Skip to main content

Between the Lines


Writing a blog is kinda like inviting a bunch of strangers into my house. I'm not sure if you'll like it. My house might be smaller or bigger, messier or neater than the one you're from; I might hide all the piles of clutter really well or not. AND I've finally reached the conclusion that mine is fine. I like what I have, and that includes all the dusty blinds and so forth. You see, this is a people house. We live here, and make messes all the time. And we clean and repeat. We laugh sometimes, and cry sometimes. We say nice stuff and mean stuff. At the end of the day, this is where we belong.

Because my family moved so.many.times when I was growing up, I've lived in LOTS of houses. And this is my favorite house that I've ever lived in. Not because it's bigger or better or anything like that. Because I like me better than before. I've finally figured out how to be me and still balance all the other people; I'm 44.4 years old and finally brave enough to invite a handful of women to my house to eat cake or play scrabble or just sit and talk. I no longer care if it's perfect, because it's mine. And mine is fine.

So how does that relate to writing a blog? Well, here's the deal. These are my stories. If you like them, feel free to stay and read and hopefully we can relate to each other. If not, that's okay too. All of these "notes" are like letters or messages for my sisters, stuff I've learned that I wanted to scribble down on paper. This ceramic box was one of my childhood favorites; as you look more closely, you can see the little girl bear is writing a note and getting ready to put it in an envelope. So sweet!

But musical notes are a big deal to me too. I love the notes that I see printed on a page, a language that tells me how to make great melodies and chords and so forth. Many of my great ideas come from a song, whether it's the lyrics or the rhythm that stuck in my brain and helped teach a life lesson.

Let's say that music is about reading between the lines. When a stranger comes into my house, they see all.the.things. They see things I can't explain in words, things like color and texture and chaos and calm. When a person reads my stories, they can read between the lines. When they hear my music, it's like a melody or harmony that's playing in the background. They can hear the silence or the song, the quiet rhythm of a hymn or the angry drumbeat of a staccato. Any artist who shares something profound bares a bit of their soul. 

Because my family moved so many times, I got really good at meeting strangers and making friends. The Clifton strengths finder assessment calls this character trait "woo" or winning others over. For example, once upon a time I had a neighbor who never smiled. He had a great poker face, probably because he worked undercover for the gangs and drugs unit. Meanwhile, his wife was an open book, super chatty and friendly, and since she was my friend, I decided her husband was my friend as well. Every time I saw him outside, parking his car or in passing, I'd smile and wave. No response. Every time I saw him, poker face. No response. But I persisted. Maybe I tried even harder, thinking, "I know I can crack a smile out of this guy eventually." One day it happened. We had been neighbors for TWO YEARS. We were randomly passing as neighbors tend to do, I grinned and waved, and lo and behold, there it was: just the hint of a smile. Not an actual smile, but my delight was real. He finally decided to reciprocate. "He thinks I'm okay after all," I thought to myself. I've climbed a handful of mountains in my life, both literal and metaphorical, and this small moment felt just as satisfying. I'd won him over. The fact that I could eventually friend a guy that spent his time in a world of gangs and drugs, well, it made me realize that I can probably make friends with anybody. And because I've been lonely and friendless in the past, it's kinda my jam to look for new people or outliers or strangers, and welcome them in.

So here I am writing a bunch of stuff for my sisters and sisters-in-law and my church sisters and my neighborhood sisters. Glennon Doyle calls this "sistering" and I love this verb so much. I first read some of her magnificent ideas years ago. One of her posts that helped me so much was about a kitchen makeover and gratitude, it's called Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt.  A few years after that, I was introduced to this idea of sistering. There's a lovely video that explains it here: The Best Part of Life. Here's how she said it:

Carpenters know that the building block of a structure is the joist.

A joist is a special, strong beam that supports a greater structure.

Sometimes a joist has to carry such a heavy load that is starts to weaken.

When that happens, the carpenter connects another board to the left of the weakening board.

If that doesn’t strengthen it enough, she connects another board to the right and, with that extra support, the joist is strong enough to carry almost anything.

Guess what this this process of joist strengthening is called?  SISTERING!

You can’t build a strong, beautiful, complicated structure - whether it’s a building or a life – without SISTERING.

Women are special, strong people who hold up the world but sometimes life’s load gets too hard and heavy for them to carry alone.

I think the hard is purposeful: so that we’ll need our sisters.

If everything feels too heavy right now, it might mean that you need a sister to your left and a sister to your right to help steady you and strengthen you and hold you together.

It might be time for a sister joist.

My life is just a dance between being sistered and sistering others.

And my favorite thing about being part of a sister joist is that you don’t have to say the right thing, you just have to stand there and be strong.

SISTERING: it’s the best part of life because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.

Find your sister joists.

Be a sister joist.

One of my purposes in writing this blog is to keep and maintain connections with the women I love. Another purpose is to pass down ideas or hints that will help my younger sisters. Another purpose is purely selfish: it gives me a place to be seen and heard, especially when a mom's job is sometimes invisible or silent. Another purpose is to connect with new friends or neighbors. That's the whole point. We need each other, and one of my superpowers is meeting new people. I love to make new friends. So if you're here at my house for the first time, Welcome! If you've been here before, you already know to please look past all the clutter and debris, and just make yourself at home. If you've been lonely and feeling left out, I've felt that too. Maybe you'll find a friend while we're sitting here together. If you've run out of songs to sing or books to read, I have a bunch I'd love to share.


Popular posts from this blog

Leaving Utah

Norm and I are at a crossroads.  It's time for our family to take the next step.  But first a quick trip down memory lane. We first came to Utah sixteen years ago.  We were young and cute and pregnant with baby #1.  Norm had been accepted as a student.  I had a lot of fun during my first two years of college, and I imagine the admissions board looked at my transcript and said something like, "yeah right!"  (More details about getting a D in organ lessons over  here .) So my first BYU application was rejected.  They let me attend classes as a visiting student, and one day an admissions officer called my phone.  It was a landline, and we were living in BYU married student housing.  He had two questions for me:  Is your husband a full time student?  Yes.  And you live on  campus?  Yes.  End of interview.  A few days later I got my acceptance letter. We finally graduated together in 2004. We bought our first home in Lehi, not too far from Willow Creek middle schoo


  These four books are either written by or about some of my favorite authors of all time. Isaiah , Prophet, Seer and Poet, by Victor Ludlow. One semester during college we did a deep dive into this poet's literary works found in the Old Testament. Someday if I get bored, I want to learn Hebrew and read his stuff in the original language. Neal A Maxwell  is another favorite writer. My favorite book that he's written is called All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, and is a masterpiece on human suffering and why it's necessary in the refining process. Highly recommend. The first time I read through it, it took about a year because I could only digest about a paragraph a day. believe  is such a fantastic collection of quotes on hope. Love it. Eliza  The Life and Faith of Eliza R Snow, by Karen Lynn Davidson and Jill Mulvay Derr. I love this lady so much and she's my favorite poet and pioneer woman. This biography is beautifully written. My favorite poem or quote by

2021 Christmas Card

December 2021  Dear Friends and Family, We love you and and miss y'all that are far away in WA and UT and other places!! This year we skipped our tradition of sending a Thanksgiving card and opted for a virtual Christmas card instead. It saved a ton of stamps and envelopes, but I definitely miss the glitter and sparkle. We hope you can feel our love even through a simple email or blog post. One tradition we couldn't skip was our gratitude tree, where the little leaves are a list of blessings. We are so thankful for God's goodness and mercy every day. Here's the highlight reel:  Cade graduated, made lots of Domino's pizza, read probably a thousand books, and is currently living in Provo, UT as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's heading to Helsinki, Finland in January. We are so proud of him and his hard work, we miss him but are excited for his opportunity to learn and serve. Shad spent a zillion hours with Marcus Ban

Thorns and gifts

We've been reading in the New Testament as a family lately, and Paul has some great advice and counsel that's still applicable today.  In his letter to the church in Corinth, he talks about a thorn in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 7  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. It's kind of a moot point to speculate what Paul's particular thorn might have been, but I've often wondered. More importantly: what is God's purpose in giving his children such difficult stuff to learn? Why does life have to be so hard?

One More Syllable

It's been a year. One year ago we moved to Texas. One year ago I started asking people to call me Kristina instead of Kristy, thus adding one more syllable to my name. August is our anniversary. Last year we celebrated that anniversary by adding a cool new memory. That day we drove up to our house, found the keys and walked inside with the kids. We spent the night in our house without any stuff. Isn't it funny how places seem bigger when they're unfurnished? And that pool in the backyard? We knew nothing about pools and maintenance but just jumped in carefree. It was great. It was like being in a hotel but with room for everybody to spread out. Maybe it's time to explain the name change. For me, I had decided before moving to Texas that I wanted to quit using Kristy as my nickname. It served me well for many years and I still like it, but it's mainly for simplicity. When I'd first meet somebody, maybe I'd mumble or maybe I don't speak clearly enou

Twenty + One Month

You know how life gets kinda messy sometimes? My version of messy looks like this: Four kids including a teenager learning to drive; a kindergartner learning to get herself ready in the morning; a senior learning about adulting; a middle schooler learning to ride her bike to electives every other day, a mortgage husband's career VIRTUAL PLUS church service pandemic, civil unrest, election year my own personal need for friends and connection even when my schedule looks like a revolving door Our big anniversary was last month and we were lucky enough to celebrate together this past weekend. We managed to sneak away for 24 hours. First I need to give credit where credit is due. There was a very generous friend who volunteered to parent the children during our 'Nelson marriage offsite.' And there was a generous benefactor who donated Marriott points to spring for the fancy room. I won't mention either party by name, but thanks to their generosity we had a great time. I'

Meek Warhorse

Norm's last church talk/sermon in Utah before moving to Texas July 2018, Lehi UT, Traverse Mountain 8th Ward Hello brothers and sisters, it’s my privilege to speak to you today.  I guess this is our good-bye address even though we haven’t moved yet, which I’m taking as a personal sign that the bishopric can’t wait for the next family to move in.  (that was a joke, guys) In my remarks today, I’m going to cover an alternative definition of meekness that really struck a chord with me.  Once I’ve introduced this idea, I’m going to share my supporting argument for meekness as a strength, and then I’m going to talk about how I believe we can develop this form of meekness in our lives. As Kristy told you, our topic is “being meek and lowly of heart” which, in the terms I normally think of meekness or lowliness, is a subject that does not come naturally to me.  I am not naturally what I consider to be meek, quiet or, as Kristy would tell you, all that well behaved.  While I

It doesn't matter where you live, but how...

Thoughts on Houses This is my first post from Texas.  The blog lives on.  August was a whirlwind, September we started settling in, and now it's October.  Most of the boxes are unpacked.  Just last week I found the box that had cookbooks in it, and that makes me pretty happy.  I still haven't made whole wheat bread or cookies since we got here, but maybe I'll do that soon. We spent a lot of time this summer thinking about houses, getting ready to sell our house in Traverse Mountain (in Lehi, on the northern edge of Utah County), and brainstorming on what we'd need in a house in Texas. On the way to Texas, we drove south through Colorado and spent the night at Mesa Verde.  We found the Far View Lodge inside the park and stayed up high on the mesa.  The night sky was pitch black away from the city lights, and the weather was at least ten degrees cooler up high.  I loved it.  The next morning we learned a lot about the Native Americans who lived there.  A man ga

How Controlling Are You?

Life is like Mario Kart. In the early levels, you're driving through Moo Moo Meadows and the grass is green and there's cows and fields and it's lovely. There's an occasional banana peel that gets tossed in the path, and sometimes the cows walk in the road so you try not to hit them. But overall the driving is pretty mellow.  Then later after you've unlocked other levels, there's stuff like Bowser's Castle. It's a maze with lava on both sides of the path, there's fire and brimstone all around, there's stone columns that try to smash you at random intervals. Just to know where to go and how to steer and stay on the path is complicated. Some stages of life are like Moo Moo Meadows. The details are easy-peasy and you just keep moving right along. And then there are years like Bowser's Castle where it's pretty intense and you pray a lot because the fire around you is pretty hot and you're trying not to fall in the lava pit.  During years

Happy Fall Y'all

Over the past year I've noticed a lot of fun and interesting things about Texas.  Call it culture shock or assimilation, but here's an outsider's view of my new home. Obviously I like saying "y'all," and I find it quite handy. From the vocabulary to the climate, from the school traditions to the local hotspots, I'm enjoying this new land even if I poke a little fun at some of the quirks. One of my favorite things about Texas is the people.  They are  nice.  The general default mode is to show kindness, warmth and hospitality. People go out of their way to help each other. I've seen this over and over again. The foundation of this town is built on people who are genuinely decent and friendly.  Language:  I love the west Texas drawl (or is it east Texas?).   At the elementary school, the sweet secretary lady is the nicest. When my son delivered something to his sister one day, she said, "Thank you baby," in a motherly, sweet way.