Christmas Gift Guide #2 (What to Buy the Boys)

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  It's cold outside and if you live in Houston it's crazy wet too. No problem. This weekend is the perfect time to knock out the hardest kids on your Christmas list. In our family, that's the boys. We have a little (8 years old) and a tween (11) and I've searched for gifts that will keep them off electronics (the battle raging in our house all the time). Here are my best ideas for the … [Read more...]

5 Lessons from 20 Years as a Writer

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So, all this has happened at once: this is my 1,000th blog entry, at the same time I'm working on my tenth book (Shine). Also, 20 years ago I began classes for my Masters degree in Creative Writing and also began writing professionally. The fact all these multiples of ten coincided felt significant--and the right time to think about what I've learned as an author. Loneliness is a Job … [Read more...]

Dear Elisabeth… on your first day of Fifth Grade

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Dear Elisabeth… Fifth Grade will be like none of your other school years. You, my dear Elisabeth, have changed. Your self-confidence has grown and you are shining.  This inner sparkle comes from your security that Jesus loves you. It also comes from your love to imagine and create. God’s love for you will never change; the creativity will be trickier. There will be times that your gigantic … [Read more...]

Dear Catie (on your first day of High School)

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Oh, my sweet Catie. Today feels the most significant of all your first days of school. All those other first days—in Pre-K, and elementary, and middle school—seem like they were all leading up to today. The first day of high school feels like the first day of the rest of your life. Grades “count” now. The new friends you make this week will see you through some thrilling adventures and … [Read more...]

Dear Nate… (on your first day of Third Grade)

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Dear Nate, Today is your first day of Third Grade! Your older brother and sisters are so excited to tell everything you’ll need to know. They want to teach you everything—from how to earn a multiplication sundae to how to make your teacher like you to the secret of being popular. The truth is you don’t really need their lessons, Nate. You’ve already figured most of this out on your … [Read more...]

When God Does That One Thing…

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"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the … [Read more...]

The Book That Almost Wasn’t….

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This week our family went to dinner to celebrate my new book, Family Trees and Olive Branches. Holding this book—one that had been such a struggle to write—felt like an actual miracle. The idea for Family Trees & Olive Branches came from hearing about so many painful family stories: parents who are heartbroken because of terrible fights with their kids, siblings who had completely lost … [Read more...]

Hergenrader’s Hurricane Harvey Timeline

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  Thursday, August 24 We first paid attention to Harvey on Tuesday this week, as more and more models had it hitting Houston with tons of rain. On Thursday, we bought cases of bottled water and started to pray. With each news report, the hurricane was getting stronger so I drove down to Galveston to button down the beach house. The Gulf was choppy and the beach was so windy. The … [Read more...]

A Fangirl of Mary Karr Learns Grace for Herself

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For so long, I have admired writers and musicians from far away. Very far, in fact. Even though their art has inspired me, I’ve never had the guts to really tell them that. I've never written a single one of them a fan letter. Actually, I’ve also never posted a review of a book or an album—not even for those songs and stories that I’ve committed to memory. I'm a sensitive over thinker, and my … [Read more...]

Not Just Stuff

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As I’m writing this, a bright yellow trash crane is making its way down our neighborhood. It’s finally hauling away the Harvey Heaps from the front of the flooded homes on the other side of our subdivision. The insides of our neighbors’ beautiful homes have been gutted. All of their stuff—the broken cabinets, the bloated books, the waterlogged Christmas wreathes, the crumbling sheetrock—has … [Read more...]