Friday, June 8, 2012

Busy busy busy

I am a horrible blogger.   I haven’t written in well over a month, and still, I’m not sure what to write about.  Work has been busy, so life feels busier.  There’s also the pesky little business of me attempting to buy a house.  I decided that buying a house is a little bit like dating—you’re never really sure what’s going to happen.  And much like dating, I don’t like to talk about it unless it’s official (i.e., a set of keys…or a ring), lest I jinx myself.  Because jinxing is totally a real thing.

There are a lot of things on my mind right now, mostly involving the intersection of faith and culture, faith and politics, faith and, well, the world.  I can sense my position on a lot of issues slowly shifting left, despite my theological conservatism, which isn’t going anywhere.  Maybe it’s because of what I read, but maybe it’s more.  Maybe it’s because after being a single adult for so long, I’m realizing that what the traditional church says isn’t resonating with my generation or the generation behind me.  I know Christians (real ones) who struggle with homosexuality (or same-sex attraction, as some folks put it).  Women around the world and in this country are being victimized, and I don’t see the church taking a stand like it should.  There are more people in slavery in this world than ever before in history, and yet just the other day I came across an actual “Christian” justification of slavery.

And on a less serious note, what does headship and submission really mean when you’re 31 and can support yourself and have a career and buy a house and travel to amazing places, and having a man suddenly be an “authority” over you doesn’t actually seem like all that attractive of an option? 

That’s what’s on my mind lately.  There are better writers and thinking out there, tackling all of this and more, and doing a splendid job.  Just what my voice is or should be, I’m not so sure yet.  So we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m headed to Italy next week, where I plan on walking ancient streets and drinking wine and eating gelato. And much more amazingness.  Oh Italy, I love you so!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On mercy (and being lazy)

I think I might officially be the laziest blogger in the world (or just badly in need of inspiration).  But in the meantime, there's this (what I wrote for my church's mercy newsletter):

When I was 17, I held a dying child.

 I was in Haiti, my first trip out of the country, at a Catholic orphanage that was understaffed and overcrowded. 

 There wasn’t really much we could “do” in the conventional sense of the word.  We couldn’t feed these children or clothe them or adopt them.  We were there for only a few hours, a fraction of our week in the country, just to see and play and touch.  To have our eyes opened and our hearts expanded. 

These beautiful children wanted nothing more than physical contact.  So I held a 3-year old boy dying of AIDS, so small he looked half his age.  He didn’t make a sound; he just held up his hands to me.  I don’t remember his name, but I remember the feel of his frail body in my arms.

 And then we left, and that precious child, image-bearer of God, probably didn’t live another six months.

 I returned from that trip forever changed.  And angry.  Angry that I couldn’t fix it.  That I couldn’t even save one child. 

All grown up, I still get angry. 

 And I still can’t fix it.  The problems are too varied and complex and systemic for me to be able to do much. I have more resources and more skills than I did at 17 but I still can’t fix it. 

But I can love.

Love and touch and listen and hug and give and walk beside.

And I wonder how often I’ve avoided this hard work because I feel useless, and I think it doesn’t really change anything.  Or because money is easier to give than time.  Or because I’m too busy or too tired.  Or because when my own life gets hard the last thing I want to do is to give any of my seemingly limited resources to someone else.

When I read the Gospels, I am so often struck by the outcasts that Christ loved, the “unclean” people that He touched.  Those society rejected.  Longing for human connection.

With His touch, Christ said, “You are loved. You are clean.  You belong.”

 In the end, isn’t that what we all want? 

To have friends who will journey with us in our suffering, pick us up when we fall and point us to the One who can fix everything.  The One who, one day, will right all of the wrongs of this world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How NOT to Get a Girl's Number

I told my friend Lindsey I would blog about this story, because it’s so funny and one of those moments where you think, “dude, really?”  Since I’m 30 and not married, I have my fair share of strange dating/guy stories (like the guy who told me I “eat good for a skinny girl,” for example), but what happened to Lindsey has thankfully never happened to me.
                So we went out for drinks on St. Patrick’s Day Saturday night.  We went a little early because we knew it would be really crowded.  We had a bit of a dilemma, both of us loving basketball but not loving insane crowds, so we sacrificed the basketball in order to be somewhere we could sit down and have an actual conversation.  We were having quite a lovely time with our (very) strong drinks and catching up on life, when Lindsey got up from her seat.
                Mistake number one. 
                Because this guy came and sat right across from me.  I told him I was with a friend who would be coming back, hoping he would get the message that he was interrupting girl time (and I love my girl time) and leave, but he was pretty drunk, so no such luck.  Lindsey came back, and he stayed and tried to chat us up.  His friend Reggie came and sat thisclosetome.  Isaac (the first guy) clearly had his eye on Lindsey.  I was all over some bored body language, again hoping he would get the hint and leave.  But drunkenness and male ego won out.  Fun fact I learned in law school—men tend to mistake women’s politeness as actual interest.  Yeah no.  We were both trying to think of an excuse that would get us out of there without obviously lying, but we came up short. 
                When we did finally leave, Isaac asked for Lindsey’s number.  She told him, no, she doesn’t really give her number out to guys in bars.  A legitimate reason, and MOST guys would’ve said ok and either taken it as a rejection and been on their way or offered to give out their own number.
                This is what Isaac did instead.
                He argued.
                He told her she was lying.  He asked for the reason why she didn’t want to give him her number.   He told us we couldn’t possibly be telling the truth because we were out at a bar, so obviously we wanted to get hit on.  And he kept arguing.  I tried to be firm, but he wouldn’t let up.  Finally I got a little sarcastic and he gave in.
                I felt a little bad (only a little), but apparently by the time you’re 30, you stop caring about being polite and friendly to random guys in bars, hence why he asked for Lindsey’s number and not mine.  Although I did have a ready-made reason to tell him no (I’m taken!) had he asked.
               A couple of lessons for the fellas on this one:
    1.       As shocking as it may seem, some girls do go to bars for the sole purpose of having a drink or two and just talking.  Also, if you’re looking for some action, the sober girls in jeans are probably not your best bet.
    2.       Arguing with a girl over whether she should give you her number is not actually going to work on anyone who’s emotionally healthy.  In fact, trying to get a girl to do anything by arguing with her and telling her she’s lying is not the best strategy.

Through this encounter, however, Lindsey and I learned that the platypus is venomous via a spur on a hind foot.  True story. 


Monday, March 19, 2012

Kendall Marshall's Wrist

A week or so ago, Time Magazine published an online article arguing that for the sake of basketball in the state of North Carolina, Duke and UNC should root for each other in games against out-of-state opponents.
                Clearly, this writer is clueless.  Not being a North Carolina native himself, he does not understand just how seriously we take our college basketball here.  When he was in middle school and high school, his teachers probably did not wheel in a TV to watch the ACC Tournament daytime games.  He does not know that kids are allowed to stay up past their bedtimes for certain games in this state.
He does not know that the Carolina-Duke game means bragging rights until the next game.  Austin Rivers’ game-winning shot only mattered until the Tar Heels took Cameron and the Duke seniors lost their final home game.
And he does not understand that no self-respecting Carolina fan can cheer for Duke, no matter the circumstances.  I can cheer for any other ACC school, especially in the NCAA Tourney.  Mostly, I want the ACC to do well.  (I was thrilled that N.C. State beat Georgetown. I do not, however, want a rivalry matchup in the regional final because I might have a stroke, so I don’t really want to see them beat Kansas, unless UNC loses to Ohio, in which case, Go Pack!  College basketball math can get a little complicated.)
But you see, Duke and Carolina are not really from the same state at all.  Duke and UNC do not stand for the same things or represent the same values.  We don’t have shared childhood experiences.  Duke basketball isn’t about the state of North Carolina in any way.  A UNC fan cheering for Duke isn’t actually supporting his state.  He’s supporting New England boarding schools. 
Which brings me back to Kendall Marshall’s wrist.  Sort of.
March Madness is one of the best things in the world.  If I didn’t have to work, I could happily sit in front of the TV for 4 days straight during the first two rounds and watch basketball constantly.  But then the unthinkable happens. 
UNC’s point guard gets fouled.  Hard.  Apparently those Nebraskan Catholics play some dirty basketball.  He goes down, and you think, “oh please no!”  Then he comes back, and you think it’s going to be ok.  Except that it’s not.  Kendall Marshall has a broken wrist, and I almost cried.
For real.
I do know, somewhere in the logical recesses of my mind, that an emotionally charged reaction to the injury of a stranger is not normal.  But he’s not really a stranger.  He’s the guy that was going to lead the Heels to the Final Four. And Carolina loves its point guards.
So what happens the day after Kendall Marshall breaks his wrist? 
My pastor creates a Facebook page for Marshall’s wrist (
And all of Tar Heel Nation anxiously awaits news, and hopes and prays (yes, prays) that Marshall will somehow recover enough to be back on the court Friday by 7:45.  It’s not his dominant wrist, after all. 
And if not?
Well, at least we didn’t lose to Lehigh.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Have Lost my Inspiration

There is no longer anything that I’m dying to write about.  I keep starting posts and never finishing them and then erasing them because I don’t really like them.  There are a million things on my mind these days, but I can’t seem to synthesize my thoughts into anything coherent.  In case you’re wondering, a few of things include my upcoming vacation to Italy, the iPhone I’m FINALLY getting this week (yes, welcome to this decade, Emily), buying a house (which I’m planning on doing later this year), and wondering how I’m going to survive living with my parents for a few months in order to save up money for a house house.  There are also larger issues on my mind such as racial reconciliation, how God may be calling me to serve my city, what the role of women is and should be in the church, and how the church can better serve those of us who didn’t get married by the time we were 25.  But other writers have written eloquently on all of those subjects. 

So my mind is a jumbled mess, but I don’t particularly want to write about any of it.  The culprit?  I have a sneaking suspicion it might just be contentment. 

Writing for me has always been a form of catharsis, a way of ridding myself of dark thoughts and plumbing the scary depths of my heart in a safe way that brings me back to Truth.  There are some ongoing frustrations in my life to be sure, but overall, I’m pretty happy.  That could change at any time (a thought that doesn’t exactly give me warm fuzzies), but for right now, I’m trying to find some new inspiration…

Monday, January 16, 2012

For the Love of Durham

I spent the first eighteen years of my life in Durham, NC, and when I left, I never planned on going back.  I didn’t hate Durham and I would adamantly defend it against its (many) critics, most of whom, in my opinion, were sheltered from the realities of life in a diverse city.  Technically, I haven’t lived in Durham for over 12 years, except for a few months here and there, but a strange thing has happened in all that time.  I now love Durham.  And I want to live there, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why God has not yet opened up that particular door.           
                Not only do I love Durham, but I appreciate its history and its problems and all that it taught me in a way that I couldn’t at 18. 
                In the past, my parents have both expressed that they wish they could’ve sent me to private school. But it was not to be, so every single year I’ve spent in education has been in a publically funded institution.  I’m not going to share all my views on different systems of education, but I am so incredibly grateful for going to Durham Public Schools.  They’re not exactly highly-ranked, and my alma mater has been in the news for such unsavory things as weapons, so perhaps it’s a little strange that I have such love for my experiences. 
                But by the time I graduated from high school, I had shared a classroom with people of at least five different races/ethnicities and adherents to all of the world’s major religions.  Durham is a wonderfully diverse place, economically, racially, culturally, religiously.  I didn’t discover issues of race as an adult, I grew up with them, and while I haven’t always (and still don’t) deal with them well, and I certainly don’t have any good answers, I’m glad that people who are not like me were always around me.  I’m glad that the poorer sections of Durham are unavoidable—if you live there, you can’t pretend that poverty and racism don’t exist.  You just can’t.
                Durham isn’t the same place it was in the 90’s.  For one thing, it’s way cooler.  For another, I truly believe that God is moving in Durham in ways I could never have predicted.  People who are passionate about God are working for justice and reconciliation.  New communities are forming, and downtown is vibrant.  Renowned chefs are using locally grown agriculture products, and food trucks have sprouted up for every cuisine imaginable.  Nonprofits have been established that are seeking to serve the city in Christ-honoring ways.
                It’s not perfect. Racial divisions still exist and inexcusable injustices have been committed.  Crime is prevalent.  Public transportation is terrible.  Gangs have long since infiltrated the middle and high schools.  People are broken and not being loved well.  (And, of course, there’s the pesky little problem of that horrible university that’s located in Durham, and no, I’m talking about NCCU.) 
                But I do know that I want to be a part of what God’s doing there.  I am crying out for a truly multiethnic church to be planted downtown.  I am longing for hard conversations and racial reconciliation and a community that isn’t just hip and progressive, but also loves Jesus and pursues His passions. 
                My grandmother can tell me stories about POWs coming through Durham on their way to Butner in World War II.  I have roots in this state that go back over two hundred years.  I don’t know all the reasons why God brought me back to this place that I never wanted to return to, but I want my family’s legacy here to reflect God’s grace, that the good news of Christ might be proclaimed.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Good Riddance, 2011!

Dear 2011,
                No offense or anything, but you were pretty hard on me.  A year ago, I was confused and miserable and constantly anxious.   I spent the first three months of the year like that.  I spent the next three months of the year grieving and sad.  And the three months after that, trying to adjust to a life I hadn’t really planned on.  You gave me a lot of tears and heartache.
                I’m sure, in the grand scheme of things, that there was a purpose in you.  I know you taught me lessons I haven’t seen yet, and I can already see the good that is coming from you.  In all fairness, you were very kind to me sometimes.  When things were really difficult, you gave me lots of beach trips to help me out.  You also brought my adorable little puppy to me.  And these last few months have actually been pretty great.  I love God more than I did a year ago, I’ve found a church I love, I’ve been given some pretty great friends, and all in all, my life is happy and fulfilling. 
                But nevertheless, 2011, I’m not sad to see you go. 
                So this is goodbye.  Please take your painful memories with you. 
                And here’s to 2012, hopefully full of new adventures and lots of laughter!