Deeper Story: Her Hands (Or I’m A Brat In Need of Humbling)

Deeper Story: Her Hands (Or I’m A Brat In Need of Humbling)

She was looking at her fingers.

I was zeroed in on my laptop with my own fingers flying over the keys typing an email when I glanced over at my mom sitting next to me on the couch. Her hands. She stretched her fingers out turning them over and back again and again periodically wincing at both the pain and sight. She looked at me and said softly in Korean, “They look strange, don’t they?”

Mild arthritis has started to bend her fingers with joints and knuckles swollen and angled in unnatural ways. And looking at them tonight I felt my heart soften towards her. A rare moment.

I’m normally a complete brat towards her, and when she’s been with us for any amount of time long enough for us to fall into familiar family dynamics and roles, I turn into … Well, I might as well say it. A bitch. A complete, bonafide, grade-A bitch. I can’t help it. I’m impatient and easily frustrated with her. The nagging. The questions. The over-reactions. The way she is seemingly ubiquitous and always in the way of the fridge, bathroom, or my favorite spot on the couch. I can tell the husband is embarrassed by my sudden reversion back to obnoxious adolescence.

She’s been with us now for the last two weeks because of the early arrival of baby #3 by unplanned c-section. Remembering the difficult recovery – particularly those first few weeks – with the twins two years ago she insisted on coming down early. And I couldn’t say no, in fact, I would be stupid to be less than eager to have her help. She’s still relatively young at 58, and has the energy of a spring chicken the way she frantically races around the house attempting too many chores at once. But once she arrives and the days go by I start to get annoyed. I can’t help it.

No human relation gives one possession in another – every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.” ― Kahlil Gibran

Tonight, though, as I look at her fingers I think about all that those hands have done not only these last two weeks but my and her entire life. When she was young her family ran a hotel in Seoul, and she cleaned and helped maintain it. When we immigrated to the US she joined a group of the ladies from the church and sought employment at an electronic manufacturing company soldering tiny little wires and bits together on an assembly line. And then it was work at a dry cleaners. And then more cleaning gigs. And the ministry of the Deacons at the church. And eventually becoming a pastor’s wife – probably one of the hardest, most high pressure jobs for a Korean woman. Hours of painstaking work cleaning and cooking and then rubbing my feet after they swelled up like doughy pillows with the twins’ arrival. All that work both small and big done by those hands over the last many decades.

So I look at her hands again, crooked in almost impossible ways, and I think that they are actually the most beautiful fingers I’ve ever laid eyes on. I remember what she once told me – that everyone has some struggle, and everyone needs and deserve some tenderness. Of course, it’s ironic that I would not recall this sage advice in my interactions with her, but seeing her worn hands, and the way they softly rub Baby #3’s back, I am actually leveled – surprisingly, not by guilt as I maybe would expect – but by gratitude and compassion. I am who I am because of her hands.

Her hands.

It conjures up the first time I served communion to the mother of an older woman, “Barbara,” in my congregation. Barbara had invited both myself and the senior pastor over to her home to break bread one last time as her mother’s health was declining, and she was clearly not long for this world. I watched her take a piece of bread in one hand after the words of institution, and bend her head near her mother’s ear saying, “Mom, Mom. Here’s the bread.” Barbara put it on her mother’s slightly outstretched tongue. And then with the small plastic cup, “Mom, Mom. Here’s the juice.” And she stuck her pinky in there a few times and dabbed her mother’s tongue with it. And watching it, I lost all sense of professionalism and wept quietly. My mind flashed forward to the future, and what it would be like to do this with my mother, to care for her in this way, a tiny glimmering of the way she sacrificed her own flesh and blood for me over and over, an ordinary, but exquisite, and oh-so-undeniably true image of this holy sacrament.

I’m still always surprised…how much marriage, and then especially parenthood has made me see these truths a little more clearly. I never expected these seasons to really have such a huge impact on shaping my outside relationships. The dynamics between parents and children run such a wide spectrum, and I am totally aware that I am one of the fortunate ones with a decent, if not really comfortable relationship with my folks, especially by Korean standards. But, I admit, that I don’t act like I know it. I’m more inclined to be indignant – actually, full of road-rage and unnecessary curses – towards daily little impositions, those interruptions, and those who I feel like have wronged me or simply got under my skin. But, after the birth of #3 – the incredible and lovely gift of this one – and then watching my mom handle me with care, and care for my children – I’m feeling more convicted by how important it is to enter into every moment with that same tenderness shown to me by my mother, that same gratitude and compassion. Everyone has some struggle, and everyone needs some…grace. And those that may need it the most are possibly the ones that are the nearest. This kingdom-compassion isn’t only for the strangers but so for the ones who are invisible and taken for granted in other ways. God, help me to see and feel this and to love better.

“…now that I am a mother, I understand what Mother’s Day is about: it’s about looking through our lives and recognizing the act of mothering everywhere we see it, and more than that, recognizing that when any of us mother– when we listen, nuture, nourish, protect–we’re doing sacred work.” ― Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace, and Learning the Hard Way

 

On Sleeping Early and Laundry in the Middle of the Night

On Sleeping Early and Laundry in the Middle of the Night

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“The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry.” – Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries

A delicious rain fell off and on all day yesterday and and again, last night starting a little before the children’s bedtime. The kind of rain that gives everything a grayish, warm glow, and begs for blankets, books, and sleep. The twins, even little Oz went down so easily – another rare gift when they almost tuck themselves in and only jabber a few stanzas and syllables at each other before that deep quiet that can only mean the heavy blanket of slumber.

Andy had already crawled into bed by the time I left the twins room and I thought I would stay up but I felt my body going limp before I could even entertain the thought of doing something productive. I wiggled up next to him burying myself in blankets – a chill had set in from the rain – and stared at my phone for a few minutes before I blacked out. Woke up for a few moments when Andy got up at 10, and then again at 3. This time the baskets of unfolded laundry, and the allure of silence (besides the occasional barking of some unknown dog – seriously, who’s dog is out at 3 am?!?!?) called to me, and like the prophet-boy Samuel I stand and say, “Here I am!” wondering what or who is really calling me this late at night. Except, instead of going back to bed right away and letting another voice beckon me to sleep again, I’ll sit with the to-do lists, chores, and the barking dog.

***

My mind wanders to conversations lately, and I’m thinking about the Dominican Republic and Haiti. We spent numerous summers there – Andy and I with groups from our churches, and then visits during the year to keep touch with the schools and communities through the Foundation for Peace.

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Haiti 1

Haiti

haiti 2
(Photos taken on a trip to the Haiti border in 2008)

There are days – those long days of paint and Legos and crushed Cheerios, lately. I would take the noise and dirt, the precarious and treacherous driving, ice cold showers, and sleeping on a thin mattress in a concrete bunker over the first world luxuries of air conditioning, hot water, and domesticated dogs and cats. Reading and hearing stories about others who are lately travelling to Haiti or Rwanda or Kenya makes me … jealous. Which, is weird.

After the twins were born I couldn’t think of anything that I would rather not do than do a “mission trip,” or a “vision trip,” to a Third World country. It sounded exhausting, like I’m-too-old-for-this-shit tiring. But, I also still have a tension with these short-term mission trips – it’s consumeristic to go somewhere for 10 days and play at building a shelter or water cistern knowing that the work we do would take a day for the locals to do on their own, and anyway, at the end of it all, we get to leave the Third World behind. I remember hearing stories about how after we left a work site for the day that the local workers stayed longer to correct our shoddy construction. We toil and suffer … for a few days, and it seems hugely insensitive to be a tourist in someone’s poverty. 

But my ecclesiology and pneumatology, my understanding of church, and the global church, and God, make me believe that there is something priceless about the brief but Holy-Spirit overlap of souls and hands in work together – when not only oceans are crossed but the boundaries of class, privilege, race, and language are undone and become threads that tie us together. There’s something so eternal and beautiful about the experience, and yes, I can’t help but consume it, it feeds me, I need it. It’s not a justification for the complicated layers of inequalities and realities of major, major difference … but something in me clings to the bigger hope that even in our bumbling, imperfect, prideful ways we are making a change.

For now, though, I suppose I’ll keep sending checks. Sigh. Someday…

***

Getting sleepy again. Still haven’t folded the laundry. Early calls in the morning. Goodbye party for dear friends in the late afternoon. But, the quiet is good. It feeds me in its own way, too. I seem to have more of these lately – the interrupted sleep or routine (but, do I actually have a reliable schedule???) and these moments of thinking and struggling and wondering…and it’s a gift. A strange gift…Never thought that sleeplessness would be a gift.

#ThrowbackThursday: Oldies But (Maybe, Hopefully) Goodies

#ThrowbackThursday: Oldies But (Maybe, Hopefully) Goodies

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Wanted to highlight some blogs and writers who’ve guest-posted here in these last whatever years because periodically I go back and look through the lists and read them – they are still so good. So gracious. So powerful. So much a gift to me. And I want them to be a blessing for you too!

Motherhood Mantras: Stories of Survival was the first series on the blog and truthfully, a relatively selfish and indulgent one. Because I was in the throes of new babyhood (times two) and desperate for someone to share in my literal physical, emotional, spiritual suffering. And needed people to give me a glimpse of that elusive light at the end of that seemingly endless tunnel.

Maryann McKibben Dana’s post has been hitting it home for me this month:

It was the witching hour, and my husband was working late. I’d managed to cobble together some semblance of a balanced meal for the three amigos and me. But there was no getting around it—we had to go to the grocery store after supper. It had been an exhausting day of ministry. As I navigated traffic with the kids in the back, I was lost in my own thoughts about e-mails left unanswered and people who would need to be visited the next day. I was heavy with the burden of pastoral care, not to mention sermon preparation, which percolates underneath everything else, all week long. I love my kids, but I was counting the minutes until they were tucked quietly into bed.

A plaintive request came from the back seat: “Mommy, can we pretend we’re in a spaceship?”

The internal answer was instant and vehement: Ugh, NO! I was just too tired. I wanted to get to the store, buy what we needed, and get home—no muss, no fuss. I had expended all my creative energy during the day. Surely there was nothing left for spaceship play. The internal answer was instant and vehement: Ugh, NO! I was just too tired. I wanted to get to the store, buy what we needed, and get home—no muss, no fuss. I had expended all my creative energy during the day. Surely there was nothing left for spaceship play.

But something in me shifted. What if I went along with them in the game? What if I decided not to do the bare minimum? What would happen if I summoned up some energy I wasn’t even sure I had, in order to play along? “Sure!” I heard myself say, and began barking out nonsensical orders. “First Officer Caroline: monitor our coordinates. Lieutenant Margaret: check the thrusters to see that they’re operational. Sergeant James: give us a report of weather conditions outside.”

A short growl came from the backseat. Oh yeah, James is in his I’m-a-dog phase. “Did I say Sergeant James? I meant Scruffy the dog. Scruffy, you lie down until we get to the moon, then you can help explore.” The whole errand went this way. The Fairfax County Parkway became a giant asteroid belt. The grocery store became a space station where we needed to stock up on supplies. Our garage became a lunar docking station.

Miraculously, bedtime afterward went smoothly, even joyfully. I thought they’d be wound up from our game, but they were content, excited that they’d been able to do something out of the ordinary. What’s more, I was in a better mood too.

Later that night, I remembered a phrase I’d read as a young adult: “It’s easier to do what’s hard than what’s easy.” The author’s point (if I remember correctly) is that people often choose the path of least resistance in their lives, but that path can make life harder in the long run. (Doing the bare minimum to graduate, for example—it’s easier short-term but it can impact career success for a long time.) By contrast, if you put in just a little more effort, it can make a huge difference in the end. What’s initially hard becomes easier over time.

That phrase has evolved into a parenting mantra:

The harder thing is the easier thing.

It’s hard to summon the energy to play Minivan Spaceship, but it’s easier in the long run than dealing with cranky, bored kids, resentful at yet another errand, dragging their feet instead of skipping down the aisles, looking for provisions.  It’s hard to keep the house in a basic semblance of order, but it’s easier in the long run when you know exactly where the permission slip is on the morning of the field trip. It’s hard for me to set aside time for Sabbath each week—a practice our family has been committed to for many years—but it makes life easier because it makes life more pleasant.

The harder thing is the easier thing.

It’s hard to have the tough conversation, or to respond to that angry e-mail with a phone call instead of another e-mail, or to tell the truth the first time rather than fudge it… but it is so much more freeing to be on the other side of it. Sometimes we’re tempted to do the minimum to get by—in life, in relationships. And let’s face it: as mothers, we’re constantly playing triage. A bit more humor, a bit more kindness, a bit more intentionality, require a lot more energy up front. But these things pay dividends in the long run, through stronger relationships and a sense of well-being.

The harder thing is the easier thing.

Like every good mantra, you have to know when embrace its inverse. Sometimes the harder thing is the harder thing. It’s possible to force things, to strive for a perfection that’s not only impossible, but exhausting and dispiriting. I’m a big believer in the good-enough parent. Sometimes simply getting everyone to the store and back in one piece is good enough. Surviving is a victory.

But other times, the harder thing really is the easier thing. And the more joyful thing.

*MaryAnn is at the Blue Room Blog.

Some other tidbits that I still use throughout the day like prayers and chants:

From Courtney Mills Jones Willis: And yet, through lots of trial and error, lots of joy and tears, I have discovered something really beautiful. I have discovered that while I am called to ministry, motherhood too is my calling.

From Galit Breen: It’s just a small moment. Every mothering moment – from the dark to the glowing – is so very small and so very fleeting. Sleepless nights and crying newborns are woven deeply with belly laughs and tiny fingers laced tightly with my own. I can pick up the golden moments, place them in my HeartHand, and enjoy them.

From Micah BoyettHave grace with yourself, my friend said to me. She knew what I would feel some days: The temptation during your baby’s first year to long for her success, to judge yourself in light of her advancement, to value her in light of what the world values: appearance, physical impressiveness, signs of intellect. How often did I compare my kid with another? How often was I the one bragging of some sign of my child’s superiority? Have grace with yourself.

From Katherine Willis PersheyHold the railing. It’s a motherhood nag, not a motherhood mantra. Right? Or perhaps it is a mantra. I repeat the same words to myself, thundering down our creaky wooden steps with the baby in one hand and always, always, something else in the other. They are everywhere, these menaces of gravity and right angles. People fall down the stairs all the time, breaking a hip, an ankle, a neck. Stairwells are just one small danger in what seems like an infinite funhouse of ways to get hurt. We are so vulnerable, so breakable. We cannot fend off every attack or avoid every pitfall or swerve from the path of every errant automobile. It is enough to make a mama weary with worry, or worse, paralyzed by anxiety.

From Caela Simmons Wood: I can only control myself. That’s all there is to it. I cannot control my child. It’s not my job. My job is to help him learn how to control himself. And I can’t do that if I’m trying to control him. I was shocked at how quickly this mantra began to heal our relationship. I can say it to myself when I’m starting to feel angry and immediately begin to feel calm. Better yet, I explained the mantra to my child and it really seems to be helping him with his own behavior, too. In a moment of calm connection, I explained to him that when I get mad, I have to remind myself that I can’t control him, that I can only control myself. I told him that he’s the only one who can control himself. He really seemed to like this idea. I think it made him feel bigger and stronger.

From Katie Mulligan: In the middle of all this, the director of academic affairs asked me, “How do you get out of bed everyday?” I stared at him in amazement, and asked through gritted teeth, What’s the other option?? What’s the other option? And I meant it. I stared at him a while with sharp, angry thoughts running through my head. Who else was going to get the children out of bed in the morning? Who else was going to feed them? Who else was going to make sure they got to every blasted appointment and took prescribed meds? Who else was going to make sure they took a bath? Brush their teeth? Had clean clothes? With my family all the way out in California, and other seminary students busy with their own dramas, who else was there? What was the other option?

Motherhood Mantras: Keep It Simple

Motherhood Mantras is re-opened and back with a post from a pastoral counselor who provided emergency pastoral care for the Aurora shooting victims’ and their families.

People ask: How do you do it all?!  Be a wife, a working mom, and volunteer (I am a member of the National Response Team for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, specially trained in pastoral traumatology, with experience in shootings) is not easy.  Routines help a lot.

Most days, I begin checking the news online, between 5:30-6 am, just before I start work.  I try from the west coast to keep in touch with east coast and Midwest folks, so my day begins early.

The very first time that I was called for deployment, I missed the chance.  I was at the park with the kids – all three less than 7 years old at the time – and saw I had a missed call.  I listened to the message, tried calling my husband Erik, and left a message with him. He called back, and we fumbled around our schedules and making the decision.  More than a half-hour passed when I finally called back to say yes.  We had taken too much time.  Someone else had already said yes and was making arrangements to go. (With over 80 Responders on the team, there’s simply not enough time to let everyone take twenty-thirty minutes to decide). Disasters don’t wait. Yes or no. Period.  No hard feelings. Just simple – yes or no.

Fail.  We felt it.  And it sent us spiraling into conversations about whether we were really ready to have me be part of the team (this was over two years ago).  What resulted from those “come to Jesus” talks was a great game plan, though, one that has worked for us through multiple deployment decisions since then – including Tucson, AZ, Tuscaloosa, AL, east Los Angeles, CA, and, most recently, Aurora, CO.

Erik and I were not surprised when the call came around 10:30am on July 20, 2012.  I saw a missed call, with no message left.  We knew it was “the call.”  Within a handful of minutes, we decided yes based now on practiced rapid reflection of our schedules and our current sense of kid-care. (No offense if you happen to be with us when we do that and, in the zone, we totally ignore you.)  I returned the call, said yes, and began reviewing essential information.  I took the next flight out of town, an hour and a half later.  It goes that fast.

Knowing I could get called away at a moment’s notice means keeping home routines as simple as possible.  Uniform clothes and travel accessories sit in the closet, ready for the suitcase. In the day-to-day, kids help with chores (even at 3 years-old), taking dirty clothes to the washroom, setting/bussing tables, putting clean clothes away, putting toys away, and so on.  Nothing is expected rigidly, but participation frequently is encouraged.

Erik, from the start, has been a father to his kids.  He always is a parent.  Also, long ago we created a practice of not updating each other on business from school or work (really).  If you expect for us both to know XYZ (teachers, colleagues, neighbors, friends, family…) then tell us both.  This practice means, for us, being willing to let information sometimes fall through the cracks. This practice has been important to us in challenging cultural practices that require parents to spend enormous amounts of time delivering information back and forth in order to both stay involved.  (That’s a soapbox for another time.)  The point is: Erik, and our village of family and friends, helps make things work when I’m away.  I never leave with fear of homework not getting done, kids not having rides, play dates not occurring, people not eating – and I do not coordinate that before I go.  It goes on already.  Erik is a parent when I’m home and when I’m gone – he’s dad.

So, able to go and arrive on time, a teammate and I caught the end of the vigil.  Candles still lit; groups still singing and praying.  Police cars and crime scene tape all around.  The row of media vans lighting the sky.

Our kids, especially the older two, have some sense of what I do, which helps too.  They know I sometimes go “to be with people who are having trouble,” just like we had trouble and people came to us.  The verse, “in this world you will have trouble,” (John 16:33) is real to them.  They’ve seen pictures of tornado damage, and have a sense of what that devastation might feel like.  They lived through a shooting on our church campus.  They are practicing “taking heart” and becoming familiar with the fact that prayer is a come-as-you-are practice for any time, any situation.

During the first full day in Aurora, my teammates and I (four of us all together) connected with Presbytery folks (which is our first point of contact for any deployment). In this case, it meant being in touch with the moderator (acting Exec) and local pastors.  Then, we connected with disaster relief agency partners, including Homeland Security, FEMA, Red Cross, denominational affiliates, and mental health officials.  Local pastors shared their concerns – three in particular stood out – (1) for the families and neighbors of victims and survivors, (2) for the populations of refugee congregants from war-torn countries, and (3) for congregants and community members who lived through the Columbine shootings a decade before.

Sunday, we each attended different services.  I worshipped with St Paul’s Presbyterian Church.  A particularly moving part of the service, which was worshipfully engaging, came when interim Pastor Stan Jewell preached about the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus, he said, asked the disciples, who were fatigued and facing a potential crisis, what do you have?  Jewell opened his arms, walked out into the congregation, and asked, “What do you have to offer?”  Silence, at first.  And then, slowly, a hand went up, softly asking, “Compassion?” Jewell nodded and kept his hands open.  “Tears,” another said.  “A listening ear.”  And then, a woman from the back stood up, “I can patron those businesses, in the mall, and make sure they don’t lose costumers.”  Lots of nodding around the room.  “Hugs!” Someone called out.  “Time and care.”  Jewell walked back to the pulpit.  “Yes, we can bring all of those things, along with ourselves and our honesty, our honest grieving.”

We attended the city vigil event that night, along with thousands of other people.  We spent the evening listening to survivors, first-responders, second-wave responders, neighbors, friends, and loved ones.  The community-wide tears and heartache were salved some by acts of coming together and wrapping arms around one another.

Monday was spent in support of the Directors of Spiritual Care at the local hospitals, both Presbyterian pastors. We reviewed events of Friday, the unfolding weekend, and their perspectives of impact on their staff and colleagues.  We arranged to provide support the following day for more of their colleagues.

Also, on Tuesday, we led a time of support and education for the Presbytery where 26 pastors and Christian educators participated in the time. We listened, and we taught about trajectories of disaster and healing, care for children and youth, and self care for leaders.  We made plans for follow-up support and ongoing care of pastors and congregations.  Having embodied the connectional church body, some hope in the midst of chaos, we began our journeys home.

On my way home, one reaction that stood out to me was the sentiment: “I didn’t realize what was happening, I thought it was part of the movie.”  “It’s so surreal, like a movie.”  “This kind of thing only happens in the news, it’s not supposed to happen to real people.” (Yes, these words actually were said.)

As a mom, therapist, and a person who tries to practice presence, the seeming lack of trust in perception, though understandable, also was disheartening.  I hope for my kids to be able to trust their perceptions.  If possible, ideally, I don’t want them to grope to register if something is real or not.

My hope, too, and belief is that church (both the local gathering place for worship, and the extended connectional body) is a good place for figuring out and practicing what is real, for learning about how to trust our abilities to perceive, and for practicing presence.  Also, in doing that, I believe we discover the Lord’s joy – strength in times of trouble.  That is my motivation for doing what I do – as a Christian, a wife, a mother, and a pastoral traumatologist.  That motivation – being really present, in Christ-like ways – brings me greatest joy and enables me to withstand (stand-with) greatest sorrow.  That is my hope in the midst of chaos.

Kate Wiebe, MDiv/PhD, is the Executive Director of the Institute for Congregational Trauma and Growth (ICTG, www.ictg.org) and a volunteer member of the National Response Team for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.  She lives with her husband, Erik, an Associate Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, in Santa Barbara, CA, along with their three children, Jakob, Dara, and Kaden.

Versatile Blogger: Mothering Spirit Holla

LOL I’m pretty sure none of those words together really make much sense.

Apparently there’s something called the Versatile Blogger Award. I was on the list from Mothering Spirit. I don’t know what that means exactly but I feel honored! I love her. I love her writing. I love her insight. I love her honesty. Anyways, in her words, “you can read more about this award geared towards sharing the love here.) For this award, you’re supposed to share 15 blogs that you follow regularly and then share 7 facts about yourself.” (I couldn’t muster up the brain cells to figure out how to explain it. Clearly.)

Okay. Top 15 Blogs I follow, in no particular order, because it’s too hard to rank them, some very well known, and some new ones:

  1. Mothering Spirit (Duh): Her words are drenched in God’s spirit. I’m always fed by them.
  2. These Stones: Dear friend Christine is prolific and always has wonderful reflections and great quotes.
  3. Any Day a Change: Dear friend Katherine (whom I have yet to meet) just wrote a book. Reading her blog it’s hard to miss the appeal of her writing. She’s thoughtful and honest, and entertaining.
  4. Rage Against the Minivan: Kristen Howerton is crazy intelligent and provocative in a good way – challenging anything that is normative and wrong with the world.
  5. Windows Down: Dear friend Meredith recently got her PhD from Baylor. She is brilliant with everything but especially religion, pop culture, and music. She makes these kickass CDs of music that she loved from the past year. It seriously kicks off my year in the absolute right way.
    6. Bruce Reyes-Chow: All around great guy, and gives me hope that the Church is going to make it.
  6. The Blue Room: Maryann is a beautiful and inspiring writer. She has incredible insight, and I ALWAYS appreciate her Friday Link Love.
  7. Mommymergent: Love these thoughts about motherhood and spirituality.
  8. Still Waters: Theresa is a fireball. She writes on everything from Asian American culture, religion, and being a pastor and mother. She’s the best thing for the Presbyterian denomination next to Jesus.
  9. PhD in Parenting: Annie gets my brain juices flowing by integrating so many topics connected to parenting. I always appreciate another level of thinking.
  10. Science of Mom: Alice has some really helpful tangibles about parenting, but she doesn’t skimp at all on what’s emotional and spiritual. Love her perspective!
  11. Hapamama: Grace lights a fire under my butt about Asian American parenting.
  12. Reluctant Pilgrim: Enuma is a lovely writer – always refreshing.
  13. Fidelia’s Sisters: The Young Clergy Women Project’s E-zine. Always some amazing stories and perspectives.
  14. (Im)possible Things With God: Elsa is GREAT. She is gorgeous, strong, and everything I want to be when I grow up.

There are blogs like Rachel Held Evans, Sarah Bessey, Micha Boyett, Carol Howard Merritt, and Momastery, but these are so popular and obvious choices. Actually, Rage Against the Minivan should fall in that category, too. And there are guys like Landon Whitsitt and Yo Rocko to include in the list. Of course, I should mention my husband, but he hasn’t blogged in a while.

OK. For Mothering Spirit – 7 things: 1) I could eat a whole jar of Nutella in one day. Just give me a spoon. 2) I love sci-fi. 3) I have dreams about doughnuts sometimes. 4) I get crazy thinking about the kind of world the babies might end up in someday. Not a good kind of crazy. 5) Insecurity hits me out of nowhere like a ton of bricks sometimes. I end up eating my way out of it. 6) I am happy that it only takes a couple of drinks to get me buzzed. 7) I’m a cheap date.

Thanks for the award!