christian living

Things I’ve Gained Through Quarantine

Here we are. Again.

Eight months into this pandemic, and we are back on temporary lockdown. Can’t go here, can’t do this, you can do this but with these restrictions, etc, etc, etc. In some ways, 2020 has felt like one big “NO.” It is insane to me how the span of eight months can feel like an eternity. But if we are thinking in terms of actual eternity, eight months is merely the blink of an eye, an almost invisible blip on the radar. 

It goes without saying that, for almost everyone, this has been a year of loss. Some have experienced significant loss: the death of a loved one(s), job loss, financial hardship, marital strife or even divorce, or the loss of absolutely every earthly possession they own in the wildfires that ravaged our region. Many others have taken on incredible amounts of stress as they work the front lines of this pandemic (shout out to ALL healthcare workers, law enforcement, firefighters…you’re the real heroes), or try to navigate the challenges of working from home while also trying to homeschool their children (for anyone in this position, you da real MVPs). And almost everyone has taken on the burden of navigating the loss of relationships, connection with others, and the feeling of isolation that comes with having our everyday lives come to a screeching halt.

It can be easy to toss around Scripture during times of stress, loss, and grief. The Scripture below is no exception, but it truly is one of my favorites in the Bible:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am humble and gentle in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

Stop for just a second. Read that again. What blows my mind is that Jesus desires to trade our heavy burdens for his light one. That He wants to exchange our trash for his treasure…if we would just come to Him. He promises rest. I don’t know about you, but I could sure use a healthy dose of that after this year.

Because of all this, it’s a little comical that I felt like the Lord was prompting me to write this post about things I’ve gained in quarantine. It is so easy for us all to revert to all the things we’ve lost this year…but what about the things we’ve gained? When I look back on 2020, am I going to remember all the hardships and inconveniences? Probably, yes. But even more so, I want it to be burned into my memory the things the Lord has revealed to me this year, both about Himself and about myself. I want to focus on the steps forward that I’ve made and view this year as pivotal in my walk with the Lord, not as a year to be forgotten or written off.

 

Gain #1: Perspective
  • Social media has taken the world by storm, even prior to COVID-19 and even more so after. While it can be used as an incredibly powerful tool to keep us connected to our family, friends and communities, ask yourself: is it draining you? Are you constantly comparing your life to others or dealing with discontentment based on the squares of other people’s so-called “life”? Are you going down rabbit trails and finding yourself wracked with anxiety? Fasting doesn’t necessarily mean abstaining from food and drink. Maybe it’s time to disconnect from the virtual world that we are immersed in and get back to basics. My phone has become an “escape” (dare I say…idol?) during this pandemic and I have been convicted on more than one occasion to set it aside and engage in what is right in front of me rather than what’s on a screen.
  • I have felt numerous times over the course of the past eight months that this pandemic is absolutely a tool that God is using to encourage His people to press “pause;” to slow down, to rest, and to lean into Him. Not just lean in, but rely on Him. A MAJOR reset. I have longed so many times in my adult life for things to slow down; to be able to off-load things from my plate, to spend more time at home with my family, to just breathe. Yeah, it’s not always easy working from home full-time with a toddler. I am wracked with mom guilt a lot because she has above-average screen time as I try to juggle several things at once (like everyone else). No, I don’t get a lot of alone time. BUT, I’m home with her. I’m here. And even if I don’t feel present all the time, I get to be the one to be here for everything. And this is time I will never get back.
Gain #2: Self-Awareness
  • The ironic thing is, now that life is moving at a much slower pace, I find myself trying to constantly replace (or fill) the slowness. I feel restless, sometimes borderline impulsive. Like I need to disrupt my newfound peace and quiet to feel “productive”. Why? Why can’t I just soak in the peace that I have been craving for so long (and that God has graciously gifted me with)? 
  • As an introvert and a homebody, my tendency is to isolate myself and to go inward, particularly when I’m struggling with my mental health. To stay in my bubble, safe and unbothered. That’s dangerous, because being in your own head all the time is unhealthy. The Lord recently made it very clear that I need to be more intentional with my intentionality: seek people out, seek out opportunities to connect and stay connected, and be present.
  • Reading my Bible is similar to exercising; I never regret doing it, and I always feel amazing afterward. Why, then, are these things SO difficult for me to stick with? Particularly with this extra time on my hands? Let’s be honest, I am not that busy. This just tells me that I have some serious re-prioritizing to do.
  • In the same breath, I’ve realized that I’m done riding the shame spiral. Done putting unrealistic expectations on myself, done feeling like a failure when I don’t meet these unrealistic expectations, done putting myself in a box. A dear friend (you know who you are) recently pointed out to me that I like to proclaim things about myself and write them off as “truth”. That I resign myself to “facts” about what I can or can’t do, or that I am/am not passionate about something because deep down, I’m afraid to be a child at something and to risk failure. Annnnd…mic drop.
Gain #3: Appreciation
  • I have been clinically diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This means that my brain literally never stops thinking, analyzing, worrying, etc. My therapist asked me once to think about when (if ever) I last experienced boredom. As the mother of a toddler, a serial overachieving perfectionist, and someone who used to base their productivity on how many boxes they could check off on their completely unrealistic to-do list, this was a completely foreign concept to me. For the first time in years, there are days during this pandemic where I have actually experienced boredom! It actually makes me feel triumphant when I start to feel bored, because this means that I am taking control of my mental illness rather than it taking control of me.
  • In contrast to my first bullet point, I am actually incredibly grateful for technology and the benefits it has given me during this time. I have transitioned to working from home full-time with virtually zero interruption and have been incredibly fortunate to remain employed; I am able to communicate and stay connected to those dearest to me; and I have even completed an inductive Zoom Bible study!
  • Finally, I am eternally grateful for the gift of time. Time with my daughter, time with my husband, time with Jesus. Time to breathe, time to explore hobbies I forgot I loved and passions I forgot I had. Time to focus on actual self-care (not just pampering and fluff): taking care of my mental, physical and spiritual health.

 

I guess what it boils down to is this: we have a choice. Every day, the stress of this year (or life in general) threatens to swallow us whole. And let’s be honest: some days we give in. We let doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, apathy, shame, guilt, and pride creep in and settle in the places where Jesus has been working so hard this year to clean house. It’s there that the enemy wants to keep us, focusing on all the things that have gone wrong this year and the uncertainty of what is to come.

But guess what? Jesus always has the final say. And He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it. Stay the course, friend. 

Much love,

Ali

 

About Ali Gadbaugh: Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ali is a homebody who counts coffee, her husband and daughter, and Jesus as a few of her favorite things. She likes to add a little sarcasm and humor to life, and is passionate about growing and deepening her relationship with her Savior.

 

Living As Light

 

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light  (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” – Ephesians 5:11-14, NIV, emphasis added)

 

We bought our house in the dead of Winter. Abandoned for a year, the inspection was done without electricity and water. There was a leak in the roof, filthy toilets, a bullseye target painted on the window, and remnants of someone who’d used it as shelter during the time it sat vacant. We hoped and prayed everything would work when we made an offer and called it our own a few days before Christmas.

But sheer angst was what we experienced several days later.

Winters in the Pacific Northwest are dark and dreary, so we were excited to see the sun finally peek through the clouds while unpacking. It was the light that unleashed what was hidden. Thousands upon thousands of beetles scurried out from under the cedar shakes on our south-facing home to bathe in the warm sun. Once gray in color, our new house looked black. It was absolutely covered in insects. 

I took the window screens off and hundreds dropped out. Even the attic vents were full of the pesky bugs. More beetles tucked themselves under the shingles than I knew what to do with. Years of no one dealing with the pests made for a breeding haven and I was completely overwhelmed. There were times that I stayed inside on sunny days to pretend they weren’t there, and even thought about cancelling plans with friends so they wouldn’t see my infested home.

When ignoring the problem no longer worked, online tutorials and articles helped me decide how to overcome my new arch-enemy. The plan for victory meant keeping a pressure-washer always ready with a special soap and water mixture.  Spraying them with the sudsy solution was tiresome and tedious, but it worked! The beetles dwindled in number and what began in anguish ended in anticipation. I rushed home on sunny days just to deal with my pests and get rid of them for good.

If you’re anything like me, you may not always want to expose things that are hidden. Like the beetles that lived under my shingles, It may seem easier to pretend they aren’t there than go through the hard work, exposure, and even embarrassment of dealing with them and admitting they’re a problem. 

The same is true for sin. Only when it’s exposed and known can we truly surrender it to the Lord and be cleansed from it. The pesky, debilitating, and loathsome problem of sin can only be reconciled in the light. 

I believe we are living in a time of sin-reckoning, Sisters. I believe this current pandemic, racial tension, and national discord is exposing both personal and corporate footholds. They are bringing to light weaknesses in our character and revealing values inconsistent with Gospel truth. They are uncovering idolatry and the darkest places of our heart. They are unveiling the filth that lurks under the surface. 

And I believe the same is true for the Church at large. God’s bride has been hiding sin in the shadows. Covering it. Justifying it. Perhaps even unaware of it. The Light of God in all His radiant perfection and glory exposes things we may not have wanted to see –  In ourselves, our neighbors, our systems, our communities, our leaders, and those we love. 

But there is beauty in the revelation of sin – If we humbly acknowledge it and repent from it. The apostle Paul tells us that everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”

Imagine for a moment what the world would look like if we, daughters of Christ, fully surrendered our sin and walked in the light of the Lord (Ephesians 5:11)? If we let Him refine and cleanse that which has been exposed? We would illuminate our homes, workplaces, and nation for His glory! 

Oh Sisters, may we boldly ask the Lord to reveal our offences and humbly repent of them. May we bravely plea in the same manner as David: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). May we reflect His image “in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:11). May we be examples of confession and reconciliation for all the world to see and “live as children of the light” (v.11) for His pleasure. May we stop trying to hide our fear of being exposed (John 3:19-20) and fully surrender to our great God’s mercy. May we hold fast to the truth that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (John 1:9).

May we let Him consume us. Refine us. Cleanse us. Purify us. All for His glory and His Kingdom. Amen.

 

About Lisa: Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, teacher, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. She is the Director of Arise Ministries Collective in the Pactific Northwest.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

 

 

Podcast 031 – “Seeking First: Mission and Singleness” || The In-Between Series With Jess and Amanda ||

Wow! We’ve made it to the last podcast in The In-Between series, friends! We are so thankful for you listening in and joining us as we explore what it looks like to seek the kingdom first in singleness or whatever season you’re in. 

In this last podcast, we discuss the core issues of our hearts in a waiting season: Our desires, our faith and our identity in Christ as disciples. We hope this conversation will exhort and empower you to fully step into the mission God has before you – Regardless of where you are right now. It’s exciting to look at the purpose of our lives with eternal vision and we hope this will encourage you to do just that.

 

Scripture References

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (NIV)

The Parable of the Persistent Widow – Luke 18:1-8 

Proverbs 31

 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youi always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21 (NIV)

“And he said to them: ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:19 (ESV)

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15 (NIV)

Hebrews 11

 

Seeking First: 5 Ways To Keep Our Eyes On the Mission

Seek Opportunity: Ask the Lord to help you see ways to step into Kingdom purpose/mission. Recognize that as a follower of Christ, you’ve already been called to the work of the Great Commission – Even in the in-between.

Seek Scripture: Does what you want/feel like you should do align with God’s Holy Word?

Seek Counsel: What do your Christ-following friends and family members have to say about your gifts, talents, and opportunities?

Seek Identity: Is your identity and the way you feel about yourself circumstantial, or rooted in who Christ says you are. Take the time to truly flesh this out, friends. If we put our identity in things we shouldn’t, that will translate into how we see our purpose here on earth. Ask God to help you understand where your true identity lies. 

Seek Christ First: When we align with Christ, His desires will become our desires. When we know who God is in Scripture and through prayer and communion with Him, we can trust that He is faithful to provide. His promises are true even if we try something and fail.

 

Quotes, Articles, Songs and Resources to Help

 

Thank you again for joining us in this series, listeners and friends. We would love to connect with you if you have questions or thoughts on these issues – To hear some of your own story and even join you in prayer. Leave us a comment here or on social media so we can reach out and get in touch.

We may feel in-between many times in life, singleness included – But we are not lost in the mission God has for us.

“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.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)

 

About Our Co-Hosts

Originally from the Bay Area, Jessica currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Jessica obtained her undergrad from Biola University in Psychology and her master’s in Counseling Psychology from California State East Bay, and since that time has been a recruiting coordinator with a large banking company. An extroverted introvert, Jessica has a huge heart pull towards facilitating Christ-honoring and truth-filled discussions with women of all ages in the church. It’s her deep desire to seek the welfare of the city through her hope-filled heart with the abilities and gifts God has generously given her.

 

 

 

Amanda works as cardiac ICU nurse and moved to Portland three years ago. She has a heart to see the great commission carried out in the city and around the world. Her heart is for encouraging the Church in the written word of God and the great joy on the other side of obedience in our walk with the Lord.

 

 

 

 

Podcast 029 –
“Seeking Contentment In Singleness”
|| The In-Between Series with Jess and Amanda ||

Welcome friends,

What do you do when you’re dissatisfied with life? Like you’re in a ditch and can’t get out or feel like staying in the pit you’re in? Portland millennials Amanda and Jess have experienced this, too, and want to encourage other single women to find true contentment in Christ. Listen along as they share personal stories, insight, and wisdom in this first episode of the three part series they’re calling, In Between.  

 

Scripture References

“And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” Philippians 4:11-13 GNT

“This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NLT

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139: 23-24 NIV

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:3-4 NIV

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 NIV

 

Steps to Finding Contentment

  1. Begin on your knees. Ask the Father what’s going on deep in your heart and in your mind. Ask Him to show you if there are deeply embedded roots of sin that are causing poor fruit/discontentment to grow. Ask Him for vision and to reveal Truth from his Word that will replace lies of the world and from the enemy. Ask Him to humble you to hear and respond to what He has to say.
  2. Focus on the Word. Take time to meditate on Scripture. Memorize passages for recall when you’re feeling discontent or discouraged. Print the resources below and put them up around your home or tuck them in your wallet. Make sure you’re staying in the Word, and consider joining a study or group to hold you accountable.
  3. Ask For Insight. Talk to trusted friends, mentors or parents and ask them if they see patterns that contribute to your state of discontent. Invite others to come alongside you in the journey. Be willing to share your struggles and receive their words of wisdom/encouragement.
  4. Practice Thankfulness. Make lists of things you’re thankful for each day. You may want to keep a journal and record prayers of gratitude. These remind us of the good things God has for us in our lives when we’re struggling to see it.
  5. Consider Others. While it’s important to understand, acknowledge, and deal with personal trauma, loneliness, and disappointment, too much time focusing on the self can leave us bound to discontent. Begin looking for opportunities to volunteer and share your gifts/resources with others. Pray for people, bring a meal to someone, and find places to serve. Make plans and engage in the community around you.

 

Quotes, Articles, Songs and Resources to Help

Sometimes we need a little outside encouragement finding contentment in Christ. Amanda and Jess shared some songs and articles they found helpful, along with suggestions for clinging to the Word of Christ through meditation and memorization. Click on the links below for direct access to these resources.

There are free printable scripture cards available from us here at Arise (a gift from artist Anna DeRoos of She Letters Truth – Just tap the images below for the printable PDF) as well as some for purchase through The Daily Grace Company.

We don’t always get to choose our situation, but we do get to choose how we think about it, how we shape our hearts in it, and how we come to God in it. 

Pursuing contentment right alongside you,

Jess and Amanda

 

About Our Hosts:

Originally from the Bay Area, Jessica currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Jessica obtained her undergrad from Biola University in Psychology and her master’s in Counseling Psychology from California State East Bay, and since that time has been a recruiting coordinator with a large banking company. An extroverted introvert, Jessica has a huge heart pull towards facilitating Christ-honoring and truth-filled discussions with women of all ages in the church. It’s her deep desire to seek the welfare of the city through her hope-filled heart with the abilities and gifts God has generously given her.

 

 

 

Amanda works as cardiac ICU nurse and moved to Portland three years ago. She has a heart to see the great commission carried out in the city and around the world. Her heart is for encouraging the Church in the written word of God and the great joy on the other side of obedience in our walk with the Lord.

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