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...]

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...]

A simple gift for you this Thanksgiving

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free / 'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be / And when we find ourselves in the place just right / 'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.Click and enjoy the haunting voice of Allison Kraus on this lovely Quaker melody, accompanied by Yo Yo Ma.  … [Read more...]

Book review: Bound For Glory

I want to celebrate the incredible gift of music that African Americans gave to the church and to the whole world. It is amazing that these people, many of them enslaved by Christian people, saw beyond their owners hypocrisy and embraced the real Jesus. I believe that these miracle songs are an example of how God can take our deepest pain and, in response to our faith, create something beautiful. Well-known calligrapher Timothy Botts offers these words about what shaped his work in Bound For … [Read more...]

Move over, Barney Fife

My big, beefy imagination is usually overkill for most of the tasks requiring creativity in my life. But that inner world becomes a whimpering Barney Fife when it comes to one really important area. I can not comprehend how God can transform the church from a weary, jaded and frequently unfaithful renegade with a kaleidoscope of personalities and terrible habits into a pure, innocent partner with eyes only for the Son.But that is Scripture’s story. The author of that story tells us that he s … [Read more...]

Get up and keep skating

Life lesson learned: If you are a Birkenstock girl, you should not slide on a pair of high heels right before you stand up in your friend's wedding. You need to practice walking in them for days - weeks, even - before the big event.I learned this lesson the hard way. Literally. I slipped and fell on my kiester on the shiny marble chancel  in front of 150 people or so, right in the middle of my friend Nancy's wedding ceremony. The moment was captured for posterity on video. Thankfully, the … [Read more...]