Empty earthquakes.

Do you ever want to hold your hands over your ears and make the noise go away?

Or maybe you prefer the loud beat of drums and the tremble of the ground as guitars and harmonies blend towards the heavens.

But lately I can’t find Him there.

In the noise.

And so I seek a whisper

Soft and warm on my




second servings.

sweet tea

Shame sticks

to folks like sweat on a glass of iced tea on a hot summer day,

the condensation of cool, sweet hope as it


up against thick and humid heat of pain.


No one asks for shame

and the folks who dish it out don’t know any better. Better to assume they don’t, because the alternative would be that they shove the blame of their pain onto someone else on purpose, the recipient simply collateral damage of a load,

indeed a pall,


no one was meant to bear.

Do you feel shame,

your shoulders aching from the weight of it, your frame bent and caddywampus from the way it makes you lumber through the days?

A sack of salt blistering your tender palms?

Because as much as we want to give up the shame we carry, most of us want to own it. If we’re honest, flat out honest, the shame feels good, and we appreciate the applause of those who notice the hunch of our tired backs, who inadvertently encourage us to hang on to the heavy instead of releasing it like the only One in history



who was able to say–and mean it

forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.

Here, Abba, take the shame. Because the double portion isn’t only for the shamed, but also for the one who’s dished it out, the one who piled the double portion of sorrow on the plates of others and for whom grace

oh, elusive grace

grace says the shame-throwers deserve a double portion, too. The ones who roll the dice at our feet and fight over the shredded aftermath of our soul killings, they’re captives, too, after all. They just don’t know they are.

Which is worse

Than letting go.


Drop it, then.

A double portion waits for you and waits to overflow, runneth over, pour into the brokenness of the shame-throwers’ empty hearts.

Feels like lassoing stars, this business of dropping our beloved shame bags and sharing double portions but somehow the Gospel can handle this sort of greed and apparently joy and freedom are two of the few feasts where even in our gluttony we’re never filled.

We can’t receive even a single portion when we’re clinging to the thing we can’t give up.

But when we do, we


even me

even they

will be




Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance. (Isaiah 61:7-8)


Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him… (Psalm 34:5-6)




The Harlan family struggles with emerging from generations of shame in the novel How Sweet the Sound. For a limited time, you can order the e-book version of the novel for only $2.99 (or even less at some retailers). Click here to choose from your favorite e-book retailer today.

And see why folks like Rachel McMillan at BreakPoint are saying How Sweet the Sound is not your grandmother’s Christian fiction (click here to read her gracious article).


On the great rescue and an unlikely hero.


That’s the word that keeps going round and round in my mind when I think of my friend Peter.

I fell in love with the boy in 2009 when I heard about him through World Next Door (please click here to read all about him there).

I met him in January, 2013.

And we said good-bye to him this week.

Peter was like many boys, happy, funny, tender-hearted, kind. He loved cars and he liked to sing.

Peter was different, too.

Abandoned by his mother, he was alone and filthy and beaten in an orphanage. He was losing hope and growing weaker by the day from the muscular dystrophy which would eventually claim his precious life.

But God had other plans for Peter.

Peter was rescued.

He was adopted by Yuri and Ira Levchenko. He shared a room with a new big brother, Taras. He was surrounded by a brood of other brothers and sisters who adored and cared for him. He was deeply treasured and loved until he passed away July 1.

Peter was rescued.


Now he can breathe.

He can run.

He can climb trees and swim and sing without getting breathless.

Peter is free.

I’m not sure Peter quite knew how he changed hearts around the world, that he was, in fact, a hero to many. When I met him in January, 2013, he was simply happy to sing Christmas songs and show us the fish in his new fish tank and the matchbox cars he lined up on his bedside table and tell us how much he loved Jesus.

But that’s the best sort of hero, isn’t it?

The one who is least likely to be one.

The one who has no clue he is one.

But the one who is a hero, just the same.

A hero because he was rescued.

And because of Peter’s miracle of a rescue and his response of grace, we who knew him are all a little more confident that we are rescued, too.

In the midst of our own filth, our own weakness, our own flaws and sins and loneliness and pain and breathless searching for peace and a home,

we are each of us–praise God–rescued, still.


He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 18:19