And Now She’s Growing a Lemon Tree

Ever since the success of the avocado tree that now sits in a pot in a sunny warm place in our home, my daughter has wanted a lemon tree. Why stop with avocados? Why not grow a lemon tree?

On the kitchen window sill, she’s preparing lemon seeds to sprout. She soaked them, and now they sit in potting soil in a cup with plastic wrap over the top. She’s attempting this method first.

I’ll report back. So much of our family life involves watching things grow. I think of the roses climbing on the trellis, the raspberries and blackberries, the tomatoes, and the asparagus. I think of the avocado. And now, it’s lemons I’m watching.


Simple Traditions of Easter

I announce all day long, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’! It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin'”

It’s a good Friday.

We eat Good Friday pastries–little danishes and chocolate filled croissants–and we talk about our cooking plans for the weekend. We’ll go to a Good Friday service this evening, and then tomorrow, we’ll do some spring cleaning. That evening, we’ll tell the story of Easter using our Resurrection Eggs that the girls loved ever since they were little.

We’ll bake the Lemonade Layer Cake and make the Deviled Eggs. We’ll prepare the honey ham and make the potato kugel that our Jewish friends suggested.

On Sunday, we’ll see what fills our Easter Baskets, and we’ll rejoice that He is risen.

Pastries, church, resurrection eggs, the Easter cake, the deviled eggs, the festive baskets, and the Easter meal: it’s what helps us celebrate the greatest day in history that Jesus rose from the dead. He will rise!


When I Showed Millennials the Millennials Video

My oldest class of students considers themselves millennials, so I wanted to show them the “Millennials in the Workplace” video by Simon Sinek.

I honestly hoped they’d all throw down their phones in disgust and agree with everything Sinek tells them. They’d confess their addictions to their phones. They’d talk about how depressed they all are. They’d share their loneliness and low self-esteem and begin the process of transformation back to the old ways, before all these phones.

Some did admit to how they see others experiencing these things, but most completely disagreed with the idea that the cause of all our woes stems purely from our addiction to social media and technology. After all, one student remarked, “Aren’t we watching this video using the very technology he worries about?”

The hands shot into the air as they cried foul on so many fronts ranging from the need for more empirical evidence–over a longer period of time–to prove with certainty that social media harms us to the false analogy of social media working like alcohol to an alcoholic. A student explains, “That analytical framework denies the positive effects of social media like how it connects me to my grandparents who live in another country and how aware we become of global problems.”

Another student asserts that correlation is not causation when it comes to anxiety and depression amongst college students. Other factors like the insistence on having a set life plan by the time you reach kindergarten causes the anxiety we feel now. Another student reminded the class that, historically, times of technological change always create massive amounts of anxiety because we aren’t good at resting in uncertainty. He insists that we live in a period of uncertainty and now adaptation. We will adapt. The answer isn’t to throw away your phone.

What I love about my students is that they don’t just receive what you tell them as truth. Perhaps the very use of social media has taught them how to look at different angles and consider different questions and possibilities. They know how to juggle massive amounts of data and synthesize it quickly. Some good has come about from having all this information available.

As I listened to my students talk today, I realized why I love educating at the college level.


What We’d Do With More Confidence

I think about what we would do if we felt more confident. How many opportunities do we pass by because we lack confidence? I think about the people we don’t walk across the room to meet, the words we don’t say we want to say, and the risks we don’t take.

Imagine the confident you–the one placed in this exact moment by God, the one who isn’t here by accident, the one empowered to do what you want and need to do.


Rise. Cry. Hope.

Early this morning, I read the words of the priest in Psalm 119:147:

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.

As you know, I love concise writing; in fact, this week, I’m teaching my students the art of the “micro-message.” It’s a way of condensing writing down. It’s a technique to make writing memorable, repeatable, and teachable to others. Think of the smallest kind of writing like the hashtag or the tweet. That’s a micro-message.

I think of the micro-messages I carry in my heart from scripture–even down to the verbs I love like Seated, Guarded, Included, and now Chosen– and this little verse summarizes my life lately.

I rise. I cry out. I hope. More specifically, I put my hope in scripture. I believe scripture.

I believe that what God promises in the Bible, He will fulfill in our lives.

I love the simplicity of Psalm 119:147.


The Search for Signs of Spring

It’s beginning! Despite the snow still covering the ground, I see signs of spring: the Northern Cardinals have returned to the Winterberry Bush, so I know they’ll build their nest there once again this year; the daffodils and crocuses have both sent shoots up; and the trees will soon bud.

Soon, I’ll begin my favorite activity of finding the nests and beautiful eggs of sparrows, robins, cardinals, mourning doves, and any new kind of bird. Maybe this year, I’ll find the Northern Flicker nest. Maybe I’ll find the Acadian Flycatcher, the Eastern Phoebe, or the Blue-headed Vireo. I’ll also look for the Tufted Titmouse, the Golden Crowned Kinglet, or the Wood Thrush. Of course, I’ll seek the Yellow Warbler.

I’ve recently connected with new friends who love birding in Centre County, and all of the above birds represent confirmed species that nest right here in my town.

I love learning new things as I search for more nests and eggs.



I’m on my regular neighborhood walk, but this time, I made my perfect playlist before I embark on the journey. I grew tired of putting all my songs on “shuffle” only to pass by all the musicals, the VeggieTales, or anything else we happened to have in our family music collection.

You can stop skipping songs. You can choose the ones you want in your head.

I choose my perfect songs that include great walking beats. My full-disclosure walking playlist includes Imagine Dragons, Kelly Clarkson, Sam Hunt, Tom Petty, Bryan Adams, Gin Blossoms, George Strait, Bruce Springsteen, The Cure, OMD, and even some DJ Khaled. I have 80’s songs from Go West, Deniece Williams, and Starship. Yes, I even walk to Eric Carmen and Michael Jackson.

Several miles in, it’s all Shakira, Ariana Grande, and Katharine McPhee. Now, it’s Spin Doctors, Coldplay, and Marc Cohn.

I realize we choose what we love to put in our heads. I think of my playlist of scripture, of noticing beautiful things that correspond with the seasons, and of making meaning out of any hard things. You choose. And then you dance as you walk.


Making Life Here Less Appealing

I read something so refreshing in a book I’ve found, Keep a Quiet Heart–the collection of entries by missionary Elisabeth Elliot. She wonders why God doesn’t always spare us from hardship here on earth as she examines how Paul’s ship runs aground on an island even while an angel stands beside him to guard him in Acts 27.

She writes, “Heaven is not here. It’s there. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

I love how she reflects upon a situation that makes the world “a little less appealing” and invites us to think about another destination, not this one.

And one day soon, there, we will find what we’ve been longing for. I think about some difficult thing–whatever it may be today–and I consider how I’ll say, “Well, that just made life here a little less appealing!” I’ll interpret that thing as a luring of God, a loving wooing away from here and towards Him.