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Lessons and Carols in the PICU

Eight years ago this month, an ambulance transported my son to the Johns Hopkins pediatric ICU. A profound disorder had compromised his ability to cough, and the common cold was making it too hard to breathe. Day after day the…

Material things

My mom placed a bunch of white lilac blossoms in my hands, and I flew back in time. 

May 2008. I was an ignorant and anti-cosmopolitan bride whose wedding plans were never going to be featured in The Knot. 


The hints of God are not mere enigmas

“This illness does not lead to death,” Jesus said, and I smiled at the poor cynics who would find this line irresistible. 

Dear cynic, you quote the Scripture as proof against itself. God said thus, and thus didn’t happen. “This…

"Who's in the house? J. C.!"

I was walking into a Christian bookstore as my friend was walking out. She was clutching a new purchase and smiling big. 

“I got Carman’s new release!” she said. 

We were teenagers, and though I didn’t say it, I thought…

Music in wartime

“It almost makes you want to go to war.” 

Such was the effect of the fife and drum corps at colonial Williamsburg as they marched by.

Music in wartime is an ancient tradition. Why? Why should something so beautiful, lively…

Twenty carols for Luke 2 Advent readings

We have an Advent tradition of reading a verse from Luke 2:1-20 throughout December. We’ve also picked a carol to go with each verse. This tradition serves a few purposes: 

1. The lyrics of these carols magnify the moment of…

Two hymns for Thanksgiving - and a free download

You might know Twila Paris’s song “The Joy of the Lord.” 

The joy of the Lord 
Will be my strength 
I will not falter 
I will not faint 
He is my shepherd 
I am not afraid 
The joy of the

Taking Andrew Peterson out to lunch

Poor authors. Together with their publisher they hone their book, fuss over every detail, and broadcast, broadcast, broadcast its existence and purpose and still — people in its intended audience don’t get the point. 

I heard more buzz about Adorning

A confluence of stories

Anyone who comes to Harpers Ferry enters another story. That’s the point of a historical park. The landscape is kept in tact with signs and monuments as witnesses to something too important to forget. 

Seven years ago this week, we…

It's funny how small the big things can be.

Put the big rocks in the jar first, goes the illustration, and you’ll have room to pour in the little rocks afterward. Put the little rocks in first, however, and you won’t fit the big rocks. It’s a metaphor for…

The right place at the right time

Last Friday afternoon, I posted these words on Facebook: 

Get thy tools ready, 
God will find the work. 

- Browning 

The mind of man plans his way, 
But the Lord directs his steps. 

- Proverbs 16:9 

Writing, recording, and trying

"Let Them Fall in Love" by Cece Winans

I was three years late to the party. Fortunately, the music’s still going on.

Let Them Fall in Love (2017) was Cece Winans’s first full length studio album in ten years. Her career as a gospel singer had been long…

Soundtrack of a yesteryear (May 31)

Songs have a way of becoming mementos for persons, places, events, and feelings. The weekend of May 31 is a special one for me. Let me use two songs to tell you why.

Years ago, he and I were eager…

On Mother's Day

This post is a little off topic for this blog, but since it's apropos to the weekend, here goes.

Mother’s Day must be awkward for some pastors. Always falling on Sunday, it begs to be acknowledged, but how should a…

Turning thunder into song

My father surprised me one night by telling me he liked thunder. I didn't like thunder. Thunder made me feel like unseen powers were about to crush my bedroom between their hands. Thunder made me rise and go to my…

Let them not sing alone

"No one knows exactly what day, or year, Scott Joplin was born." 

The fact fell on me like a sand bag. My daughter and I were listening to the umpteenth episode of the Classics for Kids podcast and so far…

Poem for a birthday

The poetry of Christina Rossetti doesn’t tower like that of some others in the British tradition, but it has a pointed strength nonetheless. My eyes fell on her short “A Birthday” in early 2018. 

My heart is like a singing

What I learned in jail

“Her name’s Becky.”

That’s the description I once heard of the average listener of Christian radio. 

Having answered to that name before, I searched inside for a witty comeback and never found one. 

I’m not enamored with the music of…

Another song from the hospital

There is a carol whose music you have heard, but I doubt you have ever sung in a congregation. 

"The Coventry Carol" is a commemoration of the children who perished at Herod’s order.  

Those children were victims of an ancient…

Songs from the hospital

A hospital stay impressed a deep love for Christmas music in this writer’s heart. The hospital was also the beginning of another person’s practice of music. About the year 1930, ten-year-old Alfred Burt received a cornet as a reward for…

Music in wartime

“It almost makes you want to go to war.” 

Such was the effect of the fife and drum corps at colonial Williamsburg as they marched by.

Music in wartime is an ancient tradition. Why? Why should something so beautiful, lively…

Soundtrack of a yesteryear: a Thanksgiving tribute

It must have been twenty years ago. At a November youth group meeting, we divided into little circles and said or prayed something we were thankful for.  

I looked down at my hands. One of them had scars on both…

Keep It

Few things make me fear like this fact: knowing wisdom doesn't make one wise. doing wisdom makes one wise.

We have voracious appetites for information. We consume books, podcasts, counseling sessions, blogs, Bible studies. Our kids have an abundance of…

A Three-Strand Word

One morning I came across a reference to a Hebrew word in Proverbs 3:3. The word is hesed, and it is powerful. Hesed unites three concepts in one quality: love, strength, and steadfastness.

Think about it. What is love…