Who Needs God?

“Wow, God actually has to show up for this to work,” I kept thinking as I began the first leg of spiritual direction training.A ministry dirty secret is how hard you can work for the Kingdom of God without actually needing God at all.  I can cook for crowds.  I can listen kindly.  I can provide wise counsel.  I can work with leadership teams and supervise staff and even teach the Bible without particularly needing God to show up.Maybe because I’m always veering on the edge of skepticism m … [Read more...]

Cramming Spirituality

My most fit friend used to constantly wonder, “There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t exercise.  So why don’t I have a daily quiet time with God?”Invariably, every time I’d think, “Boy, I can’t do either!”You know how a lot of people say they’re spiritual but not religious?  Unfortunately, I’m neither very religious nor very spiritual.  Yet I’ve been in ministry for 23 years and a follower of Jesus since age 3.Let me clarify.  Although others probably view me as both religious a … [Read more...]

Getting My Kids to Get a Job!

Early sophomore year of high school, Mama told me I should deliver papers for the Honolulu Star Bulletin.  She had done the research.  The job would not only pay a couple hundred dollars a month but because we lived in the steep parts of Manoa Valley where the only reasonable way to deliver 242 papers/day was to drive, it also paid an $80 car stipend.I balked—delivering papers every afternoon by 5 p.m. meant no after school extra-curricular activities and taking loser in-school P.E. instead o … [Read more...]

Battling Starbucks

For someone who can’t drink caffeine I’m an exceptional Starbucks fan.  Caffeinated coffee gives me the jitters and slight nausea.  Nevertheless, I’ve loved Starbucks ever since Scott bought me an iced mocha early in our marriage.When not on sabbatical as I am now, I meet students, faculty and fellow InterVarsity staff in Starbucks.  My writing group met at Starbucks every Wednesday for years.  I developed an addiction to decaf peppermint mochas a decade ago, and as pre-diabetes has developed … [Read more...]

Wisdom through the Ages: Family Advice for the High School Grad


Last night our family celebrated Ling’s high school graduation with Peking Duck—a tradition my parents have instituted after big events.  I suggested we go around the table and give Ling a word of wisdom for college.  Here’s what folks said:Me (49):  My dissertation on “The Interracial Friendships of White and Asian College Students” found that friendships primarily form along proximity and shared activities.  In other words, the ability to spend a lot of time with folks is how you become fri … [Read more...]

Primping for Prom


“Henry, how long did it take for you to get ready today?” I asked Ling’s prom date last night as I drove them to the picture taking gathering.He snorted a little, “About 5 minutes.”“That’s what I thought.”Because as the mom of a senior girl, it didn’t take 5 minutes or even 5 hours, more like 5 days—5 full days of my life to get my girl ready for prom.Last September Ling announced that she was going to prom whether she had a date or not.  “If I don’t have a date, I’m going stag.” … [Read more...]

Last Wednesday Night: Parenting in Calculus, Crisis and Noxious Gas

Ling's birthday

Last Wednesday night, Kai woke me from an allergy/Benadryl induced deep sleep at 12:30 a.m.  “Ling’s wailing.  You better go check on her.”I dragged myself out of bed and Kai was right.  It was the week after Ling took 4 AP tests and 2 days from the last day of her high school career.  What could be so bad that my normally stoic child was reduced to sobs?3 take home on-line calculus tests.3 tests that students could use any books or online resources to solve--which means books and onl … [Read more...]

Kids & Core Sins

As my kids and I clustered around the kitchen, a child asked me what my core sin was.   Anyone who knows me knows I’m more than slightly addicted to personality tests—the Myers-Briggs, the DISC, and these days most of all, the Enneagram.  My kids have absorbed some of this language, including the Enneagram idea that each of the 9 types have a core sin—basically Dante’s 7 deadly sins:  Anger, Pride, Envy, Greed, Gluttony, Lust & Sloth plus Deceit and Fear.Before I could answer, the kids fi … [Read more...]