Bad Bangs and New Growth

I saw a picture of myself recently where bangs were sticking out the side of my head.

This infuriated me because I’ve been patiently and neurotically growing out these godforsaken bangs for almost a year. Half my scalp fell out 4 months post-partum (which no one warned me about, by the way), and my front hairs started growing back thin and whispy and buffant-like, 3 inches deep into my hairline. So, I was a total babe is what I’m saying.

In an attempt to exert control over these ridiculously uncontrollable circumstances, I asked the stylist to cut my bangs with an Audrey Hepburn pixie in mind, but I walked out of the salon with temple-to-temple micro-bangs like that goth-looking chick from NCIS. Now almost an entire year later, the bangs are crawling along at nose-length, but every so often I see these really short chunks of 2-inch new hair growth sticking out the side of my head laughing at me, and I’m like: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, BANGS?

Just like my cracked iPhone in 2013, this whole situation is a great parallel for my life in 2017. These bangs growing out the side of my head despite every possible fix remind me that I am in control of almost nothing, and that I have been figuring out how to grow into new things mostly ungracefully.

Things I am not in control of: the fact that my baby has been hospitalized twice in one year despite my Grams thinking I could have prevented it by not sending her to daycare and/or not letting her lay on dirty floors. I can’t control that the living expenses in Chicago require me to work 3 days per week and that work requires childcare and that childcare exposes her to germs.

I couldn’t control the crack that appeared on my windshield last week from spreading across the entire windshield in, like, one hour on Christmas Day. I wasn’t in control of the driver that hit our parked car and left a big dent in the wheel well, and I can’t control that our apartment doesn’t come with parking and requires us to street park, leaving us vulnerable to windshield cracks and wheel-well dents. I’m not in charge of the aging process. I can’t control that the temp in my office is 85 degrees despite one-thousand calls to management and handymen-for-hire showing up in my office to ask me engineering questions about airflow because they’re not real sure how to fix it. And I can’t control the quarter-inch block of ice that covers our bathroom window or our closet door that falls off the track daily.

Another thing I can’t control? Other people.

2017 broke my heart, relationally.

It forced us into identity politics, and that’s so different from the ways in which I’ve moved throughout the world in the past. Parties or positions on the political spectrum have never been how I define myself or how I define others, because my passions and convictions have never been at odds with half the Church or half my family—and they’ve never pigeonholed me politically. But in 2016, we turned tribal, and in 2017 we installed it. And now, it all feels like a relational dumpster fire I can’t control.

Things I can control: I can look at the world—2017 America—the election—the church—and notice what’s happening. I can hold these happenings up to the light and compare them with characteristics I have learned about God, and with the New Testament, and with my silly passion for social and racial and global justice, and I can say with practical evaluation: Hey Church, something here is not right.

(I can say it irreverently sometimes, and with some humor, to make the whole mess more bearable, like with a reference to God rolling his eyes at humans, because honestly, humans are worthy of divine eye-rolls 9 out of 10 times as evidenced by the very first humans ever who ate the only thing on earth they weren’t allowed to eat because this creepy talking snake told them to, AMIRITE? Or with a reference to God drinking gin straight out of the cat dish when he’s stressed because C’MON THAT’S FUNNY, and because Anne Lamott said it first and she’s basically a saint for Jesus-loving people with crooked hearts. But it’s a joke, because obviously God doesn’t have a cat.)

In any case, what I can do is can say in my strongest, most sure voice: This is not the God I know. And I can walk away from the 2017 culturalificaton of Christianity if this is what it looks like. I can find a new word, and new language. I am in charge of how my faith is lived out on this earth and I’ll be held responsible for it one day. I can carry a huge tuning fork and ding it all over my heart (also, my brain) whenever I wonder about something. And I can continue to practice discernment.

But I’m not in charge of other people’s thoughts and feelings. I can’t control the fact that people I love might come to the conclusion that I’m self-righteous and speaking wrongly on behalf of God. I can’t control family members sending messages that J and I are not actually Christians, and that they’re praying for our lost souls. I can’t do anything about those people. These relational fractures are metaphorical 2-inch bangs sticking out the side of my head while I walk around in the world.

I can advocate day after day after day for the refugee population, and join a local task force, and share the documentaries I’ve seen and the stories of refugees I’ve worked with. Some people will call it rhetoric, and 50 people will unfriend and unfollow me. I’m not in control of any of that. That’s another chunk of 2-inch bangs sticking out the side of my head.

I can attend a march for a dozen personal and professional and moral reasons that have everything to do with protecting vulnerable populations including and beyond unborn babies—I can do this after lots of conversations with my faith community, and I can do it holding that big ole tuning fork dinging truth all up and down my Christian bones. And someone will say that I marched for the right to kill my baby. 200 more people will unfriend and unfollow. I can’t do anything about those people. That’s another section of 2-inch bangs going sideways.

I can use big words like “microaggression” to classify interchanges I observe after spending a ton of time over a span of years learning about these issues; I can recognize them as harmful, despite people who will, in their defense of status quo and white fragility, accuse me of going way overboard. I’m not in control of their responses to my personal conviction. More bangs popping out where hair used to be smooth.

I can stop using the same faith words the 2017 Evangelical church is using because they are disparaging my faith, and I can attend grassroots political action meetings with my husband and baby because we feel strongly about passing our values along to her even when they’re perceived as counter-cultural. Church people and old friends’ parents and members of my family will come to conclusions about my sanity. I can’t do anything about that. Another frantic 2-inch bang section sticking out the side.

I can write my sincerest truest truths right here on this page, and someone will say what I write is mean and ugly. I’m not in control of the ways in which people perceive me despite my best intentions. I have a whole section of rogue bangs called “mean and ugly” just hanging out up there.

On the whole, as I moved around the old world in new ways this past year, my convictions felt like relational liabilities, and all these patches of fallen-out-relationships in the shadows of personal and spiritual growth reflected poorly on my likeability—not unlike my guttural reaction to seeing those poked out bangs in every picture screaming: BE PRETTIER, SELF, my guttural reaction to these relational losses was: BE LIKEABLE, SELF.

My impulse is to shave my head and/or never go out in public. My impulse is to shut down the internet and/or never interact with anyone again.

But then I started thinking about where these bangs came from. My body produced a massive amount of hormones in order to grow a baby, and then the hormones allowed me to feed this baby for over a year with my own body. The bangs are not a liability. They are a reflection of my body’s strength and capability. A round of hormones pushed the old hair out, and a round of hormones ushered new growth in, and all these things morphed me from regular old me to a capable mother. My entire hair situation is evidence of an unbelievably cool biological phenomenon.

And so was my 2017: A bunch of old stuff had to fall out relationally to make way for this new spiritual and value-defining growth, and half of it is sticking out the side of my head right now, because that’s how new growth is—ungraceful, difficult to style, and a tiny bit awkward until you learn how to mold it. These strained and fractured relationships I’m not in control over are actually evidence of an unbelievably cool spiritual attunement.

My friend Kim told me a couple of months ago that I will not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. I wish this sentiment was printed on PAGE 1 of the instruction manual I never received on how to be a successful human on earth, because I felt so free when I heard it. Either that, or I wish I was the enneagram number that cared a little bit less about what other people thought of me.

In light of ALL THIS STUFF I just externally processed, I decided my word this year would be Bravery. Like, make sure my theological compass is pointing true north and double-down on the idea of bringing heaven to earth instead of scrapping this whole mess in favor of comfort and safety to one day to go to a heaven that’s somewhere else. (I don’t think that was ever the plan, by the way. On earth as it is in Heaven, right?) I would do this knowing that half my people would roll their eyes right off their heads and laugh at me and pray for my salvation and totally write me off.

But then I went to church yesterday morning, and the word for the year was Humility, which kind of seemed like it was in contrast to Bravery. Except that the speaker defined humility as doing the thing in question for the good of others instead of for your own personal gain. And I realized that bravery is doing the thing you know is right and true and faithful at the cost of your own personal gain, which in this case is perceived sanity and likeability ;)  That makes bravery and humility complementary.

I have a mom-friend who begged her stylist to cut her bangs when they all first fell out and started growing back in, and he told her Absolutely not. He said that she would just have to wait it out, that it was part of the growing process.

2018: I have relational bald spots and tiny bangs sticking out of my head because my body and soul has outgrown something old and birthed something new, and I’m learning how to incorporate this new growth into the old world. I really feel like just shaving my head because of the awkward growth patterns. But bravery tells me to lean into it and trust the growing process while slowly learning to style it better.

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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.

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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.”

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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…

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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

Me, Beyonce and the Apple Guy

You might remember that I dropped my phone a few times, but found a new functional normal. I think this is so weird because I’ve owned phones for 10 years and have only destroyed one phone, but I’ve destroyed this one phone FOUR TIMES! And it just keeps working. So, I basically had no reaction when the phone fell into the bath this morning. I just fished it out, polished it off, and thought, silly phone.

The thing is (and here is where you will start to scratch your head about me), I had almost boiled myself first, so I think you will agree that my judgement was compromised.

It was a rare morning with hours of time, nobody home, and an appointment at 11a to deal with a few inches of premature grey- my favorite day of the 12 weeks! Fine, 8 weeks. Fine 6. Fine, my favorite day every 4 weeks. The point is, I didn’t have to wash my hair! I had just exercised (in my imagination) and we have this perfectly relaxing garden tub. But our master bath sometimes doesn’t get super hot-hot. I tried to fix this once and ended up flooding the house. Now, instead of accidentally wrenching entire fixtures off the wall, I boil water in teakettles and giant soup cauldrons to pour into the tub as it’s filling up. This also satisfies my frequent homesickness for Belize.

Usually one or two teakettles of boiling water does the trick, and the bath is toasty. But last week I got a little greedy and boiled two teakettles and two dutch ovens of water. It was extra cold out, and I thought it would be just perfect. I rubbed my hands together in anticipation, grabbed my phone and book, turned on the jets and jumped in.

Instantly boiled legs. I gently placed the phone on a raised portion of the ledge to turn on the cold water and perform my own first aid (I’m trained). As soon as I stabilized myself and the water temperature, the phone slid itself off the little raised box and plopped into the water. I have envisioned this exact thing happening several other times, and therefore, am typically extra careful with this blasted phone around the water. But, you know, I was distracted.

To my surprise, the phone dried right off and worked as usual. I texted and called and played music and shrugged at this magical phone’s will to live. But, I was late for the hair lady. So I threw on some clothes and ran out the door. On the way, different functions of the phone stopped working, and by the time I was at the hair place, the phone was stuck.

The home button was dead, so I could only respond if some kind of alert appeared on the screen like a phone call or text. But then I couldn’t get off that screen until something else appeared. I thought I was very creative when I spent two hours at the hair lady sending texts to friends and family that said: Can you send me a Facebook message to get me onto Facebook? And Facebook messages that said: Can you send me a text to get me back to the text message screen? This, to coordinate work and clients for the rest of the day. I could never get to my contact screen, which had all the numbers programmed. You might imagine that all hell broke loose when my calendar alert for the hair appointment I was already at kept popping onto the screen and whisking me away to the calendar. I had to wait patiently for someone else to contact me to get out of calendar screen and back onto messaging or phone mode.

Next, I thought I would stop by the Apple store, because others had convinced me Apple might just swap out the phone. I thought to myself: If they ask me, Did you drop your phone into the bath? then I’ll say yes. But if they don’t ask, it’s just the home button issue. Oh, and the 45 cracks have been there since May, so I’ll tell them to disregard those. I thought I might be inside my year warranty, but I learned that 45 cracks voids the warranty. Also, when they opened the phone, water poured out. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Apple store checked me in and said it would be an hour wait. This is where I find myself in that commercial where one bad decision leads to another, and I blame everything on everything else. Obviously I had no choice but to eat a burger at the food court, sample everything at Williams Sonoma three times, and collect my free chocolate from Godiva.

All this at the Fashion Mall, wearing an outfit I had just thrown on, which means I liked each piece separately a lot but should never have worn them all together. It was worse than sweatpants, which I still maintain I can pull off even at the mall. But on this day: brown Uggs, a pink-brown-turquiose tie-dyed peasant skirt, a black shirt, brown leather jacket, and my brand new bright red Valentines purse containing three plastic Mardi Gras coins, a tiny little king cake baby, and the iphone I had just dropped into the bath, which had navigated itself to the music playlist via voice control- not MY voice- and played Beyonce Countdown on speaker, over and over, for the entire hour as I was stuffing face with chocolate and samples at William Sonoma.

To finish the day, when the Apple store guy was setting up my new refurbished phone, he asked if I had backed the phone up recently. I was like, No. I can’t back up, because every time I plug the phone in, it says I need to download the new iTunes. I can’t download the new iTunes because my Macbook has an Operating System from 2008 (Leopard), and the most recent iTunes update needs at least Snow Leopard, which was being delivered to my door at the exact moment I was at the Apple store. Do you know how I know? Because I got an alert from UPS, but I couldn’t access it on my broken phone thanks to Beyonce, who just would not stop. And there we were: me, Beyonce and the apple guy, my bad outfit, 8 thousand calories, and a puddle of water.

***My mom wants a moral to this story. I don’t really know where to go with that. Don’t drop your phone in the bath, maybe?