Wednesday, March 25, 2020

In Our Spare Time?

Two weeks ago, I started a very part-time temporary job.  It's a long story, but I was needing something more consistent than dog and house-sitting as a source of income during my time in Charleston.   The Lord directed me to an assistant position in a 3K class at a local Anglican Day School.  In fact, when I contacted the director, they had not posted the need, but in fact did need a new assistant.   Just three mornings a week and no prep or take-home work, which would leave me with plenty of time and energy to focus on ministry.

I wasn't sure how I would make it my first day (which was extended a week because of my brother's death).  That Monday and Tuesday were really hard, and I couldn't imagine starting a new job.  I woke up feeling ready, though, and what a blessing!  It's the perfect setting because my mind was focused on 8 little ones who are precious and brought me laughs and joy.  That lasted two days before school was officially closed because of COVID-19.

I started the first week off with a stomach bug, but isn't it just like the Lord to use that to reset my prayer life, which had gotten out of whack in the previous couple of weeks.  I felt zero condemnation and was still communing with the Lord, but staying in bed for a couple of days really got me to go deeper.  I've spent a lot of time in prayer both for my personal life as well as for our nation and the world.  I'm thankful to have leadership who has called for national days of prayer and have participated in that.  

That first day of prayer and fasting, March 15, I received a verse from Isaiah 26:20 which says "Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by."  This helped me to go with what our leaders began recommending that very day (with school and other closures), and I've stayed put other than getting essentials when absolutely necessary and neighborhood walks.  

I'd like to share a link to an article I really liked this morning.  I think the article hi lights hidden sins (we probably wouldn't call them that unfortunately) that we need to repent of both individually, as families, and as a nation.  Let us use this unique time where we are forced to slow down and be still to draw near to the Lord and seek Him with all of our hearts.  Let us pray for those who are on the other end of the spectrum like medical workers, first responders, and food industry among others, who are working overtime.  

Back to my personal life: by the grace of God and I believe the prayers of so many, I am doing okay emotionally regarding the loss of my brother.  That said, I think it's been helpful to have a slower pace and also to be able to spend time with family whether in person or over the phone.  As always, thank you for your care and for your prayers.  The Lord be with you!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The Worst of Times and the Best of Times

I'm not even talking about COVID-19, which is the talk of the world right now and the cause for our nation's Day of Prayer and Fasting today.  May we accept our role as God's people to humble ourselves before the Lord and repent of our individual and nation's sins.

I'm backing up to three weeks ago when I was getting ready to go to North Carolina for a security training.  As I packed and drove, I thought how it was the scariest thing I've ever knowingly entered into, at least that I can think of.  It wasn't the fact that I'd signed consent forms to be yelled at, (lightly) slapped/hit or roughed around, sworn at etc.etc.; but I had read between the lines and deduced that I'd have to stay up all night out in the cold.  Those last two things are torture enough for me; and I prepared by memorizing scripture and asking for prayer.

It was indeed quite an intense week, though I felt so thankful that I was there and doing it.  We learned a lot of "common sense" safety and security measures for everyday life, as well as uncommon situations for more hostile environments.  I won't get into everything and quite honestly haven't even been able to debrief yet.  The rest of the group did our final morning, February 29.  It was supposed to be a day of celebration for having "survived" the training which I did, thanks to your prayers.  Instead, it was the worst day of my life.  I didn't even go to our last class (to debrief) because I woke up to the news that my little brother, Brad, had died the night before.  It's surreal to be writing on my blog as one of the events of the past few weeks.

It was a shock on so many levels.  My head was reeling with so many questions, thoughts, and emotions as I drove back to Charleston.  As real and stressful as the challenges I had just faced and as thankful as I was for having made it through, everything I'd experienced was based on made-up circumstances.  My little brother's death was real, and I couldn't get out of it.

The next week was a whirlwind with many, many visitors, little sleep, and making funeral arrangements.  My family was overwhelmed with love from so many: old friends, new friends, family, and especially St. Michael's Church who has been such a huge support and help in my family's mourning, grieving, and healing process from Day One.  The Lord has poured out His grace, power, comfort, and love as He continues to work good out of a very tragic situation.  

Ironically Friday, March 6th, the day of Brad's funeral, though a very difficult day, was a very good day.  Over 500 people attended the funeral, and every single person I've talked to said how beautiful it was, even the most beautiful funeral they'd ever been to.  There was so much love and a message of hope.  From start to finish, God's Spirit was there, and the Gospel was proclaimed.  It truly was beautiful which is strange to write, but the most fitting word. 
Thank you so very much for your prayers for me during two challenging events--one that wasn't even real, another that I wish so much were not.  Perhaps I can share in more detail another time (perhaps not), but please know that your prayers were felt and known to me during the training and especially the week after, not just by me but by my whole family.  I worship the Lord with thanks for each of you--for your lives and your prayers.  Thank God that we have hope that no matter what tragedy or pandemic we're faced with, that we have a God who is faithful and that "the best is yet to come."