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About Stephanie Phillips

Wife, mom, dentist, writer, New Yorker, Southerner, Sydneysider, believer, sinner, overall case study in contradictions. @stephsphillips www.plansinpencil.com

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    Good Luck With That Self-Sufficiency You Speak Of

    Jesus invited us to a dance, but we have turned it into a march of soldiers. – Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom One of my favorite parts of the daily liturgy I read comes at the beginning of the evening liturgy, which I always read at some point in the afternoon–a time when I’ve exhausted […]

    Tell It Like It Will Be: On the Only Word that Matters

    A friend and I ran into each other at the park recently and started talking, from a safe distance, about the weirdness of life right now. “Do you ever have a moment of shock where you just can’t believe this is all happening?” I asked her. She nodded, then said, “I wonder if people will […]

    The Light Changes (Everything)

    Last week I had a panic attack. Isn’t that cute? Pulled in one direction by my eldest son, pulled in another direction by my youngest—pulled apart within minutes by the greater fragmentation caused by this extraordinary time: my own identity overshadowed by the new ones I’ve had to assume, these roles of full-time third-grade teacher, […]

    Compassion, Connection, and the Singular “With” of the Gospel

    “Now we have the privilege of seeing what only God can do.” – Ray Ortlund, quoting his friend Alfred Dickson Our eight-year-old woke up the other morning beside me, because that is our life right now, and in his half-asleep haze murmured, “This is the best time.” He was talking about that moment, which is […]

    Life in the Time of Coronavirus: What to Do in Quarantine

    With the fate of our world currently resting in the hands of infectious disease expert Mike Pence (just kidding! It’s still in God’s hands), life seems to be hanging by a thread. Or a square of toilet paper, if you will, which is something I just bought a 24-pack of as it was unloaded off […]

    Sitting Shiva for Kobe: On the Complicated Nature of Grief, and Humans

    If there’s anything the movie This Is Where I Leave You taught me — besides that Tina Fey should not do accents — it’s about shiva, the Jewish tradition in response to the death of an immediate family member. I’d heard of shiva before but for the first time saw it dramatized in the film, […]

    The World Is Always Burning

    “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” – Frederick Buechner Warning: extremely first world problems dissected ahead. Sydney is burning. And I don’t like my house. These problems are not equal, but they are both real. The rest of the world has finally caught on to what people in […]

    The Death of Curiosity: On Information Cocoons and the Frights of Surprise

    On September 11, 2001, I became a cable news junkie and would be crippled by the addiction for the next decade and a half. I remember sitting in the breakroom at my dental school with the other students, watching footage played and replayed of the planes hitting the towers, of the devastation at the Pentagon […]

    Lie Down and Die: The History of Miserable Motherhood (and an Unmapped Plug)

    “I declare if I tho’t I was to be thus occupied for the rest of my life, I would — I was going to say — lie down & die.” So wrote a new nursing mother Laura Wirt Randall in 1828, as quoted in the book Scarlett’s Sisters by historian Anya Jabour. To which we reply, […]

    The Breakdown Is Just the Beginning: Reese and Payton’s Rules for Life

    Recently, I was bequeathed a second-hand copy of Reese Witherspoon’s book, Whiskey in a Teacup, by a friend who knows my fraught relationship with all things Witherspoon/Hello Sunshine/Draper James. When said friend handed over the tome on the school playground, my eyes rolled even as my breath caught: the hot-pink cover (because OF COURSE it’s […]

    All the Life We Cannot See (and All the Death We Should Be Doing)

    Recently my four-year-old son has become obsessed with all things Hamilton: the musical, the person, the coffee table book I bought my husband and repurposed as a spontaneous gift for my boy, who flips through it daily and asks me to sing him the songs. He’s turned his older brother onto the soundtrack, which means […]

    We Were Made for Addiction

    There is an episode in season 3 of Sex and the City called “Are We Sluts?” and, as you can imagine, the premise involves Carrie sitting at her laptop contemplating whether she and her friends are too promiscuous. Away from the computer, Carrie wonders why her new love interest, Aidan, hasn’t yet initiated sex; Miranda […]

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