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A Letter to My Daughter’s Birth Mother

In a world of seven and a half billion people, it seems impossible that my words will ever find you. Still, they’ve been on my heart for years now and today I feel compelled to send them out wherever they may go. Maybe they will find someone else who needs to hear them, or maybe, the same sovereign hand that brought a precious baby to me will bring these words back to the one who bore her. So I send them out and trust that God will do with them whatever He sees fit.

You have sent out and trusted in far more unimaginable and enormous ways than I can ever comprehend.This is why I write.

She is playing on the floor beside me, the one who has your eyes and your smile, and your laugh. I don’t know your name, and you don’t know mine, but those small pieces of you I do know—I know them so very well. They are memorized like a piece of my own heart now.You must be so beautiful, because she is.

My husband sometimes says that there is an empty seat at our table, meaning maybe there is still another child out there for our family. He does this to be funny, in truth. But I admit to sometimes noticing that empty chair. Except it’s not a child who is missing, in my mind.

No matter how much she smiles, your empty chair in her world will always be there.Loss is like a haunting. It’s a vital cord being cut, the ends left loose, never to be retied again this side of eternity. That cord searches for its other end nevertheless, with a gaping openness where there should be closure. Sometimes it looks like seeing a face in a crowd that isn’t there. I remember searching for my own mother’s face when she left this earth too early, and I have to wonder: are you on the other side of the world today haunted by the absence of a little girl? Do you see an empty chair too and wonder?…

A Christian’s Quest

One theme common to many great stories is the idea of the quest. Any time the author takes the character on a journey, you can be sure there will be some sort of growth and self-discovery to follow. Whether it is Huck Finn rafting down the Mississippi or Bilbo Baggins making his way through Middle Earth, quests make for exciting reading.Most quests and adventures include the same elements: the character making the journey, the place they are going, the stated reason to go there, challenges and trials along the way, and finally, the discovery. What was the real reason they needed to make this trip?

As Christ-followers, participants in God’s greater, grander story, we have quests of our own. This journey called “sanctification” can be a wild and wooly one. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could learn from someone else, who also went on a quest of her own? Sisters, meet Sarah.

Sarah’s Journey

We are introduced to this woman, originally called Sarai, whose name means “princess,” along with her husband Abram. She doesn’t seem like a candidate for a heroine; she’s just an ordinary woman, whose husband springs some news on her one day: Pack up. We’re moving.Whoa! I’m sure her first questions were the same as ours would be. Where? And why? And that brings us to parts 2 and 3 of our necessary requirements. Sarah is leaving the only home she has ever known and is going to the promised land. The reason was given to her husband. “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing.” Was Sarah excited? Was she nervous? She was about to begin the adventure of a lifetime! Was this journey of hope and expectation going to be life-changing? What was at the other end? Would Canaan welcome these travelers?

Corporate Prayer Doesn’t Have to be Hard

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great English pastor of the 18th century, is commonly honored as the “Prince of Preachers”. But, Mr. Spurgeon was among the first to give credit where credit is due: he considered the faithful, praying members of his church to be “the powerhouse of this church.” The “engine room” of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle, as he called it, was the basement where people gathered on their knees asking the Lord for His blessing. According to Spurgeon, the prayer meeting was the spiritual thermometer of the church as “souls stormed the celestial city with the might of their intercession.”

Priority of Corporate Prayer

If we were able to take a measurement, what do you think would be the average spiritual temperature of churches today—a healthy body temperature of 98.6 or a feverishly high reading exceeding 100 degrees? If prayer meetings are the accurate spiritual gauge, Spurgeon might say that many churches (certainly not all!) are languishing on life support in ICU.

It’s time for the church, and for Christians everywhere, to take stock of its priority for prayer and honestly ask ourselves some hard questions. Could it be we live powerless lives, and attend powerless churches, because we’ve given up the vibrant prayer gathering in favor of a church-wide supper, committee meeting, or an extra Bible lecture? There’s nothing wrong with those good activities, but the trade is a rip-off. What could be gained if we once again stoked the fires of the prayer engine room in churches and homes across America? In one word: change.The change that’s so desperately needed in our world simply will not happen by casting a vote, rearranging our financial portfolios, or shouting on social media. Only God’s divine power can bring deep-rooted change. Change happens as God performs His work through the powerhouse of corporate prayer…

Sheltering vs. Equipping and the Purpose of Motherhood

As loud and crazy as my house gets with five little boys, I don’t relish the day they will leave. Sometimes I cuddle the baby and whisper, “You can stay with me forever.” If my husband overhears me, he says, “Oh, no he can’t!” So I whisper to the baby that I will make him a special room in the basement.

But I know in my heart that I am not raising them to live in the basement. I am raising them to be independent, godly leaders of their own homes, churches, and communities. My only reservation is…the basement seems so much safer. How can I keep them safe and prepare them to leave the nest at the same time?

The False Security of Sheltering

I have a couple of readers in the house now. My oldest two sons will grab anything with words on it and read it to me. Recently they’ve been reaching for the newspaper. But I was quickly reminded that the newspaper isn’t rated “G.” The same page with an educational article about the economy had articles about a public official’s affair and a sex-trafficking bust. Time to put the paper away for a little longer.When I see a newspaper page like that in the hands of my sweet young son I get angry. I feel like my kids don’t deserve to grow up in such an evil world. I want to protect them from everything “out there.”But the Bible says sin doesn’t come from “out there.” Sin comes from within. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). Not from the newspaper. Not from the politicians. Not from the internet. Sin comes from the heart. “Sheltering” gives us a false sense of security when we take comfort in shutting out the world. We fall for the lie that if we make enough rules and create a completely controlled environment, our kids will be safe. But there is a better way to shelter our kids. Instead of using sheltering to smother and control, we can use sheltering to prepare and equip.

Never Enough: Confronting Lies About Appearance and Achievement with Gospel Hope

It was my sophomore year of high school, and I was sitting around with my cross-country team listening to the older girls compare fat grams in bagel brands. If you have ever looked at bagel labels, you know that there is not any difference worth noting—unless you are obsessed with your weight.

The Lies of Appearance and Achievement

Little did I know how influential that conversation, and many more like it, would become in my life. Add to that the billboards, magazines, and other media that boasted model-thin women all around me, and I bought into the lie “I have to look like ‘her’ in order to be beautiful.”

At the same time I was running cross-country, I was also playing basketball. Unlike the girls on my cross-country team, my teammates could down a fast-food burger in no time at all and not think twice about it. And my coach certainly thought I could use a few burgers myself in order to put on some weight for my position as forward or center. Add to that the fact he could fire off a cuss word, stomp his feet, clap his hands, and throw water, attempting to motivate us to play better and harder and I began to believe another lie: “My worth is based on my outward performance.” Failure to perform well led me to inflict punishment on myself—if I didn’t live up to my coach’s expectations, then I didn’t deserve to eat.These twin themes of body image and performance are still at the heart of young women’s search for beauty and worth today. But it is not just young women. Women of all ages struggle with defining their significance by their appearance and achievements.