Prepared for the Pandemic

I say I’m a pinball, and I’m glad the machine belongs to God. I can look back and see that when I started dreaming about things and feeling an urgency to take certain steps, it was God preparing me, gently nudging me into position for what was to come. I had no idea how COVID-19 would change our lives on the day we went to our favorite restaurant to celebrate our son’s grades. I did not yet understand how personally God had helped us to collect tools and materials with which we’d build systems to carry us through this present storm.

Our favorite waitress, Kim, was grateful and surprised when we hugged her, as we had done many visits before. “The craze going on in the world is making us hug our sanitizer instead of people!” she said. “People are buying water and toilet paper so they can sell what they’re hoarding online. I’m not worried about myself,” she told us, as she pulled herself away to pour a warm-up of coffee into cups at another table. Her fear was for older people living on fixed incomes, bravely gathering themselves for their weekly shopping trip, only to find the pandemonium of lines, basic staples out of stock, and rationing.

Now that restaurant is closed, except for curbside pickup—online orders that detail the make and model of the car in the “Catering” notes.

God knows the end from the beginning—not to say the pandemic is our end, but it did not surprise God. Well before the pandemic arrived, my heart and mind had been increasingly drawn to the idea of teaching our children at home. My husband did not share my desire. It had been a point of contention for months. I was ready to pull the kids from school and hit the homeschool thing with all my energy. My husband thought it was wiser to step into this possibility with a little more caution, and he pledged his support in gathering supplies and homeschooling on the weekends. Still, God was leading me to do one thing in all areas—prepare. He knew ahead of time how my desperate and seemingly futile homeschool agenda would weave perfectly into what I call “the craze.” While I was scheming to shift education from outside of our control to within it, fear of the virus and confirmed cases led to school closures and suddenly, homeschool was the only option. Oprah Winfrey once said, “Opportunity has to be met with preparation.” God called me to trust Him to hear and answer my prayers. I will not end up begging for bread, even if there isn’t a single roll of toilet paper for miles. I am established, and my path is being made straight; because I’ve committed homeschool, the craze fallout, and my family to Him in the name of Jesus.

I remember being on the phone with my husband in the kitchen having one of our tense micro-discussions—the kind where I needed to fit in a full day of feelings, thoughts, and questions into a few minutes. We had many things over which we needed to “come into agreement,” while his attention was divided between me and his computer screen, fielding pings, replies, updating code, and a meeting he just got out of and the one about to begin. I was heated, not just frustrated; I could feel it in my skin. Maybe my meetings never took place in real pants or conference rooms, but my bun and I fielded the emotional pings of kids bullied mercilessly at school. I needed to be ready with replies when my kids told me about the uncensored TV some of their teachers allowed them to watch and some of the language they were allowed to use. I felt a desperate sense of urgency to bring them home from that environment.

“Why do you trust the school and not me?” I asked him. “God knows I can do it. He has equipped me.” My friends kept saying this to me. It was hard to believe any of it when my own husband—the person God made to be one with me—was nervous about my ability to educate our children [READ THIS ESSAY IN ITS ENTIRETY on the Kindred Mom Blog.]

Finding My Thanksgiving

This year, I faced strange challenges in my role as mother and trainer of children. The whisper came back: Is another child of mine being mistreated because of the world’s unresolved issues with the meaning of skin color? I look around at the world in which the same people who decide for themselves (and tell us), It is not okay to kill an attacking bear…also say, It’s a “sacred” right to kill a baby in the waters of its mother’s womb. I’m troubled by a system whose “science” says there is no God – except the god that says, Human dignity demands that science bow to the preference of women to be called men and vice versa, ignoring DNA. There stood around me a gloom. In this fog, my problems and issues and challenges were magnified and threatened to blot out the goodness of God and snatch His praise from my lips.

I had a hard time saying what I was thankful for this year. At one of the Thanksgiving dinners I attended, I came up surprisingly short.

There’s something wrong with that; I’m a Christian.

Not being able to locate my gratitude means to me: My spirit is hungry. My spirit is the part of me that God the Father made truly alive – that is, through my faith in His Son and by His grace. And my lack of gratitude means my spirit isn’t the filter for my soul right now. Because the eternal part of me is always aware of God and His goodness. I want to come back to this idea later in the Book of the Psalms – after I tell you a story about an Anglican Bishop, Jwan Zhumbes of Bukuru, Nigeria.

God is always God. And He’s good. And He so loves me (The Gospel of John, Chapter 3, verse 16.) And I stand in His amazing grace through and by Jesus Christ, His Son (The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Chapter 5, verses 1 and 2.)

So, I said (when asked at one Thanksgiving dinner, What are you thankful for?): “This is too casual an environment to talk about that. I’ll have to write a letter about the deep things for which I’m grateful.”

I guess I’m writing that letter now.

I listened to the podcast about the Bishop from Nigeria. He came to America and was diagnosed with cancer. My husband has Nigerian roots, and this is significant for reasons I’ll get into soon.

One strange thing about the Bishop being treated for cancer is: His diagnosis and treatment in Birmingham, Alabama may be the most restful periods of the Bishop’s life.

Before he came to visit the United States with a Christian brother, the Bishop was facing persecution from Islamic extremists. He was losing members of his church regularly. He was performing funeral services for human beings who had been murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ and then piled up onto each other. He did this more than once.

My brown children also have Nigerian roots, because of their father, and they have challenges. But I can be thankful now in a new and profound way, because though they may be hated for their faith in God; they are not being forced into slavery. It’s not 1850, and that’s actually happening to South Sudanese Christians. My husband may have challenges at work, but it isn’t that he cannot get a raise based upon his faith. The place where he makes a living hasn’t been looted and burned down, because he has come to the Father for forgiveness of his sins through His saving faith in Christ.

The Bishop has seen these things and more – rape; disembowelment; mothers and daughters pushed off their ancestral lands and out of their homes after having had their husbands, fathers, and brothers killed in front of them; people being burned; the denial of the existence of indigenous Christians; girls forced into marriage and then coerced into religious conversion or, at least, the outward traditions and profession of a faith they have not chosen.

The church in Nigeria has been abandoned by the church of England (the Anglican Church, also known as the Episcopal church here in America), which first evangelized Nigerians to make Christians out of them, educated them, and gave them the foundation for who they are today. The issue is the church of Nigeria’s stand on the Biblical truth regarding sexuality. In the words of Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola (a Nigerian, a Christian, and an Anglican): “We in Nigeria believe very strongly in the priority of the Scripture. We want to see ourselves as a church that seeks to live in obedience to the dictates of the Scripture, regardless of whether that is convenient or inconvenient.”

While the strictness of the Nigerian church’s stand on the authority of the Bible may seem oppressive in the West, it is the truth of the Bible which was the basis for the outlawing of slavery here – the basis of freedom.

As I prayed about what I heard in this podcast, 2 things happened:

  1. God led me to The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, to remind me that He remembers (The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, verses 5 and 17) the persecuted church, sees their faithfulness (The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, verses 9 and 10), and is their help (The Book of Psalms, Chapter 40, verse 17); and
  2. I began to look around myself and see that I am the rich, young ruler to whom Jesus said: Sell all you have and give it to the poor.

17And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it isb to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,c “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

(The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10.) The LORD knew that the young man couldn’t see around all the things in front of him, which numbed him and blinded him to the presence and identity of God in his very midst. I look around at all I have and remember the moment I was asked about my own sense of gratitude… It was blocked, and I was numb.

But, what shook me out of my stupor is also my comfort, because though people may not befriend my kids, they aren’t killing them. And though my baby may be hungry at times; it isn’t that we don’t know when we’ll be able to feed her again as we make our way, homeless and husband-less. We just have to wait until Walgreens opens at 7.

I’m grateful for that – the convenience and comfort and privilege and my reward of children, for my family… But I’m also grateful that God has given me so much…that I can be generous in return – especially to my brothers and sisters in Christ, who are being persecuted. There is a global Holocaust of Christians, particularly in Africa that is being ignored like the fascist death camps of Nazi Germany.

Children of God, we aren’t powerless to do anything about it; we have prayer, the ability to give money, and the right to lobby and seek to influence our government officials on these desperate matters, plus whatever else God speaks into our hearts to do.

Impossible

Impossible

“Ignorant” is actually the appropriate denotation – the definition of the idea that No One gave us all the things we have. That Nobody made all the things we see… But the word I prefer to use is, “Impossible” (Matthew 19:26.) When I look at the reward – the children – that God gave us to foster in the present darkness of our time, I know that only God could have given such unmerited gifts (SEE, Psalm 127:3.) Only God could have made these people. If I had been asked what I wanted them to look like and be like before they came, they would be a little less wonderful than God made them.

My son asked me yesterday: “Is it bad if I don’t believe there is a God?”

I was dead (Ephesians 2:1.) Grace gave me the opportunity to be alive. Sin (disbelieving God and the subsequent disobedience) severed my connection to God, who is the source of real life – spiritual life. When Adam believed the devil over God and then disobeyed God’s warning – that death would come from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – he fell from grace (SEE, Genesis 2:17.) All of creation fell with him, including me. But God had a plan for that; He has a plan for everything (Ephesians 3:1-10.)

His plan was to send the part of Him whose job it is to communicate wisdom with us. So, the Word (Jesus) came in a body like mine, because the Father in heaven wanted us to “see” Him (Romans 8:2-4; John 1:13-14.) God the Father wanted us to hear about how to be free from my former slave master, sin (John 14:7-9; John 12:49-50.)

It was the grace of love that brought Jesus to us, so that His sacrifice could pay the debt of unbelief and disobedience into which, the devil encouraged Adam to enter. The broken flesh of Jesus is the answer to the consequences of sin in fallen bodies – sickness, weakness, dying young. And the blood of Jesus is the way by which God forgives transgression (deciding to disobey) and sin (the act of disobedience.) The blood of Jesus washes us clean, so God no longer even remembers the sin that broke our bond with Him.

Jesus coming, suffering and dying on my behalf, before being resurrected and being witnessed alive, is the grace of God – the opportunity to be forgiven (healed, freed, and made alive.) But the way to accept God’s offering is faith (SEE, Ephesians 2:8.) My belief in the truth of the message preached about Jesus made me alive, gave me God the Holy Spirit to advise, teach, and comfort me, and made me a child of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:14; John 14:16, 26; I John 2:27.)

So, my son’s question was blow. A big blow with a big bat…

It was a gut punch, because: Not believing in God is more than bad. Without faith, we are still orphans, outside the refuge of the only One who truly loves us. God is the only One who loves us, knowingly: knowing how we’ve secretly blown it; knowing our bad habits; knowing our evil thoughts; knowing what we will do wrong, how we’ll blow it again, and that we’ll continue in some bad habits. Knowing all that, only God truly loves us and remains close. God is the only One who will never leave us, even when many or all others turn their backs (Matthew 28:20.)

This is why it’s so important for my son to know: Yes, there is a God. Everything good that you have was given to you by Him. Nature generates awe within us when we can quiet the distractions and absorb it. And everything science reveals and takes note of in its Journal of Discoveries was ordered and set in motion by the wisdom that He created (Proverbs 8: 22-23; SEE, Genesis 1-2.)

I think we all have to confront the question: Is God real? Is God good? Why am I here?

The itch inside to have answers to those questions is more than natural, but also spiritual. And there is no lasting joy or hope without knowing that the answers are: Yes (God is real.) and Yes (God is good.)

Amen.

I Have Feelings, Momma

“I Have Feelings, Momma…”


I honestly forget who I am sometimes. I think I’m a writer. But writing’s ✍🏽 something I can do. I think of myself as “Mom,” especially because my people call me that – “Mom,” “Momma,” “Mommy,” like it’s my name; but that’s a role I play.

My true identity as a child of God is tied up His purpose in sending Jesus Christ to sacrifice Himself as the Holy Lamb of God, thereby healing me of the consequences of sin 👉🏾death. My identity, an unmerited gift of God’s grace and evidence of His inexplicable love, means a lot of things.

Inside my identity as a saved person – one adopted or, baptized into grace through faith, lives this truth: My source is always, always, always God. LORD Jesus is my lifeline, the Friend I should phone…like when my son comes home and tells me that the kids in his classroom group are calling him “a freak” or that, “no one in my [entire] class spoke to me [for 2 days straight.]”

I had to explain to my son, whose heart was breaking afresh: “We will make it through. Because we’re going over to the other side with Jesus” (SEE, Mark 4:35-5:1.) 

I encouraged my son, saying: “All the mean things that people are doing and have done are not because of them, but because we have a spiritual enemy whose entire purpose in launching arrows by day and laying out snares by night is to convince you that you don’t belong, don’t have a place, and have no reason to hope for your future.” Take note: The Bible actually says, “terrors by night,” which matches my son better, unfortunately. However, I was right when I told him: “We have an enemy who’s trying to steal from, kill, and destroy us.”

I also told my son, “God is taking you I to open places. He’ll give you the ground wherever you step. Remember we’re planting ‘God seeds’ by speaking God’s word, so that ‘God things’ will come up?” I reminded him.

He said with tears in his big, beautiful eyes, “I said it, Momma. That’s what I kept saying.”

My first instinct had been to take pictures of my son’s state – his tears and expression, so I could have a foundation to stand on when I  spoke to someone about the going’s on…

But then I remembered who I am.

22“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23“But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

(Chapter 6 of The Gospel of Matthew, NASB.) The light is understanding (knowledge of the Holy One.) Darkness is anything you don’t know from the Bible about God or anything else – in other words, ignorance; and when we are attacked by principalities in heavenly places, it is only in the sphere of what we don’t know about Jesus and God’s word (and so, therefore, have no discernment or response – in the fashion of Jesus confronting the devil in Matthew 4:4.) (SEE also, Ephesians 3:10, 6:12.)

God is my foundation (SEE, Matthew 7:24-27; I Corinthians 3:11.) And I started asking God the Holy Spirit to show my son the truth of who he is and where God is in his circumstances. I started praying friends and divine connections out of the heavenly dimension. I asked for wisdom for his dad and me.

I told him to understand that the desire of lies is to take hold of your mind and faith. Corruption and death live in every place where there is no light of understanding – knowledge of Jesus Christ and His true will and identity toward you, His power and love for you.

I said, “Lies come to you as young as possible, so that you can be in bondage and anxiety and depression and self-doubt for as long as possible.” 

I told him that I’d been hobbled early and only now (in my early 40’s) really beginning to see how much I’ve been trapped in deception and insecurity and fear. I asked him if he knew who he was listening to when he didn’t tell us the truth about what’s going on at school…or, when he believes the bad, sad thoughts that come. He knew they were lies.

“Listen to God,” I told him. “Keep planting God things with your words. Don’t agree with the lies or the feelings. God will start showing you his good plan sooner, if you listen to Him.”

Because, Friends, LORD Jesus has no plans to harm us, only plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future. And no wisdom, no insight and no plan can succeed against the LORD (Proverbs 21:30.)

I told my son: “I’m hoping against hope, like Abraham when he believed what God said about him and Sarah having a baby into their hundreds and 90’s.” (SEE, Genesis 17:17.) His eyes got big.

“Do you know what hoping against hope means?” I asked, and he shook his head.

“Hoping against hope means you look and can’t see how it could change, but you trust God will do it anyway.” 

Another way of saying that is: Walk by faith, not by sight. And, Call things that be not as though they were.

“I tell them, but they don’t understand that I have feelings,” my son said, tearfully, on another occasion. I don’t ask, Why is there no empathy for a child’s feelings? No. My question is: Will you pray? For hard hearts to be softened, so that no child has to wonder why there is no one around to celebrate a victory (catching his first fish 🎣in my son’s case – a bass) or, to care when they cry 🙏🏾 

God Loves What Drives You Nuts

God Loves

What Drives You Nuts

God loves the people that annoy me. Do you know that God loves the people who annoy you?

There was this lady I used to see – h e a r…talking…about fitness (in this and that class or, this or that diet or, specialty food she’d had delivered to support the diet…) As my oldest is too, too fond of saying, UGH! right?! 

Totally! Especially, because I wasn’t (and still am not) at my ideal weight and fitness level… 

So that was all part of it – that is, my perception of this woman. To me, she was not only my nemesis because she talked non-stop in the close quarters of a gymnasium for the hour that we had to wait for our girls to finish their lesson; it was WHAT she was talking about. It was how perfect she looked while she was doing it – a judgment I was making and using to bash myself with, all the while resenting her.

I admit: I went out of my way not to speak to her, a violation of The Code for Mommies with Children in Extracurricular Things. However, I remember that when we were forced by circumstances to interact, she was super nice. I still didn’t care for her.

Anyway, fast forward to Taekwondo 🥋. The woman who had annoyed me so deeply during the gymnastics experiment was there at Taekwondo, too. But no bells went off to remind me.

In the season of Taekwondo I got to know Fitness Talker as one of the bravest, most inspiring, and, kind of heart-wrenching characters I’ve had the pleasure to know.

She’s currently chauffeuring 3 girls to various activities, including gymnastics, dance lessons, and golf. She had one daughter in private Taekwondo lessons, hoping she would develop a comfort-level that would allow her to practice in a class with her belt level, eventually. But after a pretty traumatic belt testing experience and sitting through a few classes on the sidelines (mom and daughter), they quit together.

That belt testing day is where I learned how brave was the woman I’d tagged annoying. That day, the Taekwondo master and grand master went out of their way to give Fitness Talker’s shy daughter a chance to participate during the allotted testing time. And, in an attempt to make her more comfortable, they forced her parents to do e v e r y t h i n g she was supposed to do – from demonstrating form, to board-breaking.

Fitness Mom had to get on stage in front of a crowded dojang. She had to maintain her composure as instructors repeatedly tried to encourage and compel her daughter to test. She spoke with her daughter inside and outside of the dojang. And she withstood all the eyes (mine included) with amazing grace.

So it was sad to see a lady obviously throwing in the towel with her girls. And as she stood up from the sidelines and headed for the door, leaving a weeknight practice with her daughter in her Taekwondo uniform, I got up to encourage her.

IT WAS AT THAT VERY MOMENT that God reminded me that Brave Taekwondo Mom was Annoying Fitness Mom 🤯

“Did our girls used to have gymnastics lessons at the same time?” was the question I was able to approach her with, because of God the Holy Spirit’s timely reminder.

And she was so nice that I’d be ashamed – if I believed in shame.

God gave me the opportunity to be a part of encouraging someone I’d judged and forgotten. Because God loves the people who annoy you and me.

“You didn’t give up on her,” I got to encourage her, and she pounced on that wording, turning to her daughter to repeat the words God gave me.

“You’re planting a seed – many seeds,” I got to tell her. “And seeds take time. A harvest will come when you’re not expecting it.”

And she said, “I gotta pray that’s true!” I got to “Amen” that – “So be it.”

God encouraged her, and He taught me how He loves: Even when I don’t deserve to be rehabilitated from a judgmental meanie to an encouraging light in the life of another precious mom…He let me.

And God taught me: I am the people who annoy me – a human being, who could be judged during the snapshot of an experience with me. I am a person like any other, with annoying traits…and my brave side. 

God let me see that, because He wants me to know: He loves us all.

He is love (I John 4:8,16.)

Babylon

My people, go you out of the midst of her, and deliver yourselves every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD;

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues.

Jeremiah 51:41; Revelation 18:4 (King James 2000 Bible.) There are so many things that show how much this fallen world and its unbelievers are hostile to God for reasons that are not guided by or based on good sense. We study history, for instance. We believe in people and in the occurrence of events that no longer have any living witnesses…but we don’t believe in Jesus Christ. There is historical support for His existence and for the events and people surrounding His life on earth as laid out in the Bible, for His fulfillment of prophecy… Yet, people say there is none. They ask, How do we know it’s true?

So, Why do the same people believe any of the History they are taught in school?

Suppose there’s an empty lot near your house. You go on vacation, and when you come back, there’s a house sitting on that empty lot. Do you suppose that the house appeared out of nowhere – without a plan, planner, and builder? Of course not… A child knows that makes no sense.

So, Why do you think there are people who suppose that our world appeared out of nowhere – without a plan, Planner, and Builder?

Does it make any more sense to allow ourselves and our children to be a part of things that are damaging? If we, as responsible parents, knew that our children were inside a house where people were doing drugs, organizing crime, and otherwise presenting a present danger to them, Would we just leave them inside that house?

Or, Would we call our loved ones out of that house? That’s what I hear when I read the Scripture above – that is, God, in His love, encouraging us to get away from the things that present a clear and present danger to our souls… No, not our salvation, but our souls

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive.

I Corinthians 10:23 (New International Version.) Some things aren’t good for us. They don’t take us from God’s hand, if we live there already. But they do create stress and fear and encourage us in damaging thoughts and behaviors.

I go back and forth about this, but I think: There’s a reason I wasn’t sure who might be a Christian – someone who could advise me about Christianity – when I started looking for a guide to my new life in Christ 6 years ago; and, it’s not good (the reason.)

I think we need to come out from “her -” Babylon (Babylon being representative of a confusion – a conflation, if you will, of religions, politics, and economics or, globalism.) We’re distracted and enmeshed with the same idols as unbelievers. And, so, it’s hard to tell us apart.

That doesn’t mean we aren’t Christians (made truly alive and set free from sin through faith in the name of Jesus Christ.) It just means: No one can tell – that is, that we’re any different from them. In that sense, we need to think about what we’re doing.

Lord Jesus didn’t ask that we be taken out of this world, but said that we aren’t of the world – that God Himself is a spiritual prophylactic (for lack of a better word), which sets apart whosoever acknowledges that he needs saving. But sometimes Christians let the world try to teach us how to think and behave. We speak and live from its fallen perspective. When we look around and realize that we’re dressed up as unbelievers is precisely the time that we need to come out from under a bushel to shine our light.

We need to come out from Babylon, because as Christians, it makes good sense.

Faith

I was in the shower thinking about Stephen King. He used to be one of my favorites, a reading obsession. Listen: I still highly, highly recommend his book, “On Writing” for writers. But I started reading a collection of his short stories recently, and it was kind of meh, for the most part. It’s me, not him, I think. I’ve changed, I guess. But I cannot take away from his role in my development and love of reading and writing. He taught me so many words, because I always had to have a dictionary handy in order to get the full view of his stories.

What he added most to me is the understanding of what it means to be a writer – what it looks like. Being a writer, he taught me, is like a lot of practices: It can be as simple or complicated as the person doing it. It’s a journey, and a journeyman chooses when he’s finished with the work. Along the way, he picks up tools and wisdom and style.

But pertinent to this particular post, is a view of God I’ve picked up by reading Stephen King’s work. It’s not ignorant of God, but there is a slant that I would call negative and atheist in nature. Proatheist may be more accurate as a description.

Anyway, during my thinking time in that shower, I tried to take the puzzle pieces of what I was picking up and cobble together the creed – the tenets of the Proatheist View of Christianity as best I could gather and outline them.

Atheist Victim Mentality

The devil and demons exist, but God does not. Or, He is indifferent, judge-y, and/or changeable. Evil and “good” (fortune) are random – like drive-by attacks that may hit “bad people” as easily as “the innocent.” 👆🏾This thinking justifies/makes logical the popular YOLO/Live for Today cultural perspectives: If, no matter what, “blameless” people are at the whims of fated drive-by’s and demons, without God to care (even if He exists to see); why wouldn’t a person be a little meaner? More selfish? Intentionally resistant to limits/restraint – moral or otherwise? Survival of the Fittest and Me First makes sense, right. Go for yours!

☝🏾 But, humans are not blameless regarding the state of our world, this earth. We have made and continue to make choices – to sin. And the heart of all sin or, I could say, the rotten core of it is: Disobedience to and rejection of the truth and identity of God. 

He loved and loves us, because He is God. And He isn’t a liar, to be doubted and denied.

21But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

Romans 3 (New American Standard Bible). We all know or sense that this world is broken. But it isn’t an unfair viral attack perpetrated against “good” and “bad” people, randomly; it’s the result of free will – a consequence of the worst choice. But there is a cure by the grace of God, who not only exists, but cares – deeply.

Faith in Jesus Christ saves us – justifies us and makes us righteous, bringing us into God and Him into us.

We Can’t See Ourselves, but God Can

A friend wrote me a note right before my due date for #4, our third daughter… In it, she described my involvement with my children as individualized and invested. I thought of what God has done, because if that’s a true description – an accurate one – it’s a testimony to the manifestation of God in my life, the renewal of my mind that has made me more like who I am in the spiritual realm.

In other words, God is making all things new – including me 🙋🏽‍♀️

I read with our #3…and make sure she has her hugs, which she runs on as much or more than Cinnamon Toast Crunch or chicken tenders. I cook with our #2, and he’s, maybe, called to do that. And if not “called,” then wired or, made to cook 👨🏽‍🍳

I was sitting on the steps, dealing with Braxton Hicks and the hardness of wood under my bottom, anxiously waiting for my oldest to return for her things; a play date event had graduated to a sleepover after a vote and show of support from the Host Mother.

I started to do nothing, but anxiety pushed my heavily burdened body upstairs. My mind was racing ahead of those difficult steps. I knew what I needed, and God sent my husband up to put the finishing touches on all my plans – making him the bridge between what I wanted done as I sat, an exhausted whale of woman on our bedroom floor, with ✌🏾 bags: a resilient mesh tote for toiletries and #1’s Everything Bag. That’s the one with the spray paint and graphic writing design and the unrealistic rope handles.

We got her packed and went down. I trudged down to the stairs and stared toward the front door – with the eyes of my heart, waiting. 

My oldest had used the bag earlier – taking it with her to a local splash park. I’d unloaded and reloaded it. Her silver cross bracelet was in there, and as I waited anxiously to explain how I’d packed the bag, so I could hug her and assure myself she was “set,” I also held that bracelet. 

Hubby said I could relax, and he’d hand off. But I needed to see if she wanted me to help her fasten that bracelet on her tiny wrist. And I needed to hug her.

We are still a family that waits together. So, we all sat down in the filtered prisms of light that the front of the house offers in the dinner/right after dinner hours…

That moment of myself, that iteration of myself is what I was thinking of just before I saw that note 📝 from my friend – the one about my individual and invested involvement with my children. Before that note, all I’d felt from myself and that memory of me was my anxiety.

I write this on one of those days when it feels like: The devil uses the people in my inner circle to discourage me, while God is using the people who don’t necessarily see me every day to encourage me. Even so… Thank God for allowing friends to give us a window into how He sees and loves us.

*NOTE: Most of these posts have been published according to the real timeline of my life. But this one sat as a draft till well after the delivery of our #4🧐🤓

Momlife: When it Feels Like I’m Falling

We enter the story just after I have spilled hot oatmeal all over one slipper and my maxi skirt and my bare leg… After I’ve vacuumed – the chore my oldest daughter is supposed to do every morning before school… We enter as my next youngest child is explaining to me that MY explanation of How to Wrap the Cord Back on the Vacuum has “unlocked” her understanding. She (the next youngest 👆🏾) also thinks that the actual baby (less than 2 months old) has yet to unlock many things – crawling and walking, for instance; but, that baby has unlocked falling asleep on her own.

The thing is, my next youngest SHOOK my youngest. Yesterday. So her head was whipping back and forth. Witnessing something like that is so scary, it threatens to trigger dangerous reactions. Seeing your child shaking another child that way sets off thoughts and fearful questions.

I’m already struggling. I struggle with fear and with exercising patience. I need patience for my children and their antics and their youthful ignorance and enthusiasm – that which overrules the inhibitions (my and their father’s directives)… I need patience for incessant, obsessive-compulsive questions about things that are little to me.., yet are the world to the little people asking them.

I need patience for gluttonous need – the kind that grows up in the soil of insecurity of change. Chang-es. Many changes.

I need patience for dealing with other people’s need for freedom – freedom that, ironically, burdens me.

I need patience for my body that can’t keep up with my mind and, patience with obligations that eat up the time for keeping up with my plans and want to’s.

I need to access all the patience I have in the only begotten Son of God today as I face a world with fewer trusted friends… Have you heard that saying before – ? – the one about summer friends and winter friends? The Bible puts it this way👇🏾

There are friends who are friends, and there is a friend that is closer than a brother. 

Proverbs 18:24 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English.) I take it to mean, generally, some people are in for the long haul. You don’t have to doubt them or perform for them, and they don’t doubt and question you.

But some folks are part of the fun while it lasts. And life is both – better and worse.

This recurring thought I’m having – about patience – feels like a lesson God is teaching me. A lesson, but without the guilt and judgment teachers usually impose – that is, the ones who aren’t God or, His agents: What feels like a lifetime when you’re waiting (and feeling kind of doubt-y in your faith) is actually many, many times shorter.

In my head, it ties back to another thought I recently had:

The way God loves us is not 🙅🏽‍♀️ like the way we (as adult kids ) are loved.

🙏🏾 God loves us like we love infants 👶🏽 [] the way we love new borns and babies : He loves us before we do anything or, are anything, except amazing creations – creatures who have been formed, life breathed into us…but needing everything.

A nursing baby is most like what we are to God – being fed from Him on demand, crying when we sense lost connection But really, we are the ones to pull away from what feeds us, yet never out of His protective and loving arms 💜

My Post (Facebook, October 8, 5:01 AM CST.) A baby feels like my 25 minute detour away from her (to pay attention to the house or, her siblings or, her father) is a lifetime. She cries like she’s in the cross-hairs of impending destruction.

I kind of laughed inside myself about it as I chided her gently the last time she had such a “meltdown,” but then ☝🏾 It came to me: Don’t I also melt down? Don’t I, too, feel like the sun will never shine upon me directly – as soon as I’m sick, in pain, shaken out of my calm, wise persona by fear or, loss, change, or the inertia that comes by trying to be God when I’m only something He made?

The answer is: Yes. Of course I do.

But this is what I heard God saying in the face of all my mental tossing and turning: Let not your heart be troubled, and do not be afraid. SEE ALSO, 👇🏾

Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God and believe in me.

John 14:1 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English.) And I’m trying not to be afraid, trying to see the glass half full moments – the kiss before the buss ride, the back rub, the chore or homework done without being asked… My son saying that his problem this Friday is: “Momma, I don’t get to hold my sister enough💙”

Your Blueprints

The plans in question 👇🏾 are a blueprint – intricate, thoughtfully-devised ideas for how to construct something, devised and memorialized by God…for your future, your life.

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (New American Standard Bible.) When my OB told me that my insides are totally healed, with my incision being almost totally undetectable, I realized something else: Knowing the truth about Jesus Christ is like getting the “game on” report from your doc; it doesn’t mean there are no pains or, that the discomfort is over.

But what it does mean is: Whatever pain you’re having, whatever pain you will have…will not tear you apart and is not slowly killing you. You just have to get stronger and build yourself back up according to the truth – that your foundation is perfect.

And in the realm of faith, No matter what your circumstances are or, how things look; the truth is that God has constructed and devised the blueprints of our lives for good things, for hope and a future… our circumstances are like the weakened core I have to rebuild and the pain I am still working through.

But I’m healed in my body. Inside I have God, and He has good plans for my future…no matter what it looks like or feels like now. 

That’s why the Bible teaches us to walk by faith, not by sight. We can’t see the things that God has planned for us, like I can’t see the insides that my OB says have healed. But I believe him.

I believe his Creator, too.