Hope in the Face of Partiality

Today I had several moments where I thought “I am so tired of the pressure I feel/have felt living in a world where you are judged and evaluated. Your value is determined largely on a monolithic set of ideals and how well you are able to meet them!”

A “why don’t you do this?” Or “why don’t you do that.” The subtle suggestions, the critical gaze. the microaggressions, slights and statements that assume that there is only ONE RIGHT WAY to do things. One right way of the person who is offering the implicit but obvious put-down. For me the specific microaggression that sends me spiraling down this column of anxiety is:

Questioning the credibility of my story and denying the validity of my personal experience

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Living in the Helplessness: 5 Sanity Giving Truths Amid Pandemic Living

Being a teacher I believe I can confidently say that this year is testing everyone’s patience. We have had to forgo family time as we desire. Those who have lost loved ones – joining in their grief must be done safely from afar (this by far is the hardest to wish to hug & visit but need to find creative means of being there). Church has become reduced to being virtual. School is now online. Going to the grocery store is like the adult version of field trip. Politically we await to see whether the results of the election will turn the tide in an already divisive, contemptuous climate. Flu season has arrived ,and with it a surge in COVID-19 cases (although unrelated to flu season and probably due to so many asymptomatic carriers). Nonetheless we are all in a season of waiting! And we are in a season of being forced to see God’s sovereignty in action, being made to look for Him in ways we have not sought to before. If we fight the need to be still and know him more, we will hurt all the more. If we let go, we will find rest.

Finding creative ways to get together with friends, family and community has proved difficult (especially for the very cautious) beyond Zoom. However this source of great difficulty has also been a source of joy. How? The quiet, slow pace that has been forced upon us can serve to reveal our helplessness. For me, the awareness of my lack of control has been scary and life – giving at the same time. As God is teaching me more about letting go, this is where I have found his grace each day to do so a little more:

  1. Self – Care” starts with God’s Word! Let me tell you this one right here is huge! For the past 5 years I have dealt with depression at the same time of year. I would not call it this but, those closest to me have noticed it & called it just that. The first time it was a coworker who told me my desire to only want to sleep – barely eating and lack of desire for all things I love including God’s Word – needed to be checked ASAP. Most recently it was my mom. It was five years ago that journaling & Bible journaling came to serve me in these seasons especially. To flip back through Scriptures & meditate on them; sometimes just reading over scriptures I have written down has served to remind me of God’s past faithfulness , of who He is ; and to reshape my mind, my thoughts. Our thoughts lead to actions. So wrong thoughts can lead us to perpetually be stuck in a cycle that is destructive to living for God. We cannot love God if we do not know Him. And we know Him through His Word. This is what must inform our thoughts. Take the command to love others for example: If I am more aware of wrong done to me by someone than I am of my sin & God’s love for me ultimately shown in sending Jesus ; I will undoubtedly allow the fears that resulted from that hurt drive me away from being loving to anyone who I feel places me in circumstances that cause me to hurt in the same way again. Feelings are fueled by our thoughts. The most important thing we think about is God, and we cannot have rightly informed thoughts about him without seeking him in his Word. The Bible tells us to renew our minds in Romans 12. There is not a mention of feelings. This is a mention of renewed thinking. Psalm 139 says, ” Search me, God, and know my heart , test me and know my concerns.” We can invite God to search our hearts & leave no nook uncovered! There is also a joy and a peace found in praying God’s promises back to him. I love Psalm 86! David’s prayers were bold and importunate but intimate and desperate. Afterall we learn to function as we were designed when we realize that “peace is not the absence of fear but the presence of God” (Tony Evans).
  2. Strength for persevering is bolstered by community. I went camping with a dear friend beginning of October. And we were able to encourage one another as two newly married sisters in Christ. It’s a joy to be able to shoulder one anothers burdens; to know we are not alone. The enemy would want believers to think that what they are experiencing – only they are experiencing, but this is a lie! We often isolate ourselves or are tempted to feel alone in our seasons of life and the new challenges that they bring which test our faith. However, we are told over and over again the importance of loving one another, admonishing, encouraging, stirring up, and bearing one anothers burdens. We help each other persevere in the faith when we testify God’s faithfulness in our lives and share His Word with one another. Seeing God work in the lives of other believers ought to renew our commitment to fight for holiness !
  3. Prayer is relational communication with God. I have had the privilege of writing for a devotional community called Within. And during my second submission, I was reading through Isaiah. Overall in Isaiah I was struck by the sovereignty of God and his mercy displayed throughout this major book of prophecy. I especially have been convicted & challenged with what it looks like to have faith that is uninhibited by the constancy of changing circumstances & trials. When I read Isaiah 37 – 38 and saw how Hezekiah cried out to God in prayer I was floored by the intimacy here. It is not that I am unaware that God is Abba, but that I so often forget this and relate in turn distantly and coldly. I have been reading Paul Miller’s Praying Life and in it he says, “anxiety is unable to relax in the face of chaos; continuous prayer clings to the Father in the face of chaos.” God delights for us to pour out our concerns to him.
  4. Look for ways to be in awe of God; to grow in faith Ecclesiastes 3:14 says, “God works so that people will be in awe of him.” As we wait we can wait in hope knowing our God does all things well, and he will not forsake his name. I have begun to pray that God will leave me in awe of him as he works out his divine plan.
  5. Live in the Helplessness. This time is crushing the lie of self – sufficiency and revealing our utter need for God. We are helpless. And this is where I want to live : in the helplessness. I’m prone to want to be right. I want control. I want what I have prayed for when I pray for it. However, it is in my weakest, most helpless moments where I see my need for God all the more. It is in the waiting that I learn to have faith, to hope in the Lord, and cling to him more. Desperate, continuous prayer is the language of believers aware of their helplessness – coming to God heavy laden , weary and empty handed. This is how we live in the helplessness – we simply come, empty and broken, to commune with God our Abba Father and allow him to fill us up .

Avocado & Banana Smoothie

A quick favorite of mine before this 21 Day Detox has been the Avocado Banana Smoothie.

Recipe:

1 Banana

1/2 an Avocado

1 Cup of Spinach

Fresh Ginger (we like a lot – my husband asks for extra!)

1 tsp Cinnamon

** Once I added blueberries for a delicious addition. Another time I added a serving of Chia Seeds (6 grams of protein – Woah !)

Easy Pressure/Slow Cooker Vegetable Soup Recipe

I recently began a 21 detox (no meats, grains, refined carbs or processed food. Just fruits, veggies, nuts, and legumes!) and have had to pull out some classics & revamp them. One of my favorites so far is a twist on my vegetable soup. I have a Cosori Pressure Cooker (like Instant Pot) which makes cooking a breeze for many things but especially rice (which I am not eating on my detox) or soup!

The main difference in this soup from what I normally do for vegetable soup is that I decided to thicken the base (and I typically . Instead of just using diced tomatoes, I heated cauliflower with almond milk & earth’s balance + lemon juice & 2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast to thicken up the base/ make it a little creamy / tomato bisque-ish. I am not going to tell you how to season (as I often do not measure many things ha!)

Recipe:

1.) Using the Sautee function on your Pressure Cooker : Sautee garlic, onion, and seasonal vegetables (I put zucchini I had in the freezer, one 14.5 oz of can sweet corn, one 14.5 oz can of sweet peas, one 14.5 oz can of black beans, carrots, diced sweet potatoes).

[also a delicious addition is lentils & kale – I prepared these separately & just threw it in the bowl when I warmed it up to have after making it !]

2.) Add in fresh thyme, salt/pepper. I use Tony’s seasoning in everythingggg! Trader Joe’s Garlic Salt, garlic powder, and onion powder

3.) Turn off your Pressure Cooker. Place cauliflower in a stock pot with almond milk, earth’s balance (vegan butter), and seasonings (garlic powder, garlic salt, Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning) and 2 tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast along with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.

4.) Once the cauliflower is softened power in one 28 oz can of diced tomatoes and either place an immersion blender in the pot to blend or pour the mixture into your blender and blend. Adjust seasoning to taste (e.g. more nutritional yeast, Tony’s Seasoning or lemon juice)

5.) Pour base into instant pot & select the “Beans” Function on your Pressure Cooker + Cook for 6 minutes.

The Gospel & Justice

Hello friends ! I do want to make this as concise as I can – I have been thinking a lot about the racial unrest in our country (and especially how this unrest reveals a lot of ugly truth about the church at large – its complicity in segregation & racism…). I’ve been coming to grips with my own preferences, prejudices, and failings but also wrestling with how I have seen the conversation of justice play out in the local church and the church at large.

I stumbled upon a journal entry from a year ago during a time my husband and I were reading through Eric Mason’s “Woke Church,” as we wrestled with the issues which were presented in this book personally. This entry is all the more timely today as the world continues in discussions about justice and we await change in the focus of the church at large.

We had just read a section of the book entitled, “The Gospel & Justice.”

January 6, 2019

In such simple words Mason spelled out the gospel’s power in reconciling both God and man by faith and man to man by faith that we don’t have an option not to reconcile with one another due to the call we have by faith in Christ !

And it became apparent that this must shape us: “there is not an attitude of God without action; the two are one” (Austin Farrer). Get into that truth – Whew chile !

tsedaqa is Hebrew for “righteousness” and mishpat , “justice.” And dikaiosyne is the Hebrew word for “justification.” Each of these words is relational – in relation to and always derived from the character of Almighty God, Yahweh.

God created us to bear his image – to change systems; build cultures; communities; families… He created us to subdue the earth, and in doing so our kingdom activity revealing/pointing others to the need for their souls to be changed.

The gospel’s work is both intrinsic and extrinsic and yet it seems- like the Pharisees and Scribes , we get stuck on the intrinsic or we think we’re at a certain place because of our theology BUT if we stop there we fail to see and have a holistic view and understanding of the gospel.

We’re reduced to, as Mason – quoting Mathew 23:23 calls it, “many minutiae.” For the Pharisees & Scribes this minutiae was tithing herbs. The big picture is that our wrong prioritization/ focus on these minutiae neglects what Jesus tells them are the “weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”

So in our day we have to, before & with, making social justice mission statements, examine our theology – what themes in the Bible are we blatantly ignoring to focus solely on the minutiae . What is the minutiae of our day?

If our focus on these things causes us to miss out on sharing the gospel, we’ve majorly missed our call as image bearers and sorely failed to be who God has made us to be – the salt & light that shines truth and light into a broken and dark world (see Matthew 5:14-16).

We cannot

  • …Serve a holy God and ignore our call to work out our sanctification (in every area)
  • …Taste and see that the Lord is good and not share this with others
  • …Claim trust in a just God and call ourselves His people, but not do justice
  • …Tell the world we serve a God of comfort and peace but ignore the pain and chaos around us
  • … Claim to serve a God who is not partial but be partial to our preferences
  • … Claim to serve a loving God and fail to show love
  • … Claim to serve a God who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, yet be short tempered and hold grudges
  • … Revel in God’s kindness yet not be kind and tenderhearted

We are called to forgive as God in Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4: ); to love because He first loved us; to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)

So what do we do ? We don’t merely hold conversations to agree with what scripture clearly gives as a call to act. The Pharisees & Scribes certainly agreed with justice, mercy, and faithfulness as a concept, but their actions did not show this. That is why Jesus called them hypocrites. We have to act in line with the attitudes we claim to believe in relation to the character of the Lord our God who is personal and relational (not just through His Word but through His deeds – which culminated in the sacrifice of Jesus’ life on the cross for our sins – the ultimate expression of love!

Mask Off : 5 Lessons in the Age of a Global Health Pandemic

Living in the midst of a global health pandemic has been both generally and personally revelatory in nature. “Mask Off” has become a euphemism for telling it as it is. And the times we are living in have been lifting the mask off of many issues that have been concealed.

We see the issue of sin in the heart of man in a way now that is undeniable to most. While people are fighting for and losing their lives, we have seen the under appreciation for front line workers. We have witnessed the nuances of the pandemic and peoples’ responses to it but even more blaring are the health and social disparities amongst minorities and the unjust deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor , and George Floyd.

There is much to lament in the history of our country and also in our own hearts and lives; there should also be a sense of sorrow for the way we (the church at large) have neglected the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23). And how much we neglect these things along with how we spend our time is on trial because we cannot partake of all the activities we wish to. Therefore, the global health pandemic has in a sense turned us all inside out and forced us to examine our hearts, minds, motives, and actions or the lack thereof.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me think about the virus- what have we and should we learn from it? And I find it quite interesting that one of the main enzymes, the COVID-19 protease, is heart shaped.

SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV) coronavirus main protease, with inhibitor in turquoise.

Let me clarify what the heck this protease is. When a virus such as COVID -19 infects and enters a cell, it comes with some instructions called RNA (yes, the protein instructor brother of DNA). So these instructions allow the virus to make its “machinery” – proteins which allow it to do its damage. Well, this heart shaped protein is what is responsible for COVID-19 being able to form those pieces of machinery. It cleaves the protein made from the instructions into functional units.

Within our personal lives & church communities we need to pray the Lord prunes us (John 15) – removing what does not glorify Him from our hearts and disciplining us into fruitful activity!

Truth in Songs for the Weary Heart – Spotify Worship Playlist

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond ALL comparison. ” 2 Cor4:16-17

R.E.C.A.L.L Bible Study Guide [Printable]

As someone who loves bullet journaling because of the simplistic intentionality of that method of planning, within my Bible study I have been wanting to be more systematic & intentional with the time, so I created this guide. Stay tuned on how I am using the guide, and grab yours below

How I Study the Bible : R.E.C.A.L.L Study Method + My Favorite Tools

Studying the Bible with R.E.C.A.L.L

  • REST – Rest in the Prince of Peace (through Prayer)
  • ENTER- Enter into the biblical metanarrative by gathering context/background information on the book you are about to read.
  • CHEW- Chew on God’s Word, chapter by chapter. Read the book you are going through one Chapter at a time so that you can chew on God’s Word & carefully contemplate what you are reading.
  • ANNOTATE– As you chew on God’s Word, highlight/ underline key & repeated words/phrases; note cross references; outline ! In the guide I created for you, I have included a cut out you can place in your Bible to help keep track of your notes by creating a color code/symbol key for reading
  • LEARN– meditate & memorize. Jot down verses that stand out to you & verses you would like to commit to memory.
  • LEAVE- Ask (pray) what God is calling you to leave your time in the text with ? What attribute of His character is He revealing through this text? How does this text point me to Christ? What prayer am I compelled to pray in light of this text? What action am I compelled to take in light of this text?

My Fav Bibles:

Books / Resources:

His testimonies My heritage (Kristi Anyabwile)

Women of the Word (Jen Wilkin)

How to Read the Bible Book By Book (Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart)

Blue Letter Bible (different translations, word study, cross references)

The Bible Project https://bibleproject.com/

How to outline the bible : https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/bl…

Other favorites(Shown, but not mentioned)

Bible Journaling Esther 4:14

Esther 4:14 Bible Journal entry💜

This is our heritage, this is our history. A people redeemed, called by name, by God- Culminating in the birth , life, death, & resurrection of Christ whose return we now await… Until then this is our history to take up and learn… And oh is it telling, filled with HOPE of our STEADFASTLY loving, FAITHFUL GOD…


I always find it remarkable and am always blown away at the timeliness of where my chronological Bible reading falls…
It has been impressed upon me what we are called to do & largely convicting to see it in the Word…


The examples we see are blatant … The collective repentance/ confession of sin of Israel (Nehemiah 9); God’s faithfulness to His promise despite Israel’s moral compromise…
Esther did not remain silent ! Mordecai tells her their deliverance , had she chosen silence, would have come from another place BUT she and her father’s family would have been destroyed !


Learn your heritage, learn His testimonies, see how He has and promises to work on behalf of those who wait for Him. Witness His faithfulness. Pray to be moved to act in light of who He is.


This is my heritage… Nehemiah is mine… Esther is mine … Job is mine… David is mine… Asaph is mine… Paul is mine…
& So many more used by God BUT most of all :
Christ is mine & I am His.

“Perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” Esther 4:14

**Audio is All Things Are Yours Interlude Shai Linne (Lyrical Theology, Pt. 1) – Pastor Anthony Carter of East Point Church in East Point, GA.