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I wore my running shoes to church today. Some of you are saying, “So what?” If so, you might be among the throngs who now wear jeans and t-shirts to church on Sundays and don’t think twice about it. But for others, wearing running shoes and “street clothes” is a huge no-no, an offense that would bring down the wrath of the powers-that-be in your church.Please don’t assume that I’m passing any judgment here, because that’s the last thing I want to do. I’ve been a member of both camps.When I was a teenager, a woman I loved dearly told me that we have to dress up for church because Jesus wants our best. (In full disclosure, the topic came up because she was gossiping Sunday afternoon about the attire of someone who had not dressed up Sunday morning. Just so you know.) Naïve and respectful, I thought she must be right. After all, she was older than I was and had been serving in the church since before I was born. Years later, I realized that she might have just missed the whole message of the gospel. Jesus’ gospel, anyway. Some churches have their own. You see, Jesus has...


“You’re fat.”“You’re worthless.”“You’ll end up in jail just like your father.”This week my freshmen and I talked about the power of words for both good and evil, and I asked them to respond to the quote, “Words break no bones, but they do break hearts.” And, let me tell you, there are some 15 year olds out there with broken hearts.I expected my kids to have some experience with word-wounds, but I had not anticipated the depth of what they would share. They wrote of parents constantly belittling them and peers teasing mercilessly. They wrote of hearing that they are good for nothing and have no hope for a bright future. They wrote of words they had said themselves and regretted instantly… They wrote, and my heart ached.I remember being their age and in their shoes, and I remember words from those days. I remember words and looks and rebuffs and sideways glances, and I remember the tears I shed. But even now, decades removed, I am hurt by those very same things. Your heart doesn’t have to be young to be tender, and you don’t have to be in school to be rejected. We all know the power that...


I am a teacher, and tonight – the night before school starts back – the honest to goodness truth is that right now I could not care less about how much English literature my students learn from me this year. After an encounter today with someone who just wasn’t very nice, it occurred to me that I would rather every student fail the End of Course exam if, in exchange, they could learn to be good people who do everything in their power to make this world better. I know far too many well-educated people who only make this world more difficult for others and leave hurt in their wake. What good is it to know lots of information if you don’t know how to love? Tonight, my lessons are planned and tomorrow I will teach English, but I will fail as a person and disciple of Jesus if I forget what really matters. So students, this is what I reallywant you to know.I want you to know that what you do and say to others really matters. I can remember something unkind said to me over 20 years ago, and I still have a scar from the wounds of his words....


I glanced in the rearview mirror today, and her shining eyes in the very back seat brought a lump into my throat.She is six now, heading to 1st grade, and I don’t know where the time went. I swear it was just yesterday that I brought her home in a preemie outfit that swallowed her whole. In the seat in front of her, big brother sits, his face losing baby fat as fast as he’s losing baby teeth. They are both big kids now, riding big kid bikes and reading chapter books, leaving me to shake my head and ask the age-old question, “Where did the time go?”It’s just one of the things no one can make you understand about being a parent.They can’t explain to you that seeing your wrinkly, red newborn for the first time will make your heart feel as if it will explode from the love that suddenly appears. They don’t tell you that the second time is just like the first.They can’t tell you that you will panic the first time they sleep through the night, though you begged for it for weeks (or months – they don’t tell you that either).No one tells you...