Category Archives: Anxiety

Worship Wednesday – Unstoppable – David Crowder

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one...praying at all times. – Ephesians 6:11-16, 18

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” …His truth shall be your shield and buckler…Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you…for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.”
Psalm 91:1-2, 4b, 9-11, 14-15

From the Creation story to present day, we are confronted by lies. Through the world’s influence, in our own fallen flesh, and from Satan and his emissaries. Maybe we don’t think much about it, because lies just become part of our worldview if we aren’t on guard. Weighing truth against what seems true or what might be true. Just yesterday, my son told me about his 8 y/o’s troubling thought that he didn’t really love God. What I know of the Holy Spirit, that thought did not come from Him. Satan is the father of lies and the accuser of believers. My son was able to comfort our grandson with the truth, both about God and how this precious child’s thoughts can wrongly condemn him. The talk about our enemy, the Devil, will come later.

Much is written about spiritual warfare, and too often, it is as if it’s us, rather me, against Satan. God is our victor. The battle is truly His, and Satan is no match for the Creator. The Scripture is full of encouragements for us to be strong and courageous, to stand against our enemies, and to trust the Lord. The battle does not depend on our winning, it is God’s to win. However, God calls us to plant our feet on the truth of who He is, who we are, and what He intends for our lives (John Mark Comer, Live No Lies).


In recent days, I’ve been digging into John Mark Comer‘s and Henri Nouwen‘s writings. “Beloved” is a small volume calling us to recognize our identity in Christ and to draw near to Him in prayer, away from what we think is the busyness of a significant life. Comer’s book’s Live No Lies is a substantial and serious read on recognizing and resisting the same temptations Jesus endured in the wilderness, at the beginning of His public ministry. Both authors refer to this experience as common to all of us.

Jesus had three temptations in the desert [Matthew 4:1-11]: to be relevant – turning stones into bread; to be popular – jumping from the tower and have angels catch Him; to have power to possess all the land. Jesus refused all that because He didn’t have to prove to anybody that He was loveable. He was already the beloved. That’s precisely what the Spirit revealed to Him after He was baptised in the Jordan. The voice came and said, ‘You are My beloved son, on You My favour rests’. That’s who you are; you are the beloved, so you don’t have to be busy proving it. You don’t have to run around. Immediately, that same Spirit who revealed to Him that He was the beloved sent Him into the desert to be tested….Solitude is listening to the voice who calls you the beloved. It is being alone with the One who says, ‘You are My beloved, I want to be with you’...Solitude is the place where we go in order to hear the truth about ourselves. Henri Nouwen, “Beloved”

Monday Morning Moment – Henri Nouwen on Leadership – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight

“The devil’s goal is to first isolate us, then implant in our minds deceitful ideas that play to our disordered desires, which we feel comfortable with because they are normalized by the status quo of our society. Specifically, he lies about who God is, who we are, and what the good life is, with an aim to undermine our trust in God’s love and wisdom. His intent is to get us to seize autonomy from God and redefine good and evil for ourselves, thereby leading to the ruin of our souls and society.” John Mark Comer, Live No Lies: Recognize and Resist the Three Enemies That Sabotage Your Peace

We are probably all familiar with Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and Satan’s tempting Him. The Evil One has not changed his ways of beguiling since the beginning, when he similarly tempted Eve to distrust God. Ours is to follow and practice the way Jesus dealt with lies and with the accuser. With quiet prayer (in solitude), with seeking the truth (Scripture), with fasting. And in community. Satan attacks most when we are isolated from God and one another.

With the Spirit of God ruling in our hearts and lives, we need never fear. The battle is real, but God is present with us. We stand in His strength. Although our enemies are real and the world seems hostile to us, we have a greater Overcomer.

Singer/songwriter David Crowder tells this story in his rocking anthem Unstoppable. It puts in perspective that our God is invincible, and because we are in Him, we have the confidence and privilege of tasting His victory. Hallelujah!

Worship with me:

Devil’s playing fiddle
Demons coming like a missile
To my left, to my right
But I ain’t be dancing with ’em
I got angels watching over me
Fighting all my enemies
Wear ’em out, knock ’em down
‘Bout to taste that victory

Hey, hey
They can try to slow me
Thinking that they own me
They be thinking crazy
Hey
Welcome to the showdown
They about to find out

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You, nothing’s impossible

No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

See these arrows in my quiver
Winner, winner, chicken dinner
If I’m bitten by the serpent
He’ll be sucking out the venom
I got someone watching over me
Fighting all my enemies
See that smile on my face
‘Bout to taste that victory

Hey, hey
They can try to slow me
Thinking that they own me
They be thinking crazy
Hey
Welcome to the showdown
They about to find out
A-a-amen

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You, nothing’s impossible

No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

When I got You
When I got You

That’s my dad, I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run

That’s my dad, that’s my dad
That’s my dad, I’m His son
Watch him make that Devil run
That’s my dad, that’s my dad

That’s my dad, and I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run
That’s my dad, that’s my dad
That’s my dad, I’m His son
He’s gonna make that Devil run
That’s my dad, yeah, that’s my dad

When I got You, I am unstoppable
When I got You
When I got You, nothing’s impossible
When I got You
No way I lose, I am unbeatable, powerful
No way I lose
Stronger than invincible
I feel bulletproof when I got You
When I got You

When I got You
When I got You

*Lyrics to Unstoppable

Worship Wednesday – When We Pray – Tauren Wells – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – “Be Strong and Courageous” – a Good Word for These Days – Deb Mills

Top 10 Quotes from Live No Lies by John Mark Comer – Joshua Branham

Book Review of “Live No Lies” by John Mark Comer – Fran Hill

Live No Lies Podcast with John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Worship Wednesday – Safe – Victory Worship [Ft. Isa Fabregas]

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Soon a violent windstorm came up, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was being swamped. But Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on the cushion. So they woke Him and said, “Teacher, don’t You care that we are perishing?” Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. “Silence!” He commanded. “Be still!” And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.Mark 4:37-39

We are all ships in a storm, with Jesus onboard. He is our safe harbor. Not a place but a person. Safe in Him.

I follow this young man Ian Simkins. He does these succinct devotionals that are incredibly powerful. The one below inspired me to write on this topic today.

“Apart from the Holy Spirit, the Christian life isn’t difficult. It’s impossible…

We are sailboats. God is the wind. Even tattered sails do pretty well in a windstorm.

Take heart. Raise your sail.

How do we raise our sail?

Prayer. Scripture. Community. Silence. Stillness. Rest. Service. Sacrifice. Surrender.

Keep raising your sail, Friend.

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd

“One cannot discover new lands unless they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andrew Gide

A pastor at The Bridge Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Ian tells the story of an Indian couple whose home he visited while on a summer in India. They were poor, but in wisdom, very rich. The wife said to him, “We pray for you Christians in America. We can’t imagine trying to be with someone like Jesus in a place as distracting as America.”

A Kenyan pastor, after a violent attack, on a university campus a few years ago, left 150 people dead, responded:

“This attack has strengthened our conviction and resolve that the safest and securest place to be is at the center of God’s will. As it has been said, “Peace is not the absence of trouble but the assurance that God is with us no matter what.”

Where Can We Be Safe? – Heidi Carlson

We have this temptation to strive for safety. For ourselves and our families. What does it even look like to be “safe”? To build a perimeter between us and anything that might present a threat. What are we teaching our children and grandchildren? That we have to protect ourselves? From what?

With Christ within, no matter what happens, no matter the hardship or worry, we have a profound safe harbor in Him.

Just yesterday, I discovered that Tyler Staton, a young brother and spiritual father of mine, is in treatment for recurrent cancer. He is lead pastor for Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon and the author of the transformative book Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools.

In a video recently, Tyler gave a health update on how he is with treatment and in his walk with God through this cancer recurrence. He commented on how God is a master story-teller and is writing our stories. He calls us to “say yes to the story He’s writing” and step into/walk in that story. Tyler reported on how he was praying both Psalm 23 and Psalm 21. Psalm 23 reminds Tyler of “green pasture” and “still water” days and also days “in the shadow of death” – they are all part of our lives. Tyler expressed his desire “for God’s presence more than His power”. He also is praying Psalm 21 (“maybe hedging (his) bets with God”) which is a cry for God to lengthen his days – to grow old with his wife Kirsten and to see his children’s children.

From the time I first read Tyler’s book and returned to it many times since, I’m not at all surprised at how he has faced this cancer.

Does Tyler feel safe? I’m not even sure that is even the point for him. He wants to receive whatever God has for him, and if cancer is a part of that, then he receives it. Will he battle it? Absolutely. However you do not hear him recoil from God or question the His goodness in this. It is just part of the story of Tyler’s life.

Rather than safety as we might count it and go after it in this crazy world…let’s reconsider and deepen our understanding of how safe we are in Christ Jesus’ keeping.

Worship with me with Victory Worship‘s anthem “Safe”.

[Verse 1]
Under Your grace, Your mercy amazes me
Under Your wings, Your shadow covers me
Your promise of love, where my heart is safely undone

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe

[Verse 2]
Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening
Over the noise, I hear You whispering
My hope has come and my heart is safely undone, oh-oh

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name

[Post-Chorus]
Forever safe, forever safe
Forever safe, forever safe

[Bridge]
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe
You are never far away
Always reaching out to save
My weakness covered by Your strength
And I am found forever safe

[Chorus]
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
I found my fortress, in You
And my soul is anchored, with You
My resting place, is in Your name
Forever safe*

*Lyrics to “Safe” – Songwriters: Lee Simon Brown, Moira Dela Torre, Juan Winans & Justin Gray

On Feeling Secure in God – John Piper

How Should Christians View Safety? – Brooks Buser

[The video below is a scene from The Chosen. It is based on the account of Jesus walking on rough waters and Peter coming out of the boat to Him. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was safe. This passage, like the one in Mark above, speaks to our safety in the midst of a storm as long as He holds us. Lots more to this story…but the scene beautifully demonstrates it.]

Photo Credit: Julian of Norwich, Cedarfield Pinnacle Living Readings and Reflections for Lent 2019

Monday Morning Moment – On the Journey of Not Giving Up

Photo Credit: Elbert Hubbard, Success.com

[Before jumping into this, let’s take a moment to give space for those who tried for a long, long time…and then felt there was no recourse but to give up. I have given up, too, in some situations, with some relationships…either because I lost hope, or heart, or strength, or opportunity, or time. We all have such stories. Today, let’s pause and consider the large and life-affirming possibility of just NOT giving up.]

Have you said any of these things recently? “I quit!” “I’m tired of trying.” “I give up.” “It’s not fair.” “It’s not worth it.” “Why do I have to do everything?” “It won’t last.” “There’s no use.” “I’m just not good at it.” “What difference does it make?”

Words matter. They can move us toward positive outcomes or negative ones. The negative affirmations above, spoken or just thought, sound true. Some may even be factual. They move us to action. The problem is when we are moved to act in ways that make things worse instead of better.

Negative Affirmations: Why You Should Avoid Them – Sanju Pradeepa

13 Reasons Why You Give Up So Easily (+ How Not To) – Natasha MacFarlane

Whether it is your job, a lifestyle change, or relationship…we choose whether to be proactive or reactive. Whether we give up or keep at it. Bit by bit. Day by day.

All of life is a journey. We move toward one another or away. Our temptation is to self-protect…or protect someone we love thinking it requires pulling away from someone else. We can give up without even realizing it. Just in the disappointment…the distancing. We pull away from possible solutions. They are just too hard. Or are they?

When we get to the point of giving up, it’s not just giving up on that person, but giving up on ourselves in relationship to that person. Maybe even giving up on God to help us repair the rupture, thus opening one between us and Him.

You may think I am philosophizing or making this too simple. Believe me, I totally get how complicated “not giving up” can be. And painful. And even isolating. However, giving up is more isolating…and potentially more painful. We can bury the pain, cover it over, but it’s still there.

Photo Credit: Ullie Kaye Poetry, Facebook

Now, we may not be able to restore the relationship…or heal a family wounded by rupture…but when we quit on them, the door to repair, from our side, closes.

Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Possibility Change, Instagram

The day will come, I am hoping and believing, with God’s help, that we will see good come through this hard place. For me, I am NOT giving up.

Stories of feeling the need or desire to quit abound. It may be your story as well. There is no blame here. No shaming whatsoever. It’s what we do with our stories that matters.

Attorney, writer, coach Marelisa Fabrega offers 8 strategies for not quitting. Her commentary is thought-provoking so don’t miss reading the article. I’m listing her strategies and adding my own quick thoughts.

  1. Adopt an “I Won’t Quit” Mindset. Make that decision ahead of the situation. When Dave and I began talking about marriage together, we both stated pretty emphatically that, for us, divorce would be off the table. I grew up in a blended family and divorce impacted all my brothers’ adult lives. With Dave, it was extended family who experienced the pain of divorce, and his family felt that pain. Marriage has had its hard seasons for Dave and me, but we fought through together. [Not everyone gets that opportunity as the other spouse can ditch the marriage without your input. I get how painful that is.] Whether in marriage, friendships, work, or physical/mental health, an “I won’t quit” mindset gives you fortification in hard situations.
  2. Watch Someone Else Persevere. It is a beautiful and poignant thing to watch when loved ones refuse to quit. I’m not saying to be a doormat or to continue to take terrible abuse. What I’m talking about is when people keep pressing forward in tough work or relationships when everything in their being and all those around are screaming, “Quit!” Two women come to mind here. One friend went though a struggle early in her marriage when her husband had an affair. All our friends (but me) advised her to divorce him and make him suffer for what he did to her. I asked her, “Do you still love him? Because if you do, and you could imagine being willing to take him back…wait.” She did love him and she decided to wait. He came back, wholeheartedly repentant. They went on to have a beautiful marriage, children, and now grandchildren. Another friend is in the furnace of a difficult relationship right now. I am watching her persevere. She has strong faith in God and a few deep friendships who are cheering her on. I believe she/they will make it.
  3. Call Someone. This is huge! I’m thinking have more than one person you can trust to be with you (and for you) in this arena when quitting feels like all you want to do. If you’ve already decided up-front that you want to not give up, these friends and family can stand with you when the battle has exhausted you. They are for you. Hopefully they are also for your spouse and family member. It’s better to have folks who are fighting for you AND for your relationship. Not out of some scruple or moralistic platform, but because it’s your life and your battle. It’s what you want. [That may change at some point down the road, and if it does, these same people who love you will still be there.]
  4. Go Back to Your “Why”. It’s extremely important to have a why for not giving up. A list of why’s, even better. I have loved ones very close to me who, if treated badly or served poorly, will determine not to trust an individual or business anymore. They just won’t go back. This is a much smaller situation than a deteriorating relationship. However, I’ve never understood the why and, after reading Fabrega’s piece, I plan to ask. These same people do not quit on family relationships, for which I’m grateful. So…we need to go back to our “why’s” of staying in relationship, or in a job for that matter.
  5. Find a Different “How”. If a difficult boss is blocking the way for you to succeed at a job you once loved, figure out a respectful work-around. If the approach you have always used for managing conflict in your marriage isn’t working, think of a different way. If you continue to struggle with managing a healthy lifestyle or avoiding cycles of anxiety/depression, seek help (counseling, coaching/mentoring, medical advice, support groups). Find another way forward. Outlast the person or problem.
  6. Succeed at Something Else. If you have been immersed in a painful situation, determining not to quit, you may just need a respite. A brief reprieve. A focus elsewhere for a few hours or days will be refreshing. Not seeing success in an area important to us colors how we feel about our self globally. Even when success isn’t visible to us, it may be coming, so we don’t give up. For that second wind, we might be refreshed by setting our sights on areas where we are seeing success (work, health, hobbies). Preferably, we do both – staying in the battle and interspersing life-giving activities.
  7. Use Failure as a Stepping Stone. No retaliation. No victim mentality. You have already made the decision of what kind of character you want in life. Keep growing. Don’t let failure define you. It actually may not even be your failure at all. So, as much as you can yourself, live the life and be the person you want to be. It is a journey after all.
  8. Keep Chipping Away. Like Fabrega has already said so well…keep going. Keep doing what you know is right. This is part of your story. Whatever happened in the relationship or work situation, you are making a future for yourself, and maybe for your children or family. Again, who you are is much more than what you’ve come through. – How to Not Give Up – 8 Strategies For Not Quitting – Marelisa Fabrega
Photo Credit: Danielle Bernock, Instagram

I’d like to add a 9th strategy:

9. Look for Beauty. It is there. Just outside. Or just there within reach. Just in all the reasons you are you.

I’ve read all of psychiatrist Curt Thompson‘s books and he has inspired me to look for the beauty in front of us even in situations where we feel like giving up. He inspired Bill Haley to write an essay on beauty. Here is an excerpt:

“Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman from Holland, wrote one of the most truly amazing things I’ve ever read.  The context of her words makes all the difference.  She wrote them while imprisoned at Westerbork transit camp waiting to be taken to Auschwitz, where she died in 1943 at age 29.  Her diaries and letters were compiled into An Interrupted Life.

A very hard day.  But I keep finding myself in prayer.  And that is something I shall always be able to do, even in the smallest space: pray.  And I know for certain that there will be a continuity between the life I have led and the life about to begin…

I often walk with a spring in my step along the barbed wire and then time and again it soars straight from my heart — I can’t help it, that’s just the way it is, like some elementary force — the feeling that life is glorious and magnificent, and that one day we shall be building a whole new world.  Against every new outrage and every fresh horror we shall put up one more piece of love and goodness, drawing strength from within ourselves.  We may suffer, but we must not succumb…

Once you have begun to walk with God, you need only keep walking with Him and all of life becomes one long stroll.” – Bill Haley, “Why Beauty Matters Right Now”

What kind of people do we choose to be? With all my heart, I want to be one who is not giving up. My family (immediate and extended) knows I am for them. Also, hopefully other folks as well – friends and neighbors. I’m not going anywhere. This is not just a commitment. This is an issue of character that goes way beyond any circle I’m a part of. It’s the kind of person I want to be. It’s not a small thing. I get it. Probably a God-sized endeavor. God is for all of us. He does not give up. He is not going anywhere. He is in the room…and He is staying.

You may say…well, you haven’t reached your breaking point, and you are right, of course. We can’t know what it will take for us to get to the place that we want to quit. Sometimes, we have no other option but to let go, because the other person is, or appears to be, already gone. My hope and resolve is to hold out as long as possible. Who knows what difference that could make? I’m holding onto that.

Photo Credit: Dale Carnegie, Success.com

117 Never Give Up Quotes (+ My 5 Favorite Tips to Help You Keep Going) – Henrik Edberg

Photo Credit: QuoteFancy, Chester Nimitz

Worship Wednesday – Centering Prayer – The Potter’s Gate

“I want to be where my feet are.”

This curious little lyric comes from the album Sanctuary Songs. The song is Centering Prayer featuring Andrew Peterson & Leslie Jordan, a collaboration of The Potter’s Gate.

Centering Prayer calls us away from all our distractions, our plans, our worries, our over-thinking, our busyness…and calls us into a time of rest and focus on God whose presence we are never without.

Last week, I was checking out of our local free clinic with my Afghan grandmother friend. It’s always a stretching experience with trying to understand (even with an interpreter) what her health complaints are. Finally, we were finished with the doctor. As I stepped up to the counter to receive the forms for her bloodwork, specialist referral, and next appointment, I saw the sign (in the image above).

God is always with us. Period. Full-stop. That verse is one that brings to rest everything whirring around in our minds, remembering that God’s got this. Being present with a ever-present God transforms everything.

Another passage that reminds us to be still and stop fighting battles He means to fight Himself…for us…is Psalm 46. Below is the entire psalm. It is so worthy your stopping and reading along (or hear it read for you).

46 God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear
,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

“Be still and know that I AM God.”Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a glorious and victorious psalm to encourage and embolden a people beleaguered by hardship (we don’t have details but given the context it was war, or some sort of calamity or terror). The psalmist was reminding the people that God is with them (with us) and will pierce through the noise of battle, with His powerful and persevering presence. He is here today just as much as He was with His people in the psalmist’s day.

Our part, like theirs, is to turn our ears, and our hearts, our bodies to Him.

Psalm 46 begins, not with a lament or cry for help, but an anthem of praise. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear”. Then he goes on to talk about super fearful things…yet from a place of awe and certainty. Even as the psalmist speaks with great confidence about God’s presence and provision in times of catastrophe, the Lord Himself enters the psalm with the command “Be still!”

Not just “Be quiet” but “Be still”. Stop!

Stop. Come away (from the battle). Quieten yourself. Cease striving.

God calls both His people and our enemies to essentially “put down your weapons!”

Especially to His own people, He urges them (and us today) to ‘snap out of it,’ ‘wake up,’ ‘stop fearing’—acknowledge who God is—be in awe! For us to take His “Be still” and treat it as “be quiet” is not incorrect, it’s just not enough to describe what God is truly saying.

God is about His business in fighting for us and those we love. Fighting also those who would see to do us harm. We don’t know how it will go in the moments ahead of us (whether this battle will “seem” lost or won to us) but we do know His promises that hold us fast, even in battle, for now and forever.

It’s for us to “be where our feet are”. To quieten our hearts and slow our steps. To put down the phone. To find His beauty to focus our eyes on. To “breathe the life around me” and “listen as my heart beats. Right. On. Time.”

What Does “Be Still and Know That I Am God” Really Mean? – Liz Auld

Psalm 46 – Enduring Word Bible Commentary

Centering prayer prompts us to lay down our burden and determine to stop worrying. Not just as a mindfulness exercise but with the God who loves us in full view. To see the anxiety for what it is – a tool used against us to take our peace away. To recognize that the depression we experience can be lightened if we open ourselves to Him and to His people praying with and for us. To remember that all the things that distract us dull our senses to the most real relationship we have in this life and the next.

Breaking the Stigma of Mental Illness – One Song at a Time – Kathy Powell

“Centering Prayer,” written by Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett — and featuring Andrew Peterson and Leslie Jordan — invites the listener to a sense of groundedness with its calm melody. The lyrics give language to a clinically recommended practice of grounding that invites practitioners to reconnect with themselves in the present. The song, with lyrics asking for God’s help to “be where my feet are,” is itself a tool for calming anxieties and opening a more accessible prayer experience.Kathy Powell

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes – Facebook

Worship with me…by just listening to this song, preparing to pray, or singing it with lyrics below:

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I chase my worries

I flee my sorrows

But what You give me

Is now

So take my burdens

And my tomorrows

I wanna be where my feet are, mmm, mmm

Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna breathe the life around me

I wanna listen as my heart beats, right on time

I wanna be where my feet are

I run to capture

The next horizon

But what You give me

Is here

I get no farther

And still I find You

I wanna be where my feet are

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)

The ground below me

Is how you Hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are

The ground below me

Is how You hold me

I wanna be where my feet are (on repeat)*

*Lyrics to Centering Prayer – Songwriters: Brian Eichelberger, Nicholas Chambers and Kate Bluett

The Porter’s Gate Hopes to Bridge Gap Between Mental Health and Faith With New Album – Kathryn Post

A Saturday Too Quiet…Then Clarity: Room For God…Be Still My Soul – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Corrie Ten Boom Quotes, Facebook

Worship Wednesday – Broken Things [Beautifully Restored]- Matthew West

Photo Credit: Heartlight

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:4-10

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.”1 Corinthians 1:27-29

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:2-3

We hear the word broken almost daily – in descriptions of our world, a government, a system. Also on a more personal note: a marriage, a family, a friend. Maybe we’ve even used the word to describe some part of our own selves. Broken doesn’t have to be forever. My parents grew up in the Great Depression’s years of deep poverty. You didn’t throw anything away. Broken could always be fixed. In fact, even when not restored, sometimes broken things could still be used…well enough.

I heard this song, for the first time, today. Broken Things by Matthew West. It got me thinking about my own brokenness. Some things are obvious – weaknesses, timidities, and flaws of all sorts. Other things in my life I’ve probably done a good job of concealing, or deceiving myself that I have.

It doesn’t really matter in the end. What matters is what we do with our brokenness. Those things in our lives we consider broken are not a problem for God. He is a master re-shaper of broken. He turns those parts of us into some beautiful and good and even glorifying to Himself.

Matthew West describes the message behind the song Broken Things:

“We all have brokenness in our lives. Whether it’s a broken dream, a broken relationship, or just a broken piece of ourselves that we carry around. But God uses broken things. That’s what this song is about. It’s a reminder that God doesn’t look for perfection, He looks for a heart that’s willing to be used.

Photo Credit: Quote Addicts

Worship Wednesday – From Bitterness to Brokenness – Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Thomas Watson

Reflecting on brokenness takes me back to the account of Job’s life and losses. God allowed His faithful servant Job to experience such awful pain and sorrow that few (if any) of us will ever know. So devastated was Job, he was left only with a grief-weary wife and a few friends who taunted more than comforted him. Yet, Job did not turn from God. He cried out to God in his deep confusion, angry at times, grieving, complaining, trying to sort out the reasoning that brought him to the darkness of his life. God did not remove Himself from Job, nor did Job remove himself from God. In fact, God rebuked Job’s friends and told them to seek Job’s prayers for themselves to prevent God’s judgment on them. He also blessed and restored Job. [Job 42]

Some of our brokenness we can understand – consequences of our sin or that of others on us. Brokenness can also seemingly be without reason or justice. Job landed well in God alone. God was always his resting place, his sanctuary. Job knew the answers lay with a loving Father. He did not allow pride, pain, or shame keep him from the Lord. May we follow his example.

May we surrender the broken things of our lives into the hands of a God who won’t shame us for them but will restore us to be used of Him mightily here and to be kept for His kingdom forever.

Where else would we go?

Worship with me in the healing truth of Matthew’s West’s Broken Things:

If grace was a kingdom, I stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all the mistakes that I’ve made
Oh, but I heard a whisper as Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown”

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours

[Verse 2]
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
Oh, it’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
All the misfit heroes You chose, tell me there’s hope for sinners like me

[Chrous]
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I’m all Yours
I’m all Yours

[Outro]
Grace is a kingdom with gates open wide
There’s a seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
*

*Lyrics to Broken Things – Songwriters: Matthew West, A.J. Pruis, Jason Houser

What Does the Bible Say About Brokenness? – Got Questions

God Uses Broken People – 4 Reasons God Uses the Weak to Do Amazing Things – Diane Shirlaw-Ferreira

Scorning Its Shame – Adam Moran

Scorning the Shame – The Disciple-Making Parent

Photo Credit: Heartlight, Lanny Henninger

Worship Wednesday – These Days – Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Faith Chapel

“Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:14

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”Jeremiah 29:11-13

For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good purpose. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.Philippians 2:13-15

Singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp‘s song These Days first came to my awareness last week when it was playing on our Christian radio station (WPER). I searched for it on YouTube after stopping the car, and it wasn’t even posted yet. Nor could you find the lyrics anywhere. It was that new. Finally, it’s now posted. For such a time as this. The lyrics, simple but profound, stopped me in my tracks. He sings of us being born “in just the right place, at just the right time”. He encourages the listener not to be afraid because “maybe we were made for these days”.

When you think about it, of course, we were made for these days!

It’s how God does things. In the US, 2024 is an election year. No matter what side people politically align, everyone is squaring their shoulders in some sort of aggressive or protective maneuver. We measure the events of our world and the people attached to those events and we make the judgment: “You’re either for us or against us.” We as Christians may enlarge that to “for God, or against God”.

There is much more at work here…but much of it lies under the surface, or maybe even in the heavenlies.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

What is going on in our world today changes absolutely nothing about God’s promises, His claims, and His calling in our lives. He means for us to trust Him and to walk by faith in Him.

I’m often drawn to Paul’s passage to the persecuted church in Rome (Romans 5:1-5):

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Whatever news reports come to our attention, whatever doomsday commentary seems true, whatever terror feels too close by, we as followers of Christ are to respond in faith. Not in ourselves, or our country, but in Christ alone. We reach out in compassion to those in need, we pray for our country and others, we encourage one another with what is true, and we walk in faith, daily obedient to His Word, through the power of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory!

Jeremy Camp gives the story behind his song: “I remember writing this and just thinking about what’s going on in our society — a lot of the chaos that’s going on and a lot of the fear. A lot of people are feeling like, ‘Why am I here? What’s my purpose? Why was I born at this time?’ [Like] Esther, back in the Old Testament, where it says she was born at ‘such a time as this’ to stand up for her people, God has given us a purpose and a reason for being here. I really do want to encourage you God has you here for a reason. He doesn’t make mistakes. He has a plan and a purpose for you. You were born for such a time as this to truly be a light in a dark world.”for K-Love Radio with Lindsay Williams

Worship with me.

These days my heart’s always on the run

These days the world’s spinning out of control

Ooh-ohh

These days are fast and they’re furious

Feels like the worst is ahead of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Sometimes it’s hard to feel at home, but

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

What if the beauty isn’t crushed?

It just needs the hope that’s inside of us

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

What if it’s more than a destiny?

What if we’re part of a masterpiece?

Ooh-ohh

Ooh-ohh

Until our father brings us home

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days

To stand when it gets hard

To love with open arms

It’s something to embrace

Maybe we were made for these days

I believe that you and I

Are in the right place, at the right time

God called us by name

And He doesn’t make mistakes

I know we were born to shine bright

In a dark world that needed some light

Don’t have to be afraid

Maybe we were made for these days

Maybe we were made for these days.*

Postscript: Even in the hard, God gives us reason to rejoice and live in a deep peace and steady hope. In YouTube’s recommendation column (beside Camp’s song above), I discovered Lauren Daigle‘s song “These Are the Days”. Very different to Jeremy Camp’s song, but…still thought-provoking and riveting. In Lauren’s story about the song, she wrote the lyric in the excitement post-COVID of returning to the stage, but greater still, Christ’s return being on the horizon. In her song of jubilation, this lyric stands out: “If it’s not good, then it’s not over!”. It reminded me of Hastings’ lyric in last week’s Worship Wednesday: “Then if You’re not done workin’, God, I’m not done waiting.”

We, as believers, have more reason than ever, in hard and confusing times, to wait on the Lord. To look, in readiness, to our Deliverer and our Conqueror…to the exquisite Lover of our souls. Hallelujah!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all. – from David’s Psalm 103

*Lyrics to “These Days” – Songwriter: Jeremy Camp

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Monday Morning Moment – Healing from Sorrow and Grief – with Adam Young, Francis Weller, Curt Thompson, & Jesus

Photo Credit: C. S. Lewis, Allume

So much sorrow and grief in the world…if you clicked on this blog at all, with such a sober title, then you are facing what is true for you, and for all of us.

Take a moment more and let’s sit together over this. Or if you have 2-3 friends or family members you deeply trust, gather them for a talk that will begin the healing of both a current grief or a distant sorrow. Losses, whatever they are, endure in our minds and bodies. If we leave them unshared, we still attend to them, either by the work of keeping them buried or by numbing them with the aid of our idols or addictions.

“When I stopped trying to block my sadness and let it move me instead, it led me to a bridge with people on the other side.” … I learned that sadness does not sink a person; it is the energy a person spends trying to avoid sadness that does that.”Barbara Brown Taylor

When you think about a sorrow, grief, or loss in your own life (current or past), what comes to mind? Something always comes. We are all experiencing a global sorrow in the war brewing in the Middle East. Here in my town, a young widow and an older one are daily finding their way forward through grief. For you, maybe it is a past loss of great import…or even one you think is only important to you. If it’s important to you, it matters to those who care about you. We self-edit and compare our sorrows, but they stay strong and real in our own life experience.

What can we do to heal the ache of these sadnesses? To refuse to isolate ourselves and our losses from community? To experience hope again?

Just today I came across the incredibly helpful series of podcasts on sorrow and grief by the therapist Adam Young.

How to Heal from Sorrow and Grief – Part 1 of 5 – Adam Young Counseling – Podcasts 132-124, 137, & 138

Adam Young describes the four conditions needed to allow us to work with sorrow and grief:

  1. We own that our sorrows and griefs matter and should be taken seriously.
  2. We need to gradually move from a posture of contempt toward our sorrow and grief to a posture of compassion and kindness and welcome.
  3. We need to find a few people who can be the village for us… allowing us to risk sharing our sorrow and grief with other people.
  4. We need to move our bodies in a way that allows for the integration and release of our sorrow and grief. Adam Young

We can be very hard on ourselves regarding our sorrow and grief, because somehow we think we should get over it or not care so much or ___________________________ (fill in the blank). Even when we push our grief into the deep interior of our minds, or we try to forget through our “drugs” of choice, it is present. Closer to the surface than we imagine.

Photo Credit: Francis Weller, Pilates Embodied, Pinterest

In the above podcasts, Adam Young quotes psychotherapist Francis Weller extensively, which is a huge help for those of us who have yet to read Weller’s book The Wild Edge of Sorrow. Weller emphasizes the impact of grief over time, on our minds and bodies and relationships. He encourages community as the place, or people with whom, to release our sorrow.

Francis Weller Quotes from his book The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief

I’ve been reading The Deepest Place by Dr. Curt Thompson (the fourth book he has written and the fourth book of his I have devoured!). Thompson talks about the common nature of suffering in all our lives. Once we embrace that fact, then we can be more open and honest with “villages” of people who are there for us…and we for them. This has been so healing for me as I’ve opened up about my own sadness regarding the rupture of my extended family and the pain we have all suffered from it.

A group of us just today were hearing an update from a friend who has endured through a chronic illness for which her doctors have found no solution…yet. She is tired and struggling. Reading Thompson’s chapter on perseverance reminded me of her ordeal. Her faith in God and her determination to keep open and close to her community have given us all hope that the future will be brighter for her…and we will be there with her for it.

Healing from Trauma: the Power of “Being With” – Parts 1 & 2 (Podcasts episodes 141-142) – With Curt Thompson MD and Adam Young

That new landscape that C. S. Lewis talks about (in first image above)? It’s one we have the privilege of seeing together when we show up for one another…especially in sorrow and grief.

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Being Known Podcast – Season 7 – Confessional Communities – Curt Thompson MD

Worship Wednesday – A Lament on War – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

Many say of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.Psalm 3:2-3

Blessed be the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I give thanks to Him with my song.Psalm 28:6-7

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.1 Peter 5:7-9

Last night, in the car leaving his taekwondo lesson, our 7 y/o grandson wanted to talk about the most recent conflict between Israel and Palestine. I was shocked that he knew about it given such an adult situation. Maybe he heard his parents talk. Maybe they were praying as a family for the conflict…now war.

He had amazingly mature thoughts and questions about it. You can imagine that it led to a discussion that went all the way back to Adam and Eve and all the way forward to Heaven and Hell. He wondered if America would ever have war and what that would look like. We talked about both the sadness of the situation for Israel and Palestine, and we talked about what our response as Christ-followers must be.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s. During the Vietnam War era. I also grew up with a mom who taught us not to hate. It was never acceptable. If we loved Jesus then we did not have the privilege or luxury or burden (however you see it) of hating another individual or group of people. It went against everything we understood of Jesus, including His very own teaching to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).

During the Vietnam war, the culture was mixed (as it is today) with opinions on what was right and what was wrong. In high school, I wrote letters of encouragement to soldiers (brothers, friends, and sometimes strangers who became penpals). Writing to boys only a few years older than me…gone to war.

In college, I, like so many others, participated in protests of a too-long and too-costly war. Protests and prayer vigils.

The music and film of that day reflected our struggle. Some of the songs that have stayed with me for all these years have been “Teach Your Children Well”, “Children Will Listen”, and “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”. Do you know them?

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

YouTube Video – Mandy Patinkin Sings You’ve Got to be Carefully taught; Children Will Listen Medley

In these days, we cry out to God for the sake of Israel and Palestine…and the rest of the world, not knowing what will happen in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

It feels very weighty.

A lament to God…many laments…are appropriate.

Photo Credit: YouTube

In the book study When You Pray, author/speaker Jennifer Rothschild gives 5 elements of lament:

  1. Address God. (Focus your prayer on the One who hears and answers.)
  2. Pour out your heart. (Bring Him your complaints and concerns.)
  3. Request help. (Ask God for what you need.)
  4. Express trust. (Affirm your faith in His character and His Word.)
  5. Praise Him. (Worship Him because He is worthy.)

“Confessing trust in God is the hinge that turns our grieving into grace, tears into trust, and worries into worship.” Jennifer Rothschild

If you’re like me, you’ve lost confidence in much of what we see in the news. Or at least, we sift through several accounts of events to determine what might be true.

This I know: something catastrophic is happening in the Middle East right now which will most probably have a wide ripple effect into coming generations. There is much to lament here. God’s face is the only one to which we can look with complete trust and confidence.

So here we are…

Worship with me to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir‘s rendition of the lament in Psalm 3.

Many are they increased that troubled me
Many are they that rise up against me
Many there be which say of my soul
There is no help for him in God

But Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

[Repeat]

I cried unto the Lord with my voice
And he heard me out of His holy hill
I laid me down and slept and awaked
For the Lord sustained, for he sustained me

Thou, oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, oh Lord are shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head

[Repeat Twice]
For Thou oh Lord are a shield for me
My glory and the lifter of my head
Of my head
My head*

*Lyrics to Thou O Lord as sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Trauma and an Early Morning Exercise Toward Flourishing

Photo Credit: Medical News Today

Early riser here. In fact, I rarely need an alarm.

In other seasons of life, the morning came with joy. For some time now, I have struggled with negative thoughts…not so much anxiety or depression as much as a certain sense of feeling undone.

Since reading Tyler Staton’s Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, my morning routine has changed some. No more mindless scrolling through various social media on my phone. It is no longer within reach. Once up, I make my bed. That lifelong routine continues. However, while still in bed, just barely awake, I now do two things to clear my head and set my heart for the day.

1) I recite the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). This is actually the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they asked him to teach them how to pray. Whether you have a relationship with Jesus or not, if you believe in God, this prayer is one you can embrace. A friend, younger than me, said to a small group of women recently in a study on prayer, “We should memorize the Lord’s Prayer”. It struck me as odd because, in my generation, we learned the Lord’s Prayer in school. Led by our teacher, we recited it as a whole class every day along with the Pledge of Allegiance. Whatever our religion or lack thereof. Until 1962, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled school prayer (led by teachers) unconstitutional.

This prayer helps me to turn my thoughts to God and the creeping uneasiness changes more to hopefulness.

Photo Credit: Lutheran Homeschool

2) I recite Psalm 23. This psalm, often referred to by its first line “The Lord is my Shepherd”, was written by David, a shepherd himself before he became king. In meditating on this psalm, I’m reminded of God’s care of his sheep. No matter what happens, he keeps his eye on us. He provides for us, anticipating our every need, and welcomes us Home to be with Him at the end of our lives.

Photo Credit: ChristArt

These two passages are easy to memorize and even easier to make part of a morning routine They have done wonders for my waking to a new day.

So what does this have to do with generational trauma? I’ve written often about this previously (and strongly recommend reading these pieces if you haven’t already).

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Sin and Trauma – Don’t Trip Over What’s Behind You – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Sins of the Fathers – Neglect and Abandonment – It Stops Here. – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Abuse – Where Does It Begin and How Do We Respond? – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Jennifer Nurick

We have all experienced some sort of trauma through our families, across generations. Some (including in my own family) would rather not “go there”, and I understand. However, it is in recognizing our trauma and taking steps toward healing that helps us to avoid continuing the trauma in our children and grandchildren.

As adults, we want the same things our children need – to be safe (no “bracing for impact” in relationships), to be seen (truly known by those most significant in our lives), to be soothed (our emotions understood and acknowledged, without judgment, even when they are big and out of proportion), and secure (that no matter what, we are loved. Our persons are NOT leaving the room).

Whatever we may have experienced as children, we can alter our present. Whatever we did as young and overwhelmed parents, we can move, with love and insight, to a better situation with our kids. The past is just that…the past. We can be truly with each other, in the here and now…if we are brave and willing to be humble.” – Deb Mills

The major component of trauma in my own life was abandonment. I don’t know about my grandparents’ childhood, but from my grandparents’ adulthood through the present, my family has felt the sting of abandonment. It is generational and can not only affect us but our children as well. Abandonment is a very real source of trauma and can actually find its way back up the family tree, if we don’t do the work of rooting it out. [The longer stories are in my blogs above.]

What better way to start each day praying to and meditating on a Father who will NEVER abandon his children!

[Below you will find further resources on generational trauma and a helpful graphic on the power of showing up.]

Photo Credit: Dr. Dan Siegel & Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

Breaking the Chains of Generational Trauma: We Don’t Have to Pass Down Everything We Inherit – Elizabeth Dixon

Monday Morning Moment – Righting Ourselves After Betrayal – Deb Mills

How does trauma spill from one generation to the next? – Rachel Zimmerman

Generational Trauma: Breaking the Cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Jakob’s Family: The Psychology of Generational Trauma

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar & Oppenheimer, Solitude, “Til You’re Home”, Two Phenomenal Reads, and International Food Festivals

Friday Faves – Go!

1) Beyond the Guitar & Oppenheimer – When Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar takes a brilliant orchestral work and arranges it for a single guitar, magic happens all over again. He accomplished this most recently in his arrangement of Ludwig Göransson‘s Can You Hear the Music? from the film Oppenheimer.

Heartbreakingly beautiful!

Sidebar: One exchange between Robert Oppenheimer and Niels Bohr has stood out and intrigued the audience. It was an encounter between two of the most brilliant minds the world has ever known. But one of the most puzzling aspects of their meeting is Bohr’s cryptic comment to Oppenheimer. What exactly did Bohr mean by:

“Algebra is more than just reading. You have to hear the music.”

“Can you hear the music?”

Niels Bohr’s words, in essence, capture the very spirit of scientific inquiry. His comparison of algebra to music wasn’t merely a poetic expression but a profound insight into the nature of mathematics and, by extension, the nature of scientific discovery. Bohr was trying to convey that, much like how music is not just about reading notes but about feeling and understanding the melody, algebra, too, is not just about reading equations but about comprehending the underlying patterns and principles.Pooja Mishra

2) Solitude – [Adapted from an earlier blog of mine] – During my angsty teenage years, I would sometimes slip away from my house full of brothers and sit by the lake nearby. It was there that I wrestled with the “what if’s” of life, along with the “what was’s”. Alone, but not truly. Within my thoughts, quietened in those moments, was also the presence of God. In that solitude, anxieties would get reigned in and perspective returned. The walk home was always so much better than the walk down.

Photo Credit: Succedict

Writer, philosopher Zat Rana caught my eye with his article The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You. Turns out his view of that most important untaught skill is solitude. That ability to just enjoy being alone. Sitting or walking alone. Lost in your own thoughts. Except for a self-portrait for a photography class, you won’t see many signs in my life that solitude comes easy.

Life is peopled. As an extrovert and helper by nature, I have long thrived in the company of others. However, getting older, alone time has become more my experience than in previous years. Is that its own springboard to flourishing?

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Blaise Pascal

The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught YouZat Rana

According to Pascal, we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction, and we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind.

The issue at the root, essentially, is that we never learn the art of solitude. – Zat Rana

My husband, the consummate introvert thinker, often sits by himself at dawn and dusk to recharge. For him, solitude is something that has come naturally. He has been a model for me in practicing solitude.

Rana also talks about how technology has connected us in a myriad of ways but the connectedness is more virtual than real. – We now live in a world where we’re connected to everything except ourselves.”

“Our aversion to solitude is really an aversion to boredom…we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just being rather than doing. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs. We ignore the fact that never facing this nothingness is the same as never facing ourselves. And never facing ourselves is why we feel lonely and anxious in spite of being so intimately connected to everything else around us.”Zat Rana

Everything I Have Learned in 500 Words – Zat Rana

8 Ways to Embrace Solitude – Virginia Thomas – practical helps in embracing solitude

The Joy of Solitude: Loneliness as a Subjective State of Mind – Neel Burton – excellent resource on solitude as a prevention against loneliness

5 Must-See Monasteries in Virginia, USA

3) “Til You’re Home” – If you’ve ever lost someone dear to you, the song “Til You’re Home” will resonate to your core. Actress, producer, singer/songwriter Rita Wilson brings this song to the screen in the beautiful film “A Man Called Otto”. Wilson wrote the lyrics with David Hodges and performed it with singer Sebastián Yatra.

In the articles below, Wilson is interviewed about the inspiration for this song. My main takeaway was how she was comforted by a friend, after her father’s death. He told her, “The conversation continues.” I so experience that. After the death of my mom, in particular, but also many others, including my older brother with whom I had a prickly relationship but one that sweetened before he died and continues to do so…in ways this song communicates.

I watched the film above while on a flight. Crying doesn’t come easy for me, and the tears flowed.

Watch the movie and enjoy the song and think about the richness of our relationships both in the present and in the between times (from past to forever).

Rita Wilson Talks Singing and Writing Original Song for Tom Hanks’ ‘A Man Called Otto’: Listen (EXCLUSIVE) – Clayton Davis

Rita Wilson Found Her Voice (Literally) Through Songwriting – Hilton Dresden

Worship Wednesday – Go Rest High on That Mountain – Vince Gill – Deb Mills

4) Two Phenomenal Reads – Phenomenal? Well, I’m counting on it. These are my next two reads. Just got them both and honestly may have to read them together. The authors are two of my absolute favorites: Karen Swallow Prior and Curt Thompson MD.

To get started – while I was waiting for launch day on both of these books, I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading reviews. Until your books come, you can also have a read or listen below.

“I hope readers are better able to participate in the necessary, ongoing process of distinguishing the principles of the Christian faith that are eternal and unchanging from the cultural stories, metaphors, and images that embody these principles in varying degrees of fidelity. Don’t misunderstand me: this entanglement with cultural narratives and ideas isn’t unique to evangelicals, nor is being creatures of culture necessarily a bad thing. In fact, living within the cultures of this world is God’s plan. It is part of being human. I think, however, that because evangelicalism from its beginnings in the western world has been so tied to political power, it has been easier for us to overlook the entanglement that is inherent to being part of any human culture. Yet, our task is no different from Christians within any Christian movement, sect, time, place, or culture.”Karen Swallow Prior, an interview with Andrea L. Turpin

Repairing the Evangelical House Means Renewing the Evangelical Imagination – Carolyn Weber

Holy Unhappiness Podcast with Amanda Held Opelt – Sanctification with Karen Swallow Prior

Norsworthy Podcast – Curt Thompson: The Deepest Place

5) International Food FestivalsEthnic foods are a favorite in our family…maybe every family. I’m talking from Afghan boulani (flatbread) to Southern biscuits and gravy.

It’s a joy to be invited to the home of friends who bring their gracious hospitality and yummy food to our part of the world. Just recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down to lunch with an Afghan family.

I’ve learned so much from our Afghan friends who came here in the Fall of 2021. Not the least of which has been how to set a bountiful table without great resources.

Our town has a host of ethnic restaurants with a few exceptions. Armenian and Egyptian are two types of food for which I’ve not found a restaurant locally. Once a year, we have the treat of international food festivals featuring these cuisines. So good!!

Next weekend, it’s the Fourth Annual Egyptian Festival. How about you? Any foodies out there? Comment below what some of your international favorites are and if you cook them at home or have the joy of a local restaurant or festival.

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That’s the latest 5 Faves. Hope you have a restful weekend and energetic start to the coming week!

Bonuses:

My Son, Superhero in Training – Rachel Friedman

Secularization Begins at Home – Lyman Stone