Four From The Night, Four From Anywhere

1. Traffic Light When I slow to a stop at the traffic light, I notice a police car flashing blue into the darkness. A few feet away, a man stuffs his hands in his pockets and leans back against a dented trunk. I stare at this man with skin like mine. This man in a […]

See, Say, Spell, Repeat

“Could you spell that?” My name. You ask about my name. Countless times. Almost every week, in fact, you ask me to repeat or spell my name. For years, I lamented the fact I did not have a simple American nickname to make this part of life easier, for you and me both. When I […]

Longing for Rest

I say a prayer over both kids instead of praying for them individually as I do when I take my time. I rush through my usual night script: “IloveyouDaddylovesyouButwholovesyouthemost?” and they yell back, “God!” My “good night” barely slips through the door I’m already closing behind me, and my whole body sighs. I’m done. I’m […]

The Paradox of Being an Asian-American Woman Leader

My laugh is a guffaw. It can pierce your ears or shock you if I’m not careful. In church, at Starbucks, anywhere in a crowd, people are unsure of what to make of such a loud laugh coming from me. I’m a 5’2” Korean-American woman in her mid-30s, but most people would probably think I’m […]

Finding Grace in the Missing Parts of My Story

I reflect on pictures my mom kept of me posing on grandma’s front porch, my three-year-old little body donning a Fiesta dress with intermingled colors. They dance with each other far from lament. Dad’s sailor cap is tipped over my face, covering my left eye, making me giggle as I reach up to catch it […]

Dear Portia: How Do You Find Belonging When Your Ancestry Is Erased?

Dear Portia, Where do you place your footing when the footprints of your ancestors have been erased? Gentrification has/is pushing out the remnant of my marginalized community that was once here-do I fight to stay or do I wave my flag in surrender? GW Hello GW,  You ask such a poignant and important question around […]

When Belonging Doesn’t Mean Sameness

I don’t like coffee. There, I said it. I read blogs and listen to podcasts. I’ve seen the memes. Women who are younger than me – a lot younger than me- who write books, wear great earrings, who all seem to know each other. And they all seem to love coffee. Somehow I’ve told myself […]

The Middle of the Wilderness

In the dreaded five minutes of saying hello to my neighbor every Sunday, I know we’ll come to a point where I’ll be asked the questions, “What brought you here? Why did you move?” I give them the one second answer to why we uprooted our lives in Las Vegas to move back to Southern […]

Loneliness is a State of Mind

  There can be a loneliness in reading, because it is such a solitary act. Even in talking about books, it can be hard to accurately describe their affect, because how can soul-deep language be reduced to mere words? There can be an aloneness in reading, too, in that one does it to be alone, […]

Books Can Keep You Stitched Together

The first book to ever hold this type of “keepin” power for me was, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I slept with this book under my pillow every night. I was even willing to pay the “lost” fine fee that my middle school library would eventually charge me for not returning it. […]

What I Wish They Had Told Me About Growing Up

I wish they had told me it’s okay to be afraid. To feel inadequate or uncertain or a little bit lost. To feel like you don’t have friends when you first move to a new place. To not have everything together. The reason older people don’t seem to be panicked about things is because they’ve […]

Portrait of A Both Girl

I am not black. I am not white. I am somewhere between the ink and the page, the word that is blurred      out. I am not what you assume She speaks Spanish… can’t quite place her…. definitely not from around here I am from around here. I grew up down that stone road […]

Looking for the Invisible Formation of Life

There has been a pattern to my life lately, a rhythm of books and papers. The rhythm has been so steady that it has started to feel like a weekly liturgy. The lectionary readings have not been spiritual per se, but they have been holy nonetheless. The Old Testament reading for the day comes from […]

This Is Why I’m Single

You, who likely do not know me, probably have a guess as to why I’m single. Maybe I’m afraid of commitment. Maybe I’ve never been in a serious relationship. Maybe I come from too troubled of a past. Maybe I’m “just not really trying.” Here’s why I’m single: because I just am. I’ve gone to […]

Out of My Wildness

This lyric poem was inspired by these two Bible verses: Who is that coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved? Song of Solomon 8:5 “I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called […]

Arugula or Collards: What type of greens are you?

“So, Velynn tell me about yourself. What words would you choose to describe yourself?” How many times have you been asked to describe the breadth and depth of your whole person “in just one sentence, please”? Impossible, right? While I am tempted to respond by singing Whitney Houston and Chaka Khan’s female anthem, “I’m Every […]