My mom played a board game with me — and 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.

Facing Thanksgiving in the midst of loss

I have a friend who will have an empty seat at his Thanksgiving table this year. That seat belonged to his father, who died recently. A few days ago, a doctor told another friend that his dad probably wouldn’t live to see Thanksgiving next year. I have yet another friend who was in a car accident and is in the hospital with serious injuries right now. He will be having Thanksgiving there.

What did Jesus say about natural disasters?

Several years ago in my hometown, a man was driving down the highway with his wife when a tree fell down across the highway, landed right on the cab of their pickup truck, and killed them both. Later that week, I was in a church service in which the pastor referenced the freak accident and said, “Do you think that kind of thing happened by accident? There’s no way.”