This Christian, atheist and ex-military guy walk into a…

We’re like the start of a bad joke: An atheist, a Jesus-lover, an artist, a teacher and an ex-military guy walk into a bar…

Only it’s no bar. We met at the dog park and (most) every Monday night we walk into a coffee shop or someone’s home to talk writing.

They’re my writer’s group—and they rock.

It’s our dogs that actually brought us together. Mattie brought her owner, Jayson, to the dog park. Max and Simba Roo brought me.

Max and Mattie

Max and Mattie are sweet on each other, so while they whispered sweet nothings into each other’s ears , Jayson and I found out that we’re both writers.

Tiva hangs out at the park too, and she introduced me to her owner, Thom.

Jayson, Thom and I started chatting and they invited me to their writer’s group. We’re a diverse band of artists. Thom is a gifted cartoonist and sculptor. He’s a great writer as well, and has written a book on being the best atheist you can be. I write books on loving Jesus and then speak at women’s retreats. Jayson does Civil War fiction, Cheri writes children’s books and Pam does a little of everything, including painting and sculpting.

You’d think Thom and I would go at it at our Monday night meetings—I’d thump my Bible and he’d debunk my beliefs and the others would vote for the most eloquent argument. A good old-fashioned rivalry: like the Yankees and the Red Sox, apples and oranges, vegetarians and cattle ranchers… you get the idea.

But it’s not like that. We genuinely like each other. And while I occasionally say things that make his eyebrows go skyway, he smiles when he sees me at the dog park and still welcomes me into the writer’s group.

The others are just as engaging. We don’t share a lot in common beyond a love of the arts and a tenderness for our pups, but that’s enough. It’s enough to make us laugh together, cheer for each other and share life.

Now I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love for Thom to believe in Jesus. After all, I love Jesus and care about Thom – I’d be crazy not to want that. But I don’t hang out with Thom for that sole purpose. I hang out with Thom, Jayson, Pam and Cheri because they are lovely people with unique talents and I genuinely enjoy their company. They make me a better writer, a better artist and a better person.

And bad joke or not, that’s good enough for me.