About rett

Follower of Jesus. Happily married wife. Mom to Jake, Marissa, Alexander, Elizabeth, Emily, and Thomas.

Perspective.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a different time of history?  Maybe when you were small you pretended you lived in a medieval castle, explored the American frontier, or sailed on a pirate ship. Some of my favorite books are set in a far-off period of time. Part of their charm is imagining what it was like for people to live during a time when life was very different: sweetly simple or awfully dangerous.

There’s no question that certain eras of history carry a sense of fondness or nostalgia. My best friend thinks she would have loved to be Caroline Ingalls in The Little House on the Prairie.

And some eras are downright terrifying. I’m pretty glad I didn’t have to live during the horrors of the Mongol Invasion, the French Revolution, The Civil War, or The Third Reich.

But it turns out, I do have to live during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it is truly a unique time of history. It’s got its challenges, to be sure. But I feel compelled to remind myself to put this in a broader historical perspective:

  • On August 22, 1914, mothers in France lost 27,000 of their brave young sons in the Battle of the Frontiers. In one day.
  • In The Battle of the Somme, which lasted just 5 months, and upon which J.R.R. Tolkien based his description of the desolate Land of Mordor, over 300,000 died.
  • During World War 2, just a couple decades later, The Soviet Union lost over 12% of its entire population. Nearly 24 million people—over half of that number civilians!

I’m not saying COVID-19 isn’t deathly serious.  I’m not saying the effect it is having on us isn’t extremely profound. It is the greatest challenge of our generation.

But I am saying, let’s not be driven to despair. We are children of the Living God, made in the image of our Creator. Through Christ who gives us strength, we can be confident, resilient, and capable of surviving incredibly challenging times—even worse than the ones we are facing in 2020.

If our grandchildren ever wonder what it was like to live during those crazy COVID-19 years, let’s leave a legacy that shows them how: Be brave. Be hopeful. Be grateful. By the grace of God.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians  4:8-9, 16-18).

Looking up,

Not again.

If you’re like me, you are not thrilled with another round of tightening COVID restrictions and increasing shut downs. I was hoping we’d be over this by now! And if I’m not careful my “not again” mentality can easily slide into “this is hopeless.”

Which reminds me. Around the time that I turned 40 (quite some time ago LOL) I remember feeling so frustrated that the struggles in my heart were the same old struggles that had been infesting my heart back at age 25 and 30 and 35. Maybe not to the same degree, but there, continuing to cause relational damage nonetheless.

Still impatient. Still easily irritated. Still holding grudges. Still self-centered. In a nutshell, still far from the standard of love we find in 1 Corinthians 13.

“Not again! I thought I’d be over this by now! How have I not outgrown this weakness?” And my “not again” mentality often slid into “this is hopeless.”

The simple truth is that it isn’t a question of “weakness” or immaturity. It’s actually a lot more serious than that. It’s called sin. We’re sick with it. It’s chronic. It’s perpetual. And it’s terminal.

But it is not hopeless.

For those of us in Christ, we have a Father who completely knows us and still loves us even though we are still sin-sick. He is not a fickle friend who hits the road when the “real you” comes out. You aren’t too much for him to handle. He’s not disappointed you don’t have your act together yet. He fully knows yet fully loves.

“There is tremendous relief knowing that [God’s] love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am often so disillusioned about myself…” –J. I. Packer, Knowing God.

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything” –Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage.

We’ve all got COVID-fatigue. Even worse, we’ve got sin-fatigue. But let’s not slide into despair. We are fully known. We are fully loved. That’s enough.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7).”

Take refuge,

God is sovereign.

Our God is sovereign. 

Merriam Webster defines sovereign as: “Possessed of supreme power. Unlimited in extent. Enjoying autonomy.” 

When it comes to the events and consequences of 2020, God is sovereign. He is fully aware, totally in control, and completely at work.  

And, when it comes to the events and consequences of the personal hardship you are feeling today, God is fully aware, totally in control, and completely at work. 

It’s been a rough week for folks. Job loss, COVID-19, home repair, family strife, addiction, infidelity, injury, accidents, social disgrace, and embarrassment. These things are horrible, shocking, and they make us wonder where God is in the midst of our chaos. 

He isn’t surprised. He hasn’t disregarded the impact this would have on your life. He is for you. In fact, He means for this difficulty to be doing something excellent for your life and for the lives of those you love. We can’t see yet exactly what it’s working in our souls, but we can trust God that He is still possessed of supreme power, even when we feel helpless. 

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.”(1 Chronicles 29:11-12). 

Reminding myself (daily) that our God is sovereign is the only way I can:  

Keep calm and carry on.

Be different.

Lord have mercy this world feels like it’s going insane. All the things that used to make normal life normal have been disrupted.  Regular, previously mundane human connections have dramatically changed or ceased altogether. No longer can we take for granted the privilege of visiting the sick, gathering for holidays, having coffee with a friend, giving loved ones a hug.

Additionally, the systems that used to make life feel secure have been disrupted. Our world has lost confidence in the press, the police and the political process. Our leaders can’t seem to reach consensus—not even on scientific facts and truth. The consequences of this societal upheaval and division aren’t just national—they are personal. Individuals in our communities are increasingly lonely, angry, anxious, cynical, and hopeless.

Take heart. There’s a different way for followers of Jesus.

As the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:2).

And he said also to the Ephesians, “Let me say this, then, speaking for the Lord: Live no longer as the unsaved do, for they are blinded and confused.” (Ephesians 4:17 The Living Bible).

There is meant to be a stark contrast between the world and the church. For those of us who comprise the Body of Christ, the way we think, feel and behave must be different. We must be different.

We do not find our security in the systems or defenses of this world. Though some trust in chariots and some in horses, we trust in the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). When we see our country rapidly sinking into the quicksand of sin and chaos, we are assured that we can trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock (Isaiah 26:4). In the political affairs of the world, we don’t fret. We trust God’s word that teaches that God Himself removes kings and establishes kings, and He puts the authorities in their places of power (Daniel 2:21, Romans 13:1). We are not afraid to hear bad news, instead our hearts are firm because we trust in the LORD (Psalm 112:7). And personally, we don’t allow ourselves to view God as absent, impotent, or disinterested—we know we can trust Him to help us, strengthen us and uphold us with His own loving hands (Isaiah 41:10).

One way in which we are dramatically different from the world is trust. Our trust is placed somewhere higher, stronger and better. We trust someone whose trustworthiness is absolutely not diminished by an election, a pandemic, an illness or an accident.

Our lives are safe because we trust a king who is powerful, good, faithful, aware, involved, and capable. Our hearts are safe because we trust a friend who cares for us whatever our circumstances or feelings. Whatever happens in this crazy world, our sovereign God can be completely trusted.

It’s such a pleasure to trust Jesus with you all in such certain times.

You don’t have to be.

What are you going to be for Halloween? Something pretend like Princess Anna or Darth Vader? Or something really scary like 2020 or the American Political Climate? 

In case you are struggling with how to fashionably dress your fur baby this year, the most popular pet costumes according to the National Retail Federation will be pumpkin, hot dog, superhero, cat and bumblebee. Wait—do people dress their cat up as a cat or how does that work?

I’ve never personally been a big fan of Halloween. Our kids have always dressed up and gone trick-or-treating and we’ve always welcomed the neighborhood ghosts and goblins to our door. But I guess I find real life to be disturbing enough without filling my mind with additional horrors.   

And speaking of real-life horrors, this week at NCBC Kids we will be talking about Jesus’ crucifixion and death. Imagine how terrifying that was to the followers of Christ. Consider the fear of living in that political climate and seeing that injustice done to our Lord. Nothing we could conjure up for our front lawn “decor” or for Netflix could compare with the forces of evil at work on that day.

I encourage you to use Halloween as an opportunity to talk to your kids about the results of that truly wicked Jerusalem night. Because our Savior was willing to go to the cross, He defeated once and for all every fear, every enemy and all darkness. This week’s episode of GNNNN may help you to begin that conversation. 

Halloween does kick off the 8-week countdown to Christmas at my house. Now there’s a holiday I can get behind: Lights and carols and Jesus. All the candy with none of the creeps. 

As for this weekend, however you celebrate or don’t, be safe out there and remember one thing you don’t have to be for Halloween is afraid.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18). 

Cheers,

Intentional.

Here’s a little story about me. When I was a mom of little ones one word kept popping up in every podcast, every Bible Study, and every book. It was a challenging word that hung darkly over my mind like this morning’s thick mist: intentional. Being told to be intentional in my parenting felt so demanding, so daunting and so daily. Survival: that was the goal most days. But parenting purposefully, with a plan and goals and expectations? That seemed impossible to even imagine. Nevertheless, I knew God was prompting me to be a more intentional parent, whatever that meant.

I started and stopped (AKA quit) many attempts at intentionality with devotions, chores, quality time, bedtime prayers, and dozens of other initiatives. I’m sure many of you are consistent rock stars with charts and calendars and plans and things. I was not.

But there was one way that I managed to be consistently intentional. I was determined to really know my kids. I became a student of them. What made them laugh? What frustrated them? What were their interests? How were they growing and changing? What were their “love languages?” Where was childish foolishness slipping into patterns of willful rebellion?

By God’s grace I simply wanted to intentionally know them as unique, interesting, developing individuals made in God’s image. Not just little people. But people-people. 

(God thought it would be funny to introduce identical twins as an added bonus challenge).

Knowing my kids has been a rewarding lifelong study. I have watched them willfully irritate each other, bully, manipulate, judge, gossip, be lazy and irresponsible, waste time, waste money, procrastinate, and repeatedly crash their cars. But I have also watched them overcome intense fears, deal with toxic friendships, deflect peer pressure, work hard to achieve goals, defend each other, befriend the lonely, wake themselves up early to spend time with Jesus, and devote themselves to following Him forever.

Intentionally studying them helped me be able to disciple them through the hard times and celebrate with them in the victories. Now that they are grown adults, I’m really glad I know them. Turns out they are pretty cool people-people.

So that is my story about how once upon a time God challenged me simply with the word “intentional” and how that affected my focus as a mom. I hope this encourages you wherever you are on your parenting journey. What is God’s challenge for you right now? Is He asking something of you that seems too demanding, daunting, or daily? That very challenge may be His way to bring you great reward next year or in a decade or two. He is faithful. You can trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3).

Get along.

Well folks, I bought my first Christmas present this week. Can you believe there’s only 70 days until Christmas!

When my kids were little, they always asked me, “Mommy, what do you want for Christmas?” And my answer was always the same. “I want you kids to get along.” 

Hey, we honestly had a pretty loving, unified and peaceful home. But kids will be kids and newsflash–kids will be sinners too. And any time they intentionally hurt or irritated or angered one another, it also hurt me. So I’d tell them, every single December, the best way they could honor me, and truly make it “the most wonderful time of the year” was by loving each other well. 

There was once a holiday season where Jesus had a similar request. He was celebrating His last Passover with his disciples. In fact, it was Jesus’ last supper. His final meal on earth.  

You know what it’s like when you’ve worked so hard creating a wonderful environment for that special moment–inevitably that’s when all heck breaks loose. The family photos. The birthday party. In the car on the way to Christmas Eve services.  

And as if on cue, right in the middle of His very special occasion, Jesus’ disciples started bickering. “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest” Luke 22:24. 

I am! 
Am not. 
Am too! 
Am not. 
Am too! 
Mom!!!!! 

Or in this case, 

Jesus!!! 

And can you guess what Jesus says? “You guys need to get along!” 

In John chapters 14-17, Jesus gives a heartfelt and beautiful plea to his followers to love each other. Serve each other. Be at peace with one another. Live with joy together. 

He prays for us–that we would be one just as Jesus and the Father are one. That’s some serious unity. 

Our world is becoming more polarized by the minute. But my brothers and sisters this should not be true of us! Unity in Christ is not optional. It’s imperative. It’s the proof that we are actually His disciples. We gotta get along. And not a false peace, but real, true, family unity–the way we want our kids to love each other. 

So the next time there’s some big sibling rivalry or conflict in your family, let it help serve as a reminder and encouragement that brothers and sisters in Christ also should not fight. Consider: Is there anyone I need to forgive from my heart today? May we all sincerely pray for hearts which shine the sweet light of unity into this darkened world. 

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). 

Warning labels.

There’s an old song by Doug Stone which says, “They oughta put warning labels on those sad country songs.” It’s true—-and it’s not just country music. Perhaps for you it was: I Can’t Make You Love Me or Say Something or Everybody Hurts, or Remember When or that dad gum Christmas Shoes, but there’s some songs that sneak up on you for the first time and you practically need to pull the car over.

But you know what else oughta have warning labels? Sad movies. 

The NCBC Kids staff this week successfully relaunched of all our Sunday and Wednesday ministries. To celebrate we set up our own private theater room here at church and dialed up a movie which claimed to be an inspiring story of faith in the midst of adversity. It was. But it was also a total tear-jerker.   

I felt a little silly at the end of the movie. We were supposed to bond as a team over an exciting season of success. Instead we bonded over puffy eyes and wads of snotty tissues. What was meant to lift everyone’s spirits sorta crashed and burned. Oh well. 

We are living in a super weird time when even the events that are meant to be happy can make us feel sad. Lots of us are struggling under an overwhelming emotional cloak of melancholy, anxiety, depression or darkness. It doesn’t take a song or a movie to bring us to tears these days—-simply living through 2020 is enough. 

You’re not weird and you’re not alone. If you find yourself there—-sad for no apparent reason, increasingly listless, irritated, or legitimately depressed, please tell someone and get help. The staff at NCBC can with full confidentiality refer you to a good counselor or therapist. But please, whatever you do, don’t try to bear this burden alone. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:2-5

I am praying that you would truly feel God’s benefits: His steadfast love and enduring mercy for you. 

God’s will.

Remember back in high school when taking a test for which you had not prepared? Hopefully I’m not triggering anyone with test-taking anxiety. I was always thankful if the test was multiple choice. Then I could employ a very helpful strategy: The Process of Elimination. Also known as educated guessing. Unsure about the right answer, you eliminate the ones that seem wrong.

For example, What is the most populous city in America?

  1. Mexico City
  2. Panama City
  3. New York City
  4. Vatican City

Many in America are looking ahead to our Presidential election with anxiety. Some confidently have a favorite candidate and fear what will happen if the “wrong” person gets elected. But for many others, their best option is to cast their vote through The Process of Elimination: Rather than picking a right answer, they will eliminate the one that seems wrong. That’s an unfortunate reality in today’s national political climate.

But what about decisions in our personal lives? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not make important decisions based on educated guessing. I’d like to be confident my choices are God’s best for me. But who can possibly know the mind of God? Who can guess His will?

Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t give a clear answer for whether or not you should look for a new job, how to best school your children, or what to make for dinner. But the Bible does tell us something about how to be aligned with God’s will:

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Rejoice always, even when watching a Presidential debate. Pray continually–for our leaders, especially the ones with whom you disagree! Give thanks in all circumstances—if your candidate wins or if your candidate loses, find something for which to be grateful and thank God!  By the way, I think God understands if at times you have to do this while gritting your teeth. He knows it’s not always easy.

  1. Praying for you,
  2. Missing my twins on their birthday,
  3. Eager for Election season to be over,
  4. All of the above,