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He numbers our days.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16

Whether we are in the at-risk category or not, Covid-19 does not alter the number of days that God has already ordained for us. Before we were even conceived, He already numbered the days we would live. And He already numbered the days of our loved ones.

A virus does not hold life and death in its hands. Our perfect Father does (1 Samuel 2:5).

And we can trust Him.

On homeschooling.

I realized last night that it might be overwhelming for a nonhomeschooling parent to receive the list I posted yesterday. So let me just say this:

Homeschooling is really flexible. The assumption is your kid will always be learning. Our entire life is homeschooling and isn’t limited to 7 subject areas. It doesn’t have to look like a school classroom.

And especially during hard times or postpartum or etc., focus on just the “three R’s” if you need to: reading, ‘riting (writing), and ‘rithmetic (math). Everything else, they can learn through good books (living books!) that you either read to them or they read on their own.

Other than that, let them play. Let them explore deeply those subjects they find interesting. Or let them get bored — it’ll force them to become creative and independent in a way they might not have been able to do in a structured school environment.

Folding laundry with you, clearing the dishwasher for you, helping with chores, helping care for younger siblings, learning to reconcile after a fight, reading Scripture, listening to music and dancing together, going into the back or front yard (away from people) and studying the plants and bugs and feeling the breeze are all “homeschooling.” Go for a walk in nature with a journal and have them draw three interesting things they saw, have them write stories, let them use random materials in the home to build and make things and play pretend. This could be a wonderful time of learning. No need to add to the stress!

They don’t have to sit at one desk in one chair and stay still for hours writing on worksheets. They can read while jumping on the bed (if you allow them to) or do math under a fort or help a younger sibling learn something new.

And if your kid is 6 or under, just read good books to them and let them play! This is a tip that a homeschooling mother of 5 grown kids shared with me when my eldest was a preschooler. Don’t stress it! Don’t reduce learning to rote things only. It’s so much more.

It will be a stressful time for many. Make your home a refuge and place of joy for your children. Teach them joyful obedience in a way that a school teacher doesn’t have the authority to do so. Memorize Scripture together and praise God for many things throughout the day. Make a prayer list with them and keep track of answered prayers (whether it’s a yesno, or wait).

And for everyone’s sanity, carve out a time sometime after lunch when it’s “rest” or quiet time. Whoever needs to nap can nap, others can read or play quietly and independently. (At our home, this is from 1:30-3 pm.) And for now, since I have a 1 year old, my 6.5 year old reads to her and plays with her for a stretch of time during this time while I lie down on the couch so I get a little break, too. 🙂

I hope that helps. ♥

Free learning resources for kids.

For those of you who are at home with elementary school aged kids during Covid-19 school closures, here is a list of some free online resources that might help. Although, sometimes, there’s nothing better than reading good books together. ♥

Reading:
Classic Book Library | https://www.pagebypagebooks.com
International Children’s Digital Library | http://en.childrenslibrary.org
Free Audiobooks | https://librivox.org

Writing:

Language Arts/Math:
Rader’s Number Nut | http://www.numbernut.com

Social Studies:
America’s Story | http://www.americaslibrary.gov
National Geographic Kids | https://kids.nationalgeographic.com

Science:
Ask Dr. Universe | https://askdruniverse.wsu.edu
Bill Nye the Science Guy | https://billnye.com
NASA Solar System | https://solarsystem.nasa.gov
San Diego Zoo Animals, Etc | https://kids.sandiegozoo.org

Art:
Artful Parent | https://artfulparent.com
Drawing Teachers | http://www.drawingteachers.com
Harmony Fine Arts at Home | https://harmonyfinearts.org/free-downloads/

Music:

Foreign Language:

A scandalous gospel.

I was asked to contribute a devotional to SOLA’s series, “The Women Jesus Loved,” so with some encouragement from JE, I chose the woman from Luke 7.

This devotional was written as God reminded me last month of the bitterness of my sin and the sweetness of His grace.

I pray it blesses you.

This article was first published at SOLA.



Author’s Note: Text from Luke 7:36-50 (ESV) in bold

She lived during a time when men were said to have thanked God daily that they had not been born women. Behold, a woman of the city.

Not only that, she had embraced an unmentionable sin for so long that it had become her identity. Who was a sinner.

Or in hushed voices, maybe “prostitute.”

When they saw her coming, they quietly avoided her. Cross the road. Avert your eyes. Raise no greeting. Her doorway is the doorway to hell (Proverbs 7:27; 9:18), and her uncleanness is contagious, so keep your distance.

Simon the Pharisee knew her. Everyone knew her, so Simon judged Jesus for what he assumed was ignorance because surely, it could not be informed acceptance.If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

Yet something had transformed her. A woman like her knew she did not belong in anyone’s home, much less the home of a Pharisee. What brought this sort of woman here? But she came, braving the finger-pointing, the whispers, and the risk of being thrown out.

She came for Jesus, and she came prepared. When she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s home, (she) brought an alabaster flask of ointment.

How did she know about Jesus? Did she overhear neighbors questioning if he was the redemption of Israel (Luke 2:38; 4:21)? Did she hear in the marketplace that he healed the diseased and demon-possessed (6:18)? Was she among the crowds when he taught, “Your Father is merciful” (6:36)?

She must have known he was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (7:34) because little else could explain her brazen act. Standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Scandalous. How dare she touch the Holy One?

Her actions were a silent rebuke to the false teaching of her day. No, God’s kingdom is not for the proud; it is for the poor in spirit (6:20). It is for those who mourn (6:21). It is for tax collectors and sinners (15:1-2). For the crippled and blind and lame (14:21). The prodigal (15:11-32). The prostitute (7:50).

But she did not show up to refute false doctrine. She simply wanted to love Jesus. And the members of her body that were once presented to sin as instruments for unrighteousness she now wanted to present in his service (Romans 6:13).

He had walked and taught among the crowds in dirty streets, but when he entered Simon’s home, Simon did not task a servant to wash Jesus’ feet or even give him water to wash his own feet. Simon opened his house to Jesus but not his heart, and he withheld a most basic gesture of hospitality. “He who is forgiven little, loves little.”

In sharp contrast, here was this who and what sort of woman bending over Jesus’ soiled feet, washing them with her tears and gently wiping his feet with her hair. After pouring precious ointment on his feet, her worship overflowed in reverent kisses to his feet. Simon was regarded better than her in every way, but Jesus knew their hearts (Luke 2:35). “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.”

What would evoke such costly love and worship from this woman?

Costly forgiveness.

Jesus had something to say to Simon. “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

No doubt she was the debtor who owed five hundred denarii. Her sins before God were legion, but God himself absorbed the cost and canceled her debt. Her sins were neither excused nor minimized, but – hallelujah! – they were forgiven. Every single one.

Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much.”

And her love was the fragrant flower that grew from the seed of divine forgiveness. She loved much because she was loved much first (1 John 4:19).

He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

This was hardly a genuine question. More likely, they were mocking Jesus’ implicit claim to be the moneylender, God himself. He came to cancel their debts, but they rejected him and grossly underestimated their debt. Thanks, but no thanks, they could pay it themselves. They needed no Savior; they had themselves.

So, justification was not for the self-righteous who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like this sinful woman.” Justification was for her who cried, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14)

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Jesus’ words were more scandalous to the Pharisees than this woman’s past. But his words were true. God’s kingdom was for her and, by God’s grace, those like her.

Us.

Regarding Covid-19, the flu, etc.

I sent this email to my church family on March 5th, a week before the coronavirus was declared pandemic and beginning to spread in exponential numbers in Southern California. Some of the details I would change if it were sent now (e.g., more encouragement toward social distancing) but I’m posting it here to remind myself when I get swept up in the latest news … and for anyone else who visits here.


 

Hi church family,

I was reminded of this psalm today as I was reflecting on some personal conversations I’ve had with some of you:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Psalm 91:1-6

 Don’t Be Afraid — Pray

The news is blaring with all things coronavirus, and some of us have a bent toward panic and control while some of us have a bent toward passivity and a whatever attitude. And we can all waver between the two. 🙂

But as a church, I think we can encourage each other not to fear but to pray, and to speak truth to one another. We can also remind each other of who God is.

Would you pray with me? That God would cause those fearful to repent of their idolatry and cause them to ponder their mortality and turn to Him. That we as a church would be bold and eager and loving to share the gospel with our neighbors and those who express fear in our families and church family. That God would stem the tide of this virus and not allow any others to become ill or die.

But also, I wanted to encourage us to consider how we might practice love to our neighbor during flu season and with the slow spread of this specific coronavirus.

Love Our Neighbor

We have an increasingly “young” church, and those of us who are healthy and young without any underlying health conditions and strong immune systems might find it easy to scoff at the fear of those who are more cautious. Or we might think it no big deal to just show up sick.

Let’s remember that we have precious elderly saints among us who are more susceptible to severe illness. Let’s remember that we have young babies who are vulnerable to viruses. And we have immune-compromised church family among us who we might not see for long stretches of time during the cold and flu season because some of us don’t think twice about showing up, even when we’re very ill and contagious.

I don’t think this means we should never show up when we’re sick, but I think some of us can more lovingly consider our neighbor as we decide.

And for those who are more prone to fear and extreme isolation, let’s remember that we are church family, not just fellow carriers of illness. 🙂 Christians were often distinguished during times of plague and pestilence by their willingness to welcome people into their homes and to go out and care for the sick, even at personal risk.

Pray Together

Would you pray with me for all these things? That we would be this kind of church in the face of pestilence? And for the health workers among us who come in contact with the most ill? Let’s pray for their protection.

Rest for the weary.

“No rest for the weary, when you feel like it all rests on you.” (Tim Keller)

On the altar.

“Eventually, when we returned to the town,” Ron continued, “we saw that the entire mission station, including the house we built for our family and the aircraft hangars and maintenance facility that we built by hand, were all destroyed.”

…Emotional and on the verge of tears, he told me, “It was a deep, deep hurt for me to realize that [what took] generations of missions effort to build was all destroyed.  We lost the whole thing, but not the privilege of being able to put it on the altar for Christ.”

(From the most recent VOM magazine)

They lost everything but not the privilege to lay all their costly losses on the altar for a worthy Christ.

So if our losses permit us to do nothing else … they permit us to do this …

Patricia Ector.

If the most telling test of a woman’s faith is her response to the “untimely” loss of those dearest to her, I may not have known a more faithful woman than Pat Ector.  She lost her husband suddenly around 10 years ago, and that grief was unmatched except for the tragic death of her only child one year later.

She spent her last years on earth as a widow in the truest sense, and in my life, one of God’s greatest examples of faith and fortitude after loss is that of Pat, a modern-day Job.  Her response, too, was worship in grief, and she bore so patiently and graciously the clumsy condolences of her friends, family, and church family.  Sometimes the greatest trial after tragedy is listening to what people have to say to you about it, and her response was always genuinely thank you, accepting the stumbling words — and sometimes, the stumbling theology, too.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

(Isaiah 43:2)

I’ll never forget her grace as she walked through the fire.

I’ll miss her singing voice.  For years, I served with her husband Robert on the praise team.  Not long after he left to join Heaven’s chorus, she joined our church’s praise team.  I count it an honor to have heard this faithful widow praising God after the death of her earthly bests.

I’ll miss her arm squeezes, her eyes glistening with tears as she called me “dear Tia” (never just Tia but always “dear” Tia), and her encouraging notes to me, even years after I moved away.  She was one of the first cheerleaders in my life to encourage me to write for God’s glory and the comfort of His people.

She wasn’t just “Pat” to me either.  For many years, she was “Sister Pat” in our correspondences … and then when I had my own children, she signed her name “Grandma Pat.”  And she was.

I’ll miss you, Pat.  I can’t imagine what your face looked like when you finally saw Jesus face to face.  I can’t imagine the reunion that happened between you and Robert and Michael.  I can’t wait to see you again soon one glorious day.  Until then, I’ll remember you, your love, your example.

The angels roar.

Then on the third at break of dawn,
The Son of heaven rose again.
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King

Sang these words at our Good Friday service last night and choked up.  O trampled death where is your sting? The angels roar for Christ the King.

That’s. Right.

He is adequate.

A post I never published from last March.  I’m sure many more of these moments are to come in motherhood.  I can depend on Him for everything.

Today, I was at a loss for how to deal with Cub.  I had too much of my own frustration and sin clouding my judgment, and perhaps he did, too.  I searched Scripture and my memory for things I could say, wisdom I could impart — but I came up empty.

Finally, I just went to his room, clasped his hands in mine, and wept and prayed.  For the both of us.

I didn’t know what to give my son in his rebellion and mine.  I could only pour out our inadequacies to the only one who is adequate.

My prayers will not save him.  My tears will not soften him.

But God can.

And I pray He will.