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Lessons Learned from Job’s Wife & Friends

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to write for my church. This is one of those times. Below is a preview of a devotional on empathy, grief, and what Job’s wife and friends taught us (and not to!) do when one of our loved ones is suffering. Or, you can link to the full post here. I hope this is practical, encouraging, and helpful!

The life of Job is such an interesting deep dive into the mind and emotion of a person who encounters great suffering. He is, quite literally, the comforting BIblical figure for so many who find themselves in season after season of loss, trying to make sense of themselves and God in the midst of it.

And, while Job himself is an important character to study, I have often found myself particularly interested in a few of the folks around him, namely, his wife and three buddies. They are an intriguing study in how people respond when others are suffering and a great read on what to do (and not do!) when you are trying to help.

Just in case you are unfamiliar with the story, Job’s life starts out pretty fantastic. He has a large family, lots of land, livestock, etc. He is living “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1) for the Lord when Satan does a flyby. Satan suggests that the only reason Job is faithful is because God has not allowed any hardship in his life. At this, God allows Satan an opportunity to access Job’s life, wreaking destruction, havoc, and death in almost every way imaginable. By the end of chapter 1 (of 42 chapters!) Job has lost all his livestock and his ten children. This is how the chapter ends: “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:20-22, NIV

Gracious! I cannot imagine that kind of loss, particularly all at once. The pain would be unbelievable, and the crisis of self, faith, and God is just as overwhelming. Certainly, it couldn’t get worse, but it does.

As we enter chapter 2, God allows Satan access not only to the things and people around Job, but to Job himself. He is afflicted with painful sores over his entire body, apparently pushing his wife to the limit of what she could stand. In her pain, she offers this, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 2:9-10, NIV

At this point, Job has lost his livelihood, his children, and his wife has turned on him and the Lord. But, here come his buddies, comforting Job and giving us a great example of how to be with someone who is suffering.

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.” Job 2:11-13, NIV

These guys got it (at first). They did exactly what we need to do with suffering people sometimes. We need to just be there. Close our mouths. Pray. Weep for them. Gather with other friends and sit in solidarity just to say, “You’re not alone.” If only they could have remained that way…

To read the full post go to LP Women here.

Celebrate with Discernment

Today’s blog was published over at The Glorious Table! See below for a preview or link to the full post here.

In my mind’s eye, there exists a vague memory of being in elementary school, holding a long ribbon, and dancing back and forth among my classmates. The various colored ribbons overlap one another, weaving a pattern around what I’m guessing was a tetherball pole. I realize now that it must have been a May Day celebration. I have no idea what was taught that day, but I remember it was fun. When this memory came to mind, I thought, “Maybe we’ll celebrate May Day this year. That might be great.” Since I didn’t know anything about May Day, I decided to look it up.

Whoa, nelly. I had no idea about the history of this holiday! What I learned was interesting, and I’m going to share some of it with you. I’m also going to share the interesting way Jesus showed up in the middle of my research. I love how he can be a part of anything we learn, and—more importantly—that he should be part of anything we learn. Let’s dive in.

May Day celebrations go back a long way, with their origins in ancient agricultural rituals practiced by the Greeks, Romans, and Celts. As with many other celebrations, the specific practice has varied quite a bit over culture and time. Originally, May Day was used as a time to celebrate the shift to spring by doing things like putting cattle out to pasture and doing extra milking. The celebrations also often included bringing in a tree from the forest, setting it upright to decorate, and gathering flowers and branches to decorate one’s home. Music and dancing were common, and even crowning a May Day king and queen were part of the fun. In short, it was the yearly chance to get together with the rest of the village and celebrate the new life that comes with spring. Sounds fun, right?

Celebrate With Discernment

So where did Jesus show up in all this? It was when I read that the relationship between the church and the holiday has been contentious at times. May Day was strongly opposed as a pagan holiday several times throughout the history of the church. Both in the United Kingdom and the United States, May Day celebrations have been banned at one time or another for being blasphemous and involving the worship of false gods, or for being overly sexual because of May Day’s association with fertility. The celebration of May Day never really caught on in the US like it did in other countries, probably because it was so strongly opposed by the Puritans at the beginning of our country’s development. At one point, when May Day celebrations were banned in 16th-century England, some folks were executed for rioting. Yikes!

Ironically, at other times, May Day celebrations have also been adopted as part of worship, human rights efforts, or simple childhood fun. In the 18th century, Catholics used May Day for devotions, and 19th century labor efforts used it as a way to secure worker’s rights and an eight-hour workday. May Day has also been a time for children to gather flowers into bouquets or baskets and leave them on people’s doorsteps as a gift (see here for a super cute picture of former first lady Grace Coolidge receiving a May basket from some children in the 1920s.)

So, what do we do with something that has been both accepted and villainized by the church over time? We ask for discernment, just as we do with so many other things in life:

To read the full post link to The Glorious Table here.

He’ll Be There to Catch You

Writing over at The Glorious Table today! See preview below or link here to the full post.

I am a child of the ’80s. That means I wore a lot of polyester, knew the glorious transition between corded and cordless phones, and watched a LOT of cartoons. I had several favorites (hello DuckTalesJemThe Smurfs, and Inspector Gadget) but the classics, like Looney Tunes, were always a staple. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, that’s where it was at. And, that’s exactly what popped into my head when I was thinking about God the other day. How’s that for an odd combination?

Let’s unpack it.

My family is currently in a transition period. My husband will have a job somewhere else next year, but we don’t know where yet. We have made the decision to leave our current situation, knowing we want to make a transition. But we made that leap not knowing where we were going to land. We are, quite literally, hanging over a gap of unknown. That’s what made me think about the coyote.

You see, the coyote always seemed to find himself out over the edge of a canyon with nothing but air beneath him. The audience would see him recognize the peril of his situation, look them in the eye, and then fall. The poor guy never learned. He just fell, again and again.

A Cartoon Faith

I feel like that coyote right now. I see the unknown below, me and I just know I am going to fall unless something holds me up.

I put on my Jesus goggles and realize that Peter’s attempt to walk on the water is the spiritual equivalent of that beloved ’80s cartoon coyote. They both had so much confidence when they first stepped out. They both even got a little ways. But then they focused on the circumstances and they fell, or sank, into the fear below. Let’s watch the scene:

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. (Matt. 14:25-32 NIV)

To read the full post link to The Glorious Table here.

The Gift of Childhood Boredom (Summer Edition)

A couple Christmases ago, I wrote about the pressure to entertain our kids vs. giving them the “gift” of boredom. Now, as summer approaches and pandemic restrictions wane, I feel that tug again. Ahead are all the possibilities for camps, summer school, and activities. Unlike summer 2020, we have the potential to make ourselves, and our kids, busy again. It’s a very tempting option.

As we make the transition to this particular summer, I’m reflecting on what we learned during the pandemic. Complete isolation was obviously far too extreme for our mental, emotional, and physical health. But, many of us also felt relief from being “over-busy.” For the first time (maybe ever) we had time together that was uninterrupted, unplanned, and gave way to creativity, family time, and rest. It was such a gift.

Just as the transition from school structure into the pandemic was (really!) hard, the transition between school and summer freedom can be difficult as well. But, just because a transition is hard, it doesn’t mean there aren’t gifts to be found. Rather than just trying to make our summer situation look like the old routine we were comfortable with, we can look for the unique blessings that can be found in those long, unstructured days.

In the coming weeks, as we make choices between unstructured time and scheduled activities, my kids will definitely have some busyness. But, I’m also going to work really hard to remember that they need to experience boredom, unstructured play, and rest. Our job as parents, despite any pressure we may feel, is not to entertain our children. We are to love them and keep them fed, safe, and clothed. And then? Let their precious little minds have space to think without input, create without direction, and feel without oversight. We need to let them learn now what it means to manage their experience, draw resources from their surroundings, and cope with a life that is not always exciting, or entertaining. Because, let’s be real, it’s not.

So, when your kids get bored this summer, please know you aren’t neglecting them. You are loving them. You are gifting them with the opportunity for independence, self-reliance, and creativity. You, “boring parent”, are creating beautiful functional adults.

PS – Last thing, if they tell you they are “bored”, remember “bored rhymes with chores.” This phrase is a great reminder that they would much rather come up with their own way to fill the time than to allow their meanie-pants parents to come up with the solution. Kids who are good at filling their own time tend to be kids who have had practice filling their own time. Let’s give them that chance. Happy summer planning (or not!) everyone!

Photo by Elena Rabkina on Unsplash, used with permission

Our Kids & Prayer: 5 Unique Ways to Love & Lead Them

Today we are going to chat about prayer and kids. I think this is dicey because anytime we talk about faith and children, there can be the perception that the information-giver (in this case, me) is extra pious, or thinks herself extra pious. So, in order to combat any of that nonsense I offer the following:

  • Direct quote from my five-year-old last week: “Mom, if you love us why do you use a mean voice sometimes?”
  • Sometimes, I don’t like my kids behavior. And, sometimes I kinda’ don’t like them. (Insert obligatory “but I always love them.”)
  • I suffered from post-partum depression largely because my hyper-independent 32-year-old self was shell-shocked by the work of motherhood.
  • I am not a “natural” at being a Mom. Sure would love to be, but that’s not who I am. I love my kids so much, but I have to work pretty hard at it.

Okay, now that we’ve established my Mom-halo is as off-kilter and tattered as everyone else’s, I’m going to offer you some “types” of prayer for these precious kiddos of ours. Each of these yields it’s own valuable fruit, for us and for them, and sets us up to support our kids in different ways. Here we go.

5 Types of Prayer for Our Children

Praying About Our Kids: Praying about our kids is exactly what it sounds like. It’s your personal prayer life that may have started before they were born and continues now as they encounter struggles, disappointments, hopes, and dreams. It is the intercession we offer as we think about them in the middle of the night, as they walk away to school, and when they try new things. It calls to God on their behalf to love, protect, change, and guide them — and us.

Praying in Front of Our Kids: This is “example” praying. The prayer is sincere, but, it also serves as a way to help kids understand what prayer sounds like. As a person who did not hear personal prayer until I was sixteen, I remember learning “how” to pray by listening to other people talk to God. This is where kids learn that prayer is not just for dinner and bedtime “with eyes closed and heads bowed.” Prayer is for everywhere, anytime. So, when we bust out praise for the beautiful tree or a prayer for the accident we just passed, they learn they can too.

Praying With Our Kids: This is a newer one for me, brought about by a recent playdate. My five-year-old was looking forward to a one-on-one with her bestie. When we arrived, said bestie was with another friend, inciting great disappointment. I tried all my best psycholology about including new friends, which failed. She was “too scared.” I took a risk and asked if I could pray for her. I held those sweet little hands next to the monkey bars and asked God if He would be with her as she went to be with new people. A short time later she courageously marched over. While this will certainly not always work, we must remember it is our job to work ourselves out of a job. I sure as heck want her relying on Jesus more than me as she gets older, so we may as well practice now.

Kids Independent Prayer: This one creates safe spaces for kids to practice prayer because, like anything else, that’s how they get comfortable with it. Both public and private, it’s a no pressure situation, but an oft-invited one. Privately they are encouraged to “check in with Jesus” in the mornings. We don’t check on them, we just encourage a morning moment. Dinner is floated as “who wants to pray tonight” with enough silence to allow them to jump in if they want to. My son’s job is to pray as we leave on trips. He has full reign to decline but the predictability of this “role” has given him a safe space to practice praying outloud (when we aren’t looking at him) and he has come to own it over the years. The goal is to create low-stakes opportunities they will capitalize on when they feel ready.

Praying Their Requests: Last one, short and sweet. This is when we start asking them how we can pray for them. It’s a way to show we care about what they care about, rather than deciding for ourselves what is important. And, whatever they tell us to pray for is a valuable window into what worries, fears, hopes, and dreams they have. It’s a cool way to get to know your kid’s inner world, and pray for them in ways that matter to them.

Well, there you go folks. From an imperfect Mom who prays for God to “fill in the gaps” of the stuff I mess up, these are the tips that are working best for us. I hope adding one or two of these angles into your own prayer adventure with your kids is a great blessing. Happy praying!

Photo by Elisabeth Wales on Unsplash, used with permission

Post-Pandemic & Postpartum Experiences: How the Parallels Can Help Us Recover

A resounding theme is growing among many of the women in my life. Cutting across all age groups, I hear it from women at home with small children, moms of teens, empty nesters, working professionals, even older women with self-proclaimed “few” responsibilities. They keep talking about being tired. And while women feeling worn out is not uncommon, this isn’t the usual multi-tasking Mama tired. It’s like extra tired with a side of shame because it’s spring and the restrictions of the pandemic are waning so we all “should” be feeling better and having more energy. What’s going on here?

Admittedly, I am feeling much of the same. The exhaustion seems to be lingering. I was texting a couple friends about this when I wrote, “I don’t remember being this tired for this long at any other time in my life than after I had a baby.”

Aaaaand…lightbulb.

That’s it. Coming out of this pandemic has great parallels to postpartum recovery — all the way down to the irrational guilt and pressure we put on ourselves to “bounce back.” We’re putting expectations on ourselves to recover from this pandemic the same way women put pressure on themselves about lots of other things. Notorious for the expectation to function optimally, during transitions we often push way too quickly with too much pressure and far, far too little grace. Maybe this reflection can help us think about post-pandemic adjustment differently.

Post-Pandemic & Postpartum Parallels

Adjusting to a New Reality: When we discover we are pregnant, it shifts our lives. The early days of this pandemic definitely had some similarities to finding out you are having a baby. It changed our perspective, it made us read all the medical things, and we either got sick or worried about getting sick. Now that many of our lives are starting to look more normal and we’ve birthed this pandemic baby, we seem to feel some pressure to return to “normal” life immediately. Well, it’s not that easy. We’ve spent a lot of time getting to this point and it’s going to take us a while to figure out how to function again. We have to incorporate what we’ve learned and brought into our lives. We will adjust, but give it time. Nobody would expect you to do “all the things” immediately after having a baby. Please don’t expect yourself to do all the things immediately after this experience either.

Emotional Endurance: I think this may be the strongest influence we are underestimating. When this pandemic entered our lives, we slowed down physically, but went into mental and emotional overdrive. We had an unbelievable amount of new information to learn about a virus, our safety, school, and how the heck daily life was going to work. For a year, we’ve been applying additional mental and emotional energy to everyday decision making in a way we never had to before. We’ve worried about and prayed for ourselves and our families and general humanity. Consider this quote from a beautiful memoir I read recently:

“…it occurs to me that maybe the reason my mother was so exhausted all the time wasn’t because she was doing so much but because she was feeling so much.” ~ Kelly Corrigan, Glitter & Glue

Yes, we must honor how hard our hearts have been working. Our caretaker selves are tired.

Weight Gain: I read an article the other day citing, on average, people had gained thirty pounds over the course of the pandemic. Ironically, about the average gained during pregnancy. But, rather than the number, here’s what I really want you to hear. If you gained weight during the pandemic, you are not alone. You are in the company of hundreds of millions of other people who were stressed in unimaginable ways while also being restricted from their usual coping and exercise options. Remember, if it took you a year’s worth of a pandemic to gain the weight, it’s reasonable to think it’s going to take you a while to lose it. Your body that is a little bigger also survived a really difficult time. Be kind to her and be patient. She will recover.

While I know there are more than a few differences, the way women believe they “should” be recovering from this pandemic just sounds way too much like the pressure we put on ourselves after we have kids. That breaks my heart. But, no need to make the same mistake twice beloved. We have nested in fear, sadness, hope, adjustments, mask-wearing, hand-washing, distance learning, people missing, hug deprivation, and how-do-I-reengage-with-the-worldness for a year. Please don’t feel like you have to jump right back to whatever you were before. You’ll get there, and what you’ve learned and grown will be there too. New life in a new time. Let’s honor the adjustment.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay, used with permission

The Blessing of Taking a Closer Look at Holy Week

I love Holy Week. And, somehow I think I love it more because I didn’t grow up in church. Until I became a Christian at sixteen, Easter was simply the fun of a new dress, searching for my basket, and gathering eggs at my grandmother’s house. Then after, Easter became a precious celebration. I do so appreciate the memories of those early days.

Years later when I got married, I had the additional privilege of getting to know Easter not just as Resurrection Sunday, but also as a week full of celebrations per my husband’s Lutheran upbringing. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, they were all new to me. It was neat to add those extra days of understanding, sweetening the crescendo up to a victorious Easter celebration.

In that same spirit of expanding the experience of Easter, this year I decided to investigate the remaining days of Holy Week. Not surprisingly, there are many things that happened on those less “famous” days of Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. As a light appetizer, I’ll offer just a little here. On Monday, Jesus cleared the temple. On Tuesday, He visited the Mount of Olives where he would be betrayed later that week. Wednesday (also referred to as “Spy Wednesday”) is suggested as the day Judas made the decision to betray Jesus. And, finally Saturday, (sometimes referred to as “Black Saturday”) when Jesus lay in the tomb.

And, while I definitely considered using today’s post as a deep dive into each of these less well known days, a different lesson came to mind instead. Recognizing these more obscure days in Jesus’ last week on earth is a simple reminder that there is so much to learn about Him “in between the highlight reel.” By looking closer, we learn more about this important week and other experiences He lived. And, by looking closer, we get not only the Sunday School level of Jesus, but a birds eye view to some of the finer nuances of His character. Just like when we spend time getting to know people better, when we take the time to know God better, it helps us love, appreciate, and understand Him even more.

During this Holy Week, I pray that you are blessed by learning more about who Jesus was over that time. And, I pray that practice also encourages you to learn and develop deep, meaningful relationships with others as well. I sure do love it that any lesson we learn about Jesus also has this cool, blessed application for our daily lives too.

Holy Week happened a long, long time ago but its implications are as modern day as they come. Blessings to each of you as the victory of Easter Sunday approaches. May you deeply know Him — and be deeply known. For this is where life is truly lived.

(For those interested in a deeper dive, a thorough infographic on Holy Week events can be found here.)

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash, used with permission

Mistakes are Cool: Three Ways to Fail More Productively

I spent a lot of years saying no to God about writing. It wasn’t necessarily in a defiant way, but instead, like when you ask your kid to do something and they get busy doing something else. I just didn’t take the time to explore what was tugging at me. I knew it was going to be hard, I knew it was going to be public and, I knew once I started I had to be committed. That was a lot to process so, I just took about fifteen years to get around to it.

I don’t share this delay with shame. I don’t think it does us much good to live in the regret of what could have been. I share it because I know there are some of you who have wanted to step into something and haven’t done it because it’s scary. We worry about what others will think of us (or what we will think of ourselves.) We worry we won’t be successful or it won’t be worth it. We worry we will fail.

So, to that end, here’s my gift to you today: You are going to fail.

When we step into something new, that’s when we are the worst at it. In fact, these “failures” are an inherent, valuable part of the process of becoming more of who God designed us to be. Part of this is because our brains need time to learn. And, I suspect, part of this is because God doesn’t want us building our own personal towers of Babel. Failure is the necessary part of the process that keeps us humble and makes us better. And, if practiced authentically, our failures can be a gift to other people because it makes us accessibly human — giving other people permission to be human also.

So what does it look like to fail in productive, healthy, life-giving ways? Here are some suggestions.

Fail Better: This one is easy-peasy, at least in concept. It just means learning from your mistakes and trying not to make the same ones again. It means making a quarter-turn in your approach to see if that works better this time. It means celebrating doing less poorly than you did before because, if you do that enough times, eventually you will end up doing it well. “Failing better” is often just the natural outcome of practice. We get better each time we try.

Fail Forward: This term isn’t mine. Leadership guru John Maxwell has an entire book written on this concept. Failing forward means failing without activating the self-protective response to quit or retreat. These failures are opportunities to gather information and reaffirm our value and purpose. When we think about failures as necessary steps forward, rather than back, it helps us keep moving.

Fail Face Up: Failing face up means being willing to be seen. This is harder. Many people have begun a new thing in the quiet of their mind or the closed door of a room, and never made it out. One of the most important ways to fail is in the presence of other people — but not just any people. Not everyone earns the right to an opinion. But, for those who love you, for those who mentor you, for those who are “in the arena” with you, being real is essential. Without allowing others to witness of our failures, we risk the quick death that comes with being a people-pleaser — and nobody ever gets anywhere that way.

So, there you go fellow humans. My fifteen year siren call was writing, and I took a darn long time worrying more about the dangers than the joy it ultimately brought me. Mistakes and failure still meet me every day, but I know now I wouldn’t trade it. Onward, brave soldier. Onward toward “failure.” It’s totally worth it.

PS – In a “fail face up” disclosure, this entire post is an example. I began writing it months ago and gave up because I couldn’t figure out a way forward. Then, yesterday after hours spent on another article, someone I trust affirmed that piece was not ready to be shared. Many hours, some self-pitied whimpering, and over seven hundred words later, I am better for it. Just wanted to give you a glimpse into the life of this human, who falls on her face all the time. Come join me.

Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash, used with permission

How to Cope, Honor, & Seek Beauty: One Year into the Pandemic

Well, it’s here. The one-year anniversary of the pandemic that left us stunned for weeks, reeling for months, and tired as we trudge ahead. I have seen a lot of articles about this anniversary and the trauma that will accompany this time for many people. And, I want to affirm that this heavy word “trauma” is 110% a valid and accurate way to describe how some will experience it. However, in the midst of this trauma, a light is also beginning to emerge. There are redemptive angles to observe. And so, we will do that here today. The list below includes ways to cope, honor the hard stuff, and find the co-existing beauty.

Coping, Honoring, & Seeking Beauty in the Pandemic

If It’s Too Much, Don’t Look at It: The same rules apply one year into this as when it started. The news, your social media feed, even your relationships may be full of pictures, conversation, and reminders of how wild this was when it started. You have the choice to actively re-absorb all those memories, or don’t. You can’t keep everything out (and probably shouldn’t) but you can definitely set boundaries to avoid being overwhelmed. No need to deep dive into a pool when you don’t want to go swimming. Just stay on the edge.

This is the Anniversary: One of the hardest things about trauma is that our memories can feel just as intense as if the situation were happening again, right now. This is literally a biological function of the brain’s response to trauma. An important part of getting through difficult memories is reminding yourself how far you have come, what you have survived, and that we are much safer and better informed than we were when this all started. Trauma brain doesn’t always recognize the truth, so we have to remind it.

Anniversaries Can Improve: Quick story. I dreaded my daughter’s birthday for the first four years. I know, birthdays are supposed to be happy occasions, but for me, all it did was remind me of when she was born and how we almost lost her. But, you know what? Every year the images of her in the PICU came less often, the “what ifs” became less loud, and the year she turned five I woke up the next morning and thought, “Huh. I didn’t think about the hospital at all.” While we are never without our difficult memories, our brains can (and do!) get better from really hard situations. While this anniversary may be hard, it will hopefully be easier in years to come.

Be Cool with Your Narrative: As we muddle through this anniversary, some people will be sad, angry, re-experiencing emotions from the beginning, and grieving. And, there are going to be people who are joyful because relief is coming, they are hugging their grandchildren for the first time, or grateful because they made it. A great many of us will be living with a la carte emotions from the entire list. So, which way is best? The way you need. You gotta’ do you and other folks gotta’ do them. Let’s love each other wherever we are.

Celebrate: You, dear reader, have made it one year into a global pandemic. We didn’t have any idea what that meant when we started, but we sure know now. But, even more than what we’ve learned about pandemics, we’ve learned some incredible lessons about people. People are strong, people are resilient, and people show up for one another. Even as you grieve the incredible losses of this experience, I want you to see that strength. I want you to see how you kept going and honor those who have helped carry you through. I want you to see how, even in the dark, you grew. This pandemic took a lot from us, but it has also produced a great deal of perseverance, character and hope. Now that is something to celebrate.

So, here we are. Exactly one year ago today my children came home from school with no plan for return. Exactly one year ago today we wondered when we would see each other again. And, exactly one year ago I wrote this line, “My fellow humanity, I have no idea what is ahead. But I know I trust you.” That was a good decision. We have done well. Hope to hug you soon.

Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash

Lessons in Transitions

I am writing this week over at The Glorious Table about transitions. While we hope for smooth transitions, the reality of often far bumpier. Lessons on that and more in the preview below or via the full article is link here.

My husband and I grew up on opposite sides of Missouri but had similar upbringings. We both come from two-parent households in the suburbs. All four parents worked. We spent our entire childhoods in one city and one school system. They were predictable, safe, even unremarkable experiences in many ways. I sure miss that consistency sometimes.

You see, since leaving for college, our adult lives have looked nothing like those predictable, consistent childhoods. We both moved around some in college, and since we married, we have lived in four different places. Each place has required packing and unpacking, making new friends, finding a new church home, grieving the people and places we’d just left, and coping with transition. After all these moves, I’ve decided transitions are often awkward, bumpy, and difficult, even if God has ordained them. It was the same for God’s people.

For many months now, I have been reading slowly through the Old Testament. I feel like it has been forever since God brought the Israelites out of Egypt in Exodus, waiting for the fulfillment of their entrance into the promised land. After a rather laborious trek through Deuteronomy, I have finally entered Joshua. Thank goodness. I get to watch these folks finally take possession of the land they were promised all those years ago.

Lessons in Transitions

In Joshua, I think I was anticipating them just sauntering into the promised land untouched, unscathed, and uninhibited. Turns out even a biblical transition at this level involved some growing pains. I want to share with you the ones that I have observed so far, in hopes that they will teach us something we can use when God is taking us through transitions in our own lives.

  1. Transitions Aren’t for Everyone: Moses, who led the Israelites since they left Egypt, died in the last book of Deuteronomy. A whole bunch of other people died before the transition as well. Joshua and the rest had to move on without them. These people didn’t get to make the transition because they were being punished. But the truth of people having to move on without others often holds true in our own transitions. Each time we’ve moved, there have been people, traditions, and even favorite restaurants and stores that I wanted to take with us. But they were not meant for the next place. Often, you have to move on alone.

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