This is the Day Challenge

I was flipping through my coloring Bible today and I came across the page where I had colored in a drawing of Psalms 118:24.

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm118:24

We used to have to sing this song every week at the little Christian school I went to for grades 1-5. We got so tired of singing it over and over, and it seemed to mean nothing.

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that this verse is not just a comforting truth (that God designed this day); it’s also a challenge.

It’s a challenge to us to see every day—with its good and bad parts—as a blessing appointed by God. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like a blessing—some days seem full of curses–but many bad times are blessings in disguise. God promises us that he works out all things for our good (see Romans 8:28); therefore, all our days are blessed days, whether or not we can see the blessing in it yet.

Would you join me in this?

The This is the Day Challenge!

I challenge you to post this verse somewhere you can see it each day and to either write down or post a picture of something you found to be a blessing that day! Something you found that was rejoicable! (Is that a word?)

Let’s see if we can make a difference in this broken world. Or at least in our attitudes.

Go out and have a blessed day!

Is Your House Safe?

As I sit in my new office—er, living room—reading about the effects of covid-19, I see something happening. Americans have had a big wake up call. Our comfy lifestyles have been uprooted. The busy-equals-important mindset is being tested. Americans are having to face themselves. We are having to be still, stay home, and breathe.

This sudden pause in “life as we know it” is hard, but it may actually be good for us. Suddenly, we are having to cut out what isn’t important. Instead of running to the store to pick up something on a whim, we’re having to stop and think about if we really need it or not. Instead of staying on the run, barely spending time at home, we are having to stay home with the people who really are the most important to us anyway. Up until now we have been so comfortable–we think we shouldn’t have to do anything unless it’s easy and shouldn’t have to wait for anything for more than a few minutes.

Life has changed. It may go back to “normal” soon, but it may not. Economists are predicting this temporary halt to life will bring a huge financial crisis. Life in the Western Hemisphere may not return to it’s easy state for a long time.

This catastrophe has forced us to look at our lives. What are we missing? Which parts of our former lives do we miss the most? Are we distraught without all of our social functions and our indulgent pleasures?

What our our lives built on?

This reminds me of a story about two houses on an island. One house was built on a cliff of rock. The house was traditional and plain, but the foundation was strong and secure. The second house had been built on the beach. The view was amazing, and the house drew lots of attention. The owner had tons of parties and everyone envied his lifestyle.

Well, a huge storm came to the island–bigger than any storm anyone on the island had ever witnessed. The wind and the rain beat on those houses with such force that the walls shook. The house on the cliff stood strong in the storm. However, the beautiful house on the beach was overcome by the rising tide, and eventually it crumbled into the sea.

This story comes from a story Jesus told in the Bible. In the book of Matthew, chapter 7 he said,

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The covid-19 crisis is causing us to realize what our lives are built on. Our lives are being shaken up like a storm. We are finally having to look at ourselves. What is most important to us? What is it about my life that I’ve had the hardest time giving up? What have I been the most anxious about during this time?

Our values are revealed by what we fear. It is normal to have some fear and anxiety, but if you are overwhelmingly afraid about not having money or about losing your fancy possessions or not getting to buy the next new smartphone, something is off.

Is the house of your life safe? Where have you built your foundation? Have you built your house on the rock? Or have you built your house on the sand? It’s easier to numb our problems with drinking, a new relationship, Netflix, etc., but the problems are still there. The crash is inevitable.

In chapter 71 of the book of Psalms it says, “for you {God} are my rock and my fortress…O Lord, you alone are my hope.” (verses 3 and 5) He is the only one who is true and dependable and loves us with an unending love. God is our Rock.

God’s got you. Pick up your shattered hopes and discard your fears. Start today and rebuild on the only real foundation. He will hold you up. He will get us through this storm.

If you have further questions about knowing God and finding your Rock, feel free to email me at lnewsom77@protonmail.com

love, Lauren

Once Upon a…Now?

Have you ever felt like there is more? Like this world is lacking something? Like that beautiful sunset has something amazing behind it or that love really was meant to last forever?

I think we are supposed to feel this way. We’re supposed to feel like something is off. Like this world is not really our home. Because it’s not. If you are a follower of Jesus, then this is not your home. Not really.

You may have seen glimpses of it in fairy tales or movies like The Matrix. These stories get us thinking. We step back and think, “Is life really what it seems?” I love the Disney series “Once Upon a Time.” The first season opens with the heroine (who thinks she’s a regular person) getting dragged to a town called Storybrook by a boy who claims he’s her son. As the season unfolds, she and other characters start to “wake up” and realize that they are really characters from fairy tales (Snow White, Prince Charming, Little Red Riding Hood, etc.) who have been trapped in this town in Maine because a witch cast an evil curse. Everyone in the town is a character in a story, but they have been living this boring little life in this small town for years, thinking they are just “regular people.” The characters speak about “magic” and its effects, and good and bad struggle openly in each episode.

“Once Upon a Time” and other stories like this always leave me with a wistfulness similar to nostalgia. Almost like these stories are talking about me.

Actually, don’t think I’m crazy, but…I believe they are. Fairy tales and other world adventures are more than mere reflections of reality. They are pointing to the real story.

Recently I stumbled across a verse in Philippians that made me catch my breath. In chapter one, verse 27 it says, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven…”

Citizens of Heaven. That’s it.

We are also characters from an amazing story, stuck temporarily in a place that is not our home. We are “citizens of heaven” living here in this decaying, evil world. This is not the end of the story. We are more important and more eternal than we realize. We are stuff of story books. We are princes and queens and heroes. We just live in a place where our identities get confused and our powers are not apparent.

So, how do I live now that I realize my citizenship is really there? I’m just passing through this place. These heartaches and temptations and disappointments and migraines are not the real story. There is more. There is an adventure grander than any I could imagine. It is coming after this life is over. It will make all the pain and loneliness here worth it. It will complete all the hopes and dreams that started in my little girl brain years ago.

So,…dream…gaze at the sunset…love with your whole heart. It will all be resolved. It will all be healed. And the ending is happier than you could ever imagine.

Love, Lauren

Do you really know how to love?

If someone asked you to make a list of the people who you really, truly love, how many names would you come up with?

Ok, now answer this question: How many of those people would you still love if they betrayed you? Or hurt someone you loved? Or caused you to lose your job? How many of them would you still love if they publicly rejected you? If they tried to turn everyone against you? If they became absolutely unlovable?

Most people would take a few names off the list. Some might even throw the whole list away. Not many people would continue to show love to someone who hurt them like that. It wouldn’t seem logical to consider those people worthy of our time.

Most people have a maximum amount of abuse they will take before considering the other person unlovable. The average human would feel it’s more than reasonable to turn their back on someone once they’ve reached this point. I admit I sometimes feel completely justified in treating these people less kindly, or at least giving them the cold shoulder. Most of us definitely wouldn’t go out of our way to be nice to them. Nobody would look down on us for defriending them on Facebook or even for telling everyone how much they hurt us.

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about how God views things so differently. When my husband really hurts my feelings, I want to ignore him all day. (Not that chill type of ignoring; more like the really obvious, slamming doors kind of ignoring!) During our worst fights I’ve even struggled with wanting to take the kids and leave.

But God has been teaching me something lately about love. I’m not really living his love until I’m loving the unlovable.* It’s easy to love people who are nice to you and cute little babies (except when they wake you up at 4 am). Jesus loved beyond our earthly, shallow love. He loved us at our worst, and his love was action, not just words.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Jesus Christ didn’t tell us to get our crap together and maybe after we were living like “good Christians” He’d consider sacrificing for us. He gave His life for us without strings attached. He knew all the bad things you and I would do in our lives (cuz He’s God, He knows everything!) and He still made that choice. That’s love.

In his book, Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt, Jentezen Franklin writes, “You have to love like you’ve never been hurt. You have to refuse to be bitter. You have to refuse to get angry. You have to refuse to get even. When you love in this way, God will raise you up and use even the worst that has been done to you for His glory.”

This is real love. Love that chooses to be kind, forgive, serve, stay married, show up, etc. Even when that person doesn’t deserve it. Especially if that person doesn’t deserve it.

So I’ve realized that before now I wasn’t really loving my husband. I was only showing love when I thought he deserved it. God wants to transform our marriage and use it to bring joy to us and others. In order for that to happen I’ve got to love like Jesus. He’s the one who taught me how to really love.

*(Note: I’m not saying you should endure abuse. There are times you have to love people from a safe space and pray they get help they need. If you are in a relationship where you are afraid of what someone will do next—physically or mentally—get out, get to a safe place, and find some safe people! I’ve been there before, and God does not want you staying in danger like that.)