Formations 11.01.2020: “There I Will Meet with You”

My husband John, a mechanical engineer, has taught himself the hobby of woodworking. His natural understanding of dimensions, measurements, and loadbearing lend well to creating shelves and tables and even cornhole boards.

Connections 10.25.2020: The Lord’s Requirements

Whenever I think about the Lord’s requirements, Micah 6:8 comes to mind: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Formations 10.11.2020: The Burden of Temptation

Temptation. It’s woven into the fabric of being human in this world. It’s part of the price we pay for having the knowledge of good and evil. It’s an aspect of free will.

Connections 10.04.2020: Grace Leads to Works

Church people talk a lot about grace versus works. In the church where I grew up, and in subsequent years at other churches, we often studied the difference between these two terms.

Formations 09.20.2020: Stealing the Show

The grumblers threaten to steal the show in this short scene from Jesus’ life. Let’s imagine how it would play out in a community theater production.

Connections 09.13.2020: The Cost of Deliverance

Many paintings and films tell the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, especially their miraculous passage through the sea. As long as we acknowledge that these are artists’ interpretations, I believe they can bring us closer to one of the most powerful events in the history of our faith.

Formations 08.30.2020: The Gift of Laughter

Infertility is no laughing matter. One of my friends suffered through years of pain, expensive infertility treatments, marital stress, and pregnancy loss before she and her husband finally agreed to take a break from trying to have a child.

Connections 08.23.2020: Moses on the Nile

Women dominate this tense, frightening, beautiful, miraculous story in Hebrew history. Let’s imagine each of them…

Formations 08.09.2020: The Gift of a Cheerful Heart

As a young mother at church when my girls were small, I would watch the older women, hoping for some insight and wisdom. Some days I just needed assurance that my kids would get through early childhood and still leave me a little sanity.

Formations 08.02.2020: Wrestling with God

Have you ever wrestled with God? I know I have. Lately, the struggle goes something like this: God, please help. I’m overwhelmed. My loved one is hurting, and I don’t know what to do.

Formations 07.19.2020: God’s Indictment

As I read the words of God’s indictment in our lesson text, I wondered how many times people have read them over the centuries and thought, “The prophet is talking about our world today.

Connections 07.12.2020: “Such Great Crowds…”

The parable Jesus tells in today’s text is about soil, but I can’t get past the crowds. Can you picture them? Can you see Jesus surrounded by people who wanted to hear him speak?

Formations 06.28.2020: The Beloved One

Who is your best friend? Why would you give the person that title? The word “best” implies the one at the top of the list, a single person.

Connections 06.21.2020: Alive

I’ve tried to imagine a world where humans never die. Would the land fill up to the brim? Would we drain the earth’s resources?

Formations 06.07.2020: Come and See!

Who are your favorite celebrities? What draws you to them? How do you think you would react if you got to meet them in person?

Connections 05.31.2020: Unity

If you’re on social media, what does your feed look like right now? Do all of your friends and followers post similar sentiments about politics, the pandemic, and matters of faith?

Formations 05.17.2020: The Responsibility of Power

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being an adult. My best friend and I had a favorite game to play every time we were together: we called it “apartment.”

Connections 05.10.2020: Faithfulness

The story of Stephen reads like a dramatic action movie. It’s dangerous, frightening, and devastating. It’s also heartening, inspiring, and exciting.

Formations 04.26.2020: More than Hope

What do you need most right now? While we’re all in this pandemic together, our individual situations are unique. Our pain is our own. Our grief is ours to bear.

Connections 04.19.2020: The Empowering Christ

Today’s passage contains one of my favorite images in the New Testament. It’s not the appearance of the risen Christ. It’s not him breathing the Holy Spirit upon his disciples.

Formations 04.05.2020: Zeal for God’s House

I’m writing this article in a time of trauma all around the world. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has reached every continent except Antarctica. People are sick, scared, isolated, and anxious for what lies ahead.

Connections 03.29.2020: The Lord Hears Us

It’s Monday, March 16, and I’m writing this on a strange, surreal day during a strange, surreal time in the life of our country.

Formations 03.15.2020: God’s Law vs. God’s Love

Many memories of my life as a church member—at various churches over the years—are beautiful, positive, and sustaining. But some are difficult, burdensome, and troubling.

Connections 03.08.2020: A Wide-Awake God

My daughter, who turns thirteen this month, has slept poorly for a few nights in a row. She says she has a hard time getting to sleep, and then she tends to sleep restlessly and wake up sometime after midnight.

Formations 02.23.2020: The First Passover

Have you ever known someone who has lost a child? Maybe you have personally suffered that loss. I have been granted the awful privilege of walking with some families through this nightmare, and I can tell you that I have seen no comparable grief.

Connections 02.16.2020: The Choice God Offers

In our lesson text, God seems to offer a simple choice. Choose “life and prosperity” or “death and adversity” (v. 15). Doesn’t the best choice seem obvious?

Formations 02.02.2020: Moses’ Early Life

Ever since I had children, I can’t read this old story without feeling the intense fear of a mother who is terrified for her child. In my mind, I picture her filling his belly with her breastmilk to make sure he won’t cry out in hunger on his journey.

Connections 01.26.2020: Unifying Grace

Division within a church is incredibly painful. I know this from experience. Maybe you do too. I was part of a church fellowship for ten years before deciding to leave because the divisions were so disruptive.

Formations 01.12.2020: Cultural Awareness

During my sophomore year of college at Mercer University, I served as a teaching assistant for the freshman experience class. First-year students took this class to establish an initial community of friends and begin exploring different ways of thinking and looking at the world.

Connections 01.05.2020: Heirs of God

The physical tradition of inheritance seems to be fading in our modern times. Over the centuries, it mattered greatly who was the main heir (usually a couple’s oldest child).

Formations 12.22.2019: A Shepherd’s Perspective

My beloved pastor at the church where I grew up asks church members (both past and current) to submit devotionals for an Advent booklet he compiles each year. Inspired by Luke’s account of the shepherds, I wrote the following story for the 2015 booklet.

Connections 12.15.2019: Orientation

Picture John the Baptist, leaning against a prison wall. For many months, he has worked tirelessly, pleading with people to repent and prepare for the One who is to come.

Formations 12.01.2019: A Frightening Call

Some things haven’t changed since biblical times. For a couple (especially a Christian couple) who is in a relationship but not yet married, the potential for pregnancy can be frightening and even shameful.

Connections 11.24.2019: Prayerful Hopes

Since my daughters were very small, I have written them several letters per year in special journals that I bought for them. The earliest entries detail their milestones (“You crawled toward the remote control today” or “You slept in your big-girl bed all night without waking us up”).

Formations 11.10.2019: Resurrection Hope

Many Americans observe Halloween by focusing on costumes, decorations, and candy for the kids. Some of us don’t know the origins of the day or the one that follows on November 1, All Saints’ Day.

Connections 11.03.2019: A Just and Merciful God

I’m one of those people who has a hard time reading about the judgment of God. There’s plenty of it in the Old Testament, but I tend to think of the New Testament as being more about mercy.

Formations 10.20.2019: Containing God

There are some impressive houses of worship in this world. Some are centuries-old survivors of war, fire, and poverty. Their stonework and artwork immortalize great architects and artists across the ages.

Connections 10.13.2019: Gratitude

My daughter’s friend Sophia celebrates a birthday this week, one of the first among their group to turn 15. Samantha spent the last several days trying to choose the best gift for her friend.

Formations 09.29.2019: Living in God’s Son

I began attending church as a baby, so I was encouraged from a very young age to invite Jesus into my heart. Well-meaning Sunday school teachers and preachers told me that if I did this, Jesus would become my Savior, living inside of me.

Connections 09.22.2019: God’s Grief

When you go through something that seems terrible and senseless, how do you try to explain it? Many people who face a personal crisis believe that God is punishing or testing them.

Formations 09.08.2019: A Light in the Darkness

I have consciously been on my faith journey since I was about ten years old. Before that, as far back as I remember, my religious upbringing consisted of church three times a week and prayers before meals and bedtime.

Connections 09.01.2019: God’s Astonishment

As an independent editing contractor, I have a more flexible schedule than my husband and children. While they are (mostly) willing to help when time allows, household management falls largely on my shoulders.

Formations 08.18.2019: A Constant Search for Wisdom

Over the summer, my daughters and I have been sorting through the junk stockpiled in our unfinished basement and searching for the treasures. One of those treasures is a huge plastic bin filled with my high school memorabilia.

Connections 08.11.2019: From Indifference to Readiness

What does it mean to be indifferent to something? In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, synonyms for “indifferent” are apathetic, complacent, disinterested, incurious, nonchalant, and unconcerned.

Connections 07.28.2019: God Offers Hope

Yesterday, my husband and I saw a local community theatre production of the haunting musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Based on the animated Disney movie, it features the same songs and several new ones.

Connections 07.14.2019: God and Country

What were you doing on July 4? Did you celebrate Independence Day, and if so, how? My family and I enjoyed our usual festivities for July 4, spending the day with our friends by their pool, eating burgers and hot dogs.

Connections 06.30.2019: Set Free for Freedom

From the time children are old enough to understand the word “no,” they rebel against the limitations of rules. My younger daughter, Natalie, was curious and sneaky at age one.

Connections 06.16.2019: Great Responsibility

“With great power comes great responsibility.” In Stan Lee’s original 1962 comic book Amazing Fantasy #15, a slightly varied form of this sentence appears as a caption below the last panel. In the 2002 Spider-Man film, Peter Parker hears these words from his beloved Uncle Ben.