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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

Jesus, Our Hope for a New Year

person wearing silver ring on ring finger on book page

It’s easy to search for hope and fulfillment in a new year. If only I had a new routine, a better diet, a cleaner house, more money, a better social life, or more me-time. If these things changed, I’d finally feel happy and at rest, right?! New Year’s resolutions are great, I’m not trying to knock them. It’s an admirable desire to grow, mature, and love more in the upcoming year. Desiring to live a life that pleases God, live with purpose and meaning, and be godly are all good things. They are given to us by God. The problem with those is not the destination of living a life pleasing to God, but the means by which we get there. The problem lies in the push to do everything and be better in our own strength and for the purpose of self-glory instead of God’s glory.  And what happens […]

Continue Reading

More Than a Promise

cards hanging on Christmas tree

It’s that time again.  Christmas is often either a favorite or most dreaded time of the year. Christmas is for hot chocolate and mistletoe.  Family and loved ones.  Lights and gifts. For some people, it is a magical season full of warm memories, hopeful feelings, and fond family affairs.  For others, Christmas aims a spotlight at life’s unfulfilled wishes.  For me, it’s a little of both, but I have grown to appreciate that.  I can appreciate the sweet memories I make and still long for something more.  The older I’ve gotten, the more I realize this tension is the perfect picture of Christmas.  Instead of dreading the duality of feelings, I let them remind me of the complicated, miraculous, and life-changing truth of ‘already and not yet.’ And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with […]

Continue Reading

Add to your Faith: Perseverance

man on mountain with snow

When was the last time you persevered through something difficult? Or perhaps persevered through temptation? Last week, a few months ago, a year ago? I like Webster’s definition of perseverance – “The quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult.” The exhortation to persevere through sin is something that has popped up for me recently reading through scripture and other readings.  Jesus told his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane to stay awake with Him as He was seeking and praying to God the Father about the cup he was to bear (His death). Jesus informed Peter, James, and John, “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.“ (Matthew 26:41, NKJV) I can rest assured according to God’s true and rich Word that my spirit is willing to obey! In 2 Peter 1:3, we are informed that “His [the Lord’s] divine […]

Continue Reading

The Paradox of Powerlessness

flowers rocks

This year has been a season of longing – longing for normalcy and longing for a return of routines, activities, and hangouts. Some of these longings are simple and easy to persevere through – longing to stand in a crowd at your favorite band’s concert, longing to go to the grocery store without being armed with Clorox wipes, or longing for the start of the college football season. Others are rooted in more sensitive and desperate parts of our hearts – longing to be surrounded by a life-giving community, longing for employment that feels meaningful and worthwhile, longing for a new relationship or healing in a current one.  In many ways, our whole lives are a series of thirsts that culminate in the ultimate thirst for Christ. The reality is, this thirst is unlikely to be fully quenched this side of heaven. With that in mind, how can we carry […]

Continue Reading

Ancient Wisdom for Our Social Media Age

social media typing

Between a pandemic and feeding a newborn a billion times a day, I’ve spent a significant amount of time on social media over the past several months. I pick up my phone, use my thumbprint to unlock it, and pull up Instagram or Facebook like a bad habit. By the time I’m done, my heart is heavy because while my thumb was busy scrolling, my heart was busy comparing, judging, loving self-promotion, and wanting to respond to someone’s online foolishness with my own folly. For such a simple and mindless habit, my heart can really come out spinning. While social media may be an area of temptation we need to flee at times, there are many beautiful, redeeming aspects of social media, especially in this moment in history. Social media is not the reason why my heart spins out of control; my sin is. Social media may be new, but […]

Continue Reading

What’s Your “Why”?

In counseling, we emphasize several key points to clients for goal-setting to be more successful. Two of the most important are some of the most simple – and challenging.  First, if possible, goals should be framed positively. For example, “I want to stop drinking” (negative) vs. “I want to be sober” (positive). Or, “I don’t want to be anxious” (negative) vs. “I want to experience more peace” (positive). Clients are encouraged to consider not simply what obstacle they want to overcome, but what they actually want to achieve. Second, goals should have a clear motivation. For example, a counselor might say, “I know you want to be sober/more peaceful/etc. — tell me what motivates that desire. Let’s meditate on that.” Even if a client has a positive goal in mind, it’s not enough. They’ve got to know their “why” so their goal is reinforced by emotion. For example, “I want […]

Continue Reading
1 2 3 6