In My Defense….

…. I’m no hockey expert. I leave that to my younger son, Greg.

So you can’t make fun of me for my bewildered response to this item about Dallas Stars player John Klingberg. It appeared in the Dallas Morning News before the season began:

First I re-read the last part. Yes, it says he wants to “become a great defensive defenseman.”

I snapped the photo above and texted it to Greg, along with a message: “I find this the most confusing blurb in the history of blurbs. Is it really that innovative when a defense player strives to play great defense???”

Greg kindly explained that Klingberg’s forte had been getting in on the attack. While that’s good in a way, it also left some defensive gaps.

Ooooh-kay. Apparently offense-defense roles in hockey are less compartmentalized than in football.

Just between us, though, the piece still sounds like it was written by Dr. Seuss in Opposite-Land.

It could just be me. As I said, I’m no expert.

Play ball!
Or, you know, whatever you say to start a hockey game.

Thanks for reading,

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Fake-Out Years, Part 2: God’s Sovereignty

Last time I told you how some well-meaning people in my church thought I’d accepted Christ as my savior. The pastor baptized me, not realizing I was clueless about my need for salvation.

After the worst five years of my life, I absolutely had to do something. By this time I understood the gospel. The question was, had I accepted it? Received salvation? I realized that if I hadn’t been saved back in the fourth grade, I would need to admit it to the church, and get baptized again. Everyone would know I’d been wrong. How embarrassing.

Finally… all alone in my room, I mentally reviewed God’s plan of salvation*. I still remember every word of my big, dramatic prayer for salvation:


All the weight of guilt I’d been lugging around for five years fell away. Peace and security flowed over me, through me.

The next Sunday, I marched to the front of the church as soon as the sermon ended. Later, the pastor counseled with me. I got baptized. Again.

An impostor no more.

That was ages ago, but I’ve never forgotten those wretched years.

Recently, memories of that sweet Sunday School teacher came back to me. By now, she must have been in heaven for decades. I got to thinking: From her heavenly perspective, does she know she accidentally influenced me to get fake-baptized? I hope God didn’t tell her. If he did, I hope she doesn’t feel bad about that…

But then something else occurred to me. God is in control. Everything, even the unpleasant stuff, happens for a reason.

So what good could come out of those years I spent bluffing, hiding my fear?

I don’t claim to know all of God’s mind, but I do know I needed to learn not to bluff.

So God allowed it.

And I learned my lesson.

I believe that if Mrs. C. does remember me, and if she knows I wandered around for years miserably faking faith, then that knowledge doesn’t cause her distress. Because she also understands the purpose and knows the outcome.

Thanks, Mrs. C.!

And thank you for reading.

* Earlier, I wrote a more in-depth essay about the nature of salvation. You can find it here if you’re interested.

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The Fake-Out Years, Part 1

I never intended to lie.

1. I know better, which may be the force behind…
2: I’m terrible at it. Always have been.

So one Sunday morning during my fourth-grade year, I sat in church doodling on my bulletin instead of listening to the sermon. I can’t tell you what that sermon was about–as I say, I was doodling. But I’m guessing it must have included a clear presentation of the Gospel, which says, in a nutshell:

1. Everyone sins against God and thus deserves death.
2. Jesus, who came as God incarnate, never sinned. He willingly sacrificed his own life as the final payment for the sins of the world.
3. Jesus’ sacrifice made forgiveness and eternal life available to anyone who will acknowledge their sin and trust Him.

At the end of the sermon, when the pastor invited people to come pray and receive eternal life, I found myself crying a little. My sweet, grandmotherly Sunday School teacher noticed and came over to me.

“Do you want to go forward?” she whispered. (“Going forward” is church code for acknowledging in front of the church that you have received Jesus’ forgiveness. So named because it involves, you know, walking to the front of the auditorium.)

My beloved Sunday School teacher had just invited me to go with her, so of course I hopped up and followed her to where the pastor stood. Everyone was crying. They all seemed so happy for me. This puzzled me to no end, but I assumed they all knew what they were talking about, so I played along.

Oh, I’ve become a Christian! Cool!

Yep, got baptized by immersion, as I’d seen many others do. Only… when I came up out of the water, I got this sick feeling that something was wrong. As if I’d broken something important.

What’s this? How can you mess up getting baptized? I mean, no skill is required.

Bewildered and discouraged, I threw myself into reading the Bible. That’s what Christians do, right?

I couldn’t admit I was an impostor.

Church attendance. Bible reading. Saying all the right things. Nothing eased that guilty feeling that I was not heading toward heaven.

Did I admit my fears to anyone? No, I played along even harder.
Doubts? Who, me? After all, I’ve been baptized, people!

. . .

Next time: The rest of the Fake-Out Years story.

Thanks for reading,

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Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas, by Jody Collins

If you’re like me, the Christmas season can spiral out of control and turn you into a grinch dealing with ten extra pounds, a stack of bills, and a eye twitch.

“Comfort and joy?” Bah, humbug!

Image Credit:

Enter Jody Collins.

Who, she asks, doesn’t need more joy?

Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas offers real help for those who want to slow down and savor the holiday season, not just survive it.

From the Introduction:

The heart of Living the Season Well is not intended to add one more thing to do; it is a way to encourage a change of mind and heart about the season of Christmas.


You will find this book is short-ish and sweet (like a candy cane or a peppermint latte). That is on purpose.

In a warm, engaging style, Collins explores the December and January liturgical (church) calendar, mining the observances for ways to make room for God, for joy, for rest. She doesn’t push the reader to make radical changes, but rather invites us to pick an idea and “start small, start now.”

She doesn’t forget the children, of course. You’ll find ideas and resources for all ages.

The book is available at your local bookstore, and in paperback and ebook form from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

If you want to turn your back on the “crazy” and gain some breathing space, you’ll find this book a wonderful resource. And even though I’m recommending Living the Season Well as a Great Weekend Read, it’s really something to linger with and to savor.

Like Christmas.

Thanks for reading,

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Lies and Cow Pies: Revisited

This post first appeared here in August of 2010. I’m re-posting it because I want to tell you about my five years as a fake, and this story from my earlier childhood gives you some background.

Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story

I have no idea whose cows they were, or why I was wandering around with them in their enclosure — wearing a dress, mind you. I was only five, we were visiting my grandmother, the grownups wanted to go see somebody (probably relatives) and their cows, and I was along for the ride whether I wanted to go or not. I only knew it was chilly and wet, and that I was almost up to my pristine little shoelaces in mud.

As a dedicated tomboy, I didn’t mind dirt one bit, as long as I was dressed for it. No sir, put me in old play clothes and I was good with soil, dirt, dust, sand or even grass stains, but mud was another matter. Especially thick, squishy mud that smelled of cows and was getting all over my new red tennies. (If you’re too young to remember “tennies” try…

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Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You… by Anita Renfroe

Remember the hilarious viral video of the lady singing “The Mom Song” to the tune of the William Tell Overture? The lyrics are made up entirely of the “repetitive and reflexive… things that mothers say day after day after day after stinkin’ day” (p.10).

Well, Anita Renfroe is that mom. The full title of this Great Weekend Read is Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You: Kids, Carbs, and the Coming Hormonal Apocalypse, which gives you a pretty good idea of both what the book is about, and how funny you’ll find it.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll just give you a few chapter titles…

• Brother, Can You Spare an Epidural?
• High Noon at the Cart Corral
• Fun Travel and Other Oxymorons
• Just One Good Photo Before I Die
• Send In the Hissy-Cam

You might also enjoy her DVDs, available on her website (click here).

Who can’t use a good laugh these days?

Have a Great Weekend!
Thanks for reading,

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Out in the Boondocks?

The other day, I was working on my fiction series and had one of my characters refer to the “boondocks.” My editor brain got to wondering whether I was using the best word to mean “a remote, unsophisticated rural area.”

So I looked up synonyms, expecting a list of other southern-fried words. I mean, you can just hear the drawl: “Buh-oon-dawks.”

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the word comes from the Tagalog word “bundok,” meaning “mountain.”


I’d heard of the language, but all I knew was that it ain’t from around here. So I had to follow that rabbit trail engage in further research.

Turns out that Tagalog is spoken in the Philippine Islands. The language originated from Luzon, the largest island.

Luzon… that name rang a bell.

Because my dad was there during World War II.

Dad’s old telegraph key, which I keep on my desk.
Trust me–it isn’t connected to anything.

Dad served in the Merchant Marine as a radio operator on one of the “Liberty Ships.” I’d written up his experiences as he told me about them, and entered the story in the Creative Non-Fiction category of my university’s writing contest. Click here for the portion where he “visited” Luzon. It was kinda funny.

As for “boondocks,” the term migrated to the US over a century ago, with Marines who’d fought in the Philippines. It was re-introduced here during World War II, by people like my own dad.

This odd moment of connection felt a little nostalgic. I wish I could’ve called Dad to tell him what I’d learned.

Anyway, from now on I’ll treat the word “boondocks” with more respect, y’all.

Thanks for reading,

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