Announcement and Post on TheRebelution: How Do You Define a Christian?

I was recently asked to join TheRebelution Staff as a regular contributor! You might be familiar with the site, as I’ve been published with them several times before. I’m so honored to join this team, and to be a part of their work in equipping and encouraging young people to go out, chase after Jesus, change the world, and do hard things. So you can head on over to TheRebelution every third Monday to see a post by yours truly, and follow TheReb for daily encouragement (and sometimes conviction) to love and live and work with excellence. Here’s my first post as an regular contributor!

canva-photo-editor-1-620x350

I paused as I read the post. It asked, “How do you describe a Christian? I’m asking because I think I have a different definition than many of you.” I clicked to see the comments, morbidly convinced I was about to witness a full-out brawl between different denominations, or the putting forth and praising of strange cult-like beliefs.

But there wasn’t.

Each person described what it means to be a Christian a little bit differently, yes. And the original questioner had a unique answer as well. But rather than the soft heresy or warring factions I had so morbidly expected, I found I generally agreed with them all. True, there was the occasional ambiguity of the precise intent of phrases like “Love everyone” because these phrases have often been co-opted by wrong ideas. But with a charitable reading, I found myself nodding to almost all of the answers. And yet none of the answers were the same. They were all different.

Does that mean I’m a naïve Christian? I hope not. Does that mean I don’t know how Christianity or doctrine works? I don’t think so. Does that mean that all of these people were confused about being a Christian? No.

Perhaps it means that we can’t truly have a small, concise definition for something so big.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day Doesn’t Have to Hurt: Guest Post On Delighting In Him

I’m honored to share on the lovely Moriah’s blog, Delighting In Him, talking about singleness, joy, and Valentine’s Day. Go take a look, and while your there read Moriah’s wonderful blog, and subscribe to catch her new upcoming series on delight!

 

“Valentine’s Day used to really hurt.

Not because I have anything traumatic that ever happened around it, nor because anyone was ever unkind to me, and not even because I hate chocolate or red and pink wrappers. (As if such a thing could be.)

No, Valentine’s hurt, because it was a reminder. Because all around me people were getting flowers and buying cards and posting photos of them and their significant other. And there’s nothing wrong with them doing that. But to me it was a reminder. A reminder that there are the Have’s and the Have-not’s of relationships, and I was well and firmly in the latter…”

via Valentine’s Day Doesn’t Have to Hurt | Isabelle Ingalls

The Olympics and the Single Moment

filip-mroz-194421

One moment. Everything hangs upon it.

My family has been watching the Olympics together this week, tensing as a figure skater gets tossed several feet into the air until she lands safely again, holding our breath as the hockey player takes the shot, cheering as the skier lands that fantastical flip. It’s incredible the feats these athletes can do. But what’s even more impressive is the labor these athletes have put into their sport.

They’ve trained since they were ten. They’ve given all their attention to this one thing. They lift those weights, just one more time, so that they can get here. They hit that alarm, just one more time, so that they can get here. Thousands of pushups and crunches, and hundreds of thousands of hours out on the snow, out on the ice — they dedicate the whole of their lives to training.

And yet some of them only compete for 38 seconds. That’s the whole of their race, that’s  how long their track is.

But for many more, the outcome is decided in one single moment. Continue reading

Failing the 2017 Reading Challenge (And My Top 10 Books for 2018)

chuttersnap-348302

I almost did it. I came so close. And yet, as the year died, defeat looked me in the eye.

Yes, I had many challenges fighting against me — several months rendered useless because my time was monopolized by ministry, and three months not even being home. But I had overcome them, I made up for what was lost, I was almost there, I almost made it — but didn’t. I didn’t complete my reading challenge. I only read 45 out of the 52-book goal that I attempted.

But all dramatics aside, my reading challenge wasn’t a failure in any sense. There’s never not a good time to read, and my commitment gave me a goal and accountability to be intentional about picking up heavy tome. Or slim e-reader, as the case may be.

Looking back now, I ran into some interesting adventures in Literary land. I had a hurdle initially trying to even organize and label all the titles I read. Where do I file The Great Divorce? As fiction, or Christian living? How do I define The Story of Reality?

I also read many things I didn’t enjoy this year (I’m looking at you, Steinbeck), things read solely because they are on the List-Of-Things-You-Are-Supposed-To-Read. I wonder if the List-Writers have ever read anything themselves. Yet, I also gave myself rein to read some light things solely for enjoyment. I found some new favorites. Good Christian dystopian fiction does actually exist. (There’s a sentence I truly believed I would never see.) I even read a book that hasn’t been published yet, as an alpha reader for a friend.

But the easy part of being a reader is the actual reading. The impossible part is answering the inevitable question. “Which was your favorite?” And I have forty-five to choose from. So, instead of attempting the impossible, I shall instead pick the cream of the crop, making both my task and my suggestions a bit more manageable.

So without further ado, here are my top 10 books from 2017. Continue reading

Don’t Instagram Your Godliness

shttefan-282769

This should come as no surprise to anyone, but at risk of repeating the obvious: We’re living in the internet age. We communicate through emojis, learn through videos, and keep up through pictures. We have surmounted the limitations of space, breaking her hold on us, as we can communicate just as easily with those who live across the country as with those who live across the street. But we’re not just inhabitants of the internet age. We’re Christian inhabitants of the internet age.

And we want our online identity to reflect that. We ask ourselves “If someone looked solely at my profile, would they think I’m a Christian?”

So we saturate our online selves with spirituality. We post inspirational verses edited over sunrise stock-photos. We share the coffee-and-Jesus picture. We tweet a quote from today’s devotional; we make sure we pray a nice, theological, long prayer in our group. And everyone can see very well how much we love Jesus and what good Christians we are.

Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong for us to share online so others can see our good works.

Jesus is. Continue reading

Responsible Wonder: The Dance of Adulthood | Katherine Forster

alexa-suter-454468

I’m delighted to share an article from Katherine Forster! She’s a great friend and example, and I’m honored to let her share about the delicate and yet beautiful balance of adulthood today. Leave her a comment to let her know what you think, and then head on over to her blog to find more weekly wisdom and loveliness!


My mom tells me that when I was just a toddler she would go for walks with me, pushing the stroller down the sidewalk of a street down the road from our development. The other day I was biking down that same road, like I do so often now, and I passed a woman pushing a toddler in a stroller.

It was a little girl, blond like I was at that age. I waved to the mom, and as I coasted past I saw her daughter pointing at something excitedly. I didn’t notice anything of particular interest in that direction, but the little girl was laughing in obvious delight.

So much has changed since I was that little girl—and at the same time, so little. Continue reading

Reblog: I’m Useless (And That’s a Good Thing)

Throwback Tuesday, because I need to learn this lesson over and over again.
“Because you see, sometimes I can get caught up in this mindset that I’m so very useful and I can accomplish this and I can do this myself and I will do this next and I’m going to do that and I’m going to get this done and I will and I can, and —
And that’s a lot of I’s.”

Seeing Everything Else

imuseless

I have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. Or perhaps it’s more of a love-hate-appreciate relationship? Let me explain.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become one of those people who love to be organized (which was an immense surprise to all parties involved). I schedule my day’s activities, I sort my study materials into little folders, and even my closet is (semi) categorized by season and color. There is an immense satisfaction in checking off the boxes of my to-do list, and one by one seeing the white emptiness disappear.

But there’s a problem. I love the idea of fulfilling my to-do list, of keeping my area decluttered, of staying organized, of having these grand New Year’s resolutions that help me to better my life.

But I am an utter failure at doing so.

Because every year, about a week or so (if I’m lucky) after January 1st, after we’ve all…

View original post 914 more words

New Year’s! Remembering 2017

allef-vinicius-331173

We’re officially closer to 2030 than we are to 2000. That’s disconcerting.

Happy New Year! (*balloons, confetti*) Here at the beginning of this new year, I wanted to take a quick break from our regular seriousness to chat with you guys. Because it’s been a while since we’ve talked. So let’s sit down together on the couch with our coffee (and me with my hot chocolate) and reminisce about our year together.

(Actually, how about you sit on your couch and I’ll sit on mine, not because of the limits of technology, but because I am currently quarantined to my room coughing my lungs out. Hence the lighter tone of this, because I start spouting nonsense when I’m tired. But somehow very logical nonsense. Anyways.)

Writing

2017 was a big writing year for me. I became a regular contributor for the Rebelution. I was asked to join TCB’s writing team. I wrote 52 articles in 52 weeks. (Though being honest, that number was made by doing several in one week and none for two months.) But perhaps the one accomplishment that makes me inordinately happy is the fact that I just realized that Seeing Everything Else has a very suitable acronym, which I shall now use to make my life easier in so many ways. Because Seeing Everything Else is a mouthful, but SEE is nice and manageable. And ties in really well. And was completely unplanned. So yes, it makes me happy.

There’s also a lot of new faces. And when I say a lot, I mean SEE just hit over 200 followers before 2018. (Thank you guys, you’re amazing!) So I don’t know as many of you as well as I’d like. But I want to. What are you learning right now? How are you growing? What’s God been teaching you? Who do you think is the best Avenger? (It’s Cap, by the way.) Comment, shoot me an email, let me know!

Life:

2017 was just a very big year for me generally too. I thought this would be a year of quietness, a year of waiting. So I was prepared for that. But God surprised me. I had some massive events and privileges, such as Continue reading

That’s God Lying There

annie-spratt-175331

“So that’s God, lying there on the real leaves and the real vines?”

His toddler eyes looked curiously up at me, his hand still tightly gripping his slipping-off backpack.

“Well, it’s a picture of it,” I replied. “That’s what it looked like so long ago.”

But it wasn’t really. It was a old wooden Nativity, with the blue paint flaking off Mary’s dress, Jesus blond haired and blue-eyed, and sheep apparently still so dazed by angels that they were tilted and close to falling over.

And so often we would just pass by this wooden scene. Just some painted figures and lighted yard decorations, not even accurate. They’re nothing special. They’re nothing holy.

But this little one, with his ever-rambunctious hair and ever-eager eyes, saw it differently. Continue reading