Ruled by Rules

I like rules. I like boundaries and expectations. I like to-do lists. I like the feeling of accomplishment when I have completed an assigned task, according to the specific rules set in place for that task. There are some good things about being a rule follower: I get things done, usually on time and usually according to the directions. I avoid doing “bad” things. Even in high school, I tended to avoid the parties and groups that encouraged lawless behavior. I learn from others who break rules, and I avoid the consequences I see them face. There are some bad things about being a rule follower, too. Those of you who hate following rules already know these (and can probably add to them!): I can be very self-righteous when I see others breaking the...

Shut Your Mouth!

I have several talents I am grateful for, that I hone and try to improve, that I practice alone and with groups. But I have one particular talent that brings me far more shame than pleasure: Speaking without thinking. I have used this talent in far too many places with far too many people to far too disastrous results. It’s not always end-of-the-world stuff. But it is always annoying at best and damaging at worst. When I was in college, my friends would laugh at me because, no matter what was being discussed, I’d have a story for it. Rather than listening to what others were saying, engaging them, asking them questions about their story, I sat waiting, mentally preparing for when I could speak and regale the group with my story. Looking back now, I realize how...

Stop Trying So Hard

I’ve been thinking a lot about grace lately. It is a concept I have always struggled with. I mean, I know salvation is by grace…not by works lest any man should boast. (I grew up Southern Baptist, after all!) But I am constantly catching myself working. Do I read my Bible because I love God and want to know Him? Or because I think I am earning “points” with him? Do I treat people with kindness because that is how God treats me, or because I want people to like me? How seldom do I really just rest in the grace God gives me? My pastor has been teaching from the book of Luke on Wednesdays, and last week he spoke on the parable of the prodigal son. He brought out something I have never considered: that when the son returned, the Father...

Behind the Pages

Not Good Enough, my contribution to THE ELI DIARIES series, is available now! The brainchild of prolific author, Bill Myers, this series asks the question, “What if Jesus were in high school today?” With that question in mind, Bill asked a few of us to write stories from the perspective of one of the biblical characters: Mary Magdalene (Maggie), Judas (Jude), Thomas (Tommy), Martha, and Peter (Pete). Jesus, in this series, is called Eli, and each character interacts with Him in different ways. And each character, at this point in the story, is still a seeker of Truth. None, as yet, are followers. When Bill called me to discuss writing Martha’s stories, I laughed. He saw Martha, pre-salvation, as a hypocritical, holier-than-thou pharisee whose...

Remembering My Mom

My mother passed away on October 6. She was 62. Eight months ago, her only health issue was recurring kidney stones. Eight months ago, she had so many plans for the future: She had her Retirement countdown clock going. She planned to return to the courtroom as a lawyer, once she finished her tenure as an elementary school principal. She had her art room ready so she could devote more time to that gift. She talked about traveling to Japan, where she was born, and to SE Asia, to visit my younger sister. She was going to come out to  Emma’s graduation in May and visit my youngest sister in Texas. She was going to live part-time in Tennessee, to be closer to family and friends there. All those plans came to an abrupt halt when, on March 26, she was diagnosed...

Adventures in SE Asia

My son, Thomas, and I spent an amazing two weeks on the other side of the world. Because of where many of the folks I saw there are working, I have to be careful how much I say. So forgive me if I seem vague. It is not because I want to be, but because that is necessary for these precious brothers and sisters. Part I – Fun with Family Our first stop was the country where my sister and her family lives. It is a beautiful, though humid, place filled with amazing people. There were also some strange sights. Like this: That’s a toilet. ON THE FLOOR. And if you’ll look around, you’ll see there’s no toilet paper. Just a water hose and a floor drain. Thankfully, there were also “western” toilets. I am not ashamed to say that I...