Gift at Low Tide


{I’ve just rolled in from the shore and am reaching two years back into the archives to share with you my favorite Palm Sunday ever. Enjoy as you align your heart this holy week.}

Palms waved on Palm Sunday, fronds rattling, applause in the wind. I walked hand-in-hand with my firstborn toward our abandoned umbrella, its fringe fluttering near the shoreline. Bare feet shuffled over sandy cobblestone, felt the grit, the heat. I clicked my tongue like the clop-clop of hooves on that old Jerusalem road before crowds laid down coats and branches to dampen the sound. The rightful King could have come in on a high horse but He picked a beast of burden instead, the animal with a cross on its back, a humble donkey…and a baby one at that. Continue reading

Frankincense and Mercy {A Birth Story and a Thank You Note}

merciMerci. It means “thank you” and it means the things I’m thankful for, all the ways you, my doula, acted out the full meaning of the word in “providing relief from suffering,” and showing “compassionate treatment of those in distress.” That was me when the water broke on Good Friday, life flowing out in the restless dark of Golgotha, like the spear to Jesus’ side. Continue reading

Google Balloons and the Gospel {A Less Digital Life…Day 20}


We walked into our friend’s office downcast at the news of another scuffle in the Middle East. When we asked whether he’d be canceling his upcoming ministry trip there, his eyes sparkled. We had looked at the situation from the exterior. He had seen it from the heart, he himself a native of the region. What this meant, he told us, was that people were becoming disenchanted with the way of their upbringing and were starting to search for truth.

We aren’t the only ones thinking of the global community. When my brother got hired at Google last year, I jokingly told him that it was his first step in trying to take over the world like Pinky and the Brain, his favorite cartoon as a kid. But in actuality, Google’s Project Loon description reads like a humanitarian missions pamphlet at an evangelical church: “Two-thirds of the world’s population does not yet have Internet access,” and these Internet balloons are “designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.”

Sounds kind, but I’m bothered. What will become of us when there is no place with spotty Internet, no place to get away from the Internet altogether, when there is no cabin or lake house or country home that can truly be off the grid? If our only option for restful retreat is our own willpower to keep from turning on our devices, we may be toast. And maybe Facebook makes us all feel a little famous, but do we really want things hovering over us, sending signals here and there, maybe someday taking pictures of our houses even more invasive than the Google truck cams, polluting our privacy and never letting us be truly alone?

But before I get completely curmudgeony, my husband speaks up. When the world wide web truly becomes world wide, when those in rural and remote areas have access to the Internet, they can read or hear the Good News for themselves, a testimony to all ethnicities. Maybe the bad keeps getting worse, but the good keeps getting better all the same. My husband’s words, like our Middle Eastern friend’s view on the troubles of the world, keep me looking up…past the balloons. I’m reminded that technology isn’t going to tie up all the loose ends of humanity’s story, the Gospel is.

Here’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Go outside. Look up past the airplane trails and focus on handmade heaven.



{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}

Just Two Eyes to See {A Less Digital Life ~ Day 3}

I pivot the tiny screen on its hinges and almost slam it away in the ceiling of the minivan. “Don’t even ask,” I tell them, “we’re keeping our eyes on the real world today.”

I’m lecturing by now, a woman with a diatribe, Continue reading

What the Children Are Saying

With a weathered spoon, I am chasing bubbles in boiling oatmeal when my three-year-old stampedes down the wooden stairs, shouting out with the tree in his sights.

“Shh!” I shake my head, “Your sister’s still sleeping.”

It’s a ruckus when he’s in the room. The ancient quote is running through my brain now, Plato’s words telling me to lighten up:  “A boy is, of all wild beasts, the most difficult to manage.”

A little click and seven-hundred sparkles come on and make the place a little brighter, the bulbs on the tree teaming up with the morning sunlight that stretches down through the gray clouds into our windows.

On the shelf, painted porcelain people and barnyard animals gather around. My loud little boy fits right in with the rowdy crowd of the Bethlehem stable. He scuttles over to the unfinished nativity and reaches out to the wooden box next to it, the one with all the tiny doors hiding little Christmas secrets. Our Baby Jesus figurine waits in a cubby.

I stand with a kitchen towel in hand and wait for him to open the adjacent door where the figurine will sit for the day, another 24 hours closer to Christmas. But instead he looks at me and opens his mouth to speak.

“Jesus growed down into a baby,” he tells me as he lays eyes on the tiny form.

I marvel to hear it spoken so freshly in the words of a child and I marvel again that the Word who’s big enough to create the world and the sun that it revolves around and the planets that move with it and all that is beyond, that the grand, king-sized Word became so small that He had to use baby talk. He “growed down”. The incorrect grammar says it right. I stop a minute to savor the unedited words, keeping all these things in my heart, my son experiencing Mary’s son, the only begotten of God the Father.

Elliot slides his thumb over the swaddling clothes and adds to the sentence, “And then he growed up into a man.” It’s something to tuck away and so I grab the nearest pen to jot down his words under that December date in my journal. But he isn’t finished. He’s getting to the sad part.

“Then His heart wasn’t beating anymore,” he says.

For a while, I had wondered if my son were too young to know the full story yet. I had timidly read to him of the lashes, the spit, the hatred, the cross, and watched him furrow his own eyebrows at the painting of the thorny crown on Jesus’ head, the Baby King all grown up into a dying man.

Is this all that life comes down to…death? I blot my eyes with that kitchen towel. I am afraid for him to figure out that he too will die one day. And maybe I’m afraid to face it myself, forgetting to meditate on the hope that softens the sting.

Next thing I know, he speaks aloud that hope to me, so simple I can’t argue with it. “Then it was beating again,” he says. Not for pretend. Not a metaphor. His actual heart beating again. And so will ours because of Him.

“What next?” I prod him on, wondering at the words he’ll choose, this whole new person relating to his Creator.

“Then God pulled Him up to heaven with his REALLY long arms!” This boy is jumping for joy, reaching high.

I can almost feel those long arms now, God reaching down to here, calling forth His praise from the lips of a child right under my roof. The Savior, meek and mild, has lassoed my little boy with His story…and I am shushed.

Kneeling down, I put my arms around Elliot to give him a squeeze. Then, he opens the door to the new day and stows Jesus away.

We fetch little sister and all bow our heads to thank God for our pot of oatmeal and for the food trough bed where Jesus laid His head. I pray first and then Elliot interrupts. It’s his spiritual gift. “God, I know you have Jesus right now and He is coming to pick us up in a minute.”

We move the Christ child from cubby to cubby, from day to day, and wait not so patiently for Christmas when we celebrate Jesus’ first advent. And even greater, when we log another day in the history books, we’re that much closer to His second advent. We are hungering for more than this season can hold. I can tell it. We haven’t even had our breakfast and already this little one has preached me the whole Gospel.

(Luke 2:19, John 1:1-5,14, Matthew 21:16)

Reposted from the archives