Mystery of Melchizedek

I have always struggled to understand the story of Melchizedek. A minor character in the story of Abraham rescuing his nephew, Lot, he takes up only four verses of real estate in Genesis 14. However, a decent chunk of the book of Hebrews is dedicated to describing Jesus as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. I’ve always been confused by this. Why is this guy worthy of comparison to Jesus? We know very little about Melchizedek. All we’re given in Genesis is that he is:

  1. The king of Salem
  2. A priest of “God Most High”

He gives Abraham bread and wine and a blessing, and Abraham gives him a tenth of everything he owns. The end.

This month I am reading through Hebrews. This week I am in the portion regarding Jesus as a high priest in the order of Melchizedek. This morning, I opened the kids’ story Bible (not related to my reading plan whatsoever) and what story is next in our reading plan? Abraham Rescues Lot, followed by his interaction with Melchizedek. 

Friends, this is a Kairos moment. When God brings to mind or initiates interactions with a particular thought, idea, story, or scripture I know he is telling me: slow down. Listen carefully. I have something to teach you.

Melchizedek. 

Our other morning read, an apologetics devotional, discussed the importance of names. Ok. What’s in Melchizedek’s name?

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:1-3, ESV, emphasis mine).

Alright, I’m tracking here. Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek. Jesus is also King of Righteousness and King of Peace.

But why this dude? His name is spot on, he’s super mysterious and that’s cool, but why is Jesus so connected with him?

The Bible I use for daily reading is the Story of Redemption Bible. It’s got little bits of commentary scattered throughout the text that help me see Jesus in every part of scripture. And one note on Hebrews 7 helped me see something I’d never noticed before:

“Faced with the fact that Jesus is descended from Judah and not Levi the author notices a line .in Psalm 110 addressing a priest ‘after the order of Melchizedek’…the author unfolds why Jesus the High Priest is better than any high priest from the line of Levi; He had no sin of his own to atone for, he lives forever to intercede for his people, and, above all, he is the guarantor of the new covenant the prophets foretold” (Greg Gilbert, The Story of Redemption Bible commentary on Hebrews 7).

Ahhh. Priests usually come from the line of Levi. Jesus is the Lion of Judah. He is an extraordinary priest. He’s a perfect priest. He is a priest AND king.

God knew that the Hebrew people would expect their priestly Messiah to come from the line of Levi, but even before that line was established, he introduced a mysterious priest-king. God knew our questions even before we asked them. He knew where he would be doubted even before the doubt came.

But now I’m curious… why is God bringing this to mind for me, now? The second part of a Kairos moment is asking the question, How will I live differently? And at the time I’m writing this, I’m still in the midst of answering those questions.

What questions are you still answering? What stories have always troubled you? What keeps swirling around in your head unanswered? I urge you today to slow down. Pause. Listen carefully. Take just a few moments to acknowledge the thoughts in your head. Write them down or go for a walk (or, if you’re extroverted or a verbal processor, take a friend out for coffee and make sure you buy them lots of muffins to keep their mouth full while you talk). Then, let me know what you find out about God or yourself. And remember, sometimes the joy is simply in the searching.

Observer: Crucifixion

Welcome Jonah Lange, guest writer, back to the fire. Jonah is a graduate student at University of Iowa studying school counseling. He enjoys running, board games and exploring the world in which he lives.

A man was being led away by a squad of soldiers. He didn’t seem like a violent man, so the soldiers seemed rather unnecessary. They led him into the temple. I didn’t see him for a while after that. I heard what some were saying about him. Some said he deserved death, while others swore that he had only done good. Spurred on by my curiosity of what I’d heard, I decided to go and see it when he was going to be crucified. Apparently, they must’ve found out something bad about him.

I got there when they first put him on the cross. They’d put a crown of thorns on his head along with an inscription on his cross saying that he was the king of the Jews.

I didn’t know how long I’d stick around. Sometimes, it’d be days before a crucified criminal would die; however, from the start, something seemed different about this. For one, it got dark fast. Expecting a storm to break out, I almost just left. My house was far off anyway and I figured I’d get just as wet either way. So I stayed. Much to my surprise, it didn’t rain.

At one point he asked for a drink and at another he called out to God. Then, all of a sudden, a lot of things started happening. Rocks started splitting and the earth shook. It looked like the man on the cross had died, but it would’ve been much earlier than normal. I ran pretty quickly.

The next day, I heard that some people had taken his body down and put it in a tomb. The man must have really been dead. I tried to go see the tomb for myself but seeing that it was being guarded by Roman soldiers, I chose not to approach. The question of who the man was still rang through my mind. No one had really seen his followers around since the day he died.

A few days later, I was walking around and thought I saw the man going around with his disciples. At first, I thought it may have just been someone who looked like him. I wouldn’t have been surprised considering that I’d been thinking about him quite a bit recently. However, when I saw the holes in his hands, I knew it had to be him. I immediately dropped what I was doing and went to see where he was going. I continued in my curiosity, until I saw him speaking with his main followers and then, all of a sudden, float into the air and disappear. Seeing that and hearing what his disciples said afterwards made me more than convinced that he was someone special. Perhaps the son of God. 

30,000 Feet

Reunion Tower: Dallas, TX

It was so good to see him.

We grew up in the same town and graduated from the same high school.

We agreed that Mr. Falan was the best history teacher.

He worked at the Big Boy where my friends and I would gather late at night for hot fudge ice cream cake.

I worked down the street at Dairy Queen.

He had lived on Island Lake and I had lived down the street from Hope Lake. Two of the many lakes in our little Michigan town.

I still miss the water and evergreens that dotted the landscape of my drive to my high school, the same one my friend attended.

My friend, … that lived in the same town I did during high school. The one that had the same favorite teacher, worked at a popular stomping ground,

The friend I hadn’t seen in such a long time….

actually I hadn’t ever seen him.,,

because we met for the first time last week,

at 30,000 feet.

You discover funny things in life… when you’re paying attention.

At the beginning of July a book was placed in my hands.

The giver, my wise nephew, encouraged me to read it with no strings attached. He did not want me to feel pressured to embrace the beliefs of the author but believed he had some ideas worth considering.

I respect and trust my 27 year old nephew so I dove in. I devoured the book that stretched me, challenged me, comforted me, inspired me. I told my husband about it, kids about it …..

actually anyone that would listen.

I have to believe that it is the book, the one from my wise nephew… that was instrumental in heightening my awareness to the events occurring in my everyday life… the things that I noticed when I looked around me, in front of me, beside me. The things that were in my physical space that walked right by me. The book helped me grow my awareness to the humans I encounter everyday, the humans I work with and worship with and recreate with and…

live with.

You know…. the ones closest and most important to me.

And my new friend, the one who graduated from the same High school as I did and loved the same history teacher and worked at my favorite late night hang out…

that I met last week for the first time…

at 30,000 feet.

Please allow me to pause here in the middle of my story ( hate to leave you hanging since we floating at 30,000 feet and all)…

If you were to list the top three things you value most in life… what would they be?

Go ahead… what are they? Say them out loud. If you know me and have my number…. shoot me a text.

This list, my top 3, is where I chose to put my focus at the beginning of July – you know, when my nephew gave me the book….

Looking through the lense of my top 3 – I took 30 days to evaluate …. everything.

Every minute of how I spend my time was filtered through the question….

“Does this support my top 3?”

This is not easy- creating a clear head space to objectively evaluate time spent. So there was one small task the author of the book required ( if we wanted an accurate view of our lives) …

Stop all forms of technology that aren’t necessary…. for 30 days.

No social media.

No for fun apps.

No blogs, podcasts….

Friends, the above list had become my oxygen and I decided to disconnect the tank.

I chose to do this during a month where my highlight reel would be strong.

A visit from my parents for the first time in 4 years.

Kansas City BBA with Mom and Dad

A golf getaway with Tom.

Golf at the Lake of the Ozarks

A family gathering with all of my children.

Biking the Katy Trail

An in person seminar where my team and I would be recognized for our best year in business ….

ever.

In 19 years.

My top achievers from my team – Best year Ever!!!

No posts, no scrolling, no filling my mind with constant chatter of my favorite podcasters while traveling. No story scrolling on Insta…

nada

Nothing.

And here I sit… at my favorite coffee shop.. telling you the story of a life of 30 days of fighting to stay in the moment, not escape the uncomfortable and open my eyes to all around me.

Have I mentioned my friend? The one that graduated from the same High school I did? The one that had the same favorite teacher? The one that worked at Big Boy?

The one I met last week… because I was…..

paying attention?

As I made my way to the back of the plane, my eyes were searching for my friend. She had boarded before me and saved me a seat. ( Southwest – no assigned seats)

I spotted her engaged in conversation with a friendly looking gentlemen. She had the window seat, he had the aisle and I would get the middle. Its the price you pay for downloading your boarding pass too late when flying Southwest.

He was traveling from Guatemala where he had recently been assigned by his church to serve a mission. From his thoughtful tone to the simple priestly robe he wore, we knew he was passionate about his calling and his life’s purpose. If I learned nothing more about Father Zach I would have considered our interaction as positive and encouraging.

But I did learn more….. and I’m so glad I was paying attention. I am so glad that I met him at the end of my 30 day technology detox… my senses were clear and I had practiced being present.

In the course of our conversation I mentioned I had lived in Michigan. He remarked that he was familiar with the area I spent my childhood and high school years. When I inquired about why, he answered….

“I grew up at Chicago and Evergreen.” ( for non- Michigan Readers those are crossroads in Detroit.)

“Really!” I replied. And for God only knows why, I asked… “So where did you go to high school.”

And it was that moment, at 30,000 feet, that I thanked God I was there… really there. Present. Focused. Watching.

“Well, I was kind of a handful in high school so my mom had me go live with my dad…. in Brighton – I graduated from Brighton High school.”

Friends – Did I mention that I was on a flight from Dallas TX, to Kansas City, MO? Did you know that is no where close to Brighton, Michigan?? Did I tell you it was 10:30 pm at night and I was exhausted after a fantastic week with my business team??

Did I tell you I grew up in Brighton? That I graduated from Brighton High School??

The same place this man, that had previously practiced law in California and felt the call to serve God as a Catholic priest at age 32, that was sitting to my left, en route to Kansas city….

Had graduated from the same high school I had.

He was the class of ’79.

I was ’88.

And yes – we did have the same History teacher and we both agreed that he was the best.

And there we were….

On a 55 minute flight from Dallas to Kansas City – meeting for the very first time.

I’ll probably never see him again.

But I’m pretty sure I am forever changed.

I am changed because my nephew handed me a book.

I am changed because I took the challenge to list my top 3.

I am changed because I created space by disconnecting for 30 days, a space that opened up room for new friends, from old stomping grounds.

I’m changed because when I turned down some of the voices in my world…. God’s voice got louder.

And boy do I need that in my life……

the sound, the direction, the wisdom, the clarity that comes when I hear HIS voice and see the ways he shows up in my everyday life.

Now… more than ever.

The author of the book is not a proponent of disconnecting from everything forever. Not even close.

But he is convinced that there is power in …

Taking 30 days to look through the lense of your top 3 values so you can decide what best serves them.

He believes (and now I do too) that we live in a world that welcomes any and all distractions without ever considering how they are impacting ourselves, our most important relationships, our very lives.

So….. here I sit…. in the midst of some decisions…what I’ll return too, at what level I’ll engage.

One thing is for sure….. I never want to miss the beautiful surprises in life that I see when I am living in the moment…

especially those at 30,000 feet.

And what is that book ? you ask…”Digital Minimalism” By Cal Newport.

Forever grateful for my nephew Ted – who put this book in my hands.

The Book “Werm”

Welcome Guest writer Jonah Lange. Jonah is a graduate student at Northern Iowa University studying School Counseling. In he spare time he likes to run, read, and write clever short stories like the one below. Enjoy.

I. Didn’t. Like it.
We had to do a book report. Usually, I really liked book reports. I love reading. This time; however, the book we read was assigned to us. Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded that either had I not been assigned such a boring looking book. Other people got fun fiction books, and some even got to read comic books. Me? I was assigned Werm, a historical book about a poor European man. The teacher said that the book would challenge me, but that he thought I was ready for it. We’ll see, I guess.
It started off slow. A bunch of numbers and dates of when Werm (whose given name was actually Will Bunt) and his siblings were born and how his parents both died when he was quite young, and he had to support his family so that he and his siblings would survive. I looked up at the clock. I’d been reading this for 2 hours and I was only 20 pages in. It was such a drag. I didn’t know how I’d ever finish it. I decided to call it a night and try to pick up reading it tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and, though I may have actively avoided it for most of my day, I eventually brought myself back to trying to read Werm. As I’d said, it didn’t seem much unlike any other dystopian historical book that I’d ever heard of before. Except, it seemed almost like it was getting interesting. Werm was working at a farm, but being younger, he wasn’t able to do as much. Due to laws, the owner was obligated to pay Werm a fair rate, but he didn’t think Werm was even worth the small amount he was paying him. Werm could tell that his job and thus the lives of he and his siblings were at stake. He had to figure out something to protect his siblings. At this point, I kind of started to like Werm. He was hard-working, but also selfless. When I looked up at the clock, 2 hours had gone by, and I’d read almost 50 pages!

The next day, I got up and went straight to reading. Werm had come up with a plan. He knew he could work hard; he just needed a way to for the hard work he put in to show some real results. His main job at the farm had always been to care for the plants. In his case, that mostly meant pulling up weeds. For him, however, some of the weeds were harder to pull up because of how deep the roots went. So, he decided to help himself out. He went out with a shovel to the beginning of the first row. He started digging a hole. It took a while, but eventually, he dug a hole deep enough to stand in. Then, from down in the hole he started to dig sideways under the row of plants. He knew he couldn’t dig too shallow underneath the plants or they might die. He had to be extremely careful. Also, since the man he worked for didn’t know what he was doing, he also had to be sneaky. Thus, He had to fill in the dirt as he dug, so that no one knew he was tunneling under the crops. I’ll admit that I was nervous. If he did it wrong, the crops would die and likely so would he and his family. As he dug, he started to not only successfully get rid of weeds, but he also found rocks, most of which he removed to help the plants’ roots grow better.
Eventually he found one rock that was different. It was gold! He didn’t know what to do. He had found it on his owner’s property, so he felt it belonged to him, but he’d also have to explain how he found it. He knew that he’d be in more trouble for not showing it to the owner, so he brought it in.
Edge. Of. My. Seat. What would happen? Would the owner fire him for tunneling? Would he let him keep the gold? Unfortunately, it was getting late, so I had to stop reading. I’d read over 100 pages that day.

I got up early the next day to finish the book. When Werm showed the gold to the owner, the owner was surprised. Naturally, the owner’s questions lead Werm to telling about the tunnels. After hearing everything, the owner was amazed. Not only in Werm’s hard-working attitude, but also in his cleverness and integrity. First, he thanked Werm for bringing in the gold, but said it was his to keep. Second, he told Werm how the crops in the rows he’d been tunneling in had been doing even better than the others and he wanted to raise Werm’s pay. Third, he wanted to help Werm provide for his siblings. He offered to pay for their house so that more of Werm’s money could go to buying food for he and his siblings.It was such a good book. It had indeed been a challenge, but one that I pushed through and ultimately loved at the end.
Now to write the report. I knew it wouldn’t take long. I already knew everything I would say.
All I needed now was a good title.

The End.

“You’re one of those people aren’t you!?” my husband looked at me, incredulous.

Turns out, after four years of dating and eight years of marriage we still have some stuff to learn.

“Yes, I am. I’m not ashamed and I’m not going to change” I replied, processing my reasoning as I spoke the words. It’s something I’ve always accepted about myselfbut until this moment—I hadn’t processed why. I pursed my lips, my eyes searching the textured ceiling for a response. “It gives me…a boundary of sorts. A sense of security.”

We were discussing, of course, reading ahead to the end of a story.

I’ve always been a bookworm. A nerdy type, who, as a child, had books taken away instead of being grounded. Characters come alive to me as my imaginary friends. Especially as a child, but occasionally even as an adult, I become inconsolably grouchy after finishing a series or saga, reeling with the disappointment that my wide world has shrunk back down to reality. 

I didn’t start out as the skip-to-the-end type, but sometime around the fifth or sixth grade I started reading Cheaper by the Dozen and mentioned it to an older, wiser, bookworm. They “didn’t want to spoil it” but implied a sad ending. I loved this memoir but was just entering into the emotional unraveling we refer to as “puberty” and my already delicate heart didn’t need any more fodder for meltdown. I read ahead, prepared my heart, and thus began a lifetime of peeking at the final chapter.

Lest you start to judge me, let me argue a bit more in my defense. I read the ending not so I may set the book aside and skip to another, but to enrich the middle. Once I know how the story will end I know how my emotions will be pulled. I find security in this. A good writer includes twists and turns throughout the plot, but I face these knowing that eventually the lost princess will be found (or eaten!), the grandfather will die peacefully after reconciling with his estranged family, or the lost item will remain lost but the seeker will find true contentedness.

As humans, we are sent to walk on earth for a time. Very little of our life is guaranteed, and even some of those “for sure” plans disappear. We may dream of marriage and family, may or may not happen (or happen in a way we do not expect), a career we spend our lives preparing for may become obsolete or unattainable due to unforeseen circumstances. We may live a quiet, faithful life and be suddenly affected by chronic pain, food allergy, change in economic status, disability, or unplanned pregnancy.

But followers of Christ know how the story ends.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)

At the end of the story, God will draw us to him. As Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it, “everything sad will come untrue.” Not because of anything we have done, but because of what Jesus already did.

If the middle of the story feels scary and unknown to you today, I challenge you to skip to the end. Read the book of Revelation. Maybe grab a commentary or a wise friend to help navigate the imagery. 

The middle is a mystery but the end is assured.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.

My daughter shares my love for books.

Inconvenient Grief

Please welcome my friend Ashley Luciano to the fire. She is a writer and digital artist residing in Upstate New York with her husband and two stepsons. She’s spoken at churches across the state, a message of hope and redemption through Jesus. With humor in her writing she seeks to empower women to hold joy and grief together as she shares personal stories of God’s presence in stormy seasons.

It wasn’t long after the unfaithful breakdown of my first marriage, that I found myself in another’s grief. Grief that I didn’t agree with. Grief that I tried to pass off to someone else, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Grief that I didn’t deem worthy of grieving.

Not even a week had passed since I saw my world crumble in a way that was unimaginable. It was then I found myself holding the hand of a man that actively crumbled his own world and marriage. I spotted him in the balcony after church, weeping uncontrollably as people were scurrying to break down stations and clean up the venue in the hopes of catching the tail end of bottomless brunch, before heading to the evening service, spirit(s)-filled.

As a member of the prayer team, I approached him with a card to take down all of his info, thinking he was so moved by the service and we could say we got another salvation on the roster. As I got closer I could see that this wasn’t going to be the case. 

I ducked my head down to get into his line of vision, how ever blurry it may have been from the tears, and got his attention. I gave him my prayer-team spiel, but before I could finish he grabbed my hand and blurted out “I cheated on my wife last night.” This revelation was laced with the smell of hard liquor and lime, which I previously assumed was coming from the rented club venue that was flipped into this church every Sunday for years on end. 

My blood started to boil, and I hoped he couldn’t see it in my face, but my heart hated him right then and there.  “Uhhhh… let me see if… uh… I can find…” I said, as my head swiveled for a male presence to pass this dirt bag off to. Mind you, this is the second confession of adultery I was getting in the last 7 days. 

I was a mixed bag of emotions, but in that bag, the rage of a thousand suns was right at the top. Going against my want to snap every finger of the hand that I was now repulsed to hold, I started praying for this man. 

It was not what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to feel his grief and his sorrow for making a mistake that he could have avoided, or feel the weight of his failing marriage compounded with the weight of mine. I saw myself as innocent and him as guilty. 

What I wanted to console him with was something to the effect of, “You made your bed, and you let everyone lie in it”. But with a deep staggered breath, I gripped his hand tighter and said, “Holy Spirit, you are here now…” And we grieved together. 

It was hard. 

It was not want I wanted to do.

It was only possible with God’s strength.

I still don’t agree with what he did. But I know without love, I am nothing. 

With so much division in this world, news, culture, etc. I have to ask… 

When’s the last time you grieved with those you don’t agree with?

Read more of Ashley’s work. at http://www.ashleyluciano.com or follow her on instagram @ashleyrluciano

The Beginning and the End

Photo by Akil Mazumder: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-a-green-plant-1072824/

NOTE: This post was originally published at https://thedailypattern.org.


And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new … It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment …” (Revelation 21:5-6).

My husband and I recently watched Station Eleven, a post-apocalyptic television series based on the 2014 novel by Emily St. John Mandel. In the show, most of humankind is wiped out from a deadly flu virus. The few survivors must find ways to cope in a world without technology, governing systems, or modern conveniences. 

I know what you’re thinking: Why would anyone want to watch a show about a fictional pandemic when we’ve literally been living through the real thing? 

For us and many others, the appeal of Station Eleven is that it’s ultimately a story of hope. The pollution-free landscapes are lush, the waters clear, the night skies crowded with stars. Lonely characters find community. Aimless characters find meaning.

In an article for YES! Media, Leigh Finke argues that part of our culture’s long-held fascination with apocalyptic stories is that, even amid death and destruction, they often offer hope for a reimagined future. Literature scholar Wes Burdine, quoted in Finke’s article, puts it this way: “End-of-the-world narratives allow us to imagine large scale rebirth and play into our utopian desires.”

In other words, the popularity of apocalyptic stories reveals an important truth about humanity: We yearn to see the world reborn into a better version of itself. 

Christians know that our innate desire for utopia exists because God’s design for the world was utopicIn the beginning, the world was perfect, untainted by sin. The landscapes were lush, the waters clear, the skies crowded with stars. Humans lived in harmony with each other and with God. 

Then, of course, sin entered the world and brought with it disease, corruption, destruction, and death. But God made a promise—through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus, the world would one day be restored to perfection. 

Scripture makes it clear that we cannot know when the world will end. But we do know that it won’t be anything like in the movies, where our only hope for restoration lays with feeble, fallible humans. As Christians, we rest in the assurance that when Christ comes again to make all things new, it will be more wonderful than even the most creative human minds can comprehend: “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9). 

Prayer: Almighty Father, the Alpha and the Omega, forgive me when I place my hope for renewal in the things of this world instead of in you. During these especially strange and trying times, help me to surrender my anxieties to you and to trust in your perfect promises. Amen.

Here’s to the Parents

I love May – the bustling activity, the outdoor gatherings, the blooming gardens, the excitement over the end of school, and the promise of summer adventures. Simultaneous exhaustion and thrill. My current season of life with babies and young school-age children means that I feel a sense of accomplishment for getting to the end of the year. We made it. Perhaps you feel the same, but perhaps you also haven’t gotten the affirmation you earned. Today’s post is for the parents who did their best this year (or any year!)

Here’s to the parents who got their kids to school on time (most of the time)

Here’s to the parents who color-coded their calendars by kid

Here’s to the parents who didn’t

Here’s to the parents who could’ve made a fortune working for Uber

Here’s to the parents who forgot what time practice started and showed up a little late

Here’s to the parents who bought Happy Meals, packed sack lunches, and purchased snacks

Here’s to the parents who stirred supper on the stove while calling out spelling words

Here’s to the parents who stayed up late washing that special shirt

Here’s to the parents who made grocery runs on the way to school because they forgot something needed for a project

Here’s to the parents who made sure their kids had breakfast 

Here’s to the parents who sent their kids with a kiss and a prayer

Here’s to the parents who prayed for their kids’ teachers, knowing the kind of morning they’d already had

Here’s to the parents who honored their kids’ teachers

Here’s to the parents who are teachers

Here’s to the parents who cried with their kids

Here’s to the parents who didn’t know the answer but learned it with their kid

Here’s to the parents who resisted the urge to shout out the answer

Here’s to the parents who grew

Here’s to the parents who signed hundreds of slips of paper

Here’s to the parents who lost slips of paper and gave themselves grace

Here’s to the parents who know they aren’t perfect but do their best to point their kids to the one who is.

He sees you. He knows where you failed, he knows where you succeeded. He loves you and he loves your kid.

“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…For I, the Lord your God,

    hold your right hand;

it is I who say to you, “Fear not,

    I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:10,13)

The Sounds of Silence

The collective rooms were silent – the three connected by zoom over 3 states. If our arms were long enough we could form a human chain starting in Central Missouri reach up to Nebraska and then south west to Colorado. That picture gives me peace – knowing that I am within a days driving distance of each of my favorite people – emphasis – days – not hours or minutes. I’m incredibly grateful for technology that allows us the opportunity to sit together for an hour a week and get caught up on life happenings, the good, the bad and the ugly. It just so happens that on this particular day… the news shared fell heavily into the bad and somewhat ugly category.

Silence.

If you have or had young children you are very aware of the power of a $4 box of cartoon embossed band aids or a Mc Donalds happy meal. A small scrape on a knee or an even heavier gushing wound – when covered by a brightly colored band aid – makes it All Better. A hard day at school or disappointing little league game can make a dramatic turn with a quick run though the drive through for chicken nuggets, fries and and orange drink – don’t forget the prize. The mood shifts for your child which shifts the very air the rest of the family breaths and life feels back on track. I’m so thankful for those boxes of pink band aids and greasy cheeseburgers. Powerful tools in the hands of weary parents.

Silence.

The news shared on our most recent connect time though – would not be fixed by a colorful band aid or a happy meal. The challenges faced by my young adult ‘children’ involved answers that required medical specialists, surgery, second opinions, cancelling credit cards, sitting in heart ache…… and there was not one thing I could do to fix it.

Not. One.

Silence.

There is an important transition that occurs in a parents journey that allows the silence to sit. As a fixer, natural encourager ( there is always a bright side – right?) this has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding skills I have learned. Ok – lets be honest – learn ING. My gut instinct when my children are facing challenges are to rush in to sharing solutions not to sit with the silence. The silence of unknown solutions. The silence of pain that will take days sometimes years to fade. The silence of recognizing real consequences that come from real choices.

It is uncomfortable.

It can cause discouragement.

And it is absolutely necessary.

Necessary.

Recently on a beautiful Friday afternoon I found myself enjoying the spring weather with five of my neighbors. Our chairs were overturned 5 gallon buckets and our drinks were cold and refreshing. Stories were shared about past life experiences and future plans. As time passed we turned to topics of our children, their current life status and our role as parents. We confessed our desires and struggles to want to continue to micro manage their young adult lives. If they would just listen to us they would certainly be protected from the pain that this world most certainly can give.

As we shared our situations and sought advice we shifted out thoughts to our own early days of transitioning into adult hood. We recalled days of poor financial choices, crazy career moves others didn’t understand, missed opportunities. We laughed as we connected knowing each of us had some proverbial skeletons in our closet. And then …. then the turn. The shift from our struggles and hard times to the ways we had each seen God provide in them. In our own seasons of silence.

One friend shared stories of generosity from family and friends in the early years of their marriage. Another recalled how important it was to feel the consequences of a bad decision. It brought much needed wisdom that still impacts their life today. Over and over again we saw God. We saw his goodness, his provision, his unconditional love. That can only be seen and felt…

In the Silence.

When I rush in to fix, I fill the space where God wants to meet my loved one. I can take away the opportunity for them to see His goodness, his provision and his unconditional love. The things that will fill that space when we sit in it long enough to turn our eyes and hearts to see it. The space that allows God’s best answers not mine.

I reached out to one of my children via a text late last night – “Hey – how are you doing?”. The response came long after I had fallen asleep. I drifted off in my own silence. No answers about their well being but I rested in peace. God is teaching me to rest in the silence, His peace despite the still unanswered questions in my life and those of the people I love most. I am finding the contentment that reflects the encouragement of the writer of Psalm 62:5.

“Find Rest o my soul in God alone, my hope comes from Him.”

It is real, it is lasting, it is true.

Her response was the first thing I read this morning,

“Hey mom, much better!” Followed by the provisions God had provided to some of her hard questions. Answers that came in the middle….

of the Silence.

my favorite 3

Then You Will Know

Introduction: When Annalyse and I both had toddlers, we met weekly for a playdate. While the children bustled around the house making messes in various rooms, she and I talked about God. We didn’t follow a set devotion or Bible study. Instead, we shared how God was speaking to us through where his word and the circumstances in our lives intersected. During those playdate years, I learned so much from Annalyse, who holds a BA in Biblical studies. Our friendship is now long-distance, but she continues to bless me and others by taking her love and talent for Biblical/Historical research and weaving it into a relatable story with modern application.

Deeply researched and brilliantly presented, this new novel from Annalyse Mower puts us in Pharaoh’s shoes at the time of the great Biblical Exodus. Creepy? Yes. But, it challenged me to truly put myself at the feet of the Almighty God and realize that nothing, and no one, can stop the love he has for his people.

If you struggle with the problem of evil and suffering in our world, I especially invite you to read this alongside the story of Jesus, the ultimate Passover lamb. -Molly Poppe

Then You Will Know: The Crushing of Pharaoh

Chapter One

Take heed, O unrepentant nation. Beware, you of hardened heart. He can humble you – I know that of which I speak.

I am the son of the gods, the incarnation of Horus, in league with divinity: they heed my voice. I was chosen as the best from among my brothers, each a perfect and beautiful prince. I came from the lineage of warrior kings who live in immortal memory. My sons were many and my dynasty was assured. I was strong of arm, swift of chariot, mighty of army: I built cities of gold; I led conquerors and ruled kings; nations trembled before me.

Egypt was a perfect jewel, a heavenly oasis in the desert. It pleased the gods to give us all that was good, to build us into the mightiest nation on earth. My empire was sovereign; faraway nations trembled at my name. Tribute flowed from the north and the south, turquoise and copper from the wilderness. No other kingdom enjoyed strength like Egypt’s. I ruled the world.

But then, the Troublemaker arose.

He was weak. Despised. A traitor to the people who had opened wide their bosom and nursed him with the best of their land. He was given the choicest of everything and the fool threw it away for nothing – for nobodies. He aligned himself with slaves and followed the leading of a prideful delusion. It would be his destruction: I would see to it. It could be nothing else. The God of slaves could not conquer the sun-god, the king.

For I am Pharaoh.

——————————

Derisive laughter echoed from the room’s painted plaster walls, careening off marble columns to assault the ears. It circled the knot of dusty, threadbare slaves before me like a horde of demons. They cowered closer together, their lips tight in pale faces, their hollow eyes darting nervously from face to snarling face in the crowd behind them. Good. They remember their place, despite this one misjudgement. I felt my spine harden. It will not happen again.

Only two stood firm, like men. They were almost equal in height, but the one on the right wore the same threadbare clothes and stooped shoulders as the terrified mob behind him. I sniffed. Slave. The man beside him, however …

My lip twisted in a slight, mocking sneer and I raised my hand for silence, disgust pleasurably warm in my depths. As the court stilled, menace thickened the air. The slaves’ anxiety accentuating my unparalleled power was a sensation to be savored. Delicious.  The mob shifted nervously, cringing, their wide eyes glinting like rabbits in the shadows. Except for their leaders. The two men stood still – an old slave and his foreign brother. The younger of the two stood tensely, his knuckles white as he grasped his staff. But he met my gaze.

Traitor.

“Who is Adonai, that I should obey him and let Israel go?” My booming condescension pushed the slaves into a tighter huddle, eyes on their filthy feet. Power surged through me with its familiar tingle and I sat, mighty and upright on my throne. “I do not know Adonai and I will not let Israel go.”

The simpering slaves deflated and I turned from them unceremoniously to beckon for wine. A tentative, unexpected voice arrested me.

“The God of the Hebrews has met with us.”

He dares to answer? I turned to face the speaker, my soul dancing with bemused incredulity. The two leaders clustered tightly together, the Traitor whispering into his older brother’s ear. Both were pale and pretended they could not feel me gaping. After a moment the slave spoke again, his gaze fixed on the wall behind my head; the Troublemaker stood beside him, rooted and upright as the dictated words echoed through the room. His shoulders tremble, though.

“Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to Adonai our God, or He may strike us with plagues or with the sword.” The slave’s weak, choked voice failed as doubt filled his face. He knows, as the others do – they have no hope.

Kenamun, my royal steward, approached the dais. After offering a formal bow he ascended the steps, his eyes carefully on each marble tread. When he reached the top, I perceived a smothered jeer and his derisive amusement goaded my own; I rolled my lips to stifle the undignified chuckles bubbling in my throat and instead took a deep swallow of wine. “What is your God’s vengeance to me, slave?” The traitor’s spokesman wilted and took a tremulous step back toward his brethren. I smirked and raised the cup to my lips again, its sweetness sliding over my tongue and down my throat, and eyed the audacity before me. “Moshe -” contempt dripped from the name “- and Aharon, why are you taking the people away from their labor?” I rested my elbows on my knees, basking in the anxiety that drank in my every movement. “Get back to your work.” The low growl danced on the menacing chuckles of my men.

The Hebrew slaves behind Moshe and Aharon bowed deeply and retreated, fleeing the confinement of my Great House and the guards who pursued them like dogs. Seething foremen collared some of the slower-moving elders and shoved them toward the door. But still Moshe and Aharon stood. I raised myself from the throne and ambled to the edge of the dais, my arm gesturing toward the sounds of construction and labor that seeped through my walls. Whips, groans, and straining ropes permeated the mud bricks.

“Look, the people of the land are now numerous – and you are stopping them from working.” My oozing sarcasm hardened into disdain. I rule this world. Did you really believe you could sway a god?

Aharon’s face blanched and he inclined his head, slowly inching his way out of the reception hall. Satisfaction tickled my innards and I allowed my arm to fall. Good. You remember this. Moshe remained stationary and defiant, his lips twitching with unspoken words.

“Yes?” I leaned toward him with glinting eyes. “You desire an audience with the son of Amun … prince?” The ridicule electrified my veins – powerful, warm, intoxicating – and made my head giddy. Moshe’s lips snapped tight, eyes hard in his pale face. His humiliation simmered pleasurably in my core and I sighed with contentment. And now you bow.

But he did not.

Instead, he strode from the hall without a backward glance, his shepherd’s staff clicking off his paces. My complacency turned cold and anger pricked my skin. He defied me. Before my men, he dared to defy me. Seething offense made me quiver as hot resentment kindled in my chest. With a grunt I flung my cup against the wall, its wine trickling in scarlet rivulets to puddle at the base.

“Captain!” Exasperation tore my throat.

Mahu, the captain of my bodyguard, came running, his plain sandals slapping the plaster floor as his short sword bounced against his thigh. “Your Majesty.” His low voice was steady, despite his run. He dropped to one knee with head inclined.

The flick of my fingers lifted him to his feet. “Gather the foremen and slave drivers. Tell them that they are no longer to supply the slaves with straw for the bricks; let the people go and gather it for themselves. But their quota remains unchanged.” Arms folded across my chest, my brow was furrowed with offended irritation but wicked delight stirred my soul. Sunshine from the doorway streamed into the reception hall, invigorating the colors on the floor with yellow light – but in my eyes, they had been stained by the Traitor’s presence. He will bow. My voice was smooth, low. “The Hebrews are lazy. Let us give them something else to think about.”

————————

Mingled double-pipes, harps, and laughter stroked my ears, their music enhanced by the comfortable heaviness of the wine. I took a deep breath, the savory air flooding my tongue with saliva. My private courtyard was bright with flickering lamps, and the shimmer of dancers’ lithe, glistening bodies bewitched my eyes and intoxicated my senses as I relaxed into the merriment’s gentle caresses. Beyond the walls, the frogs and the Nile whispered lullabies to the deepening dusk. All was ma’at – the world was balanced, its harmony upheld by my might – and I was pleased.

The twinkles of light rippling across my dark wine satiated my soul, and I tilted the cup to better admire the gleam of its silver. A good world. Lifting it to my lips, I quaffed deeply and nudged the companion on my right. “And how is my son, Iuty? He is a true prince of the blood, is he not?”

The tutor politely inclined his head with a gentle smile. “He is indeed, your Majesty. A strong youth. I can hardly get him to leave the archery range for his other studies. But he is intelligent, like his father. He shows great promise for one so young.”

A lazy grin seeped over my countenance and I nodded. “Good. He should! The son of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt!” Chuckles danced over my thick tongue and I shook an unwieldy finger at Iuty. “Do not let him distract you into neglecting the arts. I would have him surpass me just as I have surpassed my father – both as a warrior and an artist.” My cup swayed as I drew it toward me and I carefully monitored its progress. “But let his first excellence be the battlefield! May he exceed even me … if he is able.” The wine drowned out my amusement at my own wittiness.

Again Iuty inclined his head politely, the quiet smile still in place. “Of course, Per’ Aa.”

I stared across the table at the girls gyrating to the music, a fire burning in my groin. “And when the time comes, make sure you teach him to fight hand-to-hand. He will need a good sparring partner.” I extended a wavering finger toward the tutor. “You are your father’s son. He taught me well – and you too. Do the same for my son.”

“To the best of my ability, Per’ Aa,” he murmured. “I will always do my best for your son.”

I nodded, enjoying the unbalanced sensation in my head, and slapped a hand on his shoulder, sloshing the wine in my cup precariously. “I know, my friend. That is why I chose you!”

My lecherous view of the lithesome beauties was spoiled by the decrepit figure of my father’s relic stumping toward me. The old man offered a bow stiff with arthritis and, without awaiting my leave, lowered himself into the open place beside me with a sigh. I ground my teeth and turned my head to avoid the stench of his advancing age. “Vizier Rekhmire.”

“Majesty,” he wheezed. He nodded to Iuty before beckoning to a nearby slave bearing a tray of honey cakes. “The only thing I can eat anymore … everything else is too hard to chew,” he panted through a congenial, toothless smile. I nodded, sparing the trouble of a reply with another gulp from my cup. Take what you want, old man. Just do not make me watch you chew it.

Rekhmire snuffled a few bites. “Is it true, what I heard about the court today?” He searched my face with watery eyes as he wiped the crumbs and spittle from his chin.

“That depends on what you heard.” My sight found more interesting fodder than his wrinkled face, and I let myself devour the tight, firm figures of the dancers.

He leaned close, his foul breath now intolerable with the sweetness from the cakes. “Has Moshe returned?”

I rolled my eyes as I lifted the cup to my lips. “What would that matter?”

Rekhmire gawked and puffed out his cheeks in over-dramatic shock, accepting a proffered cup of water from Iuty. “I have been in the Great House many years; I have seen many things.” He nodded to himself with a slosh. “Moshe – he was a great man. Would have done great things, if he had not … but that was before the … and now …” His tongue tied itself around words better left unsaid and he devolved into silence, still nodding while he sipped his cup and watched the girls.

I snorted without shifting my gaze, twitching with the irony. “And now he has aligned himself with slaves.”

“Slaves?” Rekhmire’s focus flew to my face, the wrinkles in his forehead shifting like sand. A light dawned in his mind and he took a deep breath. “Yes, the slaves. With Moshe, it is always the Hebrews.”

With a sigh, I glanced over my shoulder in his direction and fastened my look on the flickering lamp suspended above his head. “Apparently the slaves’ God demands a sacrifice. He demanded their release, to allow three days’ travel to perform His rites.”

“Hm.” Rekhmire sucked his gums. “And will you let them?”

Surprise choked me, wine burning my throat, as Iuty exploded. “Let them? My lord Vizier! Are you mad? Why should his Majesty release our slaves?”

Rekhmire surveyed us calmly. “I did not say he should. I asked if he would.” His normally weak eyes shone with a disconcerting light. “Have you made your decision, Per’ Aa?”

I shook my head and wiped the wine from my chin, my voice heavy with condescension. “Certainly not. Who is their God? Why should I let them go? Their quarrel with their God is no concern of mine.” They would never have made this request of my father. The remembrance of Moshe’s mocking defiance knotted my gut and ruined my enjoyment of the women. “They will learn that a greater warrior than even the mighty Thutmose holds the throne!” The declaration was loud with conviction and wine, and I raised my glass for a refill. When the cup was brimful of comfort again, I relaxed back against the cushion. “Besides, I have ensured that the slaves will have no more leisure for worrying about any maleficent deity – other than me.” Iuty joined in my merciless chuckles but Rekhmire remained strangely silent. I eyed him over the cup’s rim. “I did not realize you had so much love for the slaves, old man.”

His stooped shoulders startled and his eyes darted, his mouth slack with surprise. I grinned into my cup and glanced toward Iuty, himself hiding a smirk. Rekhmire swallowed and shook his head slowly. “No, not so, Per’ Aa. Not love. But,” he inched his way toward me, his foul, whispered breath offending my nostrils, “as your Vizier, I would caution you about the man Moshe. He is … there is …” I sighed impatiently and Rekhmire concluded, “he is not an ordinary man.”

Old fool. I scoffed and turned back to the naked dancers, my voice disdainful. “Then it is well that I am a god.”

Then You Will Know is now available for purchase on AmazonBuy now