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  Grief has swept our nation, and my own heart is still tender. Last week, a teenager not much older than the students I taught massacred 17 people by shooting them in cold blood. Then he got a snack at McDonald's. Every day since this tragedy, the news -- both official sources and the ever-growing social media kind of news -- has been filled with a nonstop dissection of how it happened and why it happened and how to prevent it from ever happening again. I have many opinions, to be sure. The maternal side of me has thoughts, as does the former educator. The rule follower in me who sees things in black and white has her opinions, but so does the always-questioning woman who has grown adept at playing the devil's advocate. But today, the opinion I will allow to have a voice comes from the most important person in me -- the Christ follower. She, today, is the one who will speak. And this is what she will say: It is not enough for us as believers to simply say, as the wide-sweeping solution to this tragedy and those of its kind, "This world just needs Jesus." If I have read that statement once from...


  I need to share this message with you without being critical, accusatory, or dismissive. I've wrestled with it myself for some time now, and I pray it's marinated enough in my soul to move into yours with grace. We -- the ones who follow Jesus and declare to the world we are His children -- we must stop saying "God is good" only when good happens in our lives. When we declare His goodness and proclaim it only in times of personal blessing, we give the world half the story, and we build them up to believe a lie that could ultimately bring them devastation. You see, they are asking, "Is God good?", and they are silently wondering, "Could He be good to me?" Our own responses impact their understanding. God is always good, not only when we see it. God is always good, not only when we feel it. God is always good, not only when we are blessed. Jesus Himself declared, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). An undeniable part of following Christ is being troubled in this life. We will be - are guaranteed to be - misunderstood, rejected, abused, and outcast....


  If there's one thing I've learned about women in my own 37 years, it's that we feel immense pressure to be more than we can actually be. I'm not suggesting that we're not capable and intelligent and able to do great things; I'm suggesting that we are actual human beings with a limited amount of time, energy, and mental capacity, and it's time we stop feeling shame for having these limitations. It's who we are, and it's how we were created to be. Like it or not, it's the truth. We cannot do it all. And those are the five words we all need to keep telling ourselves: "I cannot do it all." Somehow our culture has created and perpetuated the myth of the superwoman, a woman who magically accomplishes everything she ever dreamed of and who stays in a great mood while doing it. Nope. She doesn't exist. The world around us expects us to be: skinny well-dressed intelligent but not threatening or dominating amazing housekeepers knowledgeable but not over-opinionated gourmet chefs who only use organic, home-grown produce   And it expects us to have: flawless skin, accentuated by perfect makeup flat stomachs, even after kids the wardrobe of a fashionista a side business in addition to our...


  This summer, I will celebrate my fifth wedding anniversary. Five years with a man I never thought I'd find; five years of love I never believed I'd experience. You see, this marriage isn't my first. And neither is a fifth wedding anniversary. I was married before, for ten years. But that marriage ended badly, and we divorced. As I was thinking about all of this recently, it occurred to me that I should be afraid of this marriage. I should be afraid of what will happen; afraid of more unexpected hurt; afraid of it ending badly. I should be afraid now and should have been afraid five years ago. But I'm not, and I wasn't. And that's only because of grace. This is what grace does: it supernaturally erases what should be and replaces it with what cannot naturally happen. What should exist in my life and marriage? Distrust. Anxiety. Paranoia. Assumptions. But what do I have? Peace. Confidence. Trust. None of this is because of anything I've done, apart from following Jesus. I have not had to learn to trust my husband or to practice confidence in our marriage. No - I've been gifted with these things. I have received them just as surely as I...