literature, time, and other thoughts

They were drawing me.  The books.

It was like my car was on autopilot– I thought I was headed to Dunn Bros, but when I drove past it, I wasn’t surprised.  Instead, I just let my car take me to Barnes and Noble.

It’s been a little while since I have been here.  Now that I have a membership and have free shipping, I’ve been buying most of my books online.  Today it wasn’t enough.  I had to be with them, surrounded by them, which is why I am drinking a banana chocolate smoothie, typing on my laptop alone, but feeling like I am in the company of friends– or future friends.

To be honest, I feel a little overwhelmed.  There are so many books I want to read, I don’t know when I’m going to find time to get to them all.  I perused the “Summer Reading” table and found more that intrigued me.  From where I sit, I can see the “New Fiction” shelves, and I wonder if I’ll ever have a book there.

I feel pulled so many ways.  I want to readreadREAD, but I am trying to balance that out with plenty of time for writing, which I love even more.  But my writing is informed and inspired by what I read, so I have to keep fueling that fire.  Those two activities alone could keep me busy until I die, I think, and yet– I have even more important things in my life than these.

People.  God.

I know everyone gets 24 hours a day, but I wish I could have more.  How am I supposed to be a loving, caring daughter and friend while working fulltime and writing a novel and feeding an obsessive reading habit– all while never neglecting my true love Jesus Christ and his church?

Praise God that OCD is no longer demanding so much of my attention.  How did I manage?  It feels like a different lifetime.

And yet, I have friends who do all this and take care of a spouse and children.  It boggles my mind.

I want my life to matter, want to leave a mark.  It seems difficult to do when my interests are so spread– I worry that my efforts in each area will be lacking because I didn’t have enough time invested into each one.

I think that one of the reasons I decided to keep a list of books I have read and reviewed (click THE READER tab above) was to try to organize at least one part of my life.  When I sit here in the bookstore, surrounded by all this brilliance, I know that there will be corners I never explore.  Somehow maybe this will help me keep better control of the labyrinth I’m in.

And what a beautiful labyrinth.

summer camp

It’s going to be a strange summer for me, folks, and now that June is here, it is starting to hit me!

Get this: I have spent time at Pine Haven Christian Assembly every summer since 1990, but I will not be there this summer.

Yeah.  Weird.

I grew up going to PHCA , starting the summer before fourth grade.  It took me under a week to acknowledge that this sacred patch of land in northern Minnesota was my new favorite place in the world.  I attended every year, including the year after high school graduation, and I could not have loved this camp any more than I did.  When I went off to college, I gave a speech on Pine Haven in my communications class.  I even wrote a sonnet (the only sonnet I have every written) about the cabin I always stayed in.

After my freshman year of college, I returned to Pine Haven, this time as a volunteer counselor, which was even BETTER than being a camper!  I met some of my very best friends at this camp (Eir, Ashley, Whitney, Dora) and have dragged other friends (Megs, Desiree) along with me to counsel.  Years of experiences and inside jokes at that delightful campground have knit our stories together.

This weekend, two of our camp friends got married, and I attended the wedding, held in Rochester, MN.  The ceremony and reception were like a giant camp reunion, and I LOVED IT.  It was so good for my heart to be surrounded by these people I love.  What an incredible thing to share so many memories and experiences with a group of people.

B’Dewayne McGirr Experiment, the Mavericks, the Killa Killas … so many great teams, so many great leaders, so many great friends.  I have watched people meet at this camp, fall in love, get married.  I have watched best friends ally themselves, friends who would be connected for years.  We can’t escape each other.  I wouldn’t want to.

I will miss you guys this summer.  Lots.



Meet Ashley

What would I do without this girl?  I find myself thinking that question over and over again throughout the week.  She is one of my go-to friends, an absolute delight, so funny, so friendly, so loving, and she teaches me so much!

Ashley and I had a rocky start, back in 2001 (oh gosh, Ash, has it really been over a decade?!).  At that time, she was a spunky, sassy high school student, and I was the camp counselor who could not say anything right.  We were pretty wary of one another for about six months, but when January 2002 rolled around, the new year brought with it a new friendship that I would come to treasure as one of my favorites.

After six months of non-friendly aquaintanceship, Ashley and I were forced to spend some time together at a church retreat.  Although neither of us wanted to do so on the front end, by the end of the weekend, we were okay enough to exchange email addresses.

Remember, this is 2002.  Exchanged email addresses can only mean one thing: MSN Messenger!

We ended up chatting quite a bit– especially about boys– and forging this strange online friendship that we kind of marveled at, considering our rough beginnings.  By that next summer, we were fast friends, but our friendship was entirelyonline … until we met up again at camp.

I remember I was nervous about how it would go.  Would we clash in person again?  Would it turn out that we would just butt heads when we found ourselves in a real room together?

But we got along great this time around … and ever since!  Over the years, I have been blessed to watch Ashley graduate from high school, go to Bible college, fall in love with my friend Tim, graduate from college, marry Tim, buy a house, and move to the Twin Cities.  Now we see each other almost weekly, just the way I like it.

Eleven years is such a long span of time … Ashley went from being this sassy-mouthed punk teenager I was afraid of to being one of my very best friends, one of my favorite people!  She is everything I want in a friend: kind, unselfish, honest, brave, COMMITTED, hilarious, loving, a good listener, and godly.

I love you, Ashley … see you in an hour for taquitos at Eir’s!

my littlest friends

Tracy is a dear friend from college, and these are her three little daughters, my favorites!

Emma (4), Ava (almost 2), Elsie (3 months) … I welcome you to gush about how adorable they are.  I can’t seem to stop doing it myself!  Em is SO SMART– she catches onto things so quickly, and she is always so excited to see me.  There is nothing quite like having a child make you feel like a rockstar.  Avie is the little sugar mouse!  If there is candy anywhere in the vicinity, Aves will sniff it out and you’ll find the wrappers in her wake.  At only three months, Elsie and I don’t know each other too well yet, but you’d better believe that Auntie Jackie can’t wait to watch her grow!

I feel so blessed to know these girlies!  If I go for over a week without seeing them, I have symptoms of withdrawal.  Aren’t they the cutest?!!

my friend erica

Today I’d like you to meet my best friend Erica.  I call her “Eir.”

In 2001, I met Eir at summer camp when she was a camper and I was a counselor.  A couple months later, we ended up talking at another retreat, and this time I got her email address.  What followed was this incredibly fun adventure of getting to know this bright, young high school student whose faith defined her identity.

It’s hard to say when I realized she had transitioned from being one of my campers to being my best friend.  There are so many memories packed into the last eleven years that it’s difficult to choose a moment of definitive realization.

Here are some of my favorite memories with Eir:
* our picnic with dear friends at the Plummer House gardens
* taking her to a college Bible study while she was still in high school
* crying and praying together that night at Moody Bible Institute
* ringing in so many new years together, but especially these last two
* creating and playing our own camp version of Apples to Apples
* developing a DYNAMIC long-distance friendship while she lived in Chicago and the Czech Republic
* years and years of camp memories, including when Eir threatened to kiss Sir William and all the time spent on the dock
* White Ribbon Day … huh?

Erica has such a beautiful heart for at-risk youth and for families in hard situations and for missions and for the gospel.  She is lovely, and she does things that matter.  At the same time, we love to spread a blanket over our knees and watch ridiculous shows on cable; we love looking at pictures of babies online; our jokes never seem to get old.  We pray for each other andwitheach other.  Just like Jonathan and David, our hearts are knit together.