Monday, May 28, 2018


I write this from my phone, lying in bed, belly full of the sour straws I committed whole-heartedly to not eat the entirety of my 27th year (I made it less than a month). Matt is downstairs watching basketball. Babies are asleep. We are all tired and happy from a weekend of playing and puddle splashing and eating junk and togetherness.

I’ve been feeling an itchiness lately. I lie awake long into the night thinking. Crafting sentences. Brainstorming. Doing the kinds of things mothers of young children who get up at 7:15 am sharp need not be doing at 2:34 in the morning. But I can’t help it. Nighttime, when the house is quiet and no one needs me, is when the wheels start turning and my brain starts sticking words together to try to adequately capture my experiences and emotions of the day.

So this is my attempt to replicate that phenomenon at a more humane hour. Plus I’m full of approximately 800 calories of refined  sugar. I need to direct these jitters to something.

Here we go.

There were a few reasons I stopped writing. First, I got a new boss at work who had things he wanted me to do and a budget for me to do these things and the time to meet with me about these budgeted things. Out went my downtime sitting in front of a blank screen (I was not the best employee, clearly). Secondly, I got pregnant. My focus shifted and I was pretty terrified all of pregnancy. I think I wrote about that? No clue where that post went, tragically. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, because it’s still something I’m struggling with, isn’t this all just so...self-indulgent? Who am I to think that I have something so valuable to say? And that I should write it somewhere publicly and think other people might want to read it? The gall!

But then I went hunting though my old email account, found this blog, read all these old posts, and felt such AFFECTION for my newly-married, childless, bored-to-tears-at-work self. I read those posts and felt the same pride I felt for Ada tonight when she put her pajama shirt on all by herself. Look at young me doing something! Just for the heck of it! Way to go! I want to be like that!

I keep thinking of two quotes I read recently. Well, one is a quote. The other is a quote-ish summation from Jennifer Fulwiller’s new book One Beautiful Dream that I’m too sour strawed out to dig out and flip through.

Let’s start with the real quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta: Do something beautiful for God.

And the second quote-ish: You have something to offer.

So I’m combining the two and making a plan/motto/mission statement. I’ll be here, stringing words and thoughts together in a way that is (hopefully) beautiful because I have something to offer the world.

Thanks for joining me.

Why oh why is it so hard for us to say that we feel we are gifted in an area? Reading back through my old posts, I was legitimately impressed and freaking proud of my writing. But I would almost sooner have another back-laborious natural birthing experience than stand up and say “Hey. I’m Mary Margaret and I’m a decent writer.” Have we swung too far into humility that we’re afraid to even admit these things to ourselves, let alone declare them publicly? It just feels so braggy. Ugh. Even then I just went back and changed the word good to decent. Double ugh.

Monday, August 3, 2015

a week

Monday is for refusing to turn your brain on until you have listened to the previous night's This American Life in its entirety.

Monday is for taking your time.

Tuesday is for running to your local post office with a terrifyingly low Yelp rating fifteen minutes before it closes to ask questions about lost mailbox keys, but then being blown away by the kindness and helpfulness of the woman behind the counter.

Tuesday is for surprises.

Wednesday is for girding your loins and going to Trader Joe's despite your (self-induced) chocolate migraine because your fridge is flat out of all solid food items and husbands don't consider green beans with a side of almonds dinner.

Wednesday is for strength.

Thursday is for wearing a dress that shows probably a little bit more boob than necessary, but deciding to own it while making a mental note to not lean forward in front of anyone, just in case.

Thursday is for confidence (and sitting up very straight).

Friday is for cranking out reports, throwing things in to pivot tables, and sending emails to important people while holding your breath and praying for no typos. It's for managing to prep and bottle the week's kombucha in 20 minutes flat.

Friday is for efficiency.

Saturday is for sleeping in late then going out for waffles. For visits to new places, naps, and quesadillas. Maybe it's also for drinking margaritas and getting a little silly.

Saturday is for Sabbath.

Sunday is for grocery trips, a birthday batch of blueberry muffins, loads of laundry, and floors cleaned before AND after church.

Sunday is for quiet productivity.

And now we begin again.

Friday, July 31, 2015


This is about fertility, babies, and the deepest longings of my soul. Consider yourself warned.

Even though we're not trying, even though we have a plan, and even through I know the timing is not right, every month I feel a sense of failure sink in. And every month I try explaining this to Matt. I tell him about callings. I tell him about the feelings that are so core and so very central to my being. I try my best to articulate that while I am currently decidedly unpregnant, I feel like I should be pregnant. There's always a lot of pausing for deep breaths between even deeper thoughts. I sigh, stare at the ceiling, and struggle for the right words to say. I finally tell him what he already knows - his wife would like a baby please. After this display of emotion, I always find myself flopped on the bed. And in a display of spousal love, I always find Matt flopped next to me.

We discuss timelines. We discuss finances. We discuss waiting and agree that a bit of patience is best. But then we (mostly me) discuss the what-ifs: what if it doesn't work/what if it takes years/what if we regret these months of waiting? We (mostly Matt) discuss trusting God. We (I) discuss infertility and miscarriage and the dozens of things that can go wrong. We (Matt) discuss, again, trusting the Creator of the universe and our hearts, the One who put these desires in motion.

Then we (Matt) get up to brush our (his) teeth and get ready for bed, while we (I) go to the couch to do some thinking.

I think about the first time I realized I was made to be a mother - made to nurture and support, to tend to and love. I was six and my youngest brother was a few months old and starting to cry. I picked him up from his crib, sat cross-legged on the floor, put on my gentlest voice, and calmed him down. Something clicked. I sat there, watching him drift slowly off to sleep, feeling like I had both power and purpose.

I think about my heart and the hearts of women everywhere who share the same longing. How all of our hearts beat so strongly for this one thing that all this waiting, either intentional or unintentional, just seems throughly unproductive.

But then I think about God. I remind myself of His promises and His plan and of all of those little things that my impatient heart doesn't want to hear. How my God is the same God who remembered Rachel, who remembered Sarah, who remembered Elizabeth. Someday, somehow, He will remember me.

Then, in all of this talk remembering, I remember this doozy: God knows the exact date of each of my somedays.

And with that, I can finally go to sleep.

Monday, July 20, 2015

useless anecdote no. 1: Church vs. church

In our apartment, we do a fair amount of singing. Singing in the shower. Singing to the kittens. Singing the lyrics of one song to the melody of another (by yours truly and not even on purpose, I just happen to be musically challenged). Call me Maria Von Trappe.

Yesterday’s singing session took place between church and our Holeman & Finch reservation and was kicked off with me singing one of the morning’s hymns to the tune of Girl Crush by Lady Antebellum (again – not intentional). So Matthew, being the dream boat he is, pulled out his guitar to graciously aid me in my praising. We moved through the a few other hymns, but mysteriously ended up where we always end up these days - the contemporary classic “Shut Up and Dance.” (two-for-one tangent: I watch that little 20 second clip at least once a workday and it makes me grin down to my toes // I found an old journal during the last move and saw that I wrote about praying for a singing thank you Jesus.)

Around this time, our across the hall neighbor, who, unlike us, has age-appropriate hobbies like going to bars (this detail will become pertinant, I promise), had arrived home and was letting her cat roam the halls, heard our impromptu concert and was lead to tell us that we were really good. I was like, um, we? As in both of us? She confirmed. Yes! Both of us! And told us that we should preform places. Like Tin Lizzy’s or JCT. Matt mentioned that he plays at church about once a month. To which the neighbor said, “Oh I love Church! I go there all the time! Let me know next time you play!” We were like, "Yeah! Ok!" and then headed out for lunch.

As I walked down the stairs, I realized she was most likely referring to Church (also known as Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium, a bar in Edgewood), while we were referring to church (also known as Trinity, also known as the House of the Lord, Most High).

We should have clarified.

But am I still riding high from the fact that someone thought my voice was something other than “different” or “not great”? Yes. And I will hold onto that white-lie of a compliment til my dying day.

Anyway. Holeman & Finch burgers deserve every bit of hype and are worth standing in line in the muggy heat for. Highly recommend.

Monday, June 29, 2015

let them eat cake

Sometimes you create grand plans of eating your wedding cake on your anniversary cruise, but sometimes cruiselines don't let you bring cakes aboard. So you adapt.

19262855210 from Mary Margaret Phillips on Vimeo.

(Matt's itchiness is a long story. Disregard.)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

year one

Three hundred and sixty five days ago, a girl woke up unmarried for the last time. She spent the morning feeling butterflies, which surprised her, because she didn't think she was nervous. But they flew around her belly while she sipped iced coffee. They fluttered while her nails and hair and make-up were done. They did back flips and cartwheels while her dress was zipped up and sash was hooked, and when she danced around the bathroom, the butterflies danced with her. They spun and twirled as she hooked arms with her father and walked out the door. 

Then she saw him. And the butterflies stopped.

People love to tell you how hard the first of marriage is, but when I look back at our first year, I'm overwhelmed with a feeling of quiet peacefulness. Our first year was walks after dinner, belly laughing on a messy bed, sitting on the kitchen table singing hymns. It was going out into the world and, no matter what happened, knowing that you were coming home to your own little haven.

In my mind, this peacefulness comes primarily from knowing that we weren't required to be everything for each other. Knowing that your spouse is looking to an omniscient, all-loving God for fulfillment and meaning takes so much pressure off your daily interactions and lets you truly be free. Freedom to speak your mind, freedom to love with all you've got, and freedom to forgive quickly.

Secondarily, it comes from Matt. Matt Phillips is a rock. If we were climates, Matt would be the sunny Southern California to my unpredictable, ever-changing Georgia weather. He's stable and steady when I'm working myself up into a lather. He holds fast and strong to truth when I'm being tossed about by life. I can completely lose my mind about hypothetical scenarios, but I know that he'll be there, holding my hand and letting me know that everything is going to be ok.

Matthew David, thank you for being my calm in the storm. Thank you for leading me, praying for me, and being the best teammate I could ask for. Here's to grainy selfies and bedtime stories, to weekly spaghetti dinners and spending forever by your side. Happy anniversary, my love.

Friday, May 29, 2015

butter is my love language: four somewhat unrelated thoughts on food

Starting at about the age of nine, I would regularly grab a stack of old Southern Livings or Better Homes & Gardens from the basket in the office, seat myself at the counter, and flip about three quarters of the way back, past colorful maps showing when to plant your tulips and articles about Charleston restaurants til I found what I thought was the only redeeming section of the whole publication - the recipes.

It was poetry. A list of every day ingredients, sometimes with something exotic sounding mixed in ("Mom, what are bing cherries?"), followed by a step-by-step set of instructions, ending with a glossy, staged picture with a well-placed garnish, a structure which repeated with different combinations of ingredients for four or five more pages. It was from these magazines I learned how accessible cooking was. All you had to do was gather what's on the list, follow the instructions, and add a little something to make it pretty. 

As a wife and functioning adult, I get to experience this poetry in my life everyday, although now it's less "sonnet in iambic pentameter" and more "free-form hippie poetry with the occasional couplet". I borrow from the poetry of others and add a little something of my own. Roasted garlic. Browned butter. Raw sugar sprinkled for a crunch. I am the queen in this kingdom. If I choose to use a heavy hand with the vanilla extract or add a pinch of cayenne to the candied pecans for good measure, so be it.

I love people with the food I make. Through it, I get to simultaneously delight and meet a primal need. With pies and cakes, I am giving my time and gentleness. With soups and hearty dinners, I give my care and attention to detail in the form of a chopped onion, smashed garlic cloves and almond-crusted chicken breasts. With every chocolate chip cookie and oatmeal cream pie, I give my joy and and love. With any yeasted dough, I knead in a triple dose of my patience.

Cooking is a communion with the past, the most delicious form of memory. When browning ground beef, I see my mother, standing barefoot in the kitchen stirring spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon. Cinnamon rolls smell like childhood Christmas mornings and with each apple I peel, I remember a Thanksgiving Day pie. While making sweet tea, I am swept back to a late-summer picnic in Grant Park with a boy I loved but hadn't told yet. Peanut butter pie reminds me of sweet roommates and how lucky I am for friendships that pick back up right where they left offA BLT on warm toast has me smiling at jokes told in ridiculous accents that have (somehow) only grown more funny with time. Corner brownies and crispy potatoes remind me of my dad. Whole roasted chicken tastes like triumph. Banana bread, home. Brie and green apples on a baguette, adventure.

I wonder what memories my children and their children and their children will have of me after I've had my ashes scattered in some great body of water (morbid, whatever). Will roasted sweet potatoes with broccoli or raspberries on oatmeal remind them of me? Will they hear my voice saying "boxed mixes are for quitters" as they rub citrus zest into sugar? I hope so. If I get to have any say in these things (which I don't think I do), I would like my legacy to be one of never measuring the vanilla extract, always encouraging a second serving of lemon cake and not skimping on chocolate chips. I want to be remembered with my oven mitts on and smiling, a barefoot queen in her kingdom. Take note, unborn children. Take note.