Friday, May 19, 2017

And so it begins

(If you are new to my blog or just popping over after some time away, I'm nearing the end of a series I've entitled "The Story of Us" where, in honor of our 10 Year Anniversary, I'm writing about how my husband and I met. This is post #14 so you can catch yourself up by first starting out herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here, here, and then here).

I was taking one of my very favorite college courses of all time - Food and Culture - that spring when Graham learned that I was finally, finally ready to date him. In it, we studied the typical diets of different regions around the world, tested out traditional ethnic recipes in the Food Lab, and then sampled them together, all in the blessed name of “school.” For our “homework,” we were to select a restaurant from the endless array of choices in multicultural Seattle, dine at it, and then complete a write up about the experience. Slay me! Such arduous, horrible assignments that were required of me. 

Graham caught wind of my dining out project shortly after the news of my shifting feelings reached him. Never one to waste an opportunity, he decided to spare me the obvious embarrassment of eating at a restaurant alone. And so he took a leap and asked me out to dinner, you know, for "homework purposes." On a Friday night. 

When the day arrived, I put on a skirt and paid special attention to my hair. My stomach fluttered with nerves. It’s just Graham, I told myself. Though we had yet to have “the talk,” I knew this dinner invitation was something different. I was waiting in our dorm lobby when Graham pulled his silver Jetta into the parking lot. I will always remember that beast as the car that smelled like melted crayons. He jumped out to open the door for me and I saw that he had dressed up too. Waiting for me on the passenger seat was a single rose. I tried to remain calm as I smoothed my skirt and gently scooped up the flower. Yes, we were on the same page it seemed. 

Where he took me first is the best part of the story. We literally rolled down the hill in neutral to make it to the 76 Station in time. I stifled my giggles in the car while he worked the pump. Only Graham would pick up a girl for a first date and forget that he was completely out of gas!   

Once the problem had been remedied, he took me to Queen Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant on Capitol Hill. We ate our entrĂ©es with injera bread in place of utensils, large flat pancakes used to scoop up the saucy dishes. It was messy and fun and nontraditional and perfect. If I took any notes for my Food and Culture assignment, they probably had little to do with the food. I was pretty taken by my company. 

As our meal ended, the bill arrived – this – the telltale moment of truth. Graham scooped it up as I grinned inwardly. He’s paying! This is officially a real, live date. It was only later in our relationship that I would learn my dear father-in-law most likely paid for our date. Many dates, actually. We will never know for sure but it’s quite likely that the card Graham presented the server that evening was the “emergency credit card,” a card his dad provided each of his sons for, well, emergencies. And this was certainly urgent! There was a girl who was hungry and needed to be wooed. Thanks, Jim.

I knew I was ready to make our relationship official and, thanks to the grapevine, so did Graham. Yet neither of us had the guts to even go near the topic over dinner. Nerves had joined us as a third wheel that night and so we waited until the last possibly second to bring up our feelings. We were driving back to SPU when it finally happened. Graham would be performing at the Emerson Coffeehouse later that evening, an open mic night put on by one of the dorms, and we were cutting it close with our timing.  

We were seconds from our college campus when Graham cut the silence with a line as smooth as butter: “So. How are you feeling about dating?” 

Graham has never been one to mince words.

“You know, I think I’m ready,” was my reply.

“Whoa," he said, followed by a long pause. Then again "Really?!” just to be absolutely sure. Although he had a strong suspicion my answer would be affirmative, it somehow didn’t make my "Yes" any less surprising. “So, umm, what does this mean? Are we like, boyfriend and girlfriend now?” Now he was tripping over his words.

“Yeah,” I squeaked, trying desperately to hide my giddiness.

And then the car fell silent. Totally and completely SILENT.


Where was the excitement? Where was the fanfare? He wasn't even smiling. In fact, he looked almost perplexed. My heart started pounding faster.

“Is that OK?” I tried, alarmed by his lack of response to my confirmation that I was officially his girlfriend.

“Yes!" he finally recovered. "It just feels so strange. I’ve never really had one of these before.”

The corners of his mouth turned upward to show off the grin I'd been waiting for. And, just like that, our sophisticated DTR was behind us. Short and sweet and it was a good thing too because it was time for Graham to rush off and do a mic check.

Of course I attended the Emerson Coffeehouse that evening. My restaurant write-up could certainly wait. I remember sitting in the audience, simply beaming. You couldn’t have wiped the grin of my face it you’d tried. I was officially dating the best boy in the whole world and I was so proud of him up there on stage I could hardly stand it.

Graham wore all the musical hats that night, ranging from a little surprise Brittany Spears number (Hit Me Baby One More Time) with his friend Eric, to an emo piece called “Bethany in August” by Juliana Theory. I sat listening in the crowd, pretty sure he was singing directly to me (and he was). 

After the concert, Graham asked to walk me back to my dorm, figuring we could use a little more time than our two minute care conversation had allowed to discuss our relationship. But his buddy Glendon saw us leaving and ran to join, neglecting to see Graham's "eye” meant to ward him off. We were an awkward threesome, both boys walking me to my door that night. Graham hugged me stiffly as we bid each other goodnight. It was May 15th, 2004, and we were finally official with Glendon as our witness unawares. :)

Friday, May 12, 2017

A game of college telephone

(If you are new to my blog or just popping over after some time away, I'm nearing the end of a series I've entitled "The Story of Us" where, in honor of our 10 Year Anniversary, I'm writing about how my husband and I met. This is post #13 so you can catch yourself up by first starting out herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here, and then here).

I recall the exact moment I realized I was falling for Graham. It was after our series of coffee dates, which took place over a two-month period between the end of March and the middle of May. I was in my dorm room with my roommate, Jackie, having just returned from another evening spent with Graham. We were winding down for the night, me sitting in my pajamas atop my pale IKEA dresser, and Jackie, in a chair on the opposite side of the room. She began asking probing questions about all the time I was spending with Graham. There was a tone of teasing to her voice and a smirk across her face. Was I starting to like him? What was going on? It sure seemed like I was acting giddy every time I got to hang out with him. She had me cornered, determined to get the what-for on Graham out of me, once and for all. 

Yet I remained stubbornly stoic to her questioning, refusing to give her the satisfaction of calling me out on my crush. But it was right then, as I sat on top of my dresser, closely examining my reflection in the mirror, that I realized something in me had shifted. I no longer was thinking of Graham in a way one might view a friend. I had begun to think of him romantically. My heart began to pound and there were butterflies in my stomach.

I had let my guard down without even realizing it (the only way it would ever come down) and Graham had snuck in the back door. He knew me better already than anyone ever had, even my closest girlfriends. I had shared with him some of my biggest insecurities and fears and he had affirmed me in some of my darkest places. I really can't explain it but the Lord was doing amazing things in me and it was like suddenly I could see the big picture. This man, right in front of me, the one I said earlier in the year that “I could never date" because of our differences also happened to be, in my humble opinion, the most incredible human to ever walk this earth. He had been pursuing me purposefully and beautifully. He was intentional and curious and adoring. And I suddenly very much wanted to be his girlfriend. 

Isn’t it great how the details in our stories are ever-revealing themselves? I always wondered what gave Graham the final push to ask me out on our first “real” date. As it turns out, it was a real group effort involving many of the characters pictured in this post. Upon inquiring, he revealed to me that there was a leak in my water-sealed, tight-lipped group of college girlfriends. I recall now that I had casually divulged of my shifting feelings toward Graham to one of my floor mates while we were out on a walk one afternoon. I won’t call her out by name (*cough* Lori!!!) but I'm pretty sure I have her to blame (thank!) for the game of telephone that ensued. She didn't tell Graham directly of course. She spilled the beans to his former roommate who had graduated and moved to California (the secret was safe with him because everything said in California stays in California), who then told one of Graham's current housemates while he was visiting him in The Sunshine State. And then it just so happened that Graham was the one available to pick this housemate up from the airport upon his arrival back home. (And women get the bad wrap for not being able to keep a obviously struggle too. Sheesh! ;)

“Kelsie is ready to date you now,” this housemate blurted out to Graham, as soon as he got in the car. Hot-off-the-press news like that just simply can’t be contained.

Shocked, Graham asked him for his source. The telephone chain of conversation was traced backwards, his excitement growing by the second. It all sounded pretty legit. His time had finally come!

(And PS - see the coat I'm wearing in that first picture? That's the "purple" (BLUE!) coat I keep referring to. Blue? Yes?)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Wooing me with caffeine

(If you are new to my blog or just popping over after some time away, I'm nearing the end of a series I've entitled "The Story of Us" where, in honor of our 10 Year Anniversary, I'm writing about how my husband and I met. This is post #12 so you can catch yourself up by first starting out hereherehereherehereherehereherehere, here and then here).

How does one hit up the same coffee chain five times without it feeling monotonous? Well, this is exactly the kind of situation where Graham shines. The guy has a knack for taking a set of circumstances that could feel as repetitive as the movie Groundhog Day, and making each noteworthy. After adding a dash of his endless creativity - VOILA! Five unique dates are born.

Creativity may always be in Graham's back pocket but subtlety most certainly is not. I tend to be a very perceptive human yet somehow over the course of our next five dates, I had no idea that I was being "couponed." We burned a lot of hours together sipping caffeinated brew and I was completely unaware the entire time that, thanks to his winnings at Body Image Awareness Week, not a penny was spent on my behalf. He was a sly one, that Graham.

First there was the Discovery Park Take Two date, the one I remember best. Graham picked me up at my dorm and, waiting in the cup holder for me, was a to-go cup of the steaming brew. What better way to hide your couponing ways than to make sure the purchasing transaction happens before the girl is even in your company? Winning!

In his typical Graham fashion, he didn't tell me where we were going. By now I knew to kick back and just enjoy the ride. It was always bound to be an adventure when I was with Graham! He drove us to Discovery Park, this time thankfully in the light of early evening. It was April now and the days were getting longer and warming just enough that we could sit outside comfortable without shivering. We parked by the Daybreak Star Center and I followed him, coffees in hand, to a nearby path. It guided us upwards, high upon a bluff, where we settled on a bench overlooking the water below. We sat there for a long time, talking and talking and sipping and talking as the sun dipped it's way toward the Bay.

Had I been watching the sunset with any other guy, I probably would have been wrought with nerves and obsessing over how romantic the gesture was and questioning what on earth did it mean. But not with Graham. He was always such a calming presence for me and he set me at ease. Plus, by this point, I already knew where he stood. There wasn't a whole lot of wondering. Where at one point in my life, knowing he had feelings for me would have caused me to run in the opposite direction, I was comfortable with it. He was fast becoming one of my dearest friends. Though I was on a different page, I was starting to read the same book. I was taking things as they came and enjoying the present. I loved talking to him and, let's be honest, who wouldn't in their right mind be completely wooed by a guy who brings her coffee and takes her to watch the sunset?!

Our next coffee outing was the Chess Lesson Date. Graham took me to Cafe Ladro on Queen Anne Hill where he made a most valiant effort at teaching me the game of chess. Upon arriving, he had me take a seat to "reserve our table" while he placed our order. (Me: "What a gentleman!"  Him: "I'm a freaking couponing genius.") Once we had our javas, he gave me the "quick" chess play-by-play (is there such thing????) and then our fierce gaming began. It went down about like this:

Him: "Ok you go first."

Me, taking 0.03 seconds to ponder my move: "Is this right?"

Him: "Yep, that's fine."

1 minute goes by.


5 minutes pass.


(The Jeopardy theme music starts playing in the background.)


Now we are at 7 minutes and he's been looking intently at the game board the entire time.


Me: "Hey, I think it's your turn."

Him: "Yeah I know. Just give me a sec."

Me: "Oh ya." (Massive but totally discrete eyeroll). "Got it."


TWELVE MINUTES LATER...he makes a move.

Me: "That looks solid and well thought out."

And then I make my move before he even has a chance to blink.

The waiting process repeats, just like before. I wonder if maybe I should have brought a book.
FINALLY, he takes his turn only this time he knocks out like thirteen of my guys in one fell swoop.

Me, with ever the slightest hint of sarcasm in my tone: "Good game! That was really fun."

Him, eagerly: "Want to play again?"

Me, this time in my head: "Is that some sort of trick question!?!???"

Though my recounting of my first ever game of chess may be ever so mildly exaggerated, it's certainly not by much. Graham creamed me, to be sure, despite the fact that he was taking it easy on me. It took a few rounds to convince Graham that I wasn't much of an enjoyable opponent, but eventually we cleared off the game board (and I scooped my pride off the floor) and we settled in to just talk. Even though I left a loser that evening, I still had a lot of fun. I would never have chosen to learn chess on my own accord but that's what I liked about Graham. He was always mixing it up and I was drawn to his creativity and quirkiness. His ideas were endless and he was FUN. My very "Vanilla" and overly-structured life needed a little shaking up.

You would think that by the third Cafe Ladro date, I would have sensed the trend. But no. Graham changed the location we frequented for each of our outings so it always felt new and exciting. For our third coffee date, Graham says he took me to the Fremont location. I remember none of this one but he tells me I ordered an iced coffee (isn't it adorable that he remembers these details??)

Our fourth date was another one of the walking and talking types, quickly becoming our specialty. Graham brought coffee to my dorm room and we set off walking from there. Typically these "local" walks landed us either wandering through the neighborhoods surrounding our campus or heading in the direction of the canal. But this time, we marched straight up the steep incline that was W Bertona St. The road was practically vertical, not one you wanted to maneuver on a icy Seattle day. But on this evening, it was warm and we were breaking a sweat by the time we reached the top. At the crest of the hill, the road met a "T" and, off to the left, there was this little grassy area where the sun would shine on just so. It was here that we settled that evening and it would be here at this "T" that we pounded our first metaphorical stake and claimed a spot as "ours." Though we would later consider a few areas around SPU's campus "our" special places, this one was the first.

From "our" spot, you could survey the Interbay neighborhood below, followed by Magnolia and then, in the distance, the bay. We had many-a-serious conversation seated in this patch of long grass, enjoying the view as we watched the sky change colors and the sun sink behind the hill. On this occasion though, the conversation wasn't particularly serious. We were just talking. It felt like we could talk for hours and still have so much more to say. The company of this man was something I was growing to enjoy immensely.

Our fifth and final Cafe Ladro date was less memorable for the both of us. I joke with Graham that the reason neither of us can recall it is likely because he used the coupon on another girl. But he insists otherwise and holds firmly to the statement that those coupons were for me and me only. And thank goodness! Every moment I spent with this guy, I was growing to like him just that much more. That man was one smart cookie, wooing me with coffee.


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Friday, April 28, 2017

Motherhood: Is This It?

The alarm rings and I am the first one up. This was my goal for it is solitude I’m seeking. I drag myself from bed and head directly to the coffee pot where I wait anxiously for it to do its thing. Then I settle in for the short few moments before I am joined by the rest of the household. Some mornings I opt to exercise. Other mornings are set aside to study my Bible. Sometimes I just sit there holding coffee, pretending to read and basking in the relative quiet.

I’m just a busy mom, rising early and trying to care for my temple.

The instant I left my bed, I heard movement down the hall and a toilet flushing. But she has stayed in her room because she knows it’s early. You could move your big toe an inch and the noise of it would wake her. I hear the hushed sounds of the audiobook she has turned on. I wonder what she is working on. I know she has begun to create; always, always creating, this one. I will soon find out that today it’s magazines. She has formed little books by stapling together folded pieces of paper. Later she tells me she wants us to be the editors. She will gather submissions from all her friends. Who do we know that has a dog and could write about pet ownership? Do we have time to work on the magazine this weekend? Can she sell them when they are finished?

I’m just her mom, just her editor and cheerleader and the one who tries her darndest to keep her big entrepreneurial dreams alive. Only that.

Eventually she emerges from her room, but only to retrieve strong tape and a magnet, she tells me. She has breaked momentarily from the magazine project and she wants to hang her newly-laminated morning routine chart up in her room so that she can check off her responsibilities as she goes along. It’s just that she needs to figure out a way to affix a magnetic dry erase marker to her wall, she says. My coffee and Bible and I are cuddled together on the couch. I tell her that I don’t think it will work because she doesn’t have anything magnetic in her room for the pen to cling to. She says, so matter-of-factly, that she knows but that if she tapes a magnet backwards to the wall, then the pen can stick to it. By golly, she is right! I’m a little dumbfounded. And then the pride wells in me as I wonder at her innovative nature. I cup her face in my hands and get down at eye level. “You are amazing,” I tell her. And she smiles and she scurries away to set up her contraption.

I’m just her mom, just her words of affirmation source and her bucket filler.

The time keeper on the wall reads 6:57 AM and I hear another one shuffling on the stairs. Her clock battery must be running slow because she has made an appearance before seven o’clock for three days running now. I’m back in my spot on the couch, clutching my coffee and trying to read a couple more words of scripture before the day takes me by the reigns. They, my three, usually wake in order of age which makes me grin a little. This next one rounds the corner and spots me, beams, and breaks into a full sprint to my side. She jumps on the couch and burrows beneath my arm before telling me I’m hogging all the blanket. I can tell that she so looks forward to this moment each day, this breath of calm, just the two of us.

I’m just her mom, just her snuggler.

The next burst of activity happens around 7:30 AM. Now it’s the littlest scurrying around, the sound of wheels rolling around on the hardwoods. Eventually he makes his way downstairs, arms always heavy laden with toys. He sees me in the kitchen; by this time, I’ve left my perch on the couch and have started in on breakfast. “I got dressed all by myself!” he exclaims as he barrels into my legs for some affection. Three plus years of hard work and training and my son can finally take care of a few items of business all on his own.

I’m just his mom, just his teacher. Just that.

The silverware clangs together and I’m grabbing dishes out of the dishwasher by the fistful. The blender whirls, the toaster pops and the three-year-old runs to the drawer to grab the plates without my even asking. He wants to know if we are having pancakes this morning, as he does every day. Not today, I tell him. Today it’s English muffins and smoothies. I ask him to grab me a butter knife. “Aye Aye Captain!” he bellows and he is quick to obey. This phrase of his is my absolute favorite. I’m unsure of its origin but I’m 97% sure I have a kid’s show to thank. I promise I don’t make him call me Captain, but I’m not going to lie, it’s sort of fitting. I pour the drinks and lay out the spread and holler for the girls to join us for breakfast.

I’m just their mom, the one who prepares and provides their meals, their nourisher and their Captain.

We finish the meal and they ask to be excused. They are halfway down the hall before I can get out the words: “Have you done your routines?” They run up the stairs to double check. Are their rooms picked up? Dirty clothes in the hamper? Beds made? On a really good day, they make it all the way through the check list. On a regular day, they miss a step or two and leave for school with bedding strewn about and pajamas on the floor.

I’m just their mom, just the organizer, the one equipping them and teaching them responsibility for the future. Only that.

The alarm on my phone is going off again. This time it is to alert us that it’s time to leave for school. Lunches are grabbed, shoes and coats are put on. It is library day for one of them. Shoot! Where did you put your library book? Wait, you had homework? Why didn’t we check your backpack last night?! Too late. Rain is in the forecast so pack a rain coat too! It’s never pretty despite all our best efforts but eventually we are out the door. We look both ways, we cross the street and walk down the hill.

I’m just their mom, their safe keeper and their transportation. I’m doing the best that I can.

The boy and I arrive back home. I look at him and realize I can no longer see his eyes; his hair has grown so long in all my business. I sit him in front of a show to distract him and I gather my supplies. The show features trains and he is happy. I move the clippers quickly, wetting a towel and taking it to his lips and nose periodically to rescue him from the tickling nature of the stray hairs.

I am just his mom and his barber.

The show ends and at first, he protests and asks for another. I tell him no and suggest we play a game instead. His eyes light up as he exclaims “Connect Four!” I tell him to set it up for us and that I will be right there. Another “Aye Aye Captain!” and he’s on his way. He makes me take the first turn, like always. I drop one circular coin in the slot and he immediately follows mine with one of his. It's like tic tac toe except the winner must get four in a row instead of three. I slide in another coin and he jumps to “block” me again. What he doesn’t realize is that I can get four in a row horizontally or diagonally, and not just vertically. I manage four in a row three times over, but to him, we win when all the slots are filled. Eventually we aren’t even taking turns anymore, we’re just racing to stuff our coins in the columns as fast as our fingers will allow. We laugh when we run out of coins and he exclaims “I won!”

I’m just his mom, just his playmate. That is all.

Now it’s time for errands. He wants to wear his “tie shoes” and so I bend to loop his laces into bows. He can buckle himself into his car seat on most days now - hallelujah! Except for those days when he can’t. On those days, I help him. But my assistance comes at a cost and I make him give me a kiss or two as payment. Once we are on our way, I reach back my while driving and touch his soft skin. His hand automatically grips mine and I can see him smiling in the rearview mirror. We cruise this way, hand in hand, until my neck and arm can no longer stand to be torqued.

I’m just his mom, just his hand-holder and source of physical touch. Just that.

There is lunchtime and story time and quiet time and chores and a walk or a bike ride and then we are off to pick up his sisters. On most days, it takes nothing short of moving mountains to get the three tired troops up the hill and back home for a snack to reenergize them. Someone always cries. It is obvious we are done. D-O-N-E.

We arrive home and one of them won’t come inside. Instead, she sits on a rock in the front yard wailing, backpack thrown down next to her. Somedays she calms relatively quickly and rejoins us. On other days, I text the neighbor to let her know I am in fact aware of the child scream-crying on my lawn. No, she has not actually been locked out and abandoned by her mean mom. It’s just that I wouldn’t let her go to a friend’s house that we weren’t even invited to after school. Eventually I encourage her inside and I take her in my arms. There is an obvious shift in the tears that is sudden and wild. She is no longer angry, she’s hurt. As I hold her tightly, she tells me her friend is no longer playing with her at recess and threatens to “never play with her again.” These things she’s been holding inside and I am the first recipient. I look her in the eyes and feel the hurt right along with her. “Baby girl, that would make me cry too” I tell her.

I’m just her mom, just her comforter.

The other one is really struggling. Most days have been hard ones for the past two and a half years running. There are so very many tears. She feels chaos and discomfort that no child of her age should never have to experience. She knows intimately the meaning of the words “stress” and “anxiety.” During the period of her life that should be the most fun and carefree, she appears heavy and sad. She feels Every. Single. Thing. And the weight of all these feelings is wearing her down. It wears me down too. Oh, how it wears me down!

I am just her mom, just her emotion coach, her advocate, the one trying to wade through all the chaos and come up for air with some answers. Only that.

There are days when nothing works. We try everything and eventually we just sit and we hold each other. Despite all the tricks and tools we’ve gathered, we don’t have it all figured out and life gets the best of us and coping is hard. So, we cuddle, we talk, we soothe. I tell her it’s ok and we cry some more.

I’m just her mom, just the one who knows her best and who she feels safe releasing all the emotion to.

The other kids start to melt down. They see my attention is monopolized and they want some too. We’re supposed to be doing homework and the girls need to read for 20 minutes each and heaven forbid we try and incorporate physical activity or doctor’s appointments or swimming lessons somewhere in there and, oh, someone should probably make dinner. Did I mention yet that it’s witching hour? We are all beginning to break. Someone hits and gets sent to his room to “take five” and cool off. I must stand there and hold his door closed, and, by the sound of things, the door jamb will likely no longer be standing at the end of this. I’m getting sass and bickering from the other two and I count each one to three and send them to their rooms too, all the while holding my station at the boy’s door. Soon he calms down enough that I can release the doorknob and I too run to my room to send the SOS text to Daddy:


We all “take fives” in our rooms and thankfully I have a lock on my bedroom door. It was intended for other purposes and yet it has never come in as handy as it does during witching hour. I no longer have any idea what the troops are doing out there beyond my door. And honestly, I don’t really care. I can’t.

I’m just their mom, just their disciplinarian, trying my dardnest to raise them up in the way they should go. I’m trying my best but sometimes my best just doesn’t seem to cut it.

On most days, my life feels so very, very small. Tiring and small. It’s this smallness that makes me feel insignificant and question what on earth I am possibly doing in this work of mine. My orbit is tiny and each day I climb aboard for another loop around what feels like the same crazy path. We don’t seem to be moving forward. We are circling. The monotony of it all, the daily grind at times makes me want to poke my eyes out.

Maybe you feel similarly? Maybe you too struggle with the significance of your work in mothering? Maybe you are balancing all these things in addition to a career or a desire for a career or even just a longing for a space to pursue your passion.

If so, can I take a moment to speak a work of encouragement? It’s for you and me both.

You do so much. On most days, it doesn’t feel like it. You look back and scratch your head as you survey the mess and wonder “What on earth did I do today? Did I get anything done?” Well, allow me to remind you. Yes, dear mother, yes you did. You got so very much done. You spent your day comforting, coaching, nourishing, wiping, training, teaching, cleaning, loving, answering, transporting, disciplining, encouraging, playing, hand-holding, advocating for, editing, safe-keeping, cooking, cheerleading, dream-stoking, snuggling, organizing, equipping and leading. And that's not even the half of it. You were not “just” momming. You were shaping humans. You were pouring yourself into the next generation of contributors to this society.

You may feel small and insignificant but, this work you do, it matters! So, press on and keep raising those humans to love and respect others, to work hard, to experience joy and pleasure in life, to serve God, and to bask in the love and grace of our Heavenly Father.

Be encouraged, my friends. Small work? I think not.

If you have been enjoying my posts, you can subscribe to my blog by hopping over to my home page here and entering your email address in the "Subscribe to my posts" box in the far right column. I will send a link directly to your inbox when new content has been published! (If you are using your mobile device, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "View web version" first to find the subscribe box). Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Three Cheers for Body Image Awareness

(If you are new to my blog or just popping over after some time away, I'm in the middle of a series I've entitled "The Story of Us" where, in honor of our 10 Year Anniversary, I'm writing about how my husband and I met. This is post #11 so you can catch yourself up by first starting out hereherehereherehereherehereherehere and then here).

I'm not entirely sure what exactly transpired between that first week of March and May 15th. Suffice it to say, it was a lot.

My roommate can attest that I went from making the statement that "I could never date Graham Crozier" to knowing quite literally that he was the one I was going to marry. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When I told him that evening after he professed his feelings for me that "we could hang out more," I can honestly say I had no plans of taking the initiative and actually making that happen. Truly, those words were my cop out, my way to let Graham down easy. I was terrible at saying no, particularly when I knew someone's feelings were at stake. This is a fact we know quite well by now.

I liked Graham. He was becoming my dear friend and I was drawn to the spontaneous way with which he approached life. He had an uncanny ability to drop anything and everything at a moment's notice. As a person who was scheduled to the "Nth" degree, I was envious of this flexibility that seemed inconceivable to me. But his easygoing nature came with a few drawbacks. He would fail to remember commitments, lose track of time and show up late to meet me or occasionally not show up at all (ok, that was just one very unforgettable instance). I struggled with taking these actions personally and these behaviors left me skeptical as to whether a relationship between us could function well logistically speaking. We appeared to be nearly exact opposites in most categories.

But man was the guy ever creative!!! His musical serenades in the stairwells and at open mic nights were something to pay money for. He was thoughtful and romantic and, where other guys would shy away out of fear of being ridiculed, Graham would take it to the next level and do something unimaginably sweet for a girl. He asked deep questions and truly cared about your answers. And he was a doer. Where, left to my own devices, I was likely to waste away the rest of my breathing days holed up studying in my room, he got me out and doing crazy things. Graham lived outside the box and jumped at things this rule follower would never even consider. And gosh dang it! His ability to not care what other people thought of him was attractive to me. He drew me out of my shell and made me feel valued. And maybe most obviously was the fact that he was a pursuer. Hard core. And what girl doesn't like to be fought for in the way that Graham fought for me? Sigh.

Graham’s soul-baring conversation in front of Ashton Hall happened to fall just before National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Our college made this week a big focal point, putting together numerous events with the goal of promoting healthy body image and combating eating disorders amongst. One such event that week was the showing of a film that highlighted the subtle yet impactful toll the media has on our body image, perpetually sending us the message that we should somehow look different than we do. As a nutrition student, this week was an important one for me, one I was heavily involved and interested in and I attended every event that my schedule would allow.

On the day of the film, I ran into Graham. He asked me what I was doing that night and I told him about the movie event. He feigned interest and so I invited him to join me. Little did he know he would be one of two men in the sea of women in attendance. But seeing he was outnumbered 150:1 didn’t phase him, at least outwardly. He stayed at my side and took his seat next to me. Where some guys would run in the opposite direction, Graham sticks to his guns and walks in as if he belongs there. This is something I've always admired about him.

The lights dimmed and the MC took to the stage. As much as he was getting used to being overwhelmed by women as a male nursing student, I’m sure Graham still breathed a sigh of relief to no longer be sticking out like a sore thumb under the cover of darkness. The MC introduced the agenda for the evening and then told the crowd that she had a special little surprise to kick off the program. We were told to reach under our seats; one lucky attendee would find a gift taped to the bottom of their chair. Graham and I swatted the air beneath us blindly, feeling around for any signs of the prize. I came up empty handed as the lights flashed back on. I looked over at Graham whose face had taken on a bright shade of red. He appeared sheepish; of course he'd sat in that one “lucky” chair. Leave it to Graham. Stuff like this always happens to him.

It was obvious that he wanted to disappear but the MC would have none of it. She refused to proceed with the next item on the agenda until the winner made themselves known. Graham raised up the envelope awkwardly and everyone turned. If he didn't stand out enough already, now all the hundreds of women were looking at him! Needless to say, the night was memorable.

As embarrassing as the evening had been for him, his prize was well worth it. The envelope contained a stack of 10 coupons, each good for a free beverage of choice at Cafe Ladro, a Seattle area coffee chain. Unbeknownst to me, I would soon be the benefactor of his winnings. Thanks to those ten pieces of paper, our next FIVE dates together were financed. And it was thanks to those coffee-sipping conversations that my feelings toward Graham began to transition from “friend” to “more than a friend.”

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On another note, I've been surprised and downright flattered to learn that y'all are getting such a kick out of Graham and my crazy love story. I so appreciate your sweet comments and those of you who have let me know that you are reading. I figured now would be a good time to set up a feature to make it easier for you to know when I've posted new content.

Drumroll please.....(this is BIG NEWS because technology is not my spiritual gift)....

I'm happy to share that as of today, you can officially subscribe to my blog! If you have been enjoying my posts, I would LOVE it if you would hop back over to the main page by clicking here and enter your email address in the "Subscribe to my posts" box in the far right column. Then I can send links directly to your inbox when new content has been published! (If you are using your mobile device, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on "View web version" first to find the subscribe box). Thank y'all so much for reading! You're the best.