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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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The Graduates (Almost): Thoughts on Church and Worship

The Graduates (Almost): Thoughts on Church and Worship

This is Part 2 of a multi-part series about college, faith, and the expectations of millennials from the perspective of two near-graduates: David and Lizzie, Mockingbird’s finest interns.

In our first “Millennials” post, Lizzie and I discussed the confluence of work and play in college and the uncertainties in discerning our next steps. In the second, we thought about our church experiences as young people. We noticed, as we talked and wrote, that we spend a lot of time in worship, and that worship is rarely focused on Jesus, much less anything beyond our phone screens. For Lizzie, jamming out at a Widespread…

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Confession as Profession: Love and the Hope of Forgiveness

Confession as Profession: Love and the Hope of Forgiveness

“Somewhere else in The Elder Statesman, Lord Claverton observes that no one confesses where there is no hope of forgiveness.” – Capon

It was one of those mornings. You know, the one with three kids, two of whom are dragging their feet to get ready for the walk to school. My begging and pleading was getting old and so was their concurrent whining. As I watched my seven-year-old struggle to tie his shoe and listened to my eldest whimper about his itchy scarf, the damn broke: “Damn it!”

I squatted down, grabbed the shoelaces and the foot attached to them and growled, “You’re…

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So I Thought I Could Dance

So I Thought I Could Dance

I remember picking up the book I Don’t Know How She Does It a couple of months into my first pregnancy. The title sounded like a present-tense version of my desired epitaph, and the plot made it feel a timely read, featuring as it did a busy working mom struggling to be everything to everyone, often to “hilarious” consequence (witness Sarah Jessica Parker, in the film adaptation, endure lice in the conference room! HAHAHA!). I had set myself on the path to working motherhood over a decade before, when I chose in college to pursue a career that would combine prestige, profit,…

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Long Days and the In-Between Times

Long Days and the In-Between Times

My husband and I decided to take advantage of the recent three-day weekend by potty training our not yet two-and-a-half-year-old son. It’s times like these when my palms begin to shake, missing late nights or showering regularly or skipping out of the house for a spontaneous dinner gathering.

Instead, I spent the weekend in my pajama pants with the Wiggles singing in the background, carefully eyeing my son to make sure he didn’t unload on our carpet.

Wild times.

Today is shaping up to be crisis-free–a real rarity in (our) married life. From the moment we said our vows, life has felt like…

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I Love You, Child, As I Have Been Loved

I Love You, Child, As I Have Been Loved

Perusing some of the links in my favorite online parenting journal, I ran across an interesting little story of a mother and daughter, told from the daughter’s perspective primarily. (Full article here.) The background goes as follows: the mother is apparently in the hospital, hooked up to tubes and unresponsive. The daughter is at her mother’s bedside begging for her to respond. “Please? Mom? C’mon…you have to wake up. This whole thing is freaking me out! You’re just staring.” Throughout the story, the daughter repeats: “Mom, blink if you can hear me.”

But the daughter’s story is less about getting her mother to…

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From the Archives: MLK’s Eulogy for Martyred Children

From the Archives: MLK’s Eulogy for Martyred Children

The following speech/sermon was given by Martin Luther King, Jr after the bombing at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963, just three weeks after the March on Washington.

This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God. They entered the stage of history just a few years ago, and in the brief years that they were privileged to act on this mortal stage, they played their parts exceedingly well. Now the curtain falls; they move through the exit; the drama of their earthly life comes…

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2015: And Now, We Sing

2015: And Now, We Sing

A few weeks ago, my husband turned to me from our calendar. “Want to hear how we did this year?” he asked half-jokingly, citing the list we had made at the beginning of the year: goals, wishes, resolutions. I’ve talked here about my movement away from lists, but God help me if I can get away from them altogether, their bullet-point succinctness taunting me away from the narrative-driven unpredictability of grace and tempting me back to performancism.

I told him to read me the list.

This was at the beginning of December. The goals were laudable (eat better, read more)…

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Dear Reader, I Have No Advice: Grace in Parenting

Dear Reader, I Have No Advice: Grace in Parenting

Dear Adviceless,

Our son is 16 months old and a true delight—curious, outgoing, and eager to explore the world around him. Our faith is important to both my wife and me and we want him to be raised in the church, especially since my wife is the rector of the church we attend. On Sunday mornings, she goes off to church—and my heart sinks in dread.

For some time—and definitely since our son started walking—church has been a nightmarish experience for me. It’s a small congregation and the children’s play area (for those too young for Sunday school) is in the rear…

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This Ain’t No Garden of Eden

This Ain’t No Garden of Eden

Five years ago, I became a grownup. The process involved the following steps: leave New York City, get married, buy a house in the suburbs, have two kids. Recently added into that mix is the forsaking of narrative-driven TV for shows like House Hunters (or House Hunters International, if you’re nasty), the Food Network (love you, Ina), and, for the love of fanny packs, Rick Steves travel shows. With two small kids, I simply have less time and brain space to devote to character development, slow-burn romantic entanglements, and complicated plotlines. Not to mention the emotional toll: The Walking Dead depressed…

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