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    The State of Refugee Resettlement in 2019

    “This isn’t a school, it’s a family.” Those were the words of one of my Muslim refugee students at the end of our English classes one year. She hugged me warmly and when we said goodbye, I wasn’t saying farewell to a student, but to a friend. Not every refugee is as fortunate as my friend. Many are languishing in camps, waiting for a solution to their displacement.  The refugee crisis has faded into the background in the West in the midst of Brexit, a U.S. government shutdown, a changing political landscape, and other localized crises. So you may believe one of these misconceptions about refugees: 1.    Misconception: The world refugee…

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    Reclaiming Biblical Truth about Mary, the Mother of Jesus

    With apologies to those who have always held her in high regard, I’ve always felt a bit squeamish about focusing on Mary, the mother of Jesus. I grew up Protestant in a largely Roman Catholic area of the Southwest. Even today, while religious affiliation has diminished, in my hometown of El Paso, Texas, 43.2% identify as Catholic and 42.3% identify with no religion. The remaining 14.5 per cent of residents are divided among Evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and other groups. As a Methodist girl curious about Mary in my largely Catholic community, I noticed she was frequently adorned with a halo in many paintings and icons. I was guilty of…

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    God’s Sovereignty and Mattresses

      The truths from the Word I learned a few years ago continue to challenge me to trust God: "Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like Me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire." Isaiah 46:9-10 (NET Bible) I chuckle at the mattress commercials that say “Replace in eight.” How about “Just broken in, in ten” or “A taste of heaven at eleven.” However we decided to go with “Worn plenty in twenty” and replace…

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    To Tell the Truth: Integrity and Social Media

    The United States has just past through a particularly contentious news cycle. What about in your country? Are people working out problems or are they viciously debating issues and name calling? I wrote this post several years ago, but its message still seems necessary today: Are you like me? Controlling my words is an area where I have to be vigilant. Lately negative social media posts are on the upswing, and lies and exaggerations are not uncommon. The “share” button is another potential pitfall. I am convinced that words matter—whether spoken or written. Psalm 34:12-14(NET) challenges me: Do you want to really live?  Would you love to live a long, happy…

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    Confessions of a Control Freak

    Recently, I got to be the crazy lady at the car wash. Ever wonder what happens if you go through an automated car wash without putting your car in neutral first? You go flying through that baby like a bat out of the netherworld. I kept thinking, "Hmmm, I don't think I've ever gone through a car wash this fast before" and, "Gee, I sure am catching up to that other car quickly." The attendants turned off the car wash and had me pull my car back out and try again—in neutral. I gave the attendants their adrenalin rush for the day. Me? I got so tickled about the whole…

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    Waiting with Hope in a Gelatin World

    I’ll be honest. National and world affairs burden my heart. Yes, the world changes constantly, but in recent years the Arab Spring, Brexit, and the election of unexpected leaders in a number of countries have rocked our world. Just last week elections in the Republic of Zimbabwe led to violence. What issues weigh on your heart? I work with refugees. While refugee admissions are at decades long low in my country, there are 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, according the UN Refugee agency. The dire circumstances of so many burdens me. What people inhabit your personal concerns? Wayward children, a sick friend? Do you have significant personal desires that…

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    Bottling Civility: Talking Respectfully About Tough Topics

    This blog first appeared over a year ago. I find that I need the message it contains even more than when I first posted it: "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1:19 How can we talk about controversial topics in a meaningful way? I’ve witnessed or been in on some contentious discussions in the last several months. Some on Facebook have included profanity and name calling—and this among believers. On the other hand, I have the privilege of participating with a small, but diverse group of believers in some mind-expanding discussions on potentially explosive topics. Our…

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    Listening: An Antidote to Polarization

    Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19 (NET) I visited the National Museum of African American History & Culture last week—I and thousands of other people—and the experience overwhelmed me. The upper floors of the museum celebrate the significant contributions of African Americans to every sector of our culture. But the three-floor basement of the museum documents how the powerful have dominated the powerless in our country. For example, when enslaved people were finally freed in the U.S., compensation was given—but not to the slaves who had put in a lifetime of uncompensated labor. Instead, slave…

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    Are You Too Busy for a Treasure Hunt?

    The Lord’s words are absolutely reliable. They are as untainted as silver purified in a furnace on the ground, where it is thoroughly refined. – Psalm 12:6 (NET) As a child growing up near Mt. Franklin in El Paso, Texas, I heard a legend about a stash of silver hidden in a cave on that peak. When my mother drove me close to the mountain, I used to study it, straining to catch a flash of sunlight against metal. Recently, workers in Spain found an actual treasure—pots of Roman coins—as the laborers prepared a building site for construction. Archeologists estimate the worth of the coins at millions of Euros. In…

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    Time Out: Time Management and Wise Living

    How’s your schedule? Are you looking for things to do? Are your days full? Or are you feeling buried by the demands of home, work, and church commitments? Commitments in my life tumble on top of each other in April through June. So when a drastic drop in temperature canceled a lunch picnic last Saturday, I breathed a sigh of relief. Even without the picnic, activity filled the day as I prepared for a dinner. I shopped, chopped mountains of vegetables, put casseroles in the oven and scrubbed dishes. As guests streamed in the front door, I was spot cleaning the kitchen floor with a wet paper towel and wished…