Dear Jessica,

There’s a letter somewhere in this house written to you on your 16th birthday. I remember where I was when I wrote it … in our last house, before any renovations, at the desk by the back door. In pink pen, I poured my heart out on the paper when you were … seven? I sealed the letter, googled the year you would turn 16 and labeled the envelope.

I’ve seen it a few times since then, and I know I still have it, but just in case I can’t find it in time:


God, I love you. You are effervescent. We have come a long way since you were seven. That was a tough year (and most years before that, too). I hadn’t been able to go through your childhood without, also, going through mine. And WOW. That was a doozy – but you have such a different life. Oh my God, you have such a different life.

It dawned on me recently that you would be 16 and driving on your own so all of a sudden I needed to make sure you knew EVERYTHING about driving. You should drive all the time, I should maybe just double check to make sure you’ll be safe … and while we were on the road I had this desire to just download everything to you.

Could I just give you all my experiences? All my heart ache? Could I give you my heartbreak so you never have to have it? Could I give you my biggest disappointments, my regrets? Could I let you have my brokenness so you could stay in tact? Could I just, please, this one time, give you everything I have so far … so you could go farther than I have, before I have?

And I can’t. It’s really hard. One day, when your first child is coming of age, you might have these same feelings. Or not … You might be way ahead of us, and I can’t wait to see it. You’ll be amazing. Because you conquer everything you put your mind to. Jessica, you are a stand alone in this world. You are going to be OK. You are amazing.

You doubt yourself and you hold yourself back, but I’m here to tell you … you have nothing to fear. You are wild and free and I can’t wait to see what you do with this one and precious life.

You recently asked me “what were you like when you were my age” in the middle of Menards and I started crying. You haven’t been interested in my life (as it relates to your age) for a long time. I’ve been waiting for you to ask. I even came to the conclusion that maybe you never would, and I was finally ok with those memories and my decisions dying with me.

I have journals full of my life, and I’ve been mostly ok with you someday reading them. Until recently. All of a sudden I don’t want a written memory of my life, struggles, pains and wishes left behind without me to explain. I don’t want you, your dad or your brother, to wade through my written words worried that I wasn’t here for you.

I am. I always will be. I always have been.

But my story is storied. It is infected with pain and sorrow. A tale to overcome. And I have overcome. I am so proud of where I’ve come from – because of where I began.

When you do ask: and I do answer … it is always crystal clear to me how different you are from me. And also, and also, how similar. How much you want to know, how you’ve excavating your soul. And I’m here for it. I want to help you, assist you, be here for you and mostly I just have to LET you.

Coming of age is largely comprised of figuring it out for yourself. Which, ok. Can we talk about this? Because I want you to be able to download all my experiences for you so you don’t have to repeat them or learn on your own.

And I know it isn’t possible. I can just be here for when you’re ready. I’m ready, Jessica. I’ve been ready since we saw 2 pink lines on a pregnancy test and it was go time.

I’m here for you. I will be the shield you don’t know how to yield. I am here for you. We’ve come so far, such a long way, and that is mostly what that letter from almost 10 years ago says: I love you, look where we’ve been together and … I think we’ve come so far since then.

Jessica Ranae, you are poetry in motion. You are everybody’s wishes come true. You are the reason I believe in God. That’s a tall order, and no longer something I cast on your mantle. But you are the gift of my life. The forgiveness I believed in. The very reason I was able to break away from destruction and give myself a chance. You held so much promise for me, and without knowing it – you have delivered 10 fold.

It’s not your job, any longer, to complete me. It is mine. But you wrote the first sentence and I am so thankful I let you.

God, I love you.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

If you remember nothing else of me: please remember this in thick black ink: I LOVE YOU.

But in case you need a few reminders: I also love to dance, and be silly with you. I love the way you whine, even though it is maddening. I love the noises you make of life, you are here for it and I feel every single whine you wince.

I know the tremor you have of letting other people in, I understand the pain of personal reliability. I know the cost of loving people, and I see you calculating the effort. Here’s a short-cut: It is always worth it.

There isn’t a wasted effort in love. Time doesn’t matter when you are caring for someone. It just doesn’t. It could be 1 week, 2 years, or a decade. You will not, ever, waste your love. So, Jessica, be free here. Love wildly and without ambition. You will never regret walking someone home.

Even if, and especially when, you are not their home. We are not here to fix people or patch them back together. We’re here to find ourselves in God’s green earth. When we overlap, you go ahead and relish that. For as long or as little it lasts. You keep those moments close, and protect your heart … but don’t be too precious with it.

Your virtue is not your hymen. I will repeat: your virtue is NOT your hymen. You do not have to preserve your virginity like lemons that have soured. Jessica, you alone will decide when the expiration date has arrived, and you alone are in charge of caring for that special moment.

If it’s stolen from you: shame on them. SHAME. It is your’s and your’s alone to spend when and where you want. God is concerned with where we lay our heads at night but He has never made it His business to condemn us for it. Do Not Believe Otherwise.

And mostly, Jessica, I’m always here. For as long as I’m here … you cannot surprise me. My love for you extends every circumstance. I am here for you. I am for you.

You are good. You are special. You are so smart. You are love. You, Jessica, are just beginning. And I can’t wait to see what’s next.

I love you, with all of my being, I love you,



Over eight years ago we bought our Faithful House. I wrote about this on my blog … about how this house taught me about weary bones and being brought back from the brink of the edge. How I felt, driving aimlessly around our town looking for a home we could afford to purchase, that this home would hold something so essential, so completely life giving to our family that I could trust God. That what I had dreamed of, what I had heard in the whispers of my soul – I hadn’t made up. I hadn’t heard wrong.

This house was our Faithful House. God is faithful. These walls, this foundation, this fertile ground we grew up and out of – it bore so much fruit in our lives. Memories and being woven together as a family and sleepovers and friendships and the gift of hosting. We’ve shared this home with so many people, whom we love, this house knit us back together after the storm of life ravaged our hearts. This home held us together through life crises and helped me flip decades from 20’s to 30’s. This house was a dream maker, a hospice for our souls. And we have loved her so much.

In April of 2020 we made a list of the Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves for a new home in my journal. We very much wanted to buy an existing home that we could do some (not a ton of structural) work to. We wanted the same amount of yard, or more, and more room inside the home. The kids each got to give us their input and then we kind of laughed at each other and were like, what now?

I’ll tell you: months of looking. Seeing every home we thought might fit the bill, our rock star Realtor was always available. We started looking at land to build, because, as it turns out, we were very serious about moving. But we started to feel weary in the search. It’s definitely a sellers market, so homes we would look at inevitably had multiple offers within days. We were ready, but we just couldn’t justify any of them as the place we wanted to fight for.

I had to wrestle all kinds of demons about what it meant to find the house we wanted, if I was “allowed” to have a home like this or if we “deserved” it.

But now it’s time to move. So we sold this faithful house. In a whirlwind 29 hours from listing to signatures. The house we bought is another blank slate that we can’t wait to pour into.

Since I can remember, I’ve never pictured my life beyond the age of 36. That was just the number for me. My mom’s life changed dramatically for her at age 36 – and I think it just stuck with me. If I can make it to 36, I’ll have lived. We’ll be closing on our new home days away from my 37th birthday. God. He writes the most beautiful stories.

He let me do it all. He let me write life lists and cross off items as if I was the author of it. He let me have my babies, and He let me heal from the pain of my past. He let me have a beautiful marriage and a man who never saw anything but beauty in my mess. He let me go, and watched with wrapt interest in my love for this world as I came running back to Him, enamored with what I saw. What I had learned. He held me as I wept over loss and healed my broken pieces with compassion and understanding. He never told me I did it wrong, He never told me not to. He waited for me to walk – and then He went with me. EVERYWHERE. God. He writes the most beautiful stories.

This new home is the home my children with leave from. They’ll leave as adults, carrying their wounds, accomplishments, their tender hearts and their future hopes and dreams.

They’ll leave my nest and return to me a beautiful creature in flight.

Thats what this new home is.

It’s next.

Right, so. I’m a 5 on the enneagram. Let’s dive in.

I was thinking today about my enneagram number as I was listening to podcasts to better understand my type, my wing and my subtype … I’m a 5W4 (sexual) for those of you who might know what that means and yes, I’m as bothered by the subtype name as you are. I don’t think I’ll ever shake someones hand and admit that I’m a Sexual Type 5 on the enneagram with a 4 wing. That sounds … off.

I digress, because the reason I was even listening to hours and hours of conversation about this is because tomorrow I’m being interviewed about being a type 5. Which of course means I need to know everything there is to know about it so I can do it justice when asked.

Here’s what I learned and loved: I am very shotgun-shy in conversation because I need more time than most to respond thoughtfully. A Type 5 will often look up or away (or up and away) when asked questions because we’re going through all our mental files, or tabs, to best formulate our response. I do this all.the.time in conversation, and I’m aware of it and very self conscious about it. I do much better with long hand communication. Writing (emails and messages – not over text) because I don’t have expectancy or social pressure to perform.

(Aaron is an 8W7 on the enneagram and one of the things I am constantly impressed with his how fast he is. In response, in conversation, in mental capacity. He’s like the roadrunner. When I’m in a healthy mental space and have habits of rest in my life – I operate like an 8, I can be very quick in all the same ways, but this is something I’m always in awe of about Aaron.)

I’m almost 50/50 with my Type 5 and Type 4 but I dominate in the 5 space because of the beliefs as a child (fear of being incompetent, called stupid etc.) which I live with to this day. This is my biggest fear and her cousin is abandonment (which is the 4 fear).

I’m a very private person, so this space on the internet has always confounded people. However, I’m always alone when I’m writing. It’s just me and my keyboard – this is the most free place for me. It’s how I process, how I feel, how I know my emotions are real.

Like most Type 5’s; I don’t ask for help because being self sufficient is a core value of mine. I do not need anyone else, I will carry myself and I will be autonomous.

I’m not a negative person, by nature, I’m a cautious one who has learned how to say yes and wants adventure. But I always start with the negative. You want a memory of mine? Here are the bad ones … we have to unearth this before I can understand the good ones. There is such a ying and yang in me that I don’t know how else to put this: I do not experience joy without knowing true sorrow.

It’s not a rule I was taught, not something that was modeled for me. It’s not a belief I developed, it just is. This is just the process for me. I will get to the joy – and there is so much joy – but first I have to see the underbelly. I have to know WHY there’s joy. I have to see her receipts.

I’ve really struggled with the enneagram, am I a 4? Am I a seven? I wouldn’t describe myself as anxious, but thats only because I’ve been this way my entire life – I don’t know another way. So, am I a 6? I’m well prepared for almost everything. But I don’t do the avarice with information like all the material talks about for a 5. I have areas of interest that I understand many facets of, but I want to share those things, not keep them to myself.

If I do hoard – it’s resources, mainly my time. I am very, very picky with how I spend my time, with few exceptions. My family (Aaron and my kids) have full access to me, all the time. They are where I spend my energy first, even if I’m already on reserve. They get to bankrupt me (and, honestly, they often do) but this is my gift to them. I will give them all of me, even when nothing is left. They get me first.

I hoard ideas and secrets, but not the ones you trust me with. More like – the end of this street is the most peaceful view of Lake Michigan. I won’t advertise this (or I’ll delete it soon after if I do) because those nuggets are mine.

Because I’m so comfortable being alone, being silent, being with myself … I don’t waste a lot of time thinking about what other people think of me. Do I want to be liked? Yes. Do I want to be invited? Of course I do. But without invitation, I’m already happy with myself.

Like most 5’s, I’m different in that I am social, or when I am comfortable with you – I share easily. I WANT to be known but I will not advertise this. I’ve shared very sacred parts of my story with a lot of people – but the ticket is that I was the one sharing it. If you hear my story second hand and then come to me for confirmation, fuck off.

I am not here to serve as your ATM of information on my life nor will I be the access you desire to your own thoughts and feelings. I have exercised my capacity in this way for many relationships and they always end. Some end badly, others just end. Either way, they end. Because I can’t see my way out of being someone else’s access to themselves, or myself … and I don’t have the capacity to carry anyone but myself. (Exception is my own family, who again, breaks all the rules and is allowed to.)

My pet peeves are incompetence or people who waste my time. I know this is starting to sound very 5-ish and I own this part of me. I am not down with surprises, the worst thing you could do to me is invite me to do something and then hours before said event surprise me with new details or other people. I need (and I’m serious) all the information first. Who’s going to be there? Is this a group thing, just you and I? Will I be expected to perform?

I prefer one on one conversations or very small, previously agreed upon gatherings. I can, and have, stepped in to leadership roles but I much prefer pulling the strings behind the curtain. I will prop you up to do your best and if you could just whisper how much you appreciate me, that’ll do.

I read all the time. I consume a shitton of information but I have access to my feelings about it. I’m generally being an anthropologist on my own experience and welcome conversation about it. I’m constantly confused about people who don’t choose authenticity.

Watching movies and listening to music are the number one ways to get me to unleash the emotions I’m working hard to avoid, this is why I prefer documentaries or, unless I’m well rested, cannot handle live shows of any kind. Dance, especially. I am 100% emotional and all it takes to unlock me is someone on a stage doing what they were made to do. I am undone at this. This is the ultimate beauty for me.

I’m not divorced from my body, like most 5’s. In fact, being Type 1 Diabetic doesn’t lend me this escape, I am constantly thinking about my body. But if I could see her through another lens, maybe? Ask her what she needs or how she wants to move, instead of performing the task of taking care of her? I could move from my head to my heart about her … and this is the work I’m currently doing.

Are you new to the enneagram? Do you know your number?? I’d love to hear from fellow 5’s! Are you out there?

March 17 // Coronavirus Quarantine Day 2

March 17, 2020

We got this. We can do this. Yesterday was … how do you say … hard. I think the vast amount of information I had been taking in finally caught up with me. That and coming to terms with the loss of privacy or alone time hit me hard yesterday. But today is a new day and already I’m feeling better.

March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020

Yesterday started like I’m sure every day will start for the foreseeable future: the kids were awake before me checking their email and getting a jump start on their studies for the day. Or pinteresting. It’s hard to tell. I made my coffee, did the dishes, sat down for a minute and then freaked out.

Aaron has been able to set up an at-home office here so he’s generally only a hundred feet away, in the tinyhouse in our backyard, and he was getting our daughter signed up for some online learning, among other things. Like I mentioned earlier: the vast amount of information I had, to this point, been digesting really hit me. Add to this the onslaught of new accounts to sign-in to, more online systems to learn and oversee and the general sense of overwhelm I started to feel: this is what broke me.

March 17, 2020

I politely asked for everything to please stop. As in, stop sending me invites to new things. I cannot with the amount of tasks at hand, give a shit about a family slack channel. Also, please leave me alone. We don’t have any carrots in the house and how am I supposed to make the lunch I planned without a carrot to chop?! WE NEED CARROTS.

I went there, guys. I went dark. Everything fell apart over a slack channel and carrots. There were actual tears. And then we made lunch (a new, different lunch plan) and the kids were getting along and I announced we would be LEAVING THE HOUSE TO FIND SOME NATURE FOR A WALK.

March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020

It. Was. Awesome. So we hiked Sanctuary Woods (with most of Holland) and driving away from the house in a car felt like rebelion. It was naughty and I wanted the chance to explain to everyone who saw us that we were just going to a park, away from people, to be outside.

After our hike, there was more school work to complete and then a lot of down time until dinner. I put my headphones on and disappeared for a while. I started drinking wine and feeling better and texting family and friends.

March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020

The kids learned how to play Jacks and we ended up watching old home movies for hours past their bedtime, which is relative at this point. They finally went upstairs and Aaron and I sat there staring at our phones with a mindless show as background noise. It was a day. And we got through it.