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    Refugee Escape

    My husband breathed heavily as he lifted me and our toddler onto the donkey. My husband’s brown skin, already white with dust, now reflected the moonlight. Our boy started to stir, and I glanced both ways, hoping the boy wouldn’t cry out and waken our curious neighbors. No one could know where we headed, which way we went. I didn’t understand the reasons for our furtive journey, but my husband said that our once safe situation had suddenly become dangerous. There was nothing to be done but flee over the border. Once we reached the more uninhabited areas of desert, I felt a sense of relief. My husband looked back…

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    Lessons from a Blue Cast

    Two weeks ago, I had a close encounter with the sidewalk. I caught my foot on a stump and found myself on the ground bleeding and in pain. Some stitches and a cast later, my routine has changed: no more going non-stop grabbing breakfast and dashing off to work. I function at turtle pace. Preparing my lunch takes planning. My limitations teach me lessons I’d prefer not to learn, at least not THIS way. Here are three of them: 1. Being a member of the body of Christ means receiving as well as giving. The body of Christ and my larger community of friends amaze and humble me. My capable…

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    Welcoming Afghans

    I have the joy of teaching English to refugees and new immigrants. Returning to the classroom thrills me and gives me the privilege of meeting Afghans who have come to this country quite recently. Last week I spoke to some of these when I gave them English placement tests. I asked one of our conversation questions to evaluate their abilities, “What is the most difficult thing about living in America?” Even if they had English ability to answer, the recently arrived Afghan students would be stumped and would finally quizzically reply something like this, “There’s nothing difficult about living in America. It’s safe here.” Of course, they will face challenges,…

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    Strength While Weak: Facing a Loved Ones Alzheimer’s

    Today I have a guest blogger, Canadian Nancy Rempel. Nancy has served for decades as a cross-cultural worker in the Middle East and elsewhere. She enjoys the beautiful Canadian countryside and writing accounts of the ways God has worked in her life. Nancy is husband to Don and mother and mother-in-law to two adult sons and one daughter-in-law. In the dead of night, I could hear the commotion through my earplugs. Voices. Banging. Shuffling around. The light from my parents’ room glared under my bedroom door. Roused from my sleep, I slipped out into the hallway, unprepared for the drama. It was 2003, and I was 47 years old. I…

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    Hunting Clutter: Making Room to Bloom

    These days I hunt for clutter at my house—all kinds of clutter. Where did I put that cup of Folger’s I just made? A stack of magazines and a mailing box on the end table mean I don’t see it right away. Where did I set my keys? Where did I leave my calendar? To find the things I want and need, I am on the hunt to find and clear out clutter—the things I don’t need. I hunt for a different kind of clutter in the garden. I don’t want that little oak tree springing from an acorn right next to the foundation of the house. The weeds have…

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    Praying for the Muslim World During Ramadan

    This week Muslims began their month of fasting during the daylight hours. Timed according to the lunar calendar, this year the month of Ramadan ends at sundown on May 11 followed by a celebration, Eid al-Fitr, when friends and family will gather and celebrate the end of Ramadan. Ramadan, an ideal time to pray for Muslims around the world, also gives you an opportunity to tell Muslims you are praying for them. Many will be surprised and pleased that you know about their practices. These resources equip you to have an impact on Muslims through prayer and help you grow in your knowledge of them: Lift up Muslims around the…

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    Stuck in the Waiting Room

    We all have spent a lot of time waiting since March 2020. Waiting for the end of lockdowns. Waiting for election results. Waiting for a COVID vaccine to be developed. Waiting to get a vaccine. I still wait to hug my oldest grandson. I’m eager to get back to face-to-face teaching of my refugee students. I wait to enjoy the sound of a roomful of women speaking Arabic, Amharic and other tongues while drinking tea and savoring walnut-filled pastries. And speaking of waiting, more than 79.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide wait for stable homes, according the UN Refugee agency. The dire circumstances of so many burden me. What do…

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    Living with the End in View

    I feel weary these days. My previously people-oriented job has become an Zoom class. (“Genet, are you there? Can you unmute your mic?”) I have recovered from a bout with COVID, but still battle fatigue. My big goal today is to clean the pickle juice out of the bottom of my refrigerator. Now our nation waits for the mass production and distribution of COVID vaccines so that we can return to a new normal, whatever that means. Has the year been wasted? No. I think not. March, 2020 to March, 2021 has been a chance to re-orient my thinking. I don’t know about you, but normally I think a lot…

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    Living with the End in View

    I feel weary these days. My previously people-oriented job has become an on-line class. (“Genet, are you there? Can you unmute your mic?”) I have recovered from a bout with COVID, but still battle fatigue. My big goal today is to clean the pickle juice out of the bottom of my refrigerator. Our nation waits for the mass production and distribution of COVID vaccines so that we can return to a new normal, whatever that means. Now a winter storm grips my state and nearly a week has slipped by focused on staying warm and preparing meals, often without electricity or access to groceries – the enjoyment of backyard grilling…

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    Of News Cycles and Food Banks

    Have you checked the news on your phone lately? I know I have. News of turmoil and conflict concerns me. But beyond praying–which is significant–and writing my Congress members, solving the disagreements at hand is beyond my abilities and responsibilities. The ongoing pandemic, though, has created many needs right in my church and community. Those needs continue, regardless of the latest news story. So focusing on those makes more sense. A quick glance backwards at news articles last year shows demand at food pantries in the U.S. and Canada up anywhere from 50 to 200%, depending on location. Those of us that have plenty can stock the shelves. Giving from…