I thought I was okay . . . until yesterday. The tears started falling and just wouldn’t stop. Apparently, even though I’m an introvert—and even though we’re all healthy—this lockdown is wearing on me more than I realized.
When God Makes All Things New
I sat away from the computer for Skype “church service” so I wouldn’t distract others with my steady tears. We were studying Revelation 21, which gives a glimpse into our future hope:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
(I learned from our devotional guide that “The sea in the ancient world was a place of chaos, unrest, and dangers. The sea has no place in the new heaven and earth.”)
The text continues,
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem [a picture of the perfected people of God] coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
In my weepy state, this next part captured my imagination most:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Bernie Elliott wrote this in the devotional guide,
Hospital beds, pharmacies, and caskets will be a thing of the past. It’s hard to imagine a life free of fear, a life without sorrow, an existence where death is no more. Yet this is what is prepared for God’s people.
I wonder, do you and I long for things to return to “normal,” or is our hope in when God makes all things new?
Exercise, Chasing the Sun, and Limestone Fissures
When we finished our service, we chased the sun to Clark Reservation. We hiked across the limestone fissures and remembered that God will heal all the broken parts in our hearts and world.
We plan on continuing to chase the sun and to exercise harder after watching more videos from Virgil Tanner. Do yourself a favor and subscribe to his YouTube channel. He consistently ministers to my heart in the deepest of ways. Here’s a little coaching from him:
“The most important thing you can do for your family is nurture a deep connection with Jesus. Find ways to withdraw, to engage Him with others, to obey the things He shows you . . .
“The second most important thing you can do is work out. Because the third most important thing you can do is to create a way to find a healthy emotional space and to live from there. The other people in your house are going to draw their emotional tenor from you. And if you skip paying attention to your heart in order to pay special attention to their academics, they will come at their academics anxious. That will raise their affective filter, and they will learn less than they would have if you had put their school in the back seat and put your emotional wellness ahead of it.
“Remember that the best thing you can do for your emotions is exercise. Exercise is often prescribed as curative to things like low-grade depression or low-grade anxiety disorders. Take care of your body so it can take care of your heart. Also take care of your body so you can love your neighbor well, by not needing a hospital bed. As you take care of your body and it takes care of your heart, your heart can take care of their hearts, and their hearts will help their minds learn multiplication.”
Here’s another short, excellent video I watched from Virgil yesterday that is really helping me. I highly recommend watching it. (Does Jesus’ favorite question surprise you? It did me.)
How We’re “Doing Church” During This Health Crisis
Yesterday was our third week worshiping with a small group of believers over Zoom. Our church is providing members with an order of service to follow in our own homes, and we’ve chosen to go through it with our small group each Sunday. While we can’t sing together (there’s a delay that doesn’t make that possible), I’ve loved discussing the passage together with personal application questions like,
“What are some things in life you are tempted to believe God is entitled to give to you?” (Oh boy . . . where do I start?!)
A Timely Word from Habakkuk
Here was yesterday’s order of service if you want to use it yourself next Sunday. It was a timely word from Habakkuk 3:16-19. You’ve probably heard this part before:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”
Sounds glorious, as long as you’re reading the words and not testing them in real life. But Habakkuk understood exactly what it would mean if the fig tree did not blossom, if the olive trees and fields did not yield food. In an agricultural society, this meant death by starvation.
There were no backup plans. No restaurants, no grocery stores, no pantries. Our small group tried imagining such a dire situation, and we just couldn’t. Unfortunately, though, it’s reality right now for those in India.
Habakkuk’s Realities True in India Right Now
The entire nation is in the midst of a complete, three-week lockdown. They only had four hours notice before everything was shut down. Many of the 1.3 billion people there barely survive as it was. Now, with twenty-one days of complete lockdown, this spells starvation and death for many. Please pray.
Maybe this paragraph from yesterday’s order of service can help inform your prayers:
“In an uncertain world, we can find joy in the certainty of God’s faithfulness and sustaining care. Even if we are stripped of all else—our comforts, our security, our very life—we can never be separated from the saving love of God in Christ Jesus our LORD. The lack that we sometimes experience, the hardships we face, the chaos we go through—it all focuses our eyes on the Gospel, because the gospel is not simply about God giving his people many blessings, but about God’s power to grant us the right to be reconciled to relationship with our Creator. God, in his strength, has granted to us the right to see Him and to rejoice in Him, no matter what may come.”
Sidewalk Chalk Theology
Later in the day, our family took a walk. I was intrigued by how many signs we saw around the neighborhood.
One family had painted a sign that said, “We are all together,” decorated with colorful handprints.
Another used sidewalk chalk to mark off the distance of six feet and to encourage people to continue practicing social distancing.
One home featured a sign in their window saying, “Things will get better.”
That last one stood out to me in light of our focus on Habakkuk that morning. Things won’t get better for many. Hundreds of thousands will die. While I appreciated their desire to offer hope, it fell flat.
After the kids were in bed, I realized we could write messages of true hope on our sidewalks. So Trevor and I hunkered down under the light of the moon and covered our sidewalks with Scripture.
We live on a corner in the city, so we get a lot of foot traffic. Will you pray that many would receive comfort, hope, conviction—even eternal life in Jesus—through God’s Words?
I’d Love to Hear From You
How are you worshiping God each Lord’s Day during this strange time when we’re unable to gather together corporately to do so?
What are some things in life you’re tempted to believe God is required to give to you?
While you’re probably not facing starvation, what are you struggling with right now? Even if it’s “little” compared to what those in India are facing, how can I be praying for and supporting you?
This past Lord’s Day, I was tempted to skip church. Trevor was leading worship at our church plant, so I was on my own for the morning. And when I woke Sunday morning, Saturday’s tears were still flowing. I did not relish the idea of causing a scene. Like, not at all.
But I hurried out the door, Rudolph-red nose and all, because I remembered that these are my people, and it is okay–even healthy–for them to know when I’m struggling.
In this week’s Lord’s Day post, I want to tell you about “our people”–just one of many families we love. They have an important need you can easily help meet, as long as you have the ability to communicate and the willingness to love a family you haven’t met yet.
Meet the Trouts
Meet Jon and Christina Trout. They were preparing to adopt back in 2016, when they learned they were pregnant with Grant. Adoption plans weren’t forgotten; just postponed.
In addition to his obsession with trucks, Grant also loves babies. Christina once told me that the greatest gift her parents ever gave her was a sibling, and she and Jon want the same for Grant.
So they’re ready to adopt again. Court certified and everything. Only thing is, it’s up to Jon and Christina to find the birth parents themselves.
The Part Where You Come In . . .
This is where you and I come in. Will you mention Jon and Christina to your friends, families, co-workers, and neighbors? Will you like and share their Facebook page on your social media accounts?
In this case, there is no such thing as oversharing, and you don’t even have to live in New York to do so. For all we know, their child could be in . . . Montana . . . or even Mongolia!
Thanks so much for loving our friends in this important, doable way.
I went into this Lord’s Day with a near-empty fridge and no menu plan. That’s not good any day of the week, but especially on a Lord’s Day. For months now I’ve been working toward having my grocery shopping and cooking done Saturday so I can truly rest from my work and worship God on the Lord’s Day, as He designed.
So this morning, I asked God to please provide food for us this day. Here’s how He did.
A Favorite, Easy Breakfast Recipe: Floppy Eggs
Thankfully, Trevor didn’t have to lead worship at our Cazenovia church plant today, so I asked if he’d make his delicious “floppy eggs” for breakfast. He whipped them up—along with the last of the frozen hash browns—all while carrying Hudson in the carrier. What a “super-mom” dad!
God’s Daily Provision
I saw Steve walk into Missio with his arms full of fresh baked loaves of bread. Pick us, pick us! I silently wished. (Steve is an older widower who gifts homemade bread to congregants each Sunday.) Steve chose my father-in-law for his first gifting, and my father-in-law passed it on to us! God’s kind provision.
A Favorite, Easy Lunch Recipe: Tuna Melt Sandwiches
It’s a gamble, serving someone you don’t know tuna fish. But of all things, she exclaimed with delight when she saw it! Apparently her college housemates used to protest her use of tuna in the kitchen. Again, God’s sweet providence.
Our Lunch Conversation
This young woman is a speech pathologist resident who works at a nursing home. We learned a bit more about how unethical most nursing homes are due to insurance requirements, how patients’ health usually declines upon arriving, and how this woman is often asked by her patients to “please just kill me” (seriously).
It made me ask new questions like,
Do we have more nursing homes in the United States than in other countries, due to our every-man-for-himself mentality?
How many nursing homes per capita does Syracuse have?
And maybe most importantly, Am I willing to walk into those dreary, sterile places to offer hope? Maybe even with my sweet boys? (I have a few memories of playing the piano at nursing homes when I was younger.)
After a long walk (we kept running into people we knew), Trevor asked what was for supper. “I don’t know; God will provide,” I responded.
And then I remembered. Our sweet Muslim neighbors had brought us “Iraqi KFC” the day before, and we still had some in the fridge. We have some lettuce already growing in our garden, so we served it with a simple salad.
I’m so grateful for how God provided today—through my husband, through Steve, and through our neighbors. Now it’s time to buckle down and menu plan for this new week. Because most of the time, God provision for my family includes me planning ahead.
In an effort to get the most out of each Lord’s Day, I’ve been sharing highlights on my social media accounts the past couple of weeks (here on Instagram, and here on Facebook.) Today I’m bringing my Lord’s Day to the blog. Here are a few highlights from this past Sunday, May 5, 2019.
An Apology from Our Worship Leader
Our worship leader, Nate Maxfield, apologized to us for not including more songs of lament in our services. “The lament is our song this side of heaven,” he said.
The Fig Tree: When Jesus curses the fig tree, He’s acting out a parable rather than telling one. This particular parable is against Israel, as Israel is often described in Scripture as a fig tree or a vine. (See Jeremiah 8:13 as an example.) In this moment, Jesus is setting up what’s about to take place in the temple.
The Money Changers & Pigeon Sellers:Who are these men whose tables and chairs Jesus flips over? “Money changers” were the guys who exchanged travelers’ money for Jewish currency. These money changers were charging exorbitant exchange rates in order to pocket some hefty change.
We also know from the Old Testament that pigeons were the offering the poorest of the poor offered to God. These pigeon sellers were taking advantage of the poor, hiking prices for pigeons way up.
In his sermon, Adam pointed out that this whole scene was a battleground for glory. The religious leaders of the day were incensed at Jesus. They were fighting Him–the true Temple, the true High Priest, and the true and final Sacrifice–for power and glory. Why? Because they–and we–don’t easily give up what gives us significance. They were using what God had intended to be a place where people from all nations were welcomed to meet with Him, as a means to personal gain.
Again, I was challenged: Am I using Jesus to attain my dreams and gain significance, or am I on board with His mission, bearing good fruit as I seek to share the good news of the gospel with my neighbors all the way to the ends of the earth?
Christian, are you using Jesus as a means to an end, or does your heart beat for His agenda and glory?
Korean Egg Bread
I love it when Trevor cooks. He made Korean egg bread for breakfast. It had us oohing between each bite. If you’d like to make it, watch this video and find the recipe in the description. Then, if you’re interested, check out for more pictures from our day on Instagram, and Facebook.