How God says to respond during the pandemic….

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“I feel like everyone, everywhere has lost their minds…..”

This is  a quote that came out of my mouth several times during the past week and a half. Between the Facebook posts, conflicting news reports, and aggression from people over small things, I had come to the conclusion that the world has lost it’s mind. Things seemed so out of sync.

Once, only a few short weeks ago,  this pandemic had started bringing out the best in people like when we saw millions of hearts in the windows of homes across the country in support of our essential workers and to lift the spirits of those who saw them. People were social distancing even though it was hard to not see loved ones. We were protecting each other because we cared about each other. Everyone was coming together, regardless of political, religious, or other belief systems. The world recognized ourselves as the human race – a united group of people who together would help defeat a virus called Covid-19.

Fast-forward a few weeks to the present…..People are playing politics even though the virus doesn’t care how you vote. People are condemning others because of the choices they are making for their family. Others are name-calling and arguing back and forth like they were on an elementary playground. So many are only focusing on themselves and what affects them – selfish behaviors are becoming the norm.

Because I am a rule-follower, ever since I could walk and talk, I have been on the receiving end of these comments. Because I am continuing to shelter in place I have been told that I am “caving to the political agendas instead of fighting for my rights and freedom.” Because I wear a mask, I have been told that I am letting fear get the better of me. Because I am not “bucking the system” I have been called a sheep. And the lowest blow of last week was being told that I wasn’t really a Christian if I was allowing myself to be told what to do by those in power. That because I don’t speak out against the leaders of my state and nation, I must not be a true Christian. (mouth drop)

As a child I was always taught to respect those in authority. From my parents, my elders, teachers at school, etc. I was taught the important lesson of respect and how to follow the rules.

Titus 3:1-2 saysRemind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” (NIV)

The Message puts it more bluntly…. Titus 3:1-2 (MSG) “Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous.”

Romans 13:1-7 says this “Every person must obey the leaders of the land. There is no power given but from God, and all leaders are allowed by God. The person who does not obey the leaders of the land is working against what God has done. Anyone who does that will be punished.

Those who do right do not have to be afraid of the leaders. Those who do wrong are afraid of them. Do you want to be free from fear of them? Then do what is right. You will be respected instead. Leaders are God’s servants to help you. If you do wrong, you should be afraid. They have the power to punish you. They work for God. They do what God wants done to those who do wrong.

You must obey the leaders of the land, not only to keep from God’s anger, but so your own heart will have peace. It is right for you to pay taxes because the leaders of the land are servants for God who care for these things. Pay taxes to whom taxes are to be paid. Be afraid of those you should fear. Respect those you should respect.” (NIV)

Scripture says this over and over again.

1 Peter 2:13 Obey the head leader of the country and all other leaders over you. This pleases the Lord. (NIV)

Instead of condemning our leaders, God actually says we should be PRAYING for them! We need to be praying for wisdom for our leaders. Even if we don’t agree with what they are choosing to do, God commands us to pray for them.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 says First of all, I ask you to pray much for all men and to give thanks for them. Pray for kings and all others who are in power over us so we might live quiet God-like lives in peace. It is good when you pray like this. It pleases God Who is the One Who saves. He wants all people to be saved from the punishment of sin. He wants them to come to know the truth.” (NIV)

God even shows us what to do when we disagree with someone else. In 1 Peter 3:15 He says, “Your heart should be holy and set apart for the Lord God. Always be ready to tell everyone who asks you why you believe as you do. Be gentle as you speak and show respect.”

As we go about our weeks and months ahead, I pray that everyone can be a little bit kinder, thinking about others, and representing themselves as Christ has asked us to. God gave us the two most important commandments:

  1. You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
  2. You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.

So whether you agree with someone (leadership included), let’s move forward with a lot more love as we get through this pandemic together.

 

When will this be over?

After being “sheltered in place” for over a month now I often think, sometimes multiple times a day, “When will this all be over?”

I long for the days when I can get in my car, without my Clorox wipes and face mask, to go to the grocery store.

I yearn for the day when we can come together as a community of believers in our church building and give endless hugs and handshakes.

I get misty-eyed when I think of things I just knew would happen like taking my daughter to her dance lessons,  waving to the kids as they left on the school bus, and going out to a restaurant as a family.

I miss lunch dates with my friends, our weekly small group meetings at church, going shopping to find a new outfit, and other things that we normally just take for granted.

So when I am watching TV and see all of the sitcom characters doing all of the things we “used to do” in groups or gathering in various locations that are now closed – I say to myself…“When will this all over over? I wish it were over now.”

So many times in life we “wish things were over” quicker. When my daughter was born, she was very colicky and screamed 24-7 for 3 months straight. I couldn’t wait for those days to pass quickly, even though many parents love those first few months. I was wishing them away with every fiber of my being. They couldn’t go fast enough. I just wanted to rock a quiet, cooing baby, instead of the screaming baby that couldn’t be soothed.

I also remember in college that while going through “those classes” (you know the ones…. with the boring professor that went on and on about things that didn’t seem relevant to your life, let alone your degree.) I just wanted to get through my classes so I could get started in my career and with living my life. I was wishing away my college years, even though they were some of the best in my life.

Then there are the hard times that you wish you could get through by snapping your fingers so you were through them. Like losing a loved one, being laid off, breaking up with a significant other, or going through a season of illness. We just want to close our eyes and wake up with things being okay and normal, where there is no more pain.

So often we wish away these things, but don’t see the value in going through them. There are life lessons to be learned and good things to come out of every season like the ones above.

When my daughter was colicky I learned how to cherish those quiet moments that came after, to really appreciate the sweet moments that eventually came. It caused me to really try to learn many techniques in calming her that worked later on. It also caused my husband and I to work as a team and to communicate through this difficult season.

If I had rushed through my college classes and jumped straight into my career, I wouldn’t have built the skills needed in my profession. I wouldn’t have had the hands on experience that really made the difference in my teaching career. I also wouldn’t have built the amazing friendships I did when I was at college, some of which are strong today! And most importantly, at college I really found out who I was and found my identity in Christ for the first time on my own.

If we didn’t have to go through the hard seasons in our lives, like going through the grieving process, we wouldn’t heal. Sometimes it takes hard moments to bring us closer to God. He wants us to be able to lean on Him, not on our own strength. So it takes our moments of weakness to allow Him to be our Rock and Strength.

During this season of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be days we want it all to be over. But maybe instead of wishing this time away, we could rest in some of the lessons we are learning while we are “sheltering in place.” Here are some I have already discovered:

  • I need to take time to rest from the busyness of life. (My calendar has been wiped clear so I need to rest and enjoy that.)
  • I need to be thankful that my family is together and healthy. Not all families are able to be together right now, and many are worried about loved ones in the hospital or isolated that they can’t be with right now.
  • I am thankful to have time to really invest in my children’s education in a new way. It’s amazing what I am learning about my kids that I could only see from this perspective!
  • I am also learning to rest in the promises God has for me in His Word.  His Word has become fresh and alive for me during this time as I have been writing scriptures daily. His Word has become my anchor. Would it have been so desperately needed if I wasn’t going through this? Yes, but I may not have recognized it.
  • I am also thankful that I know there will be an end to this someday. Not sure when, but either we will find a vaccine for this virus, or Jesus will come back. Either way an end of quarantine will come.

What lessons have you learned during this time of isolation? 

March Verse of the Month: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 | KendraNicole.net

Verses to consider about enjoying the present and not wishing away time:

2 Corinthians 4:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

 

Romans 8:22-25 (The Message)

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Daughter of the King

At our Women of Worth event at my church I had the privilege to share a devotional that I had not intended to write, but was prompted by the Lord to do so. I hope and pray it speaks to your heart so you know your worth in Him!

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“For as long as I can remember I have loved the thought of being a princess…. What little girl doesn’t at some point dream of that? But many times throughout my life I have felt more like the a lady in waiting, not worthy of being called royalty. I have always been a fan of the Princess Diaries movies from Disney. I mean what one of us wouldn’t love to find out that have been a princess all along? That we have a castle? A kingdom to serve? How incredible would that be? But here is the good news….. we ARE all princesses! We will inherit the Kingdom of God as His heirs! He has called us, as His daughters, to serve His people right here on Earth, so that they too will know their inheritance as heirs of the Kingdom as well.

Hear these words ladies and KNOW they are true.

1 John 3:1, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.

John says that God gave those who believe in Him the right to be called children of God, therefore I am His daughter. As the King of Kings, that makes me a princess and heir to the Kingdom of God.

There are so many days where I feel like the kingdom servant instead of a princess, while doing the daily grind of chores, parenting my children , and keeping my house in order. But a speaker once told me about how she had to remind herself of her royal status by taking these moments and making them a moment to feel like a princess. She used to vacuum with a tiara on her head…. So of course, I had to try this! And many times if you drop by my house when I am vacuuming, you would see my tiara on the top of my head! Because now I wasn’t a servant in my house… I was the Princess that was serving her people as God called her to do.

There are days I feel like I am not living as royalty and am failing as a princess. I look in the mirror and I see all of the flaws and failures. I see someone who needs to be more patient, more loving, less selfish, needs to take better care of herself, her family, etc. But that isn’t what our Father sees. He sees us as His children with unconditional love. He calls us BEAUTIFUL!  Our Father – THE KING – calls us His children and is enthralled by our beauty…. Check out Psalm 45!

And someday He will call us Home to the Kingdom and we will be with Him forever. He has prepared a room in the Kingdom for us….. mine will look like a room in Cinderella’s castle from Disney world. But until that time, we wait in anticipation for the Father to return just as an eager child waits at the window for “Daddy” to come home from work. When we return to our heavenly home with Him He will recognize us as His daughters because it says so in His love letters to us — the Bible!

This morning as we come together to have fellowship with our sisters at our tables, while we learn together about this inheritance we possess, and serve together for the Kingdom of our Father, I pray that you begin to feel like the princess you truly are. You are a daughter of GOD! Even on days when you feel wounded, like an outcast, lonely and afraid, remember you possess the inherent right to be regal, powerful, confident, joyful, a peacemaker, an overcomer who is loyal, faithful, and seeks above all to bring honor to our Father’s name and reputation.

So polish up your crowns and let’s act like the royalty we are.”

 

 

What I am giving up for Lent…

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. This year I have had the same internal dialogue going on that I have every year about the annual question, “What am I giving up for Lent?” I have never been good about giving something up and sticking to it. I admit it…. I’m addicted to my Diet Dr. Pepper, coffee, and my TV shows. And if I give them up — I’m not getting closer to Jesus because of it. So something else has to go. So I thought about Social Media? So many of my friends have given that up. But because I work part time as a social media coordinator that isn’t an option for me either. After praying and praying about this question that has rolled around in my head for the past few weeks this is what I feel has been prompted by the Holy Spirit. He once again spoke to me in that still, small voice saying…..

My child….

  • Give up the negative thoughts you have when you look in the mirror. “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
  • Give up trying to be a people pleaser.                                                                                      “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
  • Give up trying to compare yourselves with others around you.                           “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12
  • Give up trying to do everything on your own and lean on me.                              “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”  Proverbs 3:5
  • Give up your distrust that I am answering your prayers. I have answered them before you even asked.                                                                                                 “Before they call I will answer;
        while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
  • Give up your anxieties and worries to me. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:6-7
  • Give up the thought that you are not enough.  You are a daughter of a King.  “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1
  • Give up trying to do my job and just do what I have called you to do which is love me first, then love others and shine bright for me so that they too will know me.  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-39

So this year for Lent, I’m not giving up something tangible. I am giving up some of the negative thoughts that pop in my head on a daily basis. I am fixing my eyes on Jesus and His Word. I am replacing all of the lies that are whispered to me from an enemy that is real, with the truth from God the Father who has reveled His truth through his love letters to me (The Bible). During this Lenten season, let’s use it as a time to give up what we think we are or have been, with who we can become in Jesus Christ.