"Tell your story. Tell it on your bruised knees if you must, tell it at the risk of madness, scream it at the top of your lungs." –Andrew Lam

Month: September, 2012

loving lately:

dance class, stella’s for breakfast afterwards, my map of Maine, coffee rituals, pumpkin flavored anything, the girls who came into the shop to pick out single stems for their grandma, hot apple crisp, reading aloud, the cable-knit sweater Josh bought me in high school that I’ve finally grown into and find perfectly cozy on a day like today, autumn-colored flowers, yellow roses, old barrels, antique picking with annie, new window displays, big chalkboards, weekend writing retreats, new-to-me jazz shoes, rocky road fudge, fascinating people and their fascinating tales, messages from my southern gals, inspiring women, this quote: “blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.”– camille pissarro, freshly washed puppy, a northern autumn, drives in the truck with josh and jovie while listening to old country music, introductions to new cafes, feeling alive, discovering, wheat, oval wreaths, glasses, old bottles found in creek/woods, my E-Town coffee sweatshirt, frost on the pumpkin coffee, town traditions, the “M” at Platteville—it stands for Melissa, right?, Wisconsin, crafty shops that inspire me, the SOUTH sign, caramel apples, apple cider, bagels and cream cheese, the scenic route, getting to come along for the ride, pumpkins lined in a row, little-girl pigtails, white pumpkins, dogs, free printables, town traditions, tin cans, old furniture, new ideas, romemary mint, catching-up emails, his hugs, looking forward to our trip home next weekend, great conversations, everything fall, anything outdoors

Love Quotes

I love words. I love literature. I love love. Before I had a clue what my wedding dress might look like, I knew which love quotes I wanted incorporated into my wedding. In fact, I started compiling this list in a spiral notebook that dates back to junior high. Hopeless. Romantic. I found the notebook a few weeks ago while rummaging around my old room in my parents’ house. Because several friends are getting married and having babies and I’m also involved with weddings and anniversaries through the floral shop, I wanted to share my list of love quotes with you. These quotes (borrowed  from classic literature, film, and the Bible) would be perfect to add in a card, present on a slide show, print on the invitations, have a pastor or special attendant read during the ceremony, or even somehow make as a Pinterest craft for a shower gift, a couple’s room or a baby’s nursery. Oh, the possibilities. I hope the words bless you and you find the perfect quote for your project or occasion. Which quotes are your favorites?
image credit: via listal.com

“There are no monuments dedicated to me and my name will soon be forgotten, but I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.” –Nicholas Sparks

“Love is not love which alters when it alterations finds…It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken; it is the star to every wandering bark.” –Shakespeare
“But to see her was to love her, love but her, and love her forever.” –Robert Burns

“The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom: to serve all and love but one.” –Balzac

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you. You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel—I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely…passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you—and kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.” –from Jane Eyre

“Teacher, comrade, wife…a fellow-farer true through life.” –Robert Louis Stevenson

“Love is patient. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13

“They didn’t agree on much. In fact, they didn’t agree on anything. They fought all the time and challenged each other every day. But despite their differences, they had one important thing in common. They were crazy about each other.” –Nicholas Sparks

“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.” –Robert Browning

“I love thee, I love but thee with a love that shall not die ‘til the sun grows cold and the stars grow old.” –Shakespeare

“The strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung.” –Walt Whitman

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love drives out fear.” –1 John 4:18

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” –Zora Neale Hurston

“Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of being safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” –Dinah Clark

“Love takes of masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” –James Baldwin

“Sounds like a wrestling match, I say. A wrestling match. Yes, you could describe life that way. So which side wins, I ask? Love wins. Love always wins.” –from Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

“The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against the house yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” –Matthew 7:25

“Nunc scio quid sit amor.” (Now I know what love is). –Virgil

“That’s my sweetheart in there. Wherever she is, that’s where my home is.” –Nicholas Sparks

“The most precious possession that ever comes to a man in this world is a woman’s heart.” –J.G Holland

“It’s the sweet simple things in life which are the real ones after all.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder

“I am by beloveds and my beloved is mine.” –Song of Solomon 6:3

“I have found the one my soul loves.” –Song of Solomon 3:4

“Many waters cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it.” Song of Solomon 8:7

“Thou art the star that guides me along life’s changing sea; and whatever fate betides me, this heart still turns to thee.” –George P. Morris

“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.” –Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10

So it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be really hard. We’re going to have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you. Forever. You and me. Every day. –Nicholas Sparks

“I came alive when I started loving you.” –C.S Lewis

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.” –Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” –A.A Milne

Quarter-life Crisis

I’m having a quarter-life crisis. You’re laughing, aren’t you? Teaching for only four years made me feel I’ve lived a lifetime already, so I’ve decided to retire a few months shy of twenty-six. I’m just kidding. I haven’t even started doing all I dream of accomplishing. Writing a book or three. Earning my MFA. Owning a café. Building a house. Teaching at the university level. Seeing more than a tiny speck of the world. Raising a kid or three with that man I love. Am I too late? Too early? Too old and too young. Cursed in-between. Where do I go from here? Which of those dreams are in God’s big-picture plan? On my back-and-forth Illinois road trips, I’ve noticed this quote on several church signs: “When life knocks you down {during your quarter-life or mid-life crises} and it’s too hard to stand—kneel.” Oh, bruised knees. Makes sense. ❤

Is a lack of passion and purpose worse than stress and busyness? It’s a question I ask often while on my bruised knees and can’t figure out if not teaching is a relief or not. I saw my students and friends at my Memorial when I went home. I hadn’t felt that kind of love, that fullness of joy since…my last day there in January. They just heard the laughter and endured my too-tight hugs—allowed me to indulge, saw me get caught up in the flourish of excitement and find my heart again that I had hidden in the halls. And reminded me how much I adore the sound of “Mama.”         

That door has been closed for you, people tell me again and again (and again).  But I wait at the door and ask, seek, knock. Maybe I don’t want to move on. Maybe I just want to keep that memory sacred. My students (should I stop saying “my”?) just saw the smiles. But my tears came later. In the quiet. After the crowd. (Ok, fine, I cried for five days—the whole visit, especially while holding my new baby niece). Tears slipped down my cheeks again at the University of Evansville when several students (and a dear education professor) gathered on campus to show me all they’ve become. I’ve never been so touched or so proud. So stricken by the beautiful full-circle of time and life and learning. Yes, those side-by-side homes of Memorial and UE harbored a lot of stress and a lot of busyness. But I had a whole world built right there on Lincoln Avenue.

I’ve been thinking about money a lot lately and if you know me, you know how uncomfortable money makes me. I know it would have made more sense to take a more practical, inexpensive educational route. Perhaps a debt-free educational route would make those other dreams of mine happen a little quicker. It would make more sense if I were doing something related to my degree. And perhaps I would feel less guilty in my marriage and more vibrant around a friend’s bachelorette party guests (mostly holders of doctorates) instead of pale and tired and old and sad and a little purpose-less. But.
I will defend college. A real college experience. Knowledge and lessons and inspiration and fun and support and incredible teaching and becoming. See, something happened to all of us in that place. We became us. So although I’m vice president or some officer of my high school class, I’d rather suffer cruel and unusual punishment than attend another ECHS reunion. Just kidding. There are actually about five of you from my class I’d love to see. But it’s the mention of the university’s Orientation Leader reunion that makes me vibrant again. Because they know the soul of me. They understand the whole of life, the leads to….leads to….leads to. The circle. Oh wait, the We Care circle.Makes sense. ❤ They know how attachment feels. About stepping stones. And adventures.  And helping whoever you can and loving as much as you can along the way. They know that BECOMING YOU was the biggest hurdle, and you can’t put a price tag on climbing over that kind of hurdle. The process involves a lot of falling, a lot of bruised knees. Victorious bruised knees that come with stories to tell. And I will tell the stories. Because in my quarter-life crisis, telling the truth of the stories is the only thing that feels passionate and purposeful enough to me. And when it comes to circles, what seems like the end is really only the beginning.    

taking stock

on shopping trips, my mom always had my sister and i take stock of the items we got that day. it was always my favorite part of the trip, that late night car drive home that we spent remembering and recalling the good deals we searched for and the special items we couldn’t wait to wear. i believe we were made more grateful because of the conscious act of remembering and reflecting.
 at memorial, students told me their roses and thorns. the roses were another way of taking stock of all the blessings. the praises amongst the requests. the ultimate good that came from the ugly-beautiful. and our eyes were opened. we were made more grateful.
this currently/joy dare section of my blog may seem silly and insignificant, but it’s my way of remembering. and savoring. taking stock of the days.

oregon soap shoppe deliveries
flower drying racks
making gift baskets
my new wristlet! and as always, the whole Anne Made collection
Studio B salon…and feeling okay about getting the blonde highlights again. so something must be forgiven. healed.
nice doctors
old cds students have made for me….even still, they bless me so much (especially on long roadtrips home)
fire pit nights
return of fall television
Josh and Jovie walks
a husband who truly takes care of me
all of these whispers of fall…the breeze, the festivals, the pumpkins
my new bed at my parents’ house
every single student who gave me a hug in the hallway and bombarded me with love
homeroom shouts of “Mama, mama, mama’s here.”
Lexi…my second favorite dog in the whole world
Beth and K
the way it feels to write
a girl i tutor. the questions she asks me. the progress she makes. how our souls are made out of the same stuff. the way she teaches me, too.
“you make my demons go away.”
“i need you. you know me. i just want to talk to my sister.”
just holding my baby niece. my arms feel empty when she’s not in them.
all the beauty. eyes to see it.
my new comfy UE Alumni shirt. just the fact i was able to go there. when i attended, people on campus always asked me why i smiled so much. “because i’m here,” i’d answer. “because i get to be here.” ❤
my framed map of Maine made by my friend who loves greater than anyone i know
the coolest, coziest coffee mugs
girly salads and expresso cupcakes (ohmylands)
people who know me–know all the inside stuff
tailgate food
starbucks blonde roast
my favorite surprise of the whole visit….when Erin Case walked into the kitchen!
the fact that i’m somehow lucky enough to still be in touch with mik. and that she made time to come see me.completely adore her.
my second favorite surprise….seeing all of my former mhs students-turned ue students gathered at my alma mater (special thanks to a favorite student who organized it all). they took time on a friday afternoon to see little ol’ me. and one of my favorite professors stood there in the circle, offering me his traditional kiss on the cheek. telling me how we passed on the torch. he taught me. i became a teacher. i taught students. now my students are becoming teachers. full circle. the taught begins to teach. a full, beautiful circle of learning.
the LPCC worship band
oh the hugs!
Frost poetry
Sarah and Jennifer
new friends from old UE…relationships that produce new introductions….ue continues to bless me
newburgh’s view of the river
fun games
a special friend who’s getting married! so excited that it’s her turn, her time.
reuniting with friends, with students, with the husband
coffee cottage.
seeing Jess
the encouragement you all give me about writing and this blog.
porch talks
hold me, surround me cries. group hug cries. good, necessary cries.

this overwhelming violent hurricane-love that always leaves me shaken. tossed. i’m still tired from the whirlwind of home. still recovering from the bombardment. the force of that type of love. taking stock of all i’ve lost in the storm. still repairing holes and damage. still in awe of the fact that i no longer give to them….and they continue to give to me. i will say thank you more for all of the precious people and places. for friends of all kinds and ages. and i hope that soon more words will come. so many words i don’t know how to say. but when more words come, i’ll continue…taking stock.

Flowers and Students

Flowers and students.

 The comparison has been mulling in my mind since I started working at the flower shop. The first contrast I noticed: Flowers don’t talk back. Flowers smell nicer than high school boys who have English class right after P.E. Flowers don’t produce heaps of papers to grade. Flowers don’t trigger panic attacks—well, not usually. But the similarities between flowers and students go much deeper than their differences.  

In a few days, I’ll have the privilege of catching up with a friend who is a young, first-year, full-time high school English teacher. She also has a long commute. She’s also a newlywed. And I would not trade spots with her. The term “zombie” comes to mind when I describe myself in those days. And currently, I feel pretty peaceful in this season and supremely lucky to work for and with the people I’ve met.

 I feel lucky to still create atmosphere and to create an experience (which was always one of my favorite parts of teaching).

I feel lucky to still put good ideas to use.

To still learn.  

 To come home and still have energy. (This concept is a new one).

 To enjoy my husband. (The best perk of it all).

 Lucky to have freedom and flexibility.

 To enjoy my “me” time. It feels like a selfish season, almost. But I will embrace it. I will store it up. I will remember it fondly when kids are screaming and I don’t have enough time to even take a peaceful shower. I will remember. As I walk around the shop and shower the plants that don’t talk back.  

I talk back to God’s plan, His seasons. What a trap. September and we’re so ready for autumn (my favorite, I admit) that we’ve dismissed the blessings of summer. So ready for autumn and so afraid of winter. And already dreaming of spring. Stop. Sip. Drink it in. Every season has its beauty.   

 But I’ll also tell my friend that what she’s doing—teaching– is the most fulfilling reward in the world. And that fulfillment still carries me. And when I visit my Memorial, too, while I am home—I will cry. I will cry the whole time. At the first regal sight of the building. At the sight of their faces. At the last hug goodbye. At God’s plan that I don’t understand.

Then I will return to creating. God creates beautiful flowers; God creates beautiful kids. Teachers and florists simply attempt to arrange, tweak, and enhance what is already there and already beautiful. Former students and current kids I tutor, you had it in you all along, loves. You just needed the confidence to become you. Teachers and florists pour faith into their “arrangements.” We pour love. Time. Creativity. Hope. We hope our arrangements are used for good purposes. Exciting ones. We pray they don’t wilt. We also know how much they bless others. They just have to get out of the display case and out of that big cooler in the back. We have to let them go. Go. To the hospital rooms of the sick. To the weddings. To the anniversary events. To the restaurant where the boy’s crush works. To the families of the grieving. To the business of the one who feared she was forgotten on her birthday. To your table. To splash a dark time with color. To say you’re sorry. And Thank you. and Just Because and You are Loved.

Purposes. They aren’t always used for the big things. But every purpose? Every season? Important. Perfect. Meaningful. Beautiful. Just as it should be.  

all the time God is good (joy dare/currently)

Watermark music, talks with my mom lately, hazelnut coffeemate, rainy days (sometimes), my two new Anne Made necklaces, my flower shop bosses, awesome affordable finds at savvy scavengers (a new winter coat!), when customers tease me about my southern accent, lemon meringue pie and french silk pie from stella’s, the new shipments of milkhouse candles, the process of reevaluating, popcorn, hugs from my real nephews, hugs from my adopted nephews, grandma Mabel’s warm pecan pie with French vanilla ice cream (umm, do I mention pie a little too much?), making Evansville plans with grandma Mabel, nurseries, the way Josh will talk to his mom until 4 in the morning, the Lord-willing plans to come back home, the future plans, the now—the in-between, feeling calmer finally, apple butter, Alyssa. Case., gifts in the mail (and the sweetest letters) from people who know these deepest parts of my soul, and know. Just know. Baby donkeys, hummingbirds, homes, a loving husband, surprise lunch with my grandma and mom, life chats with my dad (“it’ll be okay, baby, you’re doing great.” Nothing makes it all okay like dad can), K-love and diet coke for the drive, making wedding flower deliveries, creating atmosphere, rearranging, God’s faithfulness and provision, making the time to write, my sweet dog  

nursery thoughts

I sat on the floor of my first niece’s new nursery. Just looking. At the outfits lined in a row and the bows and the books and the baby lotion. The magic and the waiting. The expectation of the almost. And love grows and swells as the sister-in-law acts nonchalant, but I know she’ll soften somehow. And I wonder if I’m too soft. I love terribly too much. Too intensely. Adore. Hurt and ache and ruin with the depth and breadth and height of too much love.



I was so in need of home when I was welcomed into my best friend’s cabin. Where my favorite family dwells. Where candles glowed and the room danced. And the whole cabin whispered fall.  Blanket draped over couch just in case. Tissues close. Just in case. Needed rarely because we are sad but because life is full. And we make plans for the next visit. Plans that speak,“We embrace life. And we know how to savor it.”


Back where the air’s different, where it even smells southern and the forests are filled with thick jungle trees, we must always always touch. Intertwined like the vines and the branches. Wrestle. Hug. Notice. Cover with lips all the parts that have been neglected. Like the crook of the elbow. The belly button. The place where the jawline meets the ear.  Place. Place stirs the comfort, the memory, the passion. Turns him into my mischevious, adventurous sweet sweet man again. And leaving each other feels like ripping away. The way it used to feel. The way it’s supposed to feel when you’re one flesh.