The life of the party

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a friend who is a part of a local branch of a connecting ministry that links people in need with churches who are willing to meet those needs. She told me that an unemployed woman named Jenny* had contacted the ministry's local office in search of financial and food help. Jenny's boyfriend was in jail on domestic abuse charges, and she had nowhere else to turn. The ministry got involved in putting together emergency rent help, providing her with … [Read more...]

Book review: Seeds Of Turmoil

After we returned from our first trip to Israel, I was talking with a friend, describing the paradox of worship and tension that exists in the country. He said, "Honestly, I don't see what the big deal is about the place. It's just like anywhere else in the world, right?"The short answer is "no".Israel never was, and never will be just like anywhere else in the world. Historians, archaelogists, anthropologists, linguists and academics from a variety of other disciplines may have helpful … [Read more...]

Searching for signs of life in Round Lake

I've lived in this town for over four years, but had never seen Round Lake until today. I had a vague idea of where it might be, and groped my way through narrow lanes lined with workingman's fishing cottages turned year-round residences until I found it. I think I trespassed into someone's yard to get this shot. The town would do itself a great service if it put a sign up directing people to its namesake lake, which, by the way, is not round. This experience got me pondering the other signs … [Read more...]

Book review: Amy Inspired

Amy Gallagher is living the writer's life. No, not the one you see in the movies, where a dreamy-eyed woman wearing a crisp white blouse is tucked into a garret on a quiet fall day, a steaming cup of tea at her side, peacefully typing the orderly words that spill from her wise, thoughtful soul. (For one thing, real writers don't use that many adjectives in one sentence.)Amy is living a real writer's life - toiling in anonymity as an adjunct faculty member at a small Ohio college by day, … [Read more...]

My morning’s tutorial in aging gracefully

Though my rotator cuff woes have sidelined me from my part-time caregiving gig, the agency I work for assured me that this week's placement was companionship only. No heavy lifting, no vacuuming, no wheelchair pushing. I was to simply hang out with a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's who is living in a nursing home. "Millie" (not her real name) was very subdued the first day I was with her. She replied in brief murmurs to the conversation I kept going through my visit with her. When I returned … [Read more...]


The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) begins at sundown tonight. The information below about the holiday, which came via e-mail from two faithful prayer warriors living in Jerusalem, blessed me today and gave me a way to pray. Perhaps it will spark some prayer in you as well: In ancient times, sukkot were used as sheds for cattle (Genesis 33:17), as guard shacks for watchmen over vineyards (Isaiah 1:8), as thrown-up overnight shelters for warriors in the field (II Samuel 11:11). … [Read more...]

Book review: Nudge

Leonard Sweet's newest release, Nudge: Awakening Each Other To The God Who's Already There (David C. Cook, 2010) will make you fall in love with evangelism again.  Or more likely, for the first time. Many of us who follow Jesus have been exposed to evangelism as hard-sell, complete with tips and techniques. Or it's a scary guilt trip, as in "I should do this", or its corollary, "You're going to hell". Or we lean into the hopeful, beige-tinted "I hope they ask why I'm different".Leonard … [Read more...]