Downton Abbey: A Technicolor Story Enfolds a Black and White World

(“Best of” blog)

Downton Abbey

The final episode of Downton Abbey aired Monday. “Keep calm and wait for January” the Facebook icons reassure. You wouldn’t expect to find such a cool- set-must-see-TV-water-cooler-buzz show on PBS, but Masterpiece Theater has struck gold (four Emmys) with its story of Lord and Lady Grantham, their three Jane Austinesque daughters and the downstairs intrigue of butlers, valets, footmen, ladies maids and cooks. What hooks millions of viewers all over the world?

A world of daily candlelight dinners, beaded Chanel gowns, side-saddle hunts and Christmas pheasant shoots is rocked by World War I, the explosion of technology (automobiles, electricity, telephones), the rise of modern media and women’s and workers’ rights and a plot laced with secrets, theft, jealousy, midnight rendezvous, dead bodies, romance and a fairly astonishing moral clarity and commitment.

What it takes to move people from here to there

(“Best of” blog)

After months of transition, job search, selling a home, finding a home, a month of waiting for the new home sale to close, we have finally, actually, irrevocably MOVED.


What seemed so daunting and risky and unknown has become, step by step, reality. Actually, God is in the business of moving us all from HERE to THERE. And as Bill Hybels pointed out at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last week: the essence of leadership is to lead people from HERE, the current reality, to THERE, the much preferred future.

IF: the (mostly) under-40’s rock at their first un-conference

(“Best of” blog)
I wrote this review of the first IF Gathering in Austin, Texas right after it happened last February (2014). As the banner above reads, they’ll be meeting again in February, 2015. I encourage you to gather there or online. A fresh wind is blowing out of Austin! And you can find out more here.

The 1200-seat Austin Municipal Auditorium sold out in under an hour. So they offered live streaming to anyone with a computer. And from around the world 20,000 more registered, many of those inviting friends and even churches full of women. It was as IF the organizers had blown a giant whistle and thousands had come running…to what no one was exactly sure. Not even the organizers.

When Pain Is Too Much to Bear, How Can We Find Relief?

(“Best of” blog)


There’s “sad,” and then there are those times when sorrow seeps down into your soul and collects there into an aching pool of grief. You sleep. You wake up. And for a minute it’s better. Then the drip… drip of pain begins again. After thirty-two years with rheumatoid arthritis I would rather spend a day in significant physical pain than a day in significant emotional pain, although sometimes the two are inextricably linked. When we find ourselves in that kind of pain, how might we find relief?

The Dark Side of Creativity: Procrastination

hand draws brain signIs your brain like a German autobahn with lots of slick, European sports-car thoughts…zooming in out of nowhere…inspiring…creating…(distracting)? Creativity is a joy to give away–writing, cooking, festive table settings, gardening, crafts, ministry projects, lesson preps—all these rich gifts God has given us. But there’s a downside too.

Duck Dynasty. Reinforcing the Backwoods Redneck Stereotype of Christians?

(“Best of” blog)
On a Kansas visit a few years ago my husband Jack joined some friends to go hunting. They introduced him to their friend, Willie Robertson, a guy with now-familiar long hair, beard and bandana and an easy-going smile. While the guys hunted, my friend Patty told me stories she’d heard from her son who had been down to Louisiana to go duck hunting with Willie and his Dad, both guides.

A Visit to an Emerging Church: The Gospel According to Lost

 (“Best of” blog)

Gospel According to LostSaint Sayid gazed across the congregation, cool yet conflicted. The “humanitarian torturer” his tagline read.  Next to him, Saint Jack and next to him Saint Kate—all rendered on large canvases with bright colors. Like portraits of the apostles in a medieval church, the cast of Lost, complete with gold halos, surrounded the congregation, reminding them…

“Together We Survive. Alone we die.”

After his brother Robbie led the people in thoughtful, sometimes haunting praise and prayers, pastor Chris Seay settled onto his stool in Ecclesia, the emerging church they founded in the artsy Montrose district of Houston, and introduced a video story of his Hawaiian adventure the previous week.

To Grads. From Dallas Willard. How To Live a Successful Life.

(“Best of” blog)

It’s high graduation season—the time when Valedictorians and VIPs rifle their mental files for Something Significant to say about new beginnings and the quest for the good life. A couple of years ago on our radio program The Things That Matter Most I interviewed Dallas Willard about how we can live a successful life.Patty at Commencement

The interview began with questions about an essay in Atlantic Monthly. Journalist Joshua Wolf Shenk was allowed access to the archives of The Grant study, a long range Harvard research project that asked, What Makes us Happy? What should one do to live a successful life?

Faith and Culture: The Guide to a Culture Shaped by Faith (Zondervan)


It’s back to school time. Send your student off with a book…

…that will strengthen their worldview, help with critical thinking and also inspire their faith. Kelly’s and my daily reader will give them readings in Bible/theology, history, philosophy, science, literature, the arts and contemporary culture. Over seventy of the finest Christian thought leaders will guide them on a tour through many of the paintings, laboratories, rock arenas, great books, mass movements, and private lives that have shaped the ways we think and live. And each reading pivots to help them understand what this means to their faith and their relationship with Jesus.

A student says:“This book took me by surprise. Not once have I found a devotional so full of fascinating information that I find myself telling my friends about it right after I read it. I love that it has truth, real truth, but in bite-size chunks. With my school schedule I never have time for heavy theology books to just pick up in my spare time, but this gives me answers to questions that I frequently hear and can now confidently know how to answer without having to be a studied expert on the subject. Big fan!”
– Natalie, high school junior, 16