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Seven Creative Christmas Activities for Parents

As you may have noticed, Christmas is right around the corner. For those who have children or grandchildren, the holidays can be a great season of frenetic activity, parties, lights, decorations, shopping and more. But sometimes you want to spend quality time together that doesn’t involve leaving the house and won’t break the bank. What’s a parent to do? Below are seven activities you can do with your children when you have an afternoon free or when you’ve cleaned up from dinner and want to do something different to celebrate ... Read More »

Shine On

I have so much respect for the thousands of people who work through the night while others sleep. Many of these women and men have important jobs, and they can regularly accomplish what I find so difficult: staying awake at night. I am so dependent on sleep that as soon as night falls, my eyelids start getting heavy, which makes staying awake pretty difficult; especially since we turned our clocks back an hour in November. This habit of mine only increases the admiration I have for all those who can ... Read More »

Hi Daddy, Hi Daddy

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6 I’m sorry, but yes they will. Some will step off accidentally and stumble right back on. Some will wander off, oblivious to your calls and whistles. Some will investigate that very pretty flower over there. And some will test the boundaries every step of the way. They most certainly will venture from it. It’s how they find their own way along a path with distinct boundaries but invisible guardrails. ... Read More »

Is Anybody Listening?

I found myself a part of a fiery conversation one night while visiting relatives. One of my family members and I often find ourselves on opposite sides of the political spectrum. While we both come from a similar place in terms of our devotion to our Christian faith, we disagree on pretty much everything else. In an effort to keep the peace, we successfully avoided controversial subjects for the majority of the visit. Emphasis on “majority.” The last night, things finally got heated. For whatever reason, both of us felt strongly and ... Read More »

Full Circle

Some days I really wish that I were one of those people whose life followed a clean, straight trajectory. In this dream world, I would have known in middle or high school the path God wanted me to end up on as an adult. Every faithful decision I made after that point would have been one more triumphant step toward the final goal. You know those people: the five-year-old who claims she will be a doctor and then actually follows through with it or the high schooler destined to be ... Read More »

Holding Space: When Listening Leads to Healing

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of walking closely with one of my best friends during the final months of her marriage. It was heartbreaking to watch her dreams for their life together be blown apart by his verbal and physical abuse, yet it was an honor to witness her courage, resilience and determination. During the months before they split for good, many people in her life pleaded with her to leave him. They were understandably horrified by the ways he treated her, yet she was not ... Read More »

School Started

I was talking to a good friend the other day, verbally processing the last few weeks. We talked about the end of summer, the start of fall, school beginning, returning to a schedule and how busy work is right now. In our conversation we realized that ever since “school started,” the people we know and love have been dealing with an inordinate amount of stress and struggle. School tends to signal the end of summer even for those who are not students or educational professionals. In many ways, this stress has ... Read More »

125 Years

I would drive past that little white clapboard church every morning on my way to work. There was no Fairfax County Parkway then, only a very windy West Ox Road with long stretches of fields—some with horses. Each day as I turned onto Centreville Road, only two lanes back then, I would glance to my right and smile, thinking, “That’s such a cute church.” Eventually I found myself planning a wedding and searching for a house closer to work. I also found myself looking for churches. I “shopped” at least ... Read More »

When Hide-and-Seek Becomes Here I Am

“Ready or not, here I come!” I always loved hearing those words because that’s when the fun really began. I knew all the best hiding places around our house. In the stairwell, behind the bushes, between the pine trees, by the swing set… What made them good was this: you could see the seeker, but they couldn’t see you. You had to hold your breath as they came near so you didn’t give yourself away, and then as soon as they went past, you sprinted for home base. “Safe!” you hollered when ... Read More »


I am really good at hiding. You may not know this when first meeting me, but I’ve been hiding my whole life. For years, I stole snacks from my parents’ parties and meetings and then disappeared to the basement, avoiding conversation with “grown-ups.” When I saw people on my college campus handing out flyers or eager to chat about the latest cause, I hid behind my phone, headphones or just a stone-cold glare. Even now, I refuse to answer a phone call from an unknown number, and if someone calls ... Read More »

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