Laughing At The Future

2015 was a hard year. Every time I say this, sitting on her lime green vinyl couch, my therapist reminds me to look at it through a lens of growth, from the perspective of someone a little further down the road from those moments that made it especially hard. When I put on her glasses, I see a woman who has traveled from full-time work without margin or a moment to breathe (or work on the book people keep asking her about) to the person I am today, who proudly calls herself a writer when people ask her what she does.

I made some important and terrifying decisions in 2015. My heart was broken. I fell back in love with my hometown. I went to a wedding on a first date. All I wanted to do in the cold heart of December was curl up and sleep until it was brighter again.

In the silence and the gloom, I began to hear a whisper of my own voice from long ago. I often wish that some parts of my religious education were different, but I am thankful for all those verses I memorized “word perfect” including these words from Proverbs 31, which speak of a woman of valor: “she can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25b). I could still hear it echoing through the brightly-lit gym with the orangey-brown carpet.

I have wrestled with the great to-do list the church placed on my shoulders through that chapter, learning only recently that it is sung each week in Jewish homes, a way of praising the unseen acts of women who work hard, often for little reward.

As it occurs to me, I turn it over in my mind, thinking about the year that stretches before me, looking bright and new and full of possibilities, just as 2015 did, just as 2015 indeed was. Can I laugh at these days to come? I wonder.

Laughing at the FutureOnce this thought finds a home, my mind wanders back to Sarah, Abraham’s wife back in Genesis. God promised her a son in her old age and she laughed. As soon as I make the connection, I can’t believe I’ve never made it before. Sarah laughed at the days to come. She laughs because it seems impossible, and because everything is ruined. Her husband has a son already, because she took matters into her own hands, sending in her slave to further the family line. Things are in a mess. She is not laughing with confidence, but with disbelief.

“Is anything too wondrous for the Lord?” He asks.

Sometimes I sit in my therapist’s office and tell her that I feel like nothing will change. I’ll never meet someone I want to spend my life with, I’ll never measure up to my own standards of success, I’ll never beat my anxiety, or learn to forgive so it sticks. Lately, when these thoughts rise in my mind they are quickly countered with: is anything too wondrous for the Lord? And I begin to cry.

So this year, I’ve decided to practice making a home in laughter. I’m going to laugh wildly, and through tears and frustration and doubt. I’m going to laugh at silly TV comedies and British chick lit and with my friends and their kids. I want the laughter to wrap around me like a house or a cloak, a carapace to protect me from the elements. I’m going to laugh at what the days to come might bring and at what is set before me. I’m going to hope that the future will hear me coming, and will start laughing with me. I’m going to trust that even when I laugh at the promises of God because it feels like nothing will ever change, it doesn’t make the promises less true. The wondrous comes anyway.

cara YAH bio

Announcing New Writing Fellows!

Our first year at You Are Here stories has been an adventure and a delight. From the very beginning, we loved the idea of inviting a range of people to share their experience around common themes, but until we dove in we had no idea how rich and rewarding the story-sharing experience would be.

As we began to dream together about year number two—how we might expand our perspectives, engage new voices, and invigorate our collective explorations of place—it seemed fitting that we would invite new Writing Fellows to join our core team.

Some of these faces will not be new to you. Most of our new Writing Fellows have guest posted here in the last year. They immediately got what we were up to and wanted to be a part of it. Others might be unfamiliar, but they each have somehow been a part of our broader storytelling community, and we have great admiration for their hearts, minds, and ways with words. Whether or not you know them already, we’re sure you’ll be drawn into their experiences and viewpoints as they share about their unique places in the world.

In November, you will see stories by some of these Writing Fellows about their experiences with “Losing Place.” Next month, all of these new team members,along with the You Are Here regulars you have come to know, will share stories under the theme “Finding Place.” We hope you’ll come back again and again.

We also want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Sam Turner and Jonathan Bower, founding members of You Are Here, who are cycling off the core team.

With that, please help us welcome the 2015-16 You Are Here Writing Fellows!

Shawn Smucker (1)

Shawn Smucker
Shawn is an author, co-writer, and blogger, and he lives with his wife and their five children in the small city of Lancaster, PA. Having grown up in the country, he’s rather awestruck at how the city can provide such a powerful place for contemplation. On any warm day, should you be walking down James Street, take a peek at 41 West and you might see him writing away on the porch. If you’re not in the area, you can find him at

red stripeJ. Nicole Morgan
Nicole lives near Atlanta, Georgia, surrounded by the trappings of suburbia and many, many oak trees. There’s a nature preserve across the street from a big box store, and the rippling creek and rocky path are a welcome place to retreat. Nicole works-from-home-or-coffee-shop as both a ministry assistant and as a freelance editor. Connect with Nicole on Twitter or at her blog.

IMG_8758 copyMeredith Bazzoli
Meredith has spent her whole life orbiting around Chicago and its suburbs. She currently resides just west of the city with her husband Drew, who grew up a Hoosier. She never thought she could marry one of those. Meredith calls herself a “recovering teacher” and has taken a break from inner city education to write, perform improv comedy, and tutor. Wherever she can, Meredith seeks to start conversations about the life we stuff under the bed and keep off our Instagram feeds. Join the conversation on her blog.

Ed Cyzewski Author Cafe (2)

Ed Cyzewski
A former New Englander now temporarily in Columbus Ohio, Ed is an author and freelance writer with an obsession for vegetable gardening and hockey. When he isn’t chasing after his two very busy young sons, Ed can be found writing from the same cafe six days a week with a mug of light roast coffee. He is the author of Coffeehouse Theology; Pray, Write Grow; and A Christian Survival Guide. You can find him online at or on Twitter.

Amy Maczuzak (1)Amy Maczuzak
Amy spent the first 18 years of her life craving a home base. Since graduating from high school, Amy has found home in the hills and valleys of western Pennsylvania, ultimately settling in Pittsburgh. She works in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, as a member of the marketing and communications team of the CCO, the campus ministry that changed her life during her college years. Amy loves reading, drinking good coffee, and spending time with friends, family members, and her cat, Charlotte Brontë.

Elena Contributor Pic (1)Elena Sorenson
Elena lives in Denver with her husband, the artist Dan Sorensen. She seems to always have a book and journal in hand, even at parties and the movies. In particular, she can’t get enough of Victorian novels and murder mysteries, and can often be found sitting on a camp chair on her apartment balcony, absorbed by treacherous outlaws or spirited wives and daughters. Elena is a freelance writer by day, and a fairy tale and fantasy writer by night and early morning. New to Colorado, she blogs about exploring life as a Connecticut Yankee in the wild West at



On the threshold

I was born on the threshold of spring—at that moment when winter could just as easily dig in her heels as bow graciously and take her leave.

Over the years, the second day of March has skipped, tip-toed, sloshed, or trudged onto the scene of my life, accompanied by a wide variety of backdrops. Some years, the snow completely melts by then, inviting me to joyfully lace up new sneakers in place of clunky boots, and to take my coffee out to the porch.

I remember one spring-like childhood birthday in particular, because it was nice enough outside to go for a spin on my new birthday bike—a yellow banana seat Huffy with orange and white accents, called “Texas Rose” (bikes came with names back then, written in a suitable font across the chain guard). I still remember the clichéd-but-very-real freedom I felt as I pushed hard on the pedals to pick up speed, the wind lifting my bangs off my forehead and the handlebar streamers blowing back, tickling my arms. Even the puddles, spraying a mist of grimey specks onto my pants, were a joy to whiz through: The sound of bike tires cutting through puddles was the music of spring. Back in our driveway I engaged the kickstand, my Michigan winter legs trembling in response to the sudden demand placed on spring-and-summer muscles.

photo (8)Other years (like this year, for instance), heaps of snow have cruelly set my birthday scene. By early March everyone, of course, is longing for spring, but I tend to take its coy absence personally. I would gladly exchange all my birthday presents for an early departure of winter—for a walk on non-treacherous sidewalks in the sunshine, hat- and mitten-free, with the first signs of daffodils poking up through dead leaves. What could be a better gift than a promise that temperatures won’t fall below 50 again until fall?

unnamed-2Instead, the likely reality in early March is something in between—neither here nor there, winter nor spring. In March you can often find me walking on the north side of the street, where the longer days of south-sweeping sunshine have melted the snow into slushy puddles and coaxed snowdrops, aconites, and crocuses out of hiding.

Soggy grass and brave flowers on one side of the street, dirty piles of snow and icy sidewalks on the other; I walk through March balanced in an awareness of what has been and what is to come.

*   *   *   *   *

As if taking a cue from the month of my birth, I tend to live my life at the intersection of realism and optimism—with an acute awareness of what is, but also a vivid understanding of what could be. The truth of the matter, as well as the hope. The now and the not yet. The lion and the lamb.

I grudgingly see the dirty piles of snow for what they are, but I know they’ll eventually become water to nourish flowers and lush green grass. The messy pile of boots by my front door, and the puddles and salt deposits they leave on the wood floor, will undoubtedly be replaced by sneakers and flip-flops, grass clippings and leaves.

unnamed-3And the weight I feel—whether from so many layers of clothing and gear, or from built-up deposits of worries and regrets—will melt away, just as surely as the clouds will disperse and warmer streams of air will travel my direction, crowding out the chill. Suddenly, one bright morning, I will be able to see again who I am under all those layers of down and wool, and wondering and longing. I will see that I am a new creation, in process, again and again.