Christian Communicators, Christian Mentors, College age women, Mentors, Millenials, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

Scattered Together…

Scattered Together blog image

Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

We are in crazy times right now where a lot of things don’t make sense. The onset and aftermath of the coronavirus has put the whole world off-kilter. We are all trying to make sense of what it means to quarantine, stay at home, what businesses are essential and what aren’t. I wish that hair salons and nail salons were considered essential! Lord have mercy on my roots!

One of the things I’ve been thinking about during this time is the usage of various words. Words that will most definitely be added to new versions of the dictionary. And some words that now clearly go together but are oxymorons.

Oxymorons are all around us:

  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Deafening silence
  • Invisible ink
  • Electric candles
  • Sweet sorrow
  • Accurate rumors
  • Alone together

But what about this new one that has descended upon our world ~ Scattered together.
How can people be scattered but be together at the same time? Let’s take a quick look at the definitions of these two words:

Scattered: distributed or occurring at widely spaced and usually irregular intervals
Together: into or in one gathering, company, mass, place, or body

I mean, “distributed widely” and “in one gathering” simply do not make sense when put together. They are complete opposites.

How can we be so widely spaced from one another but still experience the joy of gathering? One of those ways is to remember that we are ALL going through basically the same thing. We are all being told to shelter at home, stay safe at home, wear face masks, be as isolated as possible only going out for absolute necessities.

My heart goes out to the mom’s with little ones at home, they have little to zero time to themselves. The widow/widower who is riding this out alone in their homes. To the grandparents who live in assisted living and cannot leave their rooms or see their families. Weddings that are live-streamed and new babies being born without waiting rooms filled with well-wishers. Graduations are being postponed to unknown dates.

It’s. Just. All. So. Much!

But…

There. Is. Hope!

The Lord is with us and He is not surprised by any of this worldly chaos. He did not create this disease but no matter how hard it is to wrap our brains around, He is allowing it.

There are so many examples of the Lord scattering His people in the Bible, and it is ALWAYS for a purpose.

In Genesis 9:18-20 (AMP) we read about what happened after the Lord flooded the earth and what needed to happen to fill the earth once again,

“The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth. Ham would become the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah, and from these [men] the whole earth was populated and scattered with inhabitants. And Noah began to farm and cultivate the ground and he planted a vineyard.”

Sometime later, the people of the land got together and thought they could create a tower that would enable them to reach God. Because the Lord knew this would eventually cause more problems than good, we see in Genesis 11:8-10 (AMP),

“So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the surface of the entire earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore the name of the city was Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire earth; and from that place the Lord scattered and dispersed them over the surface of all the earth.”

In the New Testament, we see how God worked through two guys arguing about what was best for the ministry of the Gospel. These were two apostles of Jesus named Paul and Barnabas were great friends and passionate missionaries for the Gospel. At one point, they argued about where to go next and who to bring with them. They both felt very strongly in their opinions.

Towards the end of the 15th chapter of Acts, we see that they did indeed end up going to minister in different areas. Paul and Silas went on a second journey to Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; while Barnabas and John Mark sailed to Cyprus.

This disagreement was between two human beings who made choices. Satan thought he had won a small battle when they stopped ministering together. But we know that he absolutely did not! In the case of Paul and Barnabas, they and their new companions ended up reaching even MORE people with the saving grace of salvation. One strand of that ministry reached into Europe and eventually America.

God, in His wisdom, will always use what the enemy plans for our destruction, to ultimately be for our good and God’s glory.

In this time of being scattered together, the church buildings are empty and gatherings are indefinitely postponed. Yet, we are together through the genius of technology. Sunday morning services are being broadcast all over the world. People who’ve never stepped foot into a traditional church building, are hearing the Good News of the gospel in their homes. Students who had been enjoying weekly gatherings are still able to fellowship with their friends and leaders on their phones. Social media has ramped up encouraging messages of hope and grace.

The Lord is still in this. He is completely aware of our fears, worries, and anxieties. And He is here with us to weather the storm.

Psalm 91(AMP) is a beautiful chapter of biblical poetry that sings of the joy we can have in knowing our security lies in Jesus. The entire chapter is worth the read, but I’ll share this first verse:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].”

There are several more verses in Psalms that are full of encouragement and this truth ~ Jesus is our stronghold and our true shelter. In all the places you feel scattered today, give all the pieces to the Lord and let Him hold them for you. Trust that He will put them back together. The pieces may look different when they are replaced, but they will be stronger and more secure in the hands of a gracious God.

Stay safe at home during this Covid-19 pandemic, shelter your heart in the shadow of the Lord, and look forward to the day when we can gather together in person and share community face to face!

 

Christian Communicators, Christian Mentors, College age women, Millenials, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, women, Women in Ministry, Women's Ministries, Writers

When the storms come…

I’m a California girl through and through. People don’t think we have weather in SoCal but we do! In the summer we’re wearing light weight clothes but at night, it can get cold…enough to put on a sweatshirt with our shorts! And once you hit September through March, you’re experiencing Winter when you first wake up, Spring in the later morning, Summer in the afternoon, and Fall by the time the sun goes down. Yeah, yeah, I know…but it’s all the seasons!

One thing that I’m used to living in SoCal is the earthquakes. I like that I don’t know they are coming. I like that they only last a minute or 90 seconds. I like that when they happen, I’m usually with people. I like that we can talk about a 30-90 second event for the next few days like we survived something tremendous. I’m thankful that I’ve never lost anyone in an earthquake, but I know plenty of people who have lost almost all their belongings in one. Including my own parents. They stayed with us in our tiny 600 sq. ft. apartment for a week after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Unbeknownst to me, they had popped in a video of the aftermath in the house while I was out doing the daily load of towels. When I came back inside, I thought they were still watching the news and I said, “Wow, those poor people. They are literally shoveling their kitchen belongings into a trash can.” My parents and husband looked at me and my Dad said, “Poor people? Well, yeah. That’s our house.” It was completely unrecognizable.

But we were in it together.

A few years later, I was visiting my sisters-in-law and their families when they lived in Naperville, IL. One of sisters-in-law had recently had twin girls and we had come for a visit. We convinced her to come out with us, just the moms, and have a day out to have lunch and do some window shopping in the cute downtown. And then it started to sprinkle. Then it started to rain. Then it began to pour like mad. And then it happened…the sirens started blaring for a tornado warning! My sister-in-law did the driving & was trying to reach her family to make sure her husband and my husband had gotten all the children down to the basement. It wasn’t funny, kinda like Mr. Toad’s wild ride and I’d never experienced such crazy rain!

But we were in it together.

That brings me to my experience last night and the inspiration for this blog.

I was alone.

I’m in the Dallas, TX area right now for a conference (shout out to The Declare Conference!) for Christian Communicators. As I was almost at my hotel, it was sprinkling a bit and the lightning show was incredible! After I was settled in, I realized I had time to get to the nearest Trader Joes to grab something for a later dinner. Then I heard a HUGE clap of thunder. I looked out my window…the rain was going sideways because the wind was so bad! Needless to say, I just went down to the lobby to see what they had; not much by the way, and I ate my frozen dinner with two coffee stirrers like they were chop sticks…it worked!

I wasn’t worried until the TV signal went out. Oh, and it cut out right after they declared a tornado warning.  WHAT???!!!! The rain, thunder, and lightning got worse. But I could still get text messages out. I didn’t feel quite so alone as I asked a few friends and family to pray for me and the whole weather situation. After about 20 minutes or so, the TV came back on and I felt confident that it’d all be okay. Some time went by and then my phone buzzed to life with a “Your area is experiencing a tornado. Please seek appropriate shelter nearby.” And then the sirens began to wail!

Are you kidding me? I was going on over an hour with this crazy weather! I called my husband just to hear his voice and he was very kind to comfort me in my fear.

So, I grabbed my phone, the charger, my clothes and tennis shoes, and my tote bag with my id and laptop in it, two of the pillows off the bed and holed up in the bathroom.  I was so thankful that my phone was charged and that through it all, that TV signal may have died, but I could still talk with my husband. I didn’t want to think about what was going on outside so I asked him to tell me every detail of an event he had gone to that night. Seriously, I wanted to hear it all. I felt safe enough to open the door after about 20 minutes because I heard the TV go back on. That must mean the tornado had passed. And indeed it had.

But in those moments…okay that 90 minutes…I was fearful and I was going through the storm alone. I didn’t want to be in that hotel room by myself. What if had been really bad? What if the tornado ripped through the place? I kept texting with my family and they kept encouraging me. They were with me, but I still felt alone. Finally around 2am I was able to fall asleep. Praise the Lord for that!

My hotel was fine, our area was totally fine, but seeing the news in the morning, it was not fine for so many people. A church, a home depot, schools, homes ~ most with their rooves blown away and trees that had landed on top of the rest. My heart broke for those who were coming back to their homes and businesses, only to find them demolished. Yesterday they had plans, but today, they are entering a season of unplanned rebuilding.

This is why we need our people in a storm. 

We need a hand to hold, a hug to comfort us, or a text to remind us that our people are praying for us. We are not built to weather a storm alone.

But through the storm last night, I wasn’t truly alone. I know the Lord was with me, but He has created community and that is why we have such a strong desire within us to be surrounded by our people. The ones who support us, calm us, laugh with (or at!) us, ugly cry with us, sit in silence with us…the ones who know what we need in those stormy moments.

We will go through storms in life, that is promised but we are also promised that they will not overtake us. The Lord will always be with us. {Isaiah 43:1-3a}*

The Lord has used storms to protect His people {Exodus, chapter 14}, to bring the Word to the unsaved {Jonah, chapter 1}, and He has used storms to remind us of His power {Luke, chapter 8}. The storms that the Lord allows to come into our lives don’t always make sense and sometimes they are extremely painful. But there is always a purpose. There is always a way out and an opportunity to bring Him glory through the stormy season He brings us out of.

I’m thankful that the One who calms the storm lives in me.

Blessings,

René

we are not alone in the storm - blog - 10-21-19

Photo by Gavin Spear on Unsplash

Isaiah 43:1-3a But now, this is what the Lord, your Creator says, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you [from captivity]; I have called you by name; you are Mine! 2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;