Honey for the soul

I love honey! It’s great for all kinds of things. Delicious on a waffle or biscuits, great in many recipes as a substitute for processed sugar, and extremely useful as a healing agent…wait…what?! Yes, for many things, including wounds, burns, memory issues, diabetes, and even some cancers, Honey is a real super-food!

My husband had a slight sore throat the other night–most likely from a day full of talking on Zoom meetings. I had him take a spoonful of my Uncle Robert’s honey before bedtime and he’s right as rain the next day. When I had a kitchen mishap, I applied a little bit of honey to help aid in the healing of that, as well. Thankfully, these are small issues. They provide a context, however, for what I’ve been trying to do for myself lately, in part without even knowing why.

As I prayed for several friends this morning, I thought about the significant changes and losses they’ve recently experienced. My heart hurts for them. As I prayed, I talked to God about them and asked him to strengthen and sustain, comfort and heal these hearts that are just so…raw. That word “raw” just kept ricocheting around in my brain as I prayed and as I continued to pray I think I figured out–at least partly–why that word kept on resonating with me.

I think we’re ALL feeling a little raw these days. Every single one of us has experienced a loss of some kind this year. Although the losses aren’t always equal in magnitude, the sheer number of times we’ve lost our way of living, our ways of working, our ways of gathering, our ways of worshiping…these things add up after awhile. Losing people, losing dreams of what our now should be and what our futures were “supposed” to be, and for some us, maybe even who we used to think we were…that’s more difficult, still.

So, what are our options? Some things cannot be changed right now. Others may have actually been better for us. Whatever category you assign your loss to, our first reaction should be to pray.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

Sometimes I think this might actually be the “poster verse” for 2020, and I’d love that except that my self-evaluation tells me that though I’ve been “faithful in prayer” this year, I’m certain I’ve done a much poorer job with the first two instructions.

As I prayed for my friends, I also asked God if there was anything I could do to help. You see, “helping” is the first nature of a “fixer” and even those of us who also are faithful in prayer often get confused and begin to think that if we could just DO SOMETHING, well, that would just HAVE to be better, right? Wrong. Oh, I’m not knocking the doing. I’m just reminding us (me, mostly, I’d guess) that Oswald Chambers was right when he wrote, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”

God can always do more with a single thought than we can do in a century of doing. Sometimes, we get to help in physical ways. Other times, we do the “greater work” of giving it to God and asking Him to do the doing that needs doing. I think that may actually be part of our issue with prayer. We want to be in control of the doing, the deciding of it and the completing of it. Is that because it means we’ll get the credit? Perhaps. There may be other reasons as well, but I’ve digressed long enough. (grin)

What in the world does all of this have to do with honey?! Well, it’s partly the way I’ve been trying to get better at those first two commands up there in Romans 12:12. I’ve been looking for joy and trying to be hopeful which helps me have a better shot at being “patient in affliction”. Honestly, patience has never been my strong suit, but I am getting better at it simply because I have no other choice, so I’ve become deliberate in my practice of being patient. I’ve been looking for joy in the beauties of nature and trying to share them with others. I’ve been reaching out via emails, texts, and even the US Post Office by sending a physical message of what I HOPE has been peace and comfort and encouragement that I’ve been praying over some of my people so they could know that even if I can’t be there “to help” them, I AM remembering them before the Father and asking for HIM to show up in ways they see and feel.

His Presence (as I pray and make flower arrangements, send notes, and the occasional extremely long phone call) is honey for the soul…and so is the search for ways to share Him even when we can’t always be there with those whom we love and those for whom we pray.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

May you know and feel His Presence today–and look for ways to share Him. There’s an awful lot of people who are needing some honey for their soul.

Grace and Peace!

P.S. Just as I finished writing this–it’s taken me all day long!–I received a sweet message from an even sweeter friend who wanted me to know that although she’s not exactly sure of all the reasons why, she is praying for me. (happy dance, happy dance!) Isn’t God FUN?!!!

In the bag

Our situation changed suddenly again this morning, so as soon as I could get the right people on the phone, I started making calls for help…and sent out more calls for prayer. As I scrolled through incoming messages of encouragement, we also learned of the passing of a dear, sweet friend. It wasn’t exactly the way we had hoped to start the day, but I grabbed my bag and we ran out the door to reach those who could, hopefully, make a difference.

For years I’ve carried a book with me almost every time I’ve left the house…just in case there might arise an occasion when I could eek out a few minutes of reading. It’s not always the same book, of course, or even the same bag, but the action remains the same.

This month, I’ve added a small notebook. It’s one where I’ve been listing my “Thank you, God!” notes every day. I used to wait until I was lying down at night to mentally run through my day and make sure I expressed my gratitude for the beauties of the day just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I try to say my “thank you” in the moment, but…just in case, you know… (ok, maybe that’s just me.) Anyway! I decided to start writing them down because I had such fun listing them at night and then, by the next morning, I knew I’d already managed to forget some of them. While God’s mercies are new every morning, He never promised that my memory would remain as fresh as a daisy, you know. (grin)

Over the past several weeks, I’ve also added some medical files to my collection of things to carry with me. We’ve been facing some new challenges, just as many others have, and as we’ve tried to navigate them, it’s just been easier to have a central place to put things for easy access. My book bag seemed to be the best option.

As a result, things have continued to pile up and my bag has gotten a little heavier than usual: the different books, the notebook of thanks, the medical files, business cards, receipts, an extra key, a couple of pens, and some sticky notes to remind me of things I wish I didn’t have to do, just to name a few. Something occurred to me today, though, as I sifted through my papers and sent out the latest update to those who’ve been praying: I’ve been carrying my own personal reminder with me as we’ve gone from place to place.

No matter what comes or goes, what we remember or forget, the things we see as blessings and all the things we still don’t…God’s got them all in the bag, too. It will never get too heavy or too much for Him to manage. He won’t stress or strain or lose a single thing. His mercies are new every morning and, as my daddy texted me back today, “God doesn’t work an 8-hour day.” Thank you, Jesus!! He’s right up in the middle of everything that’s going on 24/7/365 and He’s got a plan that has nothing to do with my personal comfort and everything to do with increasing my faith and dependence upon Him as He works to make me more like His Son. He’s got nothing but time, so I might as well get with the program…and I thought it might help you to know and do the same. (wink)

Regardless of what you’re dealing with or how heavy your load seems today, I just wanted to share a little bit of joy for your thank-you-list, as well. God’s got your stuff in the bag, too.

“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (CSB)

(Pssst! If you need an extra blessing, go read the whole chapter! It was especially meaningful to me as I read it in memory of our sweet friend and thought of all the beauties and blessings that he is able to tell God “Thank you!” for in person today. ❤️)

Grace and Peace!

Love, God

I have an old creamy-white platter full of heart-shaped rocks that I have found over the years. I have written before about how they’ve come to be something that I look for as I walk and how they always seem to show up just when I need the reminder that God loves me and that He is still paying attention to my prayers.

I know that’s true, of course, because Scripture says so…but…it’s still nice to have a tangible reminder of it when you still haven’t seen the tangible answer yet.

I’ve found myself in need of that reminder again as I’ve waited (doesn’t it always seem like forever?!) on the answer and resolution to multiple prayers around here lately. People I adore and admire are hurting and that’s frustrating for this “fixer” personality. I cannot fix these things or they would have already been done. God must do it.

I’m aware that He’s continuing to build my faith–and theirs!–in this wait, but quite honestly, even after all these years, I’m still not a fan. I grow impatient and frustrated. All that I know about Him screams that He could take care of each situation with a single thought, and I know that He’s up to something good in each case because He IS good! I just can’t see His end game yet…and so I do what I can: I keep praying.

One of my favorite places to pray is while I’m out in the yard. I make a point to go out and do “something” almost every day. There’s something healing and contemplative about mowing the grass, pulling weeds, and picking up fallen branches. I’m putting things to rights as I do those things. I’m making a difference. I’m making it better. While I’m at work fixing what I can, I’m usually praying about something I can’t.

Yesterday, I spent several hours doing just that. With some early morning help from a strong young friend, I began to fix what I could. Oddly enough, for this one who usually doesn’t like monotony, the idea that this task is a regularly needed and predictably repeatable one doesn’t frustrate me. I think that’s because each conversation with God is a new one…even when we’re covering old ground.

Sometimes I can become so task-focused that I forget to look up. I keep my eyes on the task and not on the goal. Yesterday, in the midst of the task, I looked up. What I saw made me stop in my tracks and be grateful that my camera was close at hand.

God sent me another heart! You can see that it isn’t new. It’s been there for quite some time. At some point, a branch fell off. It was a big one–and one I probably picked up and carted off to the fire pit a long time ago…all without noticing what God was doing. I love that! He kept planning and providing so I would FINALLY look UP and find it…right when I needed it most.

It was like a great big “Hey, Becky! I’m listening! Love, God” sign out in the woods. More than that, it was a reminder that He is still faithfully at work providing all that is needed for all of these prayers and all of these people I’ve been praying over for the longest long time.

“Message received, God. Message received…and, well played, by the way! That was cool. I know we’ll have more of these conversations in the years ahead. Thanks for taking the time to work on my heart (both of them!) and for making me look up to You for what needs fixing.”

As you talk with God today, think about how you can share His love with those around you. What can you do while you wait on Him?

Grace and Peace!

Are you settled or settling?

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran’s son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.” Genesis 11:31 (CSB)

It had been a hard time. Previous verses tell us that Terah had recently lost an adult son and found out that one of his new daughters-in-law wasn’t been able to bear children. That was especially unfortunate in their society because she (Sarai) was married to his oldest son Abram, who would later become Abraham. HE was the heir and supposed to carry on the family name and lineage. It must have been, indeed, a difficult time for all of them. Perhaps a change of scenery and location would be in order? THIS place certainly hadn’t been filled with good memories. So, a plan was made, a destination was chosen, bags were packed, and off they went.

According to the maps, the party most likely traveled along the Euphrates River. It would have made for easier travel–especially with a larger group and all of their household. What changed the plan? We have no idea. We’re simply told that at about the half-way point, “they settled.” Maybe they were tired. Maybe they were sick. Maybe the journey was tougher than they had expected. Who knows, maybe it was just pretty and the people were nice there, but either way, they stopped moving forward and they settled.

Being settled isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite nice to feel that way. It indicates a stability and has a certain indication of peacefulness about it. It feels like you made choices and you’re happy with them. It speaks of fulfillment. Settling is a whole different picture that speaks of quitting, giving up, choosing to make do with less. It has little to do with peace and abundance. Do you see the difference? Are you settled or are you settling?

These are the things that ran through my mind this morning as I read this verse again for the who-knows-how-manyth time. In fact, I saw quite a few similarities from this ancient text to our current year. Chapter 11 starts off with the news reel from the Tower of Babel/Babylon (yes, they are the same Hebrew word…interesting…) where all the people in the world had gathered together and made a plan and a goal…and then God showed up and chaos descended. (what?! YES!) Suddenly, they didn’t understand each other anymore. What followed was the separations into much smaller groups, a more insular/isolated society, a significant decrease in communication between those groups, and–in a shocking fulfillment of God’s previous instruction to “fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1)–a spreading out into uncharted territories. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

It’s been a tough year around the world. For many people, “nothing” has gone according to plan or expectation. Just when they thought things were going to HAVE to get better, they didn’t. Most of those optimistic resolutions from January have long-since faded and many people (around the world!) are just tired of being sick and tired of the constant chaos and the uncertainty. We miss the comfort of the familiar and the predictable. We miss feeling “settled” to a certain extent…but that doesn’t mean we have to “settle” in our lives. There are still options for moving forward and making progress.

Will that take more effort than it did in the past? Probably.

Will we need to move out into some uncharted territories and start finding new ways to communicate and reach those goals? ABSOLUTELY.

Will it make us stronger in the long run? I say “YES!” and praise God for that!

Do a self-evaluation today! Are you settled (where you need to be?!) with your choices or are you settling for less than God has for you? What are some of the goals that you previously had and have now abandoned? While some of those may be “good abandonments” (yes, I just made that word up!), are there some goals that you need to reconsider and start fresh with today? Are there some areas for change–NOT just for the sake of change, but for GOOD!–that you need to take up again…or areas where you need to stop and make adjustments/head new directions?

While we can celebrate the fact that God never changes (Numbers 23:19, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8), He often uses chaotic means to push US toward the changes that we need to make. Chaos is OFTEN an opportunity for us to CHOOSE to stand still and see God at work FOR us. It is also an opportunity for us to CHOOSE to listen for His still small voice and know that HE is in control and we are not. Don’t settle for anything less.

One more thing: DO NOT MISS the fact that God showed up BEFORE the chaos at Babel/Babylon! Because He does not change, you can be pretty sure that He is still with us now even in the chaos of 2020 and how it will affect our future. He loves us! He has a plan (yes, STILL!), and it is for our good. Celebrate that today! CHOOSE to celebrate God and His gifts even in the chaos! Perhaps the chaos is meant to guide us in the directions He has chosen to bless us in the days ahead. Do NOT settle for anything less!

Grace and Peace!

Truth-telling

I did something strange today. Well, a little bit strange for a “properly raised” Southern woman, anyway. I wrote the truth and nothing but the truth in a text. (Really?! THAT is strange for you, Becky? Hmmmm…maybe I need to rethink what I thought I knew about you…HA!)

Being raised in the South and right in the middle of the Bible Belt, I was raised to speak the truth. That lesson was drummed into me almost everywhere I went be it church, home, school, or with relatives of every age, size and shape. It was a well-taught lesson and one, I’m certain, that many people have often wished I hadn’t been taught quite so well. You see, I’ve taken it to an extreme level at times and shared truth in a way that definitely broke the SECOND most drilled-into-me lesson, which was, “You have to help people,” followed closely by the third lesson, which was, “Don’t hurt people’s feelings.”

That second lesson wasn’t so much taught, as caught, and it, too, was everywhere I turned. I could be OK with that. I was also smart enough to notice that those who failed to follow Rule 3 were often more criticized than those who broke Rule 1. Yes, we are a polite culture down here in the South, aren’t we? (wink) Right up until someone breaks the rules…and, then, all bets are off…Especially for a Southern woman who is “expected” to be polite even when exhausted and confronted with those who aren’t.

I understood the rules. I followed them…or at least I tried to co-mingle them as much as possible. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it wasn’t as successful. Telling someone “no” when they asked for my help used to be akin to impossible and, according to the standards set around me, it wasn’t very polite, either. That meant I often waited until I was so overwhelmed by all of the “yeses” that my “no” might have come out harder and louder than it should have. I still struggle with some of that home-grown/ingrained guilt even though I’ve managed to get better and better at shedding it over the years. I’ve written about it and taught/counseled others on the need FOR saying it, but there was often this niggling little guilt that followed the “no” even on the things I knew weren’t right or mine to do.

For years, I combated the guilt by following up the “no” with lots of details. Totally-useless-to-the-one-being-told-no details/excuses would come out as though I needed to convince THEM that my “no” had significant validity and they would SEE that I wasn’t being rude with my “no” to whatever they wanted me to do. Breaking that rule about always being polite even/especially (!) when you aren’t going to be helpful is tougher than it looks and definitely tougher than it should be. That gets tiring pretty quickly.

As a strong personality with a profound proclivity to nurture my introverted-self, my first-born rule-following tendencies are still something I have to carefully watch. I have often just gone ahead and done what I was being asked just to avoid the interminable and inevitable conversation that I knew would inevitably follow or be expected because, after all, I COULD do it and it was apparently the polite and helpful thing to do…and doing it would just be quicker. That will wear you out pretty quickly, as well.

I worked on it for years, meaning that I trained myself to say the “no”, to deal with the guilt, and stop explaining far more than necessary, though at times, I still fell back into those early culturally-ingrained habits. I’m still working on this, however! Today I just said “no” and while that should have been sufficient, I still searched for what should follow up that “no”. I worded and re-worded until I was reminded of Rule #1 and realized that telling the truth was the simplest and kindest thing I could say (to ME!), so my text shared my simple “no” because I needed to be here today.

I waited for it to feel impolite, but after several days in a row of “peopleing” more than I’ve been accustomed to in awhile, the relief of putting my own need for this day into words before it became more than a necessity left me little room for anything else. And, according to their response, I don’t think they gave it a second thought. As for me, I was reminded that maybe Rule 1 is first for a reason and extending some much-needed grace to myself allows me to apply Rules 2 and 3 in a personal way at the same time.

“Lord, who can dwell in Your tent?
Who can live on Your holy mountain? The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness,and acknowledges the truth in his
(or her!) heart—” Psalm 15:1-2 (CSB)

“But let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no.’ Anything more than this is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37 (CSB)

Grace and Peace…and personally responsible Margin decisions–especially to all of my other Southern rule-following friends! (grin)

Don’t waste the fast

I was almost asleep when four words flashed through my mind. Usually, I reach over and write things like that down so I don’t forget about them in the morning. I didn’t do that this time. I didn’t need to. Forgetting them wasn’t going to be my issue. Being obedient? Now that might be a different story.

It’s been a bit since I’ve written anything. Our world has been so full of words–most of them so loud, hateful, obnoxious, or inflammatory that my “quiet”ambitions felt as though they would get lost in the noise, so I waited…and began to renew my study of simple things. In fact, I posted my last blog with something I had written months ago…and it was all about being obedient in the simple things. God has been working on this for a little bit with me. It is, perhaps, that I am a slower learner on some things than on others, and on this topic, in particular. (hmmm…)

I’m a “fixer” and when something’s wrong, I’m usually the chick with a plan, but I cannot fix all that is wrong right now. My best option is to be in the Word and keep asking God to do all of the fixing and, if He wouldn’t mind, could He please start with me? You have to mean it when you ask God for stuff. He tends to take you seriously. (insert tiny grin here.)

Way back in 2018, God began to push me about adding Margin to my life. Every time I thought had I cut my schedule “enough” I would start to feel pushed to trim even more. It was disconcerting for this one who has always stayed busy doing something…anything, not to appear lazy, I guess. Laziness is a sin according to the way I was raised, and I was determined to let that be the least of mine, so God’s call to Margin took some getting used to for me.

I began to collect a pile of books–which I never made it through…because I was still so busy. FYI, gentle reader: Collecting books is what stubborn learners do when we’re not really sure we want to go “all in” on something. It gives us more time to process, makes it look like we’re being totally cooperative, and provides us with an excuse for why we aren’t just doing it already. (insert eye roll here!) There were books about Sabbath and slow living and simplicity. Seeing those thing listed out here, I am struck that they all begin with an “S” just like the most important other words in my life: Savior and Salvation..and another word that I had also given WAY too high a priority: Schedule. I didn’t know it at the beginning, but God was saving my life in a new way. I’m still not to the end of that and I may never be. It’s so often still a struggle to let go of what you’ve chosen to value and practice with such diligence over the course of a lifetime. I am determined to try, however, so here I am, two years later and still slowly working my way through Margin…and a stack of books.

In her book Abundant Simplicity, Jan Johnson encourages us to truly examine our heart issues.

“Skipping the heart exam puts in grave danger of making simplicity practices about external behavior only. The Pharisees partially ruined fasting and Sabbath-keeping by making them external practices without looking within. They did not practice these diciplines with an openness to hearing God speak or to discern God’s invitation for today.”

She follows up a bit later with a challenge to read Matthew 6:24 every day for a week and ask God to show us how our actions have revealed the “masters” in our lives. When I did that, I found that I had begun to stray from Margin and long for the return to the master of Schedule.

Schedules aren’t a bad thing unless you let them be in charge instead of God being in charge of them. God had used the practice of Margin to save me and my sanity back in 2018, just so I could actually survive 2019. Having done so, I was revving up to return to “business as usual” in a number of life areas during 2020. Not every area, you understand…just the ones that made me feel more in control. It turns out that God isn’t the least bit interested in my being or feeling in control. Imagine that.

So many changes to the entire world have occurred in this year of 2020, that I have begun to think of it as the “year of the fast” in which we are refraining from all kinds of things for a season. If I fail to use this time of necessary fasts and ignore the spiritual lessons to be gained, I will have wasted it. Wasting time still sounds like laziness to me, and I am still determined that that will be the least of my sins.

How have your actions revealed unintended priorities lately? Who/what is in charge of YOUR schedule and does that need to change? How has God used the events and circumstances of 2020 to speak to you? Have you asked Him how He wants to use this to bless you in the years ahead or are you simply chafing under the challenges? Don’t waste the fast…even if it wasn’t your idea to refrain from certain things in the first place.

Remember, God is still in control. He has a plan–and it is for our good.

Grace and Peace!

Make it simple

My day was a simple one. I got up when the alarm went off. I made breakfast for my husband. I got him off to work and started in on my plans for the day. I couldn’t wait! I was doing what God has been pushing me toward for quite some time. I was creating.

I’ve written before about how one of my favorite things about God is that one of the very first things we learn about Him is that He is our Creator. Imagination comes straight from God and today, I used mine to finish up a present for a friend. I can’t post it yet–it would ruin the surprise–but just knowing that I was doing what He has been asking me to do was enough to make the day amazing.

As I completed the last stroke and washed out my brushes, I realized I would soon be turning this project loose. I have to say that thought makes me a little sad. A part of me is on that canvas. While I hope that it will find an appreciative home, that’s not up to me. My job was to paint it…and pray for my friend while I did so.

I know all of the details about this painting. I picked the canvas size on purpose. I chose the subject matter and created a design based on many of the details that I know about my friend. I did all of that…and yet, I also believe that GOD was doing it through me…just for her. Once again, He’s showing up to remind us that we are connected in many ways-not the least of which is that we both belong to Him.

After working on this painting for several days, I wish I knew more of the details about what He’s up to with it, but…does it really matter? Isn’t obedience in the moment enough?

It should be.

Obedience should always be just that simple. 

What is God asking YOU to do today? Don’t overthink it; just get busy doing it. You’ll be glad you did.

Grace and Peace!

P.S. I actually wrote this blog on December 4, 2019, but I never got around to publishing it. I thought today might be a good day to do that. Here’s a picture of the painting and she loved it. (PTL!)

Daily reminders

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.” Isaiah 26:3 CSB

Today’s verse popped up in my email about the same time as the reminder to pray for some very important people in my life. It happens every morning. The verses change, but the reminder stays the same. I don’t actually “need” the reminder anymore because it’s been in place for several years, but I leave it in place because I don’t want to get too far into my day before I pray for theirs.

The reminder says, “Pray for Hank.” He’s my youngest nephew and, although his name is the only one listed, I pray for all three of my nephews because of that reminder…before I move on to the rest of our family.

Today’s verse spurred today’s prayer and reminded me that in our very complicated world, the best things are still the simple ones.

“Father God, today I’m asking for them to reminded of the simple truths in life. The simplest one I can think of is that they will always be loved by You, no matter what else happens. Give them confidence in that truth and and help them remember that they were created for Your glory. Help them to find ways to focus on that even on the most complicated of days. Guide them in ways of wisdom and help them have fun today, God. Use them to bless others and make this world a better place because of Your presence in and Your kindness through them. Keep them dependent on You, God, so that they can also experience Your peace. Thank you for giving them to us, God. I am grateful for each of them. Amen.”

As strong young men, they might get a little bit embarrassed by this public post if they ever read it, but I learned a long time ago that being embarrassed sometimes by people who will love you always is a part of life…and it makes for some really good memories as you get older…and the days get complicated and you need to be reminded of the simple things.

Grace and peace!

 

 

Corresponding

This pandemic has a lot of us in a muddle. Our plans and schedules–and many of our goals!–for 2020 have, so far, gone right out the window.

It’s difficult to plan and plant for growth when you’re still reeling from the latest blows of hard winds and whim. That’s what a lot of this feels like to me. Wind and whim. Questions abound about whether or not the wind is gale force and whether or not the responses to it are whims or solutions that will actually provide protection. I’ve had more than a few conversations about simple life tasks that we used to take for granted–like breathing without a mask!–and questioned if they’re an overreaction or an underreaction to what we’ve been told. It’s all more than a bit surreal and a-rhythmic…and not at all comforting.

Sometimes my own comfort levels with timing and personal rhythm blinds me to beautiful fact that God made us individuals and not cloned automatons. Oh, I am well aware of the fact–all the while often failing to celebrate the beauty of it! We are gloriously “messy” in our differences…and yet…those same glorious differences can frustrate the daylights out of me at times when I’m certain my way makes the most sense and would be ever-so-much more efficient.

I tend to power through tasks so I can be available to focus on relationships. “They” may actually use the tasks as a vehicle to focus on building relationships. Both approaches get things done and value relationships. Neither one is right or wrong. They’re just different…and different often bothers us more than we want to admit. I hope the differences also teach us something valuable for the day when we’re finally able to return to more and larger social gatherings.

I found myself contemplating these things as I read Genesis 2:18 this morning.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” (CSB)

More than just the story of God creating humanity, it is a blueprint for relationships. Even a deeply introverted person like me can see that! We need helpers to get the work done. We need responders to build relationships. It helps us be most effective for both tasks and relationships when we are CO-responders to those around us. Total isolation can kill the work load and the spirit.

I got stuck in that word “corresponding” and I started thinking about our recent times of being confined together–and separately. In order for there to be a need for response, someone must step up and take an action, make a decision, or simply bring up a topic for discussion. Leadership means using wisdom as we choose what areas need change and which ones should be allowed to remain in place.

I see the value of a unified approach to our current circumstances and yet remain uneasy about “herd mentality” thinking.  What works in one household (or marriage, or friendship, or nation!) may not be as wise in another. Once again, our differences make us messy, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing?

Here’s hoping we all find our rhythm soon…or, at the very least, learn to find joy in our a-rhythmic dances together.

What differences are you finding, celebrating, and learning from in this season of life? How are you co-responding to make life better for those around you? What tasks are you able to lay aside for the moment and which ones have helped preserve your relationships and make life better for you during this time of social distancing? Sharing is caring! (grin) Your solutions may lighten the load for someone else!

Grace and peace!

It is finished

I finished my Every Word challenge yesterday! It was a “read the Bible through in 90 days” challenge and although I had expected it to take me 97 days and end on Easter Sunday, due to my taking some time off early on in the process, I… ummm…got a little bit excited and read ahead. (grin)

Tuesday night, as I sat down in my chair, my eyes teared up enough that my husband asked me what was wrong. Nothing, actually. I had just realized that I would be through in less than 12 hours. He picked on me a little bit about it because we had already talked about my plan to start over and do it again…at a slightly slower pace. 

While I understood that, this challenge and the sharing of it with my friend Jody and her husband, the Lenten season, the discipline it took to stay on course, the joy of connecting with these ancient words and with the Ancient of Days that they illuminate and illustrate (especially in this current time of year uncertainty!)…well, this read-through has been absolutely amazing.

Along with connecting some previously unconnected dots, this chronological reading has consistently reminded me that God has a plan and it is still for our good even when we aren’t aware of it, don’t like it, or are fully committed to it! That consistency and commitment to an ages-long timeline is impressive–especially in contrast to a culture known for instant gratification, changing whims, trends, and pursuit of the “now”/”me first” focus that we typically see today.

This reading has been grounding…and I’m typically considered to already BE pretty grounded. It was challenging to my schedule and to some of my previously held ideas about what God expects of me personally, while it has solidified other areas in my faith and life-walk. In short, it has been the perfect Lenten challenge that, oddly enough, since “I” didn’t plan it (grin)…ended on the last day of Lent.

It is finished.

Those words that Jesus uttered from the cross stick with me because they are true of His short life here on earth. They are true about his personal, physical Presence in the daily lives of those He knew and lived with during that time. They are true of His unimaginably painful death on the cross. They are true in that they signal this assignment from the Father was ended and He was choosing to complete it as they had always planned. These words are true…

…and yet there’s still so. much. more!

They mean that WE–all these centuries of time later!–can still have a personal relationship with God today! They mean that our assignment to share this Good News is not completed! These words mean that our lives have a higher calling and a deeper purpose than just “getting through” and the pursuit and accumulation of personal awards and acknowledgements.

These words mean eternal life is possible for us! They actually mean that GOD IS NOT FINISHED! He has, in fact, a lot more left for us to do. 

As we celebrate this Easter in all of its familiarity and all of the simultaneous strangeness that has accompanied our current battles against a pandemic, I find both the peace and the challenge inherent in being finished with this reading through the Bible to have changed me for the better. I am celebrating with an intensely personal joy this year because I’ve been drawing closer to God through the reading of His Word. I have a deeper desire to please Him and tell others about Him. I look forward to starting over and learning even more–at a much slower pace!–as I  make my way through the pages of God’s Word AND the days ahead in my calendar.

Yes, it is finished…and life has just begun.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSV)

If you’re not sure what the verse above means, please contact me! I’d love to share some good news about what they can mean to you!

Grace and Peace!

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!