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 secret to not being overwhelmed

Shaun the Sheep overdose.

One of the turning points in my life was an email I received from Fr. Joseph Langford, MC back in 2009. He was close friends with Mother Teresa, and she worked with him to found her order of priests. I had the privilege of getting to know Fr. Langford because I was working with him on a website project, and one day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, I decided to seek his advice. I note that this was taken while we were re-organizing the house. (If you interpret that to mean that the living room looks much better at the end of a typical... Read More

The Facebook-free life

Lately I’ve had a flood of emails from friends and acquaintances who are thinking of getting off of Facebook, and want to hear my perspective as someone who has never had an account. Joe and I set up a page for Conversion Diary through his account for the convenience of readers who prefer to follow blogs that way, and I read the comments there as often as possible, but I’ve only logged into Facebook a handful of times in my life. Anyway, per my semi-annual tradition, I’ve been agonizing about whether I should finally get an account.... Read More

How to think about the afterlife (hint: you can’t, because you live in Flatland)

I don’t spend much time trying to imagine heaven. To be honest, it always stresses me out. Every time I get a mental image that I like, I realize that something about it would get old if I had to deal with it for, you know, eternity. The other day, Joe brought home some chocolate-frosted donuts as a special treat. The kids were evidently curious to see if it is in fact possible to have one food item contain over 10,000 calories, so they topped each donut with whipped cream. I took one bite, and it was everything I dreamed a chocolate-frosted,... 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

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

A few other things I learned from my month o’ doom

I’m now entering week 10,000 of this pregnancy, with only 40,000 more days to go until the April due date! (I don’t have a calendar handy, so that’s just a guesstimate.) Also, I just found out that I’m seriously anemic, which will help me fill out my “Blood-Related Issues that Make You Feel Like You’re Dying” punchcard. I thought I’d take a break from my big afternoon plans of staring at a wall (and occasionally yelling utterly empty threats to the kids about what will happen if I have to get off this... Read More

A few thoughts on my birthday

Today is my birthday. I turn 36. Not only have I now passed the halfway point of my thirties, but it’s a brand new year, I just had a brush with a medical condition that is often fatal, and my whole life has been turned upside down by my recovery. So, as you can see, I have no choice but to write a long and reflective blog post that opines about the meaning of life today. It’s a lot of pressure, really. I was lying in bed yesterday, mentally writing my post about all the Important Things I’ve taken away from this situation, and... Read More

“Joy is not a flag Jesus plants in us; it is a fruit he grows in us”

I received a copy of a new book while I was at the monastery this week. I planned to read it when I got home, but as soon as I glanced at the first page, I knew I’d been given something special. I ended up spending hours poring over its pages, soaking up its insights and nodding and just about saying out loud, “Finally, someone is explaining this in a way I understand!” That book is Choosing Joy by Dan Lord, and you just have to read it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dan, he was once the lead singer of a popular... Read More

Johnny Cash’s empire of dirt and the truths that make us human

The other day I was in great need of some inspiration, and I found it in the most unlikely of places: the video for Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt. I know. When someone says “Johnny Cash” and “Nine Inch Nails” in the same sentence, combined with references to songs that talk about someone cutting himself and lamenting his “empire of dirt,” you don’t immediately think: INSPIRING! But it was. And I spent all weekend wondering why. This happens fairly regularly: A book or a video... Read More

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