Monday, September 22, 2008

Attack of the Snark

Just feeling a little jaded lately, a wee bit snarky on all fronts. Haven't we had the presidential election YET? Are we really all that suprised about the collapses on Wall Street? And meanwhile I've only been in graduate school for just over one year (of two) and already I've got senioritis. I'm so outta here. I suppose it's a symptom of how many times I've moved in the past three years, plus the fact that I'll be moving again by June--moving to some as-yet-unknown location where I'll start all over with building friendships and putting down roots. When nothing seems permanent, why bother? I could offer a cheesy devotional answer, but I'd rather side with the author of Ecclesiastes on this one. Vanity, vanity. Snarkiness has its own comforts (and, apparently, its own place in the Canon).

Friday, July 25, 2008

C. S. Lewis Blog

I finally made good on my promise to Zach Kincaid of The Matthew's House Project that I would turn in an article to HarperCollins' C. S. Lewis blog. Hurrah! "Good News For Toy Soldiers" is currently featured on HC's official Lewis site; and can be read in full here. They have very kindly included me on the list of C. S. Lewis "scholars" who are contributing to the blog, including a link to my bio--and from there, a link to my website. Not a bad gig, actually. Nothing like being called a scholar before you've completed your graduate degree...

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I'm not sure why the "soul" in SOULfeast is capitalized, nor why feast is italicized, nor why it's all one word, but I DO know that I'm headed there in a week. SOULfeast is the General Board of Discipleship's annual spiritual formation retreat at Lake Junaluska, NC, in the western mountains. It's an Upper Room bash, actually, and I'm really looking forward to it. If you happen to be going, be sure to look me up. I'll be leading an ongoing morning workshop on "The God-Hungry Imagination," and a one-time afternoon workshop on C. S. Lewis & J.R.R. Tolkien. I've even gotten all tech-savvy for the occasion, complete with power-point slideshow and video clip (nuh-uh, you say; and I say, chyeah). But never fear: I'll still bring a single candle and my copy of "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" in the spirit of media minimalism.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

National Youth Workers Convention 2008

Thinking about attending the Nashville youth workers' convention hosted by Youth Specialties this November ( I'll see you there! I'm leading two workshops: one on "The Role of Imagination in Spiritual Formation" and the other on "Re-imagining Confirmation." The topics will expand on some of the ideas in my book "The God-Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry" (see link at right), though you won't have to read the book to get what I'm talking about (though, of course, reading the book would only enrich your experience, but then again, I'm slightly biased). let me know if you plan to attend, and maybe we can connect. One of my main stations will be the Upper Room booth in the exhibition hall (more info to come). Looking forward to seeing you there!


I forgot to mention that one of the devotions I wrote for the youth magazine DEVO'ZINE (published by Upper Room) won the award for Devotional/Inspirational/Short Format at the Associated Church Press conference in April. The devo was entitled "When Words Fail" and appeared in the Jan/Feb 2007 issue. It was an exciting surprise to get the note from my editor. I work with simply amazing people in the publishing world!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I caved.

I'm on it.

And addicted.

After all my griping and complaining about "virtual friends"! After all my doom and gloom prophecies that we will all be on more antidepressants than ever because we can be rejected or ignored by the click of a button!


So if you are, in fact, friends or family with me (I mean, if you know me personally, not just through my books--sorry, dear readers), stop by. Invite me to be your cyber friend. Say hi. Write on my wall. I promise, I will not reject or ignore you, even if I'm silent for a long time while writing my next project or paper. Jesus loves us all.

Summer Update

For those of you who have begun to wonder if I dropped off the planet, no fear: I'm still here, enjoying my summer off from graduate school--hurrah!--in my hometown of Petoskey, Michigan. Yep, we moved. Again. For the fifth time in three years. And we'll move again in late August, back to North Carolina for my final year of graduate school at Duke Divinity School. (And then--yes, you guessed it--we'll move AGAIN once I'm graduated next spring, though we don't yet know where. And I wonder why I'm tired all the time?!)

So, we're living in our old house, which has been a bit neglected since we left in '05, and once things are cleaned up and settled I plan to do some writing. And don't you wonder what it will be? Stay tuned! In the meantime, there are some great new movies to watch about some of my favorite people, including a young fellow named Caspian and a young authoress named Jane Austen (if you haven't seen Becoming Jane, you MUST!). Rumor has it, The Hobbit isn't far behind. "The road goes ever on and on," as a famous literary character has said. I'll keep you posted on where my road is headed--as soon as I know more myself.

Have a blessed summer, and keep walking with Jesus!

"It is the mark of a good fairy-story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the 'turn' comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality."
- J. R. R. Tolkien"On Fairy-Stories"

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Message in a Bottle: Part 2

Once again, I'm sending a message before the typhoon of grad school sucks me in for another semester. I've had a long holiday break catching up on all the things I didn't get done during the semester (bills, correspondence, reading fiction, etc.). And I've received a few emails from readers, one of whom wanted to know how I created a niche for myself as a creative & imaginative writer/artist who specializes in the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, etc.). Here's part of my response:

"I’d say three things have shaped my career so far: First, my undergraduate education at Wheaton College, IL, which houses the Wade Center ( studied under some amazing literature professors & experts on CSL & JRRT, many of whom I’m still in contact with. Second, the Write-to-Publish conference, which is held in Chicago every June, gives attendees the opportunity to meet with editors from various publishing houses ( This is how I met the editor at Tyndale House Publishers who eventually offered me the contract for “Walking with Frodo.” And finally, the Northern Michigan C. S. Lewis Festival held annually in the Petoskey area, my hometown ( I’m one of the founding board members, and through the festival I’ve had the chance to interact with some incredible scholars and celebrities in the worlds of Lewis and Tolkien—including Doug Gresham, Lewis’s stepson & the co-producer of the Narnia films. So those experiences have been vital to my knowledge of the Inklings and my networking with folks in those worlds. I think my current education at Duke will serve a similar purpose in the long-term, though it’s less about the Inklings and more about theology and ministry..."

Meanwhile, I finally loaded Photoshop onto my computer so I could scan illustrations and digitally enhance them, which has been a lot of fun. I also did some research online of various children's book illustrators and resources, and came up with some interesting stuff: e.g.,, (children’s book council). Also, these three artists really stood out:;; and At first I thought they were evangelicals, but then I figured out they’re probably Mormon. Who knew the Mormons had such vivid imaginations? Intriguing...