Archives for category: A 2 Z



I used to love to get massages, but the massage itself was only part of the bliss. I’d actually never had a massage before my joint troubles started, so it was often therapeutic, which translates into painful. But to walk into a room with dimmed lights, soothing colors and calming music… it felt like an escape. The warmed table and trickle of water from the fountain in the room, the fluffy robe and warmed oils…

… it’s the vision in my head when I think of the word Zen.

Just closing my eyes and imagining the scene, hearing the trickling fountain, actually relaxes me a little bit… but the same Zen feeling washes over me anytime water is involved. I think it’s the emotional connection that brings the Zen-like state. Some of my happiest memories have been by the water. Growing up and spending Sundays in the summertime waterskiing with my family, or spending a week over the Fourth of July vacationing with friends at Clear Lake… we were always happy. There was always food and laughter and the permission to be lazy.

I don’t remember how old I was when we got our first boat, but I do remember really wanting to try and ski. Like usual, they were telling me I was too little to do it… the skis would be too big, they’d be too heavy, it wouldn’t work. But when everyone else said it was a waste of time, my Dad said I could try. He hopped in the water with me and helped me put on my skis [wood instead of fiberglass so they weren’t so heavy]. He stayed in the water because he figured I’d wipe out and need help, and then told me that when they gunned the engine I should just stand up.

So I did.

I held onto that rope and grinned like a fool… I ambled clumsily in and out of the wake… just trying to do all of the things I’d watched my older siblings do. But my favorite part of the memory is that I can still see mom FREAKING OUT when we went by the dock… she and her friend Sally were waving and screaming, and I skied one-handed while I waved back at her.

They finally yelled at me to let go of the rope because I would have kept skiing forever.

And while I’m sure my dad was proud, I have to imagine he was secretly hoping for a wipeout since the poor guy was still in the water the whole time I was skiing… just bobbing in the lake waiting for me to drop the rope so they could pick him up.

I learned how to put on my own skis pretty quickly after that.

Yes, the thought of water brings me to a place of Zen. It’s the warmth that eases the pressure in my joints as I take a long soak. It’s the image I get when I close my eyes and imagine that massage room with it’s soothing sound of a trickling fountain. It’s the contentment and joy that lightens my soul when I remember easy days with a happy family.

I miss spa rooms that provide instant serenity. I miss looking out at moonlight shimmering over the water, or the crisp mornings when the lake is like glass and the loons call out their welcome. But I love that I had it, and can recapture it… that Zen… simply by closing my eyes and breathing in the memories.

I hold my blessings close to me… and the feeling of Zen is the beautiful reward.



So, Susie was over tonight [Sunday] to watch the two hour Brothers and Sisters movie event. Otherwise known as: two hours of a television show for which they needed a marketing angle. I’m happy to report it was worth the hype. And that next week’s episode looks just as good. 🙂

The point here is that this movie event started at 8:00, and while Susie was here in time to begin the show, we didn’t actually start watching until 9:40. The only excuse I can give you for this is that Susie is chatty.

Not me, of course. It was all Susie. 🙂

We originally had this bright idea that while she was here, she would write a guest post for you all today. But then “she” got chatty. And “she” may have even paused the show to chat. And when she left here after midnight, we realized that our deadline for posting had passed, and she needed to get her tush home to sleep so she could get up bright and early for work. Since I have the luxury of sleeping in I told her she could save her guest posting skills for another day.

Her original thought for today’s [Y] post, however, was going to be y’all. As in:

Y’all… we’re too busy watching a show to write a blog post right now.

So, I thought I would take that concept and run with it.

Y’all… I have held two newborn babies within the past week. Two. And, dear God, they were ridiculously cute. And sweet. And cuddly. And they smelled good. You’ll see one in tomorrow’s Gitz Bits and the other in next week’s edition. But I’m going to post them both right here, right now, because they are too sweet not to share twice:

IMG_9379 Scrumptious Little Noah – 6 weeks

IMG_9483 Smiley Little Joshua – 5 weeks

Y’all… I finally finished cutting Riley’s hair. It was done over the course of two weeks, in multiple stages. He may have gotten a bit tired of sitting through it, and he may have gotten feisty with me. He may have been annoyed because the hair on his legs was so matted he basically had doggy dreadlocks, which may or may not have made him want to bite at my hands.

Y’all… he definitely got in trouble for it. And I may have snapped a photo.


Y’all… that is going to be my favorite picture of Riley until the day I die.

Y’all… I’m going to end this with some very exciting news. Today, at around 4:30 or so, my friend Alece is going to be walking through my door. My mom is picking her up from the airport and bringing her here to stay for the week!

Y’all… it’s really happening. This friend I made while she was running her Thrive Africa mission, this friend who I never imagined getting to see in person as most of her life is spent on another continent, this friend just so happened to have a wedding to attend. In Iowa. Only a few hours from me. And now I get to hang out with her for the whole week!

Y’all… I’m so lucky to have started this blog. And to have made such good friends. I am so blessed to get to spend my days with you. Y’all are the best!

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Don’t forget to hit me up with some [Z] suggestions in the comment section!


Ok… it’s time for the dreaded letter [X]!!!! Before we get there, though…

Truth: I’ve been a bit uncharacteristically emotional the last few days. Not because it’s the holiday or anything – I actually had a lovely time with great friends who came over for lunch on Sunday, and their kids schooled me on the Wii. Literally. I’d never played before and they got a great laugh at how inept I am!

No one can run a Mario Cart into the wall like I can. 🙂

No, I just think there are those wisps of time when a person has to sit in the pain of it for a moment. Even me… the girl who hates sitting in anything but the joy. I miss outside. I miss going to church. I miss not seeing my friends’ kids play, and I want to visit their new homes and be a part of things. I’m struggling so much with this new view in the mirror and I’m struggling most because I have no patience for struggling!

I like being strong.


I know this will pass as soon as I get some rest… I really only get emotional when I’m exhausted, and that’s where last week’s allergic reaction and crazy amounts of Benadryl have left me. But sometimes, there are good reminders in the sad stuff, too.

That’s why [X] is going to stand for X-Marks-The-Spot.

You know how, on a treasure map, the trunk of gold and spoils is always marked with an X? Or how those signs in the mall that say “You Are Here” give you a red X to find your location?

The marking is there to let us know where we are, or where we would like to be. It shows us what we want to know. Where our heart lies. It shows us the treasure.

I listened to a song by Selah recently that is a good reminder about how He has marked an X on each of us. Whether we remember to go to Him or not, he’s left an impression on our hearts. He knows our location. He knows where our heart lies. He knows we are His treasure. Because of that, we are never alone no matter how isolated we may be.

This line in the song was the reminder for me this Easter: I would never stake my life on any lesser thing than the cross of Christ where He gave His life to ease my suffering. If there’s one thing I know, you were never left alone… because you can always call on Jesus’ name.

Here’s the song One Thing I Know, in case you need to hear it today, too.

Because He has left an X to mark the spot on each of our hearts.

09 One Thing I Know by gitzengirl

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Ok, [Y] should be much easier on the suggestion front! Throw them at me in the comment section 🙂


Ok, before we start in on the [W] word for this week… let’s all acknowledge the fact that it won’t be WIN. 🙂 But I’m so proud of my Panthers and love that we had such a winning season! Thanks for rooting with me, peeps… I loved all the messages on Twitter!!!

Now… onto today’s word:


There is nothing better than that moment, right before the spring of the year officially hits, when sunshine suddenly begins peeking through the clouds. It begins to rain more than it snows and, like magic, green grass appears from under the layers of frozen ice. The brown, wilted grass that was first covered in white flakes springs forth in a subtle green after so many months of being frozen, and then hydrated by the melting drifts.

It’s so hopeful.

And I was a bit surprised by myself that this year, it’s made me a little wistful.

I’m so used to being inside all of the time these past few years… it honestly doesn’t bother me that much anymore. I no longer catch myself thinking that I should open the windows and get some fresh air in the house. I don’t randomly wonder if I should go out to start the car [that’s no longer in the garage] to make sure the battery hasn’t died. I don’t even catch myself thinking I should walk down the hall to fetch the mail.

I’m totally used to life existing in these four walls.

But now that the sunshine is peeking out and I see people in the parking lot with just a sweatshirt or a spring jacket, I feel a bit wistful. I close my eyes and imagine myself stepping out onto my patio for just a moment to feel that sunshine… to see the glow of orange on the inside of my eyelids that only happens when my face is turned upward toward the sunlight. Suddenly the memory of it seems a little weak compared to what the reality would bring me.

wistful 2

I kept thinking all winter that I couldn’t wait for the grey skies to fade away and reveal that brilliant blue… for the snow drifts to melt and my hasta to grow so I’d have a good reason to open the curtains. But I find myself keeping my bamboo shades drawn, allowing me to see outside, but with a barrier in between. Some part of me knows that if I open them wide and take in the view, I’m going to go from wistful to wanting.


Riley understands the feeling.

I thought I was past all of that, but then realized that last summer wasn’t so much about acceptance as it was inability. I was too sick to keep my eyes open. I was in too much pain to move, let alone walk into this room and open the shades. I kind of missed the existence of summer altogether, and by the time I could move the snow had already fallen. So, I find myself a bit wistful for walks with the pup and long afternoons of reading on my patio.

But before long, I am sure, I will be opening the shade and trying to keep Riley from disrupting the entire building as he barks at the birds and tries to leap through the window at the passersby. We will adjust as we always do and the sunshine will just be that thing beyond the window.

For now… we’ll keep our wistful barrier up and wait for the day I open the shade without thinking of stepping out onto the other side of the door. Riley, on the other hand, will always believe he will someday make it beyond the boundary of his window.

I do admire his spunk. 🙂

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People, we are almost done with the alphabet! How crazy is that?!?! Leave me an [X] suggestion for next week’s post in the comment section… and also let me know if you’d like to start the alphabet over again or if I should try to come up with a new way of you all suggesting topics.

I’m always open to ideas! 🙂



Ok, even I can’t believe I used this photo to represent the letter [V]. I hate mice with such a passion that it makes me squirm just seeing the trap. Growing up on a farm means I have more memories of these traps than I’d like to admit… but the photo seemed apropos because it not only has a “V” image, but it quite nearly spells my word for the day.

That’s right. We’re all about VICTORY around here right now. And if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you have a very clear idea what I’m talking about.

Because I’ve been bragging. A lot.

Iowa has three state universities, University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. That last one, UNI, is my alma mater. I still live in Cedar Falls, where it’s located, and where we all bleed purple and gold.

It’s also the forgotten university. Iowa and Iowa State get all the press. They are considered the in-state rivals. But now the world knows:

The UNI Panthers should not be underestimated.

Our men’s basketball team has played out of their minds this season. We won the Missouri Valley Conference, went on to beat UNLV in the first round of March Madness, and Saturday night we did what so many thought was unthinkable.


We beat the number one seed, Kansas, and are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen. Us. Little old UNI. The forgotten university. The fun part: knowing we won’t be forgotten again after destroying everyone’s brackets!

Ahhhh… it’s so fun to brag sometimes! I have to tell you, this has been so exciting not only for our town, but for all the alums. Everyone I talked to last night after the game said the same thing: “I can’t stop shaking!” Hours after the game was over and we should have been calmed down… someone would call and say, “We just beat Kansas!” and the giddy laughter would start all over again. We are enjoying this moment for all it’s worth.

My friend Candy, when trying to come down from the high of the win, said that she was trying to remember it was just a basketball game. But around here, I have to tell you, it feels like more than just basketball at the moment. It feels great to have a group of kids keeping things in perspective. Savoring their moment. Looking ahead to the next challenge and believing that anything is possible. Knowing that, as much as we have some stars, we’ve gotten this far because the team is bigger than any individual.

It’s always a good day to be a Panther. But this week, it’s been just a little more fun. 🙂

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Don’t forget to leave me a suggestion for next Monday’s [W] topic. But if we beat Michigan State this coming Friday, I can’t guarantee I won’t go with WIN as the topic regardless of your suggestions. 🙂



1. not returned or reciprocated: unrequited love.
2. not avenged or retaliated: an unrequited wrong.
3. not repaid or satisfied.

Man, [U] was a hard one to decide on. I can’t say any of the suggestions jumped out at me, but I suppose that’s the fun of this A 2 Z concept… it’s supposed to be a challenge. 🙂

I’ve talked with a few people lately about forgiveness and the struggle so many have with the concept of forgiving, of letting go, of accepting what has been. Does it mean that we are saying what was done to us is ok? Does it mean that we are saying they are right and we are wrong? Does it mean that we have to put ourselves back in the same position and hope for the best that history won’t repeat itself?

For me, the answer to all of those questions is no. I think one of the hardest things about forgiveness is that the person who has been wronged often has to leave the issue unrequited. Whatever was done that requires forgiveness often leaves us broken or empty, and sometimes those feelings weren’t validated. And perhaps still aren’t. As much as our deepest desire is sometimes to retaliate for being hurt, that’s not what forgiveness is all about. Oftentimes, even when matters are resolved to the best of the abilities of those involved, the injured party is still left feeling unsatisfied. Unrequited.

Being wronged hurts. Speaking forgiveness is sometimes easy, but truly feeling it is often hard… because we often have to decide if we’d rather be right, or if we’d rather be happy. If we’d rather hold onto our righteous hurt, or if we’d rather extend grace. Let’s be honest… we’re human… it’s our impulse most of the time to hold on rather than leave ourselves unrequited.

I was given a whole new clarity about forgiveness when I came across this phrase years ago:

IMG_2051Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past.

Yep. It impacted me enough to put it on my Wall of Doodles.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? We hold onto things because they are unrequited. Because they hurt us. Because they never should have happened in the first place. Because we want to go back to the time before we were hurt and make it not happen. We want a better past.

But that’s not possible.

Life happened.

The possibility for a better past just doesn’t exist. But the possibility for a better future is available to each and every person who is still breathing. We can let go of the hurt and the anger and the need to once again say, “But I was right!” Each and every one of us has the opportunity to decide that our future will be better than our past. And we have the opportunity to give someone else the grace to know that, too… by extending forgiveness. By doing as Christ has done for each of us over and over and over again.

Imagine if He looked as us and said, “But I was right,” instead of, “But you are Mine.”

Letting go of the possibility of a better past means that a better future is possible… but that doesn’t always mean both people will choose that path. There are people in my life who I have forgiven, knowing the past cannot change. But some of those people choose to live out the same actions over and over. They have the possibility for a better future, but they are choosing not to take it. I can forgive them without walking back into unhealthy situations. I can forgive them, and still choose not to play the game. I hope someday they will choose a better future, and I will cheer them on if they do. In the meantime, I care about them from a distance so I don’t participate in what is as unhealthy for them as it is for me. I think, just like God does with us, we can stay where we are when they move away. And still be here when they choose to come back.

I have a very good memory. My friend Susie often says that I’m her memory as well, since I remember details of her world she sometimes forgets. So, for me, saying I’ll forgive and forget isn’t really practical. I once had someone tell me they knew forgiveness was real in them when they could remember what had been done to them without feeling like they did when it happened. That has been true for me, too. I don’t forget. And I think it’s good to remember in order to not put myself back in harmful situations. I have to remember in order to learn from things. But when I remember without feeling the sadness or hurt or pain, then it’s just a memory. It’s a past that can’t be changed for the better, followed by a future that can.

I’ve learned that leaving things unrequited can be a beautiful gift. It means they can be left where they belong so forgiveness can be given, received and cherished.

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We’re already up to [V], people!!! Leave me a topic suggestion in the comments and I’ll be [v]ery happy to accept the challenge for next Monday. 🙂

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The only thing this next bit has to do with being unrequited is that I want this cd by Adie and I won’t be satisfied until I have it. 🙂 My friend Jessica sat down with her friend Adie Camp, who has an amazing new cd being released on Tuesday. It’s such a gift to be able to hear from the heart of an artist before you hear her lyrics and melodies. Jess is giving away 5 cds… so go to her post here and enter to win!!!

Way back in December, when I was asking you all to give me [M] suggestions for an old A 2 Z post, Ed thought mischievous would be an excellent word for me to expound upon.

Of course, anyone who reads the comment section knows he was really touching on the topic because of his own personal experience with the word, right Ed? 😉

I actually thought of writing about it, but realized my own vision of my younger, saintly self might be skewed. So, I went directly to the source. I called my mother.

Me: Mom, would you say I was ever mischievous as a child?

Mom: I can say with 100% certainty that you were whatever word is the polar opposite of mischievous.

mt loretto_0004

Ahhh… vindicated once again.

Seriously, though, I was born with the Catholic guilt gene firmly in place long before anyone explained the concept to me. Or put a nun’s veil on my head for a photo op. To disappoint mom or dad was so much worse than having them be angry. Not that I would have handled them being angry that well, either. I don’t remember ever saying no to my parents. I don’t remember ever yelling at anyone in my life. Well, I’d yell for my brothers to stop if they were tickling me or dunking me under the water… but that was more out of desperation than anger. I don’t ever remember being sent to my room, and I was shocked when I stayed at my Aunt Mary’s house and my cousin was grounded… I didn’t even know that existed.

I remember being in junior high, riding the bus home with my friend Katie, and she kept trying to get me to swear… just whisper it in her ear. People, the guilt over considering it almost ate me alive. I can remember another time, clear as day, when I thought my brother Steve was trying to get me to do his chores by mowing the front lawn. So I refused. But when my other brother said Mom had told him to have me do it, I felt so bad that I sat at the table in our sun room and told my parents he had done my job for me.

Steve didn’t rat me out. I ratted out myself. And, being young, I didn’t understand the look that passed between Mom and Dad. I now know it to be a look of, “What is wrong with this child?”

But then a day of clarity came. And it about sent me through the roof.

After I was in college, the whole family was home for a holiday weekend. All five of my older siblings and a couple of my in-laws were sitting around the dining room table when stories began to be told.

Stories of my brother and sister going behind the barn to smoke cigarettes. Stories of them sneaking out to parties. Stories I certainly had no knowledge of. And stories that had my mother saying, “Stop. I don’t want to hear another thing!” Which, of course, made the stories get bigger and grander. 🙂


Naive, gullible me thought that all these years I was living up to my older siblings’ examples. Come to find out, they were setting examples I knew nothing about!

[Before I go on, I’d like to clear my sister Laura’s name… she was born with the guilt gene, too. And wanted to know where in the world she was when the barn smoking was happening.]

What prompted this post, you may ask? The fact that my friend Brandi had to hang a list of off-limit words on her fridge so her boys would know what wasn’t allowed in their home. And the fact that I use most of those words on a daily basis.

Plus a few that her boys know nothing about yet.

Tonight on Twitter, after I replied to a comment saying “That’s the freakin’ story of my life,” Brandi let me off the hook for the use of my off-limit word by saying Iowa was too far away for her to use her Sassy Sauce on my tongue. And I was just a little relieved that my streak of never being grounded, sent to my room or having endured any sort of Sassy Sauce was left unbroken.

And considering I now have a history of swearing in church for all to hear, it’s a good thing the only boss of me is Riley. Because if he wants treats in his future, he’ll let my indiscretions go by unnoticed.