O Come Let Us Adore

I dreamt of the end of the world.

It was Advent, so naturally, Amy Grant”s and Michael W. Smith’s Christmas albums were in our six-CD stereo on repeat. I was long past the age of standing on the couch, belting out my own falsetto with the dramatic choir numbers, but the familiar hymns still got me to sing along. I knew every word.

We baked cookies that day, the sugar kind. This name always catches me off guard a bit – aren’t all cookies sugar cookies? I’ve yet to meet a (true) cookie that isn’t sugary. Icing bags strewn around the kitchen table, rogue sprinkles bouncing on the wooden top. I tried too hard to make mine look professional (my mom’s were always perfect) and hyperbolic tears welled up in my eyes when I couldn’t get a few just-right. But the joyousness of the season kept the dampness at bay. We arranged the cookies on trays to take to church for Christmas Eve munching and cleaned the kitchen.

Holiday baking is still a joy of mine.

The rest of the day was probably filled with other preparations, but I don’t remember what. We probably said prayers as a family and I walked upstairs to my bedroom. I mostly likely turned on the light and pulled out my latest book and read until far too late in the evening before finally turning out the light and going to sleep.

All of a sudden, voices were singing loud and clear, like the jolt of sitting in a dark theatre and hearing the strong opening notes for a symphony or musical.

Sing, choirs of angels. Sing in exultation. Sing all ye citizens of heaven above.

The scene unfolded before me: brilliant colors everywhere. Volcanoes erupting. Simultaneous terror and awe.

Glory to God, all glory in the highest.

Everything was opening up, nature was exulting its creator.

O come let us adore him, o come let us adore him. O come let us adore him: Christ the Lord.

I woke up, a little more frightened of the night. But, strangely comforted and a little sad the brilliance had ended.

In Advent, we celebrate the coming of Christ. But not just the sweet baby in the dirty manger surrounded by animals and their unpleasant smells. We also look to the return of that king, no longer in his chosen humility, but instead in his kingly splendor. We look to the return of creation’s author.

What a blessing it is that the humble appearance of Christ took our shame and robed us in glory so that on the day of his return in glory, we have no need for fear. Instead, we may lift our voices with the choir in pure joy. The day is drawing near – who needs to hear of the humble in order to rejoice with the splendor? Share your joy today?

Verses for Meditation

Psalm 86:8-9 (AMP)

There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord,

Nor are there any works [of wonder and majesty] like Yours.

All nations whom You have made shall come and kneel down in worship before You, O Lord,

And they shall glorify Your name.

1 Chronicles 16:32 (AMP)

Let the sea roar, and all the things that fill it;

Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.

Luke 21:36

But keep alert at all times [be attentive and ready], praying that you may have the strength and ability [to be found worthy and] to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man [at His coming].”

2 Corinthians 1:20

For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are [all answered] “Yes.” So through Him we say our “Amen” to the glory of God.

Philippians 2:6-11

Though [Christ Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In Darkness

One of my husband and I’s greatest joys in parenting has been taking our kids on adventures. Specifically, the outdoor kind. Missouri is known for its incredible cave systems, so one lovely fall day we decided to dip our toes into spelunking.

As the loving and protective mama bear of our tribe, I packed all the recommended items including three flashlights and one helmet per person. Halfway to the state park, however, we realized we were down to 1 ½ flashlights per person thanks to the unpacking skills of our youngest. But, we shrugged it off patting our trusty cellphones with flashlight capability (millenials, amiright?)

After a brief walk along the trail, we climbed down the cool steps and donned our helmets for the 166-foot walk to the end of Connor’s Cave. Once in the tunnel, I felt both the thrill of underground exploration and the terror of being a mother to small children. With the youngest in the backpack, I kept a solid grip on my preschooler’s hand. 

In a dry spot, in between groups of fellow spelunkers, my husband suggested an unnerving but valuable experience. We held hands and turned off the flashlights (don’t worry, we had them strapped tightly to our wrists!) so we could experience total darkness. After about a second our older boys cried out. They didn’t like the feeling and wanted to turn back. We kept talking and holding their hands, assuring them we would keep them safe.

They pushed through their fear and kept going.

Our family values debriefing, so later, while walking another trail in the park, we asked the boys if it was worth it. We received a resounding YES. Our follow-up questions were meant to provide an opportunity to process and build problem-solving: What scared you the most? What could we do if we lost our flashlights?

As the summer sunshine fades and days get shorter and gloomier, I encourage you to process the darkness. Where is there darkness around you? Is it in your own life? A loved one’s?

Sometimes the flashlights are off for just a moment, and sometimes we fear the potential, but we can’t know what it feels like in the dark until all the flashlights are gone.

Identify the flashlight. Name the people who are a beacon of light in your life or be the flashlight to someone whose darkness is deeper than yours. Because only through joining hands and experiencing it together can we remind each other of the light of Christ and fight back against the powers of darkness.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

Questions for Reflection:

Have you ever been in a cave or out on a starless night and experienced total darkness?

Have you ever felt like the flashlights were out and then realized you were just closing your eyes?

Have you experienced total darkness in your life?

To what or whom did you turn for help?

Where is the darkness winning right now?

Who can you hold hands and fight with?

Suggested Flashlight Activities

Listen to Living Water and experience Scripture (Ephesians 6?).

Leave your Bible open in a space you walk by often and read it throughout your day.

Call a friend.

False Bird of Paradise

I visited the Missouri Botanical Garden for the first time earlier this month. A lovely friend had tickets for the Children’s Garden inside, so we took our three-year-old daughters and 9-month-old(ish) sons. The day was absolutely wonderful, full of exploring, giggling, and a little bit of getting lost. We didn’t spend much time in the rest of the gardens, but we did take a short walk through the Climatron, a geodesic dome dedicated to propagating tropical plants. One plant caught my eye: False Bird of Paradise (Heliconia stricta). This plant’s name – its essence – is dedicated to being the “false” of something else.

As any good millennial will do, I got home and Googled to learn more. According to bioexplorer.net, “the False Bird of Paradise is so remarkable that once you’ve seen it, you will never forget it!” An unforgettably beautiful plant…identified as a fake.

I grew up in a tropical area, and I can vouch personally for the beauty of real Bird of Paradise plants. But I am confused as to why the also-beautiful Heliconia stricta lives in its shadow.

My original picture of the sign.

How many of us are content being a false bird of paradise? Insecure and unsure of who we are, we scroll, click, copy, shop, and rearrange in order to match someone else’s standard. One drawback to our uber-connected world is that we’ve got a million apps to track everyone else’s opinions on everything from beer to hikes. Now, some of you might be thinking, Oh no, Molly. I do what I like. I hike where I like. I make new recipes that don’t have any stars and if I’m the only one that likes it I don’t care. Good. I’m happy for you. Sometimes I have your confidence. But too often I make choices and second guess them.

God made me who I am. Yes, I am sinful. I have flaws in my personality. But that doesn’t take away from the unique preferences, thoughts, and quirks he gave me. He made those parts of me, and he wants me to live them out to glorify him. When I am constantly modeling my life after someone else, I am missing my God-given purpose.

But Jesus came to die for this, too.

Jesus died to redeem all of us. He redeemed people who value adventure and the outdoors. He redeemed people who would rather curl up on their couch with a cup of tea and a good book. He redeemed people who like cleaning and people who are ok with a little mess. He redeemed the naturally patient and those (like me) who are a constant work in progress. And he made us all different to complement one another. The Missouri Botanical Garden wouldn’t be quite as spectacular if it only contained one plant. Ok, it would be rather lame, actually. It needs variety.

We don’t want to spend our lives identifying as the fake version of someone else. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t seek wise counsel or find admirable qualities to learn from heroes of the faith. But the way we live out our faith should be unique to us.

And let me leave you with one final thought. Another part of this curious plant’s name caught my attention.


In the book of Revelation, God says to the church in Ephesus,  “He who has an ear, let him hear and heed what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant [the privilege] to eat [the fruit] from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.’ Revelation 2:7 (AMP). 

We don’t have to be false birds of paradise when the real paradise has already been promised to us. We are unique and unreproducible miracles of God, and with his leading, we can live out who we are with confidence for his glory. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and be your own bird of paradise.

Mystery of Melchizedek

I have always struggled to understand the story of Melchizedek. A minor character in the story of Abraham rescuing his nephew, Lot, he takes up only four verses of real estate in Genesis 14. However, a decent chunk of the book of Hebrews is dedicated to describing Jesus as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. I’ve always been confused by this. Why is this guy worthy of comparison to Jesus? We know very little about Melchizedek. All we’re given in Genesis is that he is:

  1. The king of Salem
  2. A priest of “God Most High”

He gives Abraham bread and wine and a blessing, and Abraham gives him a tenth of everything he owns. The end.

This month I am reading through Hebrews. This week I am in the portion regarding Jesus as a high priest in the order of Melchizedek. This morning, I opened the kids’ story Bible (not related to my reading plan whatsoever) and what story is next in our reading plan? Abraham Rescues Lot, followed by his interaction with Melchizedek. 

Friends, this is a Kairos moment. When God brings to mind or initiates interactions with a particular thought, idea, story, or scripture I know he is telling me: slow down. Listen carefully. I have something to teach you.


Our other morning read, an apologetics devotional, discussed the importance of names. Ok. What’s in Melchizedek’s name?

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:1-3, ESV, emphasis mine).

Alright, I’m tracking here. Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is also King of Righteousness and King of Peace.

But why this dude? His name is spot on, he’s super mysterious and that’s cool, but why is Jesus so connected with him?

The Bible I use for daily reading is the Story of Redemption Bible. It’s got little bits of commentary scattered throughout the text that help me see Jesus in every part of scripture. And one note on Hebrews 7 helped me see something I’d never noticed before:

“Faced with the fact that Jesus is descended from Judah and not Levi the author notices a line .in Psalm 110 addressing a priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’…the author unfolds why Jesus the High Priest is better than any high priest from the line of Levi; He had no sin of his own to atone for, he lives forever to intercede for his people, and, above all, he is the guarantor of the new covenant the prophets foretold” (Greg Gilbert, The Story of Redemption Bible commentary on Hebrews 7).

Ahhh. Priests usually come from the line of Levi. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. He is an extraordinary priest. He’s a perfect priest. He is a priest AND king.

God knew that the Hebrew people would expect their priestly Messiah to come from the line of Levi, but even before that line was established, he introduced a mysterious priest-king. God knew our questions even before we asked them. He knew where he would be doubted even before the doubt came.

But now I’m curious… why is God bringing this to mind for me, now? The second part of a Kairos moment is asking the question, How will I live differently? And at the time I’m writing this, I’m still in the midst of answering those questions.

What questions are you still answering? What stories have always troubled you? What keeps swirling around in your head unanswered? I urge you today to slow down. Pause. Listen carefully. Take just a few moments to acknowledge the thoughts in your head. Write them down or go for a walk (or, if you’re extroverted or a verbal processor, take a friend out for coffee and make sure you buy them lots of muffins to keep their mouth full while you talk). Then, let me know what you find out about God or yourself. And remember, sometimes the joy is simply in the searching.

The End.

“You’re one of those people aren’t you!?” my husband looked at me, incredulous.

Turns out, after four years of dating and eight years of marriage we still have some stuff to learn.

“Yes, I am. I’m not ashamed and I’m not going to change” I replied, processing my reasoning as I spoke the words. It’s something I’ve always accepted about myselfbut until this moment—I hadn’t processed why. I pursed my lips, my eyes searching the textured ceiling for a response. “It gives me…a boundary of sorts. A sense of security.”

We were discussing, of course, reading ahead to the end of a story.

I’ve always been a bookworm. A nerdy type, who, as a child, had books taken away instead of being grounded. Characters come alive to me as my imaginary friends. Especially as a child, but occasionally even as an adult, I become inconsolably grouchy after finishing a series or saga, reeling with the disappointment that my wide world has shrunk back down to reality. 

I didn’t start out as the skip-to-the-end type, but sometime around the fifth or sixth grade I started reading Cheaper by the Dozen and mentioned it to an older, wiser, bookworm. They “didn’t want to spoil it” but implied a sad ending. I loved this memoir but was just entering into the emotional unraveling we refer to as “puberty” and my already delicate heart didn’t need any more fodder for meltdown. I read ahead, prepared my heart, and thus began a lifetime of peeking at the final chapter.

Lest you start to judge me, let me argue a bit more in my defense. I read the ending not so I may set the book aside and skip to another, but to enrich the middle. Once I know how the story will end I know how my emotions will be pulled. I find security in this. A good writer includes twists and turns throughout the plot, but I face these knowing that eventually the lost princess will be found (or eaten!), the grandfather will die peacefully after reconciling with his estranged family, or the lost item will remain lost but the seeker will find true contentedness.

As humans, we are sent to walk on earth for a time. Very little of our life is guaranteed, and even some of those “for sure” plans disappear. We may dream of marriage and family, may or may not happen (or happen in a way we do not expect), a career we spend our lives preparing for may become obsolete or unattainable due to unforeseen circumstances. We may live a quiet, faithful life and be suddenly affected by chronic pain, food allergy, change in economic status, disability, or unplanned pregnancy.

But followers of Christ know how the story ends.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)

At the end of the story, God will draw us to him. As Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it, “everything sad will come untrue.” Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus already did.

If the middle of the story feels scary and unknown to you today, I challenge you to skip to the end. Read the book of Revelation. Maybe grab a commentary or a wise friend to help navigate the imagery. 

The middle is a mystery but the end is assured.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.

My daughter shares my love for books.

Here’s to the Parents

I love May – the bustling activity, the outdoor gatherings, the blooming gardens, the excitement over the end of school, and the promise of summer adventures. Simultaneous exhaustion and thrill. My current season of life with babies and young school-age children means that I feel a sense of accomplishment for getting to the end of the year. We made it. Perhaps you feel the same, but perhaps you also haven’t gotten the affirmation you earned. Today’s post is for the parents who did their best this year (or any year!)

Here’s to the parents who got their kids to school on time (most of the time)

Here’s to the parents who color-coded their calendars by kid

Here’s to the parents who didn’t

Here’s to the parents who could’ve made a fortune working for Uber

Here’s to the parents who forgot what time practice started and showed up a little late

Here’s to the parents who bought Happy Meals, packed sack lunches, and purchased snacks

Here’s to the parents who stirred supper on the stove while calling out spelling words

Here’s to the parents who stayed up late washing that special shirt

Here’s to the parents who made grocery runs on the way to school because they forgot something needed for a project

Here’s to the parents who made sure their kids had breakfast 

Here’s to the parents who sent their kids with a kiss and a prayer

Here’s to the parents who prayed for their kids’ teachers, knowing the kind of morning they’d already had

Here’s to the parents who honored their kids’ teachers

Here’s to the parents who are teachers

Here’s to the parents who cried with their kids

Here’s to the parents who didn’t know the answer but learned it with their kid

Here’s to the parents who resisted the urge to shout out the answer

Here’s to the parents who grew

Here’s to the parents who signed hundreds of slips of paper

Here’s to the parents who lost slips of paper and gave themselves grace

Here’s to the parents who know they aren’t perfect but do their best to point their kids to the one who is.

He sees you. He knows where you failed, he knows where you succeeded. He loves you and he loves your kid.

“fear not, for I am with you;

    be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…For I, the Lord your God,

    hold your right hand;

it is I who say to you, “Fear not,

    I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:10,13)

Then You Will Know

Introduction: When Annalyse and I both had toddlers, we met weekly for a playdate. While the children bustled around the house making messes in various rooms, she and I talked about God. We didn’t follow a set devotion or Bible study. Instead, we shared how God was speaking to us through where his word and the circumstances in our lives intersected. During those playdate years, I learned so much from Annalyse, who holds a BA in Biblical studies. Our friendship is now long-distance, but she continues to bless me and others by taking her love and talent for Biblical/Historical research and weaving it into a relatable story with modern application.

Deeply researched and brilliantly presented, this new novel from Annalyse Mower puts us in Pharaoh’s shoes at the time of the great Biblical Exodus. Creepy? Yes. But, it challenged me to truly put myself at the feet of the Almighty God and realize that nothing, and no one, can stop the love he has for his people.

If you struggle with the problem of evil and suffering in our world, I especially invite you to read this alongside the story of Jesus, the ultimate Passover lamb. -Molly Poppe

Then You Will Know: The Crushing of Pharaoh

Chapter One

Take heed, O unrepentant nation. Beware, you of hardened heart. He can humble you – I know that of which I speak.

I am the son of the gods, the incarnation of Horus, in league with divinity: they heed my voice. I was chosen as the best from among my brothers, each a perfect and beautiful prince. I came from the lineage of warrior kings who live in immortal memory. My sons were many and my dynasty was assured. I was strong of arm, swift of chariot, mighty of army: I built cities of gold; I led conquerors and ruled kings; nations trembled before me.

Egypt was a perfect jewel, a heavenly oasis in the desert. It pleased the gods to give us all that was good, to build us into the mightiest nation on earth. My empire was sovereign; faraway nations trembled at my name. Tribute flowed from the north and the south, turquoise and copper from the wilderness. No other kingdom enjoyed strength like Egypt’s. I ruled the world.

But then, the Troublemaker arose.

He was weak. Despised. A traitor to the people who had opened wide their bosom and nursed him with the best of their land. He was given the choicest of everything and the fool threw it away for nothing – for nobodies. He aligned himself with slaves and followed the leading of a prideful delusion. It would be his destruction: I would see to it. It could be nothing else. The God of slaves could not conquer the sun-god, the king.

For I am Pharaoh.


Derisive laughter echoed from the room’s painted plaster walls, careening off marble columns to assault the ears. It circled the knot of dusty, threadbare slaves before me like a horde of demons. They cowered closer together, their lips tight in pale faces, their hollow eyes darting nervously from face to snarling face in the crowd behind them. Good. They remember their place, despite this one misjudgement. I felt my spine harden. It will not happen again.

Only two stood firm, like men. They were almost equal in height, but the one on the right wore the same threadbare clothes and stooped shoulders as the terrified mob behind him. I sniffed. Slave. The man beside him, however …

My lip twisted in a slight, mocking sneer and I raised my hand for silence, disgust pleasurably warm in my depths. As the court stilled, menace thickened the air. The slaves’ anxiety accentuating my unparalleled power was a sensation to be savored. Delicious.  The mob shifted nervously, cringing, their wide eyes glinting like rabbits in the shadows. Except for their leaders. The two men stood still – an old slave and his foreign brother. The younger of the two stood tensely, his knuckles white as he grasped his staff. But he met my gaze.


“Who is Adonai, that I should obey him and let Israel go?” My booming condescension pushed the slaves into a tighter huddle, eyes on their filthy feet. Power surged through me with its familiar tingle and I sat, mighty and upright on my throne. “I do not know Adonai and I will not let Israel go.”

The simpering slaves deflated and I turned from them unceremoniously to beckon for wine. A tentative, unexpected voice arrested me.

“The God of the Hebrews has met with us.”

He dares to answer? I turned to face the speaker, my soul dancing with bemused incredulity. The two leaders clustered tightly together, the Traitor whispering into his older brother’s ear. Both were pale and pretended they could not feel me gaping. After a moment the slave spoke again, his gaze fixed on the wall behind my head; the Troublemaker stood beside him, rooted and upright as the dictated words echoed through the room. His shoulders tremble, though.

“Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to Adonai our God, or He may strike us with plagues or with the sword.” The slave’s weak, choked voice failed as doubt filled his face. He knows, as the others do – they have no hope.

Kenamun, my royal steward, approached the dais. After offering a formal bow he ascended the steps, his eyes carefully on each marble tread. When he reached the top, I perceived a smothered jeer and his derisive amusement goaded my own; I rolled my lips to stifle the undignified chuckles bubbling in my throat and instead took a deep swallow of wine. “What is your God’s vengeance to me, slave?” The traitor’s spokesman wilted and took a tremulous step back toward his brethren. I smirked and raised the cup to my lips again, its sweetness sliding over my tongue and down my throat, and eyed the audacity before me. “Moshe -” contempt dripped from the name “- and Aharon, why are you taking the people away from their labor?” I rested my elbows on my knees, basking in the anxiety that drank in my every movement. “Get back to your work.” The low growl danced on the menacing chuckles of my men.

The Hebrew slaves behind Moshe and Aharon bowed deeply and retreated, fleeing the confinement of my Great House and the guards who pursued them like dogs. Seething foremen collared some of the slower-moving elders and shoved them toward the door. But still Moshe and Aharon stood. I raised myself from the throne and ambled to the edge of the dais, my arm gesturing toward the sounds of construction and labor that seeped through my walls. Whips, groans, and straining ropes permeated the mud bricks.

“Look, the people of the land are now numerous – and you are stopping them from working.” My oozing sarcasm hardened into disdain. I rule this world. Did you really believe you could sway a god?

Aharon’s face blanched and he inclined his head, slowly inching his way out of the reception hall. Satisfaction tickled my innards and I allowed my arm to fall. Good. You remember this. Moshe remained stationary and defiant, his lips twitching with unspoken words.

“Yes?” I leaned toward him with glinting eyes. “You desire an audience with the son of Amun … prince?” The ridicule electrified my veins – powerful, warm, intoxicating – and made my head giddy. Moshe’s lips snapped tight, eyes hard in his pale face. His humiliation simmered pleasurably in my core and I sighed with contentment. And now you bow.

But he did not.

Instead, he strode from the hall without a backward glance, his shepherd’s staff clicking off his paces. My complacency turned cold and anger pricked my skin. He defied me. Before my men, he dared to defy me. Seething offense made me quiver as hot resentment kindled in my chest. With a grunt I flung my cup against the wall, its wine trickling in scarlet rivulets to puddle at the base.

“Captain!” Exasperation tore my throat.

Mahu, the captain of my bodyguard, came running, his plain sandals slapping the plaster floor as his short sword bounced against his thigh. “Your Majesty.” His low voice was steady, despite his run. He dropped to one knee with head inclined.

The flick of my fingers lifted him to his feet. “Gather the foremen and slave drivers. Tell them that they are no longer to supply the slaves with straw for the bricks; let the people go and gather it for themselves. But their quota remains unchanged.” Arms folded across my chest, my brow was furrowed with offended irritation but wicked delight stirred my soul. Sunshine from the doorway streamed into the reception hall, invigorating the colors on the floor with yellow light – but in my eyes, they had been stained by the Traitor’s presence. He will bow. My voice was smooth, low. “The Hebrews are lazy. Let us give them something else to think about.”


Mingled double-pipes, harps, and laughter stroked my ears, their music enhanced by the comfortable heaviness of the wine. I took a deep breath, the savory air flooding my tongue with saliva. My private courtyard was bright with flickering lamps, and the shimmer of dancers’ lithe, glistening bodies bewitched my eyes and intoxicated my senses as I relaxed into the merriment’s gentle caresses. Beyond the walls, the frogs and the Nile whispered lullabies to the deepening dusk. All was ma’at – the world was balanced, its harmony upheld by my might – and I was pleased.

The twinkles of light rippling across my dark wine satiated my soul, and I tilted the cup to better admire the gleam of its silver. A good world. Lifting it to my lips, I quaffed deeply and nudged the companion on my right. “And how is my son, Iuty? He is a true prince of the blood, is he not?”

The tutor politely inclined his head with a gentle smile. “He is indeed, your Majesty. A strong youth. I can hardly get him to leave the archery range for his other studies. But he is intelligent, like his father. He shows great promise for one so young.”

A lazy grin seeped over my countenance and I nodded. “Good. He should! The son of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt!” Chuckles danced over my thick tongue and I shook an unwieldy finger at Iuty. “Do not let him distract you into neglecting the arts. I would have him surpass me just as I have surpassed my father – both as a warrior and an artist.” My cup swayed as I drew it toward me and I carefully monitored its progress. “But let his first excellence be the battlefield! May he exceed even me … if he is able.” The wine drowned out my amusement at my own wittiness.

Again Iuty inclined his head politely, the quiet smile still in place. “Of course, Per’ Aa.”

I stared across the table at the girls gyrating to the music, a fire burning in my groin. “And when the time comes, make sure you teach him to fight hand-to-hand. He will need a good sparring partner.” I extended a wavering finger toward the tutor. “You are your father’s son. He taught me well – and you too. Do the same for my son.”

“To the best of my ability, Per’ Aa,” he murmured. “I will always do my best for your son.”

I nodded, enjoying the unbalanced sensation in my head, and slapped a hand on his shoulder, sloshing the wine in my cup precariously. “I know, my friend. That is why I chose you!”

My lecherous view of the lithesome beauties was spoiled by the decrepit figure of my father’s relic stumping toward me. The old man offered a bow stiff with arthritis and, without awaiting my leave, lowered himself into the open place beside me with a sigh. I ground my teeth and turned my head to avoid the stench of his advancing age. “Vizier Rekhmire.”

“Majesty,” he wheezed. He nodded to Iuty before beckoning to a nearby slave bearing a tray of honey cakes. “The only thing I can eat anymore … everything else is too hard to chew,” he panted through a congenial, toothless smile. I nodded, sparing the trouble of a reply with another gulp from my cup. Take what you want, old man. Just do not make me watch you chew it.

Rekhmire snuffled a few bites. “Is it true, what I heard about the court today?” He searched my face with watery eyes as he wiped the crumbs and spittle from his chin.

“That depends on what you heard.” My sight found more interesting fodder than his wrinkled face, and I let myself devour the tight, firm figures of the dancers.

He leaned close, his foul breath now intolerable with the sweetness from the cakes. “Has Moshe returned?”

I rolled my eyes as I lifted the cup to my lips. “What would that matter?”

Rekhmire gawked and puffed out his cheeks in over-dramatic shock, accepting a proffered cup of water from Iuty. “I have been in the Great House many years; I have seen many things.” He nodded to himself with a slosh. “Moshe – he was a great man. Would have done great things, if he had not … but that was before the … and now …” His tongue tied itself around words better left unsaid and he devolved into silence, still nodding while he sipped his cup and watched the girls.

I snorted without shifting my gaze, twitching with the irony. “And now he has aligned himself with slaves.”

“Slaves?” Rekhmire’s focus flew to my face, the wrinkles in his forehead shifting like sand. A light dawned in his mind and he took a deep breath. “Yes, the slaves. With Moshe, it is always the Hebrews.”

With a sigh, I glanced over my shoulder in his direction and fastened my look on the flickering lamp suspended above his head. “Apparently the slaves’ God demands a sacrifice. He demanded their release, to allow three days’ travel to perform His rites.”

“Hm.” Rekhmire sucked his gums. “And will you let them?”

Surprise choked me, wine burning my throat, as Iuty exploded. “Let them? My lord Vizier! Are you mad? Why should his Majesty release our slaves?”

Rekhmire surveyed us calmly. “I did not say he should. I asked if he would.” His normally weak eyes shone with a disconcerting light. “Have you made your decision, Per’ Aa?”

I shook my head and wiped the wine from my chin, my voice heavy with condescension. “Certainly not. Who is their God? Why should I let them go? Their quarrel with their God is no concern of mine.” They would never have made this request of my father. The remembrance of Moshe’s mocking defiance knotted my gut and ruined my enjoyment of the women. “They will learn that a greater warrior than even the mighty Thutmose holds the throne!” The declaration was loud with conviction and wine, and I raised my glass for a refill. When the cup was brimful of comfort again, I relaxed back against the cushion. “Besides, I have ensured that the slaves will have no more leisure for worrying about any maleficent deity – other than me.” Iuty joined in my merciless chuckles but Rekhmire remained strangely silent. I eyed him over the cup’s rim. “I did not realize you had so much love for the slaves, old man.”

His stooped shoulders startled and his eyes darted, his mouth slack with surprise. I grinned into my cup and glanced toward Iuty, himself hiding a smirk. Rekhmire swallowed and shook his head slowly. “No, not so, Per’ Aa. Not love. But,” he inched his way toward me, his foul, whispered breath offending my nostrils, “as your Vizier, I would caution you about the man Moshe. He is … there is …” I sighed impatiently and Rekhmire concluded, “he is not an ordinary man.”

Old fool. I scoffed and turned back to the naked dancers, my voice disdainful. “Then it is well that I am a god.”

Then You Will Know is now available for purchase on AmazonBuy now


My Children’s eyes reflected the flashing lights as they stared, wide-eyed at the display. Whistles and mechanical gears filled our ears. The older gentleman darted around the converted barn with the joy-filled energy of a child on Christmas, turning knobs, pushing buttons, flipping switches, breathing life into the tiny machines.

Every train had a story, “This one my wife and I built together when we were first married. We lived in a trailer and didn’t have any extra space.” He indicated the miniature train track, set into a coffee table, glass top covering the intricate village. “We could eat pizza on it or play trains!”

Walking over to another, larger display, he pointed out the wooden lid, propped open. “This one was discovered in a nursing home, fifteen years after its owner died. They had been using it as a buffet…cutting cakes on it and such. Didn’t discover it until they were doing renovation and the contractors lifted the lid.”

Hundreds of toy trains, hundreds of stories to be told. 

I love stories. Upon meeting someone, I love to hear them share theirs. Where they came from, what motivates them, and who they love. It’s what I love about this blog – people sharing their stories and how God is working in their lives. 

Stories carry memories, they bond strangers, heal hearts, bring laughter and tears. We love to read or watch a good story. We recount them to our friends, tell our children, write them down.

On this night, a little over two thousand years ago, Jesus told an important story around the dinner table. The story of a people in bondage, rescued through a tragic victory, their freedom bought through a spotless lamb. The Hebrew people were told to celebrate this story every year so they could remember the deeds of the Lord especially in their darkest moments. In a goosebump-inspiring-moment, the disciples reclining at the table were with true and better Lamb of God, the Son of Man, who would die less than twenty-four hours later in a beautiful, tragic rescue, saving His people (everyone who calls on His name) from their bondage (sin).

The story of Passover, foreshadowing the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection, is the story worth telling over and over again, with increasing joy every time as we realize more and more our broken humanity and the depth from which we have been raised up through Jesus’ sacrifice. This weekend, I pray you take the time to listen, to read, to experience the story anew and share it with even more intensity of joy than our train collector sharing his treasures.

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!

psalm 105:1-2

Soli Deo Gloria

gentle invitation

“You don’t look like swimmers to me. You look like a bunch of Ooompa Loompas,” the coach said, glaring at the nervous group of dripping teens. Just a minute before he had called us all out of the water, disappointed by our form or times or something. I looked down at my own post-puberty hips and full thighs, feeling completely exposed by my racing swimsuit. Compared to the tiny, fit swimmers around me I felt like the only Oompa Loompa. After another 20 minutes in the water, I mumbled an excuse and escaped to the bathroom where I waited until my parents pulled up outside the aquatic complex, confidence broken.

One of the girls on the team had Olympic-qualifying times. At one swim meet, I swam the wrong stroke during a medley event – twice. Swimming was not a natural gift of mine, nor did I feel supported to put in the effort to try.

However, one day at the pool, Coach Emmet called me and a few other c-team swimmers over after practice. “I’m starting a conditioning program,” he said, “I want you to join me to run before practice twice a week.”

I had pretty much given up on my ability to advance in swimming, but still, I convinced my parents to bring me to practice early so I could join the group of runners. After a few weeks, I could complete the entire mile without stopping, and soon after that, I was finding time to run on other days of the week as well, increasing both my mileage and my speed. Eventually, I left the swim team, but I continued to run. In my adult life, I have completed three marathons, and for my 30th birthday last year, I ran a 30K (18.6 miles). Running is a source of stress relief, exercise, and friendship.

Coach Emmet knew I was not cut out to be a great swimmer, but instead of calling me out for being a disappointment as many other coaches had done, he simply invited me to a higher view of self and inspired me to do better. His quiet invitation changed my mental spiral of discouragement into a positive outlet.

Today, what is your spiral? Disappointment in self or others? Lack of ability or resources? Continued failure or repeated sin that you cannot seem to break free from? Jesus came to gently lift us out of our spirals with a gentle invitation:

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:28-30


Do you choose a yearly focus word? I’ve started the practice in the past few years, and have found it to be a simple and enjoyable activity if nothing else. At the end of 2020, I felt like I was sleeping through life. Not literally, of course–I have three kids six and under–but, a combination of the troublesome times and my current season of life brought feelings of always missing out: on opportunities to connect with my kids, on chances to build and grow friendships, on times to rest. And more than that, I was asleep to my own needs and to my faith.

As I thought about a word, I kept being drawn back to the parable of the ten virgins in the Bible. If you aren’t familiar with this story from Matthew 25, Jesus tells of ten women who were waiting for the bridegroom of a wedding, although they did not know how long they would need to wait for him to appear. Half were prepared, and half were not. 

At this point in my life, I felt like the unprepared virgins: caught up in people-pleasing and in doing what I thought I should be doing. I was muddling through life, clinging to my own schedule, and planning to one day get it together. I needed to awaken to small moments, unafraid to drop everything in order to spend the time given to me well. So, I chose Awake.

For a few months, everything went well.

a sweet friend bought me this wall art to help me focus on my word all year long

But, making something the word of the year doesn’t guarantee it will happen. As the year wore on I stopped reflecting, stopped looking, stopped trying. I found excuse after excuse: I’m pregnant, I have a toddler going through a sleep regression, it’s been a hard year, my children wear me out, I can’t sleep, I don’t have the energy to exercise or to eat right, to remember what makes me feel alive. I wish I’d chosen Asleep so I could feel like I did it. Check the box, I conquered my word.

However, is it about conquering the word? Or using it as a tool?

Now it is December and the end of 2021 is creeping closer with each passing day. A time bomb in my head keeps whispering, “Only a few more weeks to pull it together.”

As I write this, I’m watching A Charlie Brown Christmas with my daughter for the fourth or fifth time this week (or as she refers to it, “Shnoopy movie”) and attempting to reflect on the year and perhaps recover my lost word. This time, another Bible story is brought to mind: the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to a quiet place, told them to stay awake and pray, and then left them for his own prayers. But, you know what? They didn’t. Twice, Jesus came back to check on them and found them asleep. I used to blame the apostles for this – how could they not know? What terrible friends! Isn’t staying awake a pretty basic task??  However, as I have grown older, my years have brought empathy and compassion for the exhausted friends in the garden.

I promised God I would stay awake this year, I would pray each morning and evening, I would not ignore his requests for my presence with his people. Instead, looking at the year, I realize he is going to find me sleeping in the garden on a rock right next to Peter.

For the apostles, physically following Jesus was exhausting. No home base, always working, learning, and trusting. For me, motherhood of littles in a pandemic is exhausting. Sleepless nights, early mornings, the constant demand for attention and needs to be met. Peter, James, John, Molly Poppe, we all lost sight of the eternal rest promised and gave into the shallow, earthly rest of the moment.

Jesus finds us sleeping, and yes, it makes him sad – that fact is unavoidable – but he keeps on praying. FOR us.

Almost immediately after finding the disciples sleeping, Jesus went to the cross: the spotless lamb, untarnished by sin, exhausted by the weight of the world, he stayed awake until his work was finished. Until his death covered ours. And now, sitting on the right hand of God, earnestly, out of deep love, he prays for his sleeping disciples.

And here is the truth I missed earlier. I chose a word so I could do better and be better. Instead, I am reminded that my weak striving will only result in failure if I’m not rooted in THE Word. Staying awake without him is impossible.

So, here’s to 2022. I have not chosen a new word yet, but my prayer is whatever I choose, I might be found in him.