Forgive Us

Forgive Us

We Christians can be trundlers, clumsy with our heavy feet and careless steps. We can be tanglers of words, crushers and blinders of tender minds. We Christians can be foolish dancers to the tunes of snake charmers, the music of lie peddlers who steal and sell the name of Christ. We can hide behind our I-would-nevers and hold no mercy for those who would, turning a broken heart inward to cut itself again.   Forgive us, Jesus, whose scarred hands are strong enough to hold gently.   We Christians can be pride-deaf, tuned to hear voices of power over the Word of God. We can welcome idol shackles, chain our hearts to politics and positions and possessions. We Christians, we are contradictions, owning freedom and flirting with slavery, too often closing our fresh...

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Open Letter to My World Weary Sister

Open Letter to My World Weary Sister

Dear Lovely Friend, I saw it in your eyes today, that exhaustion that comes from dangling with all your loose ends for so long. Yesterday you weren’t sure how you would do today, and today you’re not sure how you’ll do tomorrow. You hoped it would all be over by now, but it’s not, and it may not be for a long while. And there you are, finding the courage to put your feet on the floor in the morning and move forward into another day of living in the not-yet. Another day of letting go, another day of hard choices, another day of white knuckling truth that doesn’t always feel so true. Sometimes the again and again-ness of all of it sits like a boulder on your aching chest, and you can feel it pressing a hole into your tired, tender heart. It’s no wonder you’re...

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What We Wouldn’t Know

What We Wouldn’t Know

A friend of mine stepped out of her skin last week, right out of a body worn down by 17 years of tumors and treatments. She was beautiful, and cancer is an evil mockery of creation. But here’s the thing – she wouldn’t have been who she was without it. Every day my friend chose joy, some days easily and some days more like a desperate wrestling match. But she wouldn’t have known the value of joy if she hadn’t felt the lure of hopelessness. Isn’t it true that the light always shines brightest against the darkest backdrop? Courage is most courageous when the fear is strongest. Hope is greatest when it defies the deepest despair. Redemption is most obvious where stories are the hardest. I don’t believe God caused my friend’s cancer. He didn’t cause my mom’s...

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Dust

Dust

My friend gave me the gift of dust. Layered years of it covered photo albums, scrapbooks, and drawings, and as I transferred them from deep shelves into moving boxes, the dust clung to my hands and shirt like tiny, sacred bits of her family’s story. There were pictures of my friend with her college sweetheart as baby faced newlyweds. And then there was her pregnant belly, and then little stairstep kids. There were pictures of her husband grinning, surrounded by family not long before his suicide. And then there were her kids circled around her like the petals of a quiet flower. There were pictures from the years so many friends came around and held them tight. And then there was the newer wedding album, snapshots of redemption, with smiles so wide their cheeks...

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One Foot, Two Foot, Sure Foot, True Foot

One Foot, Two Foot, Sure Foot, True Foot

I wonder how they felt there perched on the edge, those men and women and little ones getting ready to put themselves between impossible walls of water. I wonder if that first step down the bank was hard, with the unnatural path ahead stretching long and dark. The line must have been slow, all those people and animals carrying everything they owned, plodding on through the night hours. There was the pillar of fire back behind, a bright and terrifying promise of rescue from an army bent on their destruction, but up ahead all they could see were people’s backs and a flood piled high on either side. Safety was still a long walk away. That night the Israelites’ faith looked like footsteps. They were scared and angry at Moses, not sure they believed that God was...

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Living the Truth in Broken Relationships

Living the Truth in Broken Relationships

I didn’t want to go. At. All. Normally I would be excited to help lead a worship night, but this time I knew there was likely to be someone in attendance who I was struggling with. There had been some things said and done that were profoundly hurtful and unacceptable, and I had no desire to see this woman, much less worship together. My guitar weighed a thousand pounds and my footsteps were even heavier as I entered the room, praying the whole time for the ability to worship in spite of the company. The woman was there already, and as anger bubbled in my chest I had to fight the urge to turn and walk out the door. Breathe. Grit my teeth. Just get through the evening… Please let me worship even though she’s here. As I closed my eyes and the music began, the noise...

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Ground Grief

Ground Grief

“Do we have any ground grief? I mean ground beef?” My daughter laughed at her verbal slip-up before pausing and tilting her head thoughtfully. “Ground grief. Hmm. I wonder what that would look like.” She shrugged, laughed again, and left me standing there with an unexpected lump in my throat and an unbidden series of scenes trundling through my head. A still image on the ultrasound screen, no heartbeat where there had been one before. A needle in my mom’s chest, pumping chemo through her weakening body, and then a box with her ashes laid shallow in Kentucky clay. My grandfather’s wide-mouthed laugh. My youngest wailing in my arms when we told her we would not be returning home to Papua New Guinea. Rocking my long-legged teenager as she sobbed while her classmates...

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