While navigating the winding Irish countryside, I marveled at the view. Countless sheep roamed freely as they grazed in pastures near the road. Every few miles, my husband and I would pull over to photograph the scene.
As I watched the wooly bunch meander over mountainous terrain, I knew their shepherd was nearby. There was no doubt in my mind that he was keeping a watchful eye lest one of them wander astray.
In both the Old and New Testament, God is characterized as a good shepherd (John 10:11-18). The Bible often describes God in word-pictures so that we can understand Him and how He relates to us in a tangible way.
King David understood this imagery well when he penned these famous words: Continue reading
When my husband mentioned he was inviting someone over for a last-minute hangout, I may have panicked a little.
Okay, a lot.
I was unprepared with no treats in hand. My house was still decorated for spring. Dishes cluttered the counter like the anxiety in my heart. What if our company didn’t have a good time? What if conversation stalled?
As I ran through my list of excuses, I realized how much I had withdrawn from social view. Over the years, I stopped opening my home because I felt like my efforts failed in comparison to friends. I chalked it up to being introverted. It’s the pandemic’s fault, I mused, while mentally rehearsing all the legitimate reasons for keeping my distance.
In hindsight, my reaction overreaction to my husband’s desire exposed my inner-soul hang ups with hospitality.
Which begs the question – what is hospitality, anyway?
- Is it well decorated and planned parties?
- Does it center around food?
- Is it an open-door policy where anyone can stop over at any time?
- Does it mean opening my home to strangers?
- Does it depend on whether people have a good time?
To answer these questions, I went directly to the source and was surprised to find that I’d mistakenly confused hospitality with entertaining, poor boundaries, and the way to soothe loneliness.
But the mind-blowing truth is that biblical hospitality is none of these. Continue reading
When you face one crisis after the next, life can become a series of acute emergencies. After two surgeries this Fall, my season in life has been a bit…stressful. Come to think of it, this season has been on repeat a lot lately.
As in the past three years.
When it feels like the world is descending into a tailspin, you don’t have to. Stress can be optional.
Sound crazy? I thought so too. But the more I learn about the way God has wired me to survive, the better I understand the tools He’s given me to relieve the pressure when my body revs up. Continue reading
The increased conflict of recent years has put many of us on edge. I’ve seen friendships implode over hurtful words and differing opinions. I’ve watched marriages bend under the weight of mental health challenges and family drama.
When you’re in survival mode, dealing with difficult people can feel like the tipping point. The popular idea of “cutting people out” of your life is tempting when you’re just trying to make it through the week.
Before you throw in the towel, here are 5 things to keep in mind when relating to difficult people. Continue reading
The world is hurting. Again.
If we’re honest, we’re all having a difficult time with something right now. And after everything we’ve experienced in the last two years, how could we not?
Maybe your heart is broken by what you see on the news. Or you’re feeling the financial pressure with rising prices here at home. You may be worried about your job, your family, your health. Anxiety and depression could be taking a toll. Or loneliness is growing because your friendships don’t look the same anymore.
It’s likely we’re all a bit more overwhelmed and overloaded than before.
Yet in spite of all we’re enduring, I’ve heard people say these things as of late… Continue reading
As I wrapped my fingers around the warm morning mug, the wind froze my face, but I didn’t even care. It was the most breathtaking view I had ever seen.
Our balcony sported 180 degrees of majestic mountains and deeply trenched lochs. Dark indigos and violets cascaded across the sky, casting a display of shadows and lights on the little white village nearby. Wild and rugged, the Scottish Highlands literally took my breath away.
And we were never even supposed to have been there. Continue reading
Lately, interactions with others have felt more like a cold shoulder than a warm hug. Quarantine may be long gone but loneliness hangs around my soul like a morning fog.
These last 18 months have been hard on us all. Though we’ve regained a sense of normalcy, it feels like something has shifted at its core – society and relationships don’t feel the same anymore.
Perhaps this pandemic is just revealing what was there all along: that having friends and having community is not the same thing. That in the past we replaced meaningful connection with social gatherings and surface-level interactions. That the bonds we thought we had didn’t run very deep.
Being physically together yet emotionally empty can leave you feeling very lonely. That’s because loneliness is not a lack of company but a lack of connection. Being disconnected hurts so much because we were created to connect.
These days, I’m learning that hardships were intended to be lived and shared within community. But this hardship seems to be pulling people apart, not together.
If I’m honest, the world does not feel like a safe place right now. The divisiveness is further driving our disconnection. And the church does not seem to be helping. Continue reading
He peered over the rim at the churning waves below. Gripping the side of the boat, Peter steadied himself as it fiercely rocked to and fro.
Violent winds had stirred the waters into a foaming frenzy. Despite their rowing efforts, the disciples had made little headway. Six hours of unrelenting stress, exhaustion and willpower had produced only a few miles at best. Their finite strength had paled in comparison to the unpredictable power of nature.
Thunder rippled across the sea and echoed off the mountains in the distance. Peter wiped the salty water from his eyes as he squinted to see the man on the waves. Exhaustion and excitement quickened his heart as he mulled over what he had just heard above the raging wind.
“Come.” Continue reading