Letters From An MBI Student – 12/5


Dear Family,

Today has been brought to you by four cups of coffee.

1: Measured and scooped and pressed and brewed in the hurried five minutes before Lady and I left for class. We walked across the slush leftover from yesterday’s snow and I wore my old work boots and G3 sweatshirt and missed a different lifetime but the smell and taste of my hasty Lavazza got me to class and back again.

2: Drained from the dregs of the unexpected dispenser in my second classroom. I walked in with sleep marks on my face and not enough wakefulness to make it through the next two hours, but those using that room during chapel hour had left their coffee totes and tea and bagels and popcorn and I sat in the back with warm coffee and stayed awake enough to take notes.

3: Watched and made and weighed and poured with thoughtfulness and infinite detail by small hands that love with coffee very well. I sat and looked and smelled and carried to class a cup of coffee tasting of brightness and care.

4: Brought unexpectedly at the end of the day, a light roast enjoyed with a dear friend next to the Christmas tree. I sipped and enjoyed and found second words and second breath for the small mountains of tonight.

This weekend was completely beautiful and mostly exhausting and today I was simply too tired to try to put the pieces back together. So today happened with four cups of artificial strength and countless amounts of tangible kindness.

Maybe missing you,


What’s Up Wednesday


It’s Wednesday again, and the end of the first week of Ready. Set. Write!


Barely started The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr. This is mostly because I took a small detour and read Mind Games, by Kiersten White…and I didn’t regret it a bit. Loved it! This week’s schedule didn’t give me a chance to review them, but I’m working on it.


My goal last week was to write the first chapter of my WIP, a total rewrite of a five-year-old project. I didn’t finish the first chapter, but after experimenting with several different beginnings, I’ve finally found where I want to start. Not a first-chapter-completion, but  the writing is coming well simply because I’ve found a point to begin with.

This week’s goals are different, though. I thought that I had enough memory of the old project to be able to simply take the barest skeleton–main characters, basic geographical world, and five or six tentpole plot points–and start all over. But despite my success in finding my beginning, I’m feeling very behind on my worldbuilding. Yeah, way to do things backwards…but this week I want to write character sketches, and do a little bit more research on my world. It’s a fantasy in the vein of The Blue Sword, and I write best when I have specific images and descriptions in mind, regardless of whether those make it into my writing. I need to rebuild some of the visual, cultural, and moral aspects of my characters and countries. So the goal(s)?

1. Finish writing Chapter 1

2. Write a character sketch for each of the main characters

3. Pull out the old country maps I created and answer five basic questions about each of the three countries involved


Friendship. And God’s faithfulness. I drove to see my best friend over the weekend, a chance for us to spend time together after only brief meetings in the past six months. Five of the eight hours driving were through severe thunderstorms and hail (hello, hail damage on my car. Great to see you again…), eventually adding an hour and a half to my original travel time, and nearly killing myself on a lonely gravel road in the middle of nowhere at 1 AM when sleepiness and hilly roads took over. Not kidding: somewhere in rural Kansas there are impressive swerve marks, the alternative to flipping my car as it went airborn on gravel at 60 mph. Sometimes you have moments where the only explanation is the hand of God, and that was one of them. I was able to enjoy one of the most refreshing weekends I have had this year. On Sunday we sat at her kitchen table and talked. Just talked. For five hours.  This was after four hours doing the same thing the night before, and countless hours together with her and her family during the rest of the day(s). Some people wear you out. I have been blessed with a friend that fills me up.


Last preparations for my sister’s grad party. It’s this Saturday, which means yet another weekend away from home. But I’ll get to see hundreds of people from my hometown whom I haven’t seen in years.

Swamped at work. I love my job, truly, and while I’m enjoying the added responsibilities, there’s a lot to be nervous about. I’m struggling to find the balance between having delegated authority over people and respecting the innate authority they have that comes when they have 20+ years on me.

Settling into summer. Finally running consistently again, playing volleyball, and getting into the full swing of summer. Sunsets are still my favorite, and while I have to walk half a mile to get where I can see them, it is totally worth it!

Check out Jaime’s blog for more links on this bloghop! 

Tell The Truth Tuesday

Today’s list is Things-I-Should-Have-Done-This-Weekend-And-Didn’t-Because-I-Was-Doing-Other-Things

1. Grad pictures. My sister is graduating this year, and she’s having a party in June. We were going to shoot a fresh batch of pictures for these invites, but it keeps not happening. This is mostly thanks to the rainy weather, too much traveling, family coming to visit, and general lethargy.

2. Comics. Three years ago a good friend of mine had major leg surgery. He was in a children’s hospital in St. Louis for over a month, and wore a leg brace with sixteen pins inserted into his leg, allowing the doctors to rotate the lower leg bone into the proper position over the course of nine months of therapy. Yeah, it was a big deal. As a get-well gift, I drew him a series of comics detailing our friendship, including the origins of our nicknames for each other: Charlie. Well, Charlie is graduating, and I have given myself a deadline of two weeks to finish a second Charlie-is-an-adult/goes-to-college comic. For being mostly stick figures and colored markers, it takes far more time than I usually give myself through my endless procrastination.

3. Reading. I was going to read non-fiction this weekend. Get through some of my fat biographies that I really do enjoy. Instead I curled up with To Kill A Mockingbird and was treated to a stunner. While I’m sorry that I didn’t get to read more, I’m not sorry that all I got was this fantastic book. Wow. Sometimes we give classics a free pass because the author is famous or his/her books are revered…but then you get a book that can stand on its own in every decade.  This one needs a reread.

4. Writing. Sigh. I didn’t get a scrap of writing done over this extended weekend, and I’m fit to burst with the need to write. I’m finally settling into the idea of rewriting this old project, and it isn’t taking long to reawaken my love for it. Must. Write. Now.

5. Rest. One of the things I love about my family is our ability to just be together. We don’t have to be planning maniacally or driving six different places to have fun. We can lounge together and drink coffee and tea and make waffles and watch Finding Nemo and be hermits all weekend and simply enjoy the fact that we’re together. Unfortunately, this weekend was travel and traffic and rainy days and less time together than a non-holiday weekend. I was on the road fighting Memorial Day traffic, driving 6 hours to my hometown in order to spend only 16 hours there. We had fun, but it wasn’t restful, and I’m still discombobulated from the whole thing.

How was your weekend?

Taking the good stuff

So, apparently some thieves made off with seven pallets of Nutella. That’s five tons of it!

I love the stuff, but not enough to steal it. Before it was available in the states, our friends in Italy brought the 11-lb containers over whenever they came to visit. I love seeing it in stores now, although it takes away some of the nostalgia of seeing that giant, gold-capped jar get pulled out of a suitcase.

What on earth do you do with five tons of Nutella…?!

Tell The Truth Tuesday

(The Tumblr version)

1. I missed posting a TTTT last week, and almost completely forgot about doing it this week. Is this proof that I have a life outside of the internet? Please say yes.

2. My evening classes have been cancelled for the past week due to the weather. I was happy about no class last week, but this week…don’t tell anyone, but I think I miss it?

3. My friend invited me to her ensemble concert at college. Afterwards, she asked me if it was good. I didn’t tell her that only about half of the concert was decent; I just asked her if they had felt prepared for it.

4. That same friend and I spent the weekend together at her school. We were going to do some epic shopping sort of things together, but we ended up watching Supernatural the whole time, occasionally coming out of our hermit-state for a late-night ice cream run.

5. The parking lot is covered in snow. Wet snow. I really want to see how my car handles donuts, but I don’t want to do it while all the shop guys are out smoking and can see the whole thing. Ugh…it’s so hard to wait until they go home.

And that’s it! What’s your Tuesday look like?

Road Trip Wednesday #163

Check out YA Highway for an explanation of their Road Trip Wednesdays.

What are your goals for the new year—for reading, writing, or other?

I’ve never been that amazing as setting and keeping goals. My goals tend to be impossibly lofty or underwhelmingly attainable. So this year we’re going to try for the happy medium that lands somewhere in between.

That means that my reading list has been pared down to less than two books a month. This is mostly due to the fact I’m going to be slammed during this school year, plus I want to leave time to read the new YA releases that come out.  Unfortunately, this reading list makes it seem like I’m rather illiterate, but I’m not, I promise. I’d like to think that I have some sort of credibility for not only reading Les Miserables (unabridged!), but actually wanting to read it.  My biggest frustration has been my inability to finish projects, books, WIPs, etc.  So at the end of every month, I’m going to recheck this list and see where I’m at.  Splitting it into manageable, measurable chunks helps me pretend like I’ll be able to juggle 40 hours at the job plus 10 school credits plus whatever wild and unimaginable projects and stories I dream up. I’m taking this last week of vacation to catch up on my letter writing and mod podge a few canvases. Oh, and finish The Great Gatsby.


Fiction to read or finish (starred):

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald*
  • North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell*
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville*
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen*
  • Dune by Frank Herbert

Fiction to reread:

  • Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  • LOTR + The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

Non-fiction to read or finish (starred):

  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson*
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer*
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis*
  • A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken*


Revision: Split A’s first draft into two books. Then tear it apart and cut out those three characters you don’t need. This story broke your heart to write. Now you go break it.

Writing: Take that NaNo mishmash and finish it. Then strip it to studs and rebuild. There’s a story in there somewhere.

Writing: String together the fifty parts of J & B’s story. You don’t need software or corkboard or a wall of excerpts and photos to do it. You know exactly what you need to do to turn it into the storyline that you’ve been dreaming about for the past year.


Budget. You have one. Stick to it.

Friends: Write to E every week. Write to the Ws, Fs, and Bs every month. Write to H twice a month.

Family: Get together for game night once a week.

Exercise: Buy a gym membership so you can start running again.  Twice a week for the first four months.

Hobbies: Make a marionette.

And that’s it, folks! What are your goals for 2013?