New Here?

I'm Going to Be Nothing: On Giving Up at a Christmas Pageant

I’m Going to Be Nothing: On Giving Up at a Christmas Pageant

When our daughter announced last week that she wanted to be “nothing” in the Christmas Pageant this year, I was like cool, cool. Totally fine. It’s just that you’re already assigned to be one of the angels. And you look like an actual angel. Oh, and your Dad is the minister at the church. But you do you, three year old.

So when the other kids were all, “I’m going to be a sheep! I’m going to be Mary!” our daughter was all, “Imma be nupping.”

This week I struggled with what I should bribe/threaten her with. I told…

Read More > > >

He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good…and Fills Your Stocking Anyway

He Knows If You’ve Been Bad or Good…and Fills Your Stocking Anyway

“Do you think Santa is actually real?”

My six-year-old asked my nine-year-old this question in the backseat of my car recently, and I tried to squelch the “of COURSE he is!” that was dying to escape from my throat.

The nine-year-old, who is the tallest innocent I’ve ever met, said that yes, he believed that Santa is real. The six-year-old had his hang-ups. “What would make you say that he isn’t?” I asked from the driver’s seat, imagining a list of logistical challenges that one man might have distributing gifts around the world.

Instead I got:

“I just can’t believe that he thinks we’re…

Read More > > >

The Very Persistent Pirate: A Thank You Note from Houston

Dear Mockingsupporters,

This isn’t a normal post. I’m not here to talk about the wonders of Martin Luther or to tell you that Advent could be more chill. I am writing to thank you.

Yesterday I visited our neighborhood school and talked with a room full of first graders about what it’s like to be a published author. This past fall, they worked for months writing and “publishing” their own books. The topics ranged from Pokémon to Cats to Jesus (“’cause it’s close to Christmas”). As St. Whitney profoundly sang, I do believe the children are our future.

I fielded questions about what it is like to be a published author. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you:

  1. Does your book have any explosions in it?
  2. Did you know that the Mockingbird is the state bird of Texas?
  3. I have a sister named Maddy.

Of course, in talking about being a published author, there was no way I could actually read from my own book. Not only is Churchy not public school safe, it’s not really “safe church” either. Besides, it didn’t seem like the place to offer the little girls a cautionary tale about the difficulties of being a mother and a priest.


When they asked me to spend some time with the kids I knew immediately the book I had to read: Mockingbird’s own The Very Persistent Pirate. It casts a picture of grace that is foreign to most of us in this frightening world. The Kid in the story keeps doing the wrong thing and the Pirate continues in his persistent generosity. They even have a party at the end. I needed to hear it more than the children did.

Plus, The Persistent Pirate has the word “booty” in it no less than 4 times. Which is a real riot when you are 7.

But these are not just any kids at any school. These are kids at a school in Houston. They are from neighborhoods that were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Harvey. Many of their houses flooded which meant that entire childhood libraries were lost. Many of you donated to make sure that every one of those first graders received their own copy of The Very Persistent Pirate. So thank you.

As one little girl exclaimed to me, “YOU MEAN WE GET TO TAKE IT HOME?!”

Yes. Yes you do.



Holidaze and the Prime Directive

Holidaze and the Prime Directive

‘Tis the season. The crush to sell-sell-sell for Thanksgiving starts the swirl of marketing that’s a buzz kill for many, if not most of us.

I look at the Starbucks cup on Nov. 1 and I cringe.

The essence of our humanity is distorted when it’s objectified in order to market product. The new Starbucks cup is simply lame. It only gets worse for many of us. It’s a boring cliche to moan about the WalMartization commodifying the Holidays, but assumptive pandering to our base instincts to sell this year’s Pet Rock is depressing.

Perhaps it’s because our tender parts are grotesqued by…

Read More > > >

Volunteering to Love My Kids and to Eat Donuts

Volunteering to Love My Kids and to Eat Donuts

This is the time of year when my email inbox becomes full of “invitations” for me to volunteer. We have our children in two different schools, with different ways of doing things. And there is a steady stream of electronic missives with subjects lines like: Fall Festival, Donuts with Dad, and Pep Rally. Which has got me thinking, aren’t women in my neighborhood thin enough? Why can’t we have donuts too?

It also has me wondering if I am the only mother completely overwhelmed by the onslaught of participation asks. It can feel that way. Is everyone signing up to bring…

Read More > > >

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

When I was a kid attending Sunday School in a very traditional Baptist church in the Midwest, we learned Bible stories… I became familiar with the regular cast of characters like Adam and Eve, Noah, David, Moses, etc. I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea; Adam and Eve ate an apple; David slew a giant (thanks to a relative who gifted me one Christmas with 12-inch David and Goliath action figures!). As a teen, I would learn that the book of Leviticus was all about how family members in the same house should not undress in the…

Read More > > >

The Cold Predictability of Law and the Utter Loving Chaos of Grace

The Cold Predictability of Law and the Utter Loving Chaos of Grace

In this week’s episode of Bad Theology and Good Intentions, a podcast/film/concept album I have no intention of actually creating, I read a friend’s post on social media in which she admitted grappling with her short temper around her kids. She cited having a newborn and a young toddler and not getting any sleep as contributing reasons for her blown fuse and confessed to yelling at her children and feeling horrible guilt about it. The flood of responses that followed were wholly supportive–but with an undercurrent of law. I saw verbal nudges to take a rest wrapped up by barely…

Read More > > >

Gethsemane Hospital: Our Interview with Ray Barfield

Gethsemane Hospital: Our Interview with Ray Barfield

Another glimpse into the Love & Death Issue, our interview with pediatric palliative care oncologist, Ray Barfield. Ray also teaches philosophical theology at Duke Divinity School. Tissues at the ready…

When you think of modern healthcare, what comes to mind? White hallways, beeping monitors, lots of nervous energy, little laughter? Whether or not you’ve had positive experiences there, it’s hard to deny that the hospital often feels far from home. Part of this is unavoidable—CAT scans and physical exams will always be intrusive. But, as Atul Gawande noted in his groundbreaking bestseller, Being Mortal, much of what makes medicine scary is…

Read More > > >

Singing Down

Singing Down

There is a tendency to portray the bedtime of small children as something idyllic: warm milk, brief books read aloud from memory, the tucking in, the easy descent to slumber, the uninterrupted rest following, the sweet dreams. And there is without doubt a specific holiness in the quiet of a room where a child sleeps—once the child of a certain age is truly asleep and no longer occupied by fear-of-missing-out should she close her eyes.

I have come to know this time of night in toddlerhood as the managed period during which a myriad of things happen: the brushing of teeth,…

Read More > > >

Dirty Pump Parts: A Mama's Muck and Mire

Dirty Pump Parts: A Mama’s Muck and Mire

I wonder if there will ever again be a time when my sleep cycles extend beyond three hours at a time. Having weathered this newborn season once before with Baby #1, I of course realize that this too (really) shall pass, but I nevertheless lament the lack of a full eight-hour-sleep these days. Each night I cross my fingers, say a prayer, and kiss my eight-week-old daughter goodnight, hoping for a bit of a longer stretch than the night before. At present, Katherine King (we’ve been calling her KK) lies swaddled and asleep in her crib across her darkened nursery….

Read More > > >

"Bring Your Baby to Hospice Day," by Sarah Condon

“Bring Your Baby to Hospice Day,” by Sarah Condon

The following is an excerpt from one of Mockingbird’s best-selling books, Churchy: The Real Life Adventures of a Wife, Mom, and Priest, by Sarah Condon. If you haven’t bought your copy yet…what are you waiting for?! Now available on Kindle and in paperback.

Parents today are raising a bunch of ice monsters. At least, that’s what the endless stream of articles explaining how to “teach” compassion seems to suggest. We are told to talk to our kids at eye level or to let them speak at great length about their feelings. We worry that we must train them to be emotionally…

Read More > > >

Recovery – Czeslaw Milosz

As Milosz’s biographer, Andrzej Franaszek, says:

“In the spring of 1943, [Czeslaw Milosz] wrote a cycle of twenty short poems entitled The World: Naive Poems . . . a sequence of little cameos from childhood, images which would not be out of place if hung above a tiny bed, showing a guardian angel watching over a child and its night-time journeying. . . . Here we have the world, discovered with the eyes of a child and, at the same time, as it ought to be, given to human beings to live in – a world filled with sacred order, as if the poet raised a building of sense in spite of the nightmare surrounding him [ in occupied Poland], setting existence against nothingness.”

Here’s one from those twenty, entitled “Recovery” (ht KW).

“Here I am–why this senseless fear?
The night is over, the day will soon arise.
You hear. The shepherds’ horns already sound,
And stars grow pale over the rosy glow.

“The path is straight. We are at the edge.
Down in the village the little bell chimes.
Roosters on the fences greet the light
And the earth steams, fertile and happy.

“Here it is still dark. Fog like a river flood
Swaddles the black clumps of bilberries.
But the dawn on bright stilts wades in from the shore
And the ball of the sun, ringing, rolls.”