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What Does It Mean to Lament?

Imagine this: You’re with your friends from church in a small group setting. You’re sitting around the table, coffee in hand, maybe you’re sharing prayer requests: Doug needs a new job, Aunt Louise has cancer. Then the guy across from you starts to pray, starts to weep. And as he weeps, he sputters out this prayer:

“God, God, save me! I’m in over my head! I’m hoarse from calling for help, bleary-eyed from searching the sky for God. I’ve got more enemies than hairs on my head; sneaks and liars are out to knife me in the back. God, you know every sin I’ve committed; my life’s a wide-open book before you. Don’t let those who look to you in hope be discouraged by what happens to me, dear Lord! Because of you I look like an idiot, I walk around ashamed to show my face!”

This is uncomfortable. Weird. You steal a side-long glance at your spouse. You’re ready to get out of this situation. How are you supposed to respond to such an emotional, sad, and angry prayer?

Believe it or not, this is actually a paraphrase from part of Psalm 69 in The Message. It’s also an example of something that is very common in scripture and that God is very comfortable with hearing. It’s called a lament.

To find out more about what it means to lament, continue reading at

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How to Have Fun with Your Kids

“Did you have a fun vacation?” I asked. My girlfriend had just gotten back from a week in the mountains.

She looked at me quizzically.

“Fun?” she questioned. “A relaxing, restorative time, perhaps, but not fun. I don’t really have fun with my kids, do you?” It was an honest question she was asking.

I thought for a minute. “Yes, I do,” I answered. My kids have thrown their share of tantrums and bicker with each other like the next set of siblings, but generally, I do have fun with my kids.

The conversation got me thinking; do most parents have fun with their children? Although my response to my friend’s question is true, I’ve certainly gone through seasons when fun has been harder to come by. We parents teach our kids table manners, interrupt sibling squabbles, pray for them, help them with homework, but do we actually have fun with them? Do we enjoy our kids for who they are, with their own quirks, sense of humor, and interests? And if not, is there a way to intentionally pursue more fun with our kids?

Join me over at For the Family for some ways to cultivate FUN with your kids this summer.

You Are Loved with an Everlasting Love

2015-06-29_001I pulled out the mail from the mailbox and while sifting through it I discovered a plain white postcard addressed to me. I couldn’t believe it! Elisabeth Elliot had written me back! The postcard was typed but she’d signed her name in ink. I couldn’t believe she’d taken the time to write me, a 14-year-old girl! An ordinary trip to the mailbox contained for me something I treasure to this day.

“You are loved with an everlasting love, that’s what the Bible says, and underneath are the everlasting arms,” was the way Elisabeth Elliot opened every Gateway to Joy broadcast. Her show served as the soundtrack to my lunch break during my growing up years. Being homeschooled and eating lunch in our kitchen, I was privy to my mom’s radio listening preferences.

At some point I began actively listening to the broadcast as well. I think it was after I heard the Nate Saint dramatized biography on Stories of Great Christians. I finally put together that the Jim Elliot featured in Nate Saint’s story had been Elisabeth Elliot’s husband, and that story was part of her story too.

This realization triggered interest in finding out more about the five missionaries killed by the Huaroni tribe in Ecuador and how Elisabeth Elliot–wife of one of the slain missionaries–ended up living with them for two years.

I spent my teen years reading anything I could get my hands on written by Elisabeth Elliot: Passion and Purity, A Chance to Die, These Strange Ashes, and The Savage My Kinsmen to name a few. I certainly wasn’t the target audience for her writing. Actually, it was probably strange that I found a hero in Elisabeth Elliot instead of whatever pop star was popular at the time. But I’m glad I did.

She taught me to dream big. To not just settle for a mediocre life that lacks passion for God and other people. And most of all she taught me that God could be trusted. Her life told that story. If Elisabeth Elliot could trust God even after her husband was speared to death, then I could trust God too. She trusted God to help her forgive, love, and serve the tribe who killed her husband. She trusted God while she served as a widowed missionary raising her daughter in the jungle. She trusted God even years later when her second husband was killed by cancer. With each disappointment and tragedy, she kept trusting God. That is her legacy to me.

When I heard of her death I remembered her words that gave such comfort for so many years: “You are loved with an everlasting love, that’s what the Bible says, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

I decided that I wanted to see those words everyday. So I made a 8 x 10 print of them and framed it. And I’m making it available to you too. You can download your own printable version of it here.

To read two excellent tributes to Elisabeth Elliot check out this The New York Times article, Elisabeth Elliot, Tenacious Missionary in Face of Tragedy, Dies at 88 or The Washington Post article by Tsh Oxenreider.



Cultivating Family Culture

I slice the earth with the blade of the shovel, digging carefully around the roots of the peony bush. For two years, the bush had not thrived. It had not bloomed well and had gotten powdery mildew on the leaves. It did not get enough sun in its current location. I placed the uprooted plant into the wheel barrel and pushed it around the house and to the front garden, which gets more consistent full sun. I transplanted it next to the arbor that guards the entrance to the vegetable garden. Now it has a spot to flourish.

Cultivating family culture is a lot like gardening. It sometimes takes some transplanting, pruning, and watering to make your family culture really flourish.

Writing today over at For the Family. Join me there.


My Favorite Podcasts

I’m a podcast junkie. I got hooked on The Splendid Table years ago and haven’t looked back since. Sometimes I have more podcasts than I can keep up with. Other times I enjoy a podcast for a while and then I stop listening and move onto something else.

Here’s my favorite podcasts right now:

The Splendid Table
My favorite foodie podcast hosted by the delightful Lynne Rossetto Kasper. Road food, the science of food, the history of various types of food, wine reviews, and chef interviews are all part of the mix on The Splendid Table, which is published weekly.

Stuff You Missed in History
I love history and this podcast is perfect for the history nut. Mostly dwelling on little-known historical events and people, like “The Night Witches” of WWII to “The History of Carousals,” if you like history, bookmark this podcast, published twice weekly.

Read-Aloud Revival
I have to say this is one of the most inspiring podcasts that I listen to that actually impacts my daily life. I use it to get book recommendations and just downloaded our summer reading program from the most recent episode. The tagline is “Build Your Family Culture Around Books” and do I ever want to do that as a parent and an educator. The delightful host, Sarah Mackenzie, interviews everyone from homeschool moms to reading professionals to authors to discuss having a read-aloud family culture. Some of her past guests have included Jamie Martin (A Simple Homeschool), Sarah Clarkson, and Jim Weiss. This is published monthly but is taking a break for June/July. But don’t worry, that gives you lots of time to catch up on past episodes!

The Art of Simple Podcast
Tsh Oxenreider’s wildly popular blog on simple living also has a podcast, which is published sporadically. I really enjoy the range of topics from family travel to speaking to talking with her literary agent about the ins and outs of publishing.

Serial took the nation by storm with the narrative style of storytelling. People who didn’t even listen to podcasts got sucked into this one. It consisted of twelve episodes and is now over, however, another series will be starting sometime this year. Listen to it.

These Go to Eleven
My pastor has started a podcast and it’s published approximately weekly. He and host Nathan Bell discuss a variety of topics pertaining to culture and Christianity with various guests. I particularly found the episode on “Spurgeon’s Sorrows” helpful as it pertained to depression and all June they’ll be having a variety of “hot topics.” This week it’s a debate between those who hold the “old earth” view versus those who hold the “new earth” view.

So that’s the podcasts I keep coming back to right now. What’s your favorite podcast?