Authenticity · Depression · Purpose

Five Pieces of Trash

Crazy how life can get us down sometimes, and yet, the simplest act can lift us up. Often for me this “lift” comes in the most unexpected way.

My heart was heavy today.

I don’t know about you, but lately the burdens of the world have been all consuming. I’ve been here before, the only difference is that now it seems like the whole world is carrying these types of burdens daily. And it’s hard to even find anyone who has the time or capacity to help.

Here is my list of burdens, simplified immensely:

  1. A friend is facing the same pain and spiritual abuse from the church leaders that hurt me five years ago.
  2. A little boy I do respite for. A boy with sad eyes that tell the tale of his pain.
  3. The frustration, change, hatred and division that came after Covid.
  4. A group of young moms I care for, but don’t have the capacity to lead on my own anymore.
  5. A complete lack of motivation to finish the year of homeschooling my boys.

Luckily, I can now recognize the symptoms of depression almost as fast as they appear. The hopelessness and lack of motivation and strength is all apart of this. Instead of being paralyzed and confused about it all, like I used to be, I now am in the place where I know the steps to take because I have been here before.

Step one: Reach out for help. I contacted six people in my life. Yes… six. Six, because everyone is busy and I knew that if I only looked to one person, I could easily get discouraged and spiral downward if they didn’t respond. You see, I know this because I’ve been here before. The more support the better. Five out of the six responded. All five said they were praying. Two of them reached out to connect later in the week. One dropped off a coffee for me within the hour and gave me a hug. This confirms three things I need to know when I am down: I am supported. I am cared for. I am loved.

Step two: Walk in the sunshine. The doctor who first diagnosed me with depression four years ago was amazing. I was in pain, I was tired constantly, I was unmotivated and exhausted, and had fallen into an unfeeling sort of state. I thought something terrible was wrong with me and that it had to be something bad. A brain tumour, a rare disease, a demon.

It was depression.

I thank God for the doctor who looked at me simply and said: “Fifteen minutes a day, walking in the sunshine, will give you as much of a boost as taking an antidepressant.” I took his words to heart and over the next four months, quite literally walked myself out of depression. While I walked I memorized scripture.

Today was sunny. The air was crisp, but warm for December. I pulled on a toque and my jacket and I went outside to walk.

Step three: Focus on something other then my pain during the walk. Like a memory verse, or prayer, or nature.

Today it was trash.

Huh? You’re probably asking yourself. Trash??

Yes. Today I was saved by five pieces of trash and a whole lot of prayer.

I saw that first beer can lying there. And something inside me knew I just couldn’t leave it behind. It wasn’t my mess to clean – but it’s my road. I may be helpless in other areas of my life, but this was one thing I could do. And as I picked up that beer can, I realized something remarkable about the weight and the pain of my problems: I was focusing on all the things I couldn’t do and they were all huge. But I am not completely helpless. I can do small things.

As I picked up each small piece of garbage, suddenly each one stood for the bigger issues. Just like my burdens, this trash wasn’t mine. I couldn’t stop the litterers. I can’t stop people from making horrible choices. I can’t fix the worlds problems. But just as I could reach out and pick up the trash, so I could do something in each situation I faced.

One beer can. I can’t fix abusive church leaders. But I can listen. I can empathize. I can offer encouraging words, because I’ve been there.

One piece from a blown out tire. I can’t take away the little boy’s pain. But I can be a mother to him each week he is here. I can open my home as a refuge.

One coffee cup. I can’t change the actions of the world around me. But I can love. I can listen. I can respond kindly to those who see things differently than I do. I can help bring unity to the people around me by choosing not to argue and fight.

One energy drink. I’m not able to be everything to these ladies and I can’t do everything for them that I’d like to. But I can give them what I have: hope. I can offer them community. I can pray for them. I can send an encouraging text. I can offer support when I have the strength to do so.

One can of iced tea. Maybe I can’t handle another six months of homeschooling. But I most certainly can handle one more day. And then another one. I can handle one day at a time.

I came home from my walk. My hands were full and numb from carrying the cold cans. But somehow, my load was exponentially lighter.

I can do something good, even if it is small.

I know somewhere down the road, there is more trash to pick up. Maybe next I’ll bring a bag along with me.

But for today, five pieces of trash were enough.

COVID-19 · Faith · Real Love

Better than Being Right

Have you ever been stuck in the middle of two arguments?

It’s a horrible place to be.

It’s a place I’ve been abiding for the past six months. Maybe even the past year.

And I’m so tired. So, SO tired of trying to get everyone to see eye to eye.

If one would look over my blog for the past year, they would have a hard time labeling where I stand on the “hot topics”.

I mean, I’m vaccinated and think that vaccinations are helping. But I absolutely hate the forced vax-passes and realize that these vaccines aren’t perfect, and they definitely aren’t as effective or long lasting as everyone first hoped. Yet, I wish more people would be open to them, I wish people would ask their doctor the hard questions – instead of turning to social media – and share with their health care provider the fears they have.

I hate lock downs and masks. But I see why they’re sometimes necessary.

I am pro-life. But I had a teenage pregnancy and I sympathize deeply with women who feel alone with no other options. I don’t want to stand in front of clinics and yell at them. I want to take them in, love them, and tell them the four things they desperately need to hear: you are safe, you are loved, you are cared for and you are not alone.

I don’t believe that climate change is a global emergency. But I recycle, I reuse what I can, I hate wasting, and never litter. I will wash one hundred dishes by hand before I use paper plates. Our kids live on hand-me-downs. And once their clothes are too ratty I use them as my rags instead of buying fancy Norwex ones. I use reusable feminine products. Every home we’ve owned, every street we’ve lived down, I try my best to improve by picking up garbage until the ditches and grass look clean and healthy.

I hate the way the government mindlessly blows our hard-earned tax dollars. I can’t believe there’s zero accountability for mindlessly spending billions in other people’s money… But I still pay taxes.

But can you bare with me for just a second while I express my frustration?

I am tired of being in the middle of strong opinionated people, refusing to bend their beliefs.

And I am downright exhausted of both sides bending facts whatever way they please, sometimes in the utmost arrogance. With their fixed mindset, unable to even be reasoned with or show any hint of trying to listen or trying to understand. People are thinking the absolute worst of each other. As if they alone know the truth. And the other side is the enemy. The brainwashed, evil-hearted enemy.

I’m tired of getting stuck in the middle of it.

Like, I’m burnt out, tired.

It’s easy to argue our point when we just know we are right. Boy, is it ever easy. Over the past year I have been completely baffled at times. Never in my lifetime have so many common people spewed out so much knowledge.

They know what’s best for everyone.

They know all the statistics.

They’ve followed all the news stories and Facebook posts and they just know that the post they read or the video they watched was true.

And all this “knowledge” is getting thrown back and forth like poison darts, while underneath the surface, something absolutely heartbreaking is happening: People are withering.

As I was meditating on the verses in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3, I found myself deeply yearning for people to see the truth that it held. Sadly, most of our world has lost sight of it. Are you ready for it?

Love is better than being right.

Being right just puffs up our pride. It doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t change anyone. It doesn’t save lives or convince people to do anything that they don’t want to do. All being right does is grow our own ego, which is more likely to push others away than to bring them in.

But love.

Love builds up. It humbly puts aside the arguments and takes a deep look at the person in front of us. It cares enough to set aside what we think we know, so that we can truly listen to and understand the people around us.

Love doesn’t ask: “How can I show this person where they are wrong?”

It wonders, “How can I help this person where they are at?”

This doesn’t mean that we won’t ever help others by using our knowledge, but it does mean that we sometimes need to set aside what we know, in order to love the people we don’t agree with.

In our world, it feels as if I’m literally watching the love of most grow cold. It’s a scary thing. Family members are refusing to see one another because they know they are right. People who once lived and served side by side, are now ripping each other to shreds on social media.

“Those who think they know something do not yet know what they ought to know…”

1 Corinthians 8:2

Let me ask you something: When was the last time you truly listened to “the other side”- and I’m not just talking about Covid debates here, but on all matters where one might disagree?

When was the last time you took an honest look at your own heart when you’re arguing your point? Are you constantly trying to find facts to prove yourself? Are you aware of the people around you, if you are hurting them with your words? Do you care? Are you open to the fact that the “other side” might not be the evil person you are making them out to be, rather, they may have a very good reason to believe what they do?

Maybe you are 100% right, but you’ve had the wrong attitude… are you willing to set aside your own knowledge in order to love and build up those around you? A person who feels loved and cared for is FAR more likely to listen to what you have to say.

Maybe the deeper question is this: Are we open to loving others above being right?

“We know that ‘we all possess knowledge.’ But knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.”

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Can I give you a challenge today? It’s an extremely difficult one, but one of the most important and rewarding things you could do. I did it myself a few weeks ago and I can tell you it brought so much peace and unity to that relationship.

Find someone who has been difficult for you to love this past year. Maybe someone who was once close to you. Perhaps someone who you had a fall out argument with, or maybe you’ve just slowly gone two separate ways and grown apart. Set in your heart that you will talk with them and not argue. Avoid the controversial topics, if at all possible, but even if they arise – for once – just listen.

Just lovingly listen. Ask them how they are doing. Ask them how the relationships in their lives are going. Ask thing if they have felt unheard or uncared for this past year. Just listen to their heart, and then pray out loud for them, if they are comfortable with it.

I believe that if every single believer would do this to just one person in their life, the world could change over night. Because something deeply beautiful happens the we feel heard, loved, safe, and cared for: Our wounds begin to heal and our walls fall down.

COVID-19 · Faith · Loss · Vulnerability

The Things I Miss

I don’t write a lot these days, because I feel like my heart is grieving. It’s hard to share grief sometimes. I’m letting go of more and more things that I love, and today, I’m deeply missing these things:

I miss writing on my blog. The past few months have been a whirlwind of babysitting, homeschooling, respite, leading women’s ministry, driving kids to sports, gardening, canning, etc. Writing here was the first thing to go. After all, it takes up so much effort and time, and seems to have so little reward. Seeing four or five likes and even fewer comments can be disheartening. I’m constantly wondering, is anyone reading these posts anymore? If not, why bother?

But then I ask myself, why did I start in the first place? Was it not for my own emotional healing? Writing heals my heart. It allows me to share the deepest things that I often don’t have the opportunity to say. It helps me process the world around me. It relieves me of the burden that I often carry around. It brings me joy.

I miss running. Especially in fall. Nothing compares to the sweet smell of leaves and the cool breeze that compliments the last warm rays of the sun. I miss having the energy to run and the strength that I had built up over years of keeping it in my routine. I’ve lost it now. Crazy how something like muscle takes so long to build, but dissolves in mere weeks. The lack of motivation to get there again – to retrain my body – it’s disheartening. Running was rewarding but SO much work.

Will I ever get to that place of strength and endurance again?

I miss learning. I wish I could go back to school. For fifteen long years, I have desired this. I want to be a nurse. But life. The kids need my presence. Our finances with the mortgage and the children’s private schooling, and trying to do it all on one income makes money tight sometimes. Them first. Me last. Will I ever get the chance to be what I really wanted to be? Were all these dreams for nothing? Am I to lay them down forever? Or will I one day get my chance?

And then, there are the big things I miss. The things that aren’t just unique to me, but that are effecting everyone around me.

I miss the carefree, pre-covid life. I miss crowds and brushing past people in a busy room. I miss not trying to hide my cough when I sip my coffee too fast. Or singing in church without a mask – where now I feel breathless after every song. I miss the world, where we all seemed a little bit friendlier. Maybe it was because we could see each other smile. Which reminds me, I miss seeing people’s faces. I miss not second guessing every time someone in my family has a runny nose or a minor cough – wondering if we should stay home. I miss assuming that everyone was welcome everywhere, because that was the kind of country I lived in. Where for the most part, our biggest differences were the cars that we drove and clothes that we wore.

I remember a time when hating someone for the choices they made (or did not make) was seen as unacceptable. Tolerance. Ha! When was the last time I heard that word? Certainly not for quite some time.

I miss kindness and unity being more important than political and health opinions. Families refusing to meet together over divisive regulations and restrictions. Churches and family gatherings turning certain people away and calling it “love.”

These are everyday, good people – people who have given their time and care to their community, people who have volunteered and loved on “the least of these” without expecting anything in return. People who would give you the shirt off their own backs. These people are being expected to confirm to the popular beliefs or be shut out of society.

And we are shrugging it off as if it is no big deal.

This is not the world I grew up in. This is not the world I want my kids to grow up in.

But perhaps the greatest thing I’ve missed is the purpose behind it all.

Why I wrote.

Why I ran.

Why I learned.

Why we lived freely.

Why we valued love and kindness.

Because these things brought joy.

Unity.

Family.

Kindness.

Love.

Freedom.

What is life without these things?

I think it’s time we asked ourselves if this past year of “saving lives” has been worth all that we have lost. Great men and women in the past have willingly laid down their lives for these very values. And these past two years we have all too willingly given these things up. For what? For the need for everyone to survive at all costs?

I know this is an extremely unpopular view – I’ve heard all the arguments.

Yet I can’t help but ask myself, when did we start believing that we could control sickness?

When did we start blaming people for spreading viruses? This is a new thing. In the past it was always seen as unpreventable. Unavoidable. It brought people together to care – sadly, and to mourn.

Now we call people who leave their house with a cough “selfish”and we rain judgment down on them. Bizarrely enough, we even feel anger toward healthy people. Our society loses their minds over a mask worn incorrectly, or a person who feels uncomfortable with getting vaccinated. I’ve seen the cold hearted comments all over social media that they deserve to die of Covid, or lose their jobs or that they don’t deserve to enjoy the luxuries of restaurants, museums, movie theatres, and concerts.

How did we get here so fast?

I miss the world I used to live in. When kindness came before fear. When we could agree to disagree.

The monster of division looms over my nation, spurred on by my own political leaders. It’s being echoed loud and clear by the media: Do as we say or lose everything. Conform to our beliefs or be shut out. Shun all those who do not comply. It creeps into people’s hearts and minds until they think this attitude is normal. Acceptable even.

We don’t even see what we’ve become. And the worst part is that I don’t see an end.

Unless, of course, we remember.

And we all begin to miss the things we’ve lost… enough to do something about it.

Parenting

Modelling a Life of Selflessness

It wasn’t very long ago when it seemed like everyone was looking out for me. Everywhere I turned, help was available. My parents worked hard to provide for me. I had teachers who cared for my future and took time to ask about my day. I had multiple midwives checking in on my health. I had mentors and church leaders who cared for my emotional and spiritual well being. They would often take the time to stop and ask how I was doing. I had support groups that I didn’t have to lead. I went to prayer meetings that I wasn’t in charge of planning. I didn’t have to host a single event.

I wonder when everything changed?

When did I stop being cared for and start pouring into everyone else?

Have I really acted that independent? Or did I just push the help away?

Will I ever be in a season of being cared for again? And if that season comes knocking, will I welcome it – or resent it?

It’s nice being cared for. But how often we take it for granted!

Yesterday I went to one of the first events since 2020 that I didn’t host or plan.

It was delightful.

I attended the event without needing to clean my house. The picnic shelter was already reserved and set up. I didn’t have to do a thing! The table cloths were neatly put on, the balloons and decorations were up, the coolers of drinks were set out. The food was delivered.

I felt like it was my birthday – it was really my Dad’s.

This morning I woke up and started doing my morning routine when my husband’s smiling face peeked through the door and in his hand was a cup of coffee, just for me, with the words “Thanks Mom” written on the side.

Once again, I felt blessed and cared for.

I began reflecting how, just 16 years ago, this wouldn’t have even felt special to me. People threw parties all the time that I didn’t plan or host. I’d just show up, eat, and leave without giving it a single thought. Breakfast, lunch, and supper were on the table without me ever asking. My clothes were cleaned, my rugs were vacuumed. The money that I needed for events was just handed over. My towels were washed and folded each day. I just had to live according to my own schedule and do whatever I wanted to do each day.

How good and easy I had it – and I didn’t even know!

As a Mom of teens I sometimes worry… Maybe I’ve spoiled them. Maybe I haven’t given them enough responsibility or enough chores. Maybe I do too much for them. Maybe I haven’t taught them to see and care for those around them.

Yet as I was reflecting on this today, it slowly dawned on me: because of the years of benevolence and kindness they’ve been shown, when the time comes for them to serve they will be ready.

It’s been modelled for them. As it was modelled for me.

I saw my parents stop for the poor and offer them food.

They invited strangers into our home and treated them like family.

I saw their kindness and benevolence to those around them: at our church, in our neighbourhood, in their years of volunteering at camp and my school.

I witnessed them caring for us as children and then caring for their own parents as they grew older.

Just as now, my own children have seen me do.

They’ve been cared for all their life – yet it is a season. A short, fleeting season. Someday soon it will also be their turn to take care of everyone around them. They will host. They will plan. They will stop and show kindness to the poor. They will volunteer. They will cook and decorate and clean up the mess.

And then they will understand and appreciate what was done for them.

I know this, because now I am grateful. My parents modelled a life of selflessness to me and in turn, I have been able to do the same for my children.

Thanks Mom and Dad, for all the years you cared for me and for others.

I understand now.

Canada · Faith · Forgiveness

What Has Been Forgotten

Do you ever have a time where a picture pops up on your memories that says “Two years ago today” but it brings sad memories and not happy ones? Where the picture are a memory of what was lost? Freedoms, friendships, a time of peace and safety?

I’ve had a lot of those moments in the past.

We were forced out of a church and “shunned” by many of its members five years ago today. It was hands down the most confusing and painful experience of my life. Afterwards, there was period of time where seeing pictures of my old best friend or even driving past our old church would literally break me into a sobbing mess.

A time when a worship song would come on and it reminded me of them, so I couldn’t sing.

A time when opening my Bible brought pain, because I used to read it with those I loved and they had rejected me. Gods word reminded me of them, and it was too painful to read.

I’ve been reading the book “Seven Woman” by Eric Mataxas and yesterday I got to my favorite of the women – Corrie Ten Boom.

At one point she outright says these words: “We need to realize that forgiveness is the ONLY pathway to freedom from our tormentors.”

My heart was warmed as I remembered how much healing her story brought to my life when I faced my own path to forgiveness. How I learned from her that I could forgive, even if I never received one apology from the church. That journey brought me freedom.

It brought me peace.

Our world doesn’t see things this way anymore. On the news the other day, a mother got a chance to speak to her daughter’s killer on the air and she said these chilling words: “I hope you NEVER get another moment of peace.”

My heart broke for this woman, not only for her loss, but for the undeniable truth that until she forgives that man, it is SHE that will never have another moment of peace. Bitterness isn’t going to bring harm upon your perpetrator, it will only harm you. Likewise, forgiveness isn’t setting them free, it is setting yourself free from the continual torment of the past.

I see much of what is going on in our world in the news and I have to say, we have a real problem with forgiveness. We are becoming a very bitter and hardened people because of it.

Today this passage is on my heart:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There’s a lot of rebuilding that needs to happen in our world right now.

As the truth about our history comes out, my country has a lot of rebuilding to do. Canada can no longer pretend that the residential schools weren’t in our history. We tore innocent children from their parents arms, abused them and covered them up in unmarked, forgotten graves which splatter our land with the guilt of the past.

As the ugliness of our church split comes out, my church has a lot of rebuilding to do. We can no longer pretend that all is well. We can no longer act like we have everything figured out and are all put together. The sheep that are scattered all over the place should break our hearts, should cause us regret and self reflection.

As the ugliness in my own heart comes out: attitudes against people, against leaders, against government policies, against rules upon rules upon rules – that bring so much division – I can no longer pretend that I am any better than anyone.

I need a Saviour.

Father, rebuild the ancient ruins and restore what’s been broken along the way. Somewhere along the way we have lost sight of the mission, of the simple gospel. We have gotten caught up in the mess and refused to come to you for forgiveness, love, hope and freedom. We need your healing.

Every single one of us.

Faith

A Cry for Mercy

“Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” Hababkkuk 1:1-4

These days I am mostly unable to write. I am mostly unable to speak. I just watch in deep sadness the events around me, inside the church and the world outside.

Christians are more hated in Canada than ever before. My people, who I love and know, are being labelled anti-science, anti-vaccination, covidiots. Somehow the church has been linked to a political side and that side is hated. Somehow, all the good my people have done is forgotten. And indeed, many have stopped doing any good at all.

It is like an endless nightmare, onslaught of waves. One wave strikes, then another, then another. Each gasp for air growing shorter in between.

Restrictions. Never ending restrictions: I can not attend church. I can’t have people over – not even one – household members only allowed inside or outside at my residence. I cover my face wherever I go. Anger is mounting. Covid cases are multiplying. People are dying. The lonely are locked in, watching life go by through a screen.

This is not the country I’ve known. This is not a world I recognize.

And I think to myself, surely, this is just happening in the world, surely, my church, my people, will be at peace.

But I look, and there’s just as much arguing and strife. My church has split – a painful thing, that should not happen. All the people are scattered. People are forced to chose a side. I’ve seen lifelong friendships shattered. Mothers stand against their daughters. Fathers refusing to speak to their sons. Siblings refusing to speak, refusing to reach out to each other. Cursing wildly at each other while discussing meaningless political stances and divisive theology.

This should not be. Where do I turn? I am so so tired.

But still, I wait, holding on to hope.

“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath, remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2

Faith

A Morning Prayer

God, prepare me to be a sanctuary today.

May my hands be eager to serve. May my heart to be willing to love. May my ears be ever open to listen.

May my eyes see people – not tasks. May my mind understand that things are not always as they seem and may you give me wisdom and insight to understand the root of the issues around me.

Give me courage in the face of opposition, respect in the face of authority, and kindness in the presence of my enemies.

For to walk in your ways is to know you, Lord, and to live in your footsteps is to be a living sacrifice – this is the highest form of living, the deepest act of worship.

Faith

Thoughts on Love

“Those who pat your back on the way to destruction, do not love you.” -Jimmy Evans

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

There are times when these two seemingly conflicting truths need to be reconciled in order for the full extent of love to be realized. Real friendship and love needs a balance of both.

I think our culture would do well to meditate on that.

Faith

The Most Powerful Influence

What wouldn’t we give to have more influence in the world? To be given a promotion, or better yet – an opportunity to have a say in the world around us?

Most of us, of course, would jump at the opportunity. We would want to be a beacon of change. We would want to be a voice for the causes we are most passionate about. We would vow to make changes to corrupt policies or stand up for the weak/broken/voiceless. Like every single politician who walked before us.

We all know what becomes of those empty promises.

Those of us who believe would think that God himself was giving us this opportunity to further his justice on Earth; to make our world a better place.

The question is, would we?

Do we really have the solutions to all the world’s problems like we sometimes think we do? By making changes to help some people, is there not a chance that others may be harmed in the process?

Lately I’ve been studying the book of Daniel and I was struck this week by a story in Daniel 5.

In this story Daniel is older. He is no longer the strong youth that had been taken into exile. He has been faithfully serving God in the foreign land of Babylon for years and already been established to be a man of great wisdom. He advised king Nebuchadnezzar in his years of reign and earned his respect. Now he is serving under the former king’s son, King Belshazzer.

Mysterious Writing on the Wall

“King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.” (Daniel 5:1-6)

The king is terrified – and rightly so. He knows that these words are important, yet he can not read them. He must find out what they mean. Of course, none of the wise men in the kingdom can read or interpret the words on the wall. But the queen remembers Daniel and says: “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t be so pale! There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him.”

So Daniel is brought before the king.

The king gives Daniel this charge: “The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.” (Daniel 5:15-16)

A Remarkable Answer

And Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.”

I was blown away by this response. It is so unlike any of us would do today.

Daniel had absolutely no care or interest in worldly riches, recognition, rewards, or promotion. He simply lived to do God’s will and give all the glory to him.

This is astounding!

What wouldn’t most of us give to gain more influence? We’d even use it as an excuse to “help God’s kingdom” or to “be a voice in the world” – but Daniel had realized something incredible: His greatest influence came not from his position, but from being down on his knees!

What Type of Influence am I Seeking?

It occurred to me that we think we can make the most difference in the world by gaining money, or power, or a high position, but suddenly I realized that nothing could be further from the truth!

Our greatest weapon is prayer!

This is what the Bible teaches. It’s why Jesus was never interested in becoming crowned king on Earth; it’s why he didn’t seek human promotion or positions. I believe this is also why us Christians sometime become so frustrated in our faith journey. We are following a completely different set of rules – we are apart of a different kind of kingdom – yet we continue to view opportunities and situations with our worldly way of thinking!

Oh Father, teach us how to pray. Help us see our world and your sovereignty with Daniel’s kind of faith. May we not just claim to believe, but may we actually trust what your word teaches us about influence and the power of prayer through our actions. Open our eyes to these truths.

Authenticity · COVID-19 · Faith · Health

Taking Small Steps Forward

Often I’m amazed at how many parallels there are in our natural world and our spiritual one.

For the past two weeks I’ve been trying to get my body into a healthier state, and it’s caused me to realize that not only have I been neglecting my physical body, but my spiritual one as well. It’s so easy to fall into a state of being physically unfit: Skip a workout here, eat a bit more junk there. It takes far more effort and intentionality to stay healthy.

It was almost exactly one year ago when I first heard the term “Covid-19″… that was just before it hit my world. At first, it was the distant “coronavirus” that seemed like nothing more than another repeat of the “SARS” or “H1N1″scare. I never expected it to effect me. I never thought that it would reach my country. And never in my wildest dreams would I have expected it to be here to stay.

None of us did.

As I look back over the past year, I realize that it took over so much of my emotional, mental and physical capacity and head space. I noticed my motivation to keep myself healthy – physically and spiritually – completely tanked as I became fixated on all the changes around me. Eventually, expecting change and disappointment became normal. Being adaptable was essential – and it’s where I put most of my energy into: Returning to homeschooling five kids overnight, cancelling all future plans, learning to meet with and lead my small group over Zoom.

Adaptable we’ve become, but it seems like all I’ve been doing for the past year. I find myself tired; burnt out, even. I’ve been physically trying to compensate for this fatigue by filling much of my extra time with unproductive activities, stuff that requires little to no effort. Logically this doesn’t make sense, of course, because if I’m going to run a marathon and do well, I have to take care of myself.

But here I find myself in that place where I’ve been running so hard for so long that I am in survival mode. In my few moments of free head space, I’m filling my mind and body with so much junk that I just find myself too full to eat a decent meal.

Something has to go.

I am hitting a wall and I just can’t run off of this cheap fuel anymore. I need the good stuff. I need the protein, the veggies; the word of God, prayer and fellowship with believers. I can’t keep grabbing for the granola bar to tie me over anymore, my body won’t let me.

So, I take small steps:

First Step: Two weeks ago I decided to give up processed sugar/junk food for 40 days during the Lent season.

Second step: Making wiser choses in what I eat… choosing a salad instead of a pizza. Grabbing fruit instead of chips.

Third step: Picking up my Bible instead of my phone when I wake up. Praying instead of complaining or worrying.

Fourth Step: This past week I decided to get back into running; just three days a week for half an hour.

Small steps I can handle, one choice at a time.

And today, I got pushed to take another small, but important step for accountability on how I’m spending my time: Being present with my family, instead of hiding away in my room to be alone. I need to learn how to be in community again, instead of pushing people away.

Today was a day I’ve been waiting for for a long time. It was the first time I’ve been to church since November 1st and even in my current exhausted state, I was ecstatic! Online “church” isn’t church to me. It’s watching a sermon.

Church is the people. My spiritual family. My second home.

Today marks the beginning of another step towards health: Meeting with other believers to worship our incredible God. It’s just one more step of healing from the isolation of this year… Fellowship. We need each other. If anything has shown us that, it has had to be this past year. As my community begins to heal and take small steps to open up, I want to heal personally and open up as well.

One small step at a time.

Have you been taking any steps lately?