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It was just days before Christmas. A drunk driver suddenly veered into our lane and totaled our car - with our whole family inside. Thank God, we were all okay. Our car? Junkyard.

Then there was the Christmas my sons and I decided to try out the NFL football one had just gotten as a gift. Great fun - until Mr. Klutz here caught one on the end of his finger. My finger? Broken. The emergency room folks gave me a Christmas gift. A splint.

    Tough news at the beginning of the Christmas season. The "lovely lady" mom of the Brady Bunch died on Thanksgiving.

    Florence Henderson played lots of roles on Broadway and TV. But she'll always be remembered as Carol Brady - mother to the six kids of that iconic sitcom family, the Brady Bunch.

        I think my pastor spoke for millions of Americans on this first Sunday after Election Day. He simply said, "I'm exhausted." Beyond the battle fatigue, there's a wide - and passionate - range of emotions. From celebrating to grieving, from anticipation to anger, from relief to fear, from hope to hurt. With the political battlefield strewn with damaged relationships, raw emotions, finger-pointing, conflicting passions - and lots of uncertainty.

          By Brad Hutchcraft

          We have a tree in our yard that is one of my favorite things. Sure, a tree might be no big deal to some, but it means a lot to me. I have always loved the changing of seasons, especially seeing the leaves change color each autumn. I think it started with the story my mom and dad would tell me growing up. They would tell us that the angels came out to paint the leaves at night when the weather got cooler. That was always such a cool picture to me. It didn't help me ace my science exams, but still a memorable story from my childhood.

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            The streets of Manhattan get pretty crazy. You're bullied by buses, taxis and surging pedestrians. And unhinged by honking horns, screaming sirens, rushing people. Awful, many say.

            And then there's the view from the Freedom Tower. Awesome, many say. Above the mess and stress. Amazed by a whole new perspective, a breathtaking view of the island, the harbor, the city.

              I missed the sunset tonight. But I saw something just as beautiful.

              The afterglow. A sky painted by my favorite Artist in brilliant hues of orange and yellow. I've seen a lot of sunsets. All over the country and the world. But the show isn't over when the sun goes down. The sky is still glowing. Often, magnificently.

                "My name is Idiot."

                She's only four. But when police in Hot Springs, Arkansas responded to a report of child abuse, that's what she told them. The marks of abuse were all over her body. Bruises everywhere, a black eye, scars on her back.

                  We're all broken.

                  And we're covering it up. It's too risky to come out from behind that mask, that wall we put up to keep people out.

                  Until someone else does. Speaking transparently from their own brokenness. In essence, giving us permission to face our own hurt and darkness. The "truth" that will, in Jesus' words, "set you free" (John 8:32).

                    I've always loved the hymn "Amazing Grace." Now I'm living it.

                    When a song or a favorite food or an old voicemail slams me with the still inconceivable reality that she won't be back. Or when I'm in the living room where the love of my life and I shared so much. Her touches are everywhere. Her laughter is in the walls. Her absence is overwhelming. She's been gone a month now.

                                  

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