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 .

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.

One Beat: Q Tape

My sister in law produced a project, pulling together a group of creatives for a 60 second song challenge. One beat. One theme: love.

My muse: my husband and our journey to learn what reconciliation looks like – what’s the motivation : that in reconciling God and man Jesus reconciles me and you ! Because of this we celebrate each others differences. We are fearfully & wonderfully made ! Check out the other dope creatives on the tape !

In the Clouds

“To lie and cringe beneath one’s load means death, but life and power await all those who dare to rise above. Our burdens are our wings; on them we soar to higher realms of grace; without them we must ever roam on plains of undeveloped faith”  – Mary Butterfield 

 

There’s a cloud looming overhead

God did not intend for it to harm

But to shape my heart’s dependence to the safety of His arms

In the cloud God awaits

In the loneliness, He is friend

In the sorrow, He is comfort

Amidst the chaos, He is peace

So take courage my heart and plunge into the cloud, for He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34)

Rejoice in these trials as you partake in Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Lean on the rock and know 

On the other side of life’s storms

A glory of no comparison awaits (2 Cor4:16-18)

When I am afraid, troubled, and my heart is faint lead me to the rock that is higher than I ( Psalm 61:2) 

Count it all joy – these trials- for this is not your home ! 

“[You are a pilgrim and a sojourner in this strange land of woe

Though The path is rough & steep

You’ll be going to see Your Savior

You will see the hope of faith’s promise come to pass !

You will be free and live forever in Your home with God] !”

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“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12: 1 – 2)”

God gives us trials and disciplines us that we might share in His holiness. So may we count it all joy – these – trials, for without them we’d roam through life on plains of undeveloped faith !

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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Special Surprise !

I’m super excited to share how much journaling has blessed my life.  It’s a lifestyle 🙂

I have many friends who journal (we buy one another journals) and share page excerpts with one another/ jot down prayer requests… I’m always jotting down art, scriptures and summaries, & prayers and adding images with these drawings – especially in my bible journal. Then there’s my recent obsession with lettering. I thought it was time to share !  Click on the Link below !

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2019 – 2020 Classroom Setup

https://youtu.be/y7Eqi2r5X0k

Tomorrow will mark the beginning of my 3rd year teaching high school science. This third year will also be the beginning of a new journey as I am in a different school system and school ! I will be teaching in a biology teachers classroom who is currently out on maternity leave and will be teaching physics upon her return. Fortunately there was already some posters up (bio) and a very large periodic table so my set up was much more of an organization operation ! Oh by the way – there was a tank with cockroaches in it in my classroom but we opted to have them go and live in another bio teachers classroom!

A Literary Great: Many Lessons to Learn

I have been reading a lot more lately and I got married last month. One of the things that attracted me to my husband, a shared interest, is our love of reading. And in our short time married I have already been blessed to discuss, read with, and listen to thoughts about what he is reading and share with him the same. We have a shared understanding about and a respect for time reading- the Bible and other literature. We have both agreed that one must not ever assume they have arrived in terms of knowledge because there is always something to learn and something that the Lord is teaching us.

Toni Morrison’s recent death bought me here. Revisiting things she said and wrote  prompted me to get back to being more diligent on here. Why? Because writing is not just for me. It’s not just for me – the thoughts that swirl around in my head; the analogies that help me understand a concept (yes I don’t just use these in the classroom).

Toni Morrison famously touted the idea that freedom is not just for yourself. Making a difference in this life must go far beyond self improvement. You find knowledge, you share it. You become empowered, you empower someone. If you are freed, you should help free someone else.

I love this. As Christians, is this not what we’re called to do? Making disciples… Living in community…

This is something that is getting lost in many church cultures. It’s unfortunate but many do not know how to disagree and still extend compassion; how to show grace when someone falls; and how to correct and rebuke in a manner that builds up. How can we cultivate change without sharing, praying, reading and coming together ?

I have never stopped writing but the conviction to share has begun to come from not just my heart but from others.