erin f. wasinger

stories of loving our neighbors, discernment, & other hard things

Category: And other thoughts (Page 1 of 6)

When ‘radical’ faith looks a lot like the everyday

In July, Sarah and I went to my hometown to speak at the little public library where I worked when I was 14. My mom and stepdad and some of my aunts and cousins and even some strangers packed the tiny room that in the late ’90s was a garage for the village’s EMS.

Someone (unfairly) asked me (in the presence of my mom) whether I’d ever consider moving home, back to the place in Ohio where I’d graduated a decade and a half ago.

“I mean, could you do this sort of thing” — she referenced the new-monastic-like, Year of Small Things, radical-faith thing — “here in a rural place or a small town?”

Well.

Tell me.

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And finally, it’s spring: where our words have been

“You must be coming to visit me!”

We were halfway around our block when were stopped by a wave from our octogenarian neighbor who lives behind us. We weren’t technically coming to visit, but our walk turned into a tour of her ever-changing garden. look upHer garden is her thing: I notice her from the kitchen window almost every afternoon. She’s out there with a yard waste bag, her gardening gloves, and a wagon of tools.

She’s got tulips that bloom larger than my fist, hostas that could eat my dog. Later will come roses and irises and a whole slew of blooms (which I won’t be able to name thirty seconds after she tells me). She schools the girls: look at this Jacob’s ladder, see primrose, can you spot the faces on the pansies here.

(Meanwhile, I’m just happy the kids haven’t crushed my peony to death with their bodies. Pretty sure someone watered it from a container of bubble mix, too.)

This is our spring: full of neighbors and walks and finally, flowers.

It’s been a busy spring of writing, too, so I’m here to share what we’ve been sharing.

More substance soon. But for now: besides preaching, freelancing for the newspaper, and mowing the neighbors’ yard for petty cash, you can find us — 

5 ways to share Year of Small Things love

The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us (Brazos, Jan. 31) will soon emerge from its cocoon and go out into the world, and to do that takes a lot of brain space.

So do snow days and three-day weekends with children. The Midwest … it’s a tricky thing, you know.

In the days before the book releases, though, there are some ways you can help spread the word about it.

  1. Listen to the Small Things podcast & share away! This week, we interviewed Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, whose book The Wisdom of Stability was influential in Sarah’s and my first conversations.

2. Join and/ or invite others to like our Facebook group for the book. We’ll use the space to communicate with readers and keep everyone up to date on book news.

3. Post photos on Instagram, Facebook, and/ or Twitter and use the hashtag #yearofsmallthings. If you need help coming up with ideas for things to take pictures of, here are some prompts.

4. Join our home church, Sycamore Creek in Lansing and Potterville, Michigan, during our upcoming sermon series on The Year of Small Things. Sarah and I — plus other members of our church’s teaching team — will be talking about key themes from the book and how you can start to see big changes from your small things.

5. Stop by www.yearofsmallthings.com for more inspiration, shareables, and posts unique to that project. We’re geeked to invite y’all on this adventure! Thanks for your prayers, support, and chocolate (in advance?). This is meant to start conversations within and outside the church with individuals and small tribes of friends and framily. Your sharing our words brings the conversation to more folks — and that’s a wonderful thing.

One final word about Alzheimer’s, I hope

I started a fire in the toaster Friday morning. Don’t worry: I got Louisa’s PopTart out just in time.

Because I saw the incident coming, I’d already been holding the contraption to the open kitchen window when I smelled the quick death of breakfast junk-food. I unplugged it — “Never stick a fork in the toaster,” my first-grader loudly warned me (“I’m not, it’s a spoon”) — and saved the morning, just barely.

Meaning the preschooler didn’t fall apart in tears. Meaning I could laugh about it and feel borderline Ma Ingalls about my quick thinking under duress. Also the house didn’t burn down, etc., etc.

Chances are, I’ll forget about this by next week. A year from now or later, I’ll read this and try to conjure the memory — what had happened? Why?

Because that’s what a life is, these little moments.

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Coming a little closer to the fire

We were grilling when our friends called: their daughter had a 104 fever and they needed help. I set my six-month-old in her bouncy chair, kissed Dave, and drove to their apartment about five minutes away. Taking the stairs two at a time, I arrived at their door ready to save the world. Or, um, to help my friends.

I remember feeling so proud of myself for no longer breathing shallowly when the smells from a half-dozen nationalities’ cuisines filled the hallway. (Tumeric? Coriander? Ginger? Curry? All?) So proud of myself that this refugee family, these newcomers, had called my family. I know people from Burma: I thought that a lot back then.

In their tiny apartment, the mother held her lethargic daughter while the dad showed me the tiny bottle of infant painkiller he’d brought from Thailand. “Hot,” her mom said. “Hot.” Very.

They knew what I knew: she needed a doctor.

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Checking in on a neighbor …

I hadn’t seen the neighbor behind our house for a few days, which is rare because she’s got this garden she’s been tending for 40 years now and she’s always pruning, weeding, transplanting. When the humidity is 107 percent and it’s 107 degrees, the 80-some year-old woman is still out there, picking up leaf by leaf, placing each into the yard-waste bag.

Louisa and I took a walk today with the dog, loping past our neighbor’s house — no sign of life. I was a bit nervous about ringing the bell (“Hi, are you trapped under something heavy?”), so I noted which curtains were open and that her recycling can wasn’t out, and we walked home.

In our driveway a few minutes later, dread held me from going inside. “We’ve got to go back,” I told Louisa. We locked the dog in the house and traced our steps around the block her house. The same curtains were open; the house still was quiet.

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On becoming — namely, their becomings

 

My kryptonite: anything to do with the last days of school. The pictures in front of the school. The teachers getting teary; kids doing the silent cry in the parking lot, their used-up workbooks clutched to their chests. Teachers and kids doing a spirit tunnel-clap-out thing for the classes to the song “Celebrate (Good Times),” which I hate 364 3/4 days of the year. Graduation parties for kindergartners, a group of 25 children at an age generally best left to the professionals.

kindergarten graduation

Kindergarten graduation: toxic levels of cuteness.

The looming reality of spending weeks upon weeks with siblings who scream at each other that “I’m ignoring you until YOU DIE.” At 7:30 a.m.

Gets me every time.

How the kids have grown and what they’ve learned is evident. Evidence of my own change is only obvious in that vaguely older countenance and all the miles put on the car shuttling them to their out-of-district school.

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