it was that kind of day

The kind in which one child sleeps in, but the other wakes a full hour early. So it goes.

It was the kind of day in which I went to a new class at the Y, composed of two-thirds senior citizens.

The Silver Sneakers put me to shame.

Toward the end (and me, pink and breathless), the fifty-something teacher said to grab mats. I thought it was the cool down.
It was not. Sweet merciful Jesus, I will be sore tomorrow.

On the way out, my toddler went barreling toward the street. STOP! STOP! I implored.

He hung a left, as if flicking one defiant tiny middle finger, and high tailed it off the curb across the street.

I am not a runner, but Lord, did I RUN. My strides! If the circumstances has been different, you would have been proud.

I'm fairly certain that none of the witnesses were.

Next stop: library!

Quiet voices, please. Please stay together. Quiet voices. Feet on the floor. Those step stools are for grownups. Feet on the floor, please. No running. No yelling. Stay together. Together! Quiet voices.


Time to check out now. We can't leave 'til we check out. Away from the door, please. Come here, please. James. Stay together, James. James Edward. CLOSE THAT DOOR. JAMES! COME BAAAAAACK!!!

[Drops purse, books, and library card. Exits building in hot pursuit of toddler, second full sprint of the morning.]


It had to be done. There was no other way.

After naps, we loaded the car and drove two towns over to the Big Box Discount Store with one singular item on our shopping list:

I am That Mom. 

The one with her kid on a plush lion toddler leash.

It was That Kind Of Day. 

Thank God, tomorrow is another.


the smitten word: feminist edition

good reads. shared.

Rebecca Traister, Salon: Can modern women "have it all"? A new Atlantic cover peddles dangerous myths [rebuttal to Anne-Marie Slaughter's Why Women Still Can't Have It All]
“Having it all” recasts a righteous struggle for greater political, economic, social, sexual and political parity as a piggy and acquisitive project.  
It is a trap, a setup for inevitable feminist short-fall. Irresponsibly conflating liberation with satisfaction, the “have it all” formulation sets an impossible bar for female success and then ensures that when women fail to clear it, it’s feminism – as opposed to persistent gender inequity – that’s to blame. 

Neda Ulaby, NPR:  Branding 'Brave': The Cultural Capital of Princesses

Sarafian says Pixar actually experimented with making Brave's main character, Merida, not a princess at all. 
"We tried making her the blacksmith's daughter and the milkmaid in various things," she says. "There [are] no stakes in the story for us that way. We wanted to show real stakes in the story where, you know, the peace of the kingdom and the traditions are all at stake." 
Now, you'd think someone could find stakes in the story of a blacksmith's daughter or milkmaid, but apparently not Pixar (which is owned, of course, by Disney). Still, Pixar didn't seem to have the same problem with ordinary civilian boy heroes in movies such as Up.

Although I don't necessarily consider myself an attachment parent, our values mirror most of its principles, and as a feminist, I've shaken fists more than once at the way the media likes to pit one against the other. In light of a new study turning the popular narrative on its heels, Annie at PhD in Parenting responds artfully to critics with Why Humanism, Feminism & Attachment Parenting Are Compatible.

Did you know that servicewomen are not permitted to breastfeed in uniform? (Salty language in that one, so you know.)

I'd be remiss not to mention the female Michigan lawmakers barred from House debate--and the ensuing performance of The Vagina Monologues on capitol steps in protest. 

Lastly, something from Sarah Bessey, that beautiful and unrivaled wordsmith. I don't even want to give any of it away, but fair warning: you may succumb to the ugly cry. Lesser folks have failed. In which my daughter wants to lose weight.

Tell us, what are you reading...or writing? Happy Friday, friends.

{image: MorBCN}


laughing at the days {guest post for imperfect prose}

When she said, "Where better to look than Proverbs 31?"
my heart sunk hard and I lifted tea to lips in lame disguise.

I am Suzannah's complete lack of enthusiasm

In this sorority, we're tested veterans,
survivors of grueling initiation.
Keepers of the homefront in sweltering season 
where husbands serve God and other mamas' kids 
from dawn 'til taps, repeat.

We labor, too, in ops covert.
Hidden in plain sight, your gaze bore through, unseeing.

of my guest post for Imperfect Prose. While you're there, read a few more posts, link your own, and join this wrestling, healing, redemptive community.


the cross & the empty tomb

The road to glory is paved with suffering,
watered with tears, sticky with blood.

The cross and the empty tomb;
can we hold them in tension,
this ache, real as resurrection?

Rejoicing, we know our story's end:
this sickness shall not end in death.


Heavy hearts labor,
bodies fail, friends betray.
Worldly power disarmed
fights dirty still. Bare-fisted blows
leave us breathless.

The tomb is empty!
But, Death, thy sting is sharp.
This thorn tears flesh, yet lingering scars
tremble not for the grim Prince,
his doom as sure as our citizenship.

Strangers of peculiar custom, we tread
as wayfarers without sure footing in
worlds here glimpsed.


The Kingdom of heaven draws near in power,
well-hewn on firm foundation.
The fullness of God in empty grave and
stone rolled away.

The Tree of Life lifted up
yields healing leaves and verdant promise
ancient as time,
new as birth.

shared with imperfect prose.
image: mscelnik


expect little, give much

I love this artist and her message, but the Expect Little part used to make me bristle. Our expectations can be far too low at times, can't they?  People meet us at the bar we set, and respect should never be accepted as a dwindling resource.


Lately, I'm discovering the wisdom of altered expectation.

I've wasted too much time with disappointment, and it's no way to live.

It's not about settling for less. It's opening my hands and letting go of narrowly bound ideas of How Things Should Be.

It's assuming a posture ready to receive good gifts (whichever form they take).

It's remembering that contentment is not an external chase but a place of rest and remembering, love and service.

Expecting Much has left me tired and bitter. If Christ must increase, I must decrease. Abundant life was never found in grasping but surrender.

Offering my expectations on the altar, I pray for eyes to see.

shared with five-minute friday (but you know it took me longer). prompt: expectation.
image: vol25 Source: via suzannah {the smitten word} on Pinterest


full hearts

I don't recognize us on tv.
Bed-hopping thirty-somethings who can't commit
and perennial adolescence bear little resemblance
to our ten years and two littles.

I don't recognize us in church, either,
in the mythology of headship and obedience.
Who really knows what happens in a marriage;
books tell it slant, or backwards.
We just try to follow Jesus
hand in hand.

There was that time, last summer, when I asked the priest
could he recommend a counselor?
A sage who loved freedom and mystery and Jesus?

He couldn't think of any. (Not one.)

We never wanted to reinvent the wheel;
we're not discovering the New World,
just persevering in love.

Last night, it was eleven before you came home.
You're the man-child whisperer, aren't you,
teaching those boys what grace and strength can be.

I realize I may have glimpsed you onscreen after all,
if Coach Taylor were a camp director,
and a feminist.

inspired by  #mutuality2012 and shared with imperfect prose.
image of my sister & her husband by Amy Reams Photo. 


faith-filled & feminist | theology, poetry, ministry, activism

Rachel Held Evans is hosting a week-long conversation about women's full equality in the Church, and while I'm more than happy to lend my voice in support, another part of me is saddened that this is up for debate in some circles in 2012.

But I am not naive. Even in congregations where women's gifts have been affirmed for decades, there remains a stained-glass ceiling. How can the Church hope to speak prophetically to culture or about justice if the women in our own congregations experience stifling limits and patriarchy in the pews instead of honor and freedom in Christ?

I write often about feminism from a Christian standpoint and wanted to gather a few favorites for Rachel's synchroblog.

Un-silencing Eve | Part 2
Yet with one empty tomb, Jesus disarmed the powers of sin and death. Christ the Word speaks redemption over every battered heart, shattered relationship, and system rank with decay, and he invites us into that same reconciling ministry. A post-Resurrection world calls the daughters of Eve to remember our identity as image-bearers of One who makes all things new and to govern creation as God intended.

Ministry, Mentors, & Holy Imagination
We are all–women, men, and children–gifted for ministry, created for good works, and blessed to be a blessing. We won’t always serve from the front, but we need diverse voices there, too. The harvest is plentiful and the workers few. Jesus called us to pray for more laborers in his field–not to bind and gag those with the will to be sent. 
Permission to serve in the Kingdom is none but the King’s to grant, and in him alone are we able and equipped.

Worship, Activism, & the Roots of Womanist Theology
At twenty-one, Nannie Helen Burroughs was already a dynamic force on the intellectual and religious scenes. In 1900, at the first meeting of the Women's Convention, Auxiliary to the National Baptist Convention, she delivered a fiery address entitled "How the Sisters are Hindered from Helping."

Burrough's description of black churchwomen's "righteous discontent" is a fitting characterization of their resistance to exclusion and injustice. African American women were not content to remain at home in the manner prescribed by white culture's cult of domesticity, and they continued to envision themselves as fully answering God's call through public service.

words like weapons (forget not your name)
Big girls cry hot tears
(and we're women, thankyoumuch).
We bear on our bodies the
wounds of un-winnable wars 
A porn-soaked culture values
sexy, submissive, and available;
a bar set canyon low and
unreachable all the same 
He hated her more than he loved her

And a new one about marriage (and friday night lights):  Full Hearts

To read more posts affirming gender equality (or to link your own), head over to Rachel's place and follow along on twitter #mutuality2012.


shelter from the wind

"Guys, I can see a tornado outside," Dylan informed us from her perch at the bathroom window. Her matter-of-fact manner barely registered. She was upstairs, after all, and hadn't we just reiterated the rule about not talking across rooms, floors, and yards--("Make sure you can see their eyes")?

We were a little distracted. We'd just sent the kids upstairs to speak grown-up things in peace when the outdoor furniture that Jim assembled that morning blew off the porch. Hearing a thud, I wondered what else might have flung itself into oblivion--or likely, our car, where previous chairs met their demise.

Ours is not a tornado town, but the valley draws more than its share of strange storms: thick April snow devastated newly-green boughs, and hail like baseballs kept roofers in town for months. Sudden sheets of rain and whipping winds are as common as fireflies and fishermen, but huddling in storm cellars was beyond my experience.

I ran upstairs to shut the windows when Jim's cell rang.

"" It cut out.

"Into the basement everyone!"

Our four-year-old knew what she saw, all right.

image via tom wells on twitter; we did not take photos!

Our house is directly behind the barn on the right, and Dylan glimpsed the funnel cloud from a point much closer.

"It was full of leaves and feathers. Goose feathers and branches."

Sweet mercy.

We gathered on the dank basement stairs by the light of Jim's phone. The wind whipped, and nothing shook but our confidence.

We emerged at the hillside neighbor's All Clear, only to retreat again at the sight of still-ominous clouds. This time we were shored up by shoes, crackers, and flashlights for shadow puppets on the cracked and cobwebbed wall.

"I'm not scared," insisted James, not even of spiders.

"I'm scared," confessed Dylan, and I pulled her close to my heart. "I'm scared and I'm brave."

And we were.

We are safe, and so is everyone and everything at camp. (There are no kids here and only some of our staff.) Some of the nearest houses did sustain damage, but we still don't know much. We're so grateful that Jim was home, and I can't begin to tell you how rare that is during these long training weeks. Thankful, thankful, thankful. Now for a June with a little less excitement!

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