Yoders celebrate 300 years in America

Oct 9, 2017 by and

SHIPSHEWANA, Ind. — Perhaps no other name is as closely linked with the American Mennonite and Amish faiths than Yoder. It’s the 598th most common last name in the United States, according to the U.S....

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The strangest day of my life

Aug 23, 2017 by

I’ve been looking forward to watching this eclipse for months. I love bizarre, dream-like experiences where the normal rules of life don’t seem to apply. Like when I was in Thailand, exploring a...

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Plain groups: work-family bond resists worldly ways

Mar 27, 2017 by and

HURRICANE MILLS, Tenn. — Today’s North American economy presents daunting challenges for building the ideal faith community, according to David Martin of Cheyenne, Wyo. “Why does there seem to be among...

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‘Come as you are’ — and meaning it

Jan 30, 2017 by and

LANCASTER, Pa. — Raymond Gephart grew up in a family plagued by the abuse of drugs and alcohol. His two older sisters were put into foster care. Today, 58-year-old Gephart lives in Lancaster with his new...

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Book review: ‘Simple Pleasures’

Sep 12, 2016 by

In the creative nonfiction course I teach every spring, I talk about a memoirist’s ability to both convey personal experience and also make connections with an audience. This interplay between the individual...

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3 meditative questions to enhance your day

Jun 24, 2016 by

Our oldest daughter is finishing up her last week of school. First grade has been full of excitement, growth opportunities and new experiences. Over the course of the past year, I have seen her beautiful...

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More than our family tree

Dec 7, 2015 by

Betsy Poling didn’t grow up Mennonite. Neither did her parents or her grandparents or her great-grandparents. Of German-Irish background, Poling grew up in Lima, Ohio, where she attended a Church of the...

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On stories, sadness and spoilers

Aug 17, 2015 by

I was pacing in the living room. My son had been making his way through the Harry Potter series all summer, and he was reading the climactic chapter in the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince....

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Reflections on my teenage faith

Jul 14, 2015 by

“Wow! I sure was fed some crap theology when I was a teenager.” I came to this realization while going through an old chest full of letters, notebooks and other papers from my high school years. (I won’t...

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Forbearing family?

May 25, 2015 by

Mennonite Church USA congregations and conferences are like adult brothers and sisters. In a dispute, no one can force the other’s hand. Nor can they appeal to parental authority. They have to figure out for...

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‘Fast’ family

May 11, 2015 by

Sometimes, images echoing the kingdom of God show up in unexpected places. Furious 7, the latest in the Fast & Furious franchise, took in an astounding $1 billion in 17 days. In the Washington Post,...

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Family a campus presence through generations

Apr 24, 2015 by and

HILLSBORO, Kan. — According to the registrar, Tabor College has graduated 106 students with the last name of Friesen. Of those, 25 come from one family. The patriarch, Jacob Wall Friesen, was born Dec. 14,...

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Knowing my identity for the sake of my kids

Apr 17, 2015 by

I have middle school-aged children now. My daughter has just finished her first year and my son will start in the fall. This baffles me, for it seems like just yesterday I was the one in middle school worrying...

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Piecing together family ties

Mar 30, 2015 by

My mom loves to sew. When she was only 8 or 9 she begged her mom to teach her to use the sewing machine. She sewed all her clothes while attending high school in Henderson, Neb. She even sewed her own wedding...

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Stop giving bonus points for success

Mar 16, 2015 by

Sociologist Dalton Conley explained on NPR’s Here and Now how families become less cohesive when one sibling is significantly richer than the others. Money triggers family tensions. Siblings with more money...

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Sheep and goats, prayer and chains

Feb 2, 2015 by

Matthew 25 is a familiar passage to most Christians. Such familiarity can lead, I fear, to a kind of spiritual laziness. When we think a text is simple, when we think we know what it means, it’s easy to move...

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Why we don’t have children’s church anymore

Dec 2, 2014 by

I’ve had a couple of conversations with parents over the past weeks about children’s church and its demise at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church in Durham, N.C., where I am the minister of...

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Love makes us patient and kind . . . and also undignified and fierce

Oct 30, 2014 by

When my son was first born, something strange happened to me that can only be described as possession. I needed to hold him or have him near him all the time. When friends would come over to meet him, and...

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Waiting with the stories

Jul 31, 2014 by

My daughter and I looked at our garden each day, peering closely into the dark earth. “Do you see anything yet?” she asked, her voice hopeful. “Not yet,” I replied. “How about you?” Each day in...

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Kids and God

Jul 18, 2014 by

Each day my kids see me reading my Bible and praying. They know that I attend Bible study and understand the value that attending church holds in our family. However, there are many things about God that I...

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Making the Bible less boring for kids

Jul 7, 2014 by

“Thank you God for your love. Thank you for your kindness. You are good and gracious. Alleluia.” Now imagine that sung in a faltering monotone and you get the gist of our every meal grace. My...

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Faith formation with children

Jun 17, 2014 by

Last week was Pentecost, that time each year when we remember the Holy Spirit coming upon those first believers with a rush of wind and “tongues, as of fire.” Talking with a 3-year-old about the Holy...

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Unity in a time of terror

Jun 5, 2014 by

This was going to be a post about Pentecost, a reflection on my family’s love for our city-wide Mennonite Pentecost service — a service that involves as many languages as the building can hold, a service...

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Parent-child relations

Jun 2, 2014 by

Our diagnosis: Parent-child relations. At last. After a fast-moving, slow-motion spiral that had led to my daughter’s hospitalization for emotional and behavioral health, we at last had an answer and a...

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Music connects three generations of alumnae

Apr 14, 2014 by , and

HESSTON, Kan. — Rebecca Eichelberger’s journey to Hess­ton College started in 1949 when her great-grandfather saw the importance of a Mennonite education for his own daughter, Rebecca’s grandmother...

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