Faith Notes

Reading With Children to Overcome Despair

Reading With Children to Overcome Despair

One of my greatest joys as a parent is daily reading aloud to my children – a practice I’ve maintained for more than 25 years. As eager, wide-eyed parents, my husband, Dana, and I began reading Winnie-the- Pooh to our oldest son, Judah, when he was just two months old, not because we thought he’d enjoy it, but because we did.

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When Your World is Broken

When Your World is Broken

“The outer world is only an expression of an inner, spiritual world,” the theologian Eugene Peterson wrote in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. In other words, the violence and strife erupting around us are a produced by the violence and strife raging within us. If our spiritual world is broken, then our physical world will be as well.

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Shaped Like Jesus

Shaped Like Jesus

It happened again this week. I glimpsed my reflection in the mirror – silvering hair braided down my back, creased eyes rimmed by glasses – and thought, I look like my mother. I sound like my mother too. One night, chatting with my daughter, who was visiting from college, I mentioned an article I’d read about the eruption of an Indonesian volcano in the early 1800s.

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An Invitation to Rest

An Invitation to Rest

I am clearly trying to juggle too many things: Lord of the Flies, driving the squirrels from my attic (which are chirping as I write), completing my M.Ed. in Literacy, getting dressed, walking the dog, overseeing the endless cycle of laundry-meals-and-household mayhem and writing this blog, which I turned in late to my local newspaper.

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Good Things Ahead

Good Things Ahead

The book of Job is likely the oldest recorded text in the Bible. It takes the form of a traditional three-act play. Whether it was written as a piece of performance art meant to reveal deeper truths about God, or whether it records an actual event, theologians disagree.

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Unable to Forward

Unable to Forward

‘Return to Sender,’ read the yellow sticker plastered over my friend’s name on the envelope I’d addressed and mailed a couple of weeks before Christmas, ‘Insufficient Address, Unable to Forward.’

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The Soul of an Old Piano

The Soul of an Old Piano

How my mother paid for the old piano is somewhat of a mystery. With a fresh leg of lamb? A pair of newborn kids? In trade for my pony? One thing is certain, I started playing piano around age nine – later than my farm-country peers whose fingers zipped up and down the keys at recitals in our Oregon church’s airy sanctuary while mine trembled.

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Why We are All Here

Why We are All Here

I was late, rushing home from a local store after doing a little Christmas shopping, when I stashed my bags in the back of my clunky minivan and pulled into traffic. Ahead, an SUV was turning in the same direction I was at a four-way intersection. As the vehicle pulled down the brick-lined street, I noticed how its right rear tire smooshed against the pavement like a puddle.

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What Child is This?

What Child is This?

If you really want to discover how much (or how little) you understand a subject, try teaching it to middle-schoolers. Like the three different ways verbals can be used in a sentence. Or first-person, second-person and third-person point of view. Or the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

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For Those Who Mourn

For Those Who Mourn

This past week brought fresh waves of grief to our nation and to our local community. Even as many families gathered around candle-lit tables and held hands to give thanks, other families were in darkest mourning for those whose hands they will never hold around a holiday table again. And what do we do with the weight of all this sorrow?

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Keeping Gift Giving Simple

Keeping Gift Giving Simple

When I saw boxes of candy canes and foil-wrapped Santas lining the shelves of my grocery store one week before Halloween, I wasn’t surprised. There are many signs of how far society has fallen from what was once considered sensible. And yet, I thought, have we really come to this? Blitzing through our days so fast that we barely have time to celebrate one holiday before marketers are ram-rodding another down our throats?

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7 Steps to Manage the Stress of Caregiving

7 Steps to Manage the Stress of Caregiving

A news story on NPR this week featured Kitty Eisele, the host of Demented, a podcast about caring for her elderly father. She mentioned that one in five American adults currently provides unpaid care for an elderly or disabled family member. Having been in that position once before, I found myself temporarily in it again this past week when, despite those of us who were eligible being fully vaccinated, my family and I came down with COVID-19.

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The Mysteries of God

The Mysteries of God

I am no expert on sorrow, although I’ve lived long enough to know that none of us is exempt. There are no detours wide enough to navigate your way around suffering. No bank account big enough to buffer those you love. No life untouched by loss.

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Keeping a Right Mind

Keeping a Right Mind

Ever found that the more familiar you are with something, the less likely you are to notice it? Like the earth turning each day to catch the first bright rays of the sun. Or the liquidy feel of water as it rolls over your tongue. Or the shifting swoosh of sound that fills our days – from morning bird songs to the evening breeze?

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Summer’s Grand Finale

Summer’s Grand Finale

September has long been my favorite month, and not just because I get to celebrate my birthday. But because it feels like the climax of the year, as if every seed and limb and leaf has been working together for just this moment to release its fruit before ceding to fall.

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Jewel of the Nile: Book Review

Jewel of the Nile: Book Review

I have long admired Tessa Afshar, a romance novelist who crafts historical fiction set around the time of Christ. As a kid lit fan, I’m not a big reader of adult fiction. And I confess that I stopped reading romance novels about the time I realized that lasting love involves more laundry than long walks on the beach.

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How We Learn to Trust

How We Learn to Trust

When the kids are gone and summer is flying fast and the morning chill portends to fall. When the news is bleak with buckled houses and panicked faces and fierce mobs shooting in the streets. When hopes fade and fears swell and what’s on the horizon seems like more than I can face, I can either give into the gloom, let it swallow me like an ocean, roll me into its dark depths.

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How We Survive

How We Survive

When my friend Jenny was getting ready to host a party celebrating her daughter’s wedding, she cleaned her farmhouse top to bottom, even washing all 24 of the ironstone tea cups stacked in her dining room cupboard. Ridiculous! I thought, helping her. Who’s going to check her china closet?

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Worth Holding On To?

Worth Holding On To?

“Antiques,” the flaking wooden sign advertised, hanging over the closed double doors of an old church planted on a rural Maine hillside.

Driving past with my husband, I had just enough time to glimpse the overgrown grass and darkened windows before the church faded from view. “How sad,” I said to Dana, who sat behind the wheel. “But also how appropriate.”

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The Fine Art of Letting Go

The Fine Art of Letting Go

Juggling a lot this summer? Me too. For the past month I’ve been immersed in an intense graduate education course. My husband thought this would be a good time to demolish the back of our house to replace the rotting windows. And – thanks to a determined rodent – I’ve had to replant my vegetable garden. Twice.

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