I’m in the grocery store. My basket is almost full, with cereal and cheese and yoghurt.

I’ve come because I’ve given up on work, on the sermons I have to write. I’m hoping a break will give me the courage for the phone calls I need to make. Mostly I’m hoping it will clear away some of the fog, some of the darkness and despair and suffocating blackness that paralyzes that’s been following me around, clinging with far more strength than I have, that it would take to dislodge it. It followed me to the office; it followed me to the bakery where I had lunch, where I pulled out a book to read and a notebook to take notes and a Bible to work on my sermons. It drove away any thoughts of sermons and obligations and joy, until I gave up, put everything back in my backpack.

It’s snowing as I leave. The trees behind the parking garage have snow-icing already, and thick, fat snowflakes are drifting down and it’s better than a postcard, better than driving in snow with incompetent drivers and almost makes up for it.

It’s the first day of spring.

I try to take a picture with my phone. Every picture shows trees and the ground, snow everywhere across the landscape, with a pipe or concrete ceiling in a corner and five blurs that might be snowflakes. If I really use my imagination.

I trudge to my car, defeated. I just want to slink home. Pretend life doesn’t suck and maybe watch some America’s Next Top Model. I’ve seen every season I can watch for free on Amazon, but damn it, I am so willing to watch them again if maybe I won’t feel crushed by everything else while I’m watching the contestants be covered in body paint and hung upside down and then criticized for having tension in their face.

I really do need food, though.

Which is how we’ve come full circle, back to me in the chips aisle, holding back tears because they don’t stock my favorite flavor anymore. Or, that’s what I tell myself I want to cry about.



I can’t sleep. I’ve been trying for a while now, but tomorrow I go before Presbytery (the regional church gathering in my denomination) for the final step in the process, the final approval before I can go ahead with my ordination service: I have to defend my statement of faith before Presbytery, and they vote whether to approve my joining the presbytery or not.

I’ve been telling myself that I’m not nervous, that I know my statement of faith and believe it, and that I tend to get the same questions and I can answer them well, that even if I get a question I’m unprepared for I will probably still be able to stumble my way through an answer. I don’t even feel nervous, or didn’t before I tried to fall asleep. It seems doable, and distant enough that I don’t need to worry yet. (That comes in the minutes or hours beforehand). But still I’ve been unfocused and unmotivated all day.

And–I am nervous. It’s the final step, and a big crowd, and I’ll have to be loud. I’m sure at least one question will be unexpected, and I’ll fumble around and just feel so awkward the entire time I’m up there.

I’m just trying to remember that it’s okay to be nervous. It’s natural. It’s okay to acknowledge that I’m nervous and that this is a big deal. It’s okay to name my fears about tomorrow. And that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to let it take over. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to let my nerves turn me mean or frozen or anything else. It just means totally ignoring it or shoving my feelings aside is a way of lying to myself, of saying that I’ve got it all together and I’m a good little robot of a human and I don’t need God to keep me from turning into a quivering mess. None of those things are true. None of them are even worth striving for.

It’s just way harder to sit with the fact that I’m nervous than it is to shove it aside. It’s way harder to remember that I don’t have to do it alone and depend on God and other people. It’s difficult to listen to myself, because what about those moments when I say things that are ugly and uncomfortable and that I’ve been trying to avoid for weeks?

But there’s something so incredibly freeing, too, about being honest, about admitting what I’m feeling and sitting with it. It becomes so much less serious. It becomes something I can embrace rather than avoid and deny, and with embrace comes acceptance and that moment of letting go of judgment. “It’s okay that I feel this way.” It’s never okay to act that out in ways that are hurtful or sinful or dangerous–but it’s okay to feel.

Cleaning and Loving

Confession time:

I haven’t been cleaning very much. And by “very much” I mean it’s been more than a month since I’ve done anything that wasn’t laundry. (Necessary about laundry?)


It’s not just that. I’ve been at my place for almost a year now and still haven’t hung anything up, except for one post it reminding me that “The internet does not inspire you.” (Truth!) As much as not cleaning has partly been about being exhausted and overwhelmed, it’s also been about a lack of permanence. I know I won’t live here forever. I plan to move out when I find a church. I’ve been actively trying to not set down roots: I have more boxes than furniture, and most of my books and winter clothes are still packed (because last September, I optimistically thought I wouldn’t need them before I’d moved). I haven’t really bought anything for the room. I haven’t bought anything future-oriented since I moved in.

And I’ve been thinking about that, as I try to get over the hump that is “I haven’t cleaned and nothing has exploded!” so that I can reach the other side and start cleaning again. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not completely unpacking, or not buying things I’ll just have to move again–but intentionally distancing myself so I don’t form any attachments is not really the goal. I don’t like it. What’s wrong with loving the place where I am, even if I’ll be moving someday? Why do I feel the need to hurry through instead of getting to know my neighbors?

I’d like to love this place, even if I’m not here much longer. I’d like to clean, and leave it better for whoever comes after me. And I’d like to remember that organizing and cleaning and putting pretty things on the walls and shelves is good for me, too.

Which is why I’m going to the store in a bit to get a new shower curtain. Which is why I’ve been rearranging my room so that there’s more than one path (because it’s a start) and making piles to donate.

Which is why I found myself mopping the bathroom today, dripping with sweat because I made the bright decision to start cleaning when it was pouring rain and so the humidity was through the roof.

And…loving is mostly hard work, and messy, and made up of moments that aren’t particularly memorable.

But I think I’m ready to love a little more.

An unfocused week

Yeah. It’s been a rough week. Focus was very far from my mind. I didn’t get a whole lot done.

I want to say, to be able to say, that I felt God in the midst of my bad week. I can’t, really. I didn’t take time even to listen for God. Yes, I did my devotions and Bible-reading and whatnot, but only as an act of distracted habit. Anything that required real engagement, like journaling or praying, got shoved aside in the midst of worry about getting things done. It was not a week of focus.

It’s funny, actually, because it’s the first year I can remember being excited about Christmas as an adult. I’ve been willingly listening to Christmas music (normally it’s more of a torture until a week or so before Christmas). I even decorated for Christmas. I’m planning Christmas presents and a Christmas party.

But it was not a week of focus. It was a week of avoiding work, and avoiding the difficult questions, and avoiding the darkness all around that seems to just be growing. It was a week of drowning in worry but not feeling like I could do anything.

But this is the week of the peace candle, isn’t it? Prayers for peace, then, for you and for me. Blessings this Advent season, whatever that might look like!

Writing Scared


I’ve been sitting at my computer for a while now, trying to psych myself up to write: I checked my work email, cleaned out my personal email, caught up on blog posts, researched a few submission possibilities… but I’ve been avoiding the thought of actually writing all morning.

I’m scared.

It’s one of the reasons I should never stop writing, because when I do entropy kicks in, and it’s so, so hard to start again. I’ve gotten out of the habit of listening–the difficulty and honesty and courage required for listening were why I stopped writing in the first place–and now I’m trying to start again and it’s scary. That’s why I’ve been avoiding writing all morning. It’s scary. I don’t want to come face-to-face with myself, bare my soul through writing words on a page, listen to the Source of inspiration and all the things God might say that I don’t want to hear. I don’t feel brave enough. I don’t feel honest enough.

I’m afraid.

I know that if I push through, with prayer and preparation, I’ll be fine, I’ll be more than fine. I know. I do. If I push through, there’s something beautiful and wonderful on the other side, the sense of being surrounded by love and presence. I know. I do. I know even that it makes sense to be afraid. Writing transforms. It’s terrifying to approach God, hands and heart and mind open, ready to receive, whatever it might be. It’s terrifying to approach God, period. The Creator and Ruler of the universe is not conceivable, controllable, quantifiable. I know this. I do.

I don’t feel ready. I don’t know how to start.

And that might be the end, for today.

What I’m Loving Wednesday

As I’m in the thick of finals week, I thought I’d do something a bit more fun today!

Things I’m loving today:

  • Finals week! Yes, really. It’s a lot of work, but I do enjoy the work. I enjoy the looming deadlines, in that I tend to actually get things done. It’s serious enough that I work pretty consistently, and I like that. When I do settle down to work, I’m always glad that I did. Work is good, whatever my lazy, avoiding self would like to tell me. Besides, it’s all papers now that my only test is finished, and that means writing!
  • That finals week is almost over! Yes, I’m actually enjoying writing my final papers, but I’m so excited to have a week off to spend time with family, to work more on my own writing, and just to clean and organize. My poor apartment needs it.
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I watched this Pride and Prejudice adaptation when it came out, but it finally felt like the right time to rewatch it (and its short episodes would be perfect for short breaks if I could only watch one at a time!). It’s beautifully written and acted; I love all the characters, and they feel so real, especially now that I just hit the 70th episode where things get serious. I’m also watching all the episodes from all the character’s vlogs in order (on this playlist), which is something I didn’t do last time. I’m now regretting it, because they add so much to the story.
  • Fall weather. The weather this week has been like a rewind to last month. I left the house without a coat and didn’t regret it! And it’s been clear skies, with just enough wind to blow the last of the leaves around, framed everywhere with bare branches.

What are you all loving today? And any suggestions on good literature web series for after I finish The Lizzie Bennet Diaries?

Stories and Reality

I’ve been obsessed lately. Like, staying up until 2 am, thinking about nothing else, pushing aside more important things obsessed. It’s a bit scary, actually. It’s nothing I want to be obsessed with; I know there are better ways to deal with life, that something else is going on below the surface here.

I’ve been obsessed with stories lately. Stories told on any medium: books, web comics, movies, TV shows. Stories about everything from zombies to crime fighting to grad school. Stories that I like and stories that I’m not all that sure I do.

That’s the key, isn’t it? I’m not all that sure I like any of these stories. I’m not all that sure this is what I really want to be doing; there are so many things I could be doing instead, things that are much more worth doing and things that are much more urgent than rewatching that show I loved ten years ago. Something else is going on.

I love stories, of all kinds and shapes and sizes. That’s why I write, after all; I want to tell stories, too. As J. R. R. Tolkien once wrote, ““Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” That’s the beauty of stories; they show us the reality behind the veil, the reasons for hope.

But sometimes they really are just an escape. A false escape? There is beauty and reality here, in the present moment. Who doesn’t like to daydream about being brave, seeing new places, having exciting things happen? I certainly love it. Especially when I’m caught in the daily routine and faced with the realities of repetition and hard work, I certainly love it. I’d much rather imagine that I’m flying over London thanks to a spell than face the fact that I have a book to read for class. I’d much rather watch my favorite character save the world for the fifth time than write that paper. It’s easier. It’s more pleasant.

It’s easier to take part in others’ stories than craft my own.

I’m tired. I don’t want to face the reality of doing dishes. I don’t want to face the reality of all the hard work I’ll have to do to write my final paper. I don’t want to face the reality of how much life scares me. Everything’s so much simpler in a fictional story. I long for that simplicity.

I have no solution. There have been a lot of ups and downs. What can I say? Life is hard sometimes, especially when you try to avoid it.