Thursday, May 27, 2021

Finding your place {resources}

Ok, Kelly, you've got me curious about what God had in mind when He made me. Now, what?

i'm so glad you asked! i love helping people see where they fit in the story God is writing. here are some valuable resources to get you started on your journey. 

in this episode of Business Made Simple by Don Miller they explore building your own personal brand... but what makes it so helpful is that even if you don't plan on marketing yourself the questions they pose will help you narrow your focus to what God has really made you to do and clarify your message. 

"Find your uniqueness so that you can exploit it in the service of others." -Larry Winget

Ron Smith wrote recently about how pivotal a single moment can be in altering history. Read this powerful testimony and heritage!

A significant book in my journey has been Let Your Life Speak by Parker J Palmer.  

And this quote {expounded on here} has guided my thoughts for decades: "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." 

And maybe you feel buried beneath the lies of the enemy or the walls you've built to protect yourself         are threatening to suffocate you... let me gently suggest that you allow God to meet you in the pain and confusion before you start trying to serve the world. A few book suggestions for you: The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown and Try Softer by Aundi Kolber.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

finding your place in God's story

we all spend our lives trying to figure out our purpose in life... who God made us to be and what He wants to do through us. i love that the intention of Ordinary Time is to "offer us the space to find our place in God's story." after all, the world does not revolve around me; it's His story. He is the center, the Author and the Hero, but He made us to play a role. 

it's this search for meaning and purpose that makes us human. a flower does not struggle with what color it's blossom should be or what shape to take- it has no choice but to be what the seed was designed to be. it would certainly be more simple if we had no choice. but then there would also be no freedom. and so God offers us choices... endless possibilities... and yet sometimes it feels like very few options. 

i believe God created us with all of our strengths and challenges, passions and skills to reflect His glory to a watching world. I also believe that the hardships and struggles we walk through shape us uniquely to extend His love to hurting people. and i believe that we have an enemy who exists to mar the image of God in us, and derail us from the purposes God created us to fulfill. 

as a result of that assault we hide, we put on a mask, we erect a wall or we take matters into our own hands. i have tried all of those survival strategies; they are exhausting. whether the mask is perfection or aggression, the wall is biting sarcasm or emotional distance, or you take things into your own hands by stubborn independence or people-pleasing... i would like to invite you to rest awhile. you don't have to try so hard and you don't have to do this alone. 

What's one thing you are good at? Hold on to that {and drop it in the comments} we will take a look at how to uncover our purpose next time.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

another ordinary day

the birds join the ancient harmony. the breeze wafts cool through the open window. and i am roused to another ordinary day. 

it's the second day of Ordinary Time according to the liturgical calendar and i can't get that word out of my head.

the introduction to this season of the church year has captivated me and gotten me thinking deep thoughts. 

"The first half of the Christian year, ranging from Advent to Pentecost, is devoted to tracing the grand arc of God's saving action in Jesus Christ. The second half of the Christian year is a long stretch of time called Ordinary Time. It starts the day after Pentecost Sunday and leads right up to the first Sunday in Advent, meaning most of the year is spent here,

With all the big holidays and celebrations over, Ordinary Time offers us the space to find our place in God's story. We've celebrated and taken in the momentous life of Jesus; now we need a long stretch of days to absorb and assimilate it. In Ordinary Time, we fully take in the gospel, allowing it to take shape in our daily living, making connections between Jesus' story and our lives." -Philip F Reinders, Seeking God's Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

i have been reading the Time Quartet by Madeleine L'Engle recently and it's got me thinking about the pivotal role we have in the grand story of the world- how even a single decision can alter the course of time. and i don't say that to make you fret and worry about making the wrong choice every single second- i believe God sits on the throne and His Spirit lives within us working all things for good. i do say that to remind us that the enemy would love nothing more than for humans to live numb and distracted, or paralyzed by fear of making the wrong choice. 

God is calling you to arise and take your place in the grand story He is writing- with the Spirit alive within you and your ordinary life looking more and more like Jesus'. and i'd be honored to journey with you. we cannot do this alone. we need other pilgrims to sing the ancient melody to us when we've forgotten it's tune, and to break bread with at the table.

what does finding your place in God's story look like today?  

i'll be going on a walk, tending kids after their dentist appointments, setting up more meetings to share God's vision for our new ministry, and cooking dinner. oh, and i'll be praying for you and your role in this gospel story. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Love the Lord your God...

We are teaching an online Bible study for 6 weeks and Thursday was our first session. We had such a precious time in the Word I don't want you to miss out- check out these notes and then join us on Zoom Thursdays at 7pm EST for the next 5 weeks.
 
After we served Jesus in Uganda with WGM for 9 years we came back to the USA without much certainty as to what God was up to or where He was leading us. So we sat in the grief of leaving Uganda and just waited on the Lord. And as we sought Him He met us. In our uncertainty He reminded us of the commands He had already given us- when we asked “What do you want us to do, God?” He said "Do what you already know to do. Love me with everything you’ve got and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” All too often we make it far too complicated. What if we just focused on getting this right?
 
As we waited on the Lord He slowly revealed His next assignment to us- one that makes us feel alive and excited in ways we haven’t felt in a while and in ways that feel sweetly similar to the ways we ministered while we lived in Uganda. In July we will be joining the Francis Asbury Society to lead their new Student Ministries initiative- cultivating deep, discipleship relationships with students at Asbury University and Asbury Seminary. FAS has been invited by the presidents at both institutions to have an active presence on campus which is a first. FAS historically has focused on publishing and sending evangelists to local churches. We are joining President Ron Smith and we are grateful for the ways Jesus has been shepherding us this year.
 
Like I said, Jesus reminded us last year that the best thing to do when we don’t know what to do is love Him and love others. And that is the message we want to share with the students at Asbury. Loving God with all we are- really does change everything! So lets’ dive into the word.
 
“Then one of the scribes came and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is this, ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:29-31
 
We all want to please God. As believers He has saved us and we are thankful. And in response- we want to honor and obey Him. But why can’t we do it? It often feels like we are powerless to change.  What’s going on at the heart of our struggle?? Alisa Keeton, founder of Revelation Wellness says this: “Unwilling hearts partnered with unrenewed minds keep people fragmented, compartmentalized and separated from their best selves- running around getting their animalistic urges met in the moment instead of training for the higher prize of a life lived in right standing with God and filled with peace and joy.” We are created in the image of God and hardwired for emotional and relational connection. He has put desires inside us that only He can fill.
 
The Lord our God, the Lord is one. He is the only one who can truly satisfy us. I know I am often tempted to think that my phone can satisfy my loneliness, or that food will comfort in the ache inside me- I don’t know what you run to when you are empty- but I will tell you I’ve tried lots of things and none of them fill and satisfy me the way He does. He wants us to love Him first and best. In Jeremiah 2:13 it says " “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." Take a minute and think about the things or people you run to before you run to God. And then confess that to Him and ask Him to meet you and satisfy those empty places.

So He is the one and He invites us to love Him. I can tell you "I love God" and I can know in my head that He loves me. But change comes when I experience the love of God. So take a few minutes and think about ways you express your love to God and ways you experience His love for you. 

Love in this Greek text is agape… I am sure some of you know about the various Greek words translated into our one word “love” but I’ll share a few bits of the Greek definition I found on the Blue Letter Bible app: “love willing to die for his beloved, sacrificial love, unconditional love, to love dearly, when used of love for a master (God or Jesus) the word involves the idea of affectionate reverence, prompt obedience and grateful recognition of benefits received. Can also mean to take pleasure in the thing, prize it above with things, be unwilling to abandon it or do without it. Also involves desire and longing.” 
 
Love the Lord YOUR GOD- He is yours! How sweet is that? It’s also a mutual love. He was willing to lay down His life out of love for you- are you willing to lay down your life out of love for Him?? That’s a hard question in today’s society where not many are willing to lay down their rights out of love for others. I can’t love this way in my own flesh. My heart is hard. But as I let Him love me- and feel His delight in me- when I consider the great lengths to which He went to pursue me- my heart wells up with love for Him. Amazing love, how can it be??? 
 
Take the Love Exchange challenge: Spend two minutes expressing your love to God by journaling, prayer or singing. And then spend two minutes receiving His love for you by journaling what you sense Him saying, or resting in silence. This practice was found in the book The Love Exchange by Margaret Therkelsen. Writes Therkelsen, "As this Love Exchange deepens, God can have more of you than he has ever had, and your lives will be hidden in him, freely alive and transformed in his loving presence".
 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lenten Garden 2021

Filling our desert garden with sand and rocks- setting the tomb in the corner- assembling a cross to be the focal point for lent is such a grounding ritual for me. I have to slow and ponder the wilderness Jesus faced for 40 days, examine the ways I am tempted like He was to be relevant, to be spectacular and to be powerful (Henri Nouwen- In the Name of Jesus) and the confess the things I've clung to besides Jesus. 

this year I've also been reflecting on the desert season we have been walking through since leaving Uganda. Throughout this past year we have felt useless, hidden, unnoticed, hurting and weak. We are the ones who have needed support and prayer- not the ones offering it. And to some degree 2020 was a lengthy lenten wilderness for most of us. 

Quarantine hit in the midst of lent last year and it doesn't feel like we've been released. As we stayed home and kept our social distance some ugly things rose to the surface of our hearts- things that were easier to avoid when we kept busy.  Maybe frustration, anger, impatience, fear, desire for control rose to the surface for you. Maybe you were stuck in households with people you love and unhealthy habits or patterns were exposed. 

So this lent I sense that the Lord longs to be gracious to us. He knows we've kind of been stuck in a lenten desert for a year. And if you've let Him deal with some of those temptations, patterns and sins this year you may be feeling a renewed intimacy with Him (such a gift from a very difficult season). But maybe He has been putting His finger on some things and you've refused Him access. Could you enter in to this lenten season and surrender those to Him? He walks with us to the cross and promises resurrection life and freedom on the other side!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Looking Back to Move Forward: Pt 1

When we lived in Uganda we spent a lot of our time with university students. Creating space for students to encounter God on their own and in fellowship around the table is definitely a big piece of our calling. Bible studies, leadership retreats, small groups, preaching were all a part of our work with the University Discipleship Movement. I loved meeting with the women on Monday nights our first term in Uganda. Many evenings were spent listening to their struggles and laughing at our common frustrations as women, worshipping with them, and helping them wrestle through tough questions. It was always so encouraging to hear them pray.

Throughout this year we will be taking a look back at our years of ministry in Uganda and then forward at how that might translate into our new ministry with the Francis Asbury Society. 

We believe that there is so much potential in the generations coming up! They are passionate about authenticity, community, truth, justice and the environment (Gen Z Core Values). We love how that lines up with God's heart! We all want to know and be known, for our presence to matter to someone else. But there are also some concerning statistics about their belief systems (atheism doubles among Generation Z). And this motivates us to live in authentic community where our backyard is open and there is food on the table. We don't just want to preach the Word, we want to live it.

So we can't wait to move in and get to know the students at Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary as one facet of our ministy with the Francis Asbury Society.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Life Update: February 2021

The Hallahan's are moving to Kentucky! What's in Kentucky? Well, Wilmore to be precise. A tiny little town with a big global impact. 

"Why does God move in the strangest places and through unimpressive people? He comes where He is wanted." And that is just what is happening with the Francis Asbury Society- they want Him!

We have been invited to join the Francis Asbury Society (FAS) in discipling students at Asbury University and Asbury Theological Seminary, and coming alongside, encouraging and resourcing local churches and church leaders around the world. If you have known us long at all you know our hearts are glowing with this job description! Student ministry, preaching, small group discipleship, encouraging pastors, missionaries and believers was at the core of our ministry in Uganda and now we get to do it from Wilmore!

One year ago God woke me up on a balmy Ugandan morning with four words echoing in my heart. "Fight for My Bride", He whispered. I thought He was talking about Africa Gospel Church. But as the entire global scene has shifted, our own personal world has been turned upside-down, and the Church in America sits in a precarious position His whisper is echoing even more loudly in my heart. He has brought missionaries back to America this year in droves and for a multitude of reasons and I believe His purposes are far grander than we've dared to imagine.

We are so thankful for the ways you have carried us and cared for us as we've made the transition from Uganda. We could feel your prayers and the financial gifts God led some of you to send were so precious to us. We couldn't have made it without you. And His Bride needs you now- would you consider joining us in building His kingdom here in America and around the world?



Ways to Partner with Us

Just like when we were missionaries abroad, we will need to raise up a support team:

  • Pray- would you consider joining (or staying on) our prayer team?
  • Give- we are starting from scratch raising a full support package. Click here to donate: Josh and Kelly Hallahan Choose our name from the "Fund Designation" drop down menu and then choose a dollar amount, and then decide whether that is a one time gift or a monthly/annual gift.  Let us know if you have any questions about that!
  • Host a zoom call with your friends, small group, pastor or anyone who is passionate about building the kingdom!


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Fitness Teacher. Gospel Preacher.

 

We were created whole and good. God is a masterful designer and His wonders can be found in every cell of our bodies, every thought in our minds and all the love in our hearts. And we live in a fallen world where our hearts get broken and our bodies will not last forever. These bodies were chosen by the God of the universe for His temple here on earth. It's mind-boggling. It's humbling. And it is motivating!

As you know, I've been on a healing journey for the past two years. And even before that He was stirring my heart to take good care of this body using essential oils and non-toxic products. It's only been in the past 4 years that I've taken exercise seriously at all- and just since October that I made the connection between exercise and my mental and spiritual well-being. 

When I discovered that Revelation Wellness had a fitness instructor training that was actually discipleship and leadership training I was all in! I started my 9 week fitness teacher/gospel preacher training two weeks ago and it has been so incredible to dive into the book of Nehemiah and the Wellness Revelation book with 200+ other people online.  

As we pray and prepare for the ministry God is planning for us next, I know He can use my passion for women living whole and holy wherever He leads us. He is a good Shepherd and we cannot wait to see what He has in store for us. And stay tuned here and on Facebook if you are curious about how I can help you love God, get healthy, be whole and love others!


 

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

2020 Book List

 

So I promised a book list from 2020. In one of the hardest years of my life these books were my wise, kind and faithful companions. 

First, always, the Bible. I lived in the Psalms this year as I learned what lament and worship looked like in a difficult season.

Then, some new authors I discovered this past year: KJ Ramsey, Aundi Kolber, Chuck DeGroat ($1.99) Gina Butz and Katherine May. These  authors helped me understand what it means to suffer (and how God longs to meet us in those deeps), how to embrace discomfort and make peace with change, how to be kind to myself on this healing journey and gave me a vision for wholeness, delight and wonder.

And a few faithful old friends I've read and re-read over the years: Hannah Hurnard ($1.99), Ann Voskamp, Lilias Trotter, Parker J Palmer, and  Andrew Murray (free!).

Finally, FICTION! I am not in a habit of reading fiction- but 2020 kindled a desire to get lost in an imaginary world. Helena Sorensen wrote a magnificent trilogy about a culture of people who lived in a land under a dark shadow. And yet a few of the main characters, that are viewed by their community as the crazy ones, believe there must be light somewhere beyond the shadow. It is a fairly dark book, but so rich and ignited a glimmer of hope last year. During lock-down in Uganda I decided to begin the Harry Potter series... yes, it was my first time and I read them at the request of our middle school boys. It was a treat to enter their world and learn to speak their language. On landing in America in June, my sister in law gifted me the Sensible Shoes series and I devoured them. A beautiful story of four unlikely friends, their spiritual journeys and a dose of counseling thrown in. It was life-giving. 

So, there is my book list from 2020. I am sure there were more- but these were the best. What did you read that you loved??

Thursday, December 17, 2020

and yet...

house renovation josh's working on 
crumbling plaster. cracked wooden floors. weary muscles. sore hands. fall into bed bone weary. sleep. wake up to it all again. josh puts in 40 hours of hard labor (and keeps up with his seminary) and yet- this is the "for now provision", not a "forever solution".  

math. handwriting. making lunches. solving sibling squabbles and soothing raw emotions. menu planning. mountains of laundry. mine is a 24/7 job of motherhood and yet- they are here and they are ours....friends of ours are grieving the deepest loss imaginable, their son just 11 years old. and I just cook and pray, sweep and pray, wake in the night and pray that Jesus meets them and carries them and brings good out of such tragedy. 

I'm re-reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It's been 10+ years since I read it last and I didn't quite need a theology of suffering then like I do now. And it is perfect. I'll do a 2020 book post next!

in these dark days of advent where loss is everywhere and holidays will not look the same as they used to, when I am so happy to be near family this year and missing our Uganda people and traditions (and weather, let's be honest) I need some anchors for my soul. our Jesse tree and advent wreath. our advent envelopes. lighting a candle each morning to be with Jesus. writing a gift list (not what I want... but what He has already given). and reading honest books. it's all so hard. there is so much grief and loss and suffering and political and racial tension and yet- these are the things giving me life right now. 

though wars rage and loved ones die, though we are grieving the loss of our life and ministry in Uganda and don't know where the Lord is leading us, yet we know He is here and we will rejoice that He is near to the broken-hearted.

what's been giving you life these days?


Friday, December 11, 2020

Overdue Life Update: November 16

We are not quite sure how to begin this update, but we wanted to let you know that God has repositioned us yet again. During our very first week at Central UMC in Linwood we realized that our family would not be a good fit for this church. We sought wise counsel and spent much time in prayer before making the difficult decision to submit our resignation. The church was very gracious and allowed us to stay in the parsonage for two weeks after we resigned. 

We are now back at Josh's parents' home in Sicklerville. We are thankful to be close to both our families as we navigate this path of healing and waiting on the Lord. And in the meantime, Josh has found a temporary job doing construction in South Jersey with another former Uganda missionary. It's just like God to provide the right connections when we need them!

While we may never know exactly why the Lord led us on such a circuitous route, we trust His heart. He is good and His is kind. And He has granted us more time to seek Him and enjoy HIm. While we wait we ask that you would join us in praying for whatever the Lord has next for us- may we continue walking closely with Him, may He continue to heal our hearts, and may we be the people He can use wherever we are this very moment.


for Him,
Josh and Kelly

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Be Held- the practice of lament

Most days I am fine. I can feed the kids, cope with life, make it to the end of the day in one piece. And then there are some days I feel like I'm suffocating- like it's all too much- stuck. Unfortunately, our culture encourages us to suck it up, to numb the pain, to put on a happy face. None of that serves us; it keeps us broken instead of inviting healing. 

So what do we do with the pain? How do we survive in this world full of suffering? K.J. Ramsey has been teaching me that the psalms are the prayer book of the people of God, and that in the psalms we find words to give voice to our deep grief. The jewish people were well acquainted with grief and suffering, which then gave birth the practice of lament. Ramsey writes:
"The psalms offer a conversational means of uniting mind and heart, honesty and truth, despair and hope, humans and their Maker. We struggle to dwell in the tension between our pain and our need to praise, but the psalms hold us in a conversational traction."

I love that imagery: conversational traction. I can picture myself in a hospital bed with my leg suspended from some contraption intended to hold me in the right position to heal properly. Let that sink in. And then we can make the shift in our minds from "I feel stuck" to "I'm in traction". That's powerful. 

The psalms of lament give us words when we feel speechless. It's like when my girls are spiraling out of control and losing their minds and I invite them to climb into my lap and I hold them till they are calm enough to tell me what's going on. And sometimes I have to help them find words for the big feelings inside them- they are still learning. So am I. And the psalms help me find words.  

"O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down. You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again! You have made the earth tremble, You have broken it; heal its breaches for it is shaking. You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion." -Psalm 60:1-3

I don't know about you- but my heart echoes these feelings sometimes! And it's only as we come to God with honesty, revealing our hurting hearts in transparency (and finding Him kind and trustworthy) that we find healing. One more Ramsey quote: 

"The psalms show us how to acknowledge our pain with honesty. They teach us to approach God from the place of being undone instead of the prison of pretending we are self-sufficient and invulnerable. And in expressing our spitting frustration, derelict desperation and arresting anguish, we mysteriously experience being heard. Relating to God as needy, moody, exhausted children forms hope, praise and trust. Without vulnerability, the truth that God's love is steadfast remains abstract. Tears, groans, and sighs create the relational atmosphere where we can allow God to parent us. Weakness acknowledged and expressed forms trust." -K.J. Ramsey, This Too Shall Last

Just this week I found myself suffocating and stuck again. Thankfully, Josh whisked the kids off to the park so I could fall apart. So I wrapped myself in my Ugandan kikoy, climbed into the Father's lap and wept. I listened to Christy Nockels album: Be Held and it was just the thing I needed. In pouring out my heart to God, knowing my feelings were welcome, seen and cared for, I was able to take one more step towards wholeness. He is so gentle and kind. It's my prayer that you would find some time to do the same. We are all walking through a lot of loss and grief is a natural response. So let's turn to the psalms and find our way to the Father's heart where we can be held.



For more information on lament check out:


Thursday, July 23, 2020

{Hesed} love

I want to share this morning a word that has become so precious to me in this season. I don’t know about you- but the past 5 months have been some of the hardest months I’ve ever faced. Not only are we dealing with a global pandemic, and racial tensions, but in the middle of all of that my family relocated back to New Jersey unexpectedly. We are still WGM missionaries, and are seeking the Lord for what He may be calling us to next. I read recently in the Titus Women’s Minsitry e-news an incredible call to prayer because many missionaries have returned to the USA this year unexpectedly and for various reasons- it feels as though God is amassing a huge missionary force here in America and I’m curious to see His purposes in these days! All that to say- these have been days of global grief and massive stress and anxiety, and as we look to the Psalms we see a word we can grasp hold of that may be just the anchor we need in this storm. 

 The Hebrew word hesed occurs 246 times in the OT. I heard Dr. John Oswalt teach on it last summer, and it has come to life this year for me. Some English translations use “kindness” “mercy” “steadfast love” “lovingkindness” “favor” “unfailing love” “devotion” but none of these are sufficient by themselves. It is a deep, rich word that doesn’t have a single, perfect translation in English.  A couple more definitions “faithful love in action” and “undeserved love from a superior to an inferior” “unmerited kindness that seeks to actively intervene to help a loved one”. 

Ralph Davis says, “The order is: love gives itself, in covenant, and gladly promises devoted love in that covenant; the covenant partner then rests in the security of that promise and may appeal to it.” Think of a faithful marriage, and a parent-child relationship all rolled into one (but don’t take this too far it gets weird). Or even faithful marriage and master and servant combined. The idea is God has pledged Himself to us in faithful love, but He is also in authority over us- He owes us nothing. Michael Card translated hesed as “when the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.”

Understanding this word is not just important to us because it appears well over 100 times in the Psalms. This word is important because it is one of the words God uses to describe himself, as in Exodus 34:6-7, when he says to Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in hesed and faithfulness, maintaining hesed to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” 

These have been the hardest days I have ever walked through. We hadn’t planned on being back in the USA indefinitely. Saying goodbye to the only life our little family has known was painful. And then comes the memory of this little five letter word “hesed”.  So I had to dig into why this word was so important.

 

Adrian Van Breda helped me understand “God’s hesed is experienced particularly when we are in the midst of adversity. Psalm 94:18 says, “When I said, My foot is slipping, Your hesed love, O Lord, supported me.” The sense here is that God’s hesed is grasped at while we are still in the adversity. Hesed does not necessarily remove the adversity or even the distress and anxiety that adversity evokes. Within each situation we have to seek out again God’s hesed and rediscover what it means to be loved while we struggle with life. Hesed becomes a lifeline or an anchor onto which we hold for dear life. While we struggle, someone may reassure us that God loves us, but actually that knowledge is something we have to find for ourselves.” 

 

I needed to not only know God loved me in this season- I needed to experience it. I experienced His hesed when Josh collected letters from people who love me for my birthday. I received His hesed when my brother drove to DC to pick us up from the airport, and when we arrived at an empty parsonage gifted to us from a church to quarantine in. I saw His love in action when people delivered meals to us while we were in quarantine. And I sensed His hesed every morning when I sat on the deck as the sun warmed my face and I spent time with the Lord. 

 

Psalm 103 gives us a beautiful illustration of hesed: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me; bless His holy name (can I pause here and say that bringing our whole selves- not just the pretty bits- but the hurt, the worry, the delight, the wonder is what blesses the Lord but that is another topic for another day)! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed, He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy {hesed}. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy {hesed} toward those who fear Him… “ 

 

Now what? How will I live differently because of God’s hesed towards me this week??

 

“I will give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His hesed endures forever” –Psalm 136:1

            Make a list of His love notes, His hesed towards you- every day!

 

I will remember the times He showed hesed towards me, unlike the Israelites “they did not remember the multitude of Your hesed but rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.” –Psalm 106:7

Could you write a timeline of the ways God intervened in your life and saved you or rescued you or people you love? I can’t wait to get to heaven and find out all the things He rescued me from that I had no idea were about to happen!

 

I will call out to God in my distress “But You, O God the Lord, deal with me for Your name’s sake; because Your hesed is good, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded with me… Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your hesed, that they may know that this is Your hand- that You, Lord have done it!” –Psalm 109:21-22, 26

Our lives don’t just become rosy and easy when we walk with the Lord- His hesed isn’t a magic wand to wave over our lives. However- I have found that His hesed shines on our darkest days. Because it is a covenant term, He has promised never to leave us or forsake us, He has chosen us as His people, His reputation is on the line- we can call out to Him and appeal to His hesed and trust Him to come through for us.

 

I will share my story with someone. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His hesed endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…” –Psalm 107:1-2

Could you share your testimony with someone who needs to hear it this week? Or share how God has met a need in your life recently with someone feeling hopeless?

 

I will be glad. “Oh, satisfy us early with Your hesed, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us. And establish the work of our hands for us, yes, establish the works of our hands.” –Psalm 90:14, 17

It’s easy to complain these days. This is not the story I would have written for 2020. But I can be glad- because He is my God. I can choose to start my day with Him- let Him fill and satisfy me and I won’t be looking for the world, or my circumstances or other people to satisfy me. He will satisfy my deepest needs as I meet with Him and I can be glad. And then I walk away from that time looking more like Him because Jesus Himself has filled me and is living His life in me- extending hesed love, faithfulness, kindness, mercy, compassion to those around me! When God’s people know they are loved- He is able to use them to love the world around them!