I have been witness to some pretty explosive displays of spiritual freedom over the years. During our time in fundamentalist churches, the fireworks came most often when someone reported an instantaneous deliverance from tobacco addiction. While attending charismatic congregations, I saw that the signs and wonders demonstrating God’s supernatural liberation came in lots of shapes and sizes: physical and emotional healings, freedom from spiritual oppression and all kinds of addictions, and the courage to go and do in the name… Read more

Copyright 1931. Found in a used bookstore in Franklin, TN.   Read more

Life lesson learned: If you are a Birkenstock girl, you should not slide on a pair of high heels right before you stand up in your friend’s wedding. You need to practice walking in them for days – weeks, even – before the big event. I learned this lesson the hard way. Literally. I slipped and fell on my kiester on the shiny marble chancel  in front of 150 people or so, right in the middle of my friend Nancy’s… Read more

Eight years ago, my husband’s brother called to tell us that his fourth child had been born. The newest little Van Loon had Down Syndrome. My prayers for the family were born out of what I imagined that parents Dan and Maribeth were experiencing: the joy of getting to know the gift of their son was blended with unpredictable doses of shock, grief and concern for his physical health as he had a heart defect typical of the syndrome. They… Read more

Have you ever been shelved after a period of active ministry? Click here to read my post from earlier this week discussing some of the reasons this may happen. How can God’s kingdom be advanced if I am sitting “useless” on the shelf? I hope you can hear the out-of-bounds pride at the root of that question. During my own shelf time, I will confess that I entertained thoughts like this. As if God was depending on me to save… Read more

A friend who’d been a women’s ministry leader in her former church told me sadly that there was no place for her in her new church. “God used and developed my leadership gifts at our old church, but they told me nicely they don’t need another women’s ministry leader-type at our new church. I feel like I’ve been shelved.” Is she being a whiner? Prematurely seeking a position of power in this new congregation? Could she be grieving her relocation… Read more

For the first time since he was a small child, the cacophony in his head was gone. A hundred accusing voices, a flock of vultures scavenging every half-formed thought from his mind, gone. His deliverer’s followers had wrapped him in a warm garment, covering his nakedness with dignity. His new docile, submitted posture of a disciple was  a mighty display of God’s power, stunning those who came out to the graveyard at the edge of town to see for themselves… Read more

Have you ever wished you could say ‘Thank You’ to someone whose words years ago had changed the direction of your life, but the person was gone? Perhaps the person had died or had simply disappeared off the radar. It wasn’t long after S. had off-handedly invited me to contribute some scripts to a children’s radio show being produced by WBEZ-FM, the NPR outlet in Chicago, that she disappeared off my radar. Bill and I moved away, and began our… Read more

My sister and I haven’t spent one-on-one time together since we were kids until this week. Thanks to my frequent flyer miles accrued on trips to Israel, I was able to go spend a few days with her just hanging out in her adopted hometown of Washington, DC. When we were growing up, we were often rivals instead of allies. As we entered adulthood, we began talking through our shared childhood experiences – to begin fitting our jigsaw pieces together,… Read more

I have a running list of all the stuff that is wrong about my life. The list includes everything from “Do I always have to be the one to unload the dishwasher?” to family worries to geopolitical concerns. I am nothing if not an equal-opportunity Eeyore. I think that’s why Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira’s Grumble Hallelujah: Learning To Love Your Life Even When It Lets You Down (Tyndale, 2011) resonated with me. After a kitchen-floor breakdown she calls her “dark midafternoon… Read more

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