5 unexpected songs to think of Jesus

Have you ever been listening to a song and you’re like, “Jesus? Is that you?” And he’s like, “Yes. Isn’t this good?” And then you’re just a sobbing mess of being seen and feeling loved. Well, this happens to me a lot. So, here are 5 examples of songs that aren’t your typical Christian song, but are so much about Jesus that you have to listen with new ears.

All I Ask of You

God loves you. Like, really loves you. On a deep, personal, intimate level. Listen to this song. You be Christine and let Jesus be what’s his name singing to you. My favorite line:

Her: Say you love…
Him: … You know I do.

Gosh, so good.

Evermore

This one rips my heart out. This one will stretch your mind a little bit because Jesus is not a Beast and he is not broken. But listen to him as his heart is breaking for the love that’s running away from him! He loves her so much, and he will love her for evermore. But he’s not going to force her to stay. That’s Jesus. His heart breaks when we leave him. His heart breaks when you leave him. But, he will love you for evermore. And he’ll stay waiting for you to return with baited breath.

Favorite line:

“Now I know she’ll never leave me, even as she fades from view. She will still inspire me, be a part of everything I do.”

Endless Night

Here we shift from Jesus singing to us singing. Jesus, this night is long and this dark seems like it will never end. I can’t return to you, not like I am. I feel so alone. You said you would be here. Where are you? Ever feel like that? I know I have. And that’s how this song starts. All the despair and loneliness that comes from feeling separate from Jesus. This is so like a psalm. But, he is here. And by the end of the song, hope.

Favorite line:
“I know that the night must end. And that the sun will rise! And I’ll hear your voice deep inside.”

This is Not Who You Are

Oh gosh. This one hits me in all the feels. In this scene, Moana is Jesus. You are Te Ka. And then Te Fiti. I don’t want to even say anything. It totally speaks for itself.

Gravity

Gravity=sin=human flesh. The things I don’t want to do I do and the things I want to do I don’t do. But there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. That’s what this song is about. Jesus is bigger than gravity.

This video of the song is the ASL interpretation. It’s very good, but it doesn’t really start until 1:04, so you might want to skip ahead.

Favorite line: Gravity, stay the h— away from me… Keep me where the light is. Just keep me where the light is.

A bonus song: Song for You

This song, I think, it intended to be about Jesus. But I think that you likely haven’t heard it. Sometimes we feel like God put us on this Earth and said, “Ok. Good luck.” But that’s not true. God never left you for one second. And in fact, he’s “spared no expense” when it comes to taking care of you. He’s done everything needed for your soul. He’s done everything possible to make you united with him. You lack no good thing. He’s loved you from the start. All you have to do it open your heart. Let this song by God singing to your heart.

Favorite line:
“Hear my song for you. I will not hold my tongue.”

Do any of these songs speak to you? What are your favorite lines? Does it make you want to go back and watch Moana? (Here’s a hint, The Ocean is God and Moana is you, most of the time. She switches to Jesus in the scene above.)

Odyssey – our weekend God journey

When we were being shown this house to see if we wanted to rent it, the landlord said, “The last renters left this fridge, so we thought we would leave it for you. But we aren’t responsible for it.” AKA, here’s a free fridge. If it breaks, I won’t fix it.

This is was and exactly what we needed. Moving is expensive and not having to buy a fridge was music to my ears. It was smaller than the fridges at my parents house. And after 4 months of 3 roommates filling it, we were starting to think about getting a freezer or something for the garage for some extra space. But we hadn’t seriously looked because, well, that’s not priority or emergency. Anyway, we’ve been blessed by the fridge and by Jesus providing for us.

Also in that tour, we asked the landlord if we could landscape or put a garden in the back yard. He did a sweeping motion with his arms that said, “It’s all yours.” Since then, my roommate and I had been dream discussing what a garden in the back would look like. What we would plant. How pretty it would be. Last Wednesday, my roommate and I were in a zoom call for our weekly Bible study and another woman was talking about how’s she’s transforming her backyard into a new oasis complete with self-watering garden beds that she built herself! Major talent. She was telling us the tale of how she filled them up this dirt this week and I ask, “How did you get all the dirt?” She explains that she has a truck and it took multiple loads to get enough dirt.

We hang up the call and my roommates turns to me, “We need to seriously talk about the garden. Do we want it?” Of course we want it. So, we start looking up flower/garden beds on Facebook marketplace. We find a nice simple and affordable one, 3ft x 6ft. The perfect size for our budget. We pause for a moment to wonder how we’ll get it home, but ensure ourselves, “we’ll make it fit.” And our Saturday plans are made. We’re going to start the morning by driving an hour away to pick up the bed, go get dirt and plants, and make a lovely garden. The perfect weekend job.

But then Friday happens. My roommates, who don’t particularly like cold cold food are sitting in their various locations around the house when I come out of my room to get a drink of water. I keep my water bottle in the fridge because I DO like cold cold things. I take a drink and think, “Did these guys turn down the fridge again?” My water was only semi-chilled. I look at the button to turn the fridge back up and the lights aren’t working. I push and push and hold and hold and push and nothing happens. The lights don’t work. “Is the fridge broken?” I open the freezer, the hotdogs are squishy. “Roommate, I think the fridge is broken.” Panic. We call our dads. One says, “That sucks.” Another says, “That really sucks.” We get our other roommate.

“Did you happen to flip a switch in the fridge? Because it’s not cold.”

“I flipped no switch. What switch could I flip?”

“I don’t know! The one that makes it not work. Just reflip the switch and we’ll be good.”

But there was no switch and the fridge was thawing and the ice cream was melting.

Back to Facebook marketplace. I find two fridges. One is immaculate – two doors, lower freezer, large, newish, 2-year warranty with free delivery. All for only $650. Then there’s another one, $300, similar to the one we currently have, except this one works. I send them both messages and the $300 fridge owner responds. She can’t help deliver it, but we can pick it up today. I ask my dad his opinion again and he’s helpful this time, ha. Given me advice on average costs of fridges and telling me which one is a good deal. And it’s the $650 fridge. But that man never responds to my messages. And the food is thawing. And then the lady drops the price down to $275. My roommates and I agree to split the cost, but how will we get it to the house? Our Bible study friend! She has a truck! Our other Bible study friend, she probably has a dolly! I text them both. They’re the best, so naturally they agree to let us borrow them. We leave the house on a mad race to get the truck, the dolly the fridge and make it back home before my 7 o’clock meeting.

We make it to the lady’s house and stand next to the fridge and that’s when I realize that 60in is actually not very tall. Like, I knew that, but it didn’t click til I was standing next to it. But, we at Sundrop Cottage don’t discriminate based on height. So, we loaded her up and head home. On the way, my roommates says, “I wonder if we can borrow this truck until tomorrow to get the flower bed.” So, she sends our friend a text and she’s gracious and says, “No problem.” We got the fridge home, and I still had 9 min left before my meeting!

Though this fridge is around 6in shorter than our last fridge, it still fits everything in with only one casualty. The ice cream. RIP. We’re all sitting around the living room and we’re happy that we saved the $250 worth of food in the fridge with a $275 fridge. We basically came out even. And God is good. But, we probably do need to get something for the garage now because we were already struggling with space in the last fridge. And then the roommate who grew up around here gets a text from a friend. She says that she has a fridge that is just sitting in her garage since she moved into this new house and will sell it to us for $100. So we ask, “How tall is it?” Not only is is taller and wider than our first fridge, but it’s better in every way. It has an ice maker. It has a side freezer. It’s newer. And it will fit perfectly in the space available to us for a fridge. Sold!

Saturday, we wake up early and head to the store for dirt and flowers. We take the truck to get the flower bed and bring it all home and make the cutest little garden.

We get cleaned up and head to get the 2nd fridge in two days. It fits perfectly in the truck. We bring it home, clean it up, fill it up and move the magnets – for the second time this weekend. Then, we move the short fridge to the garage. We make cookies for our truck friend and return all our borrowed items.

Guys, we got 2 fridges for $375. That’s cheaper than half the cost of a new fridge. It’s almost half the cost of the $650 fridge from the guy that never responded. We have so much space. We got a truck for a fridge and we were able to use it for a flower bed that most definitely would not have fit in our cars. We have friends who have everything we needed for these projects and we learned about it a few days before we needed it. We got an ice maker that just happens to have a remarkable fridge attached. We got SO MUCH ICE CREAM STORAGE! We were stopped from buying a single fridge that would cost twice as much and be half the size of the ones we have now. We were able to save the food that we just bought. And we did it all with happy spirits. It was a lovely whirlwind of what adventure do you have next for us, Jesus? And now we get to use a light stick. (Which is literally a stick we picked up out of the yard that we use to turn the kitchen light off because the fridge is so close to the door frame, we can’t get our fingers in there to turn it off. Which we might start calling a wand and saying “Lumos” when we want the lights on.)

This is long, but the point is, Jesus took care of us. In every way. In E.VER.Y. Way. The fridge. The garden. The fridge. Our spirits. The joy. Our friends. All of it. And it’s just too good of a story not to share.

A resting place

We did not decide to move to this house because of the back yard. When we looked here, it was December and everything back there was brown. There’s a huge vine thing that takes over the back fence. There’s a ginormous tree that has taken over the whole yard. It’s roots spread above ground over half the yard, killing all the grass that could grow there. The tree is so large, that the leaves fall from it and settle around my *front* door. The FRONT door. It’s in the back yard! Anyway, the rest of the yard is just weeds. Also, if you’ve seen my parent’s house, you know I grew up with a large back yard with no fences and no popular road traffic. This yard isn’t even as big as my parents front yard. And I can’t look out and just see what my neighbors are doing.

But I’ve lived here for a couple months now. And spring comes early to Dallas. I went out on my back concrete slab the other day and I was struck with something. I didn’t understand it at first. But, everything was green. It used to be brown. The weeds had been recently cut so they weren’t a fairy forest height anymore. And there were birds. So many – but not too many – birds playing in my back yard. We have woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, and those are just the ones I can name. Then, there’s squirrels and geckos. All getting life from this tree. And the birds are singing and the tree is so green. I realize that this tree is actually shading my room from the hot hot Dallas sun. And, it has a perfect branch for a tree swing. We don’t own a tree swing yet, but if we did, it would be perfect.

I never really hated this back yard or the tree, but I didn’t love it. I was kinda like, eh, whatever. But, since that day, I’ve been drawn to it. I want to go sit out there. I want to go sit out there right now just writing about it. I want to be so quiet that the birds come back and start singing. You know, God takes care of the sparrows. He makes sure that they eat, drink, have a place to live. He cares for them. This tree in my back yard is home and caretaker to so many sparrows. And I’m certainly more valuable than a couple of sparrows! The tree doesn’t just take care of the birds, but it takes care of me. It protects my room from the sun. It gives me a place to swing. And it brings me back to Jesus. I now realize that what I was struck with was the Holy Spirit saying, “Hey, Kate! I’m so glad you’re here. Look, we’ve been playing.” And I found rest.

I hope you have a resting place. I hope you can find Spirit in places you never dreamed. And in the places you’ve always longed for.

Did God send Covid-19?

Here’s something I know to be true: The Enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy. But Jesus came so you could have life, and have it to the full! To. the. full. (John 10:10)

Here’s something else I know to be true: The river of life flows from the throne of God, to you, around you, through you, in you, under you, above you, surrounding you. (Rev 22:1)

And another: God loved the world so much that he sent his only begotten son to die for it. To die for the world – a world that historically has hated him. A world that rebels against him at it’s core. A world who declared the Prince of the World to rule – instead of Jesus. God loves that world so much that he D.I.E.D. to save it. To save his chosen people AND EVERYONE ELSE. (John 3:16)

That makes me conclude one thing: God is not cruel.

What did God say? “I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you.” At his very core, Jesus cares about us. He loves us. (Jer. 29:11)

But, as I listen to people talk about Covid-19, I keep hearing one thing – “repent and God will send away this virus.” As in, “God sent it and if we don’t repent, it won’t leave.” And this just, ah, it goes against everything I know to be true. Why would a God who loves send something to destroy? Especially when he said he wasn’t going to destroy the whole world ever again, until he destroyed it with fire. (2 Peter 3:7) Why would a God who judges fairly, and declared he would judge people when they stood before him – after Jesus came back, why would that God decide to punish everyone now? Before Jesus is back and before there’s fire? I don’t think he would. Here’s why: You know what came with Covid-19? Death, loss, and destruction. Sound familiar? That’s not God’s M.O. That’s Satan’s. You know what did not come with Covid-19? Life. And especially not life to the full.

I believe, absolutely, that God is using this for His good and that those you believe Him, for those who call on His name, He is giving them life. I believe, absolutely, that people should repent. But I don’t believe that people should repent to get rid of a virus. People should repent to be reunited with God! Think of your hearts! Think of your souls. Two very precious things. Give them to Jesus. The union of your spirit with God’s spirit is the best thing that could E.V.E.R. happen to you!

Can God get rid of this virus? Of course he can. He’s not a small God. But did he send it? Impossible. He’s not a cruel God. He’s a loving God.

Should you repent of your sins? Yes, please. But, don’t do it because you’re afraid. Do it for your soul! Do it for your heart. Do it because union with God is the best thing in the entire universe that could ever be done.

Why can’t God be the correct answer?

I’ve been church hunting lately and when you meet new people in a new place they start to ask questions, “Why did you move to Texas?” “What brought you to Texas?” “Did you get a job down here?” And it’s then you start to realize how crazy your story is. “Well, actually, I don’t have family down here, my work’s head office is actually in Michigan, and my new roommate actually got a job after we found a house.”

Because the true answer is that God told us to come down here. We heard him say it, and then we followed through. So, my roommate and I talked and decided we were going to just tell the truth next time: “What brought you down here?” “God told us to.”

So we did. We went to a new church and they said, “So, why did you decide to come down here?” We look at each other: “God.” Then we explain, “We decided that was going to be our answer from now on.” “Because it’s the easy answer?” “Well, I guess. But it’s also the truth.”

She looked at me like a was a crazy person. Me! A crazy person. I never…

But why can “God” only be the “easy answer?” Why can’t we say that to people and then they say something like, “Oh, nice; me, too,” and mean it? There’s so much good behind it. Like, if you started only doing the things you heard God tell you to do, imagine the steps your life could take. Imagine the freedom you would find for yourself. Imagine the relief knowing that someone greater than you has control and you can let it go.

Do you have a time when “God told me to” was your best answer? Tell me about it below!

My Story

When I went to college, I wanted to translate Arabic for the FBI. So how did I end up doing language survey in the Deaf community? Well, God.

In high school, I took an Arabic class. And another one. And I loved it. And I loved my teacher. He was from Morocco and I’ve had a place in my heart for Morocco ever since. I loved learning the language, the ins and outs, and how many patterns were in the language. For example, the three letters k-t-b all referring to letters. By changing the vowels, you can change the meaning. Kitab – book. Maktab – desk. aktab – I write. This system works across the language with other three letter forms. It’s so cool!

High school graduation

So, I went to college and majored in Arabic and Islamic studies. Then, in my second year of college, my Arabic professor drained all the fun out of it. Turned it legalistic and soul-crushing. And I hated it. And I didn’t take a third year of Arabic. I had completed the language credits needed for my degree and so I continued to take the culture classes, but that was all.

But also during my second year, I took a course that sparked my interest – Intro to Linguistics.

After my second year of college, I went to Florida for a summer training program with the Navigators. During the summer they took us to Wycliffe’s main office and we spent a day learning about what Wycliffe did and their mission. And it was there that I felt a nudge that the FBI had enough help, and I could help bring the Bible to Bibleless people groups.

In my third year, all my favorite courses ended up being dual classes in both my department and the linguistics department. Except for my extra curriculars. I needed more credit of just random stuff, and I felt a nudge to take American Sign Language courses. I have Deaf family and wanted to be able to communicate with them, and I needed courses, and a friend wanted to learn to sign as well, so we signed up for the classes together. And I loved it. The same spark I had in my high school Arabic class came back. Did you know that many signs for group words – team, group, department, family- are all in the same location and movement, but the handshape changes? So, just like Arabic, it’s systematic!

When I graduated, I realized that I didn’t have obvious career options in mind. I had base knowledge of a lot of things. I knew I loved sign language. And I thought I liked linguistics, even though I wasn’t really sure what that was. And I knew I wanted to work for Jesus. For a graduation present, I had my parents get me a trip to Dallas so I could take part in a week long orientation to Wycliffe called TOTAL it Up! It shows you the cool things Wycliffe does, like linguistics and translation, and beyond.

My TOTAL it Up! Wycliffe group

In the doorway into the training room, they had a large sign showing all the languages left in the world that didn’t have a Bible translation. Organized by country, of course I went to Morocco first. The only language that still needed anything in Morocco was Moroccan Sign Language. And I was sold. Let’s do this. Let’s get them a Bible. So, I started asking around about sign language stuff. “Do you guys do sign languages?” “How does that work with sign languages?” “Can you get this in sign language?” And finally they asked me, “Have you talked to the guys up at SIL-UND?” I had not. I didn’t even know it was a thing. But I went back and started researching. A graduate school about linguistics that specializes in sign language?!! “Jesus, should I do this?” “Yes.”

So, May 2014, I pack up and head to North Dakota. And I have one of the best summers of my life so far. Finally, a place where most everyone was like me. They loved linguistics. They understood sign languages. They had way more knowledge about these things than me. They were teaching me how to learn new sign languages by teaching me Chilean Sign Language. I was taking sign language Phonetics! There was a system. I was getting my mind blown weekly at all the new cool things. I was in my element.

Summer 2014 Chilean Sign Language group

And then I came home. And there were no friends. And there were no people who understood. And I was working at a job where nobody saw me. And I was not good. And I gained like 50 pounds. But I applied to the Masters program at SIL-UND, I got in, and I went back for my second summer. Where I met Steve and Dianne Parkhurst. Steve taught me SL Phonology and it turns out I love SL Phonology. And I heard more about Steve’s story, how he started out wanting to do spoken language things, and he went to Morocco, and then he transitioned to sign languages and now he and Dianne are working in Spain with the sign language projects there. And Jesus says, “Go to Spain.” And I’m like, “What?” So, I ask the Parkhursts if I could come for a bit. Get some more international experience, see a real project, work on some things for them? And they say, “We have a guest room for this purpose.”

So, I go home and start planning a trip to Spain starting in January. But home is a place with no friends, no community, and little inspiration for me at this point in my life. And I’m depressed^. And it turns out, I don’t really care about going to Spain. But, I’m stubborn and I’ve already raised some money, and I’ve already told people I’m going and I’m not going to look like a fool and not go. So, I get on a plane. And about 2 weeks later, it turns out God was right all along. I needed to go to Spain. Over my 90 days there, I came out of my depression. I realized God hadn’t abandoned me. I found new friends. I loved the Spain project. I loved the people. I loved spending time with Steve and Dianne and their boys – I didn’t have brothers growing up, but Spencer and Alex are two great ones. I realized that God had placed me exactly where he wanted me, and he had been doing it for a while.

Kate in Spain, getting her heart back

Fast forward 3 more years and I’ve graduated with my Masters in Sign Language Linguistics. I wrote a thesis about Ethiopian Sign Language. I’ve visited a total of five foreign countries.

I’m a Master!

And I hear Jesus say, “Apply to DBS.” So, I applied to DBS. And then I waited. And I got an interview. And then I waited. And then I was told they wanted a second interview. And then I waited. And waited. And did I mention I waited? And about 3 months later, they actually had the second interview. And then the next day I had a third. And then I heard nothing. And then it was the new year. And I heard from a friend who was also applying for the job that he had to be in Dallas the next day to start orientation. And I had heard nothing. So I send an email, “Just checking in.” And I get back, “This email is to let you know that you have not been selected for the position.” My reaction, “What the crap?” What the crap to DBS, but also what the crap to God. Why would you tell me to apply if I wasn’t going to get the job. And a week later I see a picture of some old friends on Facebook, that they’re working for DOOR in language survey, and would we, the viewer, please pray for them? And I feel a nudge. “Go email them. Ask them if they need help.” “No, God. Last time I listened to you, things got worse.” Silence. Then a week later, “Email them.” “Fine, but just watch they aren’t going to reply.” But he did. Less than four hours later. He replied and said, “Wow! We have been praying about and looking for help in this area.”

It can’t be that easy. “God?” *smug smile* One month later, I’m on a plane to Kenya for training with DOOR in the survey department. Five months later, I’m on the field for my first official survey. Six months later, I’m officially partnered with DOOR. One year later, I’m writing this blog and planning our next two survey trips this year.

You might notice that my conversations with God grew over the years. Back in undergrad, my decisions were based on nudges. I didn’t actually hear anything. Then I started asking questions and he would respond. Then He started telling me things and I would do it. (Or not do it.) But through it all, God led me to where I am. He slowly shifted my goals, viewpoints, next steps, until they got me to where I am. And I regret none of it. And I don’t feel used. Because everything that I’m doing, I love that I’m doing it. God gave me the desires of my heart, and now he’s fulfilling them. Not everything was smooth sailing. Go read my blog post about Kenya to get a glimpse of that. But everything was worth it.

^I went into the field when I was depressed because Jesus told me to. If Jesus tells you to do something, don’t let people talk you out of it. Many of my friends have been held up by the system because other humans were afraid of their mental state. Don’t take it lightly, but don’t let other humans be your God. Talk to God, listen to him, find out what he wants, and then do it. It’s worth it.

This world is not my home

When I was a kid, my home church had a Sunday night service. As a pastor’s kid, I would go every week. These nights were much more relaxed than Sunday mornings. People in the audience could suggest songs we sing. I remember one time, we filled out Christian surveys that we had filled out like 5 years previous. There was a funny moment when one church member said 5 years ago that we has baptized when he was 14, and this time he said he was baptized when he was 13.

But a time that really stands out in my mind, I don’t know why, but I was sitting on the “other” side of the church. I typically sat on the left, but this time I was on the right. And Dad was taking song requests. Being 5 years old, I kept holding up my hand offering song number 5 as a suggestion. I didn’t really know what song number 5 was, but I wanted it played – because, hello, I was five! We matched. Now I always associate “This World Is Not My Home” with the number 5, since that’s the song I requested that night.

This world is not my home
I’m just passing through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue

The Angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world anymore

But I’ve been thinking about that song lately and I’m starting to find many other songs and movies that have the same feel. “Go the Distance” from Hercules came on my Disney radio station the other day and I was hit with how perfectly desperate it is – longing for a greater story.

I have often dreamed
Of a far off place
Where a great warm welcome
Will be waiting for me

Where the crowds will cheer
When they see my face
And a voice keeps saying
“This is where I’m meant to be.”

But that’s just it. We’re not a part of this world. Not really. We are made for greatness. We’re made as a part of an epic story. We have a great future where our Father is waiting for us to come home, so he can kill the fattened calf and put on a party and rejoice that we’re finally home with him! So we can sit on his porch and tell stories and drink hot chocolate while we look at Beauty. Because we’re children! of God! WAHH!!

Your heart longs for more, because it was made for more. Don’t give up, go after it!

4 weird life hacks

My new roommate is constantly saying, “UGH! You’re sooo logical!” With a little bit of “I hadn’t thought of it that way – good point” and a lot a bit of “be quiet!” – ha! But, it’s true. I get told that a lot of the time, actually. “Kate, you’re so literal!” And, sometimes, it’s the worst. People don’t understand where I’m coming from. They think I’m just being stubborn. Poetry is hard. But a lot of the time, I like my brain, ha. And through the years, I’ve noticed some weird things I do because my brain logicced them into being the smart way to do things. So, I wanted to share some with you.

As a friend once said – something that’s stuck with me and really meant a lot to me – “Why do you do it that way? I know there’s a reason, but what is it?”

1. paper towels and blow dryer

The quote above happened when my friend asked me why I used both paper towels and hand dryers at the same time. Well, because it dries your hands faster, and then you have something to open the bathroom door with. If I have to use just paper towels, I take three or four to get my hands dry. If I have to use a blow dryer, I end up wiping my hands on my pants, or using my shirt to dry under my watch. But, if I use both, then I only take one paper towel and the heat dries faster. Idk, it just works. Try it.

2. check the seat

I am afraid of looking like a fool. And what’s one of the most foolish things? Having something stuck to your rear because you sat on a dirty chair. (Ok, its not the most foolish, but I still don’t like it.) So, I started the “chair check” amongst my friends in grade school. I might be the only one to continue doing it, but before I sit, I look at my chair to make sure there’s nothing on it. And when it’s a toilet, I also check the toilet paper roll. This is something that you have to consciously do until it becomes second nature. I’ve been saved countless times because of a small glance.

3. my underbite

Ok, this one’s kinda funny. The other day, I was talking with my sister and we were talking about underbites and overbites. She said, “But you do have an underbite.” And I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. The thing is, I don’t have a natural underbite. I have an overbite.

Once, when I was a kid, I was at the dentist and he was talking to my mom over my head about my teeth. He said, “and her overbite isn’t too bad.” And I thought to myself, “If I make myself have an underbite (aka, over-correct), I bet my jaw will start to move forward and eventually sit where it’s supposed to. Then I’ll stop the underbite and have my teeth sit correctly.” So, I started pushing my jar forward, training it to sit where it’s supposed to. And now, all these years later, I still have an overbite. But, you can often find me sitting with an underbite because of the habit I formed.

(I recently learned that your teeth keep growing to meet each other, so if a bottom tooth were removed, eventually, the top tooth would grow down to fill up that space. This is one thing that would have been useful when I decided to practice an underbite. That aside from moving my jaw, I also need my teeth to grow longer, or I can’t chew my food…)

4. Wish list

I like to get people gifts. Sometimes, people tell me, “How did you know I wanted this?” “I’ve been wanting one of these for a long time!” I’ll tell you my secret, they told me. We were hanging out and they mentioned something like, “you know what I need? A picnic basket.” And then, here’s the hack, I go to my Amazon account right then and I add the item to a wish list I created called “Friend’s gifts.” I made it a private wish list so no one else can see it, and then in the notes, I add their name. And they sit there until the perfect occasion comes up. I don’t always buy the items from Amazon. Sometimes I go to more affordable/cute places and get it there, but it’s a list with pictures – and they’ll ship it to the person’s house if you want to surprise them!

Conclusion

These are weird things. Like, who does that? But also, they’ve trained me in a lot of ways. Like, a little bit of consistent conscious decisions trained me to second-naturely look at a chair before I sit. And, a little bit of listening and acting immediately got me to connect with people on a deeper level. Also, over-correcting something doesn’t fix a problem, it just creates a new one.

So, when you want to be more like Jesus, make some consistent conscious decisions until it becomes second-nature. When you want grow closer to your friends, listen to them and start praying immediately, not when they’re gone, not after you said “I’ll pray for you” or “Praying” – do it now. In front of them. And when you’re wanting to correct an area of your life to look more like Jesus, don’t go crazy off-kilter and become super religious or super demonic, just do what Jesus would do.

Do you do any of these? Let me know in the comments below!

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What is Scripture Engagement?

How often do you read your Bible? How often do you hear a Bible verse?

I don’t ask these things to call you out, but because that’s what scripture engagement is. The amount of time or ability one has to engage with scripture.

Scripture use (slightly different than scripture engagement) is everywhere in the USA. We see scripture everywhere. First, we have the Bible, then we have bible studies, we have commentaries. Church, sermons, podcasts, and books written by pastors. We have home decor, signs, tapestries, towels, floor mats, shower curtains, car decals. Bracelets, necklaces, socks, t-shirts. I even bought an egg carton once with a verse printed on it. These are all ways that we use scripture here. And, therefore, they are all ways that you can engage with scripture.

But this is natural. We’ve had a Bible in English for longer than any of us has been alive. We’ve had wars and splits and unions because of it. Our nation was founded on ideas from it. It is ingrained in our culture (maybe not 100% accurately, but it is still there.)

This is not always the case. This is not always the culture. This is not always the reality.

I recently visited a country in central Asia where the main religion is Buddhism. I got off the plane and into a car and the first thing I was greeted with was an idol sitting on the car dash. As the day progressed, I saw wild cattle roaming the streets, living off street trash like a wild dog because it’s against their religion to keep and kill cattle. One day, we’re taking a taxi and the driver pulls the van over to the side of the road where a little hut with a large idol is sitting inside. He goes up to it, prays to it, takes some ashes out of a little tray and proceeds to rub them on his forehead and the hood of the van. I remember waking up in the morning praying against evil spirits and inviting angels to surround me, not out of habit, but because I could feel the evil near. One local friend told me that he was terrified of his family’s religion. The Evil that he encountered at home made him tremble.

Here you can see a street cow on the left

In other words, there is practically no scripture use in this country in public. Which means that scripture engagement has a whole different look to it. In fact, if someone wants to engage with the Bible, they have to actively go against their native culture.

Now imagine that for your entire lifetime, you grew up without a Bible. No Bible culture, no verses hanging around town, no old ladies shouting Bible threats to you. (Still shouting threat, just not Bible ones) And then all of a sudden, these nerds come to your town, start handing out a book and telling you to read it. Why would you read it? Think about it, why? It goes against everything you know.

That’s a real issue Bible translation faces.

“Cool. You wrote a book in a language I use. Have a nice day.” -Native Speaker with a new Bible

I’m not an expert on Scripture Use/Engagement, but it has become a part of my job. And what I’ve learned so far is that we need to learn more about how to make Scripture Engagement and Scripture Use a more realistic part of a community’s daily life if we want our translations to have a hold and reach hearts.

So, the definition of Scripture Engagement is fairly easy – being involved with and using scripture as a part of your regular life. But being able to get someone to that level, much harder.

(Disclaimer: Scripture Engagement in spoken languages is lightyears ahead of where it is in signed languages. Like I said, I’m not an expert, and I can’t speak for spoken languages, but signed languages need more Scripture Engagement/Scripture Use work, pronto.)

P.S. I had a great time visiting this country. The people were fantastic and I made a new good friend. Also, I felt closer to Jesus than most other places because I had daily reminders of my need for him. Don’t not go somewhere just because their culture is different. Use their perspective to grow closer to Jesus. I would hate for you to read my description and then be scarred. The same power that rose Jesus Christ from the dead lives inside of YOU. Use it and go forth.

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The Dame

My love for Julie Andrews is somewhat unexplainable. I just love that dame (a female knight – literally.)

But recently I was blessed to go to an Evening of Conversation with Julie Andrews. And as I walked into the beautifully adorned Chicago Theater while the music from the ball sequence when Cinderella walks into the palace plays, it suddenly hits me: beauty. Beauty is what a love about Julie.

When the helicopter rounds on her in the mountains and the orchestra rises to meet it at the beginning of The Sound of Music: beauty. When the father is able to show his children love again because of his life lesson from Mary Poppins: beauty. When she tap dances the elevator up and down as a roaring Thoroughly Modern Millie: beauty. When she sing-speaks in Princess Diaries 2 like a whisper of her golden days: the sweetest hint of beauty.

I once had a friend tell me, “She’s not really that person you know.” “I know.” “The woman in those movies – that’s not really her.” “I know.” “She’s not really like that in real life.” “I know.” And I do know that famous people are not the characters they play. But just like Hanson is my favorite band because of Jesus, Julie is my favorite actor because of Jesus. Jesus uses her to lead me to beauty.

Jesus/God/Holy Spirit is the most beautiful thing – ever. E.V.E.R. Sunrise over the mountains? Breathe taking. Timelapse in high def of the stars moving through the sky? A jaw-dropping wonder. A thundering wave making a perfect circle as it crashes in on itself? There are no words. Women? Holy Smokes. But compare them to Jesus and they can’t even hold a flame. So minuscule.

Jesus likes to show us parts of him and that’s why we have so many stop-and-stare-glories on Earth. He likes to show off his beauty, his generosity, his power, his gentleness, himself. So he’ll use whatever he can to make that happen. And for me, he uses Julie Andrews. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch her singing “Your Crowning Glory” in Princess Diaries 2, I cry every time. Just thinking about it now I have tears rolling down my cheeks.

What’s Jesus doing to show off for you these days? Think of the things you love most, I bet he’s there.