A Few of My Favorite Things {October 2015}

by Elizabeth

Ladies’ Bible Class at my mom’s church. I don’t often get a chance to have deep discussions about Scripture with other ladies in real life, and this class has immeasurably blessed me (even though our travel schedule doesn’t allow me to attend all the sessions). We’re going through the Gospels chronologically, and I’ve been reading them through the Biblical Imagination lens that I talked about last month. I’m seeing all sorts of new things in the Gospel accounts, and it’s been fascinating, thrilling, and convicting. On a tangent, tell me your favorite Gospel and why in the comments! Mine has generally been John and not Mark, but I’m seeing each book in a new light now and appreciating each book for what it offers.

Going on regular walks with my husband. We used to walk together all the time, both before and after kids (during the stroller stage at least). But now, being in Phnom Penh, there aren’t a lot of great places to walk. So being able to walk in both my mom’s neighborhood and on some beautiful walking paths has been so enjoyable.

The joy of finding that old friends are still the same. It’s amazing to me that after four years, the people we were close to before moving overseas, we still feel close to. We can slide right back into relationship. We may need to update each other on our lives somewhat, but it’s comforting to know that the years and years we poured into relationships this side of the Pacific weren’t wasted. We’re different; we’ve changed. So have our friends. But I’m realizing that with Christ, our love doesn’t have to change.

The chance to witness Jonathan’s pastoral counseling. I’m not usually in the counseling room with him, but I had the opportunity this month to watch him in action. I was amazed. I had no idea he was so good at what he does. He listens carefully, sees straight into the heart of a person, and has such wisdom in knowing how to help them meet Jesus. All I can say is, um, wow!



Cloudy with a Chance of Faith by Katrina Ryder. I shared some of Katrina’s work last month. She is someone who definitely needs be on your radar. It’s hard to find someone who is both dedicated to Scripture and brutally honest about real life and raw emotions. Katrina is just such a person, and I so appreciate her writing. Incidentally, because of her discussion of God’s glory being in the cloud, when I got to the Transfiguration with my Ladies’ Bible class, I read the phrase “a bright cloud overshadowed them” with new eyes.

‘What’s wrong with a hug?’ on Christianity Today. So many things to love about this extremely important anonymously-written article. As someone who was abused in this way, I’m so glad someone is bringing attention to it. As someone who “paid the relational price” for trying to deal with abuse in a church setting, I’m glad someone is talking about this. And as someone who is trying to protect her children from abuse in another culture, even when it offends an adult, I’m thankful someone wrote this article.

It Would Be So Easy to Use Money to Solve This Problem. But We Won’t. Here’s Why. by Andy Gray of Alongsiders. I personally know Andy, along with Craig Greenfield, the founder of Alongsiders, and I really respect how they approach money in their ministry. Jonathan and I have first hand experience of “when helping hurts” from back here in the States before we moved overseas. To explore issues of ministry among the poor more deeply, I also highly recommend Craig’s personal blog.

Free Wine by Robynn Bliss. More grace, pure grace (from a blogger/writer I get to meet soon!!!).

Why Connection Matters (More Than Connection Groups) by Amy Young.  “Disconnection was never meant to be our story so God started rewriting it immediately.” I really appreciate how Amy expands the possible areas of disconnection in our lives to include disconnection from God, ourselves, nature, and others. As an aside, I love Amy’s focus on Eden in her writing in general.

When Someone You Love Dies and You are Far, Far Away by Rachel Pieh Jones. “She will be buried well, surrounded by loving family and I won’t be there. . .I am not with those who are mourning. I’m not with those who gather around food and photos and memories. I’m the hole, the absence, the space. I’m not with ‘my people’ to close the door on that life and to look into the faces that have her nose and his chin and to say, ‘I love you. I’m glad you are in my family. I see her living in you. I treasure the legacy I see in your children.’” It continues to amaze me that different people can experience grief from afar so similarly.

Giving Grace to People in Crisis — the Sequel to Stupid Phrases for Stupid People by Marilyn Gardner. Actual, wonderful things to say to people in crisis.

A Final Note for Those in Crisis by Marilyn Gardner. Because it’s ok to offer grace to people who don’t or can’t offer it to us. Which to me, is some of the best news of all.

When God Doesn’t Heal by Tanya Marlow. I think we all need this message sometimes; we all have things in our lives that God just doesn’t seem to heal. We all walk with a limp of some sort. Tanya is deep and you need to be reading her; here’s another good one from her this month.

Here’s Why We Need the “Mentally Different” by Glennon Melton. I love this take on mental illness, and I think it’s true — when we see the world as it really is, it’s so overwhelming that it’s hard to cope. And when we’re fine with the world as is, maybe we’re just not paying very close attention.

When Loneliness Threatens to Swallow You Whole by Elizabeth Esther. “What if my loneliness is homesickness for God? What if loneliness is homesickness for home I’ve rarely known, a home more Person than place?” Breathtakingly beautiful and true.



The orbits of the planets and their moons in correct time ratio (NOT size or distance). Goes through one full earth year. SO COOL.

Forgiveness by Kay Bruner. “Forgiveness says, ‘I want to be free.’ Forgiveness is my job. Healing is God’s job.” I found unforgiveness lurking in my heart this month. As I read through the Gospels with my Ladies’ Bible Study, I kept encountering the words of Jesus to forgive. I had this creeping feeling I was harboring unforgiveness (again, bummer), but I didn’t know what to do with it. I underlined Jesus’ words, I wrote them in my journal, but I knew I still hadn’t forgiven. I watched Kay’s video, I read Anita Mathias’s post on forgiveness. (Anita is another deep thinker and writer from whom I always learn something; you really need to go check her out, too.) Then suddenly one morning I was ready to forgive, to lay it all down again, to release people from their debt to me. It wasn’t a big emotional experience like it sometimes is. It was just a deep sense of peace and a firm conviction of what I needed to do. And so I did it. I felt such a burden lift off me. (By the way, Kay will soon be publishing an e-book on “forgiveness in the real world.” I got to help edit it, and so I can tell you ahead of time how very good and fresh it is.)



Adopted by Jeff Bourque. We sang this song in college, and I haven’t thought of it or sung it in years. But it came to me out of the blue this month, and at a time when I really needed its message. A time when I needed to preach the gospel to myself. The song is based out of Galatians 4:3-7, and to listen to it, scroll down the screen in the link several times until you get to “Adopted.”

Hallelujah, God has spoken and I know this changes everything.
Hallelujah, praise Him only sing the slaves adopted by the King.

Glory be to my Father who reigns.
For I met Him and I cannot be the same.
When in bondage to Jesus I came.
He took my place and He changed my name.

I Feel His Love by Laura Hackett Park. Love this song. Again, it came to mind at a time when I really needed it, especially that last chorus. As Laura sings elsewhere, sometimes you “gotta sing your way into the Truth.” Plus I love the story of how she wrote this song.

My faith, it lifts the weight of pain from lonely and mistaken days
Of hiding behind deep dark lies of worthlessness and selfish pride

My faith is my belief in truth that God above loves me and you
And He gave us freedom, He gave us life To walk in love through Jesus Christ

I am confident that neither life nor death can keep me from the love of Christ
Keep me from the love of Christ
And though I cannot see, still my heart believes
And I am filled with joy inexpressible

I feel His love dwelling up on the inside of me
All those years bound in shame, He is setting me free
His love goes deeper than the pain that I feel
His love is stronger than depression and fear

Great Are You Lord by Steve and Vicki Cook. My youth group used to sing this in high school, and I haven’t sung it in ages. But we sang it at church one Sunday morning this month, and I remembered why I loved it so much.

Holy Lord, most holy Lord, You alone are worthy of my praise.
O holy Lord, most holy Lord, with all of my heart I sing.

Great are You, Lord, worthy of praise.
Holy and true, great are You, Lord, most holy Lord.

Oh How I Need You by All Sons and Daughters. Love their message, love their earthy sound.

Lord I find You in the seeking, Lord I find You in the doubt
And to know You is to love You and to know so little else

Great Are You Lord by All Sons and Daughters.

You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise we pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise to You only

All the earth will shout Your praise, our hearts will cry
These bones will sing great are You, Lord

Tree by Justin Rizzo. Another oldie-but-goodie that came to me this month.

Unmovable, unshakable, let my roots go down deep
Unmovable, unshakable in You

I want to be like a tree planted by the streams of living water

This will be my song God, this will be my prayer
Until the end, until the end

I Need You Now by Matt Redman.

On this thirsty desert ground, in a dry and barren land,
I bow down, I need You now

You will call and I will come, to Your river I will run
I bow down, I need You now

Oh, living water. Oh, God, my Savior,
If I ever needed You, I need You now
Oh, living water, Oh, God, my Healer,
If I ever needed You, I need You now

Eden by Phil Wickham. Phil Wickham’s music has an ethereal, almost other-worldly sound to it. Several years ago his music was my entry point into the more emotional, Spirit-filled music of the International House of Prayer (and others). At one point this month, after not having listened to Phil Wickham for quite some time, I had a sudden need to listen to this song. It expresses my longings so well. (You’re Beautiful is another good one of his.)

When the first light brightened the dark
Before the breaking of the human heart
There was You and there was me

Innocence was all I knew
‘Cause all I had to know was You
We were running underneath the trees

I want to see You face to face
Where being in Your arms is the permanent state
I want it like it was back then
I want to be in Eden

I remember how You called my name
And I would meet You at the garden gate
How the glory of Your love would shine

And I remember when the stars were young
You breathed life into my lungs
Oh I never felt so alive

I want to see You face to face
Where being in Your arms is the permanent state
I want it like it was back then
I want to be in Eden

To be naked and unashamed
In a sweet downpour of innocent rain
I want it like it was back then
I want to be in Eden

Where my eyes can see the colors of glory
My hands can reach the heaven before me
Oh my God I want to be there with You

Where our hearts will beat with joy together
And love will reign forever and ever
Oh my God I want to be there with You

The Heavens Declare

by Elizabeth

apolloearthThe well-known United States/Soviet Union “Space Race” overshadowed a contemporaneous Cold War competition to cut through the Earth’s crust and reach the mantle. The United States abandoned its attempts to drill through the Pacific seafloor — under 11,000 feet of ocean water — after only 5 years and 601 feet. Meanwhile, Soviet drilling tenacity outlived the Soviet Union itself, continuing 24 years from its inception in 1970 to its abandonment in 1994.

Temperatures at the bottom of the Kola hole in northwestern Russia exceeded 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The rocks there were so “plastic” that whenever the drill was withdrawn, the hole would start to close. Their eventual depth reached 7.6 miles, halfway to the mantle and deeper into the Earth’s crust than Mount Everest stands above it — but still minuscule in comparison to Earth’s 7,918-mile diameter.

I never knew any of these fascinating historical tidbits.

I also never considered the fact that although we can see into outer space, we can’t see all the way to the center of the Earth. Our planet poses a problem for scientists: we can’t see into it. The methods we have for “seeing” inside the Earth are limited; everything we know about the bowels of our own planet has been discovered remotely.

I found this information in the July/August 2014 edition of Discover Magazine, in an article by Tim Folger. How we came to understand that Earth has a solid inner core and liquid outer core (in contrast to the liquid-only core scientists had previously believed Earth to have) was particularly intriguing to me, as the discovery was made by female seismologist Inge Lehman. It was a woman who, in 1929, discovered evidence of a solid iron core. It was a woman who, in 1936, published her paper arguing for that solid inner core. And it was a woman who had to wait until 1970 to be proven correct, when instruments were finally sensitive enough to corroborate her claims.

The article goes on to discuss the uniqueness of our magnetic field, especially considering new research into the heat transfer properties of molten iron, whose heat conductivity is higher than previously thought. Recent calculations with these updated properties indicate that the outer core would have conducted too much of its initial heat to the mantle, leaving it too little heat to remain molten. And Earth needs that molten iron core in order to create our life-sustaining magnetic field. Molten iron in the core is what produces the convection currents that power our magnetic field and protect us from cosmic and solar radiation. (This phenomenon is known as a “geodynamo.”)

So where did the heat come from that keeps our outer core molten? In light of the new calculations, scientists have had to look elsewhere for sources of heat for a molten outer core. One of those heat sources is a possible collision between Earth and a Mars-size body, whose blast particles would eventually coalesce into our moon. In that case, seemingly unrelated aspects of life on Earth might not be so unrelated: our moon, a molten core that induces our magnetic field and protects our oxygenated atmosphere from being stripped away, water in the crust that allows for tectonic plates to slip past each other, thus releasing heat from inside the Earth, thereby cooling it and allowing the conduction and convection that makes the molten, moving iron core induce our magnetic field to begin with.

Coincidences? the article’s author asks. Or not? Perhaps a habitable planet requires more than we’ve previously thought necessary. How repeatable is our Earth? We now know that planets are commonplace occurrences, true. But is there now more that needs to happen to ensure life than we used to think? One interviewed scientist said he thinks “It’s a matter of chance, just how the game played out, how the dice were thrown.”

I disagree. It doesn’t matter though. I still find God in the pages of a science magazine. I don’t have to be afraid of the worldview of a science writer. God can be found in the heavens He created, whether or not any researchers believe in Him. He is still there. He is still able to be found. He is still able to be worshiped.

May we daily go forth and find God in the world He has created for us.


Photo source: Earth as seen from the Apollo 17 mission