• 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…

  • My Life

    Seeing Beauty

    I’m a believer that when something is repeated, we should probably pay attention. Again …. when something is repeated … 😉 My morning devotion invited me to reflect on the fact that Jesus was never in a hurry. NEVER. I’d never really thought about it, but I can’t recall a time in the Gospel stories where Jesus acted too busy for what was happening right in front of him. Man, that convicted me. I don’t know who authored the following but I am grateful. I have heard many a sermon on the other qualities of Christ, but very few on the truth that Jesus’s life was marked by a moment-by-moment appreciation of the world He died to redeem. The boundaries of Christlikeness do not stop at humility, or wisdom, or even supernatural power. They extend to a willingness to take the yoke of Christlikeness, which encompasses ALL we see of Him and more. To live with the same unhurried gentleness…

  • 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…

  • My Life

    On Feeling Sad

    I’ve felt sad the last couple of days. Normally I wouldn’t blog about such things. Who wants to read a blog about sadness? Who wants to write a blog about sadness? But both – the reading and the writing – are needed more than we think. Too many of our posts and online sharings are filtered, cleaned-up, or misleading. Sometimes they are lies or simply wishful fairy tales. Why am I sad? I really don’t have an answer to that question. Sometimes we are just sad and I’ve learned that is okay. Perhaps it is adjusting back to the day-to-day life after our mission trip to Ukraine. I love traveling and spending time with partners and friends and sharing new experiences with teams. It is busy but it fills my bucket. Returning home to a different routine, a known routine is sometimes like hitting the brakes too hard when driving. It takes me a little while to adjust. Maybe it…

  • 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 –…

  • My Life

    Seasons

    Any time I think of the seasons changing, I start singing the catchy tune, “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds. “To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) And a time to every purpose, under heaven” I love the seasons and the unique purposes of each. Since I’m not a fan of the cold, I think the sole purpose of winter is to make sure I truly savor spring, summer, and fall. That is what cold, darker times do – make us appreciate the warm, brighter days. The longer the winter, the more glorious the spring. Tuesday my summer season “officially” ends as I return to work after a whirlwind of trips the past ten weeks – senior trip to North Carolina; mission trip to Kenya; youth mission trip to Houston. The past two weeks have been all about recouping and reconnecting. I’ve claimed my house back, reintroduced myself to the neighbors, found the grocery store,…

  • 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,…