The heart is heavy tonight. As a former teacher, Almost every day, I have a messages waiting for me when I log on to social media. I have read the fears and questions of those who lost their jobs in the past few months; fears and questions of parents struggling to teach their children and work from home, fears and questions of lonely seniors who miss their families and struggle with health issues; fears and questions of youngsters (stretched over a few decades) trying to juggle jobs, relationships divorce, confusion; fears and questions of first responders/ military who are struggling with what may lie ahead for them; fears and questions of teachers wondering what the classroom will even look like in August. The messages are from black, white, and all shades in between of friends who are rocking back on their heels – trying to find their balance as birth pangs ripple across the mid-back of their country.
The spine, despite its outer bony strength, weakens and shudders under the constant strain of inner shock waves electrifying every neuron throughout the rest of land. And yet – the Spirit nudges and fills me with a peaceful joy as tears drip down my nose. The promises echo and reset the heart as I write back to those who write me.
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.” (v.1-3)
I’ve been getting up 3 days a week at 5:30 a.m. since the salt water pool opened at our gym. I’m generally there by 7. Bouncing, stretching and talking to new friends for an hour and a half before I head home. The Choc Lab girls aren’t so impressed, but I give them a couple extra treats so they still love me. This week, I upped it to 5 days a week. Songs echoing through my head as I bounce or soothing me as I relax in the hot tub.
I have found – exercise is one of His blessings when the heart is aching.
It has been rainy for the past couple of weeks. Sometimes cold. Sometimes humid. Overall, not great days to be outside for me or the Lab girls. None of us like it, but we find ways to cope. I spend a lot long time with the Father. I play the piano more than once a day as I work on a new song. I wrote a couple of new things. I read a few chapters in my books. I spent time at my home’s altar.
Around the High Holy Days of 2019, I was moving things around in the kitchen and when I was done, I found I had made a small area with all the things that were part of my Christ journey – a home altar. I have had many altars in many homes. A place where my Bible rested. A place where I sat small tokens of the faith journey. Generally, they have been by my side of the bed. I still have one by my bed. A small light. A clay sculpture I made in 7th grade. Treasure from my Grands.
But in this past year of change, I needed one that I would see often throughout the day. The plastic cross and calico lamb that I got for my first Easter. A barn siding shelf that hung in my MIL’s kitchen made by her son. Pictures that hung in my parent’s and grandparents’ homes. Lights. Prayer concerns, requests and thankfulness. His promises. Treasures my kidlets had given me long ago.
An altar where the Living Water and Manna of my life centers my focus and helps me breathe through the worst of the birth pangs.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (v.4-7)
I am exactly where I am supposed to be even though -sometimes – I often wish I wasn’t. I am constantly checking and double checking myself with the fruits of His Spirit as I write and before I speak. I am trying to open my ears and eyes as I listen or watch others. I am waiting more than I move. I am trying to pray unceasingly to the I AM that lives within me – within all of us.
As my home altar – borne of birth pangs, has become a focal point of change within me and within my prayers for the people Our Father has placed in my life and for this country where I was born, I continue to find the stillness and peace of my Fortress even midst of birth pangs. And I find – that the “desolations” sprouting up around me, and around those I care for, are shaping me – and all of us – to be ready for His Revival. A Revival where He will be exalted among the nations and all the earth.
I just have to wait a little longer, pray a little harder, and share his fruits with all who are in my sphere.
“Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Ps 46:8-11 [personal image]