When I was young, I was the “peacemaker” among my friends. It was a constant obsession of mine to make sure I was at peace with everyone and everyone with each other. I hated for there to be any conflict or for anyone to be mad at me, and I wanted to make sure that I was always on good terms with all my friends....

When I started coming to Grace Church a few years ago, I had no idea what the Lord had in store for me and the lessons He would teach me. One of the most incredible blessings was the opportunity to work through the Redeeming Sexuality study with the amazing group of women I served alongside at Cultor House....

That Saturday was one of those days where I questioned everything. It was an introvert day I needed, but the scary kind where I didn’t want to be alone and also didn’t want to be with anyone....

Growing up, I fell into the classic “good girl” category—a homegrown church-girl who followed the rules and dotted her i’s and crossed her t’s and never got in too much trouble....

When I was in third grade, I played softball for one year. I’m not sure why I wanted to play, but my team did not win a single game—so I decided softball wasn’t worth it and I quit. I decided if I wasn’t winning, it wasn’t worth playing....

I never feel like I fit anywhere. At best, I feel mildly out of place, but most of the time I feel like I am nothing—like I am the odd woman out. Let’s face it: I am socially awkward on my best day. ...

It’s that time of year again. The spring pollen has covered everything in sight, bees are humming about, and the sun is burning my sweater-free arms as I sit outside with my child. I’m holding a giant book, and we are cramming for end-of-year testing. ...

One of the really amazing things about being a part of a thriving local church is that I get to know and be known by people who are incredible examples of what it means to follow Jesus. ...

“If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! … but now I consider [my efforts] worthless because of what Christ has done.” Philippians 3:4,7...

What comes to mind when you think of hospitality? A fabulous fancy hotel, a wonderful restaurant? Caring for people? Maybe a degree you can get in college?...

As a child, the first songs that I remember singing at church are “Jesus Loves Me” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Each week in Sunday School, we would stand in a straight line and sing those two songs. Then the teacher would remind us how much Jesus loved us....

When I was growing up I was afraid of everything. If I stubbed my toe on the coffee table, I thought I’d get a blood clot which would undoubtedly kill me. I was afraid I’d get mauled by a bear in the woods, even if my dad was with me. I always rode a bike with a helmet unlike my daredevil cousins....

The heart change began as I was having a conversation with a friend about her struggles with body image and views on food and exercise. She felt the need to confess something to me, and I was there—a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, a non-judgmental space for confession....

Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside....

Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove. Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked....

A few days ago I woke up with the feeling of sheer defeat covering me like an itchy, two-sizes-too-small sweater. It clung to me and whispered lies that I did not have the energy to fight. “You are not helping anyone in your job,” it told me. “Just give up,” it said. ...

When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.”...

To be 99% known is still unknown. That one percent still holds you in enslavement, and that is where I was stuck. What was the one percent that was holding me back from being known, from having it all out on the table?...

When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, “As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”...

Some of his disciples began talking about the majestic stonework of the Temple and the memorial decorations on the walls. But Jesus said, “The time is coming when all these things will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!” “Teacher,” they asked, “when will all this happen? What sign will show us that these things are about to take place?”...

In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”...

Each day this week leading up to Easter Sunday, we are providing you with some readings and events that directly correspond to what was happening this week in the life of Jesus 2,000 years ago. We encourage you to take time to enter into the story that so clearly illuminates God's plan for redemption, and meditate on how the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ permeates and influences your daily interactions and experiences. ...

Scott Puckett’s son, Michael, and his then pregnant wife, Emily, came back from their first ultrasound in 2016 with the news that their baby girl had alobar holoprosencephaly (no separation of the cerebral hemispheres of the brain). Doctors told their family that only one in 10,000 will survive birth if they make it to delivery. With a baby of this severe level of condition, most women will naturally miscarry, and many others will choose to abort....

There’s a stunning bouquet of spring flowers on my dining room table. It pops with bloom and color, a perfect personification of the vibrant life this season ushers in. But in this moment, even though they’re elegant and sweet and lovely to look at, I find them conceited. ...

My friend said, “You know everyone.” I had heard that before while I was out with other friends, and it does feel that way sometimes. I have worked in the same community as a school counselor for over 25 years and been a member of several organizations for over 15 years. So, maybe I do know a lot of people. But, knowing a lot of people is different from being known....

If you think about it for any considerable length of time, you’re likely to come to the realization that the “American Dream” as it’s been passed down through the generations to us is at odds with God’s purposes for His people. ...