Church

Fear and Faith in the Desert Places

I love Robert Frost’s poem “Desert Places.” Typical of Frost, the speaker in this poem describes a natural environment of forests, fields, and snow. But this isn’t a beautiful or peaceful place. Quite the opposite: it’s a place of darkness, cold, and isolation–it’s a menacing and threatening place. For me, the genius of the poem […]

Why My Family Reads Books with Working Class Characters

I’m driving down Lexington to drop off my daughter at her morning park and recreation camp. We pass over the railroad, and for the first time she notices the mobile homes to the right. It’s a “trailer court,” I tell her, and then I search for its synonyms: “trailer park…mobile home park.” “What’s it like […]

Preach Hope to Me: I’m Afraid That My Inner Jackass Is My Real Me

I heard an analysis of a sermon recently. One commentator said to another, “I shouldn’t leave and walk out feeling good about myself.” Really? I’ve been in churches like that—where as one of my friends said, you’re just crap on a plate, covered with a veneer of Jesus. When I was clinically depressed for a […]

Encouragement in a Time of Cynicism

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend, and the subject of her immigration status came up. She currently has protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program–an executive action under President Obama that provided legal status for those who were brought to the U.S. as children; often, they are called DREAMers. […]

Your zip code won’t make you holy

The in-between moments I fill with podcasts and Voxer conversations with writer friends as I circle the suburbs in my minivan. One conversation with a friend about moving to a city or the suburbs, lead her to write down this encouragement: your place doesn’t make you holy. Friend, I’m hear to tell you the same […]

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 […]

Sometimes Leaving Is Just the Beginning

The Sunday that changed everything started like any other —wrangling kids into their car seats and rushing to leave the house on time. But as we drove the seven minutes to church, a fist of anxiety squeezed the middle of my chest, making it hard to breathe. We dropped the kids off at Sunday school, […]

Church When I’m Not Feeling It

I grew up going to church three times a week. The habit is still entrenched in me to arrive when the doors open. It helps that I love my church. But there are times when coming even once a week is a struggle. On Sunday mornings, I’m often running later than planned, no matter how […]

Belonging and Being a Writer of Color at FFW

I lived in Central Asia for a few years, and I loved it!  But the weather was cold (think Southern Siberia); the winters were long; I never became fluent in Russian by any means; and there were aspects of the culture I never understood. In fact, I remember feeling incredibly angry and frustrated with myself […]