Best of Boston


Last week I spent 5 days with my sister in Boston. Bundled up in coats and scarves we wandered through the rain around the streets of Cambridge. When we were younger our relationship centered around doing gymnastic routines in the front yard, playing 20 questions at night in our bunk beds and arguing over who took whose schruchie. I kid you not. I was the bossy, commanding, older sister and she was the sweet, easy going, middle child. And even though we sometimes still fall into those constraining birth order roles, I think we have come a long way in learning to be both friends and sisters.

We spent a lot of time just talking; curled up on the couch, sitting over a cup of coffee, or sharing appetizers at dinner. We managed to fit in some dancing one night and shopping the next morning- both equally enjoyable especially when there is this wonderful thing called the free “coat check.” I had never experienced that before. And did you know there is no sales tax on clothes in Boston? yesssss. We spent a good number of miles walking which is a great in a city that caters to pedestrians. Imagine 4-way stops where floods of people cross every which way and the cars just wait. ha. We managed to take every form of public transportation possible- yes, we hopped on and off the T, waited for the bus, and hailed a taxi. Steph took me to one of her favorite cafes, Flour and I wandered around little bookstores with stacks of books and cute greeting cards.


I was so impressed by my sister, Stephanie. She has a meaningful job working with people from all different cultural and religious backgrounds. She creatively started and now organizes yearly events like Soccer Nights for the entire city of Cambridge (check it out here). She has incredible friends who love her and an adorable apartment on the 5th floor of a charming building right by Harvard Square. Not only did I get to enjoy Boston, but also I got to see part of Steph’s life. There is something about being present with someone that brings together what cell phone conversations and text messages cannot. Now if only I could have brought the sunshine with me.

Weff, thanks for letting me come stay with you! I am glad that I can call you sister and friend.

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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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When I Grow Up


When I was little this is what I wanted to be when I grew up. I kid you not. Most little kids imagine being a doctor or superhero or maybe even the person who flies the planes, but no…I wanted to be the person who directs the planes and tells them where to go.

For as long as I can remember I have loved airports and airplanes and all things that have to do with traveling. Before I was even able to read my parents would take me down to Ontario Airport where we would sit in the parking lot.

And just watch the planes.

Land and take off.

Land and take off.

What wonderfully, patient parents I had. For some reason I called planes be-bos and to this day I am not sure why. My parents helped foster my love (insert: obsession) of airplanes by reading me books from the local library about airports and airplanes. In fact they sent me on a plane by myself when I was just seven.

And remember how before the feds cracked down on airport security, it was common practice to actually go to the gate to meet someone? When my grandma would fly down from Seattle for her yearly visit the best part was waiting at the gate for her plane to arrive. With my hands glued to the metal gate I watched these airport workers with fluorescent vests and long flashlights “tell” the plane where to go. I decided that is what I wanted to do one day.

Fast-forward 20 years later
I am not in fact directing airplanes, (although I am sure this odd desire says something about my personality and my desire to be in charge, arranging and directing and telling students what to do) but I still do love airports.

I love airports because they remind me that traveling is about the process. I am convinced that if we could magically zap ourselves through some wrinkle in time to another city or country in an instant it would not hold the same appeal.

Traveling is about the process of packing and preparing. There is an anticipation and that looking forward to feeling. Traveling is contingent on lines and waiting and walking and then more lines, waiting and sitting. A process that sometimes feels inefficient and tiresome, but it reminds me that sometimes it’s not about me.

At any given time there are hundreds of passengers wandering around the airport, going a million different places, and you know what? We all want the same thing. We all want to make our flight and leave on time and get a good seat on a perfectly functioning plane that will arrive safely at our desired destination. So it’s not about really me and where I want to go per se. When I remember this I look around and notice what a fascinating place airports are- people of different cultures and countries and languages congregate in the same place for a few short hours: weary business men, adventurous backpackers and love struck honeymooners all wait for the same flight.

Contrary to how I usually do life, I actually enjoy this process.

The waiting.

And the watching.

And the sitting.

This is where surprising conversations happen with strangers and observant people watching skills come in handy. This also becomes my favorite book reading, magazine perusing and journal writing time. This process invites me to relax and let go. I cannot control the weather or make the line move any faster. I cannot hurry up the boarding process or change my seat. All I can do is enjoy the process and in that, there is a kind of freedom.

Tomorrow I get to embark on this process.
I will greet my first of three airports before the sun rises. And then arrive in Boston sometime tomorrow evening. I am looking forward to a day of travel, but even more so I am looking forward to spending 4 days with my incredible sister, Steph.

(And yes, I am still holding out for my dream: maybe one day I’ll get to sport the florescent vest and over-sized flashlights so I can “tell” the planes where to go)

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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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I bought a brush


Something you may not know about me is that I don’t own a brush. Really.

See people with curly hair don’t really brush their hair. In high school I used to watch girls stand in front of the mirror and brush their long, smooth locks with envy. I wanted to brush my hair, too. If I was lucky I could run my fingers through my curly hair and then re-scrunch it, but that was it because usually when you brush curly hair it just ends up resembling the mane of a lion. Think huge frizzy, poofy fro! Not so pretty.

But this past weekend, I bought a brush.
And I actually got it use it to brush my hair, my straight hair!

A few months ago one of my students kept pestering me to straighten my hair. In order to silence her requests I agreed, only if she passed all of her classes. And even though she is one of my favorite students, she failed two classes last term so I felt fairly confident about my end of the bargain. By the way they don’t teach you these classroom management techniques in school. I mean betting with students is probably frowned upon, but for some reason it motivated her. Our term ended last Friday and low and behold- she passed ALL of her classes!

Hence Ms. Acker with straight hair:


Hair really shouldn’t be that big of deal, right? I mean most people change their hairstyle or hair color and life goes on after a few initial comments and reactions. But my hair has been curly for most of my life and I rarely; I mean rarely change anything about it. I think I used the same silver barrette for 4 years of high school: half-up, half down, every day. For years my far cooler and fashionable younger sister has hinted that I should “change it up” every now and then, but I don’t. I’m a creature of habit and I don’t do change that well. Not with my hair, not with moving, not with anything. Change is hard for me.

But sometimes I think its needed and even necessary. And maybe that’s why it takes a silly thing like making a bet with a student to usher in something new and different. I don’t think I’ll keep my hair straight forever, but it’s a nice little brush with change (yes, pun intended.)

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Two Things


There are two things I like in life…
One: going somewhere new and Two: camping.

And this weekend I got to do both.

Somewhere off Highway 62, nestled between some huge rocks and lots of Joshua trees I found myself camping with my friend Dee-Anna and a bunch of her friends. I like camping because life moves just a little bit slower. There is more sitting, more relaxing and less doing. Camping invites late night conversations and groggy morning faces. It gives permission not to shower and have hair that smells like campfire. I am convinced that the food tastes better simply because it’s eaten outside. Fashion is dictated by how many layers are needed to stay warm, not by what colors go together. I believe I have successfully mastered the art of s’more making and I think the headlamp is one of the best inventions of the century.

It’s only March and I’ve been on two camping trips. Not a bad start to 2010. Here’s to daylight savings time, warm nights and hopefully some more camping trips.

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Drops Like Stars


On Thursday night I and about half of southern California went to LA to hear Rob Bell speak. I was like a little kid waiting in line to meet Santa Clause. Now I know Rob Bell is not in fact Santa Claus, but that same childish excitement and giddy feeling was present as we waited to enter the Wiltern Theater. I’ve read RB’s books and listened to his podcast for years because they offered a different voice, a new perspective and sometimes a radical understanding of the gospel. In some of my darkest and most painful seasons his writing and words offered Hope, when everything else seemed silent.

And in case you were wondering, he is just as good live. Articulate. Creative and Down Right Funny. He somehow connects Will Farrell and Jesus in the same sentence- pure brilliance. He’s the kinda guy you’d want to have over to your house to hang out with your friends. And yet he seamlessly connects faith and pop culture and art and politics and the bible into a canvas that leaves room for mystery and honesty.

Obviously, I don’t really like him.

The best part about Thursday was that Rob Bell acknowledged right off the bat that bad stuff happens- pain, heartache, loss, suffering, and grief- and yet, we don’t know why. Our lives do not unravel the way we expected. Some things never, ever make sense! But instead of trying to give simplistic answers that many Christians to do, he invited us to see pain, heartache and loss as a complete disruption to our lives-which it is. But “The Art of Disruption” as he says, also plants seeds of creativity. When we suffer we are challenged to re(create), (re)imagine and re(define) parts of our life that will never, ever be the same.

I think about some of the times I have cried out in anger or heartache and how I often feel like the sadness and loneliness are the roots of my pain, but RB said often the root of our pain is actually mourning the loss of the expectation.

Aren’t these some of the thoughts that often go through our heads?
This is not how I thought life would be. I expected him to be here forever. I never thought we would lose our house. I expected to be married by now. I never imagined my mom getting cancer. I never thought we wouldn’t be able to have kids.
I never planned on this. And the list could do on.

RB said something that stuck with me– Pain has a way of making us honest.

He didn’t justify the pain, gloss over it or simplify it. No, he just said, it has a way of making us honest. And I think he is right. Pain forces us to look deep inside and cry out with questions. Pain forces us to admit I can’t do this alone. And the God that I believe in meets us right there in our pain. He meets us in the empty places. Some of the most beautiful, honest and genuine people that I know have experienced deep pain and loss, but somehow they’ve taken the art of disruption and let it shape and change who they are.

RB obviously describes it better, but this is the best I could do at quick synopsis. If you’re inclined to fly to the UK or Australia you still have a chance to see him! Click here for tour dates. For the rest of you, you can settle for buying the book.

Next post, bar soap and “The Art of Elimination.”

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