Tell me something: My First (Annual?) Reader Survey


Something amazing has happened since my kids both started going to school all day long.

My brain can think again.

Now that I’m not doing all of my writing at four in the morning, my thoughts are becoming more…coherent. The house is quiet. There is time to work. I feel like I’m discovering entire rooms in my brain that had previously been lost to the chaos.

After five years of not really changing much on my blog because I didn’t have the bandwidth to do anything more than crank out a post or two every week…I’m having all these brainstorms. Suddenly I’m having ideas. I’m finding myself inspired, and I’m imagining what that space might be going forward.

But I wanted to hear from you first.

Many of you comment, and so I have a sense of who you are and where you’re at in your faith journey. But I also know that lots of you don’t. (No judgment…I rarely manage to comment on blogs myself.)

Still, I’d love to get a chance to know a little bit more about all of you…regardless of your relationship to the blog Comments section.

Which brings me to this request:

Would you take this 5 minute survey?

It’s 15 questions long, and most of them are simple questions that are quick to answer.

Believe me, this was not easy to do. There were so many questions I wanted to ask you! I wanted to know about your kids and about your hobbies, about what you’re reading lately, about what you’re watching lately, about what littered bits of grace are giving you hope now. Are you introverts or extroverts? Morning people or night people or insomniacs. I want to know it all!

But I restrained myself and kept it short and sweet.

(However, feel free to fill up the Anything else you want me to know? question at the end with all sorts of details!)

To sweeten the deal, I’ll draw two winners from the surveys to send signed copies of both of my books.

Just add your email address on the last question if you want to be added to the drawing. (If you prefer to keep your survey anonymous, just leave that space blank!)

You should be able to fill in the survey right here on the blog, but if that doesn’t work for some reason, just click the link here.

Thank you for taking the time to give me some insight into…you! I can’t wait to read your answers!

Join Me at the Indiana Faith & Writing Conference!


This morning, I’ve been sitting at my kitchen table (in the creepy glow of my sunlamp), working on my opening keynote speech for the Indiana Faith and Writing Conference, which is October 28-30 at Anderson University.

I’m excited. Talking about faith and writing at the same time is my jam. (I’m also nervous. Talking in front of lots of people is a little less my jam.)

I’ve never been to the Indiana Faith & Writing Conference, but the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin has been my go-to conference for a decade, and I’m thrilled that similar conferences are cropping up.

Faith and writing. There is so much overlap between the two, and I think it’s because the work of faith and the work of creating something are so similar. In both cases, you are reaching forward toward something that you can’t really see…but believe is there.

The weekend is full of amazing speakers, workshops, and — something different from Calvin’s Festival in Grand Rapids — one on one consultations on your work. So cool, and so helpful if you’re getting started on a new project or proposal.

There’s still room at the conference, and I’d love to see you if you can make it happen! Here’s the info!

Grace Is Not So Poor a Thing


I had to get my light box out a couple of days ago.

The light box is a bulky, ugly-looking thing full of vertical bulbs that, when you turn it on, flicker and then blare fluorescent from the kitchen table. The thing is supposed to help with the seasonal affective disorder, which for me, is really just a lengthening of my regular depression.

I don’t know if it works. I’ve been using it for years now, and I’m not sure it’s doing any actual good. Still, there’s something to the routine of it. Get up in the morning. Acknowledge the darkness and the ways it affects me. Choose light.

The world has felt so heavy lately, hasn’t it? The dark is sprawling from nighttime into day, and the election coverage is coming now at a constant, dizzying speed – volatile and ugly and mean. I spend a lot of time confused. What is true? What is right? What is my work in the midst of all of this?

The whole thing makes me want to crawl back into bed and stay there until the cosmic joke is over. Or until the sun starts coming up at a respectable time in the morning. Whatever comes first.

I bought this card yesterday at the bookstore. It seems to sum things up.

Awesome, right? You can buy it here:

Awesome, right? You can buy it from Lady Pilot Letterpress on Etsy

And yet, on the way home from the bus stop the other day I saw that red leaf, the one in the picture above. I had to stop there in the street for a minute and just look at it, the way it glowed so brightly against the asphalt, the perfect color of it, the shape.

“The world is fairly studded and strewn with unwrapped gifts and free surprises…cast broadside from a generous hand,” Annie Dillard wrote, and that’s what this seemed to be, this leaf on the road.

I want grace to look like a good, trustworthy candidate to rescue us from what one article called this dumpster fire of an election. I want grace to look like a 5:00am sunrise. I want it to be palpable relief for the friend who is going through a contentious divorce. I want it to look like miraculous healing. I want it to look like wars ending and refugees reclaiming their home and the world made right.

I want it to flash into the world like a sudden strike of goodness, splitting apart the darkness.

But today, grace doesn’t look like that. Most of the time, grace doesn’t look like that.

It looks like a red leaf on the asphalt.


Today, grace is an ugly sunlamp glowing from my table. An apple cider candle burning in the kitchen. A field trip with my son’s kindergarten class. Today we get to go to Berry Hill Farm! Today, Mom! TODAY!!

A loaf of pumpkin bread. A warm, fall breeze. The ducks lifting off from the pond and arcing over the house. Grace. Grace. Grace.

I don’t know how we weather the seasonal darkness. The next few weeks of elections. The next few years in a world ripped apart by fear and hate.

But I think it has something to do with this red leaf, left by a generous hand in the middle of some suburban road somewhere.

Pause for a moment in the middle of your busy morning.

Let it remind you that the hand of God is in all of this, extravagant in grace, littering this broken world with beautiful, beautiful things.

Psalm for a Volatile Election


God of the refugee and the victim,
Of the dismissed and the dismayed,
and of this fractured and fractious nation:
To you we pray.

Forgive us.
We are standing in a pit of our own making.

Evil men have turned bombs and bullets on the innocent…
and they are guilty.
(Bring justice, O Lord.)
But so are we, who let fear strip us of compassion –
Who walled off our hearts long before there was any of this talk
of building a Wall.
(Have mercy, O Lord.)

We have turned our eyes toward that which glitters,
and it has made us blind to the knife-sharp edge beneath –
the one prone to slit the neck of the homeless and the homely
and call it progress. Make America great

Forgive us for believing we were ever great
when we have always, only, been dust.
When it is only your breath inside of us
that makes us live.

We have elevated celebrity, made an idol of fame.
We have given our hearts to a cruel master,
and now we find ourselves enslaved by our own selfishness.

Merciful Lord, remember us, caught
at the volatile center of an election,
at the tipping point, at the edge,
unsure how to stop it, how to vote
to love mercy
to walk humbly with our God.

Give us wisdom.

Open our eyes to see
beyond the glitter and glare.

Open our ears to hear
the truth beneath all of this
political bluster,
the violence simmering beneath all of this
“locker room talk.”

Father of the orphan and the refugee,
Protector of the violated, of the assaulted:
Home of the homeless,
Gate in the wall:
Rescue us from the evil of would-be leaders
And of our own hearts.

Nations rise and fall,
And still, you are God.

But please – keep us from the fall.

Your kingdom stands forever;
No evil can come against it.

But still – keep us from evil.

You are God of the whole big world…
and you are God of the United States of America –
of these waving fields of grain
of strip-malls and superstores
of our failing, fighting hearts,
forever loved by You
in spite of it all.