For Genograms, Leftovers, and Leslie Knope - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 41

#SevenGratitudes is a weekly gratitude practice for the enlivening of my soul, a deepening engagement with the world, and simple encouragement for anyone who stops by.

Thanks for being here.

This week I am grateful…


For genograms.


This past weekend I had a Family Systems class at WakeDiv (yep, I spent about 15 hours in a classroom over Friday and Saturday—at midterm; let’s not talk about that part). We talked about many things, but the most meaningful aspect of the weekend was the genogram exercise. A genogram is a glorified family tree, really; it is a tool by which one attempts to illustrate family dynamics. It is a way to chart out—as far as one understands from one’s position in the system/family—how different relationships function. The insight available through this exercise is invaluable. It is a practice in objectivity, which, surprisingly and blessedly, often leads to a deeper capacity for compassion.

Clarity about the way one views one’s family and place in it opens the door for honest curiosity, too. I find that every time I draw a genogram I walk away with questions to help me get to know these incredibly different people with whom I am related.

Family suddenly becomes not a web of group-think, but a network of persons who form layers of meaning that shape and inform one another (with different degrees of awareness). I, then, abruptly find that my own personhood has choice and autonomy in that meaning-making process. Instead of being taken for a ride, I find that I have a part to play.

I am thankful for practices that open me to relational understanding. I am thankful today especially for the genogram because it has challenged me to grow in empowering self-awareness and curiosity-inspiring compassion.


For the chance to witness the growth, transformation, and healing of colleagues.

(Image captured by my friend Amanda our first year at WakeDiv.)

(Image captured by my friend Amanda our first year at WakeDiv.)

The BEST best part of that genogram exercise last weekend? I got to hear every single one of my colleagues in the class share their stories. We each drew portions of our genograms on the board and had the opportunity to receive one another’s “outsider” insight, which was a pure gift.

It was amazing to look around the room and witness what was happening in that room. Even though we all land on (vastly) different places when it comes to theology, politics, etc., we were able to respect and hear one another. For some of that that would not have been possible two years ago when we first came into divinity school (and I am not excluding myself in that crowd). It is miraculous to witness the growth, transformation, and healing of colleagues. It is a wonder to be in community together, even for the short amount of time that we are.

Gracious. We are learning so much from one another—and I pray continual protection and nourishment toward that aim.


For the glory of leftovers.

I came down with an adenovirus that has Wake in its horrible clutches this week—SUPER SAD FACE. Therefore, it has been a truly rough week. I even missed a day of classes.

Enter leftovers, the BEST news to a weary body that just wants to eat and sleep and not expire by coughing.

I made a chicken and veggie soup from a rotisserie chicken I got at Whole Foods on Tuesday and have been eating that for almost every meal. I was even tempted to take some for breakfast.

Because leftovers are awesome, minimally taxing miracles of nourishment.



For access to kind and quality healthcare at school.

As I said, I have that virus. I am thankful for the Student Health office at Wake Forest University. The nurses and doctor took such tender and thourough care of me this week. There is nothing like someone handing you a yellow Gatorade for your throbbing throat while they pat your knee and say, “Great news: it’s not mono!”

I am grateful for the healers among us.



For my old friend Leslie Knope. #KnopeforPresident

My roomies and I have been making our way through NBC's Parks and Rec this semester. This is my second time through the whole canon. And it is even better this time.


I so appreciate what the actors and collaborators on the show have tried to do. They present hilarious storylines with informed satire and gooey feel-good-ness at the same time. The characters are dynamic; they each make mistakes, learn, grow, and change.


And, can I just say, Female Friendship FTW. Ann and Leslie’s relationship is beautiful. I realized this week that I had never seen two women in a friendship on TV say that they love one another. NEVER. Until Parks and Rec.

They don't play with isolating taboos. And they don't participate in keeping taboos taboo.


They clear things up.


I dig that.

So. Women in leadership and friendship. Women and their male allies fighting unjust systems/patriarchy with aggressive creativity and care. Women making mistakes and making up.

And making me laugh all the way.

That’s entertainment I can get behind.


And also the presidency. Literally. I would vote Leslie Knope.


For friends who share.

From toilet paper and tissues to facetime and dinner conversation, I am thankful for friends who have shared with me this week.

Their generosity challenges old notions of scarcity. It challenges that little wedge of my heart that expects folks to take advantage of me. It offers me that much more hope and leeway to just maybe keep opening to this whole idea of grace.

What even IS this life, y’all?

I am so glad we all get to do this together.


That I get to see my husband in 6 days.

Told ya this would be on my list, like, every week. ;)

Let the countdown begin.