Why Words Can Be Cancer and “I Don’t Know” is Grace

Why Words Can Be Cancer and “I Don’t Know” is Grace

To be honest, I’ve been putting off writing this. It’s not a pretty one, and it doesn’t feel good, mostly because it dances all over my cringing toes. But here I go. I’m bringing out the big G word… Gossip. Like everything I write, this is coming out of things I’ve been wrestling through. There’s no finger-pointing here, friends. More like hands shaking and knees bending under the weight of a conviction too big to keep to myself. If there’s any sin the Church has made a pet of, it’s gossip. We minimize it and justify it, we dress it up as concerns or prayer requests, we acknowledge that it’s a problem and then talk about who does it most. We tag each other like cheap clothes at a second hand store and then wonder why people outside the Church don’t trust us. I...

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Words and The Word

Words and The Word

Words have stopped me in my tracks recently. Not specific words. Just the fact that humans use words. The ability to wrap sounds around thoughts and feelings and then to communicate complex concepts in a way that creates new thoughts and feelings in others is astonishing. There are few ways we more closely resemble the God who used words as His tools for creating the universe. Jesus, the Word made flesh, used His words to heal, to teach, to uncover truth, to love, to call out evil, to rescue, to comfort… I’m not sure how it works that Jesus is God’s Word with skin on, but I’m pretty sure it means something that should permanently change the way I see words. They are sacred. Which means using them in any way other than what God intended isn’t just unwise. It’s...

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Honey, I Shrunk the Missionary

Honey, I Shrunk the Missionary

Ok, missionary friends, let’s be honest here. We’ve all done it. We’ve all told those shocking stories, the ones with giant spiders and malaria and chicken foot soup. We’ve all shown the gripping pictures of the dark-eyed babies and the work-calloused hands and the colorful city streets. And we’ve all expected appropriate oohing and aahing from the audience. The stories and pictures aren’t a bad thing. It’s good to give our churches and friends a glimpse into a world they might not get to see otherwise. What trips us up is why we share these things. It doesn’t take long for missionary newbies to learn what we missionary oldbies know intuitively: it’s effective and exciting to talk about the different and exotic. We get a reaction from stories that are outside the...

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Inward

Inward

The stones were cool under my shoeless feet as I took my first step into the labyrinth, Oregon trees leaning in all around like giants protecting the silence of their clifftop sanctuary. I could see the center of the circle just feet away, but the path that ran inward turned quickly out to the very edge again. In and out and doubling back with no warning, the way into the center didn’t seem to make sense, and I wondered as I looped again along the outer edge how much further I had to go. And then one more sudden turn, and I was there. The green-filtered sunshine and warm fir breeze invited me to sit there in the middle for a while. So I did, and gratitude sang through me and got stuck in my throat like a sob. So I let the birds sing it for me. Thank You for...

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The Gift of No

The Gift of No

We sat in the office of the private high school’s principal. She was compassionate and apologetic, but unequivocal. We had a spot for her and wanted it to work out. We really like her. But it’s not a good fit. …can’t accommodate her needs… …more severe than our other students with ADHD… …so sorry… We knew something was different about our first daughter from the time she was only a few weeks old. She was extremely sensitive to temperature, light, and noise; she would wake up even if the phone rang in another room. By 18 months, her lack of impulse control was evident. In chaotic places like the church nursery, she became aggressive towards other kids, and while we were potty training she once dove head-first into the toilet. She couldn’t explain why. At age three...

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The In-Betweens

The In-Betweens

My house is staring at me. A betrayed kind of look that says, “Seriously. What have you done?” At least that’s how it feels after our family’s week-long bout with a horrible flu, followed immediately by an unexpected mid-March snow day. Muddy foot and paw tracks in the foyer and kitchen, pillows and blankets and tissues piled like modern art sculptures in across the living room, and unspeakably grimy bathrooms… all pleading with me to do something about it. Right. Now. The problem is, I can’t. I’m in that infuriating in-between stage of recovery where I can think straight enough to know what needs to be done, but my body refuses to cooperate. It’s hard for a doer like me when reality decides it’s time to just be. And, no it’s not flattering when I call myself a...

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To See and Be Seen

To See and Be Seen

I’ve been going through career counseling recently as we try to make a decision about our next missions assignment, and after all the tests to figure out what jobs would best suit my personality and strengths, we’ve made a discovery: I’m an odd duck. (Friends and family, you may all now say in unison, “Well, duh!”) My unusual combination of personality traits makes me an even odder duck in an organization of odd ducks (because, let’s face it – missionaries aren’t normal). This hasn’t come as a surprise to me. I’ve always felt a little out of step with the world around me, wherever I am. But I think I’m not alone. I’ve been asking around, and I’m finding something I’ve suspected for a while. Most people have a sense of being different. Most of us have facets that...

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