Weekend Pith: Cleaning Slates

I always switch gears a little once September is about to come around. Obviously, that’s usually because school is starting, and even though my grad school is set up a little differently, there’s still a definite summer’s end and fall’s beginning. Should my plans for teacherhood pan out, my life will always be this way.

And I don’t really mind; Autumn is my favorite season, and I take joy in pausing and rerouting, in digging down and musing. Autumn always means a return to both physical coziness and heightened mental work. I love the interaction between the two.

This fall, I’m switching gears from my summer writing projects to my very different school-time one. Sometimes the transition can be jarring. I’m going from my work on a heady, multi-faceted mystery to continuing my draft of a more creative children’s novel. 

Obviously, this is a huge change, so every time I make the jump from adult lit to kid lit and back again, I let myself take a week off. I don’t work on any big writing projects. 

Of course, I periodically take unnofficial breaks in my writing, more than I’d like to admit. But this one is different. This is a break to make a break. This is a break to retool my mind, to pack up the old work and bring in the newer-old work. This break creates a separation and clean slate so I’m fresh and strong again.

Lots of things in life need little breaks, sometimes. I’ve taken breaks socially, spiritually, educationally, the list goes on. And I think it’s important to remember that sometimes the presence of a break does not mean the erasing of a certain part of your self, or a rejection of and falling away from what you are. Sometimes a break is just that, a separation and clean slate so you’re fresh and strong again.

Remember to take breaks. 

Learning to Paddle



I often feel like I’m playing against myself at life, trying to beat myself and emerge the winner.

I’ve always had these grand aspirations of being a good writer. I’ve always taken it for granted that I’ll be able to do it. When I used to tell people I was going to college for writing, I could never understand their quizzical looks.

“What kind of job can you get with that?” they’d ask.

“Um, lots of stuff,” I’d say.

“Are you going to teach?”

“Heck no. I’m going to publish books.”

“So you’re going to write the Great American Novel.”

Um, duh? I’d think, rather uncharitably.

(My hubris knows no bounds.)

So now I’ve graduated, and I’ve started grad school, and I’m entering the part of my life where those grand aspirations won’t come true unless I start doing something. I haven’t necessarily been a slouch these past few years, but neither have I written the Great American Novel (it’s currently under construction).

And while I’m breaking into the freelancing world little by little (for which I’m immensely grateful), I’m learning that my own worst enemy isn’t time or writer’s block or other people.

It’s myself.

But not in the way you think. While poor time management is a very common method of self-sabotage, time management is not how I’m my worst enemy.

I’m my own worst enemy when I assume I will fail.

I’ve been agitated since graduating, upset with myself for not going farther in the three months since I received my degree. I should be putting myself out there! Writing dawn til dusk! Publishing left and right! Getting a real job! But when life takes me a different, more quiet and unassuming direction, I get frustrated, because something in me fears that if I don’t paddle frantically, I’ll drown.

Trouble is, I’ve never been very good at paddling frantically. I’m just not the Type A, go-getter type. I’m naturally more deliberate and more thoughtful. I think this makes me a better writer in many ways (I notice the little things) and a worse one in others (okay, yes, time management).

But something I’ve learned is that writing is an organic thing. It lives and it grows in the way I least expect it. Sometimes I have to wait for life to happen before my writing gets better, because life marinates my writing and then writing marinates my life and they both need time to mature correctly. And I have to trust that God made me me, and He also made me a writer, and I have to work with who He made me and the life He gave me in order for anything I do to be worth a thing.

Also, I’ve learned that Comparison is a bitch. (Sorry, Comparison.) Comparison muscles preconceived notions of grandeur into places they don’t belong. Comparison is what makes me sure I’ll fail before I even try.

Comparison makes me lament the unique person, the unique writer, God made me to be. It makes me chase after some other person’s life until I feel God pulling me back to the more deliberate and thoughtful path He wants me on. I often sense Him bemusedly berating me. No, you idiot. Back here. Get back here!

(God and I have a very sassy relationship.)

I have to remember that the life I have is a good one. The life I have is the one that belongs to me. And if I live it well, if I live it gratefully, I won’t fail. Maybe it won’t look like my grand aspirations. Maybe I won’t write the Great American Novel. Maybe I’ll write the Great American Flop instead (but hey, I’d still be famous).

Goals are important. Hard work is important. But writing is also organic, just as life is organic. Sometimes relaxing my expectations is as important as making expectations in the first place.

I find peace in 1 Corinthians 7:17, which says, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” If this is my goal, I don’t have to fear mediocrity or failure. If this is my goal, failure is impossible.

(And seriously, Hannah. It’s only been three months. Give yourself a break.)



6 Things I’ve Learned from Being Married in College


As you know if you’ve read this blog in the past few months, I got married last June. My husband and I, however, are both still in college. I have less than a year to go for my Bachelor’s degree while he has over two.

Married college students are a rare sight. I know a few classmates who are in the same boat, but it’s unusual in our culture. Unfortunately, young marrieds are largely ignored or even chided as culture embraces young  unhindered singleness. While I agree that the single college years can be incredibly fulfilling, today I want to share six things that can be learned from being a young married student.


1. Life is Not the Same for Everyone.


Our society has road-mapped life to a T. Go to college, get a job, get married to your soulmate. But this is neither fair nor realistic. For as vocal as we are about individuality, why do we allow such a cookie-cutter life schedule to be imposed upon us?

I’ve learned that there’s not one life plan or lifestyle that’s inherently perfect. What’s a good choice for me isn’t a good choice for the next person. It’s okay to come to a point in your life where you decide that it’s the right time for something, not popular opinion. For us, it was getting married. We didn’t have everything planned, but we knew we loved each other and wanted to marry each other. It was the next logical step for us, and we took it.


2. Love is Not the Same for Everyone.


Our generation has this grandiose view of love in which you meet someone who gives you perpetual butterflies and after much angst you finally decide to marry them and live happily ever after. Cue harps and singing birds.

For us – and for a lot of people – love is simpler and stronger, bolstered by a deep friendship, commitment to shared convictions, and a healthy dose of Mike and Ike’s and Netflix.

Marriage, although it does radically change your life, does not signal the heavenly end of your life. You are still you, with your same faults and hopes and dreams, and so is your spouse. Life goes on.

Just because our life might not look like everyone says it should doesn’t mean something’s wrong with us, nor does it mean our life is less valuable. It simply means we have to figure out what marriage looks like for us in our unique situation.


3. I Need People So I Can Be Myself.


In our hyper-individualized society, admitting you need people is considered overly dependent, especially if you are a woman saying it of a man. We say things like “I just need to find myself” or “I need to love myself before I can love others”. While these attitudes may have a place, I think when taken too far they create isolation and selfishness.

The truth is that I cannot be a whole, well-rounded person without other people. Other people shape me, sharpen me, and soften me into an ever-better version of myself. This is especially helpful if, like me, you have trouble being yourself.

In marriage, having another person to show you a different perspective in life is rejuvenating. Now I have a built-in best friend who loves me unconditionally and encourages me to be myself. He shows me how to push myself and embrace life, and now I get out and try new things more as a married person than I ever did while single. I have the courage to explore the world because I know at the end of the day I will come home to my favorite person and we will talk about our discoveries together.


4. College is not designed for married couples.


This is a fact of life, one I’ve noted with resigned disappointment. The undergraduate system as it is now takes for granted that its students are unattached to anything but itself. It takes for granted that I live on campus and don’t need to clean up a house at the end of the day or that I will eat my meals in the dining hall instead of running home to cook. It demands that you be there for events, practices, and trips at the drop of a hat when you are trying to build a separate, independent life as a married adult.

That’s just the way it is, and acknowledging that puts us in a better place to work out how we juggle our various responsibilities as a couple. It gives us the chance to learn how to draw boundaries, manage our time, and to consciously make our relationship a top priority.


5. Money Will be Tight, and That’s Okay.


This is not a fun lesson, but in a way it’s kind of liberating. When you’re newlyweds in college, you just don’t have a lot of money. That’s what deters a lot of people because again, as a society we expect to have the lifestyle of forty-year-olds – complete with a house, car, and picket fence – as soon as we receive our college degrees. People don’t want to get married until they have a decent job and have paid off a decent amount of college loan.

For us though, getting married streamlined everything. His money and my money became our money, his savings and my savings our savings, his debt and my debt our debt. Instead of striving as individuals to make it financially, we can come alongside each other and work together toward a common goal. That helps us to stay responsible and accountable to each other and to learn together that life’s meaning is derived from relationships, not possessions.

We live simply, but comfortably, and we are sustained in ways we don’t fully understand. People have told us we’re lucky to be able to live so independently, and they ask how we do it. Honestly, we can’t answer. Each week, each month we find ourselves provided for by God in ways we never expected. We could try to be more logical and worry about it, or we could just live in peace in His provision. So we do the latter.


6. It’s totally worth it.


I’ll be honest; I was a little terrified when we got married. Vowing to commit the rest of your life to someone else is huge. But each day I grow in certainty that this was absolutely the best decision to make at this time in my life. I feel like I was born to be married. I love putting together a cozy home and cooking yummy food (apparently I’m pretty good) and sharing my life with the kindest, goofiest guy I know.

When people ask what it’s like being married in college, I most often say “it’s really fun!”, which is an odd way to put it. But it honestly is. You can’t live a life of fake martial arts face-offs, stuffed animal obsessions, and Disney movie character impressions and not have fun.

gif and fritz

And I know, as I’ve always known, that married life isn’t always fun. There are hurt feelings and misunderstandings and pet peeves and tears. Ironically, we seem to most hurt the people we most love. But it’s that amazing ongoing lesson of Christ’s love, that picture of God and His people that marriage is meant to sketch, that keeps our perspective steady. We respect and love each other as people, which allows us to love each other as a couple much more fully.


Obviously I wouldn’t encourage someone to go out and get married for the heck of it. But if you are at a point where you feel ready and yet society is squeezing you with its worries and expectations, know that you aren’t alone.

Getting married young isn’t for everyone. Staying single isn’t for everyone either. And that’s the point. There should never be pressure one way or the other, whether marriage is better or singleness is better. There should never be rolled eyes and raised brows. There should only be encouragement and respect in the myriad ways God chooses to plot out our lives.

Which, I suppose, is the seventh thing I’ve learned.

It’s Been Awhile

I want to be a blogger, I really do.
You wouldn’t know it by the frequency of my posts, but it’s true.
Life overwhelms, so many colors and flavors.
Some of them bitter and drab, others too sweet and bright.
And my very logical reaction is to curl up in a ball
and ignore every semblance of responsibility,
to cry like a tired child
who won’t admit she needs a nap.
This reaction may be logical, but it’s far from right.
And it takes me farther from who I want to be.
I – and we all – need to choose
what is important and what isn’t.
(The grownup word is pri-or-i-tize.)
And to pursue all that is lovely and pure,
And throw out that which hinders.
It’s been awhile since I’ve done that,
and it’ll be awhile until I get it right.
But it’s the only option.

Black Hole

Hello everyone!

I’m sorry that I didn’t post over the weekend; the week was exhausting, days just slipped by and I needed a bit of a break by the time Saturday rolled around! But I hope you all had a relaxing weekend!

Today I wanted to share a rather unusual poem that came from another misunderstood class assignment (it happens to me a lot apparently) in which we were supposed to describe a black hole in metaphors. So naturally, I went and wrote a poem instead. It’s a little raw, but you know, all writing is a work in progress, so here is


Black Hole


A black hole

is not so much something

as it is



It is a void

collapsing on itself

like a heart

full of fear.


It is gnawing

like an empty stomach

just before



It is black

(as its name does suggest);

an eye socket,

a snake’s nest.


It is empty,

yet filled to the brim with life

once lived,

with memories.


It is a window

with the glass knocked out, a

volcano, emptied

of magma.


It is the death

of birth, and the birth of death.

Such is that,

a black hole.


Hi everyone!

Fall break has started and I am ready for a long weekend! I will probably not post over the weekend as I usually do; weekends home are not nearly as boring as weekends at school, so I will have less time to post ;o) But here is a poem to tide you over until Tuesday. It’s more of  “whiney” poem, I suppose, than the others I’ve put on here. It came from some frustration I had yesterday about college, about the current education system that I consider to be flawed in many ways, flawed with good and bad intentions.

I do want to be clear that, while I may complain about college in the poem, I do not mean to reflect upon my particular school or the wonderful people who run it. I see the source of my frustrations as the education system itself, a broken and nonsensical game that we all play because we must. So with that in mind, here is

an impromptu poem, written in a fit of frustration and sleep-deprivation, and thus true college student poetry.




I am writing this on Friday night,

very late, and I am very very


Books lay at my feet,

books several inches thick,

which I will attempt to sell when I am through with them.

I was talking with someone today at college about college,

about how ridiculously expensive it is,

about how we are forced to learn what we are not studying,

for a well-rounded education

that we don’t desire,

because we have passions

that we have come to pursue.

I learned this week that I need two language classes

to satisfy the state.

They only offer Spanish but my heart was set on Russian.

I also need two gym classes

because, although I am an adult,

I do not know how to go to the gym by myself

(the three times a week I lift weights and kick-box don’t count).

My well-rounded education costs a five-figure sum,

which I can’t afford,

and which I will be paying for until my children are my age.

I am frustrated, to say the least.

But I am also conflicted,

because I do love to learn,

I love waking up and hearing bells toll

in the sandstone steeple where birds sleep.

I love sitting at a desk, jotting down notes,

while my world is expanded and my reality stretches.

I love being challenged and awed and inspired.

But there comes a tap on my shoulder;

the reality that stretched for me snaps back like a rubber band.

I must spend half my time on things I did not come here for,

I must ask the government to give me money,

I must learn my language and take my gym class.

I must do as I am told like a good little girl.

Because I must have a well-rounded education,

and I didn’t go to school twelve years before this at all,

so I have never learned math or science before.

My eyes have been opened!

How foolish of me to think

that my love of books is not well-rounded!

I must not only study literature,

because Geometry is enormously helpful when you are writing a book.

I must not only study poetry,

because Aerobics class is great for the metaphors.

I must not only learn to be a writer,

because when that fails (as they seem to assume it will),

my well-rounded education will keep me afloat.

They pat me on the head and give me a scroll,

a tassel on my hat and off I go,

head crammed with things I don’t remember,

with a price tag attached.

Now I mean something!

Now I am well-rounded.

It is not their fault, I know.

They do as they are told, like good little children.

So I do not mean to be rude,

because I am very grateful.

The opportunity I have

is a blessing.

But I am sick of playing games,

and I am very very