advice from a woman born in 1891

Brenda Ueland at age 47 - 2

Brenda Ueland excerpt
The footnote’s theology: beautiful.

The page above is an excerpt from Chapter X, Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Their Writing.

Brenda Ueland Chapter X

The book smells like the crackling-spine Berenstain Bears books I used to get from the library. It has the crackling-spine sound, too. I like to smell books right in the neck, in the heart, at the top. Ink and page and dust and shelf. Worn, musty carpet and metal shelf dividers. Must. Inhale. Books. I love the rubber-stamped address marking the book’s rightful place, and the thick paper.

Our little community college library lets any local resident get a card, and I leave there wanting to kiss every librarian for her goodness.

Brenda Ueland library stamps

Nearly thirty years of hopeful writers did what I did today: stood at the counter and waited as a librarian crackled the back cover and stamped the stamp. I hope the library filled them, and Ueland filled them, writing filled them.


door photo

Photo © Photodisc (via Thinkstock photos)

It was hot the day I visited the prison. A guard in a tower watched me like the sun.

Arriving wasn’t easy. I passed through multiple doors, went through security, waited to be buzzed through multiple gates. Finally I got to the lobby, where I gathered with others.

We were all from the outside, and we’d come to pray with those inside as part of a prison ministry weekend event. We chatted nervously until finally a guard came to escort us to the prison gym. We lined up and passed through another door, into a holding chamber.

It was crowded. [Read more.]



The darkest prayer I prayed was alone in a darkened bedroom. I was afraid I was crazy and they’d have to lock me in a mental institution. I’d be abandoned by my family. No one would see me. No one would want me.

This was also the prayer that made me more of a Christian than I’d ever been before, because in that dark cave came this truth: I would not be abandoned. God would not leave me. God’s love was bigger than death, demons, darkness — God’s love would always win.

That was eight years ago this month.


Last weekend I was in a community musical. Someone told me, “I wish I could do that. I wish I had your abandon.”

I’d never thought about that word in any way other than my greatest fear. But for her, it was her greatest envy.

A moment later, she made me laugh.

“See? You even laugh with abandon.”

This is a new word now. I want to pin it on the board above my writing desk. Maybe above my office desk, too. And in my car. And on my mirror.

…because you won’t abandon my life to the grave;
    you won’t let your follower see the pit.

Psalm 16:10 CEB