The book I wish I had written…

I am reading Diana Oestreich’s wonderful new memoir Waging Peace. Her account of God’s call on her to lay aside the nationalism and division that plagues us in the American church is reminding me so much of my own journey and is stunning in its timeliness. The moment when the still small voice called out to her in her bunk, gently saying, “I love them too”. Her beautiful description of the pull of a stranger in a desert war zone, a stranger who would put a face, family and story to the “enemy” has me transported. Transported back to Afghanistan in 2000, back to briefings on modesty and security, back to navigating a city full of people clamoring for help, clamoring for attention from a world that didn’t seem to care. The pre-9/11 world of the Hindu Kush mountains could not have been more different than the Iraqi desert that Diana encountered just few short months later, and yet it was where God spoke to me about the Love. The Love that sings softly over each bearer of the image of God. The Love that calls proud, well-meaning, self-righteous girls to cross oceans on planes and then destroys them with the depth of the song.

Jalozai Refguee Camp, Peshawar, Pakistan. July 2000

My moments came all in a rush, in the incongruity of tea with a Taliban Minister, in the stifling heat of a refugee camp where the demands Persian hospitality dictated that I ate two meals while my hosts starved, in the dusty courtyard of a jail visiting people imprisoned for drugs, in the dark of night gazing out at the mountains surrounding Kabul and realising that God Loves heavy here. He Loves indiscriminately with no thought for our sensibilities, with no regard to our prejudices. The Love of God is wanton. That wantonness defies all the things we are taught, it runs roughshod over our gatekeeping and management and “discipleship”. Its extravagance is offensive, dangerous and as necessary as oxygen.

It is this wanton disregard for propriety that makes Jesus the light by which all is seen. It is this extravagant love that Diana writes about in such heart rending detail. It is this Love that calls us into the steps of the peacemaker, into loving those not like us.

Read this book! You and I need this book! We need this message!

In Hope and Love


Waging Peace: One Soldier’s Story of Putting Love First by Diana Oestreich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can barely put this wonderful memoir down. It is alternately gripping and warm, funny and tense. Diana’s story of God’s still small voice calling her to love the unlovely, the other, the “enemy” is a beautiful and timely message for our times of division and tribalism. Read this book! Buy two copies, or five and share with your friends! We need this voice in our world!

View all my reviews


He sat alone at lunch…

My son started his junior year today at a new school, a city of 3000 masquerading as a school. He walked in with his head held high, despite knowing he would know no-one. His bravery was stunning. Which made the crestfallen yet resolutely hopeful courage that swept across his face as he told me about his day even more heartbreaking.

He sat alone at lunch. My heart breaks a little writing that sentence. He tried so hard to bring up the positives, to find hope, and I thank God for his resilient, faith-filled heart. And, as I take in every hug and request for a cup of tea with one and two-thirds of a teaspoon of sugar, I am so grateful I get to be here for it.

Sometimes our memories so closely mirror our experience as to be indistinguishable. As I eat comfort food with my boy and load up episodes of Survivor to binge together, I recall the girl I was. I remember the feeling of walking into a room filled with strangers, eating alone, pretending to read a book rather than face the friendless corridor. I feel her inside me begging not to be sent back, and I so desperately want to give him an out. Here is the real rub of parenting; he is not me. He has his own journey. He doesn’t need my baggage, and he doesn’t need rescuing. He needs a safe place to rest after a hard day. He gets the thing I didn’t have, and it is healing to my soul.

One of the strange things of being a memoirist is the constancy of the human experience. The moments where whatever I’m writing intrudes upon the present day as if to say, “You thought that this was the past, but here it is!”

Tomorrow, I will drop him off at school with a prayer, a smile, and a Yerba Maté in his hand. Tomorrow, he may need another night of Survivor and cups of tea, but perhaps he won’t. Perhaps, tomorrow he will make a friend, or share a laugh in German class. Perhaps.

Hope is a powerful resilient thing. It springs eternal and will not be denied. My son is hopeful, and so am I.

Woman of Valor

There are no words to bring her back. There are no numbers to count the weight of her loss. There is no measure of her impact. There is only grief mingled with hope, tears rolling down a face set like flint towards Jesus.

Rachel Held Evans left this life and entered into the next yesterday. Too soon. Too young. I echo my friend Shawn Smucker when I say, “Please give her back! We shall keep asking You!”

Eshet Chayil! You are a Woman of Valor, rest well in the joy of your Saviour, dear one.
( Macki Evans, courtesy of Rachel Held Evans)

I never met Rachel, yet her words have been light in many a dark season. I never heard her speak in person, yet her voice is as real to me as my dearest friend. In her life, and death, she was and is a relentless force of encouragement to press on, to be a Woman of Valor for the sake of others.

Rachel’s impact will pour out on the pages and websites over the coming days, months and years. Her desire to see women rise up into their worth and value combined with her passionate exhortation to the church to be the best version of itself will bear immeasurable fruit, and her legacy will be

Thank you, sweet Sister. Thank you for giving me, and so many others, the courage to speak and write and argue. Thank you for forging a way, for making space at the table and providing companionship on the journey. We are your legacy and we will not forget you.

Rest well, Woman of Valor.