For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39

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Friends. How Many of Us Have Them?

I recently had the pleasure of writing an article on friendship for Women of God Magazine. Here’s how it starts:

kristie's bff'sIn the mid-80’s a hip hop group calledWhodini, had a hit song called Friends, where they asked this very question.

Friends. How many of us have them?

Friends. Ones we can depend on

Friends. How many of us have them?

Friends. Before we go any further, let’s be friends!

According to statistics, the average Facebook user has 245 friends. But, are all those we call “friends” today, really our friends? What makes them so? Honestly, I’d say that many of the people on my “friend” list are not those I’d have a particular closeness to, and some are “friends of a friend”. Facebook has helped us out recently. Now we can designate someone as a “close” friend or “acquaintance”, which determines how frequently you receive their news and updates. Even those we call friends, we never really have to hear from because we can hide them. We can even unfriend someone and they’d never know unless they checked their friend list. And with the average friend list of 250, who’s gonna really take the time to do that?

Read the rest of the article at Women of God Magazine. Then browse around the site for more encouraging and helpful articles, book reviews, recipes and more!



Unbelievers Say the Darndest Things

Here’s a conversation I just had with a relative who doesn’t “walk around with a cross under my feet”.

Her: Hey! What you know about that guy–what’s his name? TJ? (speaking of a popular preacher whose name escaped her). Something’s not right about him.

Me: Well, I know a lot of people follow him, but a few things worry me about him. I think he gets some things seriously wrong about the Bible. He considers himself a preacher, but describes himself as a leader, thinker, business man, and then a pastor. If you are a pastor and preacher of God’s Word, that should come first before anything else.

Her: I call him one of those fake preachers. What do you think about Teresa? (speaking of a mutual friend who recently became a Christian and started a church).

Me: I can’t do too much with her either. I don’t think what she’s doing is biblical.

Her: I feel like she’s doing too much. You can’t just jump up and start preaching. You living on a faith that you haven’t even learned yet. You don’t just learn Jesus over night. It takes years–years of practice.

Me: That’s right. Some people jump in there too soon. There was a popular rap artist who did the same thing, and it proved to be too much too soon. You need time to grow as a Christian.

Her: I was at church one Sunday, and the preacher said, “I don’t know much, but I do know the name Jesus.” They thought I was sleep, but I don’t be sleep all the time. You got to be careful throwing words around. That word Jesus is a powerful word. You might know the Bible back to front, but that don’t mean you know Jesus! You can know his name, but do you take his name seriously?

Me: That’s right!

Her: And you know another strong word? Faith is a strong, strong word. People take that word faith for granted.

“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”
Romans 1:19

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Learning Submission on I-95

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It was a joy to share with Domestic Kingdom readers, some of the lessons the Lord taught me about submission on I-95! Please add to your blog rolls, readers/feeds and to your prayers!

Here’s a snippet:

When we moved from Washington, DC we took a long road trip down the coast to visit family along the way and have our car shipped to the Cayman Islands. We were embarking on a new phase of life and ministry together.

After visiting family in North Carolina, we decided to stop in Savannah, Georgia (I wanted to go to Paula Dean’s Restaurant) and also in Orlando, Florida (for Disney, of course).

Weeks in advance, I started asking Thabiti about our travel plans. Should I go ahead and book hotels? Where would he like to stay and for how long? What other stops should we make along the way? His response– silence.

Click here for the rest of the post…


A Miracle is Like the Swing of a Sword

“Let me say that a miracle is no cute thing but more like the swing of a sword.”
–Reuban Land, main character in Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

I read this wonderfully written book recently and was struck by the author’s ability to summarize and foretell pivotal events in the story through profound statements that capture much more than merely guiding the reader along the plot of a good book. Peace Like a River is a story that is woven from start to finish with the miraculous. Here are some of my favorite “miracle quotes” (in bold) from the story, and how they led me into thinking more about the miraculous in my own life and experiences.

I was sitting in church, listening to a message about God’s righteous anger toward sin, hearing for the first time that I was a sinner upon whom God’s anger rested. The Lord struck me with the sword of the Spirit, His Word. It pierced my soul and blood began to flow. Not my own blood, but the blood of Christ was poured out on me, purifying me from my sin. As Reuben so insightfully understood, “A miracle contradicts the will of earth”. I had been following the course of this world (“the will of earth”), gratifying the cravings of my sinful nature (Eph 2:1-3), not realizing that I was among the walking dead on this earth. Suddenly, the eyes of my understanding became crystal clear, so that I knew without a doubt that I was on the losing side. I was a sinner in need of the saving grace of Christ. Without Him, I’d be eternally lost, without God and without hope in the world.

Then the miraculous happened–Christ saved me! His blood freed me from my sin. I repented of my bold rebellion and turned to face Christ as my Savior and Lord. It was a miracle that catapulted me from mindlessly serving as the enemy’s minion to joyful service as a warrior in the army of God. “No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.” (Reuben’s sister Swede). Now, armed with the appropriate defenses–the helmet of salvation, belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peace, and the shield of faith–I stand ready to yield my weapon, the sword of God’s Word, for the salvation of others and for attacking the plots and schemes of the enemy against my own soul. Now I get to be a witness. I get to tell others what I saw God do in my own life. How He saved me when I didn’t even know I was lost. And the same gospel that the Lord used to save me, I have the privilege of proclaiming to others, and hoping to witness the same miracle performed in the heart and life of another.

“People fear miracles because they fear being changed–though ignoring them will change you also” (Swede).

Just recently, a new friend asked me to share my assessment of him as a person. Based on prior conversations we’d had, and on my experiences with others who struggle with the sacrifices that Christ demands of them in following Him–“Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15); “deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt 16:24); “Be holy” (1 Pet 1:15-16); “Do not love the world” (1 John 2:15)–how would I answer such a bold yet vulnerable question? Basically, I responded by saying, “I don’t know you very well, but based on conversations we’ve had, and what I’ve observed, you seem to be a very nice guy. You have a big heart and you have a desire to know and follow God, and that’s great! But you also seem to be afraid of what you may have to give up if God saved you and you became a Christian.”

As soon as I said those words, tears welled up in this young man’s eyes, each teardrop adding up the cost of following Christ. He walked away sorrowful because he was afraid of being changed. But fear of being changed doesn’t stop the process, so I’m praying that even now the Lord would be changing his heart so that he would no longer fear the miracle of salvation, but the Sword would swing his way and he would embrace it.

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A Few of My Newest Favorite Things

I’m a pen-aholic! I love fun, cute pens and this one makes me want a bowl of frozen sherbet!

Each week, I make out my grocery list and weekly menu on the backs of scrap paper and envelopes (bills). This is way cuter and neat and organized. I’ll still recycle it and write notes on the back…or make paper airplanes with my boy…or origami….I’ll also save these lists so I can repeat my week’s menu sometime when I don’t have time or interest in making out a whole new list!


My Guy

Today marks the beginning of our 22nd year of marriage. Thabiti and I had a sweet day of quiet reflection and teen-like giddiness over the past 21 years the Lord has given us as husband and wife. It’s been a rollercoaster but the ride is not over. The thrill is still at a peak!

In addition to thinking about how well my husband has led our family, and has given himself for me in sacrificial love, I’ve also had this song in my head the past two weeks in anticipation of our anniversary. Enjoy!



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From Building Blocks to Rollercoasters: A Metaphor for Shepherding

Post image for From Building Blocks to Rollercoasters: a Metaphor for ShepherdingRecently, I had the privilege of contributing to an ongoing discussion at the Domestic Kingdom blog, on pointing preschoolers to Jesus. It was an honor to join the conversation. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series, as well as the many other helpful resources at DK.

One evening after dinner, the older children were completing homework, mom was working in the kitchen, dad was on the computer, and our 5 year old (excuse me, he wants me to point out that he’s 5and a half) was asked to get ready for his shower. He likes the actual shower, it’s the “getting ready” part (gathering towels and pj’s and turning on the water) that he doesn’t like.

So, he asks my oldest daughter if she would help him. She asks him to get them himself because she’s busy with homework. I interrupt in my most instructive mommy voice, and say “You’refive and a half years old and perfectly capable of getting ready for your shower on your own.  Why would you ask your sister to do it, when you can see that she’s busy with her homework. What do you call that? (thinking he’d realize he was being lazy and inconsiderate of his sister’s time).

With a tilt of his head, and a slightly quizzical look, he replies “A favor?”. Well, yeah, from his perspective, I guess he would have thought that. I was so thrown off that he missed my teachable moment (and holding back hysterical laughter), that I couldn’t think of another wise thing to say, so I just told him to obey mommy before he gets into trouble!

This scenario is pretty typical in my home. I start out excited for the opportunity to seize a new teachable moment, but my children have their own agenda in mind, and well, sometimes things don’t turn out the way I plan.

But God’s grace is right there, giving me new moments and fresh opportunities to point my children to Christ.

So, on an ordinary day, how would I redeem that missed moment? Probably after his shower, at bedtime, I’d ask if he remembered the conversation and his response (praying silently that he would indeed remember). I’d explain (now that I know I can’t assume he can connect those dots) how his attitude was selfish and lazy, and remind him of our Bible verse in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I’d ask him questions about his understanding of those verses and pray hard that he would not respond with something like “I understand my sister was not looking out for my interests but her own!”

Our best parenting practices are laced with sin, and so are our children’s most godly responses to our correction and training.

So where does that leave us as we consider our parenting?

It leaves us in the arms of our dear Savior, depending upon His grace, trusting in His providence working with and for our families in all our interactions, joys, and sorrows.

My daily activities vary with the children depending on their age, but generally this is what we do to add purpose to our days.

Build Blocks & Make Playdough (Shaping Stage: 2 to about 9 or 10) – Blocks and playdough are a new mom’s best friends. They can go with you everywhere! Not only do they keep the kiddies busy, but they encourage creativity and imagination in the early years (like stuffing the playdough in the holes of the blocks, or eating it, or tossing the blocks at the pet dog). Seriously, the early years are the shaping years. It is during this time that their little minds are easily molded and shaped Godward. They want to mimic our every move and we should make good use of this time in their development. From the time they can understand simple directions, we can begin to teach them who God is and the extravagant love of Christ by:

  1. Memorizing lots of Scripture (Numbers 6:24-26Psalm 99:5Proverbs 13:20John 17:3,Ephesians 6:11 John 1:9 are great starters for the wee ones)
  2. Listening to Scripture songs
  3. Learning the children’s shorter catechism, and
  4. Recounting lots of Bible stories to them.

These kinds of activities on a daily basis are our “building blocks”, and God’s Word is the strong foundation (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) on which we place these spiritual blocks that they will later learn to maneuver on their own as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Baking (Reasoning Stage: 9 or 10 to about 13) – Easy Bake ovens are fine, but I find the instructions on the Pillsbury box much easier to follow! Plus, I’d much rather bake something the whole family can enjoy, rather than the tiny snacks that are best for one person with the easy bake oven. Baking with my children is highly messy and fun! As they enter the elementary and middle school years, following instructions is kicked up a notch. Growing out of the playdough and building block stages of shaping and learning facts, they are now able to read and follow instructions on their own. If we were baking, I’d ask them “Did you remember to put in the eggs? How long are we to bake our cookies? In the same way, as a parent, I remind them of what should now sound familiar to them (e.g. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” Proverbs 13:20). But in this new stage, I help them learn to understand and apply what they know by asking key questions and providing prompts (eg. “Are you walking with the wise in this situation, or are you keeping company with fools?). Knowing what the ingredients are is in the shaping stage. Understanding how and when to use them is this reasoning stage.

Ride Rollercoasters (Abstract Stage: 13 through Adulthood) – Roller coasters freak me out! I’m NOT one of those persons whose excitement swells as the rollercoaster eases its way to the edge of what feels like devastation. I definitely don’t enjoy the free-fall, fast paced, frenzy that ensues over the next five minutes as my insides flip flop and my nerves rattle until the G forces release me from their pull. I think raising young adults is a little bit like this. They have the strong foundation of the Word in their hearts, they understand how to apply it to life’s circumstances, but now they need to work through living out what they know and understand (Proverbs 1:5). Life is coming at them fast and furious, and as a parent, I must go along for the ride, no matter how scary it seems to me, and trust that they will safely make it through the twists and turns of life. Their hearts have been shaped by God’s Word, and they have learned to reason from it. Now, we traverse life together and I offer counsel and wisdom to keep them from falling off the tracks.

In all these stages, we have to remember that the best gift we can give our children is the gospel.

During the bulk of these training years, we’re immersing our children in the facts of the gospel and its implications for how we are to live out each day.

– Remember God’s grace: We present various facets of the gospel appropriate to their age and ability to understand, but we must keep the gospel as center. It is the grace of God that brings salvation which teaches our children how to say “no” to the world, and “yes” to godliness (Titus 2:11-12).

– Remember you’re not alone: We should also remember that we’re not alone. God in His grace, has given us His Spirit to grant us wisdom and understanding. He tells us to ask for wisdom and He will give it to us generously (James 1:5). We have the strong, godly leadership of our husbands partnering with us as we raise our children. We also have a community of believers walking with us as we covenant together in our local bodies to raise our children in the nurture and training of the Lord.

I definitely don’t have all this down perfectly (very far, far from it!), but I’m enjoying each stage as we play playdough, bake and ride rollercoasters for the glory of God!

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The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference

It was such a joy to attend The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference with my pre-teen daughter and the women of FBC, soaking in God’s Word from amazing Bible teachers from all over the world. It was a spiritually fruitful time and I am still working my way back through many of the plenary sessions and workshops.  Take some time and have your soul enriched by listening to these sessions at the conference website.