Water Damage

I went for a walk yesterday.

It seemed like a good idea at the time: it was cloudy, but not dark-rain-clouds cloudy. Just a normal gray. It wasn’t even that windy. So I went for a walk.

I will admit, mostly I was looking for Pokemon on Pokemon Go. I love that game. But I brought my journal, because I was planning on sitting in the park for a while and catching up on journaling. I had some thoughts to work through.

And then, as soon as I got to the park, it started raining. No big deal, I thought. It was just little drops, and I love getting wet in the rain. There were still games going on at the baseball fields. It was getting windy, which is never a good sign. I started to walk the walking path. By the time I hit the first turn, it was raining. The ball players were running for cover. The rain was slanting in the wind. By then it was pouring. I gave up on the enjoyment of getting wet and pulled out my umbrella, which I held at an angle for the rest of the walk because of the wind.

When I got home, everything in my backpack was soaked. I had to peel apart my voter ID, which for some inexplicable reason is not laminated, and lay out my other papers in a row. When I hung my backpack up to dry, it dripped. But my journal seemed dry enough.

When I opened it this morning, though, there was one wet spot, soaked through the bottom of every page. Every page. Some pages were fine, the ink undisturbed, but others were completely illegible blotches of color. It looked like I’d taken watercolor to the bottoms on my journal pages. My words, my thoughts, were erased.


I was surprised how much it hurt. It’s been years since I’ve gone back and read my journals. Sometimes I take notes for projects in there, but none of the notes I still needed had been destroyed by the water. Sometimes I outline bits I may want to come back to later, and some of that was destroyed, but let’s be honest–I have bits from five and ten years ago that I’ve never gone back to, and even more bits that I’ve utterly forgotten.

Still it hurt.


The first spring morning

Spring is here. I woke up to bird song and a warm breeze and a desire for iced tea. Everything feels possible.

Winter was not my friend this year. I wanted to hole up, hibernate, eat a lot and do little. It was a struggle to wake up, go to bed, do housework, go for a walk. Do much of anything, it felt like, especially as it dragged on and on. The fear of having to drive in snow loomed over me. The windows stayed closed, the blankets on.

Thank God for winter sunsets. They’re such gentle, soft colors, and yet stark against the browns and greys of a winter landscape. They are a reminder that beauty still exists, that the world is gathering itself.


I wish I could remember the lesson of winter, that all things need time to rest and huddle down; it’s hard to live that rhythm in a modern world, where we always could be working. There’s always so much to do, so many ideas to play with.

It was a hard winter. I’m happy to see spring.

Writing Update

Publishing Just before the Pittsburgh shooting, an article I wrote about being in the process of looking for a church was published on The Presbyterian Outlook website. I never wrote a blog post about it because the shooting happened the next day, and it was so devastating. I used to go to church a few blocks away; I knew someone who was shot (he is recovering nicely). It was a hard few weeks after that–lots of sitting with myself and crying and lighting candles–and then, finally, I was able to write about itThe Outlook was kind enough to publish more of my thoughts about the shooting.

I also had devotionals published in The Secret Place, in both the fall and winter magazines.

Writing I’ve been working on what feels like ten projects at the same time: a few short articles; a short story that I’m completely in love with, but feels too new still to share anything about; and I’ve been dabbling in one of my books again, one that I’ve been playing with since I was thirteen or so.

The habit of writing is finally starting to feel like a given in my day. Every morning I write for at least a few minutes; almost every evening I write, too, and then close the day by journaling. It’s nice. I still seem to be on the internet more than writing, but I am writing every day. It’s progress.

Preaching I’m still preaching. Check out my most recent sermons here.

Reading I finally listened to everyone who told me this series was wonderful and checked out The Fifth Season, the first novel in N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Series. It was fantastic–gritty and heart-breaking and painful, but fantastic. The absorption in the story, the emotional roller-coaster of reading it, reminded me of the power of well-told stories.

Listening Speaking of reminders and inspiration, Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk was on my feed a few weeks ago. She makes writing well seem so possible. And I’ve been loving The Courage Maker’s Podcast, which features interviews with creative women and honest talk about how hard it can be to be creative. It reminds me to keep going.



I was doing the dishes yesterday, washing a spoon. There was a pile still to be washed, stacked next to the sink. I had my favorite Pandora station playing.

I had so much else to do: bathroom to clean, the apartment to sweep, the table to clear off. I’m having people over for Thanksgiving. Two days left to get it all done!

And I was fiercely, deeply thankful for all of it: the dishes to be done, the work I wanted to get done, the housecleaning. The chance to listen to some music. The apartment, the job.


Sunday night I watched Black Panther for the first time since I saw it in theaters. I adored it–Shuri was a delight, the costumes and sets were just as beautiful as I remembered and the music just as wonderful, T’Challa was a good hero. Every single character inspired me with their dedication; Killmonger’s pain simply bled off the screen.

A few days before that, I finished watching season 3 of Supergirl. It’s a bit dumb and repetitive, but I love Kara. I love watching her struggle to do what’s right, love watching her be strong and learn how to be strong. She’s so much more human than Superman.

This is the most superhero media I’ve consumed in a long time. Man, I used to love that stuff: love the adventure of it, the drama, the high stakes and the battles. The fight of good against evil, played out on my television screen–it was cartoons, back then, but I could watch that forever.

I would imagine what it would be like, to fight–to never need to fear–to save the world.

But now–I am so thankful for my non-superhero life. I am perfectly content to not have the entire world depending on me. I love having an apartment, a pile of dishes that needs to be done and an even bigger pile of books I’d like to read, work to finish. I would take that life over that of a superhero any day.


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.

Not Embarrassed

Like everyone else, I’m going to start with the eclipse! I didn’t see much of it; I went outside briefly, but it was much more fun to watch other people stare at the sky and share eclipse glasses, and then I could stay inside and continue my crocheting and conversing.

I may not have ended up being too excited myself, but I hated hearing people get so disdainful and even mean about how excited people were to see the eclipse, like there was something wrong and childish in getting excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a cool nature thing.

I’m sorry, really?

I’m all for people getting excited for pretty much whatever. Yes, there are limits, i.e. legality and morality, but other than that: woodworking? button collecting? beetles? lighthouses? your job? an obscure species of plant found only in a square mile of the Amazonian rainforest? You go!

In honor of that spirit–and, as that person who sometimes feels self-conscious about the “weird” things that I sometimes read–here’s a list of books I’ve been loving lately, even if I do feel self-conscious talking about them, and loving them.

  • 100 Essential Modern Poems by Women: I just always feel self-conscious about reading poetry, as if by doing so I’m shouting to everyone that I’m conceited and obnoxious. I’m not sure why that’s my first thought about reading poetry?? Anyway, it’s a collection of a hundred poems written by women over the last hundred and fifty years, and while I haven’t loved every poem it’s a really good collection. It also includes biographical information about every poet, which is fascinating. (I may or may not now be dreaming of reading a book of poetry by each of the women featured?) I just find poetry so interesting and truthful, even and maybe especially when I don’t understand it. And I love reading more by and about these women poets that I’ve mostly never heard of.
  • From Midterms to Ministry: Practical Theologians on Pastoral Beginnings. Because…it’s so bad that I want to be a better pastor? *sarcasm alert!* I’m not quite sure why I feel so self conscious about this, although I’m sure it has something to do with not wanting to admit that I still have so much to learn. Or maybe I just feel self-conscious that my first learning instinct is to find a book about it.
  • God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation by Terence E. Fretheim: This book is a bit of a brick, complete with a final third made up entirely of footnotes in a tiny font. I love it! I love most of Fretheim’s work, in fact, for he’s very thorough and methodical, and it’s been oddly fun to slowly work my way through a such a scholarly work.

What about you? What have you been loving unabashedly, or trying to?