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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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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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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Living the Truth in Broken Relationships

Living the Truth in Broken Relationships

I didn’t want to go. At. All. Normally I would be excited to help lead a worship night, but this time I knew there was likely to be someone in attendance who I was struggling with. There had been some things said and done that were profoundly hurtful and unacceptable, and I had no desire to see this woman, much less worship together. My guitar weighed a thousand pounds and my footsteps were even heavier as I entered the room, praying the whole time for the ability to worship in spite of the company. The woman was there already, and as anger bubbled in my chest I had to fight the urge to turn and walk out the door. Breathe. Grit my teeth. Just get through the evening… Please let me worship even though she’s here. As I closed my eyes and the music began, the noise...

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The Problem of They

The Problem of They

Ok, friends, I’m going a bit grammarian on you here for a minute. I don’t like how people have been using third person plural pronouns. Them. Their. They. “We have to stand against them or they’ll take away our right to bear arms.” “They care more about their guns than about our children.” “They are killing babies.” “They want to take away our right to choose.” “They are coming into our country illegally.” “They don’t care about people who are suffering” Every time I check Facebook I feel like I need to duck and cover because of all the memes flying back and forth like arrows across the political aisle. Complex issues that should be a conversation have been reduced to an angry exchange of one line jabs. And the faces behind the issues have been reduced to a...

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