Every Sunday, the children are invited forward at our church. It’s one of my favorite parts of the service. Squiggly kids. Tentative ones. The bosses. The boisterous. The people-pleasers. Their unabashed traits shining in all their glory. No time-crafted mask covers that beauty yet. Sigh.

What does Advent mean? the children are asked. It’s one simple question. One simple answer. Coming. And the first purple candle of Advent is lit.

This year, John and I mailed Advent candles [...]

Why Can’t I Hear Angels Sing? The Twelve Labors of Christmas

By Dr. Penny Freeman

  1. List everything you think people in your life want that will bring them ultimate joy.
  2. Try to find these items cheaper (anywhere) by checking all the search engines and local merchants within a five-mile radius.
  3. Stop and drag out all the decorating stuff. Trim the tree to surprise your spouse. Put all the boxes away to keep house tidy.
  4. Maintain a good attitude.
  5. Create a Martha Stewart-type menu to feed eight hungry adults and three [...]

Holidays Make Me Blue for Something…

By Dr. Penny Freeman

I am still full and none of my pants fit. The table was lovely and the food came out perfectly. We drank eggnog, consumed food we only see once a year, and everyone was in a good mood and on time (except for a two-year old who can’t help being two right now).

Leftovers were abundant, and people went home to sleep off the food coma. My weary body crawled towards bed. [...]

It’s Not Too Late to Stop the Madness

Do you still have cookies to bake? Presents to wrap? Or horrors, presents yet to buy? I can check yes for all of the above and more.

Consider this: Are you being invited to faith in action or faith in waiting right now? According to the gospel, neither doing all you think you need to do or not doing all you think you need to do has value. It’s faith in the work Jesus Christ [...]

By |December 22nd, 2015|Shari Thomas|2 Comments|

Purple Wallpaper

When I was a little girl, I would stare at my purple-flowered wallpaper and contemplate the meaning of faith. I was comforted that I didn’t need much faith—I only needed faith the size of a mustard seed, which I learned was very small. My hope was quickly dashed when I discovered faith couldn’t contain any doubt. Why would it even matter to have a tiny amount of faith in the first place if doubt [...]

By |September 10th, 2015|Shari Thomas|6 Comments|

Where Is the Manual for Pastors’ Wives?

“Where is the manual for pastors’ wives?” a young woman asked our Parakaleo group last week.

Just hearing the question, I knew a hard story would follow. It did, and confirmed my sense that her question couldn’t be answered in a how-to book.

I recognized the desire behind her question. It’s my desire and I imagine it’s yours, too. We want an instruction guide we can follow, something we can do that ensures a pain-free life. [...]

What Do You Deeply Long For?

Ruthann Batstone, a counselor who is also on Parakaleo’s staff, asked us this question on our last staff call. We were asked write down our answer and to do the same for the next two questions:

What would happen, how would your life be different, if you got what you longed for? What would happen if you didn’t get what you long for?

We then shared how this simple experience of longing impacted us.

Some of [...]

By |December 24th, 2014|Shari Thomas|3 Comments|

And She Laughs at the Time to Come

My grandmother left the comforts of a close-knit family in Alberta, Canada for a missionary career in central Cuba. She was twenty-three years old, timid, and single when she first arrived in Cuba. Later, she married and while she never spoke unkindly about her husband, we knew life with him in ministry was not easy. Before I married and moved to Spain, I asked her what advice she had for me, a woman also [...]