Saturday, June 27, 2020

Costa Rica and The Broken Body

I couldn't let today pass without writing one more reflection on my trip to Costa Rica two years ago because I was supposed to be making the same trip again this week.  Today we would have been flying home, so I am thinking about our return last time.
We loved our customs photos.
My son looks like Clark Kent
about to change into Superman.

When we bought our tickets, we scheduled an early afternoon departure so that we would not have to wake up pre-sunrise as some of the other teams did.  There were a few problems with our plan.  First, we were literally the last team to leave the seminary.  Also, the bus drivers did not want to hang around, so we left a little early and spent several hours waiting at the airport. It turns out we were tired from our week even though we didn't have to wake up as early as some others.  The other major problem was that we arrived back in the States after midnight, and that made for a long day.

For most of my life I have struggled with severe motion sickness.  It is a frequent problem, but I know how to manage it most of the time.  This time, however, I made the bad decision of taking the maximum recommended dosage of my motion sickness medicine.  My body became so sluggish, that I only vaguely remember falling asleep on the plane.  When we finally landed, it was so difficult to walk off the plane, collect my luggage, go through customs, and then find my husband at the curb.  I remember him asking, "Couldn't you hear me calling your name?"

I felt a little like the disciples when we read about Jesus' encounter with them in the garden of Gethsemane (see Matthew 26:41 or Mark 14:38).  He had asked them to pray for Him, but He finds them sleeping instead.  He warns His disciples that "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  I was certainly willing to go home with my husband, I even wanted to go home with my husband, but the quality of my body and the decisions I had made left me weak.

I wonder if we, as the flesh of Christ (the body, if you prefer), are like I was returning from Costa Rica in 2018.  We are tired.  We have made some bad decisions.  We are eager to go with God, but we can't hear Him calling our name.  Like the disciples, we must keep watching and praying because even though the flesh is weak, the Spirit is still willing.

Friday, June 26, 2020

FMF: Compromise

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives.  Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
Genesis 13:8-9

Abram and Lot had set out on a journey together.  They had followed God together.  They had worked together.  They had prospered together.  In Genesis 13 we read that that their fortunes had grown so big the land could not support their livestock.  In Genesis 14 we read that Abram had 318 trained men.  That's quite a staff.

At first it appears that Abram and Lot let go of their relationship to seek wealth.  They already had plenty between them.  They could have cut back a little and continued to live together.

Instead they reached a compromise: you go one way, I will go the other.

In fact, Abram loved his nephew so much that he let Lot chose which way he would go, and Lot chose the way that looked like it held a more prosperous future.  Abram loved his nephew enough to let physical space come between them so they and their households could live in unity.  Sometimes unity means being separate.

Is that the best situation?  It may not be ideal, but it is better than the alternative of living disagreeably together.  I suppose that is the essence of a compromise, it is never what you would have dreamed of, but it could be worse.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Monday, June 22, 2020

Costa Rica and The PB&J

Anyone who knows me well knows that I like food.  I like trying new recipes.  I like eating where locals eat.  I like to make food that makes people happy.

I also like the bond that sharing food creates.  I often find myself asking my husband, "Do you remember that __ we ate in __?"  Fill in the blank: pretzel/Texas, corndog/Arizona, hotdog/Kansas City.

Six years of Spanish classes were not wasted:
I ordered this pupusa entirely in Spanish
on our layover in El Salvador.

I like what I learn about culture through food.  In Boston, I ate at the restaurant that created Boston Cream Pie.  In Colorado, we tried rocky mountain oysters.  On the way to Costa Rica, our flight had a very brief stop in El Salvador.  Between the two terminals I saw a pupuseria and couldn't let the opportunity pass me by to have an authentic pupusa. In Costa Rica, we discovered that coffee is sold with sugar already added and they have a very unique method for making drip coffee. Viva el cafecito!

One Costa Rica food memory that is universally groaned at is our daily sack lunch: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a packaged snack.  The first day we discovered that there is an art to making a PB&J.  There is a certain peanut butter to jelly ratio that should be observed, and, of course, there are flavors of jelly that some prefer over others. By day two we realized that we would be eating this same meal every day and food swapping began - my sandwich for yours, this cookie for that one.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the food and for the people who prepared it.  I don't want to imagine making several hundred PB&J sandwiches everyday.  That was their contribution to our mission work. I hate to admit that it was on day two or three that all excitement for our lunches had passed.  Team members were foregoing parts of their lunches, and some chose not to eat lunch entirely.  A pile of leftover food began to accumulate at our work site.

The next day when we returned to our work site, I was surprised to see all of our food was gone.  We soon discovered that Pastor Sergio, the pastor of the church we were volunteering at, had taken all of the food we deemed inedible and distributed it to his community.  I was simultaneously rejoicing that he put our leftovers to good use and mourning that we were so full while others were hungry. It's hard to think about a neighborhood that would appreciate food we reject.  It's hard to think about rejecting food others are so appreciative of.

I can't deny the intrinsic value of food.  Everyone should have the right to eat, but this is not always the case.  Both political and personal decisions create food scarcity.  Jesus so highly valued food that it is one of the six criteria by which God separates the "sheep and goats."  That is, He will distinguish those who belong to him from those who don't by the way we respond to these six areas: feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, inviting in the stranger, clothing the naked, helping the sick, and visiting prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46).

If my faith were to be judged solely in these six areas... Lord, help me; I have failed miserably.

I'm sad to not be in Costa Rica right now.  However, if I am honest with myself, I recognize that there is no shortage of work I can do in my own community. I probably won't take a PB&J to my neighbor, but I can look for other ways to feed, slake, invite, clothe, help, and visit those in need.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Costa Rica and Morning Worship

When we traveled to Costa Rica in 2018, one of the things I loved most is also found at Christian

retreats, conferences, and summer camps: daily morning worship.
A clown in worship...
you don't see that everyday.

Since my first summer camp experience, I have loved corporate worship. I had grown up in church, but I have never known worship like that before. To this day I love seeing people lift their voices and hands in praise to God. I love seeing how God speaks when we are willing to listen. I love seeing differences dissipate, sometimes even our spoken language, as we focus on God. Yet in my personal life I struggle to develop the same daily habit.

If we model our faith life on scripture, there is no denying that God wants a daily relationship with us. Over the two decades we have been married, my husband has often worked night shifts. In our early years, we were like ships passing in the night; I'd come home from work and he'd hand me our son so that he could leave for work. If I worked late, he'd leave our son with his mother, and we wouldn't even see each other. Our relationship suffered, and still suffers, when we don't have time together every day, even if only for a few minutes.

When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He asked that God would "give us today daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). When the Israelites wandered through the desert, God literally gave them daily bread called manna. It was no good the next morning, "it was full of maggots and began to smell" (Exodus 16:20). Moses was angry with those who didn't trust him, or, more accurately, didn't trust God.  Maggots and stench revealed the hearts of the Israelites who lacked faith; when we lack faith, it's not quite as obvious. Too often I think the faith I had yesterday will be sufficient for today, but it never is.

In Proverbs 30:8, Agur prayed that God would not give him poverty, and not give him riches - ever prayed that before? - but only his daily bread.  In Job 22, as he defended his faith to Eliphaz, Job says that that he has valued God's words more than his daily bread. In Acts 2, we read about the Holy Spirit coming to believers.  The crowds did not understand and made fun of them. Peter defends the believers' actions, and he uses the opportunity to teach many about Christ.  

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:46-47)

They met together every day.  Every day.

The power of "every day" is not in checking something off your to do list.  I love to do lists; they show what I have accomplished.  I can get a lot done when I make a list. No, "every day" is not about what I have done.  It is about God.

The first few chapters of Leviticus outline the offerings that should be presented to God, but in Leviticus 9:24 we read that the fire that burned the offering came from God.  Not even our offerings are acceptable without God's help.

The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.
(Leviticus 6:12-13)

Even though the priest added to the fire every morning, the fire burned continuously.  The same is true with our faith.  Daily prayer, worship, and Bible study are only opportunities to add to the flame that God has placed in our hearts. As believers, we must tend the fire of our faith.  It must not go out.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Costa Rica and the Ministry of Availability

I can't stop thinking about it.  I am supposed to be in Costa Rica.

We cleared our schedules, told friends and family members, and saved and fundraised for months.  I traveled to Costa Rica for the first time two years ago with my older son, and I was looking forward to my younger son joining us this year.  I've shared before about the team of forty local students and their families that I traveled with to Costa Rica in 2018.  From across the United States, teams came together to serve God in a beautiful land.
Here we are gathered for morning worship before one of our work days in Costa Rica.

As we prepared for that event, our plans changed regularly.  From week to week we wondered what we would actually be doing in Costa Rica.  Part of the frustration was a difference in culture; things are done differently in Costa Rica than they are done in the United States, and that's ok.  However, it created a time of uncertainty leading up to the trip. Our team lead, a local pastor, encouraged us to adopt a ministry of availability.  We should be open to serve however we are asked, and God will do His work through our willing hands.  That spirit worked well in Costa Rica, and at our local church we've returned over and over to that idea in the last two years.  Even this week I found myself telling a new neighbor that if he ever needed a volunteer force for his business, our church would love to partner with him.  We don't necessarily have skills specific to his company, but we have a God who equips us for doing good.

Just like the trip to Costa Rica that was supposed to begin today, many of us have seen our plans crumble over the last few months.  Events, trips, and celebrations have been postponed indefinitely or cancelled. I long for things I previously took for granted.  In that loss, I lose sight of the opportunities to serve God that are right in front of me.  I do not keep myself open to the ministry of availability.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
(Isaiah 6:8)

The words of the prophet Isaiah are a good place to start the ministry of availability. God is always asking who is available. I don't believe He asks because He does not know. God asked Isaiah to give him an opportunity to respond, and God asks us the same question for that same reason.

Our response ought to be the same as Isaiah's: Send me.  Sometimes God sends us to Costa Rica, but sometimes He sends us to the corner with a bagged lunch for a homeless person.  Sometimes we stay up all night to travel around the world, but sometimes we stay up all night to pray for those in need.  Sometimes we spend our vacation time to visit foreign lands, but sometimes we use our Saturday to visit a friend.  Sometimes we spend money, and sometimes we spend time.  This is the heart of the ministry of availability.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


A woman’s purse – a source of lifelong frustration for women and a great mystery to men. I had a business associate who, after being married nearly 50 years, told me there are two things he won’t do: he won’t sign his wife’s name and he won’t go in her purse. A wise man! Let’s face it, consciously or subconsciously, a woman’s purse speaks a lot about her. Women spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a name brand to hang on their arm. A well matched purse-to-outfit tells others you pay attention to detail, and that you have the time and patience swap purses regularly. Many ladies remember their first purse, and it seems to be that the older you are the bigger purse you have.

I’ve always liked to think I carry a pretty small purse, just bringing along the necessities and leaving the rest at home. I had to rethink that idea when I reached into a zipper compartment this morning to pull out some lip gloss. There were a number of obscure objects, and I think I really had a shot of winning something on Let’s Make A Deal. Batteries. Two packages of travel dental floss. Countless earrings. A broken ring (beads everywhere!). Nyquil. No less than nine hair clips and three pens. Oh, and I did finally find that lip gloss, along with a lip liner and a tube of Chapstick. Keep in mind that was only one of my two zipper compartments.

Without even knowing it, my small purse had accumulated a lot of unnecessary baggage, and I had to ask myself how exactly this had happened. It’s not like I woke up one morning and threw everything into my purse that didn’t have a spot elsewhere in my house. No, it was one thing at a time. One “I’ll take care of this later” until I had a serious accumulation. And so goes the other baggage in our life; you know, the spiritual and emotional baggage that we all have. It’s not like one day I decided I’m going to let things bother me today from fifteen years ago. Instead what happened was over the years I decided I couldn’t or wouldn’t take care of issues as they arose (probably because I'm taking care of even older problems) and so I let “future me” handle them.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to let Future Amie handle my problems. Future Amie is great because she lets me get on with my life now. Or so it seems until one day my husband asks me why he doesn’t have any clean underwear, and I explain through tears why I failed English in the seventh grade. I swear that teacher had it out for me!

While I don’t have all the answers, here are a few things I think we can do to help ourselves. Start with today’s problems, taking to heart the words of Ephesians 4:26-27, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” There is no better time than now to take care of your problems! Then, start taking care of yesterday’s problems. Address the carryover issues, one at a time, until they are all dealt with.

Yes, I know I am oversimplifying this. And, yes, I know this is something we will all continue to deal with. But I truly believe God wants us to live without the unnecessary stress that “baggage” adds to our life. When we aren’t all wrapped up in ourselves, we can focus on what we’re supposed to: loving God and loving others.

Monday, June 15, 2020

What I Heard: Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
(Matthew 5:8, NASB)

I hate to say that there are parts of Scripture that I like more than others.  I suppose it might be more accurate to say that there are parts of Scripture that I favor more than others.  The stories and ideas that speak to me most draw me in, while other parts do not receive the same focus.  For years I was fascinated by Genesis.  I still consider it the Bible's soap opera, filled with enough betrayal, love affairs, and scandal to give Days of our Lives a run for its money.  For a while I couldn't get out of Hebrews.  The way the author tied together the Old Testament and New Testament kept me turning back to its thirteen chapters.  Most recently I have been captivated (no pun intended) by the Israelite's escape to freedom, what we call the Exodus.  However, the Beatitudes do not get this same attention from me.  I have often turned to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, but those first few verses in Matthew 5 get moved past quickly.

Yesterday was the first Sunday we met on our church campus for three months.  Everything about it was different - the format, the expectations, and thanks to a flood in our sanctuary even the location.  Yes, for the first time that I can ever recall, we held our Sunday morning service al fresco.  When I was a teenager we held our Easter sunrise service outside, but the main service was always held in the sanctuary.  Even in the late 1980s, when our sanctuary received a significant remodel, services were held inside - sometimes with blankets because it was cold and there were no windows, but always in the sanctuary.

To grossly oversimplify what my pastor taught: We are not called to be peace-experiencers, we are called to be peace-makers.  There are four common expressions of peace making:
  1. We make peace with God.
  2. We make peace with others.
  3. We help others make peace with others.
  4. We help others make peace with God.
I won't reiterate the details of his sermon, but if it becomes available on our church's YouTube page, I will link it here.

As I thought about what I heard, I wondered what practical actions make peace?  In other words, how do I actually make peace in all or some of the above capacities?

Walk in Peace
I cannot overlook the fact that peace is an attribute of God; Scripture makes that clear when it says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22-25).  I was recently reminded that fruit does not exist for the the tree that produces it, but it does exist to grow new plants and to nourish the animals that eat from it.  Similarly, I do not experience the fruit of the Spirit for my own benefit.  It is for those around me.  If we are believers, people of the Spirit, we should walk in the Spirit, and that includes walking in peace.
    Another passage that has often drawn me in is the book of Malachi.  How can you not be intrigued by a prophet whose message from God was that He'd rather we shut the doors of the temple than perform useless rituals.  I believe that before the quarantine, but after three months of doing "church at home" I understand it a little more.  For three months I have had few, if any, questions about why the cups at the church coffee bar are a certain size, why the bulletin does or does not have particular information, or why we don't host a certain event.  I still believe that corporate church body has a special place in ministry, but I'm learning so many things were useless fires. Later in Malachi we read about the job of the priests.  We read "true instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity" (2:6).  As a priesthood of believers, I believe we are also called to speak truth and not wickedness.  When we walk in peace with God, many will follow.

Speak Peace
Have you ever noticed that words have meaning in Scripture?  There may no better example than Genesis 25 when Jacob tricks his father into giving him the blessing that was intended for his brother.  When Esau learns that he has been tricked (again!) by his brother, he asks his father if there is a way to make things right.  I feel bad for Esau.  Sure, he hadn't made the best decisions, but he was duped by Jacob.  We might have found ourselves advocating for Esaus.  Isn't there any way for Isaac to take back the words he spoke over Jacob?  We understand the circumstances and the deceit (this is some of that classic Genesis scandal I mentioned earlier), but there would be no blessing for Esau.  What had been spoken would stand.  I too need to remember that my words aren't "just words" as if they have lesser meaning than other action.
    In Malachi we see also the power of words, and the prophet goes so far as to say that the priests "have wearied the Lord with [their] words" (2:17). They preached a wrong gospel, saying that God was happy with evildoers. This is a just one point in a long list of grievances against the priests, but again it shows that our words matter because the represent our hearts. As Jesus would say it, "his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" (Luke 6:45).  So when mouth speaks defensively it reveals the state of my heart.  When my tongue is patient, it reveals something too. It is equally important to remember that silence can be the loudest message we speak.

Make Peace an Offering
We sometimes get tripped up in the word offering.  Among believers today, the word is mostly used for the money we give to our local house of worship.  In the Old Testament, there were offerings given for many reasons.  When I think of offerings, I think of the sin offering because that tends to get talked about more, but the peace offering was distinctly different (you can read about all the offerings in Leviticus 1-7).  The peace offering was voluntary and was given when someone fulfilled a vow, when they wanted to give thanks to God for a special blessing, or just because.  It could be given by an individual or collectively.  The peace offering is unique in that it is the only offering in which the giver, and his friends or family, ate the offering.
    There is no one application of a peace offering that would fit everyone's life. We all live in different communities and are presented with unique opportunities. I do not know what your day will look like tomorrow.  I don't even know what my day will look like tomorrow.  However, I know I will be presented with opportunities to make peace, perhaps even situations when I don't want to make peace. I pray that God will give me the wisdom to see these moments and that He will give me the strength to make peace when I don't want to.  Not for me.  Not for the other person.  May the peace I make be an offering back to the God of peace.

Friday, June 12, 2020

FMF: How

This is how you are to eat it:
with your cloak tucked into your belt,
your sandals on your feet
and your staff in your hand.
Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
Exodus 12:11

Last night my family celebrated my older son's high school graduation by dining at a high end steak house. My sons, 17 and 13, didn't even realize that a restaurant like this existed, and so we taught them what to expect and how to act: This is how you will dress. This is how the staff will treat you. This is how you put a napkin on your lap. This is how you order. This is how the sides will come. This is how you know which fork to use. This is how the night went.

Today the church is facing a time of how, too. We are reopening the doors to our church buildings, some that have been closed for more than three months. We know that, really, the church was still working during this time because we believers are the church, we just weren't in the building. However, as we begin to meet together again, we get to decide how God wants us to do things. We should not sit down at the meal our Heavenly Father has chosen for us the way we always have. We must stop to consider that we are like the Israelites. We are heading into to a new phase of God's story, so how would God have us eat? May the Lord bless us with wisdom to answer this question.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Friday, June 5, 2020

FMF: Stay

A stay of execution is the postponement of punishment through a court system.  Don't think execution as in death penalty; think about executing an order.  A stay of execution is a great thing if you or your loved one is receiving punishment.  It does not feel as good if you are the one who has had injustices committed against you.  In the Job 24*, the author wrestles with the idea that there are people doing evil deeds who are not punished: thieves, murderers, and other wrong doers.

In the American court system, intent factors punishment.  We differentiate between those who commit murder ("premeditated") vs manslaughter ("no malice aforethought").  Sometimes a case hinges on that distinction.  In verse 13 the author makes a similar observation, “There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths."  Some rebel because they do not know the right thing to do, and some rebel because they have chosen to do the wrong thing.

By the end of the chapter, the author has gotten to his point.  These rebels are not really getting away with evil deeds.  A time will come when their stay of execution will end.  As the author writes, "For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all the others" (v. 24).  Sometimes justice only rests in the hands of God.

*Read the whole chapter HERE.  I think it's beautiful.

This post is a prompt from Five Minute Friday and was written in approximately five minutes. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Tonight I laid in bed hearing the boom of fireworks, and I wondered how far away they were.  Could I actually be hearing the fireworks from protesters downtown, more than 15 miles away*?  Or worse, are there people throwing fireworks close to my home?  For the past five days, the news has repeatedly shown images of fireworks being thrown among protesters in a way that I can only describe as too close for comfort.  Lying there in bed, I chose to be honest with myself and admit what I did not want to: I don't like fireworks.

Fireworks represent closure.  When I visited Disneyland as a child, someone would always ask whether we could stay for the fireworks.  I can't recall how many times we went to Disneyland, but I know it wasn't more than a few times.  I remember how the park felt different after the fireworks show ended, as we walked away from Sleeping Beauty's Castle and toward the front gate.  Every shop on Main Street called to me.  I had not explored enough.  I wanted to know every detail that was available to be known.  Can we go in this store?  How about this one?  Eventually we would cross under the train tracks and out through those final barriers. I knew something had ended that would not happen again for a long time.  In those days there was no California Adventure and certainly no Downtown Disney.  When you left Disneyland you were in a parking lot.  You had to either wait for a tram or make the seemingly never ending walk to your car in the cold night air.  The magic was over.

Fireworks evoke feelings of rejection.  I missed being born on the Fourth of July by less than two hours - one hour and fifty eight minutes to be exact.  Growing up, my sisters loved to tell the story of how I ruined their Fourth of July the year I was born.  Since our parents were at the hospital, my sisters were left in the care of our grandmother.  Grandma would only let us do sparklers.  Would it be too dramatic to say the words still echo in my ears?  I know they were teasing, but I've connected fireworks with the special kind of bullying that only a sibling can do.  More than that, most years I have been presented with a red, white, and blue birthday cake.  Whether at a church picnic or my parents' house: Since we're going to be together for fireworks anyway, let's celebrate your birthday too.  I'm sure that's convenient, but it's never been very meaningful for me.

Fireworks are correlated to loneliness.  When I was about fourteen my mother worked for a doctor that had a cabin in the mountains.  We stayed at his cabin a few times while she worked for him.  During one stay we visited the home of my mother's boss's friend.  Their cabin was multi-story and was situated in such a way that it had a breathtaking view of the city.  We were promised fireworks like we had never seen them before.  It's true; I cannot recall ever again having such a good view of fireworks.  As we stood on that cabin's balcony and the evening sky was illuminated over and over again, I was mostly aware of how cold it felt and that I wished my friends were there to experience it with me.

You'll never read these stories on the cover of a newspaper, and there will never be an episode of 20/20 exploring why fireworks distress me.  However, they are powerful stories.  They are powerful because they are lies that I've heard - and believed - and allowed to steal joy from me.  The truth is:

Some days are big days, Disneyland days.  Some days are small days.  In the work of rebuilding the temple, God told Zechariah, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things?" (Zechariah 4:9-10, NASB)  It takes a lot of small days for the temple of God to take shape.  It takes a lot of small days to for me to be shaped into the person I am called to be in Christ.  If I allow Him to, Christ will shape me because He has chosen me.  Scripture tells me that I am a chosen person (1 Peter 2:9), I was chosen before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4), God has prepared good works for me (Ephesians 2:9), and I have not only been chosen but also appointed to bear fruit that remains (John 15:16).  No earthly rejection - real or perceived - can negate the good things that God has in mind for me.  Me personally.  Me.  I don't have to be afraid of knowing me.  I don't have to be afraid of being alone with me.  Alone doesn't have to mean lonely.  Some people can be alone and never feel lonely, but I've struggled with this for a long time because in those quiet moments I hear the lies the loudest.  I will no longer allow myself to be moved by anything but the truth of God.  As Jesus himself prayed for his disciples, may I be sanctified in the truth (John 17:17).

*A quick internet search returned that fireworks can be heard up to 50 miles away.  I still don't know where the booms and pops were coming from, but at least I know that random fact.