Formations 07.03.2022: Remembering Reuben

Most of us hope to leave a legacy of goodness—love, kindness, generosity, service, strength, devotion. We certainly make mistakes as we live our daily lives, but our goal is to recognize our failures and make amends.

Connections 06.26.2022: In Darkness and Despair

For people like me who cope with anxiety or other mental health issues, nighttime is often more of an obstacle to overcome than a respite to enjoy. The sun sets and we climb into bed, weary from the day and ready for sleep to come.

Formations 06.12.2022: A Prepared Place

Death is part of life. It seems ironic, but we all know it’s true. For me today, this truth hits my spirit hard. I woke up this morning to a devastating text message about a longtime friend—she was killed yesterday by a van driver as she bicycled in her rural town.

Connections 06.05.2022: The Holy Spirit

As a young child in church, I heard a lot of talk about the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this mysterious figure was called the “Holy Ghost,” making it more mysterious and even a little scary.

Formations 05.22.2022: Our Adoption

A solid foundation of trust and security is essential to healthy child development. Research indicates that the first three years of life are the most fertile for building this foundation.

Connections 05.15.2022: Open Doors

Over my four decades of involvement in church life, I have heard all kind of arguments against letting certain kinds of people into the group. There have been a lot of closed doors.

Formations 05.01.2022: Together and in Private

A few years ago I went with my parents and daughters to Amelia Island, Florida. It was a difficult time for my family, as my husband and I had separated and none of us knew what should happen next.

Connections 04.24.2022: Taking a Stand

Imagine taking a stand for something, being arrested for it, getting out of jail, and going right back out to take another stand, knowing you might be arrested again…or worse.

Formations 04.10.2022: The Triumphal Entry

We’ve come to Palm Sunday, a day of celebration. In some churches, people spread palm leaves on their sanctuary floors to honor the day Jesus came to Jerusalem for the last time.

Connections 04.03.2022: Knowing Christ

One of the questions evangelists and ministers often ask is, “Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?” I heard this question numerous times as a young child.

Formations 03.20.2022: The Adulteress

If we want to understand just how revolutionary Jesus was, we can look at his treatment of women. In his time, women were excluded from most of the societal positions that gave men prominence, financial security, dignity, authority, and good reputations.

Connections 03.13.2022: The Last Will Be First

A consistent theme of Jesus’ earthly ministry was inverting cultural expectations and standards. Think of how many times he met with the lowest classes of his society.

Formations 02.27.2022: The Rainbow

Rainbows are rare enough that their appearance feels magical. When we see a rainbow, we exclaim and point, and then we fall quiet and reflect. We stand on the ground and look up, marveling.

Connections 02.20.2022: Mercy and Justice

In this passage from Luke, Jesus urges us to display humility and mercy in our interactions with other people, seemingly turning justice upside down.

Formations 02.06.2022: The Real Story of Noah’s Ark

During their early years, whenever my kids needed a doctor’s visit, their favorite exam room was the Noah’s Ark room. Its focal wall boasted a beautiful mural of the delightful image many of us bring to mind when we think of that story.

Connections 01.30.2022: God Is Still Calling Us

Have you ever heard God speak to you? I have. In forty-four years of life, I’ve felt the nudging of God in many small moments. That voice hasn’t come to me out loud, through fire, or in any other spectacular way.

Formations 01.16.2022: Our God Reigns!

Just a couple of days into the new year, a friend posted this on social media: “I have no faith left in humans to do anything but serve themselves.”

Connections 01.09.2022: God Is Still Delivering Us

I volunteer for the Jay’s HOPE Foundation, a nonprofit based in Macon, Georgia, that serves families battling childhood cancer. Through free family events, care packages, gift cards for meals and gas, and much more, Jay’s HOPE offers support to families.

Formations 12.26.2021: The Word Became Flesh

Our favorite Christmas Bible stories usually involve angels, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, a stable behind an inn, animals, a tiny baby in a feeding trough, and wise men visiting from afar. This passage in the Gospel of John has none of those, and yet it is probably the most important Christmas story of all.

Connections 12.19.2021: A Friend in Pregnancy

Soon after I became pregnant with our first daughter in 2004, I learned that my best friend—already the mother of two—was pregnant as well.

Formations 12.05.2021: The Lord Looks on the Heart

What is God doing here? God has sent the prophet Samuel to anoint the new king of Israel. The king will be a son of Jesse from Bethlehem. When Samuel sees Jesse’s son Eliab, he’s ready to call off the search.

Connections 11.28.2021: Ready and Alert

Here at the beginning of Advent season, we’re getting excited about Christmas. The Thanksgiving festivities are over, the family’s gone back home, and we’ll be eating leftover turkey for a week.

Formations 11.14.2021: Enough for All

Our world has striking disparities between people with enough to eat and people who go hungry. According to stats provided by the international organization Action Against Hunger, around 811 million people around the world don’t get enough to eat.

Connections 11.07.2021: Ruth and Boaz

Most of us enjoy love stories. Some of my favorite television shows have the best love stories I’ve ever experienced: Pam and Jim on The Office, Ben and Leslie on Parks and Recreation, and David and Patrick on Schitt’s Creek.

Formations 10.24.2021: The Church

When we imagine our ideal church, maybe we think of the utopian dream church that Luke describes in Acts 4:32-37. Wouldn’t this be church at its best?

Connections 10.17.2021: Christ’s Submission

The word “submission” has negative connotations in American English. We tend to envision something like slavery, where one person is oppressed and controlled by a person in power.

Formations 10.03.2021: Good Trees and Bad Trees

Many of Jesus’ teachings use common imagery from nature or daily life. That makes them easy to picture and remember. He said that if we have even the smallest amount of faith—small as a mustard seed—we can do great things for God (Mt 17:20).

Connections 09.26.2021: Esther’s Courage

As a little girl in Sunday school, I learned story after story about the male heroes of the Bible. Although the women who populate these stories were mentioned, it was years before I recognized the significance of their contributions.

Formations 09.12.2021: Deeper than the Surface

Jesus was a rebel. A radical. A revolutionary. Sometimes it’s hard to think of him that way, considering our artistic depictions of him as calm, glowing, and holy.

Connections 09.05.2021: Fairness

“It’s not fair.” From an early age, most of us understand what injustice feels like. My sibling got more presents than I did on my birthday. The referee favored the other team.

Formations 08.22.2021: God’s Perspective

If you’re like me, some days streak by, and before you know it, a week, a month, even a year has passed. Other days, though, are slow and plodding as you struggle to fill the boring minutes with something productive.

Connections 08.15.2021: Pursuing Wisdom

In today’s passage, we have an earnest king. Solomon loves God and is trying hard to live like he should, “walking in the statues of his father David” (v. 3).

Formations 08.01.2021: A Time to Belong

We all want to feel that we belong. From those first moments of playground choices to school lunchroom seats to office conversations over the tops of cubicles, we are often afraid of being excluded.

Connections 07.25.2021: Needing Jesus

When my children were small, they wanted to be near me constantly. I work from home, so this meant that almost as soon as I grabbed a few quiet minutes to edit a Bible study lesson or book chapter, a little girl’s voice would call out to me, wanting one thing or another.

Formations 07.11.2021: A Fierce Love

Before my children’s births, people told me about the fierce love of a parent. “There’s nothing like the love you’ll have for your kids.” “It’s like watching your heart walk around outside your body.” “You’ll be like a Mama Bear when it comes to your children.”

Connections 07.04.2021: Finding Home

For many of us, “home” feels like the safest, most comfortable place. It’s our favorite place to be, and that’s mostly because of the people who are there with us.

Formations 06.20.2021: Perseverance in Preaching

Preaching isn’t an easy gig. It’s much more than speaking God’s truth. It’s living out that truth in numerous practical and not-so-practical ways each week. If you are a pastor, part of a pastor’s family, or close friends with a pastor, you know the dramatic demands on a pastor’s life.

Connections 06.13.2021: God’s Unexpected Kingdom

I grew up in church, which means I heard loads of Scripture-based catchphrases over the years: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” “Jesus died to save us from our sins.” Maybe you can think of some.

Formations 05.30.2021: Using Our Gifts

Every single person—created by God in the image of God—is exceptionally unique. There is no other creature who is uniquely me or uniquely you.

Connections 05.23.2021: The Power of Hope

Hope. What does the word “hope” mean? Is it wishful thinking? Daydreaming? Longing? Desiring? Or is it something more certain and true?

Formations 05.09.2021: Compassionate Healing

If you or a loved one has suffered in any way—due to illness, disease, accident, job loss, failure, etc.—you have longed for compassionate healing.

Connections 05.02.2021: Knowing God Loves Us

When I attended Mercer University, the Baptist Student Union (now Baptist Collegiate Ministries) had three student-led ministry groups that involved performing arts.

Formations 04.18.2021: The Breaking of the Bread

Gatherings with friends and family vary widely depending on who shows up. But they all have one thing in common: food.

Connections 04.11.2021: Walk in the Light

When my daughter Samantha was in fifth grade, I accompanied her on a school field trip to Dahlonega, Georgia. One of the activities was touring the Consolidated Gold Mine.

Formations 03.28.2021: God’s Son Is Revealed

This isn’t the way it was supposed to be. Have you ever experienced devastating disappointment—a letdown so overwhelming that your sadness felt insurmountable?

Connections 03.21.2021: The Suffering Savior

I knew a small girl, barely six years old, with long scars on her back from lung surgery in an attempt to remove the tumors that were killing her.

Formations 03.07.2021: The Kingdom Grows

My daughter Samantha is sixteen, and my daughter Natalie is nearly fourteen. Looking at them now as they threaten to overtake my height by a couple of inches, it’s hard to picture them being small enough to carry around—much less being embryos growing inside my body.

Connections 02.28.2021: Blessings

In recent years, the word “Blessed” has become a common hashtag in social media—a trendy way to signal to others the pleasant state of one’s life.