Words for February 21

Neither do people light a lamp
and put it under a bowl. Instead
they put it on its stand, and it
gives light to everyone in the house.

-Matthew 5:15

Somehow, I am reminded of these words whenever I need it most. This quote was read at my wedding, and it was the contents of a love letter I received today.

giving light.

I hope you surround yourself with people who encourage you to shine.


On words, and love.

Words can be powerful.

I learned this at a young age from my Grandfather. As a young man in WWII, he served as a Marine in Carlson’s Raiders, the first US Special Forces mission. He never spoke about that time, but we all gained insight into the intensity of his life behind enemy lines through his poetry.

Words can be powerful.

Grandpa’s poems were short, but haunting. I remember reading his broad scrawl on yellowed paper, tracing the lines of his words that had been written somewhere in the South Pacific  – imagining him there. I read his poems over and over and thought about how he must have needed to create those strings of words and phrases to make sense of the hell of war, and to express those things about which he could not speak. I took note of this, and when things didn’t make sense for me, I too would write.

And I learned that for me, too, words could be powerful.

When my grandparents passed away, I was given a CD filled with scanned family photographs, as well as scanned images of many of my grandfather’s old poems. I stumbled on it when I was cleaning my desk this week, and began reading them. Most of them were the familiar war poems that I have read hundreds of times, but there was one I had never seen before.

This one was simply titled Marji – my grandmother’s name.

among human roses
you stood – i saw you
a rainbow of charm
youth and personality
so lovely, so sweet
a perfect specimen
of femininity
to the trade wind
your silken hair surrendered
while a stream
of enchanting smiles
left thy moist lips
enslaving my inner soul
god must have been selfish
creating you
a woman, an angel too
virtues – you have them
little left for other
women to wear

Words can be powerful.

His words captured a tenderness that wasn’t always apparent in his gruff exterior. They conjured my Grandmother – the graceful one who God selfishly cloaked in more than one woman’s share of virtues – in a way that made me miss her intensely.

Words can be powerful.

They can connect us to people that we can’t see or touch. They can move us or inspire us. They aren’t enough, but they can pack a punch. This week, for me, they reminded me of an example of lifelong love to learn from, and a woman I want to be more like.

Bob & Marji Farmer circa 1957

I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus, but more of my words may be finding there way onto this blog…we’ll see.

Words for February 16

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.

-St Francis de Sales

These are some words I carry with me. There can be calm amidst the chaos.

Words for February 14

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
-ee cummings.
These are the words in my heart on a drizzly Valentine’s Day, boarding a plane to leave my love. May the love you carry in your hearts today lighten your loads and make you feel less alone. El amor es todo, after all.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

On giving thanks – 11.30

On November 30, 2011, I am thankful for December.

In December, the semester ends and I’ll get to sleep 8+ hours a night for a few weeks.

In December, I will spend more days with my husband than without him.

In December, I will visit Puerto Rico for the first time since I moved away in 2008.

In December, I get to watch Love Actually and It’s a Wonderful Life.

In December, I will celebrate Christmas with my family in the Florida Keys.

In December, I don’t have to write a blog post every day anymore (its been fun – but y’all, I seriously don’t have time for it!)

What are you thankful for?


(See all posts on giving thanks here.)

On giving thanks – 11.29

On November 29, 2011, I am thankful for Notre Dame.

I can’t write a month of posts on thankfulness without mentioning it. In fact, I have put it off until the end because I consistently fail to locate the words that can convey my thankfulness for this place, this home, this family, this spirit, that is my Notre Dame. It is the place, I think, where I learned how to be thankful.

It is easy to take our blessings for granted. I am wont to do so more often than not – this is what the exercise of daily, intentional thankfulness has taught me for the last 29 days. But the opportunity to be a student at Notre Dame was my exception – it is something that I never took for granted. I can say with near certainty that there was not a single day that passed that I didn’t, at least fleetingly, feel a sense of overwhelming gratefulness to be there.

In high school, I genuinely believed that people like me just didn’t go to college in places like that. Even when I received my acceptance letter, it was a bittersweet moment, not a triumphant one – because I knew it was a pipe dream. Through a chain of events that was as prosaic as it was miraculous (the story involves an oversized check from no one other than the United Dairymen of Idaho), what appeared impossible became reality, and because of it I will never be the same.

There is a quiet spot on campus between the glassy lake and the grotto, where I used to sit. For four years, I went there literally every single day – come sun, rain, snow, and bitter-to-the-bones midwestern cold. From my spot, you couldn’t feel the warmth of the candles, but you could see their glow, and that gave me hope. The Golden Dome loomed above, and that made me feel safe. Regardless of the circumstance, I’d sit there and tell myself – “You are here. This is real. Anything is possible.”

It is a spot where I’ve poured my tears and shook with racking sobs. It is a spot where I saw an elusive God that I still don’t understand. It is a spot where I brought my dreams and allowed them to grow force in my heart. It is a spot where I came with friends and built lasting bonds over lukewarm Starbucks and whispered secrets. It is a spot where I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, and it is a spot where I habitually came to be thankful.

I’m thankful for that time. I’m thankful for my college education. I’m thankful for some damn good (and, lets face it, some damn bad) college football games. I’m thankful for the community and family that I found. I’m thankful for how my faith journey was encouraged, enriched, and challenged in such a way that abstract beliefs and stirrings of the soul were harnessed and directed towards a career and a life based in service to others. I’m thankful for learning how to believe in my dreams, for the tenacity to fight for them, and for the grace to sometimes, win.

I’m thankful for alma mater, Notre Dame.

The view from my favorite study carroll in the library.

ND football – crowd pushups.

The grotto.

Preserved in the bell tower.


The tradition for the end.

What are you thankful for?


(See all posts on giving thanks here.)

On giving thanks – 11.28

On November 28, 2011, I am thankful for my finals week arsenal.

This arsenal is composed of:

  • A delicious meal I prepared to last me the week: spaghetti squash with homemade tomato, garlic, and spinach (moose) meat sauce. One of these days I might just post the recipe I whipped up – I’m no chef, but this is one of my favorite things I’ve ever cooked and is decently healthy – serious brain food for the next week and a half of intense scholarly activities!


  • Rooibos tea – my latest discovery. I was in desperate need of a pick-me-up but can’t risk drinking caffeine and staying up all night. I stumbled on this caffeine-free goodness in my cupboard and it was just what I needed. This is my new late-night studying go-to!
  • The Gipsy Kings. My ultimate study mojo music – upbeat enough to keep me awake, unintelligible enough that the lyrics don’t usually distract, and some soulful Spanish guitar and flamenco vocals that will nearly rip your heart out on the floor. These dudes are going to get me through this week with a bounce in my step. Here’s one of their more mellow tunes that I love from my head to my toes (its all about returning to the mountains where he was born, which strikes a major chord in my soul):
  • The best study buddy a gal could ask for. Its nearly impossible to be stressed out with this happy face in your lap:


What are you thankful for?


(See all posts on giving thanks here.)

On giving thanks – 11.27

On November 27, 2011, I am thankful for my love story.

In November of 2004, I flew to Idaho to meet up with a boy for Thanksgiving with his family. For me, the whole trip was a great build-up towards goodbye. Despite the fun we had trouncing through the woods in camo and sneaking romantic moments by the fire, we were doomed to a future of long-distance romance, and that just wasn’t my thing.

In a last ditch attempt to win me over, he took me on a hike up the mountain to a cabin overlooking our hometown. I can’t remember what he said when we got there, but I remember how I felt – that was the day I fell in love.

2004. (don't we look like babies?!) Moments after this was taken, I told him we should just be friends.

When we kissed goodbye in the airport, I cried. I boarded the plane to the sounds of a sappy country love song blasting through my ear buds. I thought that was it for us.

Now its 2011. This week, I flew to Idaho to meet up with a boy for Thanksgiving with his family. For me, the whole trip has been a great build-up towards yet another goodbye. Despite the fun we had trouncing through the woods in camo and sneaking romantic moments by the fire, we are doomed to a future of long-distance romance, and it still isn’t my thing.

But the thing is, a couple of years ago, in a last ditch attempt to win me over for good, he took me on a hike up the mountain to a cabin overlooking our hometown. I can’t remember what he said, but I remember how I felt – that was the day we got engaged.

2008. Moments after this was taken, I told him I'd be his wife.

So when I kissed my husband goodbye at the airport this morning, I cried. I boarded the plane to the sounds of the same sappy country love song blasting through my ear buds. I know this is it for us.

And I’m thankful.


(See all posts on giving thanks here.)

On giving thanks – 11.26

On November 26, 2011, I am thankful for the earth’s bounty.

I was raised by a vegetarian (my mother) and a hunter (my father), and the competing discourse about food around our family table made me keenly aware of what I was eating from a very young age. As a little girl, I could equally hold my own with children of hippies and rednecks (and plenty of both lived in my town.) I ate organic kale salads and could identify preservatives on nutrition labels, but I also knew how to field dress a pheasant and preferred my elk steaks medium rare. My family’s freezer was always stocked with big game brought home by my father every fall. Deep down, I always wanted to, just once, see what it was like to be the holder of the gun – to be the provider of the meal and the hero of the hunting story. I wanted to participate in the circle of life, to feel my relationship to the land, to participate in the rite of passage like so many children of the West before me.

Today, I did.

My blog isn’t an omnivore’s soapbox, nor is it a place for hunting tales – the place for that is in front of the fireplace after coming in out of the cold, glowing from the hunt. Besides, unless you’ve felt the adrenaline make your heart pound in your ears, seen antlers looming above the crosshairs, and held your breath until the firearms kick back against your shoulder – you wouldn’t understand, anyhow.

So I’ll leave it at this – I’ve never been more thankful for the gift of a meal.


What are you thankful for?


(See all posts on giving thanks here.)

On giving thanks – 11.25

On November 25, 2011, I am thankful for Idaho.

My original home is in Montana, a place that looms large in my heart like no other. But Idaho is where I graduated high school, fell in love, and got married. Its where I come home to for the holidays, where I reconnect with friends, and where some of my best memories took place. It is a humble, unchanging place, and it haunts me.

I’m not the only one:

All that love all those mistakes
What else can a poor man make?
So I gave up a life of crime
I gave it to a friend of mine
Something else was on my mind
The only ghost I’m haunted by
I hear her howling down below
Idaho oh Idaho

Wolves oh wolves oh can’t you see?
Ain’t no wolf can sing like me
And if it could then I suppose
He belongs in Idaho
Packs of dogs and cigarettes
For those who ain’t done packing yet
My clothes are packed and I want to go
Idaho oh Idaho

Out at sea for seven years I got your letter in Tangier
Thought that I’d been on a boat
‘Til that single word you wrote
That single word it landlocked me
Turned the masts to cedar trees
And the winds to gravel roads
Idaho oh Idaho

What are you thankful for?


(See all posts on giving thanks here.)