A moment for our graduates

Now it is a time of grand celebration! Our graduates are on the cusp between a work coming to completion and a new work begun. Though there is much to be thankful for, our 2020 graduates have been deeply affected by COVID-19. During this unprecedented time, they need our support and encouragement like never before. We should take a moment to honor our graduates and uphold all the emotions they might be feeling at this time! 

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Upon entering freshman year, the dream of graduation looked nothing like this! It is okay to be disappointed at this moment.  

With the economic uncertainty, colleges reinventing their learning strategies, and not knowing what the future looks like, it is okay to be afraid at this moment.

With the unusual way the school year ended, and the vast open space of the future, it is okay to feel lost at this moment.

Friendships that have been made distant by the stay-home orders may be even more distant as you move into new experiences. It’s okay to feel sad at this moment. 

Many have lost loved ones, and their absence at this time will deeply felt. It is okay to mourn at this moment.

Mistakes will have been made, and due to the circumstances, they may be unable to be corrected. It is okay to have regrets at this moment.

What’s done; is done. It is okay to forgive at this moment.

…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts… Romans 5:3-5

You had a dream and lived it; you had a goal and accomplished it, so also, at this moment, it is more than okay to celebrate!  

 Because God is God, and God is good! God has your past, your present, and your future. He cares about your hopes and dreams.  

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

A moment the heart hears

Photo by jonas mohamadi

Often I wonder, as I pray, where do prayers go? Can anyone hear them? The words, “When we pray from the heart, the heart hears.” came to mind and has been with me all week.

At this time, when many of us cannot be together to pray or offer support and encouragement face to face, I would like to share these reflections with you.

I believe that prayer is a conversation of the heart. With the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of Christ, and an omnipresent God, our prayers are invisible threads that tie us all together. God both hears and responds to the heart, with his heart, by speaking to our hearts and to the hearts of those for whom we pray. Though I cannot visibly attest to God’s presence, I am assured, by the words speaking to my heart, how much we are loved. I pray that these words may reach your heart and give you hope.

Many of us are praying for the sick who are far away. We are praying for the dying who cannot have loved ones at their bedside. We are praying for the lonely and shut-in. And we wonder, does it matter at all? 

Yes! When a heart speaks, another heart hears.

We pray from our hearts:

Genesis 24:45–“Before I finished praying in my heart

Prayer of Manasseh 1:11–And now I bend the knee of my heart, imploring you for your kindness.

Our hearts connect to God’s:

Genesis 8:21–The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart

Luke 7:13–When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her, and he said, “Don’t cry.”

God speaks from His heart to ours:

Proverbs 2:10–For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

2 Thessalonians 3:5–May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Our hearts hear:

Song of Songs 5:2–I slept, but my heart was awake. 

2 Corinthians 3:2–You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts.

Praying for each other is a conversation of the heart:

Romans 10:1–Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

Colossians 2:2–I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself.  

Conversations of the heart make a difference:

Psalm 21:2–You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.

Philemon 1:7–Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

The apostle Paul, in his ministry, knew the pain of being separated from those he cared for deeply. He did not lose heart and continued to offer prayers for the hearts of others.

1 Thessalonians 2:17–As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face.

He prays:

1 Thessalonians 3:13–And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Perhaps the thread of prayer is felt as a tug connecting one’s heart to God’s and God’s heart to another’s pulling us all closer together.

“Wherever a person is in their life’s journey, there may come a time when the longings of their heart ask, ‘Is this it? Is this all there is?’ In these moments, someone could have a tug in their heart that says, ‘Maybe there’s more.  I want to take it to that next stage .”- Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

May your heart, in this moment, hear the promise of God’s heart hearing. 

A moment for What Now?

Photo by Engin Akyurt Pexels.com

So many mixed messages are coming at us as the stay-home directive begins to lift. So we ask, “what now?” Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, there have been no easy questions, no simple answers, and the incoming information changes daily. Some are protesting, with good reasons, and they ready to go out. Others, also with sound reasoning, are reluctant to leave their homes. 

If you were to ask me, “what now?” I have to answer with what I decided would be my take away from this time of COVID-19. Be deliberate in love. As I watched some people in public places wear masks and others chose not to, I realized I often make choices that affect others without thinking. As we move out of this crisis, I hope to be more intentional about my decisions. I hope to recognize and understand the ripple effect of my choices in my home, my community, and the world in which I live. I want to respect the dignity of those around me better and preserve the unity that will come as a result.

I was recently reminded by a dear and wise person in my life that the experiences I have are not only about me; they are about “we.” Every encounter we have with others is an opportunity to both learn and teach. We have the opportunity and obligation not only to grow but to help each other grow as well. 

I am currently reading Isaiah and unpacking some of the correlations between the challenges in that time and the challenges we are currently experiencing. “Set apart to become a blessing to all humanity, the People of God are now coming to the point of inevitable judgment. They are now on the verge of being dispersed into exile in order to emerge, through suffering, capable of deeper forms of learning inaccessible by any other means.” (Foster)

And I ask myself? Have I learned anything?  

Will I personally begin to go out or continue to stay home? Yes, to both. I will choose to stay home when I can because this isn’t over, and I want to do my part, not only to stop the spread but to express my respect for those who are in places where the threat is too close for comfort. And, I will go out when I need to because beginning to return to the routine of life is essential to our economy and mental well-being. I also, however, want to move into something better post-COVID-19. In the book of Isaiah, we witness the journey from loss into hope. But, we are not to merely be receivers of that hope, we are to be participants in the creation of hope. We are to be good neighbors, loving each other by choosing to pay attention, and by choosing to both learn and teach more compassion and grace. By this intentional living, we will see the promise of hope realized.

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever    in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. Isaiah 65:17-19


Foster, Richard J., editor. “The People of God in Rebellion.” The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible: New Revised Standard Version with Deuterocanonical Books, HarperSanFrancisco, 2005, p. 976.