhythm, gyrating awkwardly on the dance floor. I’d leaned heavy into the “T”s, just the way I felt it read: “Hair-Eh-Cot Vurts.” I didn’t know what it was exactly, but since it was paired with the word “salade,” I felt it safe to assume it would be a salad of some sort. Being the nutrition student that I was at the time, I was keen on making sure I ate my greens, even when dining out. 

Our waiter nodded in understanding, retrieved our menus and turned toward the kitchen to enter our order into the computer. It didn’t take long before he returned to the patio, carrying a white rectangle plate, heaped full with skinny green beans.

“The Haricot Verts en Salade, Madam,” he announced, as he presented the dish before me.

I wrinkled my brow in confusion, quite aware that the name he’d rattled off did NOT match the starter we had asked for. He’d said it so fast, I’m pretty sure he had called it “Air-Eh-Co Vairs” and what I ordered definitely started with H and ended with a hard “T-S.” Plus, this dish was green beans, not a salad. French was definitely not my second or third or fourth language, by any stretch of the imagination, but I was no dummy. Certainly this was a mistake. 

“Umm,” I started. “We actually ordered the Haricot Verts.” It came out awkward and sharp, "Hair-Eh-Cot Vurts."

He looked at me, straight-faced and confirmed, “Yes, Madam. The haricot verts." 

This time I was certain. He was definitely saying "Air-Eh-Co Vairs.” I squinted back at him, unsure how I would make my point any clearer. He obviously wasn’t getting it. 

“We wanted the salad one, please.”

“Yes yes!” he exclaimed, his accent thick. “This dish is the Haricots Verts en Salade.” He swept his hand in front of him, and bobbed his head in a shallow bow as he backed his way indoors toward the kitchen. 

I looked across the table at Graham and shrugged,picking up my fork in resolve. He didn’t even like green beans. I speared one of them roughly, hearing skin break beneath the tines. I took a bite and my face warmed as tasted the briney flavors of vinegar and mustard. The beans were perfectly crisp-tender. 

“These are delicious!” I exclaimed, forcing Graham to try them too. 

He obliged and then grinned in surprise. Together, we inhaled the entire heap, the whole time thinking how grateful we were for this happy little accident. Here we thought we were being so accommodating to eat the dish they had served us in error. It wasn’t until the waiter returned with menus for a last call that it dawned on me what had happened.

“Ha!” I cried out, as I read the text in front of me. I needed the visual to pair with the waiter’s pronunciation. “Haricot Verts!” I yelled. This time, I said it the way he had, with a silent “H” and silent “T’s” and as smooth as poetry. “This was the dish we ordered!!”

We burst out laughing simultaneously and I have never lived this moment down. Needless to say, I’m a bit scarred and I experience a moment of pause now, whenever I encounter an ingredient on a menu that I don’t know how to pronounce. Like, for instance, farro, to bring this story full circle. But a fresh and recent Google search reveals that there really is no going wrong when it comes to it’s pronounciation. Whether you say “fair-oh” or “far-oh,” it seems to make no difference. Both are right, depending on who you ask. So my advice is to just say it with confidence (personally, I’m a fan of calling it “far-oh” but to each their own!)

Now that we got that out of the way...let’s continue. For those still feeling in the dark, farro is an ancient whole grain that is high in fiber as well as being a good source of iron. It is derived from wheat (which means it is not gluten free) and looks a lot like a grain of oatmeal. It absorbs whatever sauces it cooked in or mixed with, making it a great vehicle for all sorts of flavors. 

My favorite way to eat it is tossed with dressing or other goodies as a hearty and filling lunch salad, which is what I will share with you today. Trader Joe’s sells a 10 minute pre-cooked farro that I like to use to speed up this recipe. It makes great leftovers. Make it on Monday and eat it all week!

Farro Salad with Castelvetrano Olives, Walnuts and Lemon

3 cups cooked farro (I like to cook mine in chicken broth for added flavor)
1 tsp lemon zest
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of Kosher salt
1 cup walnut halves, toasted
2 cups pitted Castelvetrano Olives, chopped
¼ cup raisins
2 green onions, thinly sliced (top parts only)
⅓ cup fresh chopped chives
Shaved Parmesan, to taste

In a medium-sized serving bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, honey, olive oil, red pepper flakes and salt. Add farro, toasted walnuts, olives, raisins, green onions and chives and toss well to mix with dressing. Top with a generous amount of shaved Parmesan and serve. 

Serves 6

Monday, March 18, 2019

A charge to marriage


Husband,
One dozen years as Mr. and Mrs. Crozier! Remember our special day? How it poured down rain the entire day? (But why wouldn’t it? It was the middle of March, after all).


Remember how you beamed at me, when you turned around saw me for the very first time? If that wasn’t the look of deep smit, then I don’t know what is. 


We were kids, Graham, weren’t we? Kids dressing up all fancy-like and playing adult. Just look at how young we are!


Remember how one of my coworkers (who you had not yet met) was in the sanctuary helping with the flower arrangements before the ceremony? And she wondered who the kid was, beating out his nervous energy on the drum set. That “kid” was you, my love. 


When I think back to our special day, one thing that stands out to me is how I never second guessed. As a generally-anxious person, this is striking. You were the one for me and I had zero doubts about it.


I often try to find the words to describe our life together and always come up lacking. We have weathered some painful hardships. Like waves of a storm, our challenges have threatened to crush us as they crash against the side of our boat. We’ve rocked and thrashed around in the mess, some years wilder than others. We've blown a few holes and our vessel has undergone some damage. But do you know what makes me so, so proud? What causes me to fall more madly and deeply in love with you with each passing day? Instead of pretending the squall isn’t there, blasting through life as if nothing is wrong, we’ve acknowledged our storm and called for help. 

Could two people possibly be more different?

It's not every guy who can live with a sometimes-anal-retentive neat freak who thrives in extremely orderly environments, plans everything ahead, and who has no taste for the unknown. But you do. Your go-with-the-flow attitude remains (mostly) unperturbed by my complicated ways. You loosen me up and help me live outside the box. Life is so much more fun with you.


And not every girl could live with a guy who regularly loses things, lives wholly in the moment, and can’t keep track of time. But I do. My knack for organization provides stability and structure that helps you keep track of your belongings and gets you where you need to be on time. Life isn’t so chaotic having me around. 


There have been times where I’ve wondered how a girl with anxiety and OCD tendencies lands herself with a guy with ADHD (and vice versa). How do we not drive each other absolutely insane? In truth, we do, sometimes. Like the time a few years ago when I left for a few hours to take a much needed “sanity break” from the kids. I needed some quiet to relax and gather my thoughts. You and your dad were in “project mode,” gearing up to install board and batten in our entryway in my absence. Imagine my surprise when I came home to find construction dust everywhere, the hall only partially finished, and a new gaping hole in the wall of family room. I will never know what exactly went down that day, but partway through the board and batten project, you lost interest and decided to spontaneously remove the brick fireplace that you loathed instead, an endeavor we had neither discussed nor budgeted for. Needless to say, all the restorative relaxation that had occurred while I was away that afternoon vanished instantaneously.

Then there was the time when two of our towering arborvitae bushes that border the neighbor’s house began falling over, their roots unable to hold themselves vertically any longer in the swamp-like conditions that was our backyard. Again, I was out of the house “relaxing” and returned to find that not only had you removed the 2 plants that were leaning, you’d also assisted in felling the remaining 5 bushes that made up the only privacy barrier between our yard and the neighbor’s. Now we had a prime view of his gnarly mess of overgrown blackberries and unkempt backyard. Oy vey! Those were some rougher days that at least I can look back at and laugh about now.


You were in for a lot of surprises too. Being married to me must’ve felt at times like you were standing 8 feet from the end of a fire hose, tasked with the impossible job of collecting every last drop of liquid blasting toward you at full force. But the substance rushing out of the hose wasn’t just water, it was tears. Every time something in my life didn’t go according to plan, I struggled. Some of the time my upset was directed toward you. Some of the time it was directed toward someone or something else. But all of the time, you found it bewildering. I possessed So. Much. Emotion. And what was most baffling to you was that my level of emotion never seemed to fit the “crime.” It was hard for you to fathom how your arriving home late and neglecting to tell me or forgetting to take out the trash like you said you would should land you with a sobbing wife. 

From my end, these little “missed” interactions began to have a cumulative effect. It was really hard for me not to take these behaviors personally. I couldn’t reconcile how things were playing out. If I asked for something from you and you agreed to it, and then neglected to follow through, what did this mean? The only way I knew to categorize these confusing exchanges was to determine that you must not love me or you must not care. I couldn’t figure out why else this would keep happening. It was extremely painful.



From your end, you were trying so hard. There were so many expectations for you to keep up with and it overwhelmed you. You were not ignoring my requests intentionally. You adored me and so desperately wanted to please me. But it felt like an uphill battle. Keeping track of things was always something you struggled with. If there wasn't a reminder right in front of you, you would forget. You grew tired of being told you failed again and you withdrew. Who wouldn’t, when told perpetually the ways they don’t measure up? 

I didn't always want to have to remind you. It felt like it didn't "count." I wanted you to show forethought, that you were thinking of me and my needs. This became our vicious, awful cycle - you feeling overwhelmed and like you could never be good enough, me feeling unloved and unseen and confused as to why you couldn’t just remember to do the things we’d agreed upon. 



Oh my gosh did things ever get messy. There was so much hurt, so much confusion, so much defeat and sadness for both of us before we realized what was happening. It took us nearly a decade of marriage before we finally recognized and accepted the dynamics that were operating between us. Our brains are wired differently and we have a couple legitimate third parties operating in our marriage relationship. Symptoms of ADHD and OCD/anxiety constantly threaten to sabotage the bond that we’ve built. But now that we know to call out these symptoms and behaviors and name them for what they are? Oh the relief! We can get on the same team and fight against the symptoms, and no longer against each other.

The work that we've done in our marriage has been such a long process, one that we are far from being perfect at. But we're getting better, quicker at recognizing when we have fallen into our "cycle." It has taken two committed participants, each willing to step into the mess, flip over the rocks and expose the nasty critters hiding in the darkness beneath. We've fought a lot, cried a lot, and clung to each other even more. We drive each other mad sometimes but oh how desperately we need each other, to round out our sharp edges and find a middle ground.  



I am so, so proud of us. But we remain afloat. We have ridden our waves, clinging to the promise of hope for new mercies again in the morning. There is no one I’d rather have in this raft other than you, Graham. Happy 12 years!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Even the dead ends


I dusted off my seed starter trays about four weeks ago. I planted a handful of different flower and vegetable seeds and placed them in my new toy, a small, plastic greenhouse I purchased off of Amazon, and situated in front of my bedroom window. At first, it was almost as if the seedlings leapt from beneath the soil’s surface, as desperate as I to grow and rid themselves of the darkness they were experiencing below. They shot up toward the heat of the sun, stretching out for the light. Initially, the visual change I witnessed in my seedlings was invigorating and I felt elated. My greenhouse was working! After years of trial and error with starting seeds indoors, I was finally figuring it out. Over the past few weeks, the zinnias, nasturtiums, cosmos, tomatoes, peppers and sweet peas in my master bedroom have become my little obsession. I check those plant babies nearly as often as I do my own offspring. I am so desperate to see progress and to watch them flourish. At first, they all looked the same - tiny stems with two little leaves. Then, new leaves appeared, the plants grew taller, and they began to differentiate. The days when they grow in huge spurts are so rewarding and I feel like a plant magician. But rarely do these visible “big growth” days occur consecutively. The growth happens in fits and starts. Growth, followed by rest and absorption, and, I imagine, unnoteworthy root expansion beneath the surface. As their “plant mama,” I do my best to meet their needs. Some days, it’s easier to figure out exactly what those needs are than others. When the surface of the dirt begins to appear dry, when its color turns from rich, dark chocolate to milk, I know it’s water that the seedlings need. When a seedling soars vertically but grows so thin and “leggy” that it can’t even support the weight of its own leaves, I know it is light that it’s lacking. When a plant matures rapidly and then suddenly stops cold, a closer look usually reveals the need for a larger growing vessel, the tiny plastic tray capsule it began in now appearing cartoonish and ridiculous in comparison to the size of the plant. Until I give the roots more space to spread and expand, growth stalls. My sweet peas have grown so tall, they no longer fit in my greenhouse and I’ve had to relocate them to the desk in my office, where the ceiling is their only height limitation. They are currently winding their way up classy wooden kabob sticks that have been taped together because one on it’s own was not tall enough for the speed of their vertical pursuits. I’m anxious to get them outside but the still-present piles of snow in our yard serve as a visual reminder that perhaps such a move would be jumping the gun. Though the plants might appear ready for the great outdoors, the conditions of the outdoors might be still be too much for them. They still have a lot of maturing yet to do. I can relate a lot to my plant babies. Are you catching the many metaphors to life that are hidden in my words? It’s no surprise to me that Jesus often used plants as illustrations throughout scripture. Their growth parallels our own growth process as humans so perfectly. As one who is in hot pursuit of growth and healing in my own life, at times it is so frustrating to me how non-linear the process can be. Logic informs me that the best possible route from point A to point B is a straight line, direct and lacking in all types of funny business. Everything works together toward a singular purpose, nothing is wasted. Yet, if I were to map my own growth process, it is so far from straight and direct. My path looks more like the loopy zig-zag of a lost person, turning around in random driveways, trying to reach their destination (which they aren’t even fully certain of in the first place), without directions. Initially, I went to therapy to address “X” and here I find myself having to face down “T,” “U,” “V” and “W” before we can even begin to touch on “X.” It’s super annoying. For both my husband and I. I started to do this individual work because it was evident we wouldn’t make the progress in our couple’s work until I took care of a few of my own issues. As it turns out, “X,” wasn’t my only issue. It’s hard to be patient as we work through other struggles that feel like “detours,” seemingly unrelated to our original goal. Meanwhile, I have some big plans, plans that I feel were laid directly on my heart by God. Yet I’m running into all sorts of barricades. Why would He call me to something only to require me to weave my way through a maze of obstacles? At times I worry, did I mishear him, perhaps? Am I practicing avoidance? But if I were, wouldn’t I have a clear idea of what exactly it is that I’m avoiding? On other days, I feel motivated and ready. I want to get started! Shouldn’t I get started? I feel a lot like those sweet peas on my desk. I’m standing taller! I’ve made so much progress! Isn’t it time? But then I wonder, how are my roots? Are they strong enough to hold me up to withstand the gales of wind that will certainly blow my way? And is it the right season? Technically, it’s still winter. Perhaps I need to hold out for spring. Growth can be a lot like walking into a thick fog. We can’t exactly see what’s on the other side, but we believe that the heat of the sun is back there somewhere, burning off the clouds. We know the general direction we should be headed, but until we reach the other side of the fog, we just have to continue to put one foot in front of the other. We can make lists and do all the things and yet, the depth of the fog remains. We must march our way through its entirety. Fruit comes at harvest. It cannot be rushed. As a gardener, I’m learning that I can’t force my plants to do anything. I cannot speed their growth. I can only provide them with the things I know they need - fertilizer, water, and on sunny days, a prime spot in my south-facing bedroom window. As much as I want to hurry their maturation and see them blossom into their full potential at a much more rapid pace, I am at the mercy of their own process. I just have to keep showing up with the things I know will keep them healthy and then surrender and wait. I know I write a lot about growth. It will likely be my forever-message…until God gives me a new one. Until then, be encouraged. Slow forward progress is better than no progress. And even when it feels pointless, a walk down and back on a dead end street is good too. The path may seem indirect but we are building our roots, being prepared, receiving nourishment, practicing obedience. The Master Gardener has a master plan. And praise Jesus that I don’t have to be the one to decide when the time for harvest is right. For now, I need to keep showing up, enjoy all that is happening in the garden, and surrender my vision for His.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Known


I came across a document this week when I was sorting through our overstuffed filing cabinet. It is two xeroxed sheets of paper, stapled together and taken from the pages of a lined notebook, the words written in my dad’s half-cursive script. 

The papers came into my possession sometime this past year, along with a pile of old mail that had arrived at their address. My parents were sorting through their own files and I stored it away for safekeeping and subsequently forgot about it. This morning, I had the urge to pull it out and take a closer look. 

Without a doubt, my mom and dad did an incredible job as parents. This document is only a tiny piece of evidence toward that end. Graham and I often talk about how they are some of the most intentional people that we know, how they put so much energy and forethought into raising my siblings and I, and also into always bettering their own relationship and marriage. One of their practices that I really admire, was their commitment to get away twice a year together, just the two of them. The first trip was always a true vacation - a week away for the sole purpose of connecting and having fun. Their second annual trip was a “working” weekend, where they would step back and take the pulse of our family. They would look at their relationship as a couple, their parenting, and how each of us kids were doing. Then they would devise goals for the year that would promote growth in each of the areas they discussed. (See, did I not say that they are some of the most intentional people I know?!)

I’m quite sure the two pages I found in my filing cabinet were the result of one of the latter “working” weekends. The paragraphs below were likely written in response to prompts found in one of the many parenting books they were reading at the time. I can’t read them without tearing up. The words were penned when I was 9 ½ years old, which feels particularly significant since our oldest turns 9 ½ on Monday. Though the handwriting is my dad’s, and I believe the content is as well, I know he would be the first to give credit to my mom for her role as the driving force in making these “working” weekends, and the precious fruit of them like the words that follow, happen.


Feb 1993

Kelsie

Descriptive Phrases - quick to catch on, driven, leader, controller, manipulator, perfectionist, needing reassurance, motivated, self-paced, savor of momentos and junk, tough, can bear pain

In her free time Kelsie would choose to 1) read 2) play with one other person (as opposed to a group)

She doesn’t like to be told what to do or forced to do something she doesn’t want to do. She also doesn’t like to be ridiculed in public. She doesn’t like things that take time.

Kelsie’s special abilities include her memory and quick learning skills and her leader qualities. She has a quick wit. She is a natural swimmer.

Without a doubt, she is a leader

When she grows up she wants to be a mother, but beyond that I haven’t heard her talk much. She would make a strong business leader, a lawyer, or president

Her positive character traits include a love for making things for others, her drive.

Her negative character traits are an insensitivity to others when she has personal gain at risk. She can be cold and unforgiving, tough to break. Her self-pity and her nagging can be annoying

I am thankful for her strong leadership and her ability to quickly grasp a new subject. I am pleased she chooses to read and grow in her spare moments. She is creative in the number of crafts and activities she dreams up. I pray that she would be sensitive to the hearts of others as she leads, that she would learn to lead more by inspiration, less by dictation. Also that she would have patience. 

I want to continue to provide her with subjects to explore through her reading. I want to help show her by example, and other means, methods of leading that are uplifting. I also want to develop her athletic abilities that she had recessed. Her quick mental ability and alertness combined with some learned agility could result in athletic competence. 

I want to help develop her sensitivity toward others. I want to help her learn better ways of seeking to get her way and to help her to control her self pity. 

I also pray that God would keep her on the right track. I worry about her rebelling her parents teaching and going the opposite direction. She has the strength to make a go of it on her own and is capable of getting herself deeply into the wrong course. I pray I would be able to give her the love she needs so she would not seek it elsewhere. 



Is anyone else sobbing right now?? It is difficult to express all that these two pages communicate to me, even today as his thirty-four-year-old adult daughter. To think so many of the qualities that make me who I am were visible to my dad at the ripe young age of nine! I’m struck by just how known I was (and still am) by him, a fact that brings me to tears. It is a tender and necessary part of our humanity to be known and understood. My dad’s descriptions of me are soberingly accurate (embarrassingly so, in many instances). Yet, simply being known isn’t enough. One must also receive love and acceptance. Even when he calls out some of my not-so-great qualities, I find the love and acceptance my dad has for me bursting it’s way through each of the lines.

Just yesterday, I was shuttling the kids around town and listening to the radio when “Known” by Tauren Wells came on. I’ve heard the song many times before, but yesterday my circumstances were just so to allow the words to really seep in. I snapped out of my driving daze and called the kids’ attention to the music. 

“Listen to what he is singing,” I told them. I wanted them to absorb the message too.

If I could only impart one thing to my children, it would be for them to grasp the unfathomable love God has for each of them, in all of their strengths and in their imperfections. I don’t ever want them to feel the urge to hide or cower in shame, but rather to live in confidence that they are “fully known and loved,” exactly how they are.

I can’t say I was thinking of my dad at the time the song came on. But as I sit here, it is clear that this tangible love I feel reading these two pages written by him, provide me the best possible earthly picture of the relentless, ravishing wholly-accepting love that my Heavenly Father has for me. If my earthly father knows me and calls me out with such stunning accuracy and still loves me, how much MORE am I known and loved and accepted by God. Now that really makes me weep!  

So, thanks, Dad, twenty-six years later, for these precious words that you penned. They speak love in ways I’m sure you never imagined. 

PS - I might not be president (yet), but I hope I’ve made at least a little progress in some of the areas you prayed would develop. :)

PPS - I think if you had laminated this document and presented it to Graham for him to review and sign off on before we got married, perhaps you would have saved him a lot of trouble. ;)