“There was a famine during David’s reign that lasted for three years, so David asked the Lord about it. And the Lord said, “The famine has come because Saul and his family are guilty of murdering the Gibeonites.””

2 Samuel 21:1 NLT

Sitting on my city balcony on a balmy summer morning, I read this verse in 2 Samuel. There’s something about reading scripture in a version you don’t normally use (traded ESV for NLT this year) that allows your eye to re-see things you must have read before. Surely I’d read this story of David addressing the blood guilt of Saul. But the story sat in my gut like a heavy weight.

Maybe it was the irony of the moment as, “May His favor be upon you, And a thousand generations, And your family and your children, And their children” played through my headphones while I read of David submitting seven sons of Saul to the Gibeonites as a peace treaty. To my modern day western perspective, this seems entirely unfair. Cruel, even. Why should the sons and daughters carry the weight of consequences for their father? Why should the current generation atone for the sins of the past?

This passage in 2 Samuel 21 reveals that the consequences of Saul’s disobedience to how God instructed him to treat the Gibeonites, fell upon his own descendants. The very earth cried out for justice.

Once David atoned for the sins of Saul, the blessing was released and the burden on the land was lifted. 2 Samuel 21:14 concludes the story with, “After that, God ended the famine in their land.”

America, what sins of the fathers is God asking us to atone for? What wrongs have been done against those God intended leaders to protect? What injustices still go unspoken?

Christians, what famine is God waiting to end in our land, if we would acknowledge the source? What price needs to be paid to move toward reconciliation? May we be a people like David, who destroy what has tried to kill our brothers and sisters.

The Best Thing About Being Married

My husband and I are in our third year of marriage. That means we are past the two year mark and entering the newly unchartered territory of “how can I annoy this person the most without causing them to resent me too much.” And to be clear, I mostly initiated this game. There’s something special about knowing someone well enough to be able to isolate what would be the potentially most frustrating behavior and then proceed accordingly.

When we hit the one year mark, I got a little (read: very much so) emotional and asked Dave if we could get married again so we could stay newlyweds. I was sad that this “newlywed” period was over. He assured me that this was not in fact the case, but actually we would be newlyweds forever because of our love for each other.

Anyway, when you are a newlywed, people often ask you what is your favorite part of being married. I always wonder if there is some stock answer we’re supposed to respond with. Is it the constant company? Is it the consistency? Is it having someone to challenge you over how you load the dishwasher?

However, I have gone on record as saying that the best thing about being married is that people are no longer trying to set you up with someone.

Shout out to all my young professional friends who are tired of answering questions at family reunions or having your career achievements overshadowed by concerns for your dating life. I’m grateful my family never put much pressure on me for this, but various circles in my life made up for it.

And I suppose I mean the church, the church put pressure on this. I genuinely believe that people in happy marriages may just want people to experience what they have, but I also think miserable people pressure you because they don’t want you to remind them of the freedom they could have had, or the rashness of their decision. Maybe some people see your “Rebellion” as a personal attack when really you just are enjoying your life and don’t want to get caught up with someone that is not so good for you. Maybe some people really think they have the right match for you. And they might. But most often they do not at all.

In my experience as a Christian single in the church world, few and far between were the situations where someone actually thought through this matching. It normally went more like “Oh, so you’re single. He’s single. You should meet.”

My inner me: Are we compatible? Are we close in age or maturity? Would he support my endeavors? Does he affirm women in ministry? Does he have a job?

More often than not: All answers were no.

What did these attempts to play matchmaker do? They inhibited community and friendship. Do you know how difficult it is to make friends whenever you talk to someone, and other people immediately assume you are destined to spend your lives together forever? It is virtually impossible to maintain friendship within the church with someone that could be considered a marriage partner with that kind of exterior pressure.

If you got married young, maybe you never encountered this. It looks like showing up to a wedding with a hidden broken heart from a nasty break up and people teasing you and a guy you just met relentlessly until he is forced to ignore you the rest of the festivities. It feels like trying to meet new people after all your friends married their high school and college sweet hearts (so you just need some new people in your circle!) and realizing there is no casual middle ground framework in suburban church communities. It plays out like old friends developing romantic feelings for you and in your immaturity or confusion mishandling the situation and losing genuine friendships that could have been life long. It stings like losing friendships too interwoven with past relationships that they could not survive the aftershocks.

So, can we chill with the pressure? Can we herald people for who they are not what category they fit into?

We do a disservice to the world when we try to force all people into one mold. Instead, we should be helping people find what it means to be a follower of Christ in all stages, expressions, and experiences.

We reduce the value of single persons in the church when we try to fix them with relationship. A great match and marriage honors God. But this in no way is a greater accomplishment than living a life for God as a single person. Right there, someone is going to argue that marriage is a beautiful example of sanctification and relationship. And guess what, that’s right! You know what else is an example of sanctification, relationship, and even a lifestyle modeled by Jesus? Singleness.

Can we agree to value one another regardless of age, background, or even relationship status? I have hope that the church is growing in its affirmation of single people, but I believe we can do better. Let’s be part of the solution.


I don’t know why we are making these faces. Here is a likely scenario:

Me: Are my lashes coming off?

Dave: No, you look perfect.

Me: But really, is my make up okay?

Dave: Seriously, it’s our wedding day. Chill. You look great.

The First Time I Met a Democrat

Weigh Up Your Options! A stylized vector cartoon of an elephant and donkey being weighed on scales on fire,reminiscent of an old

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The first time I met a Democrat, I was 15 and in tenth grade. Now, reality is I had most likely met and interacted with many Democrats in my short lifespan. But I had never been cued to it. I had gone through life assuming everyone in my close circles—friends and family and church—were all of the same political background.

It’s very similar to how I viewed religion as a young child. I remember playing at my neighborhood best friend’s house, I knew immediately her family was British by her mom’s thick Liverpool accent. But I first realized her family was Catholic when she was picking out a first communion dress. I immediately wanted to be Catholic too when I saw the lace and frills. My mom compromised with me and let me pick out a fluffy white dress for Easter, with a pink ribbon she added for spring. From that point forward, my five-year-old mind reasoned that everyone must be either Christian or Catholic. Since my family was Christian and I learned a new category I separated the rest of the world into these segments.

I share that to say, each time we encounter something different from our perspective or worldview, we make a choice. You either assimilate it into something you know, or you create a new space for this to co-exist alongside your reality. I firmly believe that humanity improves as we rub shoulders with people of differing belief systems in all spheres of life.

As a white, middle-class, straight, Christian, American female with a graduate degree, I experience reality through a particular set of lenses. Just because others have differing lenses than me does not diminish their reality. But I am dependent on relationship, conversation, and experience to acquire new (yet still imperfect) lenses.

How can we encourage others to grow in their perspectives and empathy? We need to create moments of dissonance by the above factors: relationship, conversation, experience.

I still see the faces sitting around the library table after school, as my student-led Christian high school club met to discuss possible events that school year. I don’t remember what was said before, but one of the guys at the table suggested that we could also call the club “Young Christian Republicans” and as I prepared to shrug his comment off as unnecessary, another person at the table spoke up. She had always been a quiet and steady presence, so her words captured my attention immediately.

This high school junior looked our friend in the face and said, “I am not a Republican. I am a Democrat and so is my family.” She began to tell the story of her family who fled as political refugees and the journey they took across the African continent to arrive in America. I sat in shocked silence and while this is a powerful memory for me it is also a humbling one. I had not known this part of her story. But also, just her saying those words, “I am a Democrat” knowing she was also a Christian that I admired, crashed a certain part of my reality. No longer could I only associate Christianity with one political party. This conversation created a healthy dissonance in how I perceived reality that allowed me to see a different perspective.

I am grateful for Woodbridge, Virginia and how I was afforded the opportunity to meet and befriend people of every religion (and non-religion), from many nations and backgrounds. While I feel 15 is woefully old to begin a journey of re-associating what I attribute to Christianity, I also know that some people are in even later stages of their life when they encounter dissonance, while still some have never assessed their lens.

Let me say loud and clearly, I am not promoting any or either political party. What I am asserting is that Christianity is not synonymous with either party. Christianity is built upon scripture, the Spirit, and tradition. It is transcendent of culture, politics, economics, and preferences. While these things can be looked at through a Christian lens, you will not find the clear-cut answers you are looking for.

I challenge you today to extend grace to someone you would otherwise write off. I challenge you to pursue a relationship with a person who perceives life through a different lens than you (and then I challenge you not to try to change their mind, but listen and give/receive grace). I challenge you to read from varying news sources and from different languages and continents. I challenge you to read, really read, the Old Testament prophets as well as the New Testament words of Jesus. I challenge you to be uncompromisingly committed to the core doctrines of faith and graciously nuanced in scruples and preference.

And maybe you will end up with the exact same convictions. But I hope you will arrive there with renewed grace, compassion, integrity, and a radical view of what it means for heaven to come to earth.


Untangling Grief: Love is Pockets

Six months ago Dave and I moved to Virginia, my homeland. We stuffed all of our belongings into two metal shipping cubes, packed our separate cars, and said our goodbyes to Springfield, MO.

We spent a lovely week with Dave’s family in Indiana before the final leg of the journey. My car barely survived the accidental detour I took us on through West Virginia mountains. Returning home, but with four years behind me and a new husband, was like reliving a past life with a new filter.

Our timing was providential; within 48 hours we learned my sweet grandmother was hospitalized. The cancer she had beaten decades ago had silently returned, growing unbeknownst to her for years, and in the words of a less than comforting doctor, “the tests light up like a Christmas tree.”

Dave and I drove down to Fredericksburg to visit with Mema and Papa. It was the first time we had seen them after our wedding a short year before. What struck me most was not her meek yet ethereal presence in the midst of pain, but how she insisted on caring for me, for Papa, for Dave. She repeatedly asked us to sit, to relax, to take a break. She asked us about our move, new jobs, and our newlywed days.

After she passed, my dad told me how one of the last things she said was, “Papa likes shirts with pockets.”

To some this may seem like a random remembrance, but for me this epitomizes a life of service and love. After 50 plus years of marriage, you learn the minute and tedious details of another person. True love expresses itself through care, through sacrifice, but also through seeing. By noticing another person in each moment, you choose to love them over and over again. I truly believe it is these insignificant details, shared over days that turn into years and decades that results in enviable, palpable, effervescent, tenacious love.

Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is pockets.

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Sweetness in Brokenness: Why Being out of Control is a Good Place to Be

Life can be overwhelming.

Situations can arise that take the breath out of you, the joy out of the days, and the desire out of living. Life can seem so unfair. Granted, there are situations that occur as consequences to our own actions. Yet often people are broken and crushed by situations beyond their control, things that happened due to life or the choices of others.

In these moments, it can seem impossible to praise God. Sorrow, anxiety, and pain can obstruct our ability to engage in worship.

Did you know that this is a good place to be? Did you know that God has a special place in His heart for the broken?

Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Have you ever felt crushed? Has life ever worn you down so that you felt like you can’t take another step? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by situations outside of your control that you struggled to make it through the day?

Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”

So often in life we think that God is far from us when we are in a season of brokenness, yet scripture says that God will not deny the one who comes to Him broken.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Not only does the Lord save, but He heals. Salvation and healing go hand in hand with the mission of God. It is God’s nature to love, to extend grace, to heal and restore the children he created.

There is a sweetness in brokenness. Being broken reminds us in a fresh way that we are needy—we are needy for God’s provision and strength.

The challenge is to press through the brokenness. Press into the presence of God. The promises of God for the broken are true: He will be near to you; He will not despise you; He will heal your wounds.

When you recognize that you cannot do life on your own, you are in a good place. You are in a place where God can truly fill you. It is when we let go and let God be in control, that the blessings can flow, that miracles can happen, that God can sustain you through moments you can’t walk through alone.

Turn your desperation into fuel to seek God. This season of brokenness will transform into a season of growth and intimacy as you rely on God.

Psalm 42:1-5 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”


PSA: Please Stop Asking “What Do You Want to Do with Your Life?”

I’m the kind of person who has to-do lists on vacation. I live by my agenda, calendar, and post-it notes. In recent years, all these things have merged onto my phone. For all intents and purposes, I love to plan.

I married a spontaneous visionary. What can I say, opposites attract.

One thing I’ve learned in 28 years, is that plans change. That doesn’t mean we stop planning. But we reassess. What’s that saying…If you fail to plan, you plan to fail?

Nevertheless, I am at the point where I don’t know how to answer the question: what do you want to do with your life? At least, I don’t know how to answer it how people want me too.

Here’s what I’ve experienced. Well meaning lovely people who see themselves as mentors ask youth what they want to do with their lives. And then you are boxed into that plan for 20 years in their mind. Or, you give a passionate answer akin to wanting to save the world, and they ask how you plan to accomplish the task.

When I decided to come to seminary, a person I admired told me I shouldn’t chase after something if I didn’t have a distinct direction of where I wanted to go. He said that I needed a specific calling to justify the decision.

I’ve sat across a professor who told me my picture for the future wasn’t enough. That I needed to dream bigger but have more specifics.

Okay. So, should I make something up? Should I create an elaborate game plan with a 10-year goal and bury my head and go to work, regardless of how the Lord might mold and lead me?

But what about faith? What about waiting on God? What about serving faithfully in the current context until opportunities arise? What about having a goal to glorify God, even if that means working at a local coffee shop or cleaning buildings after hours? What about glorifying God with our lives? What about submitting and learning? What about being Spirit led, no matter where it leads you?

Sure, you may have a call on your life. But what about the waiting periods. What about when life circumstances are beyond your control. What about when God puts you into a heavenly holding pattern without telling you why.

Something about western (American?) Christianity makes us feel like we need to have it all figured out. Yet, what does the Bible show us?

Galatians 2:1

“Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem…”

The apostle Paul submitted himself to a process of growth, service, and development. He had a miraculous encounter with Jesus that changed his life direction. It revolutionized his identity. He found himself in the company of believers such as Barnabas. Paul only came to Jerusalem once after his conversion before this, and for two weeks. He did not stay in the center of the movement but he worked faithfully in the outskirt towns and provinces. He served among the Gentiles, those considered outsiders to the Jewish people and especially the religious elite, which was his former identity.

After 14 more years, he returned to Jerusalem. And this was to resolve a conflict. Yet when he came to the religious epicenter, the other leaders recognized him as a voice worth listening to. The disciples, who had walked with Jesus in the flesh, needed the input of Paul, the converted murderer of Christians, to stay on the right course. Paul kept the Christians from enforcing Jewish law on Gentile believers–a decision that still has repercussions for you and I today.

Later he would become the writer of the majority of the New Testament. First, he had to serve in humble submission. It was the testimony of his life that resulted in Paul having a voice.

Who else had to wait for their calling? Who else waited for fulfillment of promises?









Don’t worry about writing your own story. God the author will craft a master piece more spectacular than you can imagine.

Don’t know what God’s plan is for your life? That’s okay darling. You’re in good company.

In the meantime, while you wait and work:

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

Him: Why I Stayed When I Should Have Left

[Disclaimer: I found this post from 4 years ago saved as a draft on the blog. This was before I moved to Missouri, went to grad school, before I met Dave, before we married…a lot can happen in a few years. I suppose it’s time to let these thoughts see light.

Original Disclaimer: I wrote this post with no malicious intent. I have had these words burning in my mind for a few months, and the only way I know how to release the pressure is to speak (or write) words into existence. If you know me, then you know the heart behind where I am coming from.]

I stayed with him because I loved him. First, that’s true.

I also stayed with him for numerous other reasons. Some great, some small, some petty, some selfish.

I wanted to. I wanted my life to be him. I felt like I had invested so much, that surely this was right. Or as much so as I didn’t want to be wrong. I had made so many compromises and choices for him, that I didn’t want it not to be him.

All along I had a choice, but it never felt that way. Even when I made it. Or was I left with no other avenue? Is that much of a choice when you’re backed into it?


Perhaps that’s the grace of God, who knew all along that we were plugging our ears and playing with fire. I was left with no choice, because I couldn’t make the right choice consistently.


My brilliant, wise, blonde bombshell of a best friend told me sometime after, that she always felt like I thought there was no one else, as in, I would have no other options. That I felt no one else would want me, love me.

And on some level I believed that to be true. And almost so powerful a reason as the first. I don’t easily see myself as desirable. In any sense of the word. Maybe it was my awkward adolescence. Do I know who I am? Yes. Somewhere deep down I know that I am smart and caring and pretty. But that is not always revealed or seen in my day to day living.

Do I know my own worth? Do I live up to my potential? I am starting to. I am learning to. One day at a time, one choice at a time. The biggest victories are when I decide not to compromise who I am or what I want for my life in the immediate. Too often we devalue our future by reactionary living to current circumstances.

“We’re scared to choose anything because choosing one thing means letting go of several others…choosing means we get to zoom in and enjoy our one imperfect path…choosing means accepting that path and accepting, letting go of all other roads. In order to hold onto one thing, you have to let go of something else…No choice seems perfect, every decision has a consequence” Packing Light

Growing Pains

I turned 26 this week.

Funny, wasn’t I just 16?

When I stop and realize I’m a real life adult, I wonder who let that happen.

This year my goal is to stop thinking “real” life is going to happen one day and embrace the fact that I am living my life now. Each and every day is full of potential and opportunity, joy and challenges, and each day is a blessing.

Being the nostalgic thinker I am, I couldn’t help but reminisce over what has changed this last year. A year ago I didn’t know that I would be quitting my job, leaving friends and family, moving over a thousand miles west, starting graduate school… A year ago I didn’t know I would be back on the other side of the classroom experience, or that I would make incredible & inspiring new friends, or that I would fall in love.

I wouldn’t be living this life now if I didn’t have enough trust in God and His voice to make a change.

Yet, I feel like God is now focusing on trust in my life.

At first when I think about it, I felt almost sheepish about the topic. I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, shouldn’t I trust God? But when I stop to look deeper, it’s not that I don’t trust Him. I just believe He is calling me to trust him more. And that will require some uncomfortable moments or stretching moments.

I like to listen to podcasts when I run; my current favorite one (and has been for months) is Christine Caine’s weekly post. One of her messages is called “Growing Pains.” She refers to the need for God to stretch us in order to enlarge our capacity for Him to do more. My favorite quote is “There is a direct correlation to your ability to bear pain and your ability to grow.” The image of growing pains and being able to sustain un-comfortableness or pain or inconvenience helps me put into perspective how God is moving currently in my life.

I have learned to trust Him in many things. I trusted Him to quit my job and move to Missouri. I trusted Him when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and when the cancer returned. I trusted Him when I was fundraising for an internship in South Africa and I was anonymously gifted $1,000. He provides. I know He does.

Yet, He’s continuing to teach me. When I was a senior in high school, I received a tuition scholarship to Valley Forge. I remember hitting my knees when I got the call from my mom, in my friends’ parent’s bathroom. The Lord spoke to me in that moment. He told me that I would never need to worry about money.

I remind myself of that. But it’s difficult at times to live it out. I even have moments when I can live it out faithfully in action. Yet it’s my attitude that continues to struggle, whether with anxiety, worry, or guilt.

I am still procrastinating on turning in my change of degree program form. I’ve had it filled out (except for my advisor’s signature) for months. Every time I think about turning it in, fear begins to choke my decisiveness and I start a process of doubt. This main concern is money—the program is more credit hours so it would be a greater financial investment.

I was sharing my fears and questions with Dave this week, trying to decide if it’s worthwhile. It seems like a big jump when I personally don’t have a road map to see where I will go in life to be able to justify the need for this degree. At church Sunday, God quietly but clearly impressed in me that I need to be in the M.Div program. And that I need to preach. Which is another idea to tackle later.

I guess a step to trusting God more is turning in the request form…sooner than later.


My birthday wish is to grow this year. Because healthy things grow.

What Does It Take to Be Beautiful?

I’ve lived in Missouri for almost two months now, and I’m excited to say that I have found a church in which to serve and worship!

Yesterday as I was driving to the Volunteer/Membership Connection class, my brain haphazardly began to critique what I had chosen to wear that day. It was a mini-battle, a debate within my subconscious as to whether I looked pretty enough for this new place, whether I would make a good impression (whatever that means). Then I started remembering all the times this week I thought about going to the gym, and then something else took precedence, and I began to remind myself that this week, I would actually work out more consistently and eat better so that I could feel better…etc. My memory flipped through snapshots of the cute girls I had seen other weeks at church and their stylish outfits and beautiful faces. I let myself feel the pressure.

And then I stopped.

“What am I doing?” I asked myself (silently…you know the whole inner dialogue situation…I know other people must do this!) why this tirade of thoughts had begun.

Why is it that beauty is so often determined by comparison? What causes us to create a hierarchy within our minds, and rank ourselves in accordance with what we see, feel, or imagine?

Why have we allowed culture to define beauty as a status rather than an inherent trait?

Because here’s the truth. I know (in a certain sense of knowing) that I am pretty. I conclude that from knowing my value as a child of God, as a masterpiece He has created, as someone He views as lovable. Sometimes people take my confidence as pride (which I am prideful at many times about many things, I’ll admit to that) but really it’s the result of 25 years of Jesus working on my heart.

Yet I still at times operate in this misconception that it’s not about being pretty but being the prettiest.

Why do we try to be the “most beautiful” when we can all just be beautiful? And not just “in your own way” but in the truest sense because everyone is truly beautiful. Beauty is not a quality that needs to be weighed against something less beautiful to be deemed verifiable. Beauty is.

You are beautiful. And I am beautiful. And that does not take away from either of our own beauty.

How can we as a society, as the church, as women, create a better way? What needs to change in our language, our attitudes, and our actions? How can you rest in your own beauty, and encourage other women to become more of who they were created to be in Christ?

“I’ve never met a person I couldn’t call a beauty.” -Andy Warhol

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Lean In & Jump

It’s been over 4 months since I first considered moving to attend grad school in Missouri. I can picture myself standing in Duggan’s classroom, leaning on a desk, hearing myself say “what if I quit my job and move to attend school full-time?” First person I saw, first person I told, and I couldn’t stop myself from saying so after that moment.

However, for a planner like me, there were countless things to consider. I decided there would be no harm in testing God in what I felt he had put in my heart. I created a to-do list of “things that would need to happen” and concluded that if these things began to happen (with some steps requiring multiple steps for that one thing to transpire) that the door was opening.

Not only did the door open for AGTS, I feel that it was swung wide open and people were ushering me through it. I am amazed to be here on August 1, 18 days from moving day, and be able to proclaim all the blessings and acts of kindness and favor that have been shown to me to be able to pick up and go.

Normally not one to “test” God or put out an ultimatum, I did hold this list as a sort of proof of reality. When issues would arise or it seemed impossible to find housing or budget, I was reminded to lean in to God. Lean into his goodness, his provision. To lean into faith, and trust that he has a grander perspective than mine.


Here’s the list as it stands today:

“To Do List: Things that would need to happen for AGTS to be a reality

  • Apply
  • Ministerial reference
  • Academic reference
  • Summer income
  • Visit AGTS
  • Resign from PWCS
  • Switch health insurance
  • Get out of lease/make arrangements
  • Find MO housing
  • Potential MO employment
  • MO budget
  • Adjust car insurance
  • Move belongings”


May seem simple. Straight forward perhaps. But these were giant individual leaps for me as I started taking each one, making a dream or idea into reality, one day and one task at a time.

Sometimes that’s what you need to do to “live the dream.”

One step, one day, one door closer. Until you see yourself standing at the threshold of where you never could have found yourself on your own.

Lean in to God, and jump. Lean in & jump into his promises.


To quote Dr. Meyer’s quote for graduation…

“Come to the edge, he said.
We are afraid, they said.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came to the edge,
He pushed them and they flew.”