Loving Those Who Hurt You

Love is the unconditional commitment to the well-being of others. It is a gift from God and He has given us the perfect picture of love through the sacrifice of His Son. God’s grace is a result of His love for us. We are called to love one another regardless of our differences or if we feel we have been wronged. We are called to commit ourselves to loving others. This is a hard concept to comprehend sometimes. It’s easy to say that I love people, but when it comes to those who have hurt me, it can be so hard.

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Grace All The More

This past week, I sat in a courtroom looking into the eyes of the two defendants responsible for breaking into my car, stealing my identity to commit fraud, and causing such stress, anxiety, and fear for me these last few months. While panicking, waiting for the judge to address the courts, I was reminded of the words Jesus prayed on the cross for the very ones crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

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Mission: Return Home

In August 2016, I had recently come home from a two-month mission trip to New York City. We all (overseas missionaries and domestic missionaries alike) had to return to the organization we went through before they would let us return home. The organization warned me of the reverse culture shock that I would experience when I returned home. I looked around me at all the people who had gone overseas for the summer and thought, “They can’t be talking about me, since I stayed in America this summer.”

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Counting As Loss

I never knew I could deceive myself so well. That I could take such a good look at myself in the mirror and forget to even deal with the condition of my soul. Maybe this sounds deep for a Saturday morning, but after last night, I feel compelled to write this. As though maybe the thoughts that are all disjointed can coalesce into something meaningful. That maybe then, I'll be able to say, “Yes, that's what I'm thinking, that's what I need to change, that's where I'm struggling.” Goodness, I've never looked at myself so clearly as last night.

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Turning From Technology To A Life-Giving God

Over the past few years, I have come to learn more about God and also myself. I have learned that I feel the most alive when I am outside and feel the most connected to God when I listen to worship music. I hear God’s voice and am reminded of how He feels about me when I read my Bible. Through my experiences, I feel like God speaks to me most predominantly through interactions with others or through my circumstances. I use this information about myself in order to have a deeper relationship with Christ–not to limit how God can work in my life. God has created each of us differently and, as a result, we connect with Him–just like with others–in various ways.

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In The Loneliness

I think the older you get, the more shame is attached to the words "I'm lonely." But I was. I felt like I was drowning. I felt like I was dying. Several years ago, I thought it would start to get better with a new year. At the time, I was starting two new jobs and was involved in multiple volunteer opportunities. I figured somewhere along the way I'd stop feeling lonely. But I didn't. And I started to wonder why.

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So, You Wanna Go Back To Egypt?

War is persecution. It is oppressive, it requires commitment to a cause and commitment to a side. War requires commitment even at the risk of death. I think it would be limiting God for us to assume the reason He took them the long way was because He didn’t think they were physically ready for battle. There are enough accounts in the Bible to testify that God can start and end a battle with whatever army He has on hand. So, what’s going on?

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Life As A Tent-Dweller

The church down the street from me is about to celebrate its 125th anniversary. My closest friend right now lives within 30 minutes of her childhood town, and she’s about to marry her high school sweetheart. This small-town sameness is new to me. I have moved over twenty times in the past four years. I’ve lived in Washington, D.C., Denver, Nashville, San Antonio, Chicago, and I somehow ended up in a teeny-tiny little town in Northern Oklahoma. The friends I met along the way are mostly still where I left them, except now they’re just further along in their timeline: graduated, engaged, or married.

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Christian Books For Summer Reading

As we near the end of the spring months, summer reading lists are beginning to pop up everywhere. There is nothing better than spending time in the long summer evenings sitting outside and reading a good book. My summer reading list tends to get ambitiously long, but I am always looking to add books that will make me think deeply long after I finish them. Since recommending books is one of my favorite things to do (I’m a middle school reading teacher so this is literally my day job!), I thought that I would share some of the Christian nonfiction books that have made an impact on my faith and daily life.  

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Tirzah Place: A New Community

Imagine you have two children and you’re trying to find a place to live. They are both not old enough to go to daycare, so you’re struggling to find a job. Your family has kicked you out. At the age of 20, you’re sitting in your car with two kids looking for a place to sleep tonight. That is the reality of many single mothers in Wisconsin and all over the United States.

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Joy In Your Journey

Camp stove. Fuel. Pot. Fork. Breakfast. Dinner. Coffee. Water purifier. Granola bar. Tea bags. Extra socks. Sleeping bag. Down jacket. Long underwear. Change of pants. Fleece vest. Mere Christianity. Water bottle. Apple. Toilet paper. Toothbrush. Toothpaste.  Pack cover. Fujifilm XT2. Coffee mug. Cord to hang a bear bag. More extra socks. Trekking poles. A hat. Phone charger/lantern. Overnight permit. With one last run-through of my mental checklist, I hefted the pack on my back. I adjusted the shoulder straps, clipped the hipbelt and tightened the chest strap. And I headed to the trailhead.

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Seeking God First

Ever since I was a teenager, I remember reaching into my pocket for my phone whenever I had a crisis. I’d quickly dial my parents and vent about the most recent school happening. Today, I still rely on others to listen and provide feedback on a how stressful work or a relational issue has been. In addition to my parents, my network has now grown to include more friends, coworkers and a fiancé for their opinion; I’m even in a group chat titled “The Counsel.” Big or small, I’ve been guilty of running to other people for help and encouragement instead of seeking God first. While there is a place for godly counsel and accountability, our refuge should not be in others.

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Are You A Slave To Your Online Gurus?

Another morning, another filled inbox. Some of the emails are spam, some are reminding me about upcoming bills or purchases that are being shipped, others are from my gurus. My gurus are the people who flood my inbox when they launch a new podcast, blog, or post something especially engaging on Instagram. I tend to never click on these types of emails, but I find myself not deleting them either.

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Writing To God Through Bible Journaling

There are a variety of ways to study God’s Word. Some people like to open up the Bible together in fellowship and explore Scripture through discussion. Others might enjoy meditating on Scripture by memorization of key verses, which is also known as Lectio Divina. Whichever method one prefers, the ultimate goal of a quiet time is intimacy with and obedience to God’s Word.

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Identity Of Busy

Recently, I texted a friend to let her know I was thinking of her and to ask how she was doing. I got a typical response many of us get from people we know, “I’m so busy!” We continued our conversation and I said, “I hope you’re able to find some down time to rest.” And her response was, “Wouldn’t that be nice? But it’s not going to happen, I’m just so busy.”

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