Fully pro-life

I like the new signs along Highway 18 inviting people to cherish life – even when it’s growing in the womb. They are an appropriate challenge to a culture that is slow to “treat all life with awe and respect, especially when it is most vulnerable – whether growing in the womb, touched by disability or disease, or drawing a last breath.” I believe God’s people are called to “protest and resist all that harms, abuses, or diminishes the gift of life.” (Quotes are from the Christian Reformed Church’s contemporary testimony “Our World Belongs to God.”)

Believing this leads to understanding how being pro-life is more than merely being anti-abortion. So I wonder if the pro-life signs along the highway could sometimes speak to other issues too?

I’m alarmed by the termination rate of pregnancies when the baby receives a positive diagnosis for Down syndrome. Even Christians might say things like, “Thank God that he heard our prayer and our baby doesn’t have Down syndrome.” This betrays a belief that a certain kind of person is better than another, lowering the value of a baby with Down syndrome or other disability. Maybe in the future, the sign along the highway can affirm the value of people with Down syndrome with a slogan like, “Real friends don’t count chromosomes.”

I lament how people in our society are treated differently solely because of the color of their skin. An immigrant committing a crime might lead people to declare everyone of that nationality should be kicked out of the country; however, statistics show that in the United States, White people commit far more crimes than other ethnicities, yet no one calls for all White people to be deported when a White person commits a crime. A Black acquaintance of mine with no criminal record reports having been stopped by the police far more often than I ever have. Our society devalues people based on ethnicity which I do not think is a pro-life mentality. Maybe in the future, the sign along the highway can affirm the sanctity of life of all ethnicities with a slogan like, “Red, brown, yellow, black, and white – all are precious in God’s sight.”

I think that caring for creation is also a way to be pro-life. If we value life, we want life to flourish. Flourishing gets difficult, though, where there is pollution and other consequences from poor stewardship in the world. People who have trouble breathing are forced to move away from cities filled with smog. Exposure to chemicals increases the chances of a cancer diagnosis that may cut life short prematurely. People who are poor are often the first to be devastated by climate change, whether it’s floods destroying their low-income homes or drought wiping out their already subsistence crops. Maybe in the future, the sign along the highway can affirm the need to better care of the planet to improve the quality and length of people’s lives with a slogan like, “Caring for creation reflects love for the Creator.”

I wrote this for the Rock Valley Bee, noting that I desire to value the life and flourishing of everyone from the womb to the tomb as a way to demonstrate God’s love.

Praying for Ukraine

Last Wednesday evening, the church gathered to pray. Not a specific congregation, but a good number of the people of God from the Rock Valley area. And we prayed for Ukraine and Russia. For me personally (and as was echoed in the prayer I offered on Wednesday), a psalm and a song give me words for the situation in eastern Europe. I’d like to share them with you here.

Psalm 54 (NIV)

Can you hear God’s people in Ukraine praying these words?
Can you pray these words in solidarity with them?

Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.
Arrogant foes are attacking me;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
people without regard for God.
Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.
I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good.
You have delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

Bring Peace to Earth Again

Where armies scourge the countryside,
and people flee in fear;
where sirens scream through flaming nights,
and death is ever near:
O God of mercy, hear our prayer:
bring peace to earth again!

O God, whose heart compassionate
bears every human pain,
redeem this violent, wounding world
till gentleness shall reign.
O God of mercy, hear our prayer:
bring peace to earth again!

written by Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr.
© 1996 World Library Publications
This hymn is included in Lift Up Your Hearts and at Hymnary.

Light in the darkness

Graphic from Floris United Methodist Church, Herndon, VA

There’s this guy walking down the street who suddenly falls into a deep hole he did not see coming. It’s dark in the hole and the walls are steep.

A psychiatrist happens by and the guy calls out, “Hey, Doc, can you help me out here?” The doctor writes a prescription for Prozac and throws it down the hole.

A priest comes by and the guy calls out, “Hey, Father, can you help me out here?” The priest writes out a prayer and tosses it down the hole.

Then the guy’s best friend comes by, sees his friend down in the hole, and immediately jumps in. “What did you do that for?” the guy says. “Now we’re both stuck!”

“Nah,” the friend says, “I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”

:: :: ::

I love the way this story (retold by Scott Hoezee) describes my life. Sometimes things feel very dark, like I’m in a deep hole. I’ve felt this way when someone has died, when I’ve been stressed out, when the future looks uncertain. And that says nothing about the darkness in my life caused by sin – my own stupid mistakes as well as all the brokenness in the world that impacts my life. Sometimes it feels like I’m stuck in a dark hole.

Even more, I love the way this story expresses the power in relationships. Things are never quite so sad, so strained, or so scary when there’s someone with me. And when things are going well for me, this story reminds me to be the friend for someone else who feels stuck somewhere.

Mostly though I love this story because it reminds me of how Jesus is the best friend who has come down to where I’m stuck. No matter what dark hole I find myself in, he knows what I’m experiencing and offers me a peace that passes understanding. More than that, he’s strong enough to fight the power of sin in my life. In fact, he’s been in the darkest, scariest hole ever: the grave. And he even knows the way out of there!

Much of the time I feel like I need to figure out a way to get up to God. Like I need to get his attention or impress him before he’ll notice me. The fact is God came down to me in the person of his Son, Jesus. That’s what Advent and Christmas are all about this month.

Jesus is the light of the world and of my life, bringing hope to the dark places. His is the light that shows the way and illuminates God’s love for me even when my love for him is shaky and unimpressive. And he is the friend who takes away my loneliness, forgives my sin, and even promises me eternal life.

You can’t find a better friend than that for the holidays and all year round.

These reflections appeared in last week’s Rock Valley Bee.

Home

My family traveled back to British Columbia this past summer to see parents, grandparents, siblings, and cousins. When we arrived at the Canada border, we showed the border agent our Canadian passports. Canada and US flags graphic found with GoogleAfter satisfactorily answering his questions, he allowed us into Canada by saying, “Welcome home!”

At the conclusion of our trip, we crossed the American border to catch our flight out of Seattle. We showed the border agent there proof that we’re permanent residents (our “green cards”). After satisfactorily answers his questions, he allowed us into the United States by saying, “Welcome home!”

“Welcome home.” We heard those words both when we crossed into Canada and then again a few weeks later when we crossed back in the United States.

As a Christian, I believe that I am a citizen of God’s Kingdom – his reign that is already coming now and that will come in fullness when Jesus returns. Through his Holy Spirit, God is at work in Canada and the United States, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Sometimes his work is obvious; often it happens in small, barely noticeable ways. No matter where I am on this planet, a part of me should be able to hear “welcome home,” knowing God and his people are already there furthering his Kingdom presence and priorities.

I remember when we first moved to Rock Valley, it seemed no matter where we went – the bank, the grocery store, a restaurant – at least one person there knew us by name, whether an employee or another customer. I thought it was a little creepy. Were people following us around, seeing where we did business and analyzing what we all bought?? It felt foreign, not at all like our previous home in British Columbia. But we quickly realized that’s part of the charm of small town life and we’ve come to love the friendly, familiar faces around town.

While we were in British Columbia this summer, I stopped at the bank one afternoon and spoke with a teller. There I was just another customer, a number in the system. It has been that way nearly as long as I can remember. I do not expect any employee at any Royal Bank branch anywhere in Canada to know my name. Yet all of a sudden, despite everything being normal, standing in that Canadian bank felt foreign.

Because I am a citizen of God’s Kingdom, I also believe that nowhere on earth will feel completely at home on this side of Jesus’ return. I am grateful for familiar sights, smells, and sounds, but realize that they are either only temporary or faint previews of much richer things to come when God’s reign is seen and embraced in full.

Welcome home? Yes – in part today. One day there will be no more international borders and all who are in Christ will feel at home in ways we only begin to sense now.

I wrote these reflections for this week’s “Perspectives” column
in the
Rock Valley Bee. I noted we moved to Rock Valley
9 years ago this month.

Open to God

In his Sermon the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”God of Weakness by John Timmer Reading the late John Timmer’s book God of Weakness shone some light for me on Jesus’ familiar yet hard-to-entirely-understand words. Maybe this will speak to you too.

::– –::– –::

The God of Scripture is a God who pronounces the poor blessed. The poor are people who are not self-made and are not self-sufficient. Because they are less walled in by what they possess, they are potentially more open to God. The reason Jesus warns the rich is not that he regards riches as bad per se, but rather that material prosperity easily isolates us from God. Riches of any kind represent power, and power gives us an advantage over others. It makes us independent from them. It also makes us feel independent from God. Jesus calls the poor blessed because the poor are able to listen to someone besides themselves, because they know they’ll never manage on their own.

Poverty before God makes us more receptive to God’s riches. Weakness before God makes us more receptive to his power…

Poverty in the Bible is a frame of mind, not first of all an economic condition or a question of money. Rather it’s a question of the heart.

Economic poverty, by itself, is not a virtue. After all, you can be dirt poor and yet be as greedy as the man in Jesus’ parable who tore down his barns and built bigger ones to store all his grain and his goods.

And then again, you can be a person of means and yet have the soul of a pauper.

To be poor is to be weak before God, to be open to him. God doesn’t need strong people. He prefers working through the poor in spirit; not through the poor as such, but through those whose poverty makes them receptive to him.

These poor can also be found among the rich, for there is a poverty of body as well as a poverty of soul. Each evokes God’s pity.

God loves everyone, even those who are well-off. It’s just that he has a much harder time getting through to them. (pages 17, 76)

I read God of Weakness while on vacation last month and
it inspired me to share this in today’s
Rock Valley Bee and here.
I also write about the Beatitudes at the start
of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in
this blog post.

First and above all

This year’s 8th grade graduates at Rock Valley Christian School graciously invited me to speak at their graduation. They asked me to offer a few reflections on their grad text, Deuteronomy 6:5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

It occurred to me that you actually hear this invitation, this call to love all over the Bible: Joshua, David, the prophets, the apostlesGreatest Commandment graphic found with Googlethey all call God’s people to ditch false gods and love the Lord their God with all they are. Jesus himself says it’s tied at first place as the most important command of all – right up there with loving the people around you. From the secrets deep within you to the very tips of your fingers, from the core of your identity to your every action, the Bible calls people to love God first and above all.

Loving God, as I told the graduates, is all about honoring him, deeply respecting him, and obeying his good will for us as described in the Bible. We can choose to love God similarly to how we can choose how we treat our parents or siblings, or how a certain pair of jeans or a video game becomes our favorite because we choose to wear it or play it over and over. Our choices are connected with what we love.

So I encouraged the graduates to make the choice to love God before and above anything or anyone else.

I was quick to add, though, that their ability to choose to love God is possible only because he first chooses to love them. If it weren’t for his creative power in making us, his redeeming power in saving us, and his ongoing power in equipping us, we’d never choose to love God. If God waited for us to sign up to honor, respect, and obey him, he’d be waiting for eternity.

Can we respond perfectly to God’s call to love him first and foremost? No. And God knows we can’t. Only one Person in history could keep all God’s commands perfectly. Many years after Moses preached Deuteronomy 6 to the people, God sent him – the Father sent Jesus “to stand in our place and be perfect for us,” to quote The Jesus Storybook Bible. Keeping commandments and rules won’t save us. Only God in Christ saves us because he love us.

I concluded with reminding the graduates that the Holy Spirit is working in each one of them, empowering them to reflect God’s great love back at him and the people he puts in their lives. Through their grad text, that’s what God was inviting them to do that very day, this summer, as they begin high school, and for the rest of their lives. I believe it’s good news and good advice for everyone regardless of when they will finish school or how long it’s been since they’ve graduated.

This is the column I wrote for today’s Rock Valley Bee
based on my grad address at RVCS.

Honest Thomas

In the evening of the day of his resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples, filling them with joy that he’s actually alive. All the disciples are present except for Thomas. Maybe he needed time alone to process the events of Good Friday and the women’s reports of the empty tomb from earlier that day. But by not being with his friends, Thomas misses encountering the risen Christ. (If there’s a moral to learn here, it’s got to be: “Show up with when your brothers and sisters in Christ are together!”)

When Thomas later hears his friends say they’ve seen Jesus, he is brutally honest and says, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands into His side, I will not believe.” And he’s been known as Doubting Thomas ever since.

The following week, Jesus shows up again when his disciples are together – and Thomas is with them this time. And Jesus’ grace towards Thomas is amazing. Jesus doesn’t kick Thomas out for his doubt or even reprimand him or demand some sort of confession or apology. Jesus invites Thomas to do exactly what Thomas demanded: “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put into my side.” Jesus comes to Thomas where Thomas is at. Just as he did before his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus – the Victor over death and Lord of life – continues to accommodate, honor, and serve others.

Personally, I think we should start calling him Honest Thomas and stop seeing him as a negative role model. Jesus is not afraid of Thomas’ honesty and doubt, and he is not afraid of yours or mine. (Of course it helps if we’re sincerely searching for truth and not just being negative and cynical.) In short, Jesus meets Thomas where Thomas is. And Jesus is still doing that with you and me.

Jesus did not die on the cross and rise again on the third day only for people who have their acts together and who always make the best decisions and who hold perfectly to the truth. (Are there even any people like that?) The risen Jesus desires to encounter you and me just as he met Thomas. Regardless of how faithful (or faithless) you or I have been, Jesus is faithful and gives us new opportunities to meet him and grow.

Doubt of Thomas artwork by Sadao Watanabe

The Bible says Thomas has a twin, though it never says who his twin sister or brother is. Maybe it’s an invitation to admit how I sometimes feel like I have a twin inside me: On good days, I’m filled with faith and certainty, but I have a “twin” who likes to show up with doubt and even fears. Or maybe by not saying who Thomas’ twin is, the Bible invites me to think of myself as Thomas’ twin so I can join him as one who can doubt with the best of them, and one for whom Jesus comes alongside with grace, inviting me afresh to believe and trust in him as “my Lord and my God!”

These reflections appear in today’s edition of the Rock Valley Bee.
I’ve written about
Thomas before too.

Confession is good for the soul (and the rest of your body too)

Confession graphic found via GoogleIn a culture that downplays sin, the concept of confession may sound like an outdated relic from the past. Yet I have found confession to be vitally important in any relationship, whether with people or with God. When I confess something, I acknowledge the mess I’ve made, admit I was wrong, and place myself in the best position to experience reconciliation with the one I wronged or hurt.

In the Bible, the psalmist writes of the pain (physical? mental? emotional?) he experienced when he tried to ignore his guilt and then of the relief he felt when he confessed:

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long…
My strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Psalm 32:3‑5

It reminds me of a story told by author Mark Buchanan about Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia in the 1700s. On one occasion he was inspecting the Berlin prison. As he walked through the rows of shackled men, they fell pleading at his feet, protesting their innocence. They claimed to be falsely accused, models of virtuous living, completely innocent of all crime.

Only one man didn’t do this. Frederick called to him, “Prisoner, why are you here?”

The prisoner replied, “I robbed a man, Your Majesty.”

“And are you guilty?” asked the king.

“Yes, Your Majesty,” came the reply.

Frederick called the guard over. Pointing at the man who confessed, he said, “Release this man immediately. I will not have this scoundrel thief kept here where he might corrupt all these other fine, virtuous, and innocent men.”

That’s the lovely irony of confession: The one who actually confesses gets out of prison and goes free.

These reflections appear in today’s edition of the Rock Valley Bee.

Identity

Some of my favorite worship services are those that include baptisms. Through the water of baptism, “God reminds and assures us of our Baptism graphic found with Googleunion with Christ in covenant love, the washing away of our sin, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Everyone who is baptized – regardless of denomination or tradition, regardless of the language or culture – is united in Christ. As someone who was baptized, my primary identity comes from knowing that, together with the rest of God’s people, I am united to and belong to Jesus.

That means for those of us who are baptized, we find our identity in Christ even before we see ourselves as…

  • a daughter or son, father or mother, husband or wife
  • a banker, farmer, mechanic, nurse, salesperson, teacher, or truck driver
  • straight, gay, bi, or other
  • wealthy, middle class, or poor
  • American, Canadian, Chinese, Dutch, First Nations, Guatemalan, Mexican, Native American, Romanian, or Venezuelan
  • a Democrat or a Republican; or a Conservative, Green, Liberal, NDP, or Bloc Québécois supporter
  • a member of the NRA or the ACLU.

Baptism welcomes us into God’s family and makes us citizens of His Kingdom before we identify with or pledge any other allegiance.

As a male, I personally have more in common with a woman who is among God’s people than I do with another guy who is outside the faith. If you are a Kingdom-minded blue collar worker, you have more in common with a professional in a suit submitting to Christ’s rule than you do with a guy in grease-stained coveralls outside the Kingdom. If you are a straight person who loves Jesus, you have more in common with a gay person who professes Jesus than you do with a husband and wife who profess nothing. If you are an American who follows Jesus, you have more in common with a Palestinian or Iraqi Christian than you do with a fellow American who does not yet know Jesus. If you are a Republican who loves Jesus, you have more in common with a Democrat who dedicates their life to Jesus than another Republican who does not yet live for the Lord.

Author Lee C. Camp writes: “There is, for those who have been clothed with Christ in baptism, a new identity, an identity that transcends economic class, ethnic grouping, and citizenship.”

In these divisive times, I especially need to touch, see, and hear the water of baptism to remind me that more fundamental to anything that divides me from other believers is the foundational union I have with Christ and with one another.

This repeats some things I said Sunday evening at Trinity CRC.
It’s also what I contributed to the Perspectives column
in this week’s
Rock Valley Bee, in which I noted I’d like
the date of my baptism included in my obituary some day.

COVID-19 and creation

With all the devastating health and economic impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has brought (which I do not wish to minimize), it’s a relief to hear about one positive effect the pandemic is having: In some ways, the pandemic has been good for the environment.

Less traffic, grounded airplanes, and decreased production in factories have improved the air quality in many places. In India, for example, people are seeing mountain ranges in the distance they haven’t seen in decades due to pollution. Satellite imagery over China shows reductions in nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide being pumped into the air. Cities such as Rome, London, Los Angeles, and New York are Average NO2 concentration in northeastern US. From theconversation.comalso reporting improved air quality.

I’m aware there have also been environmental setbacks. For example, cities report the collection of more garbage (including personal protective equipment like disposable masks).

I nevertheless remain encouraged by the news of improved air quality. Again, I recognize COVID-19 has resulted in lost jobs, economic chaos, illness, and death, and I do not downplay those. But I do wonder whether the pandemic is giving humanity a little preview of how, when it comes to the environment, things could be better.

As a Christian, I believe God calls me to care for his creation. It is among the first tasks he gives to the first humans in the first garden. And it’s a recurring theme in the Bible. In addition to mandating a weekly sabbath rest, God also commanded his people to give creation a Sabbath rest: “In the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest… Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines.” God promised that if his people obeyed this command, their land would produce enough in the sixth year to provide for them through the seventh year and beyond. God designed creation so that when we care for it, he will direct it to care for us. I wonder if COVID-19 is forcing us to give the land and sky an overdue sabbath rest.

And that leads me to wonder whether instead of trying to go back to normal, we can investigate ways to create a “new normal” in which we can restore jobs and improve the economy while also carefully tending the land and keeping the air clean. Can leaders in government, industry, agriculture, and business find innovative and profitable ways to run things both so people can work and so creation is respected? I ask myself where in everyday life I can recognize and change my greedy and consumeristic tendencies that harm creation. Can I buy a bit less? Can I reuse things more? Can I travel fewer miles? Can I conserve energy?

In the middle of the pain of the pandemic, there has been an unexpected blessing of the environment faring better than six months ago. Can we receive that as a fresh invitation from God to care for creation? I for one would like the air we breathe to not go back to what we called normal prior to COVID-19.

I wrote this article for Perspectives column
in this week’s
Rock Valley Bee.

Helping kids worship

People are gathering again in person at Trinity CRC. We’re doing our best to make our facilities and procedures as safe as possible to prevent the spread of germs. I must say it’s wonderful to sing, pray, listen, and talk together again irl (in real life)!

As more families begin attending services again, it’s a good time to consider how to help our children engage in worship. Standing to sing songs or sitting still to listen to the Bible reading and message might be a bit harder after getting used to watching the services from the comfort of home. These ideas from the CRC’s Faith Formation Ministries might be helpful for your family as they have been for mine.

1. Be positive.
Instead of saying, “We have to go to church,” say “We get to go to worship.” Worship isn’t a place we go, it’s something we do with God’s family, and when we’re not there, God’s family isn’t complete. You can create patterns to help you and your family anticipate going to worship such as choosing clothes the night before and setting the alarm a little earlier so that you can arrive at worship in a peaceful state of mind. As you get ready, play worship music and maybe even sing together.

2. Take along worship tools.
Worship tools available from jane.comBring along tools that will involve your children in worship rather than simply keep them busy. Some ideas: a storybook Bible or a Bible geared for teens, a small notebook, and colored pencils or pens for drawing or writing quotes, questions, impressions, and prayers. Older kids may like to decorate a blank journal to use as their own weekly worship journal.

3. Let kids choose the seats.
With four people in our family, we sometimes have four different preferences for where to sit on Sunday! Parents with young children often feel most comfortable sitting toward the back of the worship space, but children might prefer the front so they can see, hear, and participate better. Can a different family member choose each week where to sit?

4. Be a “church whisperer.”
Help kids stay engaged during worship by discretely asking questions and making observations. During a song, whisper, “My favorite verse of this song is the third one. Which part do you like the best?” As Scripture is read, ask your child how it would feel to be living in that story or what they think the pastor will focus on in the message.

5. Talk about worship on the way home.
Ask kids about what they saw and heard in worship. Affirm their insights and encourage them to learn more. Ask if they wonder about anything that was said. As you talk, use words you heard in the worship service to build your family’s biblical vocabulary.

I put this together for last week’s Rock Valley Bee.
A similar article will also appear in the next issue of
News & Views
at Trinity CRC. You can purchase the Kids Bible Study Journal
pictured above at
jane.com.

New normal

I hear people say they are looking forward to things returning to normal after the pandemic is over. Me too. I wonder, though, if things won’t so much go back to normal as we will enter into a “new normal.” Sort of like after 9/11 – you can still fly, but new security protocols have changed your experience in the airport and on the plane.

Here’s my wish list for what I hope part of the “new normal” will be like after COVID-19 is over.

In the “new normal” we no longer take our ability to gather with others for granted. Or, put positively, we are more grateful for opportunities to spend time together with other people. Handshakes, high fives, and New Normal greeting card available at emilymcdowell.comhugs mean a bit more than they did before. We’re more intentional about deepening friendships and connecting with the neighbor up the street we’ve never met. Gathering weekly with others for worship, fellowship, and growing in faith is a higher priority.

In the “new normal” we better manage our schedules. We continue having meals together as a family and spend less time racing around from one event to another. There’s time in our day to check in on the family who just had a baby or the acquaintance who is homebound. We take seriously our need to rest body and mind on a regular basis, choosing to do so ourselves before having a pandemic force it upon us again.

In the “new normal” we are quicker to say Thank You. Some of us can work from home. Some of us are doing a decent job of keeping our kids on task with their online schoolwork. Others of us, though, have no choice but to work at the hospital or the grocery store, to continue manufacturing or driving truck. And some of us are receiving abundant confirmation that we’re not cut out to be teachers. So we begin to intentionally express gratitude to hospital staff, store cashiers, shop workers, truck drivers, teachers, aides, principals, and anyone else who serves us and our community.

In the “new normal” our eyes and hearts are open wider to God’s provision and grace. We’re quicker to talk to him just because he loves to hear from us and we love to be in his presence. We continue prioritizing prayer instead of waiting to pick up the conversation with God until the next crisis hits.

What are you going to do or prioritize differently in the post-COVID-19 “new normal?”

This column appears in this week’s Rock Valley Bee.
You can purchase the greeting card pictured above
at emilymcdowell.com.