sorella minore

I was 8 years old when you were born.

You were such a beautiful baby, I was jealous of you but not in a bad way.

There are so many things about our younger years that are blurred;
we were set apart.

Destined for division.


As I got older, and constantly in trouble, I only seemed to seal that fate.

But now, as time has pushed us past the barriers of adolescents and we make up our own minds about things,

you have become the best kind of friend that I didn’t know I’d need.

You are strong and stubborn and adamant.

You are beautiful, and wildly authentic.

Loud and boisterous.

Hilarious and headstrong.

You are reliable and loyal and hard-working.

Independent and sharp.

You will always argue for the under dog, you can’t help it.

Most people don’t get to see the you that deeply thinks and questions.

Deeply feels and loves, selflessly.

You are a teacher, taking time and liberties that no one else does…or would.

You are vinyl records and recycled bottles of baby houseplants.

You are adult soccer leagues and recorder of our memories.

You are an artist.

Your instruments are everything in your reach.

Pens, pencils, banjo’s, ink,

cast iron skillet and bacon grease.

I’m so proud of you.

Proud to call you my friend .

Proud to call you my sister.








The tale of the princess and her rocks


I had an amazing weekend at our women’s retreat. I had meaningful and rich moments with some treasured women in my life. The theme was about being “royal princesses of the King” which at first I thought was cheesy but actually, ended up getting a lot out of it.

Of course, I come home and am finding myself this morning stressed to the max about finances, things that need to get done and the demanding needs of my family. It seems getting away from it all only helps until you have to jump right back in to what you were getting away from. Then the personal battle of choosing to not deal with my stress and anxiety the “same old way” starts all over again.

One of the major highlights of the weekend was in a workshop I was honored to lead with the ladies. I was overwhelmed and blessed by how women put a voice of courage and hope to their own stories with only some river rocks and sharpies. Amazing things can happen when you allow yourself some quiet and creative time. We were given the task to take three rocks and draw pictures or words to symbolize who we have been, who we are today, and who we hope to be.

I pictured mine above showing that I have been someone who felt out of place and like she never really “fit” in anywhere….hiding behind a wall of laughter for safety. Being “the funny” girl had always saved me. Laughing at myself always spared me from being attacked but also kept me from having to face the truth about myself. The next rock shows me today, trying to get a good stance on my fallen walls and rubble. Exposed but REAL. Trying to stand on the truth no matter how scary or ugly. My final rock showing the hope of freedom. I want to be woman who is not bound by the chains that hold me back from being who I’m meant to be. The TRUE me. Not the me I manufacture to fit in.

The “rocks” that were shared amongst the women were REAL and raw and honest. Beautiful. Worthless rocks from my driveway were transformed into invaluable jewels of truth in the hands of royal princesses of the King of Kings.

My prayer is that we would all put them somewhere where we could see them daily as a reminder of where we’ve been and where we are going. Sometimes it’s hard to stay the course but staying where we’ve been is not an option.

“What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the REAL you?”
– Luke 9:25 (MSG


Welcome to the real world

I’m writing from the road this morning so this will be short and sweet. We have traveled to California to watch my youngest sister graduate from high school tonight. The next few days will surely be filled with loud family fun. I am so grateful for my family. My time spent with them always recharges me even though it can often be exhausting at the same time.

Graduations are interesting. You can’t help but feel nostalgic and reflect on what has been…and ultimately what will be. I’ve learned that this process of stepping forward into something new and unknown will only continue way beyond this graduation point in my sisters life. It seems we never stop moving into that “next phase” whatever it may be. My hopes and wishes for her and all my siblings is that they realize THIER AWESOME potential. Each one of them is so amazingly talented and gifted in a unique way. My prayer is that that would leave no dream un-imagined or tried. That they would learn to become comfortable in their skin and be exactly who they were created to be. Living fully. Loving abundantly. Happy.

To my youngest sister on her special day, the one thing I want you to always know is that you’re amazing. You have the wild world ahead of you at your fingertips and there isn’t anything you can’t do. We are all so proud of you! Love you Wawa! Long live the sister couch!

Thanks a lot Taylor Swift.

We laughed yesterday about a spoof we saw online mocking Taylor Swifts new song “22”. The spoof was titled “32” and it made fun of some of the obvious differences between the ten year age gap. It was funny, but being the deep and introspective, sometimes pessimistic gal that I am, I started to take a real inventory. It got a little depressing for a minute.

My sister is 22. Almost 23. I like to live vicariously through her life sometimes. She is a brilliant, hilarious, beautiful and a wickedly sarcastic old soul with a nose ring. She lives in a fabulous, large urban city with friends where she commutes to and from a full time job to the tune of funky pop or bluegrass in her headphones and sketches art in her notebook next to her Chinese homework. She would hate it if I called her a hipster…but she drinks PBR and wears neon hats, you can do the math. I love to hear her crazy stories of her adventures with our brothers (24 & 21) and their friends, going to concert after concert. Movie after movie. Sometimes when all four of us siblings are together I tag along, but I’m definitely oooold. Clutching my purse. Yawning at 11pm.

When I turned 22 I was planning my wedding. We were knee deep in it. Pre-marriage counseling and books about marriage. Making out anywhere and everywhere we could get away with it. Taking every opportunity to stare at my ring, especially while driving. What’s up with that? Trying on dresses and having showers planned in my honor. Fussing about hair and shoes and reception ideas. Basically driving everyone around me crazy with wedding buzz. I remember counting down the days at work on the sign in sheet…looking back now I’m sure everyone really appreciated THAT. It was also the same year my Grandma Betty passed away. I lived in her house at that time and was fortunate enough to be with her when it happened. I have missed her everyday since, especially now that I have kids. I could kick my 22 year old ass for taking her for granted while she was literally right under my nose. I was so “busy” I missed out on a lot even though I got more time with her than most.
Needless to say, “22” looked a lot different to me than it does for my sister. We laugh when we talk about how when I was her age ( almost 23) I was married and close to discovering being pregnant. She cant IMAGINE that being her life. She’s having so much fun. Which is okay, I sowed all my wild oats in high school…but I never imagined I’d be this grown up person I am sometimes. I stop and wonder who have me the authority and gumption to rise to the occasion and grow up?

I have a committed TV schedule.
I have been known to actually cast a vote on American Idol.
Who am I? Setting my alarm for eeeeearly to tend to responsibilities?
Wiping out my refrigerator in the early before the sunrise while thinking heavily about the books I’m reading about faith, theology, apologetics, and lots of thing ending in “ism”.
Researching the causes and natural remedies for my daughters vicious eczema.
Reminding myself how many books my son still has to read before spring break is over.
Making a grocery list and calculating pretty accurately what it is I’ll actually spend because I know almost exactly how much everything I buy costs. I’ll tell you the costs are rising if you haven’t noticed.
Noting on that list things I’m responsible to bring to a dinner party.
Dinner party?
Rearranging my laundry schedule to make sure my husband has clean clothes for a business trip on Monday.
Laundry schedule?
I’m the annoyed person at the movies when you’re talking, shushing you.
I’m the lady that holds up the whole line at Walmart to give exact change from my change purse just to “get rid of it”.
I could go on, but it’s boring. It’s all the stuff you are doing too. While working full time jobs. Washing cars and dogs and clothes. Mailing letters and bills and birthday cards. Planning parties and events and trips. Dealing with dentists appointments and doctor appointments and everything appointments.

While I wince at not being cool anymore ( because I obviously WAS) I’m really lucky and happy to have the life I do. I know there will be a day when I will look back on my thirties and wish I coulda, woulda or shoulda…

We are grown ups. It’s official.

Mandi Holden

Believe. Begin. Persist

>>New adventure<<



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