About

I’m a freelance writer outside Washington, D.C., my lifelong home, with my husband Kevin and our three little ones. I write mostly on topics of faith, community, family life and technology (in varying combinations).

This Lent, let yourself be bored

In his short story “Harrison Bergeron,” Kurt Vonnegut describes a future dystopia that takes extreme measures to make everyone equal in every way. The United States Handicapper General ensures that exceptionally beautiful people, for example, wear ugly masks. Strong people must wear heavy bags that limit their agility.

And perhaps most poignant to the modern reader: Intelligent people wear ear radios that blast sounds every 20 seconds to disrupt their thoughts. Vonnegut published the story in 1

In LA, Gardens of Healing help abuse survivors reconnect with the Church

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles last month dedicated a new “Garden of Healing” at LA’s St. Bernadette Catholic Church.

The garden is dedicated to victim-survivors of sexual abuse. It aims to be a safe space to offer some measure of peace and healing, as well as acknowledge the failures of the Church to prevent and adequately respond to abuse perpetrated by its priests, staff and volunteers.

St. Bernadette’s garden is the fourth of five planned gardens to open across the archdiocese; auxiliary B

Warming shelter at Wisconsin parish builds bonds of trust, community

On Tuesday mornings, Laurie Pollack leads a group of men and women in a Bible study. Together they pray through a Scripture passage, offer their personal reflections, and share where God is working in their lives.

In many ways, the Bible study may seem unremarkable – a mirror of countless similar groups across the country.

But there is one striking difference. Apart from Pollack and two other parishioners from her Oshkosh, Wisconsin parish, the attendees are homeless.

Pollack is the coordinat

Parish-based ‘Mary’s Closet’ fills a gap in local social services

When newcomers to Mary’s Closet first arrive, they’re often surprised. That’s because the space — which houses clothing, baby items, household products and more for families in need — feels more like a little shop than a typical social services facility.

“We really, really wanted it to feel like a fun little boutique, like a place where you can have some dignity in picking out the things that you want,” Tanya Singh, who began the ministry, told The Pillar.

Mary’s Closet is an outreach of St. P

‘Spiritual support groups’ create space for Catholics with mental illness

More than one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. One in 25 lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or major depression.

For Deacon Ed Shoener, these statistics are more than mere numbers. In 2016, his daughter Katie died by suicide, after a long struggle with bipolar disorder.

Shoener penned an obituary that honored his daughter and exhorted their small Scranton, Pennsylvania community to support those struggling with a mental illness. To his surprise, t

Tenn. Catholics find ‘tsunami of generosity’ in parish 'Buy Nothing' group

Part of a thriving parish community is the parishioners’ sense of responsibility for one another’s material and spiritual needs.

But in many parishes, there are few clear avenues either for parishioners to ask for help or to offer assistance.

At Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica in Chattanooga, Tennessee, however, a parish “Buy Nothing” group offers a tangible way for parishioners to support each other.

The Buy Nothing Project is a global (secular) movement of local gift economies begun by friends

At Oklahoma parishes, date nights help foster ‘Marriage in His Image’

Getting married in the Catholic Church typically comes with a significant amount of preparation, designed to help couples as they enter into a lifelong sacramental union.

Couples are often required to meet with a priest or deacon, fill out a lengthy questionnaire intended to identify strength and weaknesses in their relationship, and attend marriage prep classes or retreats.

But support and enrichment opportunities for married couples in the Church are less plentiful after the wedding.

And on

‘Household’ gatherings offer intentional community at South Bend parish

America is facing a crisis of loneliness. With nationwide declines in social connectivity, even the U.S. surgeon general is concerned about the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation” facing Americans.

And Catholics are not exempt from the crisis.

But parishioners at St. Thérèse Little Flower in South Bend, Indiana, might just have a parish-based approach to address the epidemic of loneliness.

The parish has launched a program of “households” – intentional communities of a few dozen people who

At small Ohio parish, evangelization starts with a candle

When Lina Simms first read about the global prayer movement Nightfever, she thought, “Wow, that’s really cool.”

But then she thought to herself, “Our parish could not do something like that.”

Sprung from World Youth Day 2005 in Germany, Nightfever is a movement of young Catholics sharing God’s love with others through evenings of prayer.

Like many youth-oriented church events, a Nightfever evening includes Mass, adoration, and music. Priests are available for confession or counsel.

But it al

Children’s adoration offers young families a chance for prayer, community

It’s no secret that bringing young children to church can be challenging.

Pope Francis once said that “It is a beautiful homily when a child cries in church.” But for many parents, the experience of watching over noisy, inattentive children at Mass is anything but prayerful.

In fact, it can be downright overwhelming and discouraging, particularly when parents fear they are disrupting those around them - and feel judged for their kids’ behavior.

The expectation of silence and stillness is even

20 years after his death, Mister Rogers still offers a model for authenticity in a digital age

It is hard to talk about Mister Rogers without creating a caricature. The cynic regards his goodness as a bit saccharine, a childish dream ill-suited to the ugliness of life. The devotee puts him on a pedestal of untouchable greatness. Either way, we are inclined to put distance between our own lives and his, wary of the example that he set and what it might mean for our own call to virtue. He was a worthy steward of the early childhood years, perhaps, but it is easy to feel that he had little t

“Providence Rises Before the Sun”

The sheer magnitude of human suffering is overwhelming—not to mention that our mainstream culture and political landscape are rife with animosity and division over what the biggest issues are and how best to address them.

It’s enough to make a Christian wonder, “What can I possibly do to help?”

How do we make sense of our responsibilities to a world in pain? How do we know where to focus our efforts? And how can we trust that what we do will even have any impact? As we consider and pray about

Flexible Catholic workplaces aren’t just good for parents. They’re also good for the church.

“She’s becoming cuter and cuter, but…she’s continually at my side, and it’s difficult for me to work. So to make up for lost time, I work on my lace until ten o’clock at night and wake up at five o’clock in the morning.”

Replace “work on my lace” with “catch up on work emails,” and this note could have been written by any number of modern-day parents. In reality, however, it was penned in 1874—by St. Zélie Martin about her flourishing lace business and the then 18-month-old St. Thérèse of Lisie

All Shall Be Well

Mine looked a lot like other parents of young children. Without preschool and my parents’ help with our kids, my husband and I floundered as we tried to manage our responsibilities at work and home. Rest was elusive; frustrations ran high. And even as the chaos in our house felt unmanageable, the world outside our front door was in still greater distress. Amid disastrous news updates and the infinite stretch of uncertainty that lay ahead, I felt hopeless. How long would God let the world suffer,

When Ordinary Motherhood Feels Extraordinarily Hard

Let me begin by introducing you to a woman I call “Laid-Back Mom.”

Laid-Back Mom finds motherhood easy, breezy, and fun. She exudes confidence and authority; she greets tantrums, potty training, and ear infections with stoic calm. She isn’t the slightest bit stressed about navigating the grocery store with little ones in tow (and she’d never let said groceries rot in the fridge at a later date). She is, above all, a natural at the whole motherhood gig. She’s got this, and she’s even enjoying it

Finding Relief from Perfectionism

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Years ago I may have written that sentence with a hidden note of pride, intending it to mean, “I simply have higher standards than everyone else,” or, “I do my

Instagram and the Illusion of Intimacy

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was sure that once my son was born, I would rarely have time for mindless internet scrolling. Of my many false ideations of motherhood, one was that it would be relatively screen-free: my attention would never wander from the beautiful child in my care, the superficial entertainments of my iPhone rendered dull in comparison.

Of course, I spent more time than ever on my phone after my son was born, especially in those early nursing-round-the-clock days.

Reimagining Friendship from a Pandemic Perspective

Whenever the topic of friendship arises, I always remember two blog posts I once read.

They were written by Tim Urban of Wait But Why, a rare internet treasure that combines humor, insight, and witty diagrams. These particular pieces dive into types of friendships and the human lifespan, and among other things, offer two observations I can’t stop thinking about:

One: Most of the time that we will spend with our friends in our lives happens by the time we’re out of high school and college.

Two

Giving Up Her Place

Maybe that’s why the story of an Irish teenager named Clare Crockett so appeals to me. She too found that God’s plans for her life far exceeded her own. As a young woman whose call to religious life derailed a budding acting career, she ultimately discovered the joy of responding to the grace of ongoing conversion—a grace that God gives to each of us.

An Aspiring Actress. Born in Northern Ireland in 1982, Clare grew up in an era when the political significance of her Catholic identity carried m

What One Cognitive Bias Can Teach Us About Forming Habits

Imagine: you’re out getting coffee with a friend, and you admire the watch she’s wearing. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

“Thanks,” she says breezily, tells you the name of the brand, and takes a bite of her muffin.

Later that day on the train home from work, you feel a jolt of recognition when you spot one on the wrist of the lady standing next to you. How funny, you think, and turn back to your phone, where—as if on cue—an ad for the brand shows up in your newsfeed.

By the end of

Social Media and the Wound of Anonymity

If you’re into reading about technology, you’ve likely heard of Sherry Turkle.

As someone who has been studying technology use for decades, has written multiple books on the topic, and is a professor at MIT, she’s among the most prominent critical voices in the discussion of technology and our use of it.

Turkle used to be a digital enthusiast—until one encounter with, interestingly, a socially responsive robot called a “Cog.” In the course of their research, she and a colleague went to see the

Guilt Isn’t Going to Reduce Your Screen Time

A few years ago, a photo of a mom in an airport went viral. She sat in a chair looking at her phone; her baby was at her feet, lying on a mat. The online judgment was screechy and instantaneous, largely boiling down to that woman shouldn’t be a mother and technology has ruined us all.

In an interview later, which surely too few people saw, the harassed woman explained that she was actually trying to communicate with family members during a long day of cancelled flights. She wasn’t, as her criti

Making Memories Last a Lifetime in a Social Media Era

At some point after I moved out of my parents’ house, I went through the things I’d been keeping in my old bedroom closet. Mostly I was greeted by clothes I no longer wore and an onslaught of tangled hangers, but pushed toward the back was a shoebox I’d labeled my “memory box.”

It was an eclectic assortment: ribbons I’d won at my elementary school’s art fair, seashells from family beach trips, a diary I’d kept for a few weeks in the sixth grade (which was as embarrassing as it sounds). There we

A Mother’s Mission

Every year, Pentecost makes me think wistfully about the work of evangelization I did during my college years. The Bible studies and retreats that I invited other students to attend made a visible impact. But after I married, had a child, and stopped working full-time, my “mission field” didn’t seem so clear-cut. I often wondered: “How can I build the Church when I can barely keep up with laundry? How can I be open to anything extra when I’m tied to a baby who needs to eat every two hours?”