Can a person deduct library fines as a child care expense? Asking for a friend

I ran the river trail this morning at dawn (which is not as early as it sounds, please hold your applause). A mallard honked at me, a squirrel scolded. I was otherwise alone, dodging icy patches and thinking about how each day now, until June, will be longer than the day before it, a miracle of Read more about Can a person deduct library fines as a child care expense? Asking for a friend[…]

Giveaway: ‘Between Midnight and Dawn’

I’ve lived most of the last year (or maybe my whole life) in my head, and now a small part of it’s about to be out of my hands — it’s less than a month to my book deadline, friends. I may survive, if only I can get a couple more chapters (and a sermon) out Read more about Giveaway: ‘Between Midnight and Dawn’[…]

The start of a beautiful relationship (with a place)

 

“We’re home! We live here now!” my 5-year-old said as Dave and a friend hauled our couch into our new living room. Later, Dave read library books to wet-haired girls under blankets on that couch while I sat on the love seat, day-dreaming about the Oreos I was about to eat as soon as they were in bed. Later still, a lamp post outside made black-and-orange striped shadows on the bare walls as I ascended the red-shag-carpeted steps to our attic bedroom.

After midnight, the rain pit-patted above me. “Thank God: I’m home,” I thought.

Home. What’s different about this one, and why does any of this matter? Am I making more of this than necessary? How many Oreos are we talking?

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‘I have no idea what comes next,’ I say. ‘Samesies,’ Mary would’ve said

346px-Master_of_the_Tiburtine_Sibyl_Crucifixion

Master of the Tiburtine Sibyl, Crucifixion, 1485; Detroit Institute of Art

Right now, the youngest is napping. Alice lays on her belly under a still-leafless maple; Violet sits cross-legged beside her with a stuffed rabbit in her lap. They’re so far out from my spot on the front stoop that I can’t hear them: this moment is parenting’s high-water mark. An Eastern phoebe’s returned to nest under our deck; bugs fly by and I’ve forgotten their names. Daffodils are three inches above ground. The world goes on knowing what to do and when to do it, but I’m on the stoop, wondering.

I carry around all these possibilities in my imagination. I stack them up on the dresser top beside me while I fold clothes, or lay on the windowsill while I wash dishes. I toy with moving to a house we would own in the city; moving to a suburb for the schools. I stack up the open-enrollment deadline for schools of choice; I consider visiting buildings I’m not excited about. Kindergarten open house and my will-be second-grader’s Tums in her pocket. Writing this book about “radical faith” with someone who once lived in an intentional community, and wondering how no one’s picked up yet that my past is much more predictable. I read tough books and wash a dozen loads of towels, toddler leggings, sweatshirts, and pillow cases every week.

All these possibilities, I carry around.

Aren’t humans the worst? Aren’t we, to be thinking of this while the world sings the Doxology; while flowers come up and buds open?

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My Catholic baptism, my Methodist adulthood

I think more about being Catholic now that I’m Methodist.

I joke that my intolerance of repetition comes from my years of liturgy, never unpacked. When I read the bible, sometimes I hear the organist singing hymns from the Catholic songbook: Jean, the organist, always singing these words I had no idea came from Isaiah or a psalm. It’s still bizarre that I could spend close to twenty years immersed in liturgy and still think Habakkuk was a typo, not a book in the bible.

My bible-marinated friends were so patient the first time I read it cover to cover. “And when the Israelites were in the desert, it’s JUST LIKE ME,” I went on and on, drowned myself in these similes and metaphors. Really, it was kind of embarrassing how enthusiastic I was over this book I’d had in a Rubbermaid container since my first communion in second grade.

I’m so grateful for that experience, and all that’s happened since, and the Methodists who don’t blink at this — but I’m also coming to term with what my baptism in the Catholic faith has given me, too.

Last weekend I was with a group of mostly evangelical writers, who very passionately and honestly used phrases to describe their work that were heavy with “it was laid on my heart,” and “God gave me a burden for.” I tumbled those over and over in my mind: laid on my heart; a burden on my heart; broke my heart for.

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God is all about those meanwhiles

“They screamed as if they were being murdered,” Dave said. “I thought Lou just had soap in her eyes, but I went in there and Violet had climbed out of the tub and was screaming, dripping wet on the rug — like SCR-eeaming,” Dave did jazz hands: crazy-town screaming, then, “and Lou was backed up way back, as far back as she could in the bathtub.”

I could picture this: I could hear it, almost. Staying at home with them has taught me the depths of the girls’ lung power.

“And Lou points to a tiny spider under the soap ledge. And she goes, ‘Dad, he went like this,'” Dave loses it here, laughs and imitates her, curling her index finger in a “come hither” motion. “‘The spider, he went like dis,'” Dave mimicked, bent over laughing.

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The miracle of some flour and yeast

“Perhaps the problem is that we don’t know what the meaning of this holiday, of Jesus’ pushing into the world, is. If we did, we wouldn’t have to worry about consumerism; if we knew what the Incarnation meant, we’d be preoccupied with awe that we wouldn’t notice all the shopping.” Lauren F. Winner, “Girl Meets Read more about The miracle of some flour and yeast[…]