april showers

there’s this part in the bible.  i think it’s in the old testament somewhere.  it’s god talking to his people.  he says that when they get to the promise land, when they get everything they want – even more than they ever knew they’d possess, that they shouldn’t forget about god or he’d take it all away.

i always liked that part.  it seemed like a definite.

god wouldn’t be able to say that.  he wouldn’t be able to say that he’d take it all away unless he was going to give it.


so i guess i’ve always believed that god was going to be generous towards me.  he as much as said so.  and i, well, i guess i’ve gotten used to being a well-loved child of god.

even when the times were bad.  even when they sucked and i had to pray to make it through an hour.  even then.  i knew that a promised land would be reached and it would be so good that it would tempt me to forget about god.

i looked forward to it.


recently i did just that.

i forgot all about how far god has brought me and what he has given to me.  it didn’t feel like i had, but if i were honest, i wasn’t feeling much of anything towards god.

that’s not true when you’re in the desert.  you feel.  you don’t forget god.  you need him. you pester him.  there’s no getting out without him.

i haven’t been there in a little while so i just kind of got used to having everything i wanted when i wanted it.  he warned me that i would.  but still it came as a surprise.

how short-sighted i am and how easily satisfied.  a beautiful flower in may makes me forget my troubles.  i’d forgotten how far into the future god sees.  just how far reaching the choices i make are.  i’d forgotten how the law of the universe is that you reap what you sow.  i’d forgotten so quickly.

and then i remembered.

Posted in beauty, good life, pride, spirit of god | Leave a comment


writing lonely stories


writing is ministering, pastoring, chaplaincy.

i come to you and trace my scars with a fingertip.  i show you the map of me and at the same time you see that i’m healed up now, that i’m still here, that i’m okay.

and so are you.

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for a long time, writing was a mirror.  the way to understand myself, to see.

i wrote a whole book to see what i couldn’t about myself.  and it worked.  i wrote a book for me.

i got it out of my system.

writing changed then and became a mirror of me that could show you, you.  i can write and if i remember the reader, my stories become about you.

if i tell them well enough and i get out of the way, they are your story.


it is a lonely thing to walk with jesus.

he is always taking you to places you don’t want to go.

the lonely places.

there is no small talk when you are alone.  there is only what is true.  there i’m confronted with the map of what has made me, me.

if i stay here long enough, i just might have something beautiful to say.

something real.


henri nouwen said this:

“but the more i think about loneliness, the more i think that the wound of loneliness is like the grand canyon – a deep incision in the surface of our existence which has become an inexhaustible source of beauty and self-understanding.”

so in the lonely places i might write down an honest word to share with everyone else in the same boat.

i hope to do that for you.

Posted in hard work, outside, redemption, writing, you | 2 Comments


a fairytale they say

the snow started coming down and eleanor wanted to build a snowman with her dad.  she waited patiently.  she let her wishes be known.  she left the request on her father’s ear.

we were busy.  abe had a dance on friday night.  saturday was special olympics and dinner at my parents.  kids stayed the night over in buscia’s new kitchen.  we located a new, delicious indian restaurant in a strip mall.  we bought records.

life was full and fun.

and the snow kept falling and a little girl, our littlest, kept waiting.


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at home we dropped overnight bags in the hallway.  i thought maybe we’d eat cereal for dinner, but joshua was nowhere to be found.

through the window we saw him out front rolling snow into men.  eleanor clapped with joy and pulled the snow pants back on.

her dad was good to his word.


the snowmen took over the front yard.

neighbors stopped over to admire the work.

cars slowed down to take a second look.


serious artists

later we kicked off snowy boots, unwound frozen scarves.  we pulled off wet socks and started the last fire of the season.

what makes a child believe?

what gives confidence that snow can become more than a chore?

dear old

a good father.

to know that you know that when you share your heart,  your father hears your hope and comes through.

to know that you are loved and that what you want to happen will be done bigger and better than you could have imagined.

some fathers are flesh and blood.

some aren’t.


but there is a father.

one that hears your prayers.

and he holds your hopes on his ear and does not forget.

Posted in childhood, faithfulness, family, god, joshua, outside | 3 Comments


like a child


the other day a trusted friend hurt my feelings.

i have a long and complicated relationship with friendship.  it seemed best to begin to plot my revenge immediately.

i figured out the ways to protect myself and to hurt back.  i felt better.

i also felt small.  like when i was child and i wanted to hide.  the world receded and i had a way to shut the door on it all.

i became smaller and smaller until i nearly disappeared.


i made a promise to god once.  i promised to show my children wide open spaces.

that’s it.  that’s all.

it said what i wanted to say.  wide open spaces feel like the best way to set a child before what is good in this life.

but i was shrinking in my house because a friend was thoughtless.


i organized the facts to my side.  every word i read and each time i spoke the validity of my hurt surfaced.  i was right.  i was wronged.

and then i looked at jesus.

be merciful.

the most high is generous to the ungrateful.

bless and do not curse.

the ocean of forgiveness that everyone is offered is never fair.  it doesn’t make sense and holding onto offense is the opposite of wide open spaces.


so i bowed my head and prayed for my friends turned enemies and they turned back into friends.

i felt myself growing back into a grown up.

i felt the weight of the government fall off my shoulders.

and then i ran barefoot to the shores of the atlantic with my children so that they could see the wide open space of me.

Posted in friendship, healing, jesus | 6 Comments


harry potter and true stories

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we walked in a world created in one woman’s imagination.

it was a real place.

we heard languages from around the world spoken around, all of us lost in a shared reality that has come to mean so much to so many.

we’d seen this place in our mind’s eye and now we were here.


words written down had become streets you could walk on, stores you could enter and owls you could see up above your head.

i thought then about the power of story.  about the power of words to touch hearts all over the planet and how we love heroes and that we will travel to dwell in the land that we imagined when we read the words in books.


i thought too of dumbledore’s question to harry in king’s cross station,

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

words become real places.

maybe you’ve read the words that told you of jesus and you traveled to the places he walked when he was here.  perhaps you flew across the globe to feed the hungry and found that it was true, that when you gave a cup of water to the least of these, you gave it to him.

well that money to follow jesus was well spent, my friend.

but so was this.

long live the imagination of mankind.

long live the gryffindors and the disciples and the power of the written world to take us to places that once existed as ink inside of the pen.

and let us again consider that the word became flesh.

Posted in childhood, faith, good life, jesus, writing | 1 Comment



i’d slept over at julie’s and so when her family woke up for church on sunday morning, i did too.  we piled into their station wagon and drove to st. peter and paul’s.  i pulled at the sleeves of the dress i borrowed, the dress i’d never wear and i dreaded the building that i never entered.

at nine years old i was deeply cynical about faith.  that was the religion i knew.

“the pope’s a dope.”

my dad would chant that around our house and i agreed, though i didn’t know why exactly. i wasn’t sure what opiates were or the masses , but i loved my father with a pure devotion so i knew what was true and what was false.

i sat in the wooden pew and looked at julie’s parents.  her dad used grease on his hair and his face barely hid his contempt for most things save bowling.  we put a vhs tape we’d found in his bedroom in the vcr once.  naked bodies flashed and julie turned it off immediately.  he yelled at his kids, but his wife yelled even more.  when she needed someone to hand her the butter, she yelled it.  she was always exasperated as if the catholic promise of having six kids didn’t quite turn out like she’d been told.

i thought about these things as i sat with this family under the vaulted ceiling so high.

the mass was indecipherable.  i didn’t know when to kneel or how to respond.  the collective murmur and simultaneous action did nothing but cement the mindlessness, the pointlessness of religious ceremony.

my dad was right.

then, near the end, the elements were laid out.  the bread and the cup.  the body and the blood.  the mystical heart, it seemed to me, of this gathering was now unveiled.  and as the people began to line up, i stood with the broken family that brought me.

julie turned around and whispered it.

“you can’t take communion.”

i sat back down and watched them shuffle towards the heart and i knew she was wrong. at nine years old i knew i had just as much of a right to the crucified body of jesus as those sinners did.

when they were far enough ahead i got in the line and as i got closer to the front i saw that some people opened their mouths wide and received the bread right from the priest’s hand.  that didn’t really appeal to me, so i studied the way of those who held their hands out.  when it was my turn, i still got it wrong, but he gave it to me and i knew i’d broken the rules.  i’d walked right up to a priest as a child and in my own way said that i didn’t agree, but i still got to have god.

i put the wafer on my tongue and i walked back down the side aisle, meeting with a disapproving look from julie.  the bread was a gummy glue that melted, that became.

i don’t know if any transubstantiation took place, but it was my first holy communion in the way that things are holy with jesus.  in the way that those who are on the outside make it in.  when the prostitutes and the beggars push past the pharisees.  when the lesbians and the muslims push past the tea party republicans.  the holy way of sin meeting its match in the person of jesus and him being willing and unafraid to take on all comers.

and it set the stage, i guess.

i’ve always known that i’ve just made it into the company of jesus.  i was outside and told to stay outside by more voices than just julie’s, my own included.  but my feet walked up anyway and i follow him anyway, made all the more holy for the breaking of the rules; for the great love of my father on earth as it is in heaven.

repost from the archives…

Posted in childhood, faith, lent, the church | 4 Comments


don’t worry, mom


don’t worry, mom.

she says it enough lately that i’m starting to wonder that perhaps i’m more anxious than i know.

mazzy turned 14 last week.

it’s been less like a blink and more like a night of sleep.  time passes unaware, but it happened.  you were just out of time in a way.

mazzy has always been a little timeless.

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don’t worry, mom.

i remember the daily work of getting mazzy to where she needed to be.  to read words, to walk in a walker, to go to therapy.

mazzy made me a mother.

she rewired my brain.

she made me a specific kind of person that knows nothing.  that can predict nothing.  one that steps forward without a path.


when mazzy was dedicated at our church, my friend, rebecca prayed this:

i see you as a flower that stays closed for a long time.  and when you bloom it will happen so slowly, but you will be the most beautiful flower.

it struck me as she prayed it.

i’ve held on to it for years.

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that prayer has proven true.

and the first petals are pulling away now.

i need to hide my face.

i need to take off my shoes.

look away from me lord, for i am a sinful man.

she is the most beautiful.




i feel like i’m meeting mazzy for the first time now that she is 14.

and i’m not worried, mazzy.

i’m not worried at all.

Posted in mazzy, mothering, time | 10 Comments


what you’ll find there


have you ever felt too dependent on someone?

that sort of if i’m not near this person, i’m not quite sure the world will continue on as it should?

yeah, me neither.


when that person breaks your heart, you could have a real chance.

a chance to find out what your definition of love is anyway.  the possibility that you have been wrong, maybe for years, about what is good and what is true about your own heart.

or you could just pine for them.  or curse them.  or hate yourself.  or blame yourself.


often what seems to be happening isn’t what is truly happening at all.

however it takes time to tell the difference.  real time in the quiet.  maybe with a bowl of grapes.  maybe with a cup of coffee.  maybe with a view of the trees out of a window that needs to be cleaned.

i’m so proud of you.

i really am.

keep going.  keep trying.

you are so much better than i knew and i’m honored to call you my friend.



let’s meet up and talk about the hard work we’ve done to keep our eyes open to what is really happening.  we’ll talk about how the lies are always there, waiting for us to believe a different story about ourselves.

but we want the true story.

you do and i do, too.

and somehow we’re going to hear it, first in the quiet.  then we’ll tell it, out loud, so that everyone can hear.

Posted in beauty, faith, friendship, hard work, healing, quiet, time | Leave a comment


ascending at your friend’s house


before jesus ascended into heaven, he took a walk.

he led his followers to bethany on the eastern slope of the mount of olives, a sabbath day’s journey, about a half mile.

he blessed them, lifted his hands and bye.

mary, martha and the resurrected lazarus lived in bethany.  was he walking them home? was he seeing their house one last time?  was he letting them know there is still more to come?

jesus loved his friends.



i’ve been taking some time to write my story and looking back, my life reads like stepping stones of friendship.  sometimes solid rock, sometimes a spider’s web.

friendship is how i understand this world, how i move forward.  befriended and being a friend – these are the roads i take.

i led them by cords of human kindness, with ties of love. – hosea 11:4


jesus said that he would give it all up for his friends.

my children may be the ones receiving the full weight of my friendship these days.  we do the slow work of daily life together so that they can live their real lives well one day.

but heart friendship feels a sabbath day’s journey away.  the hello and goodbye of friendship is my reality for this season.

i hope it doesn’t last too long.


greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

all the love that i’ve been shown, all the kindness i’ve tied around your wrist.  we’re all heading to the greater love of god, to some distant shore.

it sure seems that way to me.

Posted in friends, jesus, outside, real hope, resurrection | 3 Comments


when staying at home is lame


the grocery store is its own particular type of torture.

i must be thankful for the resources to be there, the choices, the strength in my legs to walk the aisles, to push the cart.  i know.  i must be.

but when you’ve done something a few hundred times it loses that certain something and just becomes a meditation for the pointless and monotony of life.

or maybe that’s just me.

also dishes.

also laundry.

also packing lunches.

also making beds.

also vacuuming.

also cleaning toilets.

also also also.


it’s a brave new world for me these days.  we moved so i didn’t have to spend hours in a car everyday.  now each day stretches before me full of monotonous crap that i don’t want to do.

but what do i want to do?

i take eleanor to school this morning.  she’s amazing.  she’s so lovely and loving.  she’s like a mountain of birthday presents on my head.  i’m so lucky.  i tell her so.

she smiles her very pleased smile.

i’ll pick her up at 3.


i’ve spent these past fourteen years raising three children.  that time is changing.  it’s morphing into them on their own and me on my own.  the rope that ties us together is getting longer.  that’s okay.  it really is.  but what’s not okay is me filling up the hours with something that doesn’t support this family.

i shop because they eat.  daily.

clean dishes on the table.  clean clothes pulled out for yet another day of school.  lunch on the counter for when they are off on their own.  a made bed is so much nicer.  clean house gives peace to the mind.  a home to come home to.

i do that.

that matters.

my life is not pointless.

monotonous yes, pointless no.

it takes discipline to remember your worth when no one is watching.  the time will come when my days are spent busy supporting something else well.

but for today there is laundry, there are dishes, there is shopping.

thanks mom.  thanks again.

Posted in childhood, contentment, hidden life, mothering, time | 6 Comments