If you’ve caught me wandering around town on one of my infrequent escapes from work or home, you might’ve noticed the dark crescents shadowing my eyes or the stringy weight of my unwashed hair. For most of the past year, I’ve been dragging myself out of bed before dawn to sit at my laptop and write a novel about three children who try to stop the emerald ash borer from destroying the world’s ash trees.
Saturday would have been our daughter Ruth’s eighteenth birthday. Instead, it marks the ten years she’s been gone. What more is there to say? Except that I am still unable to comprehend her absence. Not a day goes by that I don’t imagine how she might look, what hurdles she might have overcome, what goals she might have held for her future.
In the corner of the window above my kitchen sink, sits a box of tea, about the size of a pack of mints. ‘AZAWAD,’ read the letters printed across the front – a region in northern Mali and apparently one of the world’s earliest tea brands. Below, camels trek across a faded desert.
One year ago in February I was so sick that for two weeks I could do little more than sleep. For most of that time I lay on the couch with a fever that topped 103 degrees, coughing so violently that I lost my ability to talk. Anything I managed to eat tasted like sulfur. My oxygen level was low, and at one time I was wracked by chills so severe I nearly lit my clothes on fire, trying to warm myself by the wood stove.
Years ago, the leader of a parent’s support group I was in led a guided meditation. “Close your eyes,” she encouraged us.
Five years ago I eagerly shared with readers that internationally known Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias was speaking in Bangor. The event, Why Jesus?, sold out, packing the Cross Insurance Center with 6,755 people. Among them were a load of high school students I’d wrangled onto a bus.
We've all missed a lot this past year, but one thing I've missed the most is gathering together for worship. While it isn't always possible to get together in person, I'd like to celebrate Lent by looking at Jesus through this eyes of one of his dearest friends, the...
When you are just that tired. When all you want is to curl up with a book by the fire and wait for all of the other fires in the world to go out. When day turns into night, which turns into day and dishes demand to be put away, the laundry washed, the lunches packed, the bills paid, appointments made, and it feels like you are the maid. Only instead of getting paid to clean this mess you get dressed and go to work just to find all of this other work still waiting when you get home.
I thought it was a joke when a pastor at a church I attended said that he was starting a “God and Guns Club.” When he announced it from the pulpit during Sunday morning worship, many in the congregation laughed. This was the same pastor who declared his plan to take over Maine’s Fort Knox, a granite fortress on the Penobscot River, should the church ever need to defend itself against a hostile government.
The choice before me seemed impossible. The risks, amplified by the pandemic, too high. The uncertainties too many. To say that I was in agony is no exaggeration. For months, it was all I could think about – weighing my family’s options in the face of incalculable unknowns. Whichever way we chose, the outcome had the potential to affect our family for the rest of our lives, and I was terrified of making the wrong decision.
Growing up on a farm in rural Oregon, my brother and I often had a second-hand Christmas. The gifts under our tree were toys that our single mom found at yard sales or Goodwill and wrapped in humble, ordinary newspaper. The tree itself she cut down from the side of a road and hauled home in the back of our truck.
In a year rife with moral failures by Christian leaders, I read with grim curiosity last week’s New York Times article describing the firing of Carl Lentz, the celebrity pastor of Hillsong’s East Coast church, who recently acknowledged that he’d had an affair. However, the affair was the least of what surprised me. That Lentz admitted to cheating on his wife seemed trivial compared to the rise of a church culture that appears to have courted megastars until the pastor became one.
Listening to Maine Public Radio this week, I heard a report that one-third of us are carrying so much pandemic-related stress that we are tossing and turning in our beds at night, unable to sleep. While sleep comes easily to me, I too feel the weight of worry caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
“You’re wearing two watches,” a student commented last week, noticing the brown leather bands wrapped securely around my wrist.
Nothing in my lifetime has divided American Christians like the upcoming presidential election. I’ve been getting unsolicited emails from respected Christian leaders on why it is imperative that I vote for a Democrat. On social media and in print, other equally respected Christian leaders contend that I’ll be sinning if I don’t vote for a Republican. Worst of all, they tell me, is not voting for either candidate – something I’m seriously considering this week after reading theologian John Piper’s blog post on “Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin.”
The first time a friend recommended the new miniseries The Chosen, I quickly dismissed it. I’ve seen plenty of movies about the life of Jesus – some good, some bad, many boring. But it’s hard to find any good entertainment to watch these days – especially as a family. So by the second or third time someone recommended it, I popped some corn, gathered my kids and asked my husband to figure out how to stream it.
As a young person, I read the Bible because I was taught to. Certain passages I loved, like the Apostle Paul’s treatise on love, King David’s Shepherd Psalm, and especially the King James Version of a verse in Job confirming the existence of unicorns. Unicorns! Then my mother explained that later translators understood the animal to be an ox.
It has been six months since my family went to church. For every pre-coronavirus Sunday when I fantasized about staying in bed rather than wrangling five people into a pew, I can’t believe how much I’ve miss it.
One in ten. In a worst-case scenario, that’s how many people around the globe are projected to go hungry this year, according to the United Nations.
“And this is where my porch swing will go,” I told anyone and everyone who stopped by my house to check my husband’s progress on our front porch. In truth, I wasn’t sure whether a swing would fit in the narrow alcove at the end of the porch Dana was building – let...