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.
I knew that going from teaching writing one day a week to teaching five days a week while also beginning graduate school would be a big transition. So I gave myself a hiatus from my own personal writing practice for all of September to adjust. Oh, good. I thought when...
Eight years ago, after the death of my 7-year-old daughter, Ruth, I felt betrayed by God. Like the writer of the Psalms, which promise that God will look after those who come to him for protection, I believed that he would keep my family and me safe as long as we put our trust in him.
Ever since squeezing my office into the corner of our family’s laundry room three years ago, I’ve dreamed of the day I would be able to move out. This week, that day finally arrived, but instead of being excited, I wasn’t sure I still wanted to move. The potting shed...
When it comes to admitting where we’ve made mistakes, the Christian church has often failed to walk in the way of humility, love and repentance set out by Jesus. Two important new books seek to change that by wrestling with the sexual abuse crisis in the church and gender-based violence around the world.
This week I lost someone who was like a sister to me, my cousin Emily. My grief is nothing compared to that of her husband and two children and brother and parents. But oh, what a grief. Emily’s life was a gift to all who knew her. “I have so many joyful memories of...
About a month ago, I quit blogging. I’d had it with hearing my own voice. Plus, my career was taking a big new direction with the addition of teaching this fall. But a funny thing happened. As soon as I quit, folks began mentioning how much they enjoyed my column....
There are a number of short prayers, “Help!” being one of the most popular. “Save me,” being another. But the one that I find myself praying most often is, “Father, lead me.” And I know that God does. How can I be so confident? Because the Lord is my shepherd, and I am asking him to do something that he has already promised in his word.
It is hard to reconcile the terrible things that happen to us with God’s great love for us. Yet, those who I admire most have found a way to keep loving and trusting God anyway while working to lessen the suffering of others.
Did you know that in Jewish culture at the time of Jesus there were six ways in which a person could be “born again”? According to my Complete Jewish Study Bible these included: when a boy becomes bar mitzvah at age thirteen, when a Jewish man married, when he was ordained as a rabbi, when he became the head of a rabbinical school, or when a Gentile converted to Judaism or was crowned as King.
I’ve always loved old houses. But what I love most, especially when I drive down Maine’s winding back roads, is glimpsing a dilapidated old house that someone is lovingly restoring back to life. Often in life, when we encounter something hard, we view it as bad. Or when something is easy, we view it as good. But most often in life, I find that hard and good are not antonyms.
When was pregnant with my second child, instead of driving to my local doctor’s office for prenatal checkups, I drove 45-minutes from our house in Bath, Maine, to an abandoned church in Lewiston where boxes of donated food filled the lobby and economically disadvantaged, single moms came together for support for their young children.
Growing up on a farm with a single mom who was working her way through college, we didn’t have a lot of extras. Most of my clothes were passed down from my older brother, and most of our food came from our flocks of sheep and chickens and from our garden. Only many decades later did I discover that for much of my childhood my grandparents had sent my mom money to help pay the mortgage.