Category Archives: Love & Relationships

Learning how to trust, love and hold loosely.

The Final Wednesday

For the past three years my Wednesdays have included these three lovely ladies. Our small group typically involves food including, but not limited to chips and salsa, strawberries (for me), gluten free brownies (for Hayden) and anything else chocolate. We have conversations covering an array of topics: family, boys and dating, friendships, God, self-image, smushes, church, youth group, social justice, the world, quarter stories, prayer, scripture, listening, culture and music. Sometimes these conversations are interrupted by urgent bathroom breaks (Katie), occasional text messaging (all of them) and frequent bouts of laughter. We make room for questions, tears, sadness, celebrations, dreams, hopes, doubts, cuddling and good hugs!

I see part of my high school-self in each of these young women and there are countless times I’m left thinking, eh, I’m 27 and I still struggle with that. Being a leader doesn’t constitute having all the answers, but it does involve a certain level of commitment. And for the past three years I have been committed to these girls–it has by far been one of the best commitments I’ve ever made.

I love them. Hayden, Katie and Jenna, you reminded me that sometimes love is simply showing up and saying, “I’m here for you.” It is choosing to be together and admitting that I can’t do life on my own.

Today was the final Wednesday, our final small group. And I’m going to miss them dearly!

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On My Left

Jen, has been on my left for the past nine years of my life. We met freshman year of college. She was dressed in pink and came to college bouncing with optimism. I was reserved and cautious and came to college with organized boxes and labeled zip-lock baggies. We were next door neighbors, but not friends right away.

In many ways I can not imagine someone more different from myself. Jen and I are opposites on nearly every letter of the Myers Briggs. I tend to be a determined, make-it happen kind of person and she thrives on the spontaneity of you-never-know-what-could-happen-today?!? I live in a world of realism while she inhabits the realm of possibilities. But oddly enough I believe it’s these very differences that have marked our friendship with such depth.

Our friendship has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been one of the greatest sources of joy in my life. We have sustained the distance of being separated in countries miles apart and also the distance created when silence and hurt fills the very room you share. We have been through boyfriends and break-ups, annoyances and anger, and lots and lots of long conversations. We have learned how to argue well and disagree. Most of our fights tend to happen in the kitchen. And our best conversations take place sitting in the car. And somehow from these things we have come out stronger.

Jen knows me better than most because she sees beyond the surface. She has seen me at highest highs and lowest lows. She has witnessed some of my best moments and successes, and she has sat with me in seasons of depression, pain and tears. Jen has been the friend who sees through all my crap and names what is true and real. She has hoped for me when I forgot how. And she has consistently and patiently reminded me of who I am and who I can be.

Jen has taught me:

1. The importance of asking for help and meaning it.
2. How to really listen to others, and that real listening means putting down the cell phone and computer.
3. About the joy of mystery and surprises.
4. That most people don’t multi-task while they watch a movie.
5. To be honest with how I am feeling. And not just name the feelings, but actually be ok sitting with them and god forbid, feeling them.
6. Sometimes Damn it! is the most appropriate response.
7. That it’s ok to make mistakes.
8. That compromising does not in fact mean manipulating a situation to get half my way, and half your way; Sometimes it actually means letting go of “my way” altogether.
9. The beauty of asking questions, and not always giving answers.
10. Sometimes “just for fun” is the only reason you need.
11. The value in sharing eggs.
12. That the simple words “me, too” are sometimes all a friend needs to hear.
13. How to enjoy the unknown (although I don’t know if I’ll ever really enjoy the unknown, but at least how to be okay, with the unknown)
14. That good communication means I can’t just think about things, but I actually have to verbalize them. Friends, even good friends are not mind readers. (I know one day my future husband will thank her for this one!)
15. That life is more fun when adventure, play, and laughter are involved.
16. That difference is good and NECESSARY in our churches, friendships, schools and society.
17. That it’s ok to wear short shorts sometimes.
18. The importance of giving good hugs and giving them often.

A lot of who I am toady is because of the influence of this incredibly wise, beautiful, and tender-hearted friend.

Happy Birthday, Jen, my forever friend and neighbor for life!

She will probably hate me for posting this picture, but this is us freshmen year of college (notice the pink : )


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Bean and Bo

Somewhere along the way my family came up with nicknames. That’s right. All 6 of us rarely refer to each other by our given names, instead we use these cute/odd/weird one-syllable words that have come to represent some form of our names.

So, let me introduce you to the youngest two, Bean and Bo.

Christine and Andrew, two very different, delightfully individual people, who happen to share the same birthday! Yes, they’re twins. Today is their 22nd Birthday and I can’t imagine my life without them.

Christine is full of pizazz and wit and makes me laugh harder than anyone I know. She is my fashion consultant and my go-to pop culture trivia girl. She introduced me to Friends, Tiffany’s and Mick Jagger, but perhaps more importantly she reminds me to see the beauty in life. She is one of those people who is just easy to be around; even small animals flock to her. I am convinced she has dog whispering skills, but she denies it. Christine is expressive and creative and one of the most talented artist I know. And I am not just saying that because she is my sister. She makes my life fun and encourages me to live fully.

Andrew is my little brother, who now towers over me at 6’1. For the longest time I was convinced that I could still beat him at arm wrestling, but I have since been proven wrong. He is strong and athletic and tends to be good at whatever he does. He is our family tech support for all things mac. He fixes things mostly; occasionally breaks something. He is thoughtful and sweet and sends Valentine’s cards to me and his sisters every year. He knows that when a girl says “I’ll be ready in 5 minutes” it usually means 15 min. I think having 3 older sisters prepared him well for life (he might beg to differ). Andrew is a helper in the truest sense of the word and he has shown me how to serve others well.

Happy Birthday Christine and Andrew!

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10,000 ways to say i love you

Last week I was strolling through one of my favorite bookstores trying to ignore all of the sentimental, and yes slightly cheezy, valentine books that are so conveniently placed on the table right by the checkout stand. I am still a firm believer that Valentine’s Day is a hallmark holiday that was created to boost greeting card and flower sales in between Christmas and Easter, but nonetheless I still happen to like this day of love. Maybe because cute cards and handwritten letters are my love language so any excuse to receive one or give one is well worth it.

On the table that day at the bookstore I saw this book, 10,000 ways to say i love you by Gregory J.P. Godek. Apparently this guy is some kinda of love master because I don’t think I could come up with 10,000 ways to say I love you, but I did come up with 10. So, whether you are spending today with the love of your life…or wishing you had a love in your life, enjoy these 10 little nuggets. And know that they can be done any day of the year, not just Valentine’s day.

10 ways to say i love you
1. do your _________ (fill in the blank: husband’s, roommate’s, sister’s, etc) dishes in the sink, even though they’re not yours.
2. give a foot massage
3. be a good listener
4. every now and then when you’re out to dinner with friends, take the check and say “i got this one” instead of diving it up 5 ways.
5. call. sometimes it just means more than sending a facebook message or having a texting conversation
6. learn someone’s favorite coffee drink and bring to them. just because.
7. let him choose the movie. and don’t complain about it after.
8. buy her flowers. and put a handwritten note inside. trust me on this one.
9. take your daughter out to breakfast- just the two of you.
10. Give good hugs- often.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Watch Me

My family has vacationed out in Palm Desert almost every year since I was barely able to read. Thanks to Grandma’s condo and the completion of the 210 freeway, “the Desert” as we call it, quickly became our go-to, easy, vacation spot.

(point of reference: Palm Desert is located 10 miles east of Palm Springs and right in the middle of Retirement central. The median age is somewhere close to 65 and there are probably more golf courses and palm trees than they are people. really. Not exactly the most kid friendly place)

When we were younger the best part by far was the abundance of swimming pools. And when it’s 100 plus degrees outside and you’re under the age of 14 the only thing there really is to do out there is: go swimming. So that’s what we did. And every day we would “pool hop” to one of the gzillion pools around the country club.

Somewhere in time we crossed over to the adult, albeit boring side of life, where we neglected the “pool hopping” and swimming days of our youth and replaced it with sun bathing and chaise lounge-ing. And that is exactly what we did this vacation. Sat. Read. Napped. Ate. And relaxed by the pool. This is all wonderful and serene and peaceful, until some little eager kid, complete with floaties and goggles yells, “watch me, watch me.” And then the dutiful, doting parent lifts their head and watches for that magical moment as the darling child jumps off the edge into the water. Followed by the usual, monotone response “hmm. oh wow, honey.”

And then the cycle repeats. Mom, mom. Watch me. Parent sighs. Looks up. Watches. Child completes the less than impressive feat. Parent gives an ooooo and awwwww. and then again. Here we go. On Monday my sisters and I sat at the pool and were victims to this continuous cycle as two little girls, who under normal circumstances would have been considered quite cute, bickered and badgered to demand their mom’s attention.

Mom, watch me. Watch me.

Now, I am sure I did this as a kid. I am sure I repeatedly yelled, “Mom, watch me. Watch me” as I attempted what felt like very significant accomplishments at the time (e.g. diving off the edge of the pool or holding my breath under water for more than 15 seconds). In fact I cannot imagine what it was like for my parents to have four little voices yelling at once, watch me. no watch me. no, watch me. Each one of us expecting attention and praise; each one of us expressing this deep desire to be noticed and watched.

I cannot remember the last time I actually said to one of my parents, hey watch me. watch me. Maybe as we get older our obvious need for constant affirmation and attention for the impressive tricks we do at the pool diminishes. But sometimes I wonder if there is still some part of me that longs for someone to affirm me and notice who I am or what I do.

Obviously I don’t walk down the street or parade through the school hallway, yelling at people to “watch me. watch me.” That would just be weird. And annoying. I think part of what it means to grow-up is to develop a healthy sense of self that is not completely contingent on fickle praise or attention that we may or may not receive. However, I sometimes wonder if in this “growing-up” process we also lose touch with our basic human need for affirmation.

I believe there is there some deep part of everyone
(yes, everyone…the young, old, adolescent, single, married, etc.) that is saying “watch me.” Some people may demand it bluntly and boldly, commanding attention from a group as they speak from the stage. They’re talking about politics and policies, but really they’re saying, “watch me.” Other people elicit it in more mysterious, subtle ways. They wrap themselves in culture, books and art and then drape a beautiful scarf around their shoulders. On the outside they are conveying a cautious smile and gentle eyes, but really they’re saying, “watch me.”

I think somewhere along the way, somewhere between play days in the pool and the adult world I now inhabit, I have been socialized to believe that we should be humble and not demand people’s attention (and there is definitely some truth to that) but I think sometimes we miss the whole picture. I am not advocating for more self-centered, attention-seeking people to come claim their glory in the limelight. No, not at all. On the contrary I am learning that there is something very healthy and I believe good about being able to both watch others and with it offer a sincerity of praise and affirmation and yet, still also learn how to ask, “watch me?”

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the love sac

Part of my trip to LA last weekend included an afternoon with my brother. And I think any trip to see my brother definitely warrants its’ own post.

My “little” six-foot-two brother, Andrew, is pretty great. And yes, I am biased. I mean for growing up as the youngest of three older sisters- three very talkative, loud and opinionated sisters-I think he turned out pretty good. And I have just come to trust that all the times we dressed him up, made him play school, and do choreographed routines in the living room are either repressed painful memories or he was simply too young to even remember. All that to say, I am quite thankful that he still lets me be a part of his life.

Andrew, more commonly referred to as BoBo, by our family, is a senior at Biola. (really, BoBo is an endearing term, despite whatever negative connotations you have attached to the word) He’s living in a cute, suburban neighborhood near La Mirada and last weekend he and his six other roommates opened up their frat-house style home for a BBQ with friends and family.

Now he and his friends are great guys…very upstanding, responsible citizens, but this is not a normal house. Take for instance the living room: there are 3 BIG (I mean huge, 62 inch) TVs all lined up next to each other, complete with 5 couches, and 2 coffee tables! I guess that’s a pretty good ratio 3:5:2. So you can sit on any of the 5 couches and face all 3 TVs at the same time, making it possible to watch the current football game, the espn post game show AND simultaneously play video games without having to flip back and forth between channels. My dad explained this is every boy’s dream.

And it continues- each bedroom has another TV and the “study room” as they call it, hosts all seven of their computers. Everything is about function, not form. There are no decorations. zero, zlich. no pictures, no frames, no cute magnets on the fridge, nothing. They do however have a color coated, rotating chore chart taped to the fridge (my mom would be proud). Oh, and what twenty-year-old male household is complete without the love sac. I will probably never quite understand why post-adolescent men gravitate toward this large, furry, over sized bean bag, but they do.

And my brother and his friends love it. The eat on it. Sleep on it. Read on it and wrestle on it. (see below)

But more important than seeing my brother’s new house with a gazillion TVs and a giant love sac, it was seeing him. My brother is only 21, but he has a wisdom and depth that I respect so much. He knows how to love people and love them well. He can fix and tinker with almost anything and he has more natural computer geniusness (yes, I made up that word) then I’ll ever have. He tries to give me dating advice, and I should probably listen, considering he has had the longest dating relationship in the family : ) And whenever he travels or visits another country he brings back thoughtful little gifts for my sisters and I- beautiful mugs or scented candles or handmade scarves and earnings. aww, so sweet, right?

The truth is I wish I got to see more of my brother. We’re not the best at talking on the phone. Conversations usually consist of no more than 7 sentences and maybe some text messages during the week. I am learning sometimes it’s just good to be together. in person. face-to-face. It’s just better that way.

BoBo, you’re wonderful!

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Sometimes weekends come and go and I feel like there is either way too much to do or not enough going on- it’s feels like this ridiculous game of tug-o-war where there is never a happy medium. But, this weekend was an exception.

I needed a break. Something new. Some space to go and be away and see people I miss. So, I threw my bag in my trunk and Ingrid Michalson’s new CD in my stereo and headed down the 101. Now if you know me, you know that I hate, absolutely hate, traffic. It’s like my arch enemy. You think growing up in southern California I would just “get used to.” But no. Sitting in traffic is like sinking in quicksand…just when you think you’re moving faster and getting out. You brake. stop. brake again and sink further into the murk and mess of LA traffic. I think most people just succumb to it and put on music or sit there and make the best of it, but not me. No, I try to beat it. Or at least do everything in power to avoid it and get out quick.

However, when I am so unfortunate to be stuck in traffic I call my dad. My dad is like my personal google map. You see my cell phone is ancient, probably comparable to the infamous Saved by the Bell cell phone that Zack carried around in the halls of Bayside High. Ok, not that big, but close. I do not yet have a modern, fancy touch screen machine that signals when to turn left and announces what to eat for dinner…but I do have my dad. No matter where I am, on any freeway, anywhere in the greater LA or Orange County area, my dad can tell me in an instant where to go. He must have a grid of all the freeways spinning around in his head. Usually the conversation goes something like this:
M: ugh, dad there is traffic again!
D: ok, hun. where are you?
M: sitting on the 405.
D: well you could get off at the 10 or the 22. Or take the 101 to the 605 and then get on the 710.

Seriously, somehow my dad just knows all of this- like where the 91 meets the 241 and where the 57 ends and the 5 begins and when it’s better to take the 210 or the 126. I mean who needs an iphone, when you have all that within a phone call to dad.

Thanks to the google-like-efficient advice of my father, I avoided the 405 and cruised down Highway 1 en route to Seal Beach to see my good friend. She and I have never been roommates, actually we’ve never even lived in the same city, but we connected (rather randomly) 5 years at a conference. We bonded because we both didn’t fit. She was searching for something new. And I was aching for something that was lost. And somehow instead of finding what we were looking for, we found each other.

Five years later, we’re still friends. And it was one of those weekends where it was just so good to be together. We just laughed. Laughed a lot. We barbecued with her friends. Told silly stories. Walked down Main Street with no real purpose or destination, just the wonderful aimless wandering that takes you right where you should be. We played fishbowl. And ate watermelon. And did yoga in the family room. Went to church. And sat on the beach and talked about life and teaching and dating and God and insecurities and love and loneliness and the importance of good friends.

Sometimes I feel like I breathe a litter easier when I’m somewhere new. It’s refreshing. I inhale deeply. It’s not that air is any better in Seal Beach than it is in Santa Barbara, but it is different. And sometimes when life feels stagnant and dull, new air is needed.

Dee-anna, thank you for a refreshing weekend. It was a breath of fresh air. Love you.

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