KRISTEN HATTON|CONTRIBUTOR We hadn’t seen each other very much lately, or even texted in our usual way. I knew we had both been busy, so I hadn’t thought much of it. I have lots of friends I don’t see very often because of proximity, different life stages or work schedules, but we always pick right back up as if no time had passed. Assuming the same would be true with this friend, I had looked forward to seeing her at an event later that week. But the big hug and incessant catch up session I expected didn’t come. Instead my presence was barely acknowledged. Not knowing what to make of her icy reception, I pretended not to notice, opting instead to keep trying to get the conversation going. I kept asking questions hoping to make things feel normal, only it was never reciprocated which left me hurt and confused. Back home, later that night and into the next day and week, I kept replaying this whole scenario in my head. But the longer I dwelt on it, the more my hurt turned to indignation and I became convinced of my own narrative. Of course, at this point I didn’t know what was really true, but it didn’t matter. I felt justified in thinking how dare she be mad at me for not texting or calling her, when she hadn’t reached out to me either. Ironically, in the same way I felt like she wanted me to “pay” some consequence for something I knew nothing about and I now wanted her to pay. For I deserved a better friend than what she’d shown me! I know I’m not alone in this line of thinking even though we usually don’t tease it out.
Is the Gospel really changing your life? We [...]
RENEE MATHIS|CONTRIBUTOR As a writing teacher, this is a term I use all the time. I like to say that transitions are signposts or traffic signals we use to help our reader along the journey. While we may know where we are headed, the reader may not. Transitional words or phrases can be helpful in maintaining a sense of direction. “In addition…” “Accordingly…” “Therefore…” and “The first reason….” But what about when transitions leap off the page and become a reality? What does it look like when we move from one place or stage to the next? Currently I’m in an empty-next stage. My husband will be retiring in a few years. Should we move? Should we be closer to the kids? We have 5 and they are spread out. Where do we go? These are scary changes for me! Transitioning to new adventures and maybe a new location are exciting prospects for my husband, but for change-averse me, the idea of a major move is daunting! Then there are the transitions that are more personal. I will be ending a 30 year long teaching career that began with homeschooling my 5 year old and grew to include 4 more children and eventually classes of other homeschooled children, locally and online. Will I miss grading all those essays? Probably not. Will I miss connecting to my students, “my kids,” praying with and for them, seeing the light bulb moments, and rejoicing in their progress? Of course! Yet, even without a gradebook, I know the Lord has opportunities for me to teach. I look forward to transitioning to a different kind of teaching. Any kind of change brings questions...
RACHEL CRADDOCK|GUEST The day after our honeymoon, just eighteen months after I had accepted Christ as my personal Savior, I moved to Covenant Theological Seminary with my husband who planned to become a pastor. Outwardly, I bravely faced the new things God was calling me to; inwardly, I felt great tension between who I was becoming and who I used to be. By His grace and mercy, God was changing me from the inside out. My mother passed away from breast cancer when I was fourteen. In my grief after her passing, my life turned upside down and inside out. I didn’t know how to allow myself to feel the pain and loss, so I numbed myself to the pain instead. If you can imagine any girl from your middle school or high school who bullied others, struggled with cutting, or engaged in substance abuse—I was like her. After graduation, I vowed I would never come back to my hometown—facing the shame and pain of my past was something I didn’t have the courage or strength to do on my own. I desired to forget the past—to untether myself from the person I had been. When we left seminary in 2009, God called my husband to serve in a church just fourteen miles from my hometown. As a new Christian one of the first verses I had memorized was 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, (s)he is a new creation, the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” When we moved back to serve in a church so close to my past life, I tried to let this verse fill every nook and cranny of my heart. It is easy to say 2 Corinthians 5:17 from memory—it is more difficult to live by these words and walk in them.
Life isn’t glamorous or peaceful every moment of [...]
LAURA BOOZ|GUEST I don’t know about you, but I feel so much pressure to make a name for myself, be all that I can be, and to maximize my potential. I feel like we’re all in a race to promote and protect ourselves, to achieve self-actualization the fastest. I’m so tired of focusing on me, me, me. That’s why today I’m asking myself, would you invest your life to promote someone else? Instead of maximizing your own potential, you’d maximize theirs. Instead of working hard to advance your own agenda, you’d promote their message, desires, and life’s calling. Instead of building your own audience, pursuing your own happiness, earning your own reward, and leaving your own legacy, you’d be all about theirs, theirs, theirs, theirs. How would that feel?
In honor of Sanctity of Human Life Sunday (January 20), I want to tell you a true story. My friend Cassandra was pregnant—with twins. They were eagerly anticipated, and already named. At three months along, Cassandra got a call at work. A nurse was informing her that it appeared that the babies were going to be born with Down syndrome. My friend was stunned. Twins would be a challenge, Down syndrome would be a challenge—but all together? She called a cousin and they began to pray. Her cousin first thanked the Lord for the babies. “Lord, we are going to love these children, and we know you do too,” Cassandra remembers their saying to Him. “What I needed was love,” she says now. “If I had love for these children, it didn’t matter what they had or didn’t have; I could face the future. My cousin’s prayer was just what I needed. I told Him, ‘Lord, we are here for your plan.’”
Julie Sparkman joins Karen Hodge to talk about [...]
It was the answer to prayer I didn’t want to get. It was not only disappointing—it was costly. It was one of those life situations that getting the answer I wanted would have had no grand effect on the universe, but have made my life (and my family’s life) quite lovely. Time, prayer, wise counsel, and careful planning had all gone into setting the stage. The answer I wanted would have allowed me to honor God in so many ways. The correct answer to my prayer was obvious, and I couldn’t wait to receive my blessing from the Lord’s hand. But the answer that seemed so right never materialized. I felt as though God had failed me even though I had done everything right. I prepared for a season of action, yet God had me continue in this season of waiting. In between the sharp pains of disappointment, questions swirled like brittle leaves on a blustery day. Why had it turned out this way? Why did I have to suffer? Didn’t God care?
KATIE POLSKI|CONTRIBUTOR I scrolled through Facebook recently and noticed [...]