To be known

I walked in the room, knowing I needed to apologize. Dinner in our home is definitely a time of interesting, and fiery conversation. The fiery ones center mostly on the state of virtual school. On any given night, one parent ends up being the bad cop, the good cop, or we both end up just being lame. Tonight, it was me.

I wasn’t “bad.” I hadn’t yelled. We hadn’t had the dreaded school discussion that ends in stomping to rooms, but I hadn’t set a “good” example. Not one sprinkled with grace and acceptance.

I had mocked someone we knew at the dinner table. Judged a situation, and judged the person in the situation.

And any of you who haven’t committed this sin, be the first to cast a stone. I’ll wait.

While I wait…and wait, I’ll explain my apology. If I feel my example has not been one of Christlike-ness; or let’s just say, if I KNOW, because the Spirit tells me it hasn’t, I will apologize. This means I will also apologize to my kids.

Now, I know some don’t believe in this. But, the Bible is clear about how humble we must become to enter His kingdom:

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3, NLT

Like children. So I’m not above apologizing to a child. Especially if I know that one is watching and learning from me.

“I shouldn’t have said what I did tonight. Made fun of what happened. It was wrong. I am not going to justify my behavior. I should have explained my thoughts differently. It was wrong. I didn’t set an example, and it wasn’t kind.”

The apology opened up a conversation about authenticity and belonging.

See…I had left a space earlier that day feeling shunned and unwelcome. Like I was an intrusion. And I let it fester all day. To the point that I let the inauthentic response of another trigger me into anger, and a mean-spirited response.

When I should have explained at dinner the importance of making others feel comfortable in all spaces. Allow others to be free to be themselves, so they don’t have to constantly “shape-shift,” and be less than themselves. To be inclusive to all. To make others feel a little less self-conscious, but rather accepted, seen, loved, and known.

“I don’t want you to be 42 years old, and just figuring this out like I am.”

As I sat typing out the words to this post, I reached for my phone to locate a verse I needed and found this…a note I had typed out in my phone over a year ago. A short “letter” I had written to the younger me.

Dear Younger me,

Choose your circle wisely. You should be loved by your peeps for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. If you have to change who you were made to be to fit into a space, that isn’t your space.

And as I read it, I realized…though she thought it “cringy…” I had just said these exact same words, without my even knowing to a pretty spot-on, younger version of 13 year-old me.

And no…I didn’t want her to have to figure all this out in another 30 years.

And goodness, I am still trying to figure out many days who it is that God sees in me.

Because that is what I want her to see: who God sees. Not what anyone in any room she may walk into may see. Because more often than not…they may not see ALL that God has given her. ALL her talent. ALL her gifts. ALL that makes her so uniquely special, and set apart.

And it’s the same for you. There will be rooms you walk into where you may be known by name, but in which people still just don’t see you. You still don’t feel known. You will move in circles with people who don’t know who you really are, because you feel as if you have to cover up the real you. Play pretend. You may waste years and years trying to fit into spaces that will just never “fit” you, and who you are.

Know this. Embrace it today.

You are always seen and intimately known by God. He knows everything about you, and He still loves you. He has a place for you, and you never have to pretend, cover up; nor will you feel all alone.

He sees the real you. The broken you. The insecure you. The too loud you. The shy you. The you trying to fit into spaces that make you cringe.

He knows your name. He sees you. He loves you. He accepts you. You are known. You belong.

For those who seek Him

Stories. We all use stories to make a point. Stories are a more interesting way to get a message across to people. A way to help others understand a concept that may be a little hard for others to grasp. Stories keep audiences engaged. Everyone loves a good story. Well, most everyone.

“Why do you that? You speak in these crazy metaphors that make no sense.”

They make sense to those actually asking me questions to learn something. To learn the truth.

See, the one asking that question ended up working for a modern-day Judas. He was never going to understand the metaphor. He wasn’t looking for the right answer. He was digging in the dirt.

I do use metaphors, or “stories,” when I speak. I do this a lot. Sometimes it is simply because I am a writer and a deep thinker, so my mind naturally thinks in the abstract. However, it is to often get the listener to also think about things differently…and to gauge whether they are really actually listening. And to determine what they are actually seeking.

Someone else did this, too.

Jesus. And no…I’m not Jesus. I’m called to be like him. But he spoke in parables, and he had a point in using them.

Later when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around, they asked him what the parables meant. He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secret of the Kingdom of God. But I use parables for everything I say to outsiders, so that the Scriptures may be fulfilled: When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand. Otherwise, they will turn to me and be forgiven. Mark 4:10-12

Yes. He spoke in parables to determine who was seeking truth. And who was just “faking it.” Who was going to understand him, and who simply could not. Who was a Peter, and who was a Judas. Who was a friend, and who was a betrayer. Who was gonna sit a while and reflect, ask questions, seek to understand, communicate through this “crazy metaphor;” or who was gonna decide it was to much and run back to where the silver was. All those things, but he also used them to determine who was ready to learn a bit more, and who needed a little more time. A little more nurturing.

Now back to the “crazy metaphor” it was about a plant. Which if you knew the entire story… it really did have a lot to do with the question. If one was really seeking the truth.

“It’s like that plant over there. It’s dying now. But before, it was over here. And it was only withered a little bit. And the soil was just a little dry. All someone had to do was water it. Keep it over here in its original environment, and give it some more water. But someone decided it needed to be over there in that windowsill, in the bright sun. That’s not a bright sun plant. It’s in the wrong environment. And now it’s dying. Study your environment some more. Some of your plants aren’t in good soil.”

Truth seekers. They will move the plant back to the good soil.

Fakers. Won’t get that they needed to change the soil they were in. Or just give the plant a bit more water.

That was the purpose of the metaphor.

That was the purpose of the parables of Jesus. And we saw so many did not understand his words. So many saw him as crazy. Simply didn’t listen. Turned away from him. Or worse-persecuted him.

But others did understand.

Jesus used many stories and illustrations to teach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables; but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them. Mark 4:33-34

Want to distinguish yourself between the seeker and the faker? The one who understands, and the one who runs away? Ask the questions. Ask about the stories. Ask about the Bible. Have someone you trust, and who knows Jesus, explain it to you. That is how you will see and learn; hear and understand; turn and be forgiven.

That is the purpose of the stories for those who seek Him.

Do it anyway

I woke up that morning, after deciding at some point in the middle of the night that I was giving up. I had finally waved the white flag of defeat.

On what, exactly? Prayer. Not all prayer. Just a specific one.

As I sat in my favorite chair, I glanced down at my old, worn out Bible. The one I knew had prayers written in it. I picked up a different one. “Lord show me. Lead me. Help me. Tell me what I need to do for you today.” It was something I had been asking of Him daily, surrendering to His will. Trying to be still, and listen, and listen to His voice so I wasn’t moving ahead of Him (or waving that white flag too soon…oops).

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7, NLT

The verse that began my daily devotional. And so I looked down and caught a glimpse of that old, worn out Bible. The one I had tossed to the side, and I heard this: “I never told you not to pray. You decided that on your own. What are you going to do?”

What WAS I going to do? White flag, remember?

I picked it up. That Bible. Surrender. That’s my word. And opened to this:

Then the Lord said to Job, “Do you still want to argue with the Almighty?
You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?” Job 40:1-2,NLT

I did. Boy, did I want to argue with God. I was weary from prayer. I felt those prayers were fruitless. I had been burdened with those prayers, and I still for the life of me did not understand the purpose.

But I did it anyway. I found a sticky note. Prayed over it. And then surrendered it to God.

I did it anyway.

“Lord show me. Lead me. Help me. Tell me what I need to do for you today.”

When you ask Him these things, He will show you. Lead. Help. Tell. You may not like what you hear. You may be tired. Weary. Sick of the burden.

But…do it anyway.

Which one will you choose?

I trekked up the hill to my old “quiet place” to get alone with God. To be alone to allow Him to fill me with peace during an otherwise stressful week. One with deadlines galore, and tasks to be completed before a break could be taken. Time to be reminded of what made this week so holy.

The hill to the three crosses behind our church was certainly not as steep as the hill Jesus climbed on that Friday morning. The trek was not as hard. I did not take a beating on the way up. Nor did I suffer. My “soul was not crushed with grief to the point of death,” as Jesus’ had been (Mark 14:34, NLT)

However, the climb was different than times before. It was littered with a couple stray beer bottles, and once at the top I noticed the middle cross…you know, the one representing Jesus, was broken. Now one wooden pillar in the middle. The wind up here was colder. It didn’t feel as calm and peaceful up here as it once did. It felt eerie. I was sure the serpent, Satan, would at some point come slithering from the tree behind me.

I was jumpy. Agitated. Paranoid. The exact opposite of what I climbed this hill to find.

Peace.

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Mark 15:34, NLT

As Jesus sat kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane, he certainly had to lack peace. As each leaf shook, each branch broke, each breeze blew through the trees; I can imagine in his humanity he must have become jumpy and paranoid from the sounds of those coming to take him to his death.

But when he thought of his purpose, despite the pain, he had peace: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Mark 14:36, NLT).

And what was that will?

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:40-43

Yes. Jesus is the one in the middle. On that broken middle cross that I sat under. But he wasn’t the only cross erected there on that hill that fateful day.

There were two more. One on the left. One on the right.

He came to save them both. But only one went to paradise with him. He came to save us all. But only some will choose him. Some will choose his peace.

Which one are you? Which one are you today?

Do you want to keep saving yourself and stay on the path that leads away from paradise, or come into the kingdom with Jesus?

Which one will you choose?

The Messy Middle

There is a place I dread visiting these days. For anyone navigating this stage of parenting, you must know this place. It is hidden behind a door in our home. I know who is there. Problem is…I never know what is there. Meaning, I never know what mess I will find. Are those clothes on the floor clean? Are all those cups necessary? Does an actual person live in here? I want to spend time with my teens, but does it have to be in here? Does it have to be in the middle of this mess?

And all the parents of teens said, “Amen.”

Yet…messy teenage rooms aren’t the only messes we hide from.

We run from the messy middle of our own making. Of life’s circumstances. Of the things we just don’t want to discuss, or even deal with all the time. We even run from the messes of others, because we aren’t comfortable carrying them. Or simply don’t know how.

We dread going through the mess of life, like we dread going into our kid’s rooms, and in our dread we hide. We hide behind masks. We plaster on plastic smiles and happy faces. Pretend that everything is “a-ok” so that the outside world believes that all is good up in our heads, and all in our heart.

Or we retreat. We may run and hide. We may shut ourselves out from the world so no one sees us. So we don’t have to explain away our suffering. Or because running feels like pretending to us. Escaping.

We all have messy we don’t want to address, so we dress-up under our masks. We may hope our mask will “pretty it all up.” We fix the outside up, because that masks the pain we don’t address inside. We fix the outside up, because if the outside looks good, and everyone can see it, then life is all good, right?

Sometimes we even mask up by numbing. With whatever mask we choose to hide away behind when we can’t manage to pretty up the outside. The numbing that takes place in the only way we know how to manage that pain on our own. Binge watching. Eating. Gambling. Drinking. Dating. Sleeping. Or just plain running.

We pretend until we have managed the pain on our own. And we have come out of our mess on the other side. Seemingly clean and unscathed. Or so everyone thinks.

We miss something when we mask up. When we run and hide and shut others out. Or numb it. We miss out on showing others what it looks like to live through the messy middle. What it looks like to truly surrender ourselves to our pain.

To survive it.

Because we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. That we go through it unscathed. Not bruised. Not changed in some way.

No. We went through it. We didn’t put on a mask. We felt it. We couldn’t just numb it. It was painful. We couldn’t hide.

There is something to learn from those who pour it all out, and wade through the mess before them.

Who don’t search for potions, magic elixirs, and people to help them hide from it all.

Who do the work to get through the messy middle stronger, braver, lighter, and more ready to love than ever before.

Anyone can hide.

It takes a warrior to wade. To fight. To muddle through. To pray on knees, and cry hot, hot tears of defeat, anger, or bitterness. Sometimes all of them at once.

To not hide from messy, but to let it hang out in the open. To open doors that are scary to venture into. To have conversations that are uncomfortable. To admit that the mess was of our own making. To take ownership, and get to working on the clean-up, instead of ducking under the covers, and waiting for someone else to come from behind the door to do it.

To admit that through the messy middle, you doubted you would even see the end. Had lost faith in God. Saw more darkness than light. And yes…those prayers? They were definitely more angry than praiseworthy.

It takes bravery and courage to wade through the mess that way.

It’s not comfortable. No. No, it is not. But it is possible-together.

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Yes, we make mistakes. And we can admit them to each other, and get through them…with Him-together. But we have to be willing to release our desire to cover up. To cover up when we stumble. To hide when we fall.

In the messy middle, there is no place for masks. They don’t help. They only hurt. They don’t heal. They only cover up gaping wounds with bandaids that actually require stitches.

Be brave. Open the door. Wade through the mess of the chaos lying at your feet. Sit down with someone you trust, and share your messy middle. Because this…our mess. None of it can be waded through alone. It’s in the mess we see the love of God. It’s in our mess, someone else can, too.

Praying: It’s not silly, it’s serious

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. 1 John 5:14-15, NLT

Think you can’t be delivered from anything? Think God doesn’t care about the small things? Even the small sins in your life? Think again.

“Mommy’s favorite word is the “s” word.” That would be my youngest son. Telling everyone who will listen about his mother’s favorite word. And, I do mean everyone. And, he didn’t mean “sugar,” “sweet,” “shopping,” or even “Starbucks.” He meant one that begins with “s,” and ends with “t.” Oh, yes. That “s” word. A swear word.

We have this store in my hometown that has been around for years. I love it. One, it’s cheap. Two, you can find anything AND everything. They also have the best home decor, and I love to fill my house with sayings, and signs with sayings. This store has the best. A ton of faith-filled signs. And on one of my trips here, I found it. The last one. Just waiting for me-“I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.”

Problem was…I hadn’t been cussing a little, I had been cussing a lot. And I had graduated from my favorite “s” word, to a few other words.

And I knew better…His Word told me so. It told me that my “old life was dead.”

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk. Colossians 3:5-8, The Message

I knew better. God had delivered me from many a thing, but anger, bitterness, and hurt had reared it’s ugly head again. Satan used them all to make me mean. Irritable. And curse like a sailor. Yes, the “s” word came out every once in a while. I had even been delivered from my road rage. I didn’t want to go back there again.

And, it may seem silly, but that sign became a place I checked my spirit, and my bank account, and set up a swear jar.

Until, I confessed it in a Bible Study. Confessed in front of everyone that I, a pastor, was not perfect. Knew better, but sometimes, just didn’t do better. Loved Jesus, but cussed a little. And, maybe these days…a little too much.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16, NLT

Oh, we must pray right now! You have brought up something I bet someone else needs deliverance from, and I am glad you were bold enough to share it. I want to pray specifically for you!”

Say what? She was gonna pray for my cussing? Now, I trusted her sweet soul. I loved this lady. She was my accountability partner. She knew what I had been struggling with, but really…of all those things, cussing?

And, she did. In front of the people I had preached before. In front of those I was called to lead, she prayed for my “sin.” That I would leave that day, and not have to place another nickel in my swear jar.

I left that night and said to my husband, “I can’t believe she prayed for my cussing. It’s just the “s” word” See, she takes her prayers seriously. When she knows something displeases God, and he wants one of His own to turn away from something that may cause them to stumble, she fervently prays. Shouldn’t we all be this way? About even what we consider to be silly things?

A couple days ago, my youngest at the dinner table tried to do it again: “Well, we all know Mommy’s favorite word.” To which I replied…“Nope. Do you? Because since I was prayed for a few Wednesday nights ago, I haven’t said that word, and that sign has been moved.”

Yes…moved. And in it’s place is this. A reminder of the “s” word I am supposed to be living out this year: Surrender.

So back to Colossians 3…I urge you to take a look at the entire chapter. Because maybe there are some “s” words (sins) in there you need to surrender to God in prayer, too. Maybe cussing isn’t your thing. Maybe it isn’t the thing you know not to do, but do it anyway. Maybe for you it’s anger. A bad temper. Unforgiveness. Or maybe it’s lying. Hiding things because you think no one will find out. Or a lustful nature you feed, and feed, and feed.

He takes ALL of it seriously, just like my precious accountability partner, and He wants you to have a “new life.” I want that for you, too. So “confess to each other.” Feel free to comment, and I will surely carry your burden, take it seriously, and pray that you are delivered, too.

Still I know He is God

We will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge. Psalm 46:2-3, NLT

One year. A lot can happen in one year. Schools can shut down virtually overnight. People you thought were solid, prove to be pretty fluid. Jobs can be lost, and so can people. The world can come to a stand still. Weddings, birthday celebrations, and others of sorts can be canceled. Funerals can become drive-by only. Deliveries of babies can happen without a family member in sight. Church doors can close, and elderly neighbors can now be visited by waving to each other from a window.

The world is so different. Your world feels so uncertain. You may be so full of fear.

Yet, let’s not forget verse 10 of David’s Psalm, “Be still and know that I am God.”

That verse, when the Lord forced me to be still, brought me comfort. And the psalm, with all its references to raging seas and chaos, reminds me of a song by Mikeschair titled “Let the Waters Rise.” The lyrics of the chorus are as follows: There’s a raging sea/Right in front of me/Wants to pull me in/Brings me to my knees/So let the waters rise/If you want them to/I will follow you.

Follow Him. In the midst of the chaos and the uncertainty. Trust that all will be well. Hard stuff? Well, yes-because we are a people that need all the answers-right now! Me? I am a person that craves predictability, and uncertainty is NOT my jam.

Be still and know…

And still? No…we are not a people who know how to be still. But a year later, I do know this-He is most certainly God. He is a God who didn’t let the waters consume me, and though chaos raged all around me, and some days it may still, He provides the answers every single time. He provides peace.

And though it is hard to pray some days, when I fall on my knees and ask Him to guide me through the uncertainty, He most certainly will. Because “He was faithful before, and He will be faithful again.”

My year had its fair share of crumbled mountains and raging seas, losses and defeats. There were many of those. Stories for a later time. But in each one there is victory. Victory even when I wasn’t still. Victory because in each one, there was always God.

Such a time…

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

When I began this blog many years ago, I began so in a caffeinated state, usually at 3am in the morning. Usually battling the wills of autism.

Here it is almost 7 years later. It’s still 3am. My state is more like agitation, but it’s the change and uncertainty that has caused this sleeplessness.

Writing to me is healing. It’s a process of letting go of negative thoughts that run an endless spin cycle in my head. It’s the way in which I express the feelings I often cannot say out loud.

It’s been a journey I’ve enjoyed since inspired to keep a journal by my high school English teacher. It’s why I encourage anxious kids to do the same, whether they take the advice or not.

It’s how I process my angry conversations with God. My even angrier conversations I know I’ll never have with others.

I’m still writing, just not here. I’m still sharing what God has placed on my heart, just not here. For a number of reasons.

One is-we have changed. We just don’t read. We see the tag line. Like the picture. See the snappy caption, and don’t get all the way to the end to actually take in the entire post. So, we miss the true meaning.

We prefer video presence, and filtered pictures. Motivational quotes, and memes. It’s just our modern culture. And, while I’m never going to conform, I’m also not going to put myself out there for a tag-line or caption to be misrepresented.

Two…Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:13-14

Mordecai told Esther she was chosen Queen to stand up for something. Someone. Some cause. Not stay silent. Do something. Have a purpose for something she believed in.

This time for me. This time with far less work, and far more idle time. Though it may seem far less purposeful, it can be time spent doing some of the things I have only dared dream to do. But never found the time.

Or, was too fearful to do. Because in order to do so, it meant I would have to stop doing something else. Or putting myself out there in an even different way. And letting go of something else in my mind meant one word-failure. I just would not accept that. Putting myself out there even more, meant something even scarier-rejection. I can’t handle that one. 

However, I know differently, now. New things require letting go of some old ones. 

So I’m taking a break, and doing those things. Letting go of some old. Allowing some new habits to form. Some new gifts to be used. 

For those who have read these 3am thoughts I thank you for following along with me on this journey. Really. Thank you! Because while I know many are not comfortable with someone who can share the not so pretty parts of what makes this life, well LIFE; you valued my vulnerability.

No worries. It’s still out there in this great big thing we call the internet.

Still being shared.

Still being encouraged.

If you are still up for the journey until my return with some other things, you can join me here:

On Instagram: @coffeewithashotofffaith

On Facebook: @marshallcoffeefaith629

And the YouTube Channel my son so graciously helped me create: @RealCoffeeTalk629

God willing, I’ll see you soon! Finished projects, ready to complete and share! 

The things we take for granted

granted

Starbucks. It is no secret I love the place. When I go in, they greet me by name. They have my order ready before I get to the counter. They know where I work, and that Friday is my hardest day. They know which football team I like, and it is a topic of conversation on fall Monday mornings. We talk about our pets, our families, our vacations, and I leave their feeling seen, with a little more pep in my step. The liquid gold I have in my hand may have something to do with it, but the connection does, too.

And it’s this connection I miss during this time of isolation. Conversations. My morning “pick-me-up” with my java-loving comrades.

I go to Starbucks for the dark, rich brew. But when I walk up to the counter, I get so much more. And I take it for granted.

On a good day, enjoy yourself. On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won’t take anything for granted. Ecclesiastes 7:14

Why does it take a crisis to remind us of this truth? We wait until life gets hard before we start appreciating the good stuff. Because when times are good, we rarely stop and think about all those small things. Those connections that made that “good” day, or that “good” moment-just that.

We take so much for granted.

Daily conversations. A trip to the grocery store. A Sunday morning church service. Being served dinner in our favorite restaurant. Our jobs. Our co-workers.

Laughter. Rest. An afternoon nap. The guidance of our teachers. Our parents. Even our kids.

A wave. A smile. A hello.

We take so much for granted.

We may see it all now, while life is crazy, and we are forced to slow down. While we have the time. While we are in the midst of this isolation. But what happens when life becomes rushed and normal again? When all becomes as we knew it?

Will we once again start taking these things for granted? Will we forget how much we missed those smiles? Those words? That laughter? Those connections?

Or will we decide to never again take those things, or those people for granted again?

Give yourself permission

I’m a helper. An empath. A person who moves in compassion, and this only becomes more apparent in times of crisis.

I also like naps. Netflix. But I don’t like feeling helpless. I don’t know how to respond when the world says to stop moving . When before it’s all I’ve ever known to do. Move. Act. Respond.

As I’m standing in my kitchen, making phone calls. Some that go unanswered, leaving me wondering how to move. How to act. How to respond. I glance over at the Bible I have placed on my kitchen counter. Glaring at me in bold print are these words: Permission to Rest.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. Mark 1:32-34

I can relate. Now, I am not Jesus. I am not driving out demons. But I have moved, acted and responded at the drop of a hat. Moving to crisis after crisis. Acting on behalf of those who couldn’t for themselves. Responding to needs, even when I had my own.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

He gave himself permission to just stop. To rest. To not move. To not act. To not respond. to simply be in his Father’s presence.

And today…it’s OK if I do the same.

While I may feel helpless. My heart may be telling me I should do something. Maybe what I really need to do is just give myself permission.

Permission to rest.

Permission to move in living room dance parties, and nature walks with the people who love me.

Permission to be silly. To perform acts of love, in small doses. A little at a time, but maybe just not right now. Not right away.

Permission to respond…but later. And know that if I don’t, well it’s OK.

Today, I give myself permission.