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I like exploring at extremes, whether it’s trying to push my own limits or understanding someone else’s. A few recent thoughts:

In the spring I traveled to Bangkok to write about people living and working in slums around the world. I wrote a cover story for Christianity Today about their challenging and inspiring stories – “Chaos and Grace in the Slums of the Earth.” I appreciate how they push to work out what faith and love means in their on the crowded margins of society.

This year I turned 40. With the business of family and work that most of us face, I decided on the pedestrian, needed goal of getting in better shape. So to make it more interesting/extreme, on November 2 I’ll be doing a Tough Mudder race with some friends. It’s 12 miles of crazy obstacles. Here you can learn more or sponsor my folly toward helping education in Haiti. I’m having fun. I’m a little sore. Sunday I ran 8 miles, the longest run of my life. I’ll be writing more about this stretching of mind and body.

People kindly, regularly ask if I’m working on my next book. Yes, but it’s taking shape slowly. Look forward to when I have an announcement to make! Meanwhile I post occasional articles on my blog.

There are many extremes worth exploring. Different for each of us. Daily, loving our neighbors. Physically, moving to slums or managing chronic illness. Spiritually, asking the questions of doubt and taking the risks of faith. Emotionally, risking empathy for others or risking true joy. Parentally, doing the incredibly beautiful and mundane work of being a mom or dad or grandparent. And so on.

Beauty is part of what sustains us through the daily efforts of exploring (or just making it through). So as I’ve been thinking about extremes, I wanted to share with you some beautiful music.

Vito and Monique are friends who have a band called The Welcome Wagon, which has received much well-deserved praise. We’ve been friends since Vito and I were seminary students together more than 15 years ago. (Vito is also a pastor.) I love their music and hope you might too. Below you’ll see details on winning one their two albums. And if you don’t win one, they’re worth buying. Here is one of their many songs I like.

Thank you. Grateful to be exploring the grace and challenges of the mundane and the extremes along with you.

Peace, Kent


10 free copies of Welcome Wagon’s two albums! I’ll randomly choose 10 people who do the following: Post on my Facebook page either (a) a brief story of how some type of extreme has been illuminating for you, (b) a brief story about how someone else’s extreme was illuminating, or (c) a link to a story along these lines. Or (d) put it on Twitter and include @kentannan and the hashtag #ExtremeWelcome. I’ll then compile them on my blog. Ten people will receive a beautiful, free Welcome Wagon album!