Present Ghost

Telling stories



The Expense of Hope

My husband’s grandmother turned 92 last week, and while we sat next to each other on the couch, she rubbed the kicking baby beneath my skin.  I wanted her to feel that squirming little life, because she can’t hear or see well. After our unborn daughter rolled inside me, Louise told me she’d live to see her next great-grandchild. Because I’ve cauterized a lot of the outlets of my emotion in the last two years, I made a joke.

“You said that last time, Louise. I think I’m done having kids. You’re going to have to find something else, because we want you around.”

I’m not hopeful like I used to be. It’s embarrassing, but it takes so much faith to believe something you want, something you work and wait and pray for, will actually happen. Hope gets whitewashed as flippant wishing, but committing to waiting for the possibility of disappointment is excruciating and exhausting. Continue reading “The Expense of Hope”

When we live stories we should hate


One of the most memorable stories in the Bible for me comes from 2 Samuel 12, when Nathan, a prophet, goes to David to tell him an important story about an unjust man.

David, appalled by this man’s wickedness, swears he will punish him. That’s when Nathan finally clues him in:

“You are the man!”

The story about the evil man is about him, and what David perceived as a report of an impersonal crime committed somewhere in his kingdom reflected reality in his home, and sins in his heart.

We can read all day about racism and white supremacy and think it distant, but if we never ask how it would be possible that God might also send us prophets to reveal that we, too, are guilty, then we miss something. We are destroying ourselves.

Continue reading “When we live stories we should hate”

When I found the iron that sharpened me, and he dropped “f” bombs at church

photo by Kendall Lane

Having grown up in the church, I knew the rules about dating long before giving out my first phone number. First, and most important, I had to find a Christian to date. When I found one in youth group or young adult Bible study, we would both abstain from premarital sex while we built the foundation of a healthy relationship that would carry us through marriage. At worst, it would end in an amicable breakup because God was leading us elsewhere. It seemed so straightforward.

Looking back, I find that idea laughable not because I don’t think that’s a good plan, but because that wasn’t my experience. Dating was complicated, especially when the Christian label was just that: a tag for people, including me, to wear to look like we were doing the right thing. For me, it got even more confusing when I found dating non-Christians easier and safer. Yet by the time I decided I had to get serious about finding a Christian spouse, I was sure most Christian guys I pursued would find me too bitter and heavy with emotional damage to risk a date.

As mentioned previously, I always knew I was supposed to date Christians, and committed ones, too — no rookies. I thought being “equally yoked” meant finding a cradle Christian who knew Bible stories and went to church camp (2 Corinthians 6:14). Non-believers, naturally, were out of the question. Despite believing this, I mistrusted it before I was allowed to date. At 15, I discovered the hard way that too many Christians aren’t all that different from non-Christians, and it disappointed and frustrated me to know that I wasn’t safe around someone just because he said he was a believer and played in a worship band. If a Christian would take what he wanted from me without my permission, why would I differentiate him from the vast group of potential mates out there?

Continue reading “When I found the iron that sharpened me, and he dropped “f” bombs at church”

Me, and the baby riding shotgun



A tiny gray-and-orange onesie and leggings paired with a little fox hat hangs in my closet in front of my husband’s dress shirts. The tag tells me it’s for babies anywhere from zero to three months, and it’s the only baby outfit I have, which makes sense. My child isn’t here yet. Every time I pass the outfit, I touch it. Sometimes I smile at it, and sometimes I pick it up and spread it on the floor to talk about names with my husband. I hang it in that spot in the closet because I need a reminder that not everything about becoming a mom has to be overwhelming. On an especially bad day of morning sickness recently, I took some bibs with me to put in my car for my commute to work. I patted them and held the soft fuzzy part between my fingers. After only a couple of months into the pregnancy, I find that I needed to keep symbols of my unborn child to remind me to pray, and it’s helped when I’ve been unable to subdue my fears.

People have encouraged me to journal about pregnancy so that one day I may share with my child all my precious hopes and cute stories from the months preceding birth.

I’ve never been good at cute.

Telling your kid that you mulled over aborting it isn’t exactly what all those pregnancy books and good friends probably had in mind.

At times, I think about how I could still get an abortion. This could be over, if I really wanted it to be.

I feel terrible for that, but I’ve decided not to worry much about having homicidal thoughts toward that blueberry-sized cluster of cells that has been turning me into a sluggish, exhausted, moody, and uncomfortable person.

Continue reading “Me, and the baby riding shotgun”

Not my own

Not my own

Illustration courtesy of Seth T. Hahne. Check out Seth’s graphic novel and comic review site, Good Ok Bad.

I wrote an essay for Christ and Pop Culture about how a lifelong struggle with body image and worth would never get better unless I could begin to grasp that I’m not my own.

This is out there because I thought someone might need it, and because no matter what I do, some part of this story will make it into most of my personal writings, whether or not it’s explicit.

Here is an excerpt:

“An abandoned aluminum foil container next to my sandbox provided me with my first razor when I was 4 years old. The box had been left outside after a cookout. At first, I was intrigued by its teeth. Then, after I pricked my finger, I couldn’t believe it. I was bleeding, and it didn’t hurt badly. Running my fingers across the sharp row again, I discovered I could cause and contain my own hurt. I didn’t need to cry, and no one saw me.

That incident taught me a lie that has haunted me ever since: My sadness is singular, and my body worthless.”





I hadn’t seen Dial glycerin soap since I was in grade school, so when I did I could almost taste the imitation raspberry flavor. I grinned, remembering being eight years old and holding onto this little secret: it didn’t taste all that bad. My mother said I had to sit on her toilet think about mouthing off and cussing at my older sister. Instead of thinking about losing my temper or using bad language, I compared the soaps I’d tasted over my cursing career. Continue reading “Soap”

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