Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why God Bottles Our Tears

At times I've wondered why the Psalmist wrote that Got puts all our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). I thought about it again recently, as a hidden heartache caused fresh tears to flow.... Is He really collecting these, one by one, and--for what?

Suddenly I saw in mind's eye Queen Lucy of Narnia and her cordial. I saw her bending lovingly to pour it on battle wounds.

"If ...any of your friends are hurt, a few drops will restore them." 

That's when what I've already known came back in a new light: my tears are for healing others who shed tears. 

Can there be true ministry without pain? Can I "weep with those who weep" if I haven't first wept alone? And how much healing can I offer anyone if I haven't known hurt myself?

I don't know, can't know for sure, but I do wonder if this is why God is so fond of our tears. If this is why He saves every drop until such time for us to pour them out again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

To Self-Doubters Everywhere

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Do you struggle with self-doubt? Does it take you by surprise when someone praises your work? And do you find yourself slipping back into uncertainty until the next encourager comes along, giving you enough assurance to propel your project another furlong toward your goal?

I can relate. It took several years, from conception to the bookshelves, to write my first book. It seemed that ninety percent of that time I thought, This is stupid and no one is going to want to read it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Where to Find Idiots: Thoughts on Marriage and Church Relationships

I just finished Elaine Miller's book, We All Married Idiots, and discovered that, sure enough, she's right. David Bogdan married an idiot. Chances are good that you did, too.

Monday, April 15, 2013

So You Don't Have it All Together

Are you one of those who doesn't have it all together?

And do you have people in your life who seem to accentuate the fact when they come around? They don't have to say a word; you can see it in their eyes. You can feel the thoughts emanate from their skin like a stinky sweat: You're a loser. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

What Do You Do with Fifteen "Free Minutes?"

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The other night I was waiting for dinner to finish cooking and realized I had fifteen unspoken-for minutes to do with as I chose.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What on Earth Do You Do With the Resurrection? (Musings for a Skeptic)

I have often speculated about what kind of person I'd be had I not been raised in a Christian home. Here's what I'm pretty sure of:

Monday, March 18, 2013

How Do I "Do it All?"

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I've spent a lot of time pondering why many of us are too busy. I devoted two chapters in my book listing the reasons we do so much. But lately I've come to realize some of my assessment of people's hyperactivity has been uninformed and unfair; there's another, more noble reason some of us over-commit and over-do: there is simply no one else willing to do what needs to be done. At least, not in plain view.

Even though I'm presently trying to juggle being a wife, mother, homeschooler, housekeeper, minister, speaker and writer, I am also extremely tempted to take someone into our home for the simple reason that she has no place to go. Even though my husband and children are 100% on board with it, I know for a fact this would raise some eyebrows, shake some heads and wag some tongues. I can hardly blame anyone for feeling I need to have my brain extracted and rewired.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Homeless Man in My House

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Last summer I took a homeless man into my home for an overnight stay. His stench followed him up the stairs where he steamed up my bathroom with a hot shower-- using my bath soap, wash cloth and towel.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Visit to a Safe House for Girls of the Sex Slave Industry

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"Front door opening," announced the electronic voice as I entered the kitchen where *Shayla was busily preparing Valentine's candy for an upcoming banquet. I walked past the cubbies where girls hang their coats and studied her face for a moment.

"Do you like school?" I asked.

What else do you ask a sixteen-year-old who's spent most of her existence earning her keep from a pimp's bed?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On Being a Misfit and Loving Lesbians

photo credit: Gizmodo Shoes

I tossed and turned for a while in bed last night, thinking about what a misfit I am. How I don’t seem to fit neatly into any cultural corner: I’m eyed with suspicion by my gay friends when I profess to be a born again Christian. I’m eyed with suspicion by Christian friends when I confess to enjoying the company of my gay and very nonchristian friends.  And sometimes I'm painfully aware that  I do not belong in groups or events involving certain brands of people in pretty packaging with plasticky smiles and platitudes dabbed on saintly lips and—that is a good thing, actually. But it makes for a lonely existence at times.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Skeptic Who Got "Struck Christian" (A Book Review)


I first discovered Joan Ball through a Facebook comment she made on someone's post that read something to this effect: "Not everyone is seeking. Not everyone feels a 'hole in their heart' and is longing for something more than the 'here and now.'"

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Eggnog Disaster and How it Saved My Daughter's Life

Recently a friend was describing to me one of her saddest childhood memories. Every day she’d come home from school to an empty house and relax on the couch in front of the TV for a while. Inevitably she’d hear the unmistakable sound of her dad’s footsteps approaching the front door. She’d jump up, turn off the TV, and try to look busy as he greeted her with the same three questions every day:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Return to "The Shack"--A Reflection on the Children of Sandy Hook Elementary

I know the best thing to do for the families in Connecticut right now is to sit in silence and mourn their losses with them, like Job's friends did before they opened their big, fat mouths for forty chapters. To light candles, send cards, or whatever our hearts direct in the way of sensitivity and compassion.

But I also respect the fact that so many are asking the "why" questions we always ask when things like this happen. So I've dusted off my copy of The Shack to highlight a portion of the book that may help those who are trying to sort out their thoughts and beliefs about God in times like this.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Reflection from a Peace-loving Patriot

I stayed in bed for a long time this morning, feeling the need for comforting hugs from people who share my sentiments. I felt alone, yet connected to far-away friends whom I know are also saddened and concerned for our future. I'd had a good cry as the election results rolled in last night.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Have a New Teenager in Five Minutes

Thanks, Dr. Leman, but sometimes I don't feel I can wait until Friday to put an end to the cold distance and eye-rolling of a fifteen-year-old (but I do recommend your books!).

If you parent a teenager, you know how a cold shoulder from your own flesh and blood can cloud the brightest of days and weigh your spirit down with feelings of sadness, guilt and downright misery. And you'll do anything to bring it to an end.

Or will you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When (God's) People Disappoint

Some time ago a woman told me she’d decided to leave her church (for what seemed to me a silly reason). “Only three people had the gumption to call and say they’d miss me,” she lamented over the phone. “I’m so disappointed!”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Just Want to Be a Mom--Sincerely, the Preacher

I never signed up, exactly, to become an author and to plant a church at the same time, all the while mothering four kids and trying to be a good wife. In fact, I’ve spent years judging others for having too many irons in the fire (confession time!). Suddenly, I’m meeting publishing deadlines and preparing sermons and hoping my kids have eaten breakfast.

Joyce Meyer says it’s almost become fashionable to be too busy. If that’s true, I’ll dress for comfort, thank you very much. But these days, it seems I have no choice.

Some of my friends have expressed envy—they’d love to have a book coming out, a ministry pedestal and the like. It is to those friends I must continue confessing the truth:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

We're Starting a Church and We're Crazy

Cornell Street

I took this photo on a recent road trip through Cleveland. I wanted to capture the architectural beauty of this church before nightfall. I didn't notice the name on the street sign, illuminated by the setting sun, until I uploaded the photo later.

How many of us can make full sense of the road our lives have taken? Three years of grad school at one of the world's top universities followed by three years of unemployment and counting....

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"God is Good" and Other Annoying Platitudes

Have you ever noticed that when people say, “God is good!” it’s often in the context of God doing something good for them?

I got the job! God is good!

They accepted our offer! Isn’t God good?

No more chemo! God is so good!

We won a trip to Disney World! God is good to us!

God does delight in giving us good things (James 1:17), and we are right to give Him glory when good things happen. But I have a confession to make: On bad days, when I hear the proclamation, I'm sometimes tempted to think, Of course He’s good. You just got a blessing.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Friends the Pagans (Part Two)

If you read Part One you may be asking the same questions I often get about our spiritual discussion group. I'll answer them here:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Friends the Pagans (Part One)

"I want to start a group," I told my friend, Suzette, one day. "A group for people who want to talk about God or gods, and spiritual-not-religious stuff." I told her I was tired of the Christian bubble, and Jesus never lived this way. He was out and about and liked all kinds of people. People like Suzette. Not just churchy people like me.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Meditations from Adopted Ducklings

One of our hens, Gloria, took it upon herself to sit on four fertilized duck eggs until they hatched. They are now more than twice the size they are in this photo, and she still thinks they’re hers. Gloria is so fiercely protective of her adopted “chicks” that she sustained an eye injury and has bald spots on her head from fighting off other hens who get too close.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Visit to the 'Burbs and the Scoop on the Celebs Who Live There

This past week I had the privilege of speaking to the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in the Bedford Hills area outside of New York City. A well-known TV personality lives three miles down the road from my wonderful and gracious hostess and MOPS hospitality queen, Julie. "She gives out king-sized Snickers on Halloween," Julie said of the celebrity. But Julie would just as soon buy her own candy bar at the grocery store, where she runs into the famous "entertainment queen" on a semi-regular basis.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why I'm Not Mad at God (New Thoughts on Unemployment)

Yesterday. Rain, grey skies, and a phone call. They hired the "lesser" candidate. We've been here many times before.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

On Open-Mindedness and The Origin of Life

We all like to think we’re open-minded. (Well, I suppose there are those who consciously don't want to be. I think I know some of them. Do you?) I’ve been thinking about the definition for a while, and generally I believe that open-mindedness means having open ears, and a willingness to understand and learn.

But lately I’m wondering if being open-minded could mean something more:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Angry Old Testament God and How I Feel About Him

My daily Bible reading is currently taking me through the prophet books, and old feelings surface as I read Ezekiel, Obadiah, Amos.... God was ticked!

Then I get to Jonah and read, "...go to Ninevah...and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up against Me," and I think, There He goes again.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Green-Eyed Monster and Why I Want Your Half of the Cookie

I love discovering talented bloggers on the internet. That is, unless they have more talent than me. It happened recently; I stumbled upon yet another brilliant and hilarious writer with enough profundities to elicit hundreds of comments from hundreds of followers. I read several posts before going to bed and then, do you know what I did? I'll tell you what I did. No I won't. Yes I will.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dirty Feet and the Radical Business of Living a Normal Life

I am inching my way, highlighter in hand, through the book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by Dr. David Platt, the rare mega-church pastor who inspires members to downsize their living spaces, simplify their lifestyles and think globally about having an impact in the world.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

You Call This a Fast?

When my pastor asked the congregation to join him in a prolonged fast, I was tempted to decline. Grace and freedom, you know—the stuff of spiritual “maturity.” God will tell me when to fast, thank you.