The Great Parking Lot Adventure

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Do you remember the day you got your driver’s license?

It was a few months after I turned sixteen when that golden day came.

I got my license and a car. (Shoutout to the ‘rents!) I was free. Suddenly, I could go to my best friend’s house or meet the squad for ice cream anytime I wanted. I also didn’t have to wait for my parents to pick me up after school anymore. Talk about independence.

When I first started driving, I thought I was invincible. I would fly down the road in my little Toyota Camry, blasting music and feeling like the coolest kid around. I would swing into any parking spot, never doubting that I would be able to fit and make it out like a getaway driver.

This one got me into trouble.

One day after school, I hopped in my car with my Christmas pajamas (it was pajama day–the icing on the cake). I had pulled through, and was facing the car line for the parents. I thought there was surely enough space for my car to turn out of the spot and slide past the parents’ cars.

Only there wasn’t.

I misjudged my turn and scraped my car against my friend Angelica’s car. Not just a little scrape, either. I made it alllllllll the way down the left side of my car. Then, it dawned on me that my car was a little too close to hers. Somehow, I didn’t hear or feel a thing until that moment. It was a very graceful scrape.

I was about to call my friend and explain what had happened, when I saw her walk out of the school with a confused look on her face.

She was in for a surprise.

We examined the damage. Thankfully, her car wasn’t damaged at all (a miracle from above). My car, however, had a huge dent brushed with a million little black scrapes. It was quite the masterpiece, if you ask me.

When I drove home and explained what had happened to my parents, they were very forgiving. But, being that the damage would cost about two grand to fix, they decided it wasn’t smart to get it fixed.

Fast forward to the present (four years later), and I’m still driving my lovely Camry, dent and all.

For a while, I was really embarrassed by it. It was like driving around with a big label saying this girl does not know how to park. Or drive.

I tried to figure out ways to save up enough money to get it fixed, or get a new car. Every time I came up with a plan, I decided I would much rather use that money to go on a cool trip or something. Not that I’m very good at budgeting in the first place.

So, I let it go. I learned to embrace the imperfection.

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Throwback to the good ol’ days, just months before the tragedy of ’14.

For some reason, anytime I meet someone new, my car dent story is often one of the first stories I tell them. I figure they’re going to find out at some point, so I should probably prepare them.

If I forget to prepare them, it’s an excellent conversation starter when I roll up.

You know what? I’ve learned that people love that story.

It shows that I’m human. I’m broken. I make mistakes.

I tend to think people will like me better if they think I’m perfect. I try to make sure my hair isn’t too frizzy and my clothes are in style. I try to get perfect grades, do lots of cool things, volunteer, always say the right things, and get lots of likes on Instagram.

I end up living like I’m walking on a tight rope. And I fall off a lot. 

In reality, people don’t like that girl as much as the real me. The real me who is always running late, has an offbeat sense of humor, and can’t remember if she wore the same t-shirt the last time she saw you. The real me who gets cranky when she doesn’t get enough sleep and sometimes can’t stop laughing about something that happened months ago. In the middle of class.

The real me who has a very dented car.

I’ve also learned that the Lord likes the real me the best.

He can’t use me when I’m not being real with Him. He can’t be close to me when I’m putting on a show. He just wants me to be real. Only then can He help me fix the messes I make.

He loves to hear our stories of brokenness, because those are the stories that reveal our weakness and magnify His strength.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your dents.

I’m willing to bet they’d make the best stories.

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I bet you were waiting for this picture the whole time. Well, here you go. If you see me out driving, feel free to wave.

What Pineapple Cake Taught Me

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Circa 2015, when I was a high schooler who thought it was cool to take pictures with produce at the grocery store.

Have you ever been left out, and then found out about it? It stings. I bet everyone in the whole world has been there at some point.

Rewind to about a year ago. I lived in a little house with a couple of roommates. One night, I overheard one of them inviting two of my best friends over. I thought it was awfully nice of them to plan a get together for us. How fun.

A day or so passed, and something strange happened.

They didn’t invite me. 

My roommate, my best friends, my own house. And I wasn’t invited?

The night of their little party came. I walked in the door to find them giggling in the kitchen around a bowl of cake batter and a few spoons. Unbelievable. A baking night without me. They even acted like I was intruding.

So, I did the mature thing.

I stomped up to my room like a drama queen and didn’t come out for a couple of hours. That’ll show them, I thought. Once I got done with my “woe is me” speech, I decided to take the high road and join them downstairs.

There was tension in the air, so thick you could’ve sliced it with a knife. I took a closer look at their messy bowls and the icing splotched on the counter. Things got suspicious.

There were some things laid out on a tray that looked exactly like Pringles. Only they were green? I did a double take. Yep, those were definitely green Pringles. “Why are those chips green?” I asked.

They all died laughing, and then refused to explain it.

You can’t make green chips and not explain why.

It appeared that they were using yellow and brown icing. Who uses yellow and brown icing? Not the most flattering color combo, unless you’re the Man with the Yellow Hat or something (Curious George, anyone?).

I noticed a can of sliced pineapples sitting on the counter. That’s when it all clicked.

I had an obsession with pineapples for a while. They’re cute, right? As it turns out, my friends had the idea to surprise me with a pineapple cake that actually looks like a pineapple for my birthday. Brilliant.

Just to make sure it turned out perfectly, they decided to do a test run. Enter the exclusive baking night, which I was never supposed to find out about.

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It’s a good thing they did a practice round. The first cake turned out more like a pineapple landslide.

The lesson I learned that day? Don’t be so quick to assume. Things aren’t always as they seem.

I thought my friends had come up with an evil plan to betray me (or, more realistically, just forgotten about me). In reality, they were going behind my back so they could be the best friends ever and thoughtfully surprise me with a homemade pineapple cake.

Boy, were my assumptions off on this one.

There are two specific ways I try to apply this lesson:

  1. Don’t be so quick to assume things about people. About their intentions, their backgrounds, their flaws. Anything, really. We can criticize people all day — that rude lady in the checkout line or that friend who always cancels plans last minute — but our opinions don’t count until we know the whole story. People are going through hard things. We all do. Show grace.
  2. Don’t be so quick to assume things about your own situations. The future. That difficult problem you’re smack in the middle of and just can’t seem to overcome. We can worry about things all day — if we’ll pass that class or land that job — but our worries won’t get us anywhere. We don’t know the whole story yet. Honestly, this one is really hard for me. I have to remember that there’s a reason Jesus constantly tells us to stop worrying and just trust Him, all throughout the Bible. He is faithful. All we can really do is take it one day at a time.

So, stop assuming the worst about rude people, dramatic people, quiet people, loud people, that situation in your life you can’t stop worrying about, and that problem you just can’t seem to solve.

In the end, you never know.

It might just turn out to be a pineapple cake.

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There we go. A professional pineapple cake. This was months later, and the surprise actually worked because I had forgotten all about it. I love a good happy ending.

Meet the Writer

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Ironic picture of me holding a camera like I think I’m a pro, but obviously someone else took the picture.

I decided to become a writer when I was about eight years old.

My first work? The Adventures of Super Dog, followed by the sequel, The Evil Cat’s Side of the Story.

The crayon illustrations turned out well, my teacher made some nice comments, and that was it. I knew I wanted to write for the rest of my life.

Words are powerful. God used words to make our universe bloom into existence. Words have the power to change minds. To open eyes. To break hearts. To heal hurts.

To tell stories.

I got a pink journal when I was five years old to start telling my stories. The first entry was something about how I couldn’t wait to be a teenager, but not the type of teenager that does bad things. In high school, I somehow became the designated historian for my friends. I wrote down all our adventures and misadventures in a little notebook, including the time one of my friends accidentally ran over another friend’s foot before prom because she didn’t realize she had gotten out of the car (no worries, she was fine). We still read through it every once in a while, laughing so hard we can barely breathe. Now, in college, I’ve decided to become a journalist to tell more stories. A grand total of five major changes led to journalism, and that’s a story in and of itself.

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Circa 2001. I had messy hair and was probably up to no good.

My stories always seem to make more sense on paper than in spoken words, but one of my favorite things is listening to people tell stories. Around the dinner table, in passing at the checkout line, or between church pews after the service. Our stories are how people get to know us. They’re how we connect and convey the lessons we’re learning. If you know how to listen, everyone is trying to tell a story of some sort. We’re all just trying to find someone who will listen.

Taking pictures is another way I like to tell stories. I love to capture the way the sun turns everything golden some evenings, my best friends dying laughing in the car because we’re lost and very late, and even the food my family works so hard to make for Thanksgiving.

I want to remember all of it.

So I keep telling the stories — the ones that make me laugh and the ones that make me cry. The ones where my imagination goes wild with wonder and the ones that bring me back to reality by reminding me of the lessons I shouldn’t forget.

You’ll find most of my stories set in the Midwest, where I’ve always lived, but sometimes I like to venture to other places too. When I’m not writing, I’m doing things and spending time with people so that I’ll have something to write about later. You can find me hiking, biking, painting, playing card games, running late, and convincing people to take the Myers Briggs personality test so I can understand them. Otherwise, I’m probably procrastinating writing and all my other responsibilities.

Other than that, you should know that God is the one who gave me this passion for putting words on paper and Word documents. My relationship with the Lord is the reason I get up every morning. At the end of the day, I’m a mess saved only by the grace of God.

And these are my stories: The Adventures of Mic.

Now you’re part of the story too.

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Captiva Island, 2018.