My Shelter

Only God could have prepared me for the coronavirus pandemic like he has. Had I known ten years ago, five years ago, even this time last year that this world crisis would come, I would have lived in total fear and tried in my own wisdom and power to prepare.

But in the midst of planning and worrying and preparing, I would not have learned all I have about God. I would not have learned how good he is. I would not have learned how deeply he loves me. I would not have learned of his faithfulness and power. I would’ve ended up living in a panic, ultimately doing it all without him. And when the crisis came, I would not have known him.

Instead, I am living through this with anticipation for all he’s about to do, and in wonder of all the ways he’s already provided. Looking back even over the last three months, I see how he’s made me ready for this.

Over the last week and a half, since this pandemic came to the US, I keep hearing over and over again from different people the reference to Psalm 91. It seems to be the hallmark passage for this crisis. Today more than ever, it means so much to me.

My take away today is that I don’t have to live in fear of what the future holds. I just need to always, in all things, trust the Lord my God. He will direct my steps and set me on the right path.

Psalm 91 NLT

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

A gift of right perspective

I’ve been a little too lax in terms of my diet lately. If you don’t know anything about my last year in food discoveries, I found out this spring that I had SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and in order to help my gut heal I had to stay way from coffee, peanuts, almonds, dairy, and all grains, among other things. My gut is healing though and I have hope that someday I’ll be able to add some of these back in, as I’ve been able to do with tomato paste. But for now this is what I’m living with.

None of these are full out allergies, but they are bad enough that my quality of life drastically goes down when I have them. For instance, grains make me depressed and sometimes anxious for days. I don’t really know the science behind why, but I’ve experimented over and over again and this continues to be the case.

When I’m faithfully staying away from all these categories, I can have the occasional “dairy” treat if I take a lactase enzyme. And I can handle going out to a restaurant if there are trace amounts of gluten. But the last couple weeks I’ve taken full advantage of those lactase enzymes and we’ve eaten out several times. And last night I was in the dumps. It was like I couldn’t think straight. Logically I knew everything was fine, but it’s like I was paralyzed from being able to do life as I normally do. Depression and anxiety does that.

This morning I’m feeling better. We stayed home from church so that I could get a good long night of sleep in. Sleep is so important when I get to this point. And I had a dream that had me waking up feeling incredibly thankful for the home that I have.

To give some perspective, I make 90% of my food from scratch these days so that I can know they’ll be free of all of the above (which is why Danielle Walker’s cookbooks have been such a lifesaver for me.) And while I love cooking and it’s been fun, I also get frustrated that so much of my time is spent “working”. I work a 40hr a week job and then come home and work at home cooking and cleaning. It’s hard to find time a good balance where I am also able to have fun and adventures.

But this dream I had last night helped me to appreciate all I have. In my dream Luke and I were living on a college campus, as dorm hosts of some kind. We had gotten the tiny dorm perfectly cozy when another couple came to move in. They also had a crazy intense friend who declared he’d be over all the time and we should “be ready”. All of a sudden the only space we had to ourselves was this little loft bedroom we couldn’t even stand up in. It was a shock to both of us.

So waking up in my own home, with just the two of us and our dogs, I felt like I had hit jackpot. I have that entire kitchen to myself to do all my cooking in. I can stand up in all parts of the house. Instead of having no privacy like in my dream, I have full privacy in a home that is cozy, quiet, and cabin-like.

It was impactful for me because when I am thrown off balance by poor eating choices, these are the things that keep me grounded. And I have this beautiful environment to keep me going strong. It’s a lot of work, but life is work, right? They key is being thankful in the midst of it and enjoying what we have. And then when we’re able to do something special and out of the ordinary, it’s extra sweet.

My to do list is pretty big today, but I’m fully equipped to handle it. Physically, and now because of a good night sleep and God’s encouragement as I slept, mentally as well.

Perspective is a powerful thing. When life gives you lemons, it makes it a little easier to make lemonade.

Loyalty and Kindness

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
    and you will earn a good reputation.
Proverbs 3:3-4 NLT

I’ve been reading in Proverbs the last couple weeks. I had gone through other New Testament books and was trying to find my next read when God put wisdom on my heart. The bible is the best place to look for wisdom – it has guidance for every situation we face in life. And Proverbs is literally a book of wisdom that was written in part by the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon.

When I read over Proverbs 3:3-4, I felt a stirring in my heart. I had struck fire. King Solomon felt that loyalty and kindness were so important that you should tie them around your neck as a reminder, and write them deep within your heart. These two simple nouns are keys to finding favor with both God and people. I feel like these are two words I need to both study and put into practice.

Kindness is straightforward enough in what it means, but not as easy to practice. Never let kindness leave you. That means in whatever situation I find myself in, with whomever I may be talking to or working with, I need to let kindness be my mode of operation. I need to be friendly, generous, and considerate with everyone.

Loyalty goes a little deeper. I’m not a scholar, so I don’t know if my interpretation is completely correct, but when I think of loyalty I think of my “people”. My husband, family, friends. When it comes to them, I need to be loyal. I need to have their backs, not speaking bad about them to anyone. I need to fight through the hurt to keep the relationship. I need to give them my undying support and love. I need to defend them and be their advocate. I need to stick by their side, just as Sam stuck by Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I can see why these two words are so incredibly powerful. Think about how relationships, how your work and home environment, might change when these are put into action.

I hope this inspires thought and action like it did for me. And I hope you’ll join me in praying that God will develop these things within us.