Bonus Episode: Covid Encouragement
Compilation with Bec Ford, Jayde Spier, Rosie Gallagher,
Kim Parry Jones, Laura Smith, Rachel Thitchener, Sophie Harris
August 12, 2021
Hey there, this episode has been put together in response to the 2021 lockdown that most of our countries in at the moment. I hope that it offers solidarity and encouragement for you, as you might be struggling in this season as well.
I think one of the hardest things during this time is seeing the sins that emerge under the pressures of lockdown and homeschooling in isolation from the communities we normally enjoy. It's in these times that we see things ourselves that we might not have normally seen or might have preferred not to have seen. For me, it's been anger. And often, my poor kids kaput. Even in the moment I sometimes shocked myself at how I'm reacting or the words I'm saying. And whilst awful at the time, and heartbreaking when you're, you make your kids cry or something like that. These situations give me great opportunities to model repentance and forgiveness to my kids and remind myself and them of the gospel, why we need Jesus, and how good it is that we're forgiven in him. And the passage I cling to in these harder times is Lamentations 322 to 24, which says, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They're new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore, I will hope in Him really comforted that God's mercies are new every morning. And I, in these hard times remind myself that tomorrow's a new day. And so I rest in his forgiveness and try again. These aren't normal times that we're in and tensions are high, but God is still the same, and walking with us through this. And so I rest in him and press on.
Lockdown is tough. And to be completely honest, my Bible reading has become reading either the verse of the day, or the chapter that we're going to study for our growth groups. It's just really hard. I'm always usually a stay at home mom anyway. But I feel like lockdown has has put that extra pressure of having kids in your face 24 seven, which is normal. But without this social interaction with like my sisters in Christ, without being able to share how life is going like one on one. I don't know about everyone else. But honestly, I get so anxious when it comes to doing all of my communication via all these different platforms. It's like I can't keep up and I feel like I'm on my phone all the time. And especially when I feel and I don't really see an end to like this lockdown anytime soon. It's just like, super overwhelming. And then I start putting too much into it. And it's just all too much. But thankfully, there's a verse that I constantly have in the back of my mind. And it's one that I've had before COVID, but is relevant now more than ever. And that is from Matthew, chapter six, verse 34, that says, Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. And when I think about it, it helps me remember that the truth that we have a good and powerful God. I god he spoke creation into existence of just his words are also planning tomorrow, or next week, or next month and our next eternity. And like with this, I'm trying to implement some practical ways to connect and stay focused on our Lord through lockdown. And that is actually I've been watching kids church with my children throughout the week. And through like last year's lockdown my local church, AV at Arizona, they created these amazing resources for children to watch while the adults watch live stream. And to be honest, they are just fantastic. We sing these simple Bible songs together, hammer this into the Bible and God's promises explained simply and for a time where I feel that my brain is in overdrive. These simple children's retelling of the Bible is exactly what I need. And it helps me stay focused on what is the most important thing and that is my relationship with God.
Since having two kids in the last few months and going into lockdown, yeah, Bible reading has been really hard. The first few weeks after my daughter Elsie was born. I don't think I even opened the Bible. Once it was really tiring time and then we went into lockdown and have been without church and you know, meeting together which has been really hard. So yeah, the sleep deprivation and just the constant neediness of my children and all the demands of domestic life, have just made it really hard for me to find time to open my Bible. In the last couple of weeks, I've really felt the need to get back into it just for my own spiritual health. I've just reset my expectations. I thought if I can just read a verse, that's great, let's and cling to that verse throughout the day. So I just started doing that just honestly just using the Bible app on my phone, reading the verse of the day, every day. And then I just started writing down some verses on my chalkboard or on notes and sticking them around the house so that I could be reminded of them as I paced with a screaming baby or was trying to come down a toddler tantrum. Yeah, I have been reading through the book of Ruth, because that's what we've been doing at church. So it was kind of easy. We're already going through it on our zoom calls for bible study. So I could just read a chapter of that. And it's like a story. So it's really easy to read. And the other thing I started doing recently was re reading through a devotion book called beholding unbecoming by an American woman called Ruth Charles Simon's it's a beautifully illustrated book with amazing watercolors. But it's all about the art of everyday worship. And so each day, there's just a short devotion about what we behold as what we become, and reference to a few verses. So I keep my Bible alongside that and read those verses, as I read them in the devotion book, I just do that during my son's quiet time. So I just put on a movie for him and make myself a cup of tea. And I'm usually bouncing my little daughter in the carrier, and just open the book and read it, try and pry off the back of it, but it takes me about five minutes. So it's just one little thing I can do every day, it's really hard. I would certainly like to read my Bible more, I would like to be able to have the brain capacity to be able to read more, or listen to some more podcasts or do whatever. But at the moment, it's just do what I can to cling to God's word through the struggle of each day. And so that I can keep my eyes fixed on him. And also just praying, praying throughout the day, as things come up, and trying to pray through them first, before I talk them out loud.
Kim Parry Jones
Lockdown is a very different experience for me, because I'm bit of a gypsy now, not in my own home. And so I have hardly any of my own real things around me. And I feel very much out of routine. So while I don't have kids to home school, and I'm not worried about a job, I do feel very displaced, I guess like, and the routines that I would normally have that keep me close to God are just sort of not happening. And so I think it's really strange that I am one of routine. And I seem to have this thought that if I had more time, I would do more things. But I think the more time I've got, the less I do, the less I do. So that's been a challenge for me. And what usually a bit of a high achiever in, in most things I do, and I am finding myself feeling quite lethargic, what I've done about it, I've tried to add things to the lockdown routine and sort of pair them up. So they happen together rather than trying to be the same person I used to be. So when I get up in the morning, now my husband's sleeping a lot longer, because he doesn't have to get up, I have a cup of tea, and I try and read what our church is doing, which is, you know, a book of the Bible. And we just try and read that part in my daily reading notes. And it really doesn't take very long. So do that. And then when I'm walking, I try to either listen to a podcast, or use the time to pray. So I am attaching that to that routine of walking, which is been helpful because I don't think I've walked as much in my whole life as I am now. And other than that, I just try and other than I just try and be a bit gentle with myself, because I think everybody's struggling in my relationship with God doesn't depend on how I'm feeling. It's my status with me shore and secure so I'm able to tell him that I'm feeling a bit low or lethargic or whatever. And other than that, yeah, watching churches and isn't that great, but I've also joined in on a few other church services on a Sunday. So I'm enjoying the variety of listening to my son in law preach, and other people that I'm living with and the church that they go to. So that's been good. So all in all, let's hope it ends but at the same time, I'm just trying to make the most of adding things to the routine that I have. Strange as it is.
I'm finding locked down really hard. I feel so lonely yet at the same time. I am never alone. I feel like I've never worked so hard yet not accomplished anything. Or in fact, my house seems to get messier the more I clean. I feel anguish over what's happening to our community. Not so much the virus itself, but the hostility, the division, the lack of respect, or empathy, or healthy discussion. I grieve not being able to gather with my church family, I feel for those who are going to fall away. I'm finding it really hard not to be sinful at the moment. And I'm really sad for my brothers and sisters who feel the same alone to be with them. I feel like God is distant. And I feel like I read my Bible, and it's just words on a page and that nothing sinking in. And when I'm praying, I'm wondering if I'm just talking to myself. I'm wondering what God's doing on all of this. And it doesn't feel like much. But this is what I'm trying to cling to. Firstly, that God is my father, and just like my three year old calling out from her bed at night time, Mommy, where are you? Mummy, I can't see you. I can't hear you. To which, I respond, I'm right here, sweetheart. I've not left, I can see your darling, I can hear you. I'm not going to leave you. My father in heaven is responding the same. And the Psalms as such an encouragement that God can handle my emotions, my fears, my doubts. Why am I soul? Are you downcast why so disturbed within me, but your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior, and my God. And you know, I've just been really encouraged by Philippians, to have a read of that chapter. But part of it says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests, but each of you to the interests of others, in your relationship with one another have the same mindset as Christ who being in very nature, God didn't consider equality with God, something to be used to his own advantage, while he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness. And being found in his parents as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross, and then goes on to say, do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation, then you will shine among them, like the stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. So I think Phillipians was really great because it encouraged me to really be humble and value others above myself, they're reminded to do everything without grumbling or arguing, and being blameless and pure children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. So as I struggle with how I see the world around me reacting and treating each other, I really hope. And I find it really hard to do this. But I really hope that I can keep putting on Jesus, and hopefully shine like stars in the sky. Although I do know there will be times where I'm really going to mess it up.
This lockdown has been tougher than ones I've been through before, because my dad has been diagnosed with brain cancer. And so we've been, you know, processing all of that in the context of lockdown and not being able to see our family. And it's been tough. But one of the beautiful moments I got to share with my dad before he went off for surgery was to read Romans eight with him in person. And I'll just share a few verses with you. Verse 18, says, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. And it talks about bondage to decay and the frustration of creation and groaning inwardly, as we wait, await our adoption to sonship. But I mean, for me, sometimes it's groaning outwardly. But down in verse 26, it says, In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for God's people in accordance with the will of God. And so I've been clinging to those two things, that the Spirit will help me in my weakness and will intercede for me in accordance with the will of God. And also, just trying to lift my eyes to the future glory where one day I will look back and these hardships that I'm going through now won't even be worth comparing to that future I have. So it's hard to imagine, but I've read just that verse 18, I've just been clinging to I consider that our presence offerings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
This lockdown has been very hard. But my husband suggested that we try and read the Bible, we've actually started reading Joshua together. It's a bit different. It's not as devotional as something in the New Testament, and doesn't really apply directly in the same way this side of Jesus, but it's been refreshing to be reminded of some of the big truths about God. Firstly, that God is faithful to His promises. Joshua is the book where we finally see God's promise to Abraham fulfilled as the Israelites enter the promised land. It's been years and years coming, the generation before spent 40 years wandering around in the desert because they didn't trust God enough to step foot in. Finally, we see, God has kept his promise and brought his people to the land, and He's faithful. Secondly, God is the victorious one. The Israelites do ridiculous things in battle to show that God is the one winning and fighting for them. And it's only when the people don't trust God or don't consult with God before making decisions that we see them fail. God is the one who is victorious, who is leading them and guiding them and sustaining them and winning for them. He's the one in charge and sovereign. Thirdly, the story is so much bigger than just one individual. Yes, we see a bit of Joshua's story we meet people like rehab, and find out how God steps into her life. But really, it's a story about God's work through the Israelite community, and how he is faithful over many, many years. It's just such a good reminder that our story is one tiny, tiny little part of his big plan. And even this season is just one little moment in our life as well. It feels huge right now. And it feels overwhelming. And I come to the end of myself almost every day. But God is faithful. He's a victorious one, it's been so helpful to step back and be reminded of the big picture, that this life is not about me. It's not about my story. But it's God at work. And we get to be part of that in a little way, here and there. And often, it's not how we think about it. You know, Romans 828 says, we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose, and that good is that we become more like Jesus. So when I'm tempted to seek comfort, in all the hardness, God wants to remind me that, no, we're learning to be like Jesus in this hard stuff. And so in light of that, I'm going to read an excerpt of a Puritan prayer that can be found in the beautiful valley vision book, file, Father of mercies, giver of old graces, I looked at the for strength to maintain them in me, for it is hard to practice what I believe strengthened me against temptations. My heart is an exhausted Fountain of sin, a river of corruption since childhood days, flowing on in every pattern of behavior, thou has disarmed me of the means in which I trusted, and I have no strength but in the that alone can't hold back my evil ways. But without the grace to sustain me I fall Satan's darts quickly and flame me and the shield that should quench them easily drops from my hand and power me against his Wiles and assaults. Keep me sensible of my weakness, and of my dependence upon my strength. Let every trial Teach me more of the peace, more of their love. Their Holy Spirit is given to increase the graces and I cannot preserve or improve them, unless he works continually in me. May He confirm my trust in my promised help, and let me walk humbly independence upon the for Jesus sake. Amen.