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5 Minute Friday: SUPPORT

It’s Friday which means it’s time for 5 Minute Friday! If you’ve never heard of 5 Minute Friday, that’s when women (and I suppose men, too, if they wanted to) from all over the globe write about one word for 5 minutes – no editing, no stopping, no hesitating – and hit publish. Want to join us? Visit HERE.

 

SUPPORT

 

It’s always so interesting to me how the word for 5 Minute Fridays always seems to dovetail with my life in some way. When I saw the word SUPPORT, I knew I was definitely going to find the 5 minutes to write about it today.

Just 10 days ago, my dad died. It wasn’t sudden, but it was. He had cancer and hadn’t been doing very well. But he had bounced back so many times, we kind of thought he would again. We certainly did not expect him to go into the hospital and on hospice on Saturday and be gone by Wednesday.

Through those days at the hospital, I got to watch the Church support one of its members. After the first day, my Dad went to sleep. He never woke up. So, my mom limited visitors.

That didn’t stop people from texting and calling, wanting to help in some way, asking if they could be the exception to the no visitors rule.

My mom’s pastor and his wife were up every single day. They were a constant presence of comfort and support. Friends came up, offering their presence and more tangible support like food or help running errands.

I got numerous texts and Facebook messages, offering help and support, too. One of my friends brought enough Lee’s chicken for the Duggars!

While it doesn’t erase our family’s loss, support makes that loss more bearable. It gives you the sense that even though you feel adrift on a sea of grief, you aren’t drifting all alone.

Watching the body of Christ as they came to the aid of a sister was a beautiful thing. Watching that just reaffirmed for me that God created us for fellowship. We aren’t meant to do this life alone. It’s just too hard.

 

What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. ~ I John 1:3

Blessings, Rosanne

Five Minute Friday – COLLECT

I can’t believe it’s Friday again, can you? It’s amazing to me how the week just flies by lately. Since it is Friday, that means it is time for 5 Minute Friday. For those who don’t know, Five Minute Fridays are where women from all over the globe (literally!) write about one word for five minutes – no editing, no agonizing – just write and hit that publish button. If you want to read more, visit HERE.

 

The word this Friday is COLLECT

What do you collect? I collect stories. It doesn’t matter if they are stories in books or stories of real people. I guess that’s why I chose to major in journalism in college. It was that idea of collecting my own stories, that led me to start a blog in the first. place (back on blogspot). I went back and looked, and I published my very first post on Jan. 17, 2009. That was over 8 years ago!!! So, I’ve been collecting my stories for a really long time!

I started my blog as a way to share what God was teaching me, how He was moving in my life, and to remember the answers to prayer and His blessings. If I went back and read all of my blog posts, I’m sure I’d see this mosaic of God’s goodness and grace in the midst of the everyday mundane and the harder stuff, too.

The truth is, I’ve always been fascinated by people’s stories, and I guess that’s obvious because I can’t tell you how many times complete strangers have shared their stories with me. For instance, there was that time in a coffee shop where I was reading a book. Somebody I didn’t know came up and shared they had just started a band with several other people who suffered from serious mental illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

I find people and why they do what they do, to be infinitely fascinating. Looking back, this love of collecting stories isn’t all that unusual. Whenever I go out with my parents, they know the people who work in the restaurants they frequent. They ask about those people’s stories. I’m always a little surprised what people share with them (and me!)

In a culture that seems to isolate people more and more, I think people are desperate to share their stories, to be heard, even if the person listening is a complete stranger.

I collect stories and God has used that to help me really see people.

What do you collect?

Blessings, Rosanne

 

Christianity’s Not a Competition

You’ve Probably Never Heard of This Guy

If you know anything about church history, the name Charles Finney probably rings a bell. He was the most famous evangelist during the Second Great Awakening.

However, you’ve probably never heard of Daniel Nash because his name was never part of the headlines that included Charles Finney.

But Charles Finney would probably never have made any headlines without Daniel Nash. You see, Nash quit his pastorate at the age of 48 to intercede for Finney full time. Before Finney would go to a place to preach for revival, Nash had already been there. He would find two or three other intercessors and they would rent a room and start praying for revival.

When Finney started the public meetings, Nash was rarely in attendance. Instead, he could be found praying for the Holy Spirit to convict those in the crowd and bring them to salvation.

Christianity Isn’t a Competition But We Sometimes Treat It Like One

Although it’s not really talked about in Christian circles much, Nash’s response to Finney is unusual. Many times, instead of praying for and interceding for fellow laborers, there is a sense of competition.

Whose church had more attendees on Sunday morning?

Whose revival meetings had a greater number of responses?

Who was the better preacher or teacher?

Competition Between Believers Isn’t Something New

This morning I was reading in Mark 9. This is the passage where Jesus takes John, James and Peter up on the mountain and transfigures in front of them (terrifying them in the process). When they return from this amazing experience, they find the rest of the disciples arguing with some scribes and a crowd has gathered.

When Jesus asks what’s going on, a man tells him he brought his demon-possessed son, but Jesus’ disciples couldn’t cast it out. Of course, Jesus speaks and the demon leaves.

The disciples and Jesus leave the area. As they are walking, the disciples are in a huddle, talking intently with each other. When Jesus asks them what they are talking about, they clam up. Why? Because they are discussing who amongst them is the greatest.

The passage doesn’t explicitly say this, but knowing human nature and reading through to the end of the chapter, my guess is that there was some jealousy and competition going on among the disciples.

Jesus took three of them to see something amazing. The rest got left behind and then came up short in the whole casting out demons thing.

Everyone has a desire to feel special and chosen by someone.

Everyone wants to feel like they are in the inner circle.

Everyone wants to feel like they are, at the very least, not failing.

At least I do – please tell me I’m not alone in those feelings.

How Being Salty Figures Into It All

To be honest, in my first reading of chapter 9, I was a little confused about how it all worked together.  There is a lot going on and then the chapter ends with what appears to be these random teachings by Jesus. First, He talks about doing good in His name and then He talks about not being a stumbling block to children. Then He starts talking about cutting off your hands and feet or pulling out your eye if it causes you to stumble.

He winds it all up by talking about salt and being at peace. As I was reading this, I wondered what in the world salt had to do with being at peace with people. His last words in chapter 9 are, “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

As always, when I am confused I ask questions (my inner journalist coming out, I suppose – also, I’m nosey!). So, I asked God what in the world all this apparently random teaching meant, specifically in my own life.

I went back and looked the chapter over again, and then it hit me – Jesus was talking about serving Him how HE has called you to serve instead of comparing your role with others.

Believers are called to be salt to an unbelieving world. To us 21st century believers, that sounds a little weird right? I mean, salt is nice and all, but why not pepper or better yet, cinnamon? Well, salt in the ancient world was incredibly important.

It was used  in many cultures not just as a seasoning, but also as a preservative which was pretty important in an era without refrigeration! It was also used as a disinfectant, a component of ceremonial offerings, and often as a form of money.

Salt had great value.

Make Sure Your Own Saltshaker is Filled Up

Jesus was saying, in several different ways, make sure YOU are salty because when you are filled up with what God has for YOU, then it’s a whole lot easier to be at peace with other believers.

Being human, we can miss the whole point if we start getting all caught up in competing with other believers about our roles, or comparing our apparent importance in the Kingdom.

We can also seriously turn others off, with all that competition and rivalry, especially children who watch not just what we say but what we do.

And all that stuff about cutting off your foot or hand or plucking out your own eyeball (eww!!), in this area we are our own worst enemies, aren’t we. The thoughts we allow to take up inventory on the shelves of our minds directly relate to how we view the world and those around us (you can read more about our mind’s inventory HERE).

I closed my Bible and opened my Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge for the day’s reading. And low and behold, the author was talking about how he was convicted to pray for the churches right around his own, and to start viewing them as part of the same team – not his competition. That’s where I saw the story of Daniel Nash.

Isn’t it so cool how God ties everything together like that?

Our culture is so wrapped up in individual’s successes, and I believe that has bled into the Church. We aren’t in competition with each other. We are all working for the Kingdom, and another church’s or organization’s or teacher’s or pastor’s or even fellow church member’s spiritual success doesn’t take away from what God has for YOU to do.

God’s blessings and plans aren’t finite. They don’t run out – ever. 

Is there someone you have a hard time rejoicing for? Do ever find yourself comparing your own success or growth or spiritualness to others? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Five Minute Friday – STEADY

It’s been a little while since I’ve done 5 Minute Fridays, and I’ve missed them. If you are unaware, Five Minute Fridays are when women from all over the world write for 5 minutes on a single word. If you haven’t stop over and check it out HERE.

The word this week is STEADY.

The word steady has always been synonymous with the word reliable. Something that is steady is something I can trust.

My first instinct when I sat down to write about this word was to talk about the steadiness of God. After all, how many words that describe God represent the word steady: rock, strong tower, a large place.

And God has certainly been my steady place when times got rocky and things felt totally off balance – anything BUT steady. During those times, God has proven that He is more than reliable and faithful, and that He never leaves me or forsakes me.

But what He has been teaching me about lately is being a source of steadiness for others. When my brother died in 2015, God showed up in such a tender and personal way. He was the one thing I could cling to in those first dark days when I felt like nothing made sense and I felt like I was walking on jello.

One of the things I begged God to do was to bring good out of my brother’s death and to show that to me. God is so awesome because He answered my prayers, and one of the ways is that my own grieving process has completely changed how I view others losses and difficulties. It’s made me aware that as wonderful as God is in the midst of the storm, it’s also a good thing to offer a human hand to steady another.

It’s not that I didn’t care before, but I was busy. Aren’t we all? And I let that busyness push my good intentions out of sight and out of mind. After walking through my own loss, I can’t do that anymore.  I can’t NOT see.

God, in His great mercy, gave me His hand during my own storm, and now, He’s asking me to offer my hand to others who feel battered by their own storms – not to help in my own strength, but to be the one who guides that person’s hand into the Father’s, so they too can find shelter from their storms.

 

Surprising Lessons I Learned This Spring

Today, I am linking up over at Emily P. Freeman’s blog, Chatting at the Sky, to share what I’ve learned this spring. Stop over and see the lessons have sprouted! Or share your own lessons harvested during this last season. Looking back is a great way thing to practice before moving forward. You can share the silly, the serious or the just plain practical. All are welcome!

What I Learned

 

Prayer is vital.

I know, you are probably thinking, well, duh! I’ve always known prayer was important, but during this season, God has been planting the importance of prayer deep in my heart. Without prayer, I can’t fully walk as His daughter. And prayer takes time, time that is sometimes hard to carve out. But it is SO worth it!

Praying for Other is Hard Work

And the enemy will definitely try to distract you and keep you from this work. It’s interesting that as God has pressed the importance of prayer into my heart, I’ve become more and more aware of the needs of others. I’ve realized the importance of fighting for people’s hearts and minds on my knees and wielding God’s Word as my sword.

Anxiety and Worry Can Be Sneaky

In many ways, God has done an incredible work in me in regards to my tendency to get anxious and worried over things (there are downsides to an active imagination!). But, as I was praying about some things (see a pattern here?), God showed me that anxiety had crept into my perception of my calling to write. Instead of something joyful (because truly creating with words takes me to my happy place), there had crept in a sort of anxious burdensome feeling when I thought of my writing. Instead of a gift and privilege, it had started to feel (at least when I was thinking about it and not doing it) like a duty and heavy burden. I had become way more concerned with finding the time to write rather than just writing. Weird right? But the enemy will distract us any way that works!

My Son Can Sing

On a lighter note (see what I did there?), my son was one of the leads in the musical Hello, Dolly! this spring. While he sang around the house quite a bit and was on key and all that, I had no idea he could sing. I know he’s my kid and I might be a bit biased, but I was delightfully surprised by his portrayal of Horace Vandergelder.

I Enjoy the Arts So Much More than Sports

Which brings me to my next point…. I married the Coach 24 years ago, and my life started to revolve around the sporting seasons. Then I had 2 boys who were also sports junkies, and soon my entire life seemed to orbit around practice and game schedules. I have to be honest, I get super nervous before every single game. It’s like going into battle. I wonder if we’ll play well as a team. I wonder if my child will have a great night or if he’ll come home with a list of things he could have done better or shaking his head over a shot that just wouldn’t fall. Arts are not like that. Opening night of the play, I was simply excited. I went each night with a sense of delightful anticipation. I think I’ll be having a conversation with my future grandchildren, encouraging them to be in the arts, so grandma doesn’t have a heart attack!

It’s Much Better to Embrace a Busy Season

Spring is a busy time of year for us. There is the annual teen conference I speak at and the school play and all the end of year things like awards and banquets. Not to mention, there is baseball season, too. This year, I decided to just embrace the busyness and to stop feeling guilty that I couldn’t get more done. It made the spring much less stressful which just goes to show – much of the stress and pressure I experience is because of my own unrealistic expectations!

The Crock Pot Is My Friend

We have entered a new season this year with my oldest son attending college locally. Between his school and work schedule, and everyone else’s busy schedules, I have given up on making a dinner to serve at a specific time. Instead, I’ve turned to my crock pot. Not only do I not have to worry about preparing something at the dreaded dinner hour, but dinner is warm and ready for whoever happens to be coming into the kitchen for dinner! Add a crock pot liner and clean up is even easy! On a side note, New Leaf Wellness has some wonderful make ahead crock pot recipes. You just assemble them in large freezer bags, and then you can thaw them and pop them in your crock pot. SO EASY!!!!

So, there you have it, what I have learned this spring. What have you learned this past season? I’d love to hear about it!

How to Truly Celebrate Mother’s Day

Best Laid Plans

I had an entire blog post written out. It was all about how lately I’ve been feeling a tad underappreciated as a mom. It was about the need to ask for help and how important the word no is – even when that no is to your family. It was a pretty good post. I was all ready to do a little editing and then post it today.

But then I read this post from Kristen Welch from We Are That Family. She was guest posting on Ann Voskamp’s blog.

If you don’t know who Kristen Welch is, she founded and runs Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya. Their website explains them this way. Mercy House exists to engage, empower and disciple women around the globe in Jesus’ name through partnerships and sustainable fair trade product development.

A New Perspective

Reading Kristen’s heartfelt words about a mom who lives in the worst slums in Kenya, I realized something. No matter what any of our Mother’s Days looked like, it was still miles better than about 75% of the world’s.

It’s hard to fathom the grinding poverty that exists elsewhere in the world.

It’s hard to understand the desperate and heartbreaking choices mothers around the world have to make just to keep their children alive.

It’s impossible to wrap our minds around handing our child over to forms of slavery just so they can have enough food to live.

Yet, this is how a huge percentage of the world’s women live their lives – in poverty, in fear, in desperation. 

How You Can Make a Difference

It’s overwhelming to think about, and yet, there are ways we can help.

Today is the She is Priceless campaign. There are 8 non-profit organizations, all designed to help the most vulnerable of women and children in some of the most difficult places in the world.

When I think of the mother Kristen writes about, who has had to allow her young teen daughter to sell her body to provide food and whose son is owned by a neighbor who works him night and day just for a small amount of sustenance, I’m ashamed. Ashamed that I was whining about feeling taken advantage of because I had to pick up extra socks. Ashamed that I complain about anything in my very blessed and abundant life.

So, are you ready to truly celebrate mothers?

5 Minute Friday: Should

Today, I’m back over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home for 5 Minute Fridays. If you are unfamiliar, 5 Minute Fridays are where women from all over write for 5 minutes on one word. No editing, no second -guessing – just writing for 5 minutes and hitting the publish button. You can come check it out HERE.

Today’s word is SHOULD


There are 5 words we all really need to strike from our thoughts and our vocabulary: if only, what if and should. These 5 words cover our past, our present and our futures.

If only looks back with regret at a past we can’t change.

What if looks ahead with fear to a future we don’t have much control over either.

And should, well, should can dominate our present to the extent that we end up living out everyone else’s agenda – if we let it. The problem with that is when we live by shoulds, we end up missing our musts.

Lately, God has been showing me that I have been so fixated on all the shoulds from what I should be doing to grow my online platforms to all my various commitments, that I haven’t actually been doing what He asked me to do.

While I’ve been running down rabbit trails, feeling frustrated at my lack of progress on what I’ve been called to do, God has been patiently waiting back on the path. He patiently repeats, “it’s this way,” every time I draw close to Him.

I guess I’m kind of a slow learner (or I’m just easily distracted), but this is not the first time God has pointed out that I’ve been way too taken up with everyone else’s shoulds, and missed out on His plan.

So, what should is keeping you from following where God is actually leading? I’d love to hear about it!

 

The Gift of Being Present

Not Bothered By the #1 Fear

When I was 5 years old, I stood in front of a crowd of people at a Word of Life camp and gave my testimony.

In my Sunday school class, I would climb on top of the table and tap dance to “lead” the other kids in the singing.

To say speaking in public isn’t a fear of mine is probably a vast understatement. So, when I agreed to teach a workshop at a teen conference, I wasn’t all that nervous about leading the workshop.

You’d probably be surprised then, to know that in the weeks leading up to the conference, I found myself getting more and more anxious. That’s the thing about the enemy – if he can’t get to you by coming in the front door, he’ll sneak in any available window.

About Converge

The teen conference I was a part of – Converge 2017  – is this huge teen conference that is organized and put on by a local teen ministry Teens for Christ (you can find out more about them HERE). It included a couple wonderful speakers (Ben Stuart and Chip Dean), awesome worship bands, and a variety of workshops from which the kids can choose. Besides the teaching, kids also have an opportunity to serve. On Saturday afternoon, the teens gave away over 60,000 lbs of food at various drop sites and prayer walks where the kids were able to go door to door, passing out food and praying for area residents. It culminated with kids walking in from the north, south, east and west parts of the city to our town square for a time of prayer.

Can I just say, it was a pretty amazing site to see all these people praying in our town square – different races, different denominations, different social and economic circles, some from different states, even. For some, all they had in common was Jesus.

The event started Friday evening, ending around 11 p.m. Then it picked back up again early Saturday morning, and didn’t end until late Saturday night. I think I left the fieldhouse around 11:30 p.m.

When the Enemy Hits You From Behind

All that sounds great, right?

Well, to someone like me, this not only sounds awesome, but also completely exhausting. I’m a pretty low energy person, and events like these are always intimidating to me.

This is actually my third time attending Converge as a workshop leader, and every year, I have the same fear – that I just don’t have the energy to participate all day, both days.

This year was no different. As the date got nearer, I could feel my anxiety ratcheting up. Dread instead of excitement, started to fill me when I thought about the conference.

I started to hear doubts like, “Why do I do this to myself every year?” “I should probably say no next year.” “They have plenty of speakers – most better than me – so maybe I should just tell them I can’t do it this year.”

God’s Reminder

My anxiety was not helped by the fact that I got the sick about two weeks before the conference. I felt pretty crummy, and my plan to be prepared early took a major hit.

As I headed into the Monday before the conference, I wasn’t panicking but I was close. Not only did I have to deal with my normal low energy self, but now I had to deal with the tail end of illness and not being totally prepared.

As I prayed and prepared that week, I found myself whining to God. “You know I can’t do this. I don’t feel prepared,  and I don’t feel that great. I just don’t have what it takes to do this.”

It was at this moment, that I felt God gently saying, “It’s not about what you can do; it’s about what I can do. It’s not about your strength; it’s about mine. It’s not about your ability; it’s about mine.”

Talk about being convicted. I was getting ready to teach about God’s goodness and generosity and how He is always for us, yet, I neglected to apply it to my own daily life.

 Making a commitment

So, I made a commitment to God that I was going to show up and then trust Him to take care of the rest – including my ability to keep up.

And you know what? This was my best Converge experience yet. Yes, I didn’t get enough sleep Friday night. Yes, I did find myself hitting a bit of a wall energy-wise around 7 p.m. Saturday evening. But I made it all the way to the end.

There were several times during the day when I was tempted to opt out, at least for a little while. However, God kept nudging me to not quit.

Contending

My word for this year is “Contend.” The thing is, I tend to be a quitter. I don’t like doing hard stuff, and often if something seems too hard, I don’t even start.

God has been teaching me over and over this year that with His help, I really can do all the things He asks me to. Fear has been such a stronghold in my life in so many ways over the years. Yet, God has faithfully been breaking those strongholds one at a time.

“I sought the Lord and He answered me, and He delivered me from all my fears.”       ~ Psalms 34:4

This year was the best Converge I’ve attended. A big reason for that was because I made the commitment to be present through the whole thing. I chose not opt out when I got tired or weary.

From being able to watch my son step up on the prayer walk and pray with people and be a leader, to sharing a God’s message in my workshops, to being able to pray and be there for teenagers I know and care about during prayer time at the very end, God blessed my socks off from start to finish.

I would have missed all that if I hadn’t chosen to trust God and commit to be present.  I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did!

What thing is God asking you to do that seems too hard? Where does He want you to be present that seems impossible? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Reflections on This Winter

Today, I am linking up at Emily P. Freeman’s blog, Chatting at the Sky for What We Learned this Season. Hop on over and join us!

 

As I reflect on what I’ve learned this season, just for my own brain capacity, I’m going to divide this up into the main areas of my life.

Spiritually

  • I have been doubting God’s wisdom. I know right? Not really what you want to admit to, but I’ve been going through Chip Ingram’s book, The Real God (I’ll be doing a review later this week). It highlights seven attributes of God, and when I went through the chapter on God’s Wisdom, I got an ugly surprise. I didn’t even realize a part of my heart was questioning God’s wisdom or that I was harboring a niggling doubt that I somehow knew better. Yes, knew better than GOD ALMIGHTY! As I read through this passage in Job, I found myself repeating those words to God in repentance of my attitude.
  • I don’t always have to be right (see above!). This past election season and the aftermath has been a major training ground for me in this area. Part of the problem is I have a real issue with truth and unfairness, but I have to ask the hard question of – what is my purpose in engaging in this forum? Is there anything profitable that can happen or is this going to dissolve into a virtual shouting match? I’ve found most of the time, it’s better to just let it go and move on.
  • God’s goodness and generosity to me is based on who He is and NOT on my personal performance. Yes, I knew this in my head, but somehow reading it (again in the book by Ingram), sealed it deeper in my heart. It was kind of a beautiful thing.

Family

  • I have grown in my ability to serve. I’m going to be honest. I have ZERO serving gifts, and taking care of my family has always been something I want to want to do, if you know what I mean. While I have a long way to go, when my oldest son got the stomach flu in January, I realized I had also come a long way in this area (although I have to admit I did my serving with rubber gloves on!)
  • My parenting is now one more step removed from hands-on. If you have young kids, this might seem like a distant dream, but as my kids get older, I’ve found more and more that I need to get out of the driver’s seat and become a passenger. This has become especially glaring as my oldest son goes through his freshman year of college. He has chosen to go to a local college and live at home, but this is NOT high school 2.0.  He’s a great guy, but he makes some choices that I definitely wouldn’t. I’m learning to listen and keep my mouth shut. (See the above on always being right to understand the difficulty!)

Writing/Calling

  •  I can’t do everything at once. I know – duh, right? With way more ideas than follow through, I thought if I only buckled down, I could do all the things. In recent months, I’ve found that doesn’t really work. Instead, I need to focus on one thing at a time. I actually end up getting more done than if I try to multi-task! Monotasking – the new thing!
  • I can’t listen to all the voices. There are so many GREAT people out there that have all this GREAT advice. Maybe some people can take that all in and filter it, but I can’t. I have found that I need to choose just a few experts to listen to and let the rest go. Same with all the great advice. For me, in order to not feel completely overwhelmed, I have to just focus on the next thing – not all the things!
  • I like writing for upper elementary/middle school much more than early readers. I do have one book written that is for the younger reader and I am finishing up a picture book, but overall, I find myself drawn to reading and writing stories for kids who are a bit older. Trying to force myself to write for younger readers just smothers my authentic voice.

Odds and Ends

  • I can do hard stuff. In January and February, I did a Whole30. For those of you unfamiliar, during the Whole30 you avoid grains, sugar, dairy, legumes and alcohol for 30 days. As someone with a die-hard sweet tooth, those 30 days were much easier than I thought they’d be. Because I also felt about 300 times better than I normally do, I decided to do another Whole30 this month.
  • I spent much of February working on planning and dreaming about this space. Over the years, I’ve basically shared what God is showing/teaching me. I have realized I need to be a bit more organized and intentional if I want to any kind of consistency, and let’s face it, with my current schedule, that isn’t going to happen without some kind of plan . I’m excited to say that starting this week, I’ll actually start posting regularly, and I have a real plan on what I’ll be writing and when!

Winter is often considered  a time when everything is asleep or hibernating. I’ve found these months have been a time of planning and dreaming for me. I’m excited to see what sprouts this spring!

 

An Open Letter to the Church Post-Election

For better or worse, the election is over. What a crazy ride it’s been, right? There have been ups and downs, shocks and surprises. and it’s been vicious – not just between candidates either. People have been tense and anxious and that anxiety and fear has played out across social media with people lashing out at friends and loved ones, burning bridges and torching relationships along the way.

I wish I could say that the Church was not a part of all that, but that wouldn’t be true. The ugly has seeped into our interactions, too.

I remember thinking, “Please, just let it be November 9th and then it will be all over.” I was thinking, that no matter who won, we’d could just move forward and get on with our lives. I even wrote about the election and the fact that life would go on (you can read that post HERE).

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Unfortunately, even though the election is over, there is still a whole lot of nastiness still going around. Both candidates and President Obama have said all the right things. They’ve extended the olive branch to each other. However, the deep wounds in our country are still bleeding and festering and we the people have become we the enemies. Worse, those within the Church walls have become enemies – many times bitterly.

I don’t know if you voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or neither one. I do know, Church, that we are on deck. Our number has been called up, and it is time to act. We are called to shine the light of Jesus into the darkest places. We are called to love and to be peacemakers.

But before we can help a hurting world, we need to stop attacking each other. 

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We can’t, with any degree of integrity, share the love of Jesus when we can’t even love each other. 

As believers, we need to move forward, so we can be that light in the darkness for a lost and hurting world. The pages on the kingdom calendar are flying by, and the time left to share the Gospel grows ever shorter. In the light of eternity, an election seems little.

I believe there are four things I think every believer needs to stop doing and three things we all need to start doing (if we aren’t already).

Stop with the Moral Superiority

Never has the Church been so divided over what the right thing to do was than this election. There are believers who are feeling relief and thankfulness, believing that God is giving America one more chance. There are believers who sincerely believe America is over and done. Through all the turmoil and confusion, one thing I’ve seen over and over again, is this smug spiritual superiority based on who someone voted for. Honestly? This doesn’t really help anyone. You can’t judge someone’s faith and their relationship with Jesus based on who they voted for, and you really shouldn’t try. You may not agree with their choice, but people have all kinds of reasons for voting the way they do. Even if you truly do feel your choice was the more spiritual one, it is amazing what a humble spirit can accomplish.

Stop Calling People Names

This leads me to my next thing – please stop calling other people names. Seriously. How does calling people names promote any kind of unity? How does this do anything other than make people defensive? I know my first response is to defend myself. While everyone is responsible for their own actions or reactions, let’s make it a bit easier on each other and stop baiting each other by name calling. Again, I’m pretty sure when Jesus said to love each other and live in unity, that didn’t mean calling someone a baby-killer or a bigot.

Stop Telling People How to Feel

For those who see a Trump presidency as the start of the apocalypse, they are in mourning. They do feel sad and grieved and maybe even scared. Give them space. At the same time, allow people to feel relief and gratefulness, too. This idea of my feelings are legit, but you shouldn’t have yours is very alienating. If your candidate won, be gracious enough to put your arm around that person who sees things differently. If your candidate lost, don’t take someone else’s joy as a hostile move.

Stop Believing Lies

Here’s the deal – Donald Trump doesn’t have the power to fix the world or destroy the world. Yes, I know he’s the president-elect, and yes, I know he will have access to the big red button (at least I’m assuming that nuclear button is red). But, he isn’t, ultimately, in control. God is. I’ve heard a lot of doomsday language over the past few days. It’s easy to get caught up in the fears in our head. That’s why it is so important to exam those thoughts. Arabah Joy has a great post on truth journaling. (you can read it HERE) Remember, Satan is the father of lies, and he’d like nothing better than to see you paralyzed by believing lies – either that the world has ended or that now you can sit back and relax.

Start Praying

Pray for Donald Trump. Pray for the other elected leaders. Pray for the people in your community. Pray for Hillary Clinton whom I’m sure is having a really bad week. Pray for fellow believers. Pray for those people you view as your enemy. Pray for those that disagree with you. Pray that we the Church can be a light during this tumultuous time. Pray that our unity will be a testimony to the unsaved world. Prayer is the single most important thing any believer can do.  If you are devastated by the election results, pray more.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.. Phil. 4:6,7

Start Loving Those Around You – Right Now

As believers, our actions and our words should be different. We should stick out like sore thumbs – in a good way! No matter who the president is, we can love the people around us. We can demonstrate peace during turmoil, triggering people to wonder and ask what’s our secret.  In our own communities, there are numerous opportunities to reach out to those who are hurting, to see those who feel invisible and to hear those who feel silenced. Don’t wait for change at the government level. Change starts with you!

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