What the bank teller noticed

The bank teller said he noticed how I didn’t have a savings account.

I said I noticed how he didn’t have any manners.

Annnnd I kid.

But I’m glad he stopped there.


“I also noticed how you don’t own your own house and are really at the age where you should. I know you don’t have a firm command of two-digit multiplication or the discipline to follow through on any workout plan more than 3 days in a row, for the love of Jillian Michaels. I see you’re without a strong comprehension of the Electoral College and do not own a single pair of hosiery that do not have ladders streaking up and down the sides. I see you don’t even have a current passport. I noticed you don’t have a lot of gumption when it comes to seeking the things you really want for yourself and you haven’t rolled all the loose pennies in your pockets in ages. And what of greens in your diet–have any? Got Vitamin B? Got a living will? I noticed how you haven’t captured a single Pokemon. I see you don’t have any houseplants–no darling little succulents like all the pinners of Pinterest own–and I wonder if you can even really consider yourself alive….”


On and on he could have observed my shortcomings and inadequacies, forcing a long line to form in the queue of the drive-thru bank teller.

So goes the work of the Accuser. Pointing out all the places we fall short, don’t measure up, will never be enough.

Unlike the bank teller, though, when I approach the One who knows my heart best of all, I see no account balance on my receipt. Only that my debt has already been paid.


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Drinking Icees, Slurping up forgiveness.

I check my Swatch watch when I wake up. It’s darling but it always needs to be wound so the time can’t be right. I putz about the bathroom and find my other watch. Oh mercy.

The kids are both still in their pajamas. They’ve probably watched 286 cartoons between the two of them today.

“Guys, Mommy slept in. It’s already noon. I’m so sorry.”
“We missed my swim lesson?!”
“I know. I’m so sorry.”
“No, baby, we just wasted the morning. Mommy forgot to set her alarm.”
“Mommmmmaaa, I wanted to go to my swim lesson!”
“I know. How about I make it up to you and we can go to Lake Winnie today.”


The kids are moving in slow motion and all I want to do is reverse the clock, sit down and eat a bowl of granola and drink coffee and not feel frantic. Swimsuits elude us. Applying sunscreen is work.

“What’s going on, Little Man? Can I help you?”
“Mom, I just feel grumpy.”
I’m proud that he has accessed a feeling instead of casting blame.
I sound like a self-esteem manual from 1989.
“Mom, I’m grumpy because I’m sad I didn’t get to go to swim lessons.”
“I know, Son. I hope you can forgive me. I messed up.”
“I forgive you.”



giant side

We are walking back to the car. We have laughed, we have floated on the lazy river inner tubes several times. We have eaten funnel cake. We have had a good day.
“Mom, I’m still really upset I didn’t get to go to my swim lesson today.”
I don’t remind him that he got to shoot down a colossal waterslide, drink a giant Icee, and ride all the rollercoasters he could handle for the last six hours.
I don’t tell him that a whole afternoon at Lake Winnie beats any doggie-paddle lesson any day.
Instead I tell him the thing about forgiveness that is so hard to do.
“If you forgive someone, you can’t keep bringing it up. You know just like how God says when He forgives us, He casts our sins into the sea and doesn’t remember them anymore?”
“That’s what we have to do.”



The next day he is unlocking the front door and turns to me as he opens it. “I forgive you for sleeping through my swim lessons, Mom.”


The day after that, he hugs me unbidden and says, “I still forgive you for sleeping through my swim lessons, Mom.”

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Critiquing by creating: what our world seems to have forgotten how to do

My creative compass rarely points to things that scare the snot out of me. I favor creating things that I sense will make someone smile, that will make an otherwise pedestrian mail day a bit brighter. I create safely. I rarely create to bend rules or write new ones.

But when I do, I recoil in fear that someone might come along and yank back the reins so that I’ll never get to create again. You make people uncomfortable with your creativity.
What was wrong with what we already had? This? This is too risky.

Over the past few months, though, I’ve been noodling around the idea of creating to critique. It’s a motto attributed to Michelangelo, who no doubt pondered creation with a capital C for a good fraction of his life. I can’t remember what dorkcast reminded me of the highest form of criticism, but I’ve been returning to it again and again. I wish the world would follow.

At its core, critique by creation aims to to either improve the existent model or invent something that never existed. Rather than simply evaluate the pros and cons of the unprofitable lemonade stand, critiquing by creation puts wheels on the lemonade stand and takes it on the road. We know this is not where the story ends, though. Because say the lemonade truck proves profitable. Then the critiquers will hover near. They will replicate. They may even rob. They want a squeeze of that lemon but rather than create their own mobile happiness, they are mired in their own jealousy which often leads to destruction.

Hot Dog Stand, West St. and North Moore, Manhattan.

The problem with history is that it holds plenty of shelf space for both the builders and the destroyers. It doesn’t discriminate between the worthy and the vile, nor should it because we need to learn the lessons we’re not meant to repeat.

If only those who critiqued through creation were more celebrated than those who destroyed.


I cannot possibly fathom why I will spend the rest of my life getting choked up when I pass a baseball field and think of what plays Martin Richard might have designed. I cannot reason why Trayvon Martin doesn’t get to draft new flight patterns as a pilot. Tell me why the city of Cleveland will spend $6M appeasing the family of the late Tamir Rice instead of sending him to college where he could dream, grow, learn, create. Why are the video tools that are supposed to advance our creativity so often used–by necessity–to capture brutal, senseless slayings by police officers or terrorist organizations?

Millions March NYC


The story of Creation that I know begins with a God who always was and always is, who creates from nothing a world meant to be shared and enjoyed by His other beloved creations.

We do not truly create in this life but cull from the resources we are given things shiny and pleasing. We fancy ourselves inventors but we are only simply trying to get back to the Edenic place we began, when all was alive and good. This is the choice we have each day. It is not a choice as to build a block tower or knock someone else’s over. We choose whether we will believe enough in a world that was meant to be life-giving for every man, plant, animal or whether we will be complicit in its destruction. What kind of critics will we be?

Silver Spring #ReclaimMLK Sit-In 17


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