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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Love Knows No Borders

Love Knows No Borders

A picture came across my Facebook news feed this week, a stick-skinny boy, ankles poking out of his black trousers, flat belly peeking between the gaps of his partially buttoned shirt, grimly smiling as he holds out what looks like a tub of margarine. It was posted by Welcome Home Africa, the Ugandan orphanage from which my husband and I adopted our daughter, Ruth.

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A Prayer for Justice

A Prayer for Justice

This week as students and faculty are laid to rest in Parkland, Florida, I sat at my computer and studied their faces, praying for their families. I read about their too-short lives, gunned down on Valentine’s Day by a violent and mentally disturbed young man who should have never been allowed access to a gun. And I was shocked to discover my own name there.

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Paying Penance

Paying Penance

Last year I celebrated Lent for the first time. The churches in which I grew up seemed to skip from dolling out Christmas cookies to cutting the Easter ham with hardly a pause to reflect on the passion of Christ leading up to the pivotal moment of our faith. I fasted one meal a day, which caused me to pause every morning I gave up breakfast to thank God for all Christ gave up for me.
This year my husband, Dana, decided to join me. Wanting to pursue a healthier physical life as well as a healthier spiritual life, we decided to give up wheat, milk products, and white sugar for the 40 day season, which this year began on Valentine’s Day. Forgoing the traditional gift of sweets, Dana took me out for breakfast.

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The Source of all Love

The Source of all Love

Young and new in love, I unpacked the English stoneware dishes that my mother had helped me pick out at Jordan Marsh years before in anticipation of this day – the day when I would furnish my own home. She didn’t call it a hope chest. Not wanting me to put all my hope on getting married, she called it a “home chest,” for the day I would furnish my own household, married or not.
Yet there I was, newly married, as flush with love as the petite cranberry flowers printed on the cream colored dishes that I carefully set in the cupboard of the tiny apartment that my husband, Dana, and I had rented on the third floor of an old Victorian, halfway up the coast of Maine. Setting up our first home was among the happiest times in my life. Shopping for our own groceries. Learning to cook. Coming home to each other and sharing dinner each and every night on those delicate floral dishes.

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What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be led by the Spirit. As I slowly read my way through Scripture, I’m alarmed at the similarities between how I often live my life — trying to figure out how to get through each day as best as I can – and the ancient Israelites who struggled and strived to please God but inevitably wandered into trouble. They’re not the only ones who veered off course.

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