The Big C Church

"They're all here to hear John Ortberg, don't you think?" a first-time attendee at this morning's Catalyst Lake County "Bonfire" gathering wondered aloud. Warm conversation filled the room as 400+ congregational leaders, community builders, non-profit heads and church champions representing over 75 churches from Lake County, IL (and beyond) spent the morning talking, laughing, weeping, schmoozing, worshiping and praying together. Hearing a well-known speaker like Ortberg was definitely a … [Read more...]

A mixed bag full of apricots and hammers

The recent news that a child's death has been blamed on the parents' adherence to the extreme fundy teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl made me think about the bombastic, insistent voices claiming to offer the perfect formula for not only raising children, but living a godly life. (As if a holy life was a recipe!) Voices of folks like Bill Gothard, Jonathan Lindvall and the Pearls dominated the home school movement in the `90's when we began home schooling. They had enough capital T Truth in … [Read more...]

Review: The Living Dialogue Series

When I first came to faith in Christ, Bible study tools were like comprehension drills: "For God so ____ the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)Though they were the spiritual equivalent of busywork, like those SRA boxes full of multi-colored reading comprehension cards tucked in the corners of 1960's elementary-school classrooms, the fill-in-the-blanks books did a good job helping to acquaint me with the … [Read more...]


My dear friend and long-time prayer partner Meg and I both kept expressing the same thought to one another: "I could really use a silent retreat." The thought of an uninterrupted block of time to simply listen to the Lord, to rest, to soak in the Word, to rest, to unplug, to rest..Well, you get the idea.We'd always imagined ministering together someday - she's a woman of the Word and an amazing contemplative musician. But last fall, we talked about simply wanted to steal away from our … [Read more...]

Review: One Million Arrows

Julie Ferwerda, the author of One Million Arrows: Raising Your Children To Change The World (Winepress Publishing, 2009), wants to inspire you to hit the parenting bulls' eye as you raise your children to be spiritual champions. Motivated by both the work and message of her mentor, M.A. Thomas, and her deep desire to see her teen children take ownership of their faith, Ferwerda pulled together a self-published book filled with stories designed to motivate parents to aim at a higher purpose in … [Read more...]


The Jewish holiday of Purim takes place this weekend. The holiday is a miraculous story of survival in the face of super-size, demonic anti-Semitism. The book of Esther never once mentions God's Name, yet His unseen hand is visible in every moment of this drama:"The story is about the Jewish people in Persia during the reign of Xerxes (486-465 B.C.). The ultra-short version of the story is as follows: An evil man named Haman hates the Jews, and manipulates the king into making a ruling that in … [Read more...]

The Great Tylenol Caper

Yes, it's a picture of shelves full of Tylenol and some of Tylenol's pain reliever cousins. Go ahead and ask the burning question: "Why do you have this picture on your blog, Michelle?" To answer your burning question, I have to give a bit of backstory. A year ago, I had a job that required me to go sit in an office each day. Like all jobs, it had great parts (the students with whom I worked) and some not-so-great parts. But I knew it wasn't exactly where I belonged. I am a writer, but … [Read more...]