May 26, 2014

A dime a dozen

Daniel in our first year of marriage.
I felt funny all over the first time I saw him. And he still remembers the patchwork skirt, tiny red T-shirt, and Converse sneakers I was wearing the first time he saw me. We met in March and I had a ring by July. I was 20 years old that summer, with a cute little diamond platinum solitaire on my hand and a cloud upon which I floated.

Now as we celebrate 12 years of marriage - a full dozen, a nice Old Testament number - I am an even bigger fan of Daniel Rupp than I was back then. Over the years he has earned, more and more, my delight (in his personality), my respect (of how he handles himself), my admiration (of the way he perseveres), and my gratitude (for having loved me and the kids so darn well).

Happy Anniversary, Baby. Love stories like ours don't come a dime a dozen.

May 24, 2014


It was a gutsy move, deciding to put my faith first. I remember it well, the way the sun shone in through the bedroom window that I shared with my pre-med roommate, Ginger. I packed in a flurry while she was at class. I knew it would hurt her, to come back to the house and find my side of the room as bare as stone, but I would explain it all to her later. Right then I had to get out of there before I changed my mind. Ginger was a kind friend, but no one in the house shared my beliefs, and I was beginning to forget them myself. Our weekends were loud, our conversations were shallow, and my heart was growing faint from my long run of compromise.

It was time to go home. In fact, home is exactly where I went, as fast as I could get there. For the next months I went to class, which was only just down the street from my parents' house, thankfully, and after class I returned to my childhood bedroom. There I studied literature, prayed to G0D, rested, listened to my mom's well-fed birds, and caught up with my parents. It was a time of being put back together. Shortly after that I met Daniel, and the rest is history.

But it was not without consequence. I lost almost all of my friends in that gutsy exodus from my college house. I lost much of my identity, though I would develop a new one. I lost my status, my esteem, and my place among men - but in doing so, I gained all three in the eyes of G0D.

Recently I've been sick. Quite sick. Pick a symptom, I've probably had it in the past few months. Tests and tests have been done, severe anemia being the only diagnosable condition found. Why the anemia? Why the symptoms? Why was my body seeming to shut down? No one could tell me.

One day earlier this month I looked at my face in the mirror and I saw that I was grimacing. A permanent grimace. I prayed tearfully for GOD to help me find relief.

Then last week, I met up with an old acquaintance Heather, who is now a good friend. Her eyes were bright and her smile was genuine. Unlike me, she was not burdened with pain and discomfort. She told me she wasn't always this way. In fact she used to be just like me, until she started eating gluten-dairy free.

The short of if is, I did the gutsy thing. I abandoned gluten and dairy last week. I already take a special enzyme to help me digest fructose, but apparently it wasn't working on the gluten and dairy. Friends, I have had something like a physical rebirth in the days since reuniting with Heather. That's all I'll say. I feel fantastic.

I've lost a lot in deciding to leave these foods behind. Sunday brunch buffets, Subway sandwiches, Snicker bars. But the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice. And just like that sunny afternoon when I left behind my party days, I feel like a weirdo, but a weirdo who is at peace.

The two requests my husband made if I was going to do this was 1.) I still make "real" food for him and the kids  2.) I don't become one of those people who talks about my eating habits to everyone I meet.

I agreed wholeheartedly. My children should have biscuits and gravy and homemade ice cream. And I don't ever want to talk about my eating habits. How boring! Who wants to know about my digestion and organ function? I think eating habits, like faith, should not be pushed on others. Instead, let others notice our shining eyes and genuine smiles, and ask how we came to be that way;)

That is why I am posting this only once, and then never again. I just wanted to say that I feel better (hooray!) and that G0D hears our tearful pleadings into the mirror.
This is me (or rather, a photo of a very large poster of me which hangs at SOS in Memphis) in my very early days as a recommitted believer.

May 18, 2014

Zion, Inc.

For Zion's 7th birthday, he requested a Monsters, Inc. party. Thankfully, I found a Monsters, Inc. party pack at a moving sale a month ago. I snatched that party pack up faster than one could say "sold" and tucked it away for Zion's big day.

His birthday was on a Sunday this year, and so I sent him to Sunday school with a couple dozen cupcakes just like my mom used to make (an old family recipe). He felt so special, which made all the baking worth it, of course.

Daniel, the streamer man, taped a protractor-worthy number 7 at the edge of our landing, using streamers in the color scheme of Monsters, Inc. He is a closet artist, you know.

I am terrible with streamers, but pretty good with a bowl of frosting. Mike Wazowski was soon ready for his big appearance at the birthday party.
The cake layers were red velvet, per Zion's request.

The party was a big success. It was a good crowd, hand-picked by Zion.

After the party, when it was just the six of us again, there was homemade minestrone for supper, per Zion's request, and warm cheddar beer bread (which is the only good use for beer, according to Eugene), and a nice evening together in the quiet of our home.

If our family were a body, you would be the blood, carrying good stuff around to each of us, nourishing us daily with your love-rich self. If everybody in the world were more like you, this world would be a better place.

All my love and happy birthday,

May 16, 2014

Tulip mania

At the peak of "Tulip Mania" in March of 1637, a single bulb in the Netherlands sold for nearly 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.

Tulips aren't worth that much today, but in my hometown of Holland, Michigan, they are still worth quite a lot. During our annual spring Tulip Time festival, the fine for picking a tulip (or even taking a petal) can be as high as $100. Now that's a valuable bloom.
Our high school mascot was a wooden shoe. The sign coming into our town reads, "Welkom," and a real windmill still grinds wheat down by the water's edge.

It's neat to be from such a unique place. I'm proud of it.

I'm also proud to call these darling brunettes my mom and aunt. I wish I could have been there when they took this picture last week.
If you ain't Dutch, you ain't much, so they say. Not a true statement, but a statement of heritage, nonetheless.

May 11, 2014

A forgotten Mother's Day

My eyes fluttered opened.

First of all, that never happens on the weekends. Usually my eyes pop open, to the sound of a crash or a cry or a sibling squabble.

My body felt like part of the bed, which is only ever the case when one has slept long and late. Daniel's pillow sat motionless beside me, imprinted with the shape of his head.

He never gets up before me. Hmm..

Just then my phone trilled with an incoming text message. It was a group text from a friend that read, "Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful mothers!"

It's Mother's Day! I had no idea. And my sweet husband let me sleep in on my special day. What a guy!

But the real surprise was emerging from my room, wobbly from sleep, to see my hunky husband, dressed and computing, before a giant bouquet of red roses, a Starbucks latte, and chocolate a muffin.

The day was lovely, and included handmade cards from each of the kids, a nice tribute at fellowship, lunch at Burger King, and a strawberry shortcake. I finished up the day with a cup of hot Rosehip Tea brought to me all the way from Turkey.
I say, I should forget Mother's Day every year. It makes it even better!

May 04, 2014

The older, the oftener

When your kid is 9 going on 29, you have to think of creative ways to show him how desperately you love him. No more smooches all over his face in public. No more carrying him around. No more tickling him while he rides in the grocery cart, swinging his legs.

Now it's a wink across the room. A stolen kiss on the back of his head as he rushes out the door to meet up with his buddies. Notes of encouragement for him to find. Eye contact. These are the things I still have.

But I gotta tell you something he did the other day that melted me to a puddle. He was sitting on the couch reading a book. I sat down beside him. He turned and leaned his back against me, still reading his book. I wrapped my arm around him from behind, so that my forearm crossed over his muscled little chest.

And you what he did? Silently, while he read, he lowered his face to my arm and breathed in my scent. No words were said. But in that moment, a thousand waves of joy crashed over my heart. It was as if he needed to know that I am the same mama he nuzzled and clung to from the cradle 'til kindergarten. It was as if he needed to know that I am still here.

Recently someone said, "Hug your children often, and the older, the oftener."

May 03, 2014

sleep like a Calvinist

Here in East Asia, Daniel and I are among the only Arminians in a sea of Calvinists. We get a lot of guff for it, too, though in good fun I can assure you. We love our Calvinists. They are a praying, singing, drinking (ah hem) group of men and women of strong spiritual conviction who revere G0D like nobody's business.

But before I talk about Calvinism, let me back up and define "Arminianism." According to, "Arminianism is a teaching regarding salvation associated with the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius (1560-1609). The fundamental principle in Arminianism is the rejection of predestination and a corresponding affirmation of the freedom of the human will." Or in layman's terms, Daniel and I believe that people choose G0D, not the other way around, and that the choices we make are very important.

Calvinists, on the other hand, embrace predestination, the belief (according to the same source) that "those whom G0D sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of CHR1ST. Thus G0d’s choice of the sinner—not the sinner’s choice of CHR1ST—is the ultimate cause of salvation." It is my understanding, too, that Calvinists believe all men and women to be utterly deprived of all capability to do anything good apart from G0D'S power at work in them.

Whatever you believe, I am writing to say that the people of G0D need both perspectives. We really do! And when folks from both camps live out their beliefs in a loving way, the polarity only serves to strengthen the group as a whole.

A (Calvinist) friend of ours said the loveliest thing the other day. You may have heard it said before, but I never had, and when I did, it almost gave me goosebumps. He said every man should "live like an Arminian and sleep like a Calvinist." That is to say, we should do our best every day to make good choices, and then go to sleep in peace knowing that ultimately, G0D is in control.