Growing in Curiosity

I love asking questions to learn from other people. I truly believe God places people in our lives to teach us, to bless us, or reveal more of Himself to us. I love gleaning wisdom, elevating others, and asking the kinds of questions that lead to unique stories. Here are my five favorite questions:

What do you love about your work?

What brought you to this decision you’ve made?

What have you been learning lately?

What shows have you been watching or music have you been listening to? Why do you love it?

What lingering questions do you have about anything?

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The Words From Another Kingdom

I spoke with a wise woman about why she’s still using the spiritual language that so many people think is “churchy” “outdated” “confusing” and too “Christian.”

She’s talking about words like saved, lost, salvation, sanctification, justification, eternal life, sin, repentance, the flesh, or any other word you see in scripture that helps explain the gospel and the Christian life. It’s not Christian jargon to her.

She exclaims, “Those words were given to us by God! It is Kingdom Language!”

It is indeed a foreign language these days, a tongue from a distant kingdom that’s slowly slipping away. But my friend argues that we should keep using these words and revive them, not change them or use different and more relevant words.

She’s right. We have kingdom language given to us by the King we serve. So it’s not only OK to speak the language, but we might expect outsiders to need the translation. That’s normal, too. But we don’t stop speaking simply because the words sound strange in an increasingly biblically illiterate culture.

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Treats Along the Way

I love observing demonstrations of God’s love and goodness when I travel far from home. During my trip to Kansas, I loved the nature surrounding the retreat center that included finding a Kansas ornate box turtle.

My host also treated me to something special: a trip to my birthplace in Fort Leavenworth!

What a fun weekend!

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Headed to Kansas

I’ve discovered one of the best parts of traveling to speak: meeting new people! I love experiencing true fellowship with those who love Jesus. It’s a taste of heaven.

Please pray that God’s word comes alive this weekend for these ladies in Kansas!

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A Fun Moment: Asking Group Members to Discover the Most Bizarre Thing They Have in Common

I love this “Name Game.” When students group up for a peer-review session or any kind of activity, I often use this challenge. I’ll say, “Introduce yourself to your group. You then have 5 minutes to discover the most bizarre thing you all have in common.”

(The game also develops the professional skill of building rapport, of finding common ground, and of making connections with someone you do not know.)

It’s a joyful, funny, and telling kind of game. I learned today that two students who might have nothing in common discovered that they both cut their heads open and needed stitches after walking into a stationary object in third grade. Over the years, I love seeing the lit up faces of students discovering they were both at the same concert or both once rode a camel. Some learn that they all dressed up as the same character for Halloween or brought in the exact same thing for show-and-tell. We learn about similar emergency appendectomies, tattoos, and even exact same dog names. Once, a group of students all shared the exact same embarrassing moment: throwing up in the lunchroom at school! How relieved to hear them say, “You, too?”

We’re not so different from one another after all.

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18 Years Later: I Remember

Sometimes on the anniversary of 9-11, I go back through the whole morning beginning at 8:45 when I woke up, when I answered the phone to hear my friend Jamie crying, and when I turned on the television. I remember calling my husband who knows I exaggerate who didn’t seem to believe me at first. Then, when Pfizer sent everyone home, he did. I called my dad who wasn’t working at the Pentagon that day (although he could have been). We watched the news the entire day. We put out an American flag. We worried over everyone we knew in New York City

What I think about today, however, is that overwhelming feeling of both awesome togetherness as a community and nation and horrific dread that the world would never be the same, that it was perhaps ending, that we were no longer safe. The love we all felt as we comforted both friends and strangers mixed with the horror and the fear. I learned a new feeling on September 11 that means all of these things. The images burned in my mind along with that feeling of communal strength that rises against fear. The contrast is as strong at that perfect bright blue sky that held the smoke and ashes.

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The Painted Acorns

Facebook reminded me of this photo, and I recall with joy a traditional craft of gathering and painting acorns to display in a festive autumn bowl. You can read the history beginning with 2012, read the 2013 account, continue (with photos) from 2014, and even read our report from 2016.

I remember that I can gather acorns! I can paint them! If you need a wonderful autumn craft with all your old nail polish, I hope you’ll try this one.

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Some Encouraging Words From Exodus

I loved reading these words about the Lord in Exodus this morning. I hope they bless you as well. In Exodus 14:13-14, we see such discouragement and fear as a vast army comes against the Israelites. We read this: Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Do not be afraid. Stand firm. The Lord will fight for you. Be still.

Then, I loved reading the Song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15. In particular, these words remind me of who God is: “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. . . Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? . . . In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” How beautiful!

All this, and I haven’t yet reached the part about the quail and the manna and God’s miraculous provision. This unchanging God still fights for us, still delivers us, still leads us, still performs miracles of provision, and still displays His strength on our behalf.

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A Good Problem to Have

Twice in a meeting today, I hear (and use) the expression, “It’s a good problem to have.” Sometimes, the problems in an organization aren’t bad. They’re good. For example, too many people or too much money to manage means growth. Those are good problems.

But could I say that of other problems or even all problems? I wonder about the phrase all day. Could I say of any given problem that it’s a “good problem to have” since it represents God growing me, disciplining me, inviting dependence, or allowing me to experience His presence? It’s encouraging to think about how our problems are all good problems to have because, no matter what, God is working.

So I thought about that expression. I kept thinking about it.

As I turned to Exodus to complete my Bible reading plan, I think about all the problems associated with the birth of Moses, in particular from the perspective of Moses’s mother. I’ve read the account over a hundred times, yet each time, I pause in wonder. If you remember, Pharaoh instructs in Exodus 1:22 that “every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile. . .” in order to stop the spreading of the Hebrew people. Moses’s mother hides him for three months and then places him in a basket along the bank of the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter finds Moses and is filled with compassion for him. At just the right time, Moses’s sister who had been watching nearby asks Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

And, as you know, Moses’s sister returns with Moses’s mother. And then, Pharaoh’s daughter says the most ironic and beautiful words in Exodus 2:9: “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.”

I always stop right here. I think of Moses’s mother surrendering that baby only to receive him back with the double blessing of receiving payment for what she was already will to do freely. I think of Moses’s mother laughing about this. I bet she shook her head in unbelief and then joy.

I think about how God has a way about Him that He can give back to you what you give up but in a better, more blessed, more fruitful way. I wonder if that mother thought that having to send Moses off the way she did was a good problem to have. No. There’s no way she did at the time. It would have been an impossible and ridiculous thought. But later? I think of how she must have praised God.

So my problems right now just might be good problems to have because they represent what God is doing either right now or in the future.

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Allow Yourself

I love a tall, fat stack of books as autumn approaches. It’s the season of reading for me. The Goldfinch, Gideon, Deep Creek, and the Bible. I like reading in either morning or late afternoon light–outside or by a window. I love the transport of it and how you get into a different place, but I hardly allow myself the pleasure until recently. I used to be all about efficiency, hard work, and productive days. So who has time to read?

But as I accumulate more simple pleasures that sustain hard work long term, I realize that, like just roaming around in nature, reading is such a gift from the Lord.

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