Do you know that you are Loved?

There are a few words that have become attached to me over the past years. I cling to them, exhume them, and force them to come alive in my own life until they become a part of me. “Intentional” is definitely one of those words. Far too often people have good intentions. We all want to live our best life now. We want to lose a few pounds. We want to go back to school one day. We want to get our finances in order. We want to live and pursue our dreams. We all want to love and be loved by someone.

Yet we go through life completing the same routines every day. We eat the same stuff, read the same material, watch the same shows, and listen to the same voices (in our head and outside of it). We watch the days go by and let life happen to us. That’s a passive way of living, and it does not get us the results that we desire. If we truly want to live free, then we must intentionally make choices that put us on another life course. Spiritual retreats are great opportunities to pause and reflect, and then hit the reset button on life.

Continue reading “Do you know that you are Loved?”

Awakened to Justice

Justice Awakening Book CoverI have several human trafficking engagements this month. To prepare for them, I recently completed a reading of Justice Awakening: How You and Your Church Can Help End Human Trafficking by Eddie Byun. Byun references Dr. Timothy Keller when defining the word justice. It means: 1.) treating people well, 2.) giving people what is due them, 3.) righteousness and right living in community or the right use of power, and 4.) care for the vulnerable and poor (27). I love these definitions because they echo the writings of the prophet Isaiah, and because they remind us that justice is something we learn and work at with the help of God.

I love this book because it begins where I like to begin by talking about God’s heart for justice. Good theology first begins with God. I like to challenge readers here to think deeper about what it means to live as a Christian, to follow Christ, and to engage rightly in the world. When I use words like “theology,” I am simply referring to what we know or how we think about God. These conclusions are best drawn from the Bible, and impacts the way we relate to each other and how we take responsibility for the earth we have been charged to steward.

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Special Treat: What I Learn from my Daughter about Heaven and the Theology of Butter

Ashley in ThoughtI’m over at Amy Julia Becker’s Christianity Today blog discussing one of the things I continue to learn from my daughter.

My daughter loves condiments. She squeezes massive amounts of ketchup on her fries or grits—yes, grits! She pours mountains of syrup on her pancakes. Yet, none of those indulgences compare to her love of butter. She puts butter on potatoes and bread. When I give her what I believe is a reasonable amount, she often asks for more. She makes deals with her dad for extra butter. She sneaks butter behind my back. The girl loves butter!

One day our family gathered for an afternoon meal and once again, my daughter pulled out her knife and loaded her bread with butter. “Stop! That’s enough,” I said. She smiled and licked more butter from her spoon. I continued, “Too much butter stops your heart! You’ll die an early death, and leave mommy and daddy here all sad.” No drama there! The words were meant to shock her and cause her to consider the consequences of her choice, since I am raising a curious and thoughtful little one.

In addition to being smart and quite charming, my daughter is also strong-willed and quick on her feet. She has a response for almost everything, so before I could get all of the words, “Too much butter stops your heart! You’ll die an early death…” out of my mouth, she was already preparing her comeback. She popped a morsel of her butter-filled bread in her mouth and said, “Well, why don’t we all eat more butter so we can die and go to heaven together?” For a moment, I was speechless.

Continue reading here.

Also check out Amy’s new Zondervan book release titled, Small Talk: Learning from my Children about What Matters Most.