Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…

photo (35)

I feel like I am in a time warp. It was just several weeks ago when things were somewhat “normal” and now it feels like ages ago! So much has happened, so much has changed, so many questions. My “ordinary” and “comfortable” have been disrupted and my inner self is being a little rebellious. I want to do things “the old way.” I want to go back to my comfort zone. I don’t feel ready to handle some of the tasks/situations that lie ahead. I can’t wrap my brain around so many things at once, and then when I do, they all change again! These have been some of the thoughts that have rolled through my mind over these past weeks. I am sure that all of us have felt this way at some point in time. Sometimes I wish I had a magic mirror that I could peer into that would tell me everything that was going to happen…or do I? 


While circumstances that surround us may short-circuit our brain and cause us to doubt, fear, or worry, there is one thing that remains constant…God’s love for us. It sounds cliche, but it is oh, so true! Let me give you some perspective. 


Do you think Abraham understood how he could be the father of many nations when he gazed upon all of those stars up in the sky? Do you think David understood why he was running for his life through the wilderness instead of sitting on a throne? Do you think the Israelites thoroughly understood that the walls of Jericho would fall as they praised God with a victorious shout? These people in these situations had no magic mirror, but they trusted in a God who loved them infinitely more than they could imagine. That same God exists for us today. 


Even in the midst of dire situations, God worked (works) it for good, someway, somehow. We might not always have the privilege of seeing the “answer” this side of heaven, but that does not mean that God is not working behind the scenes. He most certainly is! The reason that we are able to praise God in the middle of the storm is that what we know about God is far more important than what we don’t. This is what I do know: I know that God will never leave me because He loves me (John 3:16). I know that God is for me, not against me (Romans 8:31). I know that God’s promises are true and that He wants what is best for me (Psalm 33:4). The obstacles in front of us are what drives us to our Savior. And these obstacles, dear friend, develop in us a discipline of faith that will bring us into a knowledge of God that would probably otherwise not have been impossible. Those words of promise are our lifeline. 


So getting back to the title of this article, “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…”

My 8th-grade class (with help) created a framed mirror several weeks ago for our school auction. The mirror was set amongst an array of tiles that bore their confirmation verses written in their own handwriting. As I pictured this mirror in my mind, my thought was this…This is the exact mirror that each of us needs on our walls so that we can start our day being reminded of God’s promises as we see a reflection of His creation (Me! You!). We don’t need a mirror to tell us the future. We already know what the future holds for us because we believe the promises of God over the lies of the world. We are His. He is our Shepherd. “Have no fear, little flock; Have no fear, little flock, for the Father has chosen to give you the kingdom; Have no fear little flock.” (LSB 735)

Boat Hopping

 ACTS 27: 30-32

Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, the sailors dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight.  In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow.  Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures or so it seemed in this harrowing account of Paul’s journey to Rome.  Despite his warnings, the ship stayed the course in the midst of threats of stormy weather.  This decision put the entire crew at risk.  The sailors recognized an opportunity to escape through an out of sight lifeboat but Paul advised against it- stating that all would be lost if these few men were let go. Surprisingly, the Centurion and soldiers in charge of  Paul ( who was their prisoner!) listened to him.  They cut the ropes and the sailors’ escape plan went floating away.  

This account that comes towards the end of Paul’s life always fascinates me.  Despite being a prisoner he appears to be in charge.  We see no one else stepping up to navigate decisions in this storm.  Paul’s confidence certainly didn’t come because of a title or position. It didn’t come because he had vast experience in captaining ships and organizing crews. It didn’t come from watching a YouTube video he could quickly google when the storm clouds rolled in.  It came from his God that had remained faithful from the day they met on the way to Damascus.  He had 100% God-confidence and that had always served him well.

Similar to the apostle Paul, ALL of us are being asked to unexpectedly navigate our own ships in an unprecedented storm.  And as you may have heard many times as I have, we are all in the same storm but very different boats.

The same storm.


Some of our boats are filled with small children we are being asked to educate at home while continuing full time jobs. Some of our boats hold job layoffs and loss of income. Some of our boats include increased income because unemployment pays more than our work. Some of our boats include separation from aging parents. We may relate to others in similar boats but there are days where their storm seems easier and they are navigating the storm better. Other times our storm seems lighter and we get judgmental about the challenge others appear to be having. Not a lot of black and white in this one. We find our selves in a dangerous place when we start to compare boats or even start hoping in and out of the ones surrounding ours. Let me explain.

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling fantastic. It was a gorgeous morning with promise of the glory continuing. I felt rested from a good night sleep in a room cooled by the outside air. Don’t you love sleeping with the windows open? There were several events planned for my day, including a virtual game night with my daughter and son in law in Indiana, that I was looking forward to. I headed for my coffee and some time with God in my morning bible study. It was wonderful.

Tuesday Morning Coffee – It was glorious

And then it all changed.

As I put down my journal I picked up my phone …. and started scrolling… and then I started hopping… boat hopping if you will. I saw post after post of people in the same storm as me but very different boats. Not everyone had woken up with the same delight for their day as I had. I read about people struggling. I read funny memes. I read a few blogs. And my joy was gone. Boat hopping is exhausting. When I read the mom posts of 2020 seniors having a hard day as they continued mourning the loss of things that wouldn’t be for their child… I thought…. ” Oh I should probably feel more sad today.” ( NOTE: I have felt incredibly saddened by the losses of my class of 2020 daughter – shed more than one tear. But I wasn’t there on Tuesday). I saw posts of friends that have the virus and thought “Wow – I should be so much more productive – I’m healthy!” With each post I hopped …. out of my boat and into one not intended for me. My heart and soul had boarded the emotions roller coaster and I was on a full out ride of steep hills and tight cork screw twists. When I realized my mistake and the ride came to a stop I had a decision to make. I had to stop the boat hopping. It was serving no one and it certainly wasn’t honoring God. I had taken my eyes off of all I had been grateful for and my head and heart felts scattered and unsure.

Like God’s advice through Paul in Acts 27 – I believe he wants us, you and me, to stay in the boat. In our respective boats.  He wants you in the boat he has placed you in, that he planned for you long before you were born.  He wants you with your people, all your people, through the entirety of this storm. The good news is your ability to navigate your placement has nothing to do with your years of experience, your strengths, your weaknesses, your enneagram number, or your Myers-Briggs, but everything to do with our God who put you …. In that boat.

  All through scripture we see God calling the seemingly ill-equipped to carry out his plans.  More than one person questioned his wisdom when he reached out with a job offer:  Moses, Gideon, Abram…. So it’s ok if you do too.

Never before in the history of mankind has it appeared that the playing field is so level.  No one has walked this path before or sailed this storm.  No matter how many years we’ve lived – there is not one person professionally trained or otherwise that has wisdom grown from this specific type of experience.  Always before in the history of mankind has there been a God that promises wisdom, peace and answers. Always before in the history of mankind has there been a God that can back up his promises with evidence of his power through a sacrifice so great – the sending of an only son to OVERCOME death and the grave.  This same God, the father of the Savior of the world is with you in  your boat.  He knew this storm was coming.  He knew you would need to be right where you are,  even if the current round of waves feels  too big and too strong. 

Each of our days in the sea of this storm will look different. They emotions we each feel are real. I’ve heard it said the greatest gift we can give each other right now is to believe each other. To be ok with days that others are sad and you are happy. And to be ok when you are struggling to function and others are setting the world on fire. Same storm, different boats….. all navigated by our all powerful, all knowing, unchanging, loving God.

If these words find you ready to climb out, jump over, cannon ball out of your boat…. I urge you to stay.  The middle of the storm, in the boat God has placed you…..it’s the safest place you’ll ever be.    

Responding to the nudge

From Beth: A couple of weeks into our current season of crazy I received a sweet note from a friend. It popped up in my FB messenger app while my family and I were playing what will probably be one of hundreds of games of CATAN. I asked her if I could share her words around our weekly campfire. I included her first sentences because I feel they are so important. I hope my friends decision to pause, reflect and document her feelings, despite her thoughts that she is NOT a writer ( I respectfully disagree:) in the middle of all of this encourage you to do the same. Writing has the power to slow us down, to really see… see what God is doing around us. If you are moved to do something that feels out of your wheelhouse, not your skill set I hope you’ll go ahead and give it a try. Never in our lives has it been more clear how important it is to realize we are all on the same team, this is not a competition, and we are not playing in the who’s got life harder olympics. I believe if there is a desire inside of us to share something that could impact even one person for good, it is most likely not a selfish ambition but a God given nudge. So glad my friend followed her divine push on this one. Welcome my sweet anonymous friend to the fire.

Ok, here are all the feels…..and it is not my thing!! I am not a blogger. I do not share my feelings. I keep to myself. And….I am not a writer! However, the lesson I am learning currently is profound. I pray my children see it too.

We are building memories…..beautiful memories in the midst of all of this. We are snuggling on the couch. We are getting muddy in the yard. We are spending more time together. Time we took for granted before. 

We are learning…..learning that we should be thankful for bread, milk, and eggs. This is temporary, but nonetheless a luxury for now. We should not be wasteful. Our wastefulness will require purchasing more groceries. Groceries that will take away from meeting the needs of others. It will take away financial resources that may be needed later. All of which, we should have been doing all along. 

We are thankful. Let me say that again. WE ARE THANKFUL! Thankful for our pastors who keep sending God’s word to us. Thankful for teachers who are working hard to meet our children’s needs. Thankful for our local pharmacy who dispensed medication we needed this week, knowing that each person they come in contact with may expose them to infection. Thankful for our grocery store and the employees that are working hard to keep food in our homes. Thankful for our local doctor’s office who takes care of us now too. Thankful for our long term care staff who is proudly taking care of those that led the way for us all these years. You are indeed greatly valued. Thankful for each member of our community that I have overheard talking about how they can help. These are just a few encounters we have had this week that have shown us how fortunate we really are. The list goes on. Now matter your role, it is very important and our family is thankful for you. 

We are blessed. We are blessed to have the opportunity to learn and be thankful in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. We are blessed to live in this community who is very good at taking care of each other. 

Good is good. He is good at all times and in all ways. We just need to be sure to see it.


Two years ago, my husband and I took our two young sons, ages 2 ½ and 10 months, to a conference in Phoenix, Arizona. My parents attend the same conference every year, so we looked at it as a working family reunion of sorts. My husband elected to fly out on the (cheaper) redeye with only a personal item, but in an attempt to keep bedtime consistent, the boys and I would leave earlier in the evening, meeting my parents at their hotel. After a somewhat hurried trip to the airport, we discovered the earlier flight was delayed. Good news: my husband could wait with me at the gate. Bad news: our flight would now only leave an hour before his. So much for keeping bedtime.

What trouble could these two possible get into? Playing on the hotel bed after our harrowing adventure.

When boarding finally began, I was worn out and ready to fall into the hotel bed. However, we still had a 2-hour flight and a 10-minute shuttle to the airport hotel ahead of us. And, despite the hundreds of flights I’ve traveled in my lifetime, flying still makes me a little nervous. My heart raced through takeoff and initial turbulence, but when the pilot indicated we had reached cruising altitude I settled a bit. I settled into my seat to read “Curious George Goes to the Hospital” another twelve times and pass out the remainder of the stickers and Cheerios from my carry-on bag. Finally, we began our descent into Sky Harbor airport. I could see the flashing lights of the landing strip and felt myself relaxing. I counted down the seconds until touchdown, “5-4-3-2…” But all of a sudden, when it seemed as if we were just feet from safely landing, the engines gunned to life again and the plane shot back up into the air, immediately turning sideways in a sharp turn. My heart raced, and I heard others in the fuselage questioning out loud–“What is happening?” I did my best to appear calm for my sons’ sake as we circled above the airport for a terrifyingly long seven minutes. Finally, the flight deck came over the loudspeaker to inform us we had been too close to another landing plane and had been directed to circle for another few minutes before trying again.

My boys are seasoned flyers! Here is Titus (6 months) sitting on my dad’s lap on his first airplane ride.

Difficult seasons often bring false endings.

This has been a hard year–we’ve said our earthly goodbye to two very special people and to two very special places. My husband’s work responsibilities tripled as he taught three math classes and organized the accreditation process in addition to his normal administrative duties. Worn down, tired, and ready for some reprieve, we looked to the calendar for hope. We counted down the days until the end of accreditation and our end-of-school-year family trip.

And then the world flipped. Social distancing, remote learning, COVID-19, quarantine, and questions without answers fill every day. We try to remain calm for the sake of our kids, but inside we beg for answers and assurance. While my role as a stay-at-home mom has not altered much, my role as a prayer warrior and friend changes every day: family members have lost their jobs, fear for their safety, or are working triple overtime in the medical field or police force.

About two-thousand years ago, eleven friends huddled together. The world as they knew it had shattered, and they were filled with fear. John 20:19a reads, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders…” They knew what Jesus had said before his death (Matthew 16:21, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”) but those words must have felt so distant after the horrifying events of the weekend. They had counted down the days and were waiting for answers, everything feeling surreal and a little too real at the same time.

Watching worship on mommy’s laptop

It all feels a little bit surreal and a little too real at the same time. It’s almost like we’re circling above, watching the pandemic play out, unsure of when and how we’ll be able to land from this crazy ride.

It’s Holy Week. Every year I look forward to this time of worshipping with my church family as we recall the events of Passover, Good Friday and the Resurrection. The symbolism, songs, and celebrations push me to meditate on the every-day reality that Christ’s death and resurrection bring: hope. But I know the ending of the story. I walk out of the Good Friday service sorrowful because of my sin, but the promised hope of the Sunday sunrise service (and hot breakfast!) keeps the sorrow from overwhelming me. But this year, Easter will look different for all of us.

This Easter, we’re huddled in our rooms, gathered together in groups of less than ten, disappointed, confused, lonely, angry, full of anxiety and fear. Our Jesus feels absent.

But there’s hope. John 20 tells us, 

“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb …“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus didn’t say, “stop crying, Mary” or “why didn’t you trust me?” but instead asked Mary to share her sorrow with him.

Two years ago the plane landed safely and without any other complications. We went on to enjoy a wonderful conference filled with family and sunshine.

Right now we’re unsure of exactly when and how the circling plane of COVID-19 and effects will land, but this we do know: our God is faithful. This Easter, with all of the extras stripped away, I want to come near to Jesus and tell him why I am crying. And I want to see, as if for the first time, that He came. He died. He rose. He will come again. 

Down the Drain

Hey friends. It’s good to be around the campfire with you again this Thursday. I imagine that we’re closer than 6 feet apart, and that brings a little healing to my heart. I hope you snuggle in close for some warmth today.

Can I just tell you about something that happened this last week?

Now, believe it or not, the people in my house want to eat dinner every. single. night. It’s incredible, really. Recently, I decided to make this delicious Crab Pot Pie for my family. As soon as my picky four-year-old Simon got wind of what I was making, he stated, “I’m not going to eat that.” (Typical.)

I let him know that I was working hard to prepare this meal, and that I would not be making him an alternative dinner. Then I must have said something along the lines of, “You can make yourself a different dinner if you do not want pot pie, but I am not going to help you.”

My little guy got to work. He made himself a ham and cheese sandwich.
“No crust, Mom.”
“I need two more pieces of bread, Mom.”

making sandwiches

He peeled carrots. (I caved and helped him with the cutting.)
“This pot, Mom?”
“Do I put them in here, Mom?”
“Mom, is that enough water?”

peeling carrots

He gathered a yogurt tube out of the fridge, along with some applesauce and a banana and a cup for water.

He was definitely finished making his dinner before I was.

About the time he finished, our kitchen was smelling like butter and onions and creamy pot pie. All I needed to do was add the corn kernels and crab meat. I couldn’t wait to eat it. I opened up the can of crab meat I had purchased at the store. (It was one of the few cans that was still left on the shelf–thank you, corona-panic–during my last trip to the store.) I had only used imitation crab meat before, and I was a bit surprised at how the canned variety looked so different from what I was expecting. It smelled okay, so I took a leap of faith and dumped the crab contents in. Ahhh, now for the last taste test, I was thinking to myself. This baby’s almost done.

I took a bite from the big pot, and stopped mid-chew. Something is not quite right. I began adding spices and a little more corn and a little more salt, but no matter what I did, the grainy, flat taste of canned crabmeat had permeated the whole soup! There was NO WAY I could serve it to my family (and expect them to eat it).

So, I did something I have done only once before: I poured our entire dinner down the drain. All my prep work, all those yummy vegetables, all that precious milk—GONE. WASTED. It was a very hard pill for me to swallow.

dinner down the drain

Pause. Have you had to see something you’ve worked hard for slip out of your hands during the trials of this past month? Maybe the coronavirus has devastated all the good you had been working so hard on. And, like my little can of crab, it’s “ruining effect” might have a far reach. …Friend, I’m sorry you are having to go through that loss. I’m sorry for the grief and worry that have followed. I can’t fully know what that must feel like.

Here’s what I do know: I know that the Bible is true, and that the things that it tells us about God are trustworthy.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

Back to my dinner story. Thankfully, my oven was a piping-hot 400 degrees already, and there were pizzas in our freezer. I mixed together a bagged salad, and bam! Dinner version 2.0 was on the table in less than 15 minutes.

Was it as delicious as a good pot pie? No. Would I have liked to redeem the past hour of my life? Yes. Did I like it that my four-year-old seemed to out-wit me? Definitely not, though I did find some humor in the irony…

Did we still eat? Yes. Was my family together for dinner? Yes.

Did we have everything we needed? Yes.

dinner version 2-0

If you are struggling because you are watching something precious to you go down the drain, I hope you can gain a little courage from this silly little pot pie story. Things are probably not going like you planned right now, but that does not mean that all hope is lost. God is able to work good, even when we can’t see past our grief. I trust that God can give you everything you need at this time. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll even get to laugh at your witty four year old in the process.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19