The Source of all Love

The Source of all Love

Young and new in love, I unpacked the English stoneware dishes that my mother had helped me pick out at Jordan Marsh years before in anticipation of this day – the day when I would furnish my own home. She didn’t call it a hope chest. Not wanting me to put all my hope on getting married, she called it a “home chest,” for the day I would furnish my own household, married or not.
Yet there I was, newly married, as flush with love as the petite cranberry flowers printed on the cream colored dishes that I carefully set in the cupboard of the tiny apartment that my husband, Dana, and I had rented on the third floor of an old Victorian, halfway up the coast of Maine. Setting up our first home was among the happiest times in my life. Shopping for our own groceries. Learning to cook. Coming home to each other and sharing dinner each and every night on those delicate floral dishes.

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What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be led by the Spirit. As I slowly read my way through Scripture, I’m alarmed at the similarities between how I often live my life — trying to figure out how to get through each day as best as I can – and the ancient Israelites who struggled and strived to please God but inevitably wandered into trouble. They’re not the only ones who veered off course.

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Discerning the Truth

Discerning the Truth

Among the antiques I inherited from my mother was an Early American candle stand – or so I thought. I remembered it from my grandparent’s home on the coast of Maine. My grandparents were both avid collectors. After they passed away, the dark wooden stand with three short legs and a narrow trunk that held two candles went to my mother. When I was growing up, it stood in the corner of our dining room but never gave any light. That’s because, as far as I can remember, it displayed two wood candles made for decoration. When the stand became mine, I decided to sell it.

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Book Review: A Voice Becoming

Book Review: A Voice Becoming

When my 18-year-old son recently had his wisdom teeth removed, I joked that this was his rite of passage. “Some people fast on mountains or get covered in fire ants,” I said, recalling documentaries I’ve seen about how other cultures initiate adolescents into the world of adults. “We take out wisdom teeth.” For most in our contemporary, Western culture, there is no rite of passage between youth and young adulthood. Getting a driver’s license might count, or going to college. But what if parents intentionally set out to create a series of challenges and experiences to not only mark but prepare young people for this significant passage? That’s what author Beth Bruno did with her 12-year-old daughter, Ella, a journey she chronicles in her new memoir, A Voice Becoming, a Yearlong Mother-Daughter journey into Passionate, Purposed Living (Faith Words, 2018).

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Laying a Solid Foundation

Laying a Solid Foundation

January did not start easy. First came cleaning up after Christmas. Then came the bitter cold. On top of that, my husband, Dana, has been struggling to move a 4-ton, 24-foot shed. Two years ago, when we bought our house, it was sitting in the dirt beside the driveway, sunken in mud. Battered by rain and wind, it had slipped off its insufficient concrete supports. Tearing the shed down and rebuilding would have been easier. But wanting to save money and materials, we hired an excavator to pull the shed into the middle of our driveway and dig out a foundation, which my husband poured in November. So far, it has been a five-month process. Week after week, as I’ve watched Dana struggle to jack up the shed and secure it with sturdy beams, one song has run through my head.

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Preparing for Life’s Storms

Preparing for Life’s Storms

Living in Maine, we know that storms will come. Some of us fly south for the winter, hoping to avoid them. But as last year’s devastating hurricane season demonstrated, no place is exempt from the potentially destructive forces of nature. When forecasters predicted a foot of snow and blizzard conditions along the coast of Maine earlier this month, I hauled my largest canning kettle out of the basement and filled it with water. I made sure we had enough fuel to keep a glowing fire in the woodstove. And I stocked up on groceries.

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Book Review: Jesus Every Day

Book Review: Jesus Every Day

As a young adult, my New Year’s resolutions often involved reading through the Bible in a year or praying for a prescribed number of minutes or hours – Yes, hours! – per day. Inevitably, I fell short, as did my resolutions to drop a certain number of pounds, exercise for a certain number of hours, or finish writing a certain-length manuscript. As lofty as such goals are, they typically run hard into reality, and reality usually wins.

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The Real Treasure

The Real Treasure

I’d been meaning to visit ever since she’d called early last fall with the news. A neighbor’s pear tree was ripe with unpicked fruit. Since she could no longer drive, did I want to pick the pears? If so, she’d give me directions. Also, she’d soon be moving from our former city of Bath to an assisted living facility in Manhattan. My heart sank. I knew she was in her early 80s, but I’d never once thought of her as elderly.

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The Perfect Gift

The Perfect Gift

The perfect gift. For those who love Christmas, isn’t that what we hope to give? Something that communicates the depth of our love to the one who will receive it. A physical, tangible way of expressing the value of those we cherish. Finding such a gift is a challenge. The better we know the recipient – their hopes and needs and desires – the easier it is. Driving down our country road last week to visit his great-grandmother, I asked my 4-year-old son, “What do you think Grammy would like for Christmas?”

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How Not to Dread the Holidays

How Not to Dread the Holidays

I get giddy at the sight of twinkling holiday lights. Candles softly glowing in windows warm my heart. And Christmas music makes me want to sing along. But there is a part of the upcoming holiday I dread: the push, push, push to spend, spend, spend. As if peace and goodwill could be purchased with a credit card. To offset the commercial takeover of Christmas – and the dreaded credit-card debt that often goes with it – here are 5 tips (in no particular order) to help curb overspending.

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#MeToo

#MeToo

It shouldn’t happen, but it does. To remain silent is to take the side of the abuser, rather than the victim of abuse. What am I talking about? Sexual harassment, assault and abuse in the church. Maybe those three last words don’t come as a surprise, considering the swell of abuse claims against priests in the past decade. But many incidents of church abuse are never reported.

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A Banquet of Gratitude

A Banquet of Gratitude

It was the simplest of feasts. My family gathered around my mom’s table in Connecticut to celebrate Thanksgiving. Sitting at the head, Mom reached for her camera in the flickering candlelight and snapped our picture. Satisfied, she was. So pleased to be sharing this banquet of gratitude together, despite her being too weak to cook and having no appetite. At 65, Mom had lost her strength and desire for food to cancer.

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Watching and Waiting

Watching and Waiting

The holidays are before us. The electricity is back on after last week’s powerful storm. And yet my heart is grieving. Saturday night, my family stood outside clapping and shouting “Thank you!” to the line and tree workers who reconnected us with the world. But the next day that same connection brought news of 26 worshipers shot dead in a Texas church.

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How prepared are you?

How prepared are you?

On a whim, I ran a couple loads of laundry, filled the bathtub and topped my largest kettle with even more water last Sunday night just before going to bed. The following morning, like roughly 400-thousand other Mainers, I awoke to the rush of wind and complete darkness. The fierceness of last week’s storm, known as a ‘bomb cyclone’ — and how long my family would be without electricity (six days!) — caught me largely unprepared.

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How to find true success

How to find true success

Our 4-year-old son is a chess master, winning match after match. Sitting across from his father in a cozy inn on a recent afternoon with a wooden game board between them, Ezra confidently moved his knight to capture his father’s bishop. On his subsequent turn, he deftly seized a pawn. The next to fall was a rook. Piece by piece, Ezra gleefully cleared the board, grinning triumphantly as several bystanders and I looked on. “Who’s winning?” a silver-haired man asked.

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The Not Impossible Race

The Not Impossible Race

Does life sometimes feel like a race? One that you are ill-equipped and unprepared to handle? One that’s impossible to win? In an article in The National, a publication by Amtrak, Bob Cooper describes what has been called the world’s toughest ultramarathon. Known as the “Berkley Marathon,” the race in Tennessee’s rugged Smokey Mountains, was inspired by a 1977 prison escape from a nearby penitentiary. Now elite runners come from around the world to try and complete a 26-mile course five times in under 60 hours.

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Book Review: Ordinary Graces

Book Review: Ordinary Graces

The Bible is a big book, written in ancient languages to people living long before contemporary culture. For folks unfamiliar with the people and practices it contains, it can also be confusing. It helps to read such words along with a commentary, designed to explain perplexing passages, or with a devotional, which tend to highlight one short passage at a time. One inspiring new devotional, which does just that, is Ordinary Graces: Word Gifts for any Season (Abingdon Press, 2017), by Connecticut author and speaker Lucinda Secrest McDowell.

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Ready for some Good News?

Ready for some Good News?

What if God isn’t just a theoretical concept? What if the creator of the universe really did come to earth 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ to reveal his plan of salvation for the world? And what if Jesus, before returning to heaven, really did impart the Holy Spirit to empower, guide and equip all those who received him to manifest God’s goodness, mercy and love throughout the earth?

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Waiting for my Son

Waiting for my Son

Living on the outskirts of our little Maine town, I was uncertain whether to let my 4-year-old son, Ezra, ride home from preschool on the bus. A typically 10-minute drive for me would take 45 for him . Plus he is so little that when he sat on the bus for orientation, the only way to know he was there was by standing in the aisle directly over him. My anxious mama heart quaked with uncertainty.

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The light that never changes

The light that never changes

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about light. As the days get shorter and the nights earlier, I am increasingly aware of my need for it. As the light decreases so does my energy. I’m less motivated to head out in the early morning to walk. Come evening, I’d rather stay cozily cooped up inside than gallivant about. And, living in the country means more stars, but it also means it’s harder to see at night. All of this is beyond my control. As the earth journeys around the sun, it limits the amount of light I receive. There is, however, a light that never changes.

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