Why I went, and how God showed up

I first heard about the opportunity to travel to Israel  with Shoresh Study Tours as part of a CCO delegation almost exactly a year ago. Vince Burens, the CCO’s Executive VP and COO, made the announcement at our annual Summer Institute training event in July 2012, and I think I was among the first to…

Processing the pilgrimage

Since I returned from Israel last week, the most frequent question I’ve been asked about the trip has been, “What was your favorite part?” Close runners-up have been, “What surprised you the most?” and “Did the experience meet your expectations?” You’d think by now I’d have ready answers to these questions. But, as I said…

The Israel Updates

Below are the two messages I sent from Israel to family and friends at home in the States. A quick hello from Israel 19 June 2013, Wednesday, 6:23 PM in Israel (11:23 AM Eastern Standard Time) Hi all! I just returned from our second full day of touring and discovered some rare (if brief) free time…

From Galilee to Jerusalem

It’s a quiet Saturday morning. I’m freshly showered, sipping coffee, relaxing on my living room couch while reading comments that have been left on photos I uploaded to my Facebook page yesterday. I’m not even halfway done with that project. I was going to share a “few” representative pictures for interested friends and family members,…

The journal

Maybe it was because I was preparing to attend my niece’s high school graduation ceremony. Or maybe it’s because my 25th college reunion is coming up this weekend. It’s probably because it’s May, and that seems to be the time when I start feeling nostalgic. Or at least, more nostalgic than usual. Last week, I…

Why I love memoirs

“My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.” —Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Random thoughts for a new year

A friend posted this to Facebook yesterday: I just learned that the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions harkens back to the ancient idol worship of a two-faced Roman god. That makes me feel better about my lack of success in making/keeping any. I certainly do not want to be accused of being an idol…

My dad’s life in four parts

My dad recently sat down with freelance reporter, Ron Paglia, for an interview about his life. The resulting story is being published in four parts by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Mon Valley section. I am archiving them here as they are published. Enjoy! Facing life’s challenges led to success (November 25, 2012) Part 1 of 4…

Writing prompts

In April, I attended my favorite writing conference ever: Calvin College’s Festival of Faith & Writing. To be fair, I haven’t attended very many writing conferences in my lifetime, but I can’t imagine I would find another event of its kind to measure up. I so appreciate the variety and thoughtfulness of the participants, the…

Remembering Mom

Five years ago today, my mom lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. For months afterward, the 17th held a weird, indefinable significance. Not so much anymore, but my favorite season, autumn, has taken on a more-than-melancholy feeling for me since 2006. I’ve been thinking about her all day, and I will be all week; a…