• Faith Reflections

    My 2018 Word-for-the-Year

    For the past five years, I’ve done a “word-for-the-year” rather than new year’s resolutions. I wrote about it first in 2014 here. I wrote about my word for 2018 here. Many of you have joined me in this new approach to embracing a new year with a single word and I love it when you share your word with me. I love a single word so much more than resolutions. Resolutions tend to make me focus on behavioral changes which don’t always last and often result in more guilt rather than growth. But a guiding word for the year makes me hopeful and excited, like the beginning of a scavenger hunt where the things awaiting discovery this year are unknown to me but I am gleefully optimistic they will lead me to a more grounded, content, healthier (in multiple ways) me. What my family, friends, and world need most is the best version of me that I can possibly be, accomplishing the most good with…

  • Faith Reflections

    Sacrificial Love

    I never dreamed I would one day love attending basketball games, but a boy named Blake changed this for me. My nephew is passionate about basketball and, as a six-foot-two eighth-grader, he gets to play a lot of it. I’ve taken him to the gym to practice drills. I’ve watched him go outside for hours, practicing shots and ball handling. He loves basketball and because I love him, I attend his games and cheer like crazy. It is my duty and, even more so, my joy as his aunt. Loving Christ means we take on Christ’s passion. Out of love for our Savior, we follow his lead, his heart, his mission. Often, this requires a sacrifice – a sacrifice of our time, our resources, our desires – in order to choose that which is better – the way of Christ. We understand this sacrifice when it comes to family. So many parents and grandparents live this out each and every…

  • Faith Reflections

    Morning by Morning New Mercies I See

    I don’t drink coffee (yes – I’ve tried everything. No amount of sugar or cream or milk or pumpkin spice helps.) As much as I want to be one of the cool kids addicted to liquid energy, I’m destined for uncoolness in all areas of my life. But despite this, I do savor the richness of this liturgy for the ritual of morning coffee. As you read and, hopefully, pray this prayer below, remember yesterday is not limited to 24 hours. As I prayed this morning, my yesterdays expand far beyond twenty-four hours on the clock. The wounds can feel raw even if inflicted months or years ago. Each morning I am in need of the God who brings life from death, who turns wounds to scars, who extinguishes darkness with the light of hope. And I love that the liturgy ends with awake. Awake is my word for 2018 (I wrote about it here) and I have seen God do…

  • Faith Reflections

    Jesus, the perfect mirror of God

    In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs. Hebrews 1:1-4 Three years ago, my family made the trek to the happiest place on earth – Disney World! Sources of awe were endless and varied – from roller-coaster masterpieces to electric parades to Mickey Mouse ice cream bars. What a world it is – not just in size and scope, but in the countries represented each day among the guests…

  • Faith Reflections

    When Shame Shows Up

    Most people these days don’t appreciate an unexpected visitor at your home. In the past, the sound of the doorbell triggered excitement as we welcomed a distraction from the monotony of the day. For most today, it seems to bring anxiety or dread or a well-meaning politician or religious devotee with literature and a promise in hand. On a recent trip, shame showed up unexpectedly at my door. I was leading a team of folks from our church and another church on a mission trip to Ukraine and Poland. It was an amazing trip and, considering all that can occur on an international trip, this one had been incredibly smooth thanks to great local contacts, solid preplanning, and a truly laid-back team. At the end of our trip, we traveled from Ukraine to Poland so we could tour the Auschwitz Museum, the former Nazi concentration/death camp. All but one had never been and we were looking forward to the tour –…

  • Faith Reflections

    Grieving Our Way to Growth

    When my niece was little, she always had the corner of a little blanket. She gave up the security blanket on her timing, without coercion or bribes. I’m confident before she completely stopped, there were times when she left it behind and then, moments later, ran back to grab it when she realized she was flying solo. Control is a security blanket for me. I feel safe when things, feelings, and people are ordered, understood, and in their proper place. It is far easier to order my house and office than it is others. There is something deceivingly alluring and falsely secure about feeling in control. One of my good friends and I often say to each other, “Get off their pillow.” It’s a phrase we read several years ago in author Donald Miller’s post about how trying to “excessively know” people can be about control. We’re doing better but still struggle with cozying up onto others’ pillows without being invited. Giving…

  • Faith Reflections

    Snow Lessons

    It snowed today. I wasn’t prepared for it – mentally, physically, or emotionally. Three days ago, I was airing out my house as warm winds danced in one window and out another. I was dreaming of tan skin and flip flops and summer adventures, my mind carried away by those same warm winds. Tonight, I sat in my frozen car waiting for the rear defrost to work its magic. No gloves, no scraper. Just the magic of black stripes across the rear window taking their dear sweet time. It’s funny the things that force you to slow down. You would think it would be people dear to me or the anxious feelings in my overwhelmed body or the deep longing I sense for a God I neglect. You would be wrong. I slow down for none of those things. As I stared into my rearview mirror, waiting for the lines to gradually widen as the warmth spread across the glass,…

  • Faith Reflections

    Hanging Out with Grace

    About a year-and-a-half ago I met Grace – a spunky, joyful, 7-year-old girl with a love for Jesus, her daddy, and life – in that order. We were both attending camp in a new place with new people. At our first meeting with all the new faces, Grace hid behind her daddy’s legs. I hid behind an extroverted alter ego I’d packed for moments like this. Meeting new people can be hard – no matter how old you are. My good friend, Heather, came to camp with me. Heather makes friends with ease. She walks around with love on her face, her sleeve, her fingers. She’s like a sappy sugar maple tree. If you hang around her, you can’t avoid getting love all over you. Grace got stuck to her pretty quickly and, since I was already stuck to Heather, well …. we became one big, sappy mess that week. We played games and painted pictures. We created stories and…

  • Faith Reflections

    Watching Somebody Love

    “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.” Donald Miller in Blue Like Jazz I love this line from Donald Miller’s book. Miller was talking about how some people learn to love something – like jazz music or God – because they witness someone loving jazz music or God and it moves you. You can’t argue with it and sometimes it doesn’t make sense yet the evidence is in front of you in how a person loves. A few summers ago our youth group worked with a guy named Joe while on mission in Oklahoma City. Joe was a volunteer with a food bank and was in charge of their community garden. Joe loves vegetables and dirt and compost. He loves worms and fish waste and all things organic. Joe loves sustainable living and the natural world. I bet, at Joe’s house, he powers his toaster with a bike and…

  • Faith Reflections,  My Life

    Back in the Boat

    Several years ago I attempted to learn to water ski. Some friends had the cabin and the connections – an awesome lady who was a professional water skier and a ski instructor. The plan came together with ease and I said yes – eager to try something to new. But there was a big part of me that was afraid. I wanted to learn to ski but water skiing involves water apparently. I’m not a fan of water since a rafting trip went terribly wrong in 1997. I was on a youth mission trip to Wyoming and we were rafting the Snake River near Jackson Hole. My raft of youth and adults hit some the most intense rapids at the same time a gust of wind blew – flipping our boat and flinging us all into the water. Despite what I knew about using my hands to guide myself to the edge of the raft, the rapids moved the boat continuously, preventing…