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A Time For Acceptance

Last Thanksgiving, I received a lot of feedback from a blog I posted. It seemed to touch on a tender topic for many families. This week I’m reposting part of that blog to again remind us about acceptance in our homes. Sometimes we have to take a step back from what we think we know about each other and allow curiosity and openness to reveal what’s new.  Of any years in our lifetime, 2020 and 2021 are surely the years to bring a fresh approach to how we view our family.

Believe it or not, Jesus went through awkward and painful scenarios with His family. In Mark 3, the uncensored version of how His family responded is described: “But when His own people (His family) heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, “He is out of His mind.””  (Mark 3:21) It’s almost as if His family was saying Dude, you are a carpenter not a rabbi! What the heck, man? The brothers of Jesus later grew accustomed to His new position and encouraged Him to go to Jerusalem for essentially a publicity hype to boost His popularity. Scripture doesn’t sugar-coat it by summarizing: “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” (John 7:5) Jesus later defined family as “whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

Jesus spent the majority of His life in His family household. But His family only knew Him in the flesh. The did not know Him in the Spirit. They didn’t know His purpose or calling. They had to grow and process new information about Him just like everyone else. Many people He grew up around could not accept Jesus for who He became. They questioned, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son?” The passage concludes, “So they were offended at Him.” (Matthew 13:55-57)

Is there offense in any of our gatherings? Have we judged people for their choices in the past? Do we know each others joys and sorrows? In our homes over Thanksgiving, people we have known in the flesh will be gathered around our table. Instead of looking at them in the flesh- the way they speak and interact, the ways we’ve always known them to be, why not look at them with spiritual eyes? Ask God to reveal His calling on their life.  Ask God to give a glimpse into HIS heart for our families. 

God alone knows what encourages us. He sees our heart. This Thanksgiving, allow the Holy Spirit to usher in a refreshing presence of curiosity and acceptance. Surely this is the heart of creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion—the message of my book, Gracious Living. I love uncovering ways we can encourage and honor the people gathered at our table.

Blessings to you and your family this Thanksgiving! I’m traveling for the next few weeks but I’ll be back to the blog later in December. Be sure to gift my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion to all the treasured friends in your life this holiday season.

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Straight Ahead

“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

I was reminded of a funny experience I had years ago on a golf course in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I was a beginner golfer. In the classic art of college instruction, we had worked on drills all semester but had never actually played a golf course. The final in the class was to go shoot 9 holes. I went with three other gals who also had never been on a golf course. As we approached the first tee we couldn’t remember what the different colors in the tee box meant: was red the closest to the hole or was it for expert golfers? We decided (incorrectly) it was for experts and thus our gaze followed it to white then gold and out into the horizon.  We couldn’t see the green or the pin to which we were shooting. I shrugged, saying, I’m sure it’s out there and teed up my ball, ready to fire off my first shot at a real golf course. I checked my grip, made sure my clubhead was square to the ball, and went through the mental checklist of knees bent, chin down, head still. Just as I was bringing my club back, a man’s voice boomed from the clubhouse speaker: Ladies, you are facing the wrong way! Turning and looking the opposite direction, sure enough there was the green with a flag waving on it.  All four of us fell to the ground rolling in laughter.

Have you ever been so caught up in getting the details right that you didn’t even notice you were facing the wrong direction? I bring it up now because we are headed into the holiday season and it’s kind of easy to make this mistake. Well, maybe you aren’t teed up to fire a ball off into the hinterland but there are plenty of other missteps out there. We can care more about showing the picture-perfect holiday experience than actually connecting with people and loving them well. We can overspend, overeat, overdecorate and never consider the poor. We can celebrate the birth of baby Jesus without celebrating His actual rebirth of our hearts. 

In Matthew 23 we do not meet “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” but rather, kick-ass Jesus setting us straight. (And who doesn’t need some correction now and then?) “Woe to you, religious leaders, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” (Matthew 23:23) This sounds like posturing and virtue signaling of the first century type. But I wonder if we have fulfilled all kinds of religious or social protocols and yet been unjust jerks to our coworkers and neighbors or completely lacking in mercy and goodness toward strangers. Jesus sums it up: “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” We don’t want to be overfocused on minutia while completely missing the hurt of a generation over justice, mercy, and faith. We need a serious faith-one that is genuine, thoughtful, and honoring to God and people.

Jesus continues with another blistering indictment: “Woe to you religious hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:28) Have we ever done all the right things religiously yet felt dead inside? Are we the same person when no one is looking? Let’s ask God to show us where we are full of hypocrisy or disobedience to what we know to be true. Rather than going to such lengths to look good, we could work on just being good.

In a season when our mental checklist can be spinning with superficial details about recipes, decorations, time off, flights, hotels, our waistline, insta posts and so on, isn’t it a time to seek God’s guidance on facing the right direction? We need His voice on the loudspeaker when we are heading off-course, whether it’s in our parenting, work, a relationship, health, spending, or whatever. Don’t just shrug and say well I’m sure what I’m doing will hit something out there and fire away. Now is the time to seek His face. Ask, are we living with a tender heart toward God and people? Do we like who we have become? And most importantly, how can we walk in a manner worthy of Jesus, the Son of God? This passage ends with a heart-filled lament: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37) Jesus has always been willing to connect; honestly, we often are not.

Friends, I know my tone is a bit heavier than normal and I’ve been reflecting quite a bit with God this week. I’ve felt more sober minded but also more deeply in love, in awe, with Him. I don’t want to miss what Jesus is saying in these days. Can you imagine if we ignored the booming voice over the loudspeaker that day? What does that guy know? And who is he to tell us what to do?! It would not have gone well. Blessings to you as we journey and listen together. Get my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassionanywhere books are sold. Remember to sign up to receive this blog in your email- simply scroll to the end of Mondays with Margaret.

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Amazement Continued

“And they were amazed at His teaching” (Luke 4:32)

Amazement often describes how people reacted to Jesus in the Bible, but it rarely describes the modern Christian today. Why are we often not in awe of Jesus in our life today? Sometimes I’ve wondered if our experience within the church walls have dulled our sense of wonder. We don’t leave Jesus much room to wow us when the sermons must land on the precise cue of the music. And often I’ve noticed our “praise” songs have little to do with Jesus and a lot to do with how hard we have tried.

But if we study the Jesus of scripture, we discover surprise and wonder. The crowd was amazed at His authority in teaching. (Luke 4:32) They were amazed at the way He talked about government. (Matthew 22:22) They were amazed at the way He connected with women (John 4:27) and of course people were amazed by His miracles of healing and provision. (Mark 5:42)

I want to focus on just one of those stories that wowed me recently: In Luke 5 we read a story where a professional fisherman (Simon Peter) has worked all night but come out empty-handed. We can pause there and acknowledge we all share a similar experience, not necessarily in fishing but in life. We’ve worked hard for four years to get a degree and then not been able to find a good job. We’ve labored patiently over children and marriages only to have our personal lives spin out of control. We have scrimped and saved to afford a better life only to have it torn away through a wicked and unjust world. It is surely a place of vulnerability to come up empty where we have worked hard and invested much of our energy. 

Peter, a fisherman, caught no fish.  Jesus, a spiritual leader, told him to try the net on the other side of the boat. We can just feel the patience dripping from Peter’s voice as he tells Jesus, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” Peter thinks he knows what he’s doing, so, he agrees to pacify Jesus to check the box of teachability.  Sometimes we actually feel noble about our sacrifice and serving as we patiently explain to God our situation. Peter did this, and we all know how the story plays out: so many fish swam into the nets that the nets are breaking and two boats can’t contain it all.

Peter’s response is what grabs me by the throat. There’s not a hallelujah brother let’s just praise the Lordresponse. There’s the horrible realization as Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8) Peter realized in the glorious presence of God Almighty, he was not enough. Even in his area of strength and expertise, Peter had the shocking realization that he couldn’t control outcomes. “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” I love that Jesus answers his despair with comfort and with purpose: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” (Luke 5:10)

Maybe we don’t experience the same awe and wonder because we still think we are pretty good fishermen. What I mean is that maybe we haven’t had that horrible realization that causes us to crumble at His feet and cry out I’m not worthy, God! We insulate our experiences with God so that we aren’t frightened or feel bad. We sing nice little songs that end right on time so that we can go have a nice lunch. And be nice people.

Here’s what I pray for me and for you:  one, that we would be absolutely wrecked by the goodness of God in our lives, and two, our humility about it and gratitude toward Jesus would be the first thing anyone notices. I’m not ashamed to admit that God has been ridiculously good to me even though I have not deserved it one bit. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Let’s share the amazing goodness of Jesus with our world this week. Let your awe and wonder of Him be known! Check out www.MargaretAllen.org for resources and to sign up for the blog every Monday.

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Upon Hearing An Elk Bugle

“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.” (Hosea 6:3)

I heard an elk bugling in the Aspens. It was such an otherworldly sound that I thought, how can this be real? I’m not a dramatic person, and I say this in all seriousness: my life was changed. How can I say I’ve lived, almost 60 years if my birth certificate is right, and I’ve never heard an elk bugle?  Like the grinch, I think my heart grew 3 sizes!

I grew up in Houston, a metroplex of hot cement and urban sprawl. My childhood playground boasted a hot metal slide and a chain-link fence. I know how to navigate city streets. But a forest of Aspens and a cold mountain stream are foreign to me. It’s a shockingly different world when one can hear an elk bugle, or an owl, bigger than my dog, hooting at dusk, or see a lanky legged moose slowly grazing nearby.

God often speaks to me through moments in nature. When that elk bugle screamed through the woods, the hair on my neck stood up and instantly I understood: just as I’ve never experienced this sound before in all my days, I’ve also never experienced much of the spiritual realm that God wants to reveal. I’ve walked with God—passionately, intentionally—for 44 years my friends, but to be blunt, I don’t know jacksquat about the Kingdom and Power of Christ! I’ve never seen an angel but the Bible clearly states their existence. I’ve never raised anyone from the dead although it happens throughout the world today. Jesus said that we would do greater works than He did (see John 14:12) yet healing, miracles, and prophetic words are more the exception in my week than the norm.

The instant I heard the elk bugle in the aspens, I realized how little I know of the spirit realm.  I cried out to God saying, Lord forgive me for being content with merely attending church and leading a little Bible study. Forgive my arrogance that I think I know my way around Christianity and around YOU! God, You are infinitely more than I can think or imagine. You operate in a realm that I’ve only seen tiny glimpses of, and You have more power, more glory than I can even dream of!

And here’s what’s funny and beautiful about the Lord: He saidI know, come on! Come on! My friends, God LONGS for us to press in. He longs to astound us, surprise us, delight us with His more. More wonder, more power, more glory and revelation. It is exactly as Jesus stated: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)

I hear some of you agonizing, “How? How do we press in, Margaret?” Rend your heart, not your garments. (See Joel 2:13) Get with God in an honest and real way, without a time limit. If you have people in your life saying, “naw, you’re fine where you’re at; just study harder, pray longer, go to church,” OMG get away from those people and find believers that press in through worship, that heal the sick, and brag on God’s goodness every day! Get with people who have God stories from THIS week, not just 20 years ago!

For too long I sat in a community that complained of rarely hearing God speak. Now I’m in community with people who cannot CONTAIN all the miracles and revelation Holy Spirit is releasing! God says, Come on! Come on, let’s go!

What do YOU say?

Learn more ways to press in to the presence of God with Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold. Go to www.MargaretAllen.org/Mondays to sign up to receive this blog each week.

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A New Family

We are celebrating a wedding in 6 days. I’m all aflutter! I’ve driven past my exit on the freeway; I’ve missed appointments and I’ve shown up for ones I didn’t have. At night I’ve woken up going over lists in my head, just one more time to be sure. Some mothers of the bride probably know what I’m talking about!

After rescheduling the venue three times because of California’s crazy covid rules this momma is so excited for her girl to finally have her day. And while I know every detail in the schedule, what I don’t know is what God is creating. When I think about Jesus’ first miracle—turning the water into wine at the wedding in Cana—I am struck by His majesty. A casual reading of John 2 and we might think oh how nice! Jesus didn’t want the family to be embarrassed socially because they ran out of wine. And sure, that’s probably true. We could also think, He was launching His ministry with a symbol of celebration, unity, and community. Ok, that would make Him the hit of all the parties in Israel. But was there more to it? I’ve always glossed over the idea that He made one liquid turn into another liquid. But when we really think about it, water H2O, doesn’t contain the molecules found in wine. For the master of the ceremony to exclaim wow you saved the best wine for last it had to taste, smell, and feel like a wonderfully complex wine (almost certainly a red). Jesus’ first miracle paralleled Genesis 1. He created something out of nothing (ex nihilo). Jesus makes all things new! I’m so happy in this marriage of my precious Miranda and her wonderful Gabe, God is also creating something entirely new and amazing.

I recently learned that a common wedding tradition demonstrates the Biblical concept of covenant. In Genesis 15:9-10 a blood covenant began with sacrificing an animal, splitting it in half on the ground, and leaving a pathway between the halves.  The two parties making a covenant, or commitment to one another, would walk through the middle which was considered holy ground.  In a wedding, family and friends of the bride and groom traditionally sit across the aisle from one another to create a holy ground pathway of the center aisle. This symbolizes the blood covenant. The bride and groom then join right hands, promising everything they are, and everything they possess, in a committed, covenant relationship. They are to leave their families, forsake all others, and become an entirely new thing.

So, in 6 days we will squeeze into our wedding clothes that fit a little better a year ago and we will raise our glasses and cheer kiss! Kiss! My terrible dance moves will come out and we will surely have a fabulous time participating in this holy and timeless moment. And God will create a new and amazing family!

That’s it from me for the next few weeks. If you want to pursue this line of thinking a little further, consider what it means that we, the church, are called the bride of Christ. Talk about making all things new! Blessings to you, dear friends. Be sure to get my book, Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold.

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Monthly Mashup #6

Welcome to my monthly mashup! These are some of the things I’ve enjoyed or pondered this month. Health is the emphasis on this month’s mashup. From the Beloved Apostle, John on the isle of Patmos: “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 

ProLon and the USC Longevity Institute

I read The Longevity Diet by Valter Longo a while ago. I was so inspired by his research at USC that I decided to give the ProLon fasting diet a try. It’s a 5-day fast where you get to eat, but your body “thinks” it’s fasting. This fasting mimicking triggers “autophagy,” which is your body’s natural way of cleaning house. Longo’s research discovered that doing this 5-day fast in three consecutive months cleared your body’s slate of many diseases. In 2018, TIME nominated Dr. Longo as among the top 50 most influential people in health. I did the 5-day fast three times and it kicked my lagging thyroid into gear- a welcome change for sure! I found that after doing the ProLon fast I was more mindful of my eating habits and more committed to healthy, non-processed, non-genetically modified foods. I’ve recommended this fast to my friends and family and I’m about to start the fast again for a second round. Check out @prolonfmd

Healing with Hyperbarics

I got Covid back in February and in June my lungs still didn’t feel 100%. Even on a moderate hike my lung capacity was noticeably less. Because Sun Valley is a pretty darn athletic/adventurist town, I learned about a medical treatment called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. Pro athletes do it before games to improve oxygenation and after to reduce inflammation. In the treatment you inhale 100% oxygen while resting in a chamber with increased atmospheric pressure. The 45-minute treatment injects 400x more oxygen into your tissues and mobilizes stem cells. It regrows healthy tissues and reduces pain and swelling. And at my age, who wouldn’t want to reduce some pain and swelling? The long story short is wow did this thing work for me! My lungs are at 100% and my energy levels are through the roof. Look it up- there may be a hyperbarics clinic near you.

A Related Rant

Because hyperbarics is a medical treatment, you may need a doctor’s referral. Back in June, I went to a clinic to inquire about a referral for hyperbaric treatment. I was ranting to the doctor about how the medical system in the Bay area was no help when I had covid. Sick as a dog, I went to my healthcare system which was a leading provider in the Bay and was told take a Tylenol for any fever and Robitussen for any cough and good luck. So, get this my friends: the doctor in Idaho responded to my rant by saying, here in Idaho we’ve been treating covid patients with Ivermectin and we are seeing great results! Interesting. So, I tuck that piece of news in my pocket and shuffle on over to hyperbarics. Two months later, the exact same doctor at the exact same clinic says they are NOT ALLOWED to prescribe Ivermectin for covid.  What could possibly have changed his enthusiastic endorsement of an effective medicine? Who would NOT ALLOW effective medical treatment? It seems like there is a medical mafia that is not interested in treating this thing- they require us to take the experimental jab that, as of this month, 14,701 people have died from. Which leads me to the only thing I know to do…

PRAYER

This psalm was read aloud at a recent gathering and we were in tears. Listen to the timeless beauty of God’s word and pray this prayer dear one: Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my groaning. Heed the sound of my cry for Help, my King and my God, for to You I pray. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. 

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; the Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.

O Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my foes; Make Your way straight before me. There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself. Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue. Hold them guilty, O God; by their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, for they are rebellious against You. 

But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5, a Psalm of David

Aren’t you glad that God surrounds you with favor like a shield? I pray blessings on your home and I hope you will pray blessings on mine. My days on fb are numbered, so please sign up to get my blog in your email. Go to www.MargaretAllen.org/Mondays  And it’s officially ‘wear a sweater in the morning and regret it in the afternoon’ weather which means Holidays are coming up–my book makes a beautiful and personal gift! Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion is sold wherever you buy books.

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Reader’s Question: What are Your Habits Surrounding Scripture Study?

*These notes come from a talk I gave at Women of the Word in Los Gatos, CA. This group studies scripture at a pace of around 8 chapters each week.

What is the purpose of all Bible study? Beyond gathering data and increasing knowledge, our purpose is to know Christ and be transformed by Him. In our reading and studying, whether it is for ten minutes or for hours, we start with a prayer like God I am coming to Your word because I want to know You. Please open my eyes to spiritual truth and open my heart to friendship with You. Let my life be transformed by what You say.

Here are a few suggestions to help our studying:

  1. Repetition is our friend. The more times we can simply read the assigned chapters, the better our insights and study will be. Merely reading and combing through the chapters will drop fruit in our lap. If time to study is limited, I recommend reading through the assigned chapters and then rereading the one or two chapters that seemed most significant. Reading and rereading a group of 6-8 chapters at a time greatly increases comprehension compared to a single look. 
  2. Make it a habit. Quietly sitting down to pray, read, and commit our day to God every day, even if it is only 15 minutes is more effective than an hour cramming on Tuesday night before a Wednesday group meeting. Here’s a rhythm that I live by: spend time with God every day, once a week (usually the weekend for me) I spend a longer time studying, once a month I take a Saturday morning to myself to pray and study about the issues that have been simmering in my mind that month. This is a time to go deeper with God. Then, once a year I take a spiritual retreat for two full days where I am alone with my Bible and a notebook. I am there to worship and get down to business with God. The vision for parenting, for marriage, identity, life direction and so on have been established in these retreats. 
  3. Ask good questions. Here are two possible ways to study: as we read the chapters, ask the questionswhat does this passage reveal about God? What does it reveal about people? What does this passage reveal about the interaction between God and people? Or, another direction to take is to follow the pattern of observation, interpretation, application. This means first reading the chapters almost like literature and making observations throughout. For ex, these words or phrases are repeated, or these phrases are in contrast with those. This passage sounds similar to previous ones or it points to future events etc. After all observations are noted, then take time to interpret what is the significance of these words being repeated, or contrasted. What does this passage mean? Finally, after observing the text and interpreting it, ask how it can be applied. Is there something we should DO in response to this chapter or anything to emulate?
  4. Fatter is better. I know we all like a thinline Bible to carry around but a big fat study Bible is nice to have! At minimum, get a Bible that has cross references (every page should list all the other verses that use the same or similar words). I adore the Spirit-Filled Life Study Bible compiled by Jack Hayford. It has helpful maps, charts, cross references, and commentary. With my large print version it is thick as a brick but absolutely beautiful and helpful! Online, Bible HUB is a wonderful resource. After studying scripture for myself, I like to read all the com (commentary) on Bible HUB for the passages I either didn’t understand or was drawn to. Using these tools of a study Bible and an online commentary provide yet another layer to our interaction with scripture and thus deepen our understanding.

I’ve never met a dynamic Christ-follower who wasn’t a student of the Word. Hear it spoken, read and study it, memorize key verses, meditate on it and apply it. When we do this, our experience in relationship with Christ grows even sweeter and our impact in the world deepens. May God bless you this week dear friends. My Monthly Mashup is coming next week with some of my favorite products yet!

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Quiet Waters

The beautiful thing about hiding God’s word in your heart and mind is that it seeps into the little mundane moments of a day and transforms it. Here’s a scripture you probably already know:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23, a Psalm of David.

I’ve been praying this psalm, whispering it actually, all week as I prayed for people trapped in the conflict in Afghanistan. I’ve prayed it for the families of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the Kabul attack—25, 23, 22’s, and five twenty-year old killed evacuating civilians because our government left all our military gear and withdrew troops before civilians. God help them, guide them, comfort them as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It is such a tender psalm, especially knowing that David, the author, had seen so much trouble and heartache in his life.

I was hiking this week with my dog, Sophie. We went up to Pioneer Cabin outside of Ketchum, Idaho. What a beautiful climb through the trees and wildflowers, up 3000 ft vertical over a seven-mile hike.  Several times we crossed over or next to streams and each time I stopped so Sophie could drink. But it’s funny with a little dog, you have to choose a bend in the stream where the water is not rushing rapidly. If the water is too fast, she’s afraid and won’t drink, even though she is thirsty. While I was carefully bringing her to the right sections of water, God’s word came bubbling up in my mind: He leads me beside quiet waters.  Turns out that sheep are similar with little dogs in that they need still water to drink. And maybe people need a safe and quiet place to be refreshed as well. That’s why the Lord is our shepherd. He carefully and tenderly leads us to rest and replenishment. When we are exhausted by a wicked and unjust world, God thoughtfully leads us into a place of peace. When life is wearing us down we can remember that He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies.

How has God brought you to quiet waters recently? Starting the day praying Psalm 23 out loud can be our choice to center our lives peacefully in His word. Blessings to you this week my friends. Be sure to sign up for my blog to hit your email rather than social media

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Lessons Learned in L.A.

I recently enjoyed a weekend in Los Angeles with my three daughters. This momma learned a few things and I thought I’d share them this week:

  1. We never know who may be encouraged when we read our Bible in plain view. I was walking on the beach within an hour of my flight landing. I could feel the tension just sliding off me as soon as my feet touched sand. In the mile or so that I walked in the sand along the ocean surf I saw three different young adults sitting and reading their Bibles. Maybe locals will tell you differently, but this was not what I was expecting to see on the beach in LA! Whenever I read my Bible at a coffee shop, café, or park people say stuff to me like Oh I should do that more, or good for you, or wow, what a reminder. So here I was experiencing that visual: People all over the world love and follow Jesus! I came away encouraged just seeing these folks and resolving to live my faith out in transparent ways. (Jesus said it in the Sermon on the Mount: Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16)
  2. I am working at practicing more acceptance and less judgment. I’ve realized how often I judge people and situations by first appearance. For instance, I learned that Nicki Minaj is a believer and has a sweet rap in the Tasha Cobbs Leonard gospel song, “I’m Getting Ready.” An employee at my hotel looked tough as nails but then God prompted me to pray for her and He gave me a prophetic word for her. She literally hugged me when we said good bye. I learned that San Francisco has already instated laws and LA is close behind that prohibit anyone not waccinated from entering a restaurant, bar, concert venue, hospital visitation, or event center. At first glance this might seem to carry logic, but I don’t see how this isn’t a new version of you can’t sit at my lunch counter! Kaiser found that over half of African Americans and Latinos are not waccinated and don’t want to be. I know many people who have already had the virus and believe their natural immunity will last. I know several women with health issues that prevent taking the jab but now, in California at least, they are shunned from society. I’m not going to judge anyone if they have it, don’t have it, don’t want it. I know that we each are trying to live our lives in the best way possible that fits for us. (Jesus again has the lowdown: “Do not judge, so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2)
  3. We will reap what we sow, especially in the investments we make with family. I was in LA because my daughters wanted to have a mother daughter weekend together. They are successful, grown women who could fly anywhere for a weekend and be with just about anyone, who wanted to spend a weekend moving slow with their mom and each other. I felt so loved and honored. These are my favorite people on the planet! Every night as we got into our matching pjs (thank you Brooke!) laughing, cuddling, and eating chocolate I was reminded of the investments of love, patience, compassion, and listening that graced their childhood. To all you mommas out there—you will reap a precious reward one day! Keep your love on, keep smiling and laughing, keep speaking words of life over your children. (“Whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.” Galatians 6:7-9)
  4. When in doubt about where to go for dinner, always get tacos! This one needs no explanation. If you can think of a good scripture to go with it, please put it in the comments!

I received such a lovely text this week from a woman who recently received my book. She said she devoured half of it on a flight and said it had changed her entire outlook. As she was ordering ten copies for friends I was reminded (because yes, I forget or I doubt) God inspired me to write this book for the times we are in now! If you haven’t already, please get my book Gracious Living, creating a culture of honor, love, and compassion anywhere books are sold. It will encourage you, make you laugh, and give you fresh insights for this crazy life.

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Strong and Courageous

There’s a familiar passage written around 1400 BC that is helping me work through anxiety today. Memorizing and meditating on scripture is surprisingly helpful in anchoring our identity and calming our fears. Let’s look at this together:

“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may achieve success wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will achieve success.” (Joshua 1:7-8)

Many say we are entering into a time of persecution; others say that great revival is soon. Either way, the conclusion of this passage in Joshua rings true: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Blessings to you this week my friends! Keep me in your prayers as I’m traveling. Remember to get this blog in your email by signing up at www.MargaretAllen.org/Mondays with Margaret.