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Betsy Howden has been a member of ZPC for 29 years. After 21 years on staff, she retired from ZPC two years ago and (until recently) has loved having the freedom to travel with her husband, Michal, to volunteer at ZPC and Outreach, Inc., and to spend memory-making time with her family. Betsy and Michal’s son Topher and his family live nearby in Zionsville as does Betsy’s dad and their daughter Allie and her family live far, far away in California.  

Psalm 16 from The Message 

1-2 Keep me safe, O God, 
    I’ve run for dear life to you. 
I say to God, “Be my Lord!” 
    Without you, nothing makes sense. 

3 And these God-chosen lives all around— 
    what splendid friends they make! 

4 Don’t just go shopping for a god. 
    Gods are not for sale. 
I swear I’ll never treat god-names 
    like brand-names. 

5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only. 
    And now I find I’m your choice! 
You set me up with a house and yard. 
    And then you made me your heir! 

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake 
    is confirmed by my sleeping heart. 
Day and night I’ll stick with God; 
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go. 

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out, 
    and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed. 
You canceled my ticket to hell— 
    that’s not my destination! 

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, 
    all radiant from the shining of your face. 
Ever since you took my hand, 
    I’m on the right way.  

It seems recently that so much is in turmoil, both globally and even in our own backyards. We can’t hide from hearing about the latest disease, disaster, devastation, or disappointment. How do we handle the changes that all this has brought about?  

How has your life changed in the last few months? Michal and I are part of the “older generation” who are deemed to be at greater risk of getting COVID so we have sheltered in place since early March. I haven’t been able to see my 94-year old dad; we visit our son, daughter-in-law, and grandsons across a fence so that the 3-year old can’t run up and hug us; and I had to cancel a trip to California for my granddaughter’s first birthday. I know your lives have changed as well and, for some of you, your lives have changed in much more serious, drastic, or permanent ways.  

Are you looking for good news? Read Psalm 16. In the midst of things that I am powerless over, I can run to the one who has power and hears our cries for help. One constant in my life seems to be that in times of hardship, keeping my eyes on God, his Word, and his provision has always given me hope and seen me through. As Eugene Peterson paraphrases, without God nothing makes sense. Our ultimate security is in God and his faithfulness, trustworthiness, his grace and love. "And these God-chosen lives all around—what splendid friends they make!” These are friends who are there to help and support you. These are friends who can encourage you and tell you a really corny joke to make you laugh. These are friends who will listen and, in one way or another, share God’s love with you. God’s Word gives us the counsel we need in any situation, words that give us hope, and set us on the right path.  

In the midst of all the things that have changed, God is unchanging. His blessings still abound although sometimes we need to consciously look for them. If in the course of today you come across situations that dishearten you, I encourage you to balance that by thinking of a blessing you’ve received. If you have a hard time thinking of one today, always remember that God is with you, God is for you, and that God loves you unconditionally. I love the way this psalm ends, “Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.” My heart aches because I’m missing precious times with my family and that’s my reality right now. And my reality is also that I’ve had time to take reallllllly long walks; time to work on projects that my mom never had a chance to finish; time to learn Spanish (well, maybe un poco Spanish). Whatever has changed for you, whatever your new reality is, I hope that most of all, along with me, you have time to realize that God has taken our hands and together we walk on the path he has set before us. Knowing this, how can our hearts not be filled with hope? 

Prayer: 

Father,  
We come before you acknowledging that we don’t know what the future holds for us. While this is nothing new, somehow it seems more unsettling now. Help us run to you today as the day unfolds so that we know above all that we are loved by you and that you have taken our hand. Help us know with certainty that when you are leading the way we are on the right path. Moreover, Lord, in this assurance help us to shine your love and grace to all those around us. May you be glorified and honored in the things we think, do, and say. It’s in Jesus’ precious name we pray. 
Amen 

Posted by Betsy Howden with

How's your interruptibility?

Jenn and Mark McDonald attend ZPC with their 3 children. Jenn has been an active participant and past co-coordinator of the ZPC MOPS (Mother’s of Preschoolers) group, a High Impact Volunteer at Wheeler Mission, and a member of Revive and Restore Women’s Ministry. Occasionally, you will see her in her happy place, playing flute during worship.

Today's Scripture: Mark 5:25-34

I have been purposefully homeschooling my three children for the past four years, through the preschool and early elementary years. And there is nothing quite like raising children to accelerate God's process of sanctification in your life. When those children are around you every moment of every day, it can be even more intense.

My life is not full of grand moments. It’s full of little things: doing the dishes, reading a book with my kids, putting a band-aid on a skinned knee. I have experienced how much I am learning to be like Jesus in the little things: delighting in and smiling regularly at my children, making eye contact when they tell me stories (for all of the story), and sitting with them in their pain.

My children's pain, real or imagined, physical or emotional, self-inflected or sibling-inflicted, interrupts my day constantly. I have had many days of practicing setting aside my own desires and goals to sit with them in that pain, pray for them, listen to them. Sometimes, I get the opportunity to point them to Christ with my words, but more often, it's my "interruptibility," patience, comfort, and prayer that have to speak for me. 

Jesus had compassion; Jesus was interruptible. That’s become a phrase I repeat daily. As you read in the Gospels, it's incredible to note the amount of times Jesus is described as having compassion, and he is moved to action from that compassion. I love the story in Mark 5 of Jesus healing the woman who had suffered from bleeding. He has a mission. He is on his way to help Jairus’s daughter, but he stops. He interrupts his mission to minister to this woman. In verse 34, he sends her out saying,

“Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” 

When my children interrupt my day, am I able to step into that pain to help them go back to their day in peace?

There is a lot of pain around us in our world today. What are you doing with it? May I challenge you to be “interruptible," to listen to the stories with compassion, to pray for Father God to bring us all closer to himself, to ask Jesus to sanctify us, and to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with his peace?

Posted by Jenn McDonald with

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