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.
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.
The early followers of Jesus knew about hard times. They knew about fear and uncertainty, hunger and want. They knew what it was like to be isolated from friends and family and neighbors – whether because of their message, or because they were in prison or because they were far from home. They also knew what it’s like to wonder what new trouble or trial the next day may bring.
Is God listening? The Psalms are full of promises that God hears us when we pray. Check out the following ten prayers, taken from the New Living Translation, that assure us God hears our prayers:
Mercy – the one word I find myself repeatedly praying this week. Lord, have mercy. Have mercy on our medical workers and migrants and people living in refugee resettlement camps. Have mercy on the poorest of the poor who live without doctors in the developing world. Have mercy on our government officials and grocery store clerks and farmers and elderly and frail. Lord, have mercy on us.
Growing up, I often felt the need to take care of myself. I had an amazing Mom, but she was also single and amazingly busy finishing college, running a farm and working to put food on the table. A memory I cannot shake is of finding her bent over her desk, head in her hands, weeping over a stack of bills.
“Maybe we shouldn’t go,” I said to my husband, Dana, shivering under the clear winter sky as we stood on our walkway, halfway between our house and the car.
“You’re sick,” he said. “We’re going.”
Some wisdom comes only through suffering. Many of us would rather bury pain, to lock it up somewhere dark and deep where we hope it won’t be able to hurt us anymore. And then, there are writers. Whether from a desire to make sense of an experience or to say, “See? You are not alone,” writers often feel duty-bound to type out life’s hardest moments and bind them between the pages of a book.
She came into their family as an infant, after spending the first months of her life in a hospital. They nursed her through life-threatening medical conditions and loved her like their own for nearly three years all while knowing that they might not be able to keep her – because that’s what you do when you sign up to be a foster family.
There’s nothing quite like reading a book about a true event on the anniversary of when it took place. That’s what happened this week as I was reading Janet and Geoff Benge’s biography, Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer, with my family. Here was a Pennsylvania kid who used his love of flying and military aviation experience to serve missionaries living in a remote area of the Amazon rain forest.
It is a year that I am not sorry to see go. The personal losses have been too high, the political climate too volcanic, the rewards of hard work seemingly too few and far between. So it was only fitting that my husband broke a rib one day before Christmas, temporarily confining him to the couch, and we all got sick.
Yes, there really are only twelve days ‘til Christmas. So, unless you’ve got a partridge and a pear tree, a handful of spare rings and some leaping lords lying about, it’s time to get busy. With the convenience of the Internet, it’s tempting to order gifts online, but I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses, which sponsor youth programs, employ neighbors and build communities. So, I’ve put together a last-minute shopping guide sure to cover everyone on your list and to be a whole lot more memorable than clicking a button on your computer screen.
This weekend marks the first Sunday of Advent, a spiritual season of preparation for Christmas. About this time, I usually thumb through my collection of holiday books to select a liturgical guide to read with my family each week to remind us that Christmas is about more than the gifts we’ll find under the tree.
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays – and not just because of the pie. I love gathering with family and friends, sharing a bountiful meal and heading out in the crisp November air for a post-Thanksgiving walk, all long-held traditions. But for those who have experienced pain and loss, Thanksgiving can be a raw reminder of what – or who – is missing around the table.
I no longer saw the cross as a symbol of faith reflecting the risen Lord. I saw it as the instrument of torture for which it was designed. I saw how it has been used by the church to torture others.
As I near the end of my first academic quarter teaching middle- and high-school English at a local Christian school, I have been thinking about how we measure success. An academic grade is one way – and one that as a creative person I am not very fond of.
Driving down Main Street in my rural Maine town, I sighed as I passed a miniature cemetery that had sprouted overnight in a carefully groomed yard. “RIP” read the headstones. Several white ghosts billowed overhead. As far as Halloween decorations go, these were mild,...
Years ago, I joined the Redbud Writers Guild, a diverse group of Christian women writers who support, pray for and cheer each other on. This week, I was overjoyed to witness the release of fellow Redbud Judy Douglass’s devotional, When You Love a Prodigal: 90 Days of...
As far as gardeners go,
I’m a bad one. My vegetable plot is about the size of a double-car garage. From my kitchen window, it looks spectacular. Plummy green fronds poke above the rows. Fiery orange nasturtiums cascade along the fence, and sunflowers wave
down from above.
But despite three months of weeding and planting and watering, my plot has produced only a few dinners’ worth of green beans, eight edible tomatoes, a handful of zucchini and a row of kale so tough even the insects won’t eat it.
“It smells like something died,” I told my husband, Dana, as we walked up the grassy path toward our front door on Friday after a full day of teaching together at our children’s school.