Stranded: A Litany For the Side of the Road

Stranded: A Litany For the Side of the Road

The side of the road is one of my least favorite places in the world. Roads, I love. Lately I have traveled many of them visiting people I love, moving to a new house, running errands. Rarely do I bother to glance at the people with me on the road, unless they’re going too slow. Tonight, though, I spent several hours with a few hundred new friends on the side of the road. I was supposed to be meeting my sister for a long awaited night out in Atlanta seeing Glennon Melton from Momastery. I was supposed to be enjoying dinner, relaxing, catching up on all of Sister’s gossip. I had put on make-up, rocked a new outfit, and my hair was NOT in a ponytail. When the cars began to slow down, I got nervous. After sitting in traffic for 10 minutes, I called Sister and said I might be late to dinner. After 30 minutes of having my car parked on I75, I knew my plans were not going to turn out like I thought. Bummed. Seriously bummed. I began to notice the cars around me. People were starting to get out of their cars, probably to avoid overheating. I glanced at the car’s thermometer: 95 degrees. Sweet Lord of all air conditioning, hear our prayers. I noticed a conspicuous bus two cars back from me: State Prisoners. In my mind, I wondered if this whole traffic jam was an elaborate escape attempt. I began creating stories about how every other car on the road was related to the prisoners and their role in the escape that...
Just What I Need

Just What I Need

And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. —Matthew 6:5-8 We have been seen by others, and they think they know exactly who we are. The Netflix account in our house keeps our favorite movies just a click away, which is perfect for my husband Jake, the movie buff. With data about the movies you watch, the types of stories you like, and the lead actors you favor, Netflix sets up a genre for you. Jake became rather proud of the category he had curated: “visually striking cerebral dramas.” Smarty pants. He was less than pleased when he turned on Netflix after a few visits from my mother. Her night owl movie choices had created a whole new image for us. Apparently, Jake was likely to enjoy “British comedies with strong female leads.” We laughed, but he claimed Mom was messing with his image. Amazon thinks they have us down to a science too. They can now use “anticipatory package shipping,”...
The Gospel According to Joshua

The Gospel According to Joshua

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. —Matthew 5:13-14 In seminary, I served at Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta. Along with jumping head-first into new traditions, I got to know some of the beautiful people of this historic church. One of my new friends was Joshua. Joshua was an energetic five-year-old boy who never stopped asking questions. His mom, Angela, and his two brothers were at church whenever the doors were open. During Lent, I attended the Ash Wednesday service, ready to help the ministry staff in whatever way I was needed. It turned out that the place I was needed most was right in the pews. The practice of Big Bethel Church was to invite people to come forward to receive ashes. Then anyone wanting a time of personal prayer could remain at the front, praying at the long kneeling bench. Angela took her three boys to receive ashes and then turned on the Mom voice to give them direct instructions: “Go with your oldest brother and sit down quietly.” Angela needed a minute at the altar. Two of the three brothers did exactly as they were told. But my buddy, Joshua, began to dance his way up the aisle, high-fiving everyone he saw. With my best teacher voice, I waved him over, and he plopped down next to me. He wanted to chat....
It Would Have Been Chocolate

It Would Have Been Chocolate

The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. —Matthew 4:1-7 For me, it would have been chocolate. This moment of testing would begin and end with the Accuser showing up in my moment of deep, spiritual discernment and teasing me with candy. Hershey’s nuggets with toffee and almonds, to be exact. I do keep a secret bag of them hidden in my house for emergencies, you know. Satan would not have to go far to tempt me. The words sound a lot like the words spoken to Jesus just a short time before: “You are. . .” The Accuser uses words of identity that seem to echo the name spoken over Jesus in baptism. But Satan twists the words from “beloved Son” to “Since you are the son of God.” There’s just enough of a twist to these words to make the temptations sound like they could make sense. Since you are God’s Son, turn some stones to bread, lord over all the earth’s kingdoms, just jump. These temptations are tailor-made for Jesus. The Accuser’s words hold just enough truth that they tilt the truth towards the lie. Since you are the Son of God, why not? The Accuser often reaches close to shape the lies that tempt us. There’s always a little truth in the whispers. If only chocolate was the only temptation I keep close by. Since you have...
Time to rest

Time to rest

Sometimes we find ourselves repenting from our foolish ways as new parents. Our little man has had lots of ups and downs with this going to sleep thing.Yes, I rocked him to sleep for forever. And we are working (have been working) on him putting himself to sleep. The past few months have been pretty great. Then we had the season of travel and grandparents and we just lost our good habits. Which led to last night – the apocolyptic cries. It took Jake 2 hours to get him to sleep last night, while I was out at a women’s group. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then today. On fabulous days like Tuesdays, the boy goes to MMO in the mornings, comes home exhausted and sacks out pretty easily. Today, I was greeted by his teacher with what I can only understand now as a warning: “He had a great day. And he ate a cupcake; it’s Oliver’s birthday!” All righty. “He ate a whole cupcake?” I asked, confused. My little Ghandhi has been super committed to his very own hunger strikes for various injustices, like when I dare to present him with a vegetable or other insults such as a vanilla wafer. He has a point to prove, after all. Yes, he ate the whole cupcake. Hmm. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but as we came home and I realized it was not exhaustion I was seeing but a wild-eyed, sugar-induced frenzy. He’s had sugar before. We love a whole grain around here, but we’re not that granola. We just don’t do...