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I could still smell the healing oil on my forehead after the Wednesday night church service. It was a strangely comforting smell. The Wednesday evening Eucharist is a healing service at my church. Each week, the priest invites those present to stand if they wish. She anoints them with oil and places her hands on their heads to pray for them. Healing oil. Healing prayers. Healing touch. Healing presence. I have spent the past year in this church, slowly recovering from the spiritual exhaustion and pain inflicted by those who decided that I, a woman and a missionary, had no real voice in their world.  I arrived on the doorstep of this church as a hurting, angry, disappointed ex-missionary who was questioning just about every component of her faith. Over the course... Read more
We all have a “thing”—a certain issue, cause, or topic that taps into our passion and causes us to climb up on our soapboxes. One of my “things” is building supportive communities for women in the church. So much so that, when my husband and I were at brunch with a group of friends recently and the conversation at my end of the table turned to women in leadership and ministry, it was only a matter of seconds before I was on my soapbox.  I argued that if a male leader in the church believes that women should be in positions of leadership, but doesn’t use his power to actively work toward that goal, he is sinning.  These words were born out of frustration with a system of complacent privilege in our churches. If we don’t see or... Read more
In my previous article, I opened by clarifying that I sincerely believe gender-inclusive Bible translation always matters. Nevertheless, it matters more in some places than in others. I described four examples where gender-inclusive Bible translation makes a real difference. Below I list three more, for a total of seven. 5. 1 Timothy 4:7a This example is of a different sort than the other six. It’s more specifically about being gender-sensitive, not merely gender-inclusive, in translation. 1 Timothy 4:7a says, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths” (ESV). The ESV is here to be commended for abandoning the phrase “old wives’ tales”—an antiquated expression which both the NRSV and the 2011 NIV retain! The Greek word is graōdēs. Th... Read more
As I begin, it’s essential that I emphasize that I believe gender-inclusive Bible translation matters much more frequently than seven times. In fact, I have often made the point that the King James Version and the pre-2011 New International Versions each include more than 1,000 occurrences of the words “man” and “men” which are not found in the Greek New Testament. When I demonstrate that vast numerical discrepancy, I am driving home the point that people who claim that the New Testament has a masculine feel, and claim that gender-inclusive translation tactics do damage to that masculine feel, are expressing a truth about certain English translations, not a truth about the Greek New Testament. That is to say, gender-inclusive translations such as the NRSV,... Read more
It is 1942. The pilot steps into the cockpit, straps in, and nervously heads down the runway. This is the chance of a lifetime. Only the very best of the best will wear the coveted uniform and bear the name of this elite, groundbreaking unit. Flying straight and level simply will not cut it. The pilot pulls back on the stick, easily lifting the plane into the air. Now for the mission! A quick move forward, a tight bank to the left, pushing the aircraft to its limits as if dodging ground fire over hostile territory. Confidence grows as the pilot skillfully handles the plane, the tension flowing away with each flawlessly executed maneuver. Finally, the test is over and the plane lands. The pilot steps out of the cockpit, walks to the evaluators, and removes the helmet. She did it! S... Read more
Have you heard of the term “helicopter parent”? It is a relatively new expression used to describe an authoritarian parenting style. A helicopter parent excessively protects, helps, and monitors a child’s life, leaving no room for individual exploration, be it failure or success. Staff members on college campuses have reported an influx of young adults who are ill-prepared to join the adult world when they arrive at school. Often, they still have their parents “hovering” over them, making all of their decisions, and taking responsibility where the adult child naturally should. Helicopter parenting is often a reflection of the caregiver’s own egotistical insecurities, coupled with a belief that the child’s purpose is to ease those insecurities... Read more
This is the first article in a series examining what Christians have been taught about women in Scripture. Growing up in the church, it seemed to me that every woman in the Old Testament was a prostitute, a victim of sexual violence, or sexually immoral in some way. I thought their lives must have been so sad. When I studied at Fuller Theological Seminary, I intentionally dug into the stories of these women. What I found really challenged my ideas about Bible women. And when I began studying rabbinic commentary on the texts and looking at the original context and culture, I was able to challenge those ideas even more.  Decades into this process, I believe it is time to boldly declare that these women of the Bible deserve far better than the labels of “whore,”... Read more
This is Part 2 in a series exploring the consequences of the Fall on men, women, relationships, and the world. See Part 1.  The post-Fall declarations of “pain in child-bearing” for women and “eating food by the sweat of your brow” for men have real consequences in our everyday lives. Men and women often experience those consequences in unique ways. How do we transcend these realities in a way that is in line with kingdom redemption for men and women? How can we support each other as male and female in living out the joint creation mandate? Personally, I have felt the pain of motherhood in drastic ways, and those experiences have awakened me to the challenges many women face. I wrestle with the all-encompassing nature of this amazing responsibility... Read more
The biblical King David is commonly referred to as a “man after God’s own heart.” The Psalms are filled with his inspiring praises and heart-wrenching lamentations about feeling forgotten and abandoned by his Lord, left to languish in the hands of his enemies. Those passages of despair and righteous anger have given me permission to express my hurt to God, knowing he can handle it. But the character of David is complex, to put it mildly. We also know him as a man who made a series of decisions that caused devastating ripples in his family and in the lives of those around him. David was a violent military leader who destroyed villages when he felt it necessary. He was also charismatic, attractive, and popular with women. We also know that he was a man who fell into a... Read more
A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a wedding shower for my brother and his fiancée. They’re getting married in May. I’m so excited for them and so happy they have decided to partner with each other for life. For the shower, I shared a reflection about marriage and I thought I’d reprise it here. When my husband and I were preparing for marriage, people warned us that the first year of marriage was the hardest year. We braced ourselves, expecting the worst. And the worst never came. We had a wonderful first year of marriage! What were those people so worked up about? In the five years since then, I’ve realized there isn’t a specific year where every marriage experiences its “hardest year.” The truth is, you never know when it’s going to... Read more

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