Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"This is about whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated."

"Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union."

-Barack Obama

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Spiritual direction in 2010-2011.

I just got an email from the awesome woman who I met with every other week throughout what I still think of as the hardest year of my life this far (with acknowledgement that my life has been really easy.) It made me want to go back and read what I had written about that season. So fun and strange to read where I was then. It is so gratifying to see how God provided that year- and to think about how God used and wove those prayers then all the way into this season- and, I would imagine, is still using them.


This is Lisa. She is my spiritual director. She has red hair and a nose piercing and wears long dangly earrings and laughs a lot and prays all the time. So clearly she is epically wonderful to rock star proportions.

 I told her to look "spiritual director-ish".

What, you may ask, is a 'spiritual director'?

I'm sure it varies from person to person, but I just googled around and liked these two quotes:

"The spiritual director is one who, by virtue of personal holiness and spiritual maturity, helps the directee to pay attention to the presence and work of God in her or his life." 


"Spiritual direction is a time-honored term for a conversation, ordinarily between two persons, in which one person consults another, more spiritually experienced person about the ways in which God may be touching her or his life, directly or indirectly. In our postmodern age, many people dislike the term "spiritual direction" because it sounds like one person giving directions, or orders, to another. They prefer "spiritual companionship," "tending the holy," or some other nomenclature. What we call it doesn't make any real difference. The reality remains conversations about life in the light of faith."

(Interesting context is that apparently a typical demographic seeking spiritual directors these days are middle-aged women wondering what to do when their kids have left home. ...And she got me post-HNGR. Sorry, friend.)

It's different from mentorship in that we didn't "do life" together. We hug and we chat when we see each other at church and I know a decent amount about her life. But when we met it was focused on my spiritual life, not a mutual relationship- similar to a counselor in that way.

  Generally to start, she'd just ask me what I'd been praying or thinking about this month.
I'd pull out my journal for reference  and vent about whatever'd been on my heart, while she nodded and looked empathetic (or laughed, depending on the source of my venting).

 Then I would pause for breath and look at her...
and we'd have a conversation that typically went like this:

Me: Sooo... what do you think?
Lisa: What do I think?
Me: Right. I mean... so, that's what's up! So... spiritually direct me! Ready set go!
Lisa: (laughs)

So annoying.

And then. She'd shrug, and smile... and ask me what I sensed God telling me.

And I don't know what was so magic about her asking me that. Because, it's not like I couldn't ask myself the same question. But for some reason every time she did ask me, I'd stop and actually... you know... think about it.

Honestly, sometimes, I told her that I had absolutely no idea, and that was fine.
But a good amount of the time, when I sat and was quiet and listened... Usually, I would start noticing things in my heart. Whispers I'd heard. Just... themes, of things. I don't know how to explain it?

Deep down- not always, but sometimes- I do know His voice.
The funny thing is, the things He says are usually way smaller and less exciting and directive than what I want Him to be saying. So I half-notice them... and push on in my anxiety, or impatience for a Big Revelation, or dissatisfaction with His words.

Spiritual direction didn't let me do that.

It gave me a space and accountability, to notice the whispers.

 I'm so grateful for that.

I'm grateful for who Lisa is. She exudes wisdom, compassion, and humor- not just haha humor, but humor as defined by Anne of Green Gables... "just another word for a sense of the fitness of things."

I'm grateful for the fact that she has the kind of wisdom and prayerful spirit that only comes from living through suffering. When I was looking for a spiritual director, a few months after I returned from Bolivia, I knew I needed someone who would not try to give easy answers to my girls' stories. I needed to rebuild my world and my theology in a way that had room for a good and sovereign God, and for what had happened to them without silver-lining it. Lisa can do that. She lives with open hands, to joy and to pain. She is hopeful and believes in redemption; but she acknowledges that this world is fallen and not our home. She has asked and lived incredibly hard questions and built her faith through years of hard work. Knowing and working with her coming from that perspective, was such an incredible gift to me.

 I'm grateful for the space spiritual direction was- a chance to explore the hard and scary places with God, without having to worry about putting extra burdens on my close friends (who did such a fantastic job of loving me that HNGR-and-cancer year).

 I'm grateful, as I am with Rez in general, for the example I saw of someone who believes in a good God while engaging in lament. Oh how that taught me and gave me hope.

 I'm grateful for what I learned from her about prayer. She prays. All the time. And the way she prays is weird, and contemplative, and wordless, and in connection with Jesus, and clearly where she draws her strength from. And it makes sense to me in some deep-down way and I pray often that God will develop that kind of a heart in me.

 I'm grateful that usually if I cried, she would too. "What, why are YOU crying?". "I don't know. I'm just praying. You can keep talking." (That sounds super emo. Usually we would both be laughing in that exchange).

I'm grateful for her prayers for me- part of spiritual direction is committing to the pray for the directee. She prayed for me like crazy. It was nuts.

I'm grateful that I felt completely comfortable in that setting. She was SUCH a good fit for me in that role and that was so crucial in a really vulnerable spiritual season for me. I don't say this lightly- I could really see God's hand in us being matched up.

I'm grateful for the ways that she affirmed me to connect with God as He made me to be. A lot of times she would point out patterns in how I was drawn to pray and where she saw me sounding like I felt the most peaceful and connected to God. That was super helpful for me in giving myself permission to "pray as I can" and try more to serve Him with the gifts He's given me.

I'm grateful for her insights. I know she tried to balance keeping her own life out of it and pointing me towards the Spirit, but whenever she would share from her own relationship with God and how she had processed similar places I learned so much.

I'm grateful for where I feel like I am with God now- which these conversations had a big part in.

I went through my journal from the last few months and found some examples of why I loved spiritual direction so much.

(I had just SUPER vented):

Lisa: Oookay. Well... why don't we pause to pray...
Me: Am I overwhelming you?
Lisa: Umm... nooo... but... I feel like you could use a spiritual deep breath for a minute.

...Once while interacting with Lisa and her husband, I was kind of hyper:

"See, this is what your wife had to put up with all the time. This is what spiritual direction sessions with me looked like... Well, that and crying and cursing."
John laughed. Lisa just chuckled, and said, under her breath but not quietly,
"Oh-ho, and not necessarily in that order either...".

..."What is the Lord calling you to be faithful in today? Just today."

..."I don't expect life to be anything other than a mixture of fallen and redeemed."

..."Lord, show me Your perspective."

 ..."Lord, we pray that in this season You would increase Emily's capacity for joy." I had forgotten she'd prayed that until I found it written down several months later. I believe it has been answered and it's a prayer I'm continuing to pray, and so grateful for.

...Lisa: Okay, Emily, I have a question- do you feel connected with the word 'centered'?
Me: Mm... what do you mean by connected?
Lisa: Like... does that, hit anything deep for you?
Me: I mean... I like being centered...
Lisa: What about... 'rest'?
Me: (blank stare)
Lisa: Just, what word, if you hear it, makes you feel that you are good with God. That you and He are where you want. How about 'peace'...
Me: Open communication.
She laughed so hard she started tearing up.
Lisa: Of course. Oooffff course.

...Once after hearing me freak one more time about the whole good-God-horrible-things paradox, she (incredibly tentatively and compassionately) asked if I knew anything about physics.
She then explained string theory to me... the idea that two ideas can seem to contradict each other yet are mutually true. Because there are is a gap law no scientist has discovered yet.
She acted like she felt so silly using that as an example, but for some reason it was one of the first ways I'd heard that put that I felt like I could sort of hold it.


Recently, in the car on the way to meet with her, I was thinking about what I would talk about. I had been turning a certain situation in my head over and over for days and was super stressed about it. And I was feeling like I was definitely dishonoring God in this. I was not being trusting. I was stressed and distracted and it was bad, and so I was going to talk with her about how to turn my focus onto other things.
"Mmm. So... what do you sense the Holy Spirit telling you?"
Um. I mean. The trust thing, right? And the selfish thing?
She waited. And I thought about it. I thought about on my lunch break that day, when I had gone to the armchair by the big picture window in the West Chicago library and stared out at the trees before God. What had I sensed, really, if I thought about it?
"I guess... well, this doesn't seem to really have much to do with the situation."
"That's okay."
"Well...  I guess when I was praying today... the only sense I really had from God,
was that He was glad I was telling Him that I was sad."
She grinned. "That sounds good."
Um? "...What sounds good?"
"What you just said. That God's calling you to be sad with Him."
"...It does?"
"It doesn't do any good to not be who you are in front of Him."
...And that was what she said. I had fully expected for her to give me some verses to look up on trusting God in the face of anxiety, or something. And we talked about trust, but it was never in a condemning or shaming voice. It was always to guide me to the Voice I already knew, was already hearing, needing to listen to. She wasn't trying to guide me to a particular conclusion; she just wanted to tune me in to Him.

So grateful for that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


These are the words we had read at our wedding. I love them.
I love that they were part of the day we started our marriage; I'm continually surprised by how often they come to mind and help shape the life we are creating together.


“When over the years someone has seen you at your worst,
and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly,
it is a consummate experience.

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial.
To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.

But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God.

It is what we need more than anything.
It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness,
and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

-from The Meaning of Marriage, by Timothy Keller


“I might seem to be comparing something great and holy
with a minor and ordinary thing,
that is, love of God with mortal love.
But I just don’t see them as separate things at all.

If we can be divinely fed with a morsel and divinely blessed with a touch,
then the terrible pleasure we find in a particular face
can certainly instruct us in the nature of the very grandest love.
I devoutly believe this to be true.
I remember in those days loving God for the very existence of love
and being grateful to God for the existence of gratitude…
 I realized many things I am at a loss to express.

There is no justice in love, no proportion in it, and there need not be,
because in any specific instance it is only a glimpse or parable
of an embracing, incomprehensible reality.
It makes no sense at all,
because it is the eternal breaking in on the temporal.
So how could it subordinate itself to cause or consequence?” 

from Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson


“...Watching him and watching myself in my memory now,
I know again what I knew before, but now I know more than that.
Now I know what we were trying to stand for, and what I believe we did stand for:
the possibility that among the world’s wars and sufferings
two people could love each other for a long time,
until death and beyond,
and could make a place for each other that would be a part of their love,
as their love for each other would be a way of loving their place.

This love would be one of the acts of the greater love that holds and cherishes all the world.

...And so I had put myself in [his] hands,
mindful also that he had put himself in mine.

We were each other's welcomer and each other's guest.
And so we had come to our place."

-from Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry


"I thank my God every time I remember you,
always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all...
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound still more and more
in knowledge and depth of insight,
to the glory and praise of God.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility consider others more important than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interest but also to the interest of others.
In your relationships with one another,
let your attitude be the same as Christ Jesus, 
who emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.
Always be full of joy in the Lord.

Let your gentle spirit be evident to all.
The Lord is near."

-excerpts from Philippians


I miss this space! Maybe I will try to use it regularly again.
If you are interested: these days, for whatever reason, glimpses of my life are more often found here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Three life-giving posts I've seen on the Internet recently.

So many articles and posts and news stories about the most disheartening, sad things.
Sometimes even the responses: beautifully-written reflections, or calls for action,
reflecting truth and justice,
leave me just feeling more overwhelmed by how much bad there is.

(Rock on to those who feel called to seek good through writing them! But:)

My little blog isn't going to say anything new or helpful about those sad things.

Yet leaving lament unsaid feels wrong, too.

As a form of lament, for me, I'm keeping a list of when the Internet shows me something that resonates with me as truly good.
Things I think have comparable
power and poignancy in their goodness

as is found in the stories of cruelty and suffering.

The good stories don't negate the bad ones.
They just exist, also.

For now:
I hope my actions in my daily life grow in mercy-love and justice-doing.

On the social media/Internet front:

Here are
three things I saw online that I found truly, deeply, resonantly good.


Like a real one. Like maybe IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS.
Like, finding out your kid has cancer could be a bummer, going to need a few weeks of treatment and then they are FINE. Like a cold.
Can you imagine?!

A trial was completed this year with 22 children who all had cancer which was progressing despite every common form of treatment. Like kids whose parents were told "there's nothing more we can do."

How amazing is that?!!!


The physicist who came up with cosmological inflation theory was proven right;
a worker on the team who finalized the discovery showed up on his doorstep to tell him.

I just LOVE this video (here's another article about it).
I love the expressions on Andrei Linde and his wife's face- I love how the shocks sinks in for her first and she spontaneously gives the guy telling them a hug, while Andrei is still going "What? What? What did you say?!". I love that he found out without any warning that his life's work had been successful. I love imagining how that must have felt. I love that the team member had the idea to go show up and randomly tell him as soon as they found out. I just love it.

Also, the little bit I could comprehend about the theory itself is amazing.
"[Andrei Linde] proposed that our universe is one of a vast – and perhaps infinite – number of inflationary universes that sprout off an eternal cosmic tree, without beginning and without end..."

Um. What. That just....
is so insanely big.
That makes me worship God so much.


"..Aaliyah Taylor, a 17-year-old senior at Ballou High School, walked up to the officer
and started playing “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” on her phone.
Then she did the Nae Nae dance..
The officer, according to Taylor, laughed
and said she had far better dance moves than that."

"...For Taylor, she said the dance-off marked her first positive interaction with police officers in her neighborhood.

She has six sisters and one brother and, according to Taylor, all have been arrested or detained for non-violent offenses like breaking curfew.

Taylor, who said she’s never been arrested, recalls her siblings saying that the officers acted unnecessarily rude and rough during their arrests.

Those experiences, Taylor said, had shaped her perception of police officers.

“I thought all cops were cruel because that’s how I saw them,” Taylor said.
“I’ve now seen there are good cops out there.”
In a different article, Aaliyah Taylor was quoted as saying:
“Instead of us fighting,
she tried to turn it around and make it something fun,”

The cop was reached but refused to be named because she didn't want to make the story about her;
her boss simply said she is someone "known as a hard worker and committed to policing."

Not only is this just, lovely and wonderful,
it also is a perfect example of one of my favorite attachment principles:
playfulness builds relational bonds AND lowers the stress hormones that impede learning.

There are some really good things happening.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

This happiness.

"I don't want to lose a single thread
from the intricate brocade of this happiness."

Monday, October 19, 2015


Blogging was such a big and important part of my life for a long time. Writing or even just choosing a quote and pictures helped me reflect deeper.

It was also such an intentional way for me to be joyful. There were so many wonderful, joyful things in my life, yet the years since college also were very much characterized by fighting back fierce loneliness.
Well, actually, that's not completely true- I didn't want to fight the loneliness, all the time. Actually, I tried hard to be intentional about letting it in and acknowledging it... sitting with it, learning from it, being where I was on purpose and not missing out on what those seasons uniquely were, and offered.

But I fought fiercely the despair that can so easily accompany dark loneliness. This blog, focusing on the blessings and joy my life was so filled with, was a way for me to intentionally turn my eyes to them, to not think longer than I should on the places in my life that ached with what felt lacking.

My fairly sudden lack of inclination to engage in a hobby and discipline I'd practiced usually multiple times a week for years took me by surprise. But it hasn't seemed to make sense to force it; I see so much wisdom in restraining energy from the social media world that I couldn't figure out too many good reasons to make myself try harder to invest more online.

The best way I can understand my lack of desire to write and post on here... is that joy has never come easier to me than it has in the last sixteen months. I don't feel like I generally posted more when I was unhappy?? But I do think there was something in it about talking myself out of self-pity, strengthening my resolve to rejoice in the life I was living: "Look. See. You're happy. You really are, and these are the joys of your life, and they are really, truly good."
And they really truly were. (Are.)

For the last sixteen months, I haven't had to work very hard to remember joy.

I'd expect that someday I will again...

So yeah. Lately, blogging words haven't felt forthcoming, so I haven't bothered...

but then I go back and read things and certain seasons are captured so vividly in the way only real-time writing can do... and I am grateful to have those years saved in that way.

So. We'll see.

On that note... I just reread this, which I wrote more than five years ago.
I summarized where I was spiritually that year with more clarity than I certainly could use to explain where I am spiritually now.

And oh, just, oh. Life!! I wrote that in the Illinois suburbs, living in 27-year-old Ryan and Kendra's guest room. Oregon was a state I'd barely been to or thought about. Matt was working in DC in Joseph's House- no! He was in Ohio with his family, getting ready to move to DC to work in Joseph's House. Christine was living with her parents and dating Luke. I was fairly sure I'd probably never date anyone, ever. My mom was critically ill and I could barely breathe for fear. My roommates had both just moved and Wheaton felt ridiculous without them. I was spiritually and emotionally so sad. And wondering when I'd ever heal back to being comfortably and securely Christian. 

Five years and one week from the day I wrote that, I would get married. In Oregon. To Ben, who I couldn't even have imagined to pray for.
Ryan and Kendra wouldn't be able to come, which would make all of us so sad, but it would be because life would be too insane with the recent birth of their second baby. Matt would be in it along with his husband, who he had married a year before, calmly and happily and legally, with me standing up as an attendant and his family present and Chet having flown in from New York. Christine and Luke, husband and wife for years, would walk in together. My mom would be there and fine, and beautiful. She and my dad and my stepparents and stepsiblings- people  I had never met or imagined five years and one week before- would sit in the front row together,. My roommates and the Tuesday boys and I would pose in our finery for pictures in an Oregon field, laughing and so happy. I've given up on being comfortably and securely Christian, but God and I are doing okay anyway.

Apparently my rambling blog style hasn't changed... ever.

July 5, 2010.

"One of my best friends once wrote this:

"...The last four months were hard. But if a semester is the cross, as are all things, then maybe the last four months saved my life. Maybe all those other things taught me to see my One thing better."

Prayer this semester didn't look anything like what I have known it to look like before. I couldn't journal. I couldn't sit in a coffee shop and follow any train of thought long enough to feel like I was praying. The cheerfully-voiced and neatly patterned prayers I said with friends in the cafeteria before meals bore little to no resemblance to the way God and I were actually talking.

Me and Jesus, the me and Jesus we have been since I was 12, wasn't happening. I didn't know how to talk to Jesus in a world that lets little girls get raped and beaten and abandoned. Not in a fake, "Well, I just don't know how to talk to you if you're going to be like that" haughty way. I mean I literally did not know how to talk to Him in this new world in which I found myself. Sometimes I'll try to tell someone that I feel 'different' since HNGR and I don't know how to explain it. Because we're all different, all the time. We're different every year, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. But I don't mean like I grew, or even I regressed. Sometimes I feel like my entire foundation that I stood on has been taken apart and put back together and I'm standing on something I don't even recognize. Now that I can breathe a little bit more I'm realizing that what I'm standing on is still pretty good. Sometimes I get these tiny glimpses that it might even be better. Stronger. But I had to learn how to do all these things on it that I knew how to do before, but the ways I knew how to do them don't work here. And the main thing that didn't work, was praying.

Praying with the expectation life is going to work out just beautifully didn't work. That sucked, but it was good. That was a wrong foundation I'd had. That's not how God works, and it's not how He's ever said He was going to work. I'm not sure why I thought otherwise, and it's been- it is- painful rearranging that. But it's good.

And, praying with the knowledge that God is good, didn't work. Because I wasn't so sure about that all the time anymore.
That sucked, and it wasn't good.

I didn't know how to pray without knowing that God is good, which means I didn't even know how to pray about the fact that I didn't know God was good. And so praying (and pretty much everything else, actually) felt terrifying.

So prayer this semester felt like it almost never happened. Because it didn't happen in any ways I had known to recognize.

Prayer this semester, instead of feeling like I was "keeping company with God", instead of quiet times in Starbucks or Caribou or long letters to God in my journal, was a lot of long walks, in the snow, by myself, with my iPod. Sometimes if it was cold or too late at night instead of walking it was driving, through my neighborhood, through the campus, going the speed limit and using turn signals, going slowly and mindlessly over the same route again and again as I tried to line my heart back up, in the quiet, for just a minute with the God I was missing.

Prayer was chopping vegetables. Really. So much so that I once heard a housemate confess to her boyfriend that she "kind of love[d] it when Emily gets depressed because we get a good soup". Prayer was hymns playing in the background as I focused on the purpose of peeling and chopping and stirring and found peace in the rhythm and the use of my hands.

Prayer was reading Rilke out loud before bed with my roommate and being able to, yes, line my heart up to these words. It was lighting a candle for five minutes at night as I asked God to bless the girls at Mosoj Yan- candle-lighting is something we did on the HNGR retreat which I found helpful.

Prayer was interceding for others, which I didn't do enough out of sheer laziness, but which by some beautiful miracle did not hold the difficulty that attempts at casual conversation with God did.

Prayer was and is, in an incredible gift of grace, the liturgy. It is going to church and saying and singing the same words every week, and in recent months being blessedly able to affirm them more and more. It is the gratitude that rises up in me that, in my inability to tell God these truths about Himself out of any spontaneity or warmth or even sense of friendship, I can sing them and raise my hands for an hour on Sunday mornings and get to tell Him them in that way. That I can find myself more and more knowing that I do believe these things, and that this liturgy, this church, is providing a way for me to affirm them before my own emotions or abilities are going to let me do so on my own. Oh, how grateful I am to get to praise God through words others have written and songs others are singing when my own heart is so confused and cold.

Prayer has been, greatly, others praying for me. That is something I think I underestimated the power of in these past seven months. People have prayed for me and that has been important.

Mostly as I have looked at myself and my interactions with God in the past seven months I have felt ashamed. Who am I to not pray? To not know how? To be so faithless? Clearly, to feel so far from prayer must mean I am far indeed. And how does this show gratitude to Mosoj Yan and the work they do?

But recently I have been realizing a bit more that it was a good thing for me to learn that prayer that does not look like journaling in a coffee shop and leaving with the feeling of peace, can still be prayer. That crying myself to sleep, God still heard me. That prayers lifted by others on my behalf and the behalf of my girls, do something powerful. And that if walking in the snow and chopping vegetables until my fridge was too full enabled me to be in front of God, then He was happy to meet me there.

I'm not very proud of how I lived the last seven months, but good things came out of them.

Mostly this year I felt like I couldn't see "my One thing". But maybe in His great and crazy mercy, He let me go for long walks and chop vegetables and rely on others' prayers, to teach me something about walking on without clarity or feelings of peace or any pride. Maybe He let me rely on the prayers of the church to teach me about the power of community worship, of the history of the big-C Church, of the importance of repetition for our souls, of the power that is in praising Him by choice and even by rote when we feel cold and dry.

I hope and pray that maybe in the long-term, these will be things that will let me see Him more.

If a semester is the cross, as are all things."

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Kitchen organization.

Six and a half weeks until I get to marry this boy.

I am a little bit obsessed with the Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn blogs currently...

I just came across this post on The Kitchn:
"Discover the Kitchen Style for Your Meyers-Briggs Personality Type!"

Ben, ISTJ:

"You in a nutshell: Responsible, neat, and orderly. You love systems and rules. 

Your kitchen style is Restaurant-Inspired. You have no use for frivolous things in the kitchen. Everything should be totally functional, and if it doesn't serve a purpose, out it goes! Like this restaurant kitchen, you prefer stainless steel countertops, which are easy to clean, and everything within easy reach."

Emily, ENFP: 

"You in a nutshell: Curious, talkative, and aspirational. 

Your kitchen style is Bohemian. You have a strong artistic side, and love a cozy, carefree kitchen with plenty of colorful tea towels, throw rugs, fresh flowers, and artwork — whatever strikes your fancy! It's not clutter, it's personality!"

Ah, well. We'll compromise. 

Let the grand adventures begin!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When happiness and wonder meet.

doubled by

-G.K. Chesterton

to wonder...
to be filled with amazement, awe, or astonishment,
as at something surprising or extraordinary.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. By this recipe for gratitude, then I am the most grateful person ever,

because I've never been happier,
and I still can not believe it...
I'm in love with the kindest and best person I know, and he's in love with me,
and we're getting married and going to make a home and a family together.

Forgive the sappiness. It is written in full sincerity.

Right now is a very, very lovely and joyful time for me,

and I don't want to forget for one minute to be grateful for the wonder and happiness of this season.

Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

-psalm 126.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

This momentary gift.

"Let it be heralded with joy:...

Marriage is not mainly about prospering economically;
it is mainly about displaying the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church.
Knowing Christ is more important than making a living.
Treasuring Christ is more important than bearing children.
Being united to Christ by faith is a greater source of marital success than perfect sex and double-income prosperity.

...Life is precarious, and even if it is long by human standards, it is short.
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Prov. 27:1).

So it is with marriage.
It is a momentary gift.

It may last a lifetime, or it may be snatched away on the honeymoon.
Either way, it is short.

It may have many bright days, or it may be covered with clouds...
But if we set our face to make of marriage mainly what God designed it to be,
no sorrows and no calamities can stand in our way.
Every one of them will be, not an obstacle to success, but a way to succeed.
The beauty of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his church shines brightest when nothing but Christ can sustain it.

Very soon the shadow will give way to Reality.
The partial will pass into the Perfect.
The foretaste will lead to the Banquet.
The troubled path will end in Paradise.
A hundred candle-lit evenings will come to their consummation in the marriage supper of the Lamb. And this momentary marriage will be swallowed up by Life.

Christ will be all and in all. And the purpose of marriage will be complete.

To that end may God give us eyes to see what matters most in this life...
And may that Treasure so satisfy our souls...
that the marriage-watching world be captivated by
the covenant-keeping love of Christ."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Advent is for waiting.

"Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.
But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting.
It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts
that makes already present what we wait for.
We are always waiting,
but we are waiting in the conviction
that we have already seen God's footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert-
yes, joyful!-

When we wait in expectation,
our whole beings are open to be surprised by joy.

It is this joyful expectation of God's coming
that offers vitality to our lives."

-Henri Nouwen

This joyful expectation.

So much joy in these days.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Costume Party.

This was my third fall sewing Halloween costumes for my friends' little ones (who are also my friends!)...

always a highlight of my year...

But this year had the extra help
of a most helpful, patient, and ever long-suffering model.

You know you have a keeper when.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

(*just begun and so not fully developed; imperfectly formed.)

"...The surgeon is... a grim man,
impatient with unlabeled brands of inchoate* faith.

In his view, a man should know his craft,
so that a smith should know his forge,
a farmer his plow, and a chaplain his creed.
He has made plain his disregard for me and my ministry.
The first time I preached to the company,
he observed that in his view a sermon that did not dwell on damnation
was scant service to men daily facing death,
and that if he wanted to hear a love poem
he would apply to his wife."

-from March, by Geraldine Brooks;
a book based on the unknown life at war of the father character from my beloved Little Women.

I found this description(-through-counterexample, I suppose)
of faith
provocative and resonant.

Inchoate faith...
faith that is not fully developed, still imperfectly formed.
Doesn't sound so terrible to me.
Lots of room for mystery and grace?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

.perhaps we know a dozen, maybe two.

"God does ten thousand things
in every deed.

Perhaps we know a dozen,
maybe two.

But not enough to judge before He's through."

-John Piper

i have mixed feelings about John Piper,
but ever since i first heard this quote,
i've loved it and seen the truth in it.

lately it has been echoing in my head and heart more true every day;

all the crazy ways things have been woven
that i never could have imagined,
making me laugh and marvel and repent and give thanks.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Aslan," said Lucy, "You're bigger."

"That is because you are, little one," answered He.

"Not because you are?"

"I am not.

But every year you grow, you will find Me bigger."


I love that reading aloud to each other has been a part of Ben's and my relationship since our very first date, the one neither of us was sure was a date. We're working our way through The Chronicles of Narnia, which to my shame I had never read past The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I can't get enough- I love every one more than the one before.


I have no idea why I haven't written much in months. It's been a rich season, for sure (see above), but I don't think that's why I haven't. I miss it, and the deeper reflecting writing can lead me to. I hope to do more this fall.


This is a way late update, but: Matt and Mitch got married. It was the best.

...loving Smitten Kitchen's pumpkin muffins (three times this fall so far);
I double the pumpkin pie spice and put in a full 15 oz can of pumpkin instead of just one cup. Especially amazing with a simple maple-cream cheese frosting.

my quote wall makes me happy.

what happens when you leave your car door unlocked in a small town:
you get back to find someone left you $20.

Saturday morning six-year-old soccer games.

She had a surprise for us. It was... her pink toothbrush!!




He is looking bigger to me, this year.

Human Needs Global Resources Covenant, 2009

As fellow travelers on this journey, we commit to this covenant before God. Lord, in Your mercy, hear these our prayers:

When confronted with scarcity, need, and inadequacy, may we be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Abundance overflows from Your table, sustaining all who come in faith. Father, help us.

When monotony blurs our vision and dulls our senses, may we encounter others as Christ did, through intentional presence in daily life, submitting as clay to be formed into vessels filled with the Spirit. Christ, guide us.

When wounded by the fractured condition of Your people, may we be united by Your Lordship in faith, hope, and love; seeing, as through the facets of a diamond, the beautiful spectrum of Your light reflected onto Your holy Church joined in praise. Spirit, empower us.

When all Creation groans, afflicted by injustice and driven to despair, may the promise of redemption root us in the hope of Your Kingdom: "Behold, I am making all things new!"

Holy Trinity, send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve You with gladness and singleness of heart.