My fourth miscarriage flattened me. I couldn’t believe it. I’d buried an infant son a few years earlier and was unprepared for yet another loss. I’d finally started to feel like myself again after Paul’s death, but the miscarriage left me bewildered and unsure of what I could trust.
Months before, my husband and I had planned to go on a retreat to the Cove in Asheville, North Carolina, but I miscarried two days before the conference.
When someone asks me to take on a leadership role, I experience two emotions: I’m flattered that they would ask and anxious that I won’t do a good job.
I once said yes to a leadership role and immediately had a sinking feeling that I wouldn’t be able to follow through. That sinking feeling lasted for months as I prepared for this role.
But at the same time, a Bible verse kept popping into my head. “Maybe this is a God thing,” I thought. Meditating on this passage has helped to lessen my anxiety about leading.
Have you ever been struggling through a difficult situation and wondered, “God, where are You? Do You see what I’m going through? Do You care?” If you’re familiar with the story in Luke 13 of the crippled woman who came into the synagogue where Jesus was teaching, I’m sure that she had wondered the same thing thousands of times. This woman “had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years,” was bent completely forward and could not straighten up. In the midst of a large crowd gathered around Jesus that Sabbath day, He somehow noticed her, and suddenly He stopped teaching.
You may find this surprising, but until very recently there were no significant studies from the social sciences on how parents can best pass their faith on to the next generation. We knew that parents mattered. We knew that the Church mattered. But what was it about parents and churches that mattered? That wasn’t so clear.
Now we know, thanks to a new national study of religious parents in the United States, conducted under the leadership of sociologist Christian Smith, a professor of sociology at Notre Dame.
God never makes a mistake.
I vividly remember those words, a chapter title in Evelyn Christenson’s book What Happens When Women Pray.
Honestly, when I first read them, I was cynical. They sounded trite and naive. I arrogantly assumed that the author hadn’t struggled much in her life, or else she wouldn’t have made such a bold claim. In my mind, God was good and all-powerful, but to say that he never made mistakes had sweeping implications that seemed inconsistent with the massive evil and suffering in the world.
Depression is a dark, lonely place. For me, it feels as though I am trapped, drowning, with no hope of rescue. This has been my reality for as long as I can remember.
I’ve seen counselors, taken the gamut of medications and been unofficially diagnosed with a bunch of guesses. On bad days, I think I’m just what a misguided but well-meaning friend suggested: a worrywart.
When we face challenges that come against us, it’s easy to start dreading it, thinking it’s going to be so hard. “How am I going to make it through this treatment? How can I deal with this child who’s off course? How can I ever pay off this mortgage?” Yes, there are seasons of testing where we have to endure and do the right thing when it’s hard, but there are also times when God steps in and makes it easier than it looks.
There’s an expression in the English language that goes something like, “She’s on fire.” The woman being mentioned, whatever she is doing, is performing the task well.
The fire communicates an intensity to the action. Sometimes Christians describe their faith as being “on fire.” Such an expression is appropriate considering the ways fire is evoked in the Bible. Some of which would appropriately describe faith.
In Christ, God made our hearts to burn for him. Though our affections rise and fall, and our zeal boils hotter on some days than others, coldness is not the Christian’s heritage. We are those who walk on the Emmaus road, our souls catching fire as Christ opens, again and again, the Scriptures that speak of him (Luke 24:32). We belong to the fellowship of burning hearts.
Yet we also know what it feels like for the fire to burn low, for a coldness to settle over a heart once aflame. Some of us feel that way most mornings. Our hearts, like campfires untended, cool overnight. We wake up ashen, needy for the Spirit to breathe on us again.
One of my favorite hobbies is hiking. I love finding a new trail, tackling the unknown terrain and enjoying the beauty and peace of nature. There’s so much to reflect on and experience along the way. And in the end, there’s nothing like the satisfaction of making it to the top and viewing the city below me.
Our lives are a bit like a hike. We are all journeying in some way. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we set our paths towards certain experiences and aim for a desired destination.
For many of us, our common journeys are our search for significance, acceptance and happiness. I’d even say the journey to find fulfillment in these areas drives our everyday lives.