I made my Twitter private today. I also had Ross (he’s my husband if new here) change the password so I can’t log in. I’m thinking of deactivating it in a couple weeks.

I also put up the equivalent of an Out of Office on Instagram.

This was all after witnessing a scenario that showed what is truly the worst of social media. I watched it unfold, tossed my phone on the bed, and said:


I don’t think social media is inherently bad. I’ve made amazing connections with people on Twitter and Instagram, particularly in the endometriosis community. But most of those connections have shifted to real life—or text life, at least—so I don’t feel like I need to be on either network to feel connected to people.

And, really, I wasn’t feeling connected there anymore. As much as I was consuming it, I felt like I was being consumed in a way that just doesn’t feel good anymore.

I’ve asked my husband to be patient with me during the inevitable dopamine crash. For all its faults, Twitter did bring people into my life who share my very specific sense of humor; I’ll miss the validation that comes from knowing I made someone somewhere laugh.

But I need to tuck in a bit and focus my energy elsewhere. Here where I can be more selective about how I engage and have the time and space to be more thoughtful. On consuming things that aren’t engineered to make me angry and sad. On rest and reading and having conversations with the people I choose to talk to, people with whom I share my life and I know operate from a place of good faith.

This is a really long-winded way of saying, “Hi, again.”

A laugh redeemed

I used to be embarrassed by my laugh.

It’s big. A guffaw in the truest sense of the word.


Mouth open. Head back. A wind up, a burst—a reflex that will not be stopped.

There’s not a thing I can do to change it.

My son got it a version of it.

Now, it’s perfect.

Mother’s Day 2021

He came through me and into the world.

He wasn’t there but then he was and then he wasn’t.

And now he’s here, standing in front of me, hovering slightly above.

Frame broadening.

Voice deepening.

Charm blossoming.

I feel his heart in my belly still.

A writer’s prayer

O God, my brain is full of knots.
Gnarly knots, clumps of thin strings twisted impossibly, impassibly.
Lord, loosen these knots.
And, Lord, bless them. Bless them for the work they show—the work of trying to understand who you are.
My mind is open. Open my mind.
My heart is open. Open my heart.
Give me the words to speak your peace, your presence.
Lord, loosen these knots.
Lord, release these words.
For the glory of your Word.


A man makes a disgusting/hateful/degrading comment towards a woman.

That woman must now decide if it’s worth “rocking the boat” by bringing it up.

“Rocking the boat” can mean a variety of things, all of which are a risk to the woman…

She might be putting her job at risk.
She might be putting her standing in the community at risk.
She might be putting her physical safety at risk.

Do you see it? The disgusting behavior isn’t consider “rocking the boat.” Demanding accountability for it is.

The disgusting behavior is the boat. It’s always been the boat. And we’re all stuck in it until we decide not to be.

Let’s break the fucking boat.


Waters, birth

But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
—Amos 5:24

Yesterday at 4:37pm, in the pouring rain, surrounded by hundreds of Richmonders who arrived on the scene with little-to-no notice, the Stonewall Jackson monument at the corner of Monument Avenue and Arthur Ashe Boulevard was plucked from its pedestal and lowered to the ground—101 years after it was erected.

A few blocks away, Rumors of War stood tall, a work of art whose title pulls from these words from Matthew 24:

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Lord, let your justice roll down like waters.
Bring on the birth pains.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Do the work

White parents, talk to your white children about race and racism in this country.

Talk about it often. Over and over again.

Talk to them about the injustices the see in the world—and I guarantee they see them. Help them connect the dots.

It will be hard. Do it anyway.

Let them see you feel awkward.

Let them see you mad.

Let them see you cry.

Let them witness righteous anger.

Let them see that a heart broken by these murders—by violence held up by racist systems in our country—is a heart rightly oriented towards the love and care for their fellow humans, their fellow image-bearers.

It is ESSENTIAL work, and it is ours to do.

I shared a version of that text on Instagram today. I shared it because my job, right now, as a white person, is to do two things:

First, in whatever limited way I can, to amplify the voices of Black people who choose to share insight into this raw, painful time. Frankly, those folks don’t owe white people a damn thing, and we should be grateful if they are inviting us into any conversation, any part of their experience, any part of their hurt and horror.

Second, to call fellow white people into the process of getting “our house” in order.

It is not the job of Black people to do this work for us. It is not the job of Black people to educate us on the effects of racism.

It is not the job of Black people, who have been pushed to margins by white supremacy and the systems it feeds, the societal and cultural standards it sets, and the violence it perpetuates, to set right the understanding of those of us who benefit from how things work in this country.

It is one thing to ask how your Black friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow humans are feeling. It is one thing to express your love and affection for these friends, to let them know you see them in this time.

But it is quite another to rely on them solely for perspective on this recurrent nightmare the people in this country have created.

Since this country began, white people have been telling Black people that they are less-than—that they are The Other—with chains, with whips, with stolen labor, with stolen children, with rape, with murder, with laws, with policy, with who ended up in the White House. To know that history and then, when confronted with it rearing its ugly head yet again, to not start with you and your history and how you benefit from and even get to ignore the systems in our country that continue to press their knees into the neck of every Black and brown person…it’s lazy. It’s hurtful. It’s cruelly passive.

We cannot—we will not—make Black people be our Google or our reference desk. We have to muster up some intellectual and emotional curiosity and start doing the work.

It will be hard. We will mess up. But it is important work. It is work that is long, tragically, and abhorrently overdue.

And it is ours.


I haven’t been around here much lately. Life during a pandemic doesn’t leave much time for musings, especially as I learn how to do everything—work, parent, live—in a new way.

But here’s one thing worth sharing…

I’ve been helping with a new project my church is doing: a weekday podcast offering short reflections on readings featured in the Daily Office Lectionary. I don’t love hearing my own voice, but writing my episodes has been helpful during this strange time. If you’d like to give them a listen, head over here.

We’ll talk soon.

This belly

My belly—this belly—has been through a lot over the last 12 years.

(Is it weird for a 38-year-old woman to call it a “belly”?)

I carried a very big baby in there—hence the belly button that is both an innie and an outie.

This belly got cut open so that big baby could arrive here safely.

In a few weeks, this belly will get three new scars—one right on the navel and two a little farther down. The scars will be small because science has allowed amazing things to be done through tiny incisions, but they’ll still be new. More marks on this belly that has carried a life, held so much pain and stress, so much worry.

I asked my husband to take a picture so I would remember what this belly looked like before more cuts were made—cuts for a different kind of delivery this time.

Delivery from pain, I hope.

I plan to mark the scars with tattoos one day. Stars, I think. They show you the way.

Thomas: also

What if one moment of your life determined how history framed—and even named—you?

By this point, I’d assuredly be “Weeping Val” or “ALL CAPS Catrow.” But while those things are true about me, they aren’t the only things that are true about me.

Most of us know Thomas (also called “Didymus” or “Twin”) from his appearance in the 20th chapter of John’s gospel.

It’s Easter, the day of Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus shows himself first to Mary Magdalene, who didn’t recognize her Lord bodily but knew it was him when he spoke her name. (John 20:16) Later that evening, Jesus appears in the locked room where his disciples hid. He said, “Peace be with you,” showing them his hands and side and breathing the Holy Spirit upon them. (John 20:19-23)

For reasons that remain unknown to us, Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. When he hears the news, he says, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25)

That’s it. That’s the moment we pin to Thomas, still to this day.

I wonder why we don’t also remember the Thomas in the 11th chapter of the book of John. Upon hearing news of his friend Lazarus’s illness and death, Jesus decides to return to his friend’s home in Judea, where the Jews were, as the disciples point out, seeking to stone Jesus—to kill him. (John 11:8). After a bit of back-and-forth between Jesus and the disciples, it’s Thomas that has the final word; interestingly, it’s the first time we hear from Thomas at all in the Bible.

“Let us also go, that we may die with him,” he says. (John 11:16)

What a thing to say.

True, that line can be read in many different ways. My 21st century sensibilities laced it with sarcasm when I first read it. Meanwhile, Eugene Peterson gives it a real Eeyore vibe in The Message: “Come along. We might as well die with him.”

But what if Thomas meant what (I think) is best communicated in the Easy-To-Read translation of the Bible?

“We will go too. We will die there with Jesus.”

When Jesus, Thomas’s leader and Lord, says it’s time to return to a town filled with people who want to kill him, Thomas agrees and rallies the troops, while also reminding them of their likely fate. He’s resolute and ready to go.

Why isn’t this the moment we remember about Thomas? Or what about the moment just after the famous interaction between Jesus and Thomas in that same locked room eight days after the resurrection?

Most of us know the story: Jesus appears again and says to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27)

Thomas responds—the last words attributed to him in the Bible—with what Charles Spurgeon called “a most plain and hearty confession of the true and proper Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“My Lord and my God!”

As Thomas says these words, we see something that can only be described as wonder —a holy wonder, when he “gets it,” when the truth (or Truth, as it were) takes root in his mind and heart, leaving him forever changed. Jesus was his Lord and his God. Both. And Thomas appears to be wonderfully undone by it.

It’s spectacularly human moment.

Yes, Thomas doubted; there’s no denying that. But that’s not the only true thing about him. He doubted, but he also believed. Both. Like all of us who follow Christ.

Let’s not forget that he was also:

Resolved Thomas.
Ready-and-Willing Thomas.
Wondering Thomas.
Confessing Thomas.
Believing Thomas.
Changed Thomas.

And let’s not forget the “alsos” that apply to us as well.