Archive for category: Uncategorized

Joseph-Defender of the Fatherless

It was to be a quiet divorce. A silent separation.

I imagine the first conversation between Mary and Joseph, the one before the angel visited him. Mary coming to him with tears, saying, “I’m pregnant and I swear, I know it’s hard to believe, but this is the chosen one, the Son of God.” Joseph stood contemplating fact or fiction, excuse or explanation. He wondered whether to accept Mary’s word or hunt down the scoundrel — “who did this to my fiance?” Maybe he seethed.

Mary was so tender, so meek and mild, maybe delusional.

Today I write at Christmas Change. Follow me over there to read more.

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“Pause and Pray”

I have a friend who sends this text every Thursday.  It’s the first text of the “praying the hours,” a text chain wherein he encourages me to explore God operating in and through me. 

I’ve heard too many say, “we are too connected, too plugged in.” But I know one who uses this plugged-inness as a vehicle for a weekly call to worship, a gps device directing me to the heart of God operating in me.

You may have noticed my recent break from this space. Amber and I have experienced some loss and have had to tend to it. So, as we deal with the catchup and cleanup I ask you to

pause and pray.

Awaken to God operating in and through you today. Find his presence in the daily grind.

And be thankful.

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A Letter


When I drove that Chevy compact that could fit in your pocket, rocketing down Interstate 40 into the foothills of the North Carolina Appalachians, I didn’t know it’d be just like old times. Well, old times with a much spicier aroma—was that cardamom? The good thing about old friends is that it doesn’t take long to rekindle community. There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

I was disappointed when you told me Ashley wasn’t coming. There are few women as salty as she, as salty as my fish and chips, as salty as the folk band with the bad drummer. Ashley’s one of the good wives—compliant enough to be biblical, defiant enough to be interesting. Kevin might describer her as “hoppy.”

There are things that aren’t worth saying out loud. Well, maybe they are, but you know them already. There are times when words are trite and even then only barely so. We skipped most of those pleasantries and caught up on life. We shared new stories about the broken, the redeemed, and the somewhere in between. You spoke miracles of your marriage, realities of your faith, volumes of honesty. You reminded me that with even just a little bit of wisdom comes great sorrow.

Great joy.

Great brotherhood.

And some pretty good beverages, too.

Thanks for driving to Hickory. I won’t long forget it.

Do you have a letter you need to write?

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With All Due Respect to Mr. Harrison

“Death steals everything except our stories.”
–Jim Harrison, “Larson’s Holstein Bull

Jim Harrison snuck up on me during an episode of No Reservations. Even story tellers preach. Jim said that death is the final arbiter of our lives–death, the bookend of human possibilities.

My grandmother was a recovered alcoholic lying in a hospice bed. She spoke hope and glory, craved it. She waited more patiently than Jim Harrison’s dead cat. When she traveled home on the footpath of her final breath, I think she found that death stole nothing. Death gave her new birth, filled her with eternal possibilities.

Grandpa Haines was a World War II veteran. He remembered beaches thick with brother’s blood, soft as velvet, he said. He took cover behind fallen soldiers. One night in the fifties he ended up naked and lost on a bus to Houston. They said it was post-traumatic stress and gave him Valium, which helped. When he finally gave up his own ghost, I watched peace wash over him like nothing I’d ever seen. Veils were made to be torn.

Maybe it’s true, “Death waits inside us for a door to open.” Creaky. Slowly. Opening to a vacuum that steals air, flesh, and time. But when I walk through, I hope to find life, love, and peace. To hear “well done” and know that Larson’s Holstein Bull gores ironically, petty thief that it is.

Oh death, where is your sting?

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The First Collective Submission

Abby (no “e”) sent me this post as the first of what I hope to be many “collective” posts from readers. If you have some time, stop by her place and check her writing out. You’ll find yourself to be fast friends with her words.

Thanks, Abby!
a gobstopper of a gospel
By Abby Barnhart

he was legendary. the fourth-grader they called the jawbreaker. inspiring awe from playground to bus stop, not with a fist but a candy.

some said he’d been working on the same gobstopper for 5 and a half months. a nine-year-old’s eternity. a baseball glove on his nightstand and a juice glass at the dinner table – sedatives to his mother’s persistent fears of choking.

once out of her sight, it was back to the sweet stuff. rumors of the candy’s original size approached mythic proportions.

“i saw him with it once this summer – it was bright green and as big as my fist!”

“i heard it was bigger than his head!”

he didn’t do it for the fame. in an interview immortalized in the elementary school newsletter, the jawbreaker confessed: “i just want to see which flavor is next. it keeps getting better and better.”

curiosity killed the molars, sure. but you can’t deny the insatiable, even when it’s hard.


living hope. body and blood. new birth.

i remember days when these truths seemed easy to swallow. sweet in their marbling of the inexplicable and comforting. the changing perspectives each lending a layer of new flavor to the experience.

i read them again, and they seem to build upon each other with such density that the best attempts to chew them over are returned a chipped tooth.

a dollar-store jawbreaker. bigger than your head.

what i first tasted as a nine-year-old i struggle to get to the core of today. though tough to teethe, it keeps getting better and better.

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