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Life as a Choose Your Own Adventure Book

As a kid, I loved reading and re-reading Choose Your Own Adventure books to find the best possible outcome. Eaten by a shark? No problem. Return to page 65 and make a better choice. But there are no take-backs in real life. We are who we are in part because of the choices we made. 

Taking my kids around places I grew up reminds me of how my choices intersected with God’s sovereignty to give me the life I am so grateful for today. What if I had chosen a different school? Another major? What if I had dated other people or hadn’t dated the people I did? We make thousands of decisions every day, and some seemingly inconsequential choices can have rippling effects. 
I don’t often wonder about whether our kids should be growing up overseas. Someone once told us God’s will for us is God’s will for our young children, and that makes sense. But every so often I do find myself thinking about what their lives would look like on this side of the ocean. 
Like when we visit my primary school, surround…
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Comforts that Travel Well

One of my favorite moments: when a U.S. customs officer looks up, smiles, and says, "Welcome back." After days (years?) of travel, something inside me heaves a contented sigh.

The past few days, I've been collecting similar moments. Flushing toilet paper. A flight attendant with an American accent, which means neither of us are straining to understand or be understood. Driving a vehicle. Feeling cold (or anything except sweaty). Watching seasons change. Our kids splashing in a bathtub. Thick carpet under tired feet. An engagement ring back on my finger after traveling half way around the world with my parents for repair. Our kids jamming to the radio in the backseat. Silence. Setting up conversations without having to calculate time zone differences. Snuggling under a thick blanket. The joy of children seeing snowflakes again (in May). A fresh breeze of clean air. Sunlight after 6 P.M.

As we find ourselves unexpectedly in the U.S. for medical treatment, we are thankful t…

We Cannot Forgive More Than We Have Been Forgiven

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” the Lord asked (Acts 9:4).  In Saul’s conversion, the Lord revealed to Saul the depths of his own depravity, which was eclipsed by the subsequent revelation of the infinite Grace of God.   Saul, now blind, realized the extent to which he had been spiritually blind.  Formerly, he held to the law of Moses. He did not understand the wonderful love and grace of God as demonstrated on the Cross of Jesus Christ. 

God blinded Paul to force him to realize that he was already blind.  God wants us all to learn this same lesson through Paul’s story.  Believers and unbelievers are both guilty of blasphemy.  Christians persecute the Lord by disobeying Him, daily contributing to the wrath against sin Jesus experienced on the cross.  Our disobedience literally hurts our Lord.  Unbelievers persecute Jesus by serving false gods.  Believers persecute Jesus by failing to obey Him.  This truth should guard believers against hypocrisy.
Jesus did not save believers be…

I Cry Because I'm Happy

A look of alarm crossed his face as my son looked more closely at my eyes.

"Mom! Why is there a tear in your eye? Why are you crying?"

I'm not a crier, so he was legitimately concerned.

"Because God's so good to us, bud."

As the world approaches lockdown, we are all in increasing danger of myopia. So today we took some time to watch hymns sung in the beauty of nature. Every so often, it is good to remember how small we are next to everything God has created.

This song started with one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard, and continued with haunting harmonies. But watching kids of every race singing about grace that transcends all heartache: wrecked me. A little bit of Heaven on earth.

Lessons from a Life Well-Lived: On Dik-Diks, Racial Injustice, and Doing the Right Thing

Yesterday, Dr. James Njeng’ere took a car ride to heaven. I met Dr. James twenty years ago. At the time, I was an iconoclastic Christian with blue hair and a big beard struggling to understand why God let me have cancer and why the church seemed so hypocritical (later I discovered my own hypocrisy, but that’s another story).

Dr. James was my science teacher, and I gravitated to his faith and character. My senior year, the most popular teacher at our school had a moral failure. He was arrested. I struggled with the situation: the man deserved punishment, and my heart ached for him. His decisions cost him his career and marriage, and he was facing incarceration. Yet Jesus had not stopped loving him. The school advised students and faculty not to contact him. I confided in Dr. James my desire to reach out, and he suggested we go together to meet the disgraced teacher. We told him Jesus loved him, we loved him, and the forgiveness of God isn’t something we can earn. Mercy and grace are f…

Finding the Good in a World of Criticism

We live in a critical culture. This week, I have read articles criticizing: 1. a movement to send Christmas gifts to poor children, 2. a famous pastor moving his family (including several adopted children) to Asia to share the love of Christ, and 3. several charities that hold to Biblical convictions while serving the poor and marginalized. Much of the criticism of believers comes from within the church. In our house, we often say: be for everything that is good. Giving is good. Living out the Great Commission is good. Holding to Biblical convictions is good. Opposing what is good in the name of what we deem better is both judgmental and counterproductive. How can we be for what is good? We can trust the Spirit of God is leading our brothers and sisters to do what is right. We can stop thinking we have figured out the best way for everyone to do everything. The Bible includes many stories of giving and ministry that are not "sustainable". Jesus Himself fed and healed pe…

"Why Isn't Everything ON FIRE?" and the Original Water-Derived Power Source

People who don’t know where their power is sourced have probably never had to ask. Admittedly, most of my life I hadn’t the faintest idea.
When we first visited Southeast Asia, I was struck by the innumerable electrical wires tangled up like piles of fresh spaghetti on forks high in the air. I remember wondering: where does all this electricity come from? Where does it go? Why isn't everything ON FIRE? 

This week, our neighborhood has been without power six or more hours each day due to a rotating blackout schedule. We are the lucky few with a generator in our apartment complex that runs intermittently throughout the day, keeping our food from spoiling.  Friends, 95 degrees is hot with an enormous fan pointed in your direction. Without it, well, that’s another level of sanctification.
Turns out half of Cambodia’s power is generated by hydroelectric conversion. Also turns out the nations' many rivers are flowing much slower than usual due to a severe drought and record high te…