Category Archives: Uncategorized

Belton • 1989-1995

In 1989, the Sebecks flew across the Atlantic as a military family for the last time.  The Department of Defense changed our orders from Colorado Springs to Fort Hood within the last month of packing, and all my dreams of being an Olympic skier turned in to fears of sleeping with rattlesnakes and living in a dust bowl.  [Let me note here that it would be another 5 years before I would see a snake… and that would be out in the woods along the creek bed. I never saw a rattlesnake in my yard until I moved to California.  Go figure.]

We found a house on 5 acres in Belton about 5 miles from where my life started in the trailer on Dog Ridge Road.  My mom started teaching at Nolanville Elementary, where she still teaches today.  Danny started 4th grade at Southwest Elementary, while I started 7th grade at Belton Junior High.

Jack was still with us.  We added Bustar shortly before we knew we would lose Jack in 1991.  That basset hound traveled more than most satellites.  We also brought over our new, red, 1988 Jeep Laredo which just finally went to its junkyard-Maker about 5 years ago.

In October of 1990 (8th grade), my father was sent overseas with Delta Company 1/32 Armor to serve in Desert Storm.  He would miss that year’s Christmas photo but returned 9 months later in April of 1991.  They let me miss school the day he returned and didn’t count my absence against me on my attendance record.  I remember that being a really big deal to me.  War.  Perfect Attendance.  You know.

I met Christan and Amanda (and Rachel and Zoe and Teresa…) hours after starting junior high.  We would meet before school around the oak tree in the courtyard, wearing our Umbros and white Keds.  Amanda and I were the only ones to NOT receive an award at our final choir banquet in 1995.  We remain close.

I met Anna in 9th grade.  She is in nearly every one of my high school photos.  We went to France together (French Club) and New York (Vicki Boren, Thespians) and Mardi Gras (Kremer and French Club, again).  Our parents would not let us drive past the county line, but we could take planes with adults.  Anna, what are you looking at?  Katie, why all the perms?  So many questions from the early 90s.  So many questions.

I got my driver’s license the summer after I turned 16, the same year my father retired from the military (1993), the same year Clinton was elected to office.  I drove a new, maroon, s10 pickup truck… and drove it until it died in 2004.  That truck went from Texas to North Carolina to back to Texas to California to Colorado to Michigan.  It was hit by Christan’s dad on Christmas Eve, a semi-truck on my mom’s birthday, and a lady in a mini-van on the 4th of July.  It also survived me backing out of the garage with the door down (Danny’s fault) and hitting a lamp post base in the school parking lot.  It was a good, solid truck.

I would lose all musical credibility my senior year by choosing to perform in the senior play over auditioning for the Texas All State Choir after placing 1st at both Region and Area.  It was totally worth it.  Look: a genuine smile.   (Michele, that’s your sister-in-law hugging me.  Oh. My. GOSH.) 

I am still extremely self-conscious in photos.  I ruined an entire roll of film and drove my mother to tears by making faces at the last second for this senior photo-shoot… me in my huge, over-sized varsity jacket (for choir, not sports… but you knew that).   Using humor to cover insecurity was a new talent for me, and I used it relentlessly.  That’s one of our former Christmas trees in the background, planted and happy.  Sebecks are recyclers.

Sorry about the roll of film, Mom.

In 1995, I graduated as a Belton Tiger with Honors and Thespian cords.  Our class song was Garth Brook’s The River.  Our yearbook printed the wrong year on the book’s spine and a DIFFERENT wrong year under our class photo.  I’m trying to be less country for you, but it doesn’t seem possible.

I was accepted late to Texas A&M University.  I had never been on campus and never seen a game.  I had spent 6 years in one house, in one school, in one town… my longest stretch ever, and I was ready to move.

I took Anna with me, of course.

What was your first car?

Timeline posts are a chance for me to get my life in order.  Literally.

1976-1978 • Belton

1978-1980 • Schonaich

1980-1985 • Fort Knox

1985-1989 • Erlangen


the sound of silence

She is there every Sunday: hair in two, dark braids, khaki pants, red shirt.  She is maybe 14, and I do not know her story.  Surely she must be able to hear. Her timing and laughter and precision is impeccable.  But every Sunday, she signs.  She does not sing.  She chooses to sign.

I cannot take my eyes off her.  From my balcony view to her in the front row, we are miles apart… but I cannot take my eyes off her.

I do not sing at our new church.  Not up front like before, and sometimes not from the bleachers, either.  I love to listen to the people sing around me.  I love to watch the worship leaders, the band.  I love to mouth the words, to pray them silently.  But the music… the music is not in me right now.  It is a different season, one that will change… but one that, for now, is silent.

The girl in red, in the front row, she does not sing either.

She dances.  She is fluid and staccato and power all in one.

She worships.  With each beat, her hands tell a story.

And I cannot take my eyes off her.

She makes the lyrics come alive.  Her whole body sings and breathes and pauses.  Smiles and cries and claps and runs and sways.  For 20 minutes every Sunday, I am captivated by the story she tells.

I need to watch her.  To remember that it is one thing to sing… but it is another thing entirely to worship.

It is one thing to study but another to practice.

I hear her loud and clear.

Her silence is more beautiful than a choir of angels.

You, young woman with the beautiful hair and the story in your hands… you are stunning.  You are the very definition of putting action to words, and I am humbled by the sincerity display.

I am taking notes.  I will find my voice again, genuine and imperfect.  And I will remember, because of you, that God speaks through silence as easily as through books and preachers and fire.  That He is not listening to voices but to hearts.

Your heart is lovely.  And I cannot take my eyes off you.


do the work

I was the last to be picked at try-outs for Freshman Sports.  I had, in fact, already been sent back to the locker room with the others exiled to regular PE when Coach called me back because my numbers were decent.  I had completed all the exercises, and I had served for volleyball at 75%- underhand like a baby, one girl said– but, 75%.  Far from stunning.

But I made the team.

I just wanted to be on the team.

I worked out every day with ridiculous athletes.  Our teams were good- competitors at state-level all four years of high school.  I stretched, I ran, I nearly died.  I was not- am still not- an athlete.   Basketball season was particularly awful.  I was a backup to the backups and did not get a cool uniform like the rest of the girls.  No jersey, no school sweats.  I did get to ride the bus to games and I made myself useful by keeping the stat book for the team.  Why I was willing to suffer the humiliation of being at the bottom of that heap day in and day out for the entire year is beyond me.  It still shocks me.

High School is hard.

Halfway through the year, Coach issued a challenge: anyone who could bench press their own weight would earn a t-shirt.  An emblem of achievement.  Another proof of belonging.  For me, at 99 pounds, that meant I’d have to bench 100 pounds.  The first try a few weeks later, I failed along with a few others.  The second try, I was close at 95 pounds… but not close enough.  I would have one more shot- me, alone– the next week.

While the other girls worked on drills for that night’s game in the gym, Coach and I walked to the weight room in the field house.  It was maybe the only time I’d ever been alone with her.  I was terrified of her.  I think I still am.  To make conversation, she asked if I was excited for the game coming up.  For reasons completely unknown to me and probably God, I said, “No.”  She stopped in middle of the parking lot.

“Why not?” she asked, her hands on her hips.

The truth continued to seep from my mouth, “Well, [Maggie] keeps saying I shouldn’t even really be going.  I don’t play.  I just take up space.  And, she’s right. I mean, I want to go.  But I know some of the other girls don’t want me to go… and that’s, you know, weird.”

She stared at me silently for a second.  Maybe she was trying to remember my name.  I considered running away but realized she could catch me and, really, how much more awkward could this day get?

“Katie, you do the work.  You do the same work every one else does every day.  You just don’t get the same results. But, you do the work… so, you ride the bus.”

And just like that, she turned around and marched on to the weight room.

It took me a couple seconds to catch up with her.

It took me 20 years to understand her.

A few things:

That was the last time I weighed anything close to 100 pounds.

I couldn’t bench my weight that morning, and I didn’t get my t-shirt.  She’d probably be fired today for leaving one student out, but back then you only got a shirt if you earned it.  I didn’t. I understood that and I’m ok with it.

Girls are mean.  They terrify me, still, to this day.

I do the work.  Today.  I do the work.  I don’t get the behavior results or the blog results or the book results or the music results that some get… which is so absolutely maddening to me… but I do the work.  I’m on the team.

So the next time I order up sweatshirts, I’m putting my name across the back.  I’m a starter on this team now.  No asterisk.  No explanation.  I do the work.  I bench my weight.  I get a shirt.

I’ve earned it by now, and so have you.

Get on the bus.


postcards from Texas

The Mulder family is off the farm this week visiting KatieKate’s motherland of Texas.  I’ll be posting postcards every day this week! 


postcards from Texas

That flag… it’s really something special, ya know?


out of the blue

Shortly after I took a blog break in August, I received an email from an online friend and illustrator, Catherine, asking if I’d be interested in regularly contributing to a collective of writing at Baaaaa.com.

Catherine is easily one of the most encouraging people I’ve ever met, and I often feel like her blog posts are Divinely written directly at for me.  Her request came at a time when I needed desperately to be a part of something bigger… like, perhaps Someone was watching out for me and my heart.  I’m so thrilled to be a small part of her idea.

Here’s my first contribution, and below is my second (post-pregnancy-induced, obviously):

Dear God,

Father.

Hey.

I’ll try to keep this short. (Who am I kidding?)

I know we’re both busy.

Thanks so much for the baby girl this December. Abby June is a simple and pure joy. Her brother and sister are adapting well and certainly seem to love the new addition. Thanks for that, too. Lovely planning on Your part. Really. Nice work.

I do seem to be having some trouble in the parenting department. My children are so incredibly beautiful… but high-maintenance. Gracious. Mostly, I’m struggling with the repetition of it all. I feel like we cover the same ground every day. Sometimes, multiple times a day. Hour?

Questions, all the time. And the same questions, all the time. What is it with that? Daddy to work? Yes. Daddy home for dinner? Yes. Cookie for breakfast? No. Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow. Dog outside? Yes. Me outside? No. It’s 14°. Cookie for breakfast?

[sigh]

I have to remind them, every day, they need socks to be warm. That we don’t kick/bite/hit family members. (We’re working on the rest of humanity, too… we just need to conquer local first.) That I can’t reach the back of the van when I’m driving. That we don’t lick things off the floor, especially when strangers can see us.

Every day. The same lessons every day. Different clothing, maybe, but the same lessons.

Frankly, I’m a little exhausted. I’d like to teach something once, say something once. I’d like to get good eye contact, a smile, and a ‘thanks for changing my life for the better, now I’ll go play by myself for 30 minutes so you can work on dinner alone’ skip-to-my-lou-and-they’re-off. That’s what I’d like.

Is this making any sense? What do You suggest? Time-out for the biting and licking? Clearer, simpler words for the explanations? Writing a handbook that can be referred to over time and in my absence?

When, exactly, does the repetition end and the learning take root?

And, have You ever felt this way?

Please advise.

Thanks so much.

Love and sincerity,

Katie

Every day, Friends, our beautiful God could write a letter like this… about me.  About you.  About me, again.  By all grace and mercy, He doesn’t.

Besides, to whom would He send it?

1 Corinthians 13:11 • When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.  – New American Standard Version


extra extra

There’s an extra post this week, Friends…

but you have to pop over to Baaaaa.com to read it!


baaaaa

Perhaps you will join me today over at baaaaa.com?  It’s my day to write…

http://nblo.gs/nmRNz

Thanks, Friends.


walkabout

AH, love… we are back.  All of us under one roof again.  Rylie’s trip to Texas for Camp Sebeck with my parents was a huge success in every way, but her return has been even sweeter.  Her brother is FULL of hugs and smiles for her, which is just about the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.  Thank you for all your love and prayers and encouragement.  You are such a blessing to me.

I must tell you things have been a bit yucky behind the scenes around here.  This blog neighborhood has been such a surprise and incredible joy for me… to write, to chronicle, to laugh, to absolutely sob. It’s also a very personal place for me, and as much as I control what I say here I still cannot control perception. For me, that kills. I have always been a girl who wants so very much to be understood- both in story and in person.  Lately, everything has been… off.  Hugely off. 

I’m going to retreat for a little bit.  A couple months, I think.  I’m going to let this season fade, I’m going to watch a few folks walk away, I’m going to store up. After 6 years of regular, disciplined writing, I am due for a walkabout. I’ll certainly pop in here and there with photos… but little writing.

I’m going to pack up my brother-in-law and family and send them to Huntington Beach.  

I’m going to build my kids a life-size rolling chalkboard.

I’m going to buy a puppy and train it to herd/chase cattle with me.

I’m going to paint stars on my porch.

I’m going to figure out how to be a more intentional mom to Rylie and Gus.

I’m going to buy a new computer and an upright vacuum.

I’m going to raise 50 chicks for our first Old School class in September.

I’m going to Netflix the entire Tudors series and sew until every household in America has a cute little pillow and celebration banner.

I’m going to grow this Little Mulder #3. 

And then, when my heart is clear and my humor is quick again, I’m going to come back.

I hope you’ll be waiting.


survival

The final total on the money jar game was…

$144.25

Giddyup! That makes Jim (with a guess of $103.75) our winner.  Correct me if I’m wrong.  Jim, you win a Pere Marquette magnet for your fridge… the train that goes from Grand Rapids to Chicago.

I liked it so much, I bought one for myself.

AND, one for Amy… the angel of a friend who met me in Union Station after a 2-hour delayed arrival and took my child with her three in-tow for a walk while I waited in line for over an hour to fix our connecting St. Louis tickets.  Amy also brought me a coke and a sandwich, a lunchable with a caprisun for Rylie, and a brown bag of surprises for the rest of our trip.  She sat on the floor with me in the waiting lounge while our children wrestled and let the industrial fan blow up their shirts like superheros.  If she weren’t already taken, I’d have asked her to marry me.

If you ever find yourself pregnant and stuck in a train station within 50 miles of Amy, I highly recommend her.

The trip was really, really decent.  It was.  Ry was beyond thrilled with the train. We could walk at will, plug in her dvd player, grab a snack in the lounge… so incredibly lovely.  Even with Friday’s insanity (We didn’t end up leaving Chicago until 6pm, and arriving in St. Louis at midnight as opposed to 7pm.), it was still better than a plane trip with kids.  Hands down.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I will confess that I had some considerable trouble walking out of the house without Rylie Sunday morning.  It has nothing to do with my parents, or even the length of stay.  It was simply the fact that Rylie is old enough now to realize I was leaving without her… and asked me to stay.  It never crossed my mind that she would put that all together, but that’s me assuming her lack of voice means a lack of understanding. I warn everyone about that… but forgot it myself. 

Putting her to bed Saturday night was ridiculously hard and I began to fear that she would wake up the next morning and think, “My mom left me.”

Our lives are so intertwined… I am a mom, a therapist, an interpreter, a motivator, a bodyguard- so many things for my little girl!  It’s only been 2 days and already I am shocked at the amount of emotional and physical energy I am NOT using.  Shocked at how much less I use my voice.  Shocked at how calm everything is around here.

May this coming month be a rest for both of us.

Thursday, I’d like to tell you about some of the characters we met on our journey.

Y’all come on back.