The Gym Shorts I Borrowed – Part I

My mom purchases my sister and me all new gym uniforms the summer before we enter 4th and 7th grade respectively. She buys them from Jim Mayer Sporting Goods, the monopoly proprietor of all Catholic schoolie gym uniforms in Cleveland. As I have not yet experienced a “growth spurt” (which next summer will consist solely of my hips expanding two jean sizes), I am still wearing youth sizes. When I try on the new Youth Large shorts, they come down just past my wrist.
I am so already winning at junior high.

“Mom? I cannot wear these. Like, all of my organs are showing.”


My mother works part-time for the federal government and then comes home to wrangle three kids: a hormonal rageball (myself), a sweet, sensitive secondborn (TP) and our younger brother Michael who has special needs. My dad, a criminal defense attorney, sometimes pays evening visits to his clients in the slammer. Friends ask me why they don’t see my dad very often. I tell them he is in and out of jail, which is basically true.

My parents always look tired. My mother, since I have known her, yawns from the three o’clock hour until she goes to bed at 10:30 p.m. It is only now that I understand why. BECAUSE PARENTHOOD EXHAUSTS.

My mom is a natural redhead with turquoise eyes. When you have pushed her last button, you will be seared by a laserbeam of ginger-headed cat-eyed NO. The day of the gym uniform reveal, I am sure that I have not even tread close to that threshold, not even flirted with it, but down the axe falls when I tell her she had clearly purchased me the wrong size.

“I’m not going back there. Jim Mayer assured me that large was the largest size he carried for youth. If you want to buy yourself a new pair, you can be my guest.”

I regret not thumbing a ride to Jim Mayer, just to see where it would have gotten me. Idaho? The 6 o’clock news? Into a pair of gym shorts that was not ill-fitting?
I rock the gym shorts the first week of school, mostly to spite my mother, because I am a peach. Because I am in 7th grade.

I am blushing before I put them on. My whole body feels as though it is radiating blush as I emerge from the lavatory where we change into our gym uniforms.


The one salvation that first gym class is my very best friend Mary. She is the only good thing happening to me in 7th grade besides Jonathan Taylor Thomas renewing for another season on “Home Improvement.” She spends most of the class period shielding me, which is a Herculean feat since her frame is the width of a Pez dispenser.

Our gym class winds single-file through the halls of the junior grade levels en route to the school gymnasium. Occasionally the gym instructor with her array of bright windsuits stops us in the halls and rebukes us for interrupting the first graders from learning to read. As we pause outside the classroom, I see 25 1st graders turn from their pint-sized desks to stare at the Big Girl in the hallway who seems to have gotten hold of their gym shorts. I pull my T-shirt over the shorts and yank a sweatshirt down, but then it looks like I had just forgotten my shorts. The official gym uniform of St. Raphael School is maroon, which nicely complements my flushed complexion.

After the first physical education class, I need to find another solution if I do not plan to transfer to a school without a gym uniform.
My solution is in a box.

(To be continued….)

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Why listening to Christian music makes me lazy

I listen to a good number of Christian contemporary music artists. Casting Crowns, Shawn McDonald, Hillsong, anyone? Their epic Jesus-y ballads score my workouts and car rides and grading sessions.

And sometimes, I get a little lazy about it all.

It’s not the musicians’ or the music’s fault. It’s my own reliance on their worship as my own.

While romping through the woods solo yesterday, earphones scoring the hike per usual, I had to stop and question what I was doing. I was hiking uphill and working up a sweat and pumping endorphins and I was still being so lazy.

I pulled the plug on the portrait of God that was being drawn by someone else.


I asked myself, is God really a Reckless Forgiver? A Lover of My Soul? Is He Not Dead but Surely Alive? These words were inspired by other believers whom I assume are in close relationship with Jesus. But am I trusting too much in the character that has been revealed to them and, basically, taking their word for it?

I began to think about the very specific ways God has revealed Himself to me recently:
– God was with me when an elder handed me diet pills across the dining room table. He gave me the patience and the words to be loving, to show His character, even when I was insulted and in distress. (1 Cor 10:13)
– He is so gentle in the faces and chubby hands of my kids who love me in spite of all of my intemperate streaks (Romans 2:4)


Those are just a couple of examples. I’m struck when I think how Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun, and then we turn right around and read in Isaiah how God will do a new thing.


I just don’t want to underestimate, underexpect, undervalue the newness and the freshness and the total specificity of God. In all His glory, He reaches down to earth and shows His care in such awesome and totally relevant ways, to our own unique and often crappy situations, crappy situations of our own making.

Friends, I just want to have eyes that will see and ears that will hear everything He is doing, not relying on someone else to tell me, or sing an epic ballad about it. I realize more and more this requires being present and showing up even when I want to be a lazeabout.

None of this is new under the sun, but His blessings are new every morning.


My intention for this spring semester is to show up to my devotion time even when I don’t feel like it, even when I have every excuse not to show up. Have you set an intention for the new year or new semester or new season of life? Feel free to link up a post or share below!

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Kendra Starter Kit

This is always a fun exercise and I hope you’ll link to this post if you do this, too.

So, if you found a shoebox full of things that captured either my tastes or told you about myself, that shoebox might include:

Album: Stevie Wonder “Songs in the Key of Life” – just my all-time favorite artist and favorite Stevie Wonder songs

Non-fiction Book: My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store – this is like a viewfinder switching back and forth between two scenes close to my heart–a Korean family business and the Paris Review literary mag. Trust. Hilarious and poignant, as well.

Fiction Book: Eleanor & Park – This book gave me crazy book grief. I’ve wandered around for a week afterward just pining for the characters and wishing the story were real and resolved.

Film: Little Women. The Winona Ryder/Christian Bale one just gives me all the feels. Plus, female writer protagonist FTW!

Accessory: I usually order glasses from SEE or Zenni. I do like a good cat eye.



Snack: Twizzler’s Pull n’ Peel. I know they are made of cherry-flavored shoe leather. Does not care.



Picture: One that makes me smile for miles. My two little treasures, so wee!tatermadi

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