Michelle Van Loon invites evangelicals to consider the liturgical season of Lent and provides practical tips for the novice: “I didn’t know it then, but I learned (as we all do at some point in our lives) that mourning is an inescapable part of our earthly existence. We live in a world shaped by the effects of humanity’s disconnection from God. That disconnection manifests itself in loss, sickness, and death. Whether it is a generalized awareness of our brokenness or a specific grief after the death of a loved one, Lent interrupts our regularly scheduled lives to reconnect us with the deepest need behind our pain: communion with God.”

Joya Smith describes her long journey toward healing and readiness for a godly marriage: “I had to remember that God is the designer of marriage, and He already has an outline for it.  I had to remember that the purpose of it is to bring glory to Him and replicate the relationship He has with us. The husband loving his wife sacrificially (as Christ)-giving his life up for her (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29), and the wife submitting to him (Ephesians 5.22), not in an inferior, unequal manner as the world tends to misconstrue, but in a powerful display of love and trust.  Remembering that sobered me up a bit and made me remember what I was really looking for in a partner.”

Nicole Howe articulates the distinction between the imaginary and human imagination and her spiritual need for the latter: “Before going on a journey to recover my own imagination, I’m not sure I would have been able to answer him this way. I spent a large portion of my early motherhood years feeling disenchanted with the life I’d been given – a life built upon the virtues of duty, efficiency, and practicality. A life where my clearest goal was just getting things done. I was disconnected from that child-like part of myself that kept me tender and available to beautiful things.’

Katelyn Beaty reviews Girl, Stop Apologizing: “True excellence is also impossible within a theological framework that overemphasizes self-determination. Throughout the book, Hollis seems to veer into prosperity gospel theology by communicating that if you simply work hard enough, you’ll reap the financial, professional, and physical rewards that you deserve. Hustle is an idol if it leads you to cut ethical corners in order to stand out in a competitive world.”

Michael Wear tells part of the story of his own adoption and the hope he has found in being a father: “There is a profound connection between hope and parenthood. Hope requires an openness to possibility, to vulnerability and to potential disappointment. As Daphne observes in Lydia Kiesling’s novel The Golden State, ‘to have a child is to court loss.’ In relationships, we often extract promises, seeking assurances in spite of the known human propensity for falling short. But what joy there can be in hope fulfilled, a promise kept. As someone whose life has been marked by the disruption of that most basic human relationship, that of parent to child, to have a child of my own is to dare to hope that a party to such brokenness might still have the capacity to provide—to be—what he has never known himself.”

James Calvin Schaap contrasts his garage sale with a genuine Native American giveaway: “By 1870, when my great-grandparents came to Siouxland, white folks had determined Native American giveaways to be among a handful of heathen rituals from which savages had to be saved. That Sunday morning when I had first read about them, we marched off to church an hour later for what was, I remember, a powerful sermon about our incredible materialism, the kind of ethic, a century ago, we might have seen in practice had we not determined the Yanktons should give up their heathen ways.”

Timothy Thomas laments the absence of Lauryn Hill from mainstream music: “We miss Lauryn Hill. But perhaps the Hill we miss is the one we’ve fashioned in our own image. From Kanye West(‘Lauryn Hill say her heart was in Zion/I wish her heart still was in rhymin’/‘Cause who the kids gon’ listen to? Huh?’) to Jackie Hill-Perry (“Ode ToLauryn”), we’ve all hoped she could continue to provide us the emotional andsoul-gratifying lyrics that seems to be missing since her mainstream departure.”

Jonathan Aigner solves the problem of bad music in the church: “Of course, there were many factors, mostly cultural, that led to the decline of congregational singing. But carpet is one of the most pervasive and most completely unnecessary factors. Churches must begin to realize that this is not just a practical issue, but a theological one, as well. In liturgy, we are to be worshiping corporately as God’s covenant people.”