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Faith Behind Bars

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things… — Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption One time, my friend Alice took part in a prison ministry. An introvert by nature, this wasn’t just a little out of her comfort zone, this was light years away from it. She toured eight prisons in five days. She was surrounded by razor wire fencing, armed guards, and men with face, neck, and arm tattoos—rapists, murderers, and pedophiles. These were the worst of the worst. The men were brought into chapel just as you would expect: like cattle, pointed and prodded to take their seats. For the next two hours, they heard God’s Word, and Alice learned something about herself. Going in, she knew …

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We Were One

September 12, 2001 Remember the quiet? The slightest breeze rustled the leaves and we noticed. It was the day after. We were stunned. We were off balance. We stared straight into the face of evil and it changed us. Truth was revealed. Our illusions of safety were just that; illusions. We wondered where God was while, at the same time, we called His name. We turned to each other. We held out a hand. We set ourselves aside. We hugged our families more tightly. We nodded at strangers. Too busy wiping tears to make fists, we were not yet angry. Ironically on the eve of war, it felt like peace. Nineteen years ago, the sun rose. Its rays cut through …

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The Gift of Dreams

The late comedian Mitch Hedberg used to joke that he hates dreaming. “Dreaming is hard work,” he said, “One minute I’m in my comfortable bed, the next thing you know I have to build a go-kart with my ex-landlord.” It’s a great line. Why do we dream? Scientists disagree. Some say that dreams have no function, while others maintain we need dreams for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although vivid dreams can make us feel real emotions, so often dreams seem pointless, and at times, even embarrassing. Then there are dreams that change the world. Recording artists have told stories of dreaming the lyrics to future classic songs, writers have turned dreams into great stories, and dreams have inspired …

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The Sweet Surprise

It is not the length of life, but the depth of life. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson When my friend Susan died unexpectedly, I of course went to her funeral. Check that, it wasn’t a funeral; it was an ice cream social. She made it clear that when she passed away, she wanted to be celebrated not mourned. I walked into an unfamiliar place filled with unfamiliar faces. But in front me, like a sweet oasis, was a long table smartly decorated with six different flavors and every topping you can imagine. I dug in…for her (hehehehe). Susan’s daughter, Zoie stood in front of everyone, choked back tears, and refused to speak of her mother in the past tense. Instead, she …

Reasons to Smile

The past beats inside me like a second heart. ~ John Banville Five months into the pandemic, I’ve entered a new coping phase. I’ve gone through fear and worry, anger and sadness, and now this: nostalgia — the desire to return, at least in thought, to a former time. With less noise in my life and fewer distractions tugging at me, memories bubble to the surface. Dad, pushing our rusty, old manual lawnmower on Witters Street. My Grandpa letting me steer the red boat on Sand Lake when I was six-years-old. Summer thunderstorms with my crackling transistor radio tuned to Tiger baseball underneath my pillow. Fall nights, my bedroom window open, listening to the leaves in the big trees blow …