Smashing Work Idols

Too often, I live as if circumstances dictate joy. Here’s a prime example: recently, my husband Brad and I were praying before Community Group and he surprised me by asking God to send us with joy. My initial thought was ugly: “Ugh. Joy? I’m not feeling joy right now.” Realizing this, I knew I had let that day’s circumstances dictate my joy, not the Lord. So, I repented and joined Brad in asking the Spirit to bear joy in us.  I think it’s worth noting that when I repented, I didn’t “feel joy” immediately afterward… and I think that’s okay. Joy isn’t just a feeling. It is a work of God in us. It is the gladness of heart in knowing God (1 Peter 1:8), abiding in Christ (John 15:5), and being filled with the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And sometimes, it will involve praying and waiting with expectancy for […]

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The Butterfly Effect: Building Trust in Society

butterfly

Last summer, I penciled in my journal, “Build trust in society.” We know healthy relationships require authentic and reciprocated trust. We know healthy communities are the sum of healthy relationships. With this in mind, when the fabric of our society feels like it is tearing apart, what would it look like to build trust in society? What would it look like to increase, instead of decrease, the trust we have in one another and in our leaders? Many of us came  out of 2020 feeling fragile and worn thin. For many of us, the year held both much beauty and also great loss. We witnessed death brought by covid, and we experienced a hundred smaller losses in our reality of normal. For many of us, we took a look at the fabric of our systems and found it to be frayed and hurtful to people of color. For many of […]

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Desire a Better Home

aerial photography of rural

Over the past year, there have been some of the all-time highest levels of home improvement sales in America. People have been staying home more due to the pandemic and, out of both desire and necessity, putting more money into their homes. We’re seeking more space, more comfort, and better aesthetics for the spaces we inhabit for so much of our lives in this season. Basically, the general population is finally experiencing what stay-at-home moms like myself have been feeling for years!  Okay, I’m (sort of) joking. But as long as I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, I’ve craved for ways to make my home more comfortable, more organized, and more functional (though my execution is lacking!). After all, like so many people this year, my home is where I spend most of my life.  After our fourth daughter was born, my husband and I started talking about selling our house […]

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When The Lost Are Found

man carrying boy while standing and smiling near pine trees

Several years back, my husband informed me that he didn’t want to be a Christian anymore and was tired of trying to do the right thing. His explanation reminded me of the prodigal son in the Luke 15 parable. The Lost Son In this parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells a story of a man with two sons. The younger of the two asks for his inheritance and leaves his father’s home. He wastes all the money he received, leaving him poor and hungry. The son decides to head home, hoping that maybe his father will allow him to work as a servant.  Much to his surprise when he returns, his father runs to greet him with open arms. The father is delighted to see his son one again, and is quick to give him fancy clothing and jewelry. The father even calls for a special […]

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Like Apples of Gold

apple picking

I recently came across Proverbs 25:11 anew when a friend suggested it as a theme for a women’s night. Intrigued, I began to study it more in depth in one of my favorite ways—reading it in different Bible translations. I’ve personally found this a great way for me to reflect and meditate on a piece of scripture. Here is Proverbs 25:11 in a number of translations: Like apples of gold in settings of silver, is a word spoken at the proper time. (NASB) Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. (NIV) A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (NKJV) Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. (NLT) Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken at the right time. (AMP) I love the imagery this verse evokes, comparing a word […]

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Nearer, my God, to Thee

woman singing

Over the past couple of weeks as I have been having health issues, I have put together a little prayer area in my bedroom. The space is filled with a “prayer chair,” sticky notes, journals and markers, and paintings for visuals to look up to. When I have not been feeling well, it is hard to pray, or think, or even get up with enough time to spend time with the Lord. Despite those days, this little sanctuary is a daily reminder that His presence never leaves and He is always near.  It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8 At the beginning of the pandemic and into the fall, my prayer time became rich and full as I studied the book Spiritual Disciplines, and spent my early mornings […]

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Fully forgiven, lavishly loved

woman hands up in front of green meadows

Forgiveness seems like such an elementary principle. If you hurt someone, say “I’m sorry”, they forgive you, and everyone goes about their day, right? Even my 18-month-old understands the most basic form of asking for forgiveness when he gives a hug and a kiss after he hurts his sister. Although he can say “I’m sorry” in an infantile way, he most likely does not feel bad for his actions or understand the pain of the other person. He’s just going through the motions. And though I like to think of myself as more mature than this chalk-eating baby, if I’m being honest, I have acted the same for most of my life. I have gone through the motions of saying “I’m sorry” without truly evaluating my wrongdoing (my sin), seeking forgiveness, and turning away from that sin.  In 2010, as a sophomore in college, I gave my life to Christ […]

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When am I ever going to be good enough?

water well

A few weeks back I found a new song on my Spotify Discover Weekly while jogging around the park.  The music was peppy enough at first and the lyrics straightforward and catchy. However, when the chorus came, I found myself a bit haunted by its repeated questions: When am I ever gonna be good enough, for anyone? When am I ever gonna be good enough, for anything?  They’re all ten thousand steps ahead of me Everything I’ll never be When am I ever gonna be good enough? I am a pretty driven person. I have always been motivated to pursue the highest and best. For most of my life this has manifested itself in school and sports. Now as a young adult, I see this in my professional aspirations, personal drive to always be learning and growing, and internalized pressure to keep up with my peers in terms of life […]

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Look at Jesus on the cross. Who do you need to forgive?

Cross

During this Lenten season, I’ve been thinking a lot about my disposition towards forgiving others, a virtue we all should at least be thinking about today, on Good Friday. Join me on a journey through Psalm 88, and then through the lens of a woman’s testimony from the Rwandan genocide only two decades ago. Let’s start in Psalm 88: LORD, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest […]

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We cannot hate those He loves

cut out hatred scissors on paper

All mine are yours and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you.  Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.          John 17:10-11 Many years ago, a friend of mine (father of 3 and long-time friend who I’d worked and done life within many different capacities) told me it meant a lot to him that I loved his children so well.  He is not an incredibly emotional man so the strong feeling behind his statement struck me, and I never forgot the importance of the moment.  I don’t have children, but I think I’m beginning to see the depth of what he felt. In recent years, I’ve seen a lot of […]

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