Front Porch Conversations

“If you could have lunch with one person who has died who would it be and why?” 

There are many people who have passed that I would like to sit with on a front porch, rocking slowly in two red adirondack chairs. We’ll shoot the breeze over some fresh-squeezed lemonade, my Great Grandma Weaver’s sugar cookies on a table between us, still warm from the oven.Red chairs

Like my Grandpa Baker whose stories slowly left his mind long before his body left this earth and before I truly understood the gift of his wisdom.

Like Robert Kennedy who still inspires me with his eloquent words and his passionate rhetoric. I picture his dog, Freckles, on the front porch, too. He’s enjoying a spot of sunshine and seems vaguely entertained by the squirrels dancing across the yard.

Like St. Francis of Assisi who was beloved by many including every animal on earth. He was like the Snow White of saints. But more than that, he seemed to get what living free in Christ was all about. I bet my front porch would be like a scene from Disney if Frances came over for a visit with birds and chipmunks and deer all sitting peacefully at our feet while we talked. Since it is my vision, the animals will speak as well adding fascinating insight about creation and the Creator and the disgusting behaviors of humans polluting their home.

Brennan Manning 1934 - 2013

Brennan Manning 1934 – 2013

But tonight if I had to choose one (other than Jesus, of course, because that is a given) it would be Brennan Manning, my favorite author and fellow ragamuffin. I’ve read almost every book Brennan wrote which numbers at 20 and own most of them as well.  They are well marked, highlighted and worn with multiple notes in the margin.

No author communicates the truth about grace more powerfully to me than Brennan.

No writer conveys the deep affection God has for me more convincingly than Brennan.

No leader calls out my false self more compassionately than Brennan.

No person challenges me to live free in Christ, beloved by God, and in fellowship with the Spirit like Brennan.

Brennan’s voice is the one I hear reminding me every day that I am God’s beloved.  That God not only loves me but that God actually likes me. God enjoys me. God delights in me. Brennan would quickly remind me that God likes me not because there is an ounce of good in me but because there is an abundance of goodness in Him.  What a humbling and freeing thing to remember.

Some days I really need front porch conversations with Brennan. I need him to remind me of all these things. Which he would do for an appropriate amount of time. And then he would kick my butt off the porch so I could go tell others.

Brennan died about two years ago. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.  But I meet him in his books. I read again his familiar words, pretending we are in red adirondack chairs on my big, wrap around front porch. The lemonade and cookies are there. Even the animals show up. And for just a few moments, we have a much-needed front porch conversation.

So, what about you, friend: if you could have lunch with one person who has died who would it be and why?


Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about margin, simplifying, and sabbath in preparation for teaching our Winter Bible Study at the church where I serve.  This is one of those ironic (and common) moments where I’m teaching about something I really struggle with rather than something I have a handle on in my own life.


Protecting my margins has always been tough for me. The spiritual discipline of saying “no” is a discipline I’m not .. . well … disciplined in.  The gift of sabbath is something I’ve often left unopened and marked, “Return to Sender”.  Not for noble reasons, mind you.  Most of the reasons have to do with my own insecurities, addictions and fears.

I’m not alone in this. Not in the least.  Nearly everyone I speak with or encounter lacks margin in their lives. Everyone is busy, overwhelmed, running the race, meeting themselves coming and going, exhausted …..


A couple of years ago I decided to forego the annual resolution gig. Not that I was always good about making resolutions. Nor was I good about keeping them once I made them. Resolutions tend to make me focus on behavioral changes and result in guilt rather than growth. Honestly, if I made it to February, I would celebrate that as a win.

Two years ago I stumbled upon a lot of friends and bloggers who had sworn off resolutions and instead were beginning each new year with a theme word – a word they would aspire to; a word they would grow toward – rather than a behavior they would run away from.

I liked the idea. A lot.