Five Minute Friday

Why Can’t I Find My Place at Church?

Finding My Place at the Five-Minute Friday Retreat I sniffed my pits before closing my car door and heading towards the place where we would register. I shrugged. Without facing the registration process, I wouldn’t receive a room key for the retreat. And until I had that room key in my hot and sweaty hand, I couldn’t shower. I’d have to go in smelling slightly ripe, covered in grime (birding is dirty business), and wild-haired. Once again, I found myself…

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The ‘Other Lessons’ that Inspire (aka, When We Don’t Get What We Want)

A Journey to Inspire Me The boat rocked back and forth as it rose and fell with the swells of the ocean. The deep blue of the water vied with the sky for my attention. On the horizon, thunderheads piled up between us and the receding shore line. I couldn’t wait to discover the secrets of the open ocean and let them inspire me in some creative way. The hot wind whipped my curls into my eyes. I didn’t bother…

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The Surprising Way to Find Comfort

Comfort, the Verb I step around the counter into my daughter’s kitchen and start fixing breakfast. A minute or two later, I hear an inquisitive “Bah?” from the living room. “Bah!” I answer. “Ahw!” The thunks of hands and knees on the wood floor increase in pace as Abel uses ‘echolocation’ to find me. I glance over and see his strawberry-blonde curls. His head bends down in concentration as he crawls into the kitchen, sits up, and turns in a…

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Rug Burn, Aching Joints, and other Hazards of Play

How to Play with a Baby “What happened to your knee?” my daughter Laura asked. I glanced down and noticed a red, raw spot on my left knee. “Carpet burn, I guess,” I answered with a shrug. “Abel and I have been racing up and down the hallway.” “Oh, you poor thing!” “Naw,” I replied, “anything to hear his cackle!” Therein lies the truth. I’ll do anything to get a two-toothed grin, a chortle, or a cackle out of my…

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To Receive a Blessing, be a Blessing!

Confession Time In the effort to practice full disclosure, you should know that I think of myself as a rather selfish person. I get single-minded in my plans and goals. Often, I only want to do something if I can see how it will benefit me in some way. I worry more about the blessing I might receive than blessing other people by showing up. I don’t enjoy visiting extended family members because I can only see the negative: The…

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Things I Didn’t Expect to Learn from Running a Marathon

My apologies to my FMF friends. I only had four lessons typed up at the end of my five minutes, but I kept on writing.  I won’t deny that I like unusual challenges and have a quirky sense of humor. So you won’t wonder at one of my choices for ‘fifty fun things to do in my fiftieth year’—run a marathon. I expect the majority of the population wouldn’t classify running for 26.2 miles as ‘fun.’ After completing my first…

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How Do YOU Define Christian?

Doing Research in the Age of Information Leading high school students through the arduous process of writing a research paper leaves me feeling exhausted. Since the advent of the Internet, Google, Wikipedia, and social media, kids define cutting and pasting content from other sources as ‘research.’ I beg to differ. And so we do things the old-fashioned-sort-of-technologically-advanced way in my classes. The students make photocopies of everything they plan on using that comes from a book. They print out web…

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When Someone Grieves, Offer an Embrace

The Passing of a Family Friend I wanted to reach through the phone line and embrace my daughter. Instead, I texted her back and tried to concentrate on reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my freshman class. I kept losing my place and glancing at my phone. Not professional behavior, I know. But when your daughter texts you that her beloved German Shepherd has bladder cancer and the vet sees no hope, you do what needs to…

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When it’s OK to Call Your Kids a Friend

Why DID We Have Kids? “Mom, why did you and Dad have kids?” Sarah asked a few years ago. “Because we knew that when you guys became adults we’d have two awesome friends.” I quipped. “But didn’t you tell us that we couldn’t be friends?” Sarah reminded me. “No. We said we couldn’t be friends until you’re 18 and out of high school.” “Oh, yeah,” she said. “Kids need boundaries and mentoring. They don’t need the burden of having an…

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Being Half Vegetarian in a World of Abandonment

Half Vegetarian For some reason, Pedro is discussing meat eating and vegetarianism with students while he patrols the playground after lunch. As I walk by on my way to my next class, I overhear a youngster declare, “I’m the only vegetarian in my family!” “Really?” Pedro asks. “Everyone else eats meat?” “Everyone but me!” the second grader declares. “Guess what, Mr. Ojeda?” a third grader asks. “I’m half vegetarian!” “Really!” Pedro exclaims. The bell rings and I hurry to unlock…

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