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Savor Advent, Feast on Christmas

My family’s new traditions made the season richer
Savor Advent, Feast on Christmas
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It may be easier to roll a boulder up hill than to change holiday traditions. Several years ago, when I declared to my family that we would start new practices in the month of December, their response was not thundering applause.

“Ugh,” grunted my firstborn. (Insert tween attitude, eye rolls, and drama here.) “Why do we have to be so different from every ...

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A Radical Idea for This Christmas

Spend the season on a mission
A Radical Idea for This Christmas
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A few years ago my children and I walked into a department store during the Christmas season. A lady working there stopped us and cheerfully asked if my children would like to write a Christmas list to Santa Claus. There was a statue of Santa by the entrance, with a big red mailbox for kids to drop their letters into. I politely told her I do not teach my children that ...

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Advent’s Knotty Family Tree

Jesus was born into a messy family too
Advent’s Knotty Family Tree
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On the first Sunday of Advent this season, my congregation’s sermon text was Matthew 1:1-17. Many of us likely don’t think too often about this passage: It is one of the dreaded genealogies, with hard-to-pronounce names and no storyline (or so it seems). Yet behind the sometimes unfamiliar names this text is jam-packed full of stories—stories of how God ...

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself before Letting Go

What keeps you hanging on?
3 Questions to Ask Yourself before Letting Go
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“The sheer volume embarrasses me,” I admit to my husband while standing over piles of clothes on my bedroom floor. Coats, shoes, shirts, and pants pulled from my closet on a Saturday like leaves letting go of sturdy branches and falling in a heap. Outside, sun slants through a canopy of changing colors with invitation, but I’m choosing a shift in perspective ...

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Lead Me On: Brave & Bawling

What happens when we give God a chance to use our relationships to change us?
Lead Me On: Brave & Bawling
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A few years ago, Saturday Night Live alum Amy Poehler delivered Harvard University’s Class Day speech. In a fake Bostonian dialect, she joked, “Just because yah wicked smaht doesn’t mean yah beddah than me.”

Then she got serious.

“All I can tell you today is what I’ve learned, what I have discovered as a person in this world, and ...

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Include Your Children in Life-Changing Decisions

God is working in their lives too
Include Your Children in Life-Changing Decisions
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Standing on the driveway with my teenage daughter, we watch silently as her childhood bed and miniature table and chairs, packed in the back of a truck, pull away and drive down the street, around the corner, and onto the highway. Words aren’t necessary. We’ve resigned ourselves to the new reality.

All our possessions and keepsakes are now negotiable. We’re ...

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Lead Me On: Mouthy Mistakes

God gave you a voice–use it

I talk too much.

It's a habit. I talktoofast and talktoomuch.

Sometimes I could stand to zip it. I'm working on it.

However, I hate to contribute to what has been a common refrain in society–a common refrain also in some churches. The refrain goes like this: women might need to PIPE DOWN already.

God's opinion on the matter appears to have a refrain more like this: Do not neglect ...

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Strategies for Living with Resilience

You can choose how to respond

Amy tucks her kids into bed and one of them suddenly declares, "Mom, I forgot my science project is due tomorrow!"

Sarah steps into a meeting at work and the first words spoken are, "We're having layoffs."

Christy stares across the table into the eyes of her boyfriend as he says, "Maybe we should see other people."

Miranda sits on the edge of her seat in the clinic as her doctor ...

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Sometimes Ministry Happens at Home

My daughter’s declaration of independence changed all my plans

I wasn't ready for it. After all, she's only just turned 8. And what 8-year-old do you know who's called an after-dinner meeting to tell you gently but categorically that "it's just not working anymore"? That she "can't stand another day of living in your house"? That she's leaving.

I had to choke back my urge to giggle, but I realized from the look in her face she was deadly ...

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When Family Pressures Threaten Your Ministry

It took a crisis in our home to make me stop and wake me up to reality

"Does your family demonstrate a spirit of peace?" I heard the preacher say. "No!" I yelled inside myself. Little did anyone know, our family was in a state of crisis. Our oldest son's behavior was getting worse every day; he was finally diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, and depression; and our three-year-old was picking up on our older son's negative behavior ...

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