Kennel-Shank: Examine motivations

Sep 11, 2017 by

It all began with a squash plant, a Pennsylvania Dutch crookneck, to be exact. Like all winter squash, it needs room to grow and many weeks to mature. Too late, I realized I had only ever grown winter squash...

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Kennel-Shank: People over profits

Jun 19, 2017 by

The other day I was talking to a colleague who, like me, admires the 20th-century Christian radical Dorothy Day and life in intentional community, but isn’t starry-eyed about either. The conversation found...

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Kennel-Shank: Staying awake in Gethsemane

Mar 27, 2017 by

The cemeteries where members of my extended families are buried are truly places of repose, surrounded by the fertile fields of Lancaster County, Pa. When I visit their graves, I sense that they are at rest,...

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Kennel-Shank: Places of sanctuary

Jan 2, 2017 by

Sharing my faith story with the church small group I’m part of, I described myself as a broken-hearted person. One person responded that she’d usually heard people describe themselves as tender-hearted...

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Kennel-Shank: Limits that free us for delight

Oct 10, 2016 by

Each week we receive an incredible gift, and yet so many of us leave it there, still in its wrapping paper and bow. Or we open it a little bit but then put it back in the box and set it in a corner to collect...

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Do-gooder’s dilemma

Jul 18, 2016 by

He usually stands at the bottom of the stairs that reach the street from the elevated train. Sometimes he sings; sometimes his spirits are low. He’s cheerful if he had a chance to sleep in a bed the night...

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Home is belonging, not owning

Apr 25, 2016 by

Ninety-nine Homes has a rare mix in a film: It’s suspenseful, yet deals with complex ethical issues. The drama centers on the lives of people in central Florida a few years after the 2008-09 financial...

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Not by bread alone

Feb 1, 2016 by

People do not live by bread alone, Jesus tells Satan when he is tempted in the wilderness. Though Jesus “was famished” — or perhaps because of that — he knows in his body that food is not all that we...

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New life from loss

Dec 21, 2015 by

Blackened trusses stand against the sky above the walls of an old church that burned. I often pass the corner where the church has sat since long before I knew the neighborhood’s name, long before I was...

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Caring for self is a must

Nov 10, 2015 by

In some circles, the term “self-care” is so overused as to elicit groans. In other places, the most likely response is, “What’s that?” In the hospital where I work as a chaplain, we talk with nurses,...

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Differences we tolerate

Sep 28, 2015 by

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and State Street attract people from around the world for pleasure shopping. Stores selling designer shoes, trendy clothes, high-end accessories and more line both sides of each...

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Finding God’s presence within the decay

Aug 17, 2015 by

More than a few people are surprised that I genuinely love working with compost. Sure, it smells bad sometimes and is occasionally slimy when it gets out of balance. But I enjoy being part of creating fresh,...

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A less popular faith

Jul 6, 2015 by

The largest religious groups in the United States received some difficult news in a recent survey. Mainline Protestant, Catholic and evangelical Christians all dropped in numbers over the past several years,...

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Challenges of a new home

May 25, 2015 by

My husband and I recently moved into the home we purchased a few months ago. We can envision living here for decades. Once all of the boxes are unpacked and the furniture put in place, we’ll need some time...

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Our stuff tells our story

Apr 13, 2015 by

Ah, stuff. There’s nothing quite like moving a household to spark thoughts on what it means in our culture and our tradition to have possessions and try to live faithfully with them. Except this time my...

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Ordained to be reverent

Mar 2, 2015 by

Culminating two years of being a licensed minister, and following eight years of seeing an inkling of a calling to pastoral ministry grow into a deep truth in my life, I was ordained in December. Since then,...

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A faithful leader engages creation care

Jan 19, 2015 by

In recent months, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Brian Sauder, a fellow credentialed Mennonite minister. Last year he became executive director of Faith in Place, headquartered in Chicago, which...

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Jury duty

Dec 8, 2014 by

As the judge began her address to the panel of jurors, she said that to serve on a jury is one of the highest civic duties, second only to being in the armed services “defending our country.” That was when...

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Reducing infant deaths

Oct 27, 2014 by

Singing “Nothing is lost on the breath of God” in church on a recent Sunday, my mind called up the face and tiny body of the stillborn child I blessed most recently. I had read about a church that held a...

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Choosing smartly

Sep 15, 2014 by

I was a late adopter to having a cellphone. Even my grandfather owned one before I did. It was my last year of college when I figured out that a cellphone plan would be cheaper than calling cards to reach my...

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