“Live a Little More Beautifully and Dangerously, as Christians Should”: Some Thoughts on Going to Iraq

By | April 4th, 2017|A Contemplative Life, Identity, On Writing, Travels Near and Far|

A normal night in the Smucker household. When Father David said what he said on Sunday morning, I immediately grabbed the pen my daughter was drawing with and scribbled his quote at the top of my bulletin. “Hey!” she hissed in quiet protest. Lucy and Cade looked over [...]

The Secret Power of Shrimp Vindaloo

By | June 8th, 2016|Guest Posts, Travels Near and Far|

On our first return to England from the U.S., we made the mistake of giving in to jet lag. On that particular trip, we arrived at our Wendover home and slept all day, a gorgeous, indulgent, heavy sleep that felt more like drowning. We slept from 10am until 4pm in [...]

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Stop Complaining About People in Poverty (At Least Around Me)

By | February 5th, 2016|A Contemplative Life, Courageous People of Lancaster, Travels Near and Far|

I was out shoveling the snow a few days after the most recent blizzard, and it gave me a chance to catch up with my neighbor Aaron. He lives across the street. He's an older, African-American fellow, really nice, and we always wave and chat for a bit when we [...]

When God Gives Shitty Gifts

By | November 13th, 2015|A Contemplative Life, Identity, Travels Near and Far|

In 2009, my wife woke to a ball of anxiety about what was happening, about our business going under and all the debt weighing us down, about us having to leave a place we loved and move our family of six into my parents’ basement 150 miles away. She slid [...]

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Something My Family’s Been Doing For 60 Years

By | September 21st, 2015|A Contemplative Life, Identity, Travels Near and Far|

My dad showing my son how to put together tables built by my grandfather at a fair my family has been going to for the last 60 years or so. If you have known me or my family for any period of time, you know where I am [...]

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The Unlikely Gift I Found in a Lancaster City Alley

By | August 26th, 2015|A Contemplative Life, Identity, Travels Near and Far|

Sammy, two or three years old, taking a pitch from my dad at my parents' old house. On a cool August day, on that particular stretch of Market Street (which is more like an alley than a street), just north of James, you might see the young woman [...]

The Long, Slow Road to the Top

By | August 20th, 2015|A Contemplative Life, Identity, On Writing, Travels Near and Far|

Sam, taking in the Grand Tetons, standing on the edge of Yellowstone National Park. It was just over three years ago that my family and I took a four-month trip around the United States in a big, blue bus named Willie. We left in February, and it was [...]