Reading John: The Mystery of Christmas
When it comes to reading the Christmas story in the Bible, the Gospel writer Luke gets most the attention. Like a film director, he vividly captures poor Mary giving birth in a stable as shepherds watch their flocks and a band of angels fills the Bethlehem sky, announcing the good news. But to me, the neighboring book of John best answers the mystery of who Jesus is and why he came.
Books to Keep You Going
In need of some encouragement? Me too. Each morning when I check the news, I’m more and more aghast at what I read. My constant prayer in this time of trouble is “God help us.” Not as a flippant aside, but as a persistent reminder of our unrelenting need for his Grace. One way I’ve found to combat the underlying stress of the day is to scatter faith inspiring books around my house. And so, here are three books, written by friends, that keep me going:
An Opportunity for a New Beginning
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we could edit our lives the way we edit stories?” I recently asked one of my children while driving to school. “That way we could delete or change parts of our lives that we’d rather forget or that didn’t work out the way we hoped.”
Three New Picture Books About Creation
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” so begins the ancient record of creation in Genesis. While children’s Bibles and picture books abound about how life began – and how our relationship with God, the earth and each other went bad – three new narratives cleverly approach this familiar topic in unique ways easing children’s anxiety about the future.
Book Review: Christian Poetry in America Since 1940
“What makes a poem a poem?” a student in my high school English class asked me last year. “Can anything be a poem?” I struggled to answer. Poetry is often hard to define, the way abstract art is hard to define, but I did my best. “Narrative writing is an elephant...
Signals to Slow Down
Every morning I drove past her house on my way to work, and again in the afternoon on my way home. In winter, her front door usually stood open to let in the sun. In spring or fall I’d often see her sitting on her stoop, gathering light.
Book Review: The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon
I am old enough to wish that I could forget certain parts of my life. Old enough to grieve certain losses, to mourn the demise of unfulfilled dreams, and to lament life’s inescapable disappointments. But what if the erasure of someone’s life is due not to avoidance but to a failing memory? Such is the case in Linda MacKillop’s thought provoking debut novel, The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon, which releases this week.
5 Tips to Boost Health While Saving $
Several months ago I found myself in the unenviable position of needing to buy a vehicle. After nearly 210,000 miles, my reliable Dodge Caravan (affectionately dubbed “The Rust Bucket”) had failed an inspection. To repair it would have cost twice what my van was worth. So with only a few options, I bought a used Subaru for nearly the same price that it had originally retailed for five years before.
The Hope of Easter
Late last November, I stood over a frozen mound of soil in my garden, holding a long wooden stake. Beside me on the snow-crusted ground lay several blue mesh bags full of garlic bulbs, each tied with a curl of white ribbon – the kind for wrapping gifts.
Reading With Children to Overcome Despair
One of my greatest joys as a parent is daily reading aloud to my children – a practice I’ve maintained for more than 25 years. As eager, wide-eyed parents, my husband, Dana, and I began reading Winnie-the- Pooh to our oldest son, Judah, when he was just two months old, not because we thought he’d enjoy it, but because we did.
When Your World is Broken
“The outer world is only an expression of an inner, spiritual world,” the theologian Eugene Peterson wrote in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. In other words, the violence and strife erupting around us are a produced by the violence and strife raging within us. If our spiritual world is broken, then our physical world will be as well.
Shaped Like Jesus
It happened again this week. I glimpsed my reflection in the mirror – silvering hair braided down my back, creased eyes rimmed by glasses – and thought, I look like my mother. I sound like my mother too. One night, chatting with my daughter, who was visiting from college, I mentioned an article I’d read about the eruption of an Indonesian volcano in the early 1800s.
An Invitation to Rest
I am clearly trying to juggle too many things: Lord of the Flies, driving the squirrels from my attic (which are chirping as I write), completing my M.Ed. in Literacy, getting dressed, walking the dog, overseeing the endless cycle of laundry-meals-and-household mayhem and writing this blog, which I turned in late to my local newspaper.
Good Things Ahead
The book of Job is likely the oldest recorded text in the Bible. It takes the form of a traditional three-act play. Whether it was written as a piece of performance art meant to reveal deeper truths about God, or whether it records an actual event, theologians disagree.
Unable to Forward
‘Return to Sender,’ read the yellow sticker plastered over my friend’s name on the envelope I’d addressed and mailed a couple of weeks before Christmas, ‘Insufficient Address, Unable to Forward.’
The Soul of an Old Piano
How my mother paid for the old piano is somewhat of a mystery. With a fresh leg of lamb? A pair of newborn kids? In trade for my pony? One thing is certain, I started playing piano around age nine – later than my farm-country peers whose fingers zipped up and down the keys at recitals in our Oregon church’s airy sanctuary while mine trembled.
Why We are All Here
I was late, rushing home from a local store after doing a little Christmas shopping, when I stashed my bags in the back of my clunky minivan and pulled into traffic. Ahead, an SUV was turning in the same direction I was at a four-way intersection. As the vehicle pulled down the brick-lined street, I noticed how its right rear tire smooshed against the pavement like a puddle.
What Child is This?
If you really want to discover how much (or how little) you understand a subject, try teaching it to middle-schoolers. Like the three different ways verbals can be used in a sentence. Or first-person, second-person and third-person point of view. Or the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
For Those Who Mourn
This past week brought fresh waves of grief to our nation and to our local community. Even as many families gathered around candle-lit tables and held hands to give thanks, other families were in darkest mourning for those whose hands they will never hold around a holiday table again. And what do we do with the weight of all this sorrow?
Keeping Gift Giving Simple
When I saw boxes of candy canes and foil-wrapped Santas lining the shelves of my grocery store one week before Halloween, I wasn’t surprised. There are many signs of how far society has fallen from what was once considered sensible. And yet, I thought, have we really come to this? Blitzing through our days so fast that we barely have time to celebrate one holiday before marketers are ram-rodding another down our throats?