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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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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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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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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God is moving to the ends of the earth right now – even tiny cafes in The Netherlands

people sitting on restaurant chairs

We met in a typical Dutch cafe in the middle-of-the-day Tuesday before Christmas. “It was really nice to hear how you ordered an Americano in English. I always knew I was saying it wrong!”, she smiled and approached me.  “Pardon?”, I asked. “Why, yes!” (Explains Dutch vs. English pronunciation.) “What is your favorite drink to order here?”, I laughed. Zoe was the nicest Dutch woman, heck – one of the nicest people I’d ever met. Her personality was welcoming and eccentric. As a psychology professor who believed in good books and lattes, she definitely looked the part: shoulder-length reddish, unruly hair, and large crooked glasses. She was turning 38 the same exact day I was turning 23. Besides sharing a December 30th birthday, we had many other common interests. Coffee “made wrong” (pictured above), museums, travel, bucket lists, reflection, friendship, the newspaper, research, and freedom for women all over the […]

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What will remain when you’re gone?

three children and man at the beach

The best memories of my childhood took place in a greenhouse right around the corner from my own home. My grandparent’s house.  Memories of catching lightning bugs in their yard on humid August evenings. Sleep-overs in their guest room with the best thick shakes and countless rounds of Skip-bo. Pot Roast dinners around their table on Sunday afternoons, with my Grandma’s famous homemade gravy.  Yes, as a child, going to my grandparent’s house was always special. Not because of what they had, but simply because they were there.  My Grandpa had a woodshop in his garage and I used to love watching him work. Mostly, because I could always convince him that my Barbie dolls needed a new bed or couch. I can still imagine him putting aside the cabinets he was working on to measure my dolls and make their furniture for me. My Grandma was always in her […]

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Peace in non-peaceful times

bible reading

As I scroll through social media or overhear conversations between people, I’m overwhelmed with the heaviness people are carrying in 2020. People are anxious, burnt out, exhausted, worried for sick loved ones, uncertain about the future, confused—our world is marked by a lack of peace. If I honestly examine my own thought life during this chaotic year, much of it has been characterized by a lack of peace, too. Wanting to grasp God’s peace during these uncertain times, I recently began searching the scriptures. I came across one of the names of Jesus, as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6, that struck me:  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (ESV) Prince of Peace, or in the original Hebrew, ‘sar shalom‘.  It sounds […]

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This is my Father’s World

woman singing

“This Is My Father’s World” is a hymn I was reintroduced to recently, and I have found its words to be calming in the midst of the anxious climate of uncertainties to be found outside my door. This blog is to be posted the Friday before an election that has brought about a great deal of division and disunity during a global pandemic that has also brought about the same. No matter what happens on this earth, the lyrics are a reminder that this is in fact our Father’s world, our future hope is secure in Him, and He is present in the intricate details of the world around us.  Maltbie Davenport Babcock not only has a great name, but also wrote the words to this great hymn. Before heading out for evening walks, it is written that he would say, “I’m going out to see my Father’s world.” I […]

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Living in Injustice

conversation

When I was in elementary school the Ku Klux Klan held a march through my hometown.  I don’t know the exact route they took, but I know they passed the Bus Center where all the public busses met to exchange passengers and start their routes over again.  I know because that is where I was introduced to the Klan.  I had heard the name before, knew it wasn’t something good… but I couldn’t have imagined the fear and confusion that I would feel when I saw them.  There was never a time in my life when I didn’t understand what unjust hatred was.  I knew there was something about me (that I couldn’t control) that made people actually hate me.  I knew there were people who wanted to hurt me.  I knew the world was not safe for me, and for weeks I jumped at every noise while I walked […]

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Living on Mission: What is it anyway?

arrow pointing

In the middle of a pandemic, when your every day to day is suddenly flipped on its head, it’s pretty easy to start contemplating life and its purpose – specifically your own.  Who am I?  What am I doing?  Why am I here?  If you are a believer, the answer is simple.  Your mission is Christ’s mission. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”   Matthew 4:19 During a recent sermon by Calvary Church’s Steve Dang, he said, “When we place our faith in Christ, we don’t go into ministry, we are in ministry.”  In other words, when you accept Christ, you accept the mission of God.  And God is in the ministry of reconciliation  (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  From the time of the The Fall in Genesis 3, God has been working to win us back to Him.  He did this through Christ, and […]

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