Faith

3 Things We Should Start Saying About Kanye West, His Christianity, and JESUS IS KING

“What have you been hearing from the Christians? They’ll be the first ones to judge me, make it feel like nobody love me. Don’t throw me away, lay your hands on me. Please pray for me.” – Kanye It’s time we challenge ourselves as Christians to be the best we can possibly be. I’ve been scanning Twitter, Facebook, and Google over the past few days since I heard about JESUS IS KING, and there’s a genre of response creeping across my internet that I just don’t love. Before I start, let me say that all Christians are not responding negatively towards Kanye. I have seen Christians whoop and cheer on Kanye in his newfound Christianity.  I have seen Christians celebrating his new album, JESUS IS KING as well. However, the negativity I have seen towards Kanye from a few members of the Christian community is discouraging, because it is often negativity that seems like the loudest shouters. Negativity is the culprit which paints an improper image of a whole community.  However, we can change the narrative. Here are 3 things we should start saying about Kanye West, his Christianity, and JESUS IS KING. 1. Let’s Assume the Best “Kanye West is selling White Supremacy in the name of Jesus” (source: Twitter) “What Kanye is doing is blasphemous. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing deceiving.” “Kanye’s decision to wear the Jesus hat instead of the Trump hat is a clear attempt for him to get back into the good graces of his people.” This thinking, or some variant, popped up over the past few days in blogs and on Twitter. Statements like these that should give us pause. We should be careful about statements which rush to assume Kanye isn’t sincere for two reasons. First, we don’t know. Why assume...

Read More

Why Acts of Kindness Matter: A Story of Serendipity and a NICU Baby

How Our Healthy Boy Became a NICU Baby On June 25th of this year, I was sitting in my weekly Prenatal appointment at my OB’s office. I was officially 36 weeks pregnant and was ready to hear how everything was progressing. Honestly, I was ready to be done with the pregnancy thing! A few days prior, the OB called me in for some bloodwork due to some itching I was having. Today, we were going to review the bloodwork. “Most everything came back normal, but some of your ranges are right on the verge of being concerning,” she said to me. Matt and I looked at each other and asked her what it all meant. She evaluated my symptoms a little further, flipped open my bloodwork chart again, then looked at me and said, “I think to be safe we should induce you on Tuesday.” “This Tuesday?” I said, a bit stunned. I mean, I was ready to be done with pregnancy but this all seemed a bit quick! “A week from today,” she nodded her head. What ensued immediately following felt like a whirlwind. My OB diagnosed me with a condition called Cholestasis, which basically meant I was in no danger, but baby was if he didn’t arrive before the end of my 37th week of pregnancy. The clock was ticking. That week was insane – we didn’t even have a carseat yet!  We spent the week preparing, were thrown for a loop when our induction hospital changed at the last minute,  but then finally headed to our new hospital a week later to be induced overnight. Henry was born the next day, the first day of my 37th week of pregnancy, July 3rd, 2019, with very little fanfare. My whole induction was a great experience, and Henry was...

Read More

How a 5k Taught Me About God and Keeping Score

Training for the 5k My husband Matt, my younger brother Josh, and I decided we would try to run a 5k in late September of this year. I eagerly began our training regimen (appropriately called, “Couch to 5K”) in early August, downloaded an app to help me stick to a plan, and signed us up for the “I Love the 90’s 5k.”  I was feeling good. I had it all together, was totally on top of this running thing, and glided through the first few runs with ease. I could feel the Gameboy Finisher Medal hanging around my neck already. But something happened about week four or five of our training. We were running at our local Greenway and I barely huffed out the phrase, “I have to stop” as I stopped jogging and started walking about 6 minutes shy of our goal for the day. Matt, being the human running machine that he is, looked back at me over his shoulder and said, “No! You can do it!” But I couldn’t. I shook my head, sweat dripping down my forehead, and hung my head in shame as I walked for the next minute and a half before barely finishing the run at the slowest jogging pace known to man. On my right was a creek and I swear I saw two turtles high-fiving each other as they lapped me. But my mom? She was holding our son Henry at the finish line  and gave me a verbal pat on the back. “Great job! You’ll be ready by race day!” But I didn’t feel great at all. I mentally beat myself up for having to walk for a minute and a half. On the ride home, as I continued to silently berate myself for my weakness, I realized something. Who...

Read More
What happens when we let go of the chains of guilt and run in the freedom of Christ's love? Find out over at Where Faith Grows today!

Christian Guilt

I Feel Guilty I have a confession for you – I feel guilty. I don’t remember the first time I started lathering on what I call the “Christian guilt”, but I know it goes back years. I can remember being about 10 or 11 years old and faking sick to get out of going to church because I wanted to stay home and play with my toys. And so It began…my long-term relationship with guilt. I vividly remember laying in bed extra long on Sunday morning waiting for my Dad to come get me out of bed for church.  “I just don’t feel good”, I would mumble, even though I felt perfectly fine. “If you really feel you need to, you can stay home. It’s your choice,” my Dad would always say.  Our church was only about a 3-4 minute drive from our house, lying just at the end of our neighborhood, so it wasn’t a problem for me to stay home alone in our small town. I would wait for everyone to depart for church, then jump out of bed, turn on some cartoons or a game show on television, pull out my favorite toys, and sit on the floor to play. Then, all week long, I would agonize over my guilt. The mental reel played the same every time. Am I a bad Christian? Is God mad at me? Will God still listen to me? Am I even still saved? These feelings are common and as I got bigger, the mental reel stayed the same but just played in response to new situations.  Endless Guilt In high school it was because I didn’t talk with my friends about Jesus enough and that I chose school activities over church ones because I was determined to have a stellar resume...

Read More
I think God made us a little tenacious on purpose - read all about how I no longer see myself as one of the 99, but rather as the one sheep...and why that's not so bad after all. Read about it over at Where Faith Grows!

I Am the One Sheep

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”  — Matthew 18:12 Struggling with Sheeping In Sunday school, I remember hearing the story of Jesus being the shepherd. About how he searches for the one sheep who goes astray, even as 99 remain within the fold. As I heard this story, I remember visualizing who I believed that “one” might be. Maybe it was a friend who stopped coming to church. Or someone hanging out with the wrong crowd, or a gossip who said something about me. As I got older, it was that girl who always had her string of boyfriends, or the guy not trying hard enough in his marriage. But I’m beginning to realize, I’m the one, too. And not just sometimes, like when I am in a particularly deep valley–no. It’s always me. And I think the same is true of all of us. We all struggle, we’re all imperfect. The fact is, none of us is great at this “Sheeping” thing. The truth is, we are adopted children of God. He welcomed us with open arms, but it’s just not in our nature to naturally “sheep” (I think I made up a new verb). We tend to wander. Sheep with grit I used to listen to this parable of the 99 and think of Jesus dragging that sheep back by its ear, then tossing it back in the fold, yelling, “Now, STAY!” Now, I’m finding a new perspective. While we’re not great at sheeping, perhaps God likes us being a bit wild, tenacious and rascally. After all, He did make us this way. Our wild spirit shows we...

Read More
It can be easy to get stuck in the framing stages of life, but God has so much more planned for you. Read more over at Where Faith Grows!

Framing, Drywall, and…God?

At work a few weeks ago, I was helping with an expansion project. The framing in one of the new rooms was complete. I looked around and immediately noticed a problem. I didn’t want to tell my boss, Kevin, what I was seeing, however. You see, Kevin almost always knows exactly what he is doing. On top of this, he has a lot of experience in construction. So, I was afraid to tell him the obvious: This room is going to be much too small! I never said a word. I knew he would notice the room was going to be too tiny as soon as the project was more complete. Still, I was surprised as we walked into the framed room and he pointed out where the outlets were going and what color the walls were going to be. How could he be mentally putting the finishing touches on a room that was clearly never going to work? Another week went by and I found myself in the same room again. But this time, the drywall was installed. I was shocked. The room looked twice as spacious as it had a week ago. This was going to be an amazing! Finally, I told Kevin exactly what I had been thinking. “I thought this was never going to work. It looked so small a week ago!” He laughed, and his response was profound. “Isn’t that just how it is in life too?” he said. “I’ve had that experience many times in projects like these. When the space is just framed out, we have to mentally envision what it will be like. And, when we let our own brains create our boundaries, we often box ourselves in too tightly. Don’t you think?” We ended up talking about this phenomenon for a while,...

Read More
I am a yogi. Sure, I've been told I can't say that, because it isn't Christian enough. But, honestly, I think God finds us and grows our faith in unlikely places. Read more over at Where Faith Grows!

Where Can He Find Us?

I am a yogi. Sure, I’ve been told I can’t say this. I’ve been told I’m practicing an Eastern religion, that yoga isn’t Christian enough, that yoga “distracts me from God,” or that it may become “idol worship.” Duly noted. I am a yogi. And I love it. I find Jesus on my mat, and I don’t think that’s crazy at all. Yoga is exciting to me. Every day is a new challenge, a new asana (pose), and a new intensive workout. I struggle on my mat. I fall, I get back up, I fall again. I work on the same pose for months and months, falling on my face, back, and other places I find can be sore the next day even when I didn’t know they existed before. I find triumph, victory, and success in little things that never mattered to me before. I remember the first time I nailed an arm balance. I felt light as a feather; I felt unrestrained. I was captivated. How can someone who felt so weak feel so strong here? In church, I hear a lot about finding Jesus. “Where can you find Him? was a common question asked in Sunday school. People often throw out options like prayer rooms, closets, church, Wednesday night in the fellowship hall, community groups, and more. I believe in the power of these moments, and we can–and should–find Jesus in these places. But sometimes, we find Jesus when we are sweaty, exhausted, zapped of energy, and laying flat on our back after a tough fall. At times, I can almost hear the whisper, “Get up and try again.” And I do. In moments like these, I understand more fully what God means when he says, “Where you are weak, I am strong.” Simply, I learn about...

Read More
Sometimes God uses something as ordinary as getting ready for your driver's license exam to teach you about faith. Read more over at Where Faith Grows!

65 Hours

I remember staring in disbelief at the instructions that came with my learner’s permit when I was 15 years old. I had to practice driving for 65 hours? It seemed like an eternity. I was reading this information as my dad drove me home from my learner’s permit test. Luckily for me, I turned 15 several months after most of my friends. They had already filled me in on the reality of this situation: “It’s a joke, Laura. No one actually does that.” “Your parents just sign the form so you can go get your license.” I was going to be fine; this was no biggie. I vividly remember the conversation that followed with my dad. “I’ll print a log so you can start working on those hours,” he said (as if this was really going to happen). “It’s just a formality, dad. Everyone says it’s a joke. We don’t really have to do that,” I responded, probably not without a tinge of sass. “Oh, you’re doing it. It’s the rule, and the practice is good for you anyway.” Dad went back to his business, acting as if I would actually drive the 65 hours (dads, I tell ya!). The ensuing disagreement was just as you might expect. I insisted this was unnecessary, while dad put his foot down. The next day, he handed me my chart. On the spreadsheet I could fill in the date and how many minutes I spent driving with an adult. He expected 65 hours. Every last one. Over the next few weeks, ten minutes here and there felt futile. I felt like I would never reach 65 hours. I think I mentioned to him, “Well when I’m 22 I might have enough hours to drive home alone from my college graduation.” When you’re 15, snippy comments are all you have....

Read More
Gilmore Girls is one of my all-time favorite shows. Today, it taught me about faith in a new and unique way. Read all about it over at Where Faith Grows!

Waiting For the Call

“Demand more from the Lord.” Just writing these words is uncomfortable. For the modern Christian, we demand very little of Jesus. We ask him to be present with us when we pray. We ask him to be with us when we worship, when we go to church, when we have our quiet time. We ask him to help us when things are rough. In the grand scheme of life, we demand so little of him. For the man who was granted all authority and power over Heaven and Earth, my asking him to help me through a rough time or be there when I am praying is such a small task. Part of this website is encouraging people, including myself, to get out there and live adventurous, loud lives for Christ. When we do, he shows up in a big way. When we do, we give him opportunity to create radical change in us and in the lives of others. Asking for more in our lives is a great place to start. I’ve been re-watching the Gilmore Girls series recently on Netflix. It’s a great show and I’ve ventured through the series two . . . *cough* okay, four times. In short, I’m an addict for their small town charm and witty banter. Don’t judge; let’s move on to more important things. In a Season 3 episode, Rory and her boyfriend Jess are going through a hard patch. The episode begins with Rory sitting at home on a Friday night waiting for him to call so they can go out on a date. Rory’s mother, Lorelai, sees this and asks Rory why she is waiting around. Doesn’t she deserve a guy who will make plans for her rather than forcing her to sit around waiting because he said he would...

Read More