My Favorite Posts of 2015

bible2

Happy (almost) New Year to you all.

After publishing my Top 3 Posts in 2015 earlier this week, I wanted to reveal which ones struck a chord with me this year… I mean, really struck a chord. It wasn’t an easy thing to select my three favorite posts, for I happen to know the backstory to every single one. It’s more than having a front row seat to the drama. Instead, the drama happens within your very heart and mind long before it comes out on paper.

I see God’s miracle of redemption in each one. Just last night I was telling my 14 year-old my story — the part when I truly woke up to the ugliness of my sin and grasped the beauty of the Gospel. (I was 30.) These stories here — and all the others in the Repurposed archives — boast of God’s redemption. He is healing and redeeming the world, and He does it by healing and redeeming individuals.


 

Choosing Substance: Winter Solstice | hope, redemption, the Rescue, advent | December 21

Choosing Substance: Winter Solstice | hope, redemption, the Rescue | December 21

I wrote the original version of this post in response to a mass invitation from a blogger. “Winter Solstice” was the theme. That’s all he gave us. But my goodness, what came pouring out in a short amount of time was God’s grace to me. I learned that all my hiding and confusion and shame led me to crave the Sunrise. I saw my Rescuer in a whole new way — a Sunrise who was dependable and consistent and would always come — regardless how long the night seemed to be.

When You're Suffocating in Your Own Story | surrender, the Rescue, advent | January 8

When You’re Suffocating in Your Own Story | surrender, the Rescue | January 8

When You’re Suffocating humanizes Joseph and Mary. As recent headlines told the world about the refugee crisis, my mind came back to this post. “Joseph and Mary — and the Rescuer of the world — are refugees.” Their lives were dramatically impacted by another person’s sin, but they remembered who they were. They furiously clung to their purpose. This post may resonate with you if your life looks different than you’d planned, if you’ve ever felt inadequate, or if you’re grasping for control.

And my number one favorite…

When You Need Something Bigger Than A Sunset | traveling, surrender | August 21

When You Need Something Bigger Than A Sunset | traveling, surrender | August 21

I’m sure you know what it’s like to long for something (for a really long time) and not get it. Not only do we feel sad or disappointed, but often we feel foolish for hoping in the first place. And I absolutely hate feeling foolish. I tend to overly regret in general, and feeling foolish just heaps on more shame. We say God’s ways are higher than ours. We try to believe His thoughts are greater and His wisdom surpasses ours. But when it happens — when His ways heal you far more than what you were longing for ever could — well, it sort of leaves you speechless. If you’re begging God to work… if you’re prayers aren’t being answered… if you have a tidy plan all figured out — this post is for you.


So there you go. Thank you again for reading and being part of Repurposed — this cyber community who is craving God to repurpose our lives. May you sense God’s relentless pursuit of you as you ponder how He’s healing and redeeming you.

PS – A close runner up was Choosing Substance: Fear. 🙂

photo source | Aaron Burden

Top 3 Posts of 2015

stories

“If we don’t tell our stories, our stories will tell us.” Dan Allender, To Be Told

If we don’t face our stories and ponder and process, well, then our stories will control us. We’ll be held captive by whatever drama is blowing in with the wind. But when we name and admit them, they have less power. Have you noticed that, too? I tell my kids that constructively talking about hard circumstances takes the power away from the hurt. When we willingly engage with our grief, we’re less controlled by it. And who wants to be controlled by anything? 🙂

I think we all want to be people who are aware and reflective and eventually smart in making future decisions. We learn from past mistakes, yes? The gray hairs which quietly boast of wisdom are grown from numerous regrets. They’re grown from redemption, too.

I’ve barely had a voice the past several months, and consequently, sometimes my day to day stories got the best of me. See, writing is my therapy. It keeps me in a good place. I did, however, find the courage to tell a few stories in 2015. These three here are the ones that resonated with you all the most.


 

When You're Scared to Write in Pen | hope, parenting, redemption | January 1

When You’re Scared to Write in Pen | hope, parenting, redemption | January 1

This story, When You’re Scared to Write in Pen, tells itself. It uncovers an an ever-common theme in my life: My children teach me more than I teach them. Anger, boldness, fear — this post touches on all of these themes. If you’re avoiding something or you’re blatantly angry and ready to unleash, this post is for you.

Happy Belated New Year and a Half | community, hope, parenting, redemption, surrender | August 1

Happy Belated New Year and a Half | community, hope, parenting, redemption, surrender | August 1

Happy (Belated) New Year and a Half is about being present and mindful of where you are rather than sweeping your story away and racing forward. It was born from a conversation with my then 13-year-old son in the car. Clinging to hope, this post admits I was all over the place last summer. Oh, and there’s touches of surrender, too… the hardest moments always seem to involve surrender. If you’re flirting with doubt — or it’s flirting with you — this post is for you. These words are also for those who want to believe but have lost their hope.

Goodness and Mercy Will Follow You. I Promise. | hope, parenting, scripture, spiritual formation, theology | January 29

Goodness and Mercy Will Follow You. I Promise. | hope, parenting, scripture, spiritual formation, theology | January 29

This post was born from hurts in my life and others’ lives. Struggling marriages, depression, chronic illness — these were all real-life circumstances some dear friends were submerged in last January. It’s for those crawling in the valley, for those who haven’t made it to the mountain yet. If you’re facing the loneliest of times, this post is for you.


So, based on blog traffic and post hits, these three are what struck a chord with you the most. Check back before the end of the week, for I’ll be writing about my three personal favorite posts of 2015.

Thank you for reading my blog. And thanks to those who told me to keep telling my stories even when I had walked away from the table a little too long. Thanks for your persistence.

photo source | John-Mark Kuznietsov

Choosing Substance: The Whole Story (Day 12)

A person of substance understands the whole story. 

fontcandy copy

fontcandy copy 4

fontcandy copy 5

fontcandy copy 2

fontcandy copy 3

Thank you for being part of these advent devotionals over the past 12 days. What acts, what traits, do you think are important for one who desires to choose substance?

On the twelfth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me a perspective bigger than my own story.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

…*Joy to the world, the Lord is come!


photo source 1 | Matthew Wiebe
photo source 2 | Guillaume

photo source 3 | Guillaume
photo source 4 | Avel Chuklanov
photo source 5 | Jake Melara

*song excerpt | Joy to the World

Choosing Substance: Going Global (Day 11)

worship

After I heard about these who would be sealed, I looked and saw a huge crowd of people, which no one could even begin to count, representing every nation and tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. Revelation 7:9

A person of substance is a global citizen. She knows there’s a world beyond her own backyard.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in my own story that I forget I’m a mere line in a novel that’s much, much bigger. Have you been there?

I mean, trust me, you have significance. You are known, and cherished, and loved, but you are one of billions. And with over 7 billion people come a myriad of cultures and worldviews and perspectives.

There’s comfort in knowing how big the world is. Last summer I drove through beauty and stood at the edge of greatness and remembered how small I was. In a good way. It’s freeing to know how teeny tiny your drama is… you don’t feel quite as captive to it.

If you’re reading this today, and you’re of the dominant race represented in your community, you understand how easy it is to forget this. Until we believe we’re looking at society and headlines and our relationships and our faith and even God through cultural lenses, our world stays very, very small. Even our view of the Gospel is impacted by our cultural perspective.

But God is bigger than our culture and customs. He’s bigger than what our corner of the world values. He’s bigger than our way of doing church. Thank goodness.

He descended into the mess to reconcile us to Himself… He came for those who are bound by oppression and poverty and those enslaved to consumerism and greed. He came for those who can’t find food for today and for those who are on another diet. He came for beggars and workaholics. He came for those who don’t have shoes and for fashionistas.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to me an awareness of how big His world is… how big He is… and how worthy He is of worship.

I know you’re busy. I know you’re doing last-minute Christmas preparations — there’s shopping, baking, cleaning, and wrapping (and more wrapping!). But give yourself six more minutes of solitude and be reminded of how small you are. And how big He is. (And if it’s impossible to find time today, promise yourself to come back tomorrow when there’s a moment of calm. It will be worth it.)

…*That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his blood mankind hath bought…


photo source | Avel Chuklanov

*song excerpt | The First Noel

Choosing Substance: Fear (Day 10)

fear3

As for me, I will wait for the Eternal, even though He feels absent, even though He has hidden His face from the family of Jacob. I will put all hope in Him. Isaiah 8:17

A Person of Substance knows who her real enemy is.

Oh, the irony.

When I’m scared, I withdraw deeper into myself, farther away from the mystery. My heart can’t bear the heaviness of the unknown or the weight of the worst-imagined brought to fruition.

I may be smiling if you see me out and about. Or, I may become more controlling with my kids and look anything other than fearful. But the smile and the ugly garb of bullying power — those are really just masks disguising my fear. I may look engaged, but I’m really hiding. Reality is just a little too scary, a little too unknown, so I hesitate to “go there” and put more distance between myself and the Prince of Peace.

And Satan is laughing and celebrating. It’s exactly what he wants.

Are you my companion in this? I see you and your scared eyes buried under smiles. I see you trying to control those around you.

And as I attempt to ignore reality, or control it a little too much, I wrap the chains of fear around me and my precious gift of life. I chain worry and anxiety around my friends and loved ones, too, for rarely does my sin only affect me. The enslavement to fear — oh, the bondage can last a lifetime. Fear of never rising from the past into a new identity. Fear of the spinning present that taunts with confusion.  Fear of what is not yet seen but distorted in our imaginations.

Since we, the children, are all creatures of flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood, so that by dying He could destroy the one who held power over death—the devil— and destroy the fear of death that has always held people captive.  Heb 2:14-16

And Christ descended into this mess with the plan of destroying not only our biggest fear – death – but the very source of this fear – Satan himself. Satan, the owner of doubt. Satan, the originator of confusion. Satan, the distorter of what’s real. Are you letting him have mini-victories in your life? His very purpose is to destroy you, but he’s oh, so very subtle.

My Redeemer, though, He comes and speaks truth louder than the lies that try to paralyze. He became flesh centuries ago to battle my fear in 2015. His Forever Story more powerful than the finite is my gift this Christmas. It’s your gift, too.

A person of substance knows who her enemy is. She knows who her Rescuer from fear is, too.

On the tenth day of Christmas my True Love gave to me deliverance from my chains of fear. He gave me truth that speaks louder than lies.

…*Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb…
…Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice…


Choosing Substance

  • How do you respond when you’re scared? Do you withdraw? Fight to control? A little of both?
  • When has your fear and sin hurt those around you?
  • Read Hebrews 2:7-17.
  • What fears are you needing to be released from this Christmas?

photo source | Andrew Pons

*song excerpt | We Three Kings