Five years later – The war in Syria

by Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach It has been five long years since the terrible war in Syria started. More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed. More than half of Syria’s population have been displaced from their homes, and 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Alaa* and his family are just some of the many who have been affected. Originally from the city of Aleppo, the family fled the war two years ago; several generations of family members now live in a small, crowded space in Amman, Jordan. They are among more than 630,000 Syrian refugees now living in […]

New Life: An Easter Pep Talk

March 25, 2016 Lauree Purcell

Editor’s Note: Lauree Purcell is a freelance writer and mother of two teenagers in Harrisonburg, Virginia. As I live out my 50th year, I am going through some exciting challenges that are stretching my thinking and helping me grow. My father passed away last year, so I’m helping my mother clear out the home where they raised me. Going through all the letters, papers, photographs, and all our accumulated possessions brings back both happy and sad memories. Mom and I have been having some painful discussions, but we are also having a lot of fun doing new things she wasn’t […]


March 25, 2016 Matthew Kauffman Smith

As the U.S. presidential election ramps up, and candidates trade barbs, insults, and half-truths about each other, it’s easy to become cynical and jaded. No matter which party you support if you are in the United States, the rhetoric is old, familiar, and repetitive. “Don’t assume things about other people—or animals—based on how they look or where they originated from.” I watched a movie several days after listening to the aftermath of the Super Tuesday primaries in March. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t think everyone is misguided and power hungry. Finally, I found some voices I could believe in: […]

Young Messiah

March 18, 2016 Carmen Andres

Bible films have experienced a resurgence in the last decade or so, and last weekend The Young Messiah joined the ranks. Based on Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by bestselling author Anne Rice (which she wrote after her return to Catholicism), the film explores one year in the life of a seven-year-old Jesus as he and his family return from Egypt to Nazareth. To remember that Jesus grew up—and eventually taught the way of the kingdom—in such a volatile place and time strips away some of the Sunday school storybook sheen and fleshes out the Gospels in a fresh […]

When It’s Raining a Glorious Candy Mess!

March 18, 2016 Melodie Davis

I’ve never met Marianne Jantzi, but after laboring with her for about eight months to bring her first book into the world, I feel like I could be its grandmother. The effects are long lasting. We all feel bright and refreshed and go at our work and play with more vigor. Marianne has four children and is about the age of my own middle daughter. She has been writing stories of their life together as an Amish family in a monthly column in The Connection, a paper read mostly by plain Mennonites and Amish. Marianne’s forthcoming Herald Press book (March 29 […]

Not made in Israel

March 11, 2016 Thirdway

By Rebecca Babirye As 2015 was ending, the European Union (EU) implemented guidelines that require member countries to avoid labeling products “made in Israel” if they are made in occupied Palestinian areas. The guidelines clarified that indication of origin was mandatory and must not be misleading to consumers. A group of U.S. lawmakers have decried the EU policy through legislation introduced in both the House and Senate. The bills (H. Res. 567, S. Res. 346) equate Israel and “Israeli-controlled territory,” erasing a distinction that the U.S. has long made between Israel and its occupied territories. As Lara Friedman of Americans […]

When You’re Wound Up like a Rope

March 11, 2016 Melodie Davis

How do you experience stress? Do you get hyper? Depressed? Blocked by too much to do? Do you nibble constantly, or maybe you don’t feel like eating at all? Become aware of how your body is feeling—and loosen up those shoulders, wrists, and ankles. When I am overly busy and stressed, I feel tension in my neck and shoulders—sometimes with a headache. Back in January, stress was loading up because of a mix of both happy and stressful events. At home, my husband and I faced a looming deadline for a decision; some important factors related to our decision concerned […]


March 11, 2016 Vic Thiessen

As I mentioned in my review of Son of God two years ago, I like to watch Jesus films during Lent. But a new Jesus film worth watching seemed unlikely in wake of the many disappointments I have experienced watching Christian films over the past two years (including Son of God). A record number of Christian and religious films hit our local theaters during that time (e.g., Exodus, Noah, Heaven Is for Real, God’s Not Dead), and they have had huge box office success in the United States. But in my opinion that success was undeserved, as all of those […]

When Baby Makes Four

March 4, 2016 Melodie Davis

I was standing in line at a bagel shop, behind a mother with two children; she had one propped on her hip with a pacifier, while also hanging onto the hand of her toddler. I suddenly recalled myself as a new mother of two and how overwhelming everything, even simple errands, felt at times. I felt busier yes, and more harried than ever—but also more into the family thing. My thoughts turned to the evening before, as I was privileged to help one grandson get acquainted with his new little brother at the hospital, after a routine but very quick […]

Aoife O’Donovan

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March 4, 2016 Jerry L. Holsopple

As a photographer I often seek the magic hour to shoot photographs, the hour when the light bends during its passage through the atmosphere and the color of this light becomes warmer-toned and the shadows grow longer and more intriguing. With that in mind I was curious why O’Donovan would name her newest album with that moniker. O’Donovan inhabits the music of her roots, and not all is darkness. “Porch Light” exposes the struggle between the urge to live totally self-sufficiently and a life that is lived with a commitment to another human. You wanna live a life of restlessness […]