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!

Prepared?

Sooooooo… who saw all of THIS happen ing in 2020 and how are those New Year’s resolutions going for you? (Insert eye roll here!)

There have been so many strident voices across the airwaves and throughout social media over the past several weeks that I just decided to stay quiet here at the blog for awhile. Quiet doesn’t mean inactive. I’ve been preparing…for a lot of things. Feeling prepared makes it easier to see the joy, find the fun, and take better care of those I love. While I know we can’t prepare for every eventuality, being prepared for basic needs frees me up to find ways to enjoy life no matter what else is happening.

Having older loved ones and loving those with compromised immune systems means preparation and occasional self-isolation is a standard part of life for us. It also means that “social distancing” is probably a little easier for us than it is for a lot of people. (grin) We’ve been practicing it for years. (Although I must confess that my rebellious streak struggles more when I’m TOLD to do something…even if I would have chosen to do it anyway. Yes, another eye roll is appropriate here, as well.)

Staying home together during this time has been even more fun than I initially imagined…and I was a little bit excited about it, to tell you the truth. It helps that my husband and I actually like each other and are easily entertained whenever and wherever we find ourselves together. We laugh a lot…yes, even now, and perhaps more so these days since he’s been working from home more.

Aside from making sure we had adequate medicines and a few extra goodies to get us through the “flattening the curve” portion of this excitement, part of my preparations have been about preparing  my heart to keep hearing God’s “still small voice” (1Kings 19:12) in the midst of all the chaos. That gets tougher to do when all of the talking heads and doomsday theorists are vying for our attention… especially if we spend more time with them than we do with Him.

Earlier in the year I started a project to read the Bible through in 90 days. That’s not going to happen. It’s going to take me 97 days, but that extra week was spent loving on family, taking care of some personal business, and taking a much needed rest. I’m satisfied with those choices and the result which means I’ll be finishing up this project just in time for Easter! In fact, I’ll be celebrating both the Resurection AND the Return of Christ in the same day. It seems a fitting thing to do.

Reading through the Word–even at this accelerated pace–has made this time easier on me. I am reminded daily that God’s plan is still in process, He is still in control, and nothing–not even our panic, a pandemic,  or our doubts–can change that. In fact, as I’ve traveled the Word these past weeks, I’ve drawn significant comfort from the fact that God continues to CHOOSE to use the imperfect, the doubting, the fearful, and even the rebellious to accomplish His will and spread His Good News to others in the midst of difficult situations.

Could it be because those characteristics provide the perfect foil for a living, loving, never-changing, always perfect God with a plan to save us from our sin and, often, from ourselves? I think that’s a big ole “YES!”

Have you said your “yes” to Jesus yet? If not, right now is the perfect time to do so. We aren’t promised tomorrow–or even the rest of today. That isn’t a scare tactic. It’s a fact. Saying “yes” to Jesus and asking Him to take away the sin that separates you from God IMMEDIATELY changes your heart, your mind, and your future. Saying “yes” means you are making the most important preparation you will ever make!

Are you prepared for eternity? If not, I would love to share more about my Jesus and how He can change your life today.

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

Grace and Peace!

Time to share! What steps, if any, have you taken to prepare for “the pandemic”, the changes in your routine, or how to take care of your loved ones as we ride out this storm? What are you doing to occupy your heart, your mind, your time, or encourage your spirit?

Road map for life

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Most of us have at least heard these words before. Many of us can quote them. How many of us, I wonder, apply them?

Trust in the Lord–Well, sure! Who doesn’t know that they’re supposed to trust God?! Lots of us give lip service to this part. We SAY we’re trusting, but all the while, we’re scheming and planning our own ways and trying to work the system or get the people in our own systems to meet our own goals and meet our own desires with little to no thought about whether or not those plans actually line up with God’s Word or His heart. While it sounds like a no-brainer to trust the only One in charge…do we really trust Him? What do our prayers say? Are we telling Him how we want things to go or telling Him that we’re willing to go His way? Are we even talking to Him at all?

with all your heart–Oh, my. If we’re having trouble with that first part, whatever are we doing with this one? With ALL your heart? (Did You really mean, our whole heart, God?) What are you doing with your whole heart? Are you focused–in ANY area of life–with your whole heart? Divided hearts seem to be the norm these days. Are we willing to look simple and foolish because we focus our whole (Definition: “all of; entire; total, unabridged…”) heart on the Eternal God who is actually the only way we can have a whole (definition:  “in an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece; intact; unbroken; unimpaired…) heart?

and–you mean there’s more, God?! Yes. There’s more…SO much more!

do not lean on your own understanding,–What happens when we lean? We allow our weight to be carried by something other than ourselves. Hmmmmm…What if we were truly willing to allow for the possibility that we don’t have all of the information needed to navigate this life? Anyone else in NEED of the ability to take a break from trying to do it all on our own and get rid of the self-inflicted (not to mention totally unreasonable and unattainable!) pressure to be infallible? Would that lighten our loads in any way? Don’t we need that?!

in all your ways acknowledge Him–Oh, dear. There’s that word again:  all. Every single one? In EVERY. THING? Yes, and there’s still more! Keep reading! In every single thing we do we are to “acknowledge Him. That word means we’re supposed to:

  1. accept or admit the existence or truth of.
  2. recognize the fact or importance or quality of…to celebrate, to praise, to speak highly of, to accept the validity or legitimacy of…(Becky’s definition: believe!)
  3. show that one has noticed or recognized (someone) by making a gesture or greeting. (Becky’s definition: make a change!)
    That sounds like the ABCs of salvation to me! Admit, Believe, Confess…and be CHANGED so that all the rest of this is even possible.

and He will make straight your paths.–So many times we want to know where we’re going and what we’ll see/do along the way. Keep in mind that this verse does NOT say our paths will be easy, simple, without issues and fault lines and mountains and valleys and…we’re still going to have all of those things and–that’s what makes a trip SCENIC, y’all!! Our final destination changes once we’ve done all of that acknowledging, however, and our path will then lead us straight to HIM even when the route along the way gets “scenic” at times.

Father God, Thanks for giving us a way to come straight to You and making it possible to rest in all that You have planned for our journey. We make that harder than it has to be sometimes. Thanks for being patient and giving us a brand new day in which to make better choices. Help us to lean into You today no matter what part of the road we’re on and be at peace with knowing You’re in control. We make that harder than it has to be sometimes, too. Give us You today in ways that allow others to be blessed and see that they need You, too. Help us to represent You well, God, and give us the ability to praise You on purpose no matter what our “scenery” looks like today.

Grace and Peace.

 

Undivided

I was back on the porch after my walk this morning and back in the Psalms, as well. I love reading through these familiar words that suddenly grab my attention as though they are brand new to me.

Today, God used Psalm 86:11, to do that:

“Teach me Your way, Lord, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name.” (CSB)

“…Give me an undivided mind…” it says. Wow. How long has it been since you had that?! The ESV translates it this way: “…unite my heart…” and I suddenly know and remember out loud that we are the ones who divide our hearts and minds.

We call it multi-tasking and say we’re making progress, but it really isn’t progress if we lose sight of what we’re supposed to be doing: walking in His truth and fearing (honoring, giving reverence to) His name.

Somewhere along the way we got that mixed up. We began to make our own “truths” and revere our own names. No wonder we find ourselves with divided hearts and minds unable to see what is real…and  too often afraid to speak it lest we annoy someone or step on toes that walk in ways contrary to what God says is good.

And sometimes, those toes are our own. Connected to minds that race when we should be resting and are still when we should be working, our divided hearts still fight for relationship with more–when GOD is the only MORE that we ever really need. 

I needed this Word today as I make plans to celebrate this season. I want my celebration to be meaningful and God-focused, praise-filled and prayer-full–AND I want it to continue throughout the upcoming year! Yes, we set aside this season to celebrate the gift of God to mankind and we decorate and we purchase and we revel… and we’re different…for a little while. I wonder what would happen if we used this time of celebration to unite our hearts and minds so that we can walk in HIS truth and be who we were actually created to be: undivided.

Hmmmm…I wonder.

Grace and Peace!

NCN 2020–Day 6

My husband and I were reminiscing over breakfast yesterday. One year ago we were coming off a great and successful show with lots of plans for our business future. Now, we no longer have a business. By it’s very nature, life changes. We had no clue how much that would be true for us this year. You may be in the same boat with us.

Our season for this year has been a difficult one, but we’ve learned a lot. While some of it is stuff we’d really rather NOT know, we now have a pretty solid base of knowledge and  friends/resources with additional information on the subject for reaching out and helping others who also find themselves loving a person with dementia/Alzheimer’s. Our family is blessed in that we’ve continued to work together to figure out the solutions that work for us and be as supportive as possible in the process.

Along the way, we’ve had legitimate times of despair and frustration. That, too, is life. As I walked along the road and talked to God about this yesterday, I absolutely loved that as I ran through the mental list of difficult changes during the past year, I had a corresponding list of blessings that we are now seeing or that have emerged as a result of those changes.

LAMENT IS NATURAL AND NECESSARY, but COMPLAINING DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A PART OF IT.

That’s right. Read that again. (Seriously. READ IT AGAIN. It’s important.)

No matter what changes have come your way since our last NCN, you get the choice about how you’ll react to them…and choosing to acknowledge the losses–even when they are deep and devastating!–without wallowing in the negativity of complaining about them IS possible.

As I type this, I have a list running through my head of friends and family who have faced devastating losses this year. Please know that I am praying for ALL of us as we hurt and as we heal! Whether your loss and lament involves changes at home, at work, at church, or within your circle of love, it is critical that you acknowledge it to heal, but equally critical that you stop complaining about it so that you can move forward.

Lament is NOT just complaining. Look it up.

Mourning the hard losses and difficult changes is natural and is a phase to move THROUGH. Complaining about them keeps them fresh and rehearsing the hurt keeps you bound to it. We need to find ways to use what we’ve learned to help and bless others. Let’s start moving forward toward healing instead of just moving in circles of complaint.

I know. This may seem like an odd post for NO COMPLAIN NOVEMBER. I wasn’t planning to write a post like this, but somehow it just seems necessary today. I don’t know who this one is for, but I’m asking God to bless you. I’m asking Him to be especially close to you today and I’m asking Him to start helping you move THROUGH to the other side so that you can begin to see your own list of corresponding blessings as a result of the changes you’re dealing with today.

You are loved more than you can imagine. God adores you and He wants the best for you! Complaining about it won’t change a thing and, aren’t you ready for a positive change today?

Remember:  You can do this! PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.

Grace and Peace!

 

Location, Location, Location

IMG_20190916_070458056Happy Monday! Rise and shine! OR as my mama’s family used to say, “Feet, hit the floor!” (grin) To be perfectly honest, I didn’t fully understand that last one when I was a kid. It just made me laugh. These days, I’m aware that whether or not I feel like shinin’ when I wake up, my feet still have to hit the floor for things to get accomplished and for me to make the day as good as I can make it.

“As good as we can make it,”of course, is a relative term. It doesn’t mean everything will go as desired OR as planned OR that we’ll have a party and feelings of total fulfillment at the end of the day, but today I was reminded that while we can’t always choose our circumstances, we can always choose our spiritual location. We’re always just as close to God…as we choose to be.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV)

That means even if our “location” today is a challenge for us, we are not alone. God is with us. He is ready to guide us and eager for relationship. We must make the choice to be guided and draw near if we have any hope of navigating this day in a way that honors Him and gives us the benefit of being His in ways that others can see and want to know for themselves.

Regardless of what you’re facing today, I hope you’ll choose to allow God to give you a song. Then, WHEN HE DOES, I hope you’ll choose to sing it loud and clear–and share it with those around you. While the highlighted Scripture above was a specific promise to a specific people, the principle is still the same because our God never changes. We can count on Him to be present–even when we fail to acknowledge Him!–because He has promised to never leave or forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5).

I pray that your week is a rip-roaring celebration of life and that you are fully aware of just how blessed you truly are today. If that isn’t the case (and it CAN be, regardless of whatever you’re facing!), I pray that you will take a moment and make the conscious choice to ask for God to help you see your circumstances through His eyes…and that you’ll be aware that His eyes are looking at you with love. You (yes, YOU!) matter to God and, more than you realize, you and your response to your circumstances matter to the people around you. 

“God Leads His Dear Children Along”  (lyrics by George A. Young, published 1903)

1. In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Refrain: (and THIS is what I’ve been singing this morning)
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

3. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

4. Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.

Location, location, location. Where do you find yourself today?

Grace and Peace!