Putting Things In Perspective

Today I comforted my student from Ukraine whose cousin and uncle are fighting in the city. “They are still alive,” she said as I held onto her arms and watched her eyes fill with tears. “As of last night, they are still alive.”

Nothing mattered at that moment. Not verbs, not semicolons, not due dates, and not English department work dramas. Nothing mattered but holding onto my student and telling her that I was thinking of her every day, praying for her family every day, and staying right next to her to support her.

She said, “Do you think I can ask my other professor for an extension on an assignment?”

“Obviously!” I cried, “Your only job right now is to take care of yourself!”

Meanwhile, my student is organizing rallies and fundraisers. She chose the PSU slogan, too: WeAre With Ukraine. 

And I’m with her.

 

 

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We Pray

This morning, I pray for God’s power and presence to infiltrate the hearts of those in battle. We need You, God! May your good and perfect will be accomplished! May Your people know Your peace and protection today.

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Best with a Team

If you told me you were setting a new goal for yourself, you might hear this next question from me or my husband: “Where’s your team?”

Ash said this to me recently when I needed help solving a problem at work. He reminded me it’s not good to be alone and working on something alone. It’s always better to bring people in.

This morning, I remembered a different problem I wanted to solve–and a different goal for myself–so I asked if he’d be on my team for this, especially since he has a similar goals. My new favorite phrase with friends is now this: Let’s do this together!

Historically speaking, if friends and I work on our goals together, we succeed. This might include anything from our health journeys to our spiritual practices. I used to think my goals were personal and just for me; now I see myself wanting to always bring in other people to see how we can mutually grow in our goals. It goes like this:

Step One: What is the goal?

Step Two: Who else has this goal?

Step Three: How can we work together to achieve this goal?

It’s simple! I know now that we are always better together.

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Just As Excited

Late last night, we heard the news that PSU would cancel classes today. We also heard that the school district had closed school for children. It’s a snow day all around! Yes!

I find I’m just as excited as a child. I’ll sleep in! I’ll wear cozy clothes! I’ll watch movies and drink hot cocoa with tons of whipped cream!

Who doesn’t love a snow day?

In reality, I use the day off to catch up on grading while taking occasional fun breaks for a snow walk (which was much too icy and windy). I also left my desk to sample the homemade blueberry lemon scones my daughter made. Even though I have been working all day, it still feels like a glorious snow day. There’s no pressure and no rushing. It’s just relaxing work at a good pace all day long. Maybe we’ll watch a movie this afternoon. Maybe we’ll bake something special. We’ll take our time.

I love a snow day!

 

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When You’re Rushed or Pushed, Wait and Pray

I’m learning in my various leadership roles what it feels like to react rather than respond.

When I respond, it comes from a place of wisdom and prayer and from love and peace.

When I react, it comes from a place of fear, confusion, or some kind of emotion that makes me uncomfortable. Normally, I react when I feel pushed or rushed into something. I react when I feel like I must defend myself.

I’m learning it’s better to wait, to pray, to take a day to think before you respond to a situation, especially an emotionally fraught one. Not every conflict needs immediate resolution. Not every problem requires your attention in that exact moment. As leaders, we can wait, pray, and seek wisdom from God about when and how to move forward in a tense situation.

I’m so thankful for God’s mercy and goodness to help me when I’ve reacted instead of responded. Reactions often hurt others or aren’t worded correctly. They feel defensive. They often mean we seek forgiveness. Responses are loving, gentle, and seek the good of all parties.

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The Ups and Downs

This morning, I didn’t even need a coat. I opened the door to warm, balmy air. But by afternoon, the freezing air returned. I’m bundled again in mittens, hat, and coat. Worse, an ice storm will come tomorrow.

The theme of these past two years involves flexibility in the face of the unpredictable. There’s no certainty lately. There’s no sure footing, even in terms of weather.

What now? I depend upon the only certain thing: the unchanging God who orders all our days.

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Paths Made Ready

This morning, I’m struck by Hannah Whitall Smith’s description of a child fully surrendered to the care of others. She wishes for us to understand the joy and freedom of living as a “child in the Father’s house.” A child lets others meet her needs. A child lets others plan a beautiful day. A well cared for child expects only good of the day. She writes, “. . . [the child in the Father’s house] find his paths made ready, opening out as he comes to them day by day and hour by hour.”

I love thinking about God preparing our good and lovely paths today and how they will open out for us hour by hour as we live joyfully and without care as a child in our Father’s house.

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One Thing Is Needed

I haven’t read the story of Mary and Martha for a while. I find it this morning before church in Luke 10:38-42:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

I underlined “one thing is necessary” because on my daily to-do list, I quickly become Martha. Imagine the scene: Martha is a perfect hostess; she greets Jesus as the door and she’s the one doing all the work. She’s mad at her sister and then mad at Jesus for not telling her sister to help her. It seems like a legitimate complaint. She’s anxious and troubled by how much she must do. She’s overwhelmed. She’s distracted and cannot focus. Isn’t the answer to get more help?

But the answer isn’t found in getting Mary to help. Jesus answers Martha and invites her to become the kind of person who sits at His feet and listens to Him. But why? How does this solve the problem of how much Martha must do as hostess?

If Martha was this kind of woman—the kind who spent time with Jesus and listened to Him— the serving part wouldn’t seem so exhausting or hard. Martha would do things out of an overflow of the Holy Spirit’s direction and power. The serving would no longer be a distraction; it would be a calling. It would represent a joyful, focused assignment for the day.

I also think about the “one thing necessary” involving an understanding of God’s supernatural power in our lives. I’ve often thought I don’t have time to spend in God’s word or in prayer. I have too much to do. But time spent with the Lord is never wasted time. In fact, on those days when I’m overwhelmed, I need more time with Jesus. And I’m with a God would can multiply my time, multiply my resources, and supernaturally make all things work for good in the day. In Martha’s situation, God could make everything easy and light for her immediately.

One thing is needed today.

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The Snow Squall

The whiteout conditions suddenly swirled around the house like a tornado of snow. We could hardly see the house across the street. The wind howled. The blizzard covered us. And then, as soon as it blanketed the neighborhood, it left us. A snow squall puts you inside a cyclone of snow. It feels haunting and strange and suffocating, but it only lasts so long. Then, peace returns.

So while it’s happening, you stay in place. You wait it out. You observe the strange beauty of it. I like to remember snow squalls when life feels blanketed in confusion or uncertainty or even sadness or hopelessness. It won’t last long. In fact, usually, a snow squall only lasts 30-60 minutes at most. Of course, it feels much longer. But it does end.

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