Mid-Winter Equinox


The moon was rising rapidly over the hills just east of town: a full, translucent moon, tinged the color of peach sherbet. She could still make it if she hurried.

She sped up the steep hill toward the park, taking care not to ram into any oncoming cars on this aged, labyrinthine incline. She imagined this might have been an ancient Greek path, or a winding Italian road, not a private drive in a small American beach town.

Peeks of the forthcoming sunset dappled across her eyes, blinding her as she turned a corner. No matter, she knew the way. How many times had she gone up this hill? She had been distracted tonight and had almost missed the sunset—a mistake she would have regretted—considering the rarity of such a clear day coupled with of a full moon rise.

At the top, she had no problem parking. This place was a secret that only photographers and hikers relished. The tourists were busy taking pictures down below, on the pier or the beach. But the few people atop Grant Park hill knew better. She hiked up the hill just a bit, to her favorite vantage point. She wanted to make sure she could see both the moon and the sun in her peripherals.

The sun was gliding delicately into the ocean, deepening the colors of the horizon with each second that passed. It was glorious. Each of the five Channel Islands seemed to hover just over the water, glazed in a majestic deep lavender. There were a few sleek clouds—probably jet contrails—drifting above the islands, refracting all different colors in their delicate streaks of condensation.

Looking across the valley, through speckled browns and greens—tiny houses and tiny lawns—the sky seemed to suspend the moon as if it were being risen by an invisible string; a slow, methodical, even-tempered moon, smiling over the sleepy beach town that it protected by night.

By now the sun had slipped below the definitive line of the Pacific Ocean, but the show was far from over. Once the sun went down, the colors seemed to deepen across the horizon. Where there had been a faint blue sky there was now a deep purple cast, where slight, bright specs of outer space began to poke through the blanket of atmosphere known as night.

The moon kept on its trajectory over the North Eastern side of the city, sleepily floating up, up; it was ascending to its throne above, watching over the people as they dreamed away their long winter’s night. The days would be getting longer now, promising more light and warmth and sustenance.

She took a deep, methodical breath as she waited until the moon was no longer a giant orb on the horizon and was firmly seated in the sky above.

What promises this night had made. What dreams had been put to sleep to linger over, to wake up to. It was sunsets like these that reminded one of the precious gift of life in a world full of chaos and pain.

She would remember this night always: a perfect mid winter equinox.





For An Unborn Son

Head reeling, world spinning, waves crashing.


You were a whisper–

a shadow of what could have been.

A seed–

 beautiful, original, unseen.

I rue the day we made you:

the moments, enraptured;

no hesitation or doubt.

For now you are gone,

and a piece of my heart–

my joy–ripped out.

What am I to think, or do?

It seems cruel, the taking.

Why steal what you–

who made–gave?!

My body is your temple,

to do with as you choose.

But this?!

An empty, selfish ruse.

Birth has not given me peace;

it has robbed me of a son–

one for whom my love

will never cease.

Prayers cannot quell

my tear-stained cheeks,

nor strengthen my battered heart.

The Lord has taken, and taken;

I am left alone and weak,

my child depart.

If mercy be ready,

my spirit, alight!

To hold in my arms,

my baby all right.

Give me courage, holy might,

that I may see my son

in Eden, some night!

Obsequium – A Modern Psalm

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross”
Philippians 2:3-8

 Lord, protect me from myself.

Protect me from my vanity, my pride, my selfish ambition.

Create in me a clean heart, full of grace and mercy; compassion and steadfastness.

I need Your patience, for time is not on my side.

I am impetuous and selfish; vain and insecure; arrogant and judgmental.

Forgive my idolatrous heart.

Let me surrender my will, and make Your will known to me.

Thank you for Your mercy– daily, hourly; Your grace is what keeps me from the pit.

Guard my heart; place a holy fortress around me to protect, guide, and challenge.

Thank you for Your character: deep, gracious, kind, patient, every-lasting,

omnipotent, all-knowing, wise, faithful, loving.

Pour Yourself into my cup; seal the cracks of this broken vessel.

Shine Your light into every dark corner of my heart.

I surrender, I submit.

I release my false authority and self-righteousness to You.

Turn this heart of rubble into a masterpiece; mold me to Your likeness and design.

Proclaim Your majesty through my limbs, my soul, my mind.


Small Perfections

I recently enjoyed dinner (breakfast at night…the best!) with a friend at her college campus apartment. The kitchen was cramped—as all proper dorms are—but full of the lives of the women who share meals from its meager resources. I was honored to be a part of that particular night’s festivities: crêpes with eggs, jam, parmigiano-reggiano, and my famous sweet potato fries (burnt to perfection).

While my friend was preparing to make the crêpes, she was discouraged by the lumps in the batter. Lumps are the crêpe’s nemesis! “Never mind that,” I said, trying to be as helpful and easy-going as possible. Lumps are lumps, the crêpes will still taste good.

As she was pouring the batter into the pan, swirling the runny dough around and around the sides to make a perfectly thin disc, we were chatting about life. I was semi-distracted by my three pans worth of sweet potatoes that were beginning to smell rather potent through the rear vent of the oven. She went to slide the first crêpe off the pan and onto the plate and—crumple.

“Oh bother. I guess that will be the tester. There always has to be one ugly tester.” The large, round crêpe had broken into three smaller pieces, angular and un-crêpe like in form. I reached for a piece and took a bite. It was delicious.

“Small perfections” I volunteered, smiling at her as she attempted another swirly creation. Then I thought about that phrase a bit more. “Yeah. Think about it: maybe we make things larger and more complicated than they need to be. Maybe life is more about the small perfections.”


I’ve been thinking about that a lot in the past week since that night of eating crêpes on the floor around a small, book-cluttered coffee table with friends. We always have grand plans for ourselves, for our children, for our world. But what if God requires us to simply take hold of the “small” things: a walk with a dear friend, a long cup of coffee, a letter, a particular song that moves us, a smile from a stranger. What if we stopped focusing so much on the drive to make huge strides through this life, and focused instead on having a fully present, fully appreciative, fully humble attitude? Did not God create us in His own image? To be bearers of Himself and His story?

We are His small perfections.

There was no “tester” crêpe (human) when God created Man. There were no lumps in the batter, no extraneous oil seeping through, no broken pieces left on the plate. Every fiber of our bodies was intended to be used for a purpose. Unfortunately, sin has tainted our hopes of ever being truly perfect in this life.

But I believe He can use us in our imperfection.

I want to challenge you to find something in your life that you are grateful for—a small perfection—that helps make life worth living. Then, take that small thing and share its warmth and radiance with someone else. See how it makes you feel, how it makes them feel. Keep searching for those small perfections, asking the Lord for wisdom and healing and wholeness. I imagine that something will begin stirring in you, something that will bring positive, live-giving change to your inner life.

Listen for the Lord: He is waiting, always waiting, in the quiet corners of our hearts, to speak to us in hushed tones if we just stop to listen. Only He can help us become the redeemed “small perfections” that He originally intended us to be.

Eve’s Plight

Riddled with pain, ceaseless pain, unfair pain. Why must we suffer? Her words ring in her ears, a shell of bitterness exploding near her heart.

To suffer: to endure pain or distress; to sustain loss or damage; to be subject to disability or handicap.

First watching him unravel, then rehab, then food stamps, then the fighting—always silent and simmering. At least the kids are gone now.  More silent nights, empty mornings. How long can we go on like this? Then one empty morning: emergency surgery. Something is terribly wrong. It’s the colon, all twisted up inside her aging body. It’ll have to be partially removed. Eight months of physical and emotional trauma: baggy clothes, liquid diets, naps upon naps, visits from friends; more silence. Why? Why are You allowing this to happen? What are you trying to teach me?

She learns to cope through the years, ceding to his control because it’s easier. She still loves him somehow, so it seems like the right thing to do. But is it? I don’t know anymore… Waking up alone, feeling a rustling pang in her heart—something used to live inside there, but she doesn’t know how long it has been gone, where it went. She turns onto her other hip, the less arthritic one, and tries to fall asleep. Soon, the pain causes her to lie on her back, stare at the ceiling, and bargain with Him. If only…  When will you relent?   Please…  I’m so tired…    so tired…   SO tired.

Her children see her periodically, but not enough. They worry about her, care for her. Mostly she seems fine, so they go about their own lives with their own problems, until they wake up in the night to hear her crying on the sofa just outside the guest room.  I’m fine, honey. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be just fine. 

Just fine. The perfect answer to a life full of pain and hardship and doubt. Just fine. The patented, blasé, over-used excuse to avoid telling them what’s really at stake. We’re getting a divorce. She tries to protect them but they are old enough to know how difficult this marriage has been, how one-sided and sacrificial and costly. Her soul is at stake. I can’t go on living like this. Nor should she, they think. But it feels like this final act will cost too much. Can I follow through? Will I be brave enough? It will take too much of her soul.

She tries to walk with her children—grown adults—through the beautiful park where they grew up. She hobbles and stumbles and spasms her way to a nearby bench. This cannot be right. My greatest love is the outdoors. So. Much. Pain. She needs to rest, to stretch, to buy a new body. Could she trade it in for a new model? Wouldn’t that be lovely? Her children take pity on her and help her back to the car. She really should get that looked at. But there’s the bills, and the lawyer, and the moving. I can’t take another thing.

She begins to cry. Her life seems like an unjust travesty; an epic Russian novel where all the best characters die tragically. Why must we suffer, Lord?! I have served you with my whole heart. Why must you TAKE and TAKE?! Her children have no answers. They can only hold her as she cries, the parent-child roles reversed in the cycle of life’s cruel irony. She is grateful for them, but she is also ashamed at having to drag them through this. If only she could live unscathed, surrounded by the beauty of Eden and all its delight; a pain-free life. What a glorious miracle. What an unrealistic dream.

She goes to church and is comforted by people she knows and loves, and by the message of scripture preached. But she is still left wanting. When will this be over? Take the pain away, sweet Jesus. If only it were so simple, so instantaneous. And so she cries through the service, longing for an eternal home that seems so far from her present reality. She weeps for her no-longer husband, for her broken family. She also weeps for her broken body, riddled with scars and pain and disability. Will this be how I spend my days? Weeping? Mourning? What good can come of all this suffering? Tell me!

She doubts and toils and sleeps—a lot. She sleeps to ail the pain of her body, her soul. She sleeps to remember happier days of old. She sleeps to see glimpses of Heaven; peace and abundant joy overwhelm her in these dreams of Zion. This is what she clings to. Peace. Joy. Lay me beside still waters, deliver me from evil. Deliver me…deliver me…

She awakens.

There is singing: echoes of beautiful notes surround her like the sound bouncing through a canyon. Sweet water touches her lips as she takes a long drink from a golden chalice offered to her. Whose hands are these? The hands brush the dripping water off her chin and raise her face. Those eyes! Penetrating her very soul, eyes stare deeply back at her from a radiant face. “Come” he says. She begins to walk. What?! She feels no pain, no aches, no shooting spasms. Only joy: pure, unadulterated joy. She runs across a field, dappled with flowers and long, abundant grass. She is running! She can’t believe it. How long has it been?

The man seems to have caught up with her, smiling. “Welcome” he says. She is crying. Not from pain or heartache or anger, but out of the overwhelming feeling of being fully loved. Never in her life has she felt this intense a feeling. For the first time in all her years of suffering, the hole in her heart that has grown wider and deeper with each new devastation, feels mended. She is finally whole; a wholly new creature.

She walks through the gates, others welcoming her in joyfully. Some she knows already, some she has yet to meet. They all walk toward a radiant, beautiful, smiling man. This man knows them all; he knows the hairs on their head and all the pain they have suffered. He has suffered too. Something about him causes her to surrender to a deep sensation of peace.

She is known. She is loved. She is home.   I am Home.

“He will dwell with them, and they will be his people…He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things have passed away…

Behold, I am making all things new.”

-Revelation 21:3-5



Twenty-seven. Almost to the minute.

I am sitting on a small dune in South Haven, Michigan surrounded by sea grass and finely pebbled sand. Looking out across the lake, my eyes are speckled with images of tiny sail boats and a long, lean boardwalk with a beautiful red lighthouse at its tip, warning sailors of the shallow waters at the entrance of the harbor.

It is balmy; perfect, really. Josh Garrels accompanies me, my ears pleasantly listening to his poet heart and musical versatility. I stare at the serene—almost placid—Lake Michigan and breathe deeply as my spirit settles into the last minutes of my twenty-sixth year of life: a difficult one, to say the least.

“Lift up your shoulders, child; breathe in.

Carry the weight of love, you’ve been given,

Storm is passing by, light breaks in;

As you learn to sing.”

{Josh Garrels, Colors}

Sailboats glide gently in and out of the burst of sun reflecting off the water, their grey silhouettes beckoning adventure. Wind, sail, water, tranquility; a simpler life. Is that the secret?

The fading light is dancing on each flowing piece of sea grass, held within the halo of dusk, swaying gently in the sleepy wind.

Sunsets have always held a special fascination for me. Something about the source of our light and warmth going away, and the remembrance of it. It is the token of another sigh, another tick of time’s fickle clock, another life lived.

“We are children of the Sun King.

Hold onto my hand, this mysterious evening;

it’ll meet us  like a dream.”

{Josh Garrels, Fire By Night}

Peace descends as the sun slides lower onto the horizon, settling into the west like a small child being gently placed onto the pillow after a long day of play.

Every day the sun rises, works for us; it gives us sustenance, comfort, and hope. Every night it retires, with the full knowledge that it will have to rise again. And it always does!

What a beautiful miracle! What an example of your steadfast love! That you would rise, work, sacrifice, and dwindle into the promise of a coming dawn. How poignant. You will come again, as surely as the rising sun. Such a beautiful promise. Yet, such a far-off hope.

You have blessed me with another year of life. You have kept me from the lion’s den, shielded me from myself, from the inevitable pain that living in sin provokes. Thank you.

Thank you for calling me child, daughter, blessed. Words that evoke strength and meaning in a world that has left me feeling empty since birth. You are the longing which my soul so desperately craves. You.

You are in everything. The rocks cry out your name. The babbling brook, the sparrow, the small child, the old man; all cry out your name. How easily we forget your nearness. We cry out for you in our loneliness, not remembering that you are there in a hug, a moonrise, a letter, a tear.

Thank you for not allowing me to ever truly be alone, though I feel the pangs of loneliness often enough.

“Child, the time for you has come to go.

You will never be alone.

Every dream that you have been shown,

Will be like a living stone;

Building you into a home,

A shelter from the storm.”

{Josh Garrels, White Owl}

The sun is finally setting. A huge red-orange ball dips, slides, slips, glides into the serenity of Lake Michigan. The lighthouse and its boardwalk are blackened against the intensity of the ball of fire, making a spiderweb of art and structure: a pure form of beauty.

The glory lasts about two minutes, then it is gone. The light of day is gone. Almost instantly, the smells of dusk permeate the air: hints of freshly cut grass and the overwhelming fixture of lilac float between the houses as I walk back to the cottage.

Summer is coming.

The trees sway slightly as the last whispers of the day drift through their branches. Night is here. Rabbits, raccoons and stars—the pilgrims of the night—emerge. And we begin to retire into our nests and burrows for the evening.

Another day. Another breath. Another life.

My friends will be waiting to celebrate with me. Presents and cards and strawberry-rhubarb crisp. Here’s to another year!

Twenty-seven and counting.


Where the Heart Is…

Flying out from Los Angeles yesterday afternoon—leaving beautiful, sunny, coastal weather—and entering into the snowy, sub-arctic tundra of Chicago has never felt more appealing. She has gone mad. I can hear all of you saying it now, and it makes me smile. Yes, Chicago in winter is brutal. Yes, I will probably be crying for your sympathy come March when the snow has not abated and the temperature fluctuation is still playing mind games with us all. Don’t worry, I’ll let you reference this post back to me (humbly and a bit sheepishly, I’m sure).

But for now, I want to revel in home. Home. Songs, epic poems, battle cries, cheesy cross-stitch pillows; they all hearken us back to this familiar place. But what makes it home? I have thought about this a great deal since divulging to my family out west that I’m not planning on returning to their shores anytime soon. Chicago is my place. Chicago is where my people live. Chicago is where I feel most alive. And I think that’s the ticket. That alive-ness. And it’s found in the small details, the nuggets of joy in the mundane, the surprises that pop out from the ordinariness, that make us breathe deeply and know that we are alive.

My roommate Emily picked me up from the airport last night (thank God, because it was -20 wind chill…woof!) and shuttled me home across a sleepy, bundled-up city. It was so good to catch up with her on the drive; I am grateful that she volunteered to pick me up (despite crazy delays due to weather. Thanks, lady!) Driving through the snow-crusted back alley to our apartment, my excitement began to grow.

I walked into the kitchen and all the smells and sights that have grown familiar and cherished came flooding back to me. Home. Miriam was there to greet me, and to show me some of the things that had changed since I left, a month prior. I loved what she did with the dining room. It seemed to fit better than we had originally created it. I love little nuances like that. Fresh. Clean. Change. This apartment has grown into such a lovely manifestation of creativity, warmth, and solace; I am so thankful to share it with all my friends, near and far.

I walked into my enchanted bedroom with my big-girl bed, cozy armchair, and beloved writing desk—one I inherited from my Grandfather when he passed a few years ago, and that my brother graciously schlepped all the way across America for me. The magical porch lights were dangling from the ceiling, lighting up the whole space with a warm glow. And boy was I excited to see what delightful morsels of mail and Christmas presents I still had yet to open since departing!

I had to spent quite a bit of this trip away being “administrative.” I had ample amounts of time with which I needed to buckle down and take care of some business. I am proud to say that I am now an insured adult (I know, right?!), I officially own a checkbook (I can hear you laughing), and I am a registered car-share user (so I can survive the winter this year…hopefully). Being administrative is at the bottom of the priority list in my life, but I have to admit that I was pretty stoked when I got home yesterday and all of that mail proved a fruitful return to my labor. I even received a few “fun” pieces of mail, like a letter from a friend in D.C. and tickets to the upcoming Brook Fraser concert. Yes!

I noticed there were a few gifts sitting on my armchair as well. Beautiful hand-made mittens, created from used wool sweaters—Lucy Blue’s. Omg, I can’t believe how warm they are! (Thanks, Sarah—they’re perfect). I also unwrapped a lovely book (Lena, you know me too well, thank you). It’s a book of letters written by C.S. Lewis from over the years. That, and a few others that have been given to me by friends and family, and I’m set for a winter reading list (minus some cookbooks and biographies and Madeleine L’Engle fiction that still need perusing, of course).

Melanie came home to me banging a nail into the wall in the kitchen (a common occurrence around here, lol) so I could hang up a calendar that I had made of pictures I have taken through this last year. She squealed and gave me a big hug and I was so glad to see her. A month really is a long time to be gone. We swapped stories of home, and I unpacked all my suitcases. Between all the thrifting and Christmas presents this year, I had my work cut out for me in the packing department. Luckily, I have inherited my Dad’s sense of tetrus-style packing mastery. And TSA didn’t ruffle through my bags for once! I love it when that happens.

Ten o’clock rolled right on by. The roomies were all tucked in bed (they all go to work at the crack of dawn…lest you think we’re all old ladies…ok, sometimes we are). And of course, I was wide awake. Minutes kept on ticking, and my energy did not seem to wane. So, I put my new flannel sheets on my bed. That was a grand idea! I was so cozy this morning that I had a rough time getting out of bed. Flannel, two wool blankets, and a down comforter—to keep out the cold of the sun porch. Absolute Heaven. And what would my first morning back home be without coffee in my Chemex? That was a delightful treat. I’ve grown quite attached that little appliance and I missed it dearly while I was away. Pour-over coffee is just perfection. I digress…

My time spent out West was challenging—as all trips have the capability to be—but it was not without great blessing either. I got to spend ample amounts of time with my mother, which was amazing. She’s had a rather difficult year and it meant a lot to her having me around. I got to witness a miracle in the flesh. My cousin, who lives in Australia, has been trying to get pregnant for almost a decade. She and her husband had all but lost hope, until (miraculously!), they got pregnant this last year! I am proud to say that I held their baby boy (already four months old) this Christmas and experienced the profound love of God in his little body. Sometimes, it is when we are close to losing all hope that God makes Himself known to us in ways unfathomable and daring.

I also spent time with extended family, which is always a restorative thing for me. Another of my cousins is expecting in March (yay!) and seeing all of us together in one room (minus a few cousins) reminded me of the power of blood. No matter how difficult life may be, or how lonely you may feel on occasion, family is always there. Blood runs thicker than water, they say. I know that my cousins, aunts, and uncles all feel the same. Our Bradberry sense of kin is strong. And I am excited to watch us age, the children grow, and the gatherings multiply. Though we are all spread out, we throw a wicked-fun reunion! Maybe the next one in Chicago, guys?!

The snow is beginning to fall outside my window as I finish this post. And somehow, it is a welcome sight. The purity in the white, dancing flakes, the coziness of home, and the promise that spring is coming (we’re already half-way through this!) makes my heart glad. I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and New Years celebration. I challenge you now, after the craziness of the season, to look for the subtlety: linger over a cup of coffee with a loved one, read under the blankets just one chapter more, watch the snow fall in the dark or the moon rise over the horizon, listen to something on repeat just to relish it. Enjoy being home. There’s no place like it.


‘Mary Speaks’ by Madeleine L’Engle

O you who bear the pain of the whole earth,

I bore you.

O you whose tears give human tears their worth,

I laughed with you.

You, who, when your hem is touched, give power,

I nourished you.

Who turn the day to night in this dark hour,

light comes from you.

O you who hold the world in your embrace,

I carried you.

Whose arms encircled the world with your grace,

I once held you.

O you who laughed and ate and walked the shore,

I played with you.

And I, who with all others, you died for,

now I hold you.


May I be faithful to this final test:

In this last time I hold my child, my son,

his body close enfolded to my breast,

the holder held: the bearer borne.

Mourning to joy: darkness to morn.

Open, my arms: your work is done.


word speeding, meaning:
           seeing is believing.
I look, your eye meeting mine;
               is this the thing?
           the moment, fleeting-
           missed time; tick, tock,
            tick, my heart skips
a tune plays, I remember:
Can we, shall we,
                ever go back?
           a time defeated, not
           needed in space and
         lived in breaths, receded.
Time stood still this eve:
      a friend,
             in peace,
                      sweet release.

The Golden Wood

We were surrounded by a golden wood.

Walking, gazing; in silence we took in the majestic landscape.

What must it have been like to have experienced the Earth, before man tainted it?

The trees surpassed our height by feet and feet, reaching toward the Heavens, reaching; for their Creator.

Do the trees know God? Do the birds sing sweetly, knowing in their bosom that He will provide for them?

Silently we walked, side by side.

Breathing, leaves rustling, water trickling.

This is the real world.

No imitation, no guise, no distraction; this.

Golden leaves fall: some individual, some in groups; down to the forest floor, to live out their last days—shrivel, disintegrate, become one again with the Earth.

We too will become of the Earth someday.

Ashes to ashes, forest floor to forest floor,

Creator will unite once again with Creation.

Will you walk with me once more, in the golden wood?

Will you breath deeply, sweetly, that musk-scented air?

Will you admire the rocks, the streams, the trees?

Only a pastime, but a perfect one.

Surround me in that golden wood,

that I may live my days in perfect peace.