Posted in letters

To Those Who Keep Me Going

Dear feet,

I don’t know if you can read or not, but I think you and my brain have been in constant communication for a very long time now, so between the two of you, you’ll find a way to get this understood.

We have been together for twenty years (and a few months) now. When we first met, neither of us knew how to do anything. All we had were instincts and genetics. And now just look at us! We have done so much learning together – starting with kicking, then we progressed to figuring out how to crawl, then finally walking! And then from then on, we were mobile, and we could run and skip and gallop and swim and galumpher (an ambulatory word I made up in 4th grade, meaning any kind of obnoxious and funky way of getting around. It’s a pretty general term).

After that, our learning hit somewhat of a plateau. We were mobile and upright and that’s most of the reason why people have feet. But – plot twist – then we learned ballroom dancing in high school. And that was hard for us, but we did it, and we haven’t stopped since then. I’m glad we learned that together.

Feet, you are ugly. I’m just saying it to you with honesty. But physical beauty is not why we are alive. You are functional, and for that I am thankful. You have been with me in so many places, some of which I don’t even remember. Isn’t it fascinating to think of things I did when I was a small child, before I was able to make long-term memories, that you and I were both there for but only you remember?

You went with me to the most beautiful beach in the world in Cornwall, England (and one day we’re going back), you’ve been with me through four years of Camp (as have my favorite pair of Chacos), and you go with me to class every day even when I don’t want to go. You are my constant companion.

I have taken you to some questionable places, and you have done the same to me, if we’re being honest. It at times appears that you have a mind of your own, and I don’t even really mind that occasionally. I like that we work together, and I like that all arguments between us are generally resolved pretty quickly because there is only one body to transport us.

I paint the nails on your toes periodically, usually with blue, and it makes me feel spunky. Thank you for giving me an outlet of creativity and spunk. Thank you for dancing with me even when you are tired and hurting and you won’t stop reminding me. Thank you for keeping me on my toes.

Considering all of the learning that took place in our first twenty years, I am curious to see what we learn in the next twenty (as well as all the years after that). My guess is that we will learn fewer brand new skills (walking, etc.), and more endurance skills – like standing for extended amounts of time. We will expand on what we already know, and we will be pushed to our limit. I look forward to each of the rest of my years with you.

Here’s to the good times, and I’m sorry for the bad times (they’re usually my fault). Thanks for hanging out with me – and for not having bunions.


Posted in letters

Dear Brother I Love You

Dear brother/brethren/brotato/broseph/A”bro”ham/Jack –

The straight-up, hard and cold, honest fact is just this one: grown-ups aren’t usually very close with their siblings. There are exceptions, but generally, they’re just not. And we’re both more grown-ups than we are kids (how did this happen? I did not give anyone my approval on growing. I wasn’t done being innocent and crazy and playing in the woods after school, but then again I never would be if they let me go back). I’m scared of not being close with you because I like you so much.

I get kind of anxious every time I think about how close we were when we were little and we shared a room that we never ever cleaned and had feet fights and weren’t allowed to say “stupid” or “shut up” and sometimes wore matching clothes and played pretend games (you always wanted your name to be Zack, which is silly because it’s your own name with just one letter changed) and had the same friends and blamed things on each other and weren’t allowed to drink soda. I don’t get anxious because of the memories; I get anxious because I don’t want to forget them and I’m afraid of not making new ones.

It took one and a half years of me being in college and separated from you and our house (and the rest of our whole family too!) for me to realize that this is our new normal. I thought that me being gone at school was just a temporary thing because everything is just the same whenever I’m at home. But you visiting me yesterday in my college world made me realize that this is us. You’re going to college next year and we’ll be together on breaks still but this is the part where we have to go be grown-ups. Key word: go.

We have to leave our house (I had to leave first and you had to stay alone in the basement but your turn is next) and learn how to take care of ourselves and manage money (so that we don’t run out of gas all the time because I did that last weekend and it was not very pretty) and eat food that has nutrients in it and be civil to people who are sometimes jerks. From now on, we’re only going to see each other sporadically. It will be a joyous occasion every single time we are reunited, but still, we will probably never see each other as often as we did when we rode to school listening to mega-hipster music together in high school or when we watched Scamper the Penguin on slow summer afternoons when I was eight and you were six. And that makes me sad.

The same people hoped for us and prayed for us and let us live in their house even when we ruined all of their stuff (remember when you carved your name into the coffee table and told them that I did it and they didn’t even believe you? Yup, me too). We turned out the same but different. We have the same eyes and we say the same weird things sometimes and we both like mangoes a whole lot.

Even if you live in Alaska or Michigan or New Zealand (all somewhat realistic options) and I live in the southern part of the US (I must be warm) or somewhere happy in Europe, you’ll still be my brother. Even if we only get to see each other every ten years (which is a really long time to go without seeing each other), technology exists, which is convenient for people separated by long distances, and we’ll always have the same blood in common.

Even if we run out of things to talk about, we can just make some tea and then I can breathe into it and make my glasses be foggy and then we can laugh about it together. There’s always that.

I enjoy all of the minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and years that I get to be with you. I enjoy that you like to make pterodactyl sounds at night in the car with the windows open and that you sometimes paint my nails for me and that you sleep with your eyes open and I really just like you as a person. You’re a cool one even if you are sometimes dumb. I like that we’re both blind in one eye, because it’s really cool and really weird. I think maybe we should quit real life and go be pirates. I love you.


Posted in letters

“She’s Just Being Miley”

Dear Miley,

I’ve seen multiple letters written to you by women out of fear that their daughters will grow up to act like you and their sons will interact with girls who act like you. And I really really want to write this to you out of love. Because there’s no way it will be effective if it’s out of shock or hate or disgust or fear. Those things are not good motivators.

I watched the music video for your song “Wrecking Ball” last night and woah, man. You’re definitely pretty okay with showing nearly every inch of your body with the whole entire universe.*

You looked really heartbroken in your music video. And it made me so sad. Please don’t be sad. One thing all girls seem to have in common is being heartbroken over boys, be it real heartbreak, or, in my case, a little more hypothetical. I sometimes like to pretend I’m dating this Australian guy who works at my favorite coffee shop, so when I observed last week that he has a girlfriend, I was more theoretically heartbroken than actually heartbroken. But still, it’s a common denominator that underlies the hearts of all (most?) girls everywhere. We want boys to love us. And it hurts us really badly when they don’t, even when we already knew that they didn’t or weren’t planning on it.

Miley, I need to tell you something that you may or may not already know. There are super awesome guys out there who will treat you a lot better than any boy who treated you so badly that you wrote “Wrecking Ball.” I promise. I don’t personally have any specific one in my possession at the moment, but I’m friends with a lot of them and they open doors for me out of the kindness of their super sweet hearts and I really believe that you can find one. Buuuuuut that should not be your mission in life because the purpose of life is not to be dating someone! Life would be kind of lame and most of my friends would have already completed their live’s purpose if it was. Just saying. Jesus is better than a boyfriend any/every day.

I would say you’re a little out of control at the moment. A lot of celebrities have been out of control before. Remember when Britney Spears shaved her head? And I don’t even know what the deal is with Amanda Bynes. And that’s sad, but it’s more sad with you because you were always more relatable to me than they were. You’re only a year and a half older than me. I watched your show sporadically but enthusiastically (I didn’t have cable but when I was at the home of someone who did, I loved me some Hannah Montana) as a preteen and I bought like two of your songs on iTunes, which may not sound like a lot, but I rarely actually spend money on music. But I considered you worth it, Miley. One time your song, “Butterfly Fly Away” made me cry because it was so sweet with you and your dad and sometimes I love my dad so much that I cry. That was one of those times. Also I have had so many dance parties to “Party in the USA” and it is kind of a classic now as far as dance parties are concerned. I still sometimes reference “The Hoedown Throwdown” in everyday life because it’s so fun. I legitimately liked you as a person and I thought that if we ever ended up being alone in the same general vicinity, we could carry on a conversation without too much difficulty.

But then things like twerking and “Wrecking Ball” and you perpetually sticking your tongue out and “We Can’t Stop” (side note: you need to stop. Which is what this whole letter-thing is concerning; I’m just saying it nicely) and your really weird, super sassy rebellious activities all happened and I feel less of a connection to you. The thing is, I think that all of your inappropriate strange behaviors are a cry for attention, to be acknowledged as a grownup who is an artist and who is not Hannah Montana, and congratulations, Miley, you are now viewed by every person in America (and people in other places too) as a deviant, immoral, corrupt girl who does not have her act together and does not wear clothes a lot of the time. I hope that’s not what you were going for.

However, I still think we have some stuff in common. Like: we both have blue eyes and brown hair. And we’re both incredibly depraved.

I was recently thinking about how “qualified” I am as a person. I’m pretty skinny and fairly un-ugly and I love to bake and I’m academically intelligent and I’m a nice person and I do a lot of extracurriculars that I enjoy that also make me look good and I’m a genius writer girl who has revelations in the form of blog posts on a weekly basis (or at least I like to think so). But none of that means anything. It’s like Elmer’s glue that has dried onto my finger, and as soon as I peel it off, my finger doesn’t feel cool and fun like it does when the glue is on it. It’s loses its smoothness and becomes ridgy and it smells funny. Strip all of my impressive qualities off of me and I’m nothing. And I smell funny. Not ha-ha funny, but nasty gross funny. I’m no better than you and you’re no better than me; we just have different levels of paparazzi following us around.

Tim Keller says, “He didn’t love us because we were lovely; He loved us to make us lovely.”

So, no, you are not lovely. And you can do nothing to become lovely. Nor I am not lovely in the least regard. You and I are not worthy or clean (no matter how many times a day we shower or how expensive our soap is) or honest or good role models or noteworthy or upstanding citizens. We are as bad as it gets. But we are made lovely and elegant and awake and melodic and beautiful by letting Him love us. Maybe you don’t know how to let someone love you and not give anything back. I’m not sure I actually do either. It’s really hard. But I’m learning. Because “He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17) All you have to do is let Him love you.

So quit this insane wild streak. Do not carry on, my wayward sister. Do not sow your wild oats. (I don’t even know what that means.) I don’t want to pretend I know you better than I do (because I don’t at all really) but I don’t think that the way you’re living right now is quite your jam. I think you need Jesus. More than that, I know you need Jesus. Because the only person who does not need Jesus is Jesus Himself.

I ride the bus from campus to my apartment because I’m stubborn and I refuse to pay money for a parking pass to drive my car to school. Sometimes I don’t get a seat on the bus, which is fine, but when I don’t, I usually end up holding on to a strap that is connected to the ceiling. I am not a very sturdy person, so when I’m holding onto those straps and the bus turns or even accelerates or moves at all, I flail all over the bus and my limbs are in everybody’s face and it’s crazy. I hold onto that strap with all of my might and I still am just quite out of control. I grit my teeth and clench that strap like it’s holding my life (because it kind of is, not to be dramatic or anything). It’s my anchor. Without it, I would probably go flying directly through the windshield of that bus and that would not be fun. The pastor at my church, David Sinclair, says to “cling to the truth of God’s sovereign grace until your knuckles are white.” And every time I ride the bus and have to grip that strap with my entire life and soul and mind and strength, I think of him saying that and I hold on a little tighter.
Here is a visual of the bus strap in case my explanation isn’t clear:


So what I’m telling you is: hold onto Jesus like He is that strap. He is the one thing that can keep you grounded. You cannot control any parts of your life, but if you do not hold onto Him, you will go crashing straight through that windshield and break your face right open and it will hurt very badly. Holding onto the strap doesn’t mean that you won’t be flounder about all over the place and accidentally whack people and drop your peanut butter jar out of your backpack while simultaneously trying to answer the phone and quiz yourself on dumb science, but it does that mean that you will not die. The tighter you hold, the more security you have and the more relief you will have when the ride (life) is over. I mean, yeah, your hand might fall off once you finally let go, but if you’re in Heaven, do you really need your hand? Yeah I didn’t think so.

I definitely don’t have any of the pressures on me that you have. Nobody (that I know of) follows me around with cameras and makes up complete lies about me to put in magazines. The things people hate about me aren’t posted on major Internet sites. There are no memes campaigning against my existence. It breaks my heart that all of that stuff exists in this world. And I don’t know what to tell you to do about that. But maybe just listen to this song for a start? When my grandmother died, I listened to it like nobody’s business. When my best friend and my not-exactly-blood-related niece moved away within a week of each other, I listened to it a lot. It always makes me feel better because, “I did not come here to offer you cliches, and I will not pretend to know of all your pain, and just when you cannot, then I will hold out faith for you. It’s going to be alright.”

You can get through this. You’re okay. I love you, girl.


PS We should totally have coffee sometime 🙂

*Disclaimer: I’m pretty out of the pop culture loop, so for me to be writing this means 1) you’re pretty culturally prevalent if I’ve heard all about what you’re up to and 2) I may be slightly pop-culturally irrelevant, so just disregard anything that doesn’t make sense.