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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

Home for Christmas

candles

The pandemic has brought about a lot of changes this year.  For one, it has invoked a whole new meaning to the phrase “home for Christmas.”  Sure, our holiday plans look quite a bit different this year, but one of my primary laments is I deeply miss church. Many parts of the United States differ in their various COVID restrictions, but where I live in California, we have not been able to gather as a Body since March.  Our church is one of the larger churches in San Jose, so we have had the ability and resources to produce a lovely online service.  We can still have “church from home.”  We still have worship. Our pastors still teach and speak to our hearts.  We have had baptisms and guest speakers and missions updates.  We take communion – separate but together.  We meet for Bible studies, prayer groups, and other ministries […]

Continue Reading

Changing the Narrative: From Our Imperfect Story to His Redemptive Plan

woman

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A season overflowing with joy and gratitude as we reveal in belonging, surrounded by our loved ones. With long-standing family traditions and the anticipation of creating new memories, it all seems so festive, so perfect—but not for everyone. For some, it’s a season defined by grief, reminded of the things that are no longer and the things they have yet to experience. My Internal Story I feel so alone.  Fear not, for I am with you.  I feel forgotten.  See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.  I feel abandoned. I have loved you with an everlasting love. Grief has been my quiet companion. It waits for me when I wake up and lingers as the day ends. It accompanies me every single day, demanding to be seen, heard, and felt.  With unexpected family turmoil, reminders of hopes deferred, […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

Community: Bound Together in Love

silhouette of two person sitting on chair near tree

In the Spring of 2010, I walked into a small room in San Jacinto Hall, a dorm at Texas State University. The room felt vibrant and alive, with lots of smiles, laughs, hugs, and conversation. The room was diverse, from skin color to clothing style, but everyone loved deeply; you could just feel it. I was invited by my new friend, Ellen Porter, to a campus night for a student ministry at Texas State. I knew only one person, but everyone introduced themselves to me and made me feel cared for. This was the start of feeling like a part of a community, a family even, that I didn’t even know I needed at the time. When Jesus truly changed my heart and I became a follower of Jesus a month later, it was this same community that helped me walk faithfully, encouraging me, and challenging me weekly to follow […]

Continue Reading

Whose Legacy Are You Shaped By?

We know that community is important to God. He is one God, with three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He made Adam and Eve because it was “not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) He sent out the disciples two by two. He reminds us to “not neglect meeting together.” (Hebrews 10:25) It is not a surprise then when we hear the phrase, “It takes a village.” This statement holds true for one’s spiritual growth and journey. If you think back on your life and consider who influenced your spiritual journey, you will most likely think of not just one, but a handful of people whose unique personalities, traits, and gifts God used to bring you closer to Him. I would love to invite you to read glimpses of how the church has blessed me in my walk with Christ. Beauty is seen and experienced when we […]

Continue Reading