a random list of things I’m thinking about but not in a coherent enough way to make them their own posts

1. This book I just read called Will Grayson, Will Grayson
2. Cinnamon-sugar popcorn
3. My friends Eric and Beth are moving next week, and that bums me out.
4. I missed community group tonight, and I am sad.
5. My employer is taking a booth to a sci-fi/horror/fantasy/comics convention next weekend. I am expecting a lot of nerds in costumes.
6. Mom should only be in the hospital a couple more weeks; thanks for asking.
7. I work with a handful of gay folks and I’m pretty sure they’re convinced Christians hate them, so it’s rather interesting/fun to live in such a way as to prove otherwise.
8. Gender neutrality in academia (not that academics aren’t aware of gender, but gender stereotypes tend to not run rampant amongst them)
9. I’ve been really tired the past few weeks.
10. I’ve also been both really aware of my sin and unable to sit still long enough to pray. And kind of asocial, at that, so that’s not really good. Looking forward to Sunday in a way I have not looked forward to Sunday in some time. Needing a reboot.
11. Love.

mother’s day.

This is an updated version of something I wrote about 5 years ago. The second draft, if you will.)

While I think I have more admiration for Roman Catholicism than most evangelicals, I have serious qualms about Marian devotion. Why?

Because, well, Mary is my spiritual mother.

And so are Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, the mothers of Israel.

So are Ruth and Naomi, Deborah and Esther, Abigail and Hannah, Bathsheba and Rahab.

And so are all of the Marys, and Martha, and Dorcas and Agabus’s daughters, and Priscilla.

So is Monica. So is Dame Julian. So is Katharina von Bora,

And so are Dorothy Sayers, Joy Davidman, Madeleine L’Engle, Marva Dawn, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lauren Winner, Noel Piper, Lauren Chandler, Fanny Crosby, Sandra McCracken.

So are the women whose names we do not know, but who are known by God and were sustained by Him as they lived what would have been to us ordinary lives.

So are the countless women–both older and younger, roommates, friends, teachers, acquaintances, mothers, wives, sisters–with whom I’ve had the privilege to try to muddle through this thing we call following Jesus.

And so is the woman who, beneath the haze of medication, is trusting in God through a hospital stay, through much pain, and has shown me how to do that after taking a chance on me 27 years ago.

AFter all, she who will not have the church for her mother does not have God as her Father. I am blessed to have both.


1. So much for that little experiment, hey? I forgot one day and then the whole “write about what makes me happy” thing felt a little narcissistic, even for something as self-centered by nature as blogging, so that was the end of that. I did get what looks like a really good chocolate pudding recipe out of it, so I suppose all is not lost.

2. On Sunday, we didn’t have bread for communion. And so I didn’t take communion. I’m not really superstitious or anything, but I have felt off-kilter all week, and I’m blaming that.

3. I’ve become a lot more sacramental the older I get. Not that I think the bread and wine literally turn into the body and blood, or that baptism saves you–I’m still pretty stoutly Calvinist, after all–but even though in those moments it doesn’t necessarily feel like anything’s going on except my chewing, Jesus shows up and feeds my soul there. It’s the renewal of the covenant He made with me in the waters of my baptism; it’s the meeting of my literal body with His symbolic one, both in the bread and in the flesh-and-blood of His people who break Him right alongside me. One day, I will get to touch Him for real.

4. This is new: I’m becoming increasingly okay with the idea of not ever getting married, or at least not getting married for a long time. I’m not sure where this came from, but if I remain “a bachelor[ette] until the rapture”, as my friend Ephrem puts it, it’s not going to kill me, at least. Do I want to get married still? Yes. Still waiting for a man to feel the same way, and feel it about me, and do something about it. But I’m learning, slowly, to embrace the gift that singleness is, the looseness and mobility it provides me, and the way it’s whittling away at my self-centeredness by making me love Jesus more. And if He is the only Bridegroom I have, He will be enough.

Besides (and I hate admitting this), half the time I feel that I’m in no fit state to be anyone’s wife. (I barely feel like a decent friend, much less anyone’s partner for life.) But from what my married friends have told me, I don’t think that goes away after getting married. So, singleness is rough, marriage is rough, and we all get to watch one another work through them.

5. I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who was executed after being involved in an assassination attempt on Hitler. He’s a fascinating character–I’d love to write a movie about him–but his conviction and his fire have me feeling rather convicted about my own lack of conviction.

6. I just started following the blog of a fellow called Preston Yancey, who just graduated from my alma mater and is heading to the University of St. Andrew’s in the fall. He has the life I kind of want, and the talent, and makes me envious beyond all measure, but he’s a lovely writer and artist and has some good things to say. Looking forward to reading the book he’s writing (no, seriously, he has a book deal already).

month of happiness: #89

89. chocolate pudding

I mean. Do I really need to unpack this one?

If you are American, you probably grew up eating those pudding cups from the refrigerated section of the grocery store, right by the yogurt and the sour cream. Or you got the instant mix. Either way, it is excellent stuff, no matter how full of weird unpronounceable chemicals it is.

One of the dining halls at my alma mater would put out this chocolate pudding in fancy dishes, with a little fluffball of whipped cream on top, but–and this is the kicker–there were bits of crushed Heath bars on top. Those little caramelized crunchy pieces up against creamy pudding? I still kind of think about that.

There’s a movement to make this kind of stuff from scratch, which I totally want to try out. Or make it fancier, call it pot de creme, and be on with it. Which is also delicious. But there’s something lovely and nostalgic about the stuff out of the box, or in those little plastic cups with the foil on the top, because the high-end homemade stuff just can’t replicate that.

(I should also mention, because I’m actually not much of a chocolate person [believe it or not], that butterscotch and vanilla pudding? Also pretty stellar.)

month of happiness: #244

1920s-1940s period clothing

I keep having to remind myself that had I actually been living in the 1920s-40s, unless I emigrated to Hawaii or California or something, I’d be back in the old country looking more like this:


(photo from Library of Congress)

than this:


(photo from http://uramericansinparis.wordpress.com/)

And, I mean, that’s fine.

But I love those early 20th-century pieces, the footloose and fancy-free nature of them, clothing worn by women shedding corsets and layers and layers of petticoats for movement (both physical and metaphorical) and entering the workforce during hard times. It’s the clothing of women who know what they want, and even if they don’t have it, they’ll get there. But they’re still ladies with some class–even with the boyish figures and haircuts, they’re still pretty grounded in their femininity. And I aspire to that, not only in what I wear (although I’ve got too much curve to be a flapper…), but in how I carry myself, too.

Besides, cloches are super-cute.

month of happiness: #261

261. random instruments in rock songs—toy pianos, xylophones, accordions, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdys

It’s funny to me to think what those early rock-and-rollers would have thought of a kazoo player walking in on their sessions. “Hey, Mr. Presley, how about I add some of this to that number of yours? I think ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ needs a little zip.” Silly.

But postmodern experimentalism being what it is, every so often (and with increasing frequency) their musical descendants will break out the odd ducks in their musical retinue, often esoteric instruments, all to add different textures or noises–or maybe to show off how quirky they can be–or simply in a fit of randomness (which I think is the case more often than not). And this is fun.

I think part of the appeal for me is that it’s often unexpected, or because it’s something different than the usual drums-bass-guitar setup. But since, like I said, it’s become so common, I wonder if it hasn’t begun to lose the element of surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy it, but it’s not the signifier of creativity like it once was so much as it has become another tool in the toolbox. That’s what happens with culture: The odd becomes the normal, and soon we have to look for the new odd.

Novelty for novelty’s sake? That’s not happiness. That’s not even necessarily creative (although it can be). But the fact that we have so many sounds to play with in the universe, sounds we may not have even discovered yet, and that the Maker of ears and neurons and sound waves and air smiles on all our efforts to keep playing despite our own jadedness? Sure.

Toy piano:


month of happiness

I’ve been wanting to get myself to write more this year. So far, it’s been sporadic at best, especially here at the blog, dear readers. So, what to do?

Since 2007 or so, I’ve kept a Word document simply called “happy list”, which is just what it sounds like, a list of things and people and experiences that bring me pleasure. As of this writing, I’m at 505 items. And I’d like to share. So every day this month, I plan on picking some and writing about them. I’d like to hear some of your stories, too.