Simple Heartstrings Challenge: 50 Simple Ways to Bond With Loved Ones

Life blows past you and suddenly you’re looking back at the last five months, five years, or five decades wondering what on earth happened to all your time. How much of your precious, irreplaceable time was spent on Facebook or stressing over your latte and politics or reading about how to be a better wife or mother instead of tying heartstrings?

Probably too much.

What is tying heartstrings? At its most basic level, tying heartstrings is connecting with people, but I don’t like to use the word “connect” when talking about people, because it makes me sound like an insurance salesman. I don’t have a problem with insurance salesmen–I just don’t want to sound like one, because I’m not one.

Tying heartstrings is building or strengthening the bond between people. It’s putting your time where it matters.

Take the Heartstrings Challenge! 50 Simple Ways to Bond with Loved Ones

It is also one of the simple tools in The Simple Homemaker’s life simplifying toolbox. It’s an important one.

Here’s how you tie heartstrings:

Do something together.

That’s it. Told you it was simple. I challenge you to dedicate a portion of each Saturday to tying heartstrings. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you accept the Simple Saturday Heartstrings Challenge:

  • It doesn’t have to be anything epic—if it’s simple, you’re more likely to keep it up.
  • Please don’t make it into a big deal. Don’t say, “We shall henceforth spendeth 60 minutes of uninterrupted quality time together to ensureth heartstrings are properly tied-eth and to enableth the generations to strengtheneth their bonds…eth.” That’s freaky.
  • Don’t make your “victims” feel like you’re checking quality time off on a list. “There, I played with you. Now I don’t have to pay for your therapy. Oh, and don’t bug me for an hour.” 
  • Don’t be ultra-obsessed over the Saturday thing. Be flexible. We school on Saturdays and take Mondays off, so my Simple Saturday Heartstrings are actually Marvelous Monday Heartstrings. Be fllllleeeexiblllllle.
  • Just do something!

Here are 50 ideas for simple ways to tie heartstrings. Many of these will work with a small child as well as a teen, your spouse, Mom and Dad, or your elderly neighbor next door.

Take the Heartstrings Challenge! 50 Simple Ways to Bond with Loved Ones

50 Simple Ways to Tie Heartstrings

  1. Say, “Let’s play a game.” (A few rounds of Tic-Tac-Toe or Twenty Questions is great—it doesn’t have to be monopoly or chess!)
  2. Bake cookies together to eat or to deliver to another heartstring “victim.“
  3. Be nosy about an interest they have, and, if possible, pursue it together once in a while. (My husband loves airplanes, so sometimes we have a picnic lunch in the van in a spot near the runway where the planes land and take off right in front of us. Simple and free.)
  4. Go for a walk.
  5. Call someone up “just because.”
  6. Ask what they’ve been reading.
  7. Read a book out loud together—children’s books are fun at any age, and chapter books can be spread out over weeks and months.
  8. Try a new recipe together.
  9. Send a letter—handwritten!
  10. Blow bubbles.
  11. Plant flowers.
  12. Help with a simple task, and don’t forget to stick around to chat a little bit.
  13. Sip tea, coffee, cocoa, or apple juice together…slowly…and chat…without your cellphone nearby.
  14. Enjoy nature together—follow ants, identify trees, feed ducks, take your dog squirrel-chasing.
  15. Ask about their week. If you truly listen all week, you’ll be able to ask in detail, such as “How is Susie feeling today?” or “Did your buddy make the football team?” or “Did your secretary’s brother’s wife have her baby?” or “What kind of food did they serve at the conference luncheon? Cookies, I hope!”
  16. Have a movie night or watch an oldie, but goodie, like Gomer Pyle, The Andy Griffith Show, or The Dick Van Dyke Show. (Yes, screen time can be heartstring time.)
  17. Paint each other’s nails.
  18. Toss around a baseball or the ol’ pigskin synthetic leather.
  19. Challenge each other to a 5-minute Lego building contest or set the timer for five minutes and see how high you can stack something.
  20. Do a simple craft—simple! Hello, Pinterest! Or, as we like to do, hop on to Pinterest together and pin all the crafts you will never do. Pinning is a fun little family obsession of ours.
  21. Make a blanket fort and sit in it.
  22. Collect jokes throughout the week and share them over a bowl of Chocolate-Covered Sugar Bombs.
  23. Read Calvin and Hobbes or a new magazine over each other’s shoulders.
  24. Pursue a SRAOKTDRS together—that’s a Simple Random Act of Kindness That Doesn’t Resemble Stalking.
  25. Share stories from your youth or ask about their childhood or young adulthood.
  26. Share dreams…but let them do most of the sharing.
  27. Attack a project from the to-do list together.
  28. Hold hands, snuggle, or give back rubs.
  29. Braid hair.
  30. Pick flowers.
  31. Flip through a catalog together or read a newspaper side by side, sharing whatever you feel moved to share.
  32. Call someone up and say, “Get dressed, cuz I’m coming over!” and then hang up…and go over there, because it would be mean to call and not show up.
  33. Star-gaze.
  34. Watch a dog show on TV.
  35. Sit in the park or mall and watch people.
  36. Go eat all the samples at Sam’s Club.
  37. Skip stones or throw sticks in the water.
  38. Lie in the grass (or snow if you live where they have perpetual winter) and look at the clouds.
  39. Ask a question and listen to the answer without interjecting the words “I,” “me”, or “you should.” Good luck with this one!
  40. Teach someone a new magic trick.
  41. Share a chocolate bar or a box of candies.
  42. Sit by the water, with or without your toes dangling in, depending on if there are gators and piranha where you’re dangling.
  43. Go fishing.
  44. Make a scrapbook page.
  45. Memorize something together—a poem or a section of Scripture or my birthday so you can send cookies.
  46. Bake a pie…and more cookies.
  47. Go window shopping.
  48. Turn on the sprinklers or fill a wading pool and sit in it.
  49. Break out the sidewalk chalk and create together—don’t be tempted to let them create while you go do the “important” things.
  50. Put your phone away and just be together and see what happens.

Take the Heartstrings Challenge! 50 Simple Ways to Bond with Loved Ones

If you follow me on PinterestFacebook, Twitter, or Instagram (as The Travel Bags), I will remind you to devote part of your Saturday to Strengthening Heartstrings, and invite you to share how you did this. (On Facebook, don’t forget to check “Follow” or comment and like frequently, or you won’t see my posts. Crazy Facebook.)

Please share your Simple Saturday Heartstrings in the comment section. Let’s share great ideas and tie heartstrings!

Teaching Kids to Handle Money Responsibly

There was a time when expressions like “A penny saved is a penny earned” actually meant something.  You remember this poem, don’t you?

Use it up,
Wear it out,

Make it do,

Or do without.

What ever happened to financial responsibility and resourcefulness?  They have apparently been usurped by the need for instant gratification and keeping up with the Joneses, the Browns, the Smiths, and who knows who else!

Teaching Kids About Money

In America, the average college student enters “the real world” with over $20,000 of student loans.  The average American household carries over $15,000 in credit card debt, plus a mortgage, medical bills, the aforementioned student loans, and car payments.

Where is the “simple” in being buried under mountains of debt by the time you hit 30?  There is none!

It’s time to focus on the basics, one of which is teaching our children (and ourselves in most cases) how to handle money responsibly.

Today I am writing over at Purposeful Homemaking where I offer seven strategies for raising financially responsible children who agree with Thomas Jefferson’s sentiment, “Never spend your money before you have earned it.” Go check it out and raise your kiddos right!  Someday they’ll thank you.

Click here to read 7 Tips for Teaching Kids to Handle Money Responsibly over at Purposeful Homemaking.

Click to read it now!

Photo credit



The Highway Prayer–Simple Faith in Practice

The Highway Prayer --Simple Faith in Action

Photo credit (Kim Siever)

The ambulance blew by, sirens blaring, lights flashing. My mom was silent for a moment, and then the conversation continued. We kids all knew Mom said a little prayer whenever an ambulance drove by—she saw a need and wisely handed it heavenward.

For years I did the same thing, only I took it one step further. When I saw an ambulance, I would pray out loud with my children. Nothing fancy—just joining with my littles to take the needs and pain of a fellow human being to the Creator.

It was always simple, like this:

Father, please be with the person in the ambulance and with that person’s family. Please take away their pain and fear. Thank you for the helpers and bless them all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Short, sweet, easy-to-understand, powerful.

Having had three ambulance transports in our family over the past two decades, the thought that strangers—brothers and sisters in faith whom we have yet to meet—are wrapping us in their arms through prayer and asking God for help on our behalf is humbling and comforting.

I’ve since fallen out of the practice of praying out loud at ambulance or fire truck sightings, but I’m going to jump back in with both feet.

What do you think? Do you want to join in?

Our Journey With the Total Elimination Diet

I love pie. In fact, I have deemed 2016 the year of the pie, and we are choosing a pie each month to bake; there’s a homemade peach pie waiting for us for breakfast.

I should say that it’s waiting for my family, not for me. I’m not eating pie. And this is why:

One mom's experience on the Total Elimination Diet for her nursing babies.

I’m on the Total Elimination Diet, which heretofore shall be affectionately termed TED. TED and I are old pals. This is my third time hanging with TED at every meal. It isn’t that TED and I are particularly fond of each other. I think TED likes me better than I like TED. Still, we hang out; it’s a relationship of necessity.

Why hang with TED?

Four of my eight children have had digestive issues as nursing babies. With my firstborn, I did not have the support, knowledge, or confidence to know what to do, nor was the internet a resource at the time. With my fourth, seventh, and eighth, however, I had long given up on support and opted to take matters into my own hands. We do have a pediatrician and pediatric allergist on our team with our current baby, but TED is in my hands.

What digestive issues did they have?

It varied–colic, bloody stools, mucous in the diapers, diarrhea, extreme fussiness, abnormal behavioral issues, neon green leprechaun poo–you know, the usual.

What is TED?

TED is a diet that helps pinpoint potential allergens or irritants in the mother’s diet that may be affecting the baby by eliminating almost everything from the diet and gradually adding foods back in one at a time.

Why TED?

Most doctor recommend giving up dairy and soy, but I had given up far more than and not seen much improvement, if any. I didn’t want to wait weeks testing this and that while his little system continued to be inflamed. So I buddied up with TED. (TED’s a bully, just FYI.)

How does TED work?

Step 1. Take everything out of the diet except for the least allergenic foods. Those are (in America) turkey, lamb, summer squash, zucchini, pears, rice, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and salt and pepper. (I could not do lamb, pepper, or white potatoes.) After 2-3 weeks all other foods should be clear of Mama’s system and mostly clear of baby’s system as well. I give everything more time.

Step 2. Add something back in. For me it was carrots. Then I got all googly-eyed over green beans. Adding squash was like a party in my mouth.

Step 3. Wait 3-4 days (I also go long) to see if there is a reaction in baby (or Mom).

Step 4. If there is a reaction, take that food back out and bump it back down the list a ways to try again in the future. If there is no reaction, add it to the food rotation and return to step 2.

Step 5. Record everything. I write down what and when I eat, my baby’s reactions and reaction times, and how I’m feeling. For my baby, I include on a scale of 0-10 his diaper color, mucus levels, blood, smell, rashes, and other info. I also record his skin reactions on his face, his mood, and his spit-up and drool levels. It’s work, but I want to know what keeps that plump little tummy happy and those rotund thighs getting rotunder…if that’s a word.

One mom's experience on the Total Elimination Diet for her nursing babies.

What are the results so far?

I’ve been hanging with TED since my baby was 7 weeks, so five months at this point. While the diapers are still not perfect, I have noticed the following:

  • less frequent bloody diapers–almost none, in fact
  • better consistency of stool
  • fewer facial rashes
  • fewer foul stools (although we’re currently in a bout of them, so I have to check my records and see what the trigger is…although I think I know)
  • less gas
  • less drool
  • less throwing up…although he did throw up on his sister’s head and in her shoes today–again, something is amiss and I think I know what it is
  • far less mucus
  • fewer diarrhea diapers–almost none, actually

I didn’t see an overnight change in behavior like with our seventh baby who was colicky. Baby number 8 never had behavioral issues–he’s just plain happy. What a blessing! But the lack of a sudden change does make it harder to know what’s bothering his round little tummy. If you’re considering TED for colic, you will most likely see much faster results and reactions. 

Also, my joints, which are generally achy, feel much better…even good some days. Now that’s an interesting side effect.

This is a slow, tedious process, but it is the fastest way to lose baby fat I’ve ever experienced! Also, it isn’t completely accurate, but many doctors say it’s the best approach we have. Many other say to put him on formula.

What about supplements?

I am not taking supplements right now, because they caused reactions in my previous baby. I will, however, be taking pancreatic enzymes soon, since they have been known to help break down improperly digested proteins that may be getting into my milk. First I would like to find a doctor willing to test my pancreatic enzyme levels to see if it’s my system that’s on the fritz.

Isn’t TED lonely?

Yes and no. We have a daughter with Crohn’s who is on a healing diet herself, so we’re accustomed to the lonely life…and we’re lonely together. Occasionally we both miss something that everyone else enjoys, like a special treat at a church or local fare on our travels, but it’s for healing, so it’s okay. It’s okay.

In all honesty, we have a very social lifestyle as traveling music missionaries, and that involves a lot of food. We are often invited to events or dinner at someone’s home. Some people are very, very kind and intentionally prepare something we can eat. Most people don’t, which is completely fine, as we can always bring along our own food or stay home. If we do go along, however, and end up staying extra long (like at family visits), we get very hungry if the food we brought runs out. That’s not fun.

And in all honesty, when the rare special someone goes that extra mile for these two smiling faces below, it feels amazing!

Our experience on the Total Elimination Diet

Why not opt for formula?

Gut health is very important in our family. Crohn’s disease is an incurable auto-immune disorder that attacks the intestines, and a balanced gut is important in keeping that in check. It’s got a genetic link (my grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis, which is related to Crohn’s), and is showing up in children more often and at younger ages, especially in our modernized society. I breastfeed my babies as long as I can partly because we love the bonding and partly to give them the best possible chance at strong intestinal health.

Also, if I learn now which foods bother him, I’ll have a better idea which foods to introduce as he starts solids.

Do I judge anyone who chooses the formula route over TED? Absolutely not!  I wonder almost daily if I should go the (expensive hypoallergenic elemental) formula route, if it would be easier to know what was bothering my baby’s tummy, if I’m just being a stubborn ol’ cuss because I’m too lazy to get up at night to make a bottle…which I am, if he’s allergic to me to the extent that I’m doing more harm than good by nursing him. I don’t know. I can’t know.

I’m not saying I’m doing the right thing. I’m saying I don’t know. I do know that I’m doing the best I know how.

I also know that I will once again be going a couple years without cookies and pie while nursing my current little cutie pie…but that’s okay, because cutie pie really is the best kind of pie. Don’t you think so?

The Total Elimination Diet for Nursing Mothers

If you are considering an elimination diet, if your baby is colicky or has mama-heart-wrenching diapers, or if you are just curious, please ask your questions in the comment section below. I will answer them as soon as I see them…which is soon. I am not a doctor…just a mama and a boo-boo kisser, but I’ve been there. Have I ever been there!

UPDATE (6/21/16): Judah is now 10 months old. He still hasn’t grown out of his issues, although he has improved. He is eating some solids, but very few, and only those which I eat. He mostly eats green beans, avocado, and carrots, although he has sampled many more foods than that…some accidentally. Ahem. He will be doing fine for a while, and then backslide. At that point, I backtrack, and he improves. It’s not always easy; it’s rarely fun; it’s always worth it to see his smiling face and clear skin. The allergist says he should grow out of it. We’ll see!




Connecting Children to Their Heritage…With Pie

Connecting Kids to Their Heritage with Pie -- more important (and flavorful) than you think

It’s my grandfather’s birthday. He would have been 91 today if he weren’t already in the arms of Jesus. So today we had two lemon meringue pies for breakfast.

I can see you’re not following me. Let me jump back a few decades.

Grandpa’s birthday is January 29; mine is February 1. I grew up on Grandpa’s farm. He was the father I always wanted, and of all the people on God’s green earth, he is one of those I love best. Every year at the weekend that fell closest to January 29 and February 1, my mom would bake a two-layer poppy seed cake with custard in the middle and seven-minute frosting for me, and a lemon meringue pie for Grandpa. Grandpa’s sister and her husband (my godparents) would come either to his house or ours, and we would all eat Mom’s classic meal of delicious lasagna, amazing potato rolls, and Grandpa’s favorite fruit salad. We’d sing and open presents and have pie and cake with the frosting scraped off (of mine) and wash it all down with tall glasses of cold Wisconsin milk.

That was one of my (many) favorite times, sitting with my grandpa, smiling for Grandma’s polaroid, eating Mom’s lasagna, and watching Grandpa enjoy his pie.

Every year I share those memories with my children. They know it by heart, but they (at least act like they) love to hear it again.

And every year we try to have lemon meringue pie on January 29 and share stories about everyone’s memories of Grandpa, or Big Bubba as my children called him…although he was a slim 6’0″ and not really the Bubba type. That unusual nickname, too, is a story we share.

This annual pie baking connects my children to their heritage. Who cares? I do, and you should. Here’s why:

  1. It’s pie.
  2. It’s Grandpa. I love him. He is vitally important to who I am as a person. Doesn’t it make sense that I should share that with my children, if only to help them understand me a bit better?
  3. It’s Great Grandpa–they knew him and want to remember him and share their joy and sadness and their own special, personal memories of him and their unique bonds.
  4. Connecting to the generations that have gone before helps children see that life did not begin when they did. They are not the axis of the world and the center of the universe. There is much that went before them and much that will come after them.
  5. Regardless of how small you are in the big picture, each person is a special, unique, valuable human being. Look how valuable Grandpa is to us, how seemingly insignificant things–like a timely scolding, a wink and a poke in the stomach, a “come on, Kid; let’s go,” or a side of peanuts and saltines with my ice cream–mattered to the generations that followed.
  6. It gives them an anchor and a sense of belonging to something big–family, and lots of it depending how far back you can take your pie heritage.
  7. It’s a history lesson. When was Grandpa born? When were his parents born? What was their life like?
  8. It puts Justin Bieber and thigh gaps into perspective. Who cares about a teen idol when you talk about my great grandma delivering her firstborn in a log farmhouse at the start of the Great Depression, and about grandpa coming of age on a farm during World War II and raising teens during the 1960s. Life was different once and it will be different in the future, and Bieber’s hair will not even make the who-cares radar.
  9. It shows how faith carries a man through all aspects of life…from birth on earth to “birth” into the next life in heaven. 
  10. It’s a time to remember and to mourn together and to rejoice together.
  11. Did I mention the pie?

Not all my relatives are remembered with pie. Aunt Betty gets mini cheesecakes, my grandma gets her mom’s molasses cake, and my other grandpa gets chicken booyah, because he was the state booyah king. But still, the date goes on the official family calendar for what it is: Big Bubba’s Lemon Meringue Pie Day. It is anticipated and enjoyed, and the memories and lessons of an amazing life are cemented a little further.

Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse for homemade pie?

If you want to launch Family Pie Heritage celebrations, it’s simple. Put the dates on the calendar and make it happen. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Just add dessert to dinner or switch up the menu that night, or watch that person’s favorite movie that week–and share memories. Simple, but memorable.

I miss you Grandpa. We all do.

My Mentor Monday Interview with the Holy Hen House

Monday Mentor -- A full-time traveling musician's wife and roadschooling mother of eight shares her thoughts on marriage, mentors, and life.

I am honored–and by honored I mean I seriously don’t deserve this honor–to have been asked by the lovely Amanda Rose of Holy Hen House to be interviewed for her site’s Mentor Monday.

If you want a peek into my life, my heart, my past, my future, and maybe a cheesy joke or two, go here.

A glimpse into the heart and life of a full-time traveling Christian music missionary's wife and roadschooling mother of eight.

A Personal Note About Heartache and Truth

My grandpa died this past spring. Before that my godparents both died. It’s been a tough year. It’s been hard on a lot of people, but right now, for this moment, I’m going to focus on me.

Grandpa, The Greatest Malt Maker Who Ever Lived

I knew my Grandpa was going to die. I thought I was prepared. I thought I could handle it with grace.

I was wrong.

I don’t cry. The staunch German side of me dominates my exterior personality, but inside my passionate French side cuts deeply and bleeds hard, and the bruises linger. Still, I don’t cry.

But when Grandpa died, I cried.

I cried in front of my children. I cried in front of cousins and siblings and uncles. I cried in front of strangers. I stood in front of church and in the funeral home and in the cemetery and in the shower and I sobbed. Sometimes, months later, after social sympathy has diminished and people expect you to be “over it” and to “move on,” I have to stop singing a hymn in church, because I know that inhuman guttural sobs will rise from some deep hidden pit of human sorrow I didn’t know existed and force their way out if I don’t clamp my jaw shut with all my mortal strength. (That’s a little melodramatic, I know.)

When I see a full church parking lot and a funeral procession lined up, the empathy aroused by the communal grief of all those people nearly suffocates me. I still lie in bed in the dark when everyone else is asleep and let the pain and hurt of losing one of my very favorite people win out, and I cry. Nobody hears me then. Nobody knows…except now all of cyberspace–that irony is not lost on me.

Grandma and Grandpa Dancing

My grandpa was always there. I know people say that all the time, but right now, remember, we’re focusing on me. My grandpa is the only man who has stood beside me my entire life, who has supported, scolded, trained, and loved me, regardless of circumstances. He was there when others gave up.

He was there to give me my first pony, to teach me to work hard, to let me be his shadow and have a hero. He was there when I showed my horse, when I added another candle to my cake, when I walked over fields and across stages and down aisles. In fact, he walked me down the aisle and handed me over to Steve and told him to take care of me…because that’s what Grandpa always did–take care of everyone. He was still there after years of marriage and children, when I wanted nothing more than to sit quietly on the couch and read the paper and not talk…he was there.

Campfire at Grandpa's

He taught me that love was an action, not just a word, a commitment, not just a feeling. He wasn’t big on emotion. When I told him I loved him, he said, “Yup,” and sometimes, “Same here, Kid.” A couple times in more recent years he opened up about how he felt about me, just a sentence or two–words that will never leave me.

But he left me.

Grandpa is gone.

When parents tell their children that someone who died isn’t really gone, because the love and the memories are still there, and that person will always be a part of them, that’s a bunch of empty malarkey. It’s hooey. It’s fluffy fluff. What comfort is there in memories? What hope is there for the future thinking all that’s left of Grandpa is a warm and fuzzy in my heart and a memory of his chocolate malts? What do fluffy bunny thoughts and meaningless trite phrases about love never dying give a child?


When I miss Grandpa, I’m sad, I’m hurting deeply, but I’m not despairing. I have hope. When my widowed grandmother no longer has a hand to hold and my children no longer have Big Bubba to sneak them candies, they are not despairing. They are sad, but they have hope–real hope.


My grandpa trusted Christ Jesus as his Savior. He knew he blew it over and over and over. He didn’t often say “sorry” in words, but he said it in other ways, in Grandpa’s ways. He knew he needed a bridge to close the gap between himself and God, between death and life. And he had that in Christ Jesus.

People tell me I’m doing my children a disservice by raising them as Christians instead of “letting them find their own truth.” I wonder what kind of parent I would be if I gave them fleeting fluffer-fluffs to chase instead of an ultimate truth to grasp. Warm and fuzzies didn’t pluck Grandpa from hell and place him in the arms of God in heaven. Fluffer-fluffs can’t do that. Only Christ can.

Grandpa at the Piano

I found this on the pagan homeschoolers site: “What I hate about Christians is that they think they’re right and that everyone else is wrong. They can’t accept that we can all be right.”

Well said, Random Pagan; that’s exactly true. If I believe Scripture, and I believe God when He says there is One God, that God is I AM, and I AM is the Only Way to heaven, how can I say that your beliefs and your truth are also right? I can’t! That would make me a very bad Christian indeed. If as a pagan you tell me that my beliefs are true and your beliefs are true, then you’ve just acknowledged that Christ and salvation exist but that you choose not to believe them. That’s like acknowledging the Grand Canyon exists for me, but choosing not to believe it exists in your life, and expecting to be able to drive right over it without plunging to your doom. A good pagan should believe that Christians are wrong, not that we are all right, and that would make you just as hateful as those blasted Christians.

There is ultimate truth. Black is black. White is white. Sin is sin. Christ is the Way.

What does this have to do with Grandpa? He trusted that Truth. He closed his eyes in this world only to be born into the next. When we covered Grandpa with the dirt he worked his whole life, the dirt he taught us to love, that was not the end. That was only the beginning.


What does that have to do with me? The man I loved first and longest is there in heaven where time doesn’t exist as we know it, and I will see him again…him, my godparents, my father-in-law, and most especially Jesus.

When I cry in the middle of the night and shed tears in the shower, it’s because this world hurts. It’s not because I’m hopeless–let me rephrase that. It’s not because I’m without hope. In fact, there is joy mixed with my tears–joy for Grandpa, joy for our future, and yes, joy for the memories and love. There’s not a single fluffer-fluff. You can’t cling to fluffy feel-goods–they’re elusive. Christ is real.

I miss you Grandpa. And it hurts. It hurts a lot, Grandpa.

I will see you again.