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Tracing My Steps

I’ve been remembering my first steps with God and thinking about friends who have recently become Christ-followers. When I became a Christian on June 1, 1978, I didn’t know much about God. I knew that He loved me and sent His Son to die for me so that I could have life to the full. My eyes were suddenly opened to the spiritual wrestling match that had gone on to deliver me, safe and sound, to God’s door. For the first time I connected the dots of all the different people who shared with me about Christ and all the ways God protected, guided, and provided for me.

It’s true for every new believer. They can look back over their life and see ways that God was loving them, guiding, protecting, speaking, even waving at them. I’m here! Over here! That’s Me, loving you! I sent that person to shine a light for you. I sent those friends to be truth for you! I see it clear as day for my friends new to the faith. God has been wooing them all along.

At the end of his life, Moses recounted the ways God cared for him and the nation of Israel. He said of Israel: “God found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, So the Lord alone led him, and there was no foreign god with him.” (Deuteronomy 32:10-12)

God found many of us in a desert land. Oh, it might have looked fine on the outside, but the inside was an empty wasteland. As Moses says, God encircled us, instructed us, and kept us as the precious apple of His eye. Like an eagle builds and fluffs a nest for tender young, so God hovered over each of us and carried us up into His protective care.

There is a provision in the Spirit of God, so rich it is hard to describe. My outer world, swirling with Coronavirus worries, is in stark contrast with the beauty and provision in my inner world. Moses said that God would give the produce of the fields, honey from a rock, and milk and meat from the flock and the choicest wheat and wine. God takes good care of our physical needs. Emotionally, spiritually, relationally Christ cancels out our fear, our dread, our hatred, and fills us with goodness, love, and faith. Where we were a “howling wilderness” inside, now we are filled with the choicest provisions.

Have you recounted the many ways God made a way for you? My friend, take time today to remember God’s goodness in your life and give Him praise.

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What We Feed Grows

Where our attention goes, energy follows. If we feed any habit, good or bad, it grows with the feeding. To create culture, we must focus on the things we want. Right now, we have the incredible opportunity to slow down and choose our focus. We can clarify what really matters and shift our attention to make it happen! Are you interested in creating a culture where the people in your life feel honored and understood, valued and appreciated?

This coming Sunday is a scheduled day of focusing honor on one person: our moms. I believe in going all out on Mother’s Day, and here’s why: I believe in creating a culture filled with honor, love, and compassion. I believe we must intentionally foster honor for women as our society often marginalizes or objectifies them. In many households it is the mom who serves the family the most, and yet receives the least amount of thanks. I believe in creating a culture that honors service and responds with gratitude.

What happens when Mother’s Day is no big deal? Everyone loses! Our children don’t learn how to demonstrate honor and respect. A watching community fails to perceive the value of motherhood. And let’s face it, us moms are giving it all we’ve got 24/7 and a genuine expression of love would be like oxygen to our soul!

But let’s get practical, what does going all out look like? This is a day to hit all the love languages. Don’t hold back! Encourage her with words of affirmation in what you say or write. Create quality time together. Make or buy a gift that shows your thoughtfulness toward her. Find a chore that could be done without her having to ask. And hug her! We all long to know that we are loved and appreciated for who we are, not just what we do.

It took me a few years as a mother to realize that I need to communicate in the week leading up to Mother’s Day what I would like to see happen. Moms, set the expectations for your day! No one can read your mind or guess what feels honoring to you. Let your family know ahead of time what makes you feel uniquely loved, appreciated, and honored.

One of the many, many things I love about Jesus is that He provided for His mother at the end of His life. Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked at His mother and committed her care and provision to His closest disciple, John. (See John 19:26-27) Throughout His life on earth, and even while He was dying, Jesus created a culture of honor toward women. Women were the least and last in the society of His time and women continue to be the least in our society. I believe in following Jesus’ example of honor, love, compassion toward all women, but especially the women in our life today. Bless you this week my friend, and may you create a beautiful, honoring culture in your home.

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The Rona Got Me Down

In the fourth week of sheltering in place, I crashed. I folded to the forces of apathy, disorientation, and despair. Oh, I started this forced sabbatical with plenty of grit and gratitude: I came screeching in from traveling through Israel with a group of godly women on pilgrimage. Our trip abruptly ended due to Corona fears and I wanted to kiss the ground when I finally made it home. I felt the same gratitude when my middle daughter emerged from a wilderness trek in the mountains of Patagonia and raced for home.

Like many families, we are juggling multiple schedules as all of us are working from home. We each carved out a work space: my husband took the office, piling up yearbooks to build a computer stand for his laptop. My oldest daughter established her space on the kitchen counter, my youngest daughter sits with her laptop on the back porch as she finishes out her senior year at USC, virtually. Likewise, my son is finishing his senior year of high school online, alone at the kitchen table. My traveling daughter is pacing the floor. We have night owls binge watching Netflix, while I am the early bird, up to meet with God. None of us are sleeping well.

The transition we are navigating is difficult, albeit healthy in ways. From eating out at least four times a week, we are now cooking every meal together. We’ve reluctantly returned to chore lists like when the kids were young. We worship together several times a week to stay encouraged. New skillsets are emerging. We’ve learned all about Zoom. We finally opened up a slackline kit we got for Christmas. We tried to do a puzzle and remembered we all hate puzzles. My son wrapped chicken pineapple sausage in bacon, cooking it to a perfectly glazed crisp. “Maybe I should be a chef” he exclaimed after relishing the last bite. All of these adjustments take place in the privileged position of relative stability—relationally, financially, physically, and spiritually.

What I’ve learned about myself in this “new normal”: even though I teach moms You are the thermostat of your house. You set the temperature for your family life! The truth is, I’m a thermometer. I’m not setting the temperature, I’m measuring it. Constantly! All the grief and anger my two seniors feel about missing the last hooray of school continually register on my radar. I’m feeling the sadness of my oldest daughter that her June wedding will most likely be postponed. I feel the anguish of my traveler as she’s like an eagle locked in a tiny cage. I’m feeling the stress of my husband working ten-hour days in a makeshift office. I’m feeling everyone’s frustration about our crappy internet and missing their friends.

I’m deeply grateful that we are all healthy, safe, employed, and together. Yes, of course, we are going to make it through this difficult time. But damn, the ache of all this Rona Recoil hangs heavy on my heart. In many ways, I’m not the strong leader that I thought I was. Today I’m trying to shake off the temperature I’m sensing and set it by something greater, something stronger and eternal: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10) I’m running, maybe crawling, into His strong tower. I hope that you are running into His Presence, Safety, Provision, and Rest this week! Bless you my friends!