No Safe Place but Jesus.

I had ATM troubles the other morning, so I called the bank to get help. Each bank employee I spoke with ended our conversation thanking me for banking with them and then passionately and solemnly saying, “Be safe out there.” 

Considering we are in a global pandemic, I assume they were referring to not getting COVID-19. And I appreciated their sentiment—I don’t want to get the virus. I don’t want anyone to get the virus.  I am all for precautions. Staying 6 feet apart, washing my hands, not touching my face, and even wearing a mask in the grocery store so people won’t think I am rude.  (I am not for wearing masks while outside exercising alone. If someone could explain to me the reasoning behind this, I’d be much obliged.)

However, I am not sure why these passionately spoken words, “Be safe out there,” sort of annoyed me. Maybe it’s the news of a friend’s sister dying unexpectedly. Or maybe it’s the story of the instagram gal whose son died in an accident while playing. Or maybe it is the story of the three year old girl who celebrated her birthday at home on hospice because there is nothing more the doctors can do to keep her alive. Maybe it’s the news of Ravi Zacharias’ health decline and the fact that he is home with his family living out what are likely his final days on this broken planet. Maybe it’s the email we received about the classmate whose mother passed away in her sleep last week. Or maybe I am extra sensitive these days since this time just last year I was faced with my own mother’s suicide. So, in reply to their well-intentioned “Be safe out there” comment, I wanted to yell, 

“IMPOSSIBLE!  Are you even paying attention?! There’s not a ‘safe’ place on this planet.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am not driving down the opposite side of the road or licking door knobs before I open the door, but if our main goal of life is safety, again I say—IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!

This world is full of dangers and hardships. Are there wonderful realities along the way? Of course! With a grateful attitude, I could list a million blessings in my life on this planet. But there is only One person where safety is found—Jesus. And there is only One place where we will experience perfect peace, no more tears and where “sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 35)—Heaven.

The Psalms continually reveal the world as an unsafe place. David cries out to God for help so many times in so many high tense situations. Over and over again he finds God to be his only safe place. 

Psalm 54:4 “Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul [upholder of my life].”

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”                                                                                                 {G. Campbell Morgan says about this verse: “To cast the burden on Jehovah is not to be rid of it, but it is to find One who carries, sustains the burden-bearer and so the burden also, in a fellowship of love and might.”}

Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?”

Psalm 55:16-18 “As for me, I shall call upon God, And the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, And He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me.”

So maybe instead of “Be safe out there,” a better exhortation would be “May God be your Sustainer out there” or “Trust in God out there.” He is the sustainer of my life. I pray He is yours, too.

Scarcity vs. Bounty

There is a simplicity to following Jesus. No doubt, I have complicated matters with my flesh and stubborn will, but when I am alone with the Lord, He has a beautiful way of simplifying life. I am grateful for this.

I have recently been operating from a scarcity mentality. From wondering if I will have enough toilet paper in the house to wondering if God actually cares about my personal struggles here in Charlotte, NC. This scarcity mentality isn’t new to me. Deep inside there is a wound that God continues to patiently nurse for me—-the wound of thinking maybe God has dealt with me out of the leftovers or the little bit I have given Him to work with. And I know in my head this cannot be true. I read in God’s Word that actually, the opposite is true. 

Psalm 116:7 “Return to your rest, o my soul, for the Lord has dealt BOUNTIFULLY  with you.” 

Psalm 84:11 “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly,”

Psalm 13:6 “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt BOUNTIFULLY with me.”

Psalm 65:9-12 “You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; The stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth. You water its furrows abundantly, You settle its ridges, You soften it with showers, You bless it with growth. You have crowned the year with Your bounty, And Your paths/wagon tracks drip with fatness, The pastures of the wilderness drip, And the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.”  {This is one of my favorites. The wagon tracks He has laid for me will provide more than I need! I want to walk in His tracks.}

He is not a God who holds back good to His children. He doesn’t measure out His gifts for us, afraid of running out. He is not worried we won’t have enough or be enough. He doesn’t look at our circumstances and see what we are lacking and wonder how He will work with us. He is more than enough. We are His children, and He takes good care of us.

I wrote a prayer after reading these verses and sitting in the truth of who God is. 

“Lord, help us keep on Your path, trusting You to work in Your way, at Your time, and for our good. Amen.”

It’s simple. God has called me right here, and specifically, in this house a lot lately. The space between my feet is His place for me. I am not lacking any good thing. He has dealt bountifully with me. 

What are you looking forward to?

I remember those evening hours when we had a newborn baby in the house. That sick feeling in your stomach because you just weren’t sure how the night was going to go. Would they sleep? Would they be extra hungry? Would they be gassy? Would they just want their mama? Who knew?!? The heavy cloud of the unknown would settle on our house around 6:00pm, as the sun also began to slowly disappear. 

I have noticed a little bit of the evening “blues” during these Stay At Home days. But it isn’t so much that I don’t know how the night will go— I seem to be sleeping ok. It’s more that I know exactly what to expect the next day…and the day after that and after that and after that. And how much longer will things be like this? 

Monday I journaled some simple thoughts, and I wanted to share. Sometimes we feel like we have to be ALL on the “I trust God is good and is working even when I don’t understand” and any ounce of frustration means I don’t trust Him. And I just don’t believe that is true at all. The enemy tries to trip me up on this often. However, from my experience, God shows up so personally when I am able to begin my time with Him being honest about where I truly am. 

Here’s a peek into my journal:

“I get really ‘blue’ in the evenings, Lord. The thought of waking up to the same kind of day that I already know I don’t like is a downer. Another week of school at home. Another week of figuring out dinner every night. Another week of doing all the hard things—workouts, cleaning, laundry, keeping kids focused—and all without rewards or celebrations with people we love and enjoy being around.”

I went on to ask myself and the Lord—“How can I make this week fun for us?” (Fun is hard for me under normal circumstances, so I am extra challenged these Covid-19 days.) And I asked, “What can we look forward to?” Sidenote: Ruby asks this often. And lately, I just look at her like, Seriously—what am I looking forward to? Let me glance at my calendar…ummmm, nothing. Absolutely positively nothing. And I know that is being dramatic and negative, both of which come quite naturally for me, so I don’t actually say those words. I muster up something like…it’ll be fun to go for the 700th walk in the neighborhood this week.  

Then, I read my ADORE devotion by Sarah Hagerty, which I highly recommend!! She says, “God leans in to reach us in the midst of what we are tempted to resent.”  And she challenged me to “Look for God tucked away in my circumstances.”  And it hit me—-THIS IS WHAT I CAN LOOK FORWARD TO!! God showing up in my circumstances that I don’t particularly care for. 

So I prayed, “Lord, Please show up as tender and gentle with me today and open my eyes to see You!  To experience You fully.”

And I got up with an expectant heart for God in my day. And you know what? I sensed Him several specific times and thanked Him for being near and helping me take notice. We always have something to look forward to when we walk with the Lord! Even during a global pandemic. 3B49DF4F-E517-4543-AD56-34742716A765.jpg

Shelter in God

I clearly remember laying in bed and unloading on Josh many of the questions surrounding my mom’s death. I wasn’t expecting him to give me answers and fix anything, but unloading was helpful for me. His reply was sympathetic and caring, while at the same time clear and sure—“These are God’s things, Kristy.” The things I didn’t know and wanted to know could not be known by me. Would I be able to accept that?

I have also asked lots of questions surrounding this Covid-19 global pandemic. Why did this happen just as my kids and I hung up our homeschool hats? Did China know what was happening? Would they have willingly let this out to harm the world? Can the government be trusted to tell the truth? Is this as serious as they make it out to be? Should we wear masks when we go out? What will the economic downfall be? Will Covid-19 come back in the fall and even worse? What if Josh gets it? What if I get it? Will we go to church in a large group any time this summer? And more and more and more and more…..and mostly with no answers except “These are God’s things, Kristy.” I don’t need to have any answers to all of the questions. 

I see a spiritual illustration being lived out every single day of these of less than desirable circumstances. The world is broken. This is no place to find stability or a strong, predictable foundation. I hope many will see the vanity in trying to do such a thing. And boy are lots of people trying. “Just stay home!” How long, though? There will still be cancer and heart attacks and strokes or a brain aneurysm. None of those things are going away and can find you “safely” in your home under our “Shelter at Home” order. There will still be car accidents, freak accidents, and plane crashes. Death is real. No one is guaranteed a long, safe, healthy life on this earth. BUT for those who believe in Jesus—who have recognized that their sin separates them from God and who have turned to Jesus for salvation, these people will live forever in heaven. And heaven is a perfect place with no more death, no more tears, no more heartbreak, no more social distancing. It will be amazing. We can’t live in fear. We can’t sit in our houses and have our groceries delivered forever. For a while? Sure. For a season to help our health care system keep up with the sick people that need them? Absolutely. But in all of our efforts, there has to be a resting in God as sovereign and omnipotent. 

So though most of the time I end my questions with my own answer, “I don’t know,” what I do know is that God knows. And I also know that during this “Shelter in Place” order, I have had plenty of time to think about God as my true shelter. He is a peaceful place to find rest. He is the answer to the root of most of those questions I just asked—that root being fear of the unknown, anxieties about the future.

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 11:1 In the Lord I have taken shelter.

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my high ridge, my stronghold, my deliverer. My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter, my shield, the horn that saves me, and my refuge.

Psalm 18:30 The one true God acts in a faithful manner; the Lord’s promise is reliable; he is a shield to all who take shelter in him.

Psalm 27:5 For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity;He will hide me under the cover of His tent;He will set me high on a rock.

Psalm 31:19 How great is your favor, which you store up for your loyal followers! In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.

Psalm 31:20 You hide them in the protection of Your presence;You conceal them in a shelter from the schemes of men,from quarrelsome tongues.

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good! How blessed is the one who takes shelter in him!

Psalm 36:7 How precious is your loyal love, O God! The human race finds shelter under your wings.

Psalm 62:8 Trust in him at all times, you people! Pour out your hearts before him! God is our shelter!

Psalm 64:10 The godly will rejoice in the Lord and take shelter in him. All the morally upright will boast.

Psalm 73:28 But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.

Psalm 118:8 It is better to take shelter in the LORD than to trust in people.

Psalm 119:114 You are my shelter and my shield;I put my hope in Your word.

Normal-ish.

Today felt normal. I got up, read my bible and prayed, took a shower and got dressed in real clothes with a tiny bit of make-up and headed to Target. I had to stock up on some basic things because our power was out for two days at the beginning of the week after bad storms came through. We needed milk and eggs, bread, all condiments, cheese, toilet paper, paper towels, dog food and quite a few other things. The next normal thing I did was go through the carwash, which was amazing. And then I filled my gas tank up. I didn’t particularly need gas, but I wanted to fill my tank and just be normal. I came home, the kids helped me unload our groceries and then I did the next things that are normal to me—cleaning toilets and vacuuming and mopping and washing dishes, enlisting the kids to help me all along the way. It was a normal morning, and I am grateful for it. {I say it was normal…I did repeat to myself off and on while I was out, “just don’t touch your face, just don’t touch your face, just don’t touch your face.”}

Then, I went with Ruby on a drive, which is NOT normal for me. I can hardly take it. She did just fine, but she doesn’t love to drive and doesn’t want to drive right now.  She knows she has to learn, and she’d rather have me with her than Josh. And with so much less traffic, these really are the best times to teach her. I plan to take her tomorrow morning also. I may have to give myself a pep talk to do it, but I will take her! 

It’s been many days of mostly staying home now. I have decided to stop keeping up with the exact number—it was getting depressing. I would say I am doing ok with the time at home, and I am hopeful things will be different soon. I am proud of my kids during this season. They are so resilient and seem to be adjusting to their disappointments and the new schedule. I pray for them a lot. I know my struggles—the inner frustrations, the emotions, the unknowns. And I know they also have struggles, and I pray that the Lord will meet them where they are and help them moment by moment. I am not a “Pollyana Mama.” I am very honest with my kids. They know when I am struggling. Take the two days of no power in the house at the begging of this week. Some moms would make this fun and pull out candles and boast of a candlelit dinner, blah, blah, blah. Josh tried to encourage us in this mindset, and I just looked at him. “I will light candles so I can see my food, but I am not happy about it. All of this is stupid.” He is way more optimistic than I am naturally. And he has tried hard to call out the good things about being home, which makes me want to stand firm on my “YOU CAN’T MAKE ME LIKE THIS” attitude. After our “candlight dinner,” we were all sitting in the living room with candles lit and camping lights positioned just so. One of the kids opened up about their frustrations, and I heard doubt in her voice. “We are pretty good people, so why would this happen? And if we do all the right things and things like this still happen, what’s the point?”  It opened up a great conversation. An honest conversation. And one that will keep going. Life isn’t easy. We often are given rough paths to walk, and we (hopefully) find God to be the faithful one.

The One that truly doesn’t change.

The One that can be trusted fully.

The One that can handle our questions and doubts.

The One that leads us to truth.

And as I reminded this child of truths I have leaned upon over my life, I was encouraged. God is faithful. He doesn’t promise a perfect life, but He promises to never leave us. He is close to the brokenhearted. He holds all things together. We can rest in Him. Even when we can’t see what He is doing, He is always working, always aware and always in perfect control. Even in the middle of stay at home orders while the world faces a global pandemic. Even when the power goes off. God is The Light, no matter how dark it feels. I pray you sense the warmth of the light of His presence today. He is with you.

Don’t be like a mule. or like me.

For several days in a row a verse kept popping in my mind. I mentioned it to Josh and just said I didn’t want to be like a stubborn mule and not come near to God during this difficult time. I didn’t actually take the time to sit and open my Bible to find the exact verse, but evidently God wanted to be sure I heard Him speak to me about this particular verse. I woke up on my birthday and started a study through the Psalms. The first chapter of the book I read had a closing challenge to read Psalm 32 several times and let God speak to me. Imagine my feeling of being SEEN and KNOWN when I got to the verse I had been thinking about: Psalm 32: 9 “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trapping include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.” 

See, I was a bit like a toddler in my heart. A stubborn toddler with her arms folded tightly, her feet stomping over and over and her head turned away from the plate of broccoli her father is asking her to try. Maybe she even defiantly said, “NO!” If she doesn’t see the broccoli or look at her father then she won’t have to actually taste the broccoli or interact with the person looking at her, waiting on her. Maybe the plate will magically disappear and maybe her father will walk away and forget all about that nasty broccoli. 

In my scenario, I was not truly accepting that my kids were back home and that school books and paper and messes would be a part of our every day life again. I was kicking and screaming that THIS LESSON OF SPENDING TIME WITH KIDS AND SLOWING DOWN TO ENJOY LIFE was not my lesson to learn. I know these things, God. I do! I have lived the counter cultural pace of life, choosing to sit down at dinner as a family for years, not giving our calendar away to sports, discipling my kids day after day and year after year from morning til night. I was clear with God that maybe He wanted to tell me something else, but I was not going to take the bite of broccoli that was seeing the benefits of slowing down and having the kids back at home. 

But even in my audacity of telling God what I don’t need to know, the Lord gently reminded me He is God and knows my heart better than I know my heart. I used Psalm 32:1-7 to lead me through a time of confession and dependence on Him. Then, as I kept reading, The Lord reminded me that in this time He is my hiding place (Ps.32:7). He reminded me that He instructs me and teaches me in the way I should go,and His eye is on me (Ps.32:8). He reminded me to NOT turn away from Him in stubborn rebellion, but to trust Him and know that His lovingkindness surrounds me. I can be glad and shout for joy because of my relationship with God—no matter the circumstances I find myself in (Ps.32:9-11).  

It was a sweet time with my Savior. His compassion for me and His patience with me is mind blowing. He is a loving Father who lets me pitch my fit, but He stays close by me waiting on me to submit to His way. I am so thankful for my Heavenly Father. 

And even with that wonderful time with the Lord, the next morning’s prayer was “I don’t know. I don’t know how to do this. Wake up, get ready to go nowhere. Wake up and stay home and oversee school work—THE very thing I gave up this year and found so much freedom in. I don’t know how to do this, Lord. I do not want my days to look like this at all. Please, please help me.”

And He did. Psalm 35 says, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” I needed some inner help before I could go into the day and actually do the day. I read G. Campbell Morgan’s commentary about this chapter. He says, “When the pressure of circumstances is such as to create the sense of weakness to such an extent that we feel in danger of collapse, then we need reinforcement within, stronger than the pressure from without.”  And that is what God gives us when we turn to Him and tell our soul that our salvation comes from Him alone. 

Coming to you on day 20 of Quarantine from the Dorminy House in Charlotte, NC.image

43rd Birthday!

Move over, December birthday whiners!!!! There’s a new kid in town–the quarantined birthday recipients.

Today is my 43rd birthday. I am on day 17 of quarantine/social distancing. 31 more days of our state mandate to stay at home except for essential business. 

I woke up, gave myself a pep talk about getting out of bed to start this day, and then remembered it was my birthday and was able to put my feet on the floor. I made my bed and then opened my door to go get the coffee going. And I was surprised to see that Mack had worked hard while I slept!

IMG_0338IMG_0339IMG_0340IMG_0341

I cannot believe how amazing of a kid he is! He thought ahead and snuck my gift wrapping bag into his room earlier in the day so he would have all the supplies he needed. I love him so much. What a thoughtful guy.  Josh saw it when he came out of the closet and said, “Yeah, happy birthday, Kristy. It hardly seems enough with all this that Mack did.” And we laughed. Then, Josh and I were both in the kitchen and he had to write a check. He looked at me and asked, “What’s the date today?” And then he caught himself, and we started laughing again. I laughed really hard. He didn’t find it quite as amusing. But let’s just say, Mack outdid himself. 

I had a great walk this morning and sensed the Lord’s presence so near. I saw several birds with food in their mouths as they hopped along the road and flew into nearby trees. I thought about God’s Word that clearly tells us God takes care of the sparrow, and we are of more value than they are. He sees me. Every step I take. Every emotion I feel. Every disappointment I face. Every need I have. Every fear I encounter. Every dream I dream. He has seen my whole life before a day of it even began. He cares for me and reminds me not to worry about anything—and that’s a great thing to think about on my quarantined 43rd birthday.