Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Isolating or Insulating?

Quarantine has been amazing, y’all. 

I’m not being sarcastic. 

This last week and a half have really, truly, honestly been a blessing. I mean, I wish I could zip out and head to the beach or the library or the Walmart or the park whenever I want- but it’s not killing me. 

Not one tiny bit. 

My living room rug has been picked up every single night before we go to bed. 
My sink is empty. 
Pots have been washed. 
I haven’t hollers one time about school work not being finished. 
My laundry baskets are nearly empty. 
Folded clothes are in dresser drawers. 
Our Psalm 119 memorization is almost done. 
The veggies we planted last week are growing and changing every day. 
We had a blue jay at our back yard feeder yesterday. 
(Don’t know where they’ve been, and honestly they’re kinda jerks to the finches and cardinals- but it was still good to see them. Bless.)
Family games and movies have happened every night. DOS is a little confusing, but it’s super fun once you read the directions twice and then watch a YouTube video explaining the rules. 

Our house is peaceful. 
Not quiet. Obviously. 
But it has been FULL OF PEACE. 

It’s also full of noise and bickering and fighting sometimes, but my Momma Heart has been calm. For at least 2/3 of the day. When a kid doesn’t cut open a gel pen on our wood floors. 
Sweet merciful heavens. 

It hit me yesterday- I HAVE NOT RUSHED ONE SINGLE TIME in the last 10 days. I haven’t barked or fussed or stressed about the clock or the schedule or the chores in almost two weeks BECAUSE IT NO LONGER MATTERS. We aren’t flying out the door to be on time for anything so I’m not freaking out that the kitchen sink is full or that there are clothes I forgot to fold.

And don’t misunderstand- we have plenty we can worry and stress over. BUT I AM NOT CHOOSING THAT. I’m choosing read alouds and sourdough biscuits and tickle fights and painting. I’m choosing sidewalk chalk over anxiety. 

Quarantine has isolated us but it’s insulating us as well. 

And I’m choosing that blessing instead. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Bigger Danger Than Covid-19

Friends- I FELT IT, TOO. 

That small rush, the relieved exhale that happened when I opened my email earlier this week and read of our church’s cancellation of Bible Classes Wednesday night. They’ve cancelled classes on Sunday as well and are reviewing and responding as the CDC and the White House advise and update the Covid-19 situation. 

::jubilant celebrations:: 

I’m kidding. Mostly. 

But then I caught myself. BECAUSE MISSING MY CHURCH FAMILY SHOULD HURT MORE THAN THAT. Y’all Sundays and Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week! I’m going to miss the fellowship and the friendship and the sweet ladies that smuggle my kids sugar free gum between class and worship. The recipe swapping. All my free chicken raising advice.  

As much as we’ll miss the PEOPLE we worship with, maybe the bigger worry is that we’ll miss the WORD as well. For some of us, the only time we touch a Bible is on our way to church. It might live on the backseat of our cars so we don’t forget it. The only time we spend studying His Word might be when our bodies are in a building that has pews and a baptistry in it. 

And y’all, that’s a crying shame. 

Covid-19 might separate us from our friends but allowing it to separate us from our Bibles is approximately one million times worse. One hurts our hearts but the other harms our soul. 

Our aim could be to use this extended time at home to deepen our family ties (Stress  eating chocolate in your locked bathroom is TOTALLY encouraged. Google ‘Skinny Chocolate’ and you’ll get a buncha superfoods in with your chocolate fix, too.) and to find ways to study and worship not only for ourselves personally but with our families too. Think of how much stronger our habits could be if we focused some of the time we’ve been given at home on staying in The Word. 

Our crew has been working to memorize a big chunk of Psalm 119. Our family reward was going to be to head to town and celebrate at a restaurant but now it’s looking like we’re gonna need to revamp those plans. Bless our quarantine hearts. Either way- we have been planting scriptures in our hearts as a family. And Covid-19 can’t stop that. 


**SIDE NOTE: Let’s cut our church leadership some slack, m’kay? 

They have literally NEVER IN THEIR LIVES shepherded a church family through a nationwide pandemic. For every person that is calling them all upset that they’re canceling services, there’s surely another one waiting on the other line complaining to them that they shouldn’t. They’re probably fielding phone calls and text messages and faxes and carrier pigeons every.single.hour asking about service plans. They’re watching the news and meeting and pondering and watching and praying. THIS HAS LITERALLY NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE so instead of complaining about how they’re handling things- pray for their discernment instead. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

If John the Baptist Had The Internet

Man, I’m just hitting the New Testament in my Chronological Bible Study and EVERY TIME I move between Old and New, I get a current favorite. When I’m knee deep in Israel, learning from their examples and growing in David’s advice- I AM OLD TESTAMENT TRUE. I can’t imagine loving any scriptures more than Esther or Ecclesiastes or Nehemiah. 

BUT THEN I START THE NEW. And I immerse myself in The Gospel Accounts. Elizabeth. John. Mary and Joseph. The shepherds. Herod. Flight to Egypt. Simeon and Anna and the Lost Jesus of 12 years old. (Mary gives me so much hope as a Mother in this one, BLESS HER HEART.) And as I dive headfirst into Jesus’ Story, I can’t imagine loving anything more and I have to admit anew- I’m a New Testament Girl. 

I do this switch every time. IT IS EXHAUSTING. 

But I stumbled upon a Truth Nugget this morning that blew my mind and warmed my soul about John the Baptist. THAT GUY ROCKED, y’all. His life- his entire purpose- was to point people to Jesus. To guide people. To influence people. Encourage them. To work hard and teach and preach and obey for the sole purpose of and then TURN IT ALL OVER to Jesus. When I think about the love and the confidence and the humility he must have had to allow God’s Perfect Plan to be alive and working in his life in that way- there’s no way I can read his story and not walk away encouraged. 

Because I think about what so many times can happen to us in our lives. ESPECIALLY on social media platforms. It’s so easy to quantify our worth based on how people on the internet treat us. Or “like” is. Or “follow” us. I mean, I HAVE DONE IT. Plenty of times! It’s nice when people are nice to you, but when someone is rude or hurtful or doesn’t pick you first for social media’s version of Heads Up Seven Up- IT CAN HURT. Man, it can hurt. Mercy. 

But I think about John the Baptist. And I think about what John 1:36-37 says: 

“Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said “Behold, the Lamb of God!” And the two disciples heard him speak, AND THEY FOLLOWED JESUS.” 

John the Baptist didn’t care about numbers. He cared about hearts! He cared about pointing people to Jesus- and Jesus’ first converts here didn’t follow Jesus because Jesus called them- THEY WENT BECAUSE JOHN POINTED THEM TO THE TRUTH. I wonder how much humility it took for John the Baptist to push his followers, the group of men he had been training and teaching and working to grow for all those years- to take active steps to acknowledge Jesus as greater than him and to ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO LEAVE HIM AND SEEK CHRIST. 

I can tell you this: John wasn’t worried about numbers. About followers. And in our online, social media world of relationships- I am blessed so much more when I point others to experts than when I worry about seeking a following of my own or trying to worry about looking like I know it all. 

I  mean, DO NOT GET ME WRONG- it is amazing to have a group of friends on socials who support and love and encourage you. THIS IS WHAT I LOVE ABOUT IT. But for me to get the most out of what that Online Blessing can be- I have to make sure I push Pride and Selfishness AS FAR AWAY FROM MY HEART AS POSSIBLE. 

There are so many whip smart and wise and amazing people out there and when I don’t know an answer or when I see one of them rocking their Path- I LOVE TO ENCOURAGE THEM. My cup fills so quickly when I’m so busy filling others I forget to check it’s water line. THAT IS WHEN IT OVERFLOWS. Socials can grow narcissists like weeds. I know I’ve had to root out several sprouts in my own heart a time or twelve. But socials can also grow a beautiful garden too. It all depends on what you plant. And for me- I’m working on sowing seeds with humility instead of pride. 

And that’s how studying John the Baptist’s story encourages me to point people to others when others have more to give than I do. If there’s a friend who is rocking in an area of her life and she’s on fire with creativity and spunk and is working hard at what God has called her to to- CHEER HER ON instead of sulking quietly or dissecting her efforts. If there is someone out there who ::gasp:: KNOWS MORE THAN YOU- don’t be afraid to point people in their direction! 

It’s easy for us to develop Social Media Tunnel Vision and when that happens, I believe so much of the joy and light and encouragement that can be found online fades. And that’s a cryin’ shame y’all. There is enough love to go around IF WE ALL SHARE IT. 

I’d rather be a Barnabas than an Ananias any day.