Reflections on public speaking, prayer, and believing God

by Elizabeth

Three weeks ago I was smack in the middle of a conference. To be more specific, I was in the middle of the Family Education Conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand as one of the plenary speakers. I didn’t talk much about it beforehand, and I haven’t spoken much of it since then. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty to say about it.

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The view from our hotel window.

The first thing I have to say about it is that it was SO MUCH WORK. I had no idea how much time and energy it takes to prepare one lesson for a large group, let alone multiple lessons. I’ve led small group Bible classes for years, but this is nothing like that. I don’t know these people; the sessions aren’t in the context of either long-standing relationships or long-term study topics.

Of course, this didn’t surprise my husband, who is well-acquainted with the privileges (and trials) of preaching. But I had never planned to speak at this thing. When we were invited to speak, I nodded my head and said, “Yes, we will come, my husband will speak and I will be the support person.” Because that is what I usually am. I am not the up-front person. I sit in the pews and listen.

The way things worked out, though, our workload was split in half. The topics the leadership thought were important to address and the topics that were heavy on our hearts, they fell out 50-50. I unexpectedly became half the teaching team. So I spent many hours out of the house in coffee shops, planning my talks. Each talk took more time than I had expected. I just kept needing more time to finish them. Until Jonathan left the country for his sister’s wedding, that is.

Our plan was to meet him at the conference location the night before it started. I would bring the 4 kids across country borders (something I’d never done by myself before), and he would fly in from the U.S., with about 10 hours to spare. I prayed about this. I knew one of his connections was tight, and I knew it was flu season in the U.S., a particularly bad flu season. And I knew my husband’s immune system was compromised due to his asthma.

So I prayed. And I asked a dear friend to come pray with me too. To pray for good health and flight connections for Jonathan. To pray that what we had to say would be what God wanted us to say, and that we would get out of the way and just preach a message of Grace to the parents at this conference. To pray that they would encounter the love of God for them personally.

In short, we prayed for everything possible except MY health, and my health is what took a beating. 60 hours before departure I spiked a fever. Now I know a few things about international air travel, and one is that traveling with a fever can get you grounded. And without a second parent to transport the kids to the conference, I knew the whole family could be grounded. I knew once sickness was in the house, it might spread to everyone else. We could ALL be grounded.

I immediately contacted the conference director to let her know, and she immediately got her prayer team praying. I didn’t know her prayer team was both so extensive and so intensive. They PRAY. And they pray. And then they keep praying. Every year they encounter resistance to the conference, which is a lifeline to many families homeschooling their kids in remote areas in Asia. This year the resistance seemed to come in the area of health, and not just mine. Others as well.

I also contacted one of our local prayer team members, who had the whole team praying for me. And then I basically lay in bed for 2 days, trying to rest. I wasn’t always successful, either. I would lay in bed, unable to sleep with worry, because I just HAD to get better, because people were DEPENDING on me. I had to heal myself, quickly. Which is of course impossible. And which is of course harder to do when you are not sleeping.

I had to depend on God to get me better, and I didn’t always do a stellar job of trusting. Truly, there’s nothing like preparing a lesson for a hundred people about Grace and then being tested in your belief in its truth.

Thankfully the fever did go away in time. But by then I was having symptoms of a separate bacterial infection, and the night before departure I hurriedly called an M.D. friend for advice. She got me the antibiotics I needed as yet another friend drove us to the airport the next morning. (It takes a village, right?) I was still weak and had to depend on my older boys to help clean up and close up the house and carry the luggage throughout the day. And you know what I discovered? They are far more capable than I had known.

Jonathan even arrived at the conference on time. But I have to tell you, I was so nervous about my message on Grace that I couldn’t sleep at all the night before. I knew I needed the rest, but my anxiety was sky high. So I prayed all night. I figured, if I couldn’t sleep, at least I could ask God to work through me. With my body still weakened from illness, and my mind distracted from worry over doing a good enough job and saying the exact right words to fix everyone’s problems, I had never felt so strongly that God’s strength would have to be sufficient in my weakness. I knew that Wednesday morning’s talk on grace had to be all Him.

And I did feel God come through for me, and a huge weight was lifted that morning. I could sleep again – I was so thankful for that. But I’m not gonna lie; I made mistakes at the conference. I failed at certain aspects of my job. I prayed and prepared hard, but I still had failures. I had to remember the truth of my own message on Grace – that it does not all depend on me. That there is forgiveness for failures, and room to grow, and room to try again. There is room to trust that God is going to take care of people, that it’s not my job to take care of everyone’s problems, but only to be as faithful as I can, and to listen as closely to God’s voice as I can.

So we survived that week and even enjoyed the fellowship. And if Jonathan or I said anything helpful to anyone, I know it is from God, and not us. Not that I didn’t work hard to prepare. I probably worked harder than I have worked since my engineering school days. But that when it came down to it, anything good came from God. It always does. It has to. That is the only way. And when people asked how I felt about our part in the conference, I said I didn’t feel like a success or like a failure. I only felt that I did what I went there to do. That I shared the messages I went there to share.

But that is not the end of these messages. These messages are continuing to do their work on me. Just like I was tested in my belief in Grace, that I am not powerful enough to either heal myself physically or to reach people’s hearts, I am being tested in my belief of other truths I spoke about. How true are they really? Do I live like I believe them? Do I really believe that the King is still on the throne? That I can rest in the fact that He is on the throne?

Because last week we received some news that’s going to change a lot of things in our life. A Lot. Can I trust God with them? Can I trust Him to take care of us, like He always has? Can I rest in Him even in this huge transition? There are so many details to be worked out. Can I lay down my worry for the future?? Can I lay down my worry over how I’m going to know that I’ve actually heard God’s voice in these future decisions and not just my own?? Can I even be *excited* for how God is going to work in our lives and show Himself faithful once again?

And do I really believe what I taught about Resurrection? That the best thing God ever did was to raise Jesus from the dead, and that the deadest things in our lives are where God does His best work? That we can trust Him to bring life from death, beauty from destruction? Because some of these big life changes feel like death. I need Resurrection as a living reality in my life. Can I actually believe in resurrection even as I mourn the death?

These are just three of the messages that I felt impressed on my heart in the last few months, that I communicated to the group at the conference, and that God is writing even deeper into my heart AFTER I taught them. Do I believe the messages He has given me? I say I do, and I know I want to. But I will also pray along with the father in the book of Mark, “I do believe. Help my unbelief!”

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(In the next few months I will try to convert some of the teachings into blog posts.)

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Our kids in the main conference room.

One Simple Way to Bless TCKs {A Life Overseas}

Jonathan is over at A Life Overseas . . . 

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My book is called Misunderstood because that is how many young TCKs feel.” —Tanya Crossman

It’s true. Many kids grow up among worlds and end up feeling completely and totally misunderstood. They may feel misunderstood by the societies they’ve grown up in and the societies they’ve returned too. They may feel misunderstood by the nuclear families they’ve grown up in and the extended families they’ve returned to.

So what do we do?

What can parents do? Parents who know they don’t understand all the ins and outs of growing up globally?

Well, what do we do when we interact with anyone we want to get to know better? Read a book? Google them? Ask other people? Read an article? Maybe.

But typically the best solution is just to treat them like the unique human beings they are and start asking questions.

I think that one of the simplest things we could do to help the TCKs in our life to feel more seen, more loved, and less misunderstood, is to get better at asking questions.

And of course we have to care about their answers.

Questions give value and open the door to deeper intimacy. Questions are Christ-like, with one scholar identifying 307 individual questions that Jesus asked during his earthly ministry.

It’s hard to ask questions, though, because I have to shut up long enough to listen to the answers. Most of us simply prefer giving answers to asking questions.

Finish reading here.

A Few of My Favorite Things {January 2018}

We’ve been busy this month preparing to speak at the Family Education Conference in Thailand, so this month’s installment of my favorite things will be short. ~Elizabeth

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BOOKS

Poppy’s Return by Avi. I’ll say it again: Avi is a brilliant writer. This time instead of social issues, it was family issues he was packing into a story about a mouse.

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. We finished this read-aloud and it was just as good as it began – even better. Here are a few more quotes:

“There’s more than one way to be crippled. I don’t mean that you can have a crippled foot or a crippled knee or a crippled hand. I mean you can be crippled in your heart. You can store up all your rage at someone, which can weigh down on your heart and twist it into a weird shape until you’re always aching underneath. After a while you get used to the ache – just like with my foot. You forget what it’s like not to ache. You forget you’re aching at all.”

“We all have our demons to deal with, Little Pigeon. It’s when we cherish them – cradle them to our breasts and feed them day after day – that’s when they curdle our souls.”

“In the old tales, there is power in words. Words are what you use to summon a jinn, or to open an enchanted door, or to cast a spell. You can do everything else perfectly, but if you don’t say the right words, it won’t work. If you know how to use words, you don’t have to be strong enough to wield a scimitar or have armies at your command. Words are how the powerless can have power.”

Living Water in the Desert: True Stories of God at Work in Iran by Rebecca Davis. Another Sonlight read-aloud. All the stories are good, and several of the stories are interwoven, but there is one particularly good story about a romance that was my and my kids’ favorite.

How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World by Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson. I finally finished this book, but I’d like to read it again. The ideas were really dense. Paperback would be better, but all I have is Kindle.

Again, I’m still working through some books on Genesis and still formulating my thoughts on them, but I haven’t had a whole lot of time to study them because of preparing for our upcoming speaking event.

 

BLOG POSTS

Jane Austen: Responsibility and Love by Jesse Sumpter for Veritas Press. So good! Sometimes moderns get love wrong – it’s only a feeling, not a duty. But then, sometimes conservatives get love wrong too – it’s only a choice, not a feeling. Maybe it’s both.

The Proverbs 32 Man by Jonathan Trotter at A Life Overseas. Hilarious and truthful, all at the same time.

There’s Proof That Scientists Don’t Hate Christians by Rebecca Randall at Christianity Today. I might write more on this topic someday, as I’m passionate about the interplay between science and faith, but for now here’s the link for you to read.

On Living Sacrifices and the Walking Dead by Adam Andrews for CiRCE. Andrews is always thought-provoking (I love his and his family’s literature podcast BiblioFiles). In fact I think I need a reread of this one.

 

MOVIES, VIDEOS, AND PODCASTS

Perfect Harmony. A Disney channel movie I grew up watching that I have now introduced my own children to. Addresses racism through the lens of a child’s eye. Profound and moving.

Every Fight Ever by Studio C. Hilarious.

Forma — a new podcast at the CiRCE Institute. This podcast isn’t just a conversation about education; it’s a conversation about culture. I especially loved the interview with Brett McCracken about his book Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community.

One Word

–by Elizabeth

I chose a word for last year, just like I’ve done many times before. I chose it based on my perceived family and mental health needs, but I had a feeling that God’s interpretation of my word would be different from mine, and I thought He might do with it what He wanted. And He did.

I had chosen Purify because I knew I was overscheduled. I needed to weed out my calendar and my commitments, and I did, and it was good.

Then along came March and April, and as the thick heat of Cambodian summer set in, I buckled under the weight of it all. I couldn’t see how I could possibly do what God had asked me to do — mother my children and educate them — because I could never do it well enough. I could never do it perfectly enough.

At one point I landed flat on the floor ready to duke it all out with God. This sounds so dramatic and Jacob-wrestles-the-angel as I write it, but it was really pretty pitiful as I lived it.

My husband was at a loss for why I was feeling such heavy burdens and setting such unrealistic expectations for myself. What was he, chopped liver? Were parenting and education really all up to me?? Wasn’t he around to father our children and educate them, too? And where did I get these crazy wild expectations for them and for me anyway?

Missionary and ministry wives, I know you will understand this. Home school moms and school moms, too. We feel we have to “prove” the system, whatever system we’re in.

Everything’s gotta be perfect, or else our life choices will be suspect. It’s all gotta fall into place, or people will assume we did something wrong. That we made the wrong decisions, or executed them poorly.

We’re so afraid. The fates of other people depend on us, and people’s positive ideas of certain lifestyles depend on us. Because it ALL depends on US, you see.

These are actually the things God needed to purify from my life. My misplaced sense of worth. Massively unrealistic expectations. Fear of judgment for my life choices. Absorbing the wrong priorities. Conflating my identity with my children’s accomplishments (or lack of). A (repeat) misunderstanding of grace and the cross and what has ALREADY been done for us.

Some of these things I had worked through before. Some of them I hadn’t, and certainly not to that extent. They touched on some sensitive spots, had me asking why I was still struggling with the same issues. Had me wondering why I couldn’t get it together enough and get over them already.

Life with God is like that, a spiral that circles around to the same issues, going deeper each time and hopefully getting stronger each time. So I revisited Galatians — those foolish Galatians who, like me, had been bewitched. And I had to relearn my priorities and where my worth comes from. I had to shed some of my expectations for myself and my children.

I had to give myself grace for not being good enough. I even had to learn to give myself grace for still struggling to understand and live out grace. Because this might happen again. I might lose my focus, might forget what life with God is all about, might get caught up in distorted thinking patterns again. In fact it’s probably not a “might.”

When I look back at my year, though there were definite low spots, I can call this year “Good.” It wasn’t “great.” It wasn’t “super.” But it was good. The year wasn’t full of mountaintop highs, though there were some definite high points. It was mostly a lot of daily living, getting up in the morning to do the same things as the day before. It was mostly making slow progress in schoolwork.

It was mostly GOOD. Which is very different from the year before, a year I called “Brutal” when I got to the end of it. That’s kind of funny now, because I think some of the reasons 2016 turned out to be so brutal were the very same reasons I ended up wrestling with God in the early part of 2017. That year might not have been so bad after all, had I had my mind and my heart in a better place.

I don’t feel like choosing a word for this year. I don’t sense that God has new or big things in store for me. I sense that He’s asking me to be content with faithfulness in the little things. In the daily things. And you know what? I mostly am.

That’s part of what this past year did for me. Settled me in all sorts of ways. I don’t dream of doing bigger and better things “for God” (or is it “for me”??) outside of the things He’s already asked me to do: parent and educate my children ALONGSIDE my husband-friend (with youth, women’s, and writing ministry very much on the margins). I have practices in place to meet God and to connect with family and friends, and I know the bad habits I have, the ones that need working on.

So here’s to more GOOD years, for all of us. Years full of the presence and refining power of God. Years full of the goodness and grace of God — yes, even when tragedies and crises occur, and even when our looming problems are chronic and never-ending instead of surprising and emergent.

May the happiness of God be our happiness, not because of our circumstances or anything we did, but because God offers Himself to us freely, and His glory and goodness, and His peace and rest, are always available to us. May we receive it.

The Proverbs 32 Man {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

Women have had their chapter long enough, and my wife’s written about how she’s pretty much failed at following it. I think it’s time for the men.

It’s time we define the ideal man to whom we should compare all men, from henceforth and forevermore, regardless of context or culture, giftedness or calling, personality or preference. THIS is the perfect man.

Now, this isn’t some sort of legalistic standard we’re going to hold all men to. It’s just sort of a guideline for men to aspire to. It’s good for men to have goals and examples. If a guy feels bad because he isn’t as awesome as the Proverbs 32 Man, he shouldn’t. He should be encouraged and challenged to try harder, to honor God with his manhood. Proverbs 32 can provide a sort of prayer guide for the man who falls short, giving him something to lean into and press into and run hard towards. He should humbly allow this interpretation of perfection to take him deeper than his feet could ever wander.

Read “Proverbs 32” over at A Life Overseas.

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A Few of My Favorite Things {December 2017}

December was jam-packed with good things. There was a wedding, a baby, and a theater performance, all before Christmas. The after-Christmas time was full too. I’ll explain below! ~Elizabeth

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The Wedding. First of all, my sister got married, and I got to attend! My youngest daughter was the flower girl, so I made my first solo trans-Pacific trip with her (she was a great traveler). The wedding was beautiful, and it was beyond good to be with my extended family — I wrote about that here.

The Baby. My other sister’s baby was due after Christmas, but he was born right before Christmas instead, and he’s quite beautiful and healthy. The fact that one of us three girls lives in Asia and the other one was 36 weeks pregnant makes it all the more amazing that we both made it to Texas for our middle sister’s wedding.

The Performance. All four of my children have been working hard this semester to prepare for their home school coop performance. This semester’s play, The Flight Into Egypt, was set in World War II-era France and was based on a true story from Claire Huchet Bishop’s children’s novel Twenty and Ten. The performances were truly astounding. Our director continually impresses me with the depth of the themes she writes into her scripts and the excellence she pushes our kids to strive for. The extra work is really worth it, to see my kids grow in confidence and in relationship with others students and adults.

The Movie. The Star Wars movie! The Last Jedi was probably my most favorite yet. We took our whole family, and we all loved it. I heard someone describe it as dark (which is how they like their Star Wars movies), but I found it profoundly hopeful and filled with sufficient light to fight back the darkness. Two years ago, The Force Awakens seemed to echo old stories and characters and take us on a nostalgic tour of the Star Wars universe, and I’m glad they did. We needed to see that someone could do Star Wars right. The Last Jedi, however, felt freer to tell fresh stories while still honoring past ones. They didn’t need to prove anything to us anymore; they had gained our trust enough to take some risks.

The Carols. I try to take some time each Christmas season to sing and play carols (I tell that story here). This year my favorites veered away from my usual mournful, minor-sounding songs and into the merrier ones, most notably “The First Noel” by Davies Gilbert and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Charles Wesley.” (I am not sure what that says about where I am emotionally and spiritually at the moment, but it probably says something.) And of course, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” (also by Charles Wesley) never gets old.

I love how these hymn writers manage to embed the gospel story into their Christmas songs. So if you haven’t taken the time to read and contemplate all the verses, I hope you’ll be able to do so soon. Here is the link for the book I use for regular hymn playing as well as for Christmas carols. The difficulty level is just right for someone like me, who only took a year or two of piano lessons. I’m in love with this spiral-bound book, as it’s a great aid for personal and family worship.

The Family Christmas. All six of us were in dire need of a holiday from school and work. So two days before Christmas we went to the riverfront, where we could walk, scooter, and skateboard and even play football (we went in the morning before all the crowds arrived). Then we ate at a Lebanese restaurant, because nothing says Merry Christmas like Middle Eastern food. Later that night we watched The Muppet Christmas Carol. It’s a family tradition and a family and personal favorite, but I have particular notions of only watching it the day before Christmas or the day before that.

On Christmas Eve of course we went to church, but we also celebrated the Musel family way, with noodle soup, bread (though not homemade like Grandma’s), and the traditional cutting and eating of the apple. Then we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, a Hunzinger family Christmas Eve tradition. The power cut out in the middle of the movie, but it wasn’t too hot (in fact we had some downright cold days this month), and then we camped out around the Christmas tree. Christmas morning was lovely and cool and included presents from friends and family in the States. We spent the rest of the day reading our new books and playing with our new toys and games. Also we really splurged this Christmas and ate Indian food too. (What can I say? We really like Indian food and Mediterranean food. I’m certain heaven will be mostly filled with those two cuisines.)

The Boxing Day Party. We have some Canadian friends who celebrate the day after Christmas by inviting friends to come, eat, and talk. And afterwards, we sing more carols! I love this tradition. It’s all about the people, not the presents, about the fellowship, not the rush.

The Date. Jonathan and I went on a long date; it had been a long time since we had done that. For those of you in Cambodia, one of the things we did was go to Brown Coffee. I had no idea it would be so delicious. (It was my first time.) (What can I say? I don’t get out much.) It was so refreshing to spend so much time together and to talk about grownup things, not just family or education concerns. Jonathan listens and makes me laugh and makes me think and is my truest and best “schole” partner. Seventeen and a half years after saying “I do,” I’m more in love with him than I ever thought possible.

And now, enough about my month! On to reading and viewing recommendations.

 

FUNNY (BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A LITTLE FUNNY IN OUR LIVES)

33 Clickbait Headlines for Expats — Number 12 will Make You Gasp by Craig Thompson. If you have ever lived or served cross-culturally, you’ll get a real kick out of this article.

A couple more Studio C favorites: P90X (which my kids and I think is hilarious) and The Restaurant of Life (which my kids don’t yet understand but which I think is super funny and astute).

I just rediscovered Tim Hawkins, after several years of absence. These aren’t new clips, just new to me: Atheist Kids’ Songs (which humorously but truthfully points out the hopelessness of a life without God) and Yoga Pants which had me in stitches.

 

BOOKS

The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. An incredibly important story. I read this on the recommendation of Sarah Mackenzie of the Read Aloud Revival. It’s all fun and games till the last few chapters when the story gets real — 1963 real. It tells of tragedy through the point of view of a child, similar to our Holocaust-era home school play, and similar to the recently released Cambodian genocide film First They Killed My Father. Stories like that have a different flavor than tragic stories told through the eyes of an adult, even if it’s an adult remembering his or her childhood. I bawled my way through the last few chapters, so be prepared.

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. This is a Sonlight read aloud, and we’re not quite finished with it yet, but oh my, is it good. It’s a retelling of Arabian Nights with a new character injected into the story. As with all good stories, this book has something to teach us. Two of the more salient points are:

“You can’t just go chopping off the parts of a story that you don’t agree with and scrubbing the rest of it clean. You violate its spirit. You rob it of its power.”

“If we don’t share our stories — trading them across our borders as freely as spices and ebony and silk — we will all be strangers forever.”

So many things I could say about those two quotes, but I’ll just leave you with them for now.

Sounding the Seasons by Malcolm Guite. I re-read his “Great O Antiphons” poetry for Advent. My favorites (four out of the seven — because apparently I can’t choose just one) are “O Sapienta,” “O Adonai,” “O Rex Gentium,” and “O Emmanuel.” Guite’s sonnets never get old. I love the sonnet form in general: its succinctness, its piercing intensity. And I love the way Guite can turn a phrase to mean both it and its opposite at the same time; his sonnets embody paradox. These poems are like hymns: worth revisiting over and over again, ever new yet always comfortingly old and true.

By the way, Guite is an Adult Third Culture Kid, having been born to British expat parents living in Nigeria. When I realized that, all of a sudden it made sense to me why I resonate so much with his work (which is also steeped in traditional Christian theology) and why he seems so comfortable with paradox. I recently received his Parable and Paradox: Sonnets on the sayings of Jesus and am looking forward to diving in. Don’t bother with poetry on Kindle; you need a physical copy of these poems.

I’m working my way through a few other books but need more time to formulate my thoughts on them. Specifically I’m reading a pair of books on creation/science/Genesis and a pair of books discussing the “holy ground” aspect of our everyday endeavors. For both pairs of books, I agree with some of the authors’ claims but am not yet convinced of other claims, so I really need more time to ponder them before commenting on them.

 

BLOG POSTS

We Said It Enough by Kelly Delp. For families with aching hearts. Pure poetry.

Why Mystery Stories Are the Cure For What Ails Us by Angelina Stanford. I’d been waiting for this article to come out for a long time. Stanford has revolutionized my understanding of both fairy tales and mystery stories. I interpret literature (and human behavior) differently because of her influence.

A Muslim, A Christian, and a Baby Named “God” by Rachel Pieh Jones. I teared up at several points during this “long reads” article. I love the way Rachel imbues dignity to people who are different from her while at the same time remaining steadfast in her own faith.

I also brought back several back copies of Christianity Today from my trip to the States, and I have to say: I love print magazines. I love holding something in my hands and being able to reference it again and again without opening up my computer. It also seems to me that the articles in Christianity Today are more thought-provoking and better thought out than many blogs out there. Don’t shoot me, but there just seems to be more meat in print.

I received some old copies of Pacific Standard magazine from my parents as well. Pacific Standard is secular but contains a wide variety of research and ideas, all fascinating. As I tell anyone who asks me for reading recommendations, I like to read both secular and Christian writers, so I can look for flaws in thinking on both sides, and so I can see where science and research can harmonize with Scripture, and where our worldviews depart from each other significantly.

 

MOVIES AND TV

I rewatched the remake of Cinderella on the airplane. And I was just in tears at the beauty of the story (my interpretation was informed, of course, by the teachings of Angelina Stanford). I love how this remake added so much depth to the characters.

All Saints. This was another airplane movie. A Christian movie well-done and not overly preachy (a rare find, don’t you think?), this story took place at the intersection of a small rural community, a troubled pastor, and a large group of Asian refugees. In many ways it felt like home to watch. Realistic, painful, and hopeful (which I find to be some of the things often lacking in Christian movies).

The Crownseason 2. Not finished with the season yet, but as I’ve mentioned before, the tension Elizabeth experiences between her responsibility as head of state and the needs and desires of her personal life feels very familiar to the tensions that ministry and missionary families experience. Plus I just love British culture and history. BIG CAVEAT: Skip episode 7. It’s far too graphic and disturbing. I wish I had known that ahead of time.

 

(NON CHRISTMAS) MUSIC

This Is Our God by Reuben Morgan. Especially the chorus: “Freely you gave it all for us, surrendered your life upon that cross, great is the love poured out for all, this is our God. Lifted on high from death to life, forever our God is glorified, servant and king rescued the world, this is our God.” Just describes our God so well and so fully.

Days of Elijah by Robin Mark (an oldie but a goodie). My favorite part is “It’s the year of jubilee.” I love how Michael Card fleshes it out in his song “Jubilee“: “Jubilee, Jubilee, Jesus is our Jubilee. Debts forgiven, slaves set free, Jesus is our Jubilee.” Read all of Card’s lyrics here. The sad and ironic aspect of Jubilee is that there’s no evidence the Jewish people ever practiced this amazing gift. But it was offered to them, pointing to Jesus all along, and now we have fulfillment of the promise in Jesus. So when I sing “Days of Elijah,” what illuminates my thinking during the song are the words of Michael Card’s teaching on Jubilee.

A Letter to Christians Living in America from a Christian Living Abroad {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

I hear you.

Some of you are angry and disenfranchised. I’m on Twitter. I know.

You see the church and politicians wedded at the hip, and you throw up.

You feel like the American church has sold her soul and is rejoicing about the bargain.

You’re embarrassed, like a cool kid with an uncool mother, and now you’re asking to be dropped off a couple of blocks away from school.

You’re not quite sure what to do. Do you fight and rant and protest? Do you take the Benedict option? Do you just disappear out the back door?

Continue reading over at A Life Overseas

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