Re-entry

We walked around the busy grocery store, my sister-in-law and I, carefully following our list and eager to escape back to the quiet lake house retreat. She just returned to the US after 2 years uninterrupted overseas. You know why, pandemic.

Grocery stores are among the most overwhelming re-entry experiences. The choices are different, the quantities are measured in different scales, and in America the abundance can be overwhelming. Choices become more difficult. Mentally tallying the dollar signs from the foreign currency taxes the brain. At some point, you just give up and dump it in the cart resolving to care another day.

America is the land of opportunity. The opportunity to have it your way. To customize. To choose. To never see the back of the grocery store shelf. To not have to rework your menu mid shopping trip because multiple things are unavailable. To not experience as many social restrictions or curtailed freedoms.

Except for this past year and a half.

In many ways, 13 years of life overseas prepared me well to encounter a lack of toilet paper, a reworked menu, an acceptance of social restrictions, and jumps through bureaucratic regulations. We signed up for difficulty when we made the decision to live overseas.

We painted a lot of things this last year, including our front door, a portal to a different place…like re-entry!

Life in lock down reminded me of some aspects of life overseas and I relished the time to jump off the treadmill of the busy American lifestyle so many warned us would come when we moved back to America. After 5 years of life on this side of the Pacific, we’d definitely become increasingly busy and committed. And not just us, but our kids had commitments on top of ours.

Jumping off the treadmill was a gift in many ways. I read through the Bible a couple times because I didn’t have to get anyone off to…well…anywhere. We spent a lot of time together as a family, something which I ached for as our kids got older and busier. It felt like a gift.

But we also lost friends, grieved the unfairness of life, felt guilty at times for having enough, wrestled with how to relate to others during a particularly divisive time in a country that we already struggled to fit into after 13 years living away.

Now life is picking up again. We are faced with re-entry in a wholly different form than ever before in our lives. Alongside an entire world, we are all wondering what we are entering.

Because its not really re-entry. Its entry.

I feel this push and pull about what is to come, what we are entering. I don’t want to go back to the insane schedule that challenged us trying to find time together as a family. But it’ back. The school extra curriculars are laying out time intensive schedules.

Everything is starting up and I’m feeling a little like my sister-in-law in the grocery store. Overwhelmed. Stressed. And feeling like I just need to dump some stuff in the cart of life and try to figure it out later.

But this isn’t cereal or potato chips. Its time and energy and cultivating a life in dependence to God in ever changing circumstances.

Re-entry and entry take time…mostly time to think, feel, and align ourselves with what following Jesus looks like in new seasons of life. And besides a world opening up…kind of…I also have a daughter a year away from graduating. That alone is catching my attention and heart.

Another sign that I am entering, not re-entering. My life will change drastically soon.

So maybe you can relate to me on some level with our current times or maybe not. I have a feeling that many of us may need a little more time to do things we once did so effortlessly before a global pandemic.

For those that have not experienced the grocery store scenario of the newly returned expat, let me tell you it’s ok. It’s normal. It will take time. It will make you angry, sad, confused, insecure, and probably many other things to navigate the new world with its new challenges.

But in all that unsettledness, I’ve learned that following Jesus is the surest foothold through rocky life transitions. Something that all that reading the Bible brought into focus this past year.

If you’re looking for a first step, I suggest the Gospel of John and reading about Jesus who pretty much shook up every life He encountered.

As always, thank you for reading my thoughts and musings! I’ve struggled to write this year in the midst of so much…well…just so, so much of everything. I resolved today to write and break the silence and I’m so thankful you got to this point in my ramblings!

For the love…

It’s all about Peter this spring. Peter, the hot headed follower of Jesus. The one who chopped off a guys ear. Jesus put it back on FYI and I have some questions about what that looked like in real time…no…slo-mo!

I would really like to see that in slo-mo.

I have expectations for heaven and one of them is slo-mo video recaps. It’s going to be so much better than the best tiktoks, right?!

So, Peter. I get Peter’s personality at times. I want quick fixes, zaps that would put everything to rights. Maybe not lightening but that would be cool sometimes. Expedient.

Peter got it wrong a lot with Jesus and Jesus doesn’t make sense to me sometimes either. He goes against all we think should be true about life and our world sometimes.

Like suffering, that makes no sense to me at all sometimes. The concept of suffering having meaning and experiencing joy in suffering just really stumps me. I avoid suffering unnecessarily. If I can be comfortable, I choose that path. Peter was suffering avoidant, too, and Jesus really called him out on that.

I mean really called him out! Jesus used the word Satan as I recall.

In 1 Peter, though, there’s a real change. Peter, the quick-fix, suffering avoidant snob is a different man. Now he’s telling Christians that were driven from their homes to rest secure as they suffer for their faith.

Old Peter wanted to call down lightening to resolve problems. New Peter is saying wait, hope, let suffering do its work removing the bloat and impurities from our lives.

Contrary to the positivity all around us today–Peter owns the suffering they experience, we experience. It’s real. He owns that its hard. He acknowledges that we cannot afford to be passive in suffering but we must be sober and alert and it matters what we do when we suffer. But just thinking positive thoughts doesn’t make it go away.

And more surprising, all this suffering and waiting and hoping results in something otherworldly–greater love. When we submit to the trials and the suffering, the goal is not that we become more with-it, disciplined, and productive people.

Peter says we become more sincere lovers of other people.

So, if you, like me, are chaffing under the weight of the things that are not right, under the displacement we feel in the world, Peter has got a lot to say to you too.

Old Peter is pretty fun to read about but new Peter. New Peter is the one I want to spend time with. He’s the one that gives the true filling of courage for hard times.

He has lived it. He loves. He became the shepherd Jesus charged him to become when Peter was coming out of his greatest failure.

So, as we live it too. As we face all our avoidant, quick-fix tendencies and live under our circumstances with that living hope inheritance with Jesus, we will be changed too.

And we will love. And won’t the world be better for it? And won’t Jesus shine?

Stepping into this New Year

As news unfolds this week, there is hope mixed with uncertainty and suspense. A vaccine is rolling out but cases rise as a new variant of Covid spreads. Just when I want to rely on the future looking a certain way, uncertainty prevails yet again.

New Year’s resolutions feel ridiculous after a year that upended so many of our plans. What do we do with this milestone this year? 

We recently saw the movie News of the World, which I highly recommend. Tom Hanks and Texas. Really, y’all, what’s not to love?

I read the book a couple years ago and loved it. The movie does it justice.

Its beautiful, heart-rending, and important. This year we can all identify with the losses of the two main characters. With the dangers they face in a hard, cruel world. And with the importance of relationship and connection.

It’s a must-see.

One main theme is about what to do with who we were and who we are now. Do we look back and hold it all or just keep moving forward in a straight line?

In some ways, a little of both is necessary.

While this year may feel like an anomaly, and hopefully it is, it still bears weight on what we are and what we will become.

It shaped us and will continue shaping us for years to come. Looking back on the past year has never felt so important.

Read on to see what that practice has looked like for me a couple years ago…


I hardly ever make it to midnight awake. Usually I roll over about midnight, disrupted by the rumble of a few fireworks, then drift back to sleep. The day dawns and I wake to find myself in a whole new year that feels just like another morning.

Except that most new years days I spend a chunk of time reviewing the last year. I took up this habit one year when we lived overseas and I spent a quiet, sunny morning going over Michael Hyatt’s 7 Questions to Ask About Last Year. I still remember the chair I sat in, it was that powerful.

Since that year, I look forward to reflecting every new year. Lest you be afraid this somehow leads to those resolutions, be afraid. Somehow, these questions and reflecting on the past year just naturally lead to revealing what’s important to take with me into the next year.

Maybe it’s also the coffee that kicks in about the same time, but I end up holding onto a few thoughts about what I want the next year to include, if it’s up to me.

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Remembering is a funny thing. I lived a lot of life this last year, and forgot quite a bit of it. Memory to me feels like I’m holding a bunch of groceries at the grocery store like when I think I don’t need a cart. I can only hold so much and my brain just drops things  that it can’t keep holding onto. Sometimes they are the right things, sometimes not. It can be startling what I forget and remember.

Why? Why do I remember some things and forget others? I’m not sure. But its a reality. Reflecting on the past year is a means to much grace and mercy. I look into the year and lay out the events and experiences before the Lord and myself and sift through them. Are there themes? Regrets? Disappointments? Joys? Always, yes.

This year, I stood back and looked and saw a year of great adventure and drama. As I sorted through it, I saw more clearly the reality I’ve felt as the year drew to a close. It was a roller coaster year…again. I’m ready for a little boring. A bit less adrenaline.

Extensive travel, romantic drama, medical issues, rich family time, and ministry to others defined our year. It was a good year. It was also a full year with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. So many good things but also a few very real, hard, new things to navigate.

In the middle of it, it has been easy, maybe even necessary, to just pack experiences in my bag of memory and do the next thing that needs doing. The problem with that is that I need to look up every once in a while and see the bigger picture, the distances traveled, the goals ahead, the victories and sorrows along the way.

Like a rest stop on the journey, I need the time to reflect so I can acknowledge God’s hand in it all, and recognize that He has been with me the whole way. That He sees and He cares even if it’s not all worked out, resolved, or better. I can have joy when I look back and remember what He did work out too.

What distilled over the course of my morning was that…

  • writing is still very important to me. I regretted not keeping it up this past year. I need to make time to write.
  • exercise took a back seat for different chunks of the year and that was necessary. It is now important that it not stay in the back seat.
  • making peer friends in this season of life is challenging because of the many demands on life. I greatly value having good friends and I need to keep moving forward in cultivating friendship.

Notice there’s not a lot of specific goals. I don’t really have a word for the year. But, now I have 3 areas of life that I know are important to me that need some attention. It helps tie a tiny, imperfect bow on the past year and move a bit more confidently into a new year.

If you end of spending the time to go through this process, please share what came out of it for you!

On George MacDonald

Walking on Sunday nights and Monday mornings is exciting. Monday is big trash day in my neighborhood, the day when all you cleared out of your house over the weekend gets set on the curb for pickup.

Among the treasures I’ve accumulated from these piles are: a 6 person tent, a kids life vest, a trash can for the garage (ironic, right?!), and books.

My kids don’t like to walk with me on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

On day, two whole boxes of books called me over to the side of the road. As I searched through them, I gleaned the giver was probably a professor with lofty literary leanings who was interested in Christianity. I picked up a couple C.S. Lewis books, one of which was a book of George MacDonald quotes compiled by Lewis.

The preface gripped me as I delved into the book back at home. C.S. Lewis admired MacDonald. Wow. Just that one fact drew me in deeper. Anyone C.S. Lews counts as a mentor deserves attention.

As I learned more about MacDonald and read his quotes, I met one who saw deeply into the nature of people across generations. George saw the world, the times, and the people in it with a lens honed in on God’s heart. He knows God and cuts through all the add-ons we tend to accumulate in our lives.

Its always surprising to me when a person from a culture and time period so different from mine can relate truth that transcends to the here and now. How do they do it? I think it has to do with the nature of truth, it transcends.

So, here are a few of my favorite quotes from a novel I read by George MacDonald entitled A Daughter’s Devotion. Doesn’t that sound so Victorian and romantic? In reality, it is like meeting a mature sister and her father and following their life of fath.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite George MacDonald quotes from A Daughter’s Devotion:

Some will answer that you must have either distrust or self-confidence. "You must have neither," I reply. You must follow the truth and in that pursuit, the less one thinks about himself, the pursuer, the better. 
Let him so thirst after the truth that the dim vision of it occupies all his being, and leaves no time to think of his hunger and thirst. Self-forgetfulness is the healthiest of mental conditions. One has to look to his way, to his deeds, to his conduct--not to himself. In such losing of the false, or the merely reflected, we find the true self. (p.44)

But what is the use of the most powerful of medicines while they stand on the sick man's table? What is the mightiest of truths so long as it is not believed? The spiritually sick still mocks at the medicine offered; he will not know its cure. (p. 214)

In God alone, who is the truth, can creatures truly meet. (p. 267)

Jesus is the only man who is no exception. We are the exceptions. Everyone but Him is more or less out of straight. (p. 286)

Happy is he who has learned the gospel according to Jesus, as reported by John--that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all! Happy is he who finds God his refuge from all the lies that are told for Him and in His name!  (p. 220)

Love and marriage are of the Father's most powerful means for the making of His foolish ones into sons and daughters. But so unlike, in many cases, are the immediate consequences to those desired and expected, that it is hard for many to believe He is anywhere looking after their fate. And the doubt would be a reasonable one, if the end of things was marriage. But the end is life--that we can become the children of God. (p. 260)

All God's gifts are a giving of Himself. (p. 240)

We may spoil gratitude as we offer it, by insisting on its recognition. To receive honestly is the best thanks for a good thing. (p. 45)

For me, this photo evokes that idea I get with George MacDonald of seeing something beautiful from a long way off.

My 4 Holiday Best Practices

I’d love for my holidays to be magical and nostalgic this year like a Hallmark commercial but, in reality, I’m pretty wiped out and its still a few weeks until Thanksgiving break.

College students I talk with face longer than normal school breaks too. So many of us are home so much more, its come up that we’re a little nervous about more together time.

I’m not sure where you are as you anticipate the holiday break, but I’m already thinking through what might help my break feel restorative…or maybe just not totally suck.

So, here are a few lifelines I’m holding on to over the holidays in this very tumultous year.

#1: Read.

Fiction is always important to me. I read fiction every night. Lining up a few really good books for the holidays is a high priority on vacations and holidays. Good fiction helps me put worries and to-do lists aside at the end of a day and mentally unwind.

And when I say good fiction, I’m saying all fiction is not created equal. Remember that episode on Friends where Joey reads Rachel’s novel? He’s spot on. There’s plenty of good books out there that satisfy our God-given hunger for good stories.

Check out my top ten all time favorites!

#2: Ritual.

Ok, that sounds weird. I’m not into empty or evil rituals. I am into grounding patterns for my day that can reset my world a little bit. This is especially helpful when there is no outside schedule I laid out for me to follow, like during holidays when school and work are on a back burner.

One ritual I plan to keep is waking before my kids to a cup of coffee and reading my Bible. Another is taking a walk before it gets dark each day. These activities are not new and carrying them on helps me process through my days or prepare for them.



#3: Relax.

For the past few years, I’ve set aside one day of personal vacation before my kids are released on holiday break. On that day, my focus is to do indulgent things like watch a movie at 9am, wrap presents in the living room, and eat what I want to eat from a restaraunt even if I already have a sensible meal in the fridge.

Last year I assured my husband I loved and liked him and politely asked him to make himself scarce that day. He is so gracious and made himself scarce that day. It is a wonderful day. I’m looking forward to it this year so much!

Its my version of Treat Yo’self.

#4: Review.

I always spend the early hours of January 1st engaging my soul with some reflection on the past year. This year is one for the books, literally! If there was ever a year to reflect on, this is surely at the top of the list.

I know there are a few ways to do this so pick one that works for you. My favorite is Michael Hyatt’s Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year. Something about sitting in the quiet, remembering, grieving, celebrating, and recording my thoughts on my year helps me face the new one.

If you haven’t tried an exercise like this, consider setting aside some time to reflect and record.


Will more time at home be a gift after so many months of more time at home? I’m trusting that God always has more good in store for all of us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

I’ve enjoyed the Lord in each of these practices in different ways and I’m all about sharing the wealth! So let me know if you adopt one. I’d love to hear how it went for you.

Modern Fortitude

The word fortitude popped into my brain this week. Not a word I use much. Sounds rather Puritan and stuffy, not characteristic of the fun and spontaneous image I like to curate.

I love words but sometimes when they come to me, even I don’t know exactly why or by what path I retrieved them. Why fortitude? A word I rarely use. A word most people rarely use these days according to my brief internet search.

I’m not even reading Jane Austen right now. Jane is a likely person to use a word like fortitude, but I’ve been reading twisty, suspenseful thrillers the past month or so.

According to the internet, a bastion of truth, the word fortitude has gone from 0.0013% usage in 1840 to 0.00013% usage today. Its darkest days were the 1990’s where it dipped to 0.00006%. I’m not awesome at math but I know another zero after the decimal is a big decline.

It begs the question, was fortitude ever really popular?

Is it popular now? I’m not sure fortitude will ever rise to the best lunch table at the local high school, but current circumstances guarantee a rise in usage. Just this blog post should raise the graph line a speck!

So, what does it mean? I actually had to look it up. Even though I am using this word to describe what I need right now, I’d been going on intuition more than precise definitions.

For-ti-tude: courage in pain or adversity.

And, there it is folks. What we need for these times. This is what I am asking God for these days…courage in pain and adversity. Fortitude.

Because we are all in some degree of adversity having experienced radical changes in our daily life and behavior from how we greet people to challenges figuring out how to live and work the way we were used to living and working.

I think of the British with their reputation of the stiff upper lip. Is that what it means to have fortitude? Many times that is what is expected of those that display fortitude. Literally, they’re lip doesn’t tremble because tears are imminent.

They don’t cry.

Well, I’ve failed then. I’m not courageous in pain or adversity.

Ha. You must know me well enough, I hope, to know that I reject this flat, emotionless view of fortitude.

Fortitude, I believe, is equally displayed in the tearful, plodding act of living out the life God gave us for this day. This day, this year, it is a pandemic, political strife, relational divisions based on ideologies, and all the collateral damage that lies in the wake.

Its not doing just what your emotions tell you to do, but walking forward in life by faith that God through His Spirit can give you just what you need for what His path for you entails.

Notice, I say His path for me. Not my path for me though the sweetest days are when my path for me and His path for me are one and the same. Those moments, because lets be honest, they’re usually not days, are full of meaning and purpose and joy even as they can also be filled with pain and adversity.

So, yes, I am in need of fortitude, not the stiff emotionless upper lip variety but the continuity of courage that life always requires, no matter the season.

But when times are universally difficult, hopefully words like fortitude can give us a sweet reminder to rely on Jesus to provide the courage and hope we need to walk, often tearfully, through pain and adversity.

On Authority

My dad and I snuck into a national park one time. We drove up, parked, and vaulted a low level fence.

To be fair, we couldn’t find the door. Did we look much? No. But we did see the fence and we jumped over. It wasn’t that hard.

This is the type of fence people don’t climb over.

Our first clue that we might get caught was that everyone wore one of those headsets that gives you an audio tour. We did not have one. We expected a security guard would notice and throw us out so we began avoiding them.

Real cloak and dagger stuff. I miss that man!

It was the most fun I’d had at an historical building in my life. We had no right to be there. I think there’s a connection.

There’s so much going on in my mind these days as the divisions in our world and nation lie exposed before us. The word authority is in its second week of grabbing my attention as I continue reading the accounts of Jesus’ life on earth (aka the gospels).

It screams of the pages…authority. He had a authority. He spoke like one with authority. He claimed authority. He did not need authority from people. He taught like one with authority.

What did that look like? Sound like? What does it mean to have authority?

I have a measure of authority in certain spheres. I’m kind of an authority on what’s in the pantry, the kids’ schedules, how much laundry detergent to use, and bargaining.

But its all a bit eye-of-the-beholder stuff. I totally forgot about the expired coconut oil I bought 6 years ago sitting unused in the corner of the shelf. Kids’ schedules change and I’m late for pick up. Detergent dosages are up for debate and ultimately set by Tide or Whirlpool.

When it comes down to it, there are few areas of my life that I am free to act with complete authority.

And, even if I had that kind of authority, I know myself well enough that I would also need many wise, honest people around me to check my propensity to make many, many mistakes.

Jesus made an impression because He acted according to the truth because He is the truth. He needed no stamps of approval, oversight committees, or consensus. Everything was His and everyone knew it the moment He arrived. They may not have liked it but they could not avoid the truth.

He possessed authority and wielded it perfectly even as a humble carpenter of doubtful parentage (to the critics) without the highest-level education available for the day–because of His divinity.

There was something fun and terrifying in seizing authority that day in Tennessee with my dad. All along, though, I knew I was a trespasser… a fraud.

Learning to truly submit to God’s authority in my life from the depths of my soul–that is a daily deeper dive for me. I find that I’m becoming most truly myself when I submit to God.

That’s true freedom, not to live as my own authority but embracing my place under the One who has all authority.

Finding Lost Things

I am the #1 finder in our house. If something is lost, I’m the one that gets called in pretty quick. Sometimes too quickly.

I’ve threatened people in my family. If I find it upon entering your room and just looking around, I’m going to be…not happy, I say.

While I packed to go on a trip once, I opened the cabinet where we kept our nice DSLR camera. My destination was beautiful and I wanted to beef up my stock of photos. The cabinet opened and no camera.

This puzzled me because I’d taken a trip the week before with the camera and was sure it came home with me. I backtracked my steps and remembered that when I got off the plane at home, I left it in the overhead bin. I’d left it and lived in great peace and calmness not knowing our expensive camera was gone.

But I was headed to the airport so I decided to just check and see if they had a lost and found. My experience with losing things in Asia was not great. If you left something somehwere, it was no longer there 5 minutes later. My hope was almost nonexistent.

You know what? I came home with our camera.

There was a lost and found. The camera was waiting. To claim it, we needed to look at the photos. Bummer, dead battery. So I described the photos of the panda reserve, little blonde kids, and a wide smile wreathed the woman’s face.

She remembered the photos and gave me back our camera! I was so happy.

The camera is still with us taking great pictures.

Losing things is not fun. Finding things is so much more fun.


Here’s a few things that guide my searches…

It will not come to you. The essence of lost things is that they do not know they are lost and they cannot get back. We’re talking about things here. They just are where we left them. They’re not going to come back to us on their own. They must be found. Waiting around isn’t going to bring them back.

Lost things do not come back on their own.

Where was it last? Start there. You see, lost things are where they are. They are things and they don’t know they are lost. They do not move on their own. It’s obvious and easy to forget when looking, but you must backtrack and determine where the item was last.

You must go and discover where the lost thing is if you want to find it.

What was happening? If backtracking doesn’t work, then think about what was happening. In the panic of losing things, my family members generally resist my questions. They feel antagonistic and blaming. What were you doing? spoken to a sensitive soul feels accusatory.

But, it helps me to know if the shoes are under the chair where Xbox is played or in the backyard because they were contaminated with the dog waste.

Discovering the story around the loss will help you know where to look.

Why can’t we see it? So often, I find things because I lifted something else. The calculator was under the shirt. The keys were in the pants pocket. The stuffed tiger was in the microwave (yes, that’s a funny story of sibling rivalry).

Sometimes the item is hiding under something. Well, it isn’t hiding but it got covered up and needs to be uncovered.

Be persistent. Ask dumb questions. Basic elementary questions like what was I carrying? Where would I be if I were Ali’s camera after an airplane trip? Keep asking and don’t give up hope that there’s a lost and found when nothing ever seems to get found.

Persistence and hope lead us much farther than despair.

Wait. Somethings are only found by waiting. When we’ve exhausted the search, sometimes we need to wait. Often, one day it will just show up in the least expected place.

Time can uncover what our abilities cannot.

Pray. The much loved stuffed Tiger was lost for three days. Three days of comforting a crying boy with a second best toy at night. I related my small dilemma to a friend on the phone. She said she’d pray. I prayed a one liner to God that moment, looked to my left and saw Tigey stuffed between the fridge and the wall.

God can find things for us when we ask for help.

As I walked around campus and my city this week and talked to people who are seeking God, I started thinking about finding.

Do I really search for people? It haunts me a little

I hope I can be as good at finding lost people as I am at finding my kids calculator.

Gardening Gems

Every so often I’m in the car around noon on the day the gardening talk show is on the radio. Somehow I just never want to turn the dial eventhough I don’t garden.

It might be his soothing voice saying who knows what about a topic of which I know little. Or, maybe this will be the year I’ll need to know these things because this will be the year I become a planter of things. 

But a couple times over the past month, I’ve stayed tuned because what he’s talking about resonates on a deeper level than maintaining my yard. 

Once it was soil. Yes. Dirt. He was talking about dirt. It caught me because he said something like 75% of the chance that a plant grows is determined before the plant is put into the dirt. He was talking about the soil. If the soil was prepared well, the plant would grow well.

That explains a lot of why my flower bed look like they do. I just dig holes, put stuff in and pray. It hasn’t worked great. 

Then, today they were talking about pests and diseases in plants. They complained about people who see pests and disease and just want some spray to take care of it. So silly their tone suggests.

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No, I did not grow this. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Hmmm. That’s kind of what I do. Just get rid of the pest and we’re good, right?

No! They talked about looking at the whole situation and taking care of what was causing the issue in the first place or it would come back.

I realized my gardening is very surface level. I’m in it for fast results, not really the long term cultivation. I’ve not learned to cultivate the land and truly care for it. 

The same is often true of my spiritual life. I want fast methods to lead to quick results.

Instead the Bible talks often about gardens, cultivation, tending, and shepherding…all activities that are wholistic and slow but when embraced in our soul, yield the lives we really want. 

Lives that grow and produce beautiful things that can sustain others too. 

We don’t know what to do but…

I encounter more people now as our community stumbles forward and we try to feel each other out. How close is it ok to approach a person on a neighborhood walk? What criteria do I use to decide if I go back to church in-person or watch online? What level of risk is appropriate to be with people and for what purpose?

Figuring out this new world, learning how to live in it as we hold in tension so many competing realities is a weight we are all learning to carry.

The other times in my life that I remember talking this much about how to interact with people on a daily basis was when we first moved overseas. My husband and I experienced an onslaught of new our first few years overseas that left us speechless, staring at our McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

We are now back in the country we grew up in. But, with the sudden shift of culture caused by this pandemic, it again feels like we are learning a new world. We are in the same place physically as last year but doing so many things so differently adding to the strangeness of it all.

It’s like the world tilted and I’m left again grasping for firmer ground.

A passage of the Bible that captured my attention this past week was the story of Jehoshaphat (yes, like in Great Jehoshaphat!). He was one of the good kings in the Bible. He went around to the whole kingdom to talk to the judges and tell them, look guys, you’re working for God and He’s not a God of injustice, bribery or partiality so let the fear of God guide you.

Wow! I really appreciate that kind of leadership.

A lot of times you read these stories about the good kings and generally things go better for them, but not Jehoshophat. He soon learns a huge army is coming for them and they’re pretty powerless to stop it. He prays this great long prayer but at the end he says, We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You. 

So then, another guy stands up and says he’s got something to say from God. He basically says, don’t be afraid or discouraged. Go out to the battle but you will not need to fight in this one. Stand firm and hold your position. God ends up routing the enemy before they even get to Israel’s army.

There is something beatiful and right in determining you’re up against something bigger than you can deal with and saying I don’t know what to do. And, then, still showing up to the battle even when it’s not clear how it will all play out, just that God will be there.

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In all this upheaval, I’m realizing the importance of showing up to see what God will do. When I say show up, I mean open up opportunities, be available and trust that God can do something no matter how meager and anemic the method feels.

Somehow, he’s not limited by our physicality. I can tell you, God shows up on video calls, phone calls (they’re back in again–just give younger folks a pre-call text), and conference calls.

I guess that’s where I am today, I don’t know what to do often. I feel overwhelmed some days. But I want my eyes to be on Him.

Sometimes its more that I don’t know how to do it this way, but I am trying to take the step and trust Him to be there in the middle of it with me.

Each time, as I look back I can see that He’s never deserted me.