Dollar Store Evangelism

7983352_ae05874354_oBecause I enjoy the finer things in life, I ran into Dollar Tree the other day to grab a few bottles of shower gel. The store is a bright, stale-plastic-smelling establishment specializing in glow bracelets, “chocolatey” Easter candy, and knock-off pregnancy tests. (Why didn’t they carry those during my childbearing years?) While it’s preferable to the more staidly dismal Dollar General, it’s certainly not a place for spiritual awakening.

The young man at the checkout, who probably had already swiped several dozen last-minute gift bags across the scanner by this point in the day, smiled warmly at a sixtyish woman standing in line in front of me.

“Are you having a good day?”

“Why, yes!” she beamed, unfolding a few bills from her coin purse. She thought a bit. “You’re so friendly to everyone here. I really like that.”

“Well,” he said, looking up shyly, “I just like to treat people the way I would like to be treated.”

The woman brightened immediately. “You know, the Gospel of John says Jesus even lays his life down for his friends. And he says we are his friends if we do what he commands.”

My eyes caught his, and in a microsecond, everything was said: I was trying to be nice. I didn’t mean to bring Jesus into it. I’m trapped and embarrassed you’re hearing it too.

[Read more...]

Complimentary Angles

cupsCristin slammed the kitchen door behind her when she came home from work a few weeks ago. She threw her Starbucks apron on a chair. “Mom, a new girl named Ashley started today, and I’m supposed to train her. But I can’t stand her!”

I looked up from the bills I’d been paying at the table. “I’m sorry, Hon. What, exactly, is the problem?”

“Well, first of all, she’s rude. She obviously doesn’t know how to operate the cash register, even though she worked at another branch of Starbucks for a year. And when I tried to show her how to do it, she told me she doesn’t like register—she prefers making drinks. I’m the supervisor. She’s a barista. She’s supposed to do what I ask.”

“So what did you do?”

[Read more...]

“A Pair of Silk Stockings” and Other Frivolous Pleasures of Mothers

2779657744_be3f82cd93_zAfter a harrowing weekend of yelling at my children, I decided I needed to take drastic measures. I’d been getting sleep, eating well, exercising, and, yes, praying, but I still found myself on the razor’s edge of tension, slamming utensil drawers and screaming, “Stop!” if my son so much as edged one tine of his fork into his sister’s personal breakfast space.

I proclaimed to my husband and my other spouse, Facebook, that if I could get through the rest of the week without yelling, I’d treat myself to a trip to Macy’s.

[Read more...]

The Art of Evil

OthelloSeeing a fine production of Othello recently has got me thinking about the art of evil, a fitting topic for Lent. And, yes, that pun in “art” is intended.The creativity of Iago’s evil machinations is the force driving Othello’s plot; and art in general—in all its genres—often portrays how evil works in our world.

I hadn’t seen or read Othello in decades, and I’d forgotten how much it is Iago’s play.

[Read more...]

Sojourners in the Darkness

4018862127_2f7e0aebc8_zMy mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [his murderer] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.

—Beshir Kamel, brother of the martyrs Bishoy and Samuel

A footnote in my Bible at the end of Genesis reads: “The life that began in Paradise ended in a coffin in Egypt.”

What ended was the beginning of a story that commenced when man insisted on seizing the creation pen for himself, only to find that his words spring from poisoned lips. So faithful Joseph was tucked into the earth, his last plea lingering in the ears of his brethren: “Don’t leave my bones behind when you depart this land.”

I don’t belong here. [Read more...]


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