I really wanted to get excited with Martha. But instead, I felt panicky. At the playground with our kids, she was telling me about a powerful sermon she heard with her husband. “The preacher pointed out that if every Christian family in the US were to adopt, there would be no children in the foster […]
Author: Heather Caliri
Arguing with God about the Bible
Once upon a time, I told God to start sounding more like Cheryl Strayed. You might have heard of Strayed’s most famous book, Wild, which became a movie by Reese Witherspoon. She’s also the advice columnist Sugar, originally on The Rumpus and now a podcast from WBUR. I love Strayed’s work the way most normal […]
Listening as Imperfect Resistance
Ever since the election last year, I have wanted to resist. In my introversion and general lack of political activist skill, this has been a mixed bag of efforts. I have attended protests. I have called my congressional representatives. I have signed petitions and read articles. I have prayed with undocumented people. I have also […]
Dear Portia: How Do I Stop Desiring Bad Stuff?
Dear Portia, How do you stop wanting what you REALLY want, when what you want isn’t good for you? How do you create desire for something you should want, when really you are craving the opposite thing? Craving Dear Craving, When I was in my teens and twenties, I drank at least a can of […]
Belief vs. Beloved
First I’m going to talk to you about the Bible and being beloved, and then I’m going to talk to you about politics. The other day I had a conversation with a new Christian in which she expressed some negative feelings about the Bible. To my surprise, her words shocked me. I thought, doesn’t she […]
Dear Portia: My Kids Are Slobs. Help!
Dear Portia, How do you get your kids to clean up after themselves? My kids are 12, 10 and 7 and I feel like I’ve tried everything over the years. Chore charts, reward systems, scolding, drawing attention to the mess, calling them back to do it again when it’s not cleaned up properly. IT NEVER […]
Dear Portia: Do I forgive my church family, or speak up?
Dear Portia, Several years ago, our family got involved in fostering children with significant medical needs. The nudge to do so came from the teachings of our church…to love God and to love people. But, the very church family who encouraged us to jump in did not throw the life-preserver we expected. Fostering got hard. […]
Dear Portia: My friend got healed, and I didn’t.
Dear Portia, I keep praying for healing, and I am not healed, but someone else in my circle did get healed and I am trying to be okay with this but I am not. A Dear A, Is it even possible to address your question without using some sort of unhelpful or even offensive platitude? […]
My Improbable Love of “Happy Birthday”
I should get bonus points when I surprise my friend Shoshana: she’s remarkably unflappable. If I’d told her I was getting a giant bat tattoo on my behind, she’d probably nod and say, “Oh, interesting.” But the other day on the phone, when I told her I love it when people sing “Happy Birthday” to […]
I Won’t Say I Read Trashy Books Anymore
My friend Melissa has a way of being kind that also makes me think. We were out for coffee, talking about books. Specifically: about my anxiety about wanting to read more. By most measures, I read a lot, but with the advent of smart phones and parenthood, I read less then I used to. Recently, […]
Dear Portia: How Do You Stay Sane with a Mentally Ill Person?
Dear Portia, How do you deal with toxic or mentally ill people who have harmful behaviors and stay sane? You have no choice but to deal with them—they’re your family or your boss. How do you get them to seek the help they need? Or, to understand they have an issue? JP Dear JP, I […]
Dear Portia: Annoyed, Irritated and Bored at Church
Dear Portia, I am annoyed and irritated and bored at church. My husband loves it, but to me, our church feels like a big show: entertainment, choir performance, giveaways, and a superficial sermon. How do I look past the trappings and experience a deeper relationship with God? If other people love church so much am […]
Dear Portia: I Had Sex…and then We Broke Up. Now What?
Dear Portia, I grew up in the heart of evangelical purity culture. When I was 13, my parents took me out to dinner and gave me a promise ring. Throughout high school and college, I heard boys would ask me to compromise my sexual standards. I was ready to tell them no, but no one ever […]
Is Masturbation Okay? . . . and Other Thorny Questions
The Mudroom is excited to be joining the likes of The Rumpus, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. We’re starting our very own advice column, “Dear Portia.” Every month, we’ll cover questions related to our monthly theme. First up is sex, sexuality, and singleness. Do you have questions about your sex life, about singleness, […]
When Empathy Led Me Astray
In my premarital class, our pastor had everyone take a Myers-Briggs assessment. When my husband and I both got our results, we smiled at each other: we were just one letter apart. He was an INTP (introvert, intuition, thinking, perceiving), and I was an INFP (feeling). It made sense. Similar as our temperaments are, there’s a […]
Learning to Love the Unity of My Body and Mind
I got migraines regularly as a kid. The pain would start as a pinch above my left eyebrow, travel to the back of my neck, and soon send out sparks of light into my vision, nausea into my belly, and, if I didn’t retreat to a dark room soon enough, puke onto our white carpet. […]
I’m Thankful for my Grief About the Election
It would be so much easier to bear a Trump presidency if I hadn’t learned about structural racism. Easier if I’d avoided stories from my black and brown friends about micro-aggressions, ignored history, police violence, and daily grief. Easier to stay positive if I hadn’t figured out exactly how sexual assault happened in my high […]
When the Word “Holidays” Stresses You Out
You know what my idea of a holiday is? A normal day. Laundry, hanging with my kids, and, by 9:30 pm, watching a murder mystery with my husband while I eat raisin bran. Even better: doing all that in slippers. Normal days are easy. On a normal day, I have a routine. I know what’s […]