seattle one

Update (to give the illusion that untold masses of people keep up with my blog): My husband and I are living in Seattle this summer, where he is working at a church and I am taking some time off. (Time off from being a student, which some, including me, would consider an already-luxurious existence…so in addition to taking time off, I’m trying not to feel ridiculous about it.)

Last week, I went on an overnight trip with some other women whose husbands are working at various churches in the Pacific Northwest. A few of us dropped our things at the homey bed & breakfast and walked around the small downtown nearby. We ended up at a free art museum, which featured an exhibit called American Fiction – the work was by Robert McCauley. His pieces focus on wildlife and nature and the imposition/impact humanity has had on them. It was all very intentionally profound and meaningful. But that’s not actually what I mean to focus on.

Upstairs, in an exhibit I don’t remember any information about, the pieces (by different artists) explored the concept of invisibility. The exhibit paired artwork with short statements from middle school students about what it feels like to be invisible. It was heart-wrenching and took me back to high school and college and oh-wait-I-still feel it sometimes. It made me want to ask myself the question. What does it really feel like when you feel invisible?

It is lonely, dark, a place where you don’t even want to be seen after awhile because you’re too angry. If people start to notice, you resent how long it took them. You want to be seen, but you become comfortable in the unseen – start to think of yourself as empty space. Lose your substance and make yourself fit the invisibility, see if you can actually become part of the environment, the wind, the space. Lose touch with yourself because your self is in too much pain. Make the pain invisible, and it might go away. There must be something wrong with you, deficient about you, something they’re looking for that you don’t have, or they don’t see in you which is essentially them saying you don’t have it without even investigating. And so they don’t see you. It’s easy to feel invisible even when people think they see you.

On this trip, we cooked together and drank together and talked about life and ministry. This John Green quote is the first thing I wrote in my journal that weekend: “The world may be broken, but hope is not crazy.” It’s one I have to go back to. I tend to see optimistic, always-positive people as essentially ignorant – not necessarily naive, but definitely not realistic. I tend to get fixated on understanding what’s going on and what’s wrong and the truth that we are never as good or right as we hope to be. I’m so concerned with naming and understanding reality in all its darkness that I forget to actively hope.

We were talking about how to encourage people toward faith. One woman described the process as basically living out hope, contentment, and rest. If we live in light of the hope and peace we have in Christ, it will impact our lives in a way that should make us unique as friends and neighbors. It’s simple, and we know this. But there’s always an obstacle. Sometimes, almost everyone we come in contact with has faith. Sometimes, we act so much like we don’t have hope that our lives won’t look different. Whatever it is, we need reminders.

There is so much in other faiths and philosophies that actually agrees with Christianity. The assorted things people pick up and cling to often resemble the truth closely, but ultimately don’t answer all the questions or satisfy all the needs. And there’s no way to ultimately maintain a my-truth/your-truth system.

My hope isn’t in something abstractly “out there” somewhere. It’s not, “I hope this will get better…” or, “I hope there’s something better…” The hope is grounded in a real God who has given us a real story with a real savior outside ourselves. It’s way too much pressure to say we can do anything to save ourselves from despair or hopelessness. I have been there. It’s not possible to save yourself from that place. At the very least, another person has to enter in. Ultimately, God is the only one who can bring us to a place of real hope and joy. We’ll always be disappointed by self-saving strategies. This passage was mentioned specifically:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:1-5 ESV

When our hope is in something sure, there’s no chance we’ll be ashamed of our hopefulness later – no chance that it won’t come through. That’s huge. I avoid hope…it’s like I have to watch my back or surely be caught off guard. Hope is such a vulnerable choice. Something exhausting about knowing this about myself (for so long) is that I can see how little or how slowly I change. I know I shirk away from hope, and that hope is what I need, and it’s real and true and won’t disappoint me. But that doesn’t mean that in every situation my hope will be realized. That’s just wishful thinking.

The guest who came to speak with us over the weekend shared a phrase that she borrowed from a Buddhist friend, tweaked to make it true. The original phrase was, “I am the mountain; this is the weather.” Her version says, “God is the mountain; this is the weather.”
(This = life, circumstances, ourselves, emotions, relationships, conflict, etc.)

Because we change as much as the weather, we can’t count on ourselves to be that massive, immovable mountain. We can count on God to be that in the midst of whatever “this” weather might be.

I struggled with the tendency in our conversations (and in most conversations about being married to a pastor) toward discussing the pastor/husband’s work and ministry as the primary work being done in the marriage. I wrote a whole paragraph about this that I decided not to put on the blog…because I’m still processing and haven’t talked much about it with people actually in that scenario. It’s just difficult to feel like my ideas might be on the fringe.

Ultimately this summer…I’m going with: grateful, not guilty.
I’m grateful to be in a new place with some existing friends. I’m grateful for the community that has already started to embrace us. I’m grateful to learn about this city and its people. I’m grateful to see new and beautiful places. I’m grateful to have time to write out thoughts and sit with them awhile. I’m grateful to be reading the books I looked at longingly throughout the semester. I’m grateful to have a kind God who gives me these things and wants me to hope in him. I need him, and I need hope. Me, repeat after me: it’s not crazy.

I always finish a blog post feeling like I haven’t scratched the surface of what I’m thinking about, but there it is. I’ve been sitting on it for too long and just need to get back in the groove. Thanks for readin the randoms.


what was 2017

That’s a good question. I’m not too worried about it.

It has taken me well into this month to actually take some reflective time. Even as I finally write this, New Girl is on in the background. Not meaningful music or quiet stillness. I can’t focus on anything these days. That is something I’m seeking…something I should resolve to correct. It is definitely reflected in my spiritual life…which is scatterbrained and stuttering. I constantly feel like a fraud, and I know this is basically how everyone feels some of the time, but some of us feel it all of the time. Being a person whose friends see me primarily as the person in seminary who did a ministry job…sometimes feels like they think I have it together. Those are obviously facts about me…but they are too much pressure.

Well, here’s the recap of the last year. I didn’t keep track of anything too well, so I am using my Instagram (as I did last year), which is pretty incomplete.

January brought the end of our semester break. We hung out with some friends in St. Louis before actually returning to regular routines, which made me start to feel at home here. Trump was inaugurated, and I tried to control the amount of information I digested about politics every day but also wanted to know everything and felt as if I could miss the vital life-changing moment that would inevitably happen. I started reading Humble Roots with a group of women from church – the book I wrote about in my last 2017 blog post. I got a very bad stomach bug. We started our second semester of seminary.

In February, I celebrated Galentine’s Day with some women – mostly people I don’t know well, but I was glad to be included. I started enjoying my classes for real. I resolved to make exercise a legit priority in my life for the umpteenth time since being a legit dancer/runner. I got sick again.

In March, friend Maggie visited and interviewed for Covenant’s counseling program (& I got my hopes up kind of but did not hold it against her for not enrolling). I had a little bit of a crisis: what am I doing with my life? I mean, I have this as an ongoing crisis because people have been asking me this question every month since senior year of high school: WHY didn’t I become something that people understand? Spring break happened, during which we went to Nashville for a few days to be tourists. We went on to visit my aunt & uncle & cousin in Knoxville for a few days. It was lovely and relaxing, and I read a whole novel, which refreshed my heart. I got sick another time.

In April, Spring came in to bless everything, and it was my birthday: these things shall always go together and Spring shall always be my love. The light started to come back. Friendships felt stronger. Big projects felt bigger. It’s blurry.

In May, Nick took the plunge and did a Kickstarter in order to record a new album. We went to Texas for a week so he could record that album, and anxiously awaited the Kickstarter process until it was fully funded thanks to the amazing people in our lives. Whew! Nick’s Mom came to STL see him play a house show. Nick’s Dad and Bonus Mom came for a quick visit.

In June, we “moved” to Indianapolis for the summer. Nick did an approximately two-month internship with a worship leader at a great church there. I took the time to write and read a lot. The change of pace was wonderfully startling, and we felt like “normal” human adults. Nick’s birthday day was a lovely quiet adventure.

In July, fireworks. Our third anniversary. Cooked a lot of good food. Enjoyed the summertime life. Missed friends in St. Louis and doing anything with them. Started to feel lonely. Visited various friends in Chicago for a weekend. Returned to STL.

In August, I shifted nannying jobs and started working for families from our church. My parents came to visit. We went to Lincoln for Nick to play a CD release show. We saw the Weepies in concert in Kansas City with friend Hanna, and it was the best thing. School started: our third semester of seminary.

In September, LDR Weekend (conference) for which friend Kayla came to town. There were lots of weekend walks to the farmers’ market. The Stockley verdict came to St. Louis, and the response was protest. I have been wracked with anxiety since I failed to participate in the direct action, and I continue to feel limited, not doing or being enough for the cause of justice here.

In October, the thick of the semester, there was fall break. We get some nice breaks as students. It was good to stay in town, keep working, camp with friends, and see John and Hank Green as they went on tour for John’s new book. All of the feelings. Nick released his third album, Autumn! He played two shows in St. Louis and one in Tulsa (the first travel weekend! I was not in attendance; see also: the second and third travel weekends).

In November, we went to Indianapolis (the second travel weekend!), where Nick played a house show for some of the people we connected with this summer. We passed through Bloomington to visit Lincoln friend Johnathan. We went to Lincoln for a wedding (the third travel weekend!). I got sick. (Did we not see that coming?) My parents came back to town for Thanksgiving, which we celebrated together with our friends the Gordons. Blending families and sharing good food, although my sense of taste was completely inhibited by the sickness. (I enjoyed leftovers and my first normally portioned Thanksgiving meal as a result.)

In December, we somehow finished the semester with all of our hair and teeth. There were holiday parties and dinners. Friend Chelsea visited STL. We got to Nebraska as soon as finals were over. Saw good friends for lengthy visits. Family time with Nick’s and mine. Watched (and felt) some old dorms at our alma mater implode (and breathed their dust). We returned to STL for Christmas celebrations with Nick’s Mom and family. It was very cold outside and very cozy inside. My Grandpa Bobby Boy turned 80 years old and all of the family was there, which was the most special thing.

I wrote 13 blog posts in 2017…mostly in the summer when I had the most time and focused energy. It was still quite hard to make myself write. There should be some goal about that this year. I’ve been wrestling with myself, remembering that it isn’t purposeless to contemplate hopes and dreams and to try moving toward something you like…something you want. Wrestling with my social responsibility and constant guilt for not being the first to stand up to protest and for not using all of my time altruistically. Wrestling with this idea that “’silence’ is violence” when I’m generally (apart from a few times last year when I didn’t know what else to do) silent on social media when it comes to…anything that is not random pictures of my life. I’m not trying to use social media as a platform…but some people believe that is really a core use…or what it should be if you profess to care about issues and people and justice…very confusing and a lot of pressure to post and “speak” about every single thing all the time. As if talking a lot about one thing and not about another automatically means you’re disregarding the other. Or that if you’re not vocal on social media that means you don’t care…I think that’s crap. I think what you do in your actual life matters a lot more. I have cared in the past more about saying and thinking the right things than about actually putting them into action. What would the point of saying the right things on social media be if they didn’t bear out in my day to day? But it will never feel as if I am doing or saying enough.

Sometimes I wonder why I like to do this kind of a recap…I think it’s because my future self will appreciate it (even though my present self feels like it’s not that important).

Next time: what will 2018 be? Hint: resolutions that come about 20 days “late” are more like long-term solutions to problems that have been under long-term reflection.

Do I have recommendations…? Well, I always have something.
Book: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Book: Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Read Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

humble roots

At the beginning of the year, I started reading Humble Roots, by Hannah Anderson. A good friend recommended it at the very end of last year. A lady at my church in St. Louis started a group to read it together at the beginning of this year. I went for a few weeks until school got overwhelming. I kept reading it in tiny chunks, journaling along, and finally finished it in July. I recently went through my journal entries and typed up the highlights. Going through those now to process a bit more and see what comes. Also, keep in mind that almost everything I’m writing comes directly from Hannah Anderson’s mind…not mine. And it’s not a short post, but it’s easy.

This book ended up having a larger impact than I expected. (As if I can really predict the way I’ll learn and grow.) I’m prone to reading books that are supposed to speak to the soul as if they can be processed at the rate of consumption. I’ve been learning a lot lately…processing…but not necessarily reflecting and incorporating. I live a tense-hearted life. God meets me in his own time, at my right time, usually slowly because I am stubborn and he is kind. My walk with Jesus involves a lot of breaks…or times where I stop and sit down on a bench for a little bit. But that doesn’t mean that God is taking a break.

This book spoke to (so much, but starting with) the interpersonal comparison that everyone does and the insecurity it brings.
(1) I don’t really care whether people like my personality or lifestyle choices or way I operate or that I like what I like.
(2) I want to be loved in friendship so badly. I haven’t grown up with one best friend. I’ve been so fortunate to have different friends in different places, and I love all of them. But it’s hard not to have that one person that will always know you and has always known you – the good and bad. I have a friend who knows me well and who asks after my heart…and she has lost that one person who was that person in her life. I wonder if she feels this a little, though we are close.

I am married, and in one sense it’s true that he is my best friend. But there is something so sweet and so missed about deep and sweet female friendship. I went to see a movie (the documentary “Whose Streets” – definitely recommend getting this perspective on the events in Ferguson) with a friend from St. Louis, and went back to her house briefly afterward, where her roommates were talking about life and we joined in for a moment. I miss those moments passing in the dining room where you can hear all those voices speaking into your life and love on each other.

I compare myself to other women constantly, which is why I feel insecure in every friendship I’ve ever had. I need the humility to recognize that it doesn’t matter – that the criteria I’m using to define myself and them means nothing. It has become the basis of how I relate, and it usually comes out with them on top, me admiring and mostly feeling inferior. [I feel like the queen of third-wheeling friendships. I’m the third friend tagging along with the two best friends. I expect that it’s going to be a tricycle, but when I get there it’s actually just a bicycle and an extra wheel. Nice to have that extra wheel, but ultimatly unnecessary. This has been a theme pretty much all my life, and I see hints of it as I’m starting to make friends here. It’s hard not to go ahead and fortify the walls. For me, it’s not about trying not to put up walls – it’s about trying to tear down the ones that go up automatically in new places…when I want to strengthen them. I think I try to hang on hard to friends that maybe want to let me go? How does one become content with being the odd friend out? Then I realize this is all completely selfish and I don’t deserve to have friends in the first place, so gratitude should be the only thing I’m feeling.]

When it comes to improvement and growth, I tend to impose regulations or sweeping statements intended to make myself better. But am I actually changing on the inside? I need the humility to seek holiness, not just better qualities or habits. I need Jesus, not self-help. How would humility change me?

“Humility is not feeling a certain way about yourself, not feeling small or low or embarrassed or even humiliated. Theologically speaking, humility is a proper understanding of who God is and who we are as a result.” (103)

The morality of our culture is that if something feels good, it must be good: “But today, being true to yourself doesn’t mean making an honest evaluation of yourself; it means embracing your emotional experience of the world as truth.” (103) I can get obsessed with how other people feel about me and how I feel about myself. How I feel about myself/the world/others isn’t reality…it’s corrupted. This statement really spoke to my heart: “Instead of responding to the pain of being misunderstood, I can rest in the fact that God understands me even better than I understand myself.” (106) I need to hear that every day for life.

Humility should free us from self-condemnation. I’m not God – I can’t condemn, not even myself. My assuming unnecessary guilt (or shame) keeps me at the center of my mind and life. Honest anxiety leads to usurping God’s position of authority. We should adore God -> be humble -> have confidence. Anderson includes this Hildebrand (philosopher) quote: “The question whether I feel worthy to be called is beside the point; that God has called is the one thing that matters.”

I feel like it has become increasingly popular or socially acceptable to be openly judgmental. I’m sitting in a coffee shop where the wi-fi is being slightly fickle but mostly working fine (for me at least), and the girl at the table next to me has been trying to figure out the network/password. Loudly, she said, “I’m never coming here again.” I’m listening to music through my headphones, and I heard her. I’m sure the baristas just across the way could hear her. Her friend said, “I’m fine with that. The coffee is…*makes a face*” I mean, wow. I guess taking a couple minutes to figure out the Internet is a deal breaker, and it’s all right to complain about the coffee in front of the people who made it. That’s a minor example…

People talking about others who are difficult to love or be around – who have awkward or problematic tendencies — really just want to get away from them. They talk in a belittling and irritated manner. When Christians operate this way, I want to shove a copy of Life Together into their hands. I know not every difficult person is also a part of God’s family, but I think that acknowledging the image of God in everyone means that we can’t openly shame others. (But the Internet, for instance, says we MUST shame anyone who says anything remotely wrong.) I think doing so reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the sin and inconsistencies inherent in our own hearts. When we are gratified by pointing out others’ deficiencies, we probably don’t see our own clearly enough. I usually don’t want to hear you gossip about someone else if you don’t have a hopeful bent – if you’re not interested in engaging with the person and doing life with them.

Nick is so good at engaging with people that others would disregard. I’m constantly challenged by this. He gives rides to strangers – has done this multiple times since we’ve been married. He talks to the Jehovah’s Witnesses sitting on the park bench (which generally means he listens to their speeches for ten minutes without interrupting or looking for his out). He listens to the man playing music on the street and tries to learn what he’s about. And he does not complain about this. He loves it. He loves people. His heart is open. What if we all operated this way?

Humility can redeem the inner life. We can bring our emotions to God and feel them deeply. God is not emotionally manipulative. “So…when humility frees us from the oppression of our emotions, when we finally learn that ‘God is greater than our heart,’ it also frees us to enjoy the depth and variety of our inner life. We are free to enter into our emotions, letting them do what God intends for them to do: draw us back to Himself.” (114)

Remember, we always have something to learn. I can very easily assume the posture of knowing what everyone is talking about all the time. Usually I am just trying to assume a listening posture, but sometimes it can also lead people to think that I’m already in the know. I don’t speak up when I don’t get a reference, but it happens all the time. The book I’m reading now describes this well in reference to a particular character. Indulge me and read this paragraph…

“It was therefore with a very well-concealed ignorance that Moody played interlocutor to Gascoigne, and Clinch, and Mannering, and Pritchard, and all the others, when they spoke of Anna Wetherell, and the esteem in which they held her, as a whore. Moody’s well-timed murmurs of ‘naturally’ and ‘of course’ and ‘exactly so,’ combined with a general rigidity of posture whenever Anna’s name was mentioned, implied to these men merely that Moody was made uncomfortable by the more candid truths of human nature, and that he preferred, like most men of exalted social rank, to keep his earthly business to himself. We observe that one of the great attributes of discretion is that it can mask ignorance of all the most common and lowly varieties, and Walter Moody was nothing if not excessively discreet. The truth was that he had never spoken two words together to a woman of Anna Wetherell’s profession or experience, and would hardly know how to address her – or upon what subject – should the chance arise.” (The Luminaries, page 397)

Ignorance can be masked by reserve, and I don’t have the humility to admit the ignorance most of the time. That’s my point.

Humility also applies to the limits of human reason. God’s ways are so far beyond our own. We should not be concerned with being right for the sake of being right. We shouldn’t be self-righteous about our knowledge or wisdom. Anderson describes this using someone else’s term: epistemological humility. I think people in my theological/faith/denominational circles need to hear this. We must have faith in the truth of revelation, not faith in our own knowledge or understanding. We need to be able to acknowledge when we are wrong (and see that we will always be fallible…and sinful). We will never ever know everything, so get used to it, and start acknowledging limits more. It will put others at ease. When I’m around people who seem to have tons to say or seem super secure in their own understanding, I’m either intimidated, or I don’t have much desire to talk to them, because it’s already clear what they think and that they might not be great at listening to the opinions or perspectives of others. Yet, I do this. Nick will feel shut down in conversations when I feel strongly or have a lot of thoughts about a subject. I have to shut myself up. (I interrupt with occasional smothered noises now, rather than with fully-formed sentences. 🙂

“Not only does humility teach us that knowledge comes from outside us, it also reminds us that we cannot perfectly categorize and process the knowledge that we do have.” (123)

We all have resources at our disposal. I learned this well when I first went to Sunshine Gospel Ministries in Chicago. They teach college groups (which tend to be made up of kids from at least semi-privileged backgrounds, and in our case very clearly privileged) about communities of poverty – how they are constructed, what their struggles are, and how injustice contributes to the cycle of poverty. I learned that it’s very unlikely that I’ll end up homeless. I have a savings account. I have a family that could support me financially or house me for a time. They would have compassion. I actually have multiple arms of family that could do this. I am white and have a college degree, so I can easily get different kinds of jobs. I have the technology to engage with current trends and to fit into society. There are people against whom systems are biased. There are people who get subpar education based on where they live and how much money their community has. People who live in unsafe environments because they have no choice and are more prone to danger, drugs, or sickness and who grow up with incredible trauma. People who have to struggle to gain stable employment, let alone higher education, and whose families are in the same situation. People who are targeted and charged with minor crimes and fines, who can’t afford to get out from under that burden. The cycle can start in so many places, and I am not vulnerable to its sinkhole. I didn’t do anything to DESERVE this invulnerability. Anderson gets to this briefly in a footnote: “In failing to recognize how much previous generations have shaped our own success, we can also fail to see how much generations of poverty and oppression will shape other people as well. While we may inherit blessing, other people inherit hardship.” (142)

So, Anderson writes about having resources of all kinds. We can honor them, and we can engage them with humility. Everything we have, we’ve been given (material and relational and everything). We don’t deserve to have things a certain way, and we haven’t earned a particular lifestyle. I complain from a position in which God has given me more than I need. Humble thankfulness is not based on comparison (I have more than others, so I should be grateful). It is “a gratitude rooted in having anything at all.” (143)

I need to make sure I’m not putting myself at the center of dealing with privilege. This is very difficult, because the first and easiest way we try to understand the world is through our own eyes. I’m thinking about the parable of the talents. Do I steward (plant) my resources, or do I bury them? (Bury them. or get paralyzed. or don’t realize I have them.) Am I using my freedom well? (Hm) Do I accept gifts without guilt, without trying to earn them? (Either so guilty or so entitled. depends.) Do I let God lead me in using them? (Mostly I do not.) We have responsibilities because of the gifts we have been given. Asking whether we deserve them is not productive. Asking what we are responsible to do can lead to action and growth. God is at the center. Everything has a purpose.

“We know that we don’t deserve more than another person, but we also know that we have more than another person. And so in an attempt to deal with this guilt, we can pursue a form of asceticism, all while keeping ourselves at the center of the conversation.” (HR, 146)

I am one of those people who often feel that planning and wishing seem presumptuous because we don’t know God’s step-by-step plan. I needed to hear that it is right to have desires and hopes (and even…plans !) and that we should speak them, so that God can redeem and shape and reform them. This was a huge learning moment for me.

It’s actually not virtuous to refuse to make a plan before we know what’s to come. It’s arrogant. It’s reaching for knowledge that is beyond us, that only God knows. We will never have a perfect map, but we do have the most gracious guide. A verse that kept coming to mind was Proverbs 16:3, which says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” I think I’ve always been incredulous at the thought that the Bible says the Lord will establish *your* plans. My plans, really? I thought it was all about God’s plan though… Something I realized as I meditated on this idea and continued to read Humble Roots is that because of this incredulity and focus on God’s unknowable plan, I don’t actually commit my hopes, my work, or my plans to the Lord. So the focus shouldn’t be on God establishing my plans, but on committing everything I do to Him.

Three distilled conclusions from Hannah:
“I will not overlook my privilege.”
“I will not feel guilty about what God has put in my hands or attempt to earn it.”
“I will allow God to lead me in cultivating these gifts for His glory and the good of those around me.”

“Just as God is the source of your life and gifting, God is also the source of your desires… In this sense, the greater presumption is not found in speaking your desires but failing to acknowledge their existence in the first place.” (159)

“Surprisingly enough, humility teaches us to embrace desire as a means of learning to submit to God. It is precisely through the process of wanting certain things that we also learn to trust God to fulfill those desires or to trust Him when he changes them. It is precisely through the process of learning to plan that we learn to depend on a God who makes our plans happen.” (159)

We are kept dependent on God when we don’t know everything. This has altered the way I think: “As much as you cannot make yourself or orchestrate the events of your life or shape your unique personality, you can no more create the desires of your heart.” (161) Desires feel completely selfish. I want this or that – I want to do this or that – it’s all about me. But, DUH, we have nothing we haven’t been given, including our lives and bodies and minds and desires. To acknowledge them is to own them, and that is a risk. To tell God about them is a risk. But it also means, “agreeing with God about who He has made you to be.” (162) We have to learn to ultimately desire the one thing we will never be denied, which is God himself. But we also need to trust Him with our plans, and submit to the idea that they will be fulfilled in ways that we can’t imagine. The possibility of failure is no excuse. We still work.

“When we limit ourselves to working when the time is right, we reveal that we are still clinging to the notion that success is dependent on our choices and our ability to control outcomes.” (168) I have a real strong control issue. That probably gives you the picture of what this feels like for me. 🙂

The world is broken. We can respond to this brokenness with humility. In Luke 8/Matthew 13, Jesus talked about the different kinds of ground upon which the seed of the truth is sown. The seeds that fall on thorny ground are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. We try to replace the giver with the gifts. Sloth…that’s not often how I think about this defeated way of living. God can make our efforts fruitful in the midst of the broken world. “Rooted in pride, sloth factors God out of the equation entirely. If God is not present or powerful here, there is no guarantee that your work or time will be rewarded. So why even try?” (181) We get defeated and more defeated as we stop trying.

Jesus trusts God and accepts the crown of thorns and defeats evil. “What better way to diminish the King of the universe than to crown Him with the very curse that hangs over His creation? What better way to triumph over Him than for evil to adorn his head? What could be more humiliating than to have our brokenness rest on Him?” (184) He trusted God – “Humility trusts God.” (185)

Do I believe the truth about God even when the situation suggests he’s someone doing something I can’t trust? I can’t be ruled by anything other than His word. I can confess my brokenness and rest by telling God and others that I need help. Surrender and stop thinking I can be enough – there is hope.

The most humbling experience of all is death. “All our life, humility is working to this end: Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” (195) We experience the deaths of others until one day we are dying. We have no control. Jesus commits his spirit to the father – the destroyer of death, which destroys us now. Those who humble themselves will be the ones exalted. “…when the creature is finally and fully humbled, the world rights itself. When Jesus humbled Himself and submitted to death, He unleashed a power greater than death.” (196) It’s an upside down kingdom.

The struggle to sleep is another picture of the struggle to give up control and trust God. Put down the day. It’s a small way to practice letting go every day because we literally can’t live without it. “In many ways, the act of sleep itself is a spiritual act, an act of humility.” (204) I have to trick myself into sleeping most nights (if I’m not just exhausted) by leaving a light on or reading a book. God offers rest at the end of every day and at the end of every week. He welcomes us to rest, and he will restore us and sustain us.

The whole exercise of writing has had no place to fit in my life lately. I’m interested in politics/keeping up with current events. I’m interested in being a part of my community (though school and work mean that so much of my time is occupied). I’m interested in writing and reading fiction – I love it so much. I’m interested in too many things? I’m not sure what realm I’ll end up working toward when it comes to career time. I’m in seminary slash grad school. My program is focused on the connection of social justice to theology. I’ve been able to learn the outworking of that in terms of bringing justice+gospel to bear in different aspects of work in the city, whether that means working with refugees, working in community development, working in medicine, housing, etc. I’m interested in building relationships, but also in connecting people to the resources they need. How does someone get from the exit door of the prison to the front door of an employment agency (willing to talk to them) that has connections to employers (willing to give them a chance)? I’m interested in the broad and the sweeping…one of my strengths (according to Gallup) is “Connectedness”. Another is “Restorative”. I’m interested in restorative justice and the connection of the gospel to all of life – and its call on our lives to be righteous, which has huge implications for how we engage the poor and marginalized. I’ve written a little about that here before.

This was also very long, and if you made it this far then consider yourself part of my blog’s VIP club.

“Autumn” – a BRAND NEW album by Nick Dahlquist!!! I know him!
“Whose Country ‘Tis of Thee?” – Latino USA podcast episode
“All Things Work Together” – new Lecrae Album! SO GOOD.


On Thursday night, Nick (my husband) played (his original music) at a legit venue for the first time since we’ve lived in St. Louis. He has played at a coffee shop a couple of times, but never as a performer recognized as such. There was a simple stage, a sound check, and an opener. We got to the venue about an hour early to set up and get a vibe. We chatted with the bartender before people started to arrive. A friend (from the seminary we attend) played a set of his own music to open up. Friends (mostly from the seminary as well) trickled in over the course of the next hour. When it was time for Nick to start playing, someone who worked at the venue came onstage and gave a short, seemingly out-of-the-blue speech about the fact that during the show with an obviously largely Christian-seminary-crowd, the bar was making the least money in tips than it ever had before on similar nights. He addressed the idea of generosity and basically spoke against us for a little while. And then Nick had to start playing (for his own CD release show) in the midst of the subsequent atmosphere.

At first, it made me feel super unwelcome, like we were almost being asked to wrap things up and leave (before the main act had started). At the same time, I started to feel terrible. So terrible. Such a sinking feeling in my stomach. Nick and I were each given two tickets for free drinks since he was an artist and I was taking cover charges at the door. I hadn’t had the opportunity to tip or buy my own drink. But I have known for a long time that in the restaurant industry, Christians have the worst reputation as customers and specifically as being terrible tippers. That has always informed the way that Nick and I try to extend generosity when we tip (besides the fact that it’s a decent and normal way to behave, no matter who you are). Nick has also worked at three or four restaurants in his life, and he understands what it’s like to rely on tips on your shift.

The speech we should want people to give when a group of Christians comes into a neutral space is quite the opposite from the one this man had to give last night. It should be, “You Christians have been the best-tipping crowd we’ve ever had, and that wasn’t what we were expecting! Thank you for living up to the standard of generosity that you’re supposed to have!” We should be living in a way that shows people who don’t share our beliefs that we actually let our faith inform our way of being in the world, everywhere we go. As I sat and listened to Nick play his set (very graciously and positively and addressing the bar in a congenial way, seemingly unfazed by the speech) I started to get pissed. We invited this crowd to a bar we had never been to before, and they were representing us, our school, our faith, and ultimately our God. I wish they had thought about that when they decided not to leave a tip (those of them who didn’t leave a tip…probably better just not to buy a drink in the first place). I had used my drink tickets, so I went ahead and bought a beer.

After Nick was finished, he wanted to buy a drink as well, and a couple of our friends stayed back with us as we sat at the bar and chatted with the two people who had been working that night. We addressed the issue right away – we apologized for the way they had been stiffed, and made it clear that we weren’t on board with that. The lady that we had talked to early in the evening told us a couple of comments she’d overheard from the guests. One person commented to another that they hadn’t tipped and that their friend shouldn’t feel bad about not tipping either. One person questioned the bartender’s sexuality based on her short hair. I was horrified!! We personally knew all but three of the people who’d walked through the door – albeit we don’t know all of them as close friends. I couldn’t believe that some of my friends/acquaintances had behaved so poorly, especially in light of the speech from a person who directly said that he had grown up in the church. What a terrible impression we confirmed for him.

Our conversation – the six of us – after everyone else had left was really helpful and hopefully healing to the employees. They had gotten a terrible view of Christianity from our group that night. They expressed their gratitude for all the music, and for the four of us who stayed and tried to make amends and just talk as people. We listened to their thoughts about faith – some direct challenges and even really offensive accusations…but we didn’t argue or belittle. We tried to listen and be honest when we were asked questions. The guys exchanged phone numbers. We gave them most of the money we’d made at the door as our tip (something we weren’t necessarily guaranteed from Nick doing a show, and something that Nick does anyway when the tip jar is low). It was my favorite part of the night. And I was so proud of Nick for playing his really evidently Christian music without shame after being ripped, and for treating the staff so well, and for acknowledging with honesty the need to make up for the animosity they felt that night. I was grateful to have friends who stayed behind with us – I think it was really important for the staff to see that we weren’t the only people who could be kind to them and act normal. There are more than just two Christians who know how to love.

As I read that, it seems like I’m ranting and tooting my own horn here…but I am not trying to make us look good…I’m really trying to process being appalled and heartbroken…

When someone says to you that they were starting to heal and think about the Christian faith again, but your audience made them question whether they wanted to do that anymore, it is a big deal. Our behavior has consequences, and I want people to know that they leave an impact. Whatever your intentions, and whatever you think about your own money…Christians have to be the perfect example of human beings – we have to be extra generous and extra loving, because there is a stigma attached to us when we walk into the room. I think people are still used to the privilege of being accepted everywhere and having the freedom to behave how they like.

I’m not accusing anyone in particular of wrongdoing…but I was so embarrassed and so upset…and I wasn’t even on the receiving end of any comments or carelessness. The guys and the bartenders did one round of shots together to finish off the night, and we all hugged it out. I’m so glad that they were generous-spirited people, open to talking to us even though they didn’t have to trust us. I’m so glad we were able to have an open conversation about how they felt and what they saw and heard. I’m so sorry that Christians are so culturally clueless and blind to the way they affect others. I’m so glad that Nick’s music was still beautiful to them. It really was the kind of night that Nick wants his music to facilitate…just not in the way we expected.

It’s time to pray that we’ll have further interactions, conversations, positive experiences, friendships, with this place and the people who work there. It’s time to pray that they remember the way they were treated and respected at the beginning and end of the night. To pray that they know they are loved by God, and that their hearts might be opened. This should be our prayer for everyone we encounter, and I thought that Christians understood that…at least the ones who go to our seminary…perhaps I am just naïve. I’m usually cynical, and this whole incident isn’t helping with that. It is our actions that show who we truly our, not merely our words. Dumbledore says it. The Bible says it. We’ll be known by what we do.

Like I said, there were plenty of our friends there who were being perfectly kind and normal. And like I said, the speech was pretty brutal…it hit people the wrong way in general. The bartender made a caveat that the women were doing great (once the women started to arrive, she said, the tips started rolling in generously). We were a group of graduate students who generally look like we have it together but actually can’t really afford to spend money on drinks. Perhaps we shouldn’t have invited people to an event where they had to pay a cover as well as purchase drinks. It’s complicated, right? But in another way, it’s not complicated at all. Not to the two people we should have been most conscious about in that space.

I wanted a space to process this, so thanks for reading. Here are some quotes from a book we read at this seminary about living as Christians in a world where Christianity turns people off.

“Respect and graciousness are to flow from a heart that is being changed by the way God has come to meet me in Christ; they must arise from genuine love and a proper regard for my neighbor’s true dignity.” – The Heart of Evangelism, page 195

“Christians, above all people, should be aware that we need to earn respect from unbelievers by our life of service to the community.” – The Heart of Evangelism, page 144

Strange & Norrell

So, I did finish my first year of seminary this Spring, but probably my most exciting accomplishment of 2017 so far has been finishing this book! Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (by Susanna Clarke), oh the journey we have had. Last summer, I checked you out from the library too optimistically close to the start of the semester. I had to renew you twice and give you back without having gotten a hundred pages in. One day, my friend sent you to me as an encouragement, and I tried starting once more during the school year, but no dice.

So, it did take me a couple of weeks, but come on the thing was 1006 pages long. It was a lot, and I wont say that I loved every minute of it because there were a lot of minutes, and I got tired of how long it was. This was mostly because I was anxious to start reading another book, which I broke down and did, vowing that it would not deter me from my purpose with the magicians.

This is a book worth reading. (I mean it! In person, I have trouble conveying enthusiasm in recommendations because either I don’t want you to see how much I love it or I don’t want you to think that it’s too hyped and feel cynical or I just am not that comfortable with you yet. But I mean it!) I’m going to say some negative things about it and some positive things about it, but don’t let the negative things fog you up.

From the outset, after every description told me it was a book about magicians and magic, I had high fantasy expectations. While there is a LOT of magic, it also hints at SO MUCH magic that we never really see up close. Sometimes I felt like Clarke was off having fun in some magical land that she would never describe for me, while I sat in England hearing talk of cool magical things but not experiencing them. Like I said, we get a lot of magic and this is a bit of a ridiculous negative, but I did repeatedly wonder when we were going to dive in beyond the tension of real-England vs. magic-stuff. I don’t know if this will make any sense or how it will sound if you haven’t read the book, but there it is.

Characters can make or break my reading. I didn’t find myself capital-I Invested in any particular character(s). This was a little disappointing. I did like most of them in general…I appreciated them all as characters, but I wanted to really love somebody, and I just didn’t. Fortunately, I did not notice this detracting from my reading in the moment; I noticed it toward the end of the book when I wasn’t sure exactly what to hope for.

I should say that I’m currently watching the mini-series the BBC made, which is on Netflix. Y’all, it is GOOD. If you already know that never in your life will you read this book, you should watch it. If you do want to or think you might want to read the book, I beg you to read it before you watch. I shouldn’t even have told you, because maybe you didn’t know it was an option and I take it back what are we talking about?

Ugh, I can’t help it. In the miniseries, I am finding that I do enjoy some of the characters (I already liked) a lot more. Maybe my imagination wasn’t going far enough with them when I was reading. Along these lines, it also makes my complaint about the role of magic seem even more ridiculous.

What I enjoyed about the characters was their authenticity. Clarke wrote some accurate human beings. Overall, I think we see more of their darkness – what the human mind/heart/will is capable of motivating in the sense of deception or selfishness or curiosity. There is goodness to be found, but it does seem a book that intends, for a while, to bring the reader to despair of the characters and the world. And that really does happen in regards to people and the world – at least it happens in my brain.

There were many clues and hints at later events that appeared in footnotes or in smooth switches to first-person narration. The narrator was a good companion. I aspire to write something so seemingly effortless. But some of the clues made me so eager or had me ready or appeared several times, and the object became less something-suspenseful and more something-long-awaited (perhaps only because I’m impatient).

Clarke’s writing mirrors its setting: the story begins in 1806 in England.

“Clearly such an opportunity as this was scarcely likely to come again; Mr Norrell determined to establish himself in London with all possible haste. ‘You must get me a house, Childermass,’ he said. ‘Get me a house that says to those that visit that magic is a respectable profession – no less than Law and a great deal more so than Medicine.’
Childermass inquired drily if Mr Norrell wished him to seek out architecture expressive of the proposition that magic was as respectable as the Church?
Mr Norrell (who knew there were such things as jokes in the world or people would not write about them in books, but who had never actually been introduced to a joke or shaken its hand) considered a while before replying at last that no, he did not think they could quite claim that.”

I don’t know what I can reasonably quote without spoiling one part or another. It’s frustrating – I know you would like it. This line stood out as a favorite:
“He had never much cared for the world and he bore its loss philosophically.”

So…think what you will about that. It made me stop and look up at the room and laugh.

I mentioned there were footnotes. Yes. The footnotes throughout were brilliant. Some went on for three or four pages, telling stories about past magicians or describing books the characters referenced – which books of course only exist in the world of Strange & Norrell.

There were real events woven into the storyline (or vice versa), and real people with real roles (one being Lord Byron). This was delightful and super clever. I believe Clarke’s non-writing work has to do with history? This was her first novel, if you can believe that. I do not envy the people who had to write 1-2 paragraph descriptions for the book cover, the back of the paperback, Amazon, etc. Where do you even focus? There’s so much. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m struggling to write about it.

As I said, I am thoroughly enjoying digesting the story in film format now. I have to keep a notebook and pen at the ready for moments when I want to exclaim at something that seems to be happening early or something that DID NOT go down that way in the book or something I like that the series does differently. Nick is watching it with me and wouldn’t be able to handle such outbursts (nor do I want to ruin everything for him). It’s a joy to talk about the intricacies and the meaning with someone else now.

It was somewhat taxing, yet I almost feel the need to turn around and read it again. I do want to read it again eventually, having full knowledge of the story at the outset. I’d like to remember side characters and other things I’m sure I’ve already forgotten.

Sorry if this post seems scattered – I think I have over-caffeinated-brain going on right now. It’s also our last week in Indianapolis, and I am thinking about the things I did and didn’t do and the fact that going back to St. Louis brings some realities to the forefront that I have been glad not to think about for a bit. I am ready, and I’m not ready.

Ok, bye.


writing about reading about writing, again

Annie Dillard’s book, The Writing Life, was an interesting one to read directly after Stephen King’s book (On Writing). The two are so different. I’ve loved Dillard for a long time, although I have read strikingly little of all that she’s written. I wrote a long essay inspired by one of her essays for one of my favorite writing classes in college.

In this book, she winds metaphor after metaphor, linking them with a few real-life stories, to describe what it’s like to build a life as a writer.

You lay out a line of words.
And then another.
The page is what teaches you to write.
That’s her thing.

At times, she seemed to be trying to hard, but I also wanted to be swept up in her descriptions of nature and loosely connected threads of thoughts. She acknowledged this perceived high-brow-ness with a story; she was humbled when a child referenced one of her essays that she thought only “the critics” had appreciated. So that helped.

It’s a short book – barely a hundred pages. Fun fact: I own a first edition, which I must have gotten from a used bookstore. Reading her perspective reinforced the ideas that I started marinating after King’s book. There were a few more relatable moments with Dillard, though. She has a love-hate relationship with the practice of writing, and I FEEL that.

She talks about chopping wood. By the way, context: she would spend whole seasons in a cabin on an island somewhere off the coast of Washington. So, that’s where she’s coming from…we have the same life…

She talks about trying to chop wood and aiming for the log itself and getting nowhere. She only started chopping through wood when she aimed for the chopping block. That hit me like a ton of logs in the moment when I understood exactly what she meant about writing.

Another very relatable thing that I appreciated was her hypothetical timeline for writing a book. Stephen King’s is three months. Annie says, “It takes years to write a book – between two and ten years. Less is so rare as to be statistically insignificant…Out of a human population on earth of [billions], perhaps twenty people can write a book in a year. Some people lift cars, too.” I was definitely laughing out loud. Every writer/person is different, y’all.

Read these little quotes that express my feelings, and then I’ll talk more.

“…your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever. You are free to make several close judgment calls a day. Your freedom is a by-product of your days’ triviality.”

“What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days….Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading – that is a good life.”

“Politely, he asked me about my writing. Foolishly, not dreaming I was about to set my own world tumbling down about my ears, I said I hated to write. I said I would rather do anything else. He was amazed…Why did I do it? I had never inquired. How had I let it creep up on me? Why wasn’t I running a ferryboat, like sane people?”

And this, quoted at the beginning of Chapter Seven: “It’s easy, after all, not to be a writer. Most people aren’t writers, and very little harm comes to them.” – Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot

(Although I would say that a lot of my anxiety comes from the fact that…most people are calling themselves writers, man. There just isn’t a market for that…even an intellectual/individual market. I can’t possibly read all of the personal blogs by people I know who are good writers, and keep up with whatever kind of journalism I’m into, and read books, and read emails, etc. And neither can you. How are you even reading this? And if I’m really just one of the voices screaming into the void, and not good enough to pursue publishing – or not productive enough [duh] – then what am I doing? Just more triviality? This is my spiral.)

Writing all day everyday is not a real thing. It’s not a full-time job unless you’re living on an inheritance or have a spouse that’s supporting you and your children and your nanny…which I suppose is more realistic than being an heir to fortune.

But even if it seemed like a real possibility, I’m not sure I would choose it. It’s not that I mind being alone. (Frankly, I often choose it, mostly because I tend to feel like an idiot whenever other people are around. I lose my speech because my head empties of anything interesting and fills up with vapidity, and I know that everyone in the room is more immediately interesting to everyone else and I would prefer to go home where there’s nobody making their first impression of me or affirming their first impression of me or giving me a chance which I will somehow butterfinger away.) I am obviously more comfortable by myself. But hours upon hours? With just my thoughts? The above parenthetical rants are pretty good examples of what that’s like. It also means there’s a deficit…the inspiration well is never being filled up. In one way, that’s part of writing. To quote Dillard one more time, “Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world. This explains why so many books describe the writer’s childhood. A writer’s childhood may well have been the occasion of his only firsthand experience.” She’s not exactly endorsing that approach, but I think every writer is probably in danger.

I want to do more tangibly meaningful work. I also want to write tangibly meaningful work. But like I was saying, most writers have to make it work. Stephen King and his wife worked long hours in low-wage jobs, scraped by with little ones, and he wrote in the back room or the hallway or wherever he had to, continually trying to get paid for it. I’m not used to having to work that hard. Privilege has been my reality, and it has given me so much to be grateful for. It has also robbed me of some valuable life lessons, so that I’m a little behind and a little bit eating-humble-pie about it. Oh, you have to work and try and fail and keep going if you really want to do something? What if it’s too hard? Then maybe you’ll just never do it.

Oh, also! This is the book that the quote at the top of my blog’s home page came from. SHOUTOUT! Here’s the longer chunk that bit came from:
“Every morning you climb several flights of stairs, enter your study, open the French doors, and slide your desk and chair out into the middle of the air. The desk and chair float thirty feet from the ground, between the crowns of maple trees. The furniture is in place; you go back for your thermos of coffee. Then, wincing, you step out again through the French doors and sit down on the chair and look over the desktop. You can see clear to the river from here in winter. You pour yourself a cup of coffee.

Birds fly under your chair. In spring, when the leaves open in the maples’ crowns, your view stops in the treetops just beyond the desk; yellow warblers hiss and whisper on the high twigs, and catch flies. Get to work. Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.”

Podcast: Pass the Mic
Show: Brooklyn 99
Music: supafun new singles from Arcade Fire. Also, Blind Pilot always. Listening to them riiight nowwww and feelin’ warm like whiskey. The Staves. Music is my writing backdrop sorry.


on on writing, etc.

I’ve finished my second nonfiction read of the summer (well, of the Indianapolis segment of summer): On Writing by Stephen King. Not that I’ve read anything else he’s ever written. But the movies Stand By Me and The Green Mile were based on his stories, and I loved them. That counts? Anyway, he’s a great nonfiction writer as well, and it was super cool to read a little about his life and his process. I could see ways that my process might be different, and I was definitely intimidated by some of his remarks and his natural giftedness/ability to write book after book after book – just cranking out the ideas that he gets from everywhere. I’ve struggled a lot with ideas this summer.

His anchor rule for writers is to read a lot and write a lot. It’s so simple, yet so hard for me. I love it when I’m doing it but have yet to achieve consistency. Self-destructive and self-sabotaging – that sounds about right.

I didn’t mark up this book because I borrowed it from a friend – someone I admire who is reading a LOT and discovering her gift for writing and supporting my desire to do both of those things with encouragement and books. The best. I had to make sure there were no visible pens nearby as I was reading, or else I would have underlined and starred all over. Definitely need to find my own copy. Oh yeah I was saying that because the way I’ve done these posts so far has been to go back through all my marks and reflect on the book and write as I go along.

I purchased a copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style as a result of both King and Truss (the author of that punctuation book I read – lol look at this blog post and all its grammatical glory?) harping on about it. I got the illustrated version, but I would’ve been excited about the plain one.

Can we talk about how there are always too many books to read? I feel like the whole world of worlds between book covers is constantly taunting me – reminding me that I will never encounter all of them. I used to feel the delight at all of that possibility whenever I walked into the library at school. I told myself that one day, I would read them all. Oh, little Emily. Oh, dear.

Now there’s just anxiety wrapped around the reading list. But I constantly buy more books that I know are important. Why do I even try to set a course for myself? The very first book I read this summer was The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. It was a WONDERFUL mystery, and I knew that it would probably be followed-up, but I hadn’t yet investigated even though I definitely wanted to read more (q.e.d. too many books already). Yesterday, Nick and I went to Indy Reads Books, this great independent used and new bookstore (why oh why do I do this to myself?) where I FOUND the second in the series (WHICH I JUST TOOK A GOOGLE BREAK TO INVESTIGATE AND ATTENTION EVERYONE THERE ARE STILL 4 MORE I HAVEN’T READ AND STILL 4 MORE TO COME IN THE PROMISED 10 BOOKS IN THE SERIES OH. MY. STARS.) I bought the second book, and I intend to read it directly after I finish my current fiction selection. Then I intend to buy all of the rest and do nothing except read them – goodbye sleep and friends and food.

This post is supposed to be about Stephen King’s book about writing, but I’m sure he would approve of my taking the story wherever it goes. Hey-o! Applying what I’m learning already. Things are lookin’ up.

One thing I loved about the book is its three forewords, three afterwords, and structure of the 3 main parts: “C.V.”, “On Writing”, and “On Living”. This gave it a playful feeling, and indeed he is a humorous person. It was fun reading and helpful, and I was glad that so much of it was his personal story and experience with writing. There were some blanket statements and suggestions, but I didn’t feel like he was trying to teach me or prescribe some formula for me to follow. Now, I just have to take on the task and START. Always always always the hardest part.

(Thanks, Christina!)IMG_3208