Genesis 2:18 reads, “It is not good for man to be alone, so I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Helper. My stomach lurches. I’ve identified with this my whole life. I’ve worn this word like a name tag. I have betrayed myself in trying to perfectly emulate this. Right now it looks disgusting on the page. The first word used to name the first woman in existence is then used to diminish her daughters for all eternity (excuse my dramatic flair).

Helper. I feel a sudden urgency to redeem the personal context I have for this word. The divine in me wants to teach me.

I think back to my childhood, as I quietly observed women follow their cues.

Women were school teachers, Sunday school teachers, and youth group leaders. They were trusted and expected to teach and guide you in and outside of church walls until you became an adult and then their legitimacy expired, apparently. At this point, a man would take over spiritual direction until you died.

Women would pray for their children before bed but never around a dinner table when a man is present.

Women were supposed to help men not fall in to lust or sexual sin by dressing modestly. If you were married you would then help them avoid this by fulfilling their physical need for sex. But no one will really talk to you about sex, so from a young age you learn from porn and popular culture. Ironically, this only reinforces the submissive helper role. As long as you ensure that they’re satisfied, you can be satisfied too. From a young age girls learn: your desire is not for your partner, it is to be desired by your partner.

God is man and therefore man is more God than woman is. This isn’t explicitly said, just acknowledged.

The one place men and woman were completely equal is sin. It didn’t matter if you’d been abused or cheated on because God sees you as equally depraved and in need of saving. God values your marriage more than your individual health, soul, and freedom.

Women helped men fulfil their potentials and callings rather than inserting their own.

I look up the Hebrew translation for helper: ezer. Then I look up every scripture that contains this translation. Apart from being used as a verb, three times it is used to refer to troops or warriors rushing to bring aid. Eight times it is used to name or describe God. And God uses it once as a self-description. There is nothing less-than about ezer. This is a strong name. This is a name that says God is the God of woman. This is a name of wings, not weight. 

In the Genesis story God first creates animals to be Adam’s helpers, but it wasn’t quite right. So then Eve is made from Adam, indicating that she was already a part of him in some way. This is furthered by the way Adam sees himself in Eve. “Oh look! Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone,” he says. They are corresponding equals. Intended to be one flesh. United. But throughout history this unity gets lost and distorted between cultures and contexts, interpretations and intentions. Ezers become halves instead of wholes. We begin to abandon our bodies and our minds because this is where we experience shame and loneliness. I’m done participating in a culture of halves looking for other halves. If you are named suitable helper, finding someone to suitably help is supposed to complete the equation. But it doesn’t.

Glennon Doyle Melton highlights this in the #1 NY Times Besteller Love Warrior (a title so cheesy I almost decided not to read it). A year after discovering her spouse’s addiciton/affair she wrote,

“He messed everything up and then he stayed and fought through his pain and my pain and the kids’ pain and he let none of it scare him away…he became his own hero and I became mine. And now here we are, together. Not two halves that make a whole, but two wholes that make a partnership…I know that you can love and betray the same person. Is it possible that I walked down the aisle to exactly the right person? Toward my healing partner? Toward myself? I’d been angry and ashamed because our relationship was so far from perfect. But perfect just means: works exactly the way it is designed to work. If marriage is an institution designed to nurture the growth of two people—then, in our own broken way, our marriage is perfect.”

Maybe this is a tiny bit of the picture (tiny because this quote excludes the pages and pages of painful, messy, hard stuff that happened first) of what humans should strive for. I realize that I’m approaching all this through the lens of my evangelical background, but I believe the principles can universally apply. Gay, straight, spiritual, non-spiritual, married, un-married, whatever— we all unhealthily internalise messages that tell us who we are or who we should be. Those impact us and enter into the partnerships we create with people through out life. But you cannot have a whole partnership if you are not a whole individual. You cannot heal a broken relationship if you are not first healed. And part of learning how to do all of that involves unlearning what isn’t life-giving. Creating a new hypothesis. Rewiring your way of thinking. Reunion with your whole self and your Creator requires long, hard patience.


Relentlessly showing up and seeking for yourself and for your people even when it’s hard. Recognising that you are already perfectly loved by God and stronger than you think. Continually speaking of love and restoration when hopelessness is heavy. Displaying what it means to deal honestly and bravely with this messy, imperfect life. Knowing and caring for yourself well so that you can know and care for others well. Partnering with people who will join you. Believing in the power of influence and impact over title and authority. This is what I think it means to be ezer.



Small Hours

I’m watching a play. There are two 20-something aged girls in pyjamas, curled up in over-sized armchairs facing the audience. Over the next 45 minutes I listen to their conversations. The ones that happen in the small hours of the morning, when best friends talk about everything and nothing simultaneously. I know these hours and friends well. Immediately memories start playing out in my mind. One friend inebriatedly crying about the effects of global warming on ocean animals after we built a fort and had too much whisky. Squeezing the hand of another on a rooftop right before we graduated college, afraid of letting go and growing up. Having the worst flu of my life and deciding the obvious antidote was to cuddle up on the couch together and spend the entire day watching the Godfather series for the first time.

The stage lights end and begin scenes intermittently. I soon recognize that I’m witnessing a shuffling of memories—various conversations during those hours that become the breeding grounds for future nostalgia. The girls, still enveloped in their armchairs, begin to turn from the audience towards each other and their discussion reveals that this is actually a play-within-a-play. The earlier conversations are perhaps entirely false. One girl tries to remember while the other gets upset for parts being erroneously represented. One is really here, the other is not. This relationship now grievously exists in one-sided memory.

“The worst part is that I’m not even me anymore. I’m just how you remember me.”

Light-hearted, funny, sentimental conversations fade into something that is universally experienced yet rarely portrayed: the loss of self that happens when old friendships dissolve.

The small-hours-kind-of-friends are like mirrors. We love the part of ourselves they reflect back to us. When one of those friendship ends it’s as if there’s a part of yourself you can’t see anymore. Whether the ending happens suddenly or more commonly, slowly and gently over time, any attempt at revisiting is prone to error and inaccuracy. I think one of the most jarring parts of growing up that no one tells you about is how often you will experience this:

Looking back on something you thought you knew and discovering the reality you believed was something else entirely.

We talk about making vows with partners, but don’t we also make them with our friends? Not ones said out loud wearing pretty outfits in front of a smiling crowd. Silent ones in pyjamas that happen between “what’s up”s and “remember when”s. Vows that are spelled out in leftover pizza crusts and danced out on dorm room floors. Those vows made during the small hours propel us through so many big days. We assume best friends are forever kinds of things. We assume these friendships will fill us in the ways they always did. That this friend will know how to love us the way we need through all of life’s ups and downs. We assume that we’re honest with ourselves and with one another. We assume that we’ll always put forth effort in equal measure. But vows made between friends are just as subject to change as vows made between partners. It feels to me that most of us are taught to regard these changes with an air of nonchalance and progressive acceptance. This seems increasingly evident to me as I journey through a phase of life that is incredibly transitional for everyone my age.

It’s natural. Life happens. They’ll understand. People change. Things get busy. I’m sure we could just pick up where we left off. 

I get that. I’ve parted ways from friends both abruptly with mutual acknowledgement and in a slow, silent fade out. I’ve cried after hearing about a friend’s engagement because of the changes that I knew would inevitably follow. I’ve quietly seethed over a friend’s job placement knowing it would take them far away from me. I’ve stayed up all night anxious about how things “felt weird” when we hung out last. I’ve experienced the sink in your chest the instant you realize they don’t care as much as you do anymore.

This play made me realize that everything I just described is a reaction of fear. These “normal” transitions in a friendship doesn’t just mean the change or loss of this person who has a specific and important part to play in your story. It’s kind of like a change and loss of self. If you love who you are around someone, if you’re attached to what they bring out in you or how they know and understand you, and then that connection shifts in a big or small way…it’s startling. Hard. Uncomfortable. It’s shitty, okay? It’s just shitty. And I wish friends acknowledged the silent vows more often. I wish friends talked about the transitions when they happen.

I don’t have a tidy conclusion or a specific point to make. Mostly I just saw a play and it brought my feelings to life in one of those beautifully messy ‘ME TOO’ ways that art tends to do.

Here’s to the magic of the small hours.

I wouldn’t take any of them back, no matter the outcome. Maybe that’s the point.

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Shout out to my C venues team mate Anna Jeary for her brilliant writing and Fourth Wall Theatre for showcasing Small Hours at the Edinbrugh Festival Fringe. 

In the Wrong Place

I keep finding myself listening to a similar conversation with friends. Although there are different people and situations, I keep sensing a fear to admit when they find themselves in the wrong place. They’re in the wrong job and pretending it’s the right fit because they invested so much time and money into their study. They’re in the wrong relationship but convinced he’s going to change or she just needs to put in more effort. They’re using all the wrong things to numb their pain, thinking they’re fine because it makes them happier. They’re pretending to believe something they no longer believe because they don’t want to have an identity crisis. The list could go on.

I sense the fear of admission because I recognize it in myself. I’ve been there. I admit that I could be projecting, but I don’t think that’s what this is.

This is what I know it to be:

Deep down, from your inner most being there is a protest.

“I was not meant for this. This isn’t right.”

But you smother the protest for weeks, months, years. The protest dies, but resurrects itself the next time something happens that isn’t right. Why don’t you listen? Why do you make excuses? Why do you keep going?

Because there aren’t other options. There are only things tying you down. There is no green grass on the other side that you can see from where you’re standing. You don’t know exactly how you arrived here in the first place, but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out. You don’t have a plan or an alternative. So, you keep putting up with what doesn’t feel right because even though it might not be ideal, it’s what you have. There’s always hope, right? Always potential. It would be stupid to surrender a perfectly fine or at least comfortably familiar job/life/relationship/etc. and instead hurl yourself into a complete mystery.

Look, by all means, give this all you’ve got. Please keep going as long as you possibly can. Exhaust all your resources. Use up every last drop of determination and optimism you can muster.

But know this: there is something holy and relieving about surrendering to the inner protest of, “This isn’t right.”

There is something that happens in a person when they admit the fear and are brave enough to go, “I don’t know what it’s supposed to be like, but I know it’s not this. I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know if it’s going to be worse or better. All I know is that where I’m standing now isn’t right, so I’m going to move.”

This is how life changes. This is how you find your sanctuary. The choices made from that place of, “I don’t know, but not this” are terrifying. But if that inner protest begins to play like a broken record, LISTEN. Be brave. Move. Because the next step might feel worse at first. In fact, expect that it will. But at least it won’t be “this”…whatever your “this” is.

The solution to fear is not creating security, it is having courage.





I am very excited to share this with you:  See Through Stories

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You see, I’ve had several life ties to Alzheimer’s disease: personal (my grandma was diagnosed), professional (I worked as a CNA on an dementia unit), and academic (this was my research topic for my dissertation). In grad school I had this idea to start a story-telling project with people diagnosed early onset and well… I ACTUALLY MADE THE IDEA HAPPEN. Or got it started, anyway. And that’s the hardest part, right?

This has been slowly growing over the last few months and today I am officially launching the website for See Through Stories. There are only two features so far, but I’m hoping that all of you will help me spread the word so I can make connections to more people interested in taking part. I think if there can be anything beautiful about having dementia, it might be that it forces people to live fully present in the moment. I think we could all learn a little from that.

I don’t know if this will last one year or 50 years. I don’t know if this will stay a project or become and organization. I don’t know if this will just feature people where I live or if I’ll be fortunate enough to hear the stories of people with dementia all over the globe. I don’t know if I’ll work solo or if I’ll be lucky enough to form a dream team. There’s a lot I don’t know.

It’s new. It’s figuring itself out. I’m going to be patient and present with it. No matter what it becomes or doesn’t become, I’m proud of myself for at least seeing the idea through. And I expect that I’ll enjoy every bit of the work immensely because it has me all like: damn, people are beautiful.



Extra special thanks to:

The Alzheimer’s Association in Des Moines for connecting me to the wonderful people I’ve interviewed so far // My family, for literally everything // Ryan, who helped get this off the ground from every technical standpoint and was my brainstorming partner// Sarah, Rachel, and Lewis for consistently insisting I must do this, from the very beginning // Andrew, for being my sounding board.



I’ve been volunteering at DMCW for 9 months now and when you’re a staff volunteer, you see the same people come through every week. First, you get to know names and faces. Then you learn things like how Stanley takes his coffee and how when Kim asks if you have noodles she means ramen noodles and nothing else. You learn that Jimmy prefers donations of black socks to white ones and that if anyone is mouthing off, Annie will most certainly have your back.

The longer I’m here, the more I learn not just about preferences and personalities, but about what happens on the other side of the street when our doors have closed for the day. I am only privy to seeing the tip of many icebergs, but it’s enough to keep me from living in comfortable ignorance of what lurks beneath the water where I float.

I can fill a plate, clean and bandage cuts, drive someone to detox, or offer my undivided attention and a hug. But all the love and good deeds in the world don’t change the fact that at the end of the day I’m the one sleeping inside when it’s below zero outside. I’m the one who can raid the fridge at night if my stomach is growling. I’m the one who can work. I’m the one with a car to take me to work. I’m the one who goes home to people who aren’t abusive or tweaking. What do I do with the privelege I carry as I attempt to live in solidarity with these nieghbors of mine?


There have been several times I’ve asked one of our guests a question, completely unprepared for where the conversation would go. Totally unaware that I just signed up to have my ears violated. I’ve had some real good sob sessions in my car lately as I drive and decompress from all the information I take in. I hate, hate, hate, HATE that most of the time all I can do is say, “I’m so sorry.”

I’m so sorry that your husband beat you until your eyes swelled shut and you could feel your mouth fill with blood.

I’m so sorry that you’ve been shot 9 times and can show me the scars scattered across your abdomen.

I’m so sorry that you’re finding it impossible to stay sober and it’s ruining everything.

I’m so sorry that 3 of your 4 sons died when they were just kids.

I’m so sorry that your fingers are frost bitten.

I’m so sorry that you were forced into prostitution and that you feel trapped and violated.

It feels like there are apologies constantly pumping through my bloodstream. All I know is that I cannot burn out, get cyncical, and angry. I cannot disengage. In this place where I live, contemplation and action are connected. Connecting to Love allows the community to stay engaged working for some semblance of peace and justice when the presence of pain is so thick and tangible. I believe this house is holy ground and these neighbors are immensely loved in the only way we know how: to show up, to see and listen, to stand together, and to know how they take their coffee.

God, I hope it’s felt and that it’s enough.




P.S. I know this is kind of heavy, but I promise most of the time there’s a lot of joy and good vibes all around. 




Shout out to Kanye West and Rob Bell, who inspired the following content with their individual creative genius. This is for all the people out there who currently find themselves in a season of life where they just can’t catch a break and have no f-ing clue what’s happening. Come. Join me in my little wave mantra.


I am getting pounded by waves. Waves never come alone. They come in sets. They pummel you, sending your whole body into a vicious spin cycle. Your muscles get tired. You can’t see what is happening. You can’t fill your lungs with precious gulps of air. You don’t know which way is up or down, left or right.

Waves don’t die. They’re ever present. But in the moment where you’re involuntarily forced underwater, you must remind yourself…

This moment is not all moments. The wave will come. It will pound me. It will pass over me. Then I will come up for air.

When you’re tossing and turning in every direction, you will want to thrash your body against the water. Your heart and mind will want to frantically conjure up all the worst case scenarios: What if I don’t make it? What if this doesn’t work out? What if I don’t have the money? What if I get rejected? What if this person doesn’t come through?

What if questions and worst case scenarios only add pound to the pummel. You are burning up energy that could be used to do the only thing that is helpful in a wave: Stay calm. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Sleep enough. Remind yourself…


This moment is not all moments. The wave will come. It will pound me. It will pass over me. Then I will come up for air.

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Skorts + Sno cones

I came across this picture today (thankfully social media didn’t exist when I was in middle school, so pretty much none of that experience was documented like it is for people now) and I just want to be this girl wearing a skort at Adventureland again.
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You know…when feeling grown up meant getting to wear mascara and shaving my legs. When being independent was about getting rides from friends instead of my parents. When socializing involved rollerblading to get sno cones and jumping on a trampoline, because no one had cell phones that did anything except maybe let you play Tetris.

You know…before any of the hard parts happen. Before girls get mean, before parents divorce, before you get your heart broken, before stress is a normal part of life, before best friends leave, before guys become assholes, before the debt piles up, before loved ones get sick and die, before the rejections. This girl hadn’t been touched by any of that yet.

I’ve been trying to remember what it was really like to be this girl, but all I can think of is that she could eat a lot of raw cookie dough and Doritos without gaining any weight and was good at Zelda. It’s insane how many days we live and don’t remember. I spent 365 days being 13 years old but I can only vidvidly recall a few moments here and there. Does this mean that 13 years from now I’ll only be able to remember a few moments from what is my now? 


Well, I think I’ll keep up these nostalogia vibes by listening to Fall Out Boy’s Take This to Your Grave album.






My Faja, Thomas James Vander Well, turns 50 today.

Cheers to the man who wears many hats (literally and metaphorically). I am mind blowingly fortunate that he’s my father. I seriously think about that…a lot. Like every week at least, because I get a cute little post card from him at that frequency. I am always in awe of his creativity, love, wisdom, and how much fun he has with life. He has, and always will be, my favorite man.

Here’s a little throwback post:





So This is Happening

I’ve been one busy lady. Good busy. But busy nonetheless. I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of mental breakdown some days, but soaring high on others. I’m finding it hard to muster the energy to do the things I want to do when I’m done doing the things I need to do. And trying to remember that I get to do it all.

But OK, so this is what’s happening…

I took a road trip to the mitten of the United States last weekend with my friend Kory. Between cafes, breweries, ice cream parlors, and bakeries…we just ate and drank our way through Grand Rapids with Miss Bailey. That city is dope. And so is Bailey. I also got to see my godparents- Dave and Maria and little James, the newest additon to their family. They spoiled Kory and I with an amazing dinner at Terra, a farm to table restaurant. I tried mussels for the first time and I didn’t hate it. After saying peace to GR, we ventured to Detroit to complete the mission of the entire trip: to see one of my favorite paintings in person. We perused the Belle Isle Conservatry, bought succulents at Eastern Market, and stumbled upon a Luge race downtown (which is possibly the most quiet and bizzare sporting event to see up close). A personal highlight was making our way through the midevial art section of DIA via Snapchat and creating these:

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Diego Rivera mural in the DIA


YAY for used bookstore steals

+ I had the opportunity to play papparazzi at the Alzheimer Association’s Conference last week. The Alzheimer’s Association in Des Moines has been a huge support in the project I am working on and they have asked me to be on a project committee that creates social engagement events for patients and their caregivers. I am so pumped to be a part of that!



You should sign up for The Walk to End ALZ🙂



This is crazy.


My Fridays-Sundays are spent with the DMCW, serving up food and loving our neighbors. I am unendingly appreciative that I get to be a part of this community, which is about equal parts insanely beautiful and hella challenging. But being here keeps me grounded in my values and beliefs about how life is meant to be lived and shared. For every absence I observe, there is an abundance to be experienced. One thing the DMCW does is serve breakfast and give out Whole Foods donations on Saturday mornings at Trinity Church before serving lunch at the Dingman House at noon. If anyone is interested in volunteering or cooking a meal, hit me up!



My housemate Al and Justin…two of my favorite dudes.









I’m nannying for one more month. Still applying for jobs and becoming increasingly depressed and frustrated by everything. BUT I’m looking forward to being a bridesmaid for one of my dearest friends in June and to being in Edinburgh for a TBD amount of time this summer. Also, I’ve taken up kickboxing again which has been a sanity saver and makes me feel like a total badass.

Uppercut. Hold the follow through.



7 Things Sunday

One. Spring is here! Egg production is in full swing and the weather is warming up. That means one of my favorite things ever: breakfast on the porch with friends. YAY YAY YAY. IMG_7036IMG_7016IMG_6991IMG_7009IMG_6878IMG_7048IMG_7051

Two. I had the opportunity to hear the infamous primatoligist and conservationist, Dr. Jane Goodall speak in Omaha Friday night. She told bits of her fascinating story with Gombe chimpanzees, discussed Roots & Shoots (her youth-led community action group…which meant there were lots of kiddos in the audience. Awesome.), and the most pressing conservation matters on her heart (let’s not kill Grizzly Bears). She was absolutely lovely. I could have listened to her for much longer. And then the night continuted with a jazz band playing a cover of ‘Smooth’ by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana, trying some delish beers, and even more delish tacos from a truck.

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Three. Looooook what I found. Haha. When you grow up with a right-brained father…

Four. Tuesday night I checked out the new, hella busy, Iowa Taproom with some of my besties. All craft Iowa beer. All the time. You should definitely go, but maybe wait a little bit for the excitement to die down if you don’t feel like waiting for long stretches. The food is good, too! And if you’re partial to ginger beer, check out the Firetrucker Cat Dragon. It’s 11.5%, so go big or go home.

Five. This happened  in our community this week. Thank God everyone was okay. It could have been much worse and even the next day there were two more rounds of gang-related shooting. I have lots of questions, thoughts, and feelings but more than anything it just makes me proud of the work ArtForceIowa is doing. I wish they could expand and grow so we can try to keep kids with guns off of the streets and instead give them squeegees and a job in a community of people who love and care about them. I know that sounds idealistic and it’s not a fix-all solution, but I’ve seen it work and believe it can make a huge difference.

Six. I was going to post asking if anyone wanted to go to hear Rob Bell speak about his book How to be Here in Minneapolis on May 14, but I just saw that general admission tickets are $100. Pssshhhh. Well that’s lame. Anyone swimming in $$??

Seven. Introducing Joel. I am now a nanny for this little dude. He’s 8 months old, loves to stick his feet in his mouth, and makes really amazing noises. We’re a fun pair, so if you want to schedule a play date with us, let me know!


LOL. That drool.