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Pep Talks and the Gospel (In a Van Down by the River)

Pep Talks and the Gospel (In a Van Down by the River)

When I was growing up with my three siblings, my dad drove us all to school every morning, and picked us up every afternoon. There was a school bus, but he liked spending that time with us, and we liked it, too, and so we piled into his car on chilly Wisconsin mornings, and he dropped us off at our respective schools on his way to work.

Every morning, he gave us a rousing pep talk. I suspect it was as much for him as it was for us. On Mondays, the pep talk went something like this: “It’s…

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Back To School, I Mean Anxiety, I Mean School

Back To School, I Mean Anxiety, I Mean School

After months of swimming pools and sleeping late, the school year is upon us. For so many reasons, we rejoice in its arrival. The fall means that we get to reboot the family schedule. We buy a new day planner (if you’re a Technology Memaw like myself) and make dinners in the crockpot again. If you are lucky enough to go to one of those schools that requires uniforms, then by now you have spent a mortgage payment on tiny sailor dresses. It is all very exciting.

Also, the school year brings enough devilish anxiety to blow the roof off of…

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The Blessing of The Cursed Child

The Blessing of The Cursed Child

A quick disclaimer before reading: I will be giving a positive review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I will, in the words that follow, go so far as to recommend Harry Potter fans read it. So there. If you’ve already decided that the seven books will be the only books, that you will never touch the apocryphal supplements that come via screen or stage, I will not call you a pureblooder…that decision, to close eyes, ears and hands to some idea of magical purity–that’s entirely your decision. A rather pretentious one, I’ll grant, but your decision nonetheless. Everyone…

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Pick Up Your Pool Noodle and Follow Me

Pick Up Your Pool Noodle and Follow Me

I have two boys, ages 8 and 5, and they are delightful. No, really. They are. I think some people find that hard to believe, but they are what my parents’ generation would call “good kids”. I just call them easy kids. They get along with each other more than I thought possible for two human siblings, and they are generally kind, sweet kids. I would sometimes like to take credit for their behavior, but mostly, I’m just grateful.

The last two summers have been particularly great. We are in what writer Julianna Miner has dubbed “the sweet spot.” The kids…

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A Button for the Unlovable: Corduroy as a Picture of the Gospel

A Button for the Unlovable: Corduroy as a Picture of the Gospel

This post comes to us from Blythe Hunt.

I would like to say that my reason for having hundreds of children’s books is that I have two small children; however, I owned most of these books pre-children, pre-marriage. I’ve always loved children’s books, and I am sure I’ll continue collecting even when my own children have moved on to Seamus Heaney and Mary Oliver (fingers crossed…).

In college, I wrote three senior theses (true confession!), and I continued my lit studies in grad school—I was hooked on finding deeper meaning in every piece of literature that came my way.

And then I had…

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Leaky Pipes and Potty Training: How to Save a Life

Leaky Pipes and Potty Training: How to Save a Life

First-world/grown-up problems alert: the plumbing in our suburban home continues to flare up and send me into an anxiety spiral every few weeks. Our master bath shower, situated above the formal dining room we never use (#kids), will occasionally–usually once I’ve forgotten it’s a possibility–develop a leak that sends water dripping onto the floor below, causing our older son to rush in, point to the puddle, and proclaim, “Uh oh. Wet,” just before transferring his point upward to the ceiling and the makeshift opening that’s been there for months, a product of the first of four plumbers we’ve had evaluate…

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Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen)

Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen)

In the late 1980s and early 1990s I went to an Episcopal church camp in Northern Wisconsin. It was called Camp Horstick, named after a late bishop, but due to the unfortunate pronunciation of that name, most people called it by the name of the Victorian house on the grounds of the camp: Bundy Hall, or even just “Bundy” for short. My older sisters went there first, and they had so much fun that I counted down the days until I was old enough to go. My mom also went as a volunteer for a few sessions before I was…

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Capon and Cupcakes: My Daughter’s Baptism

Capon and Cupcakes: My Daughter’s Baptism

I’m a new mom stuck in a game where no matter how skilled I might be at changing a blowout diaper on the side of the road in a pencil skirt or making a chicken salad without too much mayo for my husband, I lose. An illustration for you: our daughter was baptized a couple weeks ago, and I must admit that I had been daydreaming about her big day for quite a while (for a variety of reasons, some holier than others).

Amidst my daydreams, I naturally would smile thinking about the waters of baptism running over her bald head….

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Feeding the Beast: Grace for an Outraged World

Feeding the Beast: Grace for an Outraged World

Here we are again, face to face with the beast; the beast named “Outrage.” The great Harambe is dead, and someone has to answer for his demise. The furious fingers of the incensed mob permeate the web with posts of “crucify her!” The young boy’s mother is clearly negligent and self-absorbed. How could she lose control of her own child in a public place? Her neglect led directly to the death of an endangered animal, and a majestic one at that. This is unthinkable. It’s horrific. It’s murder.

This is, of course, only Outrage’s latest feeding frenzy. The beast seems to…

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When Jesus Brings Cheerios: A Memory for Mother’s Day

When Jesus Brings Cheerios: A Memory for Mother’s Day

Eleven years ago, I was sitting in a senior seminar class with a group of people I had come to know and love. The Southern Studies Department at Ole Miss is as small as one might imagine. And each individual class felt like its own group of buddies.

On this particular afternoon, class was set to start when we noticed that Catherine hadn’t shown up yet. Catherine was the kind of person everyone wanted to be friends with. She loved jazz. She lived in an actual house. And, perhaps most exotically, she was a mother.

I would see Catherine around town in Oxford…

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Failed Evangelist

Failed Evangelist

This comes to us from our friend Emily Skelding. 

I’m a terrible evangelist.

I have never once, not ever, converted anyone. I am suspicious of emotional altar calls after a sermon that starts at a whisper and ends with shouts.  I’ve never wandered a Florida beach converting a hungover college kid. In fact, I doubt these transformations. They ring tinny to my ear.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I even qualify as a born-again Christian.

Still, I cling to the idea of rebirth. God’s grace, the process of God holding my cracked soul to make it healed and whole, carries me through life’s…

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At Your Service: Thoughts on Downton Abbey, and Life

At Your Service: Thoughts on Downton Abbey, and Life

I dread my kids getting sick–and not just because I hate to see them suffer. So much for empathy, right? 

Our latest cavalcade of illnesses–recurrent ear infections, nasty colds, and a violent stomach virus–coincided with the wrapping-up of the series Downton Abbey. And don’t think for a second that the deep cosmic significance of that timing is lost on me. I’ve been a fan of the show since summer of 2011, when I tuned in via Netflix from the couch and fought off waves of morning (and afternoon, and evening) sickness by escaping to early-20th century England. I gasped at the…

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