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Sacrificing for Others

"Collie Knox (a British author during WWII) tells how once a well-loved chaplain said to him, 'Young Knox, don't make an agony of your religion.' It was said of Burns (Robert Burns, I assume) that he was haunted rather than helped by his religion. The Orthodox Jews had an idea—not altogether dead—that a man was not being religious unless he was being uncomfortable." (William Barclay,  The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Luke. ) Do you ever feel like you're not suffering enough to be considered a good Christian? Every once in awhile I start feeling guilty about having so many modern conveniences or being able to stay home with my children while Philip, my husband, works or for writing my fictitious novel instead of cleaning the house or for being too relaxed about COVID regulations or for not doing more things for/with my children. In response to the guilt, I often resolve to make more sacrifices to compensate for my "good times." It's a ridiculo
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Words of Comfort For When I Get COVID or Am Afraid

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."  (Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV) “Be not afraid: for I have redeemed you; Be not afraid: I have called you by name. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; when you walk through the floods; they will not sweep o'er you; when you pass through the fire, you'll not be consumed; You are mine, you are precious in my sight."  (Craig Courtney  Be Not Afraid ) "Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life."  (Isaiah 43:4 ESV) "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Can Something be Finished Already?

Can something please be finished? Like the painting on my house? Or the 5 freeway? Or the reminders to hang up wet towels after baths? Hang up the dang towels! Why are we still having to review this? We've been here before, people. And, Lord, can people just stop doing the same stupid things? I feel like I'm on a nauseating merry-go-round. And while you're at it, can you be done with me too? Why do we have to keep visiting these places? More upsetting things! More offensive people!  More circumstances not quite in line with my ideals! More, more, more . . .  How about just completing one fruit of the Spirit in me? That'd be nice. And why does the style of pants have to change again? And my computer's operating system? And COVID regulations? And people's boundaries? And my children's needs? Can something please be unchangeable So I may rely on it for good? Don't say anything, Lord. I know what you're going to say. But why do you do this to us? Are you

Day of Solitude Testimony GHFC

I got out last January’s journal to see what I’d written for the day of solitude last year and found that all I wrote was “At home the noise in my head quiets in 5 minutes. Today at the day of solitude, it didn’t. Why?” Having a noisy mind is part of how I see sin’s curse played out in me. I mentally take apart and analyze everything into manageable bite-sized pieces so that I can safely decide how to act next. This comes from believing I’m solely responsible for protecting myself and understanding the world. And it makes for a lot of mental chatter. At the Day of Solitude I recall reporting this to, I think it was Anita Finely. And Anita replied that she thought this had happened because I wasn’t desperate for peace here like I usually am at home. At the day of Solitude I had 8 or so hours of uninterrupted time. At home I have 15 minutes, maybe an hour and a half of probably-interrupted alone time. At home I’m desperate for it. But coming to the Day of Solitude desperate for some ment

Hit By Other's Shrapnel

God is like a great whirlwind, and we are like people trying to get close while carrying huge empty cardboard boxes and while wearing a big sun hat and sunglasses and feathers pinned to our coats. There's no way we're going to get close to the Lord with all that paraphernalia. His very presence is going to blow it off us. Drawing near to God involves a death of our unhealthy habits. For example, when my household becomes too loud and uncomfortable, I frequently reach for my phone in the hopes of some relief and distraction. I do not automatically ask the Lord for help but he wants me to. After all, he's the only one who can see me through uncomfortable household situations with wisdom, peace, and grace. But we are human and we like to have things our own way. We can resist God. We can cling to our cardboard boxes and garden hats with all our might while simultaneously trying to approach the great whirlwind. Sometimes, we don't even know we're doing this. We only not

Telling God What You Think of Him

You know what's odd? Teaching my children good ways to express their dissatisfaction with something I gave them. That seems backwards to me. I'd rather they kept it to themselves and in the long run, they'll need to learn that. I don't mean to raise rude children. But at their age, I've found that worse things happen if I try to shut them up, like they hit me or destroy toys or burst into tears and run out of the room. I have to teach them how to handle their dissatisfaction. You know what else is odd? Teaching them how to voice their anger towards me. I don't particularly want to hear that either. I also don't want to comfort them when they're accusing me of hurting them or hear about their totally unfeasible fears. Listening and comforting and naming what's going on inside of them feels like I'm giving them a stick and saying, "Here, hit me with this! Tell me how inadequate a parent I am and list all the ways I hurt you and I can't pro

Because Christmas Won't Fix Anything

I was hoping for relief back in April because they said it would only be two weeks, because there was Easter and Mother's Day and end-of-school festivities on the horizon, because we had saved up for family camp at Forest Home for the summer, because Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas were still to come. But I see now that Christmas won't fix anything. And even if we do gather, we'll still be the same people after all the gifts are opened. We'll still be living in the same house, participating in the same activities, waiting for the end of COVID or Jesus to come back or someone to knock on our door and tell us some life-changing news.  But if we've nothing new to do and nowhere interesting to go, and if Netflix becomes tiresome, what do I have to look forward to every morning save his mercies. For this earth goes round and round, people give birth and die, governments form and reform, families grow and fall apart, groceries are bought and eaten, little boys ar

When the King Comes

In October of this year, President Trump visited Lido Island in Newport Beach for a fundraising event at Palmer Luckey's house. Luckey, a young entrepreneur who was inspired by Trump's book  Trump: The Art of the Deal,  is primarily known for founding Oculus VR, a virtual reality company. Three security personnel The planning for this fundraising event began two years in advance. The Secret Service, Newport police, Harbor Patrol and many SWAT teams all had to be there to secure the area. The Press and Secret Service had to have their staging areas. The guests had to be brought in in shuttles. The Port-a-potties had to be brought in on trucks. A check-in and waiting area had to be set up. They had to think up creative ways to accommodate the ever-growing guest list. Palmer Luckey's house had to be thoroughly inspected. Every electrical outlet in the house had to be tested. A portion of the harbor had to be blocked off so no boats could approach. And all this for less than a

Thwarting the Lord's Messages

I was content in quarantine Until I heard about your outings, Then I was jealous. And while this might've disclosed The thinness of my contentment, Instead, I concluded You're self-centered and careless. I was satisfied with my work Until you outshone me, Then I shrank back ashamed. And while this might've disclosed My works-based value system, Instead I concluded You're desperate for attention. I loved everyone unconditionally Until you criticized my views, Then I recoiled. And while this might've disclosed The qualifications of my love, Instead I concluded You're delusional and irrational. I thought I enjoyed serving unnoticed Until I saw you relaxing, Then I pitied myself. And while this might've disclosed My hope to be repaid, Instead I concluded You needed a servant's heart like mine. I wasn't afraid of COVID Until I realized I could be next, Then I was frightened and frenzied. And while this might've disclosed My courage was dependent on my

Shepherds and Truckers

God sent his biggest announcement to shepherds. And it wasn't merely a private message. It was a host of singing angels.  When my babies were born, we informed people in a particular order. First the grandmas and grandpas, the elders of our family who then told the older elders, the great grandparents. Then we told the brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and close friends. We told the rest of our friends and acquaintances with a facebook announcement and a slide at church. There was a hierarchy, a meaning behind the order. Those closest received the news first. Did God announce his son's birth to people in the same sort of hierarchy? Were the shepherds then the closest to God's heart? These men and boys who knew a lot about sheep but not a lot about temple rules. These men and boys who knew which lambs would be used for passover—the one-year-old lambs without spot or blemish—, but who couldn't for the life of them keep the temple cleansing laws of washing hands and