Water on the Flames of Fear

Water on the Flames of Fear

Sawdust and fish. That’s what my grandfather’s shed smelled like. The memory was so strong that I escaped there from the reality of life in remote Papua New Guinea, where the days pressed in and my chest burned with anxiety. In my mind I could see Pappah’s workbench, his tools all in their places, his tackle box and fishing pole against the wall. I could hear him whistling though his dentures as he checked on his beefsteak tomatoes and swept mulch back into the plant bed. Nearly every day I closed my eyes and my thoughts fled there until my breathing slowed again. Maybe it was because Pappah had been a shelter for my young heart. Or maybe life had just felt simple and safe in that shed. My life had become anything but simple since the last time I’d stood there...

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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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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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Again and Again

Again and Again

We’re in a season of some pretty big change in our house. Our oldest is leaping from childhood into the strange new world of college classes, car insurance, and grown-up decisions and responsibilities. And for the first time in his ministry career, my husband is serving primarily adults instead of teens. He’s upgraded his goatee to a full beard and his office décor from a plunger in a vase (seriously) to coordinating wall art and real, live potted plants. I love my new role with Wycliffe Women of the Word – like really, really LOVE it – but after years of homeschool and coffee dates and leading Bible studies and writing mostly whenever the whim hit, it feels weird to have deadlines and an editor and a swanky new podcast on the horizon. (I told my unendingly...

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