A Gift Like Matthew

A Gift Like Matthew

Everybody needs to know someone like my cousin Matthew. A traumatic premature birth left Matt with catastrophic brain damage, and his doctors believed he wouldn’t live much past his teens. He turned 40 this year. As a quadriplegic, Matt can’t walk or even roll over in bed unassisted, he can’t care for any of his own needs, and he struggles to speak clearly. And he’s one of the best humans I know. Matt’s a grin machine on wheels. He’s passionate about his church, his favorite restaurant, his day program, and Barry Manilow. In a social climate choked with anger and opinions, Matt is fresh air because he’s exceptional at two things: loving and being loved. Every Labor Day weekend for well over a hundred years, our family has gathered on a Kentucky hillside to play...

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Dear American Church: We’re Not an Exception

Dear American Church: We’re Not an Exception

Dear beloved American Church, We are beloved, it’s true. But not because we’re American. Don’t get me wrong — I’m grateful to be an American. I love this country and its freedoms and rhythms and beauty. God has worked in some amazing ways and impacted the world through His people here. But He’s also worked in amazing ways and impacted the world through His people from Korea and Australia and the U.K. and the Netherlands and South Africa and so many other places . . . I’ve seen some of this firsthand as I’ve served alongside faithful believers in international communities. No, we’re not beloved because we’re American. We’re beloved because we’re part of God’s global family, with brothers and sisters scattered from Uganda and Norway to Venezuela and Myanmar. We’re...

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Safe

Safe

Hevi. One word in Tok Pisin, the main trade language of Papua New Guinea, expresses a feeling no English word can quite capture. A hevi is a situation with shades of stress and anxiety, conflict and anger, trouble and heartache and grief. I don’t often struggle to find words to wrap around my thoughts, but at the end of this strange summer, hevi is the only word that feels right. A global pandemic, racial tension, political chaos in so many countries … This year has set the stage for humanity’s brokenness to be on full display. But I think the heaviest hevi is the brokenness in the Church. Here we are in a season that desperately needs Jesus, but we’re so busy shouting each other down, elevating our own rights, and fighting for our own agendas that we’ve...

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How Pandemic Isolation is like Missionary Life

How Pandemic Isolation is like Missionary Life

When my good friend Cathy shared this with me, something clicked. I had been struggling to understand why I couldn’t keep on top of my daily responsibilities. Sure, I’m suddenly helping my kids navigate distance learning, but I’m used to working from home and I’m no longer spending hours in the car shuttling people around. Every evening, though, I’m exhausted, feeling like the day held too much. Cathy’s gentle reminder helped me define what I’ve been feeling. I know this struggle. This time really does mirror a lot of our life overseas, both the hard and the sweet. I’ve benefitted from Cathy’s words for years, and I’m grateful for the chance to share some of her grace and wisdom with my friends. Let’s be gentle with ourselves right now, and let’s remember to pray...

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Still

Still

I mowed the lawn with a vengeance this morning. I mean an actual vengeance. Like, “How dare you sit there so smug and tall and defiantly bushy?!” I needed to have dominion over nature in some way, and the grass was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Because here we are in a spot few of us could have foreseen at the hopeful beginning of this year: the whole world held hostage by a few runaway bits of RNA. And, just like that, no more school or church or ballet classes or prayer group. No more travel, no visits with our parents, no concerts or field trips or coffee with friends. Only an indefinite stretch of cloistered days that just might have this extrovert chewing holes in the wall and hugging random trees in our yard before it’s all over. My husband and...

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The Bible Makes Me Uncomfortable (And That’s a Good Thing)

The Bible Makes Me Uncomfortable (And That’s a Good Thing)

I jumped off a cliff the summer I was 16. It seemed like a good idea at the time… until I was hurtling toward the water below. Let me tell you, water isn’t always a great cushion. Flailing like Wiley E. Coyote trying to run on thin air, I tilted back just enough that the force of impact dislocated my right shoulder. I didn’t know what was wrong. I just knew I couldn’t move my arm. Without my bones, muscles, and nerves laying where they were designed to, I had no feeling or function at all, not even in my fingers. As I struggled to hoist myself up onto the rocky bank, my shoulder snapped back into place. It hurt. A lot. And it took several weeks of rest, ice, and careful exercise for the ache to fade and my strength to return. There wasn’t a pain-free way to...

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The Gravy Promise

The Gravy Promise

We didn’t need words. We had chicken, fresh off the grill and perfectly juicy. We had corn on the cob, roasted garlic zucchini, and deep amber honey dripping off buttery biscuits. We had some gentle quiet at the end of a week of sweet chaos, with their family and ours all under one roof. And we had memories of meals shared on the other side of the Pacific, where a steady thread of holidays and birthdays, weekday dinners and afternoon iced coffees had first woven us together. As the food disappeared, the words came like a slow tide. We stayed long at the table and talked about graduating kids and losing parents and about how grief feels anything but natural. The next day our friends got on a plane and flew back to where God has them for this season, and we stayed...

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