Place

Choosing to Belong

We hadn’t been going to any church regularly for a couple of years, yet we felt the yearning to belong to a local part of the body, to be connected. We had a few friends at a church who had invited us along, so we made a decision: we would go for an entire school […]

The Battle for Belonging

At night these mostly bare walls with fresh paint echo more than they used to, bouncing each memory of the past six years back through my unquiet mind. The crickets and tree frogs sing a melody that is as commonplace to me here as the call to prayer and honking cars was when we lived […]

Selling Out by Settling Down?

Like Belle, I never planned to live a provincial life. I, too, wanted “adventure in the great, wide somewhere.” I wanted it more than I could tell. But today we bought a house. An ordinary, provincial house with a two-car garage and a Whirlpool dishwasher. As we walked out of the title office, giant trees […]

Finding My Place, One Avocado at a Time

I do not yet know how to belong to a place. It always happens in the in-between space of small conversations, the way the light hits just so, or the accumulated miles where your route “home” becomes something you can do in your sleep. It happens when what was “different” from “there” instead just “is.” […]

Ink, Blood, and Tears

I got off the bus at my new school and saw the parking lot filled with cars. This was nothing like my former crowded, noisy, urban Philadelphia high school with the dark stairwells and constant police presence. I’d never seen so many Ford Tauruses in my life. Some even had monograms on the doors. I […]

Restoration After Exile

“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! […]

The Waging and the Waiting

This essay is an excerpt from the anthology Soul Bare: Stories of Redemption published by Inter Varsity Press in August 2016. In 1977, my mother left my brothers and me with sitters to go looking for an apartment and didn’t return for days. When she finally did, after what most people considered a “lost weekend,” my […]

Warming Up to Prayer

I live in a community, Jesus People USA, a real-life intentional community with 250 other people. That means I experience a lot of connecting, but not much quiet.  In 2002, having lived in community for 10 years, I was so restless and distracted I could barely function. Communal living has so many blessings, but it […]

Finding Contentment in the Uncomfortable

I’ve been asking myself what contentment is lately. This question tends to come when I’m elbows-deep in dish water or staring at my overflowing laundry basket. Sometimes it pops up when my doctor calls with bad news. While I lived overseas, I had such a deep ache for stability and rootedness. I moved abroad when […]