Category Archives: Truly His

When Lockdown Happens

Last Thursday, I pulled into the pick-up line at the end of the school day – as I always do. And my daughter walked to the car – as she always does. But something was different.

Something was wrong.

She opened the car door as the words came pouring out of her mouth.

“Did you hear what happened? Did they tell you?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“No. I haven’t heard anything. What happened? Are you okay?”

requip 1 mg 21 film tablet Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“The school went on lockdown.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

“Why? Is everyone okay?”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

The words poured from her mouth as she explained what happened in full detail. It began with an announcement over the PA system. The words spoken over the PA were few, but the reactions the words caused were swift.

“We are on lockdown. This is not a drill. We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

Silence. Movement. Waiting. Silence. Tears.

My daughter went on to describe how the teacher locked the door, turned off the lights and ushered everyone to the corner of the room.

He stood in front of them.

They had been through this before. They knew what to do. Only this time was different. This time it was not a drill.

Kids were crying.

She knew her teacher was scared by the look in his eyes, but he remained calm – as heroes do. Reminding them of the importance of their silence.

My daughter said she knew she had to be quiet, so she let the tears fall from her eyes, down her cheeks, but did not make a peep for fear that someone outside of the room may hear.

Someone accidentally dropped his crutch. More crying. Would this bring someone to their room?

In the middle of her telling me this story, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, “Mom. I have never been so afraid in all of my life.”

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

What do I say? How do I respond?

“I’m so sorry, honey. I can’t imagine how scary that had to have been. Then, what happened?”

After the lockdown was over, she was told there had been a fight close to the school and someone had a gun. As a precaution, the police told the schools in the surrounding areas they had to go on lockdown. She was told the altercation took place in a small, new neighborhood.

She said she spent the rest of the day wondering if that was our neighborhood. Wondering if her brother and I were okay. Wondering if I would be there to pick her up.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

My daughter and I spent the remainder of the car ride home talking about what happened. She vented. I listened.

For a few minutes that day – my daughter, her classmates, the teachers and staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

This is the reality that teachers, administrators, students and countless others who work in the school system face.

These people are heroes.

My daughter’s teacher had no idea what was happening. He didn’t know who was out there. He pushed the kids into the corner and stood in front of them. Ready to give his life for theirs.

These people are heroes.

When I picked up the girls from the elementary school, I found out the same thing had happened there.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Another one of my daughters described how they went into the cubby room and she held the hand of the friend across from her while two friends on each side of her snuggled in. They all grabbed coats and covered their bodies for extra protection.

As she recounted her experience, it took everything for me to not break down.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

For a few minutes that day – my daughters, their classmates, the teachers and the staff believed there was a chance their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, may be taken from them.

And then, on Sunday, I awoke to the news that not far from our house – four innocent people’s lives were taken at a Waffle House.

The killer was still on the loose.

I contemplated not going to church. Not sending my kids to school. What if that drill becomes a reality? What if?

And then I was reminded of what I am reminded of so often, I cannot live my life in fear. I cannot teach my children to live their lives in fear.

I have to be brave. We have to be brave.

We have to remain positive.

There are so many more good people than bad in the world.

I need to remember that. We need to remember that.

Thank you to all of you heroes out there.

Thank you to the school workers who go through these drills with the knowledge that someday it may not be a drill.

Thank you to the police officers who rush into these situations, ready to save lives – and possibly give their own.

These people are heroes.

Thankfully, there are so many more heroes out there than bad guys. This is what I hope to teach my children. This very possibly may not be the only time they hear the words, “We are on lockdown. This is not a drill.”

I hope it is, but it may not be.

Deep breaths. One. Two. Three.

Thank you, God, for these drills so that if the moment comes, these heroes know what to do. Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many people who are willing to take action. Thank you, God, for those who are willing to surrender their lives to save the lives of others.

Thank you, God, for surrounding us with so many heroes.

Thank you to the heroes in both of my children’s schools last Thursday. You did not know what was outside of your doors and you were ready to protect. To possibly give your lives – for my children.

Thank you. From the very bottom of my heart and with all of my being – Thank you.

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When Fear Takes Hold

Some people are afraid of bees. Others, of sharks. Some, of flying.

Abandonment. Rejection. Loneliness.

Growing old.

Failure. Change. Heights.

Losing a loved one.

Sickness.

Death.

The list is long, exhausting – and varies from person to person.

For some, the fear is like a siren that stops them in their tracks. It’s debilitating. It’s life-altering. It demands their course be corrected before they reach impending doom.  It keeps them locked in their home, afraid to step outside. It keeps them from getting on an airplane. It keeps them from trying something new.

For others, it’s a small whisper in their ear, warning them of potential danger. It comes and then it goes, like a gust of wind on a blustery day.

“Don’t swim too far out in the ocean. You’ve seen Jaws. You know what’s out there.”

“Don’t attempt that. You’ll never succeed.”

“Why would you want to change? Stay nice and comfortable where you are. You don’t know what exists on the other side.”

And for some, it is like a thorn in the side. A constant, gnawing feeling that some type of danger is lurking around the corner – waiting patiently for the right moment to strike. It’s a feeling in the pit that is carried around from day to day and just won’t go away.

There are many ways to describe it and many people who struggle with it.

Anxiety.And I am one of those people.

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I have always been a slightly anxious person. I have learned over the years how to deal with my anxiety. Usually, I realize I am being irrational and am able to work it out until the fear is gone. I have learned how to take many of my anxious thoughts captive and replace them with something fruitful.

Usually.

But not so much lately.

Since moving, I have found my anxiety bubbling to the surface more often usual.

In fact, in October, I had my second-ever panic attack.

I was at a lovely restaurant enjoying a delectable meal with family before heading to a concert. We had a sitter for the evening. My dad was in town. I had been looking forward to this night for a long time.

My food arrived. I began to eat. And as I was eating, an uncomfortable feeling started to well up inside of me. I found it more and more difficult to concentrate on the conversation (and it was a good one.) I felt sick to my stomach and itchy and was certain I must be allergic to something I was eating. In my mind, it was only a matter of minutes before my throat would close. I told everyone I thought I was having an allergic reaction (and I was convinced that I was.) The food was rushed away and off people went in search of some Benadryl.

I felt awful. And embarrassed.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized what had happened was not an allergic reaction at all, but was indeed a panic attack.

I am still not sure what brought it on, but I do know it was awful.

I know God gave us fear for a reason and that the fight-or-flight response in the proper situation is actually a good thing. Recognizing and avoiding potential harm is what keeps us and those we care for alive. If I see my toddler who can’t swim walking toward a pool without a life jacket on, I should be scared. This fear motivates me to jump out of my seat and save my child from jumping in. This fear saves my child from death. This is proper fear.

But sometimes, this fear – this anxiety – shows up at inappropriate times (like when you are at dinner with your family.) Sometimes, it revs up and gets stuck in overdrive. Sometimes, the fight-or-flight response has been turned on and just won’t turn off. And this can lead to all sorts of problems. Cortisol levels skyrocket. Sleep diminishes. Weight gain. Heart disease. Diabetes. Thyroid problems. Depression. Digestive problems. The list goes on…..

But that list isn’t what I have been worried about. Nope.

I’m not afraid of bees or sharks or flying or the effects of anxiety on my body.

What I am afraid of is a pandemic.

This is why I don’t like anything that has to do with zombies. It’s not so much that they are creepy dead guys who make horrible sounds and try to eat people (although I don’t like that either) – it’s the virus component of the fictional walking dead that scares me most and keeps me from tuning in to the movies, shows and books that so many love.

This is why I have never watched the movie ‘Contagion’, nor do I have any desire to. That plot line terrifies me.

And this fear of mine is what has been plaguing me for the past few weeks. The move increased my anxiety and the flu has kicked it into overdrive. This widespread influenza virus has awoken the anxiety-beast within.

It is a constant battle in my brain. With three out of our four children suffering from asthma and other lung issues, influenza is normally a rival of mine – but this year, it’s my arch enemy.

I keep attempting to turn it over to God. To let it go. I don’t want to be afraid. I want to trust. I need to trust.

But it just keeps popping up.

The only thing that seems to give me peace in these moments of fear and anxiety is if I remind myself that this is not our home. That in this world we are promised pain and suffering, but not in heaven. If I change my perspective from the here and now to the eternal, my anxiety diminishes. If I remember that we all have a time when we will die (this is inevitable) and if I remember that I do not know this time, but God does. If I remember that my children are actually HIS children and that He loves them so much more than even I do. If I remember that same thing about my husband – then my anxiety diminishes.

 

I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to worry about influenza.

I don’t want to be anxious.

I am trying not to watch the news, or read articles as much as possible. We are taking our elderberry extract and Oscillococcinum and a cocktail of other vitamins. When the kids come home from school, they change their clothes and hand washing is our new favorite past-time.

I am praying. Lots.

This is all I can do. The rest is out of my hands.

I trust in the goodness of God. I know He does not want me to be anxious. And I don’t want to be either.

And the crazy thing is that one of our daughters already tested positive for influenza this year. We all were put on Tamiflu  prophylactically and nobody else caught it. If someone else gets the flu, we would do the same thing again. God answered our prayers and Amelia was fine. My rational mind goes back to that and remembers there is nothing to be afraid of. And then I see something scroll across my newsfeed, or hear someone cough and the anxiety creeps back in.

If you get a chance, will you say a little prayer that my anxiety will dissipate? And if this year’s influenza virus has you all topsy-turvy and what-iffy, let me know and I will say a little prayer for you and your family, too.

I’m not afraid of bees or sharks or flying. And I’m hoping to add influenza to that list too.

 

 

 

 

 

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I Love Jesus, and Homosexuals, and Women at Abortion Clinics, and I Will Drink Starbucks Out of a Red Cup

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Have you ever been in a place of darkness in your life?  Where it feels like you have fallen to the bottom of a well?  You look up and see the sliver of light, but it seems so far away.  It seems impossible to reach as the walls are pressing in and the the darkness surrounds you.  You want desperately to climb out of it, but don’t know how.

I have been there.  I have been in that well.

One choice lead to another. That lead to another. And another.  And before I knew it, I was in the darkest hour of my life.

It was in this hour of darkness that God reached down to me.

This is the God I worship and love.  A God that reaches into the pit and with all of His love, and all of His mercy, shows a way out.

God is love.

When I first came out of this period of darkness, I would be comforted when I read about how He ministered to the people that the religious people of the time deemed unworthy of love.  He came to the earth in the form of man and showed love to the most broken people.

When I think of those “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets, that is what I think of. That is what Jesus did.  He loved the broken people.

And if He loved them, then He had to love me.  Right?

But some people did not like the way that Jesus loved others.  The people that He chose to interact with offended some.  The Pharisees and the Saducees, the religious leaders of the time, could not see who Jesus was because they were blinded by their laws and their rules.

The notion of who they believed Jesus would be, blinded them to who He really was.

God is love.

They believed He was supposed to be a great King who would ride in all of His glory striking down those who went against Him.

But instead, He was born in a manger.  He was not of wealth, or great social status.  He was the son of a carpenter.

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He was the son of a carpenter who befriended the lowest of the low.  He hung out with women, and not just any women.  Adulteresses and prostitutes.

He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well.  A woman that nobody would be seen with.

He called twelve men to follow Him intimately, as His disciples.  Fisherman.  Tax collectors.  Someone who He knew would betray Him with a betrayal that would lead to His death.  These are the men He broke bread with. These are the men whose feet He washed.  These people were not important people in their community. They were not the religious leaders in the church.

He healed people with leprosy, bleeding disorders and other ailments.

He loved all people.  Not just in word, but in action.

God is love.

John 8:3-11 states:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

This is Jesus.  This is God who came to earth. Fully man. Fully God.  This is the God who pulled me out of the well.

God is love.

As Christians, we are called to show the love of Christ to those around us.  As I mentioned before, remember those “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets that were popular in the 90s?  I realize I am completely dating myself, but let’s think about that.

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What would Jesus do?

Looks to me like He would love the people that the religious leaders of the time deem unworthy.  Looks to me like He would minister to the hurting.  Looks to me like He would enter into deep relationships with people and point them to the one who loves them most of all.

I wonder what people see when they see Christians today?  Do they see Jesus in us? Do we minister to people in their pain and suffering and point them to a God who loves them?

We are to love. God makes that perfectly clear.  That is the greatest commandment He gives us. Above all else.  Love.

When I was in my darkest hour, it was not shame and condemnation that brought me to my knees.  It was love.  God’s love.

God is love.

When I picture Jesus here today,  I picture him with homosexuals and the women at abortion clinics.  I don’t picture Him with picket signs.  I picture Him with His arms around these people loving them.

I picture Him saying, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

I wonder what twelve people Jesus would call by His side today?  I bet it would not be who we expect.

I want to love like Jesus loved.  As a Christian, I want people to see Christ in me.  I want to stand up for what matters.  Justice.  Mercy.  Love.

I don’t want to live a life of judgment.  And that includes me not judging other Christians as well. We all have our junk that we need to work through.  Every single one of us.  I mess up daily. There is a lot in my life that needs worked out in my faith, with fear and trembling.

But as I work these things out, I know God is with me.  I know He loves me.  I know He is patient with me.

God is love.

What would Jesus do?  I don’t think He would get hung up on the color of coffee cups.  I don’t think He would speak hateful words against groups of people.

I think, like the Saducees and Pharisees, it is so easy to be blinded by our rules and laws.  But we need to be careful that we don’t become too much like the Saducees and Pharisees. They were so blinded by their laws that they could not see God in the flesh before them.  They hung Him on a tree to die.

Don’t get me wrong.  God does have commandments.  God does call us to obedience.  There are consequences for stepping out of His will.  This is all true.  God is just.

But, I don’t see the Bible as just a book of rules to follow.  It is so much more than that. I see the Bible as a love story.  He is calling His people back to Him.  He came here and He died, a horrific death, on a cross, for us.  He showed us how He calls us to love.  As Christ loved.

God is love.

He saved my life.  He pulled me out of the well.  And now, He has called me to love others as He has loved me.  And that is why I love Jesus, and homosexuals, and women at abortion clinics, and that is why I am not going to waste my time worrying about the color of a coffee cup.  There is so much more in this broken world for me to be concerned with than that.

 

Scripture to meditate on: 

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unwrapping the Gifts of Fall

Like a lot of other people, I love this time of year.  It is a time of indulgence for all five of my senses.

I love to see the brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges that take over the landscape as the leaves begin to change.  I love to see the pumpkins resting on the porches, waiting for their faces to be made up.

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I love the way that the crisp air feels when I am out for a leisurely walk on a beautiful autumn evening.  I love that it is cool enough that I need a sweatshirt, but not so cold that I need a winter coat.   I love the feel of a warm cup of apple cider on my cool hands after I have been out in the crisp air for a bit too long.

I love the fall candles that smell like apple pie, and pumpkin spice, and cinnamon rolls, and everything that is yummy and sweet.  I love the smell of the fire burning in the fire pit.

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I love the taste of all things pumpkin.  I love the Thanksgiving feast of a golden turkey and perfectly mashed potatoes covered in a pool of gravy, nestled next to green bean casserole, and stuffing that melts in your mouth.  Not to forget the rolls that are hanging onto the plate for dear life because there is barely enough room for them. You know the rolls. The ones that are a little hard on the outside, but soft and squishy on the inside, with butter dripping over the sides and onto the plate, or maybe the tablecloth if they are really hanging on the edge.

I love the sound of leaves crunching under the feet of my children as they scurry to their next destination.  I love to hear the wind howling at night while a fire crackles in the fireplace.

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Fall is a cozy, inviting time of year.

It is a time of year when people gather together.  We gather around campfires, and to watch our favorite teams on TV. We gather together at tailgates, and at chili cook-offs.  We gather to enjoy the comfort of friends and family.  We gather to unwrap the gifts that this time of year brings.

And, as we unwrap each of these gifts, we are reminded to give thanks to the one who has given them.

Fall is a time of thankfulness and reflection.  As October is coming to an end and November is approaching, I am reminded to give thanks to our God for all of the beautiful gifts of this season.

I am reminded not just to give Him thanks today, but to give Him thanks always.  All that we have is from Him.  Each of these beautiful gifts that our senses unwrap are all from our Creator.

As it says in the Anglican hymn written by Mrs. Cecil Alexander:

1.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

2.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

All things bright …

3.
The purple headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky;−

All things bright …

4.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,−
He made them every one:

All things bright …

5.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;−

All things bright …

6.
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.

All things bright …

(Amen)

Thank you God for the gift of this season and all of the joy that it brings.  May my lips always tell, “How great is God Almighty, who has made all things well.”

 

 

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