Essays

Short personal, cultural, and journalistic essays for those on the margins of faith

Santa

“You don’t believe in Santa,” my daughter said to me the other day, her voice dreamy and absent-minded as she colored away at our kitchen table. I didn’t quite know how to respond. She is five now, old enough to…

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Advent for All, Week 2: Peace

  Whether you find yourself in church this Advent or struggling to step foot in its doors, the message of Advent surrounds us.     I remember the days when peace for me meant a pot of coffee and sitting…

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Prayer and Panic Attacks | Prayer for the Rest of Us

The past three years of my life have been painful, challenging, and anxiety-ridden. I lost a pregnancy. I walked with my family and church through various challenges and heartaches. My youngest child was born with Down syndrome, which shook the…

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Swastikas to Windmills

Lorenzo and Willow ate the last of my granola bars, but I can’t be mad at them because I like having the neighborhood kids around. They are third graders, the same as my daughter. Their world revolves around after-school bike…

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Advent for All, Week 1: Hope

Whether you find yourself in church this Advent or struggling to step foot in its doors, it’s possible to experience the hope of Advent.   Hope can be a dangerous thing.   I’m not talking about the small hopes: I hope…

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The Effects of Grief During the Holidays

For the first thirty years of my life, my family held fast to the same Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions. Grandma’s warm, pink applesauce passed around her crowded oblong table. Bundling up and trudging through the Christmas tree field the day…

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Keep Magic in Christmas

When my children were finally old enough to do more than cry and crawl, I began a family tradition many others have around the holidays: the advent calendar. The goal was to plan an activity of some kind—large or small—for…

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When You Pastor a Church You Wouldn’t Attend

My wife and I had the same conversation almost every Saturday night for at least two years. It was like clockwork. Or maybe it was like a ritual–but not the sacred kind. It went like this. One of us would…

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The Ministry of Cleaning Up

Like many people, my husband and I have our favorite television shows. One of these has been The Good Wife. Great writing, strong characters, and a peek inside law firm culture made this show a top pick on our after-dinner…

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Learning How to Age from Visits to an Old Lady

Mrs. Burdette, the lady who had been old since I was a little girl, was a bit like a grandmother. We met her at our church where she “adopted” us, She had no grandchildren and only two grown children—a son…

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