Right-Hand Man

Disclaimer: Each day I lemmingly follow the person in front of me through each card-key locked door, to the break-room to drop off our lunches, and off to our work stations behind a computer. Here we sit and stare for nearly 8.5 hours, five days a week. Sometimes my computer will freeze for a session of five  to ten minutes. In these beautiful moments of freedom, I drift off to another world, a fictional one, made up stories of the people around me. Some stories will have small essences of true experiences, others will be simply created off of a small detail, or sarcastic thought in my mind. Welcome to the fictional side of The Rah Raw Diaries.


Skeevy. One word describing the man who sports his wedding ring on his right hand ring finger.

She saw him from the corner of her eye. Well-dressed in his pink-striped button up tucked into his kaki pants. Black socks coated his ankles and sunk their way into his designer chestnut-colored shoes. He smiled his skeevy smile, confident he was fooling his audience away from his troubles at home. Desperate as she may feel, he wasn’t fooling her.

No. Not this time. She would not let this sly fox near her.

“Hello,” he wheeled his chair closer to her. “I’m Steve.” Attempting a smolder and failing miserably, Shashauna blatantly ignored him.

“Hello,” he said again. Staring sexy daggers in her direction he smoothly crept his hand towards hers, fingers moving like the legs of a spider as it moves towards its prey.

“Ummm. I don’t think so!” Shashauna scolded as she swiftly withdrew her hand from his near grasp.

“Bubble…” she mumbled sternly.

“Ah what,” Steve’s voice threatened to tease.

“Get out of my bubble,” she motioned to the invisible bubble of space around her. “This,” she moved her arms around her nearly-arms length bubble, “Is Shashauna space, not…”

“Steve,”he smiled, cockily, clearly hoping for the essence of romance having finished her sentence.

Catching her eye for just a moment, he winked.

Suddenly, in response to Steve’s wink, Shashauna fell limp in her chair, acting as if she had been shot.

A moment passed and she still didn’t move. At the strange turn of events, a crowd of coworkers shot glances in their direction.

Awkwarded out, and slightly embarrassed by the unexpected scene he had caused, Steve slowly rolled away back to his work station. Under the desk, hoping no one would see, Steve pulled the ring off his right hand, and slid it gently back into place on his left ring finger.

Remaining limp for a moment longer, for the sake of dramatic flare, Shashauna subtly peered in Steve’s direction. Catching the not-so-clever action of the right-hand man, she silently scoffed. Sitting upright, back in her seat, she slightly shook her head and thought, Skeevy. Steve…. Skeevy Stevey.

At the trace of witticism, she smiled.

Teenage Dreams

There is something wonderful about watching a chick flick in a room full of teenage girls. Something about the ambiance. Feelings and angst are so rampant already as an eau du teenager that somehow breathing it all it, allows even a 28 year old (who dragged her 50-something parents to see “Everything, Everything”) let her emotions run wild.

There was something about him at first glance. Not his hair, definitely not his hair, but Olly, the main guy, reminded me of someone that I used to know.

For the first time, I think ever, I didn’t mind the high-pitched chatter and giggles in the background. (Usually I like to watch movies alone, and silent. Hush you over there!) Everything was so perfectly timed that I couldn’t help but smile along. The sighs and awws of the pursuit, giggles at the awkwardness of beginnings… to more giggles during kissing scenes, and “Oh my gosh! No! Gross!” during the sex scene. (I was comforted to know that not everyone is corrupted by the prevalence of sex in our world these days.) Even the perfectly timed mothers gasping towards the end (I won’t spoil it for you)… made the experience all the more worthwhile.

And that was just the sensory experience! Think about the emotional; I remember being a teenager once… Do you? I mostly didn’t like it. There is something to be said about having so many feelings on the surface all at once. But it has its beautiful parts too, like being able to giggle at a kissing scene without judgment, or aww at the adorable things Olly did to woo Maddy. It’s just not as commendable or endearing for a spinster (see #7 and #10) in her late twenties… It doesn’t really have the same effect.

There seem to be two free passes in life. Once as a teenager when you don’t know any better, and finally as an elderly person when you know better but no longer give a shit. It’s this in-between period where emotions get stuck, buried or forgotten, or at least we try to forget.

Like trying to forget one of my least favorite questions: “Have you ever been in love?” I think it’s a dumb question, probably because I haven’t, not in the conventional sense at least. Nonetheless I’ve been there. It’s probably not the happily ever after, ooey-gooey story you’re looking for, but oh boy, (Oh! Boy!) I’ve been there. I’m sure this makes less and less sense to you, but tonight on a whim, in this delightful teenage dream, I’m going to try and explain.

The main gentleman in this movie reminded me of you. I doubt you’ll ever read this, so I’m going to pretend like I’m writing to you, because I’ll be able to express myself better. Like we used to.

I see it now, it was in his smile, and I think a bit in the eyes too… That damn smile that accompanied all your smart-ass comments, and those puppy dog brown eyes. Bet you never knew I thought that about you. My friends didn’t see it, but I did. Oh, how I did.

The movie reminded me of those jitters, the good ones. Not being able to sleep at night, because all I wanted to do was chat with you jitters. You, at least, had some sense of when sleep was necessary. I did not. Perhaps, because part of me is simply a teenage girl inside. (The other half, an elderly women which explains why I’m suddenly daring to no longer give a shit.) I surely felt like a teenage girl, anxiously waiting on responses… or that one time, after you left, texting that I missed you. I felt like such an idiot. Who actually admits that they miss someone? Well, I guess I do.

I remember giving up on watching chick flicks and reading even the cheesy, love-inspired romance novels (that I not-so secretly made fun of) because I knew that real life was so much better. My life better than pretending to have someone else’s. Imagine that? (I hate feeling like something’s missing. Hate it.)

I remember waking up one morning after a blink of sleep to go running. I’m pretty sure I ran faster and farther than I ever had before. I had this happiness, or joy that fueled me far beyond what I believed my capabilities were. That’s the thing about people and connections and (this so-called) love, it has the ability to move mountains. Given the right place and the right time, and a whole lotta Jesus.

God has this way of placing the right people in our lives just when we need them. No more, no less. It wasn’t necessary for us to be friends forever, but God knew I would desperately need someone just like you when it was time for Gma to go home. I needed someone who would ask all the right questions, and read my incredibly long-winded answers. I needed someone who would somehow put off sleep late at night (though I know you probably preferred it) to tell me she would want me to be happy, even if those were the exact words I didn’t want to hear. You were still there, and somehow awake.

I needed that smart-ass sense of humor and witty banter about all the stupid things, and more important things like how awesome the Packers are, how terrible the Vikings are, or what events are worth driving 2-3 hours for…

all the stupid things

Teenage dreaming freed me to do all the stupid things (even though I knew we’d only ever be friends) like picture our names together or look for silly signs… Like how your birthday is the same day, one year later after my father passed away. Not in the morbid sense, but more like a gift. That’s how I always saw it at least. You have their sense of humor and pranking abilities (speaking of morbid) as my father’s family. That’s why it was always too easy to picture. Or hope for.

I felt a connection, if only for a moment. Recognizing that someone in the world more than half cared about what I had to say, believing in my story, made all the difference. You, if only for the blink of an eye, made all the difference.

Love is not always two people doing romantic things together on Valentine’s day (sometimes it’s three). Love can be a connection, even if temporarily so. It can be hugs and kisses and late night candle-lit conversations.  It can be romantic or not so romantic. In a multitude of times though, what love really seems to be is listening, and encouragement. First listening without an agenda, simply knowing that you care enough about this person to just listen (no strings attached). Then using the heart and soul they shared to help them find pieces within that only you could show them, harvesting those seeds, and letting them flourish. Adventuring into the the great unknown, somehow bettered because of this person that God allowed you to get to know and care for, for such a time as this/that.

Not the happily ever after you’ve been searching for? I find endings rarely are. I think that is why I enjoy movies that don’t end “happily ever after”. For example “La La Land”: Two aspiring dreamers meet, share an epic connection, encourage each other to truly follow their dreams, sacrifice, and simply rock at doing what they were created to do. Not Hollywood happily-ever-after, but really, the dream. If there’s some dancing and kissing along the way, cool beans, if not, no biggie.

teenage dream

I want the messy, (welcomed-) awkward beginnings and the beautiful, giddy, jittery middles. Like the ooey-gooey middle of a s’more, where the perfectly burnt marshmallow (crispy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside) meets the melting Hershey chocolates. Enjoyed on the perfect, chilly Minnesota night on the edge of my favorite lake, cozy by the fire, surrounded by my besties listening to my crazy, ridiculous teenage dreams.

And they lived…

And they decided it was…

Time to go make s’more…

Crazy, awkward, ridiculous yet perfect, teenage dreams.

Humble and Prayerful

Sometimes there are no words that can be said, or written. As the world keeps throwing fast balls in our (a collective we of the world’s) direction. In these instances it’s not the words written for the sake of being shared or read that matter. It’s the words spoken straight to our Father, confessing our humble, desperate need for His help.


Bless, comfort, heal, redeem our brothers and sisters all around the world.

We need each other.

And we desperately need you.



Please consider taking a moment today to pray for somebody, anybody. Perhaps a country who’s name you only hear during opening ceremonies at the Olympics. Maybe a family in Syria or one facing constant fear and attack. Or, it could be your neighbor, or someone in the next cubicle over. Adventure into the unknown, pray for someone you don’t know, or for something, or someone, who scares you. Remember that statistics on the news are more than numbers, and each one has a group of family and friends now, unexpectedly, learning to cope. We need to take care of each other. Listen to each other. Pray for each other.

If you need prayer, don’t be afraid to ask, or send some requests up for yourself. It is not selfish to ask God for whatever you might need, feel, hope or desire. He’s listening, always.

Prayer changes. Prayer moves. Prayer heals and comforts. Prayer releases. Prayer loves.

I’ll start. You’ll notice that my words are not perfect. They may even seem too floofy at times. I am far from the “perfect pray-er”. Though God blessed me with a capability to move people through words, these still seem to fall flat. My prayer won’t cover all the needs of the world, but it’ll be a start. If we all do our part, share kindness, speak meaningful words, and pray the prayers on our hearts, then we will be…


* the hands and feet of Jesus*

*the change*

Dear Lord, bless this reader. Meet them where they are and please, Lord remind them of your presence and your light. Spread your compassion, peace and healing over England, and specifically Manchester. Clear away any traces of fear of the enemy and instill an inexplicable hope and peace in all the attendees at the concert, and the families of those taken, too suddenly, from their lives. Please Lord, remind this world so consumed by dark happenings all around that YOU ARE STILL IN CONTROL. Oh we desperately need you Lord. Bless my brothers and sisters, those who know you and those who have yet to have the pleasure. Be present in us, with us, and through us. Grant us your peace. 

May we experience the beauty worded in Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” I can’t imagine Lord, what it’s like have safety constantly in jeopardy, but I do pray this Scripture over our whole world and every single person in it, that we will not fear evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH US, ALWAYS.

Thank you Father.


Pink Rush

Pink coated my cheeks when my eyes caught your glance.

Interesting now, how I cannot seem to get you off my mind.

New to you, I’m sure you were simply trying to get acquainted.

Kindling a fiction of nothing, my hopes illuminated a meaning more.


Ridiculous I feel, digging deeper into a shallow glance.

Understanding I have this deep desire to be understood.

Special seems to be the word that companions this wistfulness.

How, oh how, feelings flow when a glance cascades a rush of rose.



Leaving Better

Today I found myself traveling an hour and half away from home to take a test. It sounds exciting right?! Well, actually, it was!

Mantorville, Minnesota is a small town northwest of Rochester, Minnesota. Before a few days ago, I never knew it existed. I have been out of state for the past six years, nevertheless it is a small dot on a map that can easily be overlooked. Then again, so is the town where I grew up.

It would have been easy to GPS my way into town, take the exam and then leave without anyone ever having a clue I’d been there, but that’s just not my style. Deep down I have this desire to leave places better than when I found them. This doesn’t mean I’m some super hero passing through, changing one life after another after another. It can be as simple as my tedious habit of drying off each sink I use in a public restroom, assuming paper towels are handy. Today it meant that, and also one act of kindness manifested by God.

Have you ever had that feeling, like God’s asking you to do something? For me, it feels like a slight pressure on my heart, or really, my soul. I always know it’s God, because the idea usually includes me taking a risk or doing something seemingly uncomfortable at the time. Though it’s usually simple or menial, I regularly try to shrug it off. But God is persistent, even, and especially, when the task doesn’t really make sense to me. You want me to do what?! Really? Are you sure? … Are you still sure? Yes, God’s patience with me is impeccable, and so is His grace. If I’ve been learning anything this past year, it’s that I always feel better, and adrenaline-rushed, when I take those tiny risks of faith and obey. I also repeatedly learn that God always comes through, always.

Arriving in town with time to spare before the merit test, I found my way .2 miles down the road to the County Seat Coffeehouse. Their sweet, yummy coffee drink list was extensive, but unfortunately I knew they would make me shaky, and distracted by the need to use the restroom while being tested, so I resigned to a cup of delicious chicken tortellini soup. I smiled awkwardly and distracted myself with Facebook and Instagram as I felt the eyes of the elders of the town look upon me, knowingly recognizing that I was an out-of-towner. They seemed nice nonetheless; Minnesotans generally are. I dined and ditched (pre-paying of course) and giddily jaunted the .2 miles up to the courthouse.

Upon entering, I was greeted by the officer behind the security entrance. He gladly offered me directions to where I needed to be: down the stairs, to the right and then to the left. In Conference Room 1 surrounded by seven other ladies of varying ages, I mused at the fact that half of them, including the test proctor, received the memo to wear cuffed capris. Clearly, we were all testing for the same job and we seemed to dress the part.

This exam, my second test of the week, humored me through angry customer questions, and cleared me of the test anxiety I once felt as a student. Actually, I quite liked it. I thoroughly enjoyed categorizing numbers and calculating the petty cash totals allotted in the example pages of the test. Honestly, though, my favorite part was editing. I really love editing. I didn’t realize how much until this exam. Perhaps I’ll become an editor when I grow up… Well… and a writer too!

Post-exam, the kind security officer wished me well, and I was off to celebrate my fine office support abilities with a sugary, delicious drink from the coffeehouse. Can you say Peanut Butter Bliss? With one sip of that sugary delight you’d join me in the ooo-ing and aw-ing of coffee meets sugar meets peanut butter. Accompanying my well-sipped sugar rush, the .4 miles more of meandering readied me to gas up my Honda, and head home. However, while I was feeding “Horse” my sturdy, steady Honda, I felt the pressure as I heard the still, small idea:

What if you ask the security officer if he wants a coffee?’

“No God, what?! I already have mine. It’d be weird. Why would I do that? I’m so not doing it. I know you’ll love me anyway.”

I will, but you’ll never know what would’ve happen if you did.’ 

“Playing with my curiosity strings God? … So not cool. I’m still not going.”


As I drove up the hill beside the courthouse, I pulled in. I had to know what in the world God was up to. Plus, a part of me gets a thrill out of random acts of kindness. I parked, and headed towards the courthouse doors, again. I spotted another worker visiting with the security guard and I almost turned around, but I was already through the first set of doors. No turning back, no turning back.

There I was. There he was. Arms crossed over my stomach, I confidently asked if I could get him a coffee from town. He mentioned to the other worker he was more of a soda person, and thanked me in a questioning way. I told him he was sitting there through it all, and he had been so kind to me, I thought I’d offer to buy him a coffee drink. Though he didn’t accept, he seemed grateful for the thoughtfulness, and if anything, the officer behind him seemed amused. Continuing to chat, he asked me if I was local and was applying for a job with their county. I told him no, that I drove in from the cities and was interested in work even further north. “I’m all over the place, “I confessed with a chuckle. He smiled just the same, and offered his knuckle. Just kidding, but he seemed grateful nonetheless. (I can’t turn down a rhyme.)

Afterwards, I felt that familiar rush that comes alongside these random-acts-of-kindness moments. It was the same rush I felt last week when I paid for the fries of the lady in the drive-through behind me at Wendy’s. I don’t know what happened, if either really made a difference or not, but through the beats of joy I felt, I know that God was grateful for my obedience (which in the end, is all that really matters). I do hope to see the big picture someday – the giant scheme that perfectly fits together all these acts-of-kindness puzzle pieces.

I’m not bragging, as none of these ideas were of my own accord, but of God. Our Father in Heaven is reaching down to us on earth, reminding us to take care of each other. No matter where we live, how well we know each other, whether or not we agree on our beliefs, how we look or whether or not we are worthy, God asks us to love one another. Take care of each other. None of us are worthy, and no one has it all together. Sometimes all we need is a free coffee on Friday, a compliment on Monday, or a smile on Wednesday. However God asks you to show love, kindness and care, just do it. I promise you that it will make someone’s day, and it will make your day.

Instead of hearing”You better leave,” leave a place better than you found it. Be the change and you will make a difference. I mean look at me – I wasn’t just a stranger in a small town easily overlooked on a map. I was a pebble, hopefully creating a ripple of kindness into a living, breathing community of people who need to know that they are appreciated. They are worthy. They are loved. Even, if only, by a stranger passing through.



“So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” -Luke 10:27


The Transplants: Grand-hearts

Disclaimer: This is an excerpt from a collection of stories I’m putting together of the beautiful hearts I knew and loved during my Kentucky years. I’m pulling this story to share with you in memory of G-ma’s 4th year in Heaven. Names are changed to protect friends mentioned in the story.

“Grandmothers create memories that the heart holds forever.” -Anonymous

Carin received the phone call first. You know the ones, you can almost feel the dread in the ringing, and most definitely in the tone of voice of the caller on the other end. “It’s time,” they’ll say, “Not much longer now.” Simple words in any other context, except for this one. These moments create such a depth of sadness in our being that our first reaction is to hit the floor as we nearly drop the phone from our grasp. Even when we know goodbyes are coming, the moment they do show up is always still a surprise. Too sudden. Too soon.

It was a snowy day in February, and Carin pulled herself from her bedroom to the dining room where we all gathered for her. There were eight of us living together in an intentional Christian community as we served in our respective programs. Somehow, throughout the months we had created an inseparable bond, once strangers now closer than friends. Though her emotions were still longing to be alone in this sudden sadness, she pulled herself towards the community that she knew would provide her with comfort and distraction. As she shared the news of her grandmother taking a turn for the worst, and as she mourned the fact that she couldn’t immediately rush to her grandmother’s side (snowy roads in rural Kentucky are not safe to venture along), we did what we all did best, each in our own ways. We sat her down at the kitchen table as one community member made her tea, another grabbed her a snack, as a few of us asked her questions or simply sat together in silence. As long as we were together, we knew everything would be okay. We encircled her in prayer and encouragement. Later on, we distracted Carin with games. Carin loved games more than anyone, and living in this community together we all knew how to love each other best.


Three months later.

We were returning from our organization’s National Day of Prayer gathering. My heart was happy from reconnecting with volunteers from the other communities (there were six volunteer houses at the time located in five different counties throughout southeastern Kentucky). Ring Ring. Ring Ring. That ring. I had heard it five months prior when my mom’s tear-soaked voice told me the news of my aunt’s sudden passing. Here it was again. Her voice at the other end of the line. My mind rushed as my feet flew from under me, and I somehow still gracefully hit the floor. I heard words, but all I could feel were the tears moistening my cheeks. I bowed my head as to not make more of a scene while attached to the corded phone in our dining room. My head felt faint. The same words. The same words every time, “It’s time,” strewn along amongst other words. There must have been other words besides, “Not much longer now.”

I knew it was coming. How much sorrow could one woman bear? Losing her son, my father, so many years ago, as well as her daughter, five months prior. Her husband seven years back, and brothers and sisters along the way. Along with cancers and sickness and the wear and tear of an 86 year old body, it was her time. But I wasn’t ready. I’m not ready. Almost instantly after I hung up the phone, or perhaps he hung it up for me, our Czech housemate Radek enveloped me in a hug. There was no shame as I cried. My grandma, my G-ma, didn’t have much longer. She is my person in the world. There is none like her. What will I do without my person in the world? She is… She was. A day or was it three later (time seems irrelevant in moments of love and grief) came the final realization. It was time.

In one sad and unfortunate way, our twinness shone through. Carin was there for me, as I had been her. We shared in sorrow, as we grieved our grandmothers. Together we were sisters, in moments of joy to moments of sadness, always in community via heart, soul, and mind. What a blessing it is to have a soul sister.