Enneagram Three: You Are More than What You Can Do

We are all ever so much more than what we do.

Oblivious to the hum of classroom activity, I turned page after page as silent reading time flew by. In the fifth grade, I was riveted to the story arc of Helen Keller’s life. Only just barely old enough to fathom the complexity of getting an education without sight or hearing, my laser focus had found… Continue reading Enneagram Three: You Are More than What You Can Do

Hear, Do, Know: The Christian’s Clear Assignment

“To listen to one word and go out and obey it is better than having the most exalted ‘religious experience,’ for it puts us in touch with God Himself—it is a willed response.” Elisabeth Elliot

My young friend’s question was as deeply earnest as it was misguided: “I know I need to read and pray every day, but isn’t it just hypocritical to go through the motions on days when I’m not feelin’ it?” It’s not hard to trace this line of reasoning to its source. In Western thought, a… Continue reading Hear, Do, Know: The Christian’s Clear Assignment

Creating the Conditions for Spiritual Growth

I cannot make spiritual growth happen on my own, so I'm trusting the recipe.

Bread dough the color of molasses yielded to the pressure of my working fist. Fold, press, turn, repeat, and soon I lost count of how many times I had kneaded the fragrant lump. With the recipe calling for three hundred repetitions, I began to wonder— Three hundred? Really? But switching to the heel of my… Continue reading Creating the Conditions for Spiritual Growth

How Do You Know if You Are Called to Be a Writer?

"Writing is hard work. Writing well is even harder." ~Andrew Le Peau

As a true fan of certainty, I am filled with longing whenever I read Old Testament stories in which God shows up in unmistakable clarity. He speaks from a bush on fire, gives audible instructions for travel, and issues a rebuke from between the squared off teeth of a donkey. Even when Samuel, young and… Continue reading How Do You Know if You Are Called to Be a Writer?

To the Woman Who Feels Crowded by Christmas

Christ’s willingness to hunker down, wizen up, and enter the darkness opens the door to his light and his life being formed in you and me.

We are covered to the elbows in red and green paint, but the festive wrapping paper stretched out to dry on the table before us more than justifies the mess. The toddler points to his distinctively tiny handprints and smiles his satisfaction, as his older brothers start wondering aloud about cocoa with candy cane stirrers.… Continue reading To the Woman Who Feels Crowded by Christmas

The Humility of the Given Self

“The best way to find out whether or not you really have a servant’s heart is to see what your reaction is when somebody treats you like one.”

I pushed the damp mop across the kitchen floor, knowing full well that I would be finding sticky spots on cupboard doors and drawer handles for days to come. The transformation of a bushel and a half of apples into smooth, pink applesauce is the work of a couple hours on my own. However, with… Continue reading The Humility of the Given Self

6 Books for Friends-in-Training

And this is the power and the gift of friendship: when hearts collide, lives are altered.

“I want to keep it handy in case I need it,” she said, matter-of-factly. She wasn’t talking about a flashlight. Not a package of tissues. Not a cell phone – they hadn’t been invented in 1978. She was talking about Isaiah 55. “I liked it,” she went on.  “So I memorized it.” “Come, all you… Continue reading 6 Books for Friends-in-Training

Following the One Who Has Set Us Free

By grace, we cultivate interior order as we follow the One who has set us free.

Friends and family chuckle when they discover that my spice cupboard is alphabetized. Some are amused because it lines up with what they already know about my personality, others because the idea seems ludicrous to them. Nevertheless, for me, the minutes of hunting I save by consistently replacing the marjoram or the dill seed in… Continue reading Following the One Who Has Set Us Free

The Myth of a Successful Prayer Life

Before asking myself whether prayer works, let me first define my terms. Is prayer a lever for moving the universe according to my whims, or is it a tool for molding my will to God’s?

Spring showed up bleak and gray this year, but we barely noticed. The weight of waiting occupied every minute, with question marks bristling where daffodils had been delayed. An army of friends prayed for our family when we could not, waging war on our behalf, inquiring with kindness about obstacles that made no sense and… Continue reading The Myth of a Successful Prayer Life

How Parenting Exposes Our Need for Faith

Do I believe Jesus can rescue my children? Do I trust him to work redemptively in their hearts? I want to.

Whether we’re making meals, changing diapers, or shuttling kids to baseball practice, parents are doers. Always in protective mode, we apply sunscreen and Band-Aids as needed, and when we hit a wall with a need we can’t meet ourselves, we consult with the experts. Long before parents could ransack Google or WebMD for medical advice,… Continue reading How Parenting Exposes Our Need for Faith