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  Her soft voice came through the speaker on my phone, telling the podcast interviewer about the hardest years of her life. This woman has moved overseas, adopted orphaned children, begun a non-profit ministry, and written bestselling books about faith. If anyone shouldn't admit having certain questions about her faith and her God, it seemed she shouldn't. But she did. "Is a God who allows these things really good? Where is God when the worst things happen? Can I really trust Him when I don't understand?" I knew just what she meant. Our hard questions don't mean we don't believe, but they always reveal the depth of our faith. And, I've learned, they can deepen our faith if we have the courage to voice them. Suppressing them leads to a shallowness in what we believe. The questions we're afraid to voice hide our fears of what might be. Question: "Where are you, God?" Fear: He has left. Question: "Why did you choose not to answer my prayer?" Fear: He doesn't love me enough to answer. Question: "Why are you allowing this tragedy into my life?" Fear: He doesn't care that it hurts me.   This woman wrestled with God and came out changed. Stronger. More confident in her...


  It’s the calm before the storm. Or maybe, really, it’s the storm before the hurricane. It’s the week before the kids come. This week, you will decorate and plan and move furniture and make copies, the weight of expectations heavy on your shoulders and the overwhelm of to do’s at the forefront of your mind. This week you will work like crazy, wishing there were more time and wondering what this year will be like and who your students will be. Next week, children will fill these halls and sit in your classrooms, and they will look to you expectantly. The expressions on their faces will all be different, to be sure, but the emotions will have similar roots. “Will I fit in? Will they like me? Will I be safe here?” You -- yes, you -- hold the answers to their questions. While you are busy making name tags and creating seating charts, the world is entrusting you with its future. You are entrusted with the world. Each child you see on Monday morning is a piece of the collective future we will face. Each child who looks to you for acceptance and safety is a person who will make our world better or worse,...


  Scalding water beat on my back as I rested my forehead on the shower wall. The tears falling down my cheeks mixed with the water from the shower, and one was as hot as the other. I didn't want to cry -- I tried to resolve that I wouldn't -- but I'm one of those people who cries when she's angry, and this day, I was angry. I was angry at God. Sometimes my prayers are generalities, like "Lord, would you keep my kids safe today?" and some are more specific. The prayer I had been praying and keeping in the back of my mind for a couple of years was very specific. I had asked God to grant one very small request -- a request that, in my mind, He had no reason not to grant. It was small in the grand scheme of things, a minor blip on most people's radar, but one that mattered a whole lot to me. But He said no. He said no, and to be blunt and very non-spiritual sounding, I was royally ticked off. And this is why. He said no, and He didn't explain why. He said no, and then He was silent about it. He said no,...


  Each morning, the screens in my life shout and show turmoil. World leaders making threats and calling each other names. Fires ravaging apartment buildings, forcing a mother to trust that a stranger's arms will catch her infant. Rich fashion designers taking their own lives when an invisible pain becomes too much to carry. Turmoil is both the soundtrack and the screenplay of our humanity. It is in our local communities, in our nations, and in ourselves. Trouble all around, and trouble all within. Inescapable and undeniable. We are broken. Why, then, if our brokenness is universal, do we dress it up with photos carefully posed? Why, then, if it's all around, do we hesitate to bring it to the light? Why, then, if it's within us all, do we change the subject and pretend it's all fine? Our brokenness is our bond, and our bonds bring about beauty. The mother who birthed a broken child, one whose body will never function as it should, said these words to my ears today -- the unexpected will come to your life, and it will change you. Her child's broken body changed her untested faith to one that is certain, and his brokenness introduced her to others whose brokenness changed them, too. The unexpected...