Thoughts on Community

I live in a community.  Literally, as in I share a kitchen and two bathrooms with six other people.  Seven people, sharing space, food, and a shower that you have to light with a match.  (That’s what “gas heated water” means in Guatemala). 

Community has meant lots of different things to me over the years.  Community has meant and summer cookouts and movie nights and Goodwill shopping.  Community has meant church. Community has meant shared meals and $3 bottles of wine.  

Last week in my little church in Guatemala, the lesson was from Romans chapter 12, and it reminded me of some thoughts on community I wrote a few years ago while I was living in Indiana.  Continue reading

When Everything Goes Wrong

“What are you afraid of?” he said. “Don’t you trust that God has a plan?” I had this conversation with a pastor in the beginning of my junior year of college.  I had spent the summer selling over-priced vegetable plants for minimum wage while my many of my friends had landed great internships, gone on exciting trips, or gotten engaged to the love of their life. The recession was in full swing, and I was terrified of what would happen when I was no longer living my life by a course catalog. God was at work in everyone else’s life, but was he going to take care of me?  Continue reading

What’s So Amazing About Grace?

This is the second time I’ve read this book.

The first time was in the summer before my senior year of college when I was taking a summer school class about the New Testament. This book was on my required reading list, but my library didn’t have it, and I didn’t feel like buying it on Amazon. So I drove to the library in the next town to get it, circled around the parking lot looking for a place to park, and suddenly this pole appeared out of nowhere, and I crashed my parents’ car into a pole. This could probably go down in history as my most brilliant move ever.

In that moment, I remember pounding my head on the steering wheel and groaning, “God… I didn’t need an object lesson.”  Continue reading

Sacred Places

Sometimes, I imagine people praying with their hands.  Building expectations and wishes and questions into brick and mortar and stone.

There’s something about great loss that makes us want to build something—we build war memorials and monuments and churches that symbolize what we’ve lost.  Maybe there’s something about stacking bricks and pouring concrete and carving wood that makes us feel like we’re doing something when life seems meaningless.  When we’re faced with a void, we fill the empty space with something tangible.  Continue reading

Suddenly, Everything Changed (New post for Single Roots)

“Enjoy it while you can, honey, because once you’re married you’ll just wish you could be single again.”

I’ve heard this one a few times, along with various other pieces of jaded advice from unhappily married women or well-intentioned friends who are trying to make me feel better. I’m sure most singles have experienced this — the “You should be happy you’re single, because marriage isn’t all its cracked up to be” pep talk. When we’re thinking about something we don’t have yet, it’s easy to console ourselves by writing it off and saying it must not be that great anyway. Continue reading

Sunset from Kiliney Hill (Ireland)

Sunset from Kiliney Hill (Ireland)

It Won’t Always be Raining

I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately.

Things haven’t gone the way I wanted them to, and sometimes blaming myself is just easier.  When I am the only common denominator in a series of disappointing events, It’s easier to beat myself up than to say I don’t know why this happened.  It’s easier to blame myself than to try and understand complicated theology about God and spiritual forces and sin nature and what He allows and what just happens because we’re human.  Etcetera.  Continue reading

He Will Give You a Seed (New post for Single Roots)

“If you ask God for a tree, he will give you a seed.”

I learned this from a man named Bishop John, who was a minister overseeing several churches and schools in a town outside of Nairobi, Kenya. While we were with him, he prayed that his church would grow, and more people would be reached with the Gospel.

A few months ago, I received a phone call from a friend in the middle of the night telling me he had passed away. The next morning, I found a blog post written by a local missionary about his funeral, which was attended by 2,800 people and described as the largest funeral anyone had ever seen. He planted a seed, and the tree that grew touched the lives of 2,800 people—2,801 including myself. Continue reading