Sign up for my newsletter and get a free chapter from English Lessons! Click here.

this is a page for

Category: Faith

When You Study the Bible for a Living

A few weeks ago my community group at church discussed this question: What is your relationship with scripture right now? I thought about it for a while and said, “It’s complicated. Scripture can feel like my job sometimes.” I study the Bible for a living. A lot of my freelance work over the years has been in the religious publishing sector. Right now, I contribute monthly to a women’s devotional site. I am working on a study guide for a Christian book releasing next year, and I blog weekly for a Bible study company. All of this work…

Jesus the Idea, Jesus in the Flesh

I feel like I can go long stretches of time where my faith is based on this idea of Jesus, but not really the person of Jesus. As if who he was was this wonderful collection of love and peace and wisdom. A formless mass of goodness. And then, someone will say something or I’ll read something or I’ll get a really vivid picture of a story in scripture and suddenly, Jesus is real. He is still love and wisdom and peace, but he is also flesh and bones and particles and molecules. He is human. Today our…

What Happens When We Love Others First, And God Second

by Alyssa DeLosSantos Dear Younger Me, I see you caving under the weight of all you are trying to get “right.” You are worn out and discouraged from trying to earn your worth. You may bristle at what I’m about to say because these words might feel like an ill-fitting garment, but I’m begging you to lean in and listen carefully so you can experience freedom from the grip of striving and unbelief. It’s not all up to you. That’s a lie you have believed far too long. You don’t have to prove you…

Look Past the Clearance Jesus

by Sarah Brooks *** If you were to Google stock photos of Good Christian Teenagers, my high school yearbook picture would show up. I was the World’s Best. Someone needs a volunteer for the mission trip? Camp? Retreat? Bible study? Prayer team? Small group? Sign me up. There’s a new ministry? It’s called Ignite? Elevate? Revolution? Engage? Impact? I’ll be there. I grew up in a church culture unlike my parents’. My parents’ generation was all about the do-do-do. They had to do enough to be saved (or not…

When Doing Everything Right Is No Longer…Right

by Devi Duerrmeier *** It was a solid concrete mass of a highway that got you there. Straight on Highway 412, a right onto Holly Street and then a slight left on West University Avenue. On the left across from the cathedral is a graveyard. Concrete tombstones dotted the green field, there were trees and a gravel path that wove between the plots. You went there to run and to think, brown and red leaves crunching under your feet in the autumn and frozen air burning up your lungs in the winter. It was a quiet place for your thoughts. No…

The Difference Between Worshiping God and Worshiping Comfort

  by Jordan Harrell *** Dear 19-Year-Old Me, You’re probably wearing a t-shirt and baggy sweatpants, a ponytail wagging back-and-forth as you bee-bop around your Christian university in between chapel and the campus center. The whole concept of “college” as an educational experience is beyond you, but you sincerely enjoy it nonetheless. Yours is a good place full of good people. A safe place. You are good at being safe. What you lack in social skills you make up for in kindness and wit. You have enough of a wild streak to make you…

How to Squeeze Hope into a Life Ridden by Fear

by Kaitlin Wernet *** Dear 16-Year-Old Kaitlin, We’re going to Sea World! Younger self, if we could cross paths at the same time, that’s exactly where I’d take you. We’d sit on the hot bleachers, watching seals wave hello as we welcomed memories of your first time there. You were four and it was the dreamiest preschool school field trip idea imaginable. Wearing your favorite denim jumper, it was finally your turn to experience the whale-shaped ice cream sandwich you’d been waiting for. But that’s not the part that stands out, is…

When You Trust God with Some Things, But Not Everything

by Hanna Seymour *** Dear Hanna, Last night was a big night for you. It’s taken years for you to get to this point and it finally happened. You love God. You genuinely desire to seek His will for your life. You try to obey Him, you want to be more like His Son, Jesus. You’re doing all the things you know to do to live a life that pleases Him. But last night you finally identified a lie that Satan has been feeding to you for years. A lie that he has been working into your heart and…

The Devastating Effects of People-Pleasing

  by Sharon R. Hoover *** “Sure, I can be there.” Ugh, I did it again. With my undiagnosed-people-pleasing nod, I agreed to help with another event on campus. It’s not that the outreach was wrong but the screams of an overbooked schedule reminded me of my limitations. Although college was three decades ago, I still recall how time ranked as my most precious commodity. A heavy course load, lab work, ministry involvement, and additional campus life clubs filled every minute of the day. Life careened from class to meetings to social events to more…

Introducing: Notes to Your Younger Self

What is an aspect of your faith that you struggled with in your past? Was it doubt, people-pleasing, trust? If you could go back to your younger self who struggled with those things, what would you tell her? What have you learned since then? What has God taught you? What have others taught you? What has experience taught you? For the next several weeks we are going to be talking about this on my blog. If you could write a note to your younger self, what would it say? English Lessons is largely a note to my younger self…