Category: Writing (page 1 of 6)

“The Ingredients We Have on Hand” | Story Warren

My friend April and I used to joke that the moment you blog about something it dies. Routines, recipes, updates on what you’re up to now—as soon as you share them, the routines shift or your schedule or circumstance changes. It seems inevitable, and we’ve seen it happen often enough that we’ve joked, after publishing a post, “Well! That was nice while it lasted.”

Today, Story Warren published an article I started writing over a year ago (in much the same way I describe in the post). When I began it, I was a homeschooling mom, and when I revised it, I was a homeschooling mom, but by the time I submitted it, I had an intimation that all that was about to change. I’ll tell you the full story soon, I promise—it deserves its own post.

What I didn’t know until after I heard the happy news that my piece had been accepted was that my writing life was destined to change as well.

Last spring, I stepped down from my editing responsibilities at Deeply Rooted. I prayed over the decision for months, tossing it back and forth and back and forth. I have been with Deeply Rooted since the magazine’s first issue—five years ago!—and I have loved my work there, every part of it. The nit-picky part of editing, the broad-sweeping-changes part of editing, the finding the perfect verb part of editing, the encouraging a writer as she revises part of editing—this was a hard role to lay down. But I realized that, no, I did not have time to both homeschool my kids and give editing as much energy as I’d like to. And so I stepped down in order (I thought) to focus on homeschooling.

But a few weeks later, homeschooling changed course too.

So, I spent the summer finishing my last editing assignment for Deeply Rooted (the fabulous four-part series by Leslie Bustard running right now!) and then, quietly and without ceremony, removed “Contributing Editor” from my email signature. But, Mitch and I wondered: What was that about? What is God up to?

We pondered and prayed and discussed the subject of “What will Thea do with the time she spent editing or planning homeschool lessons?” I considered returning to Deeply Rooted, but neither of us thought that seemed in the direction God was leading us.

And so we waited.

And the very same week—two days later, in fact—that Mitch started looking into what it might take for me to find work as a freelance editor, work found me: I received an offer from a small publishing house (run by people I adore), asking if I’d consider working with one of their authors on a project.

So, Mitch and I celebrated and I took that assignment and already other options have opened up in other places for potential assignments. And now, on account of our schedule changes (again, story forthcoming), I not only write in the early mornings, as described in the Story Warren article (I knew we’d get back here eventually), but also for hours in a coffee shop, one day a week, where the pastries are flaky and the iced coffee gets tossed about in a cocktail shaker. (I love hipster coffee.)

I am embarking, in seems, upon the seas of freelance editing.

Was it the fact that I tried to write about it that killed the current routine? I joke about it, but no, of course not. I see God’s faithfulness through the whole process, in his asking me to (yet again) surrender something I love, and in his generosity in making something new of that gift—before giving it back to me. May I use this gift and any others for his glory, always.


Seriously, though, here is the link to “The Ingredients We Have on Hand,” my new post for Story Warren. I loved writing this one!


Postscript

I am still a regular contributor for Deeply Rooted, so I will continue to write for both the print magazine and the blog.

“To My Church on the Day It Dissolves” | Deeply Rooted

Last fall, our church of thirteen years dissolved. I wrote briefly (very briefly) about it here, but that acknowledgement only hints at how acutely I felt that dissolution.

About a month passed between the first twinge and our final service, and that month came during our remodel, when we were already displaced and presuming upon the hospitality of friends and family. We thought that move would be the year’s Big Event, but it was only the backdrop against which this much bigger displacement occurred—the breaking of our church fellowship.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

In her book Keeping Place, Jen Pollock Michel writes, “Surely one evidence of the world’s fallenness from grace is its failure to provide stability. To lose our places is to lose our place.”

We lost our place. And that loss was a lot to process.

So one night, in the thick of things, I started writing. I had no intention of writing an article but wanted both to tidy my own mind and to make a gift for our weary church body—something that might help us lift our eyes above the horizon line of our church’s closure and to see God’s glory written in the heavens overhead.

This is a big thing, I wanted to say. But it isn’t an ultimate thing. God’s faithfulness doesn’t end here.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

That thought eventually became a song that I wrote and sang at our closing party. But those ideas continued to simmer, and I kept lifting the lid and adding words to the pot. The soup gradually took on flavor, enough so that when I learned that the next issue of Deeply Rooted centered on the topic of the Church, I understood that I was, in fact, working on both an open letter to our church and a publishable essay.

That is one of the reasons I’m telling you this now. That article—”To My Church on the Day it Dissolves”—appeared both in Deeply Rooted’s newest issue (you can purchase a copy here) and on the Deeply Rooted blog (you can read the full article here).

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

But I also want to write about it because I have a little distance from the dissolution and I want to share that, too. We thought we had lost our place; we felt a wrenching, a breaking, an undoing, and we are still, in some ways, recovering from that.

Yet God’s kindness to us began long before this fall—or the Fall. He ordained for our good not that one church, now deceased, but The Church, a living body with members who carry the gospel to the world’s cities, villages, and camps; who translate the Bible so that others may know God’s Word in their own language; and who welcomed us in during those tender first months at our new church.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

We have heard people express a desire to rest from church, but what we needed in the months after the final service was to rest in the church. To lose our old church one Sunday and the next Sunday step into the foyer of a new one and feel a continuity between the services, a familiarity in the love and generosity of the people there—the Church has never seemed so radiant to me as it does now, and I have never felt so privileged to be a part of it.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

The New City Catechism answers its first question—”What is our only hope in life and death?”—with what has become a refrain for me in the past six months: “That we are not our own but belong body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.”

We are not our own but belong to Him. The Church is His; our church was His. We did not lose our place at all, for we are His, and there is no greater comfort in this world than to belong to Him. We are still learning the habits of our new church, but at the heart of it is the same command we strove to follow at our old one: love the Lord and love one another. He has given us new people to love, but our God remains wonderfully unchanged.


Lead me safely on to the eternal kingdom,
not asking whether the road be rough or smooth.
I request only to see the face of him I love,
to be content with bread to eat,
with raiment to put on,
if I can be brought to thy house in peace.

“Weaknesses,” The Valley of Vision

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 14: The Church | Little Book, Big Story

If you’ve read this far—thank you. If you want to read further, consider this Part II of the story. The Deeply Rooted article is Part I, and you can read it here.

If you want to read further still (and I highly recommend that you do), you can read Deeply Rooted’s full issue on the Church. Of all the issues we’ve published in the last five years, this one is my favorite, because it looks at the Church from several perspectives and elicits a wonder and awe that I find thrilling. God’s plan for His people! It’s so stunning!

Three Questions to Ask Before You Take My Advice | Deeply Rooted Blog

Ah! I meant to go silent, but then this came up: a little something extra to share with you.

When I was small, my dad kept a running joke about something he called The Book of Dad. “I’ll have to look that up in The Book of Dad,” he’d say, or, when I put him in parenting quandary, “I don’t remember anything about this in The Book of Dad.” To me, he seemed to know everything, a fact that I credited to that book (which I never saw but still believed in).

But now, as the mother of three small daughters, I appreciate the joke in a whole new light: there is no Book of Mom, though I desperately wish on certain days that there were. My children look to me for answers, and I feel like I really ought to have them, as though centuries of parents might have had the decency to compile them for me.  .  .  .

Deeply Rooted recently republished an article of mine—an old one, from Issue 8. This is a lengthy article, written for the print magazine rather than the blog, but it’s on a topic that’s especially dear to me: how do we filter out the nonsense we hear daily and decide which authors, speakers, or friends are giving legit parenting advice?

Every writer (myself included) sees the world in a particular way. They have certain beliefs about children—that children are basically good or innately sinful; that raising them should be our primary focus or a peripheral one—and about our role, as humans, in the universe. Though it might seem strange to leap from an article touting “Five Ways to Improve Your Child’s Attitude” to the question of whether we humans are generated by random chance to pursue our own good or by a loving God to pursue him, it’s an important leap to make: the worldview of each author will directly influence the way she approaches her children, as well as the way that she, in choosing the five bullet points of her article, encourages us to approach our own children.

As Christians, we need to at least be aware of that. We are confronted daily with information that has been neither fact-checked nor edited, and we need to approach that heap of advice with a wary eye, feeling for soft spots in an article’s logic or digging beneath an author’s assertion to find the source of her worldview. We should be quick to recognize any parts of an author’s philosophy that conflict with Christian doctrine. . . .

More than anything else I’ve written, this article is, I think, a glimpse at how I strive to approach motherhood, and I’m so grateful to Deeply Rooted for running it again.

You can read the full article here.

Deeply Rooted Magazine, Issue 13: Holiness

I carry the cold in with me and stand for a moment, still in my coat, and warm my feet over the vent before I sit down. Pumpkin bread presides at the table, attended by the French press, the cream, and a stack of napkins. April, in the kitchen, gathers mugs. A timer dings. We call quietly back and forth—How are you? Tired. A laugh. You?—keeping our voices low so we don’t wake her sons sleeping upstairs. As I take my Bible and notebook from my bag, the front door groans open then closed, and there is Megan, shaking her boots off onto the mat, rubbing her gloved hands together.

We sit down in our usual places and each claim a mug; April pours out coffee. The sound of it, the bitter smell, warms us as we talk for a moment about which kid woke most last night and how that first foster placement is going. But we don’t talk for long. We don’t have much time.

For the most recent issue of Deeply Rooted, I got to write about the Bible study I share with two close friends. This isn’t an instructional, “Five Steps to a Better Bible Study,” but an intimate peek at one of our mornings together—ukulele interludes and all.

The whole issue is, as always, beautiful both in form and content. In it, you’ll find articles on holiness, on identifying different biblical genres, on the story behind the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” You’ll find DIY spa recipes, and an article on how marriages are shaped by a shared Christian faith according to extensive, long-term research. And more! You’ll find this issue a great late-summer read, perfect for reading at beaches, on benches by playgrounds, or while looking out over a hazy, smoky-pink lake (that’s what’s happening here, anyway).

You can order a copy here.


Deeply Rooted Magazine
Issue 13: Holiness (2018)

5 Books on Church History for Kids (and Grown-ups)

I wrote a post about great (sometimes pop-up) church history books for Deeply Rooted. It boasts a few books that you know well and a few you haven’t met yet, and I think you’ll really like like them. (I know I really like the photos, which were taken by my neighbor Felicia*, who has a knack for that sort of thing.)

My father used to read to me from The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. He read it in answer to some question about my homework, some question that probably did not involve the Romans, and he read it at length. I know now that that was an awesome thing to do—take my homework question and place it in context by linking it to the historical moment that preceded it—but as a sophomore eager to finish that assignment so I could get back to living life (i.e. watching MTV while I waited for my hair color to set), I did not appreciate my father’s approach. 

I appreciate it now. Just as we can’t pull Leviticus out of context and expect to understand its laws and commands, we can’t pull our point in history out of context and expect to understand how we got here, where we are headed, or what we must do to change. . . .

You can read the full post here.

5 Books on Church History for Kids (and Grown-Ups) | Little Book, Big Story


*The photos in this post were also taken by Felicia. See what I mean?

An Interview with Songwriter Caroline Cobb

I shared this in the email newsletter a few weeks ago, but then I forgot to post it here! Alas! But I recently had the privilege of interviewing Caroline Cobb for Deeply Rooted. Her music is everything you and I love in a good book: beautifully written, vivid, and anchored by Scripture. If you haven’t listened to her album A Home & A Hunger yet, I think you’re going to love it. (We do. We’ve had many a dance party to her songs.)

You can hear in her own words how much she loves the Lord and his Word, and how she longs to share them both with her listeners:

I was . . . simultaneously feeling the ache of the “not yet” of God’s kingdom and clinging to the hope of the “already.” I kept being drawn to write from passages that explored these themes: the beauty of God’s “upside-down” Gospel, the tension we feel as Christians between ache and hope. Each song parachutes into a different moment in Scripture, with every song tracing this overarching theme of kingdom hope. 

My prayer is that these songs would help people remember and rehearse God’s Story, and that his truth would get into their hearts and minds in the middle of their everyday: when they’re stuck in traffic, cooking dinner, changing a diaper, working from their desk. I’m also praying it will remind those that are walking through hard things of the secure hope we have in Christ and help us all remember the good news of Jesus. I know I need to remember and savor the Gospel again and again, and I’m praying this album will help others do that too. 

Read the full interview here.

Deeply Rooted Magazine | Issue 12: The Calling

Deeply Rooted, Issue 12: The Calling is out! This issue is every bit as beautiful as its predecessors and features a wealth of rich theological articles, as well as beautifully written, practical pieces. Hunter Beless writes about inductive Bible study; Ann Swindell writes about balancing motherhood and creativity. My friend Jennifer Harris shares a biographical piece about Lilias Trotter, accompanied by gorgeous reproductions of Trotter’s work.

Deeply Rooted, Issue 12: Calling | Little Book, Big Story

I contributed a piece titled “Our Children Are Immortal,” about why we parent differently when we remember that our work doesn’t end when the last child moves out of the house, but when we enter our eternal home together. This piece took a long time to write and the subject is dear to me, not least because I share the story of how we ended up having not three children, but four:

When our third child was a still a baby, my husband and I thought we mightjust maybebe through having kids. Three daughters made a nice set, we decided. They fit comfortably around our kitchen table, comfortably in our 900 square foot house. Everyone had a place when we read aloud—one under each arm and one on my lap.

We began to think fond thoughts of leaving our baby-raising years behind. . . .

As always, the magazine is beautiful, rich, and challenging. Where else can you find a recipe for a fruit galette in the same volume as an article on election?


Issue 12: Calling
Deeply Rooted Magazine