Sunday, November 30, 2008


Thought you should know,
I started up smoking and can't stop and it's all your fault.

I don't blame it on the stress.
I endured too much in my day for weak excuses like that.
I can't blame it on those TV girls and their fashion.
I'd never fit into the pants to match.
I can't blame it on insecurity or the peer pressure.
I never doubted myself for a day.

I blame it all on you and your leaving.
Since not long after that
is when I started forgetting things.

Forgetting the way your shirt collars always smelled of gasoline and pines.
Forgetting the sound of your footsteps in the morning
with the weight of your boots on the wood floor.
Forgetting things like where your smile ended
and the creases in your brow began.
Forgetting your kisses, always a guilty mix
of spearamint and tobbacco,
a taste I always hated.
That is until you left.

Not long after that,
on our front porch,
the one you built,
is when I realized that sometimes,
love has a funny way of tasting like hate.

The kids tell me I'll shrivel up and get cancer of the lungs.
But I don't quite mind.
Long as I get to close my eyes
and get kissed each night with your memory.

If you come back down the road in your red pick up truck,
just like you did the night we ran away,
we can start over and forget this whole thing ever happened.

And I swear to God on my mother's grave
I'll up and quit the cigarrettes the minute you come home.

Just come home, Marty.

Til my dyin day,

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


As I walked home from work this morning, I received a phone call from one of our patients-
an extremely young woman who happens to have been alive for 70 years. We usually try to get together to talk about books
or play boggle but this particular afternoon she called for a different reason. She wanted to make sure that I had a place to go for Thanksgiving, and if I didn't, she was going to call up her son's wife and demand that an extra seat be made for me at their "banquet table."

Maybe it is the lack of sleep over the past several days, or just the overall feeling of joy that the holidays always bring,
but at that moment, walking by the lake with the sun on my face and Revera telling me to have a "smashing good time" in PA, I could not help but understand the Psalmists cry of thanks when he prayed, "My cup runneth over".

So here's to all He's given me, who fill me up and then some:

Mom and Dad- Thank you for introducing me to Jesus. Thank you for your example of what a marriage should look like. Thank you for constantly supporting me in every decision I make. Every wise decision rather...and for the unwise ones, thank you for your patience and discipline while I endured the consequences. You are my best coaches and my biggest fans. To say I am grateful doesn't even scratch the surface.

Bafe and Jamo-Thank you for always laughing with me, and sometimes laughing at me. Thank you for your comfort, your car rides, and your Sunday morning breakfasts. I have such a special appreciation for you both and have been inspired by your dedication to serve others.

Buggy and Bird-Thank you for your kind hearted hospitality towards me. Thank you for always being there when I call. Thank you for your compassion, for the trip to the zoo :), thank you for putting up with two older, overprotective sisters, thank you for the example of what it means to "Seek First".

Grammy- Thank you for your friendship, your advice, your hugs...your brown bread. Thank you for seeing pieces of you in me, Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for always being willing to do things with me...whether simply going swimming or trekking out of the country.

Grandad- thank you for setting the bar so high. and thank you for loving grammy. and thank you for dancing with me to Jungle book songs and the Chattanooga choo choo. i miss you.

Grandma and PopPop_You do not read this, but thank you for being completely and utterly devoted to your grandchildren. Thank you for all the gifts you have slipped into my unexpecting hand. Thank you for the years spent on your knees for us. Thank you for teaching us all the importance of dancing together.

Betty-Thank you for knowing absolutely everything about me, and thank you for loving me in spite of it all.
Thank you for simultaneously enduring the same life struggles so that I never have to go through them alone.

Georgia-Thank you for sharing beauty, for sharing tears and laughter, for doing me the honor of telling me the truth, even when it hurts, for cheering me on, for your picture of love, and your testimony of blessings.

Nattygan- Thank you for your patience, thank you for countless songs/band advice and even more nights of laughter and hysterics. Thank you for always taking time and for your example of hard work and dedication.

Katherine-Thank you for letting me live with you. Thank you for your generosity to all your friends. Thank you for never giving up...and thank you for Coldplay.:)

Kelly-Thank you for your gentle spirit, thank you for cooking wonderful dinners and great conversations. Thank you for always getting us free bachleva (sp?) and for always sharing my burdens without me ever having to ask.

Beatka-Thank you for being my first polish friend. And thank you for re-introducing me to my imagination. I owe you big.

James- Thank you for your artistry, for your enthusiasm towards life, for your loyalty to your friends.

Jesse-Thank you for encouraging me with my writing, and for constantly seeking after Truth.

Beatrice-Thank you for letting me in. Thank you for sharing your stories without me asking. Thank you for always making me hot chocolate. Thank you for being able to read my silent moods, even though we are decades apart.

Amanda-Thank you for your letters. Thank you for letting me be blessed by your children. Thank you for all your medical wisdom and always being a phone call away if I ever need anything.

Brad-Thank you for teaching me to cook fish. And thank you for being the most kind guy I have ever had the pleasure of being friends with.

Claire- Thank you for your guidance and your beautiful words and your experience that you are so quick to share. Thank you for the kingdom work you do.

Chris-Thank you for all your beautiful pictures and, for encouraging me all the time regardless of the fact that we have only met each other once.

Josh-You are completely against blogs, so you will never read this, but thank you for pushing me out of a plane.

Uptown Church-You are my second home. Thank you for being challenging and comforting at the same time.
Thank you for giving me a place to use my gifts, and thank you for letting me be blessed by your youth.

Thank you for salvation.
Thank you for abundant life.
and thank you for the promise of heaven,
where I pray that someday
I will stand side by side all these I cherish
and sing of your unending love for us all.

Conversations re: Interchangable qualities of Writing and Design

Ok, so since I lapsed in writing you this last Wednesday, I am going to send you two essays, one today (Monday) and one in the middle of the week as we originally planned. This actually works out quite well since I wanted to talk to you about two important factors story telling. Each are significant in their own right, but they are most definitely dependent on each other when it comes down to telling a tale that makes people want to read further than the first couple lines. The first of these skills is nothing other got it, OBSERVATION.

Ernest Hemingway has this to say about the topic:
"Listen NOW. When people talk, listen completely. Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice. When you’re in town stand outside the theatre and see how the people differ in the way they get out of taxis or motor cars. There are a thousand ways to practice. And always think of other people.
By Line: Ernest Hemingway, pp. 219-220

A design may have a good subject matter, but as you have written to me in emails prior, there are several other different details that all attribute to amplifying the main picture/idea. Without those intricate factors, the design lacks the “wow” factor. It is the same with a good story. It doesn’t matter if a writer has the most heart-wrenching or revolutionary plot that has ever existed, if he or she does not execute the telling with an acute awareness for detail, then it is nothing more than a theme at best. One cannot obtain those needed details without observation. Whether it is a documentation of a literal environment of sights and sounds, or a figurative environment in ones mind, the need is still the same. The author has to train himself to gather up all that he can so that when he recollects the events to his audience, they are fed a feast of flavors. While this may seem like a simple task, it is really much harder to do than one would think. The fast paced world we live in at present makes it especially difficult to even notice anything more than the obvious.

For example, on an average visit to a diner, most individuals would not be concerned with whether or not one woman’s nylons were a pale cream or a sheer flesh color. Or if the man at the table behind her was reading the sports section or the personal ads, and whether or not he had two creamers in his coffee or one. Or whether or not she nervously fidgeted with her pearl earring or was just fixing the clasp.

However, the observant storyteller walks into the room and is concerned with only these small details. Why? Because look what we are able to do with a few simple observations.

If the man and woman were at two different tables and the man was reading the personal sections and not the sports and the woman was nervously playing with her pearl earrings, than we can infer that he is not in a relationship and she is not comfortable eating alone. If he had two creamers in his coffee perhaps he is a more sensitive man than most. If she has pearl earrings and pale cream nylons, than perhaps we can say that she is a little more conservative and whimsical than most. Voila. Without any dialogue or obvious narrative statements, we see glimpse of a story already beginning to unfold. Two lonely hearts sit unknowingly back to back, in a local diner.

There is probably no author that I know of who has mastered the art of observation better than Virginia Woolf. Here is a small excerpt from her book entitled Mr. Dalloway.

“In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge, in the bellow and the up-roar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwhich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.”.

Well there you have it. Part I of our two part series. Let me know if you have any questions, as topics such as the ones we are discussing have various inquiries that could arise at any corner.

P.S. Thank you for notating the importance of "movement" in a design. It has caused me to think critically about this area of my writing...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You make palaces out of paper bags.

Teach me how to do the same.

To graciously accept what has been given
And gratefully turn it into something telling of His glory.

Because there is no use dreaming of things that I do not have.
And no point pining for places that I have not been sent.

You are just a cat.

So if you can work this kind of magic,
Then so should I.
So very well should I.

Hey Bou

(This one is a repeat sent to friends a family a few year back via email...
but has had a requested appearance for blog land.
For you, Mrs. Heldman! (aka, Sharon :)

So the other day I was patting myself on the back for having become so
very adept to the evening rushes when I work bar.

Yes, I was thinking this fact proudly in my mind while
calmly handling a 20 person rush.

I was feeling so good in fact, that I even thought I would start up a
conversation with the georgous brazillian guy who comes in every day
and always orders a 5 shot Americano with white chocolate.

Now usually I do not talk while I make drinks because I want to concentrate.
And USUSALLY I don’t talk to attractive guys because I end up saying/doing
something extremely lame in the presence of their good lookingness.

THIS day, was different though. I had confidence and energy from my barista
awsomeness and so I branched out and did two things that
(as I mentioned previously) I usually never do.
Scratch that word “usually”. More like “always” never do.
Which is probably grammatically incorrect to say, but I think it gets the point across.
I always never.

Anyways. So I begin.

Things were going really well. He laughed at a joke or something I said,
and that felt great. I think I even managed a hair flip or two in there,
which is impressive when one is wearing pigtails.
The minutes flew by and pulled to perfection, his shots were done.
So I grabbed a clutch for his to-go cup with my left hand and the
espresso shots in the other. Continuing to bask in my glory,
I look over to him to answer one of his questions
about the song that is currently playing.
(The song that I have already have the band playing at our wedding).

As I am brilliantly responding with high magnitudes of wit and charm,
I start to feel something drip on my foot.
However, he is far too attractive for me to break eye contact with
espeicially for something as insignificant as this…and yet …
Suddenly I felt a very hot liquid sensation burning my ankle…
and at that same moment I saw his expression…
it had changed from one of interest and candor to...

The raised eybrow of , “what the????”

I looked back at the bar to see what my hands were doing.

I had just poured 5 shots of espresso into a cardboard sleeve.
AND, since MOST cardboard cup holders don’t have a bottom to them
They had gone right through the OPEN SPACE OF AIR, onto the counter,
And onto the floor.

"How does one recover from this??????"
My mind screamed.

To which was quickly answered by the more intelligent side of my pshyche,
(small, but bold)

“um, you DON”T.”

So not only did I give myself reason #789 why I should always never talk to good looking guys,
But I also messed up my speedy barista mojo.
Now I am back at turtle pace,
making sure that every single sleeve I grab, makes it’s way DIRECTLY onto the cup.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stepping Back/Closer Look

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen."

Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, November 16, 2008


"I do not fear death's voyage."

He said.

"I only tremble at the
thought of
in the shallows of her dark sea."

Photograph by sir james.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


It is dawn. This morning has been waiting for you, with words hovering above your bed. She beckons softly, whispering of places and times you have not traveled, with talents and people you have not met. If you trust her, if you cast sleep aside and follow to the old wooden desk in the corner, you will find she has prepared for you a feast.

Stories spread out lavishly before you-with phrases rich and brimming with potential. Every character seasoned to perfection. The metaphors are warm and light. Bittersweet dialogues percolate at steady paces. Adjectives spill their amber sweetness onto this open plate they call craft.

And all the while she stands at silent attention, urging you to partake, to dive into this sweet hour of nourishment.

You do not have much time before the earth starts spinning again. She does her best to stave off the chaos, but eventually her stance will buckle and the noise will come crashing through your bedroom window and the celebration will be swept away. The phone will ring, the cars will hum, the neighbors will yell, the cats will fight, the pipes will roar…all forces that will prove too much for this delicate moment.

The day ahead will be long and you will have to search amidst the teeming confusion to find even pieces of the splendor that is before you now.

So quick, pick up your pen and begin. There is not much time left, but take what you can.

This golden hour is the writing hour.
And she waits each day for you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Singledom in 2 parts.


I cannot say for sure,
but I think I recently was on a blind date with not one,
but two, count'em TWO, polish guys.

Beatka had begged me to attend a jazz concert with her last week,
and since she offered free sheep cheese and wine,
I willingly obliged...
As any good Wisconsin girl would do when the possibility of sheep cheese is involved.

Shortly into the show,
and mere seconds after discovering
that the word "minority" would be an understatement to describe my presence in that club
i realized that my sneaky Perogi making "friend" had somehow managed
to squeeze me inbetween two guys of whom I had never met before,
and of whom I had no means of communicating with...

(Beatka later shares on the car ride home that this is silly, that the language of love is universal...
But looking back over the following conversation between myself, Marak, and Tomas, I would have to stay I still disagree with her on this one).


Hey...Marak right? What is that like...Mark, in English?

M: MMMM...YES? MA...WHA???????.


Hm. Wow. Yeah, I don't really like drinking all that much...I kind of had a bad...


(at this point Tomas rattles off something to the bartender who is dressed in what appears to be a netted 80's tank top with a hot pink bra...she delivers 3 large bottles of some kind of dark ale...)



they both raise their bottles above my head and do cheers. Then Marach hands me a coaster and a pen and makes a phone signal with his hands. I turn to look at Thomas who round shiny face is nodding enthusiasticly... want my number?


T: (is doing a very americanized thumbs up at this point)

Hm. Wow. well guys, that is very flattering, honestly it is, but I am going to have to be very forward with you here. I just am not really all that into giving my phone number out to people that I don't know. It isnt that I don't appreciate the kind gesture of you buying me an authentic alchoholic Polish beverage. That isn't it. And you both have very nice personalities and have been to me. But I just don't think it is going to work...I hope that is ok?....

Silence...There is a blank, somber stare on both of their faces...
then suddenly, in unison,


As you can see.
A bit rocky at parts,
but my shortlived romance seemed to have had a good ending...

Transition to more a serious reflection on matters of the "single status" taking place right about...


Good men are hard to find.
But I think part of the problem stems from the fact that...
Good women are not supposed to be out looking for them.

You can't meet a new neighbor if you are never home.
And you can't be rescued by "prince charming"
if you've already jumped from the tower
and are flirting with the stable boys.

It's not that I don't understand the desire,
It's just that I don't understand the urgency.

Such gifts of great meausre are bestowed along the waiting way,
leaving one with that much more to give the moment they are "found".

Yes. The hunt for good men.
It is an expedition I am not particularly up for.
Let the others go with their clutches and curls...

I am content to wait.
Asking only for the strength to continue the path that He has placed me on,
abiding with all the wonderful people He has placed me with.

And telling always, only,
of His Greatness.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Unfinished Poems

They were here.
Here is where the hats were hung, and scarves were draped over smooth oak arms. And here was the carved, wooden cane propped up against a Sunday- yellow umbrella. Here was the sound of a wailing teapot. Here was the smell of cinnamon toast that wrapped you up and invited you in.
Here is where the books were read, and bifocals lay sprawled upon the marked pages of worn epics. And here were the sitting chairs, the ones next to the firelight that danced on the worn edges of the floor’s tapestry. And here is where the clock chimed its steady song of time, while the cat looked upward and kept track with corresponding flicks of his tail.
Here is where the records were played, the steady arm tracing its needle through each musical groove of a Waltz in C Major. And here was the red-bellied kettle. And here is where the two mugs stood side by side, chipped and cracked, silver spoons resting at their necks. And here is where the mason jar of honey sat, where crystal gold syrup clung and dripped down the glass’ edge onto wedges of lemon.
Here is where the pictures were placed. Here is where each photo surrounded the long dining room table. Here is where their history stood in faded grays and watched all the guests with smiling eyes. Here was her desk by the window, littered with parchment paper and handwritten letters.

And here was an un-capped pen
mid thought,
mid sentence,
mid word….

Now she is there.
There is where the hats are hung and scarves are thrown onto small shiny hooks. There is the waiting room with the waiting wheelchairs and the automatic doors. There is the sound of angry sirens. There is the pungent smell of antiseptic. There is where magazines lie untouched. There is the florescent light glaring down on plastic plants. There is the buzzing electric clock that barrels through time. There are the swinging double doors. There are the generic poster paintings on cold, beige walls. There is the speaker system always humming in hurried codes. There is the window into a room. There are the metal bed rails. There is where the IV looms unfeeling overhead. There is where the saline drips through plastic tubes into the waiting arm of the one she knows. There are the machines screaming in sporadic, angry beats.
There is the rush of strangers. There is the rush of shocks. There are her aged, shaking hands reaching out urgently for his…

There is the silence.
There is the wailing of an electric red line.
There is the line that has left her alone.

Mid breath,
mid life,
mid love.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Good Friday.

It is the evening before our departure. The dinner bell has rung, but something else, something much stronger than hunger bids me “stay”. So I remain sitting porchside, overlooking the valley. As the sun continues to slip out of view, leaving the sky with only embers of light, the temperature begins to drop significantly. The sweat on my brow dries with cold breezes that send chills down both arms. I sit on the edge of the old wooden bench and slowly put down my evening tea. There is thunder in the distance. Birds scatter out frantically from a grove of trees. The dogs begin barking… something is happening…

I am standing at the edge now, standing over Tegucigulpa’s lights, standing across its surrounding hills. The breezes blow harder and I wrap my fingers around the iron guard rail just below my waist, somehow attempting to brace myself for the force I feel coming. The winds pick up and roar violently past my ears.

Now. Just over there. In the light of dusk, I can see it coming from over the horizon- thick billows of gray fog crusading in from all sides. It comes with a gait like those of horses, riding powerfully, deftly into battle. Darkness is on the move, and behind its' foreboding haze, follows yet another crushing storm of the week.

The city lights that just moments ago seemed so bold and daring in the clear evening sky, are now dim and small. They are unaware of what is coming, of what is almost upon them.

Lightening strikes to my right and I quickly turn my gaze to find that I am not the only onlooker watching the attack from above. There he stands, the statue of Christ, on the tall cliff of a neighboring hill. Ever morning I have seen him, with his arms outstretched over the towns below, his stance unchanged, his gaze fixed…just as he does at this moment.

I fix my own gaze back to the now engulfed city.
And I suddenly see more than than the simple effects of hot air meeting cold. The fog has transformed into a living, moving being that embodies every story of brokenness and pain, and it is coming directly for Him. The broken families, the broken bodies, the broken dreams… the hurt, the poverty, the tears, the need, the depravity, the fear…it flies with the darkness towards His open arms, His waiting chest until finally…

He is covered.
The darkness settles and the storms begin.


Tonight I cannot see the Valley of Angels from the pillow of my wooden bunk bed. Tonight I cannot hear Jolene whisper “goodnight Tegucigulpa” as she climbs onto the mattress beneath me. Tonight the storm is loud and tonight my tears are silent and tonight I cannot shake the image of every sorrow of every sin, including my own, weighing heavily on His own broken body.

Oh but daughter of the King.
Must you always be so quick to forget that His stories never end in defeat,
and that joy always, always, comes in the morning...