For Umbrellas, Anti-Racism, & Good Pastors - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 21

Hello from the first week of summer classes! I am so thankful that you are here with me, gentle reader, during this season of my life. Grad school is absolutely nuts. When the subject of said grad school is GOD, is even more nuts. And wonderful. And all-consuming. And exactly where I want to be. 

It is peculiar, this seminary thing that we do, but I count this path of theological education and spiritual formation one of the greatest gifts of my life--

If I survive, it is going to be so worth it. It might even be worth it even if I don't, to tell you the truth. 

Thanks for being here and for cultivating gratitude with me from whatever precious stage of life that you find yourself. God's all over it, you know? Your life, my life, our lives...God's here, wooing and loving us both.

How about that?

Let the #SevenGratitudes roll.

This week I am grateful...


For meeting my walking goals.

My Fitbit step-counter and I rekindled our relationship this week for the betterment of my overall health and well-being. Aaron and I both have hit our daily walking goals (when I first typed that I spelled “wailing” instead of walking; make of that what you will)! And it feels so good! And I have blisters! But that is okay!

Exclamation point!

In all seriousness, the walks have been restorative and encouraging. My legs are a little sore, actually, which both pleases and saddens me. I am happy to notice my exercise taking effect, but I am disappointed that I have let other demands this year drown out the needs of my own body; my leg pains speak of each time I chose to let something come between me and loving myself (and if I cannot love myself, who else can I hope to love?).

Several jaunts around my apartment complex this week have been about making up with my body. As I walked the labyrinth of our sidewalks and byways, my body and I worked through the regret of my negligence and moved toward repentance, healing, and peace—

Thanksgiving took root with each footfall. 


For umbrellas and their all-weather help.

Umbrella in the strawberry patch

We have had a lot of rainy and wondrously cool days this week, but today I had to take my trusty umbrella on my walk for another reason—to save me from sunburn!

Maybe you have not noticed, but I have some of the palest skin you will ever encounter. And it burns—quickly and easily! I learned early on that a “tan” is not worth the misery of crunchy, scaly lobster skin. However, I ain’t got time or money for Organic Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin every day of my life. Therefore, I reach for my trusty umbrella, rain or shine. ;)

Here’s me harvesting strawberries a few years ago under my umbrella. Aaron says I looked like a frog-turtle.

Umbrella in the sun


For snail mail between besties.

I may have spilled my ever-living guts to my best friend via snail mail this week. It was supposed to be a quick thinking-of-ya note, but turned into a HERE ARE ALL THE THINGS full-fledged letter. I am thankful for the fact that my bestie is the kind of person to receive such an epistle with love and laughter, and maybe a few tears with me and on my behalf.

I am also thankful that the letter took a life of its own. The things that came up for me needed to come up. The physical act of putting pen to paper helped with that, I think, pulling heavy thoughts to the surface with every squiggle and stroke. It also helped that the recipient is someone I trust with my life. 

I am thankful for the ways snail mail between best friends leverage grace against heartache—and honest expression against worrying alone.


For Waking Up White and these other incredible books that are rocking my world.

One of my two summer classes is a theology elective called “Whiteness.” My classmates and I are exploring the ways in which “whiteness” is a demeaning social construct—not a neutral demarcation of skin pigment—that has stripped peoples of their cultures and religions and forced peoples into subservience to Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism. “Whiteness” is a curse to people of color and pale folk.

For instance, when my Irish ancestors immigrated to America, they had to drop the “O” from O’Coyle, reshape their speech and culture, and maybe even convert to another church in order to survive. "Survive" meant having work, shelter, food, etc. Irish folk did not fit the criteria “whiteness” demanded. So we lost who we were—we assimilated into a bland rubric of generic “whiteness” in order to keep living. No one even remembers how or when we got to America, or from which area of Ireland we hailed. We have none of the Gaelic or the old stories. We are just “white.”

Of course, my pale skin grants me access to a tailwind of white privilege--a rainbow bridge of liberties that I take utterly for granted. I mean, I get to walk into public places without people clutching their purses or reaching for guns (and that’s just for starters). However, I am deeply implicated in an unfair and racist system because I have benefited from it my entire life.

I am thankful to be Waking Up. I am a follower of Jesus, not a disciple of “whiteness.” In the face of racial ignorance and bigotry I want to be a part of the truth-telling tide of justice and healing that Jesus brings.

Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.


For the chance to practice preaching this summer.

My other summer class is about Film and Preaching. My professor has devised a new homiletical theory that reckons with the fact that the cinema has the attention of the general public more than preaching does. He asks: How might we preach to a cinematic congregation? How might our preaching shift if we studied the stories our hearing communities take in religiously every weekend? Beyond mere sermon illustrations, what can preaching learn from the movies?

Interesting, yes. And I get to try my hand at writing a couple of sermons with those questions in mind. Woot!


For wise counsel over lattes. For near-peer pastors who listen carefully and speak gracefully.

I was blessed by the pastoral care of a wonderful local minister this week. She welcomed me, listened to me, asked me questions that helped me to see, and offered her perspective for consideration. I walked away from that meeting with renewed hope and emotional creativity. Praise God for good pastors. I am so thankful. I am thankful for the way the Body of Christ takes care of its own—how the gifts of one heal the hurts of another.


For these cuddling animals and their guardian. 

This person is cradling a cow and kissing a piggy! SO MUCH LOVE!

Seven Gratitudes Link-Up

If you would like to join in on this weekly practice of gratitude and chicanery, grab yourself a button and link up with us here every Friday morning of 2017.



  1. Write a listicle about your seven gratitudes each week.
  2. Publish your piece with a link back to my blogpost on Friday mornings.
  3. And then link up with the form at the bottom of the page.

Be sure to visit with the other bloggers in the party--THEY ARE TOO WONDERFUL TO MISS!

I am so glad you stopped by today. May these Seven Gratitudes spark your own moments of joy!

Leave a comment and say hello, will you?! I love hearing from ya!

Thanks, beloveds.