A feast for the beloved betrayers

bread and juice for communionEvery year in the week leading up to Easter, I read the stories of Jesus’ crucifixion in the Gospels. After so many readings, I know how the story ends.

Even so, I find myself wishing for an interruption in the story. I’m like Peter in Matthew 16 who wants to deny that suffering will happen to Jesus. I want Pilate to stand up to the religious leaders. I mutter to myself about the folks eager to get Jesus crucified, and somehow I pray each time they find some hidden capacity for grace and love over fear.

Resurrection — yes, please! But this crucifixion part, I struggle to look full on in the face. Continue reading

That embarrassing moment when I saw the thing about me everybody (but me) probably already knew

As I wrote the highlights of my reading from 2016, every part of me wanted to defend my reading choices, explain what I learned. Particularly choices I thought may be controversial. As the word count for the draft scaled 1,500 words after book four of twelve, something had to give.

Nobody wants to read that. Not even me. Probably not even J, who likes to read everything I write (God bless him for his enthusiastic support! How I love that man and the way he loves me!).

The words my friend Lo gave me from Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” came rushing into my brain. I don’t have to be perfect. I can be quirky and strange, as I actually am. I don’t need to hang my head as though the books filling my sails with air and faith and hope last year needed to be explained. I am allowed to celebrate the books God used to mold me.

So I chopped and simplified the post, largely leaving the books unqualified and unexplained — minus two with disclaimers from the authors themselves. Perhaps it’s mysterious, perhaps not quite persuasive enough. Perhaps it leaves more questions than answers.

What matters most about that post is not the actual book list, but the vital lesson I learned about me as a writer. Continue reading

Yours, Mine or Ours?

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Middle Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park

Recently Dad, J and I spent a few days hiking around what we Minnesotans call the North Shore. I dug out my camera and was excited to experiment with my shutter speed settings as I photographed waterfalls. If done well, slowing the shutter speed captures the flow of the water while keeping a crisp surrounding landscape.

This image taken at Gooseberry Falls seems peaceful and quiet, like I might be the only person there.

But, I was not. There were swarms, like every other time we failed to get there really early in the morning. Continue reading

Waiting with unanswered questions

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A little over three years ago was the last time I saw a positive pregnancy test. After months of fertility treatments, the month we did nothing, I was pregnant.

And three years ago this week, the dream crashed and burned at our ultrasound appointment, which ended in me being whisked off for an emergency surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy (and a fallopian tube).

Looking back at the blog posts then, I see my hope that God could bring about a pregnancy shrinking as I took stock of my new reality. I found myself asking: “What happens to faith in the midst of unanswered questions?” Continue reading

Photo Friday: Praising yarrow’s charm.

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I never understood yarrow’s appeal. A frequent staple in perennial gardens,  it’s a lingering weed in my yard, one left behind from the previous homeowners. It still creeps along in the grass seemingly impossible to kill. And the scruffy foliage and tiny flowers didn’t appeal to me. Just blah. I thought it was ugly. Continue reading

On Gratitude and Turning 35

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Birthday mug

J caught my interest in this knobby gray mug while we wandered through a fair trade shop in Minneapolis. I adore handmade artisan mugs, but always talk myself out of buying them as I reflect on the regular, useful mugs already taking up real estate in our cupboard. I eye the quirky mugs longingly, get a tiny amount of sticker shock, and walk away responsibly. Continue reading