• DOYLE: Is this new friend really our old friend?

    About two weeks before Christmas, a young, black-and-white cat took up residence in our barn and promptly became part of the family. That may not seem unusual to you, but it was downright eerie to us.

    We only that month had been talking of getting a barn cat to help ensure pests didn’t invade the feed bins. Then appears this cat, nice, clean, young, looking for a family and a home.

  • SOUDER: I resolve to wish you a Happy New Year

    Welcoming another New Year means different things to different people. Some are just glad to put the month-long season of gluttony from Thanksgiving to New Year’s behind them and still fit into their wardrobe (the clothes, not the furniture).

    On that count, one wise guy said, “People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.”

    OK, but where’s the fun in that?

  • DOYLE: It was a cold day in Shelby

    Before daylight Monday morning, with the house cracking like my joints, the wind whirring around the corner and through the trees, I tugged snow pants over flannels, pulled on a ski mask, shrugged a heavy barn coat over my sweatshirt, wedged a pair of gardening gloves under my work gloves, yanked the garage door away from the floor to which it was frozen and headed blindly into cold that apparently was so brutal that no one should have had to face it.

    Let me say the chillingly obvious: It was colder than, well, anything you want to interject.

  • CHARLTON: One family’s story of an end-of-life scenario

    During the months of penning this column, a number of people have approached me to suggest possible topics. Interestingly, one of those suggestions has far surpassed all others – the questions and issues surrounding the end of life.

  • DOYLE: An enlightening holiday gift

    A few weeks ago, with Christmas wishes dancing through their heads, my younger children were offered an option for their primary, non-Santa holiday gift: Would they prefer a family getaway or another item off their really fairly brief lists? They quickly and loudly chose the trip, probably because they knew they still had Santa (and two sets of grandparents) as a fallback for anything really important.

  • SOUDER: The best Good News ever

    “The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11


    We all like good news: “It’s a girl!” “The biopsy came back negative. The cancer is gone!”

    “Today’s test is cancelled. Everyone gets an ‘A’!” “Cheeseburgers declared ‘miracle heath food of the year’!”

  • Our verse for the holiday

    With apologies to Clement Moore, we adapt our rhyme for the season and wish you a very Merry Christmas.


    ‘Twas the night before Christmas

    And all through the town,

    Not a creature was stirring

    The mayor had shut it down.


    Stockings were hung

    By the chimney with care,

    But doubtful old St. Nick

    Would dare be there.


    Our children were asleep,

    To the world they were dead,

    But Christmas dreams likely

  • CHARLTON: On Christmas, lets give peace a chance

    “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” – Isaiah 2:4-5.


    This famous quote from the prophet Isaiah adorns a wall in Ralph Bunche Park, situated across the street from the United Nations headquarters in New York. It expresses the hope and dream that peace, so elusive throughout human history, will one day come to our world.

  • Holidays are a mall world after all

    The man was telling me about his recent afternoon of Christmas shopping. He bemoaned the parking lot at a mall, saying he had to drive around 20 minutes just to find a place and hike a long way in the frozen wind to get inside the mall. There he found the muddled masses, which brings this question: Is the very word “mall” an adaptation of “masses all?”

    He was frustrated and indignant. “I hate dealing with all of that,” he said. Or perhaps words more colorful and to the point.

  • SOUDER: A prayer request from a grateful husband

    Today I ask that you pray for my wife.

    Now, because you are all such caring (and nosy) people, I’m sure the first thing that came to your mind was to wonder why I would make such a request. Is my wife sick? No. Is she hurt? No. Is she…pregnant? Oh my goodness – no!

    I am requesting prayers on my wife’s behalf at this time because as of last weekend we officially have two teenagers at our house, and as of this weekend she will have been married to me for 23 years.