Okay Jesus.

(Recently I realized how often I begin big and important prayers with this phrase, and how much it sounds like “Okay Google”. I laughed.)

The past three weeks haven’t been my favorites.
Sometimes when life is surprisingly wonderful for a while, I start to panic because I know it won’t last forever. This time I didn’t. I felt such a solid peace that I was hardly even aware of it.
And then suddenly everything got dark again. I was not at all prepared. (Depression is stupid. And unreasonable. I don’t like it.)

Wednesday night I started feeling better just as suddenly.
Ever since then, I’ve had this song stuck in my head.

Whatever you’re doing inside of me
It feels like chaos, but I believe
You’re up to something bigger than me
Larger than life, something heavenly.

Y’all. We’re terribly small.
That’s hard to remember.
And God is so big and so good.

Almost a year ago, when I had that complete mental collapse and my friends forced me to go to Recovery because they didn’t know how else to keep me alive, they would constantly tell me “We love you, and we’ll still love you even if you never get better.” Even if you never get better.

So, Friday morning I woke up, still feeling mostly better, still so confused as to how things got so bad so fast in these past weeks, and I was done. As in, done waiting to get better and stay better forever. Not done with life. Calm down.

“Okay Jesus. I trust you even if I never get better.”

In the past I’ve only ever thanked him for getting me out of another episode and then begged him to never let me fall in the hole again.
But I flipped the script because my brain is broken, and we live in a broken world, and I’m very possibly going to deal with this forever. I may have months or even years without a bit of anxiety or depression, and I may struggle every February, and I may actually be better for good this time. None of that is the point because it’s not where my hope comes from.
Hope isn’t found in never going through another dark season on earth; hope is knowing that Jesus already suffered worse than I ever will, so that someday I can spend an eternity with him where there’s no more pain. No matter how much pain or joy my tiny little life down here holds, none of it will touch what Jesus has stored up for me when it’s over.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
It doesn’t say “In the absence of pain you may have peace.” He says “in me.” And he says we WILL have troubles. BUT it doesn’t matter because he’s already beaten it all for us. (read the whole chapter if you have a minute. It’s full of this stuff)
Your struggles don’t contradict God’s goodness.

I don’t know how to finish this because I don’t usually write from the middle. I wait til things are finished and sound good and look like a story that people want to read.
Being vulnerable is probably more helpful.

I also can’t write a post without using the word “I.” I’ll never be Ann Voskamp. This needs to be okay.


My brain needed exercise.

What animal would be cutest if it was scaled down to the size of a cat?
An elephant. I love elephants the most even when they’re big but if it was cat-sized, I could realistically have one of my own.

What movie can you watch over and over without getting tired of?
Ocean’s Eleven. Hoodwinked. Mean Girls.
(It should be noted that none of these are in my top ten favorites. There can be too much of a good thing; my favorites are deeper and heavier and need to be savored only once in a while. The above three are a few of many that I love but can watch every single day for a long time)

What’s the spiciest thing you’ve ever eaten?
A terrible frozen meal in Thailand; we obviously couldn’t read Thai and our host(who was Filipino) looked it over in the market and thought it said mild. It was not.

What are you interested in that most people are not?

What movie quotes do you use on a regular basis?
I sing “okay byyyyyye” from Frozen every time I leave my house, and whenever someone else leaves either “Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad!” or “Have fun storming the castle!” and if you ever happen to eat mashed potatoes with my family, someone will say “These mashed potatoes are so creamy” in a Chicago accent.
I’ll wait for people to identify those last three movies.

What’s the most ironic thing you’ve ever seen happen?
A biker who got hit by a Dodge

What movie, picture or video makes you smile or laugh every time you see it?
Oh gosh always this…

What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks you to suggest new music?
The Oh Hellos, or depending how well I know you, Mike Mains and the Branches. Never any of my absolute favorite bands unless we’re very very very good friends and don’t live together.

What’s the most pleasant sounding accent?
Wherever Jack Davenport’s from

What’s the funniest word in the English language?
Farctate. It’s an adjective meaning “full,” but it sounds like a verb or an expletive, so we use it as both in my house.

What’s the weirdest food combination that you like?
At Moe’s whenever I get a kid’s meal, I dip my cookie in my queso. (I’ve been doing it for ten years and was so happy when I started working there and found that our catering manager does the same thing)

What did you last Google?
“How to embed Youtube video in WordPress”

What’s the most annoying noise?
Snoring, closely followed by people chewing with their mouth open.

What odd smell do you really enjoy?
My soccer jerseys after a game.
And I guess clothes that I’ve worn at a campfire, but I don’t think that one’s odd. If they made campfire scented perfume I’d buy it in bulk.

What always cheers you up when you think of it?
Hippos and yellow birds

What two things are terrible when separate but great when you put them together?
Chocolate and milk

What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Die Hard

Just kidding. It’s a Wonderful Life. But Die Hard is absolutely a Christmas movie, and it’s in my top five.

What seemingly innocent question makes you think “It’s a trap!”
“What are you doing this weekend?”

What have you eaten so much of that you now hate it?
Nutella, except I don’t hate it, I’d just only eat it anymore if I had nothing else to eat.

What’s your “and then it got worse” story?
The time in that public restroom on the way to Thailand. But I only tell that story in person.


26 goals for 26

I’ve been dreading my birthday since January.
25 is the last time that getting older gets you a reward(the ability to rent a car, and a whopping $9 off my car insurance).
26 just sounds old. 25 sounded perfect. Just old enough to be absolutely not young, but just young enough to not FEEL old. But 26? No. That’s older than any Camp La Vida staffer I’ve ever worked with and that’s not okay.

And I just don’t like the number 26; it’s Wade Boggs’ number and it shouldn’t have been retired, because he finished his career with the evil empire and that negates every good thing he ever did for us.

26 is the 20-something equivalent of turning 19. But my 19th birthday was the best birthday I’ve ever had, so it makes sense that 26 topped it.
The other day it struck me that since there are 26 letters in the alphabet, this gives me SO much potential for list making.

So if you’re still reading and wanted to continue, here’s the most important of several lists(don’t worry, I’ll only publish this one, and one more later).

26 Goals for 26-year-old Linda
Because a couple years ago I started making New Years resolutions on my birthday instead of on January 1st. [like this one] This year I couldn’t think of one big goal to work on, so I’m making 26 small ones. And I’m lettering them instead of numbering them, because this is the only year that I can.
(Also some of these are things I’ve done before, and many are things I want/need to start doing and do multiple times. If you’re thinking of a bucket list, this isn’t one)

A. Leave the country
B. See the Red Sox in two new ballparks(Rogers Centre for sure, and then either Nats Park or Citi Field; we play the NL East in 2018 so there are plenty of easily doable ones)
C. Read 35 books(if I can read 54 on the World Race, I can do this)
D. Read a whole Harry Potter book in Spanish(a better test of fluency than Duolingo)
E. Run a race longer than a 5k
F. Write something important
G. Find an offseason hobby(I’m a really boring person from November to March)
H. Run 100 miles(I made a resolution to run 365 miles in 2017; I’ve run 12. I’m being more realistic now)
I. Watch The Bucket List
J. Memorize the first 4 chapters of Mark(because I want to learn the whole book by my 30th birthday and there are 16 chapters)
K. Eat at Flight Deck(because how have I lived here for ten years and never been there?)
L. Go to a Blowfish game(because again, ten years and not once)
M. Watch a whole season of Friday Night Lights(I want to like it, I’ve tried so hard to)
N. Complete half of this list(because Jon Acuff always says to cut your goal in half)
O. Sell that bridesmaid dress I’ve been meaning to get rid of for two years
P. Make more of an effort to like football(it’s lonely being a baseball fan in the south; football opens up more conversations)
Q. Write to my Compassion child at least four times
R. Learn to cook something new(alfredo sauce and Linda Brownies aren’t enough to live off of)
S. Visit at least one new state
T. Go on a date
U. Write at least one blog post a month…preferably two or three, but again we’re going for realistic over ambitious.
V. Stop letting anxiety keep me from going to things; unless I know for a fact that zero friends will be there, I have to go and I will be all right. (Maybe I’ll tackle wading into a hoard of strangers with no life boats when I’m 27. Or 30. Or maybe never…I’m not Wonder Woman and I need to accept this)
W. Save more money
X. Spend more time reading books than reading my Facebook feed
Y. Go to the beach(it’s been way too long)
Z. Work out at 5am ONE time(so that Abby and Brittany can stop asking me to ;) )

stories about life and God · stories about Midtown

A weird and beautiful gift

This post has lived in my heart for a while, but I always thought I’d wait to really write it when I’m older and wiser and able to be taken seriously. (which used to be my way of saying “married”)

Yesterday I decided I need to write this now, because no single person takes any married person seriously when they say this. (Don’t tell me you’ve never rolled your eyes at a well-meaning friend who’s telling the truth but also has the gift of hindsight)

And, final sidebar before I actually start saying things: if I told you how much I love pizza, you wouldn’t assume I was saying “I never want to eat ANYTHING but pizza forever”, would you? Of course not, so bear that in mind.

Singleness is really and truly a gift.
(Remember what I said about pizza. Do not hear me say I want only pizza forever. I am not writing this to declare any plan or desire to live and die eating nothing but pizza. Also this is a metaphor, if that wasn’t hilariously obvious)

I didn’t always believe this. I obviously learned it the long and hard way, partly because this is a long and hard truth for almost anyone to grasp, but mostly because I learn everything the long and hard way.

I’ve wanted to get married since I was five. I remember regularly praying out loud to God at bedtime to please not let me die until I got married, and I remember a Sunday school teacher asking me once what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said “Somebody’s wife.”

Somehow in high school I was oddly wise and knew that there was no point in dating until I was grown up and knew where my life was going, which was my totally naïve term for “in college.”

Because in my sweet and innocent mind, I fully assumed that marriage was an obvious and guaranteed step in the not-terribly-far future. Until my sophomore year of college when I transferred to CIU and was suddenly surrounded by worthwhile guys…and, none of them wanted me. I was the girl that guys talked to about sports and occasionally borrowed a 3-hole puncher from(nobody else on campus had one; word spread quickly). Majoring in youth ministry and minoring in the friend zone.

From here God would very, very slowly mold and break and rebuild me and my ideas about life and marriage and where I found my joy and identity. In three stages, because again, I learn the hard way.

#1-Singleness as a burden and marriage as the reward for carrying it

Throughout college the thing I struggled with the most was that I wanted a good thing. Never in my whole life, even when I was young and unreasonable, had I seriously liked a guy who didn’t love Jesus or who made me feel bad about myself or who my brother didn’t like. And since I was asking for inherently good things, I couldn’t fathom why God wouldn’t give them to me right this minute.
Thankfully God loves me too much to give me everything I ask for.

Looking back I know that while I was waiting for God to send me a guy so I could feel whole and right and content with life, he was protecting my well-meaning but misguided heart by not letting any of those otherwise good guys pursue me, because I would have let go of a lot of other good things for what I thought was the best thing.

#2-Singleness as the station and marriage as the train that would take me places
Then I was a bridesmaid for one of my friends…where I cried through half the ceremony and most of my drive home, because I just wanted what Kristin was getting. I got home and crawled into bed, sobbing to God that I just needed to know WHY I still had to wait. And while he didn’t give me a bulleted schedule like I’d prefer, I remember that I’d never felt so sad while also feeling so loved and full, like crying with a friend who’s listened to my pain for years and completely understands what I want and wants it for me. I’d known since I was fourteen that I wanted whoever he wanted for me, but this was the first time I started to want my dreams whenever God wanted.

 I started my third semester of senior year and interviewed for the World Race, and when I was accepted, I had to commit to stay single from that day until the end of month 11. I was mostly fine with this; if I had a guy waiting for me back home I’d never survive. And also because, though I had no idea of this at the time, I believed deep down that this was my last hurdle as a single person and God would practically have my future husband waiting at the airport when I got back to the US.

Right before training camp, I was talking to one of those guy friends who’d always talked to me about sports and borrowed that 3-hole puncher once. And then we kept talking.

We talked now and then throughout the World Race, more and more as I got closer to coming home. Then one night in my eleventh and final month, he told me he liked me and I said me too, and half my heart checked out for the last two weeks of the richest year of my life.

I landed in the US, jet lagged and aimless and begging God for a plan, hoping it would involve this boy. He was supposed to take me on a date two days after I got home. Instead he canceled the night before, then passively rejected me and broke my heart.

Apparently, I thought I was strong and independent and only needed Jesus to approve of me…but I was wrong, because this flawed human boy still had the power to crush me. Which painfully proved that I still saw a relationship as the goal and Jesus as a temporary comfort.

#3-Singleness as a gift and marriage as a gift and Jesus as everything*
After five dark months and so much wrestling with God, I was somehow able to get connected to Midtown and got placed in a Lifegroup with all married people. Which at first I thought was a cruel joke on God’s part but I quickly found out that married friends are actually the best.(more on that here)

Fast forward another year and five months, to March of this year, on Midtown’s family vacation. I’d expected to feel out of place all weekend and spend most of the time wishing I had what all my friends had. But I never once felt different or weird, just loved and at home and more like myself than I’d felt in two years, and I decided that I’m in my favorite season.

As much as I love making more married friends, I always thank God for the rare and delightful opportunity to make a single friend(it’s like driving past a Lambo), so I’d ridden up that weekend with our Lifegroup’s babysitter who I’d had exactly one conversation with before. (This is important because new people normally terrify me; God needed me to meet her) On the drive home we were talking about not having families and how that gives us really unique ways to serve a church full of couples and kids, and how we get to learn so much from all of them, and Stephanie said she’s thankful to be single and I said “ME TOO”, so excited to have found someone else who felt that way…and then I laughed at myself because I hadn’t noticed when I started believing that. But I knew as I said it that I really, truly, finally had landed in that beautiful place of pure joy and contentment, and I knew I’d been sitting there for a while without even realizing it.

The best part is knowing what a good thing this is while I actually still have it. I’m not saying that singleness is better than marriage; I think they’re both equally awesome, but also really different, and most people(hopefully including me) get to experience both. I don’t want to waste one season wishing for the other because this is what Jesus has given me today and I’m going to thank him for it and squeeze every bit of joy out of it that I can. And I’ll do the same with whatever he gives me tomorrow because he only gives me good things.

For now I get all this extra time to watch all these good marriages around me and learn from them, and I get to spontaneously do things on weeknights because I have no one to rush home for, and I get to give date nights to my friends because I don’t have my own kids to hang out with so I’m always glad to borrow theirs, and I can serve in Kidtown all the time because I never need a break from kids…I could go on. Marriage will come with its own set of blessings, if it comes.

I still want the same things I’ve always wanted…but more than anything I want Jesus and I want to say yes to him, and I never want to slip back into believing that I need anything else to complete me because I’ve already wasted enough years on that ugly white lie.
If I end up married, I’ll thank him and praise him, and if I stay where I am forever, I’ll thank him and praise him. Because I still get HIM.

He’s enough for you too and he’s bigger than anything else you’ve wanted before. Don’t waste all your joy right now because you think marriage will give you even more. And even if you do get married eventually, it’ll still be Jesus who completes you; you never outgrow needing him, and until you stop running from that truth and start resting in it, you’ll never be fully content even if every other desire you have is fulfilled.
He is infinitely enough.

And in case you forgot…this is coming from a single person.


*I debated on saying “singleness as chips and queso, and marriage as the meal,” because at Mexican restaurants I never notice how long it takes for my order to come as long as they don’t stop bringing me chips, and then I love my tacos just as much as the chips…different but equally great.

If you want more, because there are a lot of not even slightly helpful articles about singleness out there, here are a few great things that other people wrote over the years that helped me arrive at this point.
~My squad mentor from the World Race on being single in your late 20s; this one is at 29, but in there you’ll find links to 26, 27 and 28. She’s the dang best(and she is ENGAGED!)
~On never using the phrase “at least”
~On not waiting for marriage to make your life complete
~The Sacred Search by Gary Thomas is my favorite and most practical book I’ve ever read for single people.
~The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller
~And, as much as I joke about this book now, I have to credit I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris for starting this ball rolling when I was fourteen. It’s a mildly extreme view, but it has very solid roots.


My car is in park

This first small section was written on October 27th and it was originally called Standing Still Is Hard. Today when I started to write about super similar things, I remembered that I never finished it.
Think of all the roads, think of all their crossings
Taking steps is easy, standing still is hard.
Remember all their faces, remember all their voices
Everything is different the second time around.
-Ever wise Regina Spektor.

I wonder if it’s a personality thing, because I know a few people who would much rather stand still than go places, but those words certainly tell a harsh truth to my ADD heart.

Today, I’ve been in the same place for a year. I have the exact same friends, I work the exact same job, and I live in the exact same house.

I don’t think I expected this. My brain isn’t trained for permanence. As an adult I’ve never stayed anywhere for this long. I never had the same roommate in college or lived on the same hall, so I’d spend nine months with one group of people, spend the summer with a new staff and each of those weeks with a new set of campers, then repeat. Then I graduated and went on the World Race, where I moved to a new country every month and lived with three different seven-person teams within my squad of forty-three.

Roots are a very foreign concept to me.
I thought about it all day at work and decided that I’d have an existential crisis if my parents ever sell our house. I can go anywhere I want as long as it’s possible to come back home.

Everything is different the second time around…
I think I like different. All I’ve ever wanted is for things to stay the same, but now that I got my wish, maybe I take it back. (As I have with almost everything I’ve ever gotten that I’ve ever claimed to want)
Now it’s today. June 16th.
I tried to move after I wrote that. To Texas, Georgia, Greenville or Ecuador.
Yes. Actually filled out applications. Actually looked at plane tickets. Actually begged God to take me away to anywhere but here.

Going and doing are easy to say yes to. Staying and being are hard.

I’ve always liked for things to move fast. It’s all I’m used to. So it felt like something was wrong, for me to not be going anywhere new or meeting any new people after a year. It felt like I was finally putting down roots, and the deeper they grew, the more I knew it would hurt when they were pulled up, and I was doing everything I could to avoid that pain.

My life from the ages of 18-23 was nothing but God planting me, digging me up, and re-planting me, over and over and over.
Not long after my 24th birthday was when I ended up here, and I spent most of the first year bracing myself for the moment when God would dig me up again…but it hasn’t come yet.

The other day I was in the drive thru at Taco Bell and it was taking forever. I kept wanting to put my car in park, but I knew as soon as I did, the cars in front of me would finally move.

That’s how 25 has felt; if I park my life here, how soon will God tell me to go somewhere new?

Not for a while this time. My hypothetical car isn’t just in park; I’ve cut the engine off and gotten out. I’m fully living my life with the people God’s given me, not just sitting in the car and talking through my safe windows, prepared to drive off at any second.
And I’m not even worried anymore about when he might tell me to get back in the car and drive again, because he’s never taken anything from me without giving me something better.

I’m at peace with the roots. Maybe when God’s the one who put them down, not me, it doesn’t hurt so much to have them pulled back up.
Or maybe(hopefully?), these are for real roots and I get to stay this time.

Now that I’ve actually typed that sentence I’m mildly terrified that God will send me across the world next week.
I think I need to stop writing and publish this quick before I stop trusting him.


Blue and white ESV Bibles

Sometimes certain things immediately bring a memory so sharply into my mind it’s as if I’m holding a photo album in my hands.

Other times, I’m struck with the absolute certainty that something should spark my memory, but I have no idea what. Like a broken circuit.

The first day I went to a Sunday morning at Midtown, the first thing I noticed were the blue and white ESV Bibles. It was one of those times that I knew it reminded me of an important something.

That was about fifteen months ago, and it was just this past Sunday that the switch finally flipped. I’d forgotten my own Bible, so for the first time, I actually needed to open one of those Bibles from under the chairs. I saw the pages and remembered sitting by the pool in Botswana across from Casey Baxter, a pile of highlighters between us, and a few monkeys watching from the trees above us.

Buying that Bible was the second best thing we did that month. The first was meeting the woman we picked it out for.

That day wasn’t supposed to be anything extraordinary. Based on the emails we’d exchanged, we were 80% sure this organization was not what AIM was looking to partner with and the meeting would mostly just be us doing the polite thing and listening to their pitch.

It was the furthest thing from a waste of time. I can’t even remember what we asked that led her to say this, but whatever it was she answered, “Well, I want to be born again. I don’t know how, but I want to.”

The next twenty minutes are a blur; this happens to my memory when it’s totally Jesus speaking and not one of the words is mine. But we talked with her and showed her verses and she said the most enthusiastic prayer and then we were all three on our feet and hugging, and it felt like a dream. The happiest dream in all ten months I’d been gone.

So Casey and I bought that blue and white Bible for her, spent an afternoon highlighting our favorite verses and then when we went back to give it to her, she wasn’t working that day and we had to have her coworker drop it by her office. We were really sad to not get to see her again.
Thankfully though, she’d given us her email address, so we messaged her a few weeks later when we were in South Africa. She responded and said she was reading her Bible every day and that her whole family was going to church. She said “I am so happy. You saved my life by showing me the good way.”

God can work even through your bad attitudes and negativity. He’ll show up when you haven’t even thought to ask him to. Nothing you say or do can get in his way.


Happy birthday dear Ava

Ava was awake when I first met her. She was 27 hours old, and babies that new are always asleep, but not Ava; her eyes were wide open for the full hour I spent with her, looking all around like the world was way too big and exciting to ever look away from.
Jill was pregnant when I met her, so I was completely used to the idea of Ava being this invisible tiny person who lived inside my friend, but now here she was, a real tiny person lying in my arms, looking up at me with two real eyes and wiggling ten real fingers like she was trying to figure out what they were for.

Then when she was six months old I got to start taking a day off from a job I didn’t like so I could come take care of her, and when she was nine months old I quit the job I hated so I could watch her all the time. So now I have a job that I love.

She is a whole year old today and I love her further to pieces the bigger she gets. She’s the best snuggler, especially when she wakes up from her nap and she’s still half asleep, she listens so carefully when you talk to her, she loves to click her tongue, and sometimes she growls for no apparent reason. Like she’ll just be crawling around looking for a toy and growling like a puppy all the while.
I’m convinced that no one has ever been this smart or this funny when they were this little.

One day I was rocking her to sleep and singing Jesus Loves Me to her, and I thought how she’s just so so loved by everyone who’s ever met her right now…and when she gets older and people tell her that Jesus loves her, she’ll never wonder what that means because she’s surrounded by people who love her and love Jesus. Then I started thinking how she’ll be bigger someday and might meet people who don’t like her, or have teachers who don’t get how brilliant she is, and I got so sad that I held her for her whole nap instead of making her sleep in her crib. I can’t make there not be mean people in the world, but I sure can fill up her unbroken little heart with all the love I’ve got while she’s still perfectly innocent, and I still can’t believe that that’s my job.

When I worked at camp, I’d always be sad to send a few of my favorite campers home because I didn’t know who would love them when I couldn’t(in some cases, I knew no one loved them at home). But as much as I love Ava and I miss her on the weekends, I’m thankful that I never worry about her when I walk out her door at the end of the day. Her parents love her more than I do and that’s how it should be, and she is just the most blessed baby.

Other things about her that may be boring to people who don’t know her(but which should be written down in case anyone forgets when she’s a teenager):

She LOVES her doggy(for the longest time she just called her “daw”)
ava 006
She loves to feed her food to the dog when she thinks I’m not looking, and she loves to toss her toys into places she isn’t allowed to be(just to see if the adult in the room will notice if she goes and gets them herself. It’s the cleverest little trick).
She loves books. When she was tiny I’d try to read to her, but she mostly just wanted to chew on the pages. Now her favorite part is pulling all of them off the shelf(never only one), but she does like to be snuggled and to turn the pages herself as fast as she can.
ava 003
(I can read Brown Bear over and over for 20 minutes before she finally gets bored. She points to every animal and calls it a dog, and thinks it’s so funny when I try to correct her)
She also loves Phineas and Ferb, and she loves any show that I laugh at because she thinks it’s funny when I laugh.
She can say Da-da and doggy, and I really think she could say Mama, but she just thinks it’s too funny to say Dada instead.(I won’t teach her to say Linda until she’s said Mama, so I’m getting impatient) Last week she learned to say “ball,” but for now she calls all of her toys a ball. Much like Boo from Monsters Inc, she talks all the time, just not in real words, and she’s a very good listener. Even though she can’t repeat most of the words I’m saying, you can tell she’s really trying hard to learn.

She does not like to sleep, but look how cute she is when she does.
ava 005
She does not like meat or bananas.
She does NOT like non-living things that can move by themselves. (She has a dancing Peppa Pig that she won’t even touch for fear it might move. She also has a cute little car with an alien face on it that rolls when you push its head down, and she screams if I send it across the room to her. But she does like to push it and let it roll away from her, as long as I’m holding her so she’s safe from it)
She loves to wave; especially at me, when Jill is leaving in the morning and she’d rather me be the one leaving.
She loves it when you share your food with her; anytime I’m eating anything, she’ll come over and open her mouth for me to give her a bite. (She still has no teeth, so I can’t share most things even if I wanted to)
She LOVES playing with boxes; one day I was eating Triscuits and she really wanted me to share, so I gave her the empty box instead. She spent the better part of the next half hour putting various objects in it and shaking them around to see how they sounded.
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She likes it when I build block towers for her, and she CAN stack two together herself, but she’d rather chew on one while I build the rest and let her watch. (Once I read a study about these two year olds who’d watched so much TV all their little lives, that the doctor gave them blocks and they had no idea what to do with them. So since the first day I ever babysat her, I’ve been showing her blocks, because she’s a smart kid, not a scary kid)

She can crawl as fast as other babies can walk(so even though she can take several steps when she feels like it, she usually chooses to crawl).
She loves music more than anything and she’s always been able to keep time; she’ll bounce or slap the floor or clap every time she hears the Miffy or Hey Duggee theme songs(and almost any other music, but those two she drops everything to listen to every. single. time. I’ve tried to get a video, but she gets distracted by the camera and stops).
She likes The Price Is Right, especially when they spin the wheel. We watch it every morning when she wakes up from her nap and is too tired to not be in my arms but too awake to be alone in her crib. I think she’s an extrovert.

She is kind, she is smart, and she is so so important.


Married people are the best kind of people(and other things I realized this weekend)

-If you had told me that I’d be the only single person when I joined my Lifegroup, I probably would have laughed and gone to our downtown church instead of Lexington. But that turned out to be a gift.

Once I read an article by a single woman that was basically an open letter to churches saying how single people feel invisible there.
It made me sad because I never feel invisible at Midtown and I don’t feel like the few others do either.

While we were all in the mountains with most of the rest of our church family, I kept thinking how much I love all of these people and all of their kids so so much and it hit me that this is all that single people need.

You need to watch tons of good dads in one room so you can know that they exist. You need to occasionally steal people’s kids so they can have a break. You need to see what real marriages look like so you can erase everything Disney ever taught you about love(except the part about how true love puts someone else’s needs before your own; Frozen is great). You need to be surrounded by wiser people who can teach you things(I’d say older and wiser, but I know far too many wise people who are younger than me).

-Meeting new people and learning new games are the two things that feed my soul the most. It’s Monday and my soul is still full.

-People ask me all the time what I want to do if I don’t want to be a manager at Moe’s or go into full time ministry. I’ve always said that I wish I could have a job that I love and that gives me enough time to serve with a church that I love even more than my job.
Sunday morning, sitting with all these people that I love, I realized that’s exactly where my life has landed. It doesn’t look much like I expected, but like everything God has ever done for me, it’s perfect.

-Months ago when they first announced that family vacation was happening, I asked at Lifegroup that week “How does that work if I don’t have a family?” All I meant was that I didn’t want to sleep in a room by myself, but what I didn’t hear myself saying is that not having kids or a husband means I don’t have a family.
That’s a lie that makes me feel much more alone than I really am.
I’m not at all alone and I absolutely have a family.

Life with these people is my favorite thing.
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The first eleventh

Four years ago today I landed in Costa Rica. It’s still my favorite country.

I met a team of World Racers and the seven of them plus me shared a little bag of chocolate milk, the kind where you sip it out of a cut off corner. Their team leader joked that this proved I was obviously cut out to do the Race myself someday.
Out loud, I just laughed. Silently, I thought “No way. Never. That’s impossible. Awesome, but impossible.”

Now, saying the words “I went on the World Race” makes me laugh. I never feel like it really happened unless I’m with one of my squadmates. Normally it feels like a dream.

The thing is, I thought I was just going to Costa Rica to meet a graduation requirement. It wasn’t supposed to change my entire life.

But it did. And I’m glad. I can’t even remember what I was “supposed” to do after that trip; I probably didn’t even have a plan.

God did. That worked out.



thankful in the awful

This week has been almost nothing but awful.
I say almost because there’s no such thing as a completely awful day when Jesus was in it. I refuse to even get into awful details; instead I’m going to list everything I’m currently thankful for because there’s absolutely nothing left for me to do.

I’m thankful that I have an unreal church family, among whom are mechanics and bankers who know how to help me.

I’m thankful that one of my favorite children in the world recently learned how to say my name because it’s the dang cutest thing. On Tuesday I got to Lifegroup and he saw me on the porch through the window and points and yells “NINDA! NINDA!!” and frantically tried to open the door to let me in with his teeny hands.

I’m thankful that every time I get a Snapchat I know it’s my best friend(because I have no one else’s username).

I’m thankful for my favorite customers, because one of them came in tonight with his son and after I finished their order he says to him “That’s Linda, and that’s great service.” It was possibly the best compliment I’ve ever gotten at work, and with how emotionally fragile I am right now I actually got tears in my eyes right there on the line.

I’m thankful that Wells Fargo gave me a free stuffed pony today.

I’m thankful for the precious lady at Geico who is so good at her job.

I’m thankful that I don’t drive a Hummer.

I’m thankful for this song which I’ve been listening to on repeat all day.

I’m thankful that I spent Christmas in Malaysia once.

I’m thankful for Reese’s Pieces cups. Yall have GOT to try these things.

I’m thankful for my friends. I know I already said that. I just really really mean it. The one thing I haven’t felt this week is alone.

And I’m thankful for football even though it made Jimmy Fallon come on extra late, who I’m also thankful for.

Thanks God.