Faith Notes

A mission of peace

A mission of peace

There’s nothing quite like reading a book about a true event on the anniversary of when it took place. That’s what happened this week as I was reading Janet and Geoff Benge’s biography, Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer, with my family. Here was a Pennsylvania kid who used his love of flying and military aviation experience to serve missionaries living in a remote area of the Amazon rain forest.

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A Better New Year

A Better New Year

It is a year that I am not sorry to see go. The personal losses have been too high, the political climate too volcanic, the rewards of hard work seemingly too few and far between. So it was only fitting that my husband broke a rib one day before Christmas, temporarily confining him to the couch, and we all got sick.

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Unique gifts that bring joy

Unique gifts that bring joy

Yes, there really are only twelve days ‘til Christmas. So, unless you’ve got a partridge and a pear tree, a handful of spare rings and some leaping lords lying about, it’s time to get busy. With the convenience of the Internet, it’s tempting to order gifts online, but I’m a huge fan of supporting local businesses, which sponsor youth programs, employ neighbors and build communities. So, I’ve put together a last-minute shopping guide sure to cover everyone on your list and to be a whole lot more memorable than clicking a button on your computer screen.

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Preparing our hearts for Christmas

Preparing our hearts for Christmas

This weekend marks the first Sunday of Advent, a spiritual season of preparation for Christmas. About this time, I usually thumb through my collection of holiday books to select a liturgical guide to read with my family each week to remind us that Christmas is about more than the gifts we’ll find under the tree.

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Celebrating with the Pilgrims

Celebrating with the Pilgrims

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays – and not just because of the pie. I love gathering with family and friends, sharing a bountiful meal and heading out in the crisp November air for a post-Thanksgiving walk, all long-held traditions. But for those who have experienced pain and loss, Thanksgiving can be a raw reminder of what – or who – is missing around the table.

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How do you measure success?

How do you measure success?

As I near the end of my first academic quarter teaching middle- and high-school English at a local Christian school, I have been thinking about how we measure success. An academic grade is one way – and one that as a creative person I am not very fond of.

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Fun fall ideas to share the light

Fun fall ideas to share the light

Driving down Main Street in my rural Maine town, I sighed as I passed a miniature cemetery that had sprouted overnight in a carefully groomed yard. “RIP” read the headstones. Several white ghosts billowed overhead. As far as Halloween decorations go, these were mild,...

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Tips from my garden

Tips from my garden

As far as gardeners go,
I’m a bad one. My vegetable plot is about the size of a double-car garage. From my kitchen window, it looks spectacular. Plummy green fronds poke above the rows. Fiery orange nasturtiums cascade along the fence, and sunflowers wave
down from above.

But despite three months of weeding and planting and watering, my plot has produced only a few dinners’ worth of green beans, eight edible tomatoes, a handful of zucchini and a row of kale so tough even the insects won’t eat it.

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Grateful

Grateful

“It smells like something died,” I told my husband, Dana, as we walked up the grassy path toward our front door on Friday after a full day of teaching together at our children’s school.

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Two full days to go

Two full days to go

I knew that going from teaching writing one day a week to teaching five days a week while also beginning graduate school would be a big transition. So I gave myself a hiatus from my own personal writing practice for all of September to adjust. Oh, good. I thought when...

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The place of trust

The place of trust

Eight years ago, after the death of my 7-year-old daughter, Ruth, I felt betrayed by God. Like the writer of the Psalms, which promise that God will look after those who come to him for protection, I believed that he would keep my family and me safe as long as we put our trust in him.

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More changes than I’d like

More changes than I’d like

Ever since squeezing my office into the corner of our family’s laundry room three years ago, I’ve dreamed of the day I would be able to move out. This week, that day finally arrived, but instead of being excited, I wasn’t sure I still wanted to move. The potting shed...

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Love BIG

Love BIG

This week I lost someone who was like a sister to me, my cousin Emily. My grief is nothing compared to that of her husband and two children and brother and parents. But oh, what a grief. Emily’s life was a gift to all who knew her. “I have so many joyful memories of...

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Finding the way home

Finding the way home

About a month ago, I quit blogging. I’d had it with hearing my own voice. Plus, my career was taking a big new direction with the addition of teaching this fall. But a funny thing happened. As soon as I quit, folks began mentioning how much they enjoyed my column....

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Big changes ahead

Big changes ahead

There are a number of short prayers, “Help!” being one of the most popular. “Save me,” being another. But the one that I find myself praying most often is, “Father, lead me.” And I know that God does. How can I be so confident? Because the Lord is my shepherd, and I am asking him to do something that he has already promised in his word.

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The Best Birthday

The Best Birthday

Did you know that in Jewish culture at the time of Jesus there were six ways in which a person could be “born again”? According to my Complete Jewish Study Bible these included: when a boy becomes bar mitzvah at age thirteen, when a Jewish man married, when he was ordained as a rabbi, when he became the head of a rabbinical school, or when a Gentile converted to Judaism or was crowned as King.

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