Far too often, I run to everything else but Jesus. I buy into the lie that I can find my peace and rest elsewhere. That if I just find my purpose, create margin, exercise, love myself, think positive thoughts, solve my problems, discover my true self, make memories, manage conflict or accomplish more on my to-do list, then I’ll finally be at rest.
But these things offer temporary relief with no lasting impact. Too often we “spend money on what is not bread and [our] labor on what does not satisfy” (Isa 55:2). Sooner or later, we find ourselves chained once again to the burdensome cycle of performance and weariness because the material world never provides what we really need.
This year has had a way of exposing what we worry about the most. Over the last several weeks, I had the opportunity to be part of a women’s Bible study that read through the Gospel of Luke. Recently I came across this all-familiar passage that struck me differently than before.
“Do not worry about everyday life...these things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs...wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:22, 30, 34
Jesus had just finished telling His disciples they needn’t worry about death or the harm that others could do to them. Instead, He encouraged them to entrust themselves to the One who holds all authority and power in both this world and the next. It is after this interaction that Jesus launches into his famous words on anxiety and the cares of this world.
Do not worry, He says, about how you will get your needs met. And while I may not worry about my next meal, there is one need that has dominated my thoughts continuously this year:
After one very long year, I’m ready for a bit of cheer. With anticipation running high, we’re eager to usher in the happiest season of all.
But what if you don’t feel very thankful? What if your season isn’t bright?
More than ever before, there will be pressure to put the happy in our holiday this year. Cancellations, illness, financial hardship, and family tension can easily turn your mood into the most primitive bah-humbug.
So if there’s one message I want you to hear, it’s this:
With prying eyes, I watched as my ballot joined hundreds of voices in the locked blue box. Safely secured in the vault, it will await its turn for Election Day. As I exited the polling station into the frigid October air, my sigh of relief mingled with the uneasiness that filled my heart.
This time, the future of our country, constitution and liberties could very well be at stake. If certain politicians have their way, this could be the last election where my vote counts in a flyover state.
How easy it is to forget the privileges we all share. The blessings we reap from the many lives who have gone before our time.
Clutching the wool scarf around my neck, I thought of my grandfathers before me. The one who sailed the Mayflower in search of a better life. Another who, fleeing religious persecution, came to freely worship God and till his own land. Still other grandfathers bravely fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars so that we could be free and equal. Their legacies weigh heavy on my mind as I ponder the next four years.
As a Jesus follower, it is challenging to know how to respond to the mixed bag of emotions this bitter campaign evokes and the uncertainty that lies ahead.
A few weeks ago, I drove to the park and wept in my car.
I’m guessing you can relate. Maybe you’ve had your own moments of hiding in your closet or spending alone time in your car. Perhaps the stress of this year is wearing on you, too.
I’ll admit, the last 6 months have been a bit much. My aunt died, most of my family got Covid-19, I lost a friend to cancer, my work dwindled, relational conflict ensued while the pandemic had an emotional effect on my chronic illness and PTSD.
In truth, I’ve got a bad case of “2020 Fatigue”. I’m tired of the stress, tired of the mess, tired of waiting for the next shoe to drop. Each new circumstance cues my anxiety like clockwork.
It feels like we’re moving from one season of fear and chaos to another without missing a beat.
Sin has been the main character on my TV lately. Over the last few months, it’s appeared in various forms like murder, assault, racism, violence, anarchy, arrogance, hatred, fear, selfishness, idolatry, greed, pride, slander, foolishness and the distortion of truth.
It can be difficult to know how to navigate the noise right now. The pressure to pick a side along a growing divide feels overwhelming and inescapable. It’s easy to get caught up in the screaming match or jump on whatever bandwagon happens to be driving by.
I know what suffering can do to a person. Shock, denial, fear, confusion, uncertainty, and helplessness are common reactions to experiencing a traumatic event. If you’ve been feeling these emotions lately, you are not alone.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from trauma recovery, it’s this:
How you process your experiences will matter in the long run.
Once again, the world is experiencing a pandemic. Only this time it’s our turn to encounter travel bans, cancelled events, stockpiling, and waves of uncertainty.
The response has been quite diverse. Some are waking up to a reality that has been looming for months. Others are running a “do not fear” campaign exhorting those who are anxious. Still, some are promoting conspiracy theories, dismissing preventative action, or downplaying Covid-19 as “just the flu”.
But for my family the threat is very real. I am one of those in the “at risk” category. As one who is immunocompromised, my actions could literally be the difference between health and hospitalization.
The sun dipped below the horizon as the swelling crowds pressed in for a better view. We mingled with millions of other sweaty patriots armed in liberty foam hats, waving flags, and guzzling slurpees. Media cameras were posed. Famous news anchors reported a few yards away.
Many of us put on a good face, but in truth we’re broken and bleeding all over the place. Behind our smiles we battle sadness, insecurity, fear, guilt, mom-shame, negative thoughts, and overcommitment. We feel unloved, unfit, undervalued, and unknown.
How do we cope with all this negativity? Self-love could be the cure.
It started out as a normal summer day and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Hubs and I had just purchased our very first home. And it was yellow. I had prayed for yellow. Moving day was set, our boxes packed. We were moving right along with our list of goals: New house, check. Jobs, check. Furniture, check. Search for a dog, check. Our future was looking bright.
And then it happened. Something didn’t feel quite right. My energy started to fail and I found myself getting easily fatigued. Over the next few weeks my knees began to swell until they became the size of cantaloupes. As the swelling increased, the pain grew. It hurt to walk, it hurt to stand, it hurt to move.
I spent my 30th birthday and a good part of that year battling a crippling disease. Instead of gracefully waltzing into a new decade, I hobbled my way through. Within two weeks of our move I became confined to our couch, utterly fatigued without even enough energy to make myself a sandwich. Even hobbling across the floor to the bathroom became a tremendous feat. My body was rapidly breaking down before my very eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.
It wasn’t until I moved north that Fall took on a whole new meaning. The charming season now warms a special place in my heart. The very word conjures up memories of apple picking, pumpkin carving, hot cider, and the delicious aroma of Grandma’s pie baking in the oven!
Every year I look forward to pulling out my weathered box from its nestled place in the basement, rediscovering the rustic decor that will soon adorn my home. This year, as I sat down to admire my handiwork, my eye caught a glimpse of the trees out back. Tall and proud, they line the yard with their fiery blaze of reds, oranges, and yellows announcing that summer is officially gone and winter is sure to come.
Soaking in the moment, I was suddenly struck by the irony of it all. The very leaves I admire are actually dying before my very eyes. The thought was slightly disturbing and fascinating all at the same time.
A recent shift in American culture has now made it more appealing to be single. In fact, there are now slightly more people staying single than getting married. But for those of you still searching for your soul mate, this post is for you.
While the waiting game can be long and tedious, it’s important to have realistic expectationsabout what you’re waiting for. I feel many are searching for their soul mate and dreaming of their fairy tale wedding without a real understanding of what marriage entails.
So for all my single friends out there, keep this advice in mind when you’re searching for Mr. Right:
1. Marriage is a blessing, not the blessing. There is a difference. Getting married and having a family is not the universal Plan A and those who miss out on it are somehow fated to live out Plan B. God’s plan for each person is unique and one shoe does not fit all. We were all single at one time and some will choose to stay that way. And that’s not a bad thing.
As this bitter campaign narrows to a close, I for one am ready for it to end.
For months, many have used social media to fight for the cause leaving the rest of us feeling like collateral damage. Facebook makes me apprehensive with its onslaught of endless debates.
Fear and anxiety run rampant across the country. Americans remain divided and distraught over the options for commander in chief. Many believe the future of our country (along with our rights and liberties) may very well be at stake.