Police Appreciation Sunday

Summer is for visiting family. And since the church is supposed to be one big family – albeit with many different personalities and a few crazy cousins – this summer my family has made a goal of visiting a different church every week. That’s how we were invited to Richmond Corner Baptist Church’s Police Appreciation Sunday this weekend and discovered the moving story of Lewiston Officer David R. Payne, who was ambushed and shot to death by someone he was trying to help thirty years ago this week.

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The value of life

Like many around the world, I watched the news and prayed this week as twelve soccer players and their coach were saved from a flooded Thailand cave after nearly three weeks underground. The scope of the rescue was staggering: thousands of volunteers, more than one hundred of the world’s top cave divers, Thai Navy sea air and land squads, medical experts, helicopters, ambulances, a hospital and more than a week of planning.

“Do you see how precious life is?” I told my 8-year-old son as we watched the drama unfold.

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Spend Less to Share More

This past week has been one of the hottest in Maine that I can remember. Two fans and wide-open windows offer little relief from what feel like record-cracking temperatures. Yet, I have no desire to purchase an air conditioner. Without a medical reason to keep our house cool, I find a measure of discomfort to be a good thing. Like trying to stretch through a week of groceries without running to the store. Or living in a three-bedroom house with seven people (when they are all home). Or giving away something I could use for myself when someone else needs it more.

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A Time of Great Violence

We were enjoying a peaceful walk along the Kennebec River with friends when our young children stopped to play on the bank of a muddy pond. Perfect childhood bliss. Then, across the pond, three hunting dogs crashed through the brush and sprang into the water. It happened so quickly, it took a moment to see that one of the dogs carried something in its mouth: A mound of soft brown feathers.
“Oh, no,” my friend said.
We realized at the same time that the dog had found a duck. Our children froze, wide-eyed and watching the life-and-death struggle. Somehow the duck escaped. Quacking in terror, it flapped across the water with all three dogs swimming in pursuit.

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A Cautionary Caterpillar Tale

These days I am feeling a certain kinship with Job, who lived a couple thousand years before Christ. I’m not certain they had browntail moth caterpillars in the land of Uz, where he lived with his flocks and family, but it seems likely, given that his skin was covered with a rash so painful or itchy, he scraped his skin with a piece of pottery.

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A Father to Celebrate

Every Father’s Day my mother bought herself the same present: a tool. Might be a new hammer or a shovel or a set of wrenches. With my father living in another state, a farm to run and two children to raise, she filled the role of both father and mother and accordingly treated herself to a gift on the big day.

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In the Master’s Garden

Little inspired me to plant a vegetable garden this year. The spring air seemed abysmally cold. I’d waited too long to start my seedlings indoors. And each day I looked out my kitchen window at my little plot of soil, the weeds stood taller. But I had a choice: Spend all summer watching the weeds grow taller or get out there and do something.

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Book Review: The Choice, Embrace the Possible

One reward of attending the Christopher Awards in New York this spring was coming home with a bag full of books from other award winners, stories of hope and friendship and of overcoming great obstacles to do great good. Only, one story I wasn’t sure I wanted to read. It is the story of Dr. Edith Eva Eger, among the few remaining Holocaust survivors who was sent to Auschwitz with her parents and sister.

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When Schools Become a Battleground, Who is to Blame?

My husband, Dana, and I were on a bus, headed home from New York City, last weekend when we crossed into Maine and saw an American flag lowered to half-staff. “What is it this time?” I asked. Only after we arrived home did we learn of the school shooting that morning in Sante Fe, Texas, in which two teachers and eight students were killed. It seems that our flag is often flying lower these days. We are a country perpetually in mourning.

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For Mothers When it’s Hard

This one is for the mothers. The ones serving in the hardest places. Those whose children have special needs. Those whose children are battling addiction or illness or struggling to overcome difficult choices. Those who love children they have lost. Those raising not just their children but their grandchildren.

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5 Habits for a Healthy Spirit

I’m a follower of health and wellbeing articles, eager to embrace behaviors that will help me age well. As part of my regular diet I include olive oil, dark  leafy greens and salmon. I aim for at least 30 minutes of daily exercise and limit substances that are known to cause harm, such as sugar – well, most of the time. So this week I eagerly devoured an article in The New York Times, which listed five habits likely to add fourteen years to my life (twelve if I were a man).

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What is Most Valuable

Living in the woods as a self-employed writer, I don’t get many opportunities to dress up. When my memoir came out last spring, I patched together an outfit from Goodwill and LL Bean to wear to my book release party. In hindsight, maybe not the best fashion decision. So this spring, when I learned that my book had been selected for a Christopher Award, I ordered a dress for the awards ceremony in New York City.

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The Wounds of Grief and Love

I was feeling unusually down this week, more than even dreary skies and freezing drizzle could account for. Tuesday, I didn’t want to go out. But needing to do errands, I zipped my rain jacket, buckled my kids in the van, and drove to Bath anyway.
“What’s the date?” I asked my 15-year-old daughter, Lydia, pulling up to the bank.
“April 17th,” she said.
“Oh.” I sighed. Suddenly my heavy mood made sense. “Ruth’s birthday.”

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Encouraging Books for Spring

I don’t read many parenting books. When I sit down to read, it is more often to escape the realities of parenting than to learn about them. Just seeing the cover of author Catherine McNiel’s debut devotional, Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline (NavPress, 2017), made me want to grab a box of hand wipes and flee. On it, a smartly dressed woman in a crisp yellow dress carries a toddler whose muddy hands leave a smear of dirt across her mother’s back.

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Celebrating Something New

Forget January 1st, with its blustery, winter-bound resolutions. The New Year should commence on the day after Easter. What better time to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new than with the returning rays of light, the blossoming buds and the hope of the resurrection?

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Learning to say no

My earliest Easter memory is of my mother cautioning my older brother and me that if we didn’t pick up the nails we’d spilled on the front porch of our Oregon ranch, the Easter bunny couldn’t come to our house. He’d hurt his feet. Then there was the time she cleverly disguised a carpet sweeper as an Easter gift. We’d get to clean floors? Oh, joy!

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A Wrinkle in Time

Last week I squeezed into a seat at a local movie theater, along with my teen daughter and a group of friends, to watch A Winkle in Time. Based on the classic children’s book by Madeleine L’Engle, the movie portrays the cosmic clash between good and evil. I’d read the book as a child and at least three times as an adult, sharing it with my own children. So I was curious how the director, Ava DuVernay, would depict the author’s Christian faith.

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The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything

I was saddened last week to learn of the death of Stephen Hawking, one of history’s most eminent scientists. I admired his persistence and ability to overcome the devastating neurodegenerative condition that crippled his body and stole his speech. Yet, as much as I appreciated Hawking’s seemingly unquenchable search for knowledge, I strongly opposed his conclusions, which pointed to a universe without a creator.

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The Trouble I Caused

The Trouble I Caused

We were late for a family-reading night at our youngest child’s school. It was dark and cold. The end-of-winter ground was oozing mud, and the parking lot was packed. I slowed our minivan in front of the brightly lit building, wondering where to park. And that’s when I saw it: just enough room off the edge of the pavement to pull alongside another vehicle. “Do you think it’s OK?” I asked my husband, Dana, who sat in the front passenger seat while our young sons prattled impatiently in the back.

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