Lessons about sin from a disastrous commute

I thought I knew how to get home from work. At least I certainly should have. I never imagined where I was actually going to end up. My family and I had just returned to a city we’d left five years before, and I was uncertain about my commute because we had moved to a new area. I used my GPS to get headed in the right direction until I knew where I was going; then I turned it off and headed to the new house. While the drive down the interstate felt familiar, something was off. I didn’t remember…

My siblings died — and my dad sang this song

The phone rang and my mom answered. She never imagined the horrific news my grandfather was about to share: My dad’s two children from his first marriage had died in a plane crash.  Scottie and Rhonie Rogers (ages 10 and 14) were last seen with their mom and stepdad on July 5, 1981, when they took off in a light airplane en route to Florida for a vacation. The plane never made it there. The newspaper reported that the plane was flying through a thunderstorm when it plunged from 11,000 feet to 4,000 feet. It dropped off the radar and…

A lesson in prayer from kicking my daughter out of the kitchen

It was my daughter Layla’s ninth birthday last week, but if you’d asked her, it was more like her birthday season. Five months ago, Layla not only started talking about what gifts she wanted for her birthday— she began developing a meal plan for the big day (donuts, a Lunchable, and tacos). Layla deemed the day before her birthday, “Birthday Eve.” She went around talking about it to anyone who would listen, including a Target cashier, who thrilled Layla by correctly guessing that she was turning nine.

Take a break from COVID coverage — there’s wonderful news in your Father’s eyes

One time when I was about eight years old, I was outside with my dad when I heard a bird chirp a three-note melody: “tweet-tweet-tweet.” I looked over at my dad and said, “That bird’s singing a song,” and then I imitated it with a whistle — “tweet-tweet-tweet.” My dad’s face warmed; he gave a soft, kind smile; and his eyes twinkled.

Two cops pulled me over — and one of them preached the Gospel

It was early in the morning in Washington, D.C., and I was driving down Montana Avenue about ten minutes from home. But suddenly, the blue lights of a police cruiser zoomed into the reflection of my review mirror. My stomach dropped. When I pulled over, the officer swerved his car off the road and pulled up behind me. Then he got out, swaggered over to my window, and peered in. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” “I have no idea,” I answered flatly as my heart raced.

My mom played a board game with me, and she changed my life

I’ve spent a lot of time on the floor with my kids playing with all kinds of toys, including blocks, baby dolls and board games. The kids love being there with me and I love being with them too. One person they can thank for that is my mom. Mom never had a prestigious job; she didn’t feed me organic foods; and she didn’t enroll me in a Spanish immersion school. We didn’t have a lot of money, so she didn’t give me lots of toys either. But here’s what she did give me: her time, her attention, herself.  And in doing so, she gave me a…

A miracle is going to happen to you — here’s where you’ll find it

It was my junior year of college and I didn’t have the money I needed to pay off my tuition for the fall semester. I was a couple hundred dollars short and there was no Plan B. Believe it or not, I had no student loans. I was fortunate enough to have a scholarship that covered half of my tuition. And thanks to going to a state university, the bill was low enough that I could make the payments by working 25 hours a week as an errand runner at the hospital. Somehow, though, I hadn’t saved enough money to…

If you’ve got a calling, there’s one thing you should keep in mind

On January 1, 2018, things were not looking good for the new year. My dad died on December 30. I was also in the middle of a months’ long treatment for a chronic illness, and the treatment had left me with ongoing physical symptoms and mood changes. With all of this swirling around me, my demanding job felt 10 times harder. It was too much. If you had asked me to list my top 25 goals for the year, “writing a book” wouldn’t have been one of them — not by a long shot. I didn’t have the time, the will,…

An unexpected answer when I asked God to end suffering in my life

I know someone who’s trapped in a dead-end job right now. He’s been there for years and he’s trying to make the best of it, but realistically, his resume is probably far too stale for him to get a different job for which he’s qualified. I know a woman who has an ongoing chronic condition that doctors can’t fix. You’d never know it if you met her — the embarrassing symptoms, the limitations. She longs for some medical breakthrough that will fix the problem, but there’s little hope for that and for whatever reason, God hasn’t healed her.

If you think God looks at you and sees ugliness, think again

One day when I was in my 20s, I was struggling with a lot of guilt and shame because I felt like the only thing God ever saw about me was my sin and brokenness. God must’ve told my mother. I came into the dining room where my mom was and she said, “Joshua, look at that angel up there on the shelf,” and then she pointed to a ceramic angel behind me.