At other places

At other places
This year, I have a Valentine’s Date with a Parking Lot
February 13, 2018 at 8:50 am 0
This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine's Day. The day of candy hearts, overpriced roses, and a whole host of feelings emerge on the same day that the church calendar calls us to gather in community, to reckon with our mortality, and to repent. It's just the sort of confluence that gets me thinking and writing.  
Memory is a strange thing — the way it picks and chooses what to remember, how it distorts and puts the puzzle of real life back together in its own way. On one particular Valentine’s Day in high school, I remember feeling more woman than girl, with a fancy red top. I met my boyfriend (now husband) at the bottom of the stairs, his flowers and photo collage in hand. His jaw dropped. We’d been a couple for six months, which of course is a lifetime in high school romances. That was what romantic love was then — demonstrative acts of adoration, feeling sexy, clinging to another person to save you. It was fancy dinners and longing. Love was not yet what it could and would be. It was but a shadow of what Love is. Love looks different now. This year, twenty Valentine’s Days past that one, I’m going to be spending it in the parking lot of our local elementary school because this year, Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday. Since our church plant meets at the local elementary school and we can’t get space to meet mid-week, we’re meeting in the parking lot. As the wife of the pastor, I first asked (not very nicely), “What? For real? We’re meeting in the parking lot?” Yet, I suppose it makes sense — and in a way that is about more than just scheduling. What other space is as mundane, as common, as the asphalt at a local elementary school? ... So, I will line up behind a bedraggled group of suburbanites in the local elementary school parking lot, trying to wrangle our kids so we can bring all of who we are to be marked by the reminder we too often forget: we are but dust and to dust we shall return.

Read the whole piece here, at The Well.

    If you're longing for your Lenten season to have purpose, or if you're curious about practicing Lent in positive life-giving ways, I've created "40 Ways to Love Your Suburb" and it's FREE just this week. To get it, enter your email and it'll come to you on Ash Wednesday -- whether or not you're gathering in a parking lot.

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At other places
Perhaps this is its own letting go
February 5, 2018 at 6:00 am 0
  There are times in your life where all the good that you've taught your children may come  home to roost. Where you realize you've been caught by the one or two good things you've imparted to your kids. These are the times when you see the tendency in your own self -- in this case, to be right -- as a joint failing. It's hard seeing sin passed down. And yet on the other side of needing to be right -- or whatever your particular issue is -- there is, we pray, a pathway made. A path for us to walk as we both mature and grow. You're making the routes for the future you and the future child to walk alongside together. And for that to happen you have to say I'm sorry. You have to learn to let go.   Here's a bit of that story that's up today at The Mudroom:   

We were walking in to church: my brood of children and I. I’d actually managed the impossible trifecta: hair done, makeup done, dressed appropriately (usually only one or two gets checked off the list daily). My three younger children were already hanging by their fingernails off of the plastic slide, but my eldest walked away in front of me, a bit sullen.

“You’re not owning up to it! You yelled at me,” he said, stomping off a few paces ahead of me.

He was, of course, referencing the time not five minutes previous where I’d deepened my voice to let him know his behavior was not on point. Reader, I hadn’t yelled, instead I’d deepened my voice — and he wasn’t praising me for the way I had my anger in check and my emotions under control.

  Read the rest here.
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At other places
How Not to Lose Your Footing
January 10, 2018 at 6:00 am 0
Perhaps you're out of routine and haven't grabbed 2018 by the horns yet, like me? Maybe you got some version of the dreaded flu? Or maybe you just found yourself a bit dizzy at the end of 2017 and into 2018. If that's the case, I'd love for you to read my latest for the Mudroom -- all about how to not lose your footing on a tilt-a-whirl. But really it's about marriage and excess and stability.  
I admit to being a bit spoiled: my husband hardly travels much for work anymore. Now, as a church planter, we practice staying put, putting down roots, being placed. (How else, can we plant an outpost for God's kingdom if we're always moving on?) But over the holidays, I sent him off on a plane for a three-day ski trip. Back to the mountains of Utah: to ski the "greatest snow on earth." Out of practice of solo parenting or sleeping alone, I kept his pocketknife on my bedside table and my phone plugged in to the wall (to, of course, call the police when an inevitable imaginary intruder came through my front door. I'd call and then use the pocket knife if need be.) It was a silly garrison, little things piled up to keep away all the unstable fears that came falling out when my husband, that most stable of people, left for a few days.
And when that most stable of men -- the one I've vowed to love, honor, and cherish till death do us part -- left for a few days, I unravelled a bit. Not so much by making my bedroom a garrison, but I had I lost the ordinary boundaries on my consumption. I didn't cook. I ate junk. I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning obsessed with whatever was happening on Twitter. I began fruitless job searches on LinkedIn. I even re-did my LinkedIn profile. I took everything from the wrong angle -- glutting myself on sugar, information, possibilities -- rather than learning how to step back, practice self-control and patience, and make goals and plans to help me make decisions, from everything from what to eat and where to work. I became a black hole for whatever promised to satisfy at the moment -- the glass of wine, the rest of the English toffee, the scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, the job openings that I didn't even want.
  I'm back to some storytelling and The Mudroom. I'd love for you to read the rest.
At other places
Finding My Place; Oh, and, Guacamole
July 11, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

When I finished writing my book and turned in Finding Holy in the Suburbs for edits, I felt a bit out-of-place. I'd expected to have all the stories to belong to the place I lived. After buying our rental home, I'd expected more permanence. It turns out that place and belonging are wrapped up together in a relationship as confusing as an on-again off-again relationship.

So, today, I'm so excited to be at The Mudroom writing about place and belonging. Place is so often the lens through which I view life -- so much so that my recent move home to the suburbs meant I wrote a book all about it. Make sure to keep up this month at The Mudroom for all the great writing and maybe it'll help you find a bit of your place, too.

Here's an excerpt:

We ask our places to provide a setting, a context — but we do not love them like a full-bodied character with desires of their own. What if our places were not mere settings that we could shape like silly putty, bending them to our desires? What if they were not expendable, plastic containers where we stored our stuff and housed our memories, where we are apt to change places like a quick change of seasonal decor?

What if our land, our cities, our suburbs, were somehow as real, as vivid, as powerful agents of change as the people in them? What if our places were actually holy?


I suppose it’s nice to think deeply about such things as place, space, land, and humanity. Yet it’s an easy out to actually living well, to being emplaced, bodily creatures. (At least it is for me.) My feet are rooted (most often) in gray tile squares in my suburban kitchen. Here I watch the neighborhood children race by on their neon bikes, I shout to my own children to come inside, I sweep the endless crumbs. I cut and chop. I pile dishes. I scoop out coffee grinds into the trash, get the stray lime out from the disposal, and dry the clean knife blade and put it away because it’s the good one. I turn out meal after meal after meal, sometimes digging in the freezer to fill it out, often adding more garlic, more pepper, and fresh cilantro.

Hurry on over to read the rest, because you better believe I give you a killer guacamole recipe!!

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At other places
When Mother’s Day is Hard (for iBelieve)
May 10, 2017 at 5:00 am 0
We're coming up on one of the hardest days of the year. Mother's Day. If you are a mother, it never seems to meet your expectations. But I'm not talking about the ladies who are bummed out their children aren't bringing them breakfast in bed -- I'm talking about all the women for whom Mother's Day brings up so much pain. You may feel overlooked. Unseen. Hurt. Bitter. Resentful. Invisible and with no way how to articulate the challenges of this day. So you stay unseen. You retreat to a few faithful listening ears.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

I wrote a piece for iBelieve I'd love for you to read. It's short.
I lost my first baby. I remember walking home from the doctor when I got the news, my red coat tight around me in the wind. It was suddenly clear that this coat would fit just fine, that I could wrap it tightly around my middle because my womb would not be full. I pulled it tighter.
Even as you feel unseen, know that God uses the language of mothering. And like a perfect mom, he protects, he extends himself, he shelters us:
Many passages in scripture show the tenderness of God as a mother. As Lauren Winner writes in Wearing God, God borrows the image of laboring mother to describe his desire to birth his people (Isaiah 42:14). Elsewhere God is described as a comforting mother: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted…” (Isaiah 66:14). Jesus also uses the picture of a mother hen wanting to gather children under her wings (Matthew 23:37). These metaphors are more than simple rhetorical flourishes to the biblical text. When we see the many ways God uses the language of tender maternal desire and care, we know that God will meet all the needs that our fathers and mothers failed to meet perfectly. We know that God’s tenderness sees our broken hearts, our scars, our fears.
  I hope you'll read the rest and pass it on to friends who may be desperate to be seen this Mother's Day. 
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