Conversion

The ecstatic joy of knowing you have a soul (and why I loved The Fault in Our Stars)

thefault

A fun and surprisingly intense debate has broken out among my friends over the past few months, and it revolves around this question: The Fault in Our Stars: depressing or uplifting? One of my friends summarized her impression the book by saying, “It’s a sad story where everything is bad and then more bad stuff happens. Why did I need to read that?” She is on Team Depressing, and a lot of people I know are with her. A note my babysitter found in her copy of the book, left by her friend. I, however, am on the other team. I loved... Read More

The saint of the NICU

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Today is my youngest child’s first birthday! Those of you who were reading a year ago might recall that that wasn’t the best day. It was a rough pregnancy, involving bilateral pulmonary embolisms, hospitalization, and getting stabbed in the neck by doctors (UNNECESSARILY). The birth was not a ton of fun either — without going into detail, let’s just say that getting 12 blood draws in the same arm in one day was one of the better parts of the experience. Then, only minutes after the baby arrived, he was taken away due to... Read More

What I’m learning about choice and gratitude from not skipping songs on my iPod

Blossoms on trees: the kind of thing I've begun to notice now that I'm not fixating on song choices when I'm running.

One of my Lenten sacrifices is not skipping songs on my iPod. I can choose the playlist, but if a song does not fit my mood, I can’t skip it. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, part of my inspiration was this 2009 post from Betty Duffy. The excerpt that has stuck with me all these years is this: I set [the iPod] on “shuffle” and skip song after song that appears on the screen. “No. Not that. Can’t tolerate this one right now. Does not match my mood.” Music must serve me by sustaining desired feelings or changing... Read More

In defense of crying about Jesus

My Benedictine medal next to my pass for the IF Gathering.

Speaking of conferences, I spent all this weekend at the IF Gathering, and…wow. Of the hundreds of women in attendance, I’m pretty sure I was the only Catholic. I was there as a guest of my dear friend Lisa-Jo Baker, who seemed to be both excited and a little bit concerned about what I’d think of this event. With Lisa-Jo Baker, my Protestant-to-Catholic interpreter, and Tsh Oxenreider. We walked into the Austin Music Hall, where a praise and worship band hand already begun blasting out a song that filled the auditorium. When we... Read More

Are we all delusional? (and other questions about having a relationship with God)

Explore God

On Monday I met up with pastors John Burke and Eric Bryant of Gateway Church here in Austin to film a Q&A session for the Explore God campaign. Burke, Bryant, and the moderator Bridget Henderson have done an amazing job with this series, so it was an honor to be a part of it. The question for this session was, “Is it possible to have a personal relationship with God?” Here’s the video if you’d like to check it out: A few of the many questions we discussed were: Richard Dawkins says belief in God is delusional. But... Read More

Shadow beliefs and giant centipedes

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One of the neighbor girls was here the other day. As soon as she walked in the door, I could tell that something was wrong. She sat anxiously on the edge of the couch for a while, half-heartedly playing with the kids, her mind elsewhere. Finally, she said what she had obviously been waiting to say: “Miss Jennifer, can I talk to you about something?” “Sure,” I said. I was more than happy to offer her soothing words of comfort and wisdom for whatever it was that troubled her. “Well…you see…” she struggled... Read More

On proving God

explore-god-billboard

There’s a huge movement that’s sweeping Austin right now called Explore God. If you live in central Texas, you know what I’m talking about. You pull out of your driveway and you see a sign in the yard across the street. You get on the highway and there’s a billboard. You drive past a church to see a big Explore God banner out front, then, on your way home, more signs dot the houses as you drive through your neighborhood. I was blown away by the saturation level that the people behind this movement managed to achieve, and... Read More

Desert spirituality at two o’clock in the morning

Look at pretty much any culture that existed before the use of electricity, and you’ll see that they had deep superstitions about night. Throughout the ages, it’s been a nearly universal human belief that evil forces gained potency after the sun went down. Age-old evening prayers reflect fears of death: Now I lay me down to sleep / I pray the Lord my soul to keep / and if I die before I wake / I pray the Lord my soul to take. …And an awareness of evil: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting... Read More

How we built our village

Yaya puts a shoe on one kid while…actually, I have no idea what’s going on in this picture. I often hear comments from people who know us in person about what a great support network we have. It is pretty crazy: Yaya, Joe’s mom, lives 10 blocks away. My mom lives two miles away, within the same network of neighborhoods. My grandfather lives 15 minutes north of us, and my dad recently moved there to be closer to us and to help him out. We know quite a few great babysitters, and can usually find one who’s available when I... Read More

Six questions for conquering crazy-think and making good decisions

I don’t do suffering well. Some generous people said that they thought I handled the pulmonary embolism thing gracefully, but a) they would have retracted all of that and slowly backed away in fear if they could have heard my inner dialogue, and b) sitting in a quiet hospital room and listening to my iPod didn’t exactly make me St. Josephine Bakhita. Also, it’s usually the little trials that throw me for a loop more than the big ones: I can kind of go with the flow when major medical procedures go awry, but getting interrupted... Read More

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