Tag Archives: Thinking

O Tannenbaum

I am writing this post while sitting next to our Christmas tree.  Typically, our tree is our final act of decorating – when the kids were younger, we did not want little hands tearing off ornaments; now that the kids are older, we did not want to visit the tree lot until everyone was home – but COVID has changed all that with tree shortages and on-line classes.  Will the tree dry out and drop its needles as it occupies the Living Room for more than three weeks?  It is likely, but for now, I will enjoy its familiar fragrance and its meaningful memories.

As I look at the tree, my eyes first focus on the ornaments.  A few of them are pieces of foam or felt fashioned by tiny fingers, taking me back to a time when my children were a bit smaller and their wonder of Christmas was a bit larger.  Most of them are commercially produced, whether they are a reflection of a “1st Christmas” (my grown or growing children all wanting their own to be placed highest and centermost) or a reminder of the year we purchased them.  There is an ornament from Jeanine’s college days and there will be an ornament, I am sure, from this season of life.  Each one serves as a mnemonic device of our time together.

Behind the ornaments are the lights, red and yellow and green and blue twinkles that are just bright enough to illuminate their immediate surroundings.  Alone, these bulbs are insignificant, but putting 500 or so together casts enough light to give the room a certain glow.  Unlike the ornaments, the beauty and significance of the lights are not in their individual meaning but in their collective impact: at night, just as we are retiring to bed, Jeanine and I sit by the tree, with only its light filling the room, and remark at ‘how lovely are your branches’.  It serves as a mnemonic device of our beauty together.

Finally, there is gold garland that, literally and figuratively, ties all the aspects of the tree together.  Wrapped around this fragile, living (and dying) evergreen is a cord of shimmering splendor.  It makes this ordinary plant something special.  I do not typically think about the garland, which I usually regard as a finishing afterthought to my tree decorating, but today I am in a mood to recognize its significance.  I consider the garland a glimpse of Christ within the Christmas tree – a touch of royalty surrounding the rustic.   This cord envelopes the earthly with the eternal and the ordinary with the extravagant.  It serves as a mnemonic device of Jesus, fully human and fully divine.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

I appreciate the tree beside me because it reminds me of God’s blessings, God’s community, and God’s presence.  Whether real or artificial – or not even a tree – I pray that there is something near you, as well, that jogs your memory of the goodness of God this Christmas.

Still Giving Thanks

There is a ‘standing headline’ circulating through social and broadcast media: “Celebrating Thanksgiving to Be Quite Different This Year”.  As a consequence of surging numbers of COVID-19 cases across the globe, authorities are recommending, at least in my area of the country, that our observances of Thanksgiving be limited to small – and preferably outdoor – gatherings, that our travel plans be curtailed or eliminated, and that our traditions take a hiatus.  Under the circumstances, it seems to me that this is the most reasonable path to take, both for the sake of our loved ones and for the communities around us.

The requested modifications in celebrating this thoroughly North American holiday gives us an opportunity for beneficial correction.  This year we will not have the chance to celebrate “Turkey Day” or “Friendsgiving” or “Football Day in America”.  The Thanksgiving table may not, this year, look like the iconic Rockwell painting in its gastronomic bounty.  The chairs may not, this time around, be filled with friends from work or church, or school recreating the warmth of community.  The back yard or living room, this year, will not be shared by generations who enjoy tossing around the pigskin.  This year we might only have the opportunity to give thanks – alone with the grantor of all good things or with those in our closest of circles.

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.   Psalm 95:2

Earlier this month, for another purpose, I formulated my list of ‘thanks’.  I have modified the entries slightly, hoping that my touchpoints might stimulate your thoughts toward thanks.  Today, I am thankful for:

TIME – I give thanks to God for the gift of time.  I would have never planned to spend so much time at home and share so many little moments with my family.  I cannot fully express the gratitude I feel to God for the ability to unexpectedly be together for much of the last year.  

HEALTH – I give thanks to God for the gift of health.  I consider myself fortunate that I have the availability of protective equipment and world-class care.  God has truly blessed me with the accessibility of masks and wipes, medications and medical professionals that enable me to resist much of the ailments that in other places or other times would have diminished my quality of life.

AMUSEMENT – I give thanks to God for the gift of laughter.  As dire as things are, there is an abundance of resources ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous that make me laugh.  I give thanks to God for giggling babies, on-line videos, satirical skits, and dog sweaters, along with another million amusing moments.

NETWORKS – I give thanks to God for the gift of connectedness.  I have been awed by the creative ways God has inspired others to engage with the community around them – Zoom, Duo, Facetime, YouTube, balcony concerts, calls, letters – and I am grateful to God for enabling me to participate in things I thought would be impossible to attend last Thanksgiving.

KINDNESS – I give thanks to God for the gift of love for one another.  Through signs, parades, and deliveries, we have cared for one another like no other time I can recollect.  This reminds me of the grace of God each time I see these expressions.  Thank you, Jesus.

SALVATION – I give thanks to God for the gift of forgiveness.  Countless times over the past year, as I reflect on the above-stated gifts of God, I have messed up: failing to appreciate what I have, ignoring the opportunities granted me, selfishly pouting for the things I am denied, or blatantly disregarding the Lord’s will and word.  I am so thankful to God that my sins are forgiven and that I am a new creation, saved by the free gift of His grace.

For what will you be thanks giving?

Let us all agree that we will get together a year from now for “Turkey Day” and “Friendsgiving” and “Football Day in America”.   But this year, in light of all we have been through, and continue to go through, let us all give thanks.

A Question of Where

As we all endure a seemly endless barrage of bad news, including hurricanes in the south, wildfires in the west, racial unrest throughout the country and a pandemic across the globe, some may be wondering where God might be found in all of this.   It may be tempting to think that the creator and designer of all we know and sense is somehow detached or disinterested in the travails besetting the inhabitants of our little planet.  It might be rationalized that God has bigger things to address than the challenges we are currently being forced to endure.  In the fog of uncertainty, it is only natural to wonder why God seems still and silent.

It is the same feeling that the first followers of Jesus experienced and are recorded in Mark 4:35-41.  After engaging with a crowd of people earlier in the day, as evening approached Jesus felt it was time for him and the twelve to cross the Sea of Galilee.  While they were sailing a furious squall develops and nearly swamps the boat.  Can you imagine being one of a dozen people in a fishing boat, at night, in the middle of a lake, at the height of a high-wind thunderstorm?  What would you shout to God, who is peacefully sleeping (and apparently oblivious) through this life-threatening ordeal?

‘Teacher, is it no concern to you that we are perishing?’ Mark 4:38

I have to wonder how many times, in the crucible of distress, I have thought the same thing.  It is a natural human reaction to the difficulties of life.  Is it, though, a reasoned reaction for a person of faith to express?

The disciple of Jesus refers to Jesus as ‘teacher’, which is an accurate title for him.  But, I wonder, what meaning or relationship the term ‘teacher’ conveys.  It is natural to see Jesus as a guide, an instructor, or as a trainer.  Certainly, the scriptures give ample examples of the teachings Jesus conveyed, including the lessons taught just prior to their departure on this sea cruise.  But the primary role of Jesus was not teacher, for he essentially restated the doctrines and commands of the Old Testament, albeit with uncommon authority and unexpected application.  Jesus’ primary role was to show humanity the love of the Father though the giving of his life as a ransom for many.  If we are unable to see our relationship with Jesus as anything more than instructional, we will be blinded to his divine salvation.

The disciple of Jesus then asks him if our destruction is of any concern to him.  If we are expecting our relationship with Christ to be essentially functional – telling us what we need to know and how we are to act – then it will come as no surprise that we question his unwillingness to offer support when our lives are not working as we think they ought.  However, as any parent knows, apparent inaction is not a lack of concern but an opportunity for maturity.  Is it no concern to you that your baby keeps falling over as it learns to walk?   Is it no concern to you that your child may make bad choices as they go out with their friends?  Jesus’ response to the men in the boat with him is telling – ‘Have you still no faith?’  Our life is a concern to Jesus, as is our growth.

Besides, that boat was never going to sink.  Jesus made his dwelling on earth so that he would save his people from their sins.  Dying in a boating accident was not part of the irrevocable plan of God.  Despite the howl of the winds or the height of the waves, the lives of the boaters were never truly in jeopardy.  We would be wise to remember the promises of God as we respond to the pains of the world.  Those who know Jesus as the beloved Messiah can rest in the promise relayed by someone who happened to be in the boat that night, for Peter wrote, ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

As I endure this season of suffering, I pray my response will be, ‘Lord, thank you for the opportunity to grow and fulfill your purposes for me.’

WWYD?

My family watches a more-than-average amount of television, and we all have our favorite shows.  There is one program that we tend to watch together that elicits a great deal of conversation – “What Would You Do?”.  For the uninitiated, “What Would You Do?” is a hidden camera show, produced by ABC news, where unsuspecting people are recorded as they witness a wide variety of moral and cultural dilemmas, eventually to be interviewed about their reactions by the program’s host, John Quiñones.  One segment might involve a bystander’s reaction to an apparently inebriated bar patron heading for their car, while another might touch on issues of a restaurant diner’s immigration status, always leaving the viewer with the question, “What Would You Do?”

As we watch the show, and in the discussions afterward, we all give our opinions about what the proper reaction should be, thinking that, if we were there, we would be one of the good folks that would talk with John Q following the scenario.  We would never be the ones who tolerate discrimination or ignore outright need.  We all conclude, by the end of each episode, that we would love to be on the broadcast.  We are looking forward to the day when we are visiting a diner in New Jersey, overhearing a conversation about the travesty of women’s professional sports, only to hear the voice of John Quiñones behind us, saying, “Excuse me, folks, those people are actors….”

It leaves me with a question: would we be better people if we thought our actions and reactions were being watched by others?  On “What Would You Do?”, they always have people who intervene, who care enough to confront the bigotry or bad behavior demonstrated by the show’s actors.  They typically also have people, often whose identities have been digitally obscured, who do nothing or, worse than inaction, are advocates for what most consider to be wrong.  Watching those strong and sensitive strangers defend the defenseless or notice the needy encourages me to do the same, whether anyone is watching or not.

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  1 Peter 2:12 (ESV)

If you have read this blog before, you might be expecting me to remind you that God sees what you do (which is true), but that is not my takeaway today.  Peter reminds us that those around us see what we are doing, and that every scenario depicted on “What Would You Do?” or played out in real life is an opportunity to reflect the goodness and glory of God.  When we, as followers of Christ, do the right thing – support the figurative and literal widows and orphans, care for the physically and spiritually sick, show compassion for those imprisoned by the system or by the self – we tell all those around us that God loves, and by extension we love, the broken and bruised.  Whether it is broadcast on national television or not, we are always right to address wrong.

I would still like to one day be on the show.  Until then, I will imagine that there are hidden cameras when I overhear absurdity or observe abject poverty.  What would you do?

Change of Plans

It has taken me 20 weeks of this pandemic, or perhaps 23 years of pastoral ministry, or maybe even 54 years of existence, to conclude that I do not handle disruption well.  I can become internally agitated when a reasonable request is made while I am preparing for Sunday’s service at my dining room table.  Prior to COVID-19, my soul may have become disturbed within me when I heard news of a weekend snowstorm.  As long as I can remember, I have had incidences of the hairs on my neck bristling when my plans were disrupted by the delays of those I dearly love.  It might be a problem.

Even those with a cursory understanding of the plot line of the Bible would know that God is frequently found disrupting the lives of people and nations for His purposes.  Moses was living large and enjoying life what God appeared to him and told him it was time to move.  Abraham was enjoying the fruits of long-delayed parenthood when God announced that it was time for a mountain-climbing trip with Isaac that would result in only one of them returning home.  Esther, David, Peter, Paul, and Timothy all were faced with disruptions.  We rarely know why, but God finds disruption necessary.

If you are like me, you have a choice: see disruptions as an attack against your ideal timetable or see disruptions as an avenue for God’s adjustments.  Is it possible that the Master of the Universe may have other plans and priorities for your productive hours?  Is it possible that the Lord Almighty may be reminding us that snowflakes, germs, and spotty Wi-Fi are not an enemy to our efficiency?  Is it possible that these disruptions are, in fact, the crucial appointments amid our chaotic days?  What if you and I were to see disruptions as blessings instead of blights?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.  Proverbs 14:12 & Proverbs 16:25 (ESV)

Solomon, in his words of wisdom, was compelled by the Holy Spirit to state the exact words twice.  This double dose of truth disturbs me.  I would like to think that my way (disruption-free hours of uninterrupted productivity and purpose) is right, but it is not; it is destructive.  It is destructive for at least two reasons: first, I am denying the truth that I savor disruption, if it is a distraction of my own choosing (scrolling through Facebook is healthy but that request to help bring in the groceries is a step too far); second, I am often so engrossed in what I want to be doing that I mostly unaware of what God might be wanting me to do.  I am going my ‘right way’ and lying to and limiting myself in the process.

The biblical model for so many whose stories are contained in its pages is to embrace the disruptions, without grumbling, as guidance from God.  Through hurricanes, He will give us rest.  Through traffic jams, He will teach us patience.  Through a loud neighbor just beyond the windowpane, He will drive us to compassion.  Then, perhaps, we will learn that disruptions are God’s way of directing us toward greater things.

May these words be just the disruption you needed today.

Numb and Number

The other night, we had a drive-in experience in our backyard; a video screen, projector, a VCR and an extension cord enabled us to watch “Hercules”.  All the equipment was readily available to us, but until the other night, we had not taken the time to put it together.  This is just the latest thing we have done because we have the time to do it.  We have also spent time playing board games (my personal favorite has been “Ticket to Ride”) and card games (including the ‘oldie-but-goodie’ “Pit”, which our children had never played).  We have also spent time exploring the neighborhood by foot.  This pandemic has given us the opportunity to do things that we never get around to doing.

There are other things that have remained undone.  I still have boxes which are still unpacked or stored away from our move eleven months ago.  I still have books sitting on a radiator that I am intending to read.  I still have summer clothes in the basement that I have yet to put in my bureau.  I have a craft beer maker that is unopened (granted, I would still have to buy some yeast, which I have also yet to do).   Despite the fact that this pandemic has given me a great deal of time at home to do whatever strikes my fancy, there are still things I have never gotten around to doing.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

I wonder how many times I said, prior to 2020, “I wish I had the time to __________.”   I wonder how many times I said, prior to COVID-19, “I will get around to _________ some day.”  Lord, teach me to number my days.  Lord, instruct me to calculate all twenty-four hours.  Lord, educate me on the usage of each cycle of 1,440 minutes.  Assuming I take 6 hours to sleep and 2 hours to address hunger and hygiene, that gives me 16 hours each and every day for my vocations and avocations.  What am I doing with that time?  Am I utilizing this precious resource for mindful productivity and recreation or am I wasting it on mindless amusement and entertainment?

Today is day 143 of quarantine; we have been home for 3,432 hours.  What have you been doing for the past 20 weeks?  The Psalmist has convicted me to redeem the remaining days and hours of the quarantine, however long it lasts.  I want to spend more time in constructing (building value into my life as well as the lives of others) and less in consuming (burning daylight in otherwise empty pursuits).   I want to cherish the time I have with my children and my wife.  I want to maximize this time of ‘voluntary seclusion’ so that, when I look back at this season of my life, I have no regrets.  Lord, help me to capture a moment today where I see and share just one of your many blessings.

Lord, teach us to number our (quarantined) days.

The Wait of Motherhood

Let me start off by saying that I hate to wait.  I know that waiting – for the train or for the kids or for doctor – is a part of life, but that does not mean I have to like it.  Despite my personal preference, I am required, as are we all, to patiently endure a prolonged season of waiting for ‘life-as-normal’ to resume; eventually academia, commerce, recreation and church will return.  Until then, we wait.   As I write this post, it is Wednesday, May 6th, and it has been fifty days since the governor of Massachusetts implemented the ‘stay-at-home’ advisory, although it seems to me much longer.

God created a world with waiting woven into its fabric.  God, it seems, designed us to wait.  Creation includes the sabbath, a day set apart every week to refrain from our work.  God led His people through the wilderness but delayed their entrance into the promised land for 40 years.  God structured the agricultural schedule of the early Israelites with a 50-day waiting period between the gathering of the first fruits and the reaping of the harvest.  God had Jesus and His earthly parents wait in Egypt for three years before the family could safely return to their hometown.  God develops His gift of patience in us when we wait by Jesus’ tomb at Easter, when we wait in the upper room at Pentecost, and when we wait for His promised return on that great and glorious day.

“From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.  Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD.”  Leviticus 23:15-16 (NIV)

As I think about what I know about myself and my disdain for patiently abiding, as well as the celebration of Mother’s Day this weekend, I realize how good and godly the moms in our lives must be.  I deeply appreciate the contributions of the moms in my life.  Honestly, I couldn’t do it.  From the first moments of our existence, the waiting began: the two hundred and eighty days of our gestation, the hours waiting at the OB/GYN office, staying up in anticipation of the late night feedings, watching for the firsts (first smiles, first words, first steps).  As our children grow, the waiting doesn’t abate, as moms of adults remain vigilant as they await word of their children’s arrival at home or their departure from vacation.

I am so grateful for the women who have waited for me and have made my seasons of waiting a bit more bearable.  I appreciate that I am still able to see and speak with my mom and my mother-in-law, even though it must be through cell phones this year, and I pray for God’s hand of comfort for those who no longer have this ability.  I pray also for all the mothers I know, especially the new moms and those with children still at home – those providing guidance, recreation, education, nutrition, lasting good memories and stability in this time of such uncertainty.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of you.

And as we wait for that time of blessed reunion, either in this realm or the next, I hope we can take some time this weekend to thank God for our moms.

Not Good But Great

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  These words, first spoken by John Heywood in 1546 and considered the oldest idiom in the English language, may not be true; they do, however express my reality.  Nothing I have gleaned from my seminary education or my more than twenty years of pastoral experience has prepared me for ministry during a pandemic.  I am finding that I have been forced to ‘master’ a number of new skills and, in the process, I am also finding that I am quickly reaching my mental capacity for new processes and programs.  It turns out that I might be an old dog and, while I can learn new tricks, that I might be having trouble performing.

This old dog/new trick paradox rubs raw against my desire to “give of my best to the master.” God deserves our very best, so I want our Sunday morning livestream (which until 4 weeks ago I had no frame of reference for achieving) to go out flawlessly.  I want the YouTube videos (again, no frame of reference) to look professional.  I want my Zoom meetings (I had no idea what zoom was a month ago) to feel like face-to-face meetings.   None of it, honestly, is great: some of what we are producing is passable, at best, and some of it is not.

Maybe you are feeling the same way I am feeling.  Maybe you are sensing that you are not doing anything well.  Maybe there is someone reading this that is thinking that changing from PJs into sweats was your only accomplishment today (let me be the first to say, “GOOD FOR YOU!”).  Allow me to offer you a word of encouragement: you are doing a great job at holding it all together during this time of unprecedented confusion.

But he gives more grace.  Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 (ESV)

Perhaps, in part, this is happening (in my life) so that I can learn humility.  Shocking as it might sound, I am not great at everything.  I am learning through this pandemic that ‘okay’ is okay.  I am reminding myself the same thing I wrote about in August 2017, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly (G.K. Chesterton).”  If there is one thing I have learned from the last month, it is that good news can be captured and shared via video clips of subpar quality.  Those who are recording recovering patients leaving hospitals or grateful citizens banging pots out their windows to appreciate healthcare heroes could not care less about the pixelization or poor sound quality of their contribution toward our collective goodwill.

Give yourself a break.  Give those around you a break.  Practice humility.  Accept limitations.  Delight in sufficiency.  Celebrate little victories.  Immerse yourself in good news.  Release the frustrations associated with perfection and embrace the joy attributable to the ordinary.  Do your best and attempt the rest.  Enjoy the grace of God that He gives to the humble.  Keep on doing what you are able to do until we can do it altogether all together.

‘Til We Meat Again

It will come as no surprise to those who know me that my favorite meal includes hamburgers: every birthday supper that I can remember involved hamburgers, as did nearly every recommendation I made for our dining-out options as a family.  It is the perfect food, starting with a soft bun, continuing with a cool tomato and lettuce leaf, then accented with condiments and cheese, and completed with the juicy ground beef.  I enjoy every kind of burger – the good at Fuddrucker’s (with more toppings than meat), the bad at McDonald’s (thin and oniony),  and the messy at Red Robin (with a fried egg on top) – but I particularly enjoy a home-made grilled hamburger. 

Unfortunately, for the last three years, our family remained grill-less.  Sure, we had an electric ‘grill’ that griddle-fried meats outside, but (no offense to George Foreman) it was not the same.  However, my grill-less condition ended when I celebrated my birthday eight weeks ago.  That was the day that my family gifted me a gas/charcoal/smoker grill.  It took 51 days before the weather was warm enough, but finally (with the tremendous assistance from my three boys) we assembled the grill on Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately, the grill did not come with a propane tank. So, after waiting another day, on Monday afternoon my wife and I patronized BJ’s for a tank and 6 pounds of ground beef.  We were ready to grill!

Unfortunately, the tank was empty and there are surprisingly few locations where a propane tank can be filled.  We would have to wait another day.  Finally, on Tuesday we went to Neponset Circle Car Wash and got 20 pounds of propane.  And then, at 5:30 Tuesday afternoon, I began grilling burgers in my backyard.  They were the best burgers I have consumed in quite a while; sure, they were arguably rare and perhaps more bloody than juicy, but they were delicious.

My home-made grilled burgers were definitely worth the wait.  Despite my contention that I abhor waiting, I admit that the anticipation that comes with expected blessings is fantastic.  If you have ever watched an unboxing video on YouTube or stirred restlessly on Christmas Eve, you know what I mean.  We are rapt with what might be in the box or what might be in the present or what might be for dinner.  My grill is a reminder that I can be consumed with the bitter taste that comes with waiting or content with the sweet savor of the blessings to come.

…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

Where is your heart today?  Is it heavy and burdened because you no longer want to wait?  Is it uplifted and invigorated with the sure and certain hope of things to come?  There are times when we must wait – for results, for relationships, for rewards – and that waiting can be draining.  At those times remember what you are waiting for and then enable God to refresh you in the process.  As for me, I will think about that as I enjoy some perfectly cooked ground beef surrounded by a grilled cheese sandwich.

Easy Breezy Meezy

It seems hard to believe that “Y2K” was twenty years ago.  Do you remember all the troubles that were anticipated, all because experts were not sure if computers, which were programmed with a two-digit place setting for the year, would operate as normal when they registered 2000 or crash when they reverted to 1900?  We were filled with anxiety as we waited to see if the utilities would continue to operate and banking software would still be running after the ball dropped.  As it turned out, we worried for nothing: the world was unphased by the change in millennium as all the electronic components of 21st century life performed as required.

Much has happened over the past ten years for my family as well.  We enjoyed 4 graduations, we celebrated a number of big birthdays (including both Jeanine and I turning 50 in the 2010s), we moved residences three times, and we travelled more than a hundred thousand miles.  If I can be honest, I have worried about a great deal of things over the past ten years – will the kids finish High School, be accepted into a college of their choice and come home on occasion?  Will we be able to find a suitable residence for our family’s needs?  Will the days ahead be kind?  I thank God that the previous decades have been filled with great blessing.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  Luke 12:25-26 (NIV)

I have been joking with my wife and children that the Mike of 2020 is “easy, breezy” (which my youngest now has co-opted as “Covergirl Dad”), but my resolution is serious – I am consciously trying to release my inner anxiety about the things that I cannot control and release the reins on the things that I can control; thus, I will be easy and breezy.  This desire to be more relaxed has made me inventory the things that I control, which turns out to be a surprisingly short list: I control my decisions, my reactions and my responses.

This year, and decade, I will make a concerted effort to make and maintain wise decisions, and not regularly revisiting the angst inherent in the process.  I will try to express genuine reactions which are filled with grace and edification.  I will offer thoughtful and profitable responses, refusing to delve into the bad habit of pessimism.  I will not worry about whether I made the right decision, the appropriate reaction or the proper response.  I will ‘go with the flow”.   And in order to do this, I will seek the Spirit’s leading each new day and trust His transforming power at work within me.

If I hope to cease in my worrying, if I am dedicated to an easy, breezy disposition, I will need to place all my angst and anxiety somewhere.  So I am claiming 1 Peter 5:7 as my memory verse for 2020:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)