About Emily

midwestern belle, Episcopal priest.

What does pro-life look like?

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Churches, let alone businesses, that actually support families are so, so rare. No wonder birth rates are dropping in the US, and no wonder women feel they have no alternatives. When taking a shower or keeping a child alive seems like a mutually-exclusive decision, those of us with babies truly look insane. I wonder if it’s not our own insanity so much as it is the insanity and disregard that our society hath wrought. It took this situation in my own life today to open my eyes to the struggle of (most often) mommas and families in our society (in a very, very small way):

Husband has been gone for the better part of two weeks, toddler is not real happy about that reality (let alone Momma), and six-months’-gestated baby brother couldn’t care less about the whole thing, he just wants to dance, and pump nauseating hormones around his momma’s veins all day and all night. 

Said Momma has developed tension headaches from storing the stress of these weeks in her shoulders and neck. Our bodies hold on to stress and to emotion in all kinds of ways, and recognizing how it happens to you can be a key to “surviving well” (a phrase I trademarked with my therapist yesterday, because that is exactly what being a working mom with a toddler and gestating child is about).

Rather than suffering in headaches for the rest of the month during Husband’s absence, she took action: called up to get a massage post-haste. The only available slot was 7:15pm the next day — cue texting possible sitters. Telling the masseuse that I’d have to find a sitter before I could commit to the slot — tire screech — she said, “Bring him along if you want, I can set up the room with toys to keep him busy.” 

This business will not only work out my tight tight tight muscles, but will let me *bring my child with me* while she does so.

My child exists (!) and (currently, as a two-year-old) needs constant supervision; this doesn’t mean that I must hide him away or pay someone to entertain him if I want to care for this swollen, achey body. My child’s care and my own health are not mutually exclusive. Reader, this was a revelation.

Caring for my family and caring for my body are not necessarily at odds. 

All it requires — which, granted, is totally counter-cultural and requires a sea-change for society — is thinking of, considering, and committing to not just a Momma paying someone to work out tense shoulders, but committing to her whole family, in a way, committing to the health, safety, and thriving of the whole community, of which the business, the Momma, the traveling Husband, the clingy toddler, and even the gestating son, are all constituent parts.

Off to consider how to make my own spheres of influence, my church and my hoped-for yoga classes, to be truly welcoming to families, especially to little children (and their hard-working caregivers).  Any ideas? Share below.

The God Made Known in Jesus Christ

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Imagine this: you should have gone to bed hours ago. Either you missed that sleepy window, or some worry keeps you up, or you went to sleep, only to wake again. In the dark of your home, or in the humdrum of a hospital room, you flick on the television, and its glow fills the air around you. At 3am, there aren’t too many options for viewing, there are the reruns of a popular show from yesteryear, the syndicated reality series, or someone trying to sell something with their bright eyes and energized flailing of arms. They’re testifying to a life changed by the exercise equipment, they’re giving their witness to the saved produce in their fridge with this one special contraption, they’re lauding the time regained with the meditation books-on-tape.

False gods are like infomercials. They want to make an easy path out of your problems, but first they want your money and your belief and perhaps even your firstborn. Basically what any god except the one made known in Jesus Christ says is this: “if you give me this, that, and the other thing, then I will provide for you whatever it is that you think you want most.” Continue reading

A Vision of Light

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Growing up, we used Fiestaware plates at home every day. Growing up, I had a daybed in my bedroom, the kind that went along the wall long-ways and had three sides, with a trundle bed underneath it. Growing up, we had a hammock in the backyard, and Saturday was always bathroom-cleaning day. Growing up, my mom drove a Volvo station wagon.

If you’ve been to the vicarage, as Jordan likes to call it, or to the Hylden Haus, as I refer to it, you will have seen that we, too, use those sturdy, colorful Fiestaware plates. If you took a look in our garage, you would see that we have a daybed frame, though it doesn’t fit in our house right now; last summer, before some kids helpfully demonstrated its insufficient anchoring, we had a hammock in our backyard, and when I manage it, I still clean the toilets on Saturdays. Any of you can look outside and see right now, that I drive a Volvo station wagon. You may think you’re becoming your mother or your father, but I’ll give you a run for your money. Continue reading

Recycling Stones

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We’re marching through Ephesians these six weeks in the summer, reading the letter as if it is addressed to us, just like they would have done in the house church in Ephesus back in the first century. Indeed, as part of Scripture, this letter is addressed to us, and reveals in practical and in sometimes-heady terms the vision that God has for his people on earth.

Two weeks ago, in chapter 1, Fr. Jordan preached about Jesus Christ as the foundation of the church. The uniqueness of Jesus as the revelation of God is why we start every Sunday service with “Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” — at the very beginning of our time together in worship, we all agree by saying out loud, “Okay, y’all, this is who we’re all here for, right? Jesus is what we’re all about.” Jesus Christ the foundation upon which all else in our lives, in the church, in discipline, in mission, in knowledge, and in love, is built.

Last week, I preached on Ephesians 2, highlighting the counter-cultural grace that defines people and communities who follow this God made known in Jesus. Wherever God’s people are found, there is a community of grace, of forgiveness, and of reconciliation. God’s grace makes room for mistakes and accounts for evil, knowing that each person succumbs to temptation. With this acceptance that humanity is incapable of being perfect, either there is permanent isolation and rejection of others, when someone is inevitably wronged, or, as we hear in the Gospel and see practiced in Jesus’s life and the lives of Jesus followers throughout time, there is grace. Allowing people to own their darkness and giving people a chance to renounce it, that is grace. That is seeing a whole person for who she is, and loving her despite her faults. Part of that love is helping and supporting her to admit her faults and seek to do right in the future. Continue reading

The Light of Grace

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I heard a story this week that has been haunting me ever since. It wasn’t the contours of the story itself, or the characters in it, but what I wonder the story might reveal about how we humans tend to be when left to our own devices, and by extension, how it is that God through his revelation in Jesus Christ calls us to live as his transformed creation.

So it’s the story of a girl in the punk rock scene in Richmond, Virginia. I didn’t even know there was still punk rock, and I surely didn’t know there were enough people in Richmond who into punk rock, or what’s sometimes also called “Hardcore” music, in order to form a group or a scene, a subculture. But! Surprise, there are. Here’s what happened. Continue reading