Burned Out

I know burnout like I know myself. At this point, 5/8ths of the way through a master’s degree (Yes, I used fractions. I’m going by halves of semesters. Every bit of progress is important.), I might as well be the personification of burnout. There are days when I swear if one more thing goes wrong, I will pack up everything I own and catch a plane home the next morning. But of course, I never quite manage it, because by nightfall I don’t have the energy to pack up everything I own, and everything looks better in the morning.

God’s mercies are new every morning. And every morning, I get up and get to work all over again. After all, I am blessed, and I’ll likely never get an opportunity like this again.

But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about quitting. Giving up. Leaving. Just letting this whole thing go up in smoke because I am so burned out. 

It’s not like I don’t have marketable skills. I have one degree. I don’t really need another. I’m tired of being student-level broke. I’m tired of having my life divided between two places. I’m tired of being a student and a teacher at the same time. I’m tired. 

There are so many other things I could be doing. So many other places I could be going. I feel the pull of a life outside of school far more strongly than I ever have before. And the process of getting this second degree is just plain in the way. I don’t even care what happens after graduation. I just want to move on to something new.

Older, wiser friends have told me not to wish this stage away. I do try, but I can’t help it. I’m sure one day I’ll be nostalgic about all of this. But right now, I’m just burned out.

Last year, when I went from Thanksgiving to April without knowing if I would have a way to pay for my second year of school, I almost walked away and burned all my bridges behind me. This year, my thesis plans fell through, and once again I nearly walked away.

Still, I’m somehow convinced that God wants me here doing this. Besides, I don’t like leaving things unfinished. So I pray for strength constantly every day…and constantly plead, “Please, please let this be worth it.” 

In less spiritual moments, this plea tends to turn into, “This had better be worth it. And I don’t mean in 20 years. I mean in 6 months.” That’s definitely the burnout talking.

Why do I do that? Why do I assume that it won’t be worth it? Why do I assume that I’ll need to wait decades to find out whether it was? Why do I assume that because God’s timing isn’t mine, He’s going to leave me stranded, drifting, and feeling purposeless?

Why do I have a tendency to picture God as this old guy in the sky who likes messing up my life and laughing while I scramble to pick up the pieces? (I’m not trying to be irreverent. I’m just trying to be honest. Who doesn’t have a similar image of God at times, if they’re really being honest?)

Why do I forget that God is also good?

Why do I forget that God has my best interest in mind?

That’s the fear and the burnout talking.

How many times have I looked at the shattered pieces of my life plans and wept? As many times as I’ve looked back and realized that God made something better out of it. Something beautiful.

With God’s strength, I can push through the burnout. And no matter what happens next, even if it’s nothing like what I have in mind, I know He has something beautiful planned. I can’t wait to see what that something is.


On Fairs and Festivals

It is a truth universally acknowledged: most Mainers really hate crowds. Perhaps that’s why those “from away” have the impression that we’re the rudest people alive… because they only really encounter us on crowded occasions in crowded places. But really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my fellow Mainers grumpier than they are at some kind of summer shindig.

I recently read an editorial on the Bangor Daily News’s Facebook page. This particular editorial was written by a woman who loves everything about the Common Ground Fair…except going. Because frankly, the idea of paying admission to hate dealing with crowds is not a positive one for her (and also a bunch of really whiny stuff about how going to the fair makes her feel inadequate as a homesteader, but whatever). I seriously identified with the overall idea… which is that going to fairs and festivals sounds great until you get there and see the teeming throngs of human beings.

This past summer, I went to my hometown’s Homecoming Festival for the first time in probably three years. I didn’t go for the past several years because I have been living elsewhere, but before that, I went every year. Mostly because it was the one time of year when anything happened in my hometown. And so, best friend in tow, I would go, and I dealt with the crowds, and I made small talk with girls that I never really got along with, but doggone it, I only got one chance a year to get my funnelcake and ribbon fries, same as everyone else.

This year, I expected life to go basically the same way it always had, minus the three years I had spent away. But adulthood throws curveballs. My annual funnelcake was split with my mom and my two-year-old sister. I caught up with my best friend at the barbecue fundraiser she was running for the children’s ministry at her church. And I didn’t run into anyone I hated in high school, because a lot of those people have since moved away, as it turns out. But the crowds. I had forgotten exactly how much I hated the crowds.

There is nothing quite so stressful as standing on hot tarmac in the blazing sun, feeling like you’re melting to death, and being surrounded by strangers who are also stressed and melting. Add to that the fact that you know you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself, and everyone gets even more grumpy.

But winter is coming soon enough, and by then, funnelcakes and ribbon fries will be nothing more than a distant, pleasant memory. The unpleasantness of the crowds will fade from our minds, and we’ll all be ready to do the same thing over again next year.

I also spent some time at the Bangor State Fair this past summer, but thank goodness we went on a weekday. The crowds were very minimal.

Last weekend, the Indie Craft Parade occurred in Greenville, as it does every year. However, the memory of unpleasant crowds was still too fresh in my mind. Besides, Greenville crowds are ever so much larger! So, like a responsible introvert, I stayed in and worked on my thesis instead. Perhaps by Fall for Greenville I will be ready to face the masses once again.

Slow Speech

If you grew up anything like I did, you probably listened to at least one youth or teen challenge about the power of words. Your youth leader, or Sunday school teacher, or camp speaker probably produced a tube of toothpaste or a bottle of shaving cream, squeezed out some of the contents, and called your attention to the fact that there was no way to get those contents back into the container. And you probably rolled your eyes, because who hasn’t squeezed out too much toothpaste at some point, am I right? And also because by senior high, you knew exactly where this was going. Yes, yes, choose your words carefully because you can’t take them back. Got it already.

What I don’t remember? I don’t remember hearing anyone talk about the fact that knowledge works the same way–when you find out something that you don’t want to know, you can’t suddenly un-know it. Or that knowing the irrevocability of the spoken word can make it about 1,000 times harder to say something you need to say.

I have a B.A. in communication, and I’m halfway through an M.A. in communication studies. I start work as an English teaching assistant in about a week and a half. I know a lot about language, words, and meaning. I know even more about human communication and quite a bit about the psychology behind human communication. I spend a huge portion of my time studying and analyzing all of these things.

Confession: despite all of that knowledge, I struggle with personal relationships. 

I know how to iron out conflicts between others. I know how to analyze the workings of an entire organization and create a plan to improve communication within the organization as well as communication to those outside said organization. I know how to develop change strategies and successfully implement them. I know how to network. I know how to interview and be interviewed. I know how to “sell myself” the way that Forbes and Harvard Business Review are always going on about.

I still struggle with personal relationships. 

Remember Moses’ reaction when God told him to go speak to Pharaoh?

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” -Ex. 4:10

I’ve heard a couple of different takes on this. Some seem to think that Moses had a speech impediment of some kind. Others say that given his position growing up in Pharaoh’s household, he would’ve had the best training in speech, articulation, and rhetoric–meaning he felt awkward in spite of his training and just wasn’t all that excited to appear before Pharaoh.

Now, I’m no Bible scholar, really. I definitely don’t know anything about the Hebrew language. And I don’t know much of anything about Egyptian history or culture. So I could be totally off base here… but the notion that Moses had actually received plenty of speech training is one that seems to make sense. And my reaction to that? #relatable!

I know exactly what it is like to have all that training and still feel like an awkward human all the time.

Just because I have all that training doesn’t mean I would want to go before the president of the United States and demand something in the name of religious liberty.

Just because I have all that training doesn’t mean I’m fantastic at smoothing out problems with family.

Just because I have all that training doesn’t mean I’m good at making new friends.

Just because I have all that training doesn’t mean I’m always careful enough about what I say. Sometimes words slip out and I can’t take them back.

Just because I have all that training doesn’t mean I always say things when I should. Words like: “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “I believe in you,” or “I miss you”… sometimes those words need to be said, but they catch in my throat and never come out.

And just like that tired toothpaste object lesson, I can’t take words back. And I can’t un-know things. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could? Trust me, it’s only Tuesday, and I already need a rewind button for this week.

I’ve come to a situation where I don’t know what to do or say. Whether to offer help or take a step back. But I know that God promised to be with Moses. I know that God has promised to be with me. And I know that all the speech and psychology training in the world can’t compare with God’s wisdom.



A Summer Off

I realize I haven’t posted at all this summer. I haven’t been on the internet very much, except for Netflix. And I’ll be honest… I haven’t missed it.

I haven’t missed it because I’ve spent the last several years missing the lifestyle I used to have. Back when I did more things that made me forget to check my phone.

So hello, loyal blog audience! I am still alive. I have not been carried off by the blackflies (yet). I did not drop dead in the woods somewhere. I’m just spending the summer in Maine, where I belong, and enjoying every moment of it. I’m currently more tan than I have been in I don’t know how long. I have spent long-ish periods of time in at least three places where I don’t even get cell phone reception. My bathing suit has seen a decent amount of use,  and my hair has smelled strongly of wood smoke on quite a few nights. I’ve had so much fun that I didn’t really remember to take pictures most of the time. And let’s be honest, the moments we forget to photograph make the best memories anyway.

I have had my time by the ocean. I got to climb Katahdin with one of my favorite people. I explored a few places that I haven’t seen since I was a little girl. I submitted last semester’s paper to a conference. I went shopping at outlets and found some great deals. I’ve spent time in my kayak. There have been many days of ponytails and no makeup. This has been everything a summer ought to be.

Do I miss Greenville? Am I bored, restless, and anxious to get back into the busy routine of school? For the first time ever, I say no. Just a simple no. Or maybe a “no, not at all.” As a matter of fact, this summer has flown by far more quickly than I would have liked. I have roughly 3 weeks left in Maine. That’s all. That’s not nearly enough time to satisfy me.

Anyway, I’m just here to reassure you that I didn’t get eaten by a black bear or swept out to sea at Thunderhole. I’ll write more about my summer shenanigans at some point… probably after I get back to Greenville. In the meantime, I intend to enjoy every last second of my remaining time at home. Have a great rest of your summer, everyone!


Let’s Assess What We’re Telling Young Women About Motherhood

It’s the time of year when college students across America are waking up on the floor, faces in books, crumbs of some sort of food stuck to our cheeks, and cold cups of half-finished coffee somewhere nearby. When the alarms go off, we are so, so confused, because first of all, where are we, and how did we get there? And if we don’t know where we are, how are we supposed to find our phones to shut off the alarms?

And then it’s a mad dash to manage to get oneself fully clothed. Dry shampoo and a ponytail, makeup if a girl is lucky, and a freshly brewed cup of coffee to go with us to last classes and exams. (Did you remember to turn off the coffee pot? It’d be just like you to forget that and end up burning down the whole dorm…)

So, in honor of this unique time of year, I posted a little photo that made me giggle.


And then I got a comment: “Haha, wait until you’re a mom.”


This is hardly the first time I’ve gotten that kind of comment. Anytime I post something about fatigue and/or yoga pants I get the same response.

“Wait until you have kids.”

“Wait until you have two kids under two.” (I would prefer not to…)

“Sounds like pregnancy to me lol.”

Most of my girl friends have been married for at least a year or two, so baby fever runs rampant through my Facebook feed. Pregnancy announcements. Gender reveals. Baby showers and baby pictures. And do I resent it? No. Everyone seems to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Bliss. Good for them.

So why all the negative comments about motherhood?

I’m not quite 22. I’m in grad school. I’m single. I’m not really thinking about having kids right now. And while it’s a good thing, I guess, that I won’t be horribly shocked if my turn comes, I really don’t want to hear about anyone’s delivery. No seriously, please spare me.

I don’t want to hear about all the odd places in your house where your toddler smeared feces. I don’t want to hear anything about your child’s bowel movements, as a matter of fact.

I don’t want to hear about their sleep habits and how hard it’s been for you to adjust to sleeping when the baby sleeps. I don’t want to hear you complain about how you’ll never have a clean house again.

Furthermore, I really don’t want to listen to you go on and on complaining about the difficulties of motherhood, followed by, “Oh, but it’s wonderful! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”

Really?! Is it?! Wouldn’t you?! I mean, seriously, you went on for 30 minutes being completely negative, and now you want me to believe that motherhood is the best thing ever? Actually, it sounds to me like you found marriage and family life to be seriously overrated.

So I say, “Wow, ok. So based on what you just said, I should probably never have kids. Because it sounds like I would completely hate child rearing.”

“Oh! Oh, no! It’s wonderful! It’s different when it’s your own kid! You can’t just not have kids! That’s so selfish!”

…Ok…is it though? Who am I being selfish toward, exactly? The husband I don’t have? The children that do not exist? My parents? (They just adopted a child under two, so I kinda feel like the pressure to give them grandkids is off for a while. And besides, they have other kids. My parents will be fine.) And how is it selfish to avoid having children if I don’t want them? It seems to me that it would be much more selfish to have kids I didn’t want. I seriously do not follow this logic at all.

My generation is getting married later and later. Having kids later and later. And, thus, obviously, having fewer kids. And is it any wonder? I mean, everyone has made marriage and kids just look and sound so amazing.

One of my closest friends has a one-year-old and another little one on the way. Obviously, motherhood is not all sunshine, and rainbows, and baby kisses. She is pretty open and honest about reality. But she isn’t gross about it. And she loves being a mom–it’s not just something she says. The way she goes about daily mom life makes it clear. Sure, she has rough days like anyone else, but I’ve never felt like she dwells on the negatives. I can’t remember a single “Wait until you’re a mom” comment from her. Which means she’s still an awesome person to hang out with.  And there are several other mom friends of mine from whom I don’t think I’ve seen a single negative post–just pictures of their cute kids.

In actuality, I’m not opposed to the idea of having kids someday. (You can all breathe a sigh of relief now.) I don’t care how people approach family planning or child rearing–that’s none of my business. Seriously, I do not want to know. And if it’s ever my turn, I’ll expect you to keep your nose out of my business as well.

All I’m trying to say is this: if you find motherhood wonderful and rewarding, don’t bring up every single negative (or just plain gross) aspect of motherhood in front of a younger woman, especially if she’s not made it to that stage of life yet. And don’t stop with “Oh, but motherhood is wonderful!” Tell us–show us–why.




Feelings on Foster Care: the Sequel

We don’t always get a happy ending. Not in this life, anyway. As a matter of fact, sometimes it feels like I spend an awful lot of time kneeling on the floor, hands outstretched, tears pouring down my face, crying out to God:


It’s a combination of hurt and anger.

I am stubborn. So stubborn. I always have been. As a grownup, one of the things I’ve had to work on is to not be difficult just for the sake of being difficult. As a kid, I got in more trouble than I can even describe for the rebellion that tends to shoot right out of my eyes. I don’t like to be wrong. I will pound my fist on every closed door. And I don’t do things by halves. I am an all-or-nothing person. With that insight into my personality, I can now tell you something about the thoughts that are swirling through my head right now.

I’ve posted before about my youngest sister–how having her in my life has opened my heart to the idea of foster care and adoption. How I begged my parents not to pursue foster care and how my perspective radically changed. I posted just over a month ago about finalizing the adoption process for Gracie and the emotions that overflowed out of my heart.

And now the emotions are overflowing out of my heart again, but for a much less positive reason.

For the past seven months, we have fostered Gracie’s biological sister. And that’s only because God gave my mom (my seriously amazing mom) the courage to speak up for this baby girl’s life. And because my mom doesn’t do things by halves either, there was no stopping to think, no saying “Let me talk to my husband about this,” nothing like that. There was only “We will adopt the baby.” There was no time to do anything else. She told my dad later that day. And in that situation, there could not have been a more appropriate response.

“We will adopt the baby.”

And they took the baby straight from the hospital. But things did not play out the way we expected.

Who can blame a mother for fighting for her child? And yet, we worry. Babygirl leaves our care this week.

I find myself looking out the window at the Greenville rain–my goodness, what appropriate weather–and asking God why.

It is not a screaming, crying, angry why. I no longer have the energy for that. It is a why that feels weary and defeated. A why that is tired. Worn out. A why that feels like it has been over-used in the last year.

If there’s one thing that frustrates me most in this life, it’s the fact that we don’t always get to see why. We don’t always get to see the way the story ends. And all things are supposed to work out for our good, right? The trouble is, it doesn’t always feel good.

I want to know why God would put my mom in the position to advocate for this precious baby girl, place her into our care for seven months, and then have her taken away. I want to know why we have to watch Gracie try to process this before age two when it’s something that we grownups can’t even process–and it’s clear that Gracie is going to miss her baby sister. That’s what hurts me the most. That’s what makes me the most angry.


I hate that we live in a fallen world where kids have to suffer because of the choices that adults make. I hate that the foster care system is so broken. I know I act like I don’t care about anything, but I actually care about…everything. Especially when it comes to my family. I would move mountains for the people I care about. I hate being in a situation where I can do literally nothing that will help.

So here I am, hands outstretched, begging God for answers. I know He has them, whether He chooses to reveal them in my lifetime or not. He has a plan for this darling baby girl. I believe that. I really do. I have to.

And as much as it hurts, there’s something beautiful and wonderful about clinging to God’s sovereignty and love–not for myself, but for someone I love.

Leave Her Alone

I know that I have a few loyal guys who follow this blog. They have noted that I seem to write primarily for 20-something women, and that’s true. I know how to write for 20-something women because I am one. I don’t know how to write for guys because I don’t understand them. At all. But guys–in my clumsy, I-don’t-get-you way–I’m writing this post to you. From a female perspective, though, because that’s all I know.

The amount of miscommunication that happens between girls and guys is absolutely astounding, isn’t it? You asked her to artist series last week, and now she wants to know whether the wedding invitations should be peach dream or silken blush (I totally made up those colors, by the way…). You say you don’t want to get involved in a relationship right now, and so she sends your favorite cookies through nightmail with a note drenched in perfume, and the guys on your hall won’t stop kidding you about it. What didn’t she get about the word “no,” am I right? I’m not about to deny that women can make themselves obnoxious at times. But I guess everyone can have that weakness when they like someone who doesn’t feel the same way.

Yeah. You guys do the same thing.

“She didn’t say no!” you protest. She probably did, if you were listening. She made an excuse, said she was busy, thanked you politely for the invitation, ect., didn’t she? Could it be she was actually just busy? Yes…unless she’s turned you down multiple times. Then she’s trying to spare your feelings. Personally, if I get busy but would have liked to accept, I’ll come up with a rain-check plan (but I can’t speak for how other girls operate on this point). Take a lesson from The Princess and the Frog here:

not ever

But you don’t like the subtleties, right? You want us to just come right out and say no?

I sat across from a guy friend once. He was having girl troubles. And, for any ladies reading this, rest assured. Apparently girls are not the only ones who spend a good deal of time analyzing texts from members of the opposite gender. Suffice it to say, he had asked this girl out. She had turned him down. I handed his phone back to him.

“So? What do you think?”

“There’s nothing to think about. There’s no thinking. She turned you down, plain and simple.”

And she had! She flat out said no and was gracious enough to explain her reasons. There was no room for misinterpretation. There was no opening to try again. It was a flat refusal, which she had every right to give. But he told me he was going to try again. I advised against it. He told me he was going to do it anyway.

I don’t understand. I don’t understand why “no” doesn’t mean no. I don’t understand how “no” can be misinterpreted.

I write this at the risk of sounding like I’m just doing it to yell at a bunch of guys. I risk sounding heartless or like I’m a man-hater. Maybe condescending. So let me clarify–I don’t hate men. I am grateful for my guy friends. I’m not yelling. I’m not trying to be condescending. I’m writing this as your friend who genuinely doesn’t understand. And so that you understand.

No means no.

I have gotten late-night weepy phone calls. I have had my phone be swamped with text messages. I have had awkward in-person conversations and even more awkward emails.

I have been stalked. Legitimately followed all over campus. I have had guys wait for me outside the restroom, follow me to class as I made small talk on the phone with my mom, and then follow me into my class and sit down. I have had to get my dad to make a phone call to threaten a guy with a restraining order. I’m not kidding.

This is why it’s so important to me that you guys understand.

No means no.

So the next time a girl turns you down, I understand, you’re going to feel bad about it. And you really like her. Or maybe you weren’t even interested like that and were just asking her out to be nice. But when she says no, please, I’m begging you…

Leave her alone.






Adoption Day!

I love my family. Fiercely. They are more important to me than just about everything else. I love my family, and I love…sameness. What can I say? I’m a stubborn New England girl. You take care of you and yours. And change is always bad.

I was the oldest of 3 for almost 20 years. My siblings were my first friends. They are also my best friends…even though we don’t always get along. No one has ever been allowed to pick on them besides me. I will descend upon you, and you will feel the full force of my wrath. I’m not kidding.

At Boston-Logan, seeing me off for junior year. This is the last time I saw my family for nearly 11 months and the last sibling picture where there would be only 3 of us.

Life was fairly orderly from year to year. And we all started to grow up. Which, you know, produced changes, which, of course, was not good. But. I was dealing. Things were pretty fun by the time all three of us were in our teen years. We all quoted the same movies, had the same inside jokes. Mom and Dad are fantastic humans who generally join right in. And we had finally hit a time when family outings were kind of fun, because there was less poking each other for no reason in the car. And there was less whining while we were out. This was the time period of day-long trips to the beach, hiking, that time we all biked the 7-mile loop around Mackinac Island…

Awkward family photos for the win!!!

Unfortunately, adulting happens. I spent Christmas of 2014 in Michigan with my dad’s parents because I needed money for the next semester’s textbooks, and they had offered to pay me to deep-clean their house over Christmas break. So I did the hard thing. The grownup thing. And I spent my first Christmas away from home. And then I elected to spend my first full summer away from home as well, because Greenville is an easier place to find a summer job. *Sigh*

It was mid-June 2015. I was within just a few weeks of vacationing at home–the first time I would see my family in almost 11 months–when the call came. My parents were going to foster a newborn baby girl. And thus, my calm world was interrupted. And I was not ok with it. (Read this for more about my feelings on foster care)

The first picture I ever saw of her.

And then I finally got home. And then I held her.

She was tiny and helpless. And I was helpless as I watched her go through withdrawals. As she tensed up. As she started to tremble–her little arms shaking uncontrollably–and scream. There was nothing to do but hold her a little tighter.

Time passed. She overcame her struggles. And I adjusted to there being 4 of us kiddos.

It’s been almost 21 months since then. She is an incredibly active toddler who is entirely too smart for her own good. And I almost can’t remember what it was like before she was a part of our lives. After nearly 2 years of waiting, she is finally, officially ours.


My little Gracie-girl

I must admit, it feels a little strange to me, having a sibling who is 20 years younger than I. Mostly because I haven’t been there for anything–her first words, first steps… I’m likely to miss most of her birthdays. Us older three kids are spread out over only five years, and we’re all fairly close. It’s odd to me that Gracie won’t remember a time when Nate and I lived at home. That she may or may not remember Alana living there. I wish she could know what it’s like to have your siblings right there with you all the time. I want her to get the same inside jokes and experience the same things we did growing up. So I guess we’ll have to get creative somehow. I can’t wait to see her again this summer. And I wish more than anything that I could have been there today.

Oh, Gracie-girl. I’m so glad God gave you to us! I don’t think I can ever find enough words to tell you how much your biggest sissy loves you.

My name is Layla Zizzy. And there’s no one else I’d rather be.


Some Thoughts on International Women’s Day

I am pro-women’s rights. Why wouldn’t I be?

I love my right to vote and run for office. I exercise my voting rights proudly, always remembering the women before me and all that they went through to ensure that their descendants would have that right. It hasn’t even been a full century since the fight for that right was won.

I am grateful that my employment is protected–that I can’t be laid off if I choose to get married and that I can’t be laid off due to pregnancy. Because (hopefully) there will come a time when those protections will apply to me, and they haven’t always existed.

Along the same line, I am grateful that I have had equal access to education. There is no one limiting the educational level I can achieve, and I don’t have to go to an all-women’s college. Look back at history. That’s huge.

In my senior year, I spent the better part of a semester researching the Battered Women’s Movement. Which means that I spent the better part of a semester alternately crying and angrily tossing my notebook onto library tables, floors, my bed, desks… because how on earth could society have okayed the things that went on? How could there actually have been legislation that allowed men to abuse their wives? Do you realize that legislation protecting women from spousal abuse didn’t start to appear until the late 1960s? That legislation allowing women to divorce abusive husbands didn’t start appearing until the 1970s? That a lot of these measures were not actively enforced until the 1980s? And the systems of protection are still incredibly broken. Some of the measures meant for protection have actually done more harm than good. But I digress.

I’m grateful that I live in a country that guarantees me the freedom to be a dissenting voice. But I do my utmost to be respectful toward those with whom I disagree. I am conservative politically, and I hold pro-life views. There are those who would argue that due to those opinions, I cannot be pro-women. I exercise my right to respectfully disagree.

I’m relatively happy with the state of women’s rights in the USA. That doesn’t mean I think that things are perfect. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can be improved. For those things, I will write and place calls to my representatives in government. Nothing strikes me as being terrible enough to go marching through the streets, certainly not waving linguistically explicit signs, and definitely not wearing a…hat…on my head. You know what hats I’m talking about. But I respectfully recognize the right of other women to come to the conclusion that things are bad enough to march, and they have the freedom to wave their signs and wear their hats. We have all made personal decisions and come to different conclusions.

I do not feel the need to disparage men in my quest for equity and independence. It frustrates me greatly when women complain that chivalry is dead, then turn around and beat down the men in their lives. Or the random man on the street who was just trying to be polite. That is counterintuitive. You ought not complain about the death of chivalry if your words and actions are killing it.

I do not feel the need to disparage other women who choose to be stay-at-home moms. The whole point of women’s rights is the ability to make the choice. Some women choose to be professional moms. I was raised by one. She made the choice to make her family her career, and I am grateful.

Me with my mama after she surprised me for my performance of Handel’s Messiah

Other women maintain a balance between full or part-time careers and raising a family. Other women elect to pursue careers rather than starting a family. I don’t feel the need to look down on women who make choices that I wouldn’t. God gives different people different strengths and places people in different positions.

And that brings me to a few ways the church can work on supporting women.

It has been my experience that churches are some of the most judgmental places on the planet. This saddens me, because we have every reason to show love and joy!

I know, I know. You don’t want to put your “ok stamp” on sin. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about putting a stamp of approval on things that are clearly wrong. You don’t need to (and biblically, should not) support the use of illegal drugs, extra-marital sex, or homosexuality. But you do need to be kind. You don’t need to have a “come as you are, stay as you are” mentality, but you do need to be kind. You don’t need to excuse the sins of other believers (or your own sin), but you do need to be kind. You don’t need to avoid the truth. But you do need to be kind.

I’m going to say this one more time to make sure we get this. You need to be kind. You know, speaking the truth in love. Like the Bible says.

Christian, you say you’re pro-life, but are you willing to open your heart and home to an unwanted child?

Me with my littlest sister, whose adoption will be finalized this Friday. It’s been a long two years. I’ll write more about this on Friday.

How do you treat single moms? No, seriously, if a single mother walked into your church on Sunday morning, would your first instinct be to walk over, introduce yourself and get to know her like a normal human being? Or would she be greeted by cold stares and awkward silence? Would you invite her to take a seat next to you, or would she be left on her own, sitting in the back of the church? Is it any wonder that women feel so compelled to argue, fight, and protest in graphic ways for their reproductive rights?

I do not like, nor have I ever liked, the way stay-at-home moms look down on working moms, or how working moms look down on stay-at-home moms. Yes, it is a two-way street. Stay-at-home moms look down on working moms for not focusing on their family, exchange knowing glances when the working mom shows up to Bible study with ketchup stains on her shirt, dragging a whiny, messy-faced toddler by the hand. “If she would just quit work and focus on her family, maybe she could finally get it together.” And the working moms judge stay-at-home moms for giving up their careers, not advancing their personal goals. “It’s like those women don’t even know what century we live in, like they actively choose to be ignorant and have nothing to do but dress their children in perfect little outfits, cook Pinterest-worthy dinners, and gossip about me being a hot mess.” Don’t act like this isn’t going on. I’ve been watching and listening to it for years, and the meanspiritedness of it makes me want to avoid women’s ministries like the plague. Think about that the next time you go through the fruits of the Spirit or Proverbs 31.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Jesus Himself summed it up best. Love God and love others. Women are human beings created in the image of God. It’s time we remembered that. It’s time that we stopped tearing down the women in our congregations, and it’s time we showed actual love and actually ministered to the women outside our congregations.




It Just Got Real, People!

Six months into a master’s degree. I am roughly 3/8ths of the way done. And I thought undergrad went by quickly. Life currently consists of writing papers about other peoples’ papers. And making arguments based on said papers in order to get approval for research of my own so that I can write a paper of my own so that future generations of grad students will (hopefully) cite my paper. This is the cycle of American academia.

Six months in, and I barely have time to notice that time is passing. And suddenly everything is due. And suddenly, we’re talking about comps and IRB approval. No wonder none of this has felt real–I haven’t actually noticed anything since August.

My social life is a shambles. I have no idea what year in school anyone is, or who’s graduating when. If you changed your major, I promise I never heard about it. I have no idea who is dating whom anymore, or who is getting married when. Last week was Bible Conference, so there were no classes, and in-between services and hours of work, I ran into people I had completely forgotten about. I am a terrible friend and an even worse acquaintance.

“You didn’t know so-and-so and what’s-their-name were a thing? Please, everyone saw that coming!”

No, I didn’t, because I’m at work, or in classes, or I have my nose stuck to my computer screen in order to read somebody’s dissertation. They’ll most likely be broken up by August anyway.

Or there’s this conversation:

“Hey, stranger, haven’t seen you in forever!”

“Oh hey, yeah, I know, I’m always at work or in class. How’s the engineering life?”

“Well, I changed my major to humanities…”



I’m beyond grateful for my classmates. These people who are in the same boat with me. Who joke about the same things. Who have to accomplish the same things in the same amount of time.

Yeah, we’re probably only hilarious to ourselves. That’s ok.



Grad life is better with these people around.



My thesis project committee chair has just been assigned. I found out in an email on Thursday.

I might have involuntarily emitted a high-pitched squeak of surprise and terror. I’M NOT READY!!!!!

In that moment, I realized–maybe for the first time–that I really am doing this thing. Time really is passing, stuff really is getting done, and I really am earning an M.A. Wow. Just how exactly did I get here?!

I have a research proposal ready to go. In the next week, it will be joined by an interview guide and consent form, then sent off to the IRB so that I can get approval to use my research from this semester’s project in my actual thesis. Oh, and if it goes through, my thesis research will already be halfway done before the end of this semester. Still not sure how I got here.

It’s actually happening. What began as a passing thought in sophomore Mikayla’s brain has become current Mikayla’s life. Time is passing, things are getting done, and I am 3/8ths of the way through.

It’s getting real, people.