5 Things Every Christian Can Do For President Trump (whether you like him or not) and the U.S.

Tomorrow the 45th president of the United States will be inaugurated into office.  I did not vote for Donald Trump. I’m one of those evangelical Christians that doesn’t identify well with any political party nevertheless feels compelled to enact my right to vote in this country. I could not (and cannot) support Donald Trump’s overt arrogance and shameless disrespect for others.  He is not a model of self-sacrificial manhood and he is certainly not a model of dignified leadership.  My pick for president obviously wasn’t chosen and so now what.?

Lots of people feel passionately one way or the other about the President Elect Trump. I try to avoid saturating myself with media commentary, but headline after headline has to do with Mr. Trump’s words, actions and selections for his cabinet and most of the mantra is leaning heavily towards either despising the guy or thinking he’s the political savior of America. But even staying away from media, the people in my life have very strong feelings about the man who will be the leader of the free world in 24 hours. I have strong feelings too but they are tempered with a hotter and higher view of life than American politics and capitalistic economics. In thinking about where my hope lies, passion heats up. In thinking about what life is all about, faith rises.

I honestly feel embarrassed in my love for this country about the actions and words of our soon-to-be President Trump. Mr. Trump causes me to have to shy away from pointing my sons to the president as an example of decency and leadership. I don’t like that. I want a president I can look to as a leader and a role-model. And I have some deep concerns about the tone Mr. Trump sets for multi-cultural and race relations in this country. But, because my hope doesn’t lie in Mr. Trump and life isn’t all about the United States of America I can breathe and not fear or dread the days to come. There are some things I can do though.

5 Things Every Christian Can Do For the President and the U.S. 

1. Live Like A Foreigner Here

“Beloved I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” -1 Peter 2:11-12 

Beloved- that’s you and me who love the Jesus we have never seen- we are not Americans first. We are citizens of the Kingdom of the Son of God’s first, and forever. Our temporary visa here in the U.S. will not last forever. Only a lifetime- ours or the country’s. We are sojourners here, exiles, foreigners, traveling through. So we aren’t entitled people. We aren’t begrudging people. We are thankful people who know this world is not our home. We don’t settle in here. We’re on the move. Running the race set before us. Eyes fixed on the Jesus our King.

2. Intercede Like A Priest Here 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:1-6 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. -1 Peter 2:9 

President Trump doesn’t need to appoint me to his cabinet, or employ me as a spiritual advisor to have influence in his life. I don’t have to be a Trump supporter to be praying for him. God’s people are a royal priesthood called upon to make all kinds of requests and intercessions for all people, including tyrannical kings, and foul-mouthed presidents. Christ’s church has greater influence on this country than any election result when we call on the One who appoints kings and brings down kingdoms.

3. Spread the Gospel of Peace Like an Ambassador Here 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. -2 Corinthians 5:20 “…and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15 

In a culture of violence, worldwide terrorism, racial tensions, and with a coming leader who seems to govern with guile and glib from Twitter, living in this country as ambassadors for Christ, with lives and words that implore people to be reconciled to God, we are the peace-peddlers that stand out apart. Tis human to jump on the bandwagon of criticizing one party or another, but Christian to draw attention away from all that to peace with God through Christ.  And we don’t even need to enter the political arena to be an ambassador of the gospel of peace.  Our homes and marriages are a very good place to start reconciliation.  The war on the family and marriage is raging.  We should be self-sacrificing ambassadors of peace to our husbands and wives and children.

4. Stand Like A Good Soldier Here 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. – Ephesians 6:10-13 

Unlike the peace-core, many people- even our elected President- may not think it noble or cool when we stand as ambassadors for Christ in a culture that calls good evil and evil good. It’s going to feel like a battle, even in our own minds and in our own skin to be known by our words and actions as Christians. And though, like Peter said, we should be doing lots of good in this world with a humble, servant’s heart towards those who malign us, they will malign us. We are not doing good to please people or the president. If we are trying to please people we would not be pointing them to Christ. Pointing people to Christ is sure to get a battle going even though we want peace. So in the coming days we need to preach the gospel to ourselves, stand for the truth and remember who we are and whose we are and where we’re going and why we’re here and then stand firm, unwilling to be moved by the current cultural tide.

5. Serve Like A Son of God Here 

Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. – John 13:12-16 

We have a Lord, a King who is not lording it over us but has served us with his broken, rejected, despised life- washing our feet, building us up, calling us what we were not, making us Sons of God. We are his and we are free. And like him, we do not use our freedom to lord it over others or to join the world in godlessness, instead we go low. This is the god-likeness Christ calls us to.  In the coming days we Christians should be amping up our going low.  The needs are overwhelming- moms in crisis pregnancies, racial divides, an over-burdened foster care system, children being trafficked for sex, our elderly ignored and abandoned, disabled and marginalized people everywhere.  That doesn’t even begin to cover the opportunities for the people of God to take off their Health and Wealth Child of The King clothes, and put on their Feet Washing Like King Jesus Did cloths.

Our country may be going down a path we feel alienated from, but we can live light and hands off here because our home is not the United States of America. Our 45th president may not be a man we can get behind and support, but he is a man we can ask our Father to grant repentance to and stir and move according to his will. Our political system, international relations and marriages may be embattled, but we can be peddlers of the gospel of peace with God through Christ. Our foundations of family, society and order may crumble, but we can stand covered from head to toe in the impenetrable armor of God’s faithfulness, promises and salvation. Our neighbors and society may not respect and honor our Christ-clinging lives and words, but we can serve them anyway with love because we know who we are and where we’re going.

Goats and Highways

Having goats is great entertainment.  I’d take a few hours out here with my goats over T.V. any day.  They’re so goofy and clumsy and fun.

The momma goat, Darla, is doing a fine job for a first time mom.  She leads her kids out of the pen twice a day and runs around with them for a little exercise.  She baaas at them and they baaa back.  She sniffs their tails and nudges them in the butt when she wants them to move.  And she’s very protective of them!  She’s head butted Bailey, our 10 year old female Lab twice for getting a little too close.

The papa goat, aw, he’s a buck.  He could care less.  He sniffs the kids a bit through the pen (we keep them and the dam together but separate from the buck) but then he sniffs just about everything.  He’s a big show off chauvinist and I think he’s great.  He’s got himself a go tee now and stands with his head at my shoulders (I’m 5′ 11″).  He’s a pretty tall guy.  He often stands on his back hoofs and raises his face as high up in the air as he can as though to announce that he’s, “The man!”  When he does that he towers over me about a foot.  He loves to “wrestle” with the boys, including the 41 year old boy in the house.  They put their heads together and chase each other.  Duke, the buck, swings his head and knocks over a Dougal man and then the Dougal man pushes Duke and they chase each other some more.

When you’ve got goats, at minimum, you’ve got some good entertainment.

Are there highways in your heart?  I was reading Psalm 84 this morning.  Verse 5 really struck me:

O the happiness of a man whose strength is in Thee, Highways [are] in their heart. – Young’s Literal Translation

There are highways in my heart.  They were pioneered by Christ.  He’s gone before me and I follow His trail with the Holy Spirit as my guide.  It’s not the well-worn highway of the world.  It’s not a broad road either.  It’s high though.  It’s not the way I would naturally choose.  On this highway, that ends face to face with my living Lord, there are steep and narrow paths.  Some areas are thorny.  Many areas are dry and barren and I thirst.  And there are long valleys of weeping.  In those long, dry, hot stretches,  I remember He’s gone before me.

It’s a highway of the heart.  It’s a pilgrimage of the inner man.  The inner me is journeying home, even though I’m sitting in Surprise, Arizona.  It’s a highway of faith in Christ.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2

Where’s your life going?  Is there a highway in your heart?  Or are you just adrift?  A dead fish going with the current downstream?


A real, concrete promise: A meditation on Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents 

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. – Psalm 121

Who’s doing all the work here?  I lift up my eyes, but my help comes not from good staff, good breeding, good parents, good work.  My help comes from the LORD.  He’s doing all the work.

He’s keeping me from going astray.  He’s not taking a nap or growing tired.  He is the One who sanctified me through his Son and he’s the One who keeps me that way.  He’s the place I can go to escape from the burning heat of the rightful anger he has toward my sin and the searching light of his righteousness that shines on the hidden, dark things in me.  He’s the one keeping me from being ruined by evil; not overcome by it, but overcoming it with good.  He’s the one keeping my life forever.

And all this he promises me.  But how can I know?  Isn’t this Israel’s?  Yes!  And he proves, even now, thousands of years later, that Israel has a keeper.  Though she has rejected him, he will not fail to keep his promise to her.  And when I look at her history, and I watch her even now, that barely a spot on the world map that causes so many around her to roar and rattle, I realize, that the LORD who promised to be the keeper of unfaithful Israel, keeps me too.  For, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29)


Longing for home

Big sigh. Friday at 5 am we got in the car and began our travels back home to Arizona. Yesterday around 5 pm we pulled in to our Litchfield Park address. But, there was no settling in and relaxing to be done. We spent the remainder of Saturday unpacking, doing laundry and preparing for today- moving day 1.

At the beginning of the month we purchased a home in Surprise on horse property.  The house required some fixing up and invited some remodeling projects James was excited to start.  So, while the boys and I were on a road trip and visiting family in Nor Cal and Oregon, he was at the Surprise address knocking things down, tearing things out and running into road-blocks as is the normal course in any remodeling project so I’m told.

As of today, we still have no showers and no washer and dryer at the new house.  The basement floor (where all the bedrooms are) still has no carpet, just concrete.  That I can live with for awhile, but showers, not so much.  James has been working non-stop after work and on weekends to complete the projects he started a couple weeks ago, but things just haven’t gone as he planned, so now we’re sorta in a pinch.  We have to be out of this house we’re renting by July 1st.  That’s next Monday.  Yikes!

On top of all that, I’m supposed to start my week of Abrazo’s orientation tomorrow.  But, it might not happen.  While I was at the hotel in Bakersfield yesterday morning, I checked me email (which I hadn’t checked for several days) to find a disturbing email from my future employer saying I had until 3pm on the 20th to complete a mandatory training online or I wouldn’t be able to start on the 24th.  Well, that didn’t happen.

My first response in situations like that is to get a big knot in my stomach and worry.  But this time, I just looked up and knew Who was in charge.

I don’t know how I missed this mandatory training.  The email I got suggested this was something I should have known about. I looked back in a packet of papers the lady gave me the day before I left for our road trip and found a paper about this training.  It didn’t mention any timeline for getting it done and I don’t recall anyone saying anything to me when I went to the HR department to do all the paperwork.  So I figure the worst that can happen is they’ll think I’m a flake and choose to not hire me.  And if that doesn’t happen, I guess they’ll give me a later orientation date.  Both options would open up this week for me to focus on getting things packed and moved to the new place.  But, since this all went down yesterday, in my head, with no communications possible with the HR department, and since I did the training in the hotel room yesterday as soon as I read the email, I’m going to show up tomorrow at the orientation and see what they say.  If they say I’m not hired, I guess I’ll start looking elsewhere again.  If they say I have to take the orientation at a later date, so be it.  I’ll go home and get busy moving.  If they say I can stay, I’ll stay.

I feel sort of like I have no real home.  It’s an uneasy feeling.  Moving from place to place on our road trip.  Coming home only to pack and move half our stuff to another house.  It’s good for me to feel this way.  It makes me look up and take hold of, “…we have no continuing city here.  But we seek one to come.”

I think in part I feel this way even more because even in my own home, there is no unified rest in that promise.  And when I’m away, like I have been for these weeks, and I come home and know I can’t go to spend time in prayer and in learning from God’s word and in worship together with others who I know do rest in that promise; and when I can’t go spend that precious time when I feel most alive, teaching God’s word to the kids at Pathway (and at home or anywhere that happens), I feel a deep ache.    Today, I needed to stay home and help my husband get stuff moved.  But in my heart, I longed for that set apart time, when I get “centered down” for the week to come.  When my focus gets rightly fixed on Jesus to run the race of faith this week.  When I remember where my real home is and preach to soul, “Why so downcast oh my soul? Hope in God!”


Sojourning Sheila

I’m thinking of changing my blog title to: Sojourning Sheila {and so I did}.

What I write reflects who I am. Six years ago, when I started blogging, I was inspired by the beauty of making a home and being a helper Imago Dei.  I’m still inspired, yet, refined. Several years ago, my vision of being a homemaker (albeit inspired by scripture) had begun to crowd out who I really am- a sojourner; not finding here any continuing home, but rather looking to the eternal home promised me in Christ.

Psalm 39 is a template of my recent life.  Spiritually, the rhythm of things {the last 7 years} has been harmonious with David’s expression in Psalm 39.

I was off course and I realized it at the correction of my good Father. I decided to shut my mouth and guard my ways, hence a nearly complete backing off of all my blogging and writing 4 years ago. But when I don’t write, when I keep my mouth shut, a fire burns in me. I have told others I feel as though God has shut my mouth. He has.

 “I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it.”

In the past year I have begun writing publicly more often again.  And every time I write here, and see that title: A Homemaker’s Meditations, I am reminded of my previous obsession with being home and my off-course plan from which my Lord has lovingly corrected me (although like David I have often felt his discipline has consumed like a moth that which is dear to me- even so He is exceedingly good.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord!).

Yesterday we received keys to our new fixer-upper home.  It was as I drove there that the words of Psalm 39, especially verse 12, washed over me like clean water.  God has moved us there.  Doors have been shut that seemed to be unshutable.  Doors have opened fast and wide that seemed very likely to close.  And there’s fear in the air hissing it’s temptation to grab hold tightly and yet the Prince of Peace pervades, pushing back fear like an invisible shield.

This world is not my home
I’m just a passin’ through.  
My treasures are laid up 
Somewhere beyond the blue.

If a man has Christ and nothing, he has infinitely more than if, without Christ, he has all the family, finances and security this world offers!  I have Him.  I am His and He is mine!  I can hold every thing He gives me with an opened hand.

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth and you will get neither. – C.S. Lewis


Just Passin’ Through

It’s been a full four days.

Thursday morning started in AZ at 3am and ended in OR at 11pm.  Friday I decorated a reception hall with friends of my mom’s for her wedding reception and drove with my sister and her family to visit my dad an hour away.  By the time we got back to our homebase at my cousin Billy’s house in Grants Pass it was late.  Saturday I was able to visit with my sister, play with my precious nephews, chop my fair share of veggies for the food my cousin worked so hard to make for my mom’s wedding reception.  Saturday after the wedding we were all drained I’m sure.  Emotionally and physically.  I went to bed at 10:30 and had to be up at 2am Sunday to head to the airport in Medford.   Apparently the rule about getting to an airport two hours before your flight leaves does not apply in Medford, Oregon.  There were three people sleeping in an empty airport when I arrived at 3:15am.  They finally opened the ticket counter at 4.

I got home around 10am today and thought I’d tough it out and go to bed early, but I only made it for about an hour and had to take a nap.  It helped, but I feel that overly fatigued feeling I felt when I used to work night shift.  Gotta get back on schedule.  Tomorrow is back to school!

I was stretched this trip.  Outside my comfort zone.  I’ve asked for that though.  I don’t want to live by my own strength or by what I can see and explain.  I want to live by the strength of the Lord and by faith.  Building on that foundation laid in Christ.  Running the race set before me.  Looking to the Author of His-Story in me.  And when I’m “outside the camp”, where the Rahabs are and the cross is… where things aren’t so controlled and understood, I know its not by my adequacy or my sufficiency but Christ’s!

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. – Hebrews 13:14