When Houseplants Are Zombies of the Apocalypse

Last night, after I finished packing for a long trip, I decided to move all my succulents outside for the duration of our weeklong vacation. I have nine pots of various sizes on the bookshelves in our front room: one tiny barrel cacti, four plants that look like desert seaweed, and assorted echeveria in dark […]

Revival Is Already Happening: An Interview with Carly Gelsinger

I’ve long appreciated Carly Gelsinger’s honesty about spiritual abuse and recovering from try-hard, never-enough Christianity. She wrote a memoir about her experience with radical faith, called Once You Go In, and I was eager to interview her. With so many revelations about abusive leaders coming out, I think it’s important we talk honestly about the appeal toxic […]

Dear Portia: The Spiraling Journey of Forgiveness

How Do We Know When We’re Done Forgiving? Dear Portia, What does forgiveness look like when you work through the process and do your best, but either the offender never acknowledges their sin or they continue to offend? Not asking about boundaries, that’s pretty clear to me, but how do we know when we’re done? […]

Murder, Jesus and Me

The summer I was seventeen, I gave my life to Agatha Christie. Curling on the floor of my room, I read a book a day.  I liked Hercule Poirot best, then Miss Marple, then Harley Quin. I did not care for Tommy and Tuppence. At the beginning of the summer, I felt as though I […]

Prayer Requests Make Me Anxious

I don’t think I have a normal reaction to prayer requests. Rather than making me want to go pray, they tend to edge me towards hyperventilation. Take the other day in my small group. There were some doozy requests. People suffering from the death of a spouse, cancer, job loss, financial holes, a risky and […]

Confession: I Hate Spiritual Gifts

We all have weird things we dislike. Some people don’t like mayonnaise. Some people don’t like dogs or synthetic fabric or Cincinnati. My pet peeve is the phrase “spiritual gifts”. I’m a little embarrassed that this phrase makes me cranky, especially because my church of thirty years talks about spiritual gifts A LOT. All our […]

Belonging to a Broken System

One of the main reasons I stay at my church is also one of the things I dislike most about it. This is it: it’s a large institution. I go to a biggish Presbyterian church. A “Presbyterian” church is literally a church governed by “presbyters”—Greek for elders, or leaders. That’s one of the big reasons […]

The Day I Avoided Foster Ministry

I really wanted to get excited with Martha. But instead, I felt panicky. At the playground with our kids, she was telling me about a powerful sermon she heard with her husband. “The preacher pointed out that if every Christian family in the US were to adopt, there would be no children in the foster […]

Arguing with God about the Bible

Once upon a time, I told God to start sounding more like Cheryl Strayed. You might have heard of Strayed’s most famous book, Wild, which became a movie by Reese Witherspoon. She’s also the advice columnist Sugar, originally on The Rumpus and now a podcast from WBUR. I love Strayed’s work the way most normal […]