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“Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me..I cannot bear your worthless assemblies…They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed”
(Isaiah 1:13 -17, NIV).

Over the past few days, I’ve struggled to find the “right” words to say to the Church. Posts have been rewritten and subsequently deleted. Nothing has adequately reflected the state of my heart—until now. Honestly, if ever there was a passage in Scripture that tells us the church doesn’t always get it right, it’s this one, and now, more than ever, we need to hear it.

In case you missed it, God was downright disgusted with His people, unable to bear their meaningless, ingenuine religious offerings that simply did not marry with the actions of men with “blood on their hands.” What He truly wanted from them was this: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.”

It’s written there plainly in God’s Word, the one that was brandished like a weapon on live television as carnage raged and the voices of the oppressed cried out for change. And it’s message is as relevant today as it was then.

Let it to be our call to action once more, Church. Let’s stop sleeping and start seeking. To be defenders of those who face persecution of all kinds; to be powerful advocates for justice and mercy; to be the lights of the world that we are called to be, directing a broken, hurting world back to Him.

It takes humility to admit our mistakes, Church; to reflect on where we are and where we’ve gone wrong. To heal the hurt and repair the dividing walls between the very people we are called to minister to. But first we have to want to. We have to care enough to say “Enough!”

The question is, do we?

 

 

 

Black Lives Matter: What can I do?

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Black Lives Matter.

I’ve never articulated it before now, and honestly I’m not altogether sure why. It never affected me personally, I guess. It simply wasn’t on my radar. And for that I am deeply ashamed.

I’m ashamed that as a white woman, a mother, and a Christian, I was so woefully, inexcusably ignorant and unaware. That I saw what was unfolding all across the nation over and over again and still chose not to see. That I decided not to use my voice—with all its blatant white privilege—as a force for change in the face of inherent, obvious racism. In my silence, I was complicit—and I’m sorry.

As the mama of two little white girls, I have a weighty responsibility raising up and educating the next generation to be better, to avoid making the mistakes of this one. But first it starts with me.

Last night, at a protest in Flint, Michigan, the sheriff ordered his officers to put down their weapons and turned to the grieving, desperately hurting community before him:

“We are mad too! What can we do?”

Eight simple words that in that moment changed everything.

Eight simple words that broke down a wall and opened the door to a display of heartfelt solidarity and reconciliation between law enforcement and a community that needed to be heard.

Eight simple words that may not be anywhere close to an answer but at least it’s a start.

Thomas Jefferson said: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

It may have taken me far too long to get here—but today I stand here outraged. And I’m ready to ask the question: “What can I do?”

Are you?

Photo credit @lenikeiphotography_

 

Keep Being Tulips

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For most people, Mother’s Day was different this year.

Here in Albany, there may not have been the usual throngs of people in Washington park like every other year. The usually bustling paths were probably much quieter, the bandstands empty and silent. But though Tulip Fest may have gone virtual this year like so many other things, the tulips have not. Still they stand, stoic and tall, radiating their dazzling beauty and quiet strength—even if nobody is there to see it.

It’s a fitting analogy for moms too, don’t you think?

For no matter the chaos that may be raging all around, no matter how far from normal everyday life has become, moms are still standing, still momming—whether anyone is watching them or not.

Every day they show up. Wiping tear stained cheeks and kissing boo boos. Making lunches, and dinners, and allll the snacks in between. Schooling, working, playing, nursing; from dawn to dusk and all the hours in between they are juggling all of the things—with compassion, strength, and endless grace. Even though they’re tired, even though it’s so relentlessly hard.

So this post is for you. For all the strong, amazing, warrior women out there who never stop momming—even when things get tough. To the moms, grandmoms, aunts and honorary aunts, and all the maternal figures that have stepped in when and where it was needed. To the moms whose Mother’s Day didn’t live up to expectations, who didn’t get the recognition and fuss they deserved: Thank you—for everything. We see you. We appreciate you. And we love you.

Keep showing up. Keep standing. Keep being tulips. ❤️

A mother’s love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible” Marion C. Garretty.

 

 

Look Back

A6718092-C724-41B4-9583-D0A15B7EA1FBWe watch the devastating consequences of this pandemic unfold around the world. “Where are you?” we cry out to God. “Can’t You hear me? Why aren’t You making things right?”

Turn to the Psalms and you see a similar sentiment. Following a horrific assault on Jerusalem, the psalmist surveyed the ransacked, ruined temple and despaired at God’s silence and apparent inactivity.

We are given no signs from God;
no prophets are left,
and none of us know how long this will be”
(Psalm 74:9).

Pretty relatable, no? What about this one…

When I was in deep distress…I reached out for you with hands stretched out to heaven. Over and over I kept looking for you, God, but your comforting grace was nowhere to be found” (Psalm 77:1-2).

They were hurting, they were troubled, and they needed God to show up—now.

They could have ended their lamenting there, railing against the silence from heaven. But instead, they did something else. They chose to look back.

But God is my King from long ago…it was you who split open the sea by your power…it was you who opened up springs and streams… It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth” (Psalm 74:12).

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?”
(Psalm 77:11-13).

Their circumstances may not have changed but their perspective certainly had. Remembering the might and sovereignty of their God gave them much needed hope to hold onto, and strength to endure.

If you’re struggling today, friend, look back and remember the God that you serve. Through even the most devastating of circumstances, though the heavens seem quiet and doubt rears its ugly head, we can rest in His steadfast faithfulness. For the God of then is still the God of now. And we can rely on Him even when we have nothing else to hold onto.

He died for you once before; He isn’t going to forsake you now.

 

 

Sing to Your King

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Today was a struggle. After a contentious and challenging afternoon with the kids and a bedtime fraught with tears, I felt wearied to the bone. Physically, emotionally, and even spiritually spent, I had no words left to even pray. And then a song floated into my head—a song I had not heard in years. A song that, nevertheless, He had placed in my heart, a melody to sing to my King when I needed it the most.

Faithful one, so unchanging.
Ageless one, You’re my Rock of peace.
Lord of all I depend on You.
I call out to You, again and again.
I call out to You, again and again.
~
You are my Rock in times of trouble.
You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm,
Your love is, the anchor.
My hope is in You alone.”

The words sprang from a well deep in my soul, praise from a place of utter lack. Words that reflected exactly what my heart needed to hear in that moment, and offer back to Him in worship.

The beautiful thing is that God doesn’t require eloquence or deep theological prayers. He simply wants willingness—willingness to come before Him, battered and broken, with nothing whatsoever to offer except ourselves. And as we do so, He turns His head toward us and hears the deep cries of our hearts. He pull us out of the deep mud and mire and sets our feet upon a solid rock so we can stand secure. And He puts a new song in our mouths, a hymn of praise to our God (Psalm‬ ‭40:1-3‬, paraphrased).

What song is God putting on your heart today? Sing it to your King. 🎵

Life Always Wins

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I weave through the rows of ornate headstones, soaking in the quiet stillness of the historic cemetery close to my house. Today, my heart feels as heavy as these enormous slabs of stone.

I am grieved this Holy week. Never before has my generation faced an Easter like this, where fear and suffering reign supreme and the threat of death lurks persistently in the shadows. The heaviness of it all blankets the usual celebrations, threatening to suffocate the joy out of this sacred season.

Yet sometimes we forget that there was death, too, that very first Easter. A mother looked upon her son, close to death on that wooden tree, and cried; the disciples watched a friend closer than a brother breathe His last. How they grieved, then; how they doubted. How they must have implored the God of heaven to act—to DO something, anything. How heavy their hearts must have been as they looked upon the stone that sealed the entrance to His tomb.

But then there was Sunday; when death gave way to life and the body in the tomb breathed once more.

Even here, in this quiet, somber place, with the shadow of death all around, life bursts through. From the trumpeting yellow daffodils springing wildly from cracks in the dirt to a blossom tree erupting in a shower of pink and white, creation sings its beautiful melody. A triumphant hallelujah rising from the silence of the grave.

No matter how impossible, how unfathomable, how painful it seems right now; life always wins.

This is the undeniable power of resurrection Sunday. Light from darkness, hope from despair, redemption from brokenness, and life— life eternal—from that which once was dead.

Easter may look a lot different this time round, our usual traditions on pause, but this year more than ever we need to look to the power of the cross. We are in desperate need of a Savior in whom to place our hope—and spoiler alert, it’s not the bunny.

“In him [Jesus] was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (‭‭John‬ ‭1:4-5‬, ‭NIV‬‬).

The Parents Are Not Alright

I recently read an article called “The Parents are not Alright,” highlighting the many different hats parents everywhere are trying to wear during this unprecedented time, and the impossibility of attempting to do it all.

Yet we try anyway, don’t we? Worrying and second guessing ourselves in the process—should there be more structure, more play? Perhaps we should bake more, craft more, definitely watch less TV. We’re overstretched and overwhelmed, focusing more on what we’re not doing than what we are. And it’s not doing anyone any good.

Because in case you haven’t noticed—the kids are not alright either. Sure, they’re resilient, they “get on with it,” they adjust. But you’d better believe they are struggling too.

They miss their friends, their daily, routines, their therapies. They have words like “quarantine and virus” in their vocabularies now, and an awareness that something big is going on that they don’t fully understand. They are unsettled and sad and scared. And doing a worksheet isn’t going to fix it.

As my daughter was playing in the backyard this afternoon, I could hear the lyrics of a Laurie Berckner song floating up to where I was sitting:

“A hug from my mama, a hug from my mom.
That’s what makes me feel alright
When everything is wrong
It makes me feel good
And it makes me feel strong.
A hug from my mama, a hug from my mom.”

Be still my heart. ❤️

It‘s a solid reminder that I’m this strange unsettling time, your children don’t need you to do it all, they just need you. You are their solid, steady rock in the midst of a confusing, changing landscape. You are their normal in a world that is anything but. You are their mama, and a hug from you can make everything better, even if only for a moment.

This is the curriculum that truly matters.

So breathe, mama. Give yourself some grace. You are showing up every day on the front lines of motherhood and giving them yourself. And that, my friend, is the only thing they truly need.

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As Sure as the Sunrise

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The sun sets and rises, marking our days with its welcome predictability. The clocks move forward at the appointed time, joyfully inviting spring’s arrival—when the barren branches begin to bud and flower with signs of new life. The long-anticipated weekend is over; Sunday rolls into Monday and another week begins once more.

Amidst the trials, turmoil, and tragedy of world events, we have learned to rely on nature’s gentle rhythms. No matter what is happening “on the ground,” as it were, the predictable passing of time and seasons ground us, guide us, and give us the hope we need to keep pressing on.

For nature never pauses. And neither does its Creator.

The One who neither slumbers nor sleeps is always working. Though life as we know it shifts around us, He does not. And, therefore, even as we face a daily reality we could scarcely have dreamed of a few short months ago, we know we can count on Him—His compassion, mercy, and faithfulness as sure as the sunrise; His daily, constant presence guaranteed.
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When all that we’ve come to rely on is stripped away—the people, the places, and the daily routines that give us some semblance of security, fulfillment, and joy—we must ask ourselves: what is left? And is it enough?

As the MSG translates Lamentations 3:24: “I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”

Are you placing your hope in Him this morning as you begin this new, uncertain week? He is the rock on which we can stand; our anchor in the fiercest storm. And we can trust in the certainty of His faithfulness—as surely as the sun will rise.

Rainbows in the Storm

Today, I am thankful.

The sun shone all day and there was evidence of tiny yellow flowers budding on the barren branches of our tree. My daughters painted spring flowers this morning (thank you, Pinterest!) and delivered them to a neighbor’s mailbox, chatting to various people we met on the way (from a safe distance!). We celebrated our second week of ‘homeschool’ eating Drive Thru donuts on the swing in our yard, and my husband and I ate Thai food for dinner and enjoyed a glass of wine a friend had dropped off for us earlier in the week. All in all it was a pretty good day—a pretty good day in the midst of a pretty terrible few weeks.

Let’s not sugarcoat it. The daily news briefings are grim, fear and anxiety is rife. This new routine is relentless and exhausting, scary and unsettling for every single one of us. And there is no end in sight.

BUT, in the midst of the storms, there ARE the rainbows—and I’m not just talking about the ones displayed prominently in windows all over the Capital District and beyond. No, sprinkled throughout the day, amidst the difficulty and the weariness and the ever present fear, there is good, too. Sweet, unexpected blessings for us to notice, savor, and give thanks for.

These past few days God has been impressing Hebrews 12:1-3 on my heart: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…Consider him who endured much…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Persevering under these conditions can seem like an impossible task. And yet, we must—for what is the alternative? So we look to Jesus— the One uniquely qualified to guide and equip us through our present sufferings, offering up daily His strength, hope, courage, and yes, even joy.

Tomorrow may not be a great day, or even a good one. But if I keep my eyes fixed on Him then I CAN keep going. I CAN persevere. One day at a time.

So, let’s lift our eyes and thank Him for the blessings of today, for our rainbows in the storm. Let His goodness and faithfulness shine through the darkest of days, and let His example give us the strength to face tomorrow.

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Hold on to Hope

As we prepare ourselves to walk into the challenges and uncertainties of a new week, into a world that is very different from the only one we have ever known, there is much more I wish I could say about this beautiful verse. But since it’s already late, and this exhausted mama needs to get some rest, for now I will say only this:

No matter what tomorrow brings—worrisome headlines, dire statistics, the threat of further containment measures and disruption—we, as children of God, can hold onto hope.

When it all gets too much to handle, hold onto hope.

When the fear threatens to overwhelm, hold onto hope.

When life as you know it seems to be spiraling out of control, and you cannot see an end in sight, hold onto hope.

When the loss is just too devastating, the enemy too powerful, and you wonder if you have the strength to carry on, hold onto hope.

For this hope is an anchor for our souls, firm and secure (Hebrews. 6:19). It is a gift. It is a lifeline.

So let this verse carry you through this week, weary ones. Let it be your mantra, your weapon against the darkness. Let it be your song.

There is much we cannot do, but we CAN hold onto hope, for He IS faithful. We CAN trust in His promises, knowing that whatever we face tomorrow, He WILL walk with us through it.

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