Faith Notes

In need of God’s grace

In need of God’s grace

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.

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Facing the Future

Facing the Future

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.

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The Gift of Christmas

The Gift of Christmas

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.

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Back to the Manger

Back to the Manger

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.

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What’s mine to control?

What’s mine to control?

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.

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Pathways to Destruction?

Pathways to Destruction?

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.”

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Review: “The Chosen”

Review: “The Chosen”

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.

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Unicorns, Dewy-eyed Women, and Praying the Psalms

Unicorns, Dewy-eyed Women, and Praying the Psalms

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.

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Worshiping together

Worshiping together

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.

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The highlight of summer

The highlight of summer

“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...

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Playlist for a pandemic

Playlist for a pandemic

As schools around the country prepare to reopen and parents and teachers nervously consider their options for the fall, it’s anyone’s guess how returning to the classroom will affect the course of the pandemic, or – more personally – how it will affect them and their family. Because that’s the truly scary part. Right? Asking, how will Covid-19 affect me?

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Yours to keep

Yours to keep

Friends recently held a yard sale to raise money for a local school, Chop Point. Having just helped a family member move, I seized the opportunity to pare back some of my own clutter.

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Two new coops

Two new coops

How we ended up housing twenty chickens in our kitchen began with a misunderstanding. When I ordered chicks, the local feed store said that twelve would arrive in early June with the rest coming a month later. While I wasn’t sure where we’d put them, at least we’d...

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This Life We Share: Book Review

This Life We Share: Book Review

In this time of social distancing when I can’t be in church or hang out with friends as much as I’d like, I’ve been spending more time reading. On Sunday mornings my family gathers around our kitchen table to read the Bible and a contemporary edition of John Bunyan’s classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress. Before bed, I turn to either Andrew Murray’s 19th century devotional on prayer (loaned to me by a friend) or to author Maggie Wallem Rowe’s brand new devotional This Life We Share (NavPress, 2020).

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Love is not an option

Love is not an option

According to this week’s news, the extreme safety measures put into place around the world during the pandemic have saved an estimated 3.1 million lives across 11 European countries, including 500,000 in the United Kingdom. They have also prevented an estimated 60 million coronavirus cases in the U.S. One of them could have been mine. Or yours.

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The Resilience of Nature

The Resilience of Nature

For the past couple of weeks, my family has been helping me prepare my gardens for summer. Truth be told, I’m not a great gardener, but having grown up on a farm, I find the well-being of my soul is tied to how much time I spend near the soil. So every year since we gave up city living, my husband and kids have been slowly helping me tame the wilderness that surrounds our home.

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Hope Unsinkable

Hope Unsinkable

In 1832 a small vessel, the Messenger of Peace, anchored off Manu’a, an island in the South Pacific. Aboard was John Williams, a British evangelist whose mission was to share the gospel with local islanders, many of whom had little contact with passing ships. As Williams’s ship neared shore, several canoes rowed out to meet it.

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The way home

The way home

Last week, I climbed in the passenger seat of our minivan and strapped in my seatbelt as my 17-year-old daughter, Lydia, slid behind the wheel. Not normally one for thrill rides, I leave most student-driving lessons to my husband, Dana. But I was on a mission.

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