I’m thankful to Karen for inviting me to do this. It’s always fun to share some favorite things! It’s especially fun as a reminder of good things when we have some days that contain some less favorite things!
I am a counselor in private practice in St. Louis and a member of Sutter Church. I am married to Brad, and we have three children, Inna, Ivan and Anya. I am also grandma to Anastasia, and we’re excited to welcome another granddaughter in January! I enjoy walking our dog in Tower Grove Park, spending time with family, and accruing library fines for books I intend to read but forget to return.
My Favorite Author: Madeliene L’Engle. My introduction to Madeliene L’Engle was in 6th grade when my teacher read A Wrinkle in Time aloud. I was hooked. I loved her stories, her characters, her adventures, and the way she said such true things about life. I read everything I could get my hands on.
In Junior High, I won a writing context and got to attend a writing workshop with Madeliene L’Engle. Her workshop was fascinating, and inspired creativity in all of us. Meeting her was unforgettable. She had this amazing presence that felt like she could see straight through you, but this incredible kindness that made it okay.
She inscribed my favorite book, A Ring of Endless Light, “Be a Light Bearer.” In subsequent years I would come to know that she was a believer, and that Jesus would call me to be a “light bearer” in a sense when I came to know Him. I love her stories, her courage, her wisdom, and the hope and redemption that is woven throughout all of her work. She point to the mystery, creativity, and goodness of God, sometimes directly, and sometimes hidden within her stories. She writes:
“We don’t want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us. We don’t want to close a book with a sense that life is totally unfair and that there is no light in the darkness; we want to feel that we have been given illumination.” ― Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
For me, her stories always illuminate. I also love her honesty. Her books have been banned by some, given awards by others, and to me, she seemed to have a healthy detachment from either reaction. For a chronic people pleaser such as myself, that’s inspirational.
Finally, I love how her writings encourage me to embrace mystery. One of my favorite quotes is from A Wrinkle in Time, and is spoken by Aunt Beast, a character who comes from a place where they do not have sight. She says:
“We do not know what things look like. We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing,this seeing.” – Madeleine L’Engle
My Favorite Musician : Rich Mullins. It’s always hard to pick a “favorite” because I love so many musicians and genres. But If I have to choosee one, it will always be Rich.
I will never forget being a new Christian in college, and feeling like I “should” listen to Christian music. And hating it. I wasn’t finding it interesting, or really even authentic. I’m sure there many wonderful musicians out there, but no one I heard spoke to me. Until I heard Rich.
The first song I ever heard was “Here in America.” I was drawn in my his very human, imperfect voice, his lyrics and his music. I didn’t know my bible from a hole in the wall, so I would look up any scripture references he had listed in the cassette notes and I learned a lot.
His songs are real, honest, raw, and made me think about God differently. He lived in Wichita, my hometown when he wrote some of them. So when he sang about “where the secret rivers meet beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the Plains,” I knew exactly where he meant and somehow I made God more personal to me.
Seeing him in concert felt a bit like a concert, and a lot like sitting in a living room with a friend. He told stories, had fun with friends (ex: “Screendoor” where the percussion was made by people tapping plastic QT cups on a table), and challenged his us with his latest conviction. Occasionally he forgot a line of his lyrics, which completely didn’t matter because his lack of pretense was so disarming.
Every time I saw him he ended with the audience just singing hymns together. And sometime in the hymn sing, he’d kind of disappear, leaving everyone just singing to the Lord.
He was a poet, and his lyrics and music have gone with me on all sorts of journeys in my life. If you get a chance, check out the movie Ragamuffin. It doesn’t capture the humor that came through when I saw him live, but it captures a lot. Or you could check out my favorite album of his: “A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band“.
My Favorite Drink – Diet Dr. Pepper . I know it’s bad for me. It has chemicals and caffeine and artificial colors and artificial sweeteners. So why did they have to make it taste so good???? And it keeps me awake when I have to work late, or clean the house once the kids are in bed, or take a long drive. It’s the perfect companion for pizza. I wish my favorite drink was LaCroix water (or even tap water) and I’m learning to love both. But nothing compares to a Diet Dr. Pepper. I give it up every so often because of the aspartame and all the evils it is said to bring. This last time I didn’t have any for at least 4 months. And not a day went by that I didn’t think, “I’d sure love a Diet Dr. Pepper.” Not a day. So I’m working for moderation. I think it has to be a part of my life in some measure. It just tastes too good, and I do have to stay up late sometimes. I guess I’m a Pepper!!
My Favorite TV Show: When Calls the Heart. Nothing makes me feel more like a middle aged white mom than telling you my favorite show is on the Hallmark Channel. In fairness, I am a white middle aged mom. Still, I hate fitting so neatly into a stereotype.
Also I’m a counselor. And while I love my job, I am all stocked up on stories of how broken and hard the world is. I am also all stocked up on unresolved hard situations. I don’t need shows that remind me of those realities. For entertainment, I like to be reminded of what is good.
This show has suspense, fun, drama, redemption, and characters that actually display wisdom. I discovered it when I had the flu and I was looking for shows you could watch if your kids were still awake. It’s about a frontier town who has to pull together through hardship and it’s such a treat to watch.
I love that it has interesting characters of all ages. For you old General Hospital fans, Jack Wagner, “Frisco” from his GH days, has a role. Full House Fans, Lori Louglin plays Abigail Stanton who is this amazingly strong and gracious woman who holds the town together. Erin Krakow and Daniel Lissing play the town teacher and the town Mountie. Because it’s the Hallmark channel, we can have confidence that, when the time is right, they will marry, but until then, we can enjoy their romance blossom. It is one of the few shows that I’ve found that still tells a good story, and shows the beauty of a community coming together in love, service and sacrifice.
My Favorite Thing About My Job: Since I told you a hard thing about my job, I thought I should close with my favorite thing about my job. I love seeing people grow and change and heal. As I said above, I hear a lot of hard stories and see a lot of what is really broken in the world.
But when I sit with my clients, more often, I see these incredible victories. My clients survive despite terrible circumstances, they make positive changes despite the fact that many were raised to be dysfunctional, and they grow more and more into the people God has made them to be. This isn’t because of me by any means. But I get to celebrate positive changes long before many other people do. While there are some very private sorrow to being a counselor, there are even more private joys!!
Thanks for letting me share my favorite things. I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween. I’ll be busy begging my kids for my other favorite thing, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.
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