new to you friday–peace and quiet

Phyllis Tickle, founder of the Religion department at Publishers Weekly and author of many books including the Divine Hours series, a collection of prayers for seasons of the year and of church life, spoke at this year’s Q conference in Chicago. I wasn’t able to attend (by the way, if anyone wants to pay my way to next year’s event, I won’t say no) but based on the tweets coming from my friends who did, she had a number of good things to say about spiritual practices like fasting, communion, sabbath and fixed-hour prayer.

As I noted in the original post, there is a growing …


finding myself stuck

Somehow I have reached the age of 34 without knowing who I am.

Remember that scene in the movie “Runaway Bride” when Julia Roberts’ character Maggie realizes she doesn’t even know how she likes her eggs? I can relate.

For instance, I spent Memorial Day weekend in New York City with my brother and sister-in-law. I adore New York: the subways, the museums, the food, the parks, the newsstands with beautiful flowers, the ability to buy 14 kinds of olives at 2 a.m. I found myself wondering if perhaps I should have moved there, instead of Nashville, a few years …


flooded with blessings

This post brought to you by Facebook and a flood.

My friend Amy recently wrote, “Jen, I would love to read your thoughts on this: if we live happily and comfortably, should we be thankful to God for it or should we be on red alert because it probably means we’re not sacrificing enough? And I’m not talking about being ‘rich,’ per se, I’m talking about simple stuff like having a refrigerator and clean water and an extra set of sheets and towels and more than one pair of underwear…that sort of thing. I never know if I should be joyful or nervous when I realize I’m comfortable and happy…!”

And …


new to you friday–seasons of love

In the last 12 years I’ve lived in four different states (for those of you playing at home: Pennsylvania, Ohio, California and Tennessee). This wanderlust + lots of friends and family members who also move around = a community of loved ones around the country (and a really messy address book).

Two years ago I wrote about the gratitude I feel for these friendships. I still feel that way—there is simply nothing like old friends who knew you then and still love you now.

Problem is, that was two years ago. I am now two years older, I’ve lived in Nashville two years longer, and I have two more friends …


pray anything?

I haven’t received one “yes” to a prayer in five years.

Clarity about whether to leave California? Guidance about which professional avenues to explore? Opportunities to be proactive and positive in a negative situation? Improvement of my physical health? A spiritual breakthrough with an atheist boyfriend?


On the other hand, I’ve received many blessings I never asked for: the health and safety of my loved ones. A good church and new friends in Nashville. More freelance work than I really have time for.

Needless to say, this causes me to ask questions.

For one, was I asking for the wrong things? They all seem like healthy and God-honoring requests to me.

And was I asking …


home page

backAfter dating Nashville for two years, I’m making a commitment and buying a house. Look, isn’t it fun? This is the back yard, complete with a sunroom and mature elm, cedar and maple trees. I get the keys in just a few weeks and will spend much of my summer hauling stuff across town and getting settled; I hate moving but after two cross-country versions this will be a cinch.

Ironically, the down payment for this commitment comes from the money saved for my wedding. Not all the money—my mom insisted we hold a little back so there’s enough for a …


easter dress

I have learned a few things during my two years in Nashville: Vegetables are not considered “done” until they are cooked to the consistency of baby food. The correct pronunciation of that major street downtown is Dee-MON-bree-un. Some people actually enjoy NASCAR. And Easter Sunday calls for new clothes and a big hat.

5196931ad98a7f9bda5757f2c78ada81I’ve also learned about Tennessee’s rather unusual attempt to cut down on DUIs—these “I am a drunk driver” vests. Three years ago we became one of the few states to vote a “shame law” on the books requiring first offenders to clean up litter from busy roadways while …


read letter

I’ve already written about the scolding note I received in response to a recent Buzz column, and the magazines that appear even though I never subscribe. (I now receive Fortune magazine, too, for no apparent reason. It’s like there’s a contest among publishers to send the periodical with the least relevance to my life. Next I’ll start getting Bowhunting World.)

Yesterday the mail-pattern-weirdness continued when I returned from Christmasing and found a two-page letter hand-addressed to me and signed by someone named Olu.

“I am a brother here in Nashville,” he writes. “My motivation for writing you today is simply to pray for you. I am a member …


peace and quiet

Authors like Brian McLaren and Robert Webber have written about “ancient-future” worship and spiritual practices. Many churches have added more contemplative vespers or chapel services in addition to the guitars and SermonSpice videos on Sunday morning, and Taize prayer services have started to pop up everywhere from the Unitarians to the Presbyterians.

Clearly, there is a growing desire for simpler, quieter worship options, even (especially?) among the younger generations. Is this symptomatic of larger doctrinal shifts, or simply the inevitable pendulum swing after years of the other extreme in American worship?

I’m guessing both, but for me it’s simply an opportunity to be still …


This month is going by in a blur. I’m only home in Nashville for two weeks of it, much of that time in two or three day increments, and I was bummed to miss the meditative service at St. Bart’s and the Festival of Lessons and Carols at Scarritt-Bennett. Although I still regret missing those worship experiences this year, Thursday night more than made up for it.

18 months ago a group from Fellowship Bible Church visited Kenya and left wishing they could do more for the people there. Because FBC is home to many of the top artists, studio musicians, and producers in Nashville, it wasn’t long before they …