One sweet tradition

Twenty-nine Christmases ago, our first child was a little baby girl just about able to sit up by herself for the first time. In the days leading up to Christmas, my husband and I knew it was time to think about one thing we could begin doing that would mark our own Christmas as a family.At that time, my husband and I had been married for four years, and had created a couple of scrappy holiday traditions out of the meager ingredients we each brought to the marriage. I brought a menorah and … [Read more...]

In those days at this season

When I was a kid, Chanukah meant eight nights of presents, wrapped in shiny blue and silver paper. It meant treats of Chanukah gelt, foil-wrapped waxy coins of chocolate, and playing the dreidel game while each night’s candles burned. The game featured a four-sided top with Hebrew letters on each side that were meant to remind us of the “reason for our season”.I was told the reason for these December festivities was to celebrate the miraculous story of brave Judah Maccabee, who hid out in the r … [Read more...]

Lord, please hear my prayer

Perhaps it is a sign of the times. This month, instead of Christmas carols, I've heard minor key songs of lament from so many people I know. I am powerless to do much to alleviate most of the suffering around me. I want to be present, to be honest about my own similarly-broken state, and to be ready to share the comfort and provision God has given to me.And being fully present in the lives of those who hurt means that I plead with God for the needs of every one of us:Immanuel, God-With-Us, I … [Read more...]

My favorite things, 2011 version

If Oprah can create a list of "favorite things", I decided that I could, too. However, my list is quite a bit less fancy-schmancy than O's.It's meant to be fun, and perhaps spark some reflection about what comforts, blessings and experiences have been favorites for you in 2011.So (sing it with me) - these are a few of my favorite things:When we were in Israel last spring, a friend there gave me a tube of this ointment-thick cream from Ahava that lists mud from the Dead Sea as one of its … [Read more...]

Book review: Deeper Into The Word

As the year's odometer is about to roll over (hello, 2012!), you might be considering a new devotional. I've used a variety of devotional books over the years, and have even contributed to a couple. Most follow a pretty standard format: a Bible verse or inspirational thought, a short meditation on the passage, a prayer. The best devotional tools serve their intended purpose of nudging readers Godward.If you're interested in devotional material that nudges you a little farther and goes a couple … [Read more...]

Who read Scripture during your church service this morning?

Should women be permitted to read Scripture aloud in a church service?Probably for many of you reading this, the answer would be a simple yes. Neo-Reformed church leader and uber blogger Tim Chailles delivers an emphatic "No!" in this post.  In his congregation as well many others in both fundamentalist and neo-Calvinist camps, including this one, only male leaders are permitted to read Scripture: Because of the importance of the Word of God, at Grace Fellowship Church we ask certain members … [Read more...]

Some people are meant to stay behind the scenes in life

It should be obvious to anyone who meets me that I am a graduate of the Wendy Ward Charm School program.Key word: should.Reality: No one will ever mistake me for either Miss Manners or America's Next Top Model. Wendy Ward fail.Two things from my sojourn in the Wendy Ward program have stuck with me through lo, these many years. The first is the fact that I learned to do a runway-perfect 3/4 pivot turn. Not exactly a skill I rely on in daily life. Or like, ever. Something tells me if I … [Read more...]


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