Hot Dog Stains, Belize Prep, Mermaids, Melanoma: the usual


J and I were supposed to go out tonight (Friday) to celebrate the closing of our Carmel house this week and to say things to each other like, HELLO. HOW ARE YOU?, but the babysitter was sick and canceled, so instead we spent the evening grabbing slices of pizza off the stove between feeding twins and cueing Friday movies and arguing about brushing teeth and everything you might imagine a Friday night to be with 3 kids 3-and-under… and in the end I am just sitting here with cold pizza, Prosecco, and a full 4-finger grease stain (hot dog?) on my pants. It’s too late for a movie because the twins wake up at 5 AM, and J is already snoring in the next room. I don’t really blog anymore, so how about a very long Insta/FB post, because I have zero margin in my life and this is how I’m left to process. WHO’S WITH ME? 

Just kidding. Insta cut me off, so here we are on this rusty old cobwebby blog space, which I might actually resurrect for a few when we go to Belize, because then instead of just a circus, we will be a *traveling* circus!

Insomnia club, I see you. Let’s call this meeting to order, yes? First on the agenda: we leave for Belize next month. NEXT MONTH. And my 3-year-old (who was previously pretty excited to go, although she has no idea what she’s talking about— a plane! Just like Papa and Mimi’s in FL!) just cried for an hour when she started to conceptualize that she’ll be leaving her school here for a while and going to a new school. Do you, oh Internet, remember when we moved to Madison from Chicago?? Her difficult adjustment totally blindsided us, because we didn’t prep her at all thinking a) she was only two years old at the time, and b) it was basically the same lifestyle. But she cried for months about her old class and her old room and her old friends, and only six months in started feeling comfortable in her own room 😕 .

We’re learning she is slow-to-warm in temperament and a little on the anxious side. So, *AS IF* regular logistics weren’t enough to keep me up at night (Housing! Packing! Electricity! Water! The exact number of instant oatmeal packets that will fit in our bag and not overweigh it!), now I’m worried about her distress over scary new things I hadn’t really considered from her perspective because Belize is so warm and comforting and familiar to J & me. 

We’re caught in this tricky in-between place— not short-term like in a vacation, but not long-term like moving there permanently, which are her only frames of reference. 

I did show her pics of Belize, our friends there, some of the schools I used to work in, Independence Day parades, piñata parties, La Ruta Maya canoe race, cute little monkeys, the zoo, etc. and she stopped crying at some of my snorkeling with sharks pics, which I obviously told her were dolphins, and then she perked up and wondered if there might also be mermaids, to which I was like, YES. THERE DEFINITELY MIGHT BE MERMAIDS, ARE YOU ALL BETTER NOW, CAN MERMAIDS FIX YOUR TENDER LITTLE HEART, PLS???

Anyway, how I am *just now* considering my sweet little baby in this major life change brings me to me next agenda item: the lack of margin in my life. 

You guys, I am a symbolic person who makes sense of life through writing and reflecting and finding insights and humor and ultimately peace through this process. But lately I have been keeping twin babies alive and running a counseling practice and teaching a course and responding to disruptive events (like, for example, a bank robbery at the Pick n Save, which was super convenient because I could grocery shop immediately after), and have been drowning in the event-emotion-processing backlog. It feels just like my laundry situation, actually. This week, I gave up folding or putting away sheets and stuffed them all into a cedar chest and literally whispered, “I’m sorry” to them as I closed the lid. 

This situation basically represents MY SOUL. 


As mentioned above, we sold our Indiana house this week— our first home together, the place I flooded when we first moved in, the place with twinkle lights on the deck to signal to friends on the trail to stop in for wine and/or pizza (Chuck Horn riding up with 2 beers in his bike cooler!), the place that held every single tear we cried through years of (at the time) hopeless and non-covered fertility treatments, where we nurtured all our May flower gardens into tiny, living, beautiful things, which felt so important at that time. It was the place we hosted all the Thanksgivings and niece and neph sleepovers, the place our life together was established, the place we dreamed all our best dreams for marriage and family— and it was only after Jeff left at 6am to drive 12 hours there and back with a quick signature and handing over of keys (which didn’t happen because WHERE ARE THE KEYS?) and after his mom came over to help me manage the kids for those 12 hours, that we realized the significance of this house sale and wished we’d gone together, and had scheduled time to honor everything we experienced there, all the life that came after 😭😭😭. 

And how about this? Because we are going to Belize, I bulldozed my way into my primary care just to get a referral to the Derm, and the Derm squeezed me in on a cancellation list with like 12 hours notice due to family melanoma history and my departure to the equator next month. She biopsied a couple of spots, which is, like, normal occurrence, and then she called last week to tell me it was malignant melanoma and that a surgeon would be contacting me shortly.

On that phone call, the babies were crying, and all I can remember is how I was doing my absolute best to reassure her that I was totally fine while she gave me bad news. She was super concerned, and I was like, YEAH NO I’M TOTALLY FINE, ALL GOOD HERE, I AM STRONG AND CAPABLE AND TOTALLY RELIABLE, EMOTIONALLY, SEE?

Whyyyyy do I need to convince a stranger that I can handle all the things? (It’s my strong 3 wing. This blog basically reveals that the 4 is stronger, though.)

I asked zero questions, just hung up and kept on with the babies. It wasn’t until my family and friends started asking me questions about staging and surgery and procedures that it occurred to me to call the Dr. back and gather more info. IN WHAT LIFE DOES A CARE PROVIDER CALL TO SAY YOU HAVE SKIN CANCER AND YOU ASK ZERO QUESTIONS? A life where 50 other things are on your mind, and you have like a 5-day delayed reaction, and you’re sidetracked by making it look like you are not losing your mind on a daily basis. (I did call back, it’s a tiny little tumor and probably just stage 1 but they won’t stage until after surgery on Thursday. My mom is coming because of course she is if you’ve seen any of my other postings on FB/Insta.) 

The funny thing is that I just taught this course (in Chicago, 3 days after I broke my ankle) on Compassion Stress Management and Compassion Fatigue, and during the training, we completed a stress-level assessment, where the results basically predicted, based on your score, your likelihood of having a major medical event within a matter of years. Prob should have taken my own assessment.

ANYWAY. The good news is that after I wrote this, the babysitter called back and sent J and me out the following night, so we talked and cheersed and dined and reflected. I typed all this out on my little phone in 30 minute increments over a span of 3 days, and I feel much better. SO. THANKS INTERNET. 

Follow along with us as we haul two babies and a three year old to Belize next month for a semester?? Prayers for everyone’s adjustment (and skin and ankles?)

Thanks, pals. 


HAPPY NEW YEAR! Just 39 days late.

February 8th— the world’s most random day to reflect on 2018, and to cast visions and plans and thoughts for 2019. I usually do this on NYE, so I am only 39 days behind on life.

I’ve had so many past years-in-review and thoughtful letters to myself for the upcoming year, and years of selecting the perfect words to focus on before I even knew picking a word was a thing, but this January I’ve really been trying hard to do things like shower regularly and keep my toddler alive and stand up off the couch and live my life.

I saw this meme today:


That’s me.

In the last quarter of 2018 we found out we were having twins (8 days after renewing a lease on a 2br apartment—which we’d stretch to fit 4 of us since the first 3 ultrasounds showed only 1 baby, but definitely not 5 of us when that other baby popped into the picture at around 10 weeks. WHOOPS, DOCTOR WHO MISSED THIS THREE TIMES).

In the midst of figuring out the feasibility of raising 3 kids in the city in terms of square footage and childcare costs (spoiler alert: not feasible for us) and panicking about what we would do next, I couldn’t stop puking. So for the first 15 weeks, basically through the end of October, my sole focus was breathing, eating, sleeping and on occasion, fluids and meds from the ER.

The babies felt like foreign objects I couldn’t quite connect with yet because of the puking, the prospect of quick financial ruin was scary, and where would everybody sleep?! Wait, WOULD ANYBODY EVEN SLEEP? DO TWINS SLEEP?

So we reached out to friends and colleagues in our hometowns with the goal of moving closer to family, even at the cost of uprooting my very new growing practice that had really just begun to thrive, and Jeff’s near-ideal appointment at Northwestern, and within a matter of weeks, a door had opened and the ball was rolling on a move to Madison. From there, it was lightening speed. I think Jeff got the offer from UW sometime in the first week of December, and movers came on Dec 27th.

We moved back into Jeff’s old bachelor pad in Madison (which, ironically, is also a 2br house), and after a ridiculous and probably poorly judged Midwest holiday tour, we had picked up back-to-back viruses we kept passing between us. I had to be back in Chicago 4 days after the move for a week-long training, and I have continued to drive back-and-forth on the weekends to close out my caseload and hand off my practice in prep for maternity leave—half of those weekends negotiating one of SIX winter storms that hit between Madison and Chicago.

Our formerly potty-trained kid was back in pull-ups, and she cried for her old house and her old school for weeks. She has only slept through the night maybe 4 times in these last 39 days since the move, and never in her own room alone.

I said to Jeff the other day that I feel like this winter has been inside my body.
Like, inside my soul.

I think in winter everything feels scarce: sunlight, warmth, daytime hours, the color green, hope that it’s ever going to end.  And I found myself in a parallel experience of scarcity mentality as I trudged through the end of 2018 and peeked into 2019.

I was scared there wouldn’t be enough—
Enough space
Enough sleep
Enough love
Enough help
Enough income
Enough gestation
Enough breast milk
Enough attention
Enough closet space
Enough paternity leave

At one point when my friends were all talking about what their 2019 words would be, I asked myself what I wished I could dive into and swim around in during 2019 if it could be anything on the planet.

My choice? Abundance.

I asked myself, What if the answer to all those questions could be YES. Yes, there will be enough. (I mean, except for the closet space, which is a hard NO.) What if what we have right now is our portion, and that, actually, what’s coming to us in March is a double portion, or, you know, an abundance?

I think I had to wait to write this until February, because, finally (FINALLY) the abundance mentality is moving in. I feel like I am finally turning the corner into spring inside. (Which always reminds me of NN’s seasons song) I could play it on repeat forever.

So, yes, 2018, you were a little but tough at the end, and 2019, you are scary. But I’m carrying around a double portion, and I think there will be enough. Enough skin to grow them, enough square feet to house all of us, enough hours to care for everyone, enough love for two new humans, enough attention for Havi and Jeff, enough money to get us through, enough energy to survive, enough help to feel supported.

We’ll have what we have when we need it, and it might even be abundant.
(The bows will be abundant.)

I love this artist Sleeping at Last, and he has a song called North about moving into a new home. I love the entire song, and I’ll post the lyrics below (and the link above if you click on the song name), but one section just keeps playing out in my mind as the prayer for all these quick, giant changes in our family, and for this pretty significant move to Madison:

“Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.
let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide.
settle our bones like wood over time, over time.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.”

Bread, salt and wine— all we need, right?
Bread so our house never knows hunger, salt so life always has flavor, and wine to keep mom sane for joy and prosperity.

(Yes, I know, I know. It’s a Wonderful Life.)

We will call this place our home
the dirt in which our roots may grow.
though the storms will push and pull
we will call this place our home.

We’ll tell our stories on these walls.
every year, measure how tall.
and just like a work of art
we’ll tell our stories on these walls.

Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.
let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide.
settle our bones like wood over time, over time.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.

A little broken, a little new.
we are the impact and the glue.
capable more than we know
to call this fixer upper home.

With each year, our color fades.
slowly, our paint chips away.
but we will find the strength
and the nerve it takes
to repaint and repaint and repaint every day.

Let the years we’re here be kind, be kind.
let our hearts, like doors, open wide, open wide.
settle our bones like wood over time, over time.
give us bread, give us salt, give us wine.

Smaller than dust on this map
lies the greatest thing we have:
the dirt in which our roots may grow
and the right to call it home.

Our Modern Day Goose Chase to the Promised Land

I drafted this blog in March after a text convo with some old pals about moving to LA or something and starting our own grassroots anti-modern-evangelical church. I sat on the post for a million reasons, mainly to get through holidays and family visits and birthdays and a few business ventures that might have linked back to the blog page, partly because there was so much political noise at the time and I was exhuasted, and partly because I wanted to do a tone check and make sure it was still true if I waited until later.

It’s still true.

It’s not a secret that the last nine-ish months have revealed (instituted?) a line of divide between peers I grew up with in the church and our elder people. I thought it was just me and my elder people, but others have reported the same as we talk in all our private exchanges with pipedreams about starting new churches committed to things like “On earth as it is in heaven” instead of “Our country as it is in heaven” which has all those elder people rolling their eyes at our bleeding hearts and misplaced passion and self-righteousness and naïveté.

They apologize about us to their friends. They’ve told us this.

We’re the un-evangelicals. The Christians who wholeheartedly reject those zonky old patriarchal evangelists, Pat & Franklin (which kind of looks like a boutique children’s clothing line now that I see it in print: Pat & Franklin) and instead opt for inclusive, grace-driven ideals that fundamentally reflect the gospel of Jesus, which we believe in so hard that we can’t reconcile it with the current president OR the evangelical culture that elected him.

We’re the ones who believe God cares about the earth he created and wants to restore the relationship between man and nature. We care about issues like climate change and EPA funding and whether or not a giant chunk of ice just broke off Antartica. We definitely put the wrong recyclables in the wrong containers sometimes (some of us live in high rises that only recycle glass and paper but not aluminum or plastic), but we try our best and we don’t reject scientific data if it happens to conflict with our political schema. We alter our political schema to make room for data and hold it up to the truth of our faith, which tells us God values the earth he created for us to live on. It makes logical sense for us to advocate good stewardship of the resources we’ve been given.

We’re the ones who believe in the value and dignity of human life, even prenatal ones, but believe in life so hard that we incorporate public health data showing us how global abortion rates decline—when we fund women’s health initiatives. We value statistics and logic and reason as tools in our restoration of life and well-being. We live in the gray. We understand there is so much detail between life and death and we carry a wide net catching all those who fall short of black or white in single-issue voting platforms like abortion. We understand that abortion is a symptom, and we work from the platform that effective change does not treat the symptom—it treats the cause.

We hold the unborn life with as much value and care as we hold the hours-old life on the outside as her mom applies for WIC and medicaid, or the preschool life on a boat between Syria and Greece, or the underinsured life who has reached his lifetime cap on insurance coverage at 2 years old after chemo and radiation for a rare childhood cancer. I know this person in real life.

We’re the ones who have a visceral reaction to well-meaning people in the pews (or our kitchen) who say things like “I have no problem with a stricter vetting process” having no real interaction with a single refugee or working knowledge of our current vetting system; how this mentality and “short term” stall even for just three months results in loss of funding, hopelessness and death for the most vulnerable people on earth. We’re the ones inhaling When you are hungry, we are hungry and exhaling When you are thirsty, we are thirsty from Gungor’s Who We Are day in and day out because we believe this is the literal Gospel of Jesus Christ in 2017. We’re frustrated because our elder people, who share our blood and our baptism water, are at complete odds with people God has told us to advocate for. And we’re not sure how to manage their rejection of the fruit they planted in us, or the way they reduce our impassioned words to rhetoric, because our words conflict with their politics. Their fear equates to a me-first mentality in a global context.

If the New Testament were being written right now, our nation would be a parable. Remember the one about the guy who received grace on his debt, then turned around and jailed someone else for not paying? We’re the ones who received safety and then turned around and kept it from others. Only by the grace of God do we live in the same safety we are now hoarding.

What I find odd about this whole political ordeal on a personal level is that my friends and I inherited our values from those we are now in conflict with. These are the same people who hosted carwashes and bought candy bars to send us to Mexico in the 8th grade, which planted global awareness seeds and widened our worldview. Many of these people are also the ones who funded us on a yearlong mission to engage the American church to act on issues of social injustice four years ago. I’m still so baffled at the disparity of these two things—equally grateful for their generosity and global mindedness and devastated by their nationalism at the cost of the same global community they funded me to share with them.

I read this article called Dying Before We Reach the Promised Land written by a Moody Bible College alumnus and former editor of Relevant Magazine. He articulates this better than I can—

The reason I consider opposition to Trump to be self-evident is simple: the things I oppose in him are cooked into my bones, and they have been since my childhood. They do not stem from a deep love of Hillary Clinton or a coastal disdain for the white working class of the rust belt. I neither loved Clinton nor do I live on the coast. Instead, my reasons for opposing Trump are drawn from the principles instilled in me by the evangelical culture that made him president.

…But when I try to insist on this, I feel like I’m speaking a foreign language to the people who taught me how to talk in the first place.

He also draws a parallel so perfect (and painful) about Moses leading the Israelites on a forty-year goose chase toward the Promised Land of modern day Israel, but not actually getting to lead them inside because of a *tiny* little mistake. I agree with the author that it’s one of the saddest stories in the Bible. I also agree that we might all be part of a spiritual journey that was begun by those who will not finish it, and that we should probably look back in order to look ahead.

A little laziness, a little hard-headedness, and next thing you know, the next generation is picking up a torch you accidentally dropped. And you’re stuck watching them march ahead of you into a land you’d always hoped to have for your own. If you’re charitable and just a little humble, you might even be able to applaud them on their way.

Here is a hard lesson: our spiritual leaders will teach us to do things that we will do in ways they do not understand. Moses wasn’t allowed to go into the Promised Land. Our leaders and family members, pastors and small group leaders may have consciences, worldviews, political purity tests or even just simple technological blind spots that don’t allow them to join us here in a moral, principled opposition to President Trump. They may see our moving forward without them as foolhardy, rebellious, perhaps even heretical.

As author and pastor Jonathan Martin says, ‘Some of you can’t be faithful to what spiritual fathers/mothers invested in your past, without offending them in the present.’

Yes. This is so totally happening right now. And yes, to put it in the author’s words: It may be hubris to be so sure of one’s rightness that you accuse the other of dying before they make it to the Promised Land… But I’ll also acknowledge this: I will also die before I reach the Promised Land.

I look at Havi and imagine us in 30 years. If there comes to be some type of moral political crisis in 2047, I know that Havi will see the world completely different than I see it today. That will always have been the plan. I hope she’s smarter, wiser, more global, more articulate, more compassionate and more convicted than I have ever been, even if I totally disagree with her. And so the next paragraph becomes my prayer:

I’ll instill spiritual lessons of my own into the next generation that they will use in ways that seem wrong to me. And when that day comes, will I have the wisdom and humility to recognize a great and holy pattern that has been carried on for several millennia now? Will I realize that they are honoring God and making his kingdom known in ways I never dreamed of doing? I don’t know. I hope so.

SO. Havi, if the Internet exists in 2047 and the world has not yet imploded, I’m proud of you. Because I have said this publicly, I’m sure this means you are a super republican conservative fundamentalist and/or you live on a commune and smoke a lot of Jesus pot.

Even still, baby.

On Not Being the Enemy

I was off Facebook and most of the Internet yesterday. I am thinking of doing this every Sunday as a sacrament. A visible sign of divine grace.

You know, this lady wrote that my baby and I were filled with Satan the other day. To be fair, she was responding to two things: one was a reply to my Grandma explaining that I had not marched last Saturday for the right to kill my baby as she had posted above, but for several vulnerable populations (including women) who have been devalued by our president. The second was a picture of the 3-year-old refugee Aylan washed up on the shore of Turkey. I thought that was also a pretty sad picture, responding to my Grandma’s sentiments that her picture of the women’s march was so very sad.

I’m not sure if the lady was responding to me and the people I marched with (my husband and daughter), or the dead refugee baby, with whom I am in kinship, because the measure of our compassion towards others lies in our ability to see ourselves in kinship with them. To that end, in the face of that refugee baby, I saw my own child.

In the faces of me and the Syrian baby, this woman saw Satan. (I guess she hasn’t read Father Greg’s Tattoos on the Heart.)

I read this comment after I had walked into my bedroom at midnight and glanced down at my baby in the exact sleeping position as the baby refugee whose picture I had posted, and I prayed (as I sobbed and woke J and hyperventilated) that God would never let me see my child’s face without the face of these other lives. I prayed my heart would remain broken until we legislated refugees (who were ranked yesterday as below our own in their rights for safety), back in—Muslim, Christian or otherwise. In the language of my people, I prayed for vicarious trauma.

(Also, it *is* actually a Muslim ban if you’ve decided to maybe let some Christians in after all.)

I understand that some other people have this type of deep conviction for unborn babies. If that’s you, we overlap in our singular value for life. Please read this first and take Internet communion with me right now in this shared value, even as we disagree with how to live out our shared value.

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I thought: What would be the antithesis of the spirit of Satan in a person? I decided one good start might be to send out messages of love to others who are politically and theologically oceans away from me. And then to offer the Internet grace for 24 hours. I thought it might also include bringing peace lilies to the two mosques within a mile of my apartment. So the baby and I took peace lilies to my Muslim neighbors this morning. (Well. Except we couldn’t find the peace lilies, so we brought Tulips.)


In the spirit of Christ who compels me to love my neighbor as myself, I have decided I would want to feel loved and cherished and safe in my neighborhood, so I will love my Muslim neighbors unto that.

I am thinking my baby and I could do this for each population devalued by our president. We could go to World Relief. We could go to The Center on Halsted. We could go to Black Lives Matter Chicago via the Illinois Justice Foundation. This could be my weekly act of personal resistance. We could personify the word resist.

An old friend asked me yesterday to stop judging her. She thought because she wasn’t using her voice on Facebook but instead off Facebook “where it matters” I had assumed she wasn’t active. This actually broke my heart. I had not assumed that about her.

For the sake of clarity: No matter your political affiliation, if your voice has been on or off Facebook advocating for the rights of any vulnerable population, I am thanking you.

I do feel pretty sad that a specific subset of people I am baptized with in faith have remained silent in the face of multiple injustices. These are the ones who voted for Trump on the value of life but have not leveraged their voices for any other life at risk outside of the womb. If that is not you, don’t pick up this burden. It’s not yours.

If my sadness feels like judgment to you based on tone, we should probably both do a gut-check. In the words of my friend Kim, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but if in my anger and disgust I do, please forgive me. This isn’t about you. It’s about my deep conviction that [welcoming refugees/access to clean water/not assaulting women/AND SO ON] is at the fundamental core of my faith and patriotism.”

BUT! If you’ve been on Facebook advocating in the last 10 days since the inauguration, you have given me life. Your voice has mattered to me in this context, and I can’t tell you how mobilized and hopeful you’ve made me. You told me which terminal to go to at O’Hare. You gave me the phone numbers to the White House switchboards, and you told me when those were full, and then you gave me the next set of numbers. You gave me the twitter handles of my representatives. You invited me to a pasta dinner at your house to address postcards. You gave me Mary Oliver and Brennen Manning and Walter Brueggemann. And you sent me all those messages. You have shown me I’m not alone. My use of Facebook is honing in on its purpose these days.

If your feed is draining you, I’m so sorry.

It’s possible MY posts are draining you. I’ve been told I’m pretty angry lately. People are kind of irritated about my negativity. They tell me what they really miss are pictures of my 8-month old and trunks full of puppies.

I miss that too. It would be really awesome if injustice weren’t so negative, wouldn’t it? If it came in sweet baby faces and teacup Yorkies? I am so disheartened by the literal inauguration of injustice that I legit haven’t slept in 10 nights. I’m one of those people who can’t go to sleep if anything is unresolved.

Which is like, the entire state of the union.

Members of my family and a couple of frequent trollers have called me self-righteous and condescending. They send me verses about judgment and such.

Maybe. Their faces are not in my mind when I’m sharing info and begging for action and calling for integrity within the GOP party. I’m trying to balance rage with life-giving words. In my heart I don’t look down on anyone. I’m not judging you. I don’t even have time to judge you right now. In fact, if you’re a Republican voter who is leveraging your voice to fight for justice and integrity within the GOP, I am thanking God for you!

(I would like to point out that my youngest brother who doesn’t even align with me politically and who I haven’t talked to since Christmas saw my women’s march pictures and text me the next day to say he was proud of me for marching because he trusts who I am. Those words were a gift when the other lady called me Satan and when my grandma thought I marched because I wanted the right to kill my baby. These are the ways in which we reduce each other into black-and-white categories instead of nuanced living beings.)

But, yes, in my heart I am raging. I’m mad like my own child washed up on the shore of Turkey while fleeing ethnic cleansing. I’m mad like I’m losing my own health insurance coverage and I have bone cancer. I’m mad like my own land was stolen out from under me, and then the government was like, We’re sorry, here’s this land you can live on and then later decided to build oil pipeline that had to potential to poison my water. I’m mad like my president wants a registry of people in my own religion. I’m mad like my own civil rights are limited by my different sexual orientation. I’m mad because these rights are not religious rights given by the church, but civil rights given by the government, for example the right to visit my partner in the hospital or be named on a health insurance policy. I’m mad like the president of my country was talking about me or my daughter in that so-called locker room, which was really just his actual life. (Why didn’t I write a blog like this about Bill Clinton, 15 people will ask? Because I was 11 years old and playing with an imaginary family of mice in my closet, which doubled as a magic elevator at the time.)

I’m mad like there are too many other things to list. It’s an entire buffet of burdens to bear on a daily basis, and this was a direct order: carry each other’s burdens. There is no caveat that says, “until you are tired.” I am exhausted. And so on Sundays, I’ll offer myself grace, too.

The reality is that underneath all that fiery red madness is not superiority, but sadness for the people harmed by apathy. If you voted for Trump and I know you to be a person of faith, it might take me a minute, but I want to see you as my ally. I am not judging you. I have been counting on you to be who I know who you are within the GOP.

Senators McCain and Graham gave a great example yesterday of what integrity can look like in the GOP by placing country over party and humanity over country.


Brennan Manning said, “In every encounter we either give life or drain it; there is no neutral exchange.”

I feel like those of us who are compelled to advocate are in a constant battle between giving life to those for whom we speak (and to each other most days), and draining it from those who would like to be left out of the “negativity”. I guess the greater risk is in not speaking up. Nobody ever died of negativity.

My friend Nicole said, “We are not fading into darkness. Just shining lights. And maybe there’s something uncomfortable in that at first. You know, until people’s eyes fully adjust.”


I belong to a Christian Counselors Networking group, and last week we talked about how a good portion of the country (including ourselves and our clients) are functioning out of the amygdala, which houses all our gut emotional reactions, our fight-or-flight responses, and black and white thinking, forcing people into either all good or all bad categories. And we agreed we all needed to find our way and lead others back into the prefrontal cortex, where our reasoning and empathy and complexity and nuanced thinking lives.

I will be the first to admit I’ve been all up in my amygdala since November.

Resisters: we have to get out of our amygdalas and find our ways back to the prefrontal cortex. Don’t be the enemy. The enemy would love that.

To borrow a page from my friend Rebecca’s book, who borrowed if from the book of Micah:

I promise to do my dead-level best to love mercy, do justly, and walk humbly (JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL).

Every time someone says God Bless America, I promise to whisper, “God, have mercy” even as we have no mercy to offer the world right now.

I promise to offer the Internet grace on Sundays.

I promise to say thank you to each person every time I see them fighting for justice and integrity.

I promise to avoid black and white thinking, but to seek out overlapping shades of gray.

I promise you will not see pictures of my baby girl without active resistance because I don’t want a world for her that doesn’t include the things I’m advocating for.

And I promise every time I leave the material world for the electronic one, to take God with me.



The Ways In Which I Value Life

Im holding out an olive branch here-

To the faith communities in my life who are marching in person or spirit in the March for Life: I’m with you in the value of all life from the time the heart starts beating until the moment the heart stops beating in natural death. I value that baby’s life.

I value that life while she’s right here inside of us, and I value that life equally the moment she takes her first breath in the world. I value it when she heads off to school and into a culture of “locker room” talk, and when she turns 26 and gets off your insurance and needs equal pay and decent healthcare, and I value her when she’s 75 and senile, stockpiling Christmas villages in her attic (I’M LOOKING AT YOU GRAMS) (JUST KIDDING) (but seriously on the snowman dish sets). 

I value her as an American girl or a Syrian girl or a Somolian girl or a Mexican girl. I value her as a Muslim. I value her on a boat with her family fleeing genocide and seeking refuge. I value her as a Native American on protected land deserving of clean water. I value her as an 8-year-old illegal Dreamer. I value these lives so much, inside or out, that I want them to be safe and alive and unharmed at every single possible age on every possible continent in any color skin.

People of faith who march, whether last Saturday or today, resist the narrative that pro-life means anti-women, and that pro-women means anti-life. We are so nuanced. The language has polarized us into black and white categories. We can step outside those categories into so many other shades. Some of our shades might end up overlapping with each other.

My goal these days is to thank every person I see who is fighting for justice. If you voted for Trump on the singular issue of abortion- THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROTECTION OF LIFE. I disagree with your political strategy, and I have different views on reducing abortions while also preserving the dignity of women, but that’s water under the bridge at this point. This election forced us to choose, at least in policy, to either elevate the unborn life above the living, or the living above the unborn.

But post-election, we can be BOTH, AND. Both the unborn, and women who are alive. Both the unborn babies, and living refugee babies.

If you are truly pro-life, and if you believe in the dignity and worth of all lives, *please* jump in and fight like hell for the protection of these other vulnerable lives too. We need you! Leverage that same voice you used to get this president in for those babies to hold him accountable for other vulnerable populations.

We’re Fine and Chicago Will Have Us

[Non]Breaking News: I live in Chicago now.

Also, it’s 2015— but more on that later, because, actually, I was sick over NYE, so I am celebrating on January 31st instead. Don’t tell me anything about 2015. I want to be surprised.

Back to the move. People have been asking for three months, in this exact voice: HOW’S CHICAGO!?!?!

And I’ve answered in my totally insecure and maladjusted sophisticated lowercase voice: the city is awesome. You can basically order anything you want from your bed and they deliver it to your door in under an hour. Groceries. Liquor. Indian food. Über rides. Kleenex. The entire Internet. And because we live in a high-rise, I have a lady who collects it all for me if I happen to be out and allows me to pick it up at my convenience with (mostly) no judging, even though the Amazon Prime guy asked her why I get so many packages. BECAUSE IT’S FREE SHIPPING, AMAZON GUY, and bulk toilet paper is too hard to carry home from the grocery. Continue reading We’re Fine and Chicago Will Have Us

Tiny Falling (flailing?) Things

It’s the middle of October, and I’m still struck with awe when I catch a handful of tiny yellow leaves falling in the sunlight toward the ground on a dewy morning or late afternoon.

So much beauty and grace, and yet my heart is a little bit seized in the realization that I’m watching these tiny beautiful things die. Oh man, but they die so brilliantly. The dying part is the most spectacular! Bright and fiery, yellows and reds, hikes and camping and bon fires and Halloweens and Thanksgivings…

I see these tiny beautiful things, and even as I’m enjoying them, I am simultaneously bracing for winter. It will be cold and barren, and all the living things will curl up underground, and we’ll be subjected to endless Februarys and Marches, and just when we think spring is coming, it will snow in April.

All these thoughts make that little yellow leaf’s beauty a dull ache in my chest.

I can’t even enjoy it, because I want to keep it forever. But if I could keep leaves on trees forever to avoid winter, this particular one would not be beautiful and falling…


Today I lost my shit in the Indian Buffet. Continue reading Tiny Falling (flailing?) Things

PLZ SOMEBODY HOLD ME, and other prayers

Have you seen the movie Gravity?

This is J and me, tethered together in outer space floating the month away, all hott and adorable like George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, while we forge a panicky plan to stay alive and the entire world roots for us.

Oh, minus the hott and adorable part, and minus the staying alive. And minus the whole world because only about 26 people read this regularly—but I’m positive the 26 of you are rooting for us. And minus the outer space. Oh yeah, and minus the panic for Jeff.

Add back in the panic for me, because this is how I do the unknown: I NEED MORE OXYGEN. WHERE THE F IS THE SATELLITE? CAN ANYBODY HEAR ME? PLZ SOMEBODY HOLD ME.  Continue reading PLZ SOMEBODY HOLD ME, and other prayers

When Writing is (not) Writing

Writing is getting decaf coffee and answering pesky emails that keep crowding your conscious thought stream.

Writing is taking care of the insurance application and those couple of photos left to edit before you devote the entire rest of your day to the writing.

Writing is updating your operating system and getting a refill on the decaf while your writing machine updates.

Writing is downloading all that good music you’ve been keeping in the notes tab on the phone (for the writing).

Writing is getting lost in deep tracks and longer itunes clips, which reminds me: writing is finding a good streaming source.

And then writing is writing.

Food Hospitality, or Romanticizing Indulgence

This is the time of year I review old things and resolve to do new things.  I was really into this in, like, 2009 and other random years but didn’t feel compelled to list out every crazy thing I did in 2013, because actually everything I did was crazy.

The smaller task would be to list out all the beautifully ordinary moments that existed in the year. Things that come to mind: grilled pizza on the twinkle-lit deck this summer, meaningful meals with friends between each trip, the one or two football games we were able to catch wrapped in blankets with chili in the crockpot, hanging four strands of snowflake lights on our sliding door and watching the snow pile up, snuggles with nieces, selecting our favorite photos to send as a thank-yous to helpful friends, and feeling my little nephew kick.

I am also totally clueless about 2014, so I have not resolved to anything yet. When we return from Cuba, our fellowship with World Next Door will be over, and beyond March is a giant question mark. All my resolutions this year would be all the previous years’ resolutions combined, and also the ordinary ones like clean eating and exercise.

But last night as I was stuffing face in this Cuban pizza shop in Miami, Continue reading Food Hospitality, or Romanticizing Indulgence