Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Day I was Supposed to Move

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A lot can happen in a year.

The last 12 months have been some of the most wonderful, painful, exposing, sanctifying, excruciating, and joyful months of my 28 years.

God has opened my heart, locked tight with fear, and poured in more love and goodness than can be contained in 10,000 lifetimes. He has begun the process of breaking down my Fort Knox-esque self-protective tendencies and given enormous gifts of grace so beyond my dreams and imagination that I didn’t even know to ask for them. I’ve watched Him answer six years of prayers in my small group babies as He has matured, purified, saved, sanctified, and led them deeper into His heart. He has faithfully and flawlessly demonstrated His sufficiency in the valleys and on the mountain tops and in every moment in between.

This year has been filled with sorrow, longings, dreams, and compassions that fail not. It’s been packed with patience from the Father, security from the Son, and constant hope from the Spirit.

The Lord has taught is teaching me to trust Him (and others) with my emotions, my unmasked soul, and my constant urge to resist grace and base my worth on performance. My heart, shriveled from 28 years of insecurities, has been expanded and nourished by a love unlike anything it has ever known from a human so marked by majesty that my soul explodes on a daily basis in worship and praise to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. And my mind constantly reverberates with this grace-drenched message: If His gifts are this good, how much greater is He?

God has proven to my fearful soul over and over that He is good and that He does all things well. He strategizes our lives well. He directs all things well. He writes all our stories well. He never makes a typo. He only ever writes with the highest quality grace-filled ink and He is plotting in all things for His supreme glory and our deepest joy.

Even when He says no.

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Oxford, England.

Today is the day I was supposed to move to England.

“…but God.”

Three months after we returned from England last January, Haley and I began praying about moving to Oxford, a city that instantly felt like home, magic, and possibilities. She would get her PhD, I would write and teach English, and together we would immerse ourselves in the culture we had fallen in love with and make disciples.

We discussed it with our parents, faithful counselors, and each other (all the time). We sought God for months and moved forward, talking with people on the ground in England, students and advisors at Oxford, and various missions organizations. We made lists and Pinterest boards, bought and designed a travel blog, strategized and wrote content for said blog, and researched anything and everything we would need to purchase before moving.

I looked up jobs and Visa applications, formatted my resume for England, and found an apartment. We imagined living, writing, and studying in the same city that was once home to C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, T. S. Eliot, John Wesley, and so many others.

And in every second, God taught me to dream again.
I just didn’t know it wasn’t for England.

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Everything in Oxford is magical (even the doors).

It was the end of October when the no came.

The door was shut.
The desire had changed.
The answer was clear.

Joy flooded in.

I wanted to go but I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be in Oxford but I wanted to stay in Paducah. I wanted to move and do cross cultural missions but I didn’t want to miss what God was doing in our church or watching His plans for His people unfold.

After years of wanting, seeking, and begging God to send me overseas to give my life for His global glory, He (again) called me to stay. Paducah is where He called me and contentment and rest stabilized the calling. His peace proved His presence.

“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” -Psalm 16:11

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On this, the day I was supposed to move, I can tell you with more clarity and conviction than ever before that God will never deny you an egg to give you a scorpion. But He will deny you a scorpion to give you an egg (Luke 11:11-13).

My heart was saying, “Lord, take away this longing, or give me that for which I long.” The Lord was answering, “I must teach you to long for something better.” -Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity

The bottom line (isn’t anything new): God always has the best plans. Especially when He says no. He can be trusted. His ways are higher than ours and His beauty surpasses anything our minds can conceive.

Do you want to know the most recent lesson He’s teaching me? It’s that sometimes, when you brace yourself for a no, He actually says yes. Just in an entirely different way than you were expecting.

Sola Deo Gloria.

“This God––His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.” -Psalm 18:30

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When God Slays Us

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I look around me and see brokenness.

Broken relationships. Broken hearts. Broken bodies. Broken souls.

I look in me and see brokenness. I am a fractured soul in a fractured world. And I’m learning that this brokenness is preaching a sermon.

Brokenness reveals our need for a Savior and for Someone to make us whole.
Brokenness reveals we are not sufficient to make it through this life on our own.
Brokenness reveals we are not the masters of our own destiny, because we can’t even get ourselves out of suffering.
Brokenness confronts our source of identity and awakens our hearts to new ways of depending on the Great Sovereign.
Brokenness challenges our worship.

What will we do with our brokenness? What will we do when God justly afflicts us? What will we do when He pierces our hearts?

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God Never Wastes Your Waiting

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Microwaves.
Instant downloads.
Express lanes.
Remote-start cars.

We’re a culture that knows what we want—and we want it now.

Feasting on entitlement and instant gratification, we hate delays in traffic, food service, and the Internet. My coworker says we live in a drive-thru society and because of that we’ve developed aversions to any and every delay, glorifying everything instant.

This bleeds over into our walk with God. We want Him to answer, provide, and show Himself the second we ask, seek, or knock. But sometimes His answer comes in silence (which is not the same as abandonment) or a whispered, Wait.

That’s where God has me right now. It’s good and hard and holy and is daily exposing my heart, which is tainted by the desire to control everything. Impatience reveals we are not God and that, try as we might, we cannot make things operate on our timetable.

In this reality, I am called to wait. Maybe you are, too.

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Wisdom, Banana Splits, and My Cute Parents

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We enjoyed 1991 with big smiles and noteworthy bangs.

Teachable moments.
Character building exercises. 
Family meetings and studying Proverbs. 
Heart-to-hearts over big bowls of cereal. 
Constant heart checks and hard questions. 
Laughter, tears, discipline, and mercy. 
Dinner conversation and studying Philippians.
More love and grace than I could deserve in 10,000 lifetimes. 

That’s what my childhood was made of. 

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When God Cleans You With Steel Wool

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Last week was rough. The following is a snapshot into my journal last Tuesday.


“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness,
let the bones that You have broken rejoice.”
-Psalm 51:7-8

Sometimes it feels like God is cleaning me with steel wool instead of the cotton washcloths I prefer.

As I write this, my heart aches. I’m crying and hurting. I feel broken by longings and unsaid words and independent realities and the delay of good dreams. 

“I know, O Lord, that Your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant. Let Your mercy come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight.” -Psalm 119:75-77

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A Time to Embrace

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The conversation is seared into my brain.

We were at the kitchen table eating breakfast with my dad, studying Scripture, and processing how we are prone to see suffering as an inconvenience rather than what it is, love from God, when one of our best friends said,

“[Suffering] actually produces gold and then you level up (1 Peter 1:6-7), like in a video game, so you almost want to go find land mines joyfully and destroy them so we get more of Christ.”

For a couple of years, my constant prayer has been that I would not resist anything that would make me look more like Christ. But Daniel’s words at breakfast opened up a completely new (and convicting) perspective.

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An Open Letter to Thesaurus.com

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Dear Thesaurus.com

You complete me. No, really, you complete me.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of absent words, I fear no assignment, for your gold website is with me. Your synonyms and antonyms, they comfort me. You prepare a table of plenteous words in the presence of my deadlines; you anoint my essays with sparkling adjectives; my word count overflows.

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Speaking the Gospel in the Face of Unbelief

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“We’re not here to give a sales pitch; we are sent by the Spirit to share how Jesus changes everything.” -Jeff Vanderstelt

Check out our interview with Jeff about his new book Gospel Fluency in the latest RTM Magazine.

Get your free copy on iPhoneiPadAndroid, or on the web.

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Stronger than the Strongest Affection

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Hi, my name is Sophie and I like to pretend emotions don’t exist.

Two weeks ago my days were filled with one challenge after another and by Friday night I could feel myself going into an emotional lockdown, attempting to bury every feeling in a Fort Knox-type armory with hopes that they would never surface again.

Welcome to my default setting. I am a master wall-builder. I’m pretty sure that is due to the fact that I’m scared of feelings. Scared of loving people too much and then enduring their rejection or removal from my life. Scared that God will punish me for liking someone. Scared of letting people down (even though it’s inevitable). Scared of doing things wrong. Scared of being seen. Scared of a “yes” because it seems like I only know how to trust God for a “no.”

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Five Observations from a Cruise Ship

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I never thought I would go on a cruise.

But, in a twist of God’s kind providence, my parents and I just got home from a five-day cruise to the Bahamas and, along with a sweet sun-poisoning rash, I brought back a few observations from our time sailing the Atlantic (as well as a few hundred photos).

Warning: I love palm trees. I may or may not have photographic evidence of pretty much every single one we saw. You’ve been warned.

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