I love toddlers. One of the things I love the most about them is their great imagination. They view the world so differently from us more mature folks, and I enjoy discovering their whimsical world–full of imagination and far-fetched ideas.

I got a glimpse into this imaginary world the other day when I was visiting my brother’s family. We were eating breakfast when my two-year-old nephew Isaac looked over at me and said between spoonfuls of oatmeal, “Aunt Joy, have you seen my airplane?”

I couldn’t remember him showing me any toy airplanes, so I told him I hadn’t and that he would have to show it to me after we finished breakfast.

I was soon following Isaac as he took me to see his airplane. His little feet pounded on the floor until we were standing in front of his crib. He pointed at it and said, “That’s my airplane.” He went on to explain that that it was blue, and that it flies fast.

I couldn’t help but giggle. Imagination is an amazing thing. All I saw was a brown wooden crib, but Isaac saw a speedy blue airplane that flies during his naps.

I know that someday Isaac will no longer imagine that his crib is an airplane. In fact, he’ll forget that he ever had. Someday his calculator will no longer be his smartphone and the mound of rocks that he made will no longer be a fire. He’ll grow up, but I hope that he will always carry a spark of that childhood imagination with him wherever he goes.

The Thunderstorm


The thunderstorm awakened me in the middle of the night. Lightning flashed and strong gusts of wind battered our tent from all directions, causing the sides to collapse on us and then spring back. My parents and my four siblings were all awake and wondered if we should evacuate the tent. As the storm continued to rage, we decided to escape to my aunt and uncle’s garage.

My mom unzipped the tent, and the wind beat against us as we sprinted across the wet lawn to the garage. Disoriented, my siblings and I stood inside as my parents ran back to the tent to collect our sleeping bags and air mattresses. Before long, we were settled on the floor of the garage. Despite our weariness, none of us could fall asleep.  My aunt and uncle discovered us in their garage and explained that the wind was carrying away their canopies in the backyard. My dad and uncle ran to retrieve the canopies and brought them into the garage. The commotion ensued as hail began to fall. In my dazed state, I saw my aunt with a towel wrapped around her head dash outside to move the cars. With hail clinking on the metal roof overhead,  I was eventually able to drift off to sleep.

The Motor Home


Papa and RV

Some of my favorite memories were made within the narrow walls of the old motor home parked in the side yard of my childhood home in Florida. I remember climbing the small  tree directly in front of the RV and peering through the tinted windshield at my grandpa sitting inside, classical music emanating from his radio. It wasn’t exactly the motor home itself, but the delightful residents who lived in it for part of each year—my grandparents– that transformed the motor home into something glorious.

The old RV was cream colored with a sky blue streak running across it.The inside was narrow, even to my youthful estimation. It was sparsely decorated, but quite crowded due to the close quarters. I can still hear the constant ticking of the blue flower shaped clock in the kitchenette portion, and I remember the sparkling purple candle that I had bought for Grandma poised on a shelf.

It was in the motor home that my grandma helped me stumble through one of my first chapter books, “Surprise Island,” the second book in the Boxcar Children series. I remember her giving me a page marker and instructing me with reading tips, such as, how to move my finger across the page as I read.

Another favorite memory from the beloved motor home is the game nights I shared there with my grandparents. Before bedtime, I would slip away to the RV and we would sit around the small kitchen table and play Boggle. Time sped away as we enjoyed each other’s company.

As the years went by, my relationship with the motor home and its residents changed. I no longer ran over there to show off my new winter jacket, or to take reading lessons, but for more serious things. I remember escaping to the motor home to pray with my grandparents over a troubling issue.

Life has changed since those motorhome days. I have moved from Florida, the RV has been sold, and my dear grandma has passed away. The motorhome days seem so far away, and definitely locked away. I can never have them back, yet the memories made within those narrow walls will always hold a special place in my heart.

June, 2013

My First 5K

Grant and Me and our Medals

The sun the was already sloping in the western sky as Grant and I arrived at the Coates Bend Volunteer Fire Department 5K. The weather was beautiful and crisp, perfect for running. As I stretched in preparation for the race, I observed the people around me: firefighters, policemen, race attendants, runners, and spectators. The eccentric garb of some of the runners brought a smile to my lips.

“The race will be starting in ten minutes!” heralded a man with a megaphone. Grant and I joined the runners congregating behind the starting line. This was my first 5K, and my goal was to run it in under thirty minutes.

An elderly man lead the group in prayer, an act which I found surprising and wonderful. Eagerly, I awaited the start, yet I was taken off guard when the buzzer finally rang.  As the runners whizzed past me, I quickly switched into “race mode” and joined the charging mob.

The race progressed, and by the time I had reached the first mile marker, I was beginning to feel the burn in my legs and a cramp in my chest. Without stopping, I grasped a water cup from a race attendant and took a gulp, splattering water on my shirt in the process. Down the residential streets I ran, trying to keep alongside Grant.

At the second mile marker, I took another awkward gulp of water that sent me into a coughing spasm. My forehead was wet with perspiration, my legs fatigued, my abdomen cramped, and my strength waning, yet I resisted the temptation to slow down as I had seen others do. Past the spectators and cheering children I pressed on. I was aware that I was passing fellow runners. My whole body seemed to be screaming, “How much longer?”

Around a turn in the road I ran, my strength diminishing, yet my determination still intact; I was not quitting. Suddenly, the view changed. Could it be?

“Come on, Joy, there’s the end!” Grant yelled.

Renewed vigor surged through my weary body. Grimacing and gasping, I sprinted with all my might toward the finish line at the crest of the hill. I could hear my family cheering. My vision was blurred as my feet pounded on the asphalt in powerful strides. My legs felt numb  beneath me as I flew over the finish line. Ripping the outheld time card from the woman at the finish line, I faltered to a stop.

“Twenty-four forty-three!”

What had she said? I was too exhausted to be sure. Grant soon reiterated. I had run my first 5K in twenty-four minutes and forty-three seconds! I was astounded. As I slipped my time card into the box for my age group, I was shocked to see it was the first entry.

I soon joined my family on the sidelines. Faith squeezed me and cheered, “You got twenty-second over all!”

“Well, how’d you like it?” Mom asked.

“I hated it. It was boring!” was my truthful response.

Although it was difficult, I was still glad I had run the race. Grant and I both got first place in our age categories. It felt fantastic to hold my medal, and I was quite satisfied with my race time. I had persevered, run the race, and finished strong.  As we drove away, Grant turned on the song “We are the Champions,” and I truly felt like a champion.

April, 2013