Why am I wishing you a sweet new year in September? Because it is Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year. If ever there was a time for all of us to celebrate this Jewish tradition it would be 2020. Why? Because it is a time of prayer, self-reflection & new beginnings. Most of us can’t wait for this year to be over & start a new one. So don’t…wait that is.
I actually know very little about Jewish traditions. But what I do know is that they are jammed packed with beautiful symbolism, reminders & hope. I can’t come close to touching on the full depth that Rosh Hashanah holds here in a short blog so let me simply offer up these 3 suggestions we all can do to mark the Jewish New Year.
Pray – don’t over complicate it – just talk to God. Act like you are on the phone with a friend. It’s not about impressing God with the ‘right’ words. It is about spending time communicating with a beloved friend. Sharing your gratitude, fears & heartbreak with the one who loves you more than anyone. Listen for His advice through the movement of the Spirit in your heart & in your mind. Allow His word to speak to you by cracking open your Bible (or opening your app). Set some time aside to break away from the world & just let God love on you by being present with Him.
Reflect – we need to periodically stop to consider where we are & how we got here before we can move forward. As you spend time with God ask Him to remind you of who He is & reflect on how He has guided and directed you in the past when you let Him. Remember who you are in God’s eyes. Consider the gifts that He has given specifically to you. Are you fully utilizing those gifts? Have you strayed from your first love? Have you allowed the clatter of this world to distract you from the things God has called you to do? Where has sin crept in and put a wall up in your relationship with God?
Repent, Recommit, Restart – God has promised us new mercies every morning. After prayer & reflection it is time to lay down the hurts, the sins & the distractions at the foot of the cross and start again with a renewed commitment to who God is calling you to be.
If you are serious about wanting a fresh start, I offer you 2 suggestions to make it more ‘real’.
There is a Jewish tradition of going to a place with moving water & tossing in bread to symbolize the release & cleansing of our sins. Sometimes physically going through the motions of letting go & watching those things float away can recharge our exhausted mind & bodies and give us a fresh energy to sustain our commitments. Try it & take someone with you when you go.
Share your reflections & recommitment with someone who loves you. Not only does it help cleanse the soul to speak it externally. It will also give you an accountability partner that will help keep you on track in the days to come. OR if you are struggling with the process, the self-reflection, seeing the past clearly or just feel too overwhelmed to find your way forward, reach out to someone you trust. It can be a friend, a counselor, a coach, or a pastor. God never intended for us to navigating this world on our own. That is why he gave us a body of believers to be a part of.
Even if you have never celebrated Rosh Hashanah before, let 2020 be the year you start.
I am one of those people who hang in the background to gather information & get a feel for the room before I make my presence known or enter in on a conversation. This comes from my Peacemaker 9 personality. I hold back because I do not want to offend.
But…there comes a time when we must all take a stand, enter the arena and be part of the solution. I believe this to be one of those times but I feel a bit at a loss of knowing exactly what to do.
The first thing I know to do is PRAY. As I’ve prayed about this I’ve been reminded that I’m created with a purpose & intentionally made. I need to embrace this fact & not overlook my gifts. I gather information before stepping in. Maybe you are same way, or maybe you are looking for a way to enter the arena. If so this is for you.
I’ve been listening to a lot of social media post in the last few weeks. The problem I’m finding is social media is often filled with opinion & emotion that is not always healthy & seldom grounded in the word of God. Below are links to some good resources & conversations from around the internet that I want to invite you to listen in on. These influencers are inspiring me to be better. I pray that they will help shape us individually to be a part of the larger solution.
I’ll keep posting below as I come across more uplifting and productive conversations. Please join me in sharing the conversations you are finding that are speaking truth & touching you by adding them to the comments below.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30-31
Race, Injustice, and the Gospel of Critical Theory
Well, That Escalated Quickly: A Conversation About Race With Franchesca Ramsey
Phil Vischer: Holy Post – Race in America
Emmanuel Acho: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man
As I turned the calendar to June I reached for the eraser to clear off the pre-pandemic plans and start over. I was supposed to be headed for Florida next week for my first 5 day Women’s Breakaway Retreat. I had reserved a beautiful home in Daytona with lots of ensuite bedrooms & a private pool. We would enjoy some relaxation, fun with good company & grown in understanding of ourselves. I’d train & coach, my girlfriend would cook & help facilitate. It would be a blast, and I was so incredibly excited!! Then COVID.
The last 11 or 12 weeks have been a blur! Lots of fear, overwhelm & grief mixed with isolation has created what I call COVID Brain or the COVID FOG.
We are being bombarded with messages of fear talking about sickness & death and hospitals being overrun while lacking in supplies & equipment. We are being told to isolate so we don’t get infected or worse infect someone else, even if we are asymptomatic. We don’t even want to cough around another person. We wonder if it’s safe to go to the grocery & do we need to wipe down everything when we get it home? We have seen toilet paper and cleaning wipes disappear from store shelves and just as they start to return now it’s meat. We wonder what might be next.
We are overwhelmed with the amount of information and conflicting information being published & distributed. We hear everything from more people have died than in multiple wars to it’s all a hoax. How do we process what is true? We are overwhelmed by keeping up with daily changing orders and closures & openings & mandates & suggestions. As one commercial puts it we have become “social distancers, suddenly homeschoolers, and living room exercisers”. We are overwhelmed in juggling all the new roles & new technology….most of which we don’t like & would have never chosen for ourselves.
We are grieving the loss of proms & graduations, seasons, competitions, performances & recitals, concerts & bbq’s, birthday parties & dinners. We can’t be with loved ones in hospitals & nursing homes & are overly cautious of our newest additions because we don’t know, for sure, how to best protect them. We are grieving the loss of small businesses & big dreams that just couldn’t hold on. We grieve a ‘normal’ that we know won’t every really be the same again.
And as if all of this is not enough, we now are being reminded just how far as a culture we still need to go to love each other well.
If you are still with me & reading this post, aren’t you tired? I am. I am tired of the FOG. I’m tired of life being on hold.
It is a new day. It is a new month. I’m choosing today as a new beginning. Will you join me?
I’m not fooling myself to think with a simple change of attitude I’m suddenly going to have my **** together & be able to act like the pandemic is over or racism doesn’t exist. But today, I will do one thing that makes me feel hopeful. And tomorrow, I will choose to do another. What will your one thing be today?
If the FOG is keeping you from seeing anything you can do, then pray. Simply ask God. ‘God, what is one thing you want me to do today?” He will never steer you wrong!
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Let’s encourage each other to start seeing through the FOG by posting your one thing below. This isn’t a comparison game. It can be small. After all, how do you eat an elephant, one bite at a time.
Shelter at home orders have forced us to slow down our busy lives or at least cleared our calendars. I wonder how many of us have have simply exchanged one type of activity for another. Are we learning what it means to be still?
“Be still, and know that I am God;…” (Psalm 46:10) is a very familiar & often quoted verse. But it is also something most of us struggle with. You may not be running between meetings, practices or events right now but how are you with getting your mind to be still? Are you worried about exposure, finances, or wonder what the future is going to look like?
I believe that learning to be still to know God & to know who we are in Him is an essential spiritual discipline. But I don’t believe there is one ‘right’ way to do this. I think there are many. The discipline comes in finding what works for you and continuing to make it a priority. The video below is an awesome post that was shared by Amy Grant that explains & demonstrates one such practice that helps us.
I would love to hear what you do to be still & connect with God. Post your favorite ways below in the comments.
If you are looking ways to refresh your spiritual life & spiritual practices join us for a “Refresh Your Soul” workshop.
Easter feels very different this year but the reality of the season is just as powerful today as it has been for approximately 2000 years. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. It is our understanding and perspective that changes. May this Easter Sunday be a chance for all of us to refocus in the midst of overwhelming days.
I pray you will find this holiday:
a little quieter so you can hear His voice louder and
a little slower so you have time to be more reflective on the reality of an empty tomb.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” -1 Peter 1:3
Jesus offered up prayers with “loud cries and tears.” (Heb. 5:7)
Have you given yourself permission to do this yet? I’ve learned over the years that stuffing the hard emotions & fears actually allows them to grow and fester. They eventually ooze out in not so nice ways. But, if our God is who He says He is, He can handle your hard feelings. And amazingly, He wants us to bring them to Him. When you finally let go and allow yourself to feel the hard stuff and verbalize those thoughts & feelings to God, He can start to heal you by loving on you & encourage you & reminding you He’s got this!
Listen to Max Lucado speak on granting yourself a good meltdown: