even in the midst of your darkest moments

soaking in your deepest lament,

you still possess the power

to unhinge me;

to reground me,

to center me.


eventually i’ll remind you to ask

a year from now

and i’ll tell you

how yours was the only soul

able to render me life

revive me;

resurrect me,

remind me

of who i was.


my own small shimmer of light.


and for that

i am grateful.


Laughing at darkness

Date: Spring 2009

Location: Pine Rest Mental Health Clinic

We sat in the office waiting for the therapist. Tears streamed down my face, at this point they were beyond control. We sat silently, patiently. I look to my left and see my Dad, staring at the floor with his hands in his lap, twiddling his fingers in anticipation. Across from me sits my Mom, whom I haven’t spoken to in months. She looks around the office, studying, although this space was not new to her. To my right was my younger brother, his eyes filled with terror. Too ashamed to look at anyone else in the room. My parents divorce would be official in just a couple of weeks and tension filled the room from floor to ceiling.

After what seemed like a lifetime the therapist finally made their way in. It’s funny how in times like these your memory can become extremely selective. To this day I couldn’t tell you whether the therapist was a man or a woman, what they looked liked, or if they were kind, because that just wasn’t important to me at the time. My mind was raced through the events of the passed 24 hours, recounting all I could remember. I couldn’t bring myself to comprehend how we got here, living my worst nightmare, fighting away blame.

We had been in this position before, but never with my younger brother. My little brother. My baby brother. Of course he wasn’t a baby anymore, he was almost 15 years old. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that by his current ability to communicate.

“Do you know where you are right now?” asked the therapist.

He nodded his head, “I’m at a mental hospital,” he finally replied. This was the first coherent thing he had said in two days.

The room was silent. The three of us were asked to leave so he could speak to the therapist alone.

They talked for a while, I wondered if he was making any sense. Philosophical gibberish seemed to be his language of choice for the last couple of days. We just thought he was feeling extra introspective, until he said he wanted to take his own life.

Within next two hours we learned a lot about my younger brother. We had learned that him and his girlfriend of a couple months had started having sex, and he had gotten her pregnant. He had found this out earlier this week, and his world became darker and darker as the reality of the situation sunk in. Although telling my parents was not going to be a fun event, his deepest fear was the conversation he would be having with his girlfriend’s Dad. He was a big, intimidating man with a history of violence. He was sure his life was over about to be over. So after he received the news, his coping method and “brainstorm how to tell the scary Dad” method were kicked off by the same thing: hard drugs. He took a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, thinking “well, if I accidentally overdose, it wouldn’t be so bad.”

We all sat in the room together once again.The therapist had talked to us individually and was now doing a bit of a reassessment now that the drugs were wearing off. This time around my Dad sat across from me, leaving a empty chair between him and my Mom. The therapist would ask my brother questions about his personality and behavior and suggested we chime in if we feel the need. I watched my brother, completely vulnerable, full of shame.

Eventually, the therapist hit more intimate questions, and finally asking us if he had a issue with “servicing himself in public.” Servicing himself in public? I looked around the room. Confusion was painted on the faces of the four of us. “Public masturbation,” the therapist clarified, “Do you have an issue with public masturbation?” The confusion sank in deeper. Apparently, many people who struggle with specific mental illnesses struggle with this and other personal boundaries, so this wasn’t that strange of a question in retrospect. I look around the room, as I shook my head “no” with a look of surprise still on my face; I just couldn’t help it. Across the room my Mom was also shaking her head. I turned to look at my Dad who had a completely different look on his face. He was staring at the therapist, eyes wide, lips pursed, nodding his head “yes”, so absolutely. He caught the other’s attention and the look of terror and confusion took us over. We continued to shake our heads in disagreement, and even voiced it out loud, but he was persistent, relentless even. His continued to nod heavily and confidently, his expression lacked any doubt.

The therapist had recognized this and pressed for some elaboration. Finally, my Dad spoke. “I have walked in on him several different times,” He admits, “in his room…”

We sigh in relief. My Dad had not understood the difference between public and private apparently, and didn’t think it was normal for 14-year-old boys to service themselves in the privacy of their own living quarters. (And you wonder how he lacked knowledge of “safe sex.”)

I shook my head in disbelief. It was so like my Dad to throw my brother into the category of the extremely disturbed and inappropriate. He will pretty much agree to anything if it will explain an abnormal behavior. I looked over at my Mom who rolled her eyes, then preceded to put her palm to her forehead. We had had enough.

The room went silent again. I stared at the floor trying to comprehend what just happened. All I could see was my Dad and his beyond purposeful nodding. Then, out of nowhere, I started to laugh.

I laughed at the ridiculousness of his accusation. I laughed at pursed lips and his beady eyes. I laughed at his fear of my brother’s sexual maturity. I laughed at his ignorance. I laughed because I couldn’t do anything else. I looked up, at this point unable to control myself, tears filling my eyes. I looked across the room at my Mom, who had joined in on the laughter. I turned to my right to see my younger brother letting out a chuckle here and there. Still mortified, but chuckling.

This was the first time in years that I had laughed with my Mom. We laughed so hard that we couldn’t breathe.

I threw my head back and took a deep breath, an attempt to gain composure. I looked at my Mom, tears streaming down her face, matching my own. We all settled down and we were back to business.

At the end of it all the therapist decided that my brother stay at the clinic until the drugs are out of his system as a hope to avoid any attempt at suicide. No one argued.

We said our “thank you’s” and “goodbye’s” and I turned to my Mom and gave her a hug. The first hug since she left us in the middle of the night two years prior.

I climbed into the passenger seat of my Dad’s car and buckled up for the ride home.

“Not a bad day,” I thought.

sucks to suck. (I hate making titles for things)

Since I never know how to start this thangs, I’ll just forewarn you that this is probably going to be a little ranty (not unusually so) and since I haven’t written in a bit it might be a tad messy, so bear with me here, folks.

Does anyone else here hate options? When I started this whole bloggy thing I hadn’t anticipated that my biggest set back was going to be choosing what I was actually going to write about (although I should have known this about myself seeing how it took me three weeks to decide which color iPod I wanted when there were only two options (shout out to best friend Cameron for convincing me to get the black one- I’m really not a silver iPod girl). But seriously though, it’s rare that I make a decision and I don’t find myself wondering if I should have chosen something else or pondering and comparing what my life might look like if I would have, and I think it’s fair to say I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Sometimes I think all of this freedom and ridiculous number options we have in practically every area of our lives can really get us into trouble.

For those of you who know me, you know that this time last summer I was living the dream in the mountains in Como, Colorado- having the time of my life working at a little bible camp with some of the most amazing people I know to date. And for those of you who don’t know me, well, that’s what I was doing. This summer on the other hand looks a bit different. This summer I chose to stay in West Michigan living with my friend/boss and working full time doing factory work, while working part time at the greatest pizza joint on the planet (Hungry Howie’s), along with the occasional cottage cleaning to make some dinero (busy is an understatement- the majority of human interaction I get throughout the week is the conversation Starbucks Zach and I have when he makes my coffee every other day). Now, working for eight hours a day and being silent and alone with your thoughts for the majority of those eight hours you go through quite the variety of topics, and once you get past the typical “why am I here, how is it only 4 o’clock?”, “Goodness, it’s so freaking hot”, and “I should have bought subway for lunch,” one can really learn quite a bit about his/herself (like the fact that I’m way better at rapping than I every could imagine). But annnnnnnyway,

I’m not sure about everyone’s experience with factory work, but for those who know anything about it I think we can all agree it’s not the most glorious of jobs (and let’s be honest, we’re all doing it for the money) And knowing this before I started at the beginning of the summer I promised myself that I would never be caught saying I hated my job, or complaining about it any more than necessary (although I’m pretty sure complaining is almost always completely unnecessary- but whatever). For a month and a half now I’ve been doing the same thing all day, everyday- working in a hot, sweaty, factory, doing the same mundane task. And although it sounds boring and monotonous (and it is) I don’t in any way hate it. I really don’t. Actually, I sort of like it. But it wasn’t always like this, and this is where all the learning jazz comes in.

When I this summer started, I could barely go a day without thinking about my life last summer in Colorado (those who have experienced a summer full of love and growth and laughter and altitude sickness know exactly what I’m talking about). Even when I went back to Michigan State last fall, my personal heaven on earth, most days I would wake up thinking about what I would be doing if I were back in the mountains instead of there. And I can tell you right now- that is no way to live. My life at MSU just couldn’t compare in the ways I wanted it to, and I was constantly being let down. It took months for me to get to the point where I was happy where I was, but when summer came came rolling around all of those Colorado daydreams came flooding back with it. Instead of seeing last summer as a wonderful opportunity and blessing, I just focused on see this summer as being some sort of torture. I convinced myself that there was growth could and would only happen if you were in some fantastic, majestic land where you’re experiencing new things on a daily basis- and I told myself Holland was none of the above.

After a few weeks of letting myself live in this self-pity and unnecessary misery, I decided things needed to change. I started to watch and learn and have conversation with others who were in the same or similar situations as I was, people who had learned to laugh and love the situations they were in, even when they weren’t ideal. I didn’t take long for me to figure out the issue- my perception. Although this may have seemed obvious to you, it was a kick in the face to me, it wasn’t my situation that sucked so bad, it was really just my attitude (that I have complete control over) that sucked so bad. Ouch. I have always thought of myself as a realist/optimist- one who can recognize that a situation might suck, but is still usually able to find some joy in it (credit goes to Jesus on that one). But for some reason this summer there was a separation between my philosophy and my actual attitude/actions. I had chosen to stay here and work, but refused to let myself be happy doing so, thus, essentially wasting what could be a wonderful summer.

Honestly, if I didn’t work with the people I did, I might still be where I was in the beginning of the summer (shout out to Rach, Steph, Andrew, and Bruce for making me laugh everyday of my life). It also helps that I live with one of the most wonderful people I know as well. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not jumping for joy everyday at 2 o’clock when I leave for work, but I’m also not dreading it either. Because you know what? This summer could be a lot worse, in so many ways. I am blessed to live in the same city as my two greatest friends for a summer and have a roommate who makes sure we always have ice cream in the freezer. And I know every situation is different, don’t get me wrong. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think you should challenge yourself to open your mind to the joy that might be present in your situation. It’s pretty scary awesome how much things can and will change if you let them.

coffee and convicted brain splatter.

Blogging is an interesting thing to me. It seems like something that should be so easy for me. I read blogs all the time, I’ve seen the good, the bad, the “wow, this is awesome.” the “wow, why am I reading this?” I’ve always loved writing, and anyone who has ever met me knows that I have plenty to say. But it seems like I’m always coming to this page, over and over again, brainstorming and considering, but never actually having the guts to textualize what I’m thinking and posting it on here. I’ll go through my week thinking, “OH MY GOODNESS, what a brilliant thought! (hah) I should write this on my blog that I never post on that no one ever reads because it’s pretty much a secret that I haven’t told anyone about.” And I’ll have the time to do it, I always do. But there’s always something there, keeping me from it.

Something has been on my mind a lot lately. It’s been riddled through my last year quite abundantly. In these past weeks it’s been a thing that fades out, but then reappears in full force, hitting me in the face saying, “You need to confront this.” Now that I have your attention I’m sure you’re wondering the the heck I’m talking about, what’s been rattling my bones, keeping me from writing, caging my spirit. It’s fear.

Fear is also an interesting thing. We all have it, but we don’t all talk about it. Why is that? Is it because some of the things we are most afraid of seem the most ridiculous and irrational? God knows I have some irrational fears. For example, I’m afraid someone is going to see this blog and read all my secrets about how I’m afraid of everything. Or that somewhere in this Starbucks there is a person who can read minds and now knows that I’m updating my blog and then he or she ganders around the internet and finds my blog and reads it and knows all my secrets! What is that? But seriously? What is that? It’s embarrassing, so outrageously unnecessary, and frankly, it stresses me out. And I’m not sure what your irrationally ridiculous fears are, they could range from telling your summer camp crush who you will never see again that you think they’re great, or wanting to learn how to play a certain instrument but never starting because you’re too afraid of the “sucking at playing this instrument stage,” and everything in between or above and beyond. Whatever it is, we weren’t meant to live like this. We are meant to live and learn and contribute part of yourself into this giant world.

Before this blog post gets way too long, I’ll mention this. One of my biggest fears is living an average life. Waking up and wasting my days, as if Jesus didn’t pay a price for them. Without a mindset that I’m literally exchanging a day of my life for whatever activities I chose to partake in for that given 24 hours. It’s a big deal folks. And if we’re sitting here scared to death of two-thirds of the things we would love to be, we’re just not doing ourselves justice.

I watched this video today put out by Soulpancake, this particular series is called Metaphysical Milkshake, it shows Rainn Wilson interviewing various Artists and Celebrities  and asking them about their souls and other deep stuff. It’s quite fantastic. I’ve spent hours watching almost everything Soulpancake has to offer, but this one really got me. In this video, which you can and should watch here, – J (feel free to take a break and watch- it’s truly beautiful) Josh talks about this resistance that we all have, and having a conversation with it. It’s a funny thing, the resistance we have to things that we know are good for us. And we know it too. We know the resistance is there, and so often we can’t look it (ourselves) in the eye and say “Let me do this, it’s good for me, GET OUTTA HERE.” How beautiful would it be if we did that? Can we help each other do that?

Just a thought.

non-writer’s block.

And here I sit, lacking inspiration, creativity, and clever vocabulary (basically all things necessary for a blog worth reading). I’ve been here for almost an hour, staring at this screen of white and blue. It’s telling me, “Create your first post!” They make it sound so easy- when I’m still wondering how I got here. I’ve already convinced myself I have nothing worth while to say- I can already tell this blog was a wonderful idea.

We’ll keep this first one short and sweet, and I’ll end with saying a little something about something that makes my soul feel a big something- those trees. Outside. Look at them, can you see them? The ones so big, so tall, so strong- they’ve been here much longer than we ever will. So deeply rooted into the earth that not even the wildest storms have made an impact. Misunderstood and taken for granted. We all know them- the ones with branches stretching so high, reaching to the heavens with all their might-

I want to be those trees.