On a steep uphill climb during a college retreat, this freshman and first-generation college student felt rather lonely. For multiple days before the retreat, I had been steeped in the challenges of dissecting financial aid nomenclature, navigating an obscurely written campus map, and combing through my nearest Bed Bath and Beyond to stock my empty dorm room. My parents weren’t there to drop me off (we could only afford one plane ticket from New York to Chicago), and I had no compass to guide me through the uncharted territory I faced. Thinking about all of the unknowns ahead, I lay in my twin bed the night before the retreat feeling totally and utterly alone as a single tear dropped down my face and onto the dry, brown carpet below me.
I keep a relatively busy schedule and often feel like I have a lot on my plate. Some weeks it feels like my husband and I are running on several different schedules from one another, only connecting for brief moments maybe at dinner or a shared responsibility.
I learned recently that the Hebrew word that is translated to “wilderness” in the Old Testament, midbar, comes from a root word that means “word” or “to speak.” One common understanding of this connection is that the wilderness is where you go to hear the voice of God.
This blog post is adapted from Overcoming Life’s Sorrows by R. Reed Lessing.
“I Only Have Eyes for You.” Harry Warren and Al Dubin composed this song in 1934. Numerous musicians have recorded it, including Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Art Garfunkel. Rolling Stone ranks the Flamingos’ version of the song 157th on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The Lord has His own version of this golden oldie. He only has eyes for exiles. Compare this with what Babylon said to Judean deportees: “You’re slaves, prisoners, cogs in our vast and ever-growing political machine!”
“Let’s go, push yourself!” the exercise instructor yelled. “We didn’t come here to be mediocre!” I laughed, or possibly just grimaced, and clumsily attempted the physical feat she demonstrated so easily. After class, I joked that given my age and lifelong lack of coordination, I aspire to be mediocre.
Our reasons for praising God are innumerable, yet I often fail to find words that accurately express my praise. Thankfully, the Lord Himself provides words of praise in the Book of Psalms. Although the psalms are wrought with all types of emotions, some of the best (and most popular) words of praise are found in their pages. The Psalms give us words of praise for what is good, how God is good, and how He works for us and loves us.
This post is adapted from Words of Strength and Promise: Devotions for Youth. Read below for a devotion written by Juliana Shults.
For as long as I can remember, the word rest has never been in my vocabulary. As a child, my parents reported that I would constantly move and shift items around in my room, rearranging and retooling. Going from one activity to the next. I would read, then write, then play, then bike, then talk, then—well, there were so many “thens.” That overly planned childhood nature ended up demonstrating itself in adulthood.
This blog post is adapted from Inspired by the Holy Spirit: Four Habits for Faithful Living by Christina Hergenrader.
For the past few years, a popular T-shirt slogan has been, “Be kind!” There are variations of the message, such as “Kindness matters!” and “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” This slogan is not only on T-shirts, but it’s also on backpacks, water bottles, and bumper stickers. Kindness is suddenly everywhere.
And yet, it doesn’t seem like there is kindness in our schools, neighborhoods, or churches. Kindness most certainly does matter, but many times it also feels extinct. As a mom and a teacher, I see the absence of this most often in how we parent. Let me say that more directly: our generation is teaching the next how to be mean and self-righteous.
The Japanese kintsugi cultural tradition is a wonderfully pure example of what a life in Christ is like.
The art of kintsugi is practiced by only the most skilled artists in Japan. These artists spend years studying the art of pottery. They give each jar special grooves, designs, and nicks that result in a perfectly crafted piece with an absolutely vulnerable, breakable, lovely form. Each of these jars could run up to $1,000 American dollars—one pretty penny!