Kate Reynolds 's Articles

Cultural Imprints: It’s a Big, Wide World (After All)


 


Welcome back to Cultural Imprints. In this collection of posts, we're exploring how cultural artifacts impact our lives and shape our understanding of God and his world. You can read the first two installments here and here.


"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." — Mary Ritter Beard

Until the summer of 1996, most of my travels were comprised of the back and forth from our extended family in the Midwest and one adventure at each of the Disneys. What I knew of the world was limited to the Denver metro area, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, a few major rivers, and Indiana corn fields and lightning bugs. Not a bad way to grow up, certainly, but it was a bit limited in scope.

Then, in 1996, when I was a fresh-faced kid stoked to finally be done with the fifth grade, my parents took my younger brother and I to Europe as tagalongs to an international business trip of my dad’s.

Over the course of those two weeks, we primarily visited France and the Netherlands, with a slight glance at a few others (Belgium and Germany) thrown in due our travel arrangements. At 11 and 8, respectively, my brother and I just wanted to sit lazily in our hotel room all day and eat croissants with Nutella while watching French versions of American television shows. My mother, being the pragmatist that she is and not wanting to waste the opportunity, dragged us out of bed every morning and all over every city we visited.

I am so incredibly grateful for my mother’s persistence with her two young children on this trip because it changed how I saw the world.

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Infertility and the Sting of Mother’s Day


 


Confession: I couldn’t honestly say the last time I was in church on Mother’s Day.

Granted, it used to be because both my mother and my mother-in-law are in-state and we like to spend the day with them, whenever possible. These last several years, however, have been for a much different reason — Mother’s Day has a certain sting to it.

And, even today, being nearly 16 weeks pregnant, that sting remains.

It’s not that I don’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day. I have a particularly good mother and my mother-in-law is also an amazing woman. I will work to honor them both as best I can.

For those who want children but find themselves unable to bear them, however, the day seems to have a special knack for pointing out the brokenness and failure of their bodies. Mother’s Day can take the daily frustration of the physical, emotional and spiritual battle of infertility and magnify it in a very painful way.

When my husband and I began our journey toward having our own children, we never thought it would take five years and a number of incredibly painful and disheartening seasons before I finally made it through the first trimester. We certainly never anticipated that it would be difficult to rejoice in when we got here or that it would be quite so jarring as it has been — or that our relationships with God and with others would be tested time and again in the process.

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A Call for Calm: On Taking the Slow, Quiet Journey to Worship


 

Holy Week is in full swing around here. Two services and other options for celebrating the glorious resurrection of our Savior mean extra tasks for just about all of us on staff.

And it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of making sure that we have everything we need in stock or scheduling out multiple printings, orchestrating that final pew cleaning, or making certain that all of the service details are in their perfect places.

It’s much more difficult to actually stop and engage with the reason for any of it. Working here, where the events of this week take center stage, does not make me the exception. You’re probably scrambling a bit, too.

If your household is like mine, spring is simply a very busy season. If we’re not careful, the whirlwind picks us up and doesn’t drop us back down to earth until Memorial Day weekend. There is always one more track meet to attend, one more school function, one more project at work, one more difficult meeting with a friend who is struggling.

But I want to encourage you to take an hour of your week and set it aside. Right now. This is the hour you need this week — to slow down and reflect on what Jesus has accomplished on your behalf. Consider reserving this hour to go through Summitview’s Journey of Worship.


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The Monday After: Why Today (and Every Other Day) Means More Than February 14


 


When I was a kid in grade school, Valentine’s Day meant decorated shoe boxes and those inexpensive tear-apart, fold-over cards decorated with Barbie and Superman smiling and striking poses – I got one from every kid in my class. We would take a portion of the day to have a party and celebrate. That’s what happened. Every year.

But the reality is that those cards never made up for the fact that I never felt like I fit in with many of the other children in my class. I always felt like an outsider, like I didn’t belong. All those cards and their attached individual packs of candy couldn’t change that.

Though I certainly tried, I never had a boyfriend in high school. In lieu of such things, Valentine’s Day held the allure of The Lovesick Double-Decker Bus Tour (a youth group event where we went to Casa Bonita in a double-decker bus) and other plans concocted by our youth pastor – primarily meant to keep us from pursuing the opposite sex. And, in the midst of it all, I wrestled to understand my own worth and desperately wanted someone to love me.

That person appeared when I was 20 years old and not looking for him. I have the best husband and best friend a girl could have (and that’s not open for debate). He’s romantic and sharp-witted and remains adamant that he loves me in spite of the fact that I know I am downright unlovable at times.

And you know what? We both hate Valentine’s Day.

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The Dawn Comes Early: Grow in Joy this Christmas with John Piper's New Advent Devotional


By the time I arrived at Christmas last year, I was beyond weary and discouraged. Life circumstances and personal responsibilities took nearly all of my focus, and I somehow completely missed being able to celebrate joyfully and meaningfully.

Which stung, to be honest, because I love Christmas. My husband prefers Thanksgiving for its simplicity and lack of gift-exchanging pressure, but I love Christmas for its meaning and the extended days in which to celebrate and reflect upon the ramifications of an all-powerful, all-knowing God coming to earth and taking on our helpless, miserable form. Over the years, my favorite parts haven’t been the gifts or the social functions — they have been the moments when I have found myself alone in the stillness before everyone else wakes, the moments that only required me to sit and reflect on this singularly incredible joy.


Jesus said, “I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). His joy was the very joy of God. He promises to put that in us. That is what the Holy Spirit does. He pours out the love of God in our hearts (Rom. 5:5), and with it the joy of God in God. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy …” (Gal. 5:22). This is “great joy.” And it cannot be taken away. It is indestructible.


Ah, but it can go to sleep. That’s why Peter says, “I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder” (2 Pet. 1:13). Yes. It is very right. Because, oh, how wrong, how sad, when we stand before great wonders and feel nothing. (Preface, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy by John Piper)


I must admit I have stood before some great wonders this year and felt nothing but the burdens I have carried. I must admit that my joy has largely gone to sleep. I must admit that there are things I associate with Christmas that are difficult and painful.

But if there is any season in which I can ask of God that my heart be stirred by promise and joy, this is the one. After two millennia, the story remains astonishing in both its simplicity and its implications. He has offered fullness of joy. He has promised it is great and indestructible. 

For me — and for you.

The only thing that ensures my heart’s rapt attention to the truth of Christmas is to start early. I failed to do so last year and reaped a decided lack of gratitude and joy. When I sat down to reflect on the babe in the manger for the first time on Christmas Eve, I had already missed him. I don’t want to miss him again.

And, so, I ask you to join me as I engage my soul early by reading through John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy. Paper copies of the Advent devotional will be available for free in the Lobby starting this Sunday, November 30 (until they run out) and a PDF copy can be found on our Christmas page.

I also highly recommend The Oh Hellos’ Family Christmas Album, but that’s another post altogether.

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