the corona chronicles/abundance

Yesterday wasn’t a great day in iso. It was rainy, work was a mess, I was knee deep in emails and Zoom calls and new school-at-home rhythms, and had more than one unsettling conversation. By the end of the day I was 100% done. This morning I woke feeling still a bit weary and let down.

This morning, however, I ALSO got to experience one of the sincere blessings of this season of social distancing. One of many.

A dear friend and her hubby and two girls cooked all day yesterday for their friends and they delivered it to our front door. So much food, all the fixins, and a sweet note of prayer and blessings written on the bag FULL of food. It was overwhelming, to be honest, and we just feel so loved on. In times like these, we get to see more of who people truly are – more of who we are. People serving one another, speaking words of life and encouragement in social media circles, friends calling and texting to check in on how we are all doing, restaurants and caterers delivering food to hospitals for the staff, individuals sewing masks for first responders, business owners changing their production to make hand sanitizer and making donations to help with all that needs to be done to care for our communities.

It is a beautiful thing.

What are you sharing today? Each of us has a unique gift, therefore a unique opportunity to love on others in our own way. What an amazing opportunity to live our faith out loud – to use what we have to bless others. As a unit, as a community, we are complete when we each share from what we have. May you live in abundance today!

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the corona chronicles – day 20-ish/course correction

It’s Monday morning and after the email we received from the school district, it would appear we are still planning for weeks at home and there is a little more directive in our strategy. To be honest, we have found a bit of a rhythm at this point and I struggle at the thought of moving things around again. There will be phone calls with the teacher for my younger one and the possibility of some Zoom class meetings for my high schooler. I had already made plans to drive to pick up some things from a family member and will be gone much of the day, so, well, I hope nobody calls today.

This past week we were slated to see a massive wave of sickness, if we were to follow the curve of communities that have gone before us. While we did receive word that there is a plan for the military to begin building a military hospital at Century Link Field in Seattle, and, I am still getting reports from friends about the increase in numbers of COVID patients, things seem to be at a bit of a lull… Perhaps we truly have gotten a bit ahead of the curve, perhaps the storm is still brewing.

From New York we are receiving large numbers of deaths per day, but compared to the standard numbers, they are actually only slightly higher than the norm. It always amazes me how our media continues to put spins on stories in a sincere attempt to inflame and incite. Their parents must be so very proud.

Last week my inbox was full of prayer requests for sickness, loss of work, anxiety…This past few days has remained steady, but there are praise reports beginning to come in and I am so blessed by stories of good reports (no COVID), healings, supplemental work and relationship building.

Reports still conflict with whether or not our president is doing enough. In January when he stopped all flights to China and put together a team to begin to address the potential threat of the Corona Virus, he was being racist. Currently he hasn’t done enough. While no authority on any of this, I have lived enough life to know that this is the standard – regardless of who is in office, we just tend to support our own choice for leadership and throw shade on the ones we didn’t. With so many opinions, articles, commentaries, by private citizens as well as top professionals in the field, the truth to all of this remains cloudy.

And honestly, I am fine with that.

The reality in my household is that we are being super wise, AND, choosing faith. We are effectively taking our situation, the consequences thereof, as well as the blessings, and choosing joy in light of it all. Life is messy; a crisis merely accelerates and elevates our innate response. Whatever rises to the top now is who we are at our core – full of fear, opportunistic tendencies, blame, bitterness, or

hope.

What we choose to do with this newly discovered information can either reinforce our current trajectory, or becomes a jumping point for self-evaluation and course correction. And, sows seeds into our own future and the legacy we are building for our children and communities.

Today I am really focusing on the long game. What do I want to pour into this season, to plant, as it were, to prepare myself, and my family, for the seasons to come. As the world spins around us, where will we stand? Where will you stand?

the corona chronicles – more than a virus

Well, I went to write the next installation of the Corona Chronicles and evidently I haven’t backed up since January so when for some bizarre reason my site crashed, I lost all the posts since the 22nd.

Delightful.

Washington State is now in full quarantine mode – we are watching numbers increase and I am receiving a lot of prayer requests in the area of protection (nurses, doctors, first responders, prison guards) and finances. So very many people being let off for a season. Finding ourselves also in a space of uncertainty, somehow knowing that so many people are in the same situation doesn’t seem to quiet the 3 a.m. voices in my head. I trust God, AND, I am a person of action.

I always tell my kids God blesses the work of our hands, not the ideas in our head.

How much do I need to do? What can I do?

The number of people online is fun. And, overwhelming. I can literally take any sort of class I want to, choose from dozens of podcasts and inspirational writings, and exercise live with trainers, but all I want to do is get really quiet. I can’t seem to find my footing right now and am experiencing input overload. Thankfully, I was just sent some more work – that feels like something I can get my head around.

There is no longer a sense of urgency – it feels more like a standstill. You can feel the tension as we are all waiting. For something. Anything. Those on the front lines are waiting for the waves to get higher, those at home are waiting for God to move, and we are all walking in the full knowledge of the truth that we have zero control.

All we have now are our beliefs.

Many have referenced this season as being similar to the last plague God sent to the Egyptians (no, I do not in ANY way think God sent this). The passover, when God’s people put the lamb’s blood over their doorposts and the angel of death passed over their homes … This, is what I think of. The Blood of Christ over my home and waiting in prayer and hope until the storm passes. It is simultaneously overwhelming, scary, inspiring, hopeful, powerful, and uncertain …

May the blessing of the Lord be with you today – and may the curse of this virus and all the lack it has brought to this world, stay far from your family and resources. May grace and peace and provision be yours. We can do nothing but He can do all things.

Shalom.

death filter

I was reflecting this morning back to the day we celebrated my paternal grandfather’s graduation to heaven.

To start, my family didn’t frame it that way – death and eternity and a crown of glory sitting with Jesus was not the filter through which I was raised to process such things. We held a funeral; a sad affair where we all gathered in the small chapel to sing Amazing Grace and somberly recite some verses about eternity. Afterwards, we all retired to the even smaller reception area downstairs where the adults quietly ate and whispered amongst themselves, giving guard to their tones, as to not sound too joyful to see one another at such a devastating occasion.

Meanwhile, my siblings and I awkwardly answered obligatory questions and shared bits of our lives with perfect strangers.

Struggling to know how to carry the weight of my own grief, I walked back up to the sanctuary alone. I remember feeling like I was breaking some sort of rule, but reasoned with myself that God wouldn’t mind.

The sun shone brightly through the beautifully framed windows, and I remember feeling a wave of comfort wash over me. It was quite unlike anything I had experienced up to that point in my fourteen-year-old life. To be honest, I am not certain if the window panes were stained glass, or merely colored by the rays of sun, but I remember gold and orange, a filtered air and quiet blanket over my senses.

God came to sit with me. And the moment passed.

Heading back downstairs was nearly unbearable. It was grey down there. The sunlight couldn’t reach the windows in that daylight basement, and I took a deep breath as I made my way back into the life I knew.

Back to little hope. Little faith. No joy.

As an adult, I am working through the revelation that the filter we choose through which to navigate life is far more important than life itself. Truth be told, I have walked through more things than many people I know, and I have come out on the other side (mostly) better than when I went in. Stronger. Wiser. More hopeful. Not because I am better or more equipped, but because I choose to process each season and event through a lens of faith. I truly believe that ultimately, my God is in control, and that even when my free will, or the free will of others, imposes seemingly insurmountable challenge upon my life, that He can, and WILL, bring about something good from it.

Even, if the only thing that changes is me.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. – Isaiah 9:2

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace. – Luke 1:79

When Love Sounds Like No

How do we love well in the face of someone else’s sin?

I was speaking with a friend about a rather frightening incident we had experienced recently – someone had pounded quite aggressively on our front door late at night. When we answered it there was no one there, but just a few minutes later someone was trying to break into our neighbor’s shed. The young man then headed straight towards my husband at the back gate that separates our two properties, where he was met less-than-gently by my husband, and sent on his way. I shared with my friend my concern that there is an ever increasing population of homeless people in our area, and that while all people are of equal value, I am cautious of the many who are also under the influence of illicit drugs; another huge problem in our community.

She asked me, how do we love them well in a situation like that? My response was that sometimes love sounds like “no.”

Being loving means being kind, but it does not always come off as gentle, or submissive. Sometimes the best way to love another is to set and hold firm to expectations; to protect ourselves from the decisions of others, AND, to protect THEM from themselves. Fear of loss or consequence which exceed one’s personal selfish motives can allow opportunity for reevaluation and can change the outcome of any given situation.

I am protected from harm and they are hopefully protected from their own lack of personal judgement or awareness in the moment.

We often feel badly saying no to others because we ourselves are often self indulgent and desire our own way, even when it’s potentially hazardous. The self destructive nature of humankind made its grand entrance in the Garden of Eden and remains true to this day.

I personally struggle most with denying those with whom I am in personal relationship with. Being wired to keep the peace, it can be a challenge to upset the apple cart, so-to-speak, and to draw a line in the sand around certain behavior or words. But, this is where we must choose to allow our personal authenticity and core values to rise up and establish their authority in our lives and within the most intimate of relationships. It is only here where love is truly allowed to reign.

Heading into a new year, seize the moment and take inventory of areas in your own life which may need shoring up, and areas where you can choose to love others just a little better. Choose today to love others enough to say no.

It All Becomes More Clear

While the bible itself holds more words than I will probably ever have the bandwidth to fully digest in this lifetime, there are some scriptures, some verses, which become commonplace after spending some time in the church. As humans, we tend to be drawn to certain scriptures and can sometimes become a bit numb to those which we have been repeatedly exposed to. Today in my quiet time, I felt drawn to Ephesians 4, and while I have read it many times before, I could sense the depth of understanding shift in my spirit. I have inserted a few of my thoughts into Paul’s writings.4

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, (we are all called, each with a unique purpose)with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, (to bear with would imply long-term relationship, a commitment to the fellowship)endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling (our hope is found within our calling, we walk in hope when we walk in our design)one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Complete unity comes when we walk in our unique purpose, alongside and in community with others also walking in their own calling.)

But to each one of us grace (power, authority, sanctification, inspiration, strength) was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:

“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive, (gave us freedom!)
And gave gifts to men.”

(Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

(It is the Lord who fills, and fulfills, ALL the things).

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, (EVERY gift edifies the body and is vital) 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith (unity comes WHEN we walk in our calling and support others in theirs) and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, (We are able to stand against anything in this life when we are walking in our calling!) 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth (Growth, relationship and personal fulfillment comes from walking in our divine purpose) of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, (Chasing superficial, unspiritual, self-serving things is futile and none of it lasts or completes, our lives.) 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, (Numbness, self preservation, depression, and complacency blind and take captive those who have lost their divine purpose) have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Do not judge those who do not enjoy the life God offers, but rather pray for them lovingly and walk yourself in the fulness of who you were created to be so you have the capacity to help those who are in need of love.)

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, (We are renewed when we begin to seek to understand what our purpose is and why the Lord lays out what holiness looks like. Fulfillment comes as we evolve into the divine being we were created to be.) 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil. 28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (When we let darkness in, it’s not about being ‘bad,’ but we give place for darkness to take us over and steer us away from our purpose, our fulfillment). 29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. (Our words are meant to lift one another up, to encourage and help others, as we help ourselves, in continuing to grow into our purpose). 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

ruler

“Everybody wants to rule the world … not everyone is willing to rule their own heart.”

Watching the news this morning, there was a story about Elon Musk and his mission to arrive at planet Mars before NASA. Having recently visited the NASA Goddard facility in Maryland, I am freshly captivated by the innate desire humankind has for conquering and overcoming. From the beginning of civilization, our nature seems drawn to stretching our tent stakes, discovering new lands, and often overthrowing anyone in our way of taking a new territory for ourselves. 
We are divinely designed for curiosity, and fatally flawed by delusions of grandeur.

Being created in the image of God, it is easy to understand how quickly our personal pride can keep us from achieving that which we were designed to. When we try to operate our machines (self) without referring to the owners manual (Bible), we can quickly find ourselves lost in this big old universe.

What if our desire to discover is intended to be filled in our pursuit of the mysteries of God? As a man is initially drawn to the enigma of his woman, and a woman longs to understand the heart of her man, so does intimate relationship with an eternal God present infinite opportunity for endless discovery of love, joy and true power.

the mismanagement of grace

“One of the greatest obstacles to holy living is the mismanagement of grace. To believe that we can live as we please with no consideration of the law is to deny the very essence of Christ’s life and final sacrifice.” – Heather Valeria Eder

Paul said in the New Testament that all things were permissible but not all things are beneficial. Many in the church today not only choose to filter the Bible through their personal choices, but deeply condemn those who decide to live lives instead, filtered through the lens of biblical truth. The result is a culture that screams for grace while it decries the absolute truth that Jesus said he came to FULFILL the law, not abolish it.

While reading passage after passage about temple measurements and generational lineage in the Old Testament can often feel tedious at best, it is perhaps the single greatest picture we have of the magnitude of what Christ did for us – the chasm between where we are spiritually, and where we need to be to be to experience full relationship with God, is insurmountable. Only when we see how far short we truly fall, can we even begin to walk in the gratitude of the enormity of the distance Jesus covered for us.

Do not neglect the weightier matters as the Pharisees and Sauducees did – your heart’s condition and holiness of living are the very freedom’s Christ died for.

the silence

So many times I have prayed and asked for God to close a door to something I already knew was outside of His will. A relationship I had allowed to become unholy, a temptation that I knew didn’t align with God’s best for me … It’s easy to say we are trying to submit our lives to God, but so often we already know the truth so we try to “wait on the Lord,” to do the heavy lifting, knowing He has already been clear in His Word. God doesn’t just want to tell us what to do; He wants us to learn to live holy, submitted lives. To seek and find. To not only read His Word, but to allow it to become a part of who we are. 
Only when we weigh all things against His holiness, do we find fullness of freedom in this life of faith.

dark side

When offering suggestions to new believers or curious seekers as to what to read first in the bible, Christ followers tend to suggest the New Testament. The truth is that the New Testament is what delineates Christianity from the other major religions, and, tends to be a little easier to digest than the wrath we so often find in the Old Testament books.

And, the truth is, we miss a vital perspective of our salvation when neglected.

Before Jesus, God’s people travelled to the temple to worship. They brought their sacrifices, faithfully practiced cleansing rituals, and adhered closely to Levitical law. When they sinned against God, it was blatant as it was external – creating and worshiping false gods, and sacrificing to them instead of Jehovah, sometimes even of their own children.

Today, when believers receive Jesus as their Savior, He takes residence inside their hearts – becoming a part of who they are. While a blessing to have full access to the power of the Holy Spirit at any given time, humankind also can tend to muffle His voice with the daily things of life, and instead of building tangible idols visible to the eye and easy to identify, we allow emotional and psychological idols to develop in the invisible caverns of our hearts.

To the same degree of power we now have to walk in fullness and freedom …

…. so is the danger of the secrecy and potential destruction of our often secret sin.

When I spend time in the Old Testament, I discover a heavenly Father intent upon doing all He can to redirect the footsteps of His children. As a mother who is firm in keeping her toddler away from hot stovetops and sources of electricity, so is our God when condemning sin that keeps us from the death of hell. When I read the words that to some seem so harsh, I experience the sense of urgency God must have had as He saw His people leading everyone else in a direction from which there is no return.

I see a grace that is in some ways vastly deeper than our earthly version of the grace of the New Testament. And a greater revelation of just how much our God wants to preserve us.

The most brilliant thing about the relationship with Christ is the opportunity to spend a literal lifetime pursuing the active, ever present, never changing but multi-faceted heart of God. What speaks to me may not to you, or just might not today. One thing we can count on, however, is that He promises that His Word does not return void – it will always do what it is designed to if we let it ….

convict

convince

heal

lead

guide

discern

restore

promote.

Allow His Word, all of it, permeate your daily experience. Dive into the pages of the bible daily and discover your world as you never have before.

Even the dark side …