This is Chapter 2 of Discovering Joy, a devotional-style quarantine diary I'm posting chapter-by-chapter on Wattpad.
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:2-3)
The coronavirus started as someone else's problem. It was tragic, certainly, but things that do not touch close to home do not bear the same emotional weight as those which interrupt our lives. As the murmurs from China grew into cries of deep distress, and as the virus raised voices all across Europe, I began to feel a little more the heaviness of the world's need. But still, an ocean separated me from the reality.
But the ocean was only a plane flight away. Cases began emerging in the states, and with them the firestorm of responses on social media.
This is Chapter 1 of Discovering Joy, a book that I'm writing and posting chapter-by-chapter on Wattpad. Enjoy!
Two thousand years ago, a fiery man named Peter wrote a letter to a church grieving their losses and pains. I have to wonder whether God, looking down the corridor of time and seeing the losses and pains of His children in many places of the world, in many eras of human history, specifically ordained that my church in Virginia, would be studying 1 Peter when the coronavirus changed our lives. Unlike Nero and other tyrants who brought deliberate death and destruction to the people of God, our enemy is something we can't see, with invisible allies called Isolation, Depression, Economic Loss, and a host of others.
But the words that speak so poignantly to suffering and our faith in the midst of it burn into me every Sunday as we study through as a congregation, each of us in our own homes but united in purpose and in the Holy Spirit.
My notes on the sermon are a mingling of the pastor's main points, specific quotes he shares, and my own thoughts as I process through his words.
See also: Why I Love My Life (Even When It's Hard)
Recently, someone asked me if I would consider myself happy, in general. I didn't even have to think about it. I consider my life the best life possible and I love it! Now, if you think that means I've had an easy life, then let me add a little to that story.
In the last year, the Lord has taught me so much about prayer. Partially, this has been through the influence of a fantastic book, A Praying Life by Paul E. Miller. I've heard a lot of sermons about the importance of prayer and, mostly, they've been simultaneously inspiring and guilt-inducing. "Yes! I will pray more! ... How do I do that?"
Mr. Miller's book has been refreshingly honest and practical. As a result, I've learned a few things along the way that I'd like to share with you.
Note: If you are a mother who struggles with fear, please know that these thoughts are intended to encourage you, not condemn you! May you find powerful support and uplifting in His family.
Just three months after I miscarried my first pregnancy, I discovered that I was pregnant a second time. Two emotions hit me at the same time: joy and fear. Joy, because we were ready to start a family. Fear, because I did not want to miscarry again.
Elizabeth and Mary. The relationship between these two women in the Bible has always fascinated me, because I see in it the very ingredients that bond women together. Come with me for a moment and see these two women in Scripture, not just as characters in a story, but as real women whose stories are so much closer to our own than we realize...
Three years ago, I posted "6 Ways to Know if He's Worth It." I posted it just after I had met the man I would eventually marry, even though I had no clue at the time. My future still seemed very single to me.
Now, with almost two years of marriage to Paul, I want to reprise this discussion, because I've learned a few things about healthy marriage--nuances that I wouldn't have even known to pray for in my future husband, that I am now so grateful God knew I needed.
One of my big missions is to inspire single women (in particular, but not exclusively) to identify and develop their unique gifts within the church. But I already hear a lot of single women asking, "What if I don't have a gift?"
Actually, you do. You've just bought into an incorrect definition of "gift." The real definition is super simple.
This post is meant to be a follow-up to: "My Response to the Purity Culture and Josh Harris."
First, I delayed publishing this follow-up because I wanted Paul to look over the post before it went live (my guard against errors in both memory and Biblical matters!). Secondly, please note that this is a super condensed skimming of very large matters. Paul said that it could easily be two or three blog posts, but, honestly, we could write a whole book on the subject! (And many people have.) For the sake of brevity, I chose to keep it all to one post.
However, given the brief treatment, if you want to dig deeper into anything I say here or have questions, Paul and I would love to answer them together in a future post. Drop me a comment!
When Josh Harris--author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a book that contributed to the "purity culture" of my generation--publicly admitted that he was not proud of some of the directions that the purity culture had taken, I thought, "This might be a good thing. We might be able to have an honest discussion now about some of the purity culture's difficulties."
My hope turned to dismay when, recently, I learned that Josh Harris and his wife are divorcing and Josh no longer identifies as Christian. The purity culture discussion was just becoming another opportunity for #exvangelical and "deconstruction" advocates to rally.
But I still want to have the discussion and tell my own story of growing up in the purity culture--the good and the bad. So here goes.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.