At the start of each new year, we like to choose one word. A guide or theme for the year, so to speak. Something to give us focus in the ebb and flow of life.

Our word for 2015 was “Strengthen.” We wanted to become stronger; we also needed strength. In retrospect, it was a hard, dark year marked by the unexpected presence of Post Partum Depression, but we did receive all the strength we needed to get through it.

For 2016, we are choosing the word, “Moments.”
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Today I turn 35 years old. It’s a milestone birthday of officially being in my mid-thirties. Or as our friends pointed out to this morning, it’s halfway to “three score years and ten” (which is mentioned by the psalmist in Psalm 90:10 as the length of a normal lifespan). As I reflect on how I feel at 35 years old, I notice the tension I feel between disappointment and gratitude.

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I’m looking forward to growing older. One of the reasons is the potential for personal growth. When I reflect on the past year, I’m surprised by how much I learned. The idea of being able to continue or even accelerate that growth for the next 5, 10, or 25 years is very exciting. On the other hand, I know people who are older who seem to have stayed stagnant for many years – every time I see them they seem to be the same. The idea of not growing or changing over time is depressing to me.

The new year is a sensible time to make goals and plans. Do you have a personal growth plan for 2016? If not, here are 4 practical steps you can take to develop one.

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It’s our anniversary today. Seven years ago we celebrated the beginning of our marriage with friends and family. In the weeks leading to this anniversary we have been reflecting on some of the things we’ve learned about marriage since our wedding day. Here are 7 things we’ve learned in the last 7 years of marriage – most of them in this seventh year.
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There were many difficult things about the first year with two children. There was the adjustment of trying to split our attention to meet the needs of both kids. There was the challenge of trying to get sufficient rest when they’d take turns being awake during the day and then take turns waking us up at night. There was the strain on our marriage and trying to stay connected when each of us barely coped with our own responsibilities. There was the seemingly futile fight against germs as colds got passed around and around in the winter months. But as I thought about it, I realized that the hardest part of the transition for me wasn’t something external. It was asking for and accepting help.
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If there’s one lesson I am constantly learning and re-learning in my life with God, it’s how to rest. Every time I think I’ve got it, I am confronted with another application, another dimension, another depth or angle to which I need to learn to apply the lesson.
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Father’s Day is officially two weeks away and many people are thinking of gifts to get their fathers (or husbands, if their kids are too young to get gifts). What makes a good gift for a father? As I was thinking about what I’d like, I came up with three factors that make a gift superb.

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Daring to be Dangerous

olive chan —  April 27, 2015 — 2 Comments

“Are you a dangerous woman? PROVE IT.” Such were the opening words for the invitation to the SheLoves Magazine event I received. My first thoughts: “I’m NOT a dangerous woman. And who are you to ask me to prove it?!”

And yet, I RSVP’d “Yes,” bought my ticket and marked it in my calendar.

I went because I wanted to meet these women in person. I’d wanted to meet them for the last year and a half. These were the women who had agreed to publish my amateur writing on their incredible online magazine. These were the women whose writing, lives and hearts inspired me in my journey. These were the women who I’d become online friends with through likes, shares, comments and private messages.
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[This guest post is by Cindy Brandt, who is generously offering her new book “Outside In” for FREE. Details at the bottom of this post.]

“If the Christian is too busy to stop, take spiritual inventory, and receive his assignments from God, he becomes a slave to the tyranny of the urgent.”
~ Charles Hummel

The city we served in as missionaries had a population of 13 million people. We joke that it’s the biggest city no one’s ever heard of. Let’s assume Jesus had a good model of leading 12 disciples. In order to make disciples of 13 million, doing the quick math, we would need 1.08 million Christian leaders. At the time we were serving, our organization had a whopping 60 members! Anyone who has ever served in any capacity in ministry can tell you: The needs are unrelenting. There is always more, more, and more to do for ministry staff and volunteers.

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No, I’m not Jesus. But I am practicing resurrection. Before I explain, let me give you a bit of backstory.

About a month ago, I had the fortune of attending a one-day retreat facilitated by a former professor of mine. It was the first time I was away from Kayla (who was almost 8 months old) and I was nervous about how she would do. I knew, however, that I needed to go to this retreat because my soul was in desperate need of care. Kayla did great. And I was refreshed and inspired.
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