Writing

Masks

Most of the world is under a mask mandate right now. Some view it as a commonsense way to help slow the spread of Covid. Some wear a mask as a sign of respect and kindness towards others. Some wear a mask in obedience to their government. Some view mask wearing as capitulation to illegitimate … Continue reading Masks

Hidden Places

We rambled through the forest, sliding on pine needles and scrambling over granite, heading nowhere except to explore the beauty of the day and the mountains we lived in.  We smelled it before we found it, a mountain laurel bay tree tucked into a small ravine near the base of a towering Ponderosa pine. Arrested … Continue reading Hidden Places

If Not For Ben

If not for Ben… I might have continued my education. If not for Ben, I might have become a missionary, a counselor or a linguist. If not for Ben, I might have had opportunities to lead, to influence, or perhaps just to enjoy an easier life. In many ways, Ben has determined the course of … Continue reading If Not For Ben

What if?

We are living in a time of anxiety. As we try to make plans and figure out what life will look like now, our thoughts churn in the background, sapping our strength and feeding our fears of “what if”. What if I or my loved one gets sick? Or dies? What if I lose my … Continue reading What if?

A Godward Life

“A Godward life is a life lived for the sake of seeing and savoring and showing God in all things.” – John Piper

Night Meeting

I wrap my jacket around me and step out into the night, quieting the screen door’s creak for those sleeping. Over dew-damp grass, lit by stars I walk, to the old dock reaching out into the quiet water. I come for the chance to see the fleeting aurora, whispering green on the horizon. It flickers … Continue reading Night Meeting

Identity

I did my best at the time. As white parents in a white town, we were tasked with giving our multiracial children tools with which to form their identities. So I bought the diverse books. I made sure our nativity set was ethnically accurate. I read about adoption and race. We drove to the city … Continue reading Identity

What I Almost Said

“These people!” I fumed after reading yet another rant on Facebook. “Why is it so hard to just be kind?” In my anger I hammered out the perfect blog post to address the problem. To share my frustration at the anger and self-righteous rants all over social media right now. I felt compelled to speak out. … Continue reading What I Almost Said

Trapped

A squirrel fell down the chimney into the fireplace a few months ago. After flinging himself repeatedly against the glass doors he hunched, weary and hopeless, beside the grate. After a few days we put a live trap in there with him. His ticket to freedom sat there, baited with peanut butter, but he refused … Continue reading Trapped

Pruning

Covid 19 has swept through our world and our lives like a pruning knife, cutting out large portions of things we thought we couldn’t live without. Pruning doesn’t just trim away the excess and the dead; it gouges to the heart of the flourishing, a harsh process designed to bring forth future abundance. But for … Continue reading Pruning

It is Enough

I set out on my walk through the cool Minnesota morning with good intentions. No podcast or music this morning – just communion with my Creator. I had good plans to pray for the people in my mind and heart as I strode past dew-laden ferns, past the mailbox, onward through the morning’s coolness. As … Continue reading It is Enough

The First Fourth

Last weekend America celebrated her 244th birthday. Our citizens remembered the patriots who managed to defeat the world’s greatest colonial power of the time to secure for us the hope of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Two of those soldiers were my ancestors. They were simple farmers living in a small town in … Continue reading The First Fourth

A Special Birthday

Last weekend marked the beginning of Ben’s 28th year on this earth. Although he has accumulated the years of a man, his heart and understanding are that of a small child. Ben’s calendar is simple: Starting on December 26, he starts anticipating his birthday. And on June 28th, he begins to eagerly anticipate Christmas. Every … Continue reading A Special Birthday

My Fathers

I had a good father. He taught me how to save money and to love words. He was a small-town newspaper editor who wore cardigans and caps and garnered the respect of all who knew him. If it’s true that we picture God somewhat like our fathers, then mine gave me the impression that God … Continue reading My Fathers

Wonder is the feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.” Donald Miller

Emergence

Quarantine is over and restrictions are lifting. Like a deer in the woods we peer out at life, hesitant. How long will it be before we dream again? These months have been heavy. Fearful. Numbing. Our noble goals for quarantine productivity long ago dissolved into apathy. Efforts at uplifting each other gave way to videos of … Continue reading Emergence

There are many of us willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.” – D.L. Moody

Fog

The fog lay gently on the lake this morning as I left for my daily walk. A loon called from beyond my field of vision.The colors of the morning faded into the gray dampness. When I was very young we lived by the ocean, where the fog often lay thick and heavy over my neighborhood. … Continue reading Fog

Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter. – Francis Chan

On having a black son

I always thought he would be the safe one. As a woman, I understand that my daughters are inherently vulnerable due to their gender. I am familiar with knowing the right place to park, with being aware of my surroundings and with not walking alone at night. I also understand that my son with special … Continue reading On having a black son

Moonrise

I watched the full moon rise earlier this month, the quiet lake shimmering in its glow. It brought back a memory of our family gathered around our old black and white Magnavox television to watch in awe as men’s footprints first touched the moon’s powdery surface. “That’s one small step for man”, Neil Armstrong said, … Continue reading Moonrise

“Following Jesus is serious business. It is a life of joy, otherworldly peace, and unexpected exhilaration, but it is not to be taken lightly. Stating the commitment is not enough. I don’t want a faith that is trivial or that lacks integrity. I want a Christian life that is deep, intense, spiritually fulfilling, and real.” … Continue reading

Tucking Ben In

We have lost many things in this pandemic. Some of them needed to go. Others tore out a portion of our peace in the leaving. Some of our assumptions are weakening; things like optimism for the future and a confidence that everything will return to normal. Other losses serve to grant us perspective and teach … Continue reading Tucking Ben In

Launch

Before every rocket launch, there is a lengthy time of preparation. The crew needs to be equipped for their flight, communication systems tested, fuel loaded, trajectory calculated. There is a lot of advice out there on how to get through this Covid 19 quarantine period. It’s been a good time to rest, reorganize our lives, … Continue reading Launch

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day and I have had a complicated relationship. I had a challenging relationship with my own mother, and did my best to bless and honor her no matter how I felt. I know the challenge of the card section in the drugstore, lingering long to find that one card that was kind, but not … Continue reading Mother’s Day

Spices

“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.” (Mark 16:1) It was barely light when the women made their way down the dusty path to the place of the dead. They walked in the silence of shock and … Continue reading Spices

Filler

I’m reading a book right now that captured my attention in the introduction. There were a few sentences, deep and true, that made me hunger for more. The more I read, though, the more I find a few great ideas and a lot of filler. Books, blog posts, lectures and sermons go this way often, … Continue reading Filler

Plans

My planner is empty. I bought it at the start of the year in an attempt to become more organized and purposeful with my days. Now it sits unused, this quarantine period having erased weddings, meetings and get-togethers. Am I, too, sitting empty in this waiting time? It is easy to let the hours and … Continue reading Plans

Quarantine

It has been more than a month now that we have been sequestered at home, allowed to leave only for necessities. In the beginning we were upbeat, willing participants in the noble goal of protecting the vulnerable. Our town and many others joined together to support and help each other through this terrible time. Masks … Continue reading Quarantine

Resurrection

The lake ice is melting, shifting colors from white to gray. Ducks arrow down to splash around its edges. By the house, a few green things push tips up through the thawing soil. At this time when most of the world is on lockdown, spring comes out from under the winter snow. Even as we … Continue reading Resurrection

The Sap is Rising

It snowed again last week, each unique flake adding its beauty to the whole. The trees stand solid, accepting the coldness stored up for spring’s bounty. We live in maple syrup country and even now the sap runs, silently dripping from the taps. Like the snow, the bad news keeps piling up. Rampant infection, unemployment, … Continue reading The Sap is Rising

Inhale

I remember the scent of the mountains in summer, of pine and cedar, of pressing my nose into the bark of a Ponderosa pine for a whiff of vanilla; of the sharp scent of sage after a summer storm. Here by the lake the air is cold and clear, but later there will be the … Continue reading Inhale

Robins

The robins returned to our crabapple tree last week. Though the snow lay deep, still they came, singing, announcing that spring has arrived although the snow still flutters down and all lies frozen and frosted white. The world waits now in a kind of winter, still and dormant under the grip of a virus. We … Continue reading Robins

Remembering

I remember him, waiting here in the still whiteness of winter. I remember the first time he came to me, and the last. I remember the celebrations, and the long walks in silence. I remember, in the bread and the cup. In the songs and the worn pages, marked. In the breeze, in the warm … Continue reading Remembering

The Gifted

Sometimes God’s gifts come wrapped in grief. When you find yourself blindsided and reeling, you find that you have been issued an invitation into a raw intimacy with a God you never expected. John 9 tells the story of Jesus healing a blind man. “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born … Continue reading The Gifted

Wonder

We tire of it, this abundance of the miraculous. Each snowflake falling unique to adorn the woods, sparkling in the morning light, crafted in the heavens, we have stopped noticing, the familiarity of it draining us of wonder. Intricate miracles are we, rods and cones arranged to perceive beauty, tiny hairs trembling in the spiraled … Continue reading Wonder

Wilderness

A wolf ran by today. Out on the frozen lake, in the dim, gray light that precedes the dawn he trotted, solitary. What was his mission, leaving the wilderness toward civilization? Our house lies on the dividing line between neighborhoods and the places where wild things live. The stream that feeds our lake shelters ducks, … Continue reading Wilderness

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day – do you love it or hate it? It seems to me that this day, meant to celebrate love, often is a source of disappointment and discontent.  Some of us haven’t reconciled the difference between romance and love. Some of us set a high bar for romantic gestures and when our expectations aren’t … Continue reading Valentine’s Day

Water bug bridge

Once or twice a week we used to walk through our local park in the evenings. Through the gate we strolled, circling around over the stone bridge, down over water bug bridge and back through the meadow. First alone with each other, then a baby in the backpack, then two, then three, Ben lying limp … Continue reading Water bug bridge

The Game

As I’ve been praying over this new year, one passage of scripture keeps coming to mind:  For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed … Continue reading The Game

Adoption

Last week marked the 30th anniversary of our adoption of our oldest child. Being an adoptive parent – and especially the parent of children who don’t look like me – means that I have fielded many questions over the years. One of the most common questions is, “Do you love your adopted children the same … Continue reading Adoption

Time

While our kids were young, I counted the passing years by taking pictures of them by our front door on the first day of school. Now that I live in Minnesota, I count the number of winters. This is our seventh winter here. Northern Minnesota winters are overwhelming. Last year we had snow for six … Continue reading Time

Stacking Legos

In addition to Down Syndrome, my son Ben has Autism. Part of what comes with that is a delight in making patterns. His favorite activity while watching tv is to make a pattern tower with his Legos. He does this by continuously removing the bottom row and putting it on top. This creates a perpetual … Continue reading Stacking Legos

Breath

God breathes, and uncountable numbers of universes take shape. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. Psalms 33:6  He breathes into humankind and we become embodied souls.  The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his … Continue reading Breath

Pivot

I said the words by Strawberry Creek, perched on a fallen cedar in the sunlight. I can still feel the soft, ridged bark under my hands, smell the warm pine needles at my feet. I didn’t understand much, just that there was a God out there who somehow cared about me and this holy moment … Continue reading Pivot

The New

The sun will rise over the frozen lake tomorrow, new and brilliant as always. A new day and a new year bound up in one gift to celebrate and to steward. This marker of time is arbitrary, truly, and yet we need these waypoints to remember what has gone before, to anticipate what may come … Continue reading The New

Advent

Many churches celebrate a season of Advent, anticipating the birth of Jesus. Advent means “arrival”, and this is a season of waiting. We all have seasons of waiting. For direction, perhaps, or provision. For freedom, for healing, for change. We wait at bedsides, in doctor’s offices, courthouses and social service buildings. We wait in lonely … Continue reading Advent

Immanuel

  Jesus was born in a stable. Very early tradition suggests it was probably a cave. Recent theories suggest it could have been the lower level of a stone house, windowless, where animals were kept. Either way, it didn’t resemble the nativity scene on the mantle. Into this Jesus came. To two filthy and exhausted … Continue reading Immanuel

This I Know

I was talking with a friend this morning about songs that run through our heads, and she mentioned the children’s song, “Jesus Loves Me”. I rocked my babies to sleep singing this warm assurance over them as they drifted off on my shoulder many years ago. But sometimes I need to remind myself of these … Continue reading This I Know

Fall

Autumn in northern Minnesota is simply spectacular. My morning walks are graced with multitudes of colorful leaves glowing in the sun, fluttering in the breeze, rolling a red and orange and gold carpet out beneath my feet. Many other religions bind the believer to an exacting, demanding God or system. Even those who believe in … Continue reading Fall

Sunrise

The sun rises differently in the mountains. Where there is no horizon, it slips over the peaks and ridges to reach our town. I remember walking the mile to the school bus stop, starting off in the gray and blue silence and then watching as the light first topped the highest pine trees, turning the … Continue reading Sunrise

What Lies Behind

“Your closest exit may be behind you.” Have you ever heard that reminder from a flight attendant? He mentions that because sometimes our focus is so fixed ahead of us that we forget to take into consideration what is behind us. It’s the same way with history. We are fearful of where our world is … Continue reading What Lies Behind

A Kiss

Our son Ben has Down Syndrome, Autism and is nonverbal. He is a 3-year old in a man’s body. This past year he insisted that I play the theme for his favorite pro wrestler while he struts out to the bus in the mornings. In order to look as cool as possible, he sports a … Continue reading A Kiss

Fences

In southern California where I was raised,  all the backyards in my neighborhood were fenced. Neighbors didn’t traipse through your back yard; if they had business with you, they had to come to the front door and knock.  I came from a home that was “invitation only” – and invitations were few and carefully issued. … Continue reading Fences

Evacuation

Sometimes it seems a lifetime ago that I lived in my little town in the mountains. I miss small-town life; the being known. I miss having the boundaries established and purposes to fulfill. My little mountain town came close to burning down last month. The houses across the street from my childhood home all burned, … Continue reading Evacuation

A Baptism

He stands on the shore of Prairie Lake, swinging his arms and jumping up and down like Michael Phelps preparing to break another world record. It is a rainy, chilly day but he doesn’t seem to notice as he rushes down the hill into the cold water to stand with our pastor.  His people cheer … Continue reading A Baptism

Meeting Places

At crucial points in my faith journey, I have found places – physical places of special beauty – for deep prayer and contemplation.  As a child just discovering God’s love in an emotionally unstable home, I spent many hours on a rock across the street from my house, overlooking a mountain pass. I met God … Continue reading Meeting Places