Generally speaking, the early part of each month I spend putting together the monthly SOWER newsletter. Mostly I’m just organizing items that folks have sent in and making sure that all the information is up to date, but each month I also write an opening paragraph/greeting and then a little “Dear Abby” column to help answer different SOWER questions. This month is coming together quite nicely, with the exception of that opening paragraph. I’m still waiting on the inspiration for what to share THIS month, but I thought I’d share with all of you my October opening. It’s a little October-ish, but I still think it speaks to these times.
“”I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” (Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery)
I feel that way about October, too. How about you? Pumpkins, crisp apples (or maybe apple crisp?), hayrides and Fall Festivals – it is such a wonderful time of the year.”
Friends, that’s how I began last year’s October newsletter. But with our current state of COVID restrictions, there will be few hayrides (or sparsely populated ones!) and probably no Fall Festivals either. Thank goodness those crisp apples are still part of our lives! Even as our days begin to return, in a slow and measured way, to a sense of normalcy, there are some things that may not be returning anytime soon. Things like being able to watch our grandkids play sports (limited number can attend if they play at all), full pews at our local churches (keep your distance, please), even visiting loved ones in the hospital or nursing home. It seems that everywhere we turn there are new (and often inconvenient) directives. I know our Canadian brothers and sisters are waiting for news that they’ll be able to cross the border and head south before the snow flies. (Our winter projects that count on you are waiting (and praying) for that too! As are we!)
But even as the list of pandemic ‘negatives’ grows, there have been some positive lessons to be learned. We don’t have to rush from one activity to another – families are once again enjoying dinners around the table (maybe even with homemade bread) and game nights. We’ve discovered the world of Zoom, and easily accessed virtual visits. We’ve learned to adjust our priorities and rediscover what is truly important – Family, Faith, Fellowship.
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
The days ahead will continue to bring new challenges, of that I am sure. But through it all, we have a great and loving God who is not at all surprised to see us wearing masks to Walmart and stocking up on hand sanitizer! Let’s continue to lean into him, immerse ourselves in His Word, and trust in His never failing promises!
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
I shared a similar reflection in the last SOWER newsletter, and just thought I’d share it with you’all too!
Summer. Usually this time of year is filled with reunions and picnics and trips to the beach. This year it seems to be filled with cancellations, postponements, delays and disappointments. The world, it seems, continues to spin out of control. However, maybe instead of dwelling on all the things we can’t do during these uncertain days, we should instead dwell on the many things we GET to do! We GET TO extend additional grace to our neighbors by lending a hand since we’re all staying closer to home. Maybe we even GET TO spend additional time with our close-by family. We GET TO perhaps learn a new skill (baked any bread lately?) or even concentrate on a home or RV project. We GET TO see our friends and family members using Zoom or FaceTime, when even 10 years ago that would’ve been out of our reach technologically. While we may not be able to (yet) join with others in person at our local churches, we GET TO experience a variety of churches throughout the country through the miracle of live-streaming and get a feel for the Church Universal. With our quieter schedules, we GET TO spend more time in the Word. And we GET TO encourage each other, and those around us, by sharing the Peace that we have found in Christ. AND – we GET TO pray! For our families, our communities, our partner ministries, the SOWER ministry and for our country. I’ve heard it said that the most exercise we’re getting these days is shaking our heads in bewilderment. Let’s instead take the opportunity to BOW our heads and lift these unprecedented days to the Throne of Grace where our Savior awaits our prayers. He’s “got this”, and of that we can be certain!
This is a bit of encouragement I wrote for our SOWER family in the May newsletter –
Usually in May we’re looking forward to graduations and weddings and family reunions. We’ve gone past the redbud blooms and are enjoying the azaleas and rhododendrons blooming in our gardens and watching the tulips fill our flower beds with vibrant color. Maybe some hardy lettuce is already finding its way to your salad bowl. Ah, Spring! May 2020 is a different animal all together. It has us just trying to figure out what tomorrow will look like. Will it be safe to go to the grocery store? Is it safe to go to the park for a walk? How will our children make it through job loss and quarantining? And the biggest question – when will we be able to HUG them again?? These are unprecedented days to say the least, and no one – NO ONE- knows what the “new normal” will look like. But fear not – we serve a God who DOES!! Even amidst the uncertainty of these days, our God is not surprised, and He’s walking along side us as we go through these times. As we all do “Our Best” to figure out the most effective way to continue to serve Him through this pandemic and in the days to come, let us hold fast to His sure promises –
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
May we continue to marvel at the beauty of this season, even as we fully trust our mighty God in the days to come!
Resting in His Grace,
April is here. And it promises to be an April like no other. Maybe “promises” isn’t quite the right word. Perhaps just to say that, unless you are over 100, you have never experienced an April like this one would be more accurate. Like so many of you, we’re in “Stay at Home” mode. For us this is less disruptive than many. Yes, we’re in that “vulnerable” age group, so we’re being cautious about going to the store, but we’re still walking out the door in the morning and reporting to work (just the two of us!) in the building next door. We have food in the freezer, a safe spot to Shelter in Place, and an 8.5 roll toilet paper reserve. This will be a challenging month(s) for all of us – many much more so than us. Yet through all of this, we have much to be thankful for! As we slog through this month together, I’m going to try to do daily posts – focusing on gratitude with a splash of whatever the day may bring mixed in!
Thanks for stopping by – and if you haven’t heard this TOO MANY TIMES, We’re all in this together!