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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Living on Mission: Are you my neighbor?

person on doorstep gift

This is the second part of my thoughts about Living on Mission.  For its companion, read Living on Mission: What is it Anyway? What was your favorite Bible story growing up?  Maybe it was the story of Noah and all the animals, David and Goliath, Joseph and his very colorful coat, or Jesus walking on water.  For me, it was the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).  (I actually called it The Good “Cemetery,” but hey, I was little, ok?)  I’m not really sure why it stuck with me all these years, but I do know I was drawn to the person who saw a person in need and helped. When the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest command is, the second part of His answer included: ”Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). It may lead you to wonder who your neighbor really is.  This is the exact […]

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Be Still and Know

women

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46: 10 (NIV) The word stillness is not my favorite word by any means. At some point in my life, I completely removed it from my vocabulary. Utterly resolved to venture into a life of productivity, and perfect it, I was prepared to ring in the new year with this mentality. Excitedly writing my hopes, dreams, and things I wanted to accomplish in 2021, I vowed not to hold back—to be proactive and watch the blessing flow. Then December 31st happened.  You know that poem we love to quote? Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures.” In theory, it sounds great. In reality, it’s far from it. The keyword here is makes. This situation […]

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The God Who Loves Us Will Hold Us

perfect love casts out fear frame

I’m feeling a sense of sadness today. I work for Southwest Airlines, and I frequently have the chance to give out my buddy standby passes to those around me. So far, I’ve given them out to friends for adventures, mutual connections for birthday surprises, and refugees for their journeys home. This week, I gave out my first buddy passes to friends for funerals. There are no good answers for this, for why death comes to steal, kill, and destroy. There are no easy responses for why Jesus, who has come that we might have “life abundant,” doesn’t sustain earthly life for those we love. Does he not do so because he is unable? Because he is fake? Because he doesn’t care? We’ve seen hundreds of thousands of deaths due to COVID in America alone this year. More people have died from the coronavirus this year than from the flu the […]

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God, why? > God, what?

green trees on island during daytime

If I’m being honest, there is still a part of me that wishes life would unfold the way I want it to.  And I’m no stranger to the unexpected. I’ve spent the past six years in constant transition: I moved to the Netherlands for a year, serving as a campus missionary. Two weeks later, I married my college sweetheart where we fell in love, in Kalamazoo, MI. A week after arriving back from our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, we drove straight down from Chicago to our new home in Austin, TX. He began seminary; we both started new non-ministry jobs. After a few months, we joined a new church. Six months later, we both had to start new jobs (again). Two years later, we moved back to Michigan after his seminary unexpectedly closed. It took us a month to find new housing, and we lived with my in-laws. Those first […]

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