Archives For Story

Last week I posted about the imaginary critics and how, thanks to them, I found myself shelling out my hard earned cash for a subscription to Eharmony.com. And it was all true, but it was only part of the story. God, as he likes to do, had his hand in the mix too. Thankfully, while I was spiting the world and spending my money to prove the imaginary critics wrong, God wasn’t critiquing my lack of faith or my failure to ask his opinion before I signed-up for online dating again. Instead, he was concocting a new dose of grace.  

 

About a month into my Eharmony subscription I met a man who has turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me. A man who, when reading my article on the imaginary critics, pointed out how I failed to mention the end of the story, the part about meeting the love of my life.

 

This is one of the challenges of being a writer. You pick out one aspect of life and hold it under the microscope to get a really good look at it, to try to crack it open and see why exactly you let things like imaginary critics influence you. You can’t always tell the whole story, it would distract from the point you’re trying to make. I told this to my man, Jay-Michael from Colorado, but I’m not sure I convinced him. 

 

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Over this past week, though, it did seemed like I ought to tell you the other half of the story, if only for practical reasons. Since meeting Jay-Michael, the days have unravelled into a wonderful mess of months in which I find that having a love life is rather unproductive. My perfectly manicured schedule, with just enough time to see a day’s worth of patients at the office, finish my eschatology homework, and go for a run, has gotten all hob-jobbled by late night conversations, daydreaming, and spending more time than I like to admit looking at pictures of our last weekend together Continue Reading…

Thanks to Sarita Fowler for sharing how God cares about the little stuff at work. This blog is part of the Finding God at Work series. 

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At nine weeks pregnant I felt nauseated every morning. But when my agency asked me to interpret on stage for a 9:00 a.m. program, I thought, I can do this. After all, the assignment will only take an hour and I’ll get paid for two. No-brainer. I didn’t stop to consider that nearly every day my stomach began its lurching and heaving around that time. 

 

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The night before the assignment, I started preparing—deciding on my clothes had become a chore. I had started gaining weight and I didn’t fit into my go-to black slacks. I opted for another pair of pants that were a little too long and a little too snug. No worries. I’ll just wear heels, and I’ll suck in my stomach. I hadn’t worn heels or sucked in my stomach for over two months. 

 

I arrived early for the assignment and saw the stage where I would interpret for the deaf audience. No chair. It doesn’t matter, I’ll only be interpreting for an hour Continue Reading…

I dug into my brownie Sunday as I asked him to catch me up on the last fourteen years. Jeremiah and I had lost touch after college and only recently reconnected via Facebook. Despite more than a decade of silence, we fell back easily into friendship. We’d both lived overseas, survived faith crises, never married, and felt our lives to be on the verge of something new. Neither of us expected our stories to turn out this way. Our other college friends got married, had kids, and lived in the cities they’d planned on with the jobs they’d hoped for. But not us. God doesn’t have us on the group plan. 

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I know Jeremiah and I aren’t the only ones who can feel like we’ve missed open registration for God’s group plan. Most of us tend to compare our personal slice of adversity to everyone else’s plenty. If the doctor diagnoses us with a chronic disease, every one on Facebook just glows with health. While we scrimp on groceries to pay the rent, everyone around us drops twenties at Olive Garden like it’s no big deal. When another month passes and our hopes for children get dashed all over again, another five couples at church announce their pregnancies Continue Reading…

Thanks to Kate Knapp, LMHC, for contributing to my Finding God at Work series on how she experiences God through her work as a therapist. Check out her free counseling videos or follow her on Facebook.  

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Although I’m therapist, sometimes I feel in danger of being the bull in the china shop. I can see the damage in my clients’ lives, the hurt, and the likely reasons for it all, and I want to tell them where they went wrong and how to fix it. But even if I can diagnose the situation accurately, I can’t repair it. That’s not my job—not the job I’m paid for or the one God calls me to.

 

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Hank and I sat down for our eleventh session. We’d spent the first ten wading through the issues he’d presented for while I waited for the real issue to surface. We’d talked about his faith, low level depression, and pending life choices. We discussed doctoral programs and his wife’s thoughts about what he should do. Then, during that eleventh session, out of no where—whamoo—an affair. For the past 6 months. His wife found out when a friend saw Hank with the other woman, who was a part of his education circle. His doctoral options were now looking limited and, more importantly, his marriage was a mess Continue Reading…

I almost hate to admit it, but every time I pick up a new book by C. S. Lewis, after the first chapter, I check the cover to make sure Amazon mailed me the right book. By the end of the second, I’m questioning the cultish love that Evangelicals hold for Lewis when his writing style is so vague and drab. By chapter three, I’m hanging on for dear life, just based on the principle of the thing—I mean, I love Narnia after all. Fifty pages more and I’m confessing my disappointment to a friend like it’s some sin. As the pages keep turning, I nearly give up hope. But then it happens: the one line that changes everything.

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I last suffered through this emotional roller coaster while reading, for the first time, Till We Have Faces. As I plodded, then dragged, myself through the book, I began to lose faith in Lewis all over again. But, then, in the final chapter, at the end of the first paragraph, in a single sentence, his genius overwhelmed me again. With a handful of words, Lewis turned a disappointing bedtime read into a life-transforming, leave-me-gasping-and-flipping-back-to-read-it-again book. That one sentence made all the difference. 


Life is like a Lewis book


It strikes me that life often works like a Lewis book. We’re trudging through some page in our story, disappointed. The writing feels dull. The plot seems to be going nowhere. The tragedies break our hearts Continue Reading…

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had days where work makes us angry. Thanks to Chris Dortch for being honest about it for the Finding God at Work series. 

 

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Blasted crape myrtles. I know most people wouldn’t describe them so, but their pretty, pink posies fall in droves, faster than my net can skim them off the water. I know I should enjoy the hot sun on my back, the cool breeze fighting back against the warmth, and the freedom for my mind to wander—from Aslan’s bright shore beyond the Great Sea all the way to the bloody streets of Victor Hugo’s French Revolution, from the emeralds of Oz to the dark stage haunted by the Phantom.


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The strong smell of chlorine wrenches me from the worlds whispered into my ears, and I have to step back before the fumes overpower me. I really should pay more attention to my job. This daydreaming landed me in the pool last summer. I pull out my headphones and focus on the plague of pink that has now consumed the pool. How is this even possible? There are more flowers now than when I got here half an hour ago Continue Reading…

I’m thrilled to have Annette Uza, a friend from church, kicking off a new series of blogs about how people find God in their work. These guest posts will run on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. Subscribe on the right to get these posts delivered directly to your inbox. And, if you have a story to share, I’d love to hear it

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On my fifty-third birthday I realized that my dad was only four years older than me when he died. As I faced the possibility of meeting Jesus than soon, my position as Director of Productions in a flavor company suddenly lost its appeal. I wanted my life to matter for eternity, so I decided to resign and find a job where I could really serve God.

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I applied for a chaplain residency program and for the next two years clocked fifty hours a week at the hospital before dashing to both of my part-time jobs, one at the flavor company. I worked every weekend and holiday without a single day off. The schedule nearly consumed me, but as I sat in the emergency room with family members, holding their hands and praying with them while their loved one lay on the trauma table getting bullets extracted and head wounds stitched up, I believed my work mattered to God in a way that my old job never could Continue Reading…

Summer’s here which means it’s time to grab a glass of iced tea and feel the sunshine on your legs as you get lost in a book. So, as you pile up a summer reading list, here’s ten suggestions that will deepen your love for God, the world that he made, and the story he’s writing. 

 

Fiction

 

1. Gilead by Marilyn Robinson (Amazon, Audible)

 

  • If you could pack all the laziness of a summer afternoon into a book, Gilead would be it. Oh, and it won a Pulitzer prize despite being chalked full of explicitly Christian themes. How did Robinson manage to pull that off? She writes about life in a way that sinks into your bones and renews your wonder for the physical world.
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2. Paul by Walter Wangerin (Amazon, Audible)

 

  • Step onto the streets of Corinth, smell the freshly cut leather and see Paul hunched on a stool with a needle in his hand. Told from the perspective of Priscilla, Timothy, Seneca, and others, this novel will draw you into the drama of the church’s struggle to discover exactly what the Gospel is and isn’t. By filling in sensory details you’ll get a fresh look at the wonderful messiness of the Church’s early years Continue Reading…

Lessons from the book Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior

 

As kids, we believed that we could change the world. We wanted to fly to the moon, write novels, and save people from burning houses, but then we grew up and discovered just how much time living takes. No one told us about the hours involved in keeping the boss happy, the bills paid, and the pile of dirty shirts washed. 

 

Even if we could free up some hours every week to change the world, its problems are overwhelming — sex trafficking, ISIS, the twenty-five million North Koreans cut off from the gospel. We can start to doubt whether our lives will actually make a difference and, when that happens, we need to meet Hannah More.

 

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Since Hannah died in 1833, our best venue for meeting her is Karen Swallow Prior’s book, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More — Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, which introduces us to the unlikely woman who helped end the slave trade in Great Britain. Not only that, Hannah fought for female education, lobbied against animal cruelty, and taught a nation to read. 

 

How did Hannah, a single woman without wealth, family status, or access to Parliament leave her mark on the British Isles? She believed in a God who cared about the world and worked through his children to change it. 

 

Hannah’s life reveals five facts about God that we need to grasp if we want to make a difference in our world Continue Reading…

This piece of flash fiction first ran in Warden Magazine, February 2016.


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Drops of rain gather on the sill, like peasants on a feast day, then tumble down the wall. The rivulets remind me of things long ago—the tall Scots pines at the river where Mamm used to scrub our clothes, the maidens’ ribbons at Beltane festival.

 

I watch the trickle find the ground and then trace its way along the wall towards the shadow in the corner. Slowly, a faint aroma, but rich and earthy, mingles with the familiar dank of stone and clay. Perhaps tomorrow, before Eucharist, the clouds will tire of our burgh and allow the sun to illume the greenness of that clump of moss.

 

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A shock of light outlines the window with its overhanging sign. When they asked me what to etch on it, I said “His Alone.”

 

Two years now I have spent behind these walls—these soldiers of my soul. They bind my body to this square of dirt, away from the plague of gluttony, the temptation of the minstrel’s song, and the lesser loves of ploughmen and bairns. I refuse to be this world’s chattle, harnessed to it like a ploughing ox. No, I will soar, like the goshawks in the sky beyond my window Continue Reading…