Kendall with a grateful Masai youth.

Ches’s well

My son-in-law, Kendall, gulped down a cup of water the other day, freshly drawn from Ches’s well. Deep. Sweet. Pure. It flowed to the surface from a stream oceans away from Canada and hundreds of feet down, under the churchyard of a humble Kenyan village. Kendall smiled. Ches Patzer would have smiled too. Perhaps he […]

So many cakes...so little willpower? I know.

Eaters digest – and other things

I’ve fallen into some shoddy habits. My waistbands sit tight, and my resolve falls loose. Our scale and mirrors speak truth: I’m getting fat. Again. King Solomon was right: “Better to stick a knife in one’s throat than to let appetite get the best of you,” he warned in Proverbs, adding that the food of […]

A special love makes a special child. Son-in-law Kendall adoring his fourth daughter, our newest grandbean..

What makes you so special?

  “Good morning, Dr. Phil!” I said, silencing my clattering phone. Laughter greeted me. “I’m always amazed that you know my voice.” “Call display helps,” I told him. But even without that, I’d know my friend and fellow scribe’s voice; the soft stretches of syllable and sharp curving of consonants that make the South African […]

Growing faith in our kids means so much more than taking them to church...but it helps.

Church, kids, and faith

I stood in church the other day, holding one grandbean, standing beside another. Wondering what faith concepts they’ll bring with them into adulthood. In my own childhood church, we stood, spoke and sang when told. Our prayers followed the pastor’s directions. Sometimes we stood, “every head bowed, every eye closed.” At other times we were […]

Truth and Wisdom to you in 2014

Truth and Wisdom to you in 2014

Thanks to wider newspaper coverage, Sunny Side Up has acquired some new readers recently. (Welcome, if that means you!) “Why do you always call your husband “the Preacher,” one asked me recently. Since some of my regular readers may also wonder, here’s why: First, the Preacher has been a card-carrying member of the clergy for […]

Merry Christmas...

Messed Up for Christmas

I wished him a Merry Christmas, just before Christmas.  “Same to you,” he said, but his words felt flat. Then, rather than carrying on, he paused. A strapping young man whose name I don’t even know. A man with something on his mind. Something it seemed he hated to confess, but did anyway. He lowered […]

Searching for ISON

Don’t miss the true star of Christmas

The comet ISON, astronomers predicted earlier this year, could prove a heavenly Christmas gift to sky-watchers. The 2013 “Christmas star,” bright enough for daylight viewing.  I decided not to miss it. “But comets are like cats,” one expert noted.  “Unpredictable. To reach maximum brilliance, ISON will have to survive a near pass of the sun—the […]



On November 21st, two and a half-weeks before her due date, our daughter made a panicked 4 a.m. call to our house. We’d expected that call, just not quite so early—and not quite so terrifying. “Mom, I’m bleeding like mad. We’re leaving for the hospital NOW. We’ll leave the door open.” What came next chilled […]

I'm the little one--circa 1959. And we weren't perfect, either.

Perfect Imperfect Family

Family. It confines us, it defines us, it refines us, and it aligns us. Our lives are spent in the context of family—natural or other, whether or not we appreciate it. Best-selling Canadian author and artist Michael O’Brian, in his book Father at Night, a collection of personal stories and reflections on fatherhood, says this: […]