Four Simple Thoughts For Facing This Season of Unknown

Right from the outset, I think you and I have something in common to talk about, no matter where you are on planet Earth. We’ve never faced a pandemic like COVID-19. But here we are, friend. We’re facing it. And my sole purpose in clickety-clacking my fingers across the keys today is to encourage you with a few simple ideas. I hope these practical steps will help you face this thing with bravery and perseverance so that someday you’ll look back and smile, thinking about what important things were forged in your soul in this very hard place.

Neither of us have much experience in this particular area, I know. It’s hard to know what next steps to take. But last year, my eight-year-old, Blake, was in the hospital for a long and heavy seven week period. (Many of you who’ve read here for a while know this already!) Living in crisis mode for an extended period taught a few lessons to my soul —  both because of successes and because of great mistakes. So from one human being to another, I’m hoping to impart a little bit of hope and strength and grace to you, out of one life-or-death journey, believing it can speak to another life-or-death journey — the one we’re all facing right now.

I’ve put this advice inside four simple points, and I hope they will be a breath of encouraging fresh air to your soul…

1. Establish a (Temporary) New Normal

One of the greatest things you can do for yourself right now is decide how you are going to live during this unique season. For many of us, the new normal is confinement at home. Isolation is hard. We were created to live in community. Out of love for our neighbors, isolation and helping reduce the spread of this virus is a great choice. For those who are health care workers, we are praying for you. As you may find yourself isolated at a hospital instead of outside of it, I pray you can find a temporary new normal as well. Here are some suggestions for what establishing a routine could look like.

  1. Get up at the same time every day. Shower and get dressed. Just because you’re not leaving your house doesn’t mean you don’t still have a life to live and work to do. Many people who regularly work from home speak to the benefits of getting dressed and treating their day like a work day, even if the commute is from the kitchen to the home office.
     
  2. Exercise. Your body needs this now, like always. Try downloading an app on your phone to guide you through a workout or hit your own home gym if you have one. Exercise will boost your mood, reduce the risk of depression, and mean you don’t develop a COVID-15 during COVID-19.
     
  3. Plan your day. This is especially helpful if you have children. {I’ve shared some ideas for all you suddenly homeschooling parents right here.} If you can continue to work from home, schedule the hours where you’ll be doing that work. When is lunch? When is quitting time? Don’t let the hours drag on and blur together. A schedule and rhythm for the day gives peace and order to the souls of the children in our care — but I’m confident it can benefit us adults just as much. Sometimes, when we’re feeling discouraged by the weight of what’s happening in our world, we need a little schedule to tell us what to do, to encourage us to keep going.

    “One foot in front of the other” was forged into our souls last year, and it’s great advice. Maybe this is a great time to check in with old friends — schedule some catch-up calls. Maybe it’s time to finish that project you started and shoved in a closet last year. The point is, don’t let your day happen to you. You get to decide what to do with the time you’ve been given.
     
  4. Go to Bed at a Reasonable Time. This is the shampoo, rinse, repeat part of the equation. Now is NOT the time to start a bingewatching habit. Go to bed at a reasonable time so that you can get up, exercise, get dressed and live fully into the routine you’re establishing for yourself. Your body needs rest — probably more rest than you were giving it a few months ago. This could be the time to establish a new normal that you’ll want to carry on once the world is back in business.

2. Stay Informed, But Don’t Stay Afraid

When we had no idea whether or not our son was going to survive, we did everything we could to understand as much as we possibly could understand about his condition. We knew what each of those wavy lines meant that moved across the vital signs monitor above his bed. We knew when his ICP’s were getting too high. We watched pulse Oxygen, blood pressure, heart rate and EEGs with fierce affection. With a non-medical educational background, I was swimming in foreign territory, but I learned the waters quickly and began praying very specifically. 

Sometimes, though, there was a whisper that came to my soul and taught me something new about trust: Keep Your Eyes Above the Waves. Those six words were a whisper to my heart that spoke volumes. Yes, Blake was in grave danger. Yes, those numbers on that screen mattered. But God was (and is) still on the throne. I had to trust that He had the final say in whether Blake would survive. 

It is important for us to know what is going on in our communities. If there is a Shelter in Place, barring some significant internal conviction of the Holy Spirit, it is right for us to obey it. If help is needed in our community, we should be aware and help when and how we are able. The bell curves and bar graphs will continue to fluctuate like waves across our screens. More people are contracting this virus. More people are dying. We must come to a place where we are certain in our hearts that the voice that spoke and calmed the Sea of Galilee can speak and calm the waves crashing around our world right now. We will trust Him and we will pray for Him to do exactly that, and be glorified in all of this.

3. Live On, and Live With Gratitude

If you’re reading these words, you are still here. You still have breath in your lungs and a life to live. Don’t stop living this one precious life you’ve been given. We learned this in our own forty-eight-day fire last year: every hard place is also an opportunity. We grew closer as a family. We experienced this incredible wrapping-around-us love from our community that was unlike anything we’d ever felt before. And we felt the nearness of God — as He truly does come close to those who are weary and heavy-hearted, burdened and facing hard places. And, as incredulous as it sounds to say it, there are precious moments from that season that we look back on with fondness and even miss, now that they are in the rear-view mirror.

If you see this season as an opportunity, and you choose to hold tight to the hand rails, trusting God to bring you safely through this roller-coaster ride, you might find gifts in unexpected places. We are losing loved ones, and it is heavy. It is right to grieve. It is right to feel sad. This is not an encouragement to force yourself into unrealistic emotions. But it is a challenge to remember to keep living. To trust the sun will shine again. To remember this season is not forever. 

You can live this out practically by cooking good meals. Enjoy the loved ones that may join you in isolation. Try something new that you might continue to do when all this has passed, like watching a cooking class or learning to identify different species of birds. Try learning a new language or try your hand at calligraphy or watercolor. The key ingredient is to look for the gifts. Give thanks when you hear a bird chirping outside. Give thanks for the food you have on your table. Give thanks for the loved ones you have nearby, or the ones you can communicate with thanks to technology. And give thanks for that tech!


4. Choose to Believe ‘It is Well’ — No Matter What

Last, I’m reflecting on one more moment in my journey last year that built strength into my soul and gave me peace for the journey. Close to two weeks into our hospital journey, I was pacing the halls trying to articulate something to a friend on the phone. I came to this conclusion. “I have to come to a place in my soul where I’m not putting my hope in Blake surviving this. I have to put my faith in the goodness of God, no matter what.” Was I going to pray like crazy for our son to be healed? Absolutely. But I also just felt I couldn’t live in this limbo, I needed to get to a place in my soul where I could say, “Lord, I’m going to trust you — No Matter What. I believe You are good. I believe I will see Your goodness here. Somehow, You will make this good. I won’t stop loving You or following You. No. Matter. What.” 

If you are a believer, I want to encourage you to find a place in your soul to say the same thing. Goodness is in the very character, the very nature of God. There is brokenness in this world, yes. There has been ever since the Fall. But He is always in the business of redeeming. He is always in the business of making broken things beautiful.

Friends, this is indeed a hard place. It is hard to live in uncertainty. It is hard to live not knowing what tomorrow will bring. But Corrie Ten Boom put it so eloquently when she said,

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

We truly never know what tomorrow will bring. But we should never stop believing in the God who does.

xCC

I sure hope this was an encouragement to you today! Could you use some more encouragement during this crazy pandemic? If so, you can subscribe and never miss my (weekly) posts by clicking right here. I’ll do a happy dance, and you’ll get encouraging words in your inbox once a week! (I’ll also send you an awesome Meal Plan Step-by-Step Guide…  Definitely a win/win! Hint: I Instant Pot like nobody’s business. 

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Shouts, Whispers and Your One Precious Heart (Prov. 4)

Want to Jump In to Proverbs 4? Click here.

Hi there! In case you missed it, I extended an invitation a few weeks ago to join me in walking through Proverbs. Jump in ANY time. You can read the chapter we’re looking at before reading on (optional but definitely good for you if you can swing it!) I also recommend asking a friend to join you on the journey. (Click this link to take you to the introduction to this series if you want to know more.) I think we might need this wisdom these days more than ever!

One of my kids asked a very important theological question at the dinner table: Did Adam and Eve have bellybuttons? We discussed the possibility that they did, just for show, and the possibility that they didn’t, since they would not have had an umbilical cord, being created by God Himself and all.

One confident child amongst the bunch made a suggestion he was sure would answer the question:

“I know, Mom! Ask Siri!”

It took a while to explain that there are some questions Siri, or the entirety of the internet, just can’t answer.

Do you give much thought to how truth and opinions — both good and bad — can pass down from one one person to the next, or even one generation to the next? What do we believe about coronavirus? Do we believe God is still on the throne? Do we believe He can use anything for His purposes and His glory? 

Someday when they’ve left the nest, where will my kids look for wisdom?


Out of all the hundreds of thoughts, lessons and observations a father might give to a son, Solomon writes in Proverbs 4 that one thing King David said to future-King Solomon stood out the most:

Get Wisdom!! Get understanding!!

It stuck with Solomon, right down to his core, because long after David had passed on, the Lord asked Solomon “What do you want?” and though he could’ve asked for anything, what did he ask for?

Wisdom. Understanding. A wise heart to rule well.

The lesson of the father was passed on to the son.

We might have a lot of knowledge readily available at our fingertips. But how does that knowledge compare with true wisdom?

After taking a total media hiatus over Lent a couple of years ago, I began making an interesting observation upon re-entry to the worlds of Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

I found that after spending twenty minutes randomly scrolling through the news feed, I almost always had a less positive feeling about my life than I did twenty minutes earlier.

The news feed shows me friends getting together with friends, and I am not there. 

The news feed shows me places other people are going that I haven’t been.

The news feed shows me things other people are doing I never heard I could do. Or didn’t know I needed to do. Or wasn’t invited to do. 

These days, the news feed is full of fear and concern.

Why is it that my heart sometimes feels so heavy after twenty minutes on Facebook?

Lady Wisdom — the gal we talked about in Proverbs 2 who truly ought to be a BFF to each of us — she makes an appearance again here in Chapter 4. We’re told that her wisdom, her good judgment is the best thing we can look for in all the world. 

Clearly the man who asked for wisdom and got it didn’t regret his decision.

Wisdom is like a gift card that you can spend at a store called Perspective. Bring that life dilemma to the checkout, present the Wisdom card, and boom — you will walk out with a completely different perspective on your situation than the one you walked in with.

It can guard these prone-to-wander hearts of ours (v. 23) in a way that will completely change our lives.

It can speak truth when the news feed whispers false perspectives or wants to encourage FEAR over FAITH.

So here’s a question worth pondering. What will the information you take in each day do for you?

Will it make you want better hair and nicer clothes?

Will your social media soirees make you feel like you’re just not as cool as the cool kids who are going here and there, wearing this and that, doing that and this?

Will the words you’re taking in encourage faith and hope, wisdom and discretion and bravery… or will they make your heart beat a little faster with fear for what’s going on the world?

While the shouts of the world lead your heart away from truth, beauty and goodness, Lady Wisdom whispers:

I will show you a better way. Don’t let seeking after things that don’t matter determine the course of your life. 

Guard your heart, let my words filter out the noise so that the Truth can direct your steps.

What are you digging into when you open your phone or laptop, or turn on the TV? What are the habits determining your course of action at the end of a workday, or after the ring of the alarm clock?  

Your heart’s going to determine the course of your life, and what you’re taking to heart most will be where most of your truth is coming from.

Ponder Solomon’s words, Lady Wisdom’s whispers today:

Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.

xCC

Now… give some thought to what you believe about your life today. Ask Jesus to help you see where you’re believing the truth about your life, and where the world might be shouting a little too loudly for you to hear the real Truth. 

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In case you missed it, I shared a post this week with lots of tips and ideas for the many families who find themselves suddenly homeschooling thanks to COVID-19. 
You can check it out right here!

I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
***

Follow the Leader (Prov. 3)

This week, we’re in Proverbs 3!

Hi there! In case you missed it, I extended an invitation a few weeks ago to join me in walking through Proverbs. Jump in ANY time. You can read the chapter we’re looking at before reading on (optional but definitely good for you if you can swing it!) I also recommend asking a friend to join you on the journey. (Click this link to take you to the introduction to this series if you want to know more.) 

Think fast! I’ve got two flashback challenges for you!

1. Can you remember the difference between declarative and imperative sentences from your middle school English class?

2. Can you remember playing Follow the Leader as a kid on the playground?

Think hard, and read on…

There’s something that stands out to me about this particular collection of Proverbs (in chapter 3) more than anything else. So many of the Proverbs are observations. If you’re lazy, this is what will happen. Foolish people do this or that. Wise people go this way or that way…

But rather than being ‘observational’ this chapter seems particularly directional. If you were examining the grammar sentence by sentence, you might notice a change from ‘declarative’ to ‘imperative.’ We’re being told — do this and reap the good fruit of it. Go this way and find life.

My tenderhearted second son found some beloved books at the library years ago about Otis, a sweet little tractor on a farm. He loves Otis, and we’ve checked out those books again and again. {Here’s a link if you want to fall in love with Otis, too…Otis and the Kittens makes me cry EVERY time.} In one of the stories, Otis and the other animals play a game of the follow the leader every evening when their work is done. While Otis and the little calf always start, the different animals take turns waddling or prancing or strutting their way around the farm, with everyone else following the leader.

One day a tornado comes up, and the farmer and his hands hurry to the cellar, without even the time to free the animals from their pens. Otis sees the tornado, realizes it’s headed straight for the barn, and springs into action to free the horse and cow and pigs and sheep and ducks from their stalls in the barn, and they do precisely what they’ve been practicing for as long as we know: they follow Otis, the leader, as he leads them down to a low ditch on the lowest part of the farm, where they huddle together in safety and wait out the storm.

Even the bull who has never wanted to play before and has always been harsh with the other animals is willing to follow Otis when Otis leaves the other animals safely in the ditch to free the bull from his pen.

When we listen to the ‘imperatives’ — the instruction and the wisdom of God and His word, we may not realize we are being trained to follow the Leader who has a plan for our souls. 

Who knows how often listening to that gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit has saved your life, or someone else’s?

As we continue reading the Good Word and talking to the Lord about His goodness and our races with and toward Him, ask God to help you find understanding, and find a way to apply those imperatives to your life.

He says give your first fruits, so follow the Leader, and give your first fruits.
He says look for wisdom, so follow the Leader, and keep on reading the Word and asking for understanding.
He says accept His correction, so be willing to hear Him when He corrects you. Repent quickly and ask for help to better follow the Leader.
He says mercy and truth are good. Live like that.

He sent His Son as an Incarnation of His mercy and truth, a tangible, visible manifestation of His love for mankind — His very Word, fully expressed in human form. Isn’t He a Leader worth following?

So here’s a question worth a good ponder: Are you willing to follow the Leader? Are you willing to follow Him day after day like most of the animals on the farm followed Otis, or are you waiting until a tornado of trouble is headed your way to lean on Him to lead you to safety?

You might be familiar with Prov. 3:5-6… perhaps even have a little song in your head for those two verses? Even if they’re extremely familiar, give those words a fresh look today. The New Living Translation puts verse 6 this way:

Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.

He’s not only willing to show us which path to take, He’s the Leader that’s willing to walk us down the path, step by step. Are you willing to follow the Leader?

xCC

Now… take a moment to give some thought to how you make decisions about your life. Are they part of a game of Follow the Leader for you, or are you mostly letting instincts and intellect call the shots? If you want Jesus to be the Leader you follow, ask Him to help you hear His voice, and follow it. Write down a verse that meant something to you today, or a whisper from the heart of Jesus you heard. I’d love to welcome you to jump onto the With Love, From Here Facebook Page if you’d like to respond to this post and share something God has said!
 ***
I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement
and never miss a post!
***

Some posts on my site contain affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, I receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I love it when you do that! Thank you for supporting With Love!

Find Wisdom, Lose Drag (Prov. 2)

This week, we’re in Proverbs 2!

Hi there! If you missed a week or two, no worries! I extended an invitation a few weeks ago to join me in walking through Proverbs. Jump in ANY time. You can read the chapter we’re looking at before reading on (optional but definitely good for you if you can swing it!) I also recommend asking a friend to join you on the journey. (Click this link to take you to the introduction to this series if you want to know more.) 

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you… (Prov. 2:10-11)

You know one thing that can really be hard about running the race of faith? 

It’s definitely not a sprint. 

And Jesus made this one promise that I think of often: “It’s impossible that no offenses will come.”

Gosh, that’s a tough part about being human. I recently experienced one of those internal wrestling matches with being offended. I asked for help with an upcoming event, and received an immediate “Yes! I can help!” followed by a different response a couple of days later, when something better came up. 

I wanted to say, “Oh man, I’m so disappointed! Are you sure you can’t keep your word?”

But I sensed that quiet, gentle, you-have-to-calm-down-to-hear-it voice saying, “Trust Me.”

I knew God to be an Author and an Orchestrator, and I trusted everything was going to be okay. (And it ended up working out for my good!!)

That was a tiny little disappointment in the grand scheme of things, but the big truth is, life is going to happen. It’s a funny thing — we never say anyone gives offense, we just say we take it. Surely we can choose not to take it, right?

And sometimes, let’s just go ahead and put this truth out there, too — we are going to be the offender.

The question isn’t if — rather when — and more importantly, what are we going to do on the other side?

Do me a favor and picture yourself swimming your race of faith for Jesus. Now, picture yourself in one of those super cool Olympic swimsuits that’s incredibly well designed to be efficient like sharkskin and streamlined and produce almost zero drag. You jump off the starting blocks and dive in and you’re slicing through the water like a sharp knife in soft butter. 

Suddenly, something happens. Maybe a mistake you made you can’t shake the shame of. A mistake someone else made you can’t shake the hurt of.

And you suddenly discover something is tied to that hydrodynamic swimsuit of yours. Maybe it’s just a thin little slip, a small scarf. Maybe it’s thick like a strip cut from a bath towel, and there it is, tied right at your shoulder, creating a bunch of what swimmers call “drag” and man… it is a drag. 

Sure you can keep swimming, but this is going to slow you down. And if you keep picking up thick slices of bath towel as you go? It might get so tough you decide to stop swimming altogether.

Where do we go to figure out what is weighing us down? It’d be great if you could hop out of the pool, look in a mirror, see what was hanging off your suit, and stand there and untie one thing after the other, right?

Well I’ve got some good news. This Word we’re reading through? It’s like a mirror for your soul. 

If you put on your literary hat while reading Proverbs 2, you’ll notice words like Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, and Discretion are personifiedThe Message version really brings it out if you want to see it clearly. The Word is explaining this principle: Lady Wisdom and her posse, like people, can be your BFFs. They can come alongside you and point things out that you wouldn’t see otherwise. They can whisper to your soul, help you avoid the dangers and snares of bad choices and bad relationships.

The more you read the Word, the more you can hear their voices. Dig in deep, and they’ll show you good things, help you ask hard questions. Like these:

Jesus, are there things in my life that are dragging me down? 
Is there something I need to let go of so that I can move forward with freedom?
Is there a slice of bath towel I need to untie to keep swimming?

Sometimes these questions can bring up simple moments from weeks ago, complex and deep hurts from years ago, or habits that are taking you places you don’t want to go. (We’ll talk more on that later.) Either way, I highly recommend asking those questions, and turning to that friend that you are turning to to talk most honestly — and/or possibly even looking for the guidance of a trusted Pastor or Christian Counselor if complex and deep hurts start coming to the surface and you need help moving forward. 

This is One Step Deeper for this week: Ask God for the wisdom to see what past hurts or experiences might be dragging you down, and for the wisdom to figure out how to let God untie that drag so you can move forward. Remember that verse I started out with? When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul? Discretion will preserve you and understanding will keep you.

Starting the journey of dealing with past hurts can be so daunting you’d rather just keep limping along — but when you find that understanding that helps put the past into perspective and breathes fresh hope into your future? It’s like the pain of getting a big splinter removed from your foot — yes, it will hurt at first, but on the other side?

What blessed relief.

Go Deeper this week, friends!
xCC

Extra Credit: Can you write down a thought for your soul today? Maybe a specific verse from Proverbs 2 you’d like to mull over for a while? Ask Jesus if you’ve got drag on your swimsuit and pray for His help to move forward. Jump onto the With Love, From Here Facebook Page if you’d like to respond to this post, share something God has said, or even ask for help finding counsel… Let’s run the race together, friends!

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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
***

Relationships are Make or Break (Prov. 1)

Here’s Proverbs One if you’d like to read it first!


Last week, I shared an invitation to jump into Proverbs together. You can dive a little deeper by reading one chapter each week to give you some context for the discussion below, or you can jump right in. I hope you’re encouraged to get a little deeper every week!

For those of you who caught last week’s post and my invitation to jump into Proverbs, let’s jump right in with a question about the homework I gave you.

{If you didn’t catch last week’s email… don’t worry! Jump in anyway!!!}

So…Homework? What homework, you ask? 

Well, I asked you to take a gander at Proverbs 1, and I asked you one more thing — bring a friend. Let someone join you on your journey toward deeper faith. That homework is strategic!

How did you do with that? Got a co-runner for your faith marathon?

Here’s why I’m asking. While we visited my sister’s family in Colorado a few years ago, my brother-in-law shared some crazy statistics in his Sunday morning sermon. (These impressive stats came from Vital Friends (by Tom Rath in case you want to check that one out. I haven’t read it so I make no promises.)

Here is a little sampling of what my brother-from-another-mother shared:

  • If your best friend eats healthily, you are five times more likely to have a healthy diet yourself.
  • Married people say friendship is more than five times as important as physical intimacy within marriage.
  • Those who say they have no real friends at work have only a one in 12 chance of feeling engaged in their job.
  • Conversely, if a person has a “best friend at work”, he or she is seven times more likely to feel engaged in his/her job. 

Long story short… Proverbs jumps right in by asking who you’re hanging out with and warning you to be careful in the choices you make.

You’re also invited to soak deep into the wisdom of God instead of drinking from fountains of foolishness. (Let’s be honest, if we spend much time on Facebook, we know there are plenty of fountains of foolishness available to drink from.)

Now, after asking yourself a question about who your people are, I’m going to add on one more.

How honest are you with your person or people? Are you saying “I’m fine” when you’re anything but? Are there deeper issues that you know are lurking somewhere beneath the surface, but you’re afraid to speak up?

I once had an incredibly wise and wonderful mentor, many moons ago in Scotland, who said that you can be honest, or you can be more honest, or you can be “most honest.”

I’m not going to plead with you to be most honest with a stranger in line at the grocery store, but I am going to encourage you to be most honest with someone. If you have a spouse, I think that’d be an ideal person. A parent. A trusted friend. A pastor. A counselor.

As we continue walking through Proverbs, the wisdom you find may uncover some things in your soul that you haven’t truly dealt with. The hindrances that keep us from running our race well are so much more often internal than external.

If you have that person you can be most honest with, do your best to be most honest with them. Especially if you find yourself challenged to let go of something, step into something, or deal with something as our journey through Proverbs continues. The enemy of your soul would love to grab that seed before it has a chance to take root in your heart. So find that trusted person, and aim at most honest whenever possible. 

Have you ever noticed how much more often you remember something if you tell someone else about it? Share what you’re learning, and somehow it seems to stick to your own soul a little better.

I love that blessed old African proverb:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

We’ve got a long race ahead of us, friends. For the glory of God, we simply have to do it together.

xCC

Now… write down a thought. Talk with Jesus about your friends and whether you’re being most honest. I’d love to have some “guest readers” sharing something Proverbs spoke to them — so feel free to share something you’re learning on the With Love, From Here Facebook page or shoot me a message. I’d love for this to be  a two-way conversation!

***
I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement. Join me on this journey through Proverbs and never miss a post! I’d also love to welcome you to share this email with a friend and ask them to join you on a walk through Proverbs. We’re just looking at one chapter a week together — slow and steady, moving out into deeper waters.
***

One little update from the Collie corner: We celebrated Blake’s 9th Birthday this week. I can’t thank you friends enough for your prayers. He’s doing so incredibly well and I am so incredibly grateful! Please continue praying for the restoration of his left field of vision (20/20 in 2020!) and the complete healing of his short term memory. He’s doing so, so well, friends. It is a joy to tell you that! Raise a Hallelujah!

About That One Time I Tried Scuba Diving (& Failed)

From the day my Dad and brother first tossed me into the pool to force me to learn how to swim, (great story for another day) I have felt completely at home in the water. Ya know, once I learned how to swim. Most every summer day of my childhood after that included riding my bike to swim in the pool nearby or hopping back and forth from the pool to the ocean when we were down at the beach. 

In high school, I swam on the swim team, (big time sprinter here), helped coach a kids swim team, surfed a little and lifeguarded as a summer job. I felt just as comfortable holding my breath while swimming from one end of the pool to the other as I felt twirling my whistle on the lifeguard stand.

Until.

Fast forward a good seven years. I had the opportunity to take a crash course on scuba diving and then head out for the day to dive around Sodwana Bay in South Africa. Beautiful location, great opportunity. 

Except.

Holding my breath for ages was not a problem, but the idea that I’d be twenty feet below the surface breathing from an Oxygen tank for an extended period — I just couldn’t get used to it.

I’d been through the “educational” part of the diving training, and it was time to practice in the pool. I was psyching myself up to be able to give it the good old college try. Mouthpiece clenched between my teeth, three feet below the surface, we got to one part in the lesson where you have to pretend to knock your mouthpiece out of your mouth (because someone else’s flipper could do that underwater). Then you slowly stretch your arm out, grasp the mouthpiece, clear the water from it and begin breathing again.

That *slowly* thing was what got me. I could snatch the mouthpiece out of my mouth, grab it, stuff it back in and clear it, five seconds flat. What the instructor was looking for was that I could handle slowly, purposefully removing it, and not panicking to get it clenched in my teeth again. 

I tried it. It was unsatisfactory. She pointed to someone else to take a turn. She asked me to try again. Once again, I was changing tires on a Nascar track. Fast. She demonstrated again, the art of slowly removing the mouthpiece, letting it fall to her side, gracefully stretching her arm out, gently bringing the piece back, and so on. 

After three or four attempts, I pointed, much less gracefully, to indicate that I was headed for the surface to breathe some Oxygen that wasn’t inside a compressed tank.

I don’t know exactly what it was about the breathing underwater thing that just didn’t gel with me. I opted for a long luxurious walk down a deserted beach instead that day — and really enjoyed it — but also knew I’d missed out on some of the special sights below sea level that day. 

The trouble was — I just couldn’t slow down.

Does not wisdom cry out,
And understanding lift up her voice?
She takes her stand on the top of the high hill,
Beside the way, where the paths meet.
She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city,
At the entrance of the doors:
“To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
O you simple ones, understand prudence,
And you fools, be of an understanding heart.
Listen, for I will speak of excellent things,
And from the opening of my lips will come right things…
{Proverbs 8:1-6}

A couple of years ago, a lovely group of subscribers joined me on a Deep Dive — a 30 Day journey through the book of Proverbs. We read a chapter each day, and enjoyed the insight and revelation that came from a book that is so timeless it’s somehow always timely. It seems to speak to everything.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at the idea of inheritance — this beautiful theme that runs a unique-colored thread throughout the pages of Scripture. One of the most important things to notice is that we often miss out on our inheritance simply because we don’t know what is rightfully ours. We might have some knowledge, but we are lacking wisdom, we are starved more understanding.

So I’m taking a lesson from the day I just couldn’t slow down enough to earn the opportunity to dive deeper and offering an invitation for you to join me. We’re going to begin slowly walking through Proverbs again, listening hard for Wisdom as she cries out from a high hill, searching for an understanding heart. 

You’re welcome to open your email as usual each week to jump into thoughts and reflections on each chapter, but I’d love to also invite you to consider doing two things — investments that I think will provide greater dividends:

1. I’ll post a link to the chapter of Proverbs we’re walking through each week, right at the top of the email. (We’ll be going in order, starting at chapter one.) You can read each week’s chapter, slowly throughout the week leading up to each Wednesday, or you can just click that link when Wednesday’s email arrives, and read that chapter just before you jump into the thoughts. Again — you’re absolutely allowed to not read it, but I think reading that one chapter each week really will pay off.

2. Invite a friend to join you on the journeyThis link will allow them to subscribe and receive the emails, too. See if you can take a moment to talk with that friend/spouse/roommate/coworker about that one chapter of Proverbs — just one little thing that struck you in a new way for the first time, or really spoke to you. The thing is, the more we give a little of our daily thoughts to thinking about God, the more He guides us and helps us to see Him, to understand Him and to know what He is like. You’ll be amazed at the compound interest that explodes out of investing in the things of God.

3. (Yes, I said two — this is just an optional fun idea.) If you’d like to — not homework, no pressure — I’d love to welcome you to share something that was meaningful to you from that week’s chapter. Share it on the Facebook Page of With Love, From Here, or just shoot me an email. I’d love to include a “Reader’s Thought” each week if I can just to add a bit more encouragement! 

This time around, I’m hoping I can slow down enough to clear the mask, get the Oxygen flowing and graduate from the swimming pool to the deeper waters. I hope you’ll join me and look forward to what we’ll discover together! 

Ready to dive in? Me too.

xCC

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I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
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Invitation link to copy/paste share: https://mailchi.mp/020d35a1133b/subscribe-caroline-collie