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River stage: 14.24 ft. Rising
Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014
Christmas nostalgia, a bit of sadness, joy that is incomplete (12/21/14)
Now I am in the stable. I bend to touch the straw on the ground, bring a handful to my nose and breathe in deep, pick out a single piece and stick it in my mouth, bite down on the hollow stalk that tastes of something I cannot name, and salt. Where are you? Running your hand along the splintered wood of the wall? Writing your name in trough-water mud with the toe of your boot? Over petting the cow, whose coat is moist in the heat? Maybe in a moment I will join you -- I have always wanted to feel the fur, but never quite gotten close enough.. ...
'Our heart is restless until it rests with you' (12/07/14)
Advent is all about longing. Longing for Christ to come, to be born in us. Longing for something better, to be part of something more, for something to finally fulfill us. This longing brings with it a restlessness to seek, to keep seeking. We feel a long way off; there is a journey...
Saying 'yes' to what God calls you to, and overcoming fear of failure in life (11/23/14)
Last summer, I had a wonderful internship experience at a newspaper in St. Louis. My first day on the job, I read a handbook the previous intern had written for new interns. As I was reading, one specific sentence stuck out to me. It said, "Say 'yes' to everything."...
We are created for relationship, with our hearts open (11/09/14)
Two weekends ago I went to Skopje, Macedonia, which turned out to be one of my favorite places I've ever been, as well as the birthplace of Mother Teresa, two really nice surprises to me. While there, I was able to go to the Mother Teresa memorial house, where I bought a cross with this saying of hers on it: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."...
My strength and my shield (10/12/14)
I have spent a lot of mental energy throughout my life trying to protect myself, to figure out what will be accepted by people and then fulfilling that. I put up walls of "coolness" -- overrated, for sure -- that keep me, yes, from being rejected, but also from fully experiencing life and contributing all I am to others...
A free gift of self to be set free (09/28/14)
The other day, outside a grocery store, I met a woman named Katerine who was asking people for money. As I sat on the curb waiting for my friend, Katerine turned around and said something to me in Greek. I apologized for not speaking the language, and she nodded her head and turned back around. For the next few minutes I struggled between wanting to talk with her and my fear, until I saw another woman hand Katerine some money. This woman's example of sharing gave me the courage to do the same...
Noticing God on a bus, and all around (09/14/14)
I have officially moved to a suburb of Athens, Greece, where I'll be living and teaching during the next year. What I've been struck by most since I've been here is God's presence with me, his care and provision and how others are Christ to me. Moving to a completely new environment has opened me up to noticing the sweet ways God tells me moment by moment that he loves me, has allowed me to realize and live my dependence on him...
Caught up in beauty and goodness (08/31/14)
I recently saw the movie "The Giver," and I was blown away. I read the book when I was in elementary school, and hadn't remembered much about it, except that it was really good. The movie version didn't disappoint, either; it is one of those rare movies that makes me grateful to be human and reawakens me to all of the beauty in this world. The movie has soul, and it touched mine...
To have a simple heart (08/17/14)
Many times in life, I make things more complicated than they are. I have this wonderful ability to analyze and think deeply, a natural capacity cultivated by being an English major at a liberal arts college. I am grateful for this ability to think critically and deeply, and treasure it as one of my greatest gifts, because it nurtures my ability to understand myself and express my understanding -- or lack thereof -- in words...
Feeling the pain of those mired in violence (08/03/14)
It seems to me that our world is becoming increasingly more violent. I'm not sure if this is actually true, or if the world has always been this way and we are just more aware of it now because of global connectedness and the media's focus on it. Either way, there is a lot of un-love in this world, a lot of pain and hard-heartedness and holes in people crying out to be healed and made whole and just wanting to feel OK, trying to fill their emptiness in all the wrong ways. ...
Soulfulness meets a need for God (07/20/14)
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of participating in a spirituality group for men who don't have homes, and many of whom previously struggled with addiction. The evidence that God has transformed these men was so apparent in the joy on their faces, the way they treated each other with utmost respect and how they shared their stories with such vulnerability, shamelessness and gratitude. ...
Temptation: A place to meet God (07/06/14)
The other week at a conference I attended, one of the speakers said something that has been transforming my life. He said that every desire we have masks a deeper hunger, a hunger that is for God and that can only be fulfilled by him. Desires as simple as hunger pains, to desires for the latest clothes or technology, to desires that run as deep within us as sexual desires, beneath them all is our one true desire: God. He is for whom we are created...
Bicycles and Christmas in July (06/22/14)
I recently had the opportunity to meet a group of people who volunteer at a church called Most Holy Trinity in Hyde Park in north St. Louis. This is a group of people whose love for the people of Hyde Park is apparent through their stories of how the people of this neighborhood have touched their lives, and their testimony to the strength and work ethic of the people who live in Hyde Park...
God's deep and complete love for us (06/08/14)
Of all the humanly written words I have read in my life, the ones that get it the most right, that speak to me most completely of God and love are the words of Sonnet XVII, by Pablo Neruda. This poem speaks straight to the deepest places inside me, speaks of love in the truest sense, feels like breathing, leaves me saying "yes." It gives the truest picture of what love purely is, allows me to feel my longing for love that brings me face-to-face with the fact that I am a created human, that my incompleteness is beauty because it is space that allows me to relate to my Creator God, who is also known as Love. ...
Questioning all in a new environment (05/25/14)
I recently graduated from college and have been thrown very quickly into the "adult" world, a world that is radically different from the one I am used to. Transitions like this are difficult for me. I am not good at them. I am not good at being the new person, not good at not knowing what I am doing. ...
Moms see the miracle in the mundane (05/11/14)
One of my favorite happenings in the Gospels is when Jesus, after he's risen from the dead, appears to Mary Magdalene. I love that Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener. There is something so profound about a weeping, confused woman coming face-to-face with all she wants and not recognizing it, not realizing that the Jesus she is crying for, the Jesus she aches to see, is standing right in front of her, speaking to her, looking like a common laborer. ...
Reconciling the realities (04/27/14)
I recently traveled to Lexington, Ky., with a group from Truman to present at a research conference. While there, I was struck by the way the attractions in the city encouraged excess, juxtaposed with the poverty in which some people live.  The excess encouraged by consumerism was prevalent in nearly everything I did. ...
'Progress' in a global society (04/13/14)
Recently I watched the documentary "Manufactured Landscapes," which covers photographer Edward Burtynsky's work and the price our consumption of manufactured goods costs our earth and humanity. Largely focusing on globalization's impact on China as the country industrializes, the film opened my eyes to how my consumer decisions affect people on the opposite side of the world. ...
I couldn't have done it without them (03/30/14)
It was this past January, and I was planning to take a self-portrait for my photography class in the early morning light of the sunrise at a nearby park. Although my mental image of the picture I wanted to make was pretty elaborate and involved me standing in the cold without a coat, I didn't want to ask anyone to help me with it because I didn't want to be a burden...
Roller rink realizations (03/02/14)
I recently went roller skating with friends. Unless we're counting the time my cousins tried to teach me how to roller skate when I was six -- let's not, though, because that didn't go so well, either -- I had never been roller skating. I don't know what I was thinking, but I assumed that once we got to the rink I would just strap the roller skates on and be a pro. ...
To live with open hands (02/16/14)
This school year -- and probably my whole life -- has been all about learning how to live with open hands. It's a way of living that is a moment-by-moment choice to accept whatever comes and offer it back to God. It means letting things go and it means that after I've done all I can, letting things be what they are, as they are, and trusting that God has everything...
Precious and irreplaceable human life (02/02/14)
A couple of weeks ago I heard Sister Helen Prejean, an advocate for eradicating the death penalty, speak. She told about her experience of being the spiritual director to a man on death row, which she wrote about in her book "Dead Man Walking," which was made into a movie. ...
Sharing our abundant blessings (01/19/14)
The other day I came across a quote by St. Basil the Great that says, "The bread you store up belongs to the hungry; the cloak that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold you have hidden in the ground belong to the poor." This quote speaks to the detachment I want to have toward material things. ...
Amazement in our worth and dignity (01/05/14)
Pope John Paul II defined Christianity as "deep amazement at man's worth and dignity." I love this because I think this must be why God chose to come here as a human to save us: He was deeply amazed by us, his creations, and wanted so badly for us to believe our own worth and dignity -- the worth and dignity he placed inside us when he made us in his image -- that he decided to become human, to show us that being human is good and holy, that it is enough. ...
A Christmas prayer (12/22/13)
You who are lonely: He loves you. You who are afraid: He loves you. You who are sad: He loves you. You who feel like you're not enough: You are more than enough -- He loves you. You who are running low on hope: He loves you. You who are worried and anxious: Accept his peace -- He loves you...
Simply recognizing God in us and around us (12/08/13)
Lately I've been reading a book of Mother Teresa's quotes entitled "Everything Starts from Prayer." I was initially drawn to this book while browsing at the bookstore for two reasons: its title and the fact that it was on sale for half price. I've also been wanting to read Mother Teresa's writings because her life of radical service to the poor and acceptance of every person really resonates within me. ...
Using science to draw closer to God (11/24/13)
I find God in science. To my mind, the science vs. God dichotomy is futile; science isn't in opposition with God, but rather a way for me to better know and understand God and myself, to relate to him and marvel at being part of his mystery. God gives meaning to the "why" of the world, whereas science answers the "how."...
Recognizing the Jesus in everyone (11/10/13)
The summer before my sophomore year of college, I met Jesus in a woman named Lisa. She was sitting in the grass by the curb of a store's parking lot, and I almost drove past her, trying not to make eye contact. The speedup of my heartbeat as I drove toward the stop sign told me I needed to turn back, though, and as I got out of my car and walked toward her, the fear we're taught to feel toward "poor" people beat inside of me, and I had no idea what I was going to do or say...
Sitting in the glow of God's presence (10/27/13)
Sometimes when I pray, thoughts of doubt run through my mind, telling me I'm not giving enough of myself to intimately encounter God, that I'm not focused enough, or that I'm focused too much so that what I think God is giving to me is just me making it up...
You are claimed as a child of God (09/29/13)
One of my closest friends, Priya, has tan lines on her feet in the pattern of her sandal straps from wearing her Chaco sandals in the sun all summer. When I mentioned to her how cool that is, she smiled a sheepish and somewhat mischievous grin and said, "Yeah, I know, I feel pretty cool."...
Peace, peace, wonderful peace (09/15/13)
Peace. This is a word that makes me better able to breathe, to rest and feel secure. It is the absence of chaos, the absence of violence, the absence of judgment and separation. It is a quiet surrender to something larger than ourselves, a recognition of our humanity, our shared state of brokenness and trust in the power of love that has us in our brokenness, that makes beauty from it...
Asking for rest in God (09/01/13)
Sometimes I am tired and confused. Take, for example, lately. I recently moved back to Kirksville, Mo., from home for the school year. Transitions are hard for me; I feel like a plant that's been uprooted, plunked down in another place and expected to grow. It exhausts me...
Nothin' like waitin' tables all summer (08/18/13)
This summer I worked as a server at a restaurant in Cape Girardeau. Although initially a little bummed because waitressing didn't seem as adventurous as my friends' summer plans, I nevercould have anticipated the abundant and deepening grace, blessings and love God gave me through the job. The lessons, patience and love to be learned in a restaurant are many, and I'm so grateful for the things God taught me through the people I served and my co-workers...
Give us this day our … (08/04/13)
Daily bread. Those are two of the words Jesus gives us to pray with in Luke 11:3. I've been praying and thinking about these simple words lately, and they are transforming my life. There are so many things in life I impatiently think I want or need, things that sidetrack me from opening my hands and free-falling into my Father's arms. Jesus' idea of prayer is so much simpler, though -- ask for my daily bread...
A wrong turn leads to understanding and love (07/21/13)
While my family and I were on vacation in Arizona, we made one of the best mistakes I've ever been fortunate enough to make: we took a wrong turn on the Hopi Indian Reservation. I had hoped to take an official tour of the Hopi village, where the people live in homes thousands of years old. ...
Checking out the Grand Canyon (07/07/13)
I'm writing this on the way home from my family's vacation to the Grand Canyon, which truly is one of the grandest things I have ever seen. Standing on the rim of it and looking out, I was struck by how vast it is compared to how small I am. This difference is what made looking at the canyon and hiking down into it so amazing. Getting to be a part of its greatness filled me with gratitude and made me feel alive, reminding me of God's greatness and how much he treasures me being a part of him...
Every moment is precious to God (06/23/13)
I've been thinking a lot about how to find meaning in life, especially when the things I do each day are redundant tasks that don't seem like anything special and aren't that exciting to do. I want my life to be full of meaning, and on days when it seems like it's not, I despair...
Take time for communion with God (06/09/13)
My favorite time of day is dusk, when the light outside is softer and the sun is leaving hairpin wisps of neon pink and orange in the sky. The breeze blows the air cooler and even the birds, insects and tree frogs seem to feel freer and unburdened. This time of day allows me to be free with God to dream, unburden myself, and feel his presence. I can just be, and it's a glorious time to be part of his creation...
Love that transcends boundaries (05/26/13)
"Oh ... it's a lot different when you put a face with the crime." One of the seniors said this to me on a marching band trip when I was sophomore in high school. I had put my things in the seat I hadn't known he'd already claimed. He had jokingly told his friend he was going to throw the person's things on the floor until I'd told him the things were mine and he made the comment above, deciding to search for another seat...
Taking a day to celebrate mom (05/12/13)
Today, I want to celebrate a woman who is always celebrating others, the one who buys special napkins and paper plates for birthdays, the one who sends me cards in the mail with random magazine clippings that align with my dreams, the woman who tells me I'm a special person the world is lucky to have when I need to hear it most: my mom...
A legacy of loving and inspiring others (04/28/13)
Bill Kottenstette is the wisest person I know. Upon reading that sentence, he will probably make some witty, sarcastic joke, but it's true. I have never met anyone who embodies God's unconditional, nonjudgmental love and wisdom more than Father Bill...
Jesus is walking with us (04/14/13)
"But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." This line caught my attention the other day while reading The Walk to Emmaus story in Luke 24:16 (NAB). I can't pinpoint exactly why I love this line, but I think it might be because the One the men are yearning for, confused about and disappointed in, the One they still want to place their hope in but just aren't sure, the One they want to save them, is walking right beside them and they don't even notice it's him until a while later in the breaking of the bread.. ...
God can transform our struggles (03/31/13)
I've stopped asking God to take uncomfortable circumstances away from me. My prayer used to be that he would take away my fear, worry or whatever else I didn't want to be a part of my life so that I wouldn't be bothered by it any longer. I've realized that asking God to transform my struggles into whatever he wants them to be is infinitely more powerful than merely asking him to take "bad" feelings and circumstances away from me...
God the Father welcomes us home (03/17/13)
There's nothing like coming home. Before I'm even out of my car, one of my family members is usually poking their head out the door, grinning. My sister acts as pack mule and helps me carry in my numerous bags, and everyone wants to hear about my life and see my pictures...
Focusing on the 'little' acts of love (03/03/13)
I'll admit it: I've been running from who I am out of fear of mediocrity. I've been so afraid of living an average life, of having a future no one looks at and says, "Wow, that is so cool. I want my life to be like that." My fixation on making big, crazy plans in my life to ensure I don't live a "normal" life has left me discontent, distracted from the very thing I've been longing to do: serve and love others...
Faith is choosing to believe in God (02/17/13)
One of the most beautiful turning points in my faith came during my first semester at Truman State University, when I was still terrified that "liberal arts education" was synonymous with "soul corruption" and afraid my faith would be destroyed by countering viewpoints and crazy ideas presented in college classrooms...
The Good Shepard loves us unconditionally (02/03/13)
I want to apologize to any woman who has had an abortion, and any man who has been part of a decision for abortion, who has been hurt by anti-abortion signs or flags or T-shirts or comments. I am sorry for anything done in a spirit of judgment instead of a spirit of love. I am sorry that out of anger at policymakers' and laws' injustices, zealousness for the truth of life, and fear for our country we have forgotten the truth that you are a person, too. I am sorry for throwing stones at you...
Growing deeper in our relationship with Jesus (01/20/13)
In Luke 5:1-11, it's been a long night on the job and Simon, James and John are a little discouraged because the hard work they've done hasn't amounted to anything -- they didn't catch any fish. There are people everywhere listening to Jesus teach and these men are tired, ready to pack up and go home when all of a sudden the Jesus guy they've been hearing about gets into one of their boats and asks Peter to push off from the shore so he can teach from the water...
God loves us as his precious children (01/06/13)
Every year my mom has her side of the family over after Christmas, time together that is always precious to me because it's one of the only times we get to see each other during the year. Most of my cousins have children now, so this year there were 16 children under the age of 10 at our house. The children made our time together a lively adventure...
Letting God lead us to the stable (12/23/12)
As I imagine the first Christmas, God's way of unifying everyone -- likely and unlikely people -- over his Son and the mystery amazes me. I imagine a stable filled with a man and a woman who don't know exactly what is going to happen, but whose hearts are full of hope, joy and expectation of a gift from God that's bigger than they're ready to understand right now. ...
Waiting for the greatest joy to arrive (12/09/12)
Joy. It's such a small word that carries within it the power to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, disappointments into delight, the mundane into a divine encounter with the God who gives us his breath to breathe. It's a level of peace, contentment and excitement deeper and more constant than happiness, and no matter how else you try to get it, it only comes from God alone...
Sometimes God speaks to us through others' actions (11/25/12)
It's the little things that remind me of God's love, that show me his presence and the sweet, gentle touch of his concern and care for me. His presence is like the whisper after the wind, earthquake and fire that he speaks to Elijah in (1 Kings 19:11-14), surprising me with the sweet things only he could know would touch my heart that turn me towards him...
Facing the challenge of living in the present (11/11/12)
My favorite tree in the world (at least the places I've seen) is on the edge of Truman's campus. The tree is across a bridge at the bottom of a hill with an asphalt path that's cracked and more grey than black running under it, leading to the crosswalk on the main road. ...
Stop worrying: Your time is in God's hands (10/28/12)
The other night sometime roughly between midnight and one in the morning, I lay awake in bed panicking. The only thing running through my mind was how many papers and tests I had due the next week, and how I would have no time to get it all finished because I was going home for the weekend. ...
Imperfections are what make us beautiful (10/14/12)
I get really caught up in other people's perceptions of me. I waste so much time thinking someone will think negatively of me if I do or say something that I want, and wondering what I should do or say instead to be accepted by them. Too often I abide in insecurity, thinking that what I want to do or say is "wrong" (or, more embarrassingly but probably more accurately, less cool) and that the opposite of what I want to say/do is "right" (read, more cool.) This is exhausting, frustrating and pointless because what ends up happening is that I disappear. ...
Loving God freely and fully (09/30/12)
Free will is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It amazes me that God would give each of us free will, that he trusts me so much that he wants to let me choose how to live my life, to choose how I want to serve him. This basic fact tells us so much about our God's character, so much about love itself. ...
Longing for the 'better country' of God (09/16/12)
"They were longing for a better country." Those are the words that sparked my heart last week when I came across them on Noisetrade.com in the title of singer/songwriter Zach Winters' album. These words from Hebrews 11:16 draw me in because I understand. ...
In everything we face, God remains (09/02/12)
The past few weeks have been a spiritual struggle for me. I haven't felt like praying. It's seemed like a long time since I've experienced intimacy with God. Reading the Word has sounded anything but appealing, and the word that's come to mind when I think of opening the Bible sitting on my desk has been, "ughh."...
Serving the Lord wholeheartedly (08/19/12)
I've done everything I can think of to put off writing this column this week. I watched part of the closing ceremony of the Olympics. I ate a Popsicle (but technically that was multi-tasking -- I did that while watching the Olympics.) I went to bed and slept an extra hour and a half longer than planned because no ideas magically appeared in my mind from my subconscious overnight...
Amazed by God's creation at Niagara Falls (08/05/12)
A couple of weeks ago I stood before Niagara Falls, the seventh wonder of the world, on vacation with my family. I was breath-taken and speechless. Words and pictures can't describe the beauty of 757,500 gallons of water each second pouring over rock cliffs and spraying up into a sparkling mist between two countries. It's majestic and powerful and makes necessary saying the word "wow" without meaning to an unnecessary number of times...
Doing everything for God and God alone (07/22/12)
I'm used to doing things with a goal in mind. I like understanding how what I'm doing at this moment in my life fits into something bigger, how it reaches toward a dream I have for the future or how it loves God's people. It makes me feel important, hopeful and purposeful, and I like feeling like that...
We are God's unique creations (07/08/12)
Sometimes I fall into the trap of comparing my life and myself to other people and their lives. Looking to others' lives to find out how mine should be is my misplaced desire to know who I am, to find out if I'm pretty and happy, if my life is adventurous and meaningful. What I'm yearning for is the truth of my Father's affirming love, to abide in him so he can show me who I am and my road to holiness. What I get instead from comparison is distraction, sin and confusion...
Jesus is God's perfect gift to us (06/24/12)
Homemade presents are the best. I'm not sure which brings more joy -- giving or receiving something that's been made with the giver's time, love and self. The gift giver gets to create something that expresses both who they are and who they see the receiver as. The gift receiver's heart gets to feel affirmed, understood and honored...
Trading our agenda for God's great adventure (06/10/12)
I have a heart that yearns for adventure. I crave the bigness of creation to be made known to me, and to find the humble honesty in smallness. I crave the heartbreaking beauty of humanity and inspiration found in unexpected places. I crave for my heart to be touched by the gentle sweetness of the only One who knows how to touch that untouchable place in my soul...
How I marvel at God's attention to detail (05/27/12)
This past semester my Biology 100 class gave a whole new, deeper meaning to Psalm 139, especially verse 13: "You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139 was already one of my favorite psalms before I took Bio 100. ...
Understanding a goodness that can't be contained (05/13/12)
Psalm 34:8 makes me really excited to live this life in pursuit of the Lord. In this verse, the psalmist can't find words to describe what he's experienced in a way that could even begin to help the reader understand. Instead of trying to describe something as indescribable as God's goodness, he invites the reader into the heart of God, saying, "Find out for yourself how good the Lord is."...
As God transformed apostles, he can transform us (04/15/12)
I love the transformation the apostles go through after Jesus' death and resurrection. They grow from guys who run away in fear as Jesus suffers humiliation, physical abuse and crucifixion into men who speak boldly about the truth of Christ's life, death and resurrection -- men who live Jesus' love as the first members of the church...
Waiting at Lord's feet and giving all of ourselves (04/01/12)
Everything about the way Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, worshipped and knew the Lord makes me want to worship and know him like that. The first time we get to eavesdrop on Mary and Jesus is in Luke 10:38-42, when Jesus stays at her and her siblings' house. The only thing Mary does in these verses is sit at the feet of Jesus to listen to him...
Seeking Jesus in the deserts of life (03/18/12)
I've never been to a desert. It's a place I really want to get to during the course of my life, though. It must be a place of extremes -- extreme loss, extreme desolation, extreme beauty. There's something in the desert's extremes that is courageous. It's not a lukewarm place with lots of middle ground, but a place that faces and experiences things. A place where life defies expectations and endures...
God's love drives out fear, helps us stand, fight (03/04/12)
Fear. I'm convinced that is what's at the root of so many sins. Fear of who we are, fear of who we're not. Fear of what we don't know. Fear that we are not enough, fear that God is not enough. This fear inside us manifests itself through the ways we sin externally...
Loving other people in a tangible way (02/19/12)
In one of the most treasured photographs I own, a little girl in a red dress stands under a tree with a shy smile on her face. With her hands at her side and the dirt beneath her feet a rich brown, she doesn't suspect that she will change my life, that God is going to use her to speak his love and encouragement to my heart, to show me that his love can sew people together who live an ocean away...
Loving God with everything that we are (02/05/12)
"Jesus replied: 'The most important one is this: Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'" -- Mark 12:29-30 This is what we are created for...
Giving up control of your life to God (01/22/12)
Sometimes life seems out of control. Life can be a lot to handle, especially when we're trying to control it. One of the most liberating truths, though, is that God has everything under control. When we give up control over our lives to our Father, the fight ends...
We are never too far away for God's grace (01/08/12)
"From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:16-17) Grace in place of grace. Everything about these five words makes me want that. ...
Standing in awe of God's love (12/25/11)
Awe. As Mary, Joseph, the kings and the shepherds gazed upon that tiny, perfect baby swaddled in the manger, that must have been all that overwhelmed them. With his tiny hands that grasped their fingers, smooth eyelids closed in peace, and perfect little fingernails, their Savior and King lay before them. The one they desperately needed, the one their hearts ached for. The God of the universe was here. None of them understood, but their hearts did, and all they could do was bow down and worship...
Waiting is one of the hardest things to do (12/11/11)
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning -- more than watchmen wait for the morning." -- Psalm 130:5-6 I wonder how watchmen wait for the morning?...
'Gratitude List': What are you thankful for? (11/27/11)
Rejoice. That's a word in Scripture that I sometimes skip over. It's such a small instruction that it doesn't always register in my mind and heart how powerful, necessary and transformative it is. The God who has already won every battle is the God who calls us his children. When I think about the word "rejoice" in this context, it becomes the main message of how I want to live my life...
Love thy family as you love your fellow strangers (11/13/11)
I didn't always think that being God's love to my family members was a big way to serve him. Even though my family members are the people who mean the most to me, they were also the people I spent the most time with, and it didn't always seem particularly exciting or exotic to intentionally be God's love to them. ...
Hope is holding on to God (10/30/11)
The other day I wore a shirt that says only the word "hope" at the top in white letters that are half an inch long. I like the shirt because it is poetry; something about how those letters are scrawled so tinily across the top of this shirt resonates with me. ...
Surrender to God, and he'll give you what you need (10/16/11)
I spend a lot of time telling God what I want. I don't always (or ever) ask God to give me what he knows I need, though. While it is so good to tell our Father our dreams, desires and every little thing that happens in our lives -- he wants to know about it all -- I think he wants more from us than that. He wants us to give our dreams, desires and every detail of our lives -- everything that matters most to us -- to him, trusting him to meet our needs...
Do unto others as Christ has done for us (10/02/11)
I've been coming back to 1 John 3:16 over and over this week. "This is how we know what love is: Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for our brothers!" What a radical verse. It's been speaking to my heart because it lets me know what true love is and tells me that I already have it. And then it challenges me to do something with this incredible, amazing, breathtaking true love that I am covered in...
Is the Bible the literal word of God? (09/18/11)
I received in my electronic mail inbox a 41-page report with the following portentous title: "What it Means to be American: Attitudes in an Increasingly Diverse America Ten Years After 9/11." The mathematical construct "9/11" doesn't require explanation to anyone who has been conscious for the past decade. Everyone knows what it means without elaboration...
Being molded by clay, how beautiful (09/04/11)
Lately, I've been thinking about clay. I've always been fascinated that something beautiful can be made from a gray hunk of doughy material. It's amazing that something that starts out as kind of ugly and with no clear purpose can, by the person with the right talent and skill (this is not me), be transformed into something useful, beautiful and admirable that takes my breath away...
Be an example, even in your youth (08/21/11)
School is starting again. For some of us, that means we'll be attending the school we've gone to our whole lives for seven hours a day. For others, it means moving into a dorm room hours from home (or maybe across town). Wherever it is that August and a new school year is taking you, be excited: God has so many adventures planned for you this year, and he wants us to take him with us into our classrooms, hallways, cafeteria, practices and residence hall, to be his love to our peers and teachers who need to see his face. ...
God can conquer suffering with his overwhelming love (08/07/11)
There is a lot of suffering in the world. God has been opening my eyes to this lately. People we love die, and it hurts. People are without a home and hope, passed by day after day. Elderly spouses who have loved each other all their lives are separated, and it hurts not only them but their children as well. Women in our country and other countries are abused. Drought. Loneliness. Not knowing how to comfort someone we love. It all hurts...
Avoiding the worthless lies of the world (07/24/11)
It's hard living for Christ in a world that constantly bombards us with lies presented as truth. One of the easiest areas for the devil to slip lies into our heart and mind is through media. These areas are tricky because it can seem innocent to be entertained by a movie with questionable content, music with lyrics that dishonor God and his people because the tune is catchy or magazines that gossip about our celebrity brothers and sisters...
We don't have to try to be good enough for God (07/10/11)
Good enough. Sometimes these two words echo loudly in my mind. I have to be good enough to be noticed, good enough to make a difference in the world, good enough to matter. Even the pavement seems to whisper it with every step I take: be good enough, good enough, good enough...
To know God, seek his heart, not just answers (06/26/11)
We have this amazing, awe-inspiring God who makes every effort to give us moments that take our breath away. He does it time and again in the way the sun sparkles through the tree leaves at twilight, the way someone truly smiles at us and in the way the sunrise is different every morning. The way he not only hung stars in the sky but went the extra mile and drew pictures with them...
God's roar keeps us safe and close to him (06/12/11)
I wonder what God's roar sounds like? It must be a sound that makes something in our hearts stir, finally awake, finally alive, finally true. It must be a sound that makes something inside evil's bones shake, die and dissipate. It must be mightier than ocean waves crashing against a mountain in a storm and more passionate than an army's battle cry. It must be the peace, the security, our hearts have always longed for...
In love with Jesus who himself is love (05/29/11)
I love cookie dough ice cream, writing and laughing. I love my family and friends, gazing at the night sky and Hanes V-neck T-shirts. But my No. 1 love that runs so much deeper than anything in this world is Jesus. It blows my mind that a perfect man like him loves me back...
Mia Pohlman