He is Lord Jesus Christ. We are loved, justified, chosen.
Thank You, Lord, for the cross—for dying and taking the sentence of death for my selfishness, mistakes, and foolishness. I’m so sorry for my sin. I’m so grateful for Your sacrifice! Thank You for calling me to live. Restore me that I might reveal Your love to others and glorify You always. Amen.
It’s day four of “remote learning.” (Must mean that it’s Thursdayish.) At first I think my kids thought this would be a breeze since they already know how all the remotes work in our house.
Imagine their shock when teachers showed up on their Chromebooks Monday and started talking to them about math, language arts, history and science! It was as disorienting and discouraging as dying without keep inventory on in Minecraft. Or so I’m told.
I seriously feel for my kids. After three years of homeschooling, they went back into a school this year. They had to adjust to longer days, stricter bathroom times, and being dressed before class started.
Now they’re doing public school at home, and it’s confusing. Does one need to shower and dress for Zoom classes or is a shirt off the floor good enough? If you understand the lesson, can you skip the lecture (one of my kids says yes)? Is class participation now graded on how many times you hit the raise hand icon, type in the chat, or unmute yourself?
Whatever the answers, public homeschooling is an adventure. Sort of like being inside the animal habitats at the zoo instead of a safe distance from the wild creatures. But even as we navigate unfamiliar territory in our own homes, God is the same. His constancy is my comfort. And I’m sure we’ll figure out this remote learning thing just in time for summer break.
When my youngest daughter was in preschool, I applied for the job of middle school choir director at her school. I really wanted the part-time job. I mean, most people would, right? Boys with changing voices plus girls with unpredictable moods. Add some 12-14 year old angst and high-brow choral music, and voila. Magic, I tell you.
Before the interview V and I were playing. I told her I was nervous about my up-coming meeting. Right away she looked up, said, “I have a song for that,” and started to sing.
God is with me. God is with me. God is with me wherever I go.
With the humility, simplicity and confidence of a 4 year old, God sliced through my anxiety. What was I worried about? He’s here! He is in control of everything!
I did get the job. It was blessedly a short-term substitute position. I only had to endure, uh, I mean, enjoy it for a few months before their director returned.
If you’re feeling anxious, remember: God is with you! And maybe thank Him if you aren’t in a small room trying to inspire young teens to sing three hundred year old music. Or snazzy arrangements of pop songs from the 70’s, which to the students is exactly the same thing.
The Bible Tells Me So
God is with me: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” —Jesus Christ
God is with me: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.’ ” —God
God is with me: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” —Matthew and Isaiah
God is with me, wherever I go: “You know when I sit down and when I rise up … You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.” —King David
And so we begin week 59 of quarantine. What? This is only week THREE?
Last week as I was writing about solitude, I kept getting interrupted by my teenager, my dog, my husband, and my tween. Perhaps like me, you are quarantined but far from alone.
If this sounds familiar, I’m here to help. Here are 3 easy tips to get some time to yourself:
Do the dishes. Nothing makes my family scatter faster than the magic words “You’re excused from the table.” A meal ends and *poof* my kids put their dishes in the kitchen and disappear. For a couple of days this bothered me. No one was helping me! Then I realized, hey no one … and stopped there. I smiled, listened to the quiet, and filled the dishwasher my way. Good times!
Invite your family to watch Pride and Prejudice with you. I suggest the six part BBC mini-series with Colin Firth—a version surpassed only by the book itself. Last year when we homeschooled, I had the girls watch clips of it. They were not impressed. So we sent them to public school. Now that they’re back home, I just hint at turning on P&P, and they think of 41 other things they need to do right now. I figure this will be good for at least six hours of solitude! Yes, I know they may still interrupt, it’s just an illusion of solitude after all. Still, pop the corn. When they show up, I’ll pat the seat on the couch next to me and look pathetic. Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, and I will be alone again in a flash.
Suggest playing games you always win. At my house, before I can finish saying Boggle, everyone scurries back into their hidey-holes. If I catch someone trying to talk to me soon after that, I just wave a deck of cards and innocently inquire, “Hearts?” FYI, we do play family games, but we don’t have one we all love. This can be frustrating as a mom, but for the next few weeks, I’m going to see their dislike of “my” games as a win.
If these strategies don’t work for you, I hope they’ve at least sparked some ideas. Pay attention to when you’re alone and capitalize on instead of complaining about it.
Lastly, here’s a brief list of things to avoid like the Coronavirus if you’re desperate for alone time:
Doing something you enjoy.
Having an idea you want to remember.
Talking or texting with a friend.
Listening to a podcast.
Going to the bathroom.
On the other hand, if you get lonely, these are surefire methods to get attention immediately.
Parents, it’s rough in here. But God’s got us. We’re gonna make it through week three!
The Bible Tells Me So
Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.
“He …” God the Father, and Jesus the Good Shepherd (see John 10:14-18).
“ … tends His flock …” He’s not vaguely aware of us; He’s actively caring for our needs.
“ … like a shepherd …” One of the lowliest jobs, the one given to youngest sons like David in 1 Kings, yet God humbles Himself to take this title.
“He gathers the lambs …” Those who can’t walk or keep up aren’t left behind; God Himself lifts up His physical and spiritual young.
“ … in His arms …” Arms are Biblical symbols of strength. God holds us and our troubles in His more-than-capable, well-toned arms.
“ … and carries them close to His heart …” We aren’t slung over a shoulder or held at arms length. God snuggles us close to His heart. Warm. Safe. Loved.
“He gently leads those …” God guides without harshness, shame, or throwing His weight around. Gentleness is strength under control.
“ … that have young.” God’s willing and able to shepherd us parents. May we be humble enough to listen and rely on Him completely.
In his press conference on Sunday, March 22 (which is like 7 months ago in Coronavirus time), Governor Jared Polis said:
“There is no enforcement authority here. There is a far greater enforcement authority in these matters, and his name [pause for emphasis] is The Grim Reaper.”
I admit in my naïveté in that for a fraction of a second, I thought our Colorado Governor might refer to God. Obviously his response was much more creative.
However he also showed some naïveté. A 3 minute study of humanity reveals people don’t exactly take death seriously. Not on a day-to-day basis. We kinda think it’s something that will happen to the people in Pueblo or maybe even to our neighbor, but not to us.
And while death is real and serious business, personifying it as a means of motivation is just silly, not sobering.
COVID-19 is a deadly virus—I’ll resist quoting statistics that will be obsolete in 10 minutes—but I have Good News.
“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” —Jesus Christ
Jesus has a grip on the Grim Reaper. We can rely on a higher Higher Authority—the One Who died and now lives. Because of Him, I can obey the government out of love and respect, not fear.
The Bible Tells Me So
A Look at Hebrews 2
There is not just hope in Christ, be we can be free from the fear of death—you know, that funny guy with the scythe. In the event you have a few extra minutes, I invite you to do a quick study with me in Hebrews.
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. —Hebrews 2:14, 15, 17(NASB)
“ … since the children …” that is, humanity, the people God created.
“ … share in flesh and blood …” have physical bodies
“ … He Himself also partook of the same, …” Jesus was conceived by a virgin, born in a manger, lived in Nazareth, was raised by a carpenter along with brothers and sisters, and died on a cross.
“ … that through death He might render powerless …” destroy, make useless, nullify
“ … him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Satan has been neutralized, overcome, and superseded.
“ … and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” He released people from their life-long fear of death, a terror that held them captive.
“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren …” human, not poetically personified, but actual flesh and blood.
“ … to make propitiation …” to gain and regain the favor of God, to atone for humanity’s sin, to be the scapegoat (merriam-webster.com).
“ … for the sins of the people.” He took the guilty verdict and capital punishment for our wrong-doing.
Wow! I can just see the Grim Reaper menacingly waving his dulled scythe. Jesus is resurrected! Satan is defeated. And even in a pandemic, we can live without fear of dying—the Bible tells me so.
Years ago I went through an extremely lonely season. My first husband died in a ski accident at Keystone, and I suddenly became a 26 year old widow consumed with grief. I was a social misfit, especially at church.
In those dark days, I felt isolated. One night in particular, nothing brought relief from my excruciating loneliness. Looking back, I understand those were moments of actual faith.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1
During this season of distancing and quarantine, we actually are isolated. What an opportunity to exercise our faith. And if I’m using the phrase “opportunity to exercise,” these are extreme circumstances!
As we mourn the lost opportunities we’re facing, we remember God is here. In the moments when He doesn’t feel close, we practice what Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones called “raw faith.” We hope and believe tenaciously. We tell ourselves the truth.
If you have time, and right now you might have more than usual, I encourage you to read through Hebrews 11 and 12. Let’s walk through these days together and in truth. Even in isolation, we are not alone.
Sunday, this was my local grocery store’s dairy section:
The next morning, I stepped outside and heard birds singing. Immediately Matthew 6ish came to mind.
A few minutes later, I looked it up:
”Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” —Matthew 6:26
“Look” … Go to the window or step outside. See for yourself. The birds are still alive out there.
“… at the birds of the air …” Unlike most of us, they are essentially homeless, roosting at night in trees or bushes, building temporary nests for their eggs. They don’t have pantries or freezers or even holes to stash worms and bugs.
In fact, Jesus makes it very clear “that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns.” Their food supply is utterly out of their control. Maybe the reality is, ours is too?
“ … yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.” How about that? He feeds them because He cares for them. Not because they’ve earned it.
“Are you …” Just when we thought we could stay philosophical about these birds, Jesus makes it personal.
“ … not worth much more than they?” Yes, God values you more. Every morning and evening I fill the dog bowl with food. Each day, however, I spend time baking and cooking for my husband and children. I love my dog, but I value my family more!
And that’s how God feels about us. Even with empty store shelves and online back-orders, God IS caring for us.
Look … the birds believe. Will we?
”Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ … for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. … So do not worry about tomorrow.” (See Matthew 6:31-34).
Wayne and Melissa Lancaster are thrilled by the government guidelines to stay six feet away from other people.
When twin daughters Lori and Lana turned 12, the drama in the house became untenable. “At first when they’d get upset about something really important like the lag-time on their devices, we tried to comfort and connect with them,” says mom Melissa. “We even balanced stressful times with fun family outings and activities. Since the President’s recommendation, however, we simply keep our distance. It’s made parenting much, much easier.”
The couple is not alone as just a few doors down the Martinez family reported their boys are fun to live with now that they are on their own floor of the house most of the day. Instead of family dinners, Annie Martinez simply puts plates of food on the landing leading down to the family basement. The 9 and 11 year old boys reportedly are building a rocket with legos that will deliver desperately needed COVID-19 therapies around the Denver Metro Area.
The Lancaster twins, who were last seen surrounded by bottles of nail polish and slime, aren’t trying anything quite so ambitious. When asked exactly what his daughters are doing during this crisis, Wayne simply said, “I dunno,” and mumbled something like “I don’t care” unintelligibly under his breath.