Category Archives: Friendship

Tuesday Grace Letters: Dear Rooks Girls

Mundane Faithfulness

The assignment: Write a letter of love and gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your story. A letter of thanks to someone from your past that has changed your tomorrows. Someone who has loved you well and taught you about life. Write them a letter of love and grace.

I wrote this letter in response to the assignment from Kara at Mundane Faithfulness… click the image or the link to read more letters from other bloggers and to learn more about Kara and her heartbreakingly amazing story.

Trying to figure out who to write that letter to… so very many people come to mind. My parents; my youth group leaders; my middle school teacher, Mr. Small; my high school teacher, Mr. Sanders; my husband; my children and other members of my family… those are all people who without a doubt have had an impact on my life and my story but then it came to me and I knew who it was going to be. My Rooks girls… my college friends who all landed, along with me, on the first floor of our dorm (Rooks-VanDellen) our freshman year at Calvin out of sheer luck (and a little divine intervention). Ladies… I’m already crying.

There were ten of us: Michelle, Kara, Julie, Jenny, Lisa, Sarah, Jonna, Pauline, Amy and Tracey – all strangers (for the most part – Julie I have known my entire life and while she wasn’t on our floor the first year, she joined us there sophomore year), all from different backgrounds and geographic locations and not one of us from Grand Rapids. We came to Calvin for different reasons: it was engrained in our CRC (Christian Reformed Church) blood, we wanted a Christian education, someone we knew went to Calvin and loved it, whatever the reason, however the decision was made, I know we ended up there because God knew we needed each other.

I have mentioned my First Rooks girls in multiples posts as people I am thankful for and about things/people I love. I have said they are my heart (and they are) and I have expressed my love for one gal in particular during a very scary time in her life but I can never say enough how much I love these women and express adequately in words how much they have meant to me in my life. Since the fall of 1996, not one week has gone by that I don’t see, talk to or communicate with in some way at least one of these women – I almost could say not a single day has gone by but I did go to Kazakhstan for 6 weeks during one summer and then I didn’t have the best communication opportunities. I have other wonderful, awesome friends (many of whom are reading this and I hope they know that I love, love, love them, too) and this in no way demeans those friendships that I have with my non-Rooks girls, but something about this group and the time in my life when we became friends means they are precious and sacred to me and beyond blessings in my life – no matter where they are now or how long it has been since we talked – because of them, I am who I am today.

They have seen my worst, pettiest self and still love me. They have stood by me through sadness and tragedy. They have made bad choices right alongside me and laughed with me at life’s absurdities. We have had dance parties in the hallway, endless evenings filled with conversation, desserts and Diet Coke, bridal and baby showers galore and inside jokes that make our husbands roll their eyes. We have celebrated things big and small and cuddled each others’ babies. I refer to them as “Aunt so-and-so” to my kids and I think/hope that their children and my children will treat each other like family as they get older – we have family we are born into and when we are really lucky, we get family we choose as well. Our lives can never be overly filled with people who love us. I pray for friends like these for my own children.

But their impact goes beyond moments and memories; from my favorite people I’ve learned:

  • following God’s direction and calling doesn’t always make sense
  • sometimes keeping silent is a better choice than speaking your mind
  • sometimes you need to speak your mind, despite fearing how the other person will respond
  • asking for help is okay, it does not show weakness
  • asking others how you can help them is important because sometimes they can’t ask for themselves
  • a phone call or a card in the mail for no reason is often God at work and there is great reason for it
  •  friendships take time and investment but even the passage of time will not ruin true friendships
  • I am loved and lovable and have good things to offer the world – they more than cement this knowledge
  • you can be overjoyed with your own news and at the same time be totally heartbroken for a friend who is hurt by that news
  • it’s more than okay to be ridiculous and do dumb things, to let people see you in your cozies with your zit cream on or hear you sing (out of tune) at the top of your lungs and do stupid dances that make you look less than elegant
  • Double Stuff Oreo cookies are the best
  • television shows are better-enjoyed with friends
  • real friends will still love you when you watch the same clip from a made-for-tv movie over and over again because Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s back is/was hot and, in fact, will watch with you all of those times; they will also cry with you for more minutes than you care to recall after viewing Luke Perry’s movie, “Eight Seconds”
  • judgement and mean spirited-ness have no place in friendship

Because of you, I met my husband and have my little boys. From you ladies I’ve learned how to be a better person, a better wife, a better mother and a better friend. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you if you needed me. Thanks for taking the high school version of myself and helping turn her into the person she is today. Love you, Michelle



On anger

You might say I have a bit of a temper. Well, you might say this if you lived in my household or witnessed me with my kids and my husband. I have what is called a “short fuse” or, more accurately, a hidden short fuse because my having a temper isn’t something most people would attribute to me, though I regularly say that patience is not a virtue I was given. Usually I am fairly amicable, easy-going and (I think) pleasant to be around but it seems that if you live with me, you get the short end of the stick. I’m not sure if being agreeable elsewhere means I don’t have enough patience for the people I come home to or if it’s just normal that you have the least amount of patience for those you know best and trust most to see you at your worst. Probably some of both. And probably something we all can relate to in some way – our families don’t always get our best selves.

Either way, I still have a temper and it’s not really my most winning feature. I was looking for verses to post here and I came across Proverbs 22 which is full of wise sayings (some of my favorites are the smaller type – click on the image to embiggen) but the one that jumped out at me is: do not make friends with a hot-tempered person. Ahem. Oh that.

And what was that a few verses earlier about starting children off on the way they should go? Perhaps by setting a better example? My children are also a little short-tempered (and strong-willed, but that’s for another post)… something they were in part born with but also I think something they’ve learned over time as a conditioned response to their family when they are frustrated by some or all of the other members (Simon also has a temper – our children were bound to carry on tradition). I’ve also seen the boys’ tempers manifested when they are at daycare (hello, Jack and his biting habits this summer) and with friends (at a play date just today) and this is not something I want to see continue. It is not okay with me and they need to figure out other ways to deal with their frustrations, but first, I have to figure out other ways to deal with my frustrations. I need to follow the example of my Father, highlighted many times in the Bible, “[He is] slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” When I start following His example, I can only hope that my kids will turn and follow mine and then we can all make better friends (and parents).


At 35 years old I’m still trying to figure out where people go. I feel like I often want something different than what the other person wants (that’s part and parcel with being a person who has too much empathy, I’m always worried I’m making the other person uncomfortable with my needs or hoping they are happy with where the friendship is at, etc… instead of just being the best version of myself and accepting that not all people have to like me as much as I like them, if at all). As an act of self-preservation, I tend to stop trying or rather, only giving back when I am first given to which is (frankly) a little more selfish than I’d like to be in life but it does protect me from getting my feelings hurt. But, it kind of makes me a crappy friend because I’m always worried about losing that friendship so I don’t give it my all and shy away when I feel like things are out of balance.

Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of friends (not bragging, just saying it like it is). I have good friends I love spending time with and friends who I have a wonderful give and take with – people I’ve known for years and people I’ve known a short time – all of whom bless my life in many, many ways; who I can’t imagine not having in my life. But I’ve kind of always wanted that one special friend, a sister-friend – the person who just knows me and so much of what goes between us is unspoken – the kind of friendship where you never once question if you are on the same page because there simply isn’t a book. But the thing with sisters is that they are born into and I only have brothers (who, along with being not-sisters, are also a couple decades older than me) and my husband (who again, not a lady) so I sort of missed the sister train and I have been looking for a way to get on for most of my life but I seem to be a person who just takes short trips. As you get older, it’s harder to board that particular train for the long haul (to continue the metaphor) because you don’t have the time to invest in the background of the friendship – the basis that sets the context for the rest of life going forward. When you make friends with people who already have families who take priority (just as mine does in my own life), you have less time available to log those hours that lead to the unspoken part of friendship. Who knows, maybe 20 years down the road, I’ll have that sister-friend in one of the people who are in my life now and she will have read this blog post and rolled her eyes at me (because I am totally rolling my eyes at me). Until then, I’ve got a position open for the part of sister-friend*… I make great margaritas, killer desserts and have a slightly off-kilter, irreverent sense of humor; am also slightly needy.

What kind of friendships do you want/have in your life? Sister-friend(s) or lots of good friends? What are you missing?

*Not to be confused with sister-wife, that I am not into.

Stop the cycle

A friend and I were chatting (and by chatting, I mean texting) about life and I mentioned I felt guilty about Liam not being on a sports team, despite the fact that he hasn’t expressed interest in joining a team and it’s not something I want to add to our calendar of life at this point in time. She said that she had admired how I just let my kids be and don’t go chasing after other family’s activities. She (wisely) told me to shoo away that mommy guilt and “realize that while you’re beating yourself up over something, someone else is watching your family and doing the same thing.” That’s “mommy” guilt for you – we all have it – we all fall victim to it and really it’s just a vicious, ugly circle. It’s just another form of comparison that we put on ourselves; feeling bad because we do things in a different way from another family.

And didn’t I already post something about comparison on not letting it steal our joy? Why yes, I did. And yet again, I needed a reminder to be happy with myself, who we are as a family and trust that we are making the right decisions for US, for where we are in life, despite what others do.

Life is just a constant stream of lessons to be learned… thank goodness for friends who speak (or type) truth to us when we need to hear it. May we always hear the voices telling us not to be stupid.


Instagram | 20

Not as many pics this week – guess we were just living life instead of photographing it 🙂 Still, it was a darn good week… lots of visits with friends, work completed and fun times to be had! Our last week of summer vacation is currently happening and I am in denial!


My week in Instagram almost wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include a shot of that church – but the sky was pretty photo-worthy with the big, puffy clouds and the sun streaming through.


The boys like to come upstairs first thing in the morning and hang out in our bed… George pretty much hates this while I pretty much love it. Too bad for George that he is the lowest on the family totem pole.


This is my view every morning as I back down the driveway… Jack’s head popped up in their bedroom window, waving until he can no longer see the car down the street. It’s equal parts sad and pathetic, but boy am I going to miss it when he stops doing this!


From across the parking lot, this license plate read like “666” which was mucho unfortunate so I had to take a photo. The devil drives a Montero.


Sandy’s shower was on Saturday and boy was it fun (click through for her recap)! Purple and coral decor (baby girl Hop’s bedding colors) and lots of inspiration from Pinterest. And my favorite thing (which sounds a little like bragging since I co-hosted the shower but it’s not because I said so) was the menu – all gluten free for my gluten-free friend (Sandy includes recipes in her blog post – the chive/goat cheese dip is scoop-directly-into-your-mouth delicious). Such a great day to celebrate our friend and her *surprise* baby girl!  And I love that I got to host with Steph, whose husband was endlessly amused by our ability to communicate without actually saying anything…
Me: Do you think the thing should go there?
Steph: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking… what about that, with the stuff?
Me: Oooh, good idea!
Craig: That’s just sad. [Editorial note: I’d argue that it’s not sad, but impressive that we were that in sync.]