This article was first published in the State of Faith newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Monday night.

Editor’s note: Kelsey and her husband, Mike, welcomed their second child on Friday. Kelsey is now on maternity leave, but this newsletter isn’t. Before signing off, Kelsey prepped a few editions of State of Faith that will appear in your inbox about once per month throughout the summer.

Growing up, I imagined God as a distant but loving grandfather, someone interested in my life but not very involved in it day-to-day.

When something wonderful and unexpected happened, I’d approach it like a gift from this faraway loved one. “Wow,” I’d think. “I’m so lucky to have someone who wanted to send me this surprise.”

But for some reason, when I became a parent, God became both more present and more mean-spirited in my mind. Instead of thanking him for my beautiful and growing family, I’d blame him whenever something important went wrong.

I became aware of this habit earlier this year, when my first son was 212 and I was about 22 weeks pregnant with my second. I was sitting in my car crying about something the doctor thought she saw on the ultrasound, and I found it nearly impossible to quiet my internal torrents of rage.

Come on, God,” I thought. “What did I do to deserve all of this?

Over the weeks and months and more positive doctor’s appointments that followed, I would flash back to that moment in my car with shame. I hated how parenting, one of life’s biggest blessings, had somehow broken my relationship to my faith.

But knowing you have a problem is not the same thing as knowing how to fix it. Rather than seek solutions, I started outsourcing my prayer requests to my mom.

I’d love to tell you that I eventually had some sort of powerful revelation, a thought that softened my problematic image of God. What actually happened is that, in March, my toddler went through a major sleep regression, and I finally grasped that parenting is hard for everyone, not just those of us who feel like God is picking on them.

The other night, with just minutes to spare before bedtime, my son crawled into my lap with a large book in tow. It was his counting book, the one with pages full of unusual objects — cat statues, gemstones — arranged in neat lines.

“One, two, three,” I said. To my surprise, he kept going, offering up a string of unusual sounds that at the very least rhymed with the actual numbers.

When my son made it to 10, I cheered and laughed, amazed at what he’d learned while I was busy worrying about big and small things.

In the video my husband took of the moment, you can see my son reach up and grab my face as I look at the camera and smile.

There’s that question again. What did I do to deserve all of this?


Fresh off the press

Why the surgeon general is worried about declining church attendance

What the Biden administration just said about school prayer


Term of the week: Shadow docket

June is quickly approaching, and it will bring with it several formal Supreme Court decision days. On these days, the justices issue their opinions in argued cases starting at 8 a.m. MDT.

But decision days, which are announced in advance on the Supreme Court’s website, are not the only time when consequential rulings are handed down. The justices issue so-called “shadow docket” decisions throughout the year; the timing is based on when emergency appeals for help were received.

Shadow docket rulings are controversial because, unlike regular rulings, they are short and unsigned. The justices don’t have to identify whether they’re in the majority or minority. They also don’t have to offer much, if any, explanation for the decisions, which typically alter the course of a case working its way through the lower courts.

Shadow docket decisions are becoming more common as more litigants turn to the Supreme Court for emergency help. I covered several during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when churches were fighting gathering restrictions.

In a new book released last week, legal scholar Stephen Vladeck examines the history of the shadow docket and why it’s become a prominent feature of the Supreme Court’s work in recent years. He argues that the shadow docket is dangerous, since it sows confusion about how to apply the law.


What I’m reading ...

The housing nonprofit Habitat for Humanity has helped an estimated 46 million people find a new home since its founding in 1976. In the process, it’s also taught volunteers to put aside political, religious and other ideological differences and focus on serving the common good, according to Religion News Service. “When you step onto the Habitat build site and someone puts a paintbrush or a hammer or a saw in your hand, no one asks, ‘Who did you vote for?’” said Kevin Roberts, director of faith relations and mission integration for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville.

Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play for an MLB team, was more than a baseball player. He was also an active and vocal Christian who regularly spoke in religious settings about how his faith gave him strength to fight racial discrimination. Christianity Today recently wrote about a new book, “Strength for the Fight,” that traces Robinson’s religious journey and helps readers understand more about his life off the field.


Odds and ends

Ever wondered who comprises Taylor Swift’s core fanbase? Wonder no more. Morning Consult recently did a survey showing that most “avid Taylor Swift fans” are white millennials who live in the suburbs and vote Democratic.

Welcome, little one!