What is Faith?


I believe that all faiths arise and endure because they have something to teach us.  Today’s blog is the first of a three-part reflection on my own faith.  I hope that those of you who come from a different faith tradition will share what you’ve learned in the Comments section at the end of today’s blog post.

What is Faith?

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13:13 (New Revised Standard Bible)

As an English teacher, I can’t help but notice the nuances of words.  In the personal narratives of my own life, I sometimes need loved ones to remind me that not everyone deliberates over word choices as I tend to do.  Sometimes my feelings get hurt by a word choice that, as they remind me, is just a word—not a dagger designed to wound me.

I taught my daughter, for example, that “I’m sorry but…” is not an apology— Continue reading What is Faith?

More Powerful than a Pen?

Ms. Obama

Mrs. Obama at this week’s gathering of educators

Today’s blog is a complete version of a letter I sent to the White House in response to remarks made at this week’s education events, hosted by the First Lady.  The White House contact page allows only 2500 characters, including spaces. And as I’m sure you can understand if you follow my blog, it took me hours to condense this into fewer characters than it had originally had words.

Dear President and Mrs. Obama:

My father quit school in fifth grade, my mother in ninth grade.  Dad quit because no one ever told him the value of an education.  My mom quit to take care of a mother with a life-threatening illness.  Their income hovered just above the poverty level, and during job losses, our family survived because of government assistance.  Because of their experiences, my parents demanded that their children get the education they didn’t have.  They named me for their favorite teacher, and because they respected teachers so much, I chose teaching as my profession.

Mrs. Obama, as you said at this week’s events at the White House, “That story of opportunity through education is the story of my life.”  Of my paternal grandparents’ 57 grandchildren, my sister and I were the first to enroll in and graduate from college. Continue reading More Powerful than a Pen?

Can Christians Practice Yoga?

Yoga Mat

My husband and I recently enrolled in our first exercise class together in 22 years of marriage, and on Monday night we drove five minutes to the local community center for a yoga class offered by the county’s Department of Recreation.  That description alone should tell you a lot about the nature of the class.  It was more exercise than spiritual practice, and many of the poses we did were stretches I watch my husband do nearly every night before bed.

The stretching was great, and we laughed a lot.  The instructor couldn’t remember anyone’s name, and she asked my husband again a few minutes into the class what his name was.  “Matt,” he deadpanned, pointing to the mat beneath his feet.  “That should be easy to remember.”

The instructor followed his pointing finger and read the inscription my husband didn’t know was on the mat until he unrolled it for the class.  He had bought it last week for $5 from T.J. Maxx—which again should tell you something about our level of seriousness about the class.  The inscription read:


OTHERWISE YOU WILL MISS YOUR LIFE. Continue reading Can Christians Practice Yoga?

“There Will Come Soft Rains”? (Lessons from Bradbury)

Rainy Saturday

It’s Saturday.  I sit by the window on my favorite day of the week, watching the rain fall steadily from a gray sky for the third day in a row.

I love Saturday.  It’s the only day of the week when I don’t have to shake myself from sleep and get dressed early.  On other days, I drag myself into the shower and stand with my face turned up to the spray until the water wakes me up.

I love the rain, too.  My husband and I shared our first kiss on a rainy day Continue reading “There Will Come Soft Rains”? (Lessons from Bradbury)

God with a Capital G?

January Moon

Though it’s been more than 40 years, I still flinch at the thwack of a belt pulled quickly from the waistline of a pair of pants.  I still remember how it feels to have my skin welted, broken, and bleeding—and to have my mother apply ointment to the wounds.  A good therapist, a lifetime of kind people, and a loving community of faith have helped me come to terms with childhood abuse and forgive my father as much as I’m humanly capable of doing. Continue reading God with a Capital G?