Category Archives: Faith

Brooklife Church

Today Brooklife had its baptism service. Besides being a beautiful service, today was memorable because it marks one year since I really started *attending* Brooklife church. I had gone to services on and off with my family, but I consider the baptism service to be the Sunday I finally decided to join them in making it my home church. Over the past year, I became a member at Brooklife, started assisting with high school ministry, and joined a small group. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it still seems amazing to me. I’m so grateful for this church and the past year. It has really been a blessing. 


Whatcha Reading…? 8/9/16 Book Update

It has been a LONG time since I posted one of these! With work picking up, my reading has been pretty sporadic. However, I’ve finally found myself reading enough books at once to make this post feasible. I’m currently reading 6 books, 3 in print and 3 by audio. The print ones are: The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers, Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman, and Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran. The audio books are Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas, Seven Men: and the Secret of Their Greatness also by Eric Metaxas, and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. 

I have really been enjoying The Mind of the Maker. Coming off Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, it seems almost easy to follow! I love Dorothy L. Sayers as a writer of detective fiction and it is quite fun to discover this other side of her work. In The Mind of the Maker she examines God in His role as Creator. She makes some really interesting points and has a beautiful style that makes this theological work fresh and readable. 

Grace for the Good Girl is a look at how “good” Christian girls often use masks to hide their struggle. It is particularly applicable for those of us who have grown up in the church. I first heard about it from my sister Anna, but one of my good friends recently lent me her copy so I could read the whole thing. This book is very solid…but, like The Mind of the Maker, seems somehow less because it is following Orthodoxy in my reading. (Have I mentioned that I loved Orthodoxy?!) 

Cleopatra’s Daughter is…interesting. It is good historical fiction but I think I need to sit down and read it straight through. It is a welcome ‘light’ read but at the same time can’t compete with the other books I’m reading right now. 

I’ve really been enjoying Bonhoeffer. Eric Metaxas does a great job introducing this fascinating and influential man. The book has a bit of everything: history, politics, theology. However, I’m not loving Seven Men. Elijah and I are listening to it right now and we find it extraordinarily repetitive and slow. Hopefully it will pick up. 

As for The Sun Also Rises…having finished The Beautiful and Damned, I figured I might as well tackle another dreary yet beautiful classic. Unfortunately, I am not connecting to this one at all. It is super slow and random. I care so little for the characters I’m not sure ‘ambivalent’ even begins to hit it. 


Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

Elijah and I have been listening to Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. So far, we have been unimpressed. We don’t really like the guy reading and the bio about George Washington kind of annoyed us. 

Because of this, I was hesitant to pick up Seven Women. In fact, I was kind of regretting my spur-of-the-moment decision to buy it a few weeks ago. What if I hated it? What if it started out as bad as Seven Men

I was packing up my books this morning and decided to give the first chapter or so a try. If I really disliked it, I could banish it to the basement with all the others. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did I enjoy Seven Women, I read it all basically in one go. 

The seven women covered in the book are Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa. While all the biographies were interesting, I particularly enjoyed learning about Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, and Maria Skobtsova. I like how different each woman was, yet at the same time how “great” they all were. Susanna was a stay at home mom, Hannah More and Rosa Parks were political activists, and Maria Skobtsova and Mother Teresa were nuns. 

I recommend this book as a great compilation of faithful, Christian women. It was truly encouraging and inspiring. I hope Seven Men turns out to be just as good!


Gratitude

I am so grateful for all the friends I have made over the past year. I don’t mean that in a cliche way…I just want to acknowledge tonight how full my life is. God worked things out in ways I never could have imagined. Instead of the “lonely” return home that I expected, I’ve found a lot of meaning and friendship with people my age. It is even better that I get to study the Bible with them each week.

I’m grateful for old friends. Both the ones I’ve reconnected with here “in real life” and those from the Gen J days whose friendships have sustained through many years of being online. I’m grateful that Jordan dropped by this past weekend and that I got to talk with Kris on the phone. They were happy reminders of mutual friends and interests spanning many years. 

I’m grateful for how close I am to my family, both in harmony and proximity. I am grateful I have the chance to experience life with my siblings and parents and see my cousins each week. It is so much fun to be part of their daily lives and witness their growth. I didn’t get to do that in TN. 

I’m grateful for how full my life is. I have a job I love, a diverse group of friends, and family nearby. This is a good season. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m grateful for it today and I will be grateful for it tomorrow and I will continue to be the day after tomorrow. It just goes to show that God’s plan is so much greater than I ever know. Whatever I thought the year following graduation would be like, it wasn’t this. Yet this is wonderful, beyond what I could imagine.

Tonight, I thank God for where I am at and the people He has put in my life. 


Proverbs 16:9

Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

I read this verse during my devotion this morning and the words have been at the back of my mind all day. First, I think this would be a great graduation verse, way better than Jeremiah 29:11. 

Second, though, I have been thinking about how hard it is to acknowledge that in the end, God determines the steps I take. I don’t mean in the big things. It is comforting to look back on my big life decisions and see how God was at work. What is hard to hand over is the little things.

Today was a big day for me. I was hosting an open house event for my office and I really wanted it to go well. With this verse in mind, I told myself it was okay to relax. Whether I succeeded or not, God was in control. Almost, I allowed this realization to calm me.

However, there was another voice that refused to calm down. Handing everything over to God was too much like giving up. I told myself I needed a stronger internal locus of control, not something to pass decisions off on. I needed the extra stress, I reasoned, to keep me sharp. I want to be stronger, grittier. Which wasn’t necessary bad. 

The problem is when I begin to draw a false line between ‘handing my stress over to God’ and ‘being responsible.’ They naturally flow together. Letting go does not mean behaving irresponsibly. If anything, it reminds me where my priorities should be. I just wish it didn’t feel like such a hard balance to learn sometimes! 


Sunday Mornings

I went to bed last night stressed. I woke up this morning stressed. I felt like a crushing weight was overwhelming me. I blamed lack of “introvert” time. Even though I am an extrovert, I recognize I need quiet time almost as consistently as people-time. So I looked at the rest of my day and the week to come and tried to plan a time to “introvert” for a few hours. Unfortunately, this only made me more stressed. There was no time to “take off.” Work may pause momentarily, but life rarely does. 

It was thus with a heavy – and overwhelmed – heart that I went to church this morning. 

Yet, like so many Sunday mornings before, I felt a sense of peace almost as soon as worship began. The weight of the previous week slipped away. The uncertainty of the coming week became manageable. There was no worry or alarm. It wasn’t that the knowledge of what I needed to do slipped away. Rather, it returned to its proper proportion.

I think worship (especially corporate worship) is my main love language with God. I have to credit my Mom with that thought because she is the one who pointed it out. While I do gain a lot spiritually from prayer, fasting, Bible reading, and the many other ways of connecting with God, I experience the most peace and love through musical worship (if you can count my singing musical!). <I realize not all “worship” means music, but for the sake of this post when I refer to it, that is what I mean> It only takes a few songs on Sunday morning to buoy me throughout the week.

This realization really shifts the way I think about my personal quiet time. I easily fall into a check list. ‘Read the Bible? Check. Prayed? Okay….on with my day.’ However, Bible reading and prayer don’t push or uplift me the same way worship does. There isn’t a cookie cutter, one size fits all way to draw close to God. We’re all designed a little differently and we all connect a little differently too. 

Philippians 4:4-7 reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It is a familiar passage. I know I have read it many times without really thinking about it. However, today it particularly struck me. When do I rejoice most? When I am worshiping God. When do I feel God’s nearness? In worship. When do I feel at peace, thankful, and most apt to pray? In worship. 

Sundays have always been special to me, but they are even more so now. Sunday mornings represent an hour of getting loved on by the God of the universe!


Psalm 116

I enjoy reading my Bible in different translations. I grew up on NIV and lately I’ve been reading more NKJV and ESV. It often surprises me how a familiar passage can gain new meaning or perspective with just a few different words. Today I read Psalm 116 in NKJV and I was really struck by the opening verses. I decided to share the whole thing: 

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
10 I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
11 I said in my haste,
“All men are liars.”

12 What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

16 O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.

18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
19 In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.