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For each of the four births Abbie and I experienced together, including our stillborn daughter Belle, everything else faded into the background for a precious and brief time.  During those hours and days, it was unquestionably clear what mattered most.  We had a vital role to play, but we were mostly witnesses to wonder. 

It’s been a hard year.  It sounds like we are headed toward a difficult start to the next year.

My prayer is that we can all have some precious time this Christmas to be witnesses to wonder and to dwell in the clarity of what matters most.  That might happen...

These last couple months our family has been tracking NBC’s show The Voice.  I know quite a few of you have as well.  The draw has been Girl Named Tom, a sibling trio in their 20s that grew up in Zion Mennonite Church in Northwest Ohio.  Over the course of watching we learned that past shows have been dominated by soloists.  Last week Girl Named Tom became the first group to make it into the finale, and last night it was revealed that the show’s audience around the country (including us!) voted them the season’s winners. 

Their popularity is a bit stunning.  As of this morning their...

The second candle on the Advent wreath we light this week is the candle of peace. 

One of the most hopeful peace endeavors I’m involved with these days is called the Columbus Safety Collective.  This group of folks is committed to the creation of a non-police crisis response unit in Columbus.  It calls for nothing less than reimagining public safety, but at its core is a fairly simple idea.

As calls come into the 911 call center they get coded as to the nature of the crisis. For example: Disturbance/Mental, Domestic Dispute, Check on Well-Being, Intoxicated Person, etc. ...

I have long enjoyed running as one of the ways I stay physically active, but for the last few years my average miles per run has hovered much lower than it once did.  Only recently have I been able to overcome some of the mental and physical blocks that kept me from longer distances.  In the last couple months I have been slowly and carefully adding distance and enjoying this regained sense of freedom.  But of course, my eager self managed to overdo it last week, and I found that I was barely able to walk the day after Thanksgiving. 

Not wanting to lose the momentum I had been...

The season of Advent begins this coming Sunday.  Our theme for this year is Essentials: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love, Immanuel, Epiphany.  The first four on that list are the traditional themes of the four Sundays of Advent.  We and other Mennonite churches often add the Sunday after Christmas (Immanuel) and Epiphany Sunday to make a six-week series that brings us into the new calendar year. 

This year we’re approaching these themes through the lens of Essentials. 

At the beginning of the pandemic we were introduced to a new phrase that soon became part of our...

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