All the Babies Who Weren't Moses


Hush baby hush,
sleep baby sleep,
God will take care of you

My preschooler turns the pages of his Bible storybook, convinced he's reading what he actually just has memorized. Isn't the story of David and Goliath every little boy's favorite- promising him that children can be braver than grownups, and more powerful than they feel? Mine is no exception. But in a close second place is this one: The story of Moses, his namesake.

Another page turn, and back to the refrain.

Hush baby hush,
sleep baby sleep,
God will take care of you

His little mouth (so much like his daddy's) forms the words into the most innocent of sounds, rhythmic and lispy. A baby. A basket. A mother who dares to take a risk. A close call. An act of compassion. A proof of not only the goodness of God, but of humanity as well. It's touching and it's lovely and it's all the right things.

Except complete.

My own little Moshe doesn't read about the Hebrew baby boys who didn't share our hero's fate; he doesn't need to know, let him stay little a few years more. But it beats through my head like a drum as I look at the smiling cartoon pictures: I hear all the mothers wailing the cries of which Jochebed was spared, see all the tiny carnage of a deranged king's fear. I can barely think of it long before it becomes too much and I have to look away.

The Bible is nothing if not honest about evil, both the force outside of us and that sometimes found within our very own hearts. But we dine on Scripture like the choosiest of patrons, moving our forks right over the unpalatable parts and letting the savory go down smooth. Chase it with a Cabernet, for good measure. We exalt voices who assure us that God wants to "bless us" with financial security, easy relationships, and a comfortable life. We read verses like Jeremiah 29:11 to mean if we do it all right, we are guaranteed those things- or worse yet, that we deserve them.

In college, I had a runner friend who was convinced that God had promised him an Olympic medal. Now, in my mid-thirties, it sounds laughably ridiculous but at the time we drank it down seriously- maybe with a bit of awe on the side. It wasn't that I felt no skepticism, but that I had never met anyone so confident in God's favor. It was admittedly attractive.

Most of us aren't walking around making claims such as my old friend's (to my knowledge he never went to the Olympics), but the same spirit can usually be found given one quick sweep of our hearts. Our version of Christianity so often becomes an expectation of replaying the narrative of Jochebed and Miriam, and we forget about all the babies who weren't Moses.

I don't know what it's like to lose a baby, but I listen to the inconsolable grief of friends who do. I don't know what it's like to be a child who sleeps in a bed a grown man slithers into every night, but I know there are a disproportionate number of little girls who do. I've never witnessed the devastation when hurricanes strike, the earth quakes, or wildfires burn, but I know people all over the globe today are numbly trying to survive the hand they've been dealt.

But I know a little bit about praying for healing and seeing none over and over again, and the paradigm shift in your brain as you are forced to confront what you thought you were sure about God. I know a little about circumstances you're convinced are more than you can bear, and of crying out to the Great Silence from the confines of your closet where no one else can hear.

I have known a God who feels intimately near me and I have known One who won't lift a finger to stir the pot. I have known divine intervention and I have known the perils of free will, and I yo-yo daily about what it all means. Maybe there is no physical throne that He's either on or off; maybe He is simply the love that propels subatomic particles through time and space, the goodness that passes between skin cells when one human shows compassion on another. Maybe the idea of easy Sunday answers fails to hold up against suffering and mystery, and all that is left is to trust in the existence of mercy, pooling black around us, dark as freshly shed blood.

Maybe there is only Emmanuel, God with us. And maybe that could be enough.

Preparing for Advent


Believe it or not, the countdown to Advent is on. (PSA: It always starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas- which this year is December 3rd- not always on December 1st.) I personally seek ways to be more spiritually disciplined during that season and have found that having a guide to work my way through it helps that tremendously, as I am not a disciplined or even particularly self-motivated person. So I am chomping at the bits to get to share this year's Blessed Is She Advent Prayer Journal with you lady friends (sorry gents, better luck next time).

In case you're new or simply didn't know, I am one of a few dozen writers for Blessed Is She, which is a ministry for Catholic women that hopes to foster Scripture-centered prayer and community. (There are also a significant number of non-Catholics represented, who I get the pleasure of hearing from frequently. Hi guys!) BIS is a grassroots ministry founded and organized by visionary women who I am lucky to call friends. I'm naturally skeptical of big, shiny things but guys, BIS is the real deal: No untouchable hierarchy, no icky business practices, just ordinary women serving women with sincere hearts- not perfectly, but following Jesus as best they can. I absolutely love being a part of it.

Okay, sheesh. Dry your eyes, woman, and tell us about Advent.

I didn't lift a finger on the Advent 2017 Prayer Journal but I feel incredibly loyal to it because dear friends of mine did. Laura Fanucci wrote it, and she is one of the most gifted wordsmiths that I know. Erica Tighe of Be A Heart painted the cover and the hand lettering. And a host of other friends did the editing and behind-the-scenes work.

If only it were gorgeous.

Why am I telling you about this in October? Because they always, always sell out. If you think this is something that could benefit your Advent season, it's best to order sooner rather than later.

(And just a reminder, if you have a Blessed Is She membership you will get the journal auto-shipped to your door. No need to order!)

There are a few other special Advent products in the Blessed is She Shop as well, so I'll go ahead and give you a moment to swoon over those too. (Click the photos to view in the shop. All products are handcrafted, printed, and shipped right here in the U.S.A.)

Not Advent-related but a BIS project I actually worked on, our Blessed Conversations small group study guide series, is available on the website now too! There are seven of these babies, and each one explores a different part of the Catechism. I was honored to be asked to write all of the reflections for the series on the Our Father prayer, and I'm really happy with how it came out.

These are super simple: just download, print, and get together with one friend or twelve, one night a week or so and discuss! No prep work required. (And although the goal is to get women wrestling through faith in real-life community, if that doesn't feel possible these guides do still work for an individual.)

I hope you guys have a rich Advent season, and if these resources aren't what you need to get there I hope you find something that is exactly right for you! I just know that so often best-laid plans fall by the wayside without tangible handrails to keep us on track. And bonus points if those handrails are beautiful, am I right?

We just got word that The Catholic Journaling Bible our design team has been working on is available for pre-order! It's being published by Our Sunday Visitor and is scheduled to be shipped out in January. Click the link or photo for more details.

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Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)