The 4-H Fair and a Series of Fortunate Events

If you enjoy short sleeve plaid button-up shirts, then the fair is the place for you.

Aah, the 4-H fair.  If you’ve been to one as a spectator, as a fried-food connoisseur, or as a ride-goer, then the fair is always something to look forward to, something that is pure childlike fun.  If you are a 4-H’er, then you know this time of year as something a little different.  It’s the time when your work of the past few months culminates into one day.    It can be a tough week.  But to say it’s just a tough week would be drastically selling it short.  I would personally call this week, more than that…I would call it…magical.

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On Enough


The cream almost empty, but the jiggling of the carton proves enough for morning coffee.

The broken shoelace, but if removed from one eyelet, enough to tie for a run before buying new.

The market flowers lovely, but the wild ones by the side of the road fill my pitcher.

The tiny hole in the toiletry bag, with a quick whipstitch is made whole again.

Made whole again.

This of mine I give to you.

It opens the space for more.

There is enough for both.

The blanket cannot stretch over the whole bed.

But if you come closer, it can easily cover us both.

And there is enough.

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.*

Five years old, sitting on the kitchen table, like every morning.

My mom, curling my hair.  The sun shining in the back window.  The smell of hairspray and coffee.

“Why does she live far away?”

“Because they bus her to your school, honey.”

“You mean she rides the bus to school?”

“Yes, but from a different part of the city.”


“I think it’s because schools in other parts of town might not be as good, honey.”

I didn’t know when we played ‘house’ in first grade that she was from another part of town.  I knew I couldn’t walk to her house to play after school and on the weekends.  And that she was black.

Mostly, I felt she was just like me.

“…schools on the other side of town might not be as good…”


In South Bend, Ind., a city that boasts of being ”the first Northern school district to enter into a voluntary desegregation plan,” school officials say their plan will desegregate the schools ”now and theoretically forever.”

The South Bend plan is not without its critics. White parents have sued, saying the plan is too sweeping, and black civil rights activists have sued, saying it places an unfair burden on minority students.

“Twenty seven years after the United States Supreme Court struck down racial segregation in schools, communities are still caught in confusion and dissension over how best to end it.”

I don’t know how it ends.

Another thirty-five years later.

My girls on their bike ride on our country road.  I let them go by themselves to get a taste of some of the freedom I had at their age.

The young man who lives down the road from us, driving his truck at fifty miles per hour.

This is the time I worry about my girls’ safety.

My luxury.

Mothers who have to worry every time her child leaves the house.

The color of his skin.

Too many stories of others.

Too many.

Thirty five years later.

Sixty five years later.

Two hundred years later.

When will it end?

Mothers in arms.

I stand with you.

Your child is my child.

I worry when he leaves, too.

I cannot say I know how you feel.

But I will no longer let my silence be misunderstood as indifference.

I stand with you.  I stand with love.  And I will not be quiet.


*Quote – Elie Wiesel




Show ’em What You’re Made Of


So, it’s not a far stretch to say there are points in my life when I would have been okay with him moving thousands of miles away.

I guess it probably started when we were about three and five.  Coming home with stones in my pants, fat upper lips, and chains off of bicycles, I was pretty used to the normal 1980’s treatment of younger sisters by big brothers.

By middle school, our relationship transitioned into mostly just avoiding each other, although I would take any interaction I could get.  Sometimes I think I would even egg him on to get in a fight with me, just so I could have a sliver of his attention, even if it was painful.  So when I would be upstairs in my room, and I would hear him call, “Sej!!  Seja!  Can you come down here?”, I would drop what I was doing to see what he wanted.  And then of course, him, laying on the sofa, watching TV, looking at me and saying, “…the remote is over there.  Can you throw it to me?”  And me launching the remote directly at his face.

That kind of summed up high school.

As we grew into college, our relationship started to shift, realizing the parts we’d played in each other’s lives up to that point.  The kind of person that isn’t always present, but you know they are there when you need them, and they are the person you call for advice or to just sound something out.

So when David called telling me he’d met this girl, and she was pretty awesome, I knew something was different than the times before.  And a few years later, they were married.  And I gained a sister and a pretty amazing friend.


And then eventually nephews and a niece.

It’s easy to say my brother is one of my best friends and my strongest ally.

Like the time, when our entire family plus some friends, went to Mexico for spring break together.  A guy started hitting on me.  A guy with no shirt.  And a huge tattoo.  Dave stayed close by, talking with his friends, keeping his eye on me.  I then saw his buddy Jake whisper something to him, then I clearly heard David yell, “Because my sister isn’t going out with a dude with a giant tattoo on his back that says ‘T-Bone.”  That kind of brother.

So now, I feel differently.  I don’t really want him moving thousands of miles away.

But tomorrow they are.  Tomorrow, my brother and his beautiful wife and family are moving to London for three years.

My excitement for them and this experience they are about to have is what comforts me right now.

And mostly, my pride.  I am so proud of this man, who has worked so hard, to go from an entry-level sales representative position to an executive within the same company, and now being transferred across the Atlantic to have the same impact there that he had here.

So now, I kind of feel like that five-year-old again, realizing what I felt even then, wanting his attention, was pride.  Because I knew that even though he beat me to a pulp at times, like all big brothers do, he would never let anyone else.  And his heart, bigger than his little-sister teasing, was always on my side.

Maia wanting to snuggle when she realizes she won’t see her uncle for a while.

We plan to go visit early next year, and we are so excited for that trip.  But until then, our excitement is for them, for this adventure, for this experience of a lifetime.

We love you, David, Callie, Caden, Brody, and Hadley.  Go show London what you’re made of.


Voting for Love



I love so much, so many things about this country. (Cue Lee Greenwood:)).

I looked out the window while at work today.  Bees and butterflies – they were everywhere – pollinating the flowers and vegetables in my garden.  I love having fresh vegetables and fruit and am so grateful we have them.  I know bees are starting to be around less and less and I would really like to see them stay, so I am voting pro-vegetables-being-around-for-my-grandkids this election.

I love my children.  Being the sisters that they are, they disagree at times (okay, a lot).  They argue, they slam doors, they work it out.  But they don’t make fun of each other and they don’t name-call.  They know once names are thrown, the line has been crossed, and it’s bad for everyone.  In turn, they don’t bully or meanly tease friends.  They’ve learned this because this is what Joe and I and other adults they look up to have taught them, and more importantly, shown them.  So this election season, I am voting for kindness.

I love diversity.  I love others and I love learning about people who are different from me.  We are lucky to live in a melting pot of ethnicities, faiths, and skin colors.  This country was founded so that people from all walks of life could come here in the pursuit of liberty.  The idea that someone cannot come to this country because of their beliefs is called discrimination – not something I love.  So this election, I am voting pro-diversity and inclusion.

I love the feeling of being safe.  I love the idea that my children and family are safe.  I will forever be grateful to the men and women who have died to make this country safe.  I want this feeling for everyone.  I have some friends right now who are not feeling safe because of their faith, because of the idea they one day may have to register their name in this country because of it.  I remember hearing about that once before.  It was in 1939 in Nazi Germany.  And again in 1941 in France.  Those people did not feel safe and for good reason.  So this election cycle, I am voting for safety for all Americans.

I love the rights women have in this country.  I am grateful that I can do all of the things my male counterparts can do.  Currently, I am especially grateful that I can vote, something I couldn’t have done less than one hundred years ago.  I love that my daughters have strong, capable women to look up to and a father who is teaching them skills that used to be reserved just for men.   I love that in this country, they are in control of the choices regarding their bodies, without someone punishing them for it.  So this fall, I am voting for womens’ rights.

I love Jesus.  I love the way he treated everyone around him, including prostitutes, lepers, the poor, and sinners.  He invited them in, dined with them, loved them.  And even though I will never be on the same level as him, I want to live a life as much like him as I can.  A life of empathy, a life of inclusion, and a life of love.  A life of not turning people away because of pre-conceived ideas about who they are.  And I want my children to do the same.  So this fall, I am voting pro-Jesus.

I love working together.  I think it is absolutely amazing when two people who disagree can sit down with each other and listen – really listen – to the others’ opinions and feelings and facts, and come to an understanding.  It gives me goosebumps when leaders from all over the world can work together to make the planet a better place for all of us.  So this fall, I am voting for the leader who will communicate with others.

Most of all, I am voting for hope.  I will not let fear win my vote.  I will let all of that love I shouted all over the page above fill my heart – and throw it all over the place on election day.

I hope you do the same.