Life is Messy

Oh, my friends! What a world we have come to live in! Not only have we only just begun to crawl out from under a global pandemic, our own country has faced huge discord among its people in recent weeks, resulting in freezing assets, misguided information, and rally cries for dissension. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Europe has gone to war. Power-hungry men are puffing up their chests in attempts to gain … something. And the innocent are suffering. I have no words. In fact, I skipped a week or two of posts because I am beginning to question it all. Do words have value anymore?

Is it worth my two cents if I choose not to post my personal views and take sides? Is it worth it to “remain neutral” and bring some light-hearted script to encourage when the world is in such darkness? Last week I received a new book on the Psalms (check out my Instagram reel here) and I am looking forward to doing some doodling as I delve into it. The Psalms were never my go-to book. I think King David was a bit bipolar. His words always seemed far too “up and down” for me. One minute praises — the next, deep laments and evil wishes to dash his enemies. Recently I heard this about the Psalms: that you don’t truly know the light until you’ve been in the dark places. I suspect that is a very true statement. And the Psalms hit it on the head.

A couple weeks ago was my eldest daughter’s birthday. Now, she will be the first to admit that her culinary skills are not top-notch. She has a few basic recipes under her belt and she is happy to repeat them week by week. However, she wanted to try a few new things for her birthday dinner. Fine. No problem, sweetie, I will help you shop for ingredients and make a few suggestions, but the work is yours. The food was great. Everything tasted wonderful. The problem with amateur chefs? My kitchen was a disaster! Every dish, every appliance, every spoon and platter was well used and left for dead on every counter space left available. Sigh. These are memories. We can clean up later.

Life, like cooking, is sometimes messy. Challenges abound. Sometimes we have to be under fire to grow, change and “glow”. Life is not meant to be perfect and predictable.

“Governments make plans, but the Lord checks them. He does not let people do everything that they want to do. The plans that the Lord makes will always happen. His ideas will always be with us.”

Psalms‬ ‭33:10-11‬ ‭(EEB)

It’s pretty clear — God doesn’t let people do everything they want. The governments — and the common people, make plans; plans they think are best, but only God has the last say. None of us have been through this life before. We cannot predict the outcome or guarantee that our methods for living will be the most ideal ones. We are like my daughter… following the recipe hoping we interpret the instructions well, and that our efforts will somehow resemble the glossy picture in the book. More often than not, we create a fairly good tasting, but messy delectable delight. This world is full of sin and it’s going to get messy. Life with God will require patience. But God is infinite and promises to bring good out of the mess. 

Photo Credit: Do it yourself from Scratch on WordPress

Perhaps you are like me, tired and at a loss for words about all the things that have been weighing on the world lately. Maybe it has lit a fire under you and your faith has been made stronger in the face of opposition. Maybe you are just trying to eat some good-tasting stuff and will deal with the clean-up later. Take heart to the assurance that “the plans that the Lord makes will always happen” and I don’t think He’s done with us just yet. Be blessed with the journey, friends.

Death and the Wind

Well. It’s been quite the week. Our “new normal” of self isolation continues, much like all of you. It seems we’ve had quite a lot to ponder over these weeks — but not much to share. I’m finding it hard to be inspired when nothing new is happening. Perhaps that’s a cop-out because there should always be something new, right? Never stop learning and all that. Should take my own advice sometimes! So here goes: As I write these words, the wind is howling outside. Empty and angry, yet cleansing, in a way. It seems to be clearing the world of debris. My poor, old house creaks and groans as it gets shoved around along with the trees outside. My windows are rattling. It’s grey and overcast, and today has been a quiet, slow one after our makeshift festivities and family chats over the internet, remnants of an unusual Easter weekend.

It’s supposed to be a season of rebirth and resurrection. Honestly, I had planned to write about growth this week…. but it seems like I am stuck back on Good Friday and am in the limbo between it and resurrection Sunday. Death seems to be on my mind. Which sounds horrid and morbid and is a terrible title for a blog post. It evokes images of heavy metal thrasher bands and dark images from gothic artists. So my apologies if you came looking for some bright and cheery words of encouragement today. Perhaps we will get there by the end of my 700 or so words.

There seems to be plenty of depressing reports in the news these days during this world wide pandemic. Current data shows over 119 000 deaths as a result of the Coronavirus across our planet. People are dying at an alarming rate. Then, of course, there are unrelated deaths: people are still starving, people are still getting older, people are still without proper healthcare, clean water and hygiene. Hate is still part of our lives. Depression and mental health is still running a muck — maybe even more so — as we are cooped up and forced to face our own thoughts and fears. Our personal demons are joining forces with some very real ones. And in many places, fear and chaos are becoming their leaders.

I’m hearing stories of good, hard working people getting knocked down by the overwhelming death toll. Refrigerated box cars becoming makeshift morgues. Mass graves being dug for the homeless and unnamed. Bodies are literally being dumped on the streets in some parts of the world. Day after day it’s all we see and hear about. It’s easy to see how those on the frontlines are quickly becoming bogged down by the pain and sorrow of it all. And then, how do you mourn? How can you comfort one another from a proper “social distance”? What happens when you cannot say “goodbye”? Closure is difficult from your phone screen. We have etiquette and social graces for death. We say the right things and send flowers and cards. But for so many? What is the response? I don’t know either.

I’m listening to the wind again. Trying, like Nicodemus in John 3, to figure out how God will use all this for His good. He will — because He loves us. It says so in that very same chapter: John 3:16. One of the first verses you learn. Even the football players and sports fans know it. It tells us the story of that fateful day so many centuries ago. The wind was there on Good Friday, too. It shook the houses and the windows rattled as the sky grew dark. The wind eventually will calm down again. Life will carry on and we will once again see that Hope of Easter Sunday. We have the Hope. It’s just a little bit hidden right now. Death was conquered permanently on that weekend. Have you been like Nicodemus, my friend? Trying to figure out what on Earth is going on when people speak of new birth, resurrection and that hope in this dark world? Why do we celebrate Easter weekend? Because of Faith in what is unseen — like the wind. We cannot predict it, like the curves on the covid 19 stats wall… or even death itself. It’s beyond our control. Faith is that big step into the unknown. Where the wind will then carry you.

Feelin’ all the Feels

Anxiety. Pain. Crisis. Fear. Pandemic. Isolation. Many of these words have been in the headlines these last few weeks as people come to grips with the “new normal” of Covid-19. Zoom and virtual chats. Church on line and working from home offices. Unemployment. Everything has been shut down and cancelled until further notice. Disappointment. It’s been long enough and I think people are beginning to feel it. Now, I don’t normally have anxiety. In fact, I don’t understand that fear of the future emotion, much to the shagrin of my friends and family who often find anxiety crippling. “How can you not ?” “Don’t you care?” But — It’s not about that. It’s me being different from you. My brain is wired unlike yours, and God made us each unique for our own unique purposes. This is not up for debate. It simply is.

Today though – today – I am feeling all the feels. Not anxiety and what ifs. Not fear of catching viruses. Diseases have been around much longer than this. Our days are numbered and we should not fear. Many are suffering. And many of you are wired to help — and you are. You are spreading joy and doing your best to connect when it is hard to connect. Keep doing that. Continue to bless the new superheros working on the frontlines and the spiritual leaders who are trying to shepherd at a distance. #Faithoverfear is being touted as the believer’s response to this pandemic. Jesus called us to stand firm in our faith. I’m with you on that. However, He didn’t ask us to be stupid. He encourages us to pray for, and obey, our leaders. He asks us to share His love and be kind. He didn’t ask us to take risks, but to be wise and seek council. He gives us tools, and expects us to use them.

And yet, I am preaching to myself as I write these words. You’ll forgive me if I use this platform as my journal this week. Maybe it will benefit you, too, as we positive self talk together. Because today, I am feeling all the feels. There are too many people in my space. There is no routine in my world right now — and I thrive on routine. There have been things happen this week that have made me sad. I am frustrated and angry. Not fear or anxiety, but insecurities and fights for control. And it’s not about right and wrong. Most of us have never experienced something like this before. We are winging it together. And please don’t tell me I just need fresh air and human contact. I am fully aware of the physical consequences of isolation and too many carbs. I am smart. I know things will eventually come out the other side.

Yet, they say the biggest distance on Earth is the six inches between your head and your heart. You wanna know where God lead me this week? What I mused about? John 14. Twice in this passage, Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled…” Your heart. That seat of emotions where things get mixed up and messy. The disciples knew Jesus. They had seen what He was capable of. They lived with Him. They ate with Him and followed His every word as He taught and prayed. And yet, He comforts them where it counted: in their hearts. Oh my friends, it’s not about whether you are in your pajamas for the whole day. It’s not about doing three hours of homeschool (or none!) or eating pasta again for the umpteenth time. It’s not about your double chin, your hairline, or the background lighting in your video chat. It’s not about doing the “right” thing. It’s not about knowing — it’s about understanding.

We’ve not been this route before. The disciples had never met anyone like Jesus before, either. They knew things, but they still didn’t understand the whys. It wasn’t supposed to be like this and our humanness often gets us mixed up in emotional messes, especially when the Devil gives us an extra dose of doubt, stress or insecurity. Jesus knew the path He had to take this week before Easter, and He knew His followers would be confused, misplaced and be having some “heart trouble”. It’s comforting to know that He still is in the business of calming that unsettling feeling deep within our chests.

I wish you virtual hugs this week, and encourage you to read and muse about John 14 along with me. May you be smothered with some supernatural peace in these unprecedented times (especially when you are feeling all the feels!) and “…let not your hearts be troubled….”