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At other places

At other places
When Mother’s Day is Hard (for iBelieve)
May 10, 2017 at 5:00 am 0
We're coming up on one of the hardest days of the year. Mother's Day. If you are a mother, it never seems to meet your expectations. But I'm not talking about the ladies who are bummed out their children aren't bringing them breakfast in bed -- I'm talking about all the women for whom Mother's Day brings up so much pain. You may feel overlooked. Unseen. Hurt. Bitter. Resentful. Invisible and with no way how to articulate the challenges of this day. So you stay unseen. You retreat to a few faithful listening ears.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

I wrote a piece for iBelieve I'd love for you to read. It's short.
I lost my first baby. I remember walking home from the doctor when I got the news, my red coat tight around me in the wind. It was suddenly clear that this coat would fit just fine, that I could wrap it tightly around my middle because my womb would not be full. I pulled it tighter.
Even as you feel unseen, know that God uses the language of mothering. And like a perfect mom, he protects, he extends himself, he shelters us:
Many passages in scripture show the tenderness of God as a mother. As Lauren Winner writes in Wearing God, God borrows the image of laboring mother to describe his desire to birth his people (Isaiah 42:14). Elsewhere God is describedhttp://www.ibelieve.com/motherhood/when-mother-s-day-is-hard.html as a comforting mother: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted…” (Isaiah 66:14). Jesus also uses the picture of a mother hen wanting to gather children under her wings (Matthew 23:37). These metaphors are more than simple rhetorical flourishes to the biblical text. When we see the many ways God uses the language of tender maternal desire and care, we know that God will meet all the needs that our fathers and mothers failed to meet perfectly. We know that God’s tenderness sees our broken hearts, our scars, our fears.
  I hope you'll read the rest and pass it on to friends who may be desperate to be seen this Mother's Day. 
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At other places, Books + Stories
On the importance of reading fiction; or, yes read your book!
May 4, 2017 at 9:07 am 1

Is reading a "guilty pleasure" or is it something more? Can reading fiction actually inform what we love and how we act?

  I'd love for you to read my latest piece for The Well, where I give you permission (as if you needed it) to pick up a book. Rather than scrolling through our Facebook or Instagram feeds, reading really does enable us to be more human. Here's a snippet: 
When the twin towers fell on September 11, I was an ocean away in England. I was spending most of every waking hour studying and reading medieval literature, but now my thoughts felt jumbled, and I wondered: did my academic work mean anything when terrorists attacked my homeland? Wasn’t studying — reading, really — superfluous, privileged, esoteric? Does reading matter when the world feels like it’s falling apart?
 
Reading fiction gives us a ticket to step outside the world of the marketplace where meaning is derived from economic transactions. When we immerse ourselves in good writing, we stake a claim that beauty matters. Instead of buying something online with a click of a button or turning the television on and off, I must engage my mind and heart in a book. A book becomes more than simply an escape or a pretty object to put on your shelf that makes you appear learned. It is more than a product. When we engage with the world of the novel, we place worth in beauty, grace, and the promise of transformation. When we read, we say that meaning is more than money and that money can be used in service to good art.
  Read the rest here.  I'd love to hear your thoughts. How has reading changed you? What are your own practices of reading? Do you read more fiction or non-fiction? 
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At other places, Faith + Vulnerability
5 Tips to Develop a Healthy Habit: Read Your Bible (for iBelieve)
March 13, 2017 at 5:08 am 0
I'm a pastor's wife and I have a hard time reading my Bible every day. There I said it. It's actually the thing I'm trying to focus on during Lent this year -- how to create a small habit that I know will feed me. To that end, I've written a short article on some tips to develop a habit of reading daily. I think I'm still revolting over those little check-boxes Bible reading plans in my youth -- how the boxes became the reason to read through the Bible more than any other love. But we can also make the mistake of waiting around for lovey dovey feelings before we start something new. This is yet another way to fall off the wagon. Sometimes the discipline comes first, sometimes the feelings do. But to start any habit we need to help till the soil for growth to happen. And just like exercise and diet, we make small changes that add up:
I love to fit into my skinny jeans, but I also really love to eat good food. When my pants start to get a bit tight, I’m faced with a dilemma: will I change my eating habits or not? Deciding is never a question of knowledge: I don’t need to know more about nutrition, or even plan out a rigorous diet if I want to lose ten pounds. More information and more advice will never affect change. What I need for change is to be captured by a greater love. I need to want to be healthy and fit into my jeans more than I want to eat chocolate cake. Being physically healthy is made up of a thousand small decisions about how I talk about my body, what I put into it and how I exercise it. We change when we are captured by a greater love. Our spiritual lives are no different: to change we must pay attention to what we put in to our souls. If we say that God’s Word should shape our lives, then we need to move around in it. It needs to shape us. And it can’t shape us until we’ve first developed a healthy habit of simply reading it.
  I'm over at iBelieve with "How to Develop Healthy Bible Reading Habits: 5 Tips." And don't worry, they're fun.   
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At other places
How do we find holy in the land of suburban desires?
January 23, 2017 at 7:28 am 0
I live in the suburbs. I am your suburban mom with a minivan full of kids, picking them up from school, doing errands, and taking them to sports practices. But I'm also uncomfortable with that reality. Because it's complicated knowing how to love Jesus and be his church in the suburbs when everything has a sheen of affluence. It's why I'm writing my book, Finding Holy in the Suburbs, and it's why I'm writing about living in the land of desire.  I'm grateful to The Gospel Coalition for publishing an article of mine today. Here's an excerpt:
When we told our donors we were leaving the campus ministry to plant a church in the southern California suburbs—land of affluence and megachurches—we not only lost several, we also heard the repeated question: Aren’t there enough churches there already? I wondered too. Couldn’t we be more useful in an unreached part of the country? Or overseas? We can subtly think that when Jesus said to “go to the ends of the earth” he meant only jungles and inner cities, not the affluent suburb next door. But all places—suburbs included—need the good news and abundant life found only in Jesus. And the good life isn’t the biggest house and the latest kitchen remodel. In helping my husband plant Resurrection OC, I’m learning how the gospel saves us from our suburban desires for comfort and self-sufficiency, and replaces them with something much greater.  
Click over here to read the whole thing.    I'd love to know how you respond spiritually to living in the suburbs. Comment away!  
And, as always, thanks for being a part of this journey with me. If you'd like more info about my book, how to book me for speaking engagements, etc., I welcome you to email me or subscribe to my newsletter:
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At other places, Faith + Vulnerability
Deliver Us from Christmas Cookies, We Pray (for The Mudroom)
December 7, 2016 at 6:40 am 0
  merry2   It's the season of sweets. As much as I want to indulge, there's often a tug-a-war on what to eat and what not to eat going on under the surface. Or, most likely, I chuck it all and indulge and vow to eat healthily later. I'm finding that eating (like most things) isn't often about eating at all. It goes much deeper. Today, I'm at The Mudroom writing about food, deliverance, and prayer.  
The problem isn’t the food or my inability to eat healthily, to say “no” to what is bad for me and hunger after what is good. The problem isn’t food at all. Like so much else — relationships, sex, church, houses — food is a gift. It is sustenance and grace and provision. Like good gifts it is meant to be received and enjoyed. But when we obsess over it, Gollum-like, through our indulgence or abstention, we’re simply using the gift of good food to say something about ourselves. That I don’t measure up unless I measure up. That I use food to feel my feelings because I’m too scared to feel them. Swallowing them is much easier. That I feel productive when I eat healthily so I’ll beat myself up when I deviate from my plan. That I deserve this coffee or cocktail or this cookie because somehow it’ll make up for hard decisions, tired mornings, and feeling unseen and unappreciated. As if food could solve soul problems. Food is the safest drug we have.
Read the rest here. 
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