Author Archive

Straight

November 10, 2019

I was hired on a short-term contract to catalog a prison library in a federal penitentiary with an inmate crew to help me. The men lived in the cell block that my husband guarded. "Anything that you tell me will go straight to him," I …( read more )

When I Was Lost

October 27, 2019

I've always been geographically dyslexic. My family used my inability as a reverse GPS. They'd ask me which way to go, and the opposite direction was always right. But I never thought that I could become spiritually dyslexic. It started …( read more )

Stumbling Block

October 11, 2019

Even though I regularly ask God not to allow me to be led into temptation, it never occurred to me that I might lead someone else there. In my senior year in Bible school, I was ignoring the 9 p.m. curfew imposed on dorm dwellers. …( read more )

Getting My Feet Wet Apocalyptically

September 27, 2019

"Have you heard about …?" is a sentence more and more people start conversations with lately, especially after listening to the news of the day. It's like they were all saddled up to ride with the fabled Four Horsemen of Alcoholics …( read more )

Patient With Difficult People

September 16, 2019

I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My mother turned to arson when life dissatisfied her. If we could keep track of her discontent, sometimes it was possible to head her off, but it wasn't easy. We lived mostly in isolation in the bush …( read more )

Recurring Hallelujahs

September 5, 2019

Praise the Lord! Psalm 150 commands everything, "Just DO it!" — not just humans, but ladybugs, coyotes, stars in their heavens. A woman stops by to admire the sunflowers in my garden, turning their heads as they follow the sun. Their …( read more )

Serving As A Bad Example

August 24, 2019

In the spiritual life, there is an important action called "The Sacred Pause," part of two-way prayer. Before proceeding, we stop and ask God whether the way that we are heading is the way that He intends us to go. Then we pause ("The …( read more )

Exploding Doormat

August 7, 2019

A friend told me that he was looking for a new therapist. "I thought you were happy with the one you had," I said. "Oh, I can't go back to him," he said. "When I thanked him for helping me, he replied that talking to me had been a …( read more )

Bank Job

July 19, 2019

The police gave my brother a choice — either join the navy or go to jail. He was just sixteen, but he'd fallen in with the wrong crowd and had been the wheelman when they were stealing speakers from a drive-in movie theatre. My father …( read more )

Down The Dark Highway

July 3, 2019

During World War II, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers built a much-needed highway through Canada connecting Alaska to the contiguous United States. It wasn't yet paved or open to the public, but my father decided to take our family down it …( read more )

The Letter

June 19, 2019

In the early days of the Internet, there was a handwritten letter in my mailbox. I hadn't seen anyone put it there, but I opened it without much thought. Then, like an icy deluge, its words poured over me, accusing, condemning, judging — …( read more )

Addictions

June 2, 2019

I don't drink or use drugs, but I do admit that I have an addiction: using food to numb my reality, effectively committing suicide with a knife and fork. Being overly impulsive and compulsive goes along with that. Right after …( read more )

Giving It Away

May 16, 2019

I was doing knee exercises in the open section of the community pool where anything goes. So, I didn't think it odd that a young woman would be making her way hand over hand along the pool edge towards me, fiercely intent on getting to …( read more )

Sound Of Laughter

April 29, 2019

A policeman came to my door, asking, "Are you the wife of Richard DeShaw?" I said, "Dick! Never Richard!" Right then, an old Irish joke suddenly popped into my mind: An insensitive cop asks a woman, "Are you the Widow Brown?" …( read more )

The Greatest Injustice

April 16, 2019

I once thought that if an injustice were made public, it would immediately be condemned and fixed. Along with a group of older women, I regularly helped to use songs and spoofs to publicize wrongdoings in government and society. One time, …( read more )

Ice Storm

April 6, 2019

Drool splattered my cheek. A Bull Mastiff leaned over, wanting his bed back. I opened my eyes and remembered that we were two weeks into the 1998 ice storm, driven from our home, sharing a one-bedroom apartment with six large-breed …( read more )

Wide Load

March 27, 2019

Our house burned to the ground when I was a young teenager. At that time, clear across town, the city was planning to build a highway through a fancier neighbourhood, which meant tearing down every house that stood in its way. With our …( read more )

A Spiritual Workout

March 10, 2019

A beefy guy with a buzz cut has a half-smoked cigarette behind his ear. Sitting next to him is a kid with a nose ring and eye makeup, wearing a black hat that says, "On my way to hell!" Those of various faiths board, in turbans and …( read more )

When The Sirens Go Off

February 23, 2019

The first thing that those who visit me remark on is all the sirens! The "Get out of the way, quick!" shrieks of fire engines headed for my neighbourhood's under-repaired housing. The life-or-death screams of ambulances attending victims …( read more )

Living In The Hand Of God

February 8, 2019

When I was young, back in the Alaskan bush, we had to fly in and out of mining camps as my father and grandfather were prospectors. There were no year-round roads, due to seasonal melting of the permafrost. One time when the plane didn't …( read more )

I Almost Missed Out

January 23, 2019

I almost missed the happiness that God has had for me in life, when I decided to end it at the age of 17. Miserable, lonely, and friendless, I could not see this changing in the future. What good is my life? I questioned, not realizing …( read more )

Robber With A Bad Smell

January 8, 2019

For many years, I ran a small out-of-print bookshop from the bottom floor of my home. My training came from managing a similar business in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Shortly before I left the city, a woman about my age was murdered by a …( read more )

Courage And Faith

December 3, 2018

After years of childhood pain, I didn't love Christmas. I identified with the sentiments of Blue Christmas. I sat in darkness, spending time on a website called "Christmas Misery". I had plenty of memories of sorrow and loss to keep me …( read more )

Turning Wounds Into Wisdom

November 19, 2018

A man on a ladder across the street was cleaning out the eavestroughs of a small apartment complex. "Would you do mine when you're finished?" I called out. "Sure," he said. He came over about half an hour later, did a decent job on my …( read more )

Equipped For Every Good Work

November 4, 2018

I once counted up the times that I have moved through my life — a total of 35. That meant moving everything — pets, books, dishes, furniture — sometimes to another country, city, province, or state — changing mailing addresses and …( read more )

The Efforts Business

October 24, 2018

Sometimes, I find myself thinking that God has no more for me to do, as I am old. Then, I remember that the apostle Paul said that he was old, too, a vulnerable thing to admit. But lately, when people ask how I am, I say, "Elderly", …( read more )

Blessings Come To Those Who Notice

October 12, 2018

At the age of 17, I began working my way through Bible school, cleaning toilets all over campus at 5 a.m. I was shy and seldom off campus, except to run children's programs in a nearby church. One day, I wrote a short note to a co-worker …( read more )

How To Get Ready For Anything

September 25, 2018

My son was banned from every hospital in our area for bribing orderlies to bring in street drugs for him as a patient. "What do we do now?" I asked our family doctor. "Try another town where they don't know him," he said. We drove many …( read more )

If You Spot It, You Got It!

September 10, 2018

I have a good friend, someone whom I can call in the middle of the night, but someone whom I was giving up on, due to her habit of interrupting me when I was trying to talk and talking far too much about herself. I thought about following …( read more )

Baby At The Police Station

August 28, 2018

"A baby who has been left alone is being held down at the police station," said the message on our phone. My husband, the social worker on duty, asked if I'd go along with him as backup. When we got to the station, he went off to find …( read more )

Watermelon On The Bus

August 20, 2018

"Want to know my worst day driving a bus?" a driver asked me one summer day. "There was a woman on the very back seat with groceries in a couple paper bags. In one of them was a big watermelon. She was busy talking, not payin' much …( read more )

God Left Me A Receipt

August 7, 2018

It was a sunny morning in early July when my husband, who hadn't been sick, suddenly dropped dead in the middle of a golf game. He was surrounded by friends, and it was his turn to hit, when he fell out of the cart on the third hole, …( read more )

Kept Safe Though I Saw No Danger

July 17, 2018

I was fifteen when I went out to work at a farm, far from home, cleaning and cooking for the harvest crews in the wheat fields. I had no knowledge of the facts of life, nor could I have known that the farmer was used to taking advantage …( read more )

 



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