• Introduction to Online Portfolio

    My name is Emma Tamplin and I am a student at Belmont University, studying Sociology and English Literature. I am in the process of pursuing various goals in creative writing, documentary photography, and (most prominently as of late) applying to graduate school. I hope to earn a PhD in Sociology to explore my life-long interest in culture, religion, thought, gender, and literature. Here are some examples of my critical writing and research.

    Curriculum Vitae

    Essay i: The Tragedy of Lack

    Essay ii: Narrative Memory

    Essay iii: Reflection

    Extra Essay: The Counter-productivity of Blame in 'The Handmaid's Tale'

Everything I am not // Documenting birth

Here is how it went:

Katie asks me to document the birth of her fourth.

I say “H-YA” since photographing the first moment of life has been on my bucket list for 3 years now.

A Few months later I drive to Mesquite on her due date.

Then a whole 13 days later the child is born. Katie wrote about the experience here (which is what you should really be reading since I was not the one who waited and carried the babe for a debatable 42 weeks).

Waiting for Ellis Rose was very emotional. Not that it was miserable or anything like that, it was just a very raw spiritual endeavor.  Don’t misunderstand me, when I say spiritual I don’t mean light hearted and euphoric, I mean it was inexplicably and internally a battle. Every morning you wake another day… still no baby. Every night you go to sleep… still no baby. The joke that it was groundhog day was made everyday. Irony, yeah?

Even me, the one who had nothing better to do and no better people to be around, was brought face to face with my unbelief. It almost felt like a phase of sobering up: Stripped of the delusional control I have become so overwhelmingly dependent on. I found myself doubting, in my heart of hearts, that labor would not come if I don’t intervene in some way. LOL HAHAHA

But the Lord made a promise and there WOULD be a baby.

But ‘waiting for a baby’ was no answer to my questions of why it was so much of an ordeal for my soul. And here is what I felt the Lord told me about it:

Waiting- really waiting without shortcuts or intervention, just being still and waiting– is a holy, real, pure, torturous, and fundamental foundation for a divine work that is to be done.

Waiting is a the time where we are stripped of our own devices and spiritually pried from our human nature.

Waiting is surrender.

I’ve heard and read what Katie has to say about natural childbirth. She (and I am sure others) says that she views it as her way of experiencing part of what Christ did in His surrender and sacrifice of body. So. Much. Glory. And I got to watch it happen. Just as I, in a very small and unimportant way, experienced the fleshly turmoil of waiting, I also witnessed the divine story being played out: The truth of divinity through human suffering.

After waiting 2 weeks, Katie went into labor. She endured pain a human shouldn’t be able to endure at the exact time it was ordained to be endured. She was given a baby. A fulfilled promise.  An invaluable and undeserved gift.  A light in a place no human can see. A word in the annihilating places of silence in which all humans are mute. Sustenance amongst a famished people.

An anchor of hope, that enters into the very presence within the veil.

And all of this without (because) I didn’t do anything. 😉

That is what this video and experience means to me: Everything good I could never make- everything I have to live for. And Everything I am not.

So here is the video. Far from perfect, because I (with the help of my sister with the iMovie ish) made it. But perfect because LIFE.

Hebrews 6

12 In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith ([b]by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises.13 For when God made [His] promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear,14 Saying, Blessing I certainly will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you.15 And so it was that he [Abraham], having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained [in the birth of Isaac as a pledge of what was to come] what God had promised him.16 Men indeed swear by a greater [than themselves], and with them in all disputes the oath taken for confirmation is final [ending strife].17 Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath.18 This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us andset before [us].19 [Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot[c]break down under whoever steps out upon it—a hope] that reaches [d]farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil,

bethany - Whoa. One brave mama. One brave videographer. Great job! x

Emma - That is one brave mama! Thanks Bethany, means a lot. Love and miss you.

sky fire



“The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” 

-Annie Dillard, Pilgram at Tinker Creak

The College Station sunset has been the consistent and enduring reminder of the Lord’s goodness. His ability to transform and set fire to things. To bring darkness and light again. To paint the sky and His people with unknown colors & strokes.

The time has finally come that I  say goodbye to College Station. My last weekend there the sun graced us with a few incredible sunsets. As I looked up at the sky-fire I was able to mutter a thank you. Thank you, Lord for trials & people & sunsets. Thank you for setting the College Station sky on fire.


Battles Still being fought

I read a post by Don Miller over at the Storyline blog and it has stuck with me for the past couple of days. It was about integrity and what it really means to be integrated. He explains what integrity really is: to be really honest with the truth of our instability, inconsistencies, biases and blind spots. He ended the post asking the question,

“Do you feel safe letting people know about your shortcomings? If so, why and if not, why not?”

This hit me in an interesting way. At this time in my life I find my self being thrown continually from one end of the emotional, spiritual, and even physical spectrum of wellness. When darkness seems to be everything there is I am ushered into an inexplicable light and care. A place where I can honestly sing with everything in me “My one defense, my righteousness, oh God how I need you.” Then I am filled with truth and an anointing and a freedom to share it.

Then I go blog about it. I write about this insane indwelling power that has given me the supernatural power to continue breathing. However, like clockwork and just as predictable as the setting sun, the high of divine purpose leaves me feeling alone and in the dark. And I come face to face with this all-to-familiar hopelessness once again.The same thoughts about the worthiness of my efforts pollute my mind all over again. I cannot stand on the words I so boldly proclaim because I am still struggling. Which must mean that the victory I claimed was not real. You lied Emma. You lied bad about some important ish. I proceed shrink back into a false security of my pitiful hibernation. Where, instead of sleeping, I whine. The. Entire. Time.

SO, I have two answers to Don’s question:

I think I feel relatively safe telling people- in person one-on-one – of my shortcomings. I am pretty much an open book and there isn’t a question I won’t answer if I feel I am not in a “spiritual” conversation. But when it comes to intentionality- my ministry (the little tiny thing that it is): writing, proactive ambitions, prayers, hopes, and aspirations- I do not feel one bit safe. I refuse to integrate my day to day life of confessions and conversation with my intentional spiritual battle. I have compartmentalized, in my mind, two areas of my life that are NOT separate. I have neither the privilege nor the power to actually separate them.

My lack of integrity is a defense mechanism: On the one hand I can proclaim and praise the transformations and truth the Lord has allotted me, while on the other I am free to be angrily broken. As long as I could keep the two disassociated, I would be fine. If I ever tried to bring the latter and the former together, It would render my testimony useless and I would no longer have my contrived illusion of purpose. It would leave me armor-less on the front line of this battle. Here is the most hilarious thing though: I never actually had any armor and my efforts to defend myself were always blind and futile attempts- stabbing and swinging at the air. The battle was never exclusive to my “spiritual self.” The battle continues even when It isn’t invited, even when I act like it isn’t there, and even when I refuse to fight.  

Written in the efforts to integrate, here is my declaration of personhood: battles still being fought and demons still festering away.

  • I hate some people
  • I keep thinking that I have forgiven people when, in fact, I don’t think I have yet.
  • I am a horrible sister.
  • I hate the way I look a large chunk of the time (Like most of the time- which is so typical of an 18 year old girl. Why was this the hardest one to admit? #basic.)
  • I don’t primarily love people. I primarily analyze them.
  • I don’t think that I actually know what love is.
  • I know I don’t actually know what forgiveness is.

 1 John 3:19-21  By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence,  Whenever our hearts in [[n]tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For [o]we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].  And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God 


desperate dawns


Between the probable and proved there yawns
A gap. Afraid to jump, we stand absurd, 
Then see behind us sink the ground and, worse, 
Our very standpoint crumbling. Desperate dawns
Our only hope: to leap into the Word
That opens up the shuttered universe.”

-A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken