Connection During Covid

I always wonder which latte to try when I walk into this sweet little place here in the south, because truth be told, I no longer laugh at coffee snobs.

I’ve kinda sorta joined them, instead. Just a little.

Today, it’s a Creme Brulee’ with my friend from back west. Seeing her is laughter, love, and goodness all wrapped up in one human package. She sings her heart out and cries over the goodness of God, makes fun of my food, prays with me, and shares wine over heart to heart talks.

For crying aloud, why did I leave so many good people to rebuild community in a brand new place?

Many of us move for various reasons, but the important thing is that we all recognize our need for community and are available to be community as well.

Check out @julieannariemusic on Instagram!

The addict on the street corner likely started using out of a soul lack for connection, first with God, then with others.

The depressed friend you have needs connection more than she needs someone to quote one more verse on joy. Connection with God, then with others.

The teen who is constantly on his phone isn’t wanting to be lethargic or lazy–he’s wanting connection, too, and doesn’t realize that his phone will drive him to loneliness and keep him from the kind of human interaction he needs most of all.

Even God has relationship. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are in constant, uninterrupted communion with each other. Even Jesus had twelve disciples with Him during His time on earth. He calls us to love each other, cover each other, and be here for each other.

Today is a new day with old problems we’ve long wished away. Covid-19 convinces people to isolate, shut down gatherings, and stay alone, more afraid of possible germs than of suicide rates that are increasing, homes that are breaking, and children who are showing up in increasing numbers with bruises covering their bodies.

Along with concern on how to handle this virus, we need to raise just as much concern on how to handle the loneliness a lockdown brings. I don’t want to hear of one more suicide, ten more addictions, or another divorce.

As Jerry Flowers says, “Don’t be so afraid of the fire that you die from the smoke.”

Friends, people are dying in increasing numbers, and not just from Covid.

I call on all of us to raise awareness on the affects of loneliness (which is one of the most unhealthy things a human can experience), and to be a cause, a channel for connection.

Who can you connect today? Who will you love today, and how will you do it practically?

Rather than saying, “Call me if you need anything”, let’s just show up at a doorstep with flowers or food. Let’s send a gift or write a note. Let’s take a friend out to coffee.

Let’s even ask God to lead us to complete strangers who may need something only God knows about. Because what if YOU could be the one to keep someone from contemplating a dark death?

If suicide rates are going up, love should be rising even higher.

If child abuse is sky rocketing (and it is), so should the amount of adults who are there for neighborhood children, children at school, and children from broken homes who want to medicate pain with more pain.

Let all of them encounter LOVE, instead.

Why 2020 was a Great Year/Mourning and Joy, Part 2

While I’m wrapping gifts this morning in my pajamas, grateful for a day off work, I’m remembering a lot about this crazy year.

Many people think of 2020 as a horrible year—and while I agree that it was difficult, I also have to say it was one of the best years of my life.

“Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.”

I got to watch God do a lot this year.

2020 had my children and I leaving our home, friends, church, schools, and community for a place we’d never lived before, all the way on the east coast. But it also had us getting to know new friends, find a beautiful church, and see God provide for a good school.

2020 had me as a single mom without a job. But it also showed me how God could help me build a growing business, learn about marketing, and hire employees to help me accomplish more than one person can do.

2020 had Covid-19 hit the country soon after we moved. But it also had me even more grateful for the continuing health of my children.

2020 spun us into loneliness as the virus hit hard. But it also taught us endurance, that better days come, and that, if we’re patient, life brings the people and places we need.

2020 had me unsure of how to manage a growing business. But it also showed me (again) that I could trust God for all my needs as He let me meet a girl at my favorite coffee shop who needed a job and ended up being a fantastic employee.

2020 brought opportunity for my children to learn that they are not victims; they are responsible for all life choices—and what they choose really matters. I got to watch them struggle, then do massive turn arounds for the better. I got to watch life lessons go deep—really, really deep.

2020 brought opportunity for my children not to compare with others, but to get to work to build the life they want.

I could go on about all that God has brought us through. What I want us to see is that there will always be trials and God doesn’t always remove them. Sometimes they even get worse. People die, people betray you, Covid hits hard—but just as light always dispels darkness, so God’s goodness is much more powerful than anything bad that can happen in this world.

When we open our hearts to receive eternal Goodness, no earthly evil (or the affects of it) have actual power over us. Difficult circumstances will bring us to tears but they will not bring us to despair.

Supernatural joy is a free gift and is very different than circumstantial happiness. One is contingent on everything going “right”; the other is a constant gift from the God of heaven even when things don’t go right.

Remember that sorrow is not in opposition to joy. Rather, God gives peace and supernatural joy in the midst of sorrow. Sorrow is nothing to be afraid of—Jesus Himself was called “ a man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

When you know the God of heaven, He will deliver you from hopelessness and despair. He will lift you up and allow you to grow from things that would otherwise damage you permanently.

He is God.

He rules and reigns. Because of Jesus, love, joy, and peace reign over despair, hopelessness, and pain.

Someday, all sin and the affects of it will be overtaken with the glorious return of our risen Savior, Who first came to this earth as a babe, born in the manger in Bethlehem. He who was God came to be human so we could learn from Him how to navigate life.

2020 may have been a season of mourning for many of us, but if we keep our eyes on Jesus, 2020 can lead us deeper into a life of joy.

For the Christ of Christmas,