photo via google images via

I posted a link to a short article about Brady Toops being on The Bachelorette​ on Facebook a couple of days ago. What I said in that post was, “I used to take care of him in the church nursery. That is all.”

My FB friends and I were all humored by that. It’s funny. In that way that makes you feel really really old…

But I want to tell you about some other things that have nothing (and then maybe everything) to do with Brady being on The Bachelorette. I want to tell you about community, courage and support.

The people I’ve talked to around this place where Brady grew up are excited about his career in music, his talent, and they support him. You might expect criticism from way up here–about Brady’s choice to do a reality TV show–but that hasn’t seemed to be the case. I’m sure some locals are judging this decision, but for the most part, people seem a bit unflustered by the whole thing.

You would think we’d be a bunch of small town hicks who get super excited about such things in one way or another, but the publicity is not what people are talking about. I’m around to hear a lot of it, because of where I work and how I live right in the center of all the people who make up this community. People are simply spreading the word, as we do, when someone from here does something out there. Oh make sure you watch Brady on ABC tonight! (It’s like they don’t even know there are other people on the show. It’s kind of adorable.)

We small town New London-ers are actually quite a unique group for, well, coming from a small town in Minnesota. We are a hodge podge, a melting pot–farm kids, athletes, artists, hipsters, career-focus-ers, dreamers, seekers–and dear friends.

The reason I’m terribly proud of this place where I grew up and came back to is because people are always doing something. We are, at the heart and soul of us, risk-takers. I mean, we have our quiet folk who lead quiet lives, but for the most part, they too are out meeting up together, changing things, doing good, being creative…here and around the world. We are simple people, doing extraordinary things.

I met someone not-from-here once who asked where I grew up and when I told her, she said, “There is just something so different about you people, from around there…in a really good way. I can even guess that someone is from there before they tell me…you’re just…different.”

I didn’t know what to make of that at the time. At some gut level, I got it. But I have never really been able to explain what it is. It feels like an ego-driven pride thing to say, “Why yes, that’s so true… WE ARE SO AWESOME!”

But there is something unique I can’t quite name. I’ve called a lot of places Home, and nothing was the same.

There is a lot of faith around here. It is a common thread among many, this belief that grace and love and hope are real things given as gifts by a loving God. And of course there are those of us who take these beliefs and make them Terribly Religious and muck it up with self-righteousness, but for the most part, it is a pure and simple lovely thing. It is something that Brady is clearly vocal about. (I mean like, literally, he sings about God. For a job.)

The point I’m making is (finally) about to be made.

Because Brady is who he is–a small town Christian singer/songwriter who moved to Nashville to sing about God–it confused his fans that he would do a show like The Bachelorette. I saw a lot of it online, the questioning. I get it. None of the life-sucking aspects of the show are lost on me, or any of us here. A lot of his fans felt like this was a Wrong Thing. But for the most part, we from his hometown don’t mind a bit that Brady chose to do this. We’re all, Have at it, kiddo, while followers of his music career across the globe and strangers online roll their eyes, we just don’t. Because as much as this is a faith-filled community of sometimes too Religious people, we are also a community that allows people to live. Just go. Fly. Do stuff. Go ahead, even do it the hard way. Live and learn. Come back and visit, we’ll hug you. Because when you do that? You get to cheer on a kid from home and watch him do some pretty amazing stuff in the midst of something that could be nothing other than ridiculous over-dramatized produced TV fodder.

Last night, during the awkward rose ceremony, he left. Brady Toops left the show on the first night. He had shown up for a girl who he knew a lot about and when she wasn’t the Bachelorette after a twisted game of rejection, he left. He went and asked if he could go find the one that didn’t get enough votes to stay, the one he showed up for in the first place when he set aside the fear of judgment and, most likely, the fear that it was all a huge mistake. (I mean, he was about to be That Dude–the vocally token “Christian Guy” on reality TV. THAT NEVER WORKS.)

I guess he could have stayed longer to make sure more viewers learned his name, he could have focused solely on growing his career despite some inevitable haters, but he didn’t. He got in a car and asked to be taken to Britt, the one that he felt a connection to all along. Did he know that would cause such a response and that his story would be followed online and through the show for more nights than he was a contestant? Probably. He’s not clueless. And still, I’m guessing it was more simple than that, since that’s how we roll around here. At the end of the day, he’s just a guy like the rest of us, fumbling through random experiences and trying not to mess up too much. This is what makes us proud, when we witness the story of a hometown kid like us.

He went to see about a girl.

Atta boy, ya risk-taker. Atta boy.

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Just Write {188}

May 19, 2015

I have at least one new idea every day, a creative flow of light bulbs dancing behind my eyes. Some are fleeting thoughts and some stick around like breath. I have no good way of knowing for certain which ideas are the best to pursue, or how to find the time to pursue them.

Life has not allowed for pursuing anything other than the time to change a load of laundry, and jumping in the good ol’ minivan for the next thing, mostly medical things, and we keep going past the time for ideas.

I have learned to be okay with this. The time will come. It will.

On this particular morning, the house is buzzing with the sound of the furnace, sadly, in May. It got cold last night. I fought the good fight, to keep the furnace off and I lost. That actually meant I won because I stopped shivering.

Our guinea pig, Butterscotch, is scratching around in her cage. Morning light is kissing everything, even me. The morning light is always such an aggressive lover.

Over the weekend, the kids and I hid from rain a lot. It rained almost constantly, and at one point, the clouds broke and the sun poured through with its stubborn love and we took off for a walk. Our intention was to pick up garbage along the sidewalks around town, and we did. It was sometimes gross and terribly hard work if you ask my small children, but we ended up enjoying our rain-free time. And just like that, after we got back in the house, the dark clouds rolled in again and it poured and I could not explain properly to Elsie why I said “like cats and dogs”.

There was a part of me that wished we would have gotten caught in the deluge. That we might have come home drenched and laughing, and then always remember that day we picked up what Elsie calls “garbage that is about to become litter” and then it poured and we were soaked.

Mother Nature gets the job of making us feel alive like that. That’s why I love her.

But instead we came in the house dry, and the boys built an extra home for Butterscotch out of Legos, complete with a dispenser for food, with a lever. They blow my mind. And Elsie seemed too tired again, sick, struggling. She showed the signs of a sinus infection and I called yesterday and her doctor said, Yeah, I’m sure that’s it. So her heart procedure was put off again and that’s hard to wait to take care of, but it’s best.

It felt like a reprieve honestly because things are hard to figure out with Asher’s hydrocephalus right now too. An MRI showed that his ventricles are bigger, which could mean a shunt malfunction, which could be dangerous. So he is on a medication to reduce the pressure, and then we take him off the medication to see if the pressure builds again. If it does, it would be evidence that his valve (shunt) is just not working right. So we wait and see now, and we can take one thing at a time.

I work. I work a lot, rarely a moment to write for myself or sit, really. This is not a complaint, I am clinging to acceptance. But yes, I’m tired. I’m a tired mother filled with angst one moment, and nothing but hope the next.

Basically, I’m normal.


I try to balance it out, to strike out the angst, anxiety and fear with gratitude like a sword. I find that this is not hard to do, if I simply focus on my children, the sweeping sunlight, Lego food dispensers and, well, even crooked selfie smiles found while scrolling through old photos…that’s my boy.



This is the 188th installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {New here? Please see the details.} I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page. (Then link back to this post in your Just Write post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.) (Any links not following those two guidelines will be deleted.)

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Just Write {187}

May 12, 2015

While I was talking to Elsie about why she didn’t need cereal, since she had just eaten two pieces of toast and a bowl of oatmeal and we needed to get out the door, Asher was saying Watch this, watch this! He swung one foot forward and moved it as fast as he could back and forth, like a dance. Then he switched feet and kicked out the other, throwing it from side to side. Look how fast I can do that, Mommy! Yes, sweetie, that’s the fastest foot-work I’ve ever seen… But he was already interrupting me to ask me to cut out something he had just drawn. Can you get the scissors? I’m terrible at cutting along the lines and I need it! It’s for Daddy’s birthday! So I stopped and started searching for the scissors and asked Miles if he could please for the love of all things holy get his […]

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Just Write {186}

May 5, 2015

Elsie got sick over the weekend, just slightly sick, but enough for the cardiologist to say it’s best to wait on the heart procedure until she is fully healthy. Of course, I said, while my heart dropped because yes, I do just want it to be fixed. Now Already Yesterday. That’s how it is with your kids, right? Wholeness, that’s what we want for them in every way. Asher has been feeling some unique shunt-related symptoms as well. So we watch and wait and plan a trip to the big city just in case we need to take it. To explain what this is like is impossible. Hydrocephalus can be a mysterious, baffling, and cunning life-taker. That’s just the truth. It is the truth of many conditions and diseases and the truth of life. Slippery. Uncontrolled. When these three kiddos are with their daddy, and I’m working, I still think about all of […]

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