On Standing for Good When Evil Is Loud

Feb 28 2018

I wrote my first term paper in the 8th grade. It was on the Holocaust. I rewrote it again in 10th grade and one more time in college, partly because it was easier to build a paper on earlier work and partly because the Holocaust fascinated and horrified me and birthed an intense desire to work out why it happened, how it was possible that people could allow it, and how we might ensure it never happened again.

It was the first time I heard the clarion call of Good versus Evil, and it was the first time I suspected there may come a time in my own life when I would have to choose between championing the outcasts or protecting myself.

Eighth grade is an odd time of self-discovery and trying on new selves to find one that might fit. Rapid growth, of course, ensures nothing, not even our favorite clothes or selves, fit well for long. They get ripped and torn, threadbare, or suddenly too small to contain us anymore, and so we let most clothes and shoes and selves go, picking only a few bits to remain with us always.

In 8th grade, I was kind, and fierce, and funny, and creative, and a liar, and in love with Certain Boys after my friends and I had divided them amongst ourselves, careful to allot crushes the same way we divided treats, as equitably as possible. My hair was permed and feathered, my teeth were askew, my legs were perpetually covered in bug bites and scabs from scratching, and I longed to be pretty more than Just About Anything. Studying the Holocaust didn’t change that, but it added a depth, perhaps; a dimension I didn’t previously understand with only 13 years under my belt.

I waited during my teen years for the Crisis of Our Age to come. It would be war, I thought. Or the persecution of Christians, which the Church promised me was inevitable. I watched, and I waited.

I thought it had arrived when we went to war in Iraq in the early 90’s. I sat in my little Toyota Tercel hatchback, and I heard the announcement on the radio. But, as is true for so many of us without close family and friends in the military, it affected me very little.

And then the Twin Towers were hit on 9/11. I was a mommy by then, and I watched the second tower fall while my toddler slept in the next room. This is it, surely, I thought. But again, I wasn’t directly affected, and, well, life proceeded as life does. No gas lines. No rationing. No concentration camps. I mean, I don’t like taking my shoes off at the airport, but all things considered, no real change for me and mine or, I dare say, the majority of my countrymen and women.

I thought I would recognize it when it came — the Time I Would Have to Stand Up for What Is Right at Great Cost to Myself — but it came slowly, and I didn’t see it while I raised my babies, and went to the grocery store, and fought with and loved my husband, and went to church, and volunteered, and started writing. I didn’t see it, and I don’t blame myself much, because I’ve learned as I’ve aged how subtly Evil moves. How quietly. How insidiously. How it masks itself as Rules and Righteousness and Right Thinking. How it plays on our need for Belonging, afraid, as we are, of being Cast Out. How it cows the Questioners and shuns Those Who Will Not or Cannot Subscribe or Conform. How it creates Tribalism and Exclusion and Fear of the Other, lest we be infected or destroyed by the Them.

But here we are.

Here we are, living in a world where Evil has arrived. Where we turn away widows and orphans and refugees at our borders. Where we steal healthcare from the sick. Where we mock our young as immature and entitled while we steal their educational and financial future, and they beg us not to keep letting them die at school. We live in a world where our churches truly believe that their 20th century interpretation of the Bible is the One Correct Reading of Scripture and use that to excommunicate people who love God and love their neighbors as themselves, because that last is, somehow, no longer the litmus test, no matter what Jesus said.

Here we are, friends. And I’ve heard it said that people who compare this current time to the Holocaust are overreacting. Being dramatic. Being hysterical. While we let the world’s largest refugee crisis continue, millions suffering and dying. While we refuse to listen to our children. While we stand stalwart behind the closed doors of our churches and use Jesus to justify our rampant nationalism, our goal of self-preservation, our hoarding of weapons, and our lying leaders.

Here we are, and I can’t help but feel that the world right now is covered in a shroud, like the alien planet in A Wrinkle in Time. We’re covered. The heartbeat of Evil is loud, and many have believed Evil’s lie that it is Good or that it is Necessary or that it is the Best Way Forward. It feels… opaque right now, like trying to see through ash and move through mud. No wonder we’re exhausted. No wonder we’re sad. No wonder we’re groping about in the dark, trying to find our people, tentatively, by feel. We’re living in the darkness we all suspected may come.

The time has arrived. Our Crisis is upon us. Millions are dying — our refugee neighbors, our minority neighbors, our LGBTQ+ neighbors, our children in school — physically and emotionally, literally and spiritually, we’re dying.

It seems horrific, which it is, and hopeless, which it’s not. Evil is winning, as Evil does, but Evil doesn’t win forever, and I keep coming back to this one thing: we know that it is dark. We’re living under the shroud right now, and it’s oppressive and disheartening, but there are many of us who can see it. Who know that it is Not OK. Whose eyes are wide open to see that this is Wrong. Who are resisting. Who are fighting the crawl of Complacency and Compliance. Whose hearts still beat to their own wild rhythms which echo the image of God and who listen for the heartbeats of others, which is the way of Love.

Oh, friends, it’s hard right now. Just… hard to be under cover of darkness with only pinpricks of flickering light in the sky. It’s hard to be Betwixt and Between and to wonder when — when, dear God — the dawn will arrive. It’s hard not to feel helpless tumbling in the tidal wave, trying to stop its destruction. It’s hard not to give in to its power and be swept away. It’s hard, always, when the old is passing and the new is not yet come.

But this is our time. This is the one. This is when we Stand for Good or Fall for Evil. And the world needs us even though it’s hard. The world needs us especially because it’s hard. The world needs us to see through our fear stricken societies and find new ways of living. To lead the charge. To keep reaching out for each other.

All of which is an incredibly long way to say, I’m waving to you in the dark, friends. I see it. I see the dark. And I see you, too. Together, we’ll beckon the dawn.

With love,




P.S. In case this post is too heavy for you, here are some pictures of our latest foster puppy. Her name is Nikki, she’s 4 months old, has survived parvovirus and pneumonia in her short tenure on earth, and she’s partially blind, but the darkness doesn’t stop her. Not ever.

P.P.S. And this…

A Letter to the Youth of Today Who Deserve to be Heard

Feb 21 2018

Young friends, there are things you need to know. Things that must be said. Things you’ve hopefully heard, but just in case… just in case…

You’ve heard it said that you’re the leaders of the future, friends. But I need you to know that’s a lie. You are NOT the leaders of the future. You are the leaders of NOW. Your time is NOT still to come; it has ARRIVED. You already know this, or you sense it inside. You are ready to join the ranks of the resistance. You already have. You are its soul. You are ready to persist, and you will. You are fierce and on fire, and you have a perspective our world desperately needs. 

There are those who will tell you to slow down in the days ahead. They’ll tell you that change takes time. They’ll tell you there are more polite ways to protest. They’ll tell you to use your nice words and to be content. They’ll tell you it could be worse and they’ll ask why you can’t just be happy with what you have. Guess what? They told Martin Luther King, Jr. the same thing. And Sojourner Truth. And Malala Yousafzai. And Adam Rippon. Every great Change Maker has heard the same message. And every great Change Maker ignored it in favor of Justice and Equality and the Wild Call to be more Fully Free. 

There are those who will tell you you’re simply pawns, that you don’t know your own minds, that you’re patsies and proxies and being used for causes you can’t possibly understand. They’re wrong. They’re attempting to quiet you. They’re afraid of your voice. They’re eager to undermine your senses of agency and  conviction. Know why? Because you are POWERFUL, and when your generation speaks together, you will CHANGE OUR WORLD. You’re changing it already. 

There are people who will try to belittle you. They will try to undermine your confidence. They will try to shame you. Dare to speak anyway.

They’ll say you’re reacting out of trauma instead of truth, as though trauma isn’t an author of understanding. They’ll say you’re being manipulated. They’ll tell you your political opinions are worthless because you’re too young to know better. They’re wrong. Dare to speak anyway, friends.

They’ll say you’re undeveloped and immature. They’ll say you’re responding to strong emotions as though strong emotions don’t tell us Important Things. They will do whatever it takes to maintain a power structure that benefits them. Dare anyway. Dare and dare and dare again.

You will face hard things in the days and weeks and months ahead, and you are up for the task. You can do hard things. People will be mean. Ugly words will be hurled at your entire generation. They will be wrong, but you will feel discouraged at times. Dare anyway. Your world needs you to.

You will lose people in this fight. There will be those who cannot stand to let you speak. But there will also be those who encourage you. Those who champion you. Like Mr. Rogers said, “When things are bad, look for the helpers.” Look for the helpers. We’ll be here, daring with you.

You will make mistakes along the way. Hooray for mistakes! Mistakes — failure, even — means you’re in the arena. You’re trying. And it’s only by striving for positive change that it’s ever happened. This is the meaning of persistence. We try. We fail. We try. We make mistakes. We try. We LEARN. We make smarter mistakes next time. And then we succeed. We succeed because we DARED to persist. We dared to stay in the arena and damn the booing crowd.

Here’s what you must do — TRUST YOURSELF. You feel it in your gut, the things that are Right. Listen to that voice. Question what you’re taught and what you’ve been told; the things that are Truth can always withstand the questions. Always. 

Listen. I will follow you. I will follow your lead when you say enough is enough. I will sign my own youth and children out of class when you say it’s time to take to the streets. I will back you with my words, my money, my time, and my actions. 

I will believe you. When you say you’re being harmed, I believe you. When you say our schools aren’t safe — physically or emotionally— I believe you. When you sound the rallying cry, I will amplify your voice. And when you tell me it’s time for boots on the ground, I’ll cinch up my laces. 

And I am not the only one. Those of us who BELIEVE IN YOU are legion. In the thousands. In the millions. Look for us. We’re your support troops.

You know things we no longer know. You hear the Polar Express bell, and we’ve grown immune. Hardened. We need you to hear the clarion call. We need your passion, your energy. Your knowledge of right and wrong. Your clarity. Your wisdom. Your strength. 

You, friends, are of deepest worth. You are worthy of our respect. You deserve to be heard. 


With love,



I Love You, and I Have a Wonderful Plan for Your Valentine Life

Feb 14 2018

Dear Friends,

I love you, and I have a wonderful plan for your Valentine life. Now, USUALLY Greg and I like to have the flu on Valentine’s Day. Or watch Demolition Man because we’re die hard romantics. I know, I know — #relationshipgoals. It’s just, as I’ve said before, the problem with Valentine’s Day is it’s in February, and the problem with February is it’s trying to kill me. As much as I WANT to buy into a culturally manufactured holiday to prove we love each other, I JUST DO NOT HAVE IT IN ME. I’m tired. Exhausted. ALL I WANT IN ALL THE WORLD IS TO SIT ON MY COUCH WITH PIZZA. 

This year, though, my friend Bryan Erwin solved Valentine’s Day, and he didn’t just solve it for me, he solved it for US. The thing about Bryan is, we can trust him 90%. He’s been a stay-at-home dad, he has a wicked sense of humor, and he GETS IT. He is AS TIRED AS THE REST OF US, friends. He UNDERSTANDS IT ALL. In the interest of full disclosure, I assessed the other 10% on the fact that Bryan is his kids’ PTA president, so he’s an overachiever who occasionally makes the rest of us look bad, but we shall forgive him for this lapse in judgement because none of us is perfect, yes? Yes. I knew you’d understand.

Bryan made us a movie! It’s called FIXED, and it’s the story of Allan, a father of three who, as is wont to happen, finds himself with an appointment for a vasectomy and an epic midlife crisis. Oh, bless Allan’s sweet heart. (It’s gonna be OK, Allan. I’m on, like, my 6th midlife crisis, and it gets better after every one.)

Bryan met his cowriter, Alonso Mayo, in the yard of his son’s preschool, and they developed FIXED from their desire to show marriage and parenthood as “the raw, loud, sticky, scary mess of hilarious human emotions that it is.” Um, yep. Right up my alley, man. Magic and mess; I’m always in.

BEST PART, though? YOU CAN ONLY SEE FIXED SITTING ON YOUR COUCH AT HOME. Preferably with pizza. BRYAN GETS US, y’all. It’s available on Amazon Video, iTunes, YouTube, and cable-on-demand.

Happy Valentine’s Day, folks! And if you screwed up and made plans to go OUT tonight, never fear… you can still watch FIXED this weekend. 🙂 

With love,




P.S. No, this is not a sponsored post. I don’t do those. I received zero compensation for this post. (Blah, blah, blah.) I just think sitting on my ass with a funny movie on V-Day is a good idea, and I think my friends are cool.  


Greg Said I Can Have a Domesticated Fox

Feb 12 2018

Greg said I can have a domesticated fox. He also says he did not say I can have a domesticated fox, but he’s wrong about the second one.

Specifically, our conversation went like this:

“Hey, Beth, did you know the Russians spent the last 60 years selectively breeding wild foxes to create a domesticated version? They actually did it. The science is amaz…”


“No, we’re not getting a f…”

“We’re getting a fox! WE’RE GETTING A FOX. KIDS?? Listen up! Dad says we can have a FOX.” 

**kids cheering**

“Beth. Beth! We are NOT getting a fox.”

“Of COURSE we’re getting a fox. You JUST SAID there are DOMESTICATED FOXES in the world. What POSSIBLE REASON do you have for NOT GETTING a fox?”

“Well, they make terrible pets. They’re only domesticated. Like, they can’t survive in the wild, and they’re happy around people. But they’re not necessarily good at living in the house, and they tend to mark their territory, including indoors.”

“OMG. That’s the stupidest reason EVER, Greg, not to get a fox. Our children are all feral, and we keep them. One of them peed on the inside garage walls. Several kept a poop collection under the front porch. God knows, we’ve cleaned urine and feces off nearly EVERY surface and textile in this house, thanks to myriad small creatures, human and otherwise. And I pooped the closet. Marking his territory is just a reason why a fox will fit in perfectly with this family.”

Greg rolled his eyes. It’s how he flirts with me. “You can’t just import a fox to the States.” 

“According to Google and PBS, though, you CAN, Greg. You CAN import a domesticated fox to the States for just $9,000.” 


“I hear you, Greg. I hear what you’re saying loud and clear. Got it, kids? We just need to raise $9,000 and then we get to have a fox. A WHOLE FOX.”

“And they’re specifically outlawed in Oregon…”

“So noted. Step 1: Raise $9,000. Step 2: Change Oregon State law. Step 3: WE’RE GETTING A FOX.” 

In conclusion, Greg made sure to let me know there are domesticated foxes and then helpfully outlined what I need to do to procure one of my very own, which is pretty much exactly the same as saying I can have one. Yes? Yes. I knew you’d understand.

With love (and great excitement),




P.S. FYI, I think we’re going to start with a girl fox. I shall name her Megan (obviously). Then we’ll get a boy fox and name him Michael J. They will have sweet baby foxes. We will keep one of the boy kits and name him George because George Fox was a weird weirdo who was weird and counter-cultural and founded Quakerism because he radically believed there is that of God in every person, made, as we are, in God’s own image. I cannot think of a better reminder of the tenets of our faith than a baby fox named George. Next time Greg panics even though he said I can have a fox, I’ll remind him it’s because it’s what Jesus wants for us, else why would he have brought the article to Greg’s attention in the first place? WHY are we getting a fox, Greg? DIVINE INTERVENTION is why. And also, it will remind us of our FAITH. Don’t argue with me about this; argue with GOD.

P.P.S. OMG! GUESS WHAT? I JUST REALIZED WE’LL NEED TO SELL THE OTHER KITS. To good homes, of course. But the average litter for a fox is 4-6 kits… and it’s not uncommon to go significantly higher… up to 13 (!). THAT MEANS I’VE ALREADY SOLVED THE $9,000 QUESTION. I just need to buy Megan and Michael J. for $18,000, have one litter of minimum 4 kits, keep one, and sell 3 for $27,000 total. I JUST MADE US $9,000, GREG. You’re welcome. 

P.P.P.S. While we wait for our foxes to arrive, our next Golden Retriever foster dog is coming. Her name is Nikki, and she’s 3 months old. I CAN HARDLY STAND HOW ADORABLE SHE IS. 




I Accepted on Behalf of All of Us. Also, I’m Going to Need a Trophy Case.

Feb 1 2018

There’s always a fine line to walk between celebrating one’s success among friends and tooting one’s own horn. I’m going to go ahead and call this the former as I tell you I WON A LOT OF AWARDS THIS WEEK. 

A lot, a lot, friends. 

But I want you to know, as I accepted these and had my moment behind the podium* to speak to the masses**, I made sure the crowd understood I was accepting them on behalf of ALL of us. All of us mamas. And all of us parents. And all of us HUMANS who somehow ENDURE and BEAR WITNESS to each other again and again.

I was nominated*** in myriad categories, and I won a bunch of them, but I’m only going to give you a quick tour of my favorite hardware from the ceremony because I don’t want to brag too, too much. I’ll save the rest for another time.



Lots of humans have smothered zero people with a pillow, and I am one of them! Huzzah! I accepted this award with a lengthy speech to itemize All the Things for which I COULD HAVE Smothered People but DIDN’T. It was very passionate. Also, loud. Also-also, some of the crowd put on headphones and Stopped Listening, and there were a few who Rolled Their Eyes****, but I don’t feel like any of that undermines the fact that I both earned and deserve this trophy which so beautifully memorializes my excellent Self-Control. 


Award #2: TOOK MY MEDS

It’s true! I did. 




Sixty minutes, friends. Sixty WHOLE MINUTES injury-free around here. I’ll be honest, we almost didn’t qualify, but somehow, at the last minute, we pulled it off. 



Awarded for all kinds of Ha Ha Just Kidding situations, this trophy only symbolically says Made the Bed, which is obviously not a thing that happens around here because science, thank God, has put the kibosh on bed-making. I mean, I was given this trophy for Making the Bed (Ha Ha Just Kidding), but I also qualified for other categories of Ha Ha Just Kidding, including Showered Today, Found Clean Panties on the First Try, and Drank My Coffee While It Was Still Hot.


In conclusion, I’m going to need a really big trophy case, because there are more***** where these came from******, and I’m bound to keep winning and winning. 

With love,




*Podium: aka, the kitchen table.
**The Masses: Several children, all apparently mine, some sans pants, two muddy dogs, and Greg.
***I Was Nominated: with special thanks to Me for nominating myself.
****A Few Who Rolled Their Eyes: Greg Woolsey.
*****There Are More: OF COURSE there are more. There are more already made, AND there are more to come. For example, I am currently reading Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach and have decided my next trophy ought to be for Not Coercing Greg into Having Sex in Front of a Medical Audience for the Purposes of 4D Research like Mary, my hero, did her husband, Ed. I mean, YES I made Greg believe we were getting a miniature horse, and YES, I’m blessing him with a house full of Golden Retrievers, but it turns out I HAVE NEVER, EVER FLOWN HIM TO ENGLAND TO PARTICIPATE IN SEX STUDIES. I am a Paragon of Virtue. Now to make that concise enough to go on a trophy. I’m open to suggestions.
******Where These Came From: My friend, Shelley, who, for reasons I don’t understand, was getting rid of trophies, instead of awarding them to herself. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Also from our local trophy store where the receptionist was very, very confused and troubled by how I intended to repurpose these. On the bright side, I think that lady prayed for me when I left.