Words

On Writing My First Book

A few weeks ago, I turned in the manuscript for my first book to my publisher, Finding Holy in the Suburbs. I suppose there had been others — scrawled words in composition notebooks and spiral notebooks, abandoned stories where I gave up writing and thought I could only write about writing, and a PhD that approximately […]

The Books that Help Us Story Well

“You see these spots?” my dad would ask, pointing at my nose. “They aren’t freckles. They’re print that’s rubbed off from having your nose stuck in a book.” He wasn’t far from the truth. I read voraciously as a child. I took a book along with me everywhere—just in case. Just in case I got […]

Prayer Made Sense When Henrí Nouwen Told Me to Give Up

My oldest son, who is almost five, carries a sea turtle stuffed animal with him just about everywhere he goes. Sea turtle chats with the lobsters at the supermarket, goes down the slide at the playground, and provides a comfortable conversation starter when he’s surrounded by adults and other children at church. With sea turtle […]

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 Red Handkerchief

In the story The Giver, they had a phrase “precision of language”. This was an admonition when people used an irrelevant term, something their culture didn’t believe in anymore. We have antiquated words that don’t serve us or even offend us now, and we have phrases whose etymologies are hard to trace. I’m captivated by […]

Loneliness is a State of Mind

  There can be a loneliness in reading, because it is such a solitary act. Even in talking about books, it can be hard to accurately describe their affect, because how can soul-deep language be reduced to mere words? There can be an aloneness in reading, too, in that one does it to be alone, […]

Books Can Keep You Stitched Together

The first book to ever hold this type of “keepin” power for me was, Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I slept with this book under my pillow every night. I was even willing to pay the “lost” fine fee that my middle school library would eventually charge me for not returning it. […]

Spoken Blessings

When my twin sons accidently caught 17-acres of land on fire while filming a World War II movie with their high school friends, it wasn’t the scorched trees I remember most. Or the helicopters flying over head to drop water. Or even the news stations capturing the flames on camera. It wasn’t the shots of […]

The Weight of Our Words

“Some words are elegant, some can wound and destroy, but all are written with the same letters.” – Paulo Coelho The laughing ceased as I walked into the room, turning to piercing eyes and whispers hidden behind folders. I inhaled deeply, trying to hold back the tears stinging my eyes. I wouldn’t let them know […]