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As I ran through my list of excuses, I realized how much I had withdrawn from social view.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
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
Some seasons in life are so crushing that there simply are no words. Language fails to express the depth of your anguish. In those seasons, it can be difficult to pray.
Sometimes all I can do in those moments is weep; and in between my tears cry, “Lord, see”.
And that is enough. 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
From the very beginning, things did not go as planned. What had started out as a normal day quickly spiraled into a nightmare. Cloaked in darkness and gripped by fear, the promise of death seemed imminent.
The disciples were seamen. This was their lake. As professionals, they were used to navigating the changing waters and unforeseen circumstances.
But this storm was different.
Violent winds had stirred the waves into a foaming frenzy. Despite their best rowing efforts, they had made little headway. Six hours of unrelenting stress, exhaustion and willpower had produced only a few miles at best. Continue reading
It has been a year. For all of us.
We’ve had a lot of experiences over the last twelve months.
We baked bread. Binged watched tv shows. Learned a tik tok dance. Took a mask selfie. Rearranged furniture and made home improvements. Parents became homeschool teachers. We all got a crash course on this thing called Zoom. We worked from home. Neighbors bought blow up pools for the backyard. We hosted socially distanced hangouts in the garage. I ordered online groceries for the first time. We witnessed historic events and scientific achievements. We deeply felt the many waves of suffering and chaos that swept over the world. And we survived a global pandemic and national election with most of our sanity intact.
As we approach the new year, reflecting on all we endured can feel sobering and perhaps a little overwhelming. To many of us this year has felt like a desert season – one full of difficulty, isolation and strife. We are ready for it to end as soon as possible and for good reason. Continue reading