Probably an odd post for one’s birthday – but given the little spazz attack I had over being that much closer to 40 without having any real writing accomplishments yet, I think it’s fitting.

Happy birthday to me.

Is this all I am?
A vestibule for words,
scribbled pages,
a borrowed name,
and eyes that remind
me of my legacy.
What is left
for the cosmos to
try and lay claim to?
Ancestors from the stars
and the rich stench
of the past that bleeds
sadness and joy —
like fallen bison, powerful
and proud and willing
to be the sacrifice.
Let me be the ravine
in the desert
that disappears
into the deep and hides
unknown treasures
in the darkness.



The Confounding Contraption of Crummy Crosswords

I am not much for playing video games – my favorite gaming system is still the Nintendo NES. The types of games I prefer to play are board games (yay Scrabble) and card games. I used to be a die-hard Spades addict, but I have since been reformed. I also played a lot of Solitaire. My current favorite “games” are crosswords. I am a big word nerd, so I enjoy just about anything that has to do with words.

A few months ago, I purchased a couple of cheap crossword books from a dollar store. Since I go through crossword books pretty quickly, the cheaper the better. Or so I thought. My first inkling that these crosswords were not the best quality came while working through the second puzzle. My clue was “Japanese dress”, but the answer was only four spaces. After filling in other answers around this one, I was finally shown the answer = sari.

Since then, I have run across many other questionable answers:
Basketball player Abdul Jabaar = Akeem
Wisdom = Wiseness (the actual answer)
On Top = Atop
Asian Nation = Israel (I kid you not)

Sometimes words are misspelled in the puzzle, and sometimes the same clues are used for different answers. For instance, the abbreviation for “association” is ASSN in one puzzle and ASSC on another page. Crown, tiara, and diadem all take turns answering for “jeweled headdress.”

At first, I was a little offended by this obviously shoddy crossword book. But once my righteous ire died down, I saw the humor in it and had a good laugh. All of the errors in these crosswords seem to be from someone(s) who failed to properly edit the puzzle, and/or just did not care. It is a cheap crossword book that probably cost the publisher only a few cents to make, and was not worth the effort to proofread. Those responsible for putting the puzzles together misspelled words, twisted meanings, and outright lied to make everything fit. And sure, all the answers “fit”, but was the book correct? Should a job be considered “done” if the result is full of errors and shoddy workmanship?

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

As Christians, everything we do should be done with a spirit of excellence. It will not always be easy, nor will it always be fast. How we do our job is a reflection of who we are. My grandfather always taught me that the only thing I would always have with me was my name and my reputation – the two are synonymous, and not exclusive of one another. In whatever you do, be the person who cares that the job/project/etc. is good and reflects the best of your ability. Do not be the shoddy crossword that calls a sari a Japanese dress and thinks Israel is in Asia. Be better than a cheap knock-off.



Home –
where souls run free,
a stampede
of beasts who claw
the ground
and shake the dust
from their tangled coats.
Smoke rises
from their nostrils,
like fires in the hearth.
Gentle monstrosities,
kind and brutish
relics who exist
in crowded veins.
Where the heart is.
Where family trumps.

Blazing Trails and Buttery Footprints

Written for  my sister. Happy birthday 🙂


A few years ago, I suddenly began receiving jokes from my sister Jennifer via text message. They weren’t just any jokes – no, these were elephant jokes. Every day for a little over a week, I was gifted with a few short messages that had me waiting for the inevitable “knock, knock” openers.

I don’t know why she suddenly decided to bless me with jokes like “What do you find between an elephant’s toes,” but I found myself laughing at these silly and achingly simplistic gags. And the answer to that first gem is apparently slow pygmies, which is better than my answer — mud and poop.

More jokes followed the tragedy of the pygmies. Day Two went something like this:

Jen: How do you know an elephant has been in your fridge?

Me: Trunk nose smudges everywhere?

Jen: Footprints in the butter

Jen: How do you know there have been two elephants in your fridge?

Me: The butter is smashed into bits?

Jen: Two sets of tracks in the butter

Jen: How do you know there have been three elephants in your fridge?

Me: My butter is missing?

Jen: The door won’t close.

My imagination also decided to join in the fun and visions of elephants trampling the contents of my refrigerator played through my mind as I read Jennifer’s texts. These elephants, however, were not the gargantuan, thick-skinned dusty beasts from the Discovery Channel or the local zoo. No, my elephants were much smaller — think Barbie’s dream horse size — and somewhat daintier (as dainty as an elephant can be, regardless of size). They were more like Care Bear cousins than mighty giants of the African plains.

I saw them, small and pretty, going after my butter like a pig to mud and I almost expected to find tiny tracks in my container of Country Crock the next morning. I also imagined the set of petite wooden elephants on my bookshelf, which were a gift to my husband and actually from Africa, taking a midnight excursion to my fridge. Like a family trip to the swimming pool, the two bigger elephants watched as the smaller “babies” flounced and pranced about in my buttery spread without a care in the world.

The three elephants in the last joke are obviously bigger, as they were impeding the door from closing. But they were still cute, all wrestling for the best seat nearest the grape jelly. Or perhaps they were afraid of the dark and propped the door open to keep the light on. Either way, my milk is going to sour if they don’t leave. But truthfully, I did not mind the pachyderm invasion one bit, even with my stomped butter and carton of bad milk. In fact, I looked forward to the digitized wind chime that announced the arrival of a new message.

These jokes (and there are many more) are certainly not the funniest gag material I have ever heard, so why are they so endearing to me? The answer is simple enough — because they are from my sister. Communication from Jennifer is not rare, but certainly infrequent. She is, in my opinion, the epitome of busy. She is a full-time teacher, drama director, school sports coach (just pick a sport), school activities coordinator, church drama coordinator, sound booth director, and also works part-time at Banana Republic. Jennifer is a walking metaphor of three elephants in a fridge — far too much crammed into one life.

We rarely talk on the phone because of her schedule, so our most common avenue of communication is text message. I can always tell when my sister has some downtime – my phone flutters to life, jangling like the Wall Street trading floor on an up day. I try to squeeze in as much conversation as possible because I know this window of opportunity could vanish as quickly as it appeared. The beginning of the elephant joke run also marked the beginning of a several day succession of messages from my sister, an event both unique and delightful.

If I were to have a hero, it would be Jennifer (although clearly not for her choice in jokes). She inspired me to follow my passion when, over a decade before I would return to college, she chose to major in Theater Arts at Baylor University. Many a well-intended person suggested she switch to something more practical and useful. “What can you do with a Theater Arts degree?” they would ask. Jennifer simply smiled and shrugged off the criticism and continued on with her dream.

When I decided to be a Writing major, I thought of Jennifer and how she pursued her gift in spite of what other people thought. I thought of her when well-intended people suggested I be an English major instead, and asked the same question that my sister faced. What can I do with a Writing degree? The same thing I can do with a Theater Arts degree — live my dream, and tell a few elephant jokes along the way.

Who Lets the Air Out of Their Muffins?

As a special “thank you” to the ladies in the leasing office at my apartment complex, I decided to bake muffins: blueberry, chocolate chip, banana nut, strawberry, ect. Being the master baker that I am, I went for the mixes that required the least amount of added ingredients and roughly the same baking temperatures. (Somewhere anyone who has baked a cake from scratch is groaning)

I am whisking and baking my little heart out…everything is going smooth as silk. And then it happened…I must have blanked out when setting the oven temperature for the lemon poppy muffins. That is the only way to explain how I could have selected a lower setting than what I needed. I pulled the tray out of the oven and everything looked fine….that is until I poked one of the lovely puffed muffins with a fork and watched it deflate like a sad little balloon. I think I even heard air hissing.

Just picture this for a moment: puffy muffin to flat muffin. Now picture SIX muffins like that. This goes right up there with my mashed potato fiasco. I was frustrated to no end, and yet still found myself doubled over laughing…a day to cherish for sure.

Do not even ask yourself if there is a point here, aside from self humiliation. I always have a point…eventually. Everyone one of us has been created and designed and commissioned for something greater than we can comprehend. We all have dreams and goals…we all aspire to be more. But there is a process in which to get from start to finish. Our walk of faith has steps, and these steps are ordered and prepared. Your path is laid out, but you still have to walk it out. Try and skip around it, and you will end up with a deflated muffin. At first glance, they looked just like the others…not too brown and mushroom fluffy. In fact they looked better- until you stick a fork in the side and let the air out.

Why didn’t my lemon poppy stand the pronged test? There was not anything inside to hold up…no foundation, no filling (2 Tim 3:5). Whether you are a Christian or not, every good thing (job promotion, college, sports, ect) has a path…do not get so impatient with the timetable that you try to play leap frog; you might just end up at the edge of a river with a scorpion asking for a lift…

The Past Again

I recently saw a comedy entitled “You Again,” and starring an impressive cast of female actresses – Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Bell, & Betty White. The movie is about a beautiful, successful young woman (Bell) having to confront her miserable high school memories when the girl who tormented her is set to marry her older brother.

Most of the antics in the movie were funny, but also painful to watch. I kept thinking about my own teenage experiences and the pain that haunted me for years after. I had to wonder, during the movie, what it would be like to finally confront the person who hurt me so badly back then and tell her just how I really feel. Would I feel vindicated somehow? Would a face-to-face really change anything?

The problem that Bell’s character has – the root problem- is that she still sees herself in the same malnourished light as she did in high school. Regardless of the beautiful person she had become, she refused to let go of the past. This is the same reason why I (and I suspect many others) can also relate to that character – we have bound ourselves to our past, and refuse to move beyond whatever painful period we are clinging to.

For Bell, those years in high school were what actually defined her, and not anything she had accomplished beyond that point. And when she finally exacted her revenge, the aftertaste was not as sweet as she thought it would be. Vengeance in the hands of humans never plays out the way we want it to because it is in the wrong hands to begin with.

Long after the credits finished rolling and I turned off my TV, the movie stayed with me. I rooted for the nemesis to get her comeuppance, as though I was also getting something out of it.  I realized that I was still seeking my own vengeance for the past, still bound to something that happened to me so many years ago. But God is not going to avenge the past for me, and anything I do will only end up causing more pain.

Unlike the characters in the movie, Christians know that the way to move past the hurt is to love. I Corinthians 13 is well-known as the “love chapter,” and is really one of the most powerful sections of the Bible. To walk in God’s love is to be free of all hurts and wrongs, to look at any person and see the best, and to be the light in the world that repels the darkness. Love is seeing the world and oneself from God’s perspective.

So I love the girl who ruined my teenage life… I forgive her, and I hope that she has a good life. I can only go so far into the future with the past bound to my life, so I have to choose one or the other. Letting go of the past may not be easy, but I can do it because I have love and love never fails. It is not a petty sentiment on a greeting card, but a battle cry to the foe that is my past – LOVE NEVER FAILS.