You Can Count On It

They were hoping to bring her home by Christmas. Now they’re just hoping for a travel date before February, when the Chinese government shuts down for a month. She will be two years old soon, and her parents and sister and two brothers would be counting down the minutes until she comes home—if they knew when that would be.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Few things capture the difficulty and earnestness of waiting like Israel’s waiting for the promised Messiah. Like the forerunner slaves waiting for God to get them out of Egypt, so first-century Jews yearned for a Messiah to rescue them.

The words to “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” combine with a tune that almost sounds mournful, stirring up ideas of longing and reminding us of the centuries the Jews waited for the Messiah.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.”

For us, the last pages of the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament announcement of a newborn King are only a page apart, so it’s easy for us to forget that for the people of Israel in Jesus’ time, it had been a 400-year wait. Continue reading You Can Count On It

My 7 Favorite Books of 2017

There will always be another book to read—a whole list of them, more likely. As 2017 wraps up (no Christmas pun intended), here are a few books I am grateful found their way into my list this year. Their reminders and encouragement and eye-opening chapters have shaped me in new ways, and I hope you find some of them as unforgettable as I did.

From Good to Grace

Christine Hoover

As a church planter’s wife, Christine Hoover is no stranger to feeling like “not enough.” No matter how hard she tried or how much she worked, there was always another need or another problem or another failure on her own part. Why couldn’t she do this Christian life thing? Why was it so hard to just…be perfect? Eventually, she came to realize what she shares with us: grace. As Christians, we stake our eternities on grace, receiving Christ’s sacrificial death in our place to remove the bondage of sin and death in our hearts. But once we go from unbelieving to saved and believing, we often—unintentionally—leave grace behind. We try to do the rest of it on our own, scheduling our devotional times and listing our plans of good works and hoping to do better tomorrow. But no matter what, we will never be enough in ourselves, and that’s okay! We have been given grace—Jesus is enough, and He has given His “enough” to us.

Read my review here.

A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny

Amy Julia Becker

To be honest, I can’t remember how I came across this book, but I’m so glad I did. Devout Christians and theological students, Amy Becker and her husband had dreams and plans for the family they were ready to start. But they quickly realized life wasn’t going to go the way they had planned when their first daughter, Penny, was born with Down syndrome. What about the perfect life they had envisioned? What about their faith? What about all the good things they had done? What about the future? Amy shares about those first few weeks and months with beautiful honesty, writing about her internal struggles in reconciling what she knew to be true with her new reality. In a world where babies with Down syndrome are aborted at a heart-wrenching rate, where a country without them celebrates its “success,” Becker’s story is a hopeful look into the questions and doubts that a parent can have in those early moments. Through it all, she brings her Christian faith heavily into her own wrestling, providing deeper insights and encouragement to share with others in similar places.

Continue reading My 7 Favorite Books of 2017

“Hidden Christmas”

There are some things that just go without saying. Or at least, we think they do.

The world is round. Gravity makes things fall (unless you’re on a moonwalk). Never shake a soft drink container.

But we haven’t always known these things. At some point in our lives, someone told us these truths for the first time—and sometimes we didn’t believe it the first time we heard it. Like the investors of Colombus’ day, doubting the likelihood of a round earth, we question something that sounds…shocking.

However, once we have decided it is true, these facts eventually lose their wonder. It no longer shocks our socks off to think of our planet turning on its axis as it spins around a giant burning star. We take it for granted.

Just like that, we lose our amazement to things that truly are amazing. Unfortunately, this is what we do every December. Continue reading “Hidden Christmas”