change, devotional, encouragement, lessons learned, midlife faith

Walk the Talk

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

“Sure, I’d love to help!” Not really, but I don’t want to sound rude.

“Yes, I have plenty of time to work on that last-minute project!” I’m going to have to work overtime now because I’m swamped. Ugh.

“I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings.” Why are you so thin skinned? 

“I’m sorry you’re going through a hard time.” Suck it up, buttercup, like the rest of us.

How often do we say things we don’t really mean? It’s easy to give lip service to many people and many things without meaning it. 

But in Romans 10, Paul makes clear that we cannot just give lip service to God. We’ve got to believe with our hearts. We’ve got to put hands and feet on our words.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Romans 10:9-10 ESV

So, what does it actually look like to not only say it, but also to believe it? It looks a lot like evangelizing those around us. Not all Christians are called to go overseas as missionaries, but we are all called to tell those around us about the Gospel. Here’s what the apostle Paul has to say about those who spread the Good News of Jesus Christ: 

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Romans 10:15 ESV

Truly believing looks a lot like the Christians in the book of James, who are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We need to bridle our tongues and not show partiality as we do good works (James 2-3).

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

James 2:18 ESV

Sincere belief also looks a lot like the fruit of the Spirit. A dead plant does not produce flowers. A dead tree does not produce fruit. Likewise, someone who has not received the new life that is a result of salvation may try to sound like a Christian but will not have the heart of a believer. Our walk should match our talk.

So when our walk matches our talk, we can truly sing, like the old chorus, How beautiful the hands … and feet of the body of Christ. We then become like a radiant bride, waiting for our Savior, the bridegroom.

It’s not always easy, but we have been given—by the bridegroom Himself—all the help we need to match our hearts with our mouths.

Scriptures for Reflection:

  • Romans 10 (get the whole context)
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • James 2:14-24

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Have you ever said something you didn’t mean? What was the result?
  2. Who can you talk to about the Gospel this week?
  3. How can you cultivate the fruit of the Spirit this week? Choose one to focus on.
  4. How can you tangibly help someone in need this week?

**This article also appears on the Beyond Sunday Blog.**

change, devotional, divorce, encouragement, grief, healing, midlife faith, reinventing

Satisfaction Is in the Sanctuary

I used to be a complainer. I mean, like really. In spite of the sign I still (as an empty nester) have in my house that says No Whining. I complained to fellow worship team members about having to get up so early on a Sunday morning. (And totally missed the irony of that.) I complained about having to grade papers all weekend long. I complained about making dinner every night for my family. I complained about having to clean my big house.

And then I lost it. All of it.

During that really dark time, I felt a lot like Asaph and his confusion in Psalm 73 over the seeming prosperity of the wicked. I thought I had done everything right, but all of a sudden everything was wrong, and it seemed like the wicked were prospering.

For I was envious of the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

Psalm 73:3

For sure, comparison and complaining are contentment killers! But does that mean we can’t go to God with our hurts and disappointments? Of course not! Throughout the Psalms, we see David (and here Asaph) expressing his disappointment and envy with the prosperity of his enemies. 

And that right there is the key: he went straight to God with his complaints. He didn’t post a litany of problems on social media. He didn’t verbally attack his enemies in prayer meeting by disguising it as a prayer request. He went straight to the Source of life for comfort and reassurance.

The other things Asaph did in this psalm were to recognize God’s goodness to Israel right up front and his own sinful feelings and reactions. We always need to remember God’s goodness toward us. Owning our feelings and confessing them as needed brings us contentment in our relationship with Christ.

When we own our feelings as not the truth, we realize that God is God, and we are not. We may never know this side of Heaven why someone else prospers, and we don’t, or why we’re the ones struggling with our marriage, kids, finances, or whatever when we thought we did everything right. 

Life is not a formula! And we don’t have the full picture of God’s plan, which is probably a good thing. But we do know that God will eventually work all things for our good. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

As much as I want to know all of the whys of my difficult decade, I’ve had to release that desire. God hasn’t told me why, and I have to be ok with that. Honestly, letting go of my demands was releasing in so many ways. It left me free to focus on the good things that have come out of that time, which has led to a greater satisfaction with my Lord and with my life than I had before. 

But when I thought how to understand this,
    it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
    then I discerned their end.

Psalm 73:16-17

When Asaph gave up on questioning why and turned to worshiping God instead, he realized that the wicked would receive justice—in God’s timing. He realized that all of those things we strive after are temporary. They can be swept away in a moment. The only things that truly matter in life are found in God’s presence.

But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works.

Psalm 73:28

And in regaining my life—though devoid of many people and things I once considered necessities—I discovered that in Christ I had everything I needed. And He is all I need.

Friend, I pray you never have to experience devastating losses in order to appreciate what you have. How can you instead cultivate a heart of gratitude this next week? Drop me a line, and let me know your plan, so I can pray for you.  

change, encouragement, high school, lessons learned, midlife faith

Adult(ish) Children

“Mum, I thought parenting kids would get easier as they got older,” I exclaimed one day in desperation about my 20-something girls. 

After she quit laughing, she asked, “Why on earth would you think that?” Fair question.

We raise our kids to be independent, but then when they try to exert this independence, we push back in full helicopter mode. The struggle is real, friend, and I’m right there with you. 

I have only three thoughts: Open heart. Open door. Closed Mouth. And boundaries as needed. Oops, that was four. And, no, I don’t practice these things perfectly. Especially the closed mouth one.

Open heart. Open door. Closed mouth. Boundaries as needed.

The crux of the matter is that the nature of our relationship changes as our children mature. If we want our relationship to continue to thrive, we need to change with our kids. Or rather, our young adults. 

I say young adults to remind myself that my kids are not dependent children anymore (unless they need to know how to get stains out of their favorite sweatshirt). We need to deliberately change the way we talk and relate to them and ensure we’re treating them like adults. If we want them to act like adults (i.e., take responsibility for their own bills and move into their own apartments), then we need to treat them as such. I admit that’s really hard when they’re visiting or staying for an extended time (due to a pandemic or other emergency).

Along those same lines, we need to not give them unasked-for advice. We’ll both be frustrated. Yes, I know how tempting it is. Yes, I know that we know better, but let’s save ourselves the headache (and possibly a few missed phone calls and bitter feelings) and keep our advice to ourselves. We had 18 years to pour all our hard-won experience into them. Now we need to reserve it for when they ask for it, which means they may be more likely to follow it. Maybe. We can let this be our prayer:

Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!

Deuteronomy 5:29

We also need to respect their choices. Yes, even the ones we don’t agree with. By respect I mean accept that they have the right to make their own choices, even if they’re mistakes. We need to let go of our feelings of responsibility for the choices they make. I struggled fiercely with this a few years ago when one of my kids made a life-changing decision that went against everything I believed. But I had to release my feelings of guilt and shame because I could not own her decisions. I had to let her own them. That took a lot of time on my knees, and I still struggle with it sometimes, but it’s much easier now.

Sometimes kids just have to fail and take the consequences in order to grow. We know from our own experiences that we grow spiritually and emotionally when we go through trials, and the same is true for our kids. As much as we hurt when they hurt, we can’t fix everything for them. We shouldn’t enable them, and sometimes that means setting hard boundaries and then sticking to them. It’s called tough love for a reason!

I don’t have all of the answers. But I can spend time on my knees and cling to this promise:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

Where are you and your kids in this growing up process? What have you found that has blessed your relationship with your young adult children? Please share your wisdom!

change, encouragement, medical issues, midlife faith

Role Reversal—Caring for Our Caretakers

“I know what you need! A sticker chart,” I exclaimed!

My mum had just come home from her first knee surgery and was struggling with her physical therapy exercises. I hadn’t homeschooled for 14 years for nothing. I printed up a little chart, dug up some stickers, and she was as motivated as a toddler using the potty for M&M’s!

Part of the circle of life is that as we reach middle age, our parents reach the age when they need us to care for them. That can be both a privilege and a burden, but I think the right mindset can make all the difference.

Even if we are not in a position to physically care for our parents or grandparents, we are still called to show our elders honor and respect. Yes, even if our parents don’t respect or honor us. But that’s a different article.

Honor your father and mother.

Ephesians 6:2

We are commanded in both the Old and New Testaments to honor our parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-2). Young children living under the care and protection of their parents are definitely supposed to obey their parents, but what about children in their 20s or even 50s? 

Adult children do not owe parents obedience, but they do owe them honor and respect (and regular phone calls). The Old Testament Law as summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:35-40 is to love God and love people; therefore, my honoring my parents is inspired by love, not bound by legalism or fear. As an adult child, my job is to hold in high regard my parents’ wishes and feelings.

So, what does that mean exactly? Respect means to give high or special regard to someone, esteem, or consideration. Honor is a similar concept but also encapsulates the idea of one whose worth brings respect or special recognition. I submit that our parents, by virtue of that office alone, are worthy of our respect and honor and reverence.

Families are the building blocks of the stability of society. Disregard for the feelings and values of our elders is the first step on the slippery slope of disregard for the value of the lives of the elderly and other vulnerable populations in general, as discussed in this recent article in The Atlantic older people and COVID.

We must value people purely on the basis of their humanity—not their contributions to society—or we lose our own humanity.

We all go through seasons of life—first we’re helpless babes, being cared for by our parents. Then we’re fairly independent, but if you’re anything like me, we still rely on our parents for advice and to bail us out now and again. Then we become parents and caretakers ourselves. Eventually, we find ourselves sandwiched in between texting our kids NOT to microwave the whole turkey and at the same time sitting in the waiting room while our parents are receiving needed health care. But what never changes is our responsibility to love and honor those God has placed in our lives (by birth or by choice). 

Our job as women of faith living life in the middle is to be a voice for the voiceless—old or young—and an advocate for the helpless. 

How are you honoring the elders God has placed in your life? Please share, so we can gain inspiration from each other! I’ll just be over here putting stickers on a chart every time my mother completes a set of knee exercises.

change, healing, midlife faith, moving on, reinventing

Introducing the Midlife Faith Group!

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Angie Baughman on her podcast Steady On. We chatted about all kinds of life stuff, especially what happens when we get to the middle-aged stage of life (defined by many as ages 40-65ish). I’m pretty sure I had a moment and totally forgot to post the link for y’all to listen to it, so here it is:

Mid-Life Christianity with Bethany LaShell 

You can also find Steady On on most podcasting platforms.

Faith is important in every stage of life, but by midlife, we’ve been hit by some of the bigger storms of life, and our faith has taken a beating. Instead of drowning when the waves roll over us, we can learn to increase our faith.

Faith is a muscle; the more you use it, the bigger it gets. 

I’ve finally figured out that I’m not alone in this stage of life—hallelujah!—and that we’re stronger when we’re together, so I’m creating a private group on Facebook just for women who are in this same, weird, hard stage of life called the middle. Please come join us!   

Midlife Faith is a group for Christian women who are looking for encouragement and hope in the hard stuff of life – adult (ish) children, the (nearly) empty nest, aging parents, job transitions, divorce, church challenges, health issues, and more. Midlife Faith is for women who are in their 40s-50s (ish!) and wondering how to navigate this new stage in their lives. We’re all about pointing others to Jesus and speaking positively into each others’ lives. I’ll be sharing my weekly (ish) encouraging blog posts and other resources. This will be a PRIVATE group on *Facebook, so members can share comfortably. 

Request an invitation today!

Please invite your girlfriends who are in this same stage of life! While we are a Christian group and all about finding answers in the Bible, being a professing Christian is not a requirement for membership in the group. 

*If you’re exiting Facebook in favor of other social media platforms, you can arrange your settings to open immediately to this group instead of your own page.

change, devotional, healing, lessons learned, medical issues, midlife faith, reinventing

Behind the Mask of Health Mania

As we begin a new year, we often make goals or resolutions to improve our physical health—lose weight, exercise more, eat better, cook at home more, cut out sugar, etc. But we often forget about those goals before the end of the month. While there’s nothing wrong with improving our physical health and nothing wrong with making goals or resolutions, perhaps we’d be better served by focusing on the state of our souls.

It’s all too easy to hide the state of our souls behind the state of our physical bodies. Many overly health-conscious people hide the imperfections of their souls behind the perfection of their physical bodies. We obsess over counting points and steps while neglecting our daily devotions. (Just me? I thought not.) We preen in front of the dressing room mirrors while gossiping behind closed doors. 

While we are definitely called to take care of our physical bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6), we are not called to make idols of them. Sin takes a good thing and makes it the only thing; at the same time, Christians tend to take a worldly thing and give it a spiritual spin. 

For example, the premise of Daniel Fast is to eat just vegetables in order to lose weight; however, the actual reason Daniel chose to eat only vegetables was so as not to “defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank” (Daniel 1:8 ESV). As a result of following their convictions to remain pure, God gave them favor so that Daniel and his friends were “better in appearance and fatter in flesh” than their counterparts (Daniel 1:15 ESV). 

What we see here and in other Scriptures is that being what we would call overweight or fat meant having enough food to eat during biblical times. Obviously overeating is considered gluttonous, but as in all things, balance is the key.

Another biblical principle concerning our physical bodies that often gets taken to extremes is the concept of athletic training. The apostle Paul often uses the importance of physical training to emphasize the importance of spiritual training. For instance, he talks about how only one person will win a race even though many people will train and participate in it. So, we are encouraged to run in such a way as to win. Of course, the point is to run our spiritual race in such a way as to win an “imperishable” wreath or crown (1 Corinthians 9:25). 

Along with the extreme of doing our utmost to win the prize, what can happen when we idealize perfection too much? We put down those who can’t achieve it, and they somehow become less than. Instead of embracing all people and abilities as God’s unique creations, we revile them and leave them in our dust. 

So our aim should be working to become more Christlike instead of focusing only on physical fitness: “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way” (1 Timothy 4:8 ESV).

Another aspect of physical training taken to the extreme is exhaustion. Behind the mask of achievement and success lies a tired body with multiple invisible problems. We go and go and go while neglecting the rest our bodies need because our culture sees rest as laziness. But God designed us with a need for regular rest! Our need to be always on the go leads to drive-thru dinners several times a week that do not provide our bodies with the nourishment they need.

What’s the cure? When we’re so worn out that we don’t know what to do, Jesus invites us to exchange our burdens for his. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me … and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29 ESV).

In the end, it’s all about balance! When we’re tired or hungry or on a sugar high, we can’t focus on God. Let’s take off our masks of physical perfection and busyness, so we can focus on our spiritual well-being and ask God what our priorities should be.

Call to Action:

Read and reflect on these passages of Scripture in light of this week’s sermon.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 (ESV)—“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything. Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food – and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)—”Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
  • Ephesians 5:29 (ESV)—”For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”
  • Hebrews 4:10 ESV)—“For whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

Questions for Reflection:

  1. In what ways do you find yourself masking your spiritual state behind your physical state?
  2. How have you taken a good thing and turned it into the only thing, which takes the focus off properly glorifying God with it?
  3. How can you create more balance in your physical priorities this week?
  4. How can you create more time for physical and spiritual rest in order to prioritize your relationships with God and your family?

*Note: This article was originally posted on my friend Tammy’s church blog, Beyond Sundays.

change, devotional, encouragement, healing, midlife faith, moving on

How to Forgive

Forgiveness is good and necessary. But it is HARD!! And as an intangible idea, it’s difficult to navigate. It’s funny how hurtful words raged once can echo through the memory like a kid shouting in a tunnel, yet words of forgiveness whispered quietly on our knees need to be repeated to be remembered sometimes. 

As a practical girl, I like tangible steps. Here are a few that I’ve found helpful:

  1. Make time to get alone with God. You need to feel to heal, as contrary as it may seem! Feelings that are swept under the carpet do not heal. They multiply like the hair ties my cat hides under the rug. 
  2. Write a list of the offenses lurking in your heart – no matter how long ago they occurred – then out loud (and in writing) say, “Father, I choose to forgive (who) for (what) that happened on (when) at (where). Please help me to leave the offense here at the foot of the cross.”
  3. Writing about your feelings is a great way to process them and then to release them. The purpose here is to trace the redemption that comes through the process of forgiving someone. After you’ve forgiven a particular offense, either rip the paper to shreds or put it in your fire pit. Or, you can write in “FORGIVEN” across that journal page as a reminder to set aside the hurt when it comes to mind. 
  4. Spoken words have power. Hearing ourselves forgive someone aloud and release the desire for revenge is much more powerful than just thinking about it. 
  5. Sometimes the grievances are so significant or held for so long that you may need to see a Christian counselor to help you work through them.

What do those steps look like in reality? Here’s a glimpse:

Not long ago, a friend lovingly confronted me about the fact that I still sounded bitter about events that had happened years ago. Things I thought I’d forgiven. Yes, they were hard things—like betrayal, deliberate financial ruin, character assassination—but I thought I was past them. 

So, I spent some time alone with God. I made a list in my journal of all the grievances I could think of off the top of my head, all the people whose wounds still lingered in my mind. I allowed myself a short time to acknowledge the hurts.  

Then I reminded myself that I am not responsible for their words and actions. God has seen my every tear and heard my every cry. In holding on to my own desire for revenge, I was trying to act like God. That’s not my job!

God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. Ecclesiastes 3:17 ESV    

Ecclesiastes 3:17 ESV

I prayed and told God that I wanted to forgive these people and these offenses, but that I needed help. I told God that I was so weary of carrying what I wasn’t meant to carry:  the heavy burdens of unforgiveness, bitterness, and revenge. 

The longer we try to carry that emotional baggage, the heavier it becomes. Jesus invites us to exchange our burdens for His:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

A few days later, I was blessed to witness more than 50 people get baptized in a river. To watch so many people publicly declare their faith and rejoice in Christ’s forgiveness was awesome and inspiring!

Afterwards, while I was standing on the riverbank watching kayakers and sticks float past me, and it occurred to me that this would be a perfect place to visibly watch my own bitterness float away.

I grabbed a handful of leaves and, one by one, audibly gave each leaf a name and an offense. Then I released each leaf to float down the river. Soon, I could not tell which leaf was which. After a few more minutes, none of the leaves I’d tossed into the river were visible. 

While I was doing this, I prayed yet again for the Lord to help me release the burden of bitterness in my heart. After all my leaves and tears were gone, I felt a lightness and a joyfulness that I have not felt in many years. 

Yes, I may still need reminders to myself that I have released that resentment, but that’s all they are: reminders that God can turn resentment into redemption. I tell myself that was then; this is now. I tamp down my desire to mete out a cold shoulder or a snide dig, and I take it to the Lord in prayer again.

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Ephesians 4:31-32

Your process of forgiveness may look different and may take more or less time. That’s okay. How can I pray for you on your journey toward forgiveness today, friend?

anxiety, change, devotional, healing, midlife faith, moving on

The What and the Why of Forgiveness

For many years, I operated on a faulty definition of forgiveness. My definition ran something like this: “Forgiving someone means they win the argument. Forgiving someone means I have to let them fully back into my life. Forgiving someone means I have to let them continue to run roughshod over my feelings. Forgiving someone means what they said or did doesn’t matter.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. No wonder my bruised feelings and resentment built up a nearly impenetrable wall of bitterness around my heart that spilled over onto friends and family alike.

If it’s not that faulty definition, then what is it? Forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s an action you choose to do. It’s giving up your right to resentment, retribution, and revenge. Forgiveness is refusing to revisit the offense in your mind and with your words or actions; it’s unlimited and unconditional.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you weren’t hurt, but rather that you are choosing to move forward. It doesn’t mean you forget what happened, but you don’t hold it against the offender. Forgiveness is not excusing the behavior of another person, nor is it allowing damaging behaviors to continue.

When you forgive, you choose to let go of the debt of sin. It’s basically ripping up the bill. Forgiveness releases you, sweet friend! Let God do his job—he will bring justice to the offender at his appointed time.

But why do we even need to forgive? Because it’s commanded in Scripture:

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.

Mark 11:25-26 NKJV

The strength of our relationships depends on our ability to forgive. Want to preserve your relationships with people? Learn to forgive.

The Lord’s prayer “shows us that we need daily forgiveness as much as we need daily bread.”

R.T. Kendall, Total Forgiveness

Our emotional and physical health depend on our ability to forgive, according to science. Unforgiveness opens the gateway to depression, anxiety, heart problems, headaches, lowered self-esteem, high blood pressure, weight gain/loss, a weakened immune system, and a whole bunch of other issues. Yikes! Who wants to hang on to all that?

Unforgiveness leads to bitterness, which can escalate to hostility, hatred, and eventually a hardened heart. A hardened heart full of bitterness cannot engage in a loving relationship with anyone. The bitterness will seep over into your everyday life and people around you will notice your bitter attitude. Yikes again! No one wants to be around that much poison.

I’m not saying forgiving someone is easy, because it’s not, but can you appreciate just how very necessary it is, friend? Next time we’ll talk about the nitty gritty of how to forgive—even those who don’t ask for it, don’t deserve it, or aren’t around to receive it. 

Can I pray for you on your journey toward forgiveness? Drop me a line and let me know!

change, healing, lessons learned

Bridging the Racial Divide

Friends, we are doing our black brothers and sister a great injustice by being silent and ignorant about what’s happening to black people all around us. The Bible warns us:

Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others.

Philippians 2:4 NCV

I’ve always thought I was “color blind,” but it has been brought to my attention lately that that phrase is offensive. I am so sorry. 

I’ve always thought that “white privilege” was ignorant people making rude comments to and about people of color. It’s more than that. It’s me. Because I was born white, I don’t have to worry about being racially profiled, and that right there is my white privilege. 

By saying “all lives matter,” we’re ignoring the fact that right now, in 2020, black lives are in danger. All lives won’t matter until and unless black lives also matter. When your brother is stopped by the police and falsely accused, you don’t care that the “statistics” say it rarely happens. People’s real-life experiences matter. We don’t know the whole story unless we ask.

Our black neighbors just want to be heard and recognized for the struggles they’re experiencing. James exhorts us, “My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily” (1:19 NCV). If we have not gone through the same struggles, we cannot understand what they’re facing. And we should not even try. 

Neutral means you’re choosing not to see what I’m going through.

K.W.

I can never be color blind again. I am choosing to set aside my white privilege to stand with my black brothers and sisters. 

I am choosing not to be neutral. I am choosing to listen, to stand up for the rights of black people, and to use my voice as a writer to help bridge the racial divide in my sphere of influence. 

Now is the time to mourn with those who are mourning over injustice in our land toward black people. “Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad” (Romans 12:15 NCV).

What can you do? “Use the gifts God has given you to make a difference!” (K.W.). Not everyone is called to march in a protest. Not everyone can write. But everyone can listen. Everyone can pray for healing in our land. Everyone can say something when we hear racial slurs. 

anxiety, change, devotional, grief, lessons learned

Plan B

My life lately looks like a season of Well, That Didn’t Go as Planned. But here’s the thing. I. Love. To. Plan. Everything.

Perhaps you have this problem, too?

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9 ESV

I’ve learned to write in my pretty planner with erasable pens (they’re the bomb), but my stickers don’t always cooperate with being moved. Kind of like their owner.

Right now, my Plan A is for the purchase of my townhome to happen on a particular date. I’ve got a sticker for the movers on that date in my planner and friends with strong backs and muscles lined up, too. But yesterday, I received an email from my lender saying that the date would most likely be pushed back eight days. 

For four years, my baby girl has dreamed about and planned on going to Italy to study abroad this semester. (You already see where this is going, don’t you?) She had been happily ensconced in Rome for two months, racking up the steps on her FitBit when a teeny, tiny little virus spread like wildfire around the globe, aided by the media. 

Her dreams of spending five months traveling and learning around Europe fell like rose petals from a rejected lover as she was rushed back with the rest of her classmates to the “safe” zone of New York City. Platitudes of health and safety aren’t comforting. Now she’s quarantined (yet healthy) in her dorm and wondering how and when her classes will continue in a different country with different professors.

I can relate. I wish I had more comforting words. But I don’t. I wish I could hug her in person. But I can’t. All I can say is, “I’m so sorry, baby, but it will be ok. Eventually.” 

God comforts us when we’re on Plan B (or C or G or M or …) with this:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 ESV

Everything—even the bumped moving date and the disrupted study abroad plans—is for our good, even if we can’t immediately see it. We just have to trust that God knows what He’s doing.  

I love the insight and inspiration of this article by Sandra Peoples: “Your Plan B Is Still God’s Plan A.” Peoples’ life didn’t go as planned, and she looks to a number of biblical examples of others whose lives didn’t go as they planned either. 

Above all, God is sovereign. Sometimes I just have to repeat that over and over to myself. Sometimes I need to remind myself of other times when my unwanted Plan B really did turn out to be so much better than my Plan A because it was God’s Plan A all along. When we surrender to God’s Plan A (even if it’s our Plan C or D), that’s when God gets the glory. And that’s what life is really all about: glorifying God. 

What’s your Plan B? Suspended travel plans? A child’s rejection? An unwanted diagnosis? A divorce? An unexpected death? A job loss? Remember that it’s still God’s Plan A for your life, and it will be better than your Plan A (eventually).