Raising Wild Things Without Becoming One: “How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen” (Book Review)


Day 14 of my 30-day writing challenge

Last week, I dusted off my flute and fumbled by way through a Poulenc Sonata whose second movement is my favorite piece to play. It’s a slow, haunting, minor melody with dramatic bursts of dissonance. I learned it as a young college student, and the thing I remember most about that process was my female teacher telling me, only half jokingly, that it was a passionate song and that I probably needed to be deflowered before I could do it justice.

The comment mystified me at the time, and looking back, I think I get it even less. I think there’s some fallacy that young people – children, teens, even young adults who are short on romantic experiences – don’t feel things deeply, and are unacquainted with the joys and sorrows that we bigger people have access to. As though there is some sort of sexual experience card that buys you admission to an elite club of emotions.

One of the few things that I took away from a graduate school class I had in Children’s Literature is that children feel things very deeply indeed, and the best children’s writers understand that and don’t condescend to them. To read Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” is to be invited into a world of primal love, rage, fear, attachment, rejection, joy, and hunger. It’s to see in vivid colors and sprawling crosshatchings that children can seem monstrous to adults, and to themselves, because they feel so much, not because they feel so little.

As I read How to Talk to Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life With Children Ages 2-7 by Joanna Faber and Julie King, what stands out is the authors’ respect for the inner lives of little ones, one that carries across from the preceding book in the series, the classic How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlisch.


The first principle for talking to your youngsters comes early in the book:

Children depend on us to name their feelings so that they can find out who they are. If we don’t, our unspoken message is: ‘You don’t mean what you say, you don’t know what you know, you don’t feel what you feel, you can’t trust your own senses.

Children need us to validate their feelings so they can become grown-ups who know who they are and what they feel. We are also laying the groundwork for a person who can respect and not dismiss the needs and feelings of other people.

John Berger famously wrote that women are always watching themselves being watched. Children, however, are always watching themselves be watched by their parents or other important adults in their lives — not, as women do, to make themselves objects of the male gaze — but instead to help them affirm and shape their own subjectivity and agency. Again and again, my kids say, “Mommy, watch me! Dad, did you see me do this?” If we don’t watch them, they are unsatisfied. It’s almost like the action didn’t happen. So it makes sense that the same is true for feelings as well.

I’ve long been the prototypical dismissive parent when it comes to feelings. My son is mad because his sister is mistreating a toy that he just threw on the floor in a fit of temper? Well, that makes no sense! My daughter is crying because she has to leave the park? Does she not appreciate that we spent two hours there already? This is, I’m afraid, a classic East Asian-influenced upbringing: Whatever you feel, you shouldn’t. Stop it!

Faber and King’s strategy for affirming feelings instead of yelling and berating — thus setting your children on their way to becoming adults with compassion for themselves and others, while also helping to direct them in a way that adults can live with  — is simple. The formula goes like this:

I understand / hear / know (your feelings about x). The problem is (explanation of parent’s perspective)

In my house, examples might be:

I understand that you’re angry that you can’t run around the house naked when you’re hot. The problem is we have guests over for dinner, and they don’t really want to see bare bottoms with their broccoli.

I hear that you’re sad that you didn’t get to eat ice cream for dessert. The problem is that you already had cake for breakfast and too many sweets aren’t good for your teeth or your tummy. (. . . Wait, what? You had a lollipop, too? When did that happen?)

I know you want to watch more Netflix. The problem is you’ve already watched seven episodes back-to-back of “Puss N’ Boots” and Mom has to at least pretend to be a responsible adult. 

There is much more to the book, which includes tools (and stories of parents implementing them) not just for handling emotions, but also for engaging cooperation, resolving conflict, expressing praise and appreciation, and for parenting kids who are on the autism spectrum or have sensory issues. There is also a chapter that will appreciated by skeptical parents: an acknowledgement that there are times when all these tools will fail you, including when your children are hungry, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, or being asked to do something beyond their capacity. These caveats seem more than fair, considering that adults don’t do very well in those situations either. Listening and affirming skills are crucial, to be sure, but there are times when all of us just need a cookie and a nap.

Bugs, Bugs, Everywhere (Including Some I Ate?)


Day 13 of my 30-day writing challenge

(Warning: There really are a lot of bugs in this story. It might not agree with everyone, particularly those who don’t share my bizarre sense of humor.)

Either I’ve caught the bug my husband had last week, or it was a terrible idea to add expired coconut milk to my chai tea last night. I suspect it was both.

To say the coconut milk was older than it should have been is an understatement akin to saying that the Hindenburg flight could maybe have gone a little better. But it smelled and tasted fine, and wasn’t clumpy, and I guess I thought, “It’s plant-based; how bad can it be? It’s not like I’m eating expired pork.”

Now that I’ve spent the day feeling like someone filled my stomach with slime mold, gave it to a shrieking troop of baboons to Riverdance on, then passed it to a sadistically grinning donkey who used it for rugby before sitting on it out of sheer spite, I am reconsidering my views on the superior qualities of vegan food products.

Although almond milk is one of the only two things that have stayed down today.

The other one is Flavor Blasted Xtra Cheddar Goldfish crackers. Because nothing soothes the digestive system like powdered cheese.

I also tried to eat raisins. That was going fair to middling before I realized that my ziplocked bag had somehow been infested by bugs about the size and shape of magnet filings. I thought they might be fruit fly larvae, but a Google image search doesn’t seem to bear that out.

I don’t think I ate any of whatever those bugs were, but if I did, my stomach didn’t give me a chance to digest them.

This is not close to the worst experience I have had with creepy crawlies. The worst was walking into my kitchen first thing on a dim morning years ago, holding the baby, and stepping on what appeared to be grains of rice completely covering the floor. It was mystifying – up until the point that I realized they were writhing. At that point, I bolted for the kitchen light and my shoes, put down the baby in the other room, grabbed a vacuum cleaner with a tube attachment, and starting suctioning a swathe through the biggest, grossest infestation of maggots I have ever seen. And let me tell you: Being eyeless and legless does not slow those buggers down. They roll around like ball bearings greased with Crisco.

I still don’t know how this happened. I’m not the best of housekeepers (as can be seen at multiple places in this post alone), but even I would have noticed a rotting carcass in my kitchen. I did find a ton of maggots on the windowsill, unconcernedly scooting themselves off the edge to join the disco party on the floor. Maybe they blew in on the East Wind?


Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation (Book Review)

Day 12 of my 30-day writing challenge

Screenshot 2017-06-27 at 9.20.25 AM

Many Christians undertake Bible reading, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines like fasting out of a desire to “work for Christ” or out of guilt for not doing more. Ultimately, these activities can drain and frustrate, drawing us further away from God, not closer. God invites us to something different: spiritual transformation and a deeper life with him. 

Ruth Haley Barton’s practical, introductory book, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging our Lives for Spiritual Transformation, is for all of us who experience an “invitation” to a deeper life: a longing and searching for connection with God. Barton helps us to recognize and follow this invitation to deepened relationship through the practice of spiritual disciplines. Prompted by the desires of our truest selves, we enter into the mystery of God’s transforming presence. 

Sacred Rhythms leads us through step-by-step guides to a number of spiritual disciplines, with the goal of making these disciplines part of our regular practice. These disciplines include approaches to Scripture reading and prayer, but because they are focused on being with God, rather than doing for God, they lead us towards a new way of life in relationship with God instead of more task-oriented work. As we embrace these disciplines, we will discover openness to the “everyday beauty and fullness that comes from paying attention and finding God in the midst of it all.”

In each subsequent chapter, Barton introduces a new practice or grouping of practices: solitude (especially important in an age of technology), Lectio Divina, prayer (silent, breath, intercessory, community, and life-as-prayer), cultivating bodily wholeness (caring for and listening to your body through exercise, prayer, and meditation), the examen of conscience, Sabbath rest, and creating a personal rule of life. These practices do not necessarily have to be learned in the order the book gives, but they each build on and support each other. Together they all lead up to the logical end of creating the rule of life: a set of prayerfully determined, individualized commitments to “values, practices and relationships” that determine what one does daily, weekly, monthly, yearly in order to sustain openness to God.

The book is a valuable resource for any individual seeking a deepened journey with God, whether new to the spiritual disciplines, needing a reminder, or hoping to create a rule of life. It can also be used by a small group, a spiritual director and directee, or a couple.

Appendix A is a guide for taking a group through the book, with prompts for the leader and study questions for everyone. Barton emphasizes that anyone who wants to go through this book as a small community must commit to the journey together – to the prayer and practices outlined, as well to creating a safe environment of support for all, where God (not any person or persons within the group) is understood to be in charge of each person’s spiritual transformation. Appendix B offers a short list of disciplines that may help an individual counter particular sins and negative patterns; for example, the practice of Sabbath keeping as a way of transforming patterns of over-busyness.

Although Barton confesses at one point that it is only in solitude with God that she does not feel lonely, she also establishes the importance of entering into spiritual transformation within the context of Christian community and spiritual friendship. She names Christian community as a discipline in itself, and a vital element of the formation process. It was first modeled by Jesus and the disciples – both by the larger group of 12, and by the select few that he choose to be with him in more vulnerable moments.

Barton is a gentle and encouraging guide, modeling the kind of unhurried listening to self and to God that she is advocating. Without making the book about herself, she helps the reader identify with the physical and spiritual exhaustion that led her to seek transformation. Her simple confession at the end that she has slipped out of her own sacred rhythms while finishing this book also demonstrates the generous acceptance of self that comes from a fuller understanding of God’s love for each of us, and his patience for wherever we may be on our journeys.  

The God of Compassion and Comfort

Day 11 of my 30-day writing challenge / Summer in the Psalms


This is a guest post from my friend Mary Lynn Erigo, for my church’s sermon series from the Revised Common Lectionary. The Psalm for the week is 86.


Genesis 21:8-21


In Genesis 21, we see Hagar in much despair. She has been sent away into the wilderness with her young son. The water they had with them had been used up and she knew the boy would die. In her deep sorrow, she cried out to the Lord and God heard her prayer. God had compassion on her and her little boy. He blessed him and promised to make his descendants into a great nation.

When we read Psalm 86, we see David asking God to hear his prayer, for he is afflicted and in great need as well. David puts his trust in God: “In Him we lift up our souls for He is a God who is good and ready to forgive.” David tells us in this Psalm that in the day of trouble we can call upon Him and He will answer.

Putting our trust in God in what seem like hopeless situations is very difficult. It’s trusting God for a problem that has no answer, a problem that seems impossible to us. But we serve a God of miracles and when we put all our hope in Him, even when an answer seems so far away, God reaches out to us and comforts us. He takes away our fear and gives us His peace. Oh, what a wonderful, compassionate, and awesome God we serve!

God is so gracious to us in our time of need. He is our great comforter. But God comforts us not only because He loves us, but also because he is teaching us how to be comforters: to learn how to comfort others in their time of great need and despair. When we show compassion to others and offer them comfort in their pain, we are showing them this wonderful, compassionate, awesome God and how much He truly loves them.


Think of a time God offered you his compassion when your problems seemed insurmountable.

Pray for those who need comfort. Ask God to comfort them directly, through his Holy Spirit, and also to enable you to offer comfort as a display of his love and compassion for them.

“All is Completed in Beauty”

Witches Broom NGC6960

Day 10 of my 30-day writing challenge

I’m cheating a bit today, and posting a draft I did a while back during a creative writing workshop I co-taught with a colleague. I don’t plan to post many unpublished poems, because I have (the vaguest of) vague plans in the back of my mind for submitting them for publication someday. But since this one was an exercise, and would need revision before being submission-ready, I think I can safely throw it up. It also fits in well with the Psalms reflections I’ve been posting. The impetus for the poem was the first sentence, “All is completed in beauty” – a quote from a source I unfortunately can’t remember.

It’s untitled for now, because I am the worst at coming up with titles. Suggestions for a title or revisions are welcomed!

(My preview page is not showing stanza breaks, and I’ve noticed this wordpress theme doesn’t show them in published versions either, so I may need to explore alternatives. But the poem is written as three quatrains and a final couplet.)


All is completed in beauty. Each rock
spinning alleluias from our silence
knows this in its secret heart. Art realized
from imperfection, anything held back
from full flowering of praise, finds its rest
in this endpoint that is not; transcendence
meaning, as it does, bursts of radiance
into infinity, like stars cresting
from their infant nebulae just beyond
the boundaries of visible light. We know
their warmth by the way the universe folds
around their fires, a lover’s response,
joyful gravity by which we are wooed
to God’s dwelling place, faith’s kingdom, our home.
(image credit: “Finger of God” Nebula, wikipedia.)

Let Us Now Praise Instant Ramen

ramen noodles (image from wikipedia)

Day 9 of my 30-day writing challenge

I did not have much time to write today. It’s a Saturday, which means THE KIDS ARE HOME ALL DAY. Also, my husband and oldest daughter are sick; worship band practice ran way overtime; and I discovered too late my packet of curry powder was somewhere between “scorching a hole through your esophagus” and “incinerating your head” on the scoville scale. This necessitated alternate dinner plans for everyone except my freakishly heat-loving husband, for whom the only plausible explanation is that he’s already shorted out every single nerve ending on his tongue.

It was, nevertheless, a leisurely day by our standards. Nobody had to be run to and from school by car, bus, or train. My husband didn’t have to dash between his two part-time jobs — three, if you count his pastoral gig — although he did have to work on his sermon. There was time for a trip to the park, free summer bowling at the neighborhood lanes, and a board game before dinner. And two and a half loads of laundry. (Always laundry).

As for our last-minute dinner, thank God for instant ramen. I say that in all reverence and respect. If it weren’t for ramen, I would have starved by now. If not at college, then certainly at my last job, where I ate it for lunch at least two to three times a week.

In my defense, I rinsed the excess oil off the cooked noodles, used only half the flavor packet (where all the msg is), and added greens, and sometimes egg or tofu, to make it healthier.

Most of the time.

Look, I know ramen isn’t pretty, and it’s got way too much sodium, and a billion years from now, when an alien civilization excavates our trash heaps, they will find bricks of curly, plastic-looking, desiccated noodles along with twinkies, spam, and saran wrap. But it’s fast and warm and yummy and has that lovely umami flavor that makes your taste buds really happy. It also reminds me of my roots in Hawaii, where you can buy the Hawaiian version of ramen, called saimin, from McDonalds.

My son took an impromptu family poll yesterday while we were on our way to the supermarket: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, would you choose pizza or ramen? He and my younger daughter both picked ramen without a second thought. So did I. My husband wrinkled his nose. But he’s the white guy in the family, so what do you expect? (Okay, so my kids are half white, but in this case, their Asian genes dominated.) My older daughter wasn’t in the car, but she’s enjoying her bowl of ramen for dinner as I type, so I’m counting her vote in absentia. Besides, she’s a singer, and cheese clogs up her voice, so ramen it is.

It wasn’t planned, but we came home from the supermarket with a 24-pack of ramen. I’m just surprised we waited until today to break it open.

Suffering that Leads to Hope


Day 8 of my 30-day writing challenge / Summer in the Psalms (sermon series and reflections from Vineyard One NYC, based on the Psalms and linked readings from the Revised Common Lectionary) . 

Read: Matthew 9:35-10:8

 . . . But the one who endures to the end will be saved (v.22).


I kind of hate passages like this one in Matthew. They start off great: Jesus healing people and casting out demons, then empowering his disciples to do the same.

But then the other shoe drops. Jesus tells the disciples about the terrible price they will pay for their mission. They’re going to be arrested and beaten, betrayed, hated, and even killed. Their lives will be spent fleeing from town to town, perhaps finding temporary refuge in one or two, before leaving for the next.

Jesus is blunt with his followers about the suffering that they can expect. He doesn’t soften the blow by saying, “Oh, it won’t be so bad.” Instead, he tells them to endure – that they will be rewarded in the end.

I don’t know how Jesus’ disciples took this news, but I think it stinks. If I wanted to go through pain in the moment for the sake of long-term rewards, well, then, I’d . . . exercise.

If I’d heard Jesus’ teaching at the time, I’m pretty sure I’d have been tempted to run screaming in the other direction. Sometimes I still am. Sometimes I wonder why anyone would buy what Jesus is selling here.

There are two main reasons that I’ve learned to reconcile myself with Jesus’ teaching about persecution and pain for the sake of the Gospel. The first is that, without persecution, the Gospel would probably only be known in a small part of the world. When the Christians in the early church faced persecution where they lived, they left for other places. They took their faith in Jesus with them, faith that had been tested and strengthened by fire. That’s how the Good News spread. Does this make it okay that Christians are even now being killed and driven out of their homes in different parts of the world? No, it doesn’t. And I really doubt it helps the people it is actually happening to. But still . . . it tells me, on the basis of factual, recorded history, that the persecution of Christians actually does result in more people knowing who Jesus is.

The second reason is that, while we live on this planet, we are going to suffer. People get sick, lose their jobs, fall pray to accidents and natural disaster, or get hurt by other people who are damaged or infantile or just plain mean. There’s no way to avoid pain, or to choose not to experience it. But each of us can choose to suffer for the sake of Christ, rather than for some other person or cause. We can ask for the grace to see suffering as Jesus did: as redemptive in the end, as bearing fruit in ourselves and in other people, and as motivated by our love for Christ and the people that he gave his life for.

The Apostle Paul was no stranger to pain and persecution. The wisdom and encouragement he shared with the early church in Romans 5:1-5 was hard-won:

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

The hope we have in Christ is neither facile or naive. It’s not as Karl Marx accused, pain meds for the masses, there to dull our emotions and make us into mindless puppets of a higher power. Instead, it’s the very real, historically demonstrable love of God for us, a love that continues to spread and change the world.


Pray for Christians who are suffering persecution, whether in small or life-shattering ways. If this describes you, ask someone to pray for you.

Thank God for how he uses even the worst circumstances to bring more and more people into his family. Pray for Christ’s redeeming love to be ever more present in our lives.


Tales from the Nail Polish Apocalypse



Day 7 of my 30-day writing challenge

A few years ago, Kelly Ripa won a “Best-Dressed” award from the New York Post for her “un-self-conscious” style. Her reported motto was, “If it’s clean, I put it on.”

Kelly Ripa has way higher standards than I do.

My kids go to school in clothes with pen and paint stains on them, with holes and hanging seams I haven’t bothered to mend. I do draw the line at offensive odors, but the truth is, unless it’s 90 degrees out, lack of odor isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator that someone’s pants haven’t been worn past their freshness date.

Last night, though, was the lowest we’ve fallen in a while. One of my sister’s colleagues needed to produce some promotional materials, and she invited my sister’s kids and my youngest daughter to be part of a photo shoot. We needed to be there at about 10 this morning, so I got ready ahead of time. I picked out two potential outfits – they needed to be solid colors, no logos. I checked my daughter over. She was clean.

At that point, I stopped paying attention. That was my first mistake. I was busy mentally writing my blog post for the evening when my daughter came into ask me a question. She wanted to know if it was okay to paint on paper using nail polish. She was clutching a bottle that I thought was a kid-friendly, water-based polish that was mostly empty and half dried up. So – again, not really paying attention – I said, “Sure!”

That was my second mistake.

Then, my daughter wandered into the living to ask her big sister for permission to use her nail polish. Her sister, assuming that the nail polish was to be used on, you know, nails, also said, “Sure!”

That was also a mistake.

(This is the diabolical genius of kids. They make sure that nobody in a position to object knows the whole story.)

Meanwhile, I’ve retreated to my room to actually work on my blog, and I have no sense of time passing until my daughter comes into my room again, waving a bunch of papers that are completely covered in nail polish. Which I expected, so that was fine.

What was not fine was what I discovered when I started to help my daughter clean up. First of all, I discovered that the polish was not the water-based, easily washable color I’d believed it to be. It was the full-on, salon-grade, hard-as-a-diamond stuff. Second, I discovered she’d been painting not just with a brush, but with her fingers. She had polish smeared on her shorts – shorts that she had not worn before that afternoon, mind you – on her legs, and all over her hands. And the polish color? A bright, shocking crimson.

Remember, we have a photo shoot in the morning. And here’s my five-year-old, looking like she’d just bathed in the blood of virgins or some other pagan sacrifice.

I dumped her in the tub, googled “how to get nail polish out of clothing,” got out the acetone and paper towels, and got to work trying to undo the disaster.

I never did get the polish out of the shorts (thanks a lot, internet), but I did manage to clean the kid, by dint of soaping her within an inch of her life, then scraping off each fleck of polish with my nails. I even managed to do a load of laundry before bedtime, which meant that my daughter made it to her photo shoot this morning with not only clean skin, but clean underwear. Double win for mom!

I thought she had a clean dress, too, but I realized after we were already in the car that it had a spot on it.


Rag Dolls and Riches: The Things that Endure

Day 6 of my 30-day writing challenge


This morning, my youngest graduated kindergarten. She was first in line as all the kids walked into the auditorium, flanked by their teachers. As soon as she heard the first note of “Pomp and Circumstance,” she charged down the aisle, a wide smile on her face. The boy behind her was more hesitant, so she’d bounced down half the length of the auditorium before anyone else followed behind her. She loved every minute of the spotlight.

She’s moved through all of her five years so far just like this. She was a flirtatious baby and toddler, always looking around for the next person to pull into her orbit. She can make friends with a lump of coal. She walked early. She waits for no man, woman, or small fry, and heaven help the person or object that thwarts her will. She’s a force of nature, bright and warm as the sun: loving, passionate, and fiery when crossed.

As her godmother and I sipped coffee this morning while waiting for the ceremony to begin, we talked about how our little graduate takes after her namesake, her great-godmother, or Vovo (which means “Grandma” in Portuguese).

Last week, my daughter brought me an old, well-loved rag doll in need of serious coiffure repair. She had decided its messy nest of yarn hair needed some trimming, and found her haphazard snips didn’t yield quite the results that she wanted.


Vovo originally made this doll for my son. She also made the soccer uniform it once wore. Now, its shorts are missing, as are its socks and shoes. It is covered in stains whose origin I do not wish to know. The impromptu haircut did not help its bedraggled appearance.

My older daughter also has a doll from Vovo. But my youngest was born after Vovo’s doll-making days were over, so she has adopted the dolls of her siblings.

Vovo made hundreds of these rag dolls throughout her adult life – sewing the muslin body and clothes, stitching in yarn hair, and using cloth markers to give them eyes, noses, and smiles. She gave her dolls to new babies, to young children, to anyone she thought could use a happy, floppy face brightening up their space or their day.

Since around the time my youngest was in the womb, Vovo hasn’t made any dolls. She has a form of dementia that doesn’t allow for that kind of work, or for her to live outside of a nursing home. But her sweet and giving nature has remained. She still recognizes family members and enjoys their company. She’s a favorite at her home, helping other residents and cheering them up when they’re sad. She sings hymns and prays for her companions.

Once, she slipped out an unlatched gate and wandered out of the nursing home. Several hours later, after a frantic search, she was found, untroubled and completely at home, in a church.

Before the onset of her condition, Vovo prayed for my family many times, in an earnest stream of Portuguese, always wearing a smile that was the very definition of “beatific.” We didn’t understand a word, but we recognized in her prayers, and in her, something holy and blessed. That’s why, when our youngest daughter was born, not long after Vovo’s symptoms had begun to be recognized and diagnosed, we decided to give her Vovo’s name. It seemed fitting, and also holy, that our baby was coming into the world at the same time that Vovo was also coming to inhabit it in a new way.

So far, my daughter has not demonstrated the fundamental patience of her Vovo – we’re still working on that! – but what they do have in common is an enthusiasm for living that draws people to them like planets around a star. Both love to give and receive gifts, no matter how small. My girl will become radiant with excitement if someone gives her a pretty stone or a 25 cent toy. She gives complete strangers her artwork; tiny, weedy flowers picked from the cracks in the sidewalk; stuffed animals; or anything she has on hand. The focus of her attention, the intensity of her desire to draw people in, whether old friends or complete strangers, is a gift she bestows on almost everyone she meets.


I thought about Vovo’s legacy as I worked on the doll she made, re-attaching yarn hair and mending a cut in the fabric from my daughter’s over-enthusiastic scissor use. In spite of her neurological deterioration, she retains an unshakable core of faith, kindness, and generosity of spirit that continues to illuminate everyone around her.

Vovo continues to reflect what the Apostle Paul tells us about the limitations of our human existence, and the things that endure in spite of our frailties. I can’t think of a better person for my daughter to have as a namesake.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:12-13).