Re-entering Life

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Have you had to do something “normal” that you haven’t done since Covid confined us to our homes? You know? Go inside a bank. Eat in a booth inside a restaurant. Go to the dentist. Go to a doctor’s office. I haven’t done those things since last March. Today I went to a doctor’s office for the first time in a long time.

NOTE: If you live anywhere besides Los Angeles, you may have been doing “normal” for a while now. In Los Angeles, we can only eat at restaurants for take-out or outside seating. We just opened hair salons and nail salons. Gyms just opened. Disneyland is closed. Dressing rooms at Kohls are closed. We are still in lockdown.

When I arrived, I had a temperature check and sat in a waiting room with chairs 6 feet apart. I had a mask but they provided one I was required to wear. I just put it over mine. Once I got in the room to wait for the doctor (which was over an hour), I had to do my breathing techniques to keep calm. I survived. I got my meds and I got home.

Before you are thinking “she’s a bit of a stress case,” think of the last “normal” thing you did. It takes a bit more effort than usual. It’s harder to breathe because of the mask (2 in my case). Also, seeing strangers in such close proximity is unusual these days.

I share my story to encourage anyone who finds “normal” a bit of work. It is. We have a new normal and when something feels like the old normal, it takes effort. Be kind to yourself. Enlist a friend to encourage you if you need it. Walk back into the world at your own pace. Let others do the same.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

He is holding us up when we can’t do it for ourselves. He helps us. He strengthens us. Amen!

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Let the Tea Get Cold

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Nothing compares to a hot cup of tea. It calms me down. It brings me joy. It satisfies on every level. This weekend, after making the perfect cup of Earl Grey with a splash of creamer, my daughter suggested we take the dog on a walk. Ummm – MY TEA! Of course I let it sit and off we went. There are times in life when you need to let the tea get cold.

A friend calls right after you just rented a flick on Amazon Prime. Ummm…You have 48 hours to watch – let the “tea get cold.” You get up early on a Saturday for a few quiet moments before the kids wake up. Your youngest appears bleary eyed and asks if you would make waffles – let the “tea get cold.” You get the idea.

Have you ever felt a prompting to call someone? Maybe you didn’t respond to the prompt because you had a “hot cup of tea.” I had some free time the other day and I had plan on how I was going to spend it. I felt a nudge to call a specific friend. I did. We talked for nearly an hour. We both hung up refreshed, closer to God, and happy. Honestly, it was much better than how I planned to spend that hour. Listen to promptings and opportunities this week. The tea can wait.

This week, look for moments when letting the tea get cold will lead to a better ending. Time with a friend, or a child, or time with God trumps hot tea every time. Besides, you can always reheat the tea later.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

P.S. Don’t get me wrong, tea is a priority. My tea with God in the mornings in invaluable. If your tea time is needed because you are running on fumes, take your time but schedule a time for the other valuable thing needing your attention. You can do both.

100 days

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For the past 100 days, I have been intentional in my walk with God. After 100 days of Covid safer at home, our pastor encouraged us to make the next 100 days focused on God. He suggested we journal our Receipts from God. Receipts are examples of answered prayers: God’s faithfulness and moments when we see God move in our lives. We should Resist the flesh. Cut out those behaviors in your life that are keeping you from God. Everything from addictions to simple distractions such as too much TV or social media should be looked at. Lastly, we should expect Renewal in these 100 days.

My receipts from God are plentiful. What has He done in the past 100 days? A lot! I could list mine but instead I’d rather you take a moment and just think of last week’s receipts. What has He done in your life this past week? Did He encourage a friend to call you? Did He provide for your financial need? Did He heal an illness? Did He comfort you when you had a tough day? He did all of this for me. I’m sure He has for you too.

Resistance of the flesh isn’t a fun topic at all. It required me to look at behaviors I was engaging in that led me further from who I want to be in Christ. I want to resemble Christ. One area where I don’t resemble Him is in my language. I cuss. However, this exercise allowed me to see when that increases in my life. When you are seeking to resist the flesh, look at when you fall into the temptation the most. Where are you? Who are you with? What other behaviors are you engaging in? For me, watching TV shows that use the f-bomb, triggers me. I cut out two shows from my watchlist. I also saw that when I am stressed out, I cuss. If I have spent time with God that day, I am less likely to cuss. If I find myself swearing, I often find I skipped my quiet time that day. Take some time today to identify an area of your life where you want to look more like Christ. To resist the flesh, discover when/what/who triggers you to indulge in that area of sin. Change it. Stop being with that person, if it’s a who. Stop going to that place, if it’s a when. Get it out of your life, if it’s a what. It works, my friends. I am not cuss free but I’m am further on my journey of ridding myself of that sin than I ever have been in my life.

Lastly, and maybe best, expect renewal. I am renewed. My focus has been on God this past 100 days. Some days I blew it. Even for a week or so. However, I realized and got back on track. I am a new person from who I was 100 days ago. I have restored my desire to sit with God daily. I have increased my appetite for the things of God. I am cussing significantly less. I am still stressed (we all are with the way the world is) but my stress is reduced. I turn to God quicker when I’m overwhelmed. All of these are signs of renewal. How have you been renewed in your life? Even if you haven’t done 100 days focused on God, I am sure there has been some renewal in your life. If not, try these 3 Rs and see renewal.

Now that my 100 days is up, do I move onto something else? No. This path is a life change. I love who I am becoming. I love my growth. I love learning. I love my quiet moments with God. This new lifestyle fits me and has improved my relationship with God. I encourage you to consider setting a goal 30 days, 90 days, or even 1 week, and record receipts, resist the flesh, and expect renewal. Let me know if any of you accept this challenge.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Face to Face

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(Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

When is the last time you connected in person with a good friend? For some of you, yesterday. For others, March.

We are all handling the quarantine differently. Some wear masks and gloves when they go in public. Others wear a mask only if required. Orange County is more open than LA County. If I visit friends in the OC, I can eat inside a restaurant. In LA, it’s outdoors only. Some of you have conditions that make getting Covid extremely dangerous (asthma, diabetes, immune disease, cancer survivor, etc.). Others may not have a medical condition but are still more careful. No matter where you are in terms of mask wearing, you need face to face time.

What I have found is that my spirit, my energy, and my joy has been energized every time I have done a face to face with a friend. I have a small circle friends I have let in my home. I have others I’d hang with outside. You figure out your comfort zone, but make it happen. We need face to face. Not Zoom or Facetime. It’s not enough. Besides, if you are working from home, you are Zoomed out!!!!!!

Plan a face to face meeting this week with someone. If you meet in your backyard, wear masks, and sit 20 feet apart so you feel comfortable, that’s OK. Just do it. You will feel the results. I had a tea with a friend this weekend. We sat at the ends of my dining table – 8 feet I believe it is. We both will tell you, we left that time refreshed, renewed, inspired, invigorated, challenged to grow, closer to God, and 1000 pounds fell off our shoulders. We both needed it. We needed each other. We needed connection outside of our 4 walls.

When God met with Moses, they met face to face. God didn’t meet with people face to face. He did with Moses. Moses and God had an incredible relationship. I love that the verse states that how they met is as one speaks to a friend.

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.  ~ Exodus 33:11a NIV

One speaks to a friend face to face, even in the midst of Covid. It’s been too long. There are safe ways to do it. Being face to face has so many benefits. When you experience it again, you will be reminded why we meet in person.

An article I read says that “When someone is feeling an emotion or just performing a task, the same neurons that shine in their brain light up in someone else’s brain who is watching them. This is because we have “mirror neurons” in our brains that are very sensitive to facial expressions and most importantly, eye contact. Direct eye contact is so powerful that it increases empathy and links together emotional states. Never underestimate the power of eye contact in creating long-lasting bonds.

Another huge benefit of meeting face to face, is being seen. When is the last time you put on pants with a zipper and button? We are all wearing our casual clothes at home. Nothing wrong with that. When I teach online, I wear makeup, earrings, a nice shirt and I do my hair. However, I wear shorts or sweats for my bottoms. Being face to face requires a level of being seen and known. Meeting in person may feel a bit overwhelming to some of you who need a haircut, haven’t had a wax, put on a few pounds, and so on. However, I’m asking you to meet with a friend not a frenemy. Get together and be seen.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV

There is a vulnerability to meet in person. We are fully known when we are fully seen. Zoom is a partial seeing. No one sees my shorts just my nice top. When we connect with Jesus, we seek that face to face. We want to be known. We want to be seen. One day, we will be face to face with Jesus and will be fully known. Until then, we only get glimpses of it. Be seen. Be known. Be face to face.

Dream Big! Pray Big!