Keeping my eyes open to glimpses of God

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Everyday Community

Lucy, Levi, and Hazel
The oil sizzled on the pan as my friend Janell made naan and garam masala chicken. Her little ones (Hazel is 4 and Levi is 1) raced back and forth through the kitchen. I held Lucy while she leaned around me to watch the kids run around. She squealed in delight.

Janell and I tried to carry on a conversation.

“Do you use essential oils? How do you use them?”
“Did you read that article on Facebook?”
“What did you think about this week’s sermon?”

About halfway through each conversation we were interrupted by a kid who was crying, hungry, or asking for help.

Our husbands were out for the night so we thought it’d be fun to get together for dinner with the kids—to combine efforts, if you will. Our good intentions, though, led to a lot of joyful chaos. Well, mostly joyful.

We never did finish a single conversation that night. And yet I drove home feeling incredibly known and loved. How many people have friends where you can just stop by their house, bring chicken, make dinner together, and help wrangle the kids—all last minute?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Heartache for the Church

Some days, my heart aches so much for the church that tears sting the corners of my eyes. Today is one of those days.

It seems to me that the church should be a place that—more than anywhere else—helps people flourish, freeing them to be the people that God created them to be. Can you imagine the church helping people find their identity, purpose, and mission and setting them free to live in radical, kingdom ways?

When I catch a glimpse of that vision, my heart leaps with joy. And to be clear, there are churches that are doing that. I hear stories all the time of church done well, and I praise God for that.

But to be honest with you, I hear more stories of churches, ministries, and organizations holding people back. Today has been filled with those stories. And it makes my heart ache and my fingers tremble. Because I know these leaders love God. They want to follow him and lead others to follow, too. They have good intentions. And yet rather than empower people, they shut them down.

In the last week, I’ve heard a pastor talk condescendingly to the introverts in his congregation for not welcoming people at the front door enough, read part of a book about “the proper roles” of Christian men and women, and seen social media posts from Christians who openly explain that they will not associate with people who are different from them—especially with people who are gay.

It tears me up inside. This version of Christianity displayed in countless ways is incredibly stifling. And it looks nothing like Jesus. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Feeling Heard

Lucy at the park on one of our walks
Lucy recently learned to wave. One day while she was sitting in her highchair eating lunch, she waved at me. When I waved back, Lucy’s eyes widened, a huge grin spilling across her face. Then she waved again, and I waved back. This time she excitedly screamed out. Again and again she waved, excited to see me wave back each time.

Can you imagine realizing for the first time that you can communicate with others? That by gesturing, you can get another person to gesture back?

In this seemingly simple moment, Lucy was experiencing something quite profound—I can communicate and be understood. And boy was she happy about it. Now when we take walks, she waves at just about everything: people walking past, kids at the park, dogs on their leashes, and even the houses.

It reminds me of that moment when you share a struggle you’ve been facing and you hear those deeply encouraging words: me too. It’s the feeling of being seen, known, and understood. It moves us from feeling somewhat invisible to feeling part of community, part of the human race. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

One Year

My Work Buddy
It’s amazing what God can do in a year. One year ago, I was pregnant, and I was getting a bit anxious—something I rarely experience—and I wasn’t sure how to handle my anxiety.

The first weekend of February last year, I headed out with a few girlfriends to Nashville, Indiana, to get away for the weekend and watch the live stream of the IF: Gathering. It was snowy and cold, and we huddled under blankets in our small suite to watch the speakers and answer questions about what God was teaching us.

Something had been nagging at me all week, and until I was still in that place, open to what God was telling me, I couldn't put my finger on it.

Friday, December 19, 2014

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

This Advent, my heart has been singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" like never before. There's a feeling of exasperation in the air. There's a sense of yearning, so palpable.

Between lingering reports about Michael Brown and Eric Garner, stories of shootings in my hometown, and a general level of mistrust and anger, I'm crying out, "How long, Lord, must we wait?"

This Advent, as I've contemplated our deep, utter need for Christ's return, I've found myself more emotional than usual. There's so much hurt. There's so much misunderstanding. There's so much disunity. There's so much needless violence. There's so much . . . wrong. It's given me a fresh perspective on our need for Jesus—not just me, but all of us. Our entire world.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


One night last week, I had a group of friends over. We sat outside drinking malbec, eating spicy goat cheese, and sharing stories. There was a mixture of people: married and single, parents and without kids, under and over 30. We always have a great time together, but there was something unique about this particular night. Stories quickly turned from more surface-level to sharing deep struggles and worries. We shared about the hard parts of marriage and the hard parts of singleness. We shared about how God had protected us, and how following him meant a more difficult path. We encouraged one another in our individual strengths, and we shared about our weaknesses. We talked long into the night, finally dispersing only because we had to get up early the next morning for work.

I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd just experienced something holy and precious. Something that Christians should experience more when they gather. There was an authenticity, a lack of judgment, an increasing empathy for other's situations.

And the biggest takeaway for me was that we normally do a poor job of sharing this part of life: the messy, fragile, tender parts. And yet we all walked away encouraged. Though the enemy often lies to us and tells us we're alone, we're failures, and that no one will understand, sharing our stories allowed God's truth to wash over us.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

So Much Waiting

Our family is growing by two feet in May!
In case you missed our big announcement on Facebook and Twitter, Jim and I are expecting our first child this May. As I approach the halfway mark of my pregnancy this week, I realize pregnancy hasn't been exactly what I expected. First of all, the first trimester was pretty rough. I felt sick 24 hours a day and had trouble eating anything—which made trying to act normal at work very difficult. I had to cut way back on get togethers and parties and dinners out (and even writing on this blog), simply because I was so sick and tired I couldn’t handle it.

And while I thought I'd be busy thinking about what kind of parent I'll be and how we'll take care of this new, squirming little person, those thoughts have rarely crossed my mind. Instead, I've wondered whether it's possible to still be me and a mom. I've rolled my eyes at the countless toys and onesies that perpetuate terrible gender clich├ęs and wondered how my son or daughter will manage these messages—and how he or she will fight to change them.

As I've focused on Advent these last few weeks, my mind has turned to all the waiting involved in pregnancy. The waiting seems especially fitting for the season of Advent, and more than a few times I've compared the two.

After all, as a first-time mom, I'm waiting for something that will change everything, something that will turn my world upside down, something that requires me to prepare . . . and yet I really don't know much about what I'm preparing for.