All posts by BeLOVED

A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

By Guest Writer – Jim Lyons

Photo by S. Angura

“Christians are like the several flowers in a garden that have the dew of heaven, which, being shaken with the wind, they let fall at each others roots, whereby they are jointly nourished, and become nourishers of each other.”

John Bunyan

John Bunyan could not have painted a more perfect picture of what it means for Christians to nourish one another in the faith.  By all appearances, Bunyan was painting within the framework of the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Thessalonica.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)

When the Apostle Paul penned these words, the Thessalonians needed some encouragement!  The church in Thessalonica was facing a time of persecution.  The faith of these new believers was being challenged, but Paul was exhorting them to stay the course by continuing to spread the love and hope they shared in Jesus Christ.  Paul knew the body of believers would remain strong as long as they remained unified in faith and continued in doing good deeds towards one another.

The Apostle Paul’s instructions to the believers in Thessalonica are the same for us today:  Encourage one another and build one another up.

Friends, these words are so vital for us to put into practice as we face a growing, global pandemic.  Fellow believers are suffering; physically and spiritually.  The Church is being persecuted in various forms.  Financial ruin is pressing upon many.  But we must not grow weary during a time like this.  We are called to keep our eyes on Jesus and to encourage one another.

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

 Hebrews 12:3 (ESV)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

  Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV)

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

 Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

The Bible gives us some examples that we can put into practice to encourage one another and build one another up during these difficult times.

We can encourage those in need by giving or sharing what we have.

Read Acts 4:32-37.  The believers were of one heart and soul and shared the things they had so no one was in need.

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD.”

 Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)

We can encourage those who have become fainthearted.

Read Luke 24:13-35.  Sharing and reflecting on our salvation and the eternal hope we have in Christ always offers encouragement!

“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:10-11 (ESV)

We can encourage others when times are difficult.

As Christians, we are not exempt from the troubles of this life (Job 14:1), but hardships and challenging times can become more manageable to those who are suffering by sharing with them the word of God, faithful prayers, and thoughtful deeds that bring glory to our Father. 

Read Acts 14:19-22.  Despite being stoned and left for dead, the Apostle Paul, along with Barnabas, returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to strengthen the disciples and encourage them to remain true to the faith.

“Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:22 (ESV)

We can build each other up by being an example in living out our faith in Jesus Christ.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)

Friends, may the Lord open our eyes and ears to those who surround us, and by doing so, give us the wisdom and strength to be an encouragement to others.

Blessings to you,

Jim

Truth in Love…

Photo by Unsplash

I failed at being a good sister last week!

My Sis called with some amazing news and I proceeded to ask a series of questions that squashed her enthusiasm. I wasn’t trying to be negative but I was trying to challenge her to think beyond her immediate emotions.

It all worked out and in the end, she thanked me for my feeble attempt. But in retrospect, I could have approached the situation with a little more grace and a greater desire to see the world through her eyes.

I find that I need more of both, grace and compassion, as I navigate today’s complicated world. Fear and anxiety make people behave in ways they normally would never consider and say things they immediately regret.

I recently saw a video clip of a woman shopping in her local grocery store. She was well dressed, groceries in hand, casually, calmly making her way up and down the aisles. Until one of the store clerks approached her and reminded her, she had to wear a mask. At that moment, she LOST it! All rational behavior flew out the window along with civil speech.

Irrational behavior and thoughtless words can be seen in every walk of life, across all social groups, in our churches, and throughout every age range. Whether the driving force is the pandemic, racial unrest, our current political climate, or the uncertainty in the world, we all can be pushed to the edge where we slide into an outburst or say something hurtful that is hard to retract.

If you’ve ever found yourself wishing you could take it back – take back the outburst, reclaim the hasty words, I have three suggestions for you to consider.

Be Gracious and Sensitive

I recently had an opportunity to watch an interaction between a young woman and what appeared to be her mentor. The young woman was distraught, life had gotten complicated, and she was having difficulty navigating the situation. Her mentor sat directly across from her, cell phone in hand. As the young woman began to explain her situation, the older woman began her lecture. The young woman tried to explain but the mentor continued to control the conversation. About 15 minutes into the tirade, the mentor’s phone chimed. She excused herself to take the call. The young woman wiped her tears, grabbed her bag, and walked out the door.

Colossians 4:5-6 directs us to,

5 … Be wise in all your contacts… 6 Let your conversation be gracious as well as sensible, for then you will have the right answer for everyone.

The Living Bible (TLB)

We are to be gracious and sensible with our words. This requires us to be willing to listen, stop focusing on our well-rehearsed responses, put aside our own needs, and be willing to focus our attention, our hearts on the other person.

Speak Truth in Love

I have an acquaintance that loves to send emotionally charged emails and text messages. He encourages a response, allowing him to keep the conversation brewing. After receiving several of these messages, I had to let him know that I’m not reading the materials. It was a hard message to deliver but I also didn’t want him to continue to take hours composing the commentaries knowing I no longer wanted to read them.

We can and should speak the truth in love, as uncomfortable as that may feel. It is not being confrontational; we all need people to speak into our lives – graciously, patiently, while seeking to understand our motivations and goals.

 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

Ephesians 4:15, New International Version (NIV)

Control Your Responses

When my Sis shared her news. I was not considering her perspective or her overall goals. In fact, I never asked her about either. I should have controlled my response, giving her time to paint the picture and after careful reflection share my thoughts. I allowed my own emotions to carry me to a place of judgment – a poor communication tool.

Proverbs 18:13 drives home this point,

Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.

The Message (MSG)

A wise woman once told me, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Applying this adage to our conversations with others, talk to others the way you want them to talk to you.

If we strive to practice these simple suggestions, we will better reflect the way Jesus interacts with us. And there is no better interaction strategy we can adopt than His.

Be gracious.

Let love direct.

Take time to see.

Be Blessed,

Our Choices…

Photo by ABC News

We’ve all heard the tragic stories of people losing their battle with COVID-19. We see the images as they flash on TV screens and computer monitors – refrigerator trucks, weary nurses, testing lines that snake for miles. All reminders of the devastation caused by this viral enemy.

I recently heard a story told by a distraught brother. With tears streaming down his face, he shared that his brother contracted the virus, attended a family gathering, and infected eight members of their immediate family. Before he died, he shared his apology through a Facetime encounter from an ICU bed.

The image of the woman clinging to her son’s blanket filled the nightly news feed. Her young child had just died. She shared, “I don’t ever want another family to experience this.” She went on to plea, “take this virus seriously.”

Every day we hear similar stories, actually, we hear them so frequently that we have stopped listening – if for nothing more than the preservation of our minds and hearts.

But each day we are presented with a choice.

Recently, I was confiding in my sister about how people’s decisions or lack of a decision can affect so many lives and she shared this story. I’m certain you’ve heard it before but it is worth repeating.

The Man on the Roof

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.” The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.” So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.” To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.” To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.” So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

(Author unknown)

To this, my sister gently added, “God has equipped us with a brain, just as he provided the man on the roof. We can choose to use it or we can choose to ignore it.”

I don’t believe God wants us to deny the truth about this deadly enemy nor does He want us to use our faith as an excuse to ignore the intelligence He has given each of us. 

Just as God provided the man on the roof warnings and help. He has sent us warning messages – we see the rate of positive cases increasing, the cases of children contracting the virus are increasing, the percentage of young adults contracting the virus is increasing, death rates are increasing – the rowboat has passed, the motorboat is approaching, and we can hear the helicopter in the distance.

Sisters, let us not be people that ignore God’s warnings. Rather, let us be people that courageously weather this viral storm trusting God. Believing that He loves us and will provide for our needs. Resting in His provision as we faithfully make decisions to protect our families, our friends, church families, our community, and ourselves. We each can do our small part.

Our choices make a difference.

Blessings,

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

James 2:14-26 Message (Msg)

Enough

Photo by J. Beales

Standing in front of the mirror, I can see the faintest line, no maybe it’s a hair; actually, I’m not sure what it is – etched on the left corner of my upper lip.

At 62, I have great distance vision but seeing mid-range, well that’s a challenge. Unfortunately, I don’t own a pair of glasses that allows me to clearly see the distance from the sink to the bathroom mirror.

But my husband, he wears glasses, perhaps they will work! I searched his side of the sink until I found them, slid them over my ears, and peered back into the mirror.

Bifocals and I don’t do well. Yet, I was able to find just the right angle to see out the lower right corner of the lens. There it was a black hair. It was obvious it had been growing for a while, hanging over my lip just a smidge. I started to wonder why no one had said anything – husband, girlfriends, total strangers, anyone. Then it dawned on me, all the people I hang out with are my age or older. They couldn’t see it either!

I found the tweezers, plucked all that I could contort my head and my husband’s glasses to see and checked out the rest of my face. I wanted to make certain I didn’t have any other wayward hairs or hidden embarrassing imperfections.

Life is so funny.

Yesterday I was in my 30s. I exercised 6 – days a week, worked fulltime plus, volunteered, and still had the energy to read in the evening, stay awake long after 9:30 PM, and wake up the next day in a good mood to do it all over again.

Today, I get out of bed, walk my 11-year-old male dog (giving you an idea of how slow we move), prepare breakfast, water the garden, and that pretty much does it for the day.

I think I am one of the few that has appreciated the changes COVID-19 has forced on our world. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t want anyone to get sick, lose their job, life, or future. However, I love the pace, the staying put, the slower days.

I just recently came to grip with this reality – I’m not 30!

And what makes this epiphany so profound is that it has allowed me to accept there is nothing magical about being in your 30s, 40s, or 50s. The magic begins when we can love ourselves right where we are.

The spectacular occurs when we can accept God’s beauty radiating through us even with the embarrassing facial hair, declining physical strength, and no more career to define us.

It is that precious space where we are stripped bare. No longer clinging to our definition of who we are but fully embracing God’s design.

In God’s economy, it has never been about what we look like, after all, He created us. He has never been impressed with our skills or abilities; they are all gifts He provided. It has always been about our hearts, our faith in Him, our willingness to trust Him, and those things, dear Sisters, come with age, maturity, and experience.

Psalm 139:14-16 beautifully expresses God’s perspective regarding us,

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

The Message (MSG)

The world will try to convince us that we are not enough. And that voice will amplify as we mature. But we can stand confident because we are,

A unique creation.

Sculpted by God’s own hands.

Fully known inside and out by the creator of the universe.

Wonderfully marvelously made.

Based on today’s cultural standards and our feelings, we may not be enough but we are loved by a God that is more than enough.

Be blessed His BeLOVED,


~Reflections~

Take a few minutes and reread Psalms 139:14-16. When completed reflect on the following questions.

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Psalms 139:14-16 (MSG)

  1. What lies have the world told you that makes you feel less than, not enough?
  2. How does the passage in Psalm help you shift your perspective from doubt to trusting that God is more than enough?
  3. What is one step you can take today that will help you believe that you are wonderfully and marvelously made?  

One of my new favorites, enjoy!

Have My Heart – Maverick City | TRIBL

For Love

Photo by A. Covington

My parents were married in the mid-1940s. My siblings and I are not certain of the exact date. We are learning there are many things we never knew.

They came from the South, Arkansas and Tennessee. And left soon after marrying for the freedom of the West.  

Mixed marriages were not accepted in the South and especially not in 1940. And this is where the story takes an interesting twist. Because until very recently, I was not aware it was a mixed marriage.

For my entire childhood and into my adult life, my mother held a secret close to her heart. She had told her children that she was French Creole, a rich mix of French and Black ancestry, with a little German thrown in. Now we know that Mom was a descendant of an English Mother and a German Father. No French, no African-American – ALL European.

So you may ask, why the deception. Surely, she knew her lineage.

I think it goes back to marrying a black man in the 1940s. I will repeat my initial statement; mixed marriages were not accepted in the South and especially given the climate of the early 1940s.

Life during this time was filtered through the lens of World War II. The prevailing culture was anti-German and anti-Japanese yet, segregation was still enforced. Blacks were given access to serve in the military and to work in the defense industry. Yet, they faced racism, unequal pay, unequal freedom, and death – even death by lynching. For African – Americans separate and unequal was the reality.

When Mom and Dad walked down the aisle, my mother walked away from everything she knew – family, friends, identity, history because of love. She never looked back, but rather committed to a life that would, at times, be lonely, unrelenting, and painful.

From that day forward, she recognized herself as Creole. An identity that was far safer than the one given her at birth. On every critical document (marriage certificate and census status), she checked the box that identified her as black. Her original birth certificate mysteriously burned in a fire. No copy of the document available.

Her love displayed in a selfless cover-up.

She willingly sacrificed all to share life with her husband and give life to her children.

I often wonder if she ever looked back. When life pressed in, did she regret walking away? When her husband broke her heart or her children disappointed, did she long for what had been? I will never know. But I do know that she stood strong, stayed true, and loved despite it all.

The Apostle Paul shared a biblical definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7,

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

New Living Translation (NLT)

I’ve learned that my Mother practiced this definition, her

Love never gave up,

She never lost faith,

She remained hopeful, and

Endured through every circumstance.

Sisters, we have a Heavenly Father that loves us unconditionally, sacrificially. For love, He sacrificed His only Son, allowing Him to die for our sins.

His love will never give up or lose faith. Instead, He will patiently protect and persevere. He will never stop pursuing you, His BeLoved.

Be Blessed,


For more information about African-American history in the 1940s, please visit the links below.

https://www.pbs.org/thewar/at_home_civil_rights_minorities.htm

https://www.britannica.com/topic/African-American/The-civil-rights-movement

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2016/09/02/the-story-of-the-only-known-lynching-on-a-u-s-military-base/

Favorite Things

Photographer Unknown

I have never been fashion conscious, but I know comfortable. And that is where the story of my favorite pair of pants begins.

I found this amazing pair of JJill khakis at a thrift store. I like the designer because she makes clothes that fit a woman’s body. What a find, the perfect size, amazing price, and great feel. They immediately became my favorite pair of pants.

I have to admit, I wear them a lot, well until…

Did you know that cotton fabric is not made to last forever? I know; I was surprised as well.

Fast forward a few years and unfortunately, the first holes appeared. One on each knee. But, these are my favorite pants – I had to do something.

So, each knee was adorned with a swatch of burgundy and cream fabric. Adding a little character, reflecting my creative side, making them special.

No longer useful for everyday wear, they made a great pair of gardening, special projects, and artsy endeavors pants.

During a day in the garden, hole number three appeared on the bottom, another patch applied. Then, I noticed the fabric was thinning on the thigh of each leg, holes four and five surfaced. Not just tiny gaps but fraying from seam to seam. More patches applied and now there was more burgundy and cream than the original khaki.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t give them up, so comfortable, eclectic, embellished in memories.

Then a painting project and with each knee bend or thigh raise, the fabric gave way, leaving holes six and seven. At this point, my husband started preparing my heart for what he thought was the inevitable, “Your pants are done, give them up!” Such. A. Sensitive. Man.

More fabric applied.

My favorite pair of pants no longer has visible weaknesses, legs and bottom reinforced. I want to believe they have a few more projects left in them.

I know you can relate each of us has that one favorite thing we just don’t want to give up. A well-loved T-shirt frayed around the edges, so thin skin peeks through. That special pair of shoes, soles peeling away from upper. Your first car. The trunk no longer closes completely but it runs, if only occasionally. The faded baseball cap, reminding you of when you stretched your arm just long enough to catch that stray ball. All memories – never let them go. There are treasures embedded in each.

We all need the familiar, the well-worn. Something that reminds us of who we are, the pasts we’ve overcome. A small thing that provides a little comfort for the unknown of the future. There’s no problem with holding on, just remember to do so loosely. Consider your past as you build the future and don’t forget to adorn each minute with bits of your heart, making them your own.  

 My favorite pair of pants is folded neatly in the closet. They are a reminder that another adventure is coming soon.

Photo by A. McCormick

Be Blessed,

Love Like He Loves

Photo by S. Johnson

There is this artsy side of my brain. I nourish it by creating – writing, sewing, drawing, painting, all outlets for the noise in my head.

There is something magical about putting pen to paper, thread to needle, adding paint to canvas, or charcoal to paper. An outward reflection of my inward thoughts and emotions.

There are no limits to what you can create – except those imposed by your own mind.

I think this passion for creating is a trait I share with my Heavenly Father. Since His creation of time, He has expressed His joy, sense of humor, love for beauty, and a keen sense of order, by calling into existence all we see, hear, and touch. He meld together color, bone, and sinew to create the beautiful variation we experience in humankind today, man and woman – He made them both. Each created in His image but unique, unequaled variations of His perfection.

So, it saddens me when I hear what is going on in the world, in this country, my community. We have become a divided people, fearful, unforgiving. Grace and mercy have left many of our vocabularies, our hearts. We assume the worst and are surprised by anything less.

Don’t misunderstand me, I know how we’ve landed here – years of injustice, decades of promises followed by failure and disappointment, ignorance, a legacy of sin, an air of superiority. In light of our history, it may seem natural to become angry and jaded.

But you have to understand, I try to see the world filtered through Jesus’ creative lens. A mindset that causes me to believe we are created equal; we are His image-bearers, brothers, and sisters. So, in my paradigm, there is no room for today’s hate.

 I am the product of an African-American and Chinese father and a White mother. I’ve lived as a tapestry of color. But this doesn’t mean I didn’t feel the impact of not being “White enough” or “Black enough.” I lived on the fringe of these cultures, experiencing exclusion – perhaps because I didn’t look like or reflect their cultural attitudes.

I just wonder what would happen to our world, our communities, and neighborhoods if we actively decided to see each other through Jesus’ eyes. If we began behaving like brothers and sisters, more alike than different, more family than hated foe.

In the book of John, we are commanded, not suggested or recommended, but commanded to love.

34So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35 New Living Translation (NLT)

So what if as believers, we took the instruction found in the book of John seriously? What if we took the first step to demonstrate to the world the same kind of love we are offered by our Father – unconditional, unbiased, passionate love?

I encourage you to educate yourself about the history that has marred our past, seek to understand the differences and similarities of races, keep your heart open, soft, and humble. But commit dear Sisters, commit to LOVE like He loves. Just like you are profoundly loved by your Father.

Be Blessed His BeLOVED,


CeCe Winans celebrates the amazing diversity of our world in her song Colorful World, enjoy!

More Than Enough

Photo by D. Ellaby

Dads leave a legacy that influences us for a lifetime.

For some, the relationship moves us to see the world with optimism and hope. We courageously walk in the world and know that a safety net is always available, a refuge forever near.

While for others, the connection has taught us to be cautious. To live our lives right on the edge of anxiety and anticipation. Hopefulness has been exchanged for a deep yearning, an endless pursuit for acceptance. Our hopelessness causes us to search for more (more value, more self-worth, more…).

Parents (Dads) are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child…

Bob Keeshan

My Dad died several years ago but our relationship was a melding of the courageous with a healthy dose of hopelessness – never feeling like I was enough. A delicate balance that has left me strong but wondering…

The one thing I remember about him was his eyes. There was a gentleness about them but it was the sadness that caught your attention. Life was hard for an 8-year-old navigating life on his own.

And then there was his smile. It stretched wide across his face and at that moment, his eyes would shift from sad to sweet, mischievous, childlike. Such a paradox – a hard life moved to a glimpse of joy.  

To say that Dad was a complicated man was an understatement. He worked hard, was a man of few words, and a temper that could ignite at any minute. Yet, he always took the time to share what he knew – how to bait a fishing hook, the best ways to plant a garden, his secret recipe for tamales.

He taught me so much.

My tenacity to keep going, regardless of the circumstances, was birthed through him. I can put hammer to nail and come out with a finished product – his teaching. And my love of Chinese food – his influence.

I know he loved me, he told me so. But there were times that his temper caused a wedge. It made me vigilant, not wanting to ignite the flame.

I wished our relationship could have been different, deeper, more… I would have relished more conversations, details about our family, his life with Mom, and more direction for the decisions I made or perhaps didn’t make. A touch, a hug, a word of encouragement meant so much; just a little more would have filled me.

But I know he did his very best, I am forever grateful. I love you Dad…

Our dads make such an important, significant, everlasting impact on our lives. Regardless of whether they are loving, abusive, unavailable, or present, they influence us, and fortunately or unfortunately, we often pass on what we’ve learned to our current and future relationships. We carry their teaching throughout our lives.

Regardless of who our earthly dads may be, despite how they have shaped our minds, we have a heavenly Father that waits for us. He will never disappoint, never miss a need, He is MORE than enough.

BeLOVED, I encourage you,

Pick your Father carefully, thoughtfully, intentionally – He makes a difference.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18 New International Version (NIV)

Be Blessed,

Epidemic of Hate

Photo by N. Dumlaoue

The pandemic hit the U.S. in February and by mid-March, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York, and 4 other US territories had reported disease. We’ve had some 2 million cases and lost over 100,000 lives.

The virus hit the country as a silent assault, masked under the cover of just another flu. But we soon learned that it carried a deadly punch.

In a few short months, it changed how we experience the world, how we treat one another, and how we navigate our lives. Who would have thought this silent enemy was hiding in plain sight, waiting to disrupt and conquer.

And just as we were getting our arms around a pandemic – masked, hands sanitized, and socially distant – the winds swept in an epidemic. A virus of hate that has been incubating in this country for 100s of years. Each time it raises its ugly head, many fight the assault, pushing it back underground.

The illness contaminates those with narrow minds and hardened hearts. Unfortunately, it has infected the fabric of our nation, threatening the country’s foundation. The carriers spread the contagion through social media posts, community conflicts, and acts of violence towards those that look, speak, and believe differently.

But this disease also devastates the lives that fight to eradicate it. A history of brave souls that have fought diligently to wipe out the virus and its effects – Harriet Tubman, Dred Scott, Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, and hundreds of others.

A persistent, sinister illness that takes vigilance, education, and determination to eradicate.

My husband and I are Black. We live in a small Oregon community where blacks make up less than 4% of the total population. If you’re not intentional, you will overlook us.

My husband is very active in the community. I don’t think there are many people he doesn’t know. And if doesn’t know them, it won’t be very long until he can tell you their life stories. He is one of those people that love to engage in the lives of others.

A few years ago, he was driving home – the same route he has taken 100s of times. He pulled through a major intersection, the light flashing yellow, the intersection clear. He headed up the hill making the right-turn to our home. When behind him red lights flashed in his rearview mirror. The officer had been following him for nearly a mile. My husband pulled over and lowered his window.

The officer sat in his vehicle for a few minutes and then approached the car. As he neared the window, he belted out the standard, “Driver’s license and registration.” After a glance at both, he asked, “So how long have you had this car?” No references to driving violations or vehicle maintenance issues, just a focus on the ownership of the car. My husband responded, “I’ve had it a few years.” The officer added, “You didn’t give me enough room at the yellow light.” My husband acknowledged his comment. The officer looked around the car, handed him back his license and registration, and walked casually back to his vehicle.

As the officer drove off, my husband sat a few minutes gathering his thoughts, what had just happened? Was this an innocent inquiry? A chance to educate? Was this a subtle, perhaps unconscious, judgmental action that reflects the insidious nature of the virus of racism?  

Unlike our need to rush to create a vaccine to battle COVID-19, we have an inoculate for this epidemic.

We each can play a role to combat this infection. When it comes to covert racism, injustice, ignorance, and hatred,

We Are the Vaccine!

Photo by E. Unuabona

We are the answer.

Gen 1:27 reminds us that,

…God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

New International Version (NIV)

The color of our skin, the languages we speak, our cultures, traditions, food preferences all speak to the amazing creativity of our father. Yet, we all carry His image; we all are created by Him. There are no differences, no superiority, only beautiful variation.

We can work to celebrate our differences, honoring the image of God in each person. We can encourage, educate, reflect God’s original plan for His children. We can allow Him to work through us, we are the antidote, and God is the healer.

Image bearers, brothers, sisters, family – in this paradigm there is no room for hate, no place for racism, no space for inferiority.

BeLOVED, please join me in praying for God’s original plan to be recognized in this country and around the world. It is only through Him that we will find our healing.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Be Blessed,

And Then They Were Gone…

All photos by A. McCormick

Last week I shared that we had an Uninvited Guest, a house finch with 5 blue eggs. We found them nestled in the curve of our front door wreath.

It’s been an interesting journey, keeping watch over the new family. I began feeling responsible for momma and babies, so I posted a sign blocking the path to our front door,

STOP – Birds Nesting in Front Door Wreath!! Leave packages here or call.

A bird feeder was placed in the center of the front yard, I didn’t want momma to have to travel too far for food, and our dog was kept clear of the front porch.

Neighbors walked by staring at the sign and then asked the obvious question, why are birds nesting at your front door? Unfortunately, I was asking the same question. And then a friend shared that she knew of a similar situation. A morning dove had taken occupancy on a neighbor’s front door wreath.

My curiosity got the better of me so, I started doing some digging on the internet and found it is a very common occurrence. Evidently, the doorway provides protection and a wreath offers the makings of a fine nesting place, a safe cozy home to raise a family.

Over the next few days, the babies went from beautiful blue eggs to fury fledglings.

If you look closely, you can see one unhatched egg.

And then as quickly as we found this family, they were gone. The nest was empty – mom, babies, eggshells all vanished. Leaving only twigs and leaves to remind us of their stay.

As I was dismantling the sign and removing the wreath from the door, I have to admit I was disappointed. I had missed mom and babies practicing leaving the nest and the final flight to their new home. I didn’t get a chance to hear the little ones chirping for food and thankfully they were gone so fast that there was no mess to clean up.

But my disappointment was soon turned to joy!

I spotted a new nest. Newly constructed in the tree just outside my home office window. This time a lesser fence and her babies.

I have promised myself not to get too attached, there will be no signs keeping people off the sidewalk but I will keep my hears attuned to the song of the babies and my eyes open for fledgling’s first flight.

I love all that God’s creation teaches us.

Momma finch knew exactly what she was doing and no sign or bird feeder was needed to help her do what innately she knew had to be done. She instinctively built her nest, in a safe protected place, keeping watch over it night and day. And when the time came, she quietly taught her little brood to fly. All skills given to her by her Creator.

God used this little family to remind me that I am not in control. Not of the birds that visit our home, the circumstances that occur in my life, or the pain and challenges that happen in the lives of our family members and friends. Sometimes, I just need to get out of the way and let God do what He does best – orchestrate the details. I can rest in knowing that His timing is perfect, His awareness complete, and His love limitless.

Just as we are reminded in Matthew 6:25-28,

25 “I tell you this: Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about what you are going to eat and drink. Do not worry about what you are going to wear. Is not life more important than food? Is not the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not plant seeds. They do not gather grain. They do not put grain into a building to keep. Yet your Father in heaven feeds them! Are you not more important than the birds? 27 Which of you can make himself a little taller by worrying? 28 Why should you worry about clothes? Think how the flowers grow. They do not work or make cloth.

New Life Version (NLV)

Be encouraged, BeLOVED, God is aware of exactly what you need and be on the lookout for His loving choreography of all your days.

Be Blessed,