Are We Shutting In or Shining Out?

Shut in or Shut outIt’s hard to believe it, but three months ago—Thursday, March 19th—Governor Newsom gave a statewide “Stay-at-Home” order to the residents of California. All of us went into our homes and shut the door. What did we shut the door against? Covid-19, yes, but also fellowship, camaraderie, freedom of all kinds, and meeting together on Sunday mornings.

Most of us have stayed in touch with our families and others through our devices: phones, iPads, emails, Zoom meetings, and social media pages. But a “virtual hug” or a wave doesn’t make up for human touch.

I have talked with mothers of school children, who are “done”. I mean really done. The stress of 24-7 kids at home, trying to understand the technologies needed to help their child continue in school, husbands who are working from home and needing quiet… what a challenge! I’ve talked with lonely widows who cry at the sound of a friendly voice. I’ve seen fear in the eyes of strangers in the supermarket as we maintain our 6’ social distance and try like heck to go down the aisle the right way. I miss the sound of laughter. I miss the smiles that I hope are behind all those masks. I miss the hugs from my grandchildren. I long, oh how I long, for how things used to be.

AND YET… through all of this, I have grown. I have rekindled my love for reading the Word. I have been drawn in once more to the promises of God and they have touched me deeply. I have learned to seek Him first in my day and I have been rewarded. One of the “fruits” of this time has been a new habit. I’ve started writing notes to people – friends, family, church goers that I miss. In those notes, I include a recipe card promise from the Word. Many have replied that it was just what the needed. Think about those people who could use an encouragement right about now and ask the Lord for a promise. Let His light shine in the darkness through you.

Dear Child

Sample Promises for Your Recipe Card
For the fearful: Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. 2Kings 6:16
For the unemployed: And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
For the brokenhearted: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
For the depressed: For the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
For the discouraged: Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5

Nana’s Nudge: Let your “little light shine”!
Music has sustained me these past months. Listen with an open heart:
Nana’s Songs
You Are Loved  |  The Blessing  |  Breakthrough  |  You’re Gonna Be OK  |  Our God  |  See A Victory  |  Dancing on the Waves
Nana’s Prayer:  Thank You, Father, that You are always near and You draw us close. Help us to see our brothers and sisters who are in need of encouragement. Give me Your inspiration, Holy Spirit. Jesus, shine Your light through us, Lord!

It is said that there are 7,000 promises in the Bible. I highly recommend Promises of God by Dr. Lester Sumrall – available for free in pdf format.

Sticks & Stones

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.” is an old saying. I clearly remember chanting that to any one of my 8 brothers and sisters with a ”” thrown in for emphasis. Perhaps you said it yourself on the playground back in the day? In truth, unkind words DO hurt! They go deep inside you and stay there, hidden in the cave of your heart, planting a lie that can grow and grow as more taunting or critical words are added throughout your life. Shock of all shocks — some of us actually believe those words!

Over the years, I have learned to hold my peace (or… piece of advice). Sit on it. Breathe in and out. And then, answer the criticism or false statement with what I truly believe in a “reasoned” and calm voice. I have learned to cultivate kindness. You might wonder, how do you do that? Well, I think about all of the good things in my life and work to keep an “attitude of gratitude”.

Here are some ways to “kill with kindness”

  • Look for the longest line at the grocery store and help the person in front of you unload their groceries.
  • Compliment the bank teller on her necklace.
  • Smile at the harried mother and let her know what it’s like to have a misbehaving child.
  • Hug your grandchild and tell him how proud you are of him.
  • Compliment the salesperson for going out of their way for you.
  • Look for opportunities throughout your day to spread cheer. I believe you’ll find that your day is lifted up and you’ll be whistling a happy tune as well.

Nana’s Nudge:  Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)
Nana’s Songs:  I Whistle a Happy Tune | Kindness is a Muscle