Shadow of a Doubt


In the soft light, the evangelist coaxes.

“Are you sure, absolutely sure beyond any shadow of a doubt, that if you were to die tonight, you would see Jesus? You’re running out of time here, students. Your life is limited.” He weaves in stories of sudden death. Teenagers with exploding hearts. Earthquakes and natural disasters in foreign countries. “A breath away,” he says.

His counselors surround him like apostles, like bible bodyguards. “Beyond a shadow of any doubt,” he repeats, then asks for a head-bowed show of hands and begins thanking people for the courage to choose to be numbered. My head is not bowed, mostly because I believe that even evangelists need accountability. I do not note a single hand corresponding with his many thank yous, but nonetheless, he thanks another phantom. And another. He catches my open eyes. He winks and smiles. Thanks another.

*Today I’m discussing doubt over at A Deeper Church. I think there’s freedom in confessing these things. Join me at A Deeper Church for more.

*For regular updates, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page.
Posted in A Deeper Church, Doubt | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Creation Voice (A Book Update)

20130102-060011.jpgIt is said that in the beginning, God created the heavens with nothing but the word of his mouth. Light, water, sky, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, animals–he created them all with nothing more than a phrase. Atoms to atoms; molecules to molecules; cells to cells. The foundations of the world were set in motion with almighty statements. Imperatives.

Sometimes I wonder about God’s inflection, whether his voice thundered across the void, or whether it was stiller, smaller. Like a whisper. Was it firm and unbending, or was it full of wonder and excitement? Were his pre-man words compassionate, even then knowing that the coming prize of all creation would require salvation from a good and loving God? Was he giddy about the story that was about to unfold?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, not beyond a reasonable doubt, anyway. But what I know is that in the beginning God spoke.

I’ve been thinking about the creative power of words, lately. My morning commute lasts all of about fifteen minutes on the busiest of days, and each day I’ve been taking to dictation. I speak into my mobile device allowing some app to transliterate my speech to text. It is an imperfect act of creation, the app sometimes substituting “transliterate,” for “translate” (see above), but it’s an act of creation nonetheless.

People ask why I came to writing. I’ve been prone to it since I was a kid, I say. I once wrote a short story about the resurrection of the dead, that great biblical event, using frogs as the object of the rapture. The good folks of the fictional town of Almer ran around shrieking at the sight of frog bones hopping heavenward to meet Jesus in the air. Only ten years old, I postulated that we got all this pre-trib/post-trib stuff wrong, figuring that it was only the amphibians who were worthy of being spared the wrath of the Antichrist. Best I can remember, it was my first short story. All this is neither here nor there. It’s just an anecdote I thought you might enjoy. Sometimes the act of creation is that simple.

But always, the screen begins blank. A white canvas. It’s the writer’s job to use voice to muck it all up, to ink it into something useful, feelable, breathable, tasteable, maybe even something over which the reader laughs and cries. That act of writing is a metaphor. Without voice, without words, there would be nothing. No atoms; no molecules; no cells.

Only empty space.

I’ve recently finished a longish piece of fiction. I’m not sure whether to call it a “novel” or “novella” just yet. There’s still a final set of revisions, and perhaps an editor needs to put their hands on it. But through this process of creation, I’ve found characters that I’ve come to love, characters that seem real to me.

Weird? Maybe. Metaphor? Absolutely.

Over the coming months, I’m inviting you behind the scenes. We’ll see whether my piece has the stuff to make it past mere manuscript phase. Will my characters leave my briefcase? Or will they live more introverted lives in the quieter places? I’m hoping for the former, but only time will tell. And I’ll keep you updated along the way.

*For regular updates, follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page.
Posted in Book Update, Creativity, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , | 14 Comments


5924432723_823f6f219d_z-565x338As I considered material for our last purple poetry prompt, visions of Barney–that short-armed, purple, sing-songy dinosaur–haunted me. He, dancing in my mind’s eye, musing that classic children’s standard, “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family.”

“Shut up, Barney!” I thought. “There are serious poets that visit these parts and they want serious prompts.”

He was unrelenting, kept singing his song, like a drill bit boring into skull.

Determined to write a prompt involving something more substantive than a dancing dinosaur, I wracked my brain for purple material, settling, finally on exploring the historical context of the nursery rhyme of Little Jack Horner. Remember Mr. Horner, that precocious boy with a knack for extracting whole plumbs from a pie using nothing but his thumb? The oft-forgotten back-story of the nursery rhyme finds its roots in bribery, treachery, and King Henry VIII’s quest to subvert the Catholic Church and take its gold. And just as I was beginning to tease out the nuances of this plum poetry prompt…

“I love you, you love me….” Barney usurped the story with his own utopistic notions.

*For more about the manner in which Barney’s intrusions cramp my style, follow me over to Tweetspeak today. And jump into the mix!


Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What Mama Did: The Imagining

Our friend, Lisa Jo, has been running a series entitled “What Mama Did.” She’s asked a few of us to pop in and share memories of our mothers, what they did that made our childhood special. I’m there today writing about my mother, but here’s a sneak peek.


Before the urban sprawl, the popping up of shopping malls, strip centers, mega churches, and big business,we lived in Grapevine, Texas. In those days, Grapevine was a wide open, endless dirt patch, nestled just north of Dallas. On some mornings, we commuted into the heart of town, where my sister attended a Christian school. I was a tender-hearted child, always broken by my sister’s leaving–she, my best friend, and second-best playmate.

After she slid from the back seat, after the obligatory “have a good day,” my mother, resourceful as she was and hoping to assuage my sadness, would point to the water towers and gas tanks that pimple-marked the Texas landscape. “Look! Imperial drones!” she cried. “We’re doomed!”


Lisa Jo is kind to share her space with me today. You can continue reading the full piece there.  If you happen to visit her site, make sure you peruse her archives. She writes some of the most encouraging stuff on the internet as it relates to motherhood.

Posted in Mother Letters | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment