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Dinnertime Discussions at Our Lifegiving Table

“Here’s what I think . . .”
It was a night just like any other, which is to say it was another evening of rousing discussion. Soup spoons suspended in midair, quizzical brows, the thumping of a printed-out article on the table. The article in question had been the source of that evening’s discussion. I can’t recall the exact topic of debate, but it likely had something to do with a...

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Finding Our Place

It was just a few weeks before Thanksgiving and we didn’t have a table. Well, technically we did have table. An old one we had bought through Craig’s List that fit the small space in our old house perfectly. It was distressed cream and snuggly seated six. But we’d moved into a blessing: a spacious house that boasted a huge dining room. We were hosting our first Thanksgiving and were...

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The Table Of Suffering

She lost her baby that fall. It was early in the pregnancy, but there had already been celebrations and joy at the positive test. Then there was blood and aching and sorrows that sliced them open. Our baby came two months later, the little girl we were planning to adopt. And it was too early. Way too early. I sat in a NICU holding her impossibly small hand and praying...

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Always a Baker, Never a Bride

I’ve named 2017 ‘the year of weddings.’ I’m told that everyone has seasons like this, but it’s a first for me. Over the span of six weeks, four of the most influential women in my life are getting married, each in a different state from New England across to Southern California. I’m maid of honor, cake baker, chalice bearer, and candy maker. But as a single woman who has never...

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The Crooked Path Towards Faith

In December 2006, I jumped into the River Cherwell, a river in Oxford, England, that crosses University Parks on the north side of town. It was the end of our study abroad semester and a few friends and I had the wild idea to jump off a low bridge into the water on one of our last days of class. We were twenty years old and had survived a semester...

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Parties, Porcelain, and Giving My Best

For years, I strived to host perfect holiday parties, as if they were an exam to pass. Hours before guests arrived, I dressed the table with my porcelain best, each item set precisely in its place. Thin lines of shimmering silver bordered its delicate rose pattern. Folded linen napkins bloomed on the plate. My china, a wedding gift from 1980, held not a single chip or scratch. I’d stand on...

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Come Saturday Morning

“Come and have breakfast.” It’s the resurrected Jesus inviting St. Peter to enjoy a morning meal. The sentiment frames my Saturday morning story, about a wild but winning neighbor girl with special needs—as impetuous as Peter—who barged into my life and heart. About five years ago, our breakfast routine started with her kicking at the door and yelling “Senorita!” through the mail slot, her plate in hand—tortillas and crème fraiche—persuasively...

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A Feast of Peppermint Jo-Jo’s: On the Couch with Jesus

Last Christmas our son was a fresh three months old, fitting neatly into six month onesies and footie pajamas with smiling husky puppies on the feet. The weather was unnaturally warm for December but we lived in the caution of RSV and ordinary colds—things that can land our little one in the hospital—so I don’t remember much of the outdoors. I think the leaves fell, wet with the December rains,...

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Neighbor Man Cometh

One Christmas Eve my husband and I invited our flannelled, bushy-bearded neighbor man to join us for our family’s traditional, holiday meal. We’d known him for a few years. He used to come to his country property every weekend to camp out, but come one Sunday night, rather than leave for the city, he moved into his camp trailer. Permanent. I sometimes saw him at the outlet store where dented...

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What Forgiveness Tastes Like

Family gatherings around life events are often joyous, emotional occasions. Wedding preparations take the cake when it comes to lots of Big Feelings. Mix the mother of the groom, the father of the bride, siblings, relatives—shirt-tail or otherwise—and there is sure to be no shortage of rough edges on the Big Day. Everyone involved has an investment in the couples’ happiness. Or at least an opinion,(“They paid HOW much for...

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