When the zipper pull for the cotton cover on our living-room futon broke, I didn’t know what to do. It was a minor problem. The rest of the cover was in good shape, but without a zipper, the cover bulged and flapped and slipped off the couch. It looked awful. Sewing on a new zipper wasn’t an option. For one, where do you buy a zipper that long? For another, replacing zippers is above my expertise. I considered gluing on a giant Velcro strip but settled on snaps. About 40. It took several hours to sew them all on. Some didn’t quite match. But with a little tugging and tucking, I got the cover back in place and it looked good. Until I sat down.read more
I rustled around the kitchen this week, measuring flour and cornmeal and milk and cracking eggs into a mixing bowl to make corn muffins. Just as I was about to measure the baking powder, the phone rang. As I chatted away, I carefully counted out six teaspoons of the chalky rising agent, having doubled the recipe. Only, when I removed my muffins from the oven a short time later, I was dismayed to see two dozen hard, flat disks lining my tins. What had happened? Had I miscounted my teaspoons? I didn’t think so. Nevertheless, something was clearly wrong.read more
Growing up with few books on an Oregon farm, the first author whose name I recall hearing was that of Madeleine L’Engle. I was at CFO, a Christian summer camp, on the coast with my mom and older brother. There was a table of books for sale. Mom said I could pick one – any one I wanted! – to read at rest time. A rare treat! If it wasn’t from Goodwill or a garage sale, we hardly ever bought anything. What to pick? An almost impossible dilemma for a young child. Was I seven? Or eight? Someone – My mom? – recommended A Wrinkle in Time.read more
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.read more
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.read 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.read more
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.
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
If we can’t always believe our own thoughts, who or what are we to believe?read more
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.read more
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).read more
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.read more
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.”
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.read more
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?read more
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!read more