Articles

Words incarnate ideas. I hope mine help you love Jesus more.

Made Visible

When Dr. Ian Donald was drafted into the Royal Air Force as a medical officer in 1942, he had no idea how the Lord would use the knowledge he gained using sonar and radar.  In 1946, he was discharged from military service and awarded for his bravery during the war. He returned to practicing medicine.…

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This is the Work

Last week, my kids got vaccinations.  As the nurse set out the band-aids and calmly talked us through the process, I appreciated her efficiency and adeptness. Later that same day, my son had football practice. It was raining. The coach, who arrived before anyone else, put on his rain gear and got ready for the…

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Cultivating Meaning

As soon as I make a cup of tea, it cools and I drink it. It isn’t static. It doesn’t grow warmer nor does my cup refill itself. The modern mind suffers under the delusion that everything is improving all the time even when we have hard evidence to the contrary. I have been enjoying…

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Catalytic Converter

Yesterday, someone asked me if I was a teacher or a student. As a home educator, I can proudly answer, “Both!”

The kids and I did a science experiment this week that still has the wheels of my brain turning. In Jay Wile’s Science in the Industrial Age, he details the life and work of Jons Jakob Berzelius. In addition to exploring chemical formulas, denatured proteins, and organic chemicals, we also learned about catalysts.

Our experiment explored the behavior of a catalyst….

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The River Road

If we hurried in the morning, we would have a few extra minutes to take the river road to school.  Of the two routes, it was preferable. U.S. 1, flanked by used car dealerships and run down gas stations, was cluttered with cars and offered no enticing scenery. However, Indian River Drive wove alongside the…

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In Deep Water

Swimming lessons had us at the pool more often this summer, and the most common phrase I heard there was “Don’t go so deep!” Why are children allured by deep water? They splash and play happily, all while edging closer and closer to that moment when the level of the water will be above their…

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Pressed

These are the flowers I picked with my grandmother when I was 3 years old. It was 1987. We picked some wildflowers from beside the road as we walked and chose cultivated varieties from her garden. Then, she showed me how to press them between pages of newsprint in her flower press. If she hadn’t,…

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Surrounded by God’s Shouts of Deliverance

My children and I recently visited the On-A-Slant Mandan Village at Fort Abraham Lincoln in Mandan, ND.  We had fun exploring the round houses and marveling at their construction. In the models of the village as it was in the early 1700’s, there is a long palisade along one side. As I looked at the…

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Swallowed Up

If Fairy Tales are any indication, one of mankind’s worst fears is being swallowed up. Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and The Gingerbread Man all include antagonists who will swallow you in one gulp, one bite, or one meal. To be swallowed is to be consumed, to cease to…

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Bigger Pots

My kids recently helped replant an aloe. They took shoots of all sizes and transplanted each one into a different sized pot. Small shoots went in the tiniest pots. Larger ones needed more room. Some of the larger ones have already sent up shoots of their own and are large enough to need new pots. …

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For the Birds

We’ve been delighted with the flurry of Baltimore Orioles visiting our bird feeders this year. My oldest son laughed when he learned that they like to eat orange slices and grape jelly.  When we noticed them drinking out of the hummingbird feeders, we wondered why they had such a sweet tooth.  Orioles, Grosbeaks, and Hummingbirds…

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Cleansed or Consumed?

Many men work hard for spiritual cleansing. Some stoke the fire. Some bring large stones to place in the fire. Once the stones are hot, still other men remove them from the fire and pour water over them to create a great storehouse of steam. They bathe in the steam they have created, hoping their…

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Seed Potential

A seed almost gets lost in the palm of my hand. It is so small, but its potential and purpose are great. If the seed never germinates, it will never fulfil the purpose for which it was created. It will always stay the small, seemingly insignifcant piece of organic matter. However, if the seed is…

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Life, Death, and Charlotte’s Web

When author E.B. White recorded the audiobook version of his classic children’s story Charlotte’s Web, it took him seventeen tries to record the scene where Charlotte, the spider, dies. He would begin weeping. The producer would stop the recording. They would take a walk outside and then come back and try it again. Seventeen tries.…

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When Empty Gets Full

The time I encountered a bear while hiking, empty space mattered. I froze, calculating the distance between the bear and me, the space I judged I could throw a peanut butter cracker, and the speed at which bears can cross empty space. When the good samaritans who rescued me drove me further down the mountain…

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Steamed Clean

Last week, a young man in a black hoodie steam cleaned all the chairs at church. I’m embarrassed to tell you how filthy the chairs were. Five years of spaghetti dinners and Vacation Bible Schools accumulated in real time. The cleaner’s hoodie reads, “Left it in the Waters.” His sister gave it to him when…

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Sour, Like Milk

The kids and I celebrated the end of our school year with a trip to the local dairy.  The folks there transform delicious, creamy milk into many flavors of gelato and cheese. Milk, when it is good, is very good, and when it is bad, it is, well, sour. When milk goes sour at our…

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What can we do?

I have a nine year old. It’s been an emotional week as we’ve watched the smiling faces of other nine year olds, lost in a horrific murder, roll across our screens. What can we do to protect our children? What can we give them to prepare for such a world? We need to give our…

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Overcoming Evil One Note at a Time

A friend came to tune our piano. It was a lengthy process, as our piano has not been tuned for the entire time we’ve owned it. Each key had to be tuned to the tone it was designed to play, in addition to being tuned to its fellow keys. The tuner worked meticulously with a…

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Kindness Came Looking

Prodigals break our hearts. One day, they grin toothlessly at the camera as they hold up the cake celebrating their 10th birthday, and it seems like the next when they peer at you confusedly with blue lips and skin as their body tries to process the poison of fentanyl.  When you care about the prodigal,…

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Your Gentleness has made me Great

The snow has melted enough this week to be able to see the seesaw in our neighborhood playground. Soon, children will be back at play, laughing as they go up, crying when they pinch their heels or hit their chins on the way down. Yet, they all persist in loving the seesaw. It’s funny to…

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Death in the Pot

    There are some pictures too ugly to paint with words.      I recently visited a friend who is homeless and suicidal. While speaking with my friend, I remembered times past when I sat beside the ICU bed of first her father and then her mother whose organs shut down after lifetimes of habitual drug…

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Star Stuff is Still Dust

    American Astronomer Carl Sagan narrated Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, an award winning television series that became the most widely watched series in the history of television.     In public elementary school, many students like me were shown clips of Sagan’s series, where he told us, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our…

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Parable of Grace

Soiling Your hands with my formation muddy rivulets stained Your arms of creation, and lifeless mud I would’ve remained but You breathed new life and called my name. * You knew the cost when this mud would say, “I’ll be the master, though I am but clay.” You knew even then how Your words would…

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Keep Watching

Jesus was dead. All was darkness. The greatest surprise I ever experienced happened in the dark. My father and I were sitting on a boat in the ocean. We were far enough from land that we couldn’t see any light, and both of us were gazing toward the eastern horizon. Thousands of miles away lay…

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All my Strength

“You just need to be strong.” In a Bible study with incarcerated women, I often heard this exhortation from one to another. It was a vague admonishment to resist emotion and put up a block wall to seal out the tragic, terrible things they had seen. It didn’t work. Each day’s physical strength drops like…

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All my Mind

    Dementia is a frightening prospect.     We watch elderly relatives struggle with how to make a sandwich, what day it is, how to get dressed, or even who we are, and fear wells up within us.      We mourn the loss of who they used to be as we also dread the possibility of…

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All My Soul

In pre-marriage counseling, I told our Pastor, “I really hate folding socks.”     It’s still true today. Socks are annoying. You have to locate both of them, and then, more often than not, you have to turn them inside out.     Maybe it’s my innate laziness, or maybe it’s that I don’t really care if…

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All My Heart

“Why does God want my heart?” It was a simple question from a young child in Sunday School.     But it stumped me. I had to hunt for the answer.     The Greatest Commandment begins with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart,” and it is a recurring theme throughout Scripture. But why…

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Where the Lord is at Home

    So many children’s books have to do with home.     From Little House on the Prairie to A House is a House for Me and from Sweet Home Alaska to The Hobbit, the search for a place of comfort and belonging is universal.      So many of the children I have discipled have no…

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The Verbs of Sin

   Verbs stick out. They help your mind connect with what you are reading or listening to. Have you ever noticed the verbs of sin?     Crouch, ensnare, separate, consume, harden, heap, and bring forth death make me want to run the other way.      However, when sin is still only a temptation, I often…

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Bringing Holiness to Completion

Between Russia invading Ukraine and covid issues, problems fracture us. There are plenty of opinions but very few solutions.     What if we could find all the solutions and be made whole?     Isn’t that what the Ancient Greeks were looking for when they visited the Oracle of Delphi? Columbus searched for answers on every…

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The Big Game

Tomorrow is the big game. The Bengals square off against the Rams in Super Bowl LVI. What do you think quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Matthew Stafford will be doing in the morning? Stafford, quarterback for the Rams, recently told the press, “I think you treat it just like every other game when it gets to…

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Obstacles or Clear Paths

   I love to snowshoe.     We have had a lot of snow this year, and I have been laughing as I watch our two dogs- Baxter and Ranger- trudge through the snow. When they fall in over their heads, they whine and bark for help.     I often haul them up out of their…

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Racial Reconciliation and Me

Some of my ancestors were slaveholders. Do I need to confess the sin of their active participation in the system of American slavery?  My immediate reaction to this question has always been, “No!” because I don’t confess all the times they lied or cheated; however, reading John Perkins’s book One Blood: Parting Words to the…

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A Conduit for the Lord

    When the Lord works in the lives of His people, He includes His people in doing the work.  Pastor Steve Osage has served as a conduit of the Lord’s blessings to ministries across the Dakotas for the past twenty years, exemplifying Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who works in you, both to will…

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Flowers in the Desert, Part 2

In the Atacama Desert, three plant species can give us a tutorial on blooming in drought.     Llareta, an evergreen perennial, cannot grow in shade. It only grows about 1.5 cm per year, but lives to be about 3,000 years old. The plant’s leaves grow into a dense mat close to the ground, where the…

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Flowers in the Desert

Thousands of tourists flocked to the driest desert in the world last year to see its rare bloom.     The Atacama Desert on the western coast of South America boasts 500 species of flora, even though some weather stations in the desert have never recieved rain. It is known as the driest place in the…

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Known by their Fruit

Your identity feeds your actions.     I am a mom, therefore, I do laundry and cook meals. I am a writer, therefore, I sit down with my notebook and pencil everyday. I am a teacher, therefore, I plan lessons and grade papers.     You get the idea. How we identify ourselves plays out in our…

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Memorize the Word

My brother-in-Christ, James, memorized Psalm 91 before he became a Christian.     He was struggling with opposition, and his mom encouraged him to memorize Psalm 91 and say it whenever he was afraid.     One day, he recited the whole Psalm for his neighbor, who invited James to come to church. James went. He heard…

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Auld Lang Syne

    When Robbie Burns wrote down the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788, he captured one of Scotland’s national treasures.     Scots had been singing versions of the song for two hundred years, but once it was written down, they could carry it with them anywhere. And they did.     They immigrated in large…

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The Fruit of Light

As I write this, it is the shortest day of the year.  Where I live in North Dakota, that means that it will be dark for 15 hours and 44 minutes of the day. It makes the Christmas lights twinkle all the more bravely.  In winter, it is also difficult to come by good fruit.…

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