Why I Love Pope Francis’s Radical (Not Really) Take on the Gospel

I am enamored of Pope Francis. Every time he clarifies what he believes about the Catholic Church, its priorities, and its purpose, I am grateful that God gave this wise, smiling cleric a worldwide audience. Francis’s thoughtful, humble way of speaking about God and the church is good for all Christians, not only those who [Read More…]

[Snapshots from Oak Ridge] I Wrote a Book. Want One?

I will confess something that will be not at all surprising to most of you, especially those who write blogs of your own: My Friday “Snapshots from Oak Ridge” feature is absolutely self-serving. I wanted some regular Friday feature that would be quick and easy, because posting regularly, even if every post isn’t read by [Read More…]

Made by God in Rainbow Hues: On Raising a Gender Nonconforming Child

Yesterday my son came down in one of his more glittery, fabulous shirts—a shirt purchased in the girls’ section of the Gap. I didn’t think anything of it. My son has a number of clothing items that are meant for girls, and this shirt, with a big, shiny, spangly musical note on the chest, is [Read More…]

“Wonder” and the Paradoxes of Living with a Disability

R.J. Palacio’s young adult novel Wonder tells the story of Auggie, a boy with a severe facial deformity who goes to school for the first time in fifth grade. He confronts fear and bullies, but also makes friends—even with some of the very same kids who initially teased him. I thought it was a beautiful story, for [Read More…]

Did Jesus Get Cranky Too? Thoughts on an Incarnational Faith

I snapped at my daughter the other night over something trivial. As I helped her get ready for bed, she said something that hit me just the wrong way at just the wrong moment and I stormed out of the room, streaming a lovely guilt trip of words behind me. (I’m sure none of the [Read More…]

Does Inciting a “Wave of Fear” Sound Like a Christian Response?

I could cite (and have cited) statistics about why I support common sense gun reforms, such as banning of high-capacity magazines and so-called “assault” weapons, and closing all loopholes that make it possible for those prohibited by law from gun ownership to easily obtain guns. Statistics about how much more likely gun violence, including suicide, [Read More…]

Finding God at Rock Bottom

Karen Beattie and her husband went through a difficult few years. She was unexpectedly laid off just as her husband decided to go back to graduate school, leaving them without regular income from employment. After a miscarriage and a bunch of dead ends on their quest to adopt a child, they realized they might never [Read More…]

Bodily Betrayal, Redeemed by Love

John Green’s bestselling young-adult novel The Fault in Our Stars is a love story about two teenagers, both with terminal cancer. I was particularly taken with the narrator, Hazel, who has metastatic cancer in her lungs and uses supplemental oxygen. This fictional teenager astutely observes the shame, frustration, and feelings of inadequacy that can come with inhabiting [Read More…]

Caring for the Small and Vulnerable

At the end of each day, somewhere around 9 p.m., comes this moment: I let the cat in. She nibbles at the food left in her bowl, then goes upstairs to the dog bed in our room. (No one told her it’s a dog bed; she just thinks it’s a really, really big cat bed.) [Read More…]

[Snapshots from Oak Ridge] Summer and Fall in Tandem

I walked outside after my book group meeting last night around 10:30, and the air not only felt like fall, it smelled like fall—the mild tang of leaf mold, a hint of smoke. We still have summer-like days ahead of us, no doubt, but fall is creeping in—including in my garden. Here, a bee gets busy [Read More…]

How Screens are NOT Ruining My Family’s Life (& Maybe Even Making It Better)

This headline from the Huffington Post: “8 Ways Screens are Ruining Your Family’s Life.” Ah, nothing like a good dose of hyperbolic hysteria to get an audience riled up! You, with the TVs and laptops and smartphones: Betcha didn’t know you were ruining your family’s life, did you? This is a popular bandwagon to climb [Read More…]

The Brilliance and Beauty of a Marriage, Lost (& Found) in the Mess of Everyday Life

My lost-then-found diamond has become a metaphor for our marriage—lasting and solid and brilliant even when months and years go by when its shine, quality, and distinctiveness are hidden in the scrum of everyday life, obscured by groceries and vacuuming and the many loads we carry. [Read more…]


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