My parents gave me the gift of an authentic, homespun heritage. I treasure it, but I didn't always feel this way. As a child, I often felt we were dull and unrefined, perhaps even a bit too "backwoods."
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I walked into my Hebrew class not knowing what to expect and not imagining the diversity that I would find there. It was still one of my first weeks in Jerusalem and I didn’t have a clue about what life was like in a city filled with so many extremes! Glancing around the room, I was surprised at the mix of people, cultures, religions and skin colors. Over the course of the next few weeks people came and went, but the way our lives brushed up against each other in a stuffy classroom in Jerusalem left an impact on me that will last forever. I learned so much more than language in that classroom.
We've probably all heard it at one time or another. Something new or exciting would come along and we would get swept up into it. With much enthusiasm we’d tell our parents about this new thing or new idea. Then, with the wisdom granted them through many more years of experience, they would see right to the end of this “new fad” and try to dissuade us from jumping on board too quickly.
There was the possibility of a tornado dropping down out of those amazing, blue-green, billowing clouds, but it was still incredible! The storm suddenly came ripping across the local park where we were gathered for VBS, bringing sheets of rain and winds so strong that it sent everyone running for the nearest four-sided, solid structure (which was the now crowded bathrooms). There’s papers flying and everything’s in chaos, but for a fleeting moment, I spread arms wide and broad-side the gusts and pricking rain, letting the forces of nature swirl out of control around me.
March 1671 Eggiwil, Switzerland
The early morning fog hung like a wet cold blanket around the Shank’s farm. Christian hurried along the steep gravel path towards the house. His foot skidded and the milk in his pail sloshed over the edges of the bucket. “Really?” His little brother Peter muttered. “Like we didn’t need that milk.”
I don't really remember learning to read; I only remember loving it. I devoured the Elsie Dinsmore books and the Nancy Drew series and as for Anne of Green Gables, oh, how she spoke to my soul. Books old and new, fiction and non-fiction, fantasy, mystery, Christian fiction, poetry—I read them all. Eventually, I became an English major and read still more and still more widely. However, my discernment lagged behind. As I learned to treasure excellent writing, it became my main criteria in choosing a book. I reveled in all the new reading possibilities open to me without thinking much about controlling my thoughts or how those books might be influencing me. I looked down on those who consumed only ‘mediocre Christian fiction’ and thought they were better for it.
I approached a tall metal gate with my sister, who showed her ID to a guard. Dust swirled around us.
“Can my sister come in with me?” she asked him. “Just for 10 minutes?”
“Just for 2 minutes?” I tried to make it easier for him to say yes.
“No. No ID, no entry.”
The must-do’s, should-do’s, try-to-do’s, and can’t-do’s crowd our lives. I feel the push and pull every day. From the tug of little ones on my arms and sweet voices that beckon me to sit with them, to the nagging feelings that I should leave the house and help the least of these.
You hear it every time you hear about child training: “You need to be consistent”. The reason you hear it so often is because it really is important! The Bible says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. . . Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul. (Pr. 29:15; 17)
After days spent outside in the warm summer sunshine, the cold days of winter make it a challenge to keep our little kiddos entertained indoors. These are the days when energy is overflowing and if your kids are anything like mine, that means that things can get crazy really fast! Here are a few ideas that I hope will help cure those winter blues!
So tomorrow night I have plans.
Mom told me that I didn’t have to tell her what my plans were as long as it didn’t involve a
It involves a bunch of girls, but no boys. Which is absolutely fine.
Lately I've been overwhelmed by the things I have going on at work and in my personal life. Almost every morning last week, I woke up with either a tension headache or a sinus headache. It got bad enough that I couldn't sleep soundly at night and had to take melatonin to retain my sanity (did I ever have it?).
I received the best birthday present of my childhood when I turned two—a baby doll with a laughing face, blinking eyes, and soft body. I named her Cindy and bonded with her like a mother with her newborn daughter. Cindy went everywhere with me, slept every night with me, and was my most treasured possession. Growing up, my sister and I thrived on protecting flightless baby birds, sightless kittens, and lifeless dolls. We knew when we were needed, and we rose to the challenge—rigging up a nest for the hatchling and hanging it close to the mother bird’s nest, returning kittens to their mother, and making sure the dolly had everything she needed for an outing to the farmers’ market. We were learning to offer shelter to those who depended on us.
You can know about God or you can know God. How can you know God? How can you know God’s heart? How can you know the Spirit of God? It is not so complicated.
CS Lewis said, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” In other words, life without friendship is reduced to mere survival. We can function, we can make do, we can go through the motions yet we are alone without friends. This is simply not part of the design for mankind.
Sit and take a moment to ponder. You may be thinking “Oh, if you only knew, I would simply love to just sit down, but I can’t. I have such and such to do, and so and so places to go. Yes, I’d certainly love to sit, but I just don’t have time.” You don’t have time? Hmmmm.... Don’t they say we make time for the things that are most important to us? I wonder if it’s not so much the not-enough-time factor as the fact that we don’t know where we would sit if we should want to and plus, sitting is so impractical. There are lots of good things to be doing. Yes, we’d much rather be walking...or maybe even running.
“Corinne, don’t touch that! A dog probably peed there,” I reprimanded my six year old daughter as we walked down a dirty sidewalk in our neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. “My eyes watch for beauty!” she exclaimed to me. She would spot a tiny patch of green grass and stop to literally stroke it, while I usually saw concrete, garbage, or dog litter. How can two people in the same surroundings see two completely different things? It is all in what you purpose to look for. And this, my friend, is a glimpse into the core of what we call gratitude. No matter what the circumstance you or I face, we are given a choice to be grateful or to be stressed. Whatever we are up against, we can choose to thank God for it.
One thing I discovered about my husband shortly after we were married was his love of people. To be fair, I knew that about him beforehand. I saw the way people easily connected with him, how he made them feel known and heard. He often invited folks in for a meal, even while he was a bachelor. Perhaps it was his love of hospitality that swept me off my feet, that and his blue-grey eyes (among other things, of course).
The simple act of turning the page of my daily flip calendar to October 1 st was painful. It reminded me that this October, my arms and my womb are empty. The month of golden leaves, rustling cornstalks, and all things pumpkin was supposed to herald the arrival of our firstborn. Instead of packing a hospital bag, decorating the nursery, and washing little outfits in preparation for birth, our lives go about their usual routines. Baby items are stored out of sight in the attic. My belly is not large and swollen with child. The glory of autumn is shadowed by the reminder that this October will not usher in the joyous, life-changing event we once hoped for.
As the long bright days of summer give way to a crisp, refreshing fall, the styles are changing with the leaves around us. Autumn is arguably the finest season of the four in many ways, fashion being just one of them. Take a nod from nature and weave the rich, vibrant colors of the season into your wardrobe. Gather inspiration from the golden tones of harvest, deep shades of ripened fruit, and the vivid foliage carpeting the ground.