Ann Landers once wrote, “Hatred is like an acid. It can do more damage to the vessel in which it is stored as well than to the object on which it is poured.”
This time last year, I had a notebook full of unruly notes and an awareness that the messes all around me weren’t all there is to life.
I had zero idea on how to form my unruly notebook into a book. My thoughts overflowed onto page after page without any boundaries or order. I turned to my friend, Sarah, and said, “Help me name this thing, this feeling, this truth—there are messes in life that I have very little control over. Some of it is caused by overt sin, mine, yours, everybody’s. But sometimes the mess just is. It looks like mental health challenges and other health problems, relationship struggles that have very few good answers, or earthquakes, floods, loss.”
This is an adapted excerpt from Walking Together: Simple Steps for Discipleship by Ted Doering.
What is God saying? This is a question about knowledge. What is God calling me to do? This question applies that knowledge in your life. What is my next step? Here, we take that knowledge and application and put it into practice. Now, this is specifically phrased. The question is not about some long-term plan, your destiny, or a mountaintop experience. It’s literally about your next step. On a long journey, sometimes the only thing that can be done is to focus on one more step.
I will be what one Christian author and speaker would call a pioneer parent. Pioneer parents are mothers and fathers who did not have the examples of Christian parents to follow in their own childhood. I, simply put, without the help of the Holy Spirit, have no clue how to raise my future children in the faith. I didn’t grow up going to Sunday School, saying bedtime prayers, or attending church. How will I parent in a way that reflects and teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my children?
Let’s get the basics out of the way. I am the wife of a man who is studying to become a pastor. My husband, Joel, is entering the final stretch of his second year in the master of divinity program at Concordia Seminary. We’re currently waiting for the next step in this seminary process, which is the placement service for vicar and deaconess internships. Anyone who has been through this knows the agony of the wait. It feels so different from any move I’ve made before. I’d like to invite you into an understanding of how we are feeling and ask you to pray for the students and their families during their formation for pastoral ministry.
We live in a weird time—not only are we still in the midst of a global pandemic, but we also are living in an in-between time.
Some churches are open, others are not. Some people are back at work, others are not. Living in the in-between means everyone is at a different point, making it hard to serve one another. Your elderly parents might be vaccinated, but you might still not be able to see them. Your church might be open, but you might not feel comfortable attending services in person yet.
No matter what point you’re at, you can still serve your neighbor! Here are some situations where you can serve your neighbor in the current in-between time.
Last year, our church celebrated Easter with a drive-in Easter service. In-person gatherings were not an option, but not gathering at all was not an option either. After weeks of planning—which felt generous in some ways, since most of our planning was on the fly while we adjusted to shifting health and safety guidelines last spring—we made it to Easter morning.
Starting in 2006 and marking its fifteenth anniversary this year, World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, is the day we celebrate the unique and precious blessing of individuals in our lives with Down syndrome. Down syndrome, or trisomy 21, means there is an extra (third) chromosome in the twenty-first chromosomal pair of a person’s genetic makeup.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16)
I hate winter.
I live in Michigan, which is probably one of the worst states to live in if you hate the cold and snow like me. Winter starts in November, and it doesn’t end until late March. I hate trudging through snow to take my dog out, driving on icy roads, and putting on a million layers just to walk to my mailbox.