oversaved baseball.

I didn’t grow up in a pro-sports home. The only time we watched it was on Sunday afternoons – and it was background noise for naps at that point. When I moved into the Swing house in 2011, I was quickly plunged into the world of sports. One of the things I remember learning that blew my mind was the concept of a sacrifice bunt. It didn’t make sense to me, especially considering that any time I’d watched a baseball game to this point, I was mostly eating peanuts or socializing with those around me.

If you’ve known me for a while, you know that I am a learner. I love to understand. I love to see patterns. When I learn a concept, I love being able to identify it next time it comes around.
One of the next times I was watching the Cubs with Uncle Tom, Aunt Sharon, and Matt, I saw it. I was so excited with my discovery! I asked loudly, “Isn’t that it? The sacrificial bunt?” The Swings started laughing amidst their affirmations. I was close…but not all the way there. Years of church attendance had fused with my new baseball knowledge, bringing about the tale of the sacrificial bunt.

throwback: chickies and nuts.

The following story is an excerpt from the weekly series I wrote every week during my first few years of college. The things to know: 1. Janine is my sister. 2. She was dating Caleb at that point, and 3. now they’re married. 4. I have a chin that we call a “butt-chin” in my family. 5. Hannah was my neighbor in the dorms and is still a friend! 6. 3D was the college ministry at the church we went to at that time. Enjoy the writing of college-age Joy – ever egged on by competition.


The cup that did it all. Grr…

6) Chickies and nuts.
After dinner, we decided to go to Caleb’s apartment to watch Amazing Grace. While we were gathering in the fishbowl, Janine noticed something weird on my chin. We couldn’t figure out where the heck it came from! After a process of elimination, we concluded that I gave myself a hickey on my chin by sucking on the styrofoam cup. It has now been lovingly dubbed a “chickie.” It starts in the “hole” of my butt-chin, then goes down, turns into a Y, and follows the curvature of my chin bone and ends about 3″ later. Thankfully, this chickie is almost gone.

I got back from the movie, and almost right away, Hannah wanted to know what the thing was on my neck. I refused to tell her….okay it was more like delaying telling her, but still. I refused.
When she finally pried it out of me, she laughed. Not just a little hehe laugh, but a BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, let’s collapse and roll on the floor with laughter, laugh. Of course, this meant that I had to tell the girls in Hannah’s room too…
Oh the joys of a chickie.

Then, Saturday morning, I went to the 3D leader’s meeting for the upcoming dodgeball tournament on Tuesday. Afterward, I was fencing with Amanda using empty plastic water bottles. I jousted hers out of her hand, then picked it up in triumph. I then proceeded to throw one of them at Rebekah, who usually throws them at me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Jonathan Day starting to come towards me. Without looking to aim, I threw it at him. Guess where it landed. yep.
That one spot that second graders are forbidden to speak of. Jon collapsed. I felt bad. I left.
I apologize, Jonathan. It wasn’t supposed to happen.

So yes. I made a fool of myself twice in a 24 hour period.


Since my parents homeschooled my sister and me in the days before it was broadly accepted, mom wanted to make sure we were always hitting the expected bars that kids our age were reaching in schools around us. That meant taking standardized tests every year alongside other homeschool kids. One of my most traumatic test-taking experiences happened on one of these days.
It was a test day like the many I’d had before. I saw the other girls in my age group that I was acquainted with, tried to make small talk, then picked a seat in the test room.
Let’s be real. The best part of these days is filling out the bubbles for your name. I always (and by always, I mean about 90% of the time) didn’t follow the rules and wait like instructed. I filled them out right away. Then the pangs of guilt would hit, and I’d put my arm over the test to look like I still hadn’t touched the bubbles, though seven bubbles now contained the letters of my name. When the teacher finally instructed us to put our names in, I’d darken the already filled in bubbles to look like I was playing along. That was as close as I ever got to cheating.
All of the fun times aside, I knew I was in trouble during one test day when we were already a section or so into the test – past the point of no return – and my nose began to run. Not like “oh look at that. A little snot came out.” Oh no. It was my nose full-on staging a mutiny. Wave after steady wave of mucus came out without stopping. Since the test was in motion, there was no getting up. No asking for help. No movement. Looking around was suspicious. I had no other option. The good news – I have always been resourceful. The bad news – I only had sleeves to work with. I tried to make my approaches to swipe away the charging mucus discreetly, but after I had used up a good portion of the real estate of my shirt cuff, there wasn’t a chill way to keep the now waterfalls off of my test. It definitely didn’t help me make a positive impression on the girls I was trying to win points with. But I still survived the test. And it was something. I think I still turned out ok. Haha.

the clown day.

Some kids are scared of clowns. Some adults find them creepy. At the ripe young age of 6, I thought clowns were amazing. Especially since I knew one. In real life.
Her name was Ike, and she was my adopted Kansas grandma’s sister. I found her incredibly entertaining. When Mom asked what I’d like to do for my birthday, it wasn’t a challenge to agree on our friend Ike.

If my memory serves me well, this was the summer after we started homeschooling. I invited my school friends (who I hoped still remembered me even though I wasn’t at school for a whole quarter), and suddenly, it was a party.

The morning of the party came. I remember feeling the buzz of excitement inside me. As a young child with profound lack of patience, I sequestered myself to my favorite lookout point – the guest room closet window, which looked over the street. After what seemed like forever, Ike’s car drove up. I ran downstairs and outside. Poor Ike didn’t even know what was coming her way. In my excitement, I probably didn’t give her any space whatsoever.

What I do remember though is that she showed me many secrets. I loved secrets. It made me feel special to get the insider information (and it oddly enough still does). She showed me how clowns have secret shoes that make their feet look huge and silly. They fit right over her normal shoes! I couldn’t believe it. She showed me her outfit and all of the goodies she brought. I was enthralled, to say the least.

My friends started showing up. I was beaming with pride. I, Joy Bork, a now 6-year-old, had my own clown friend. We played games outside, danced in circles. I saw my neighbors out back and had to let them know (via screaming) that I had a clown, and she’s my clown. I loved that birthday. And it was because of my friend Ike.





The looks say it all. Joy: “Yay, school!” Mrs. Meredith: “Oh boy. This one will be a handful.”


Two huge things happened to me in Kindergarten. I distinctly remember both of them. I guess they were so traumatic to my little brain that the experiences stuck. For good or for bad, welcome to my kindergarten experience.
Mom and Dad put my sister and me in a private Christian school for the first few years of our schooling. For the most part, I loved being with everyone in the group environment. But even in the midst of that, there was darkness.
I remember that there was one day when some parents were around (maybe it was a birthday party day?) and one mom came over to talk to me at my desk. She brought up a generally safe conversation topic.
The mom: “Joy, what’s your favorite color?”
Me: “Purple.”
The mom: “Oh! That’s nice! Is it because it’s royal?”
Panic ensued in my mind. And from that moment on, my favorite color has been red. See? Trauma. (If you can’t tell, I’m smirking right now as I write this)
The other moment of darkness from my schooling days came when we were discussing letters in our class. Mrs. Meredith, my teacher, asked a question that I knew the answer to. I couldn’t control it. The answer boiled up in me and rolled out of my mouth before I could follow the proper hand-raising procedure. I loudly proclaimed the letter “K” for all to hear. Next thing I knew, I was standing on the line at recess in front of the first-gradee teacher, Mrs. Peck. It was humiliating.
But all is not lost. I turned out ok (I think). I just won’t be blurting out the letter K in public. I learned that lesson.


Joy and Chels - Blast 2013

This one is dedicated to my pal Chelsea. We’ve been through highs, lows, and everything in between. You’re everything a kid could ask for in a pal, and I’m so grateful. Here’s to new adventures, laughing about the past, and the power of presence. I love you!


When I interned at Willow during the summer of 2010, I met Chelsea. Little did I know that she would become one of my best friends. One of the turning points that solidified her in my mind as my kind of human was when we had a project to do in the Lakeside Auditorium catwalks at Willow. During the summer days when no services are planned in Lakeside, the AC is generally kept off. Since heat rises, the catwalks then become quite near unbearable on really hot days.
On this particular day, Chelsea and I headed up to the catwalks to swap out some colored gels on the lighting rig. While up there, we were discussing the heat and how we were sweating. In passing, Chelsea mentioned casually that the catwalks are “the armpit of God.” The hilarity of that statement led from one thing to another, until we made a discovery.
Go with me here for a second. There are many species of animals that have gone undiscovered that are quite real, but until they are found lack a name. The same happened with our discovery, except that instead of discovering an animal, we put a name to a phenomenon that happens often in heat.
My friends, I give you SPSBS.
You know that moment when you’re outside in the summer and your pants start to stretch out a bit? Then because you’re working or playing hard (or just in a hot area), your butt starts to sweat? Never fear. We put a name to it. Saggy Pant Sweaty Butt Syndrome. It affects us all, old and young. No one is immune. But there are things that can be done to prevent others from knowing about your SPSBS. Mainly – don’t wear mid-saturation toned shorts/pants. They show sweat.
That day in the catwalks began something amazing. And that’s my friendship with Chelsea. Thanks, SPSBS!

my crochet injury.



My niece Haddie creatively displaying one of my projects

When I get into something, I get into it pretty hardcore. This has proved true with many things I’ve done – Legos, coffee, toe socks, converses, geocaching, and as I’ll talk about in this story, crocheting.
I love things that are rhythmic. Repeated and rhythmic tend to be soothing for me. Crochet became a love of mine pretty quickly once I was introduced to it. A wonderful volunteer named Donna bought me my first skein of yarn and needle. In my head, she was going to sit and teach me, and I was oh so excited. Turns out that she handed me the tools and referred me to YouTube, the great teacher of all. Ha!
The wild world of single and double crochets enraptured my mind. I started looking for patterns and easy projects to tackle. I didn’t want to think too much, but just enough. I decided that I wanted to make a big blanket. And of all the things I wanted to make it out of, I chose old T-shirts. I spent hours cutting about 15-20 of my old shirts into 1” strips, then sewing them together. I started crocheting the strip yarn with my finger. I made a long chain, then kept going, building my blanket row by row. The next morning, I realized I needed to make a change. I could barely bend my index finger that I had used for hooking! But don’t worry. Hobby Lobby had a hook to match my needs. Way to go, Hobby Lobby.
As I began to run out of shirt yarn, I panicked. I was all the shirts and many hours in, but


The t-shirt blanket – top view.

the blanket wasn’t even wide enough to fully cover my legs. Graciously, Uncle Tom offered some of his shirts that needed to be retired, and the process began again, but this time with a different color scheme. After a few weeks, my masterpiece was complete. The one thing I didn’t take into account – how heavy it would be. The combined weight of crocheting maybe 30-40 shirts together landed me with a (no joke) 10lb blanket. Which I ended up turning into a rug…because why not.
So this crocheting phase went on for about a month before I realized something was wrong. A lump had appeared on top of my left wrist. I came home and tentatively told Aunt Sharon about it. Through the power of google, we figured out that I had crocheted my way to having a ganglion cyst on my left wrist.
But the story gets better. I went to lead my small group at Willow Huntley’s Student Impact that week, and of course, the topic of my wrist came up. We played the game “signs,” where everyone has a hand motion, someone stands in the middle, and the game participants pass the invisible ball around the circle using each other’s signs. What did mine end up being? Crocheting.
But then it got even a little worse. At the end of that month, I was the tech director for a large student camp. It’s usually more guys than gals on the tech team. I wasn’t sure what was going on with my wrist, so I decided to put it in a brace for the setup portion of camp. My worst-case-scenario brain kicked into gear…what if? What if I have to admit to these techie dudes that I have…I have…
A crocheting injury.
But thankfully, all hope wasn’t lost. No one asked that I can recall. I still have the cyst on my left wrist. I named it Frank. I haven’t crocheted much since that time. But I can say with confidence that I have sustained a crocheting injury.


Functional? Not so much. Cool looking? Yes. Thundershirt or heavy lead blanket equivalent for adults? Yes.

(Interesting side story – Aunt Sharon was talking with some women at a retreat and found out that there are crocheting cruises…where people go on cruises to crochet with each other. And apparently ganglion cysts are aplenty. So there’s that.)