Life as we knew it just a month ago has taken on a new normal for not just our country, but around the globe. Shutdowns and restrictions have thrown states, cities, households and daily activity into chaos. Something I never dreamed I’d experience is seeing churches close and turn to online streaming of their services.
The most common evidence of change comes with a six foot rule. Television reporters and anchors allow distance between them and everyone is advised to do likewise. Now that we have a mandatory stay home ordinance (with exceptions), I’ve thought about the six foot rule in a completely different perspective. I wonder how many people have been distancing themselves from God before the Coronavirus made an appearance. Have we instituted a spiritual six foot rule, holding God at bay unless we find ourselves in need?
This morning in my quiet time, I realized my mind and thoughts have focused more on the physical restrictions imposed on me, and I’ve allowed current political rhetoric to steal my peace. My spiritual pulse was being threatened by marathon television reports, negative social media, and lack of human connection. This morning I broke the spiritual distancing and brought God close. I felt His presence, His touch, and the breathing of His Holy Spirit.
Right now it is necessary to be cautious and we must practice preventative habits to help us stay healthy even in our own homes. We clean doorknobs as well as countertops, and wash our hands repeatedly. Let’s also remember to practice spiritual closeness with God. Read and memorize Scripture, spend additional time in prayer, watch your church service online, and keep a thankful journal.
We will emerge from the virus restrictions and when we do, our spiritual condition can be stronger if we don’t keep God six feet away.
Growing up I never liked taking tests in school, especially in math. no matter how long or hard I studied, when it came time to test I would freeze. A knot would form in the pit of my stomach and my mouth became a desert.
My reaction to taking tests continued throughout school. I finally received a diploma (GED), 33 years after dropping out of school in my junior year, but my aversion to those pesky tests stayed with me. I envied kids who breezed through them, received high scores and made the honor roll consistently. I admire older adults who return to get a degree, knowing tests were in store for them. Getting my driver’s license was a traumatic event in my life. Sure I passed after two attempts, and I’m a good driver, but the written test was my nemesis.
Now in my seventies, and having been a Christian a good number of years, I am truly aware that testing is something I can’t get away from. God tests His children. He’s not so much concerned about the circumstances we face as He is about our response to it. When life happens in the form of crisis in our family, on the job, or with our health, the way we respond reveals how much we’ve learned from God during our walk with Him. Recent events the world is dealing with, namely the corona virus, feels like another test to me. The knot in my stomach appears when I think of my family overseas being quarantined due to someone in their compound testing positive. My mouth goes dry remembering my two new great grandbabies born just two months ago and so susceptible to germs. I remember God’s command to be strong and courageous, and His promises to never leave me. He’s watching for my faith response to trust him with those I love so deeply (I am). He’s teaching me to replace fear with faith, terror with trust, and panic with peace…His peace (which drives out fear).
We have no idea how long this virus will linger, who or how many will contract it, or exactly where it will show up next.
Today I choose to trust and conduct my life by faith in a God who loves me more than I could ever hope to be loved. Today I choose to pray for those who have been stricken, caregivers, and first responders. I will pray for my family and friends, and stay in the Word, resting on His promises. As I sip my tea, I’ll pray to pass the test of choosing what is best…trusting God!
A daily prayer from my lips before I rise each day is simply to ask God for strength to meet the challenges of the day. Sometimes I need my prayer answered just to get my arthritic joints out of bed. I depend on God’s strength rather than my own because the older I get the more uncooperative my body becomes. It’s certainly not wrong to ask God for something for myself.
On January 1st this year, however, I thought how amazing it would be to focus a daily prayer on one person. I asked God whom I might choose and finally settled on her. I found a blank journal and after preparing a cup of tea, I began writing a prayer for this person each morning. Doing this has been such an inspiring thing for me personally. I think about how I pray for myself before getting up and then I pray for my friend in a similar way. She may not deal with arthritis but her health, body, challenges and work all need prayer.
I smile as I add pages to her journal because she has no idea I’m doing it. I try to imagine her reading what I’ve written on any given day and wonder how she will receive my prayers. My heart pours words onto the page when I know she’s hurting, or I sing words of joy knowing she is rejoicing. I’ve prayed God’s Word for her, inserting her name instead of person pronouns. At the end of this year, New Year’s Eve, I will reveal the journal and present it to her, excited to see her reaction.
Writing prayers for my friend has been a commitment to prayer. It has been a testimony to my faith because I firmly believe God has and will continue to honor my effort to be faithful in praying. January 1st next year I will pray for another recipient and continue this endearing method of praying for a friend. I treasure the short amount of time it takes to write a one page prayer asking God to give a friend strength for the morning, every morning for a year.
Many jokes and yes, even sermons, have been told since we entered the year 2020. Seeing clearly, having greater focus, and the most common, 20/20 vision, permeates conversations everywhere in regard to goals for the coming months. My journal is no different because I have discussions with God written down where I’ve asked for those very things. We all want to move ahead being able to get a glimpse around the corner of our future days, months and years. We’d like to put things in order, dispose of some, and enjoy our journey.
I couldn’t sleep tonight because my mind reflected on how January has started my year and the shift my life is taking. It seems my corners keep moving. I’m no different from you in watching the kids become adults and their kids growing, then another generation begins. All mine are grown and have adult children of their own, and some have babies as well. As I tried to fall asleep I kept seeing each of their households as a corner of my life. Part of me lives in each corner and will carry on when I’m gone. I suddenly realized while tossing and turning, that they are busy taking care of their todays, trying to focus on their futures just as I did when they were young.
They each are turning their own corners; putting kids through college, building a life, seeing babies being born, and excitedly praying for a glimpse of what’s ahead. I can watch and offer guidance if/when needed, but I must leave them to making their own decisions, setting their lives on a journey they must live. They will be fine because they have the Lord leading them. I believe they are ready.
I look at my corner; my marriage, writing, ministry and where I’m headed. I think about my husband’s and my health, my next book (plus future ones), and how God wants to use me in my church. I’m ready as well. Time doesn’t stand still and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to either. Whatever is around my corner of life will come with God’s approval. Whatever it might look like, God will be there with me. When I’m no longer here I will have left part of me behind.
Are you approaching a corner of life ready for what’s around it? Trust God to guide and help you move ahead.
I’ve never understood why great ideas and word treasures come to me when my brain is dealing with business, crisis, and a myriad of things which have to be handled, NOW! It happens when I have no place to jot down notes or I’m exhausted and too worn out to deal with even one more thing.
My brain stays in overdrive far too long during holiday bustle. Parties, planning, and people I want to spend time with fill my calendar. Business, bills and boring paperwork make me weary. My brain gets to a point where it hoards things, filling every nook and cranny of my little gray cells. Those ideas for a great scene in my next book get stuffed behind the reminder to send thank-you cards. A new character gets trapped among the service repair appointments I scheduled. People ask about book three and I respond by pointing to my head and utter, “Next month I’ll get it out of here and onto the page.” I mean it. That’s my plan.
My busy brain really has been working on character development, plot, and scenes. I know how the story begins. Before the holidays hit I listened to the messages I felt were coming from God concerning the next book. I know what He wants me to share with readers concerning legacy, love, and letting Him guide us. I just need to quiet my brain and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me as I create and bring characters to life, and continue down the path He has them on.
Busy brains aren’t always the most productive ones. Occasionally we need to slow things down in order to hear from God. If we don’t do it voluntarily, God may step in and place us in a position where we are forced to look upward. The other day I began feeling like either a cold or allergy attack (drat that cedar), was coming on. Immediately my thought was, I don’t have time to be sick. I took an allergy pill and cut out a few things I had planned. As I write this I’m feeling better. I do believe the Holy Spirit is sorting through my brain and bringing forward, the ideas and character scenes I need to be working on. My cup of tea is at hand and my brain has quieted.
Is your brain racing, trying to juggle everything you throw at it? Maybe you need to slow it down and allow the Holy Spirit to organize things.
In past years I have sent Christmas cards by the armful, painstakingly writing a short, personal note in each one. Our family also received lovely, meaningful cards from many friends, family, and business associates. Through the years, mostly due to the rise in postage, email and other speedy ways of communicating, the number of Christmas cards has dwindled considerably. It’s not that friends have disappeared, but simply because they found better ways to say Merry Christmas.
One group of people still sends me cards with personal messages, and I call them my “circle of friends.” They surround me with love and encouragement throughout the year and take time during the holidays to write heartfelt thoughts in a card, affix a stamp and mail it. You see, they know how much I enjoy receiving cards. They know me! They encircle me with support, lift me up when I’m down, and become my cheerleaders as I plunge into writing another book. This intimate circle of caring hearts commits to pray for me. My first book would not have been finished without their support, and the second one would not have gotten started.
Having a circle of friends means I am part of their lives too. I commit to being there for them as they are for me! How about you? Do you have a circle of special friends in your life? It doesn’t just happen, you must cultivate those friendships. Be the friend to them you want them to be to you.
A circle doesn’t have a stopping point or corner. It keeps going around and around, touching each person. I once used a hoola hoop to demonstrate how a circle of connected people can help and support one another. We joined hands after I placed the hoop over one arm. I told the circle to pass the hoop around without letting go of their hands. The hoop then made its way around the circle as each person maneuvered it over their body, aided by the person next to them. Joined hands manipulated the hoop and one by one, we moved it full circle. We stayed connected even when some had difficulty and thought they couldn’t do it. We finished and held our joined hands high with the hoop dangling on my other arm, having made it successfully around the circle.
We can do the same in our journey through life as we walk the path God has for each of us. Legacy’s Path!
A delightful lady approached me at a book signing and asked where I found the idea for writing “The Estate Sale.” I shared my short version of how I’d always enjoyed attending such sales, and being a writer, my creative juices took it from there. We laughed and then I realized she wanted the real story.
Everyday experiences provide a stream where I pan for nuggets to build a story. When I journal I take note of certain experiences of each day or week and mark them as possible story nuggets. I also jotted down words I felt were attached to the sale. When I journaled about a particular estate sale I enjoyed visiting, I added inheritance, legacy, tragedy, and love, to the entry. These became nuggets I needed to form my story many years later.
People I’ve met through the years become character nuggets. One person’s appearance or mannerisms, another’s quirks or temperament, may show up in a future story. I pay attention to how people react (myself included), in circumstances of life. I tend to jot down these things lest I lose them in the current of life.
The “Estate Sale” formed gradually, beginning as a short story and then sat in my file drawer several years. When I joined my small critique group, I needed something to read and have critiqued, so I pulled it out. I knew then this was going to become a story with purpose. One year later it was published.
Book 2, Legacy’s Path, continues exploring paths of the original characters, while bringing them in contact with new personalities who will be transformed by the legacy of Mary Ludwig. I pull more nuggets from my journal and God gives me the purpose and message He wants people to have. The real nugget I hope to share through my writing is that of God’s Truth. It shines brightly in “The Estate Sale,” as it does in “Legacy’s Path.” You see, it’s not simply my idea. It’s God’s.