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 […]

Listening as Imperfect Resistance

Ever since the election last year, I have wanted to resist. In my introversion and general lack of political activist skill, this has been a mixed bag of efforts. I have attended protests. I have called my congressional representatives. I have signed petitions and read articles. I have prayed with undocumented people. I have also […]

Dear Portia: How Do I Stop Desiring Bad Stuff?

Dear Portia, How do you stop wanting what you REALLY want, when what you want isn’t good for you? How do you create desire for something you should want, when really you are craving the opposite thing? Craving Dear Craving, When I was in my teens and twenties, I drank at least a can of […]

Belief vs. Beloved

First I’m going to talk to you about the Bible and being beloved, and then I’m going to talk to you about politics. The other day I had a conversation with a new Christian in which she expressed some negative feelings about the Bible. To my surprise, her words shocked me. I thought, doesn’t she […]

Dear Portia: My Kids Are Slobs. Help!

Dear Portia, How do you get your kids to clean up after themselves? My kids are 12, 10 and 7 and I feel like I’ve tried everything over the years. Chore charts, reward systems, scolding, drawing attention to the mess, calling them back to do it again when it’s not cleaned up properly. IT NEVER […]

Dear Portia: Do I forgive my church family, or speak up?

Dear Portia, Several years ago, our family got involved in fostering children with significant medical needs. The nudge to do so came from the teachings of our church…to love God and to love people. But, the very church family who encouraged us to jump in did not throw the life-preserver we expected. Fostering got hard. […]

Dear Portia: My friend got healed, and I didn’t.

Dear Portia, I keep praying for healing, and I am not healed, but someone else in my circle did get healed and I am trying to be okay with this but I am not. A Dear A, Is it even possible to address your question without using some sort of unhelpful or even offensive platitude? […]