Back At It

If you were once a faithful follower of this blog, you will have noticed that my posts dropped off in February––about the time that I got engaged! Blogging took a back seat to wedding plans, visits with family, showers, registries, house/apartment searching and etc. But here I am, on the other side of marriage to my BEST FRIEND and I am ready to dive back in. On our honeymoon Mike (who blogs at (All of Grace ) encouraged me to start reading, reflecting and writing again. For both of us it is a time to slow down, process what we read, and be steeped in the Gospel. (In case you were wondering, the wedding was PERFECT and the sweetest representation of God’s covenant commitment to His bride, the church. Mike and I were so blessed by our friends and family that weekend and we love re-living all the memories.) 

Our honeymoon was relaxing, rejuvenating and spiritually reviving. Much of what came out of that time for me was a renewed desire to read God’s Word and to be changed by the stories and parables in the Old and New Testaments. I read Madeleine L’Engle’s The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth, and was excited and challenged by her perspective on story. As a counseling intern this year, I am especially interested in the stories that each of my client’s bring and how their lives fit into God’s cosmic plan for the redemption and reconciliation of all things. We have a tendency to look down on that which is fiction, that which is not literal fact, but we must remember that:

“Jesus taught by telling stories, parables, myths, and his stories were true, though not everybody could hear them. Jesus came to show us through his stories what it is to be human and what it is to be heroic and to understand heroes.” (p. 216) 

As we read the stories of Daniel, of Ruth, of David, of Peter we can’t help but see our humanity reflected in them. Do we read these stories as mirrors that reveal what lies within our own hearts, or do we leave their stories on the page? 

L’Engle says, “Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose to say or do matters, matters cosmically.” (p.220)

Over the coming months, I hope to unpack what I am learning about God’s epic narrative and the small and big ways I see it unfolding in and around me.


Lamentation in Worship

Bifrost Arts produced this video on Learning Lamentation. It’s a challenge to our churches to recognize the suffering and broken, and become a community that can share and bear one another’s grief in worship. Through the tone of our worship, we can create a space for our brothers and sisters in Christ to mourn and to grieve, while they are anchored by the community around them in the hope of the Gospel.

If this resonates with you, read this article by Dan Allender, The Hidden Hope in Lament.

Your Phone vs. Your Heart

“Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.”

Check out this great article about the negative relationship between our phone usage and our capacity to connect in meaningful ways with our friends, family, neighbors and strangers. I was challenged as I read, realizing that I see this scary pattern playing out in my own life. I find myself growing impatient with human relationships and conversation. Give me the details, send me an email, and make it quick! My brain wants to speed ahead to the next task, the next screen and the next stimulating graphic. I can’t focus on what the person is saying anymore than I can focus on my homework or even the website that I am “reading”!

I guess it’s high time to make a change, and this was just the article to push me to commit! So today, on this St. Louis snowday, I am making an effort to disconnect and reconnect. Join me?

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! As a woman who has been single for most of her life, I know that Valentine’s Day can come with a frustrating sadness for many. Try as we may, we cannot shake the feelings of loneliness, all the while knowing full-well that it is a “Hallmark Holiday.” I love the following prayer from Scotty Smith. It redirects the heart to long for intimacy with our Creator and levels the playing field for singles, dating, engaged and married alike. We are all crying out for the wedding feast of the lamb and the sweet intimacy of that shared meal in the heavenly places.

Much love to you all today! May it be a day when you give and receive love intentionally, redeeming the commercial holiday, and infusing it with grace and meaning.

A Prayer for Valentine’s Day

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Song of Sol. 7:10

Your love is better than life. Psalm 63:3

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the day in our culture in which red hearts, overpriced cards, dark chocolates, and cut flowers abound—Valentine’s Day is upon us. We praise you for the joys of romantic love—past and present, But even more so, we praise you for being the One in whom our great longing for intimacy and rich connection finds its fulfillment.

Though it is to your glory when we enjoy the multiple delights of committed love, thank you for showing us, time and time again, that no one human being (or any number of them)—no human romance story, no torrid love affair could possibly fill the God shaped vacuum in our souls. Even the best marriage is made of two broken people—two redeemed sinners who will ultimately not be enough for the other. Indeed, there’s only one love that is better than life—your love for us.

Grant us, no, grace us with a deeper and richer experience of belonging to you, Jesus. You are the ultimate Spouse—the Spouse we always wanted. We believe this, but we want to savor and celebrate it with every fiber of our being. Free us from our unbelief, Lord Jesus; let us really, really believe you desire us, delight in us, rejoice over us with singing, as a Bridegroom takes great delight in his bride.

It’s when we’re not alive to your love for us, that we place unrealistic demands on other people and other relationships. Instead of being servants, we become users of others; instead of being glad givers, we become selfish takers; instead of rejoicing in what we do have, we become whiners about what we don’t have; instead of being quick forgivers, we become tiresome rehearsers of one another’s failures. Forgive us and free us, Lord Jesus.

By the power of the gospel, enable us more fully to love others as you love us, until the Day our grace-secured betrothal becomes the Day of our consummate rejoicing—at the wedding feast of the Lamb. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and tenacious name.


In order to kick off Lent, I decided to post an excerpt from a letter that my previous pastor (Greg Thompson of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, VA) addressed to our congregation as we prepared for Lent. It is a great reminder to me of what it is that we are remembering and the significance of what we are going (or not doing) during this season of the church calendar.


“Ash Wednesday traditionally marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent—a journey of self-examination and repentance before the excitement of Holy Week and Easter. I know a number of you feel that you don’t fully understand what we are doing or why we are doing this, so I’d like to take a few paragraphs to explain the season of Lent and invite you to enter into this solemn and lovely celebration with us.

When God’s people were liberated from slavery in the exodus, their understanding of the world changed. Their whole lives—their food, their worship, their very calendars—were ordered in such a way as to tell that story of redemption to themselves, to their children, and to the world. So they gathered together, week after week, month after month, in feasts, in fasts, in songs, and in tears, to tell the story of God’s liberation of His people from slavery.

And they did this not so that God would deliver them—as though by the keeping of these fasts they would find favor with Him—but because He had delivered them. Salvation was theirs, and as a result they ordered their lives in such a way as to tell that story to themselves, to their children, and to the nations who lived as their neighbors.

When the earliest Christians came to understand Jesus as the bearer of a new Exodus—not merely from slavery, but from sin and death—it seemed good to them to order their lives and their calendars around the story of salvation. They called it “the sanctification of time.”

And so the season of Advent became a time when the church told the story of the coming of the Savior. The season of Epiphany became a time when the church told the story of the earthly ministry of the Savior. The season of Lent became a time when the church told the story of the suffering and death of the Savior. The season of Pentecost became a time when the church told the story of the abiding presence of the Savior by the power of the Holy Spirit.

All these seasons were celebrated not in order to secure God’s special favor, but because in Christ, this favor has been freely given. Their purpose is simply to tell the story of God’s salvation in Christ—to ourselves, our children, and to our neighbors—as clearly and intentionally as possible.

Tomorrow we begin the season of Lent, the time when—in anticipation of the great celebration of Easter—we tell the story of the suffering and death of Jesus for our sins and the sins of the world. It is a time when we, through intentional and particular reflection on the last weeks of Jesus’ life, tell the story of the gospel.

First, it is a time when we tell the story of our need. We tell of our need for forgiveness of sins— and so Lent is a time of confession. We tell of our need for repentance in life—and so Lent is a time of self-denial. We tell of our need for resurrection from the dead—and so Lent is a time of reflection on mortality. Each of these is symbolized powerfully in the imposition of ashes—the humiliating sign of our own broken mortality. And we do this before the eyes of a culture that does not believe itself mortal and doomed to die.

And yet we also tell the gospel story of Jesus’ work on our behalf. We tell of His work of forgiveness—and so Lent is a time to remember His willingness to forgive sinners. We tell of His work in enabling our repentance—and so Lent is a time to remember His power in our weakness.  We tell of His work of raising the dead—and so Lent is a time to anticipate His resurrection from the dead. And we do this before the eyes of a culture that, even if it believes it needs a Savior, does not believe that it has one.

And again, we do these things not to drown in our misery, or to secure God’s blessing through our self-denial, but because in Christ, these blessings are ours this day.

So in celebrating Lent, here is what we are doing: We are simply coming together to tell the story of the gospel and to live that story out before ourselves, our children, and our neighbors—mourning together the sorrows of the world and, in time, celebrating the glory of the resurrection.

May God, who loves us, draw near to us in these days and remind us of both our need for salvation and the certainty of its coming in the risen Christ.”


I’ve also included another great site for Lenten Readings from West End Presbyterian Church.


“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” -Exodus 20:2-

Watch this amazing video that tells anew, the story of God’s great rescue of his beloved people.  Rejoice, as Moses did, that He has seen His people, and has delivered them from their bondage.


The Song of Moses (Exodus 15, after crossing the Red Sea)

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying,
“I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a man of war;
the LORD is his name.
“Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
the floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;
they sank like lead in the mighty waters.
“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
You stretched out your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.
“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
The peoples have heard; they tremble;
pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed;
trembling seizes the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
Terror and dread fall upon them;
because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone,
till your people, O LORD, pass by,
till the people pass by whom you have purchased.
You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode,
the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
The LORD will reign forever and ever.”
For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
(Exodus 15:1-21 ESV)

Middle of Everywhere

Chan and I at a Summer Bible Club

Chan and I at a Summer Bible Club

A friend posted this story about a Richmond, VA church that is reaching out to a growing population of refugees from the country of Burma (Myanmar). As some of you may know, I have been tutoring a young boy from Burma for a little over a year now through my church ministry, Firm Foundation Tutoring at New City Fellowship. I was so encouraged to hear about another community that is wrestling with the challenges of refugee life and thought I would share their story with you today.

This semester I am taking a class on Intercultural Counseling and hope to share some of the things that I am learning as we go. I am excited to learn how I can better serve and love those in my church community and understand the experience of refugees in St. Louis.

If you are interested in growing in your cultural awareness (“Cultural Intelligence” as they are calling it these days!) or understand the experience of the immigrant or the refugee, be sure to check out these books:

The Middle of Everywhere by Mary Pipher

Cultural Intelligence by David A. Livermore

Glad Surrender in Prayer

“How, then, shall we lay hold of the Life and Power, and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning of all our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward Him who calls in the depths of our souls. Mental habits of inward orientation must be established. An inner, secret turning to God can be made fairly steady, after weeks and months and years of practice and lapses and failures and returns.

It is as Brother Lawrence found it, but it may be long before we achieve any steadiness in the process. Begin now, as you read these words, as you sit in your chair, to offer your whole selves, utterly and in joyful abandon, in quiet, glad surrender to Him.”

A Testament of Devotion by Thomas Kelly


“Why should I spend an hour in prayer when I do nothing during that time but think of people I am angry with, people who are angry with me, books I should read and books I should write, and thousands of other silly things that happen to grab my mind for a moment?

The answer is: because God is greater than my mind and my heart, and what is really happening in the house of prayer is not measurable in terms of human success and failure. What I must do first of all is be faithful.”

-Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak

The Kingdom of God in Hearts and Homes

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” (Psalms 68:5, ESV)

I couldn’t resist shuffling you over to Mike Berttucci and Josh Lawrenz’ blog, All of Grace, today. Watch this video about adoption. It’s an example to me of the coming of the Kingdom of G0d* in the hearts and lives of a family that has been caught in the torrential (and continual) downpour of God’s transforming grace. (Note–my favorite line from the video: “You give a person unconditional love and they blossom.” How true!)

It can seem confusing that Scripture says that the Kingdom has come and is coming; it grows; it is received and yet something that is entered into. This is because, in the beginning, God created the Kingdom, but with sin, the Kingdom is in rebellion against the King. This is why Christ came to bring the Kingdom (again, in a sense).

The question I always ask is: What does it mean for the Kingdom to grow? I find it rather challenging to think qualitatively rather than quantitatively. It is not only a matter of there being “more Kingdom” (or more believers as we traditionally think), but that where there is Kingdom, there is better, greater, deeper Kingdom. This helped me to reconcile the simultaneous threads of progress and regression that I observe in the world. Behind my questions about Kingdom growth is a desire for validation that our hope in this Kingdom is worthwhile and that this is true. I need the Spirit bearing witness that Christ will return. The way that I view the Kingdom expanding has implications for my posture toward activity in the world. If I do not properly understand the expansion of the Kingdom, my attitude may become triumphal (not considering the full extent of brokenness and regression) or I will be the defeatist (thinking that nothing will ever change).

This video is an encouragement to me that God’s Kingdom is going forth in the world, just as the theme song of this blog by Sara Groves says, “That’s a little stone that’s a little mortar/
That’s a little seed that’s a little water/ In the hearts of the sons and the daughters/The kingdom’s coming.”

I hope it is a blessing to you today and opens you up to new possibilities and fresh ways of seeing God’s kingdom in your heart, home and community.

*The Kingdom of God can be understood as the place where God’s rule is embraced, His ethic is embodied, and His power is experienced. (Brad Matthews, Covenant Seminary, Spirit Church and Last Things Lecture)