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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The Antidote to the American Dream

The Antidote to the American Dream

I was balancing my seven-year-old’s bag of popcorn on my lap when my phone lit up underneath it. We were on a special mommy/daughter movie date while my teenager was at play rehearsal, so I glanced to make sure it wasn’t something important from her or my husband. It was a text from Joy Wyse, a friend and fellow writer, and one of the first lines caught my attention. “I have decided that Biblical praise is very unAmerican.” UnAmerican. I had just told my husband a few hours earlier that I’ve been having a hard time American-ing. We’ve been back in the States for over a year and a half, but I still struggle with the pace, the expectations, the driving children all over the known universe, the constant motion. I’m tired of being tired every evening. And every...

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Before

Before

Before Bethlehem, there was the road. There was the dust and there were the jolting steps over rocks and ruts. There were deep ligaments pulling and joints aching and feet swelling and a husband drooping weary as he watched his bride wince and shift. I wonder what thoughts rolled in Mary’s mind as Life rolled in her womb. Maybe the voice of the angel telling her not to be afraid. Maybe the whispers and stares, people she’d known all her life who now refused to look her in the eye, believing shame was hers to own. Maybe she was nervous about what lay ahead. She’d never had a baby before. And this wasn’t just any baby. Or maybe a tangled combination of all of this ran circles in her head, the size of her feelings pushing at the edges of her heart as surely as the...

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Heaven at the Edges

Heaven at the Edges

I’ve seen it I’ve seen Heaven poke its toe in under the curtain There where light meets water and waves dance glory I’ve seen it where the sun peeks round the fireline edge of a cloud Like a groom looking shyly for his bride I’ve seen it at the place where spring kisses winter to bloom And where green gives birth to cooling gold I’ve felt its silk in newborn skin And breathed its ache at the side of a grave Where flesh meets clay and the veil thins I’ve heard it catch in a throat as a sob becomes a laugh And it’s risen out of flames where ashes end and beauty takes flight Heaven’s horizon isn’t far off It’s here and here and here In familiar lines and creases At the tips of fingers and in the pulse and stretch of hearts It’s where we see And the seeing pulls us...

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The God Who Opens

The God Who Opens

I have this thing about flowers. And the Highlands of Papua New Guinea is a good place to have a flower obsession. All year round our yard is an explosion of pink roses, red and yellow dahlias, tiny orange honeysuckles, peach gladiolas, and these poofy purple things that I’m sure have a name. But my favorite flowers are the gardenias. We have five bushes scattered around the yard, and they all seem to bloom at once, and then I have to run outside barefoot and visit each blossom because there’s just something about having warm grass under my toes and lungs full of gardenia scented air. I pick one flower, one that’s just starting to unfurl, and bring it inside to finish blossoming in the red glass cup on the piano. There’s glory in the opening. Gentle spreading,...

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Scars and Stories

Scars and Stories

The wooden floor in our dining room is scratched from years and years of chairs being pulled up to the table. It’s not pretty. The varnish is peeling, and the discolored planks are grooved deep. This floor has stories written across its grain, generations of stories of missionary families from all over the world who have lived here. Bare little feet running in at dinner time, conversations in Japanese and English and Tok Pisin, homework and letters home and family game nights. Every scar in the wood has history. Scars have always intrigued me. They speak of life lived and lessons hard learned. I have a shiny white one on my left foot from when I was eleven and thought mud sliding in the garbage dump sounded like a good idea. (Lessons learned: broken glass is...

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