When Life Is Unpredictable

What a weird time we’re living in. Things that seemed to be “musts” a year ago are now seemingly unimportant. COVID has shifted nearly everyone’s priorities. It’s crazy to think that just a year ago, very few of us (in the U.S., at least) foresaw COVID or the impact it would have on our everyday lives. If you had told the average American a year ago that Super Bowl 2021 would be largely populated by cardboard cutouts filling the stands, they would have looked at you like you’re from outer space.

I can remember one day in February 2020, my husband, full of foresight and wisdom, told me that this crazy virus in China would probably come to the U.S. and that we could expect schools and business to close and/or move to a virtual format. He also encouraged me to stock up on plenty of groceries.

I honestly thought he was a little nuts. Such a Doomsdayer!

Our Present Circumstances. But here we are today, many of us having worked from home countless numbers of times in the last year, several trying to home educate their children (or at least supervise virtual learning), missing travel, concerts, seeing friends and colleagues without masks on (I’m not anti-mask; I’m just saying!), and so many of the things that were commonplace pre-COVID.

Three out of the last four weeks, I’ve been met with challenges (sickness and weather) that have required me to be at home with my kids rather than at work. Just the minute I feel like I’m caught up, it seems something else happens to cause me to fall behind. And as much as I try to “work from home,” being a working parent with two kids home and no one there to help you means either being a bad employee or a bad parent, or both!

Scheduling. I put things on my calendar with a bit of trepidation these days. So much has been canceled over the last year. It’s almost as if I actually schedule something, it’s bound to not happen. I take comfort in the Facebook Room-based Bible study I’m doing with friends, because I figure that’s one of the few “events” that is likely to not be canceled.

Job Uncertainty. I know so many people who have been laid off or who are now working limited hours. There are few who are completely untouched by the economic impact COVID has had.

Health Uncertainty. Let’s be honest – it really sucks not knowing on a daily basis if you might be exposed to (or already have!) a virus that has killed thousands.

It’s a frustrating season to live through.

How can we continue to be filled with hope when life is so unpredictable?

  1. Know that unpredictability is inevitable. There, I said it. All you control freaks are reeling. But at this point, you know that life is far less predictable than you thought it was a year ago. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
  2. Trust God’s predictability. God is love. Lamentations 3:22 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.” God is faithful. He will never stop loving you. The Bible is truth. These basic truths are still truth. Nothing has changed.
  3. Hold fast to the steadfast in your life. I don’t know about you, but it seems COVID has really helped me narrow down what really matters: God, family, and close friends.
    Whereas prior to COVID, I was involved in about 5 professional/networking groups, serving at church in 2 capacities, and getting together with multiple sets of friends each month, now my life is extremely simplified. Almost everything I do is virtual. I save time and gas money this way. And the genuineness of friendships has certainly been proven during this season as well.
  4. When the unpredictable happens, stay calm and carry on. Truth be told, I find myself often flipping out in those moments when the unpredictable happens. What tactics do you have to calm yourself down in these moments? Deep breathing? Telling yourself a phrase like, “peace be still” over and over? These unpredictable moments are bound to happen. Have a game plan of how you will handle the unexpected in the heat of the moment.

How do you handle life’s unpredictability? Share your wisdom with the rest of us.

To the “Unchurched”

We’re living in a time like no other. For centuries, churches have gathered together in buildings and worshipped God. While this still happened in 2020, it’s happened in ways we’ve never seen due to the global pandemic.

Some churches have split the masked people and the unmasked people on different sides of the sanctuary. Some churches have held outdoor services. Many church-goers are masked, and “to hug or not to hug” is an awkward quandary. Many churches have started or continued online services to attract those who wish to stay at home.

2020 has been rough for many reasons, but perhaps one of the biggest challenges for me personally has been this unexpected category I find myself in: “Unchurched.”

Sure, my family and I have watched church online. We’ve shown our 4 year old every service of kids’ church online as it releases. We even attended an outdoor church service a couple times and an indoor church service once, when the numbers were low.

But ultimately, regularly attending church in person during COVID was not the right choice for me and my family. Maybe it was right for you and your family, and if so, I think that’s great, and this post is not an attempt for me to cast my judgments or opinions about what to do and what not to do during COVID upon others. I hope you will give me the same respect, as my goal in writing this and all of my posts is always to give hope and encouragement.

This post is written with heartfelt sincerity to the temporarily “Unchurched.” To those, who like me, have ached to sing worship songs to God with other believers for 9+ months now. Who have missed lifting up the Holy Name of Jesus collectively. Who have longed to see their dear friends at church. Who have pined for the encouragement and hope that come when physically surrounded by a community of believers.

The unexpectedly “Unchurched.”

Whose hearts are breaking during the season when our hearts annually swell with joy while singing “Silent Night” during a candlelit ceremony surrounded by fellow worshippers.

How are we to carry on in our walk with God when we feel so separated — so solitary and disconnected — from fellow believers?

Dear friend, take heart. It will not always be this way. You will someday be reunited with your fellow worshippers. You will sing those songs that fill your heart with gladness once again. You will see your pastor and friends in person. Your children will be able to learn about Jesus from those precious children’s church volunteers who are so gifted at reaching the little ones.

But beyond the hope that you will someday be back in a physical church building, I pray that your heart will be filled with the hope of Jesus. Jesus is as present in the four walls of your home as He is within the four walls of your church. Our Jesus – our Savior – Who chose to be born in a stinky, unimpressive barn, instead of a palace or a tabernacle. Our Jesus, who camped out in temples learning the Holy Scriptures as a child, but also Who, as an adult, assembled “churches” of His own, on mountainsides, in homes, in boats.

This Jesus is not limited to the four walls of a church. This Jesus is more alive within your heart than any other location.

So let hope rise
And darkness tremble
In Your holy light
That every eye will see
Jesus our God
Great and mighty to be praised

-Hillsong UNITED

Praise Him wherever you may find yourself, dear “Unchurched” friend. And know, He loves you. He loves those who have have never stepped inside a church just as much as those who have attended church every Sunday of their entire lives.

He sees the hurt in your heart from having missed a church community this year. And He is able to fill every corner of longing in your being. May His love fill your heart in an unmistakable way during this season. In Him, we have all that we need.

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” -Augustine of Hippo

He Loves You The Same Even When…

2020 has brought out the worst in so many of us.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left all of us a little crazy, am I right? (here’s a fun example of some COVID crazies from SNL).

The range of emotions I’ve experienced this year has been honestly a little scary. On top of living through the COVID pandemic, I had a baby this year and dealt with a draining medical issue for about 2 months.

One thing I’ve gained out of these experiences is experiencing emotions on a deeper level. I’ve felt greater sadness. I’ve felt greater empathy for others during their seasons of loss. I’ve felt the depths of depression, but I’ve felt the heights of joy – sometimes all tied together in the 24-hour package of 1 day.

When I’m feeling down, it’s easy for me to feel the worst about myself. My mind goes to dark places, believing others couldn’t possibly love the wretched parts of me.

No one could love the brokenness. No one could love the selfishness. No one could love the ugliness.

But that’s the beauty of the love of God. His love has no limits. His love is not determined by our behavior or goodness.

I may feel more loved by others when I’m in a good mood, being positive, eating healthy, and staying in shape. Who knows? Maybe they do even love me more during those times.

Human love is fleeting and untrustworthy.

But God’s love is vast and undiscriminating.

He loves me the same when I’m in the valley as when I’m on the mountaintop. He loves me with the same richness when I’m depressed as when I’m overjoyed.

He loves my brokenness.

He loves me even when He knows I’m going to keep messing up over and over again. “This grace does not suspend operations in the face of our disobedience,” as Paul David Tripp says.

He loves me even when I’m running from Him.

His love is the same.

You may not be able to trust anything else, but you can trust His love.

2020 may have made you feel out of control – like nothing can be counted on. Rest in the truth that God will never change. He will never stop loving you fiercely. Even if everyone in your life abandons you, He will always be there, with arms wide open.

Pink love blown up balloons

Send Angels

I’ve been in a hard place emotionally lately.

I think so many of us have in 2020.

My mood ranges from complete despair and dread to feelings of jubilation when I see my two young sons playing together.

I’m well aware that my emotions are partially due to the fact that my sleep has been nearly non-existent this year, with a new baby, a 4 year old who regularly has nightmares, and a full-time job.

Somewhere in the recesses of a sleepless night last night, a song that I haven’t heard in nearly 20 years entered my mind. “Send angels, send angels… show me you love me.”

“Send Angels” by Plumb

The song got me thinking… What if God really could send angels to help me? Angels appeared multiple times in the Bible with the primary purpose for comforting and helping people.

From ibelieve.com:

When Elijah was afraid and running for his life in 1 Kings 19, an angel appeared to him and provided food and water for his journey.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus prayed and wrestled with what was to come, Luke 22:43 tells us that an angel appeared from heaven, “strengthening him.”

After Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness and stood strong against the temptations of the devil, Matthew 4:11 says, “Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”

Here are a few ways God sends angels across our path:

  1. Other people.
    I’m not saying that our friends and family are actual angels. But sometimes God uses them to fill us with the strength and encouragement we need to make it through when we’re enduring a difficult season.

I am truly grateful for the angels God has sent me through friends sending an encouraging text, family members calling at just the right moment, or a friend dropping off a meal.

2. Ministering spirits.
Hebrews 1:14 calls angels “ministering spirits sent to serve.” Angels don’t always take the form of human bodies. How many times have you almost been in a car accident but drove away unscathed? Have you ever been panicked when you went to bed, but woke up completely refreshed and calm? Angels offer protection and can calm us, just as they did in the Scriptures featuring Elijah and Jesus that I mentioned earlier.

3. Actual angels in human form.
Are you old enough to remember the sweet show “Touched By an Angel”? In each episode, an angel named Monica was tasked with bringing guidance and messages from God to various people who were at a crossroads in their lives.

Roma Downey as Monica in “Touched By an Angel”

I had an angel encounter when I was in a bike accident when I was about 11 years old. I fell off my bike in my neighborhood when I was riding by myself. I remember falling, and I must have hit my head, because the next thing I remember is waking up in my bed at home. I asked my mom how I got there, and she said a nice married couple dropped me and my bike off. I can’t remember these people, and I didn’t have anything on me that indicated my address. I know angels saw me and delivered me safely home.

Hebrews 13:2 says, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Angels are among us. I wonder how many times I’ve seen or met an angel and have been clueless.

Angels are not to be worshiped. They serve us as we serve God. However, it is comforting to know that God sends these ministering spirits from time to time to help us in our times of needs.

Have you had an angel encounter? I would love to hear about it! Leave a comment.

How to Survive Survival Mode

I know 2020 has been rough on so many, and I’ll be the first to admit that there are millions of people who have had it waaaay harder than me. But for me, it seems that going from one to two children has tipped my previous seemingly perfect balancing act way off. And top that off with a global pandemic, and I’m completely out of sorts.

A couple weeks ago, I had one of those weeks that felt completely like survival mode. The entire family had some sort of ailment, and I had a mysterious throbbing tooth pain that I was certain would require a root canal. It made me a complete and utter grouch, as I couldn’t talk or eat without being in pain. And if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy! Let’s just say, my poor attitude soured everyone else’s week as well. We’ll call the week I’m sharing about survival mode.

During survival mode, your mind automatically goes to the darkest places. You think no one else in the world can understand what you’re going through, and you feel completely alone. You feel like you have no one to help you. And that’s exactly where the enemy wants you – alone.

After my tooth issue finally resolved, I started thinking (somewhat) clearly again (for 2020, at least!). I realized that the dark place I was in – telling myself that I had no one to help me – was not reality. My husband is helping me more than ever before, and my children have an amazing daycare filled with helpers. And there are friends and family in my life who want to help.

I have reflected on what I can do the next time I go to a negative place when I’m in survival mode, and I hope you can gain some insight from it as well. We all may experience times in life when we feel overwhelmed, and we may not be able to avoid our circumstances. However, we can choose how we decide to respond to survival mode.

1. Ask God for help.

Oh boy. It’s hard for me to humble myself and regularly let God know that I am not capable of handling what’s on my plate on my own.

But when I don’t take that time out daily … or even better, hourly … to admit to God that I need His help, I will find myself at a low points, relying on caffeine and sugar to get me through the day.

I love this song, “Rescue,” by Lauren Daigle:

The line that strikes me the most is, “I hear you whisper underneath your breath… I hear your SOS.”

Even if your communication with God is just a whisper underneath your breath, or a, “God, help!” in your mind, He hears. He cares. He is Your Helper, according to Isaiah 41:10 and Psalm 46:1. Ask Him for help, and He will always come through.

lifesaver2. Ask others for help.

This is so hard for me, and I’m honestly awful at asking others for help. Those of us who are caregivers (for children, an aging parent, etc.) are used to being the strong ones. We shouldn’t need someone else to help us.

But we all need a shoulder to cry on or someone to take the kids so we can have an hour alone every once in a while.

If you are in survival mode, know that you are not alone. Hold on, friend. There are people who care about you. Maybe they don’t know that you’re hurting, or how much you’re hurting. Don’t let the enemy tell you that you’re all alone.

Even if you don’t know exactly what to ask someone for, just the act of telling someone you need prayer can help. Knowing that someone is praying for you reminds you that you’re not alone.

3. Consider counseling.

Finally, if your survival mode has been for an extended period of time, I encourage you to seek counseling. I’m so grateful that counseling no longer has the negative stigma it once did. I have had a monthly counseling appointment for nearly 3 years and take great encouragement and wisdom away from the sessions. You can find a counselor who accepts your insurance (if you’re insured), and likely only have to pay about $30-$40/session.

I pray you would be strengthened in whatever you’re experiencing right now. Know that you are not alone. This is only for a season. Please let me know how I can be praying for you.

Finally, I leave you with this quote about the source of peace:

“It’s not the peace that comes when life seems to be working well, when the people around you seem to appreciate you, or when your health and finances are good; there is a sturdier peace to be found … Peace comes when you rest in the fact that grace has connected you to the One who has overcome everything that could cause your heart to be troubled, and nothing can sever that connection.” -Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies

Let’s Talk About School for a Minute

School … never in our lives did any of us think we’d be talking about whether or not we should send our kids to school. We never imagined a world where the impending school year would look like this.

Many parents are facing decisions like: Do I quit my job in order to homeschool or teach my kids online? Do I send my kids to school wearing masks and hope they can properly socially distance from their friends?

I am not here to comment on what is right or wrong. Our educators have been faced with many difficult choices — choices they never imagined they would be making. Teachers’ hearts are to teach; not to attempt to shield children from a global pandemic. But this has now become part of their jobs, just like it has become a part of each one of our lives, in one strange way or another.

So much of our fear in life comes from the unknown. We are afraid because we don’t know how a situation will play out. We are afraid for our children because we don’t know how they will respond to wearing masks or playing with masked friends or learning from masked teachers. And the biggest fear of all: We are afraid they will get COVID, or that they have unknowingly have it and will spread it to others.

I want to share my story with sending my children back to school, and I hope it encourages you.

Wednesday, March 18

Baby Jude was born. This was Spring Break in many parts of the U.S. – the week that everything was closing due to the pandemic. Really fun time to have a baby – ha!

Saturday, March 21

We received an email from the daycare my 3 year old attends stating that they would be closing temporarily. My heart broke. I didn’t know how I would possibly be able to handle both the newborn baby and a very active little boy at home 24/7. Plus, no family members could come help me due to the pandemic, and my husband is a healthcare provider, so he had to return to work ASAP. It seemed I was completely on my own.

I broke down in tears, not knowing where help would come from during a time when people were very much terrified to leave their homes.

But that same day, a miracle happened. One of my 3 year old’s daycare teachers reached out, asking if I needed help with Luke! We decided to hire her part-time to help out as long as the daycare was closed! What an answer to prayer!

Luke and his teacher feeding the ducks during the six weeks that daycare was closed.

March 23 – May 3

We were so fortunate to have the help of Luke’s teacher for those 6 weeks! She was a huge blessing during a season with a lot of unknowns. This was a win-win: I needed help, and she needed a temporary job!

May 4

Luke’s daycare re-opened. At that time, the COVID numbers in Oklahoma were actually pretty low. I felt uneasy about sending him back to school, but I knew I didn’t really have an option since his teacher had to return to work. Plus, he is the kind of kid who goes stir-crazy when at home all the time, and with the newborn in tow and COVID still around, I wasn’t really in a position to take him out places! Going back to school was the best option.

The school was (and has all along) taking every measure to keep students and teachers safe. They created a drop-off line so that parents wouldn’t enter the building. Each students’ and teachers’ temperature was taken, hand sanitizer was applied to the kiddos liberally, and the students were kept in the same classroom with the same teachers all day.

June 10

I returned to work, and baby Jude started daycare. COVID numbers were still fairly low in Oklahoma, but it’s never easy to drop a 12 week old off for the first time and return to work. And it’s much harder when in the middle of a global pandemic. Tears. Lots of tears.

Mid to Late June

A couple of large group activities happened in Tulsa, and the COVID numbers began to rise again. The daycare preemptively started requiring the teachers to wear masks. You guys, this is what broke me. From a health perspective, I was 100% supportive of the teachers wearing masks.

But my soul had a hard time processing this, realizing that the baby in particular would be missing out on this aspect of development.

Baby Jude at daycare. I think he likes it:)

Babies need to see faces. Babies learn from our mouths moving and syllables forming. Babies learn from facial expressions.

Early July

After careful research, the daycare started allowing the caregivers to wear face shields in lieu of masks. Even though the shields were cumbersome, I took great joy in knowing that my baby could now see his caregivers’ faces.

July 21

Due to the COVID numbers in Tulsa continuing to rise, Mayor GT Bynum enacted a city-wide Mask Mandate. I am 100% in support of the Mask Mandate, but this has meant that the baby again is not seeing caregivers’ mouths for 45 hours / week.

Present Day

After daycare being re-opened for almost 3 months now, we’ve come to accept this new normal. I’m used to seeing masked parents handing their kids over to masked teachers in the dropoff line. I’m used to the temperature checks.

Why do I share all of this? I want you to know, if you are trying to decide what to do about school, God will lead you. Everyone’s decision will be individual. What your friends decide to do with their kids may not be right for you. In this era, if we consider ourselves to be Christ-followers, then our every decision must be led by the Spirit of God. Maybe your kids are meant to return to public school this year. Or maybe they aren’t.

Over all, despite all the drama over masks, I am glad my kids returned to school. It was the best decision for our family. The pictures their teachers take of them throughout the day smiling and learning are the absolute lights of my life right now. Also, I am grateful that we can continue to support this excellent school by having two children enrolled there during a time when layoffs have been so prevalent.

And the concerns about my baby not seeing people’s mouths? It’s actually motivated me to talk to him more and smile at him more when we’re at home! I am more intentional about these things than I ever have been.

Here’s my warning: Be prepared for that one thing. There will likely be one thing in this whole COVID education mess that will really bother you and get under your skin! For me, it’s obviously been the fact that my baby can’t see his caregivers’ mouths. For you, it might be that your child can’t physically come close to her friends. Or that your child has to wear a mask to school. Or it might be that you decide to homeschool, and you worry that the quality of your child’s education won’t be the same.

For now, rest in knowing that God knows the unknowns. You don’t know how your kid is going to respond to this “new normal” at school or at home being homeschooled or attending virtual school, but God does. Give Him your concerns. He has taken care of you and your family so far, and He will continue to do so. Trust Him. He will carry you through the rest of 2020, friend.

The One Thing You Need to Survive the Rest of 2020

I think we all feel a bit like we’re living in the apocalypse.

2020 has been… well… special. Not the kind of special you want to repeat.

Pandemic.
Racial injustices.
Protests.
Riots.
Political uproar.
More pandemic, but people trying to carry on with their lives.

2020.

We’re all pretty sick of it.

For most, 2020 won’t be a big year for accomplishments. For most people, it’s not the year to earn the most money you’ve ever earned or to launch that new business or to have your huge dream wedding. It’s definitely not the year to go on your ideal vacation (unless you managed to do so in January – early March). Oh, and it’s not the year to lose 15 pounds… unless you’re some kind of highly motivated person who is doing at-home workout videos and drinking smoothies (instead of eating brownies and sitting on your bum, like me).

Sure, you’ve organized your pantry a billion times.

You’ve cooked about 15,000 meals at home.

You’ve gone for more walks in your neighborhood than you ever imagined was possible.

But in terms of big accomplishments, many of us are running into walls. It’s hard to accomplish much when you’re just trying to survive one day at a time.

Meanwhile, our world seems more divided than ever. If I hear one more debate over masks vs. no masks, Republican vs. Democrat, black lives matter vs. all lives matter, I might just scream. These topics are important, and people undoubtedly have heated opinions. It’s not wrong to have an opinion, but when that opinion cannot be discussed in a civil manner, there’s a problem.

All of the emotions from the year have caused so many to stop loving.

Sure, people are posting stupid things on Facebook. Sure, they’re doing things that you don’t agree with. But if you want to live like Jesus lived, you’re called to love.

You’re called to love those people posting stupid things you don’t agree with. You’re called to love someone who’s doing the opposite of what you deem right regarding masks, social distancing, etc. You’re called to love that person who’s the exact opposite on the political spectrum.

LOVE.

That’s going to be my one focus for the rest of 2020. Because things are only going to get more heated. If I operate in my own emotions, I’m only going to get more frustrated and angry. But if I ask God to fill me with His love for the world around me, He will.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus, Matthew 22:37 & 39

My goal for the rest of the year will not be to convert people to my viewpoints politically, socially, or economically. It will be to love. Because if we’re truly followers of Christ, we will rise above the divisions and lead the way by showing the world what love looks like.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Jesus, John 13:35

My prayer is that we all come out of 2020 stronger and better than we’ve ever been … that these challenges will be refining fires that shape us into more committed Christ followers who spread love everywhere we go (or don’t go … if you’re self-quarantining:)).


You Need to Be Mothered

Is there anything so glorious as a nap on a rainy day? I just woke up from one. My naps these days are only about 20 minutes, but a 20-minute power nap leaves me feeling dewy and refreshed.

The most glorious part of a nap for me is when I glance over at my two young children and see that they are both still sleeping peacefully. I think about how nice it must be to be tucked in by a mommy, to be prayed over, to be fed and to have every need tended to.

I may not be the world’s best mother, but I long to mother these children better and better with each passing day. And to see them sleeping peacefully or playing happily gives me some level of reassurance that they are being mothered well.

I think about certain moments of my adult life when I have longed to be mothered. Even as a mother, I have moments and days when I have cried and wished for my mother to come make me a bowl of soup or force me to take a nap when I am weary.

This is a crazy time we’re living in. So many people are dealing with mental illness of some sorts — depression and anxiety, namely, that COVID-19 has brought to the surface.

I recently read the powerful book “Miracles and Other Reasonable Things” by Sarah Bessey, and this description of a mother touched me:

“But the sort of mother I envisioned — the way my own mum had mothered me when I was small — would make sure we ate well, drank water, went for walks, took our medication, read good books, challenged ourselves intellectually and spiritually, cared about others, managed our money responsibly, all of that good stuff. A mother who truly loved us would establish boundaries and offer wise counsel and tenderness of rest.”

“How would God mother me today? If God was a strong, patient, wise, kind, no-nonsense, deeply loving mother, what would She want for me today? … Sometimes the answer has been simply: ‘Take a nap, child, I’ve got you.'”

I know it’s hard for some of us to apply the pronoun “She” to God… and that’s really not the point Bessey is trying to make. It’s just that those comforting, nurturing attributes that are usually more female traits ARE from God. But how often do we overlook that these are aspects of our loving God?

So many of us are caring for others 24/7, and the concept of being cared for is so foreign to us. That’s why people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for spa treatments … it’s the only place we can think to go as an adult to be cared for.

I wonder… what would happen if each person dealing with anxiety and depression could be mothered? What if they could feel comforting, non-judgmental arms around them? What if they could know that someone was there to take care of them 24/7?

The truth is, most of us don’t have mothers nearby to mother us all the time. You may not have anyone in your life telling you that you need to slow down, you need to pray, you need to take a bath, you need to eat right, you need to take your vitamins. And if that’s you (that’s me!), I implore you: Ask the Holy Spirit to mother you. Because that is part of who God is… a comforter, a nurturer … One who makes us feel whole again.

You don’t have to do it alone. There is a Helper waiting for you to ask for help.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

What I Can Do Right Now About Racism

I hate racism. But I’m also terrified to write this blog post.

I also hate controversy. I am a peacemaker and a people pleaser. I worry about offending people. I worry that I will likely say something wrong, or someone will misinterpret my words and be hurt. I hate that we can’t sit down with a cup of coffee and discuss our mutual hatred of racism.

But I hate this evil in the world more. I don’t want to be known as someone who didn’t speak out against this injustice. I want to be among those who stand up for what is good and right.

I don’t want to pretend to feel the pain that my black friends are feeling. I haven’t been the victim of prejudice and unfair treatment throughout my life. I’ve been the unknowing recipient of white privilege my entire life. But I want you to know: I care. I will not stand back passively and watch this unfold. I stand with you.

I’ve seen so many posts over the last few days about all of the things we can do to stand up against these evil acts of racism — whether it’s talking to leaders about racism, teaching your kids about how to fight racism, doing one or more of these 75 things, or learning to deal with your own covert racism. And I am all on board.

But one act that I haven’t heard mention of in the last few days is an act that Jesus commanded of us:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Matthew 5:44

Racism is a spiritual issue. It is a sin that has been deeply seeded in this country.

So often we say things like, “All we can do is pray.” Well, what if prayer is the solution? What if prayer is what leads us to know what actions to take?

Can we bring ourselves to pray for racism to be uprooted from this nation? Can we spend a few minutes a day in prayer? Can we actually ask God to show us how to love these people who are committing these evil acts of racism?

If I knew where a white supremacist lived, I would stake camp outside their house with a sign that says, “I’m praying for you,” and literally sit there and pray for that person. (So feel free to send me addresses!) 🙂

Atlanta, Georgia, USA — Martin Luther King Jr. listens at a meeting of the SCLC, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, at a restaurant in Atlanta. The SCLC is a civil rights organization formed by Martin Luther King after the success of the Montgomery bus boycott. — Image by © Flip Schulke/CORBIS

I dare say that if Martin Luther King, Jr. were here today, he would lead us to pray first and foremost. If Jesus still walked the earth, prayer would also be his first move.

So I implore you: Do all the things. Be a part of the non-violent resistance movement. Talk to your political and church leaders about the issues of racism.

But first: Pray.

God, we repent of the sin of racism. We repent of the sins of our forefathers. Come cleanse this nation from prejudice and from the evils of racism. We ask for You to move on this nation and deliver us from the evil of racism.

We pray for those who are committing these evil acts. We pray for centuries of hatred that have been planted in their hearts to be uprooted. You command us to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us, so we ask for You to somehow, by Your grace, give us love in our hearts for these people. We pray that by Your Spirit and through our actions of love, they will be changed.

We pray for change. We pray for You to lead us on how to be agents of change in this broken nation.

In Christ’s Name, Amen.

Is It Time to Get Back on the Treadmill?

For so many of us, it’s time to get back on the literal treadmill. We’ve been cooped up in our houses for a couple months, eating chips and brownies, and we need to lose some of those extra LBS we’ve put on during the COVID crisis.

But I’m referring to a different treadmill here. A treadmill that perhaps we should abandon altogether.

How many of us need to stay off the treadmill of life? My hand is raised. If you haven’t watched this Francis Chan video, “Encouragement to the Church During Hardships,” I implore you to do so. This is the best spiritual insight on the COVID crisis I’ve seen.

Like Chan says, we’re taught from a young age to run hard and strong in life without any stopping. Heaven forbid we get off the treadmill for a break, or someone else might pass us up.

Pre-COVID days, there were times when I longed for more time at home. I just wanted to feel like I wasn’t always rushing from one thing to the next. I even felt guilty for dragging my 3 year old so many places instead of just giving him time at home to be able to play with his toys.

COVID has forced most of us to get off the treadmill. Many are not able to work. Stocks are in shambles. We can’t even go to the gym or a restaurant to hang out with friends.

This time has given us nowhere to turn but within ourselves. It’s forced us to be still. Like Chan says, God is jealous for our attention. This world offers so many shiny distractions. Even during the pandemic, we can spend all day being distracted by social media, cleaning our house, planting a garden, etc. These can all be good things, but God is longing for us to be still and know that He is God.

Society is slowing getting back to normal … or a new normal. Soon, we’ll be going out in public (donning our cool masks). Soon, we’ll be as busy as we’ve always been.

But it’s up to you if you get back on the treadmill or not. Will you live the rat race, or will you live a quieter life? A life that has margin for God to be able to speak? Will you build in times to be still and know that He is God?