Made for Another World

“Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of…

A Prayer of Surrender

One of the perks of being a history major in college was finding treasures buried deep within otherwise long, laborious reading assignments! I found one such gem while working through a two-volume, nearly 1,900 page account of 19th century revivals in Wales. I was reading about one of the lesser-known traveling preachers of the period,…

The Greatest Woman

What defines a great woman, or at least a great Christian woman? I’ve been mulling over this question as I’ve recently been reading through Eric Metaxas’ Seven Women and the Secret of their Greatness. His choices of women for the mini-biography series intrigue me: Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris,…

A Refuge From the Battle

I love word pictures. Maybe it’s from growing up on hours of being read aloud to—Narnia, biographies, historical fiction—that forced me to imagine a picture painted with the beautiful strokes of words. Thus I’ve found scripture’s imagery some of the most sweet, deep comfort during difficult and uncertain times. Within the artistic masterpiece of the…

Hijabs in Panera: A Journey of Learning to be Available to the Lord

I was leaning back in a booth at Panera the other day, waiting to have dinner with a friend at church. I had my Bible out on the table and was pouring over 1 Peter when I saw them: three girls chatting happily, indistinguishable from any other college-age girls besides their black and silver hijabs,…

What Am I Supposed to Do Next? A Prayer for High School Graduates

Dear Father, The clock is ticking on my school year, and May is right around the corner. In some ways, it feels like it can’t come soon enough. School is hard and I’m tired. But I’m also nervous. May also means the end of the structured routine of high school and an endless world of…

Brown Paper Bags and Big, Round Eyes

“Everything is so familiar, but we feel so out of place.” My sister said it best when we first walked into our local Walmart after returning from two weeks in Mexico. For a few days after, I would drive down the road and half expect to see a crazy quilt of houses and shacks built…

Every Vessel Matters

It was Thursday evening, the 30th of May, 1940. The coastline of the English channel was littered with small boats … “fishing smacks … drifters … excursion boats … glittering white yachts… mud-spattered hoppers… open motor launches… tugs towing ship’s lifeboats.” Businessmen with hobby vessels were hurrying about on deck, trying to figure out how…

A Jesus Encounter

I knew the second she walked up that she loved Jesus. I had slipped out early one morning on my family’s vacation to get some time with the Lord; the haze was still floating lazily in the mountain valley where my family was staying for a couple nights. I finally settled down, my phone, Bible,…

Singing to Mountain Lions and Other Thoughts

We had just thrown down our backpacks and starting strapping on our snowshoes when the weight of our situation first hit. We had decided to snowshoe up to Crater Lake that day in an attempt to reach one of the top photography spots in Colorado. The last All Trails entry informed us that as long…

Nothing to Lose

“I was in Berlin shortly after the wall fell,” the retired pastor leaned forward in his seat. He stopped and cleared his throat, his eyes watering, as he described one of the most affecting moments in his life. The wall — or rather, the stub of what was left — was but the width of…

A Real World and a Real God

“He seemed to live in such a real world and to have such a real, great God.” Such was Maria Dyer’s observation upon meeting her would-be husband, the great pioneer missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. I haven’t been able to shake off those words. They strike deeply into the heart of the theme written across…

Straddling Cultures

“You were homeschooled too?” I had a joined a couple of our discipleship group leader girls in the cafeteria over lunch. It was as if a spark went off. Suddenly, we could share about our experiences taking co-op classes and laugh about fifteen-passenger vans (especially the ones with at least ten mini-people bumper stickers on…

Looking for God’s Edelweiss

Life at the Dotten house is pretty crazy right now. Not only did we have to pack up and move with about month’s notice, we found that our tenant ruined most of the flooring in our new house, so we’re in the major demolition and remodeling faze now. In the middle of it all, I’m…

The Pen is His

“There is a place where your fears must meet the God you know.”[1] Where is that place? It’s here. Here—as I sit at my desk, books, journals, half-written letters scattered around me, somehow reminiscent of how out-of-control my own life feels. Behind me is difficulty, those haunting memories of trials that only time can work…

Look to the Bulwark!

Imagine being inside a castle during a siege. Outside the thick, stone walls surrounding you, the enemy is shooting flaming arrows and preparing a massive siege engine to ram against your gates. Occasionally, you are jolted awake as huge boulders are catapulted against the stone walls. But despite their ceaseless attacks, you are safe. The…

Feminine Mystery

Feminine mystery has virtually disappeared. In our age of social media, disclosure and vulnerability are touted as the greatest virtues. We women are praised for our uncanny ability to post our deepest struggles and secret joys all over social media for the world to see. I’ve noticed some of the most viewed posts are when…

Courage Without

In the Newberry-award winning children’s book, Call it Courage, a small boy from the South Sea islands named Mafatu goes on a journey to find courage within himself. Terrified of the sea since the day it took the life of his mother, Mafatu was taunted as “The Boy Who Was Afraid.” Finally, Mafatu decides to…

Discipling Girls [transcript]

The following is a transcript of a talk I gave recently to the “Reaching Beyond Yourself” Bible study for middle-school girls. Today, we’re not going to talk about a 5-step system for how to build a friendship with a younger girl, or take them through a program. Let me explain by telling you two stories….