July 4, Psalm 33

Written by Barb Heerman

Before the pandemic, I loved to participate in aqua aerobics classes. Jogging, kicking, and leaping in the water, I gained energy for the rest of the day. In the summer, the sun warmed my back as the water kept me cool.

Once COVID-19 struck, pools closed. Despite the stress on my knees, I have found the same sense of uplift from morning walks in my neighborhood. I began snapping pictures of spring flowers to post on Facebook to show my northern friends that spring would come, but I worried about depressing them as the snow continued to fall near Chicago. As I continued to post pictures, people continued to thank me. The flowers brought a sense of hope to those of us in Middle TN as well as to my friends and family in the north. Friends asked me to continue the posts, and I even received emails from some saying how much they enjoyed them. I started to add pictures of unusual things in my neighborhood that I had seen on a daily walk:  a bear carved on a tree stump, a chalk message on the walking trail, and a sign saying “Love thy Neighbor.” I had always been someone who had seen the beauty of the neighborhood, but I had not focused on the beauty of the specific trees or flowers within. Now when I walk, my eye is out for the special burst of color, the flower I can’t identify or a garden adornment that is there to amuse. As the pandemic has spread, I have become more aware of the names of Middle TN plants and more aware of the beauty of individual flower petals, all part of God’s creation.

May God show you the beauty of each day as we pray for deliverance from the pandemic.

Psalm 33 v. 1 – 9, 20 – 23

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright.
Praise the Lord with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the word stand in awe of him. 
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

July 3, Psalm 1

Written by Art Herron

“How well God must like you” begins verse 1. Then we see a listing of attitudes that are not appealing to God.

            You hang out at sinful places…
            You go down dead-end roads seeking glory…
            You make fun of others…

Look at the contrast in verse 2. Instead he points to those attributes pleasing to God.

            You study and read Scripture daily…
            You revere it and it’s truth becomes a way of life…

The admonishment is found in verse 3.  It makes one think of a fruitful apple tree located near a stream of water which replenishes itself daily.

I like The Message version interpretation which states, “You are not like the wicked who are mere windblown dust…” After admonishing the wicked further, David says, “God watches the road you take.”

Wouldn’t be great if our life was this simple? Unfortunately for us, like it was for “David,” life is not quite that simple. Our time before God’s presence is not filled with all the “right answers” or the “perfectly lived life.” Therefore, the Psalmist directs us to see that “God gives a fantastic roadmap” to follow. If we get distracted on our journey and take the wrong way, don’t fret, just go back to the roadmap and follow God’s directions.

It’s comforting and encouraging to me in my walk with God to know He is aware we have to make choices on our journey through life. Do we go this way or that way? The reality that we always have a “map to follow” is just the first step on our journey. Remember God loved us into being.

Now that we have the “roadmap” to a meaningful walk with God, let’s hold on to the roadmap for our self and others.

PSALM 1 The Message

1.Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers

2. but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

3.He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

4.The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.

5.Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6. for the Lord knows the way of The righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

July 2, Psalm 100

Written by Janice Eddlemon

I live alone, so keeping my scattered brain on task has been a challenge during this mostly at-home-alone time. My mind jumps from one crisis going on in our world and then swiftly to another. I am not ADD nor ADHD. This alone time has just taken a toll on my focus (might be my age too). Some days my brain acts like a squirrel scurrying from tree to tree, jumping and flittering around. I guess that’s where we get the term “squirrelly.”

So several weeks ago Kim Joiner, during an online video, encouraged us to set up a worship center in our home. After dwelling on that for several days, I decided that preparing such a place would keep me focused as I did my daily devotions and prayer times and as I viewed our online church services.

I carefully gathered items and put a small center together in my small sun room. Yes, now as I sit before this worship area, I really can keep my thoughts from wondering to COVID-19 news and from the division I see taking place in our beautiful USA.

I have also found that I feel very centered each Sunday morning as I worship online; I can sing loud and off-key during the hymns. I can truly “Make a joyful noise to the Lord.” I sing without embarrassment and maybe even a little screechingly, but God hears my song and thinks it’s joyful. He doesn’t cover His ears!

I had to memorize the 100th Psalm in 5th grade. That was a time when public schools could use the Bible and pray in class. The Bible was not only a firm foundation of truth and morals, but a thought-provoking piece of literature. I still fall back on this Psalm’s words day after day as a source of joy and strength during times of upheaval.

This Psalm is such a positive note at a time when we could easily turn to negativity just by taking our focus off of Christ, our Rock and Salvation.

So in retrospect, for me, this has been a time of leaning on past experiences and knowledge (5th grade memorization) and meshing them with current suggestions and situations (Kim’s video and today’s world crises). I’m still growing in spirit and faith. God is so good.

Psalm 100 – King James Version
1 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

I also sing this praise every day. It keeps me calm and focused on God also.

I love you Lord
And I life my voice
To worship you
Oh, my soul, rejoice!
Take joy, my King
In what you hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
In your ear.

By Maranatha! Music

July 1, Psalm 37:7

Written by Ellie Jones

A couple of weeks ago my dad asked me what I’m grateful for, and immediately I responded with patience. Throughout quarantine I’ve realized how important patience is in order to stay connected. In a way, I’ve been able to keep in touch with my friends from the youth group and school because of patience. We’ve been using Zoom and other technology to be able to talk to each other. In order to have online classes, the school had to plan out a schedule so certain classes didn’t overlap with each other. Even though I didn’t attend every class on Zoom, or most of them for that matter, it was especially helpful to have a Zoom for my AP European History class which still had an exam in place. The youth group has also been utilizing Zoom to stay in touch. We would meet on Sundays and Thursdays every week, although now we’re finally starting to meet in person again.

Another time where I noticed patience was a couple weeks ago at the online Montreat Conference for 2020. The new online set-up included videos of each day’s welcoming message, a speaker, and “Faith Out Loud,” which was an interview with someone. Overall, it worked really well with almost no problems except for a rough start at the beginning. The weekend before our conference, Montreat had no power and couldn’t upload their videos until Monday. This led us to combine Monday and Tuesday in order to finish the week on time. After that, everything worked fine. On Friday, which was the last day, we usually have a candlelight service around Lake Susan, and to honor this, they made a worship video which was the only one with music in it. It was a beautiful close to the week, and I loved how they closed the conference in such a meaningful way.

Everyone that week was patient, and we were able to have a great week full of good discussions despite the conference being online. I know that the leaders at Montreat had to be patient when they were without power. They had to upload the videos and explain to everyone what happened and how we could get to the videos. I know that Linzi used patience that weekend dealing with the delay and not having any response for an extended amount of time while also informing the rest of us with what was going on. I know that our small group was patient too. During our Monday morning Zoom, we didn’t have any videos, so we just talked about how we have been doing. That afternoon, we came to the decision to combine Monday and Tuesday, and it ended up being a great week. No one decided to give up on the Montreat conference despite how many obstacles there were, and I’m grateful for that also.

 At the end of week service, the band that played at Triennium played my favorite song. I first heard this song called “Reckless Love” at NaCoMe, and it stuck with me ever since. So I was sitting there singing along to my favorite song and couldn’t help but think about all of the memories I have made at Montreat, Triennium, and NaCoMe. I became so overwhelmed that I started crying. For the first time, I understood how much I was going to miss this summer, and it hit me hard.

This is why I’m grateful for patience. Even though things haven’t been great, I know that they can get better. I’ve been patient, and slowly things have started opening up again. Last week I was able to meet with the Student Leadership Team for the first time in person since the church closed down. So even though I won’t be able to go to all the places that I love, I can still make memories with the people that I care about even if it is a couple extra feet apart.

Psalm 37:7

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

June 30, Psalm 148

Written by Katie England

Silence is not a thing I find readily at home these days. Even during normal times, there are squeals and screams and giggles and “Mommy, can I have a treat?” “Mommy, can I watch a show?” “Mommy, look at me!” “Watch me do this!”  “Are you in the bathroom?”

And now, this noise is compounded as four months of no school, no playgrounds, no babysitters, and no grandparent visits have accumulated into a new (yet temporary) normal that is, frankly, difficult. How can I find solitude when our home is full all day, every day? What does self-care look like when I can’t go for a cup of coffee by myself or meet a friend for a glass of wine or cheer on the Preds with my spouse?

Somehow, I managed to sequester a few minutes to myself this afternoon to write this. And I am drinking it up. The little ones are resting inside, and as I sit on the patio in the relative quiet, I can still hear the layers of sounds around me: cars on the busy road not far off, a few species of birds ‘caw caw-ing’ in the neighborhood,  crickets ‘chip chip chipping’ in the grass. It is not silent but it is quiet. It is enough.  

For now, finding solitude means drinking my first cup of coffee before the rest of the house wakes up or taking the dog on a walk alone before dinner. My favorite times, though, are early morning walks when the air is still cool from the night before and the song birds are twittering and chirping and cheeping and peeping.  

They seem to be singing a song just for me, but it is not for me. 

I am an offstage observer of a concert meant only for God. The birds praise their Creator God by being birds and singing their bird songs, just as the crickets praise their Creator God with their ‘chip chip chipping’ and the evening sky praises its Creator God with its show of orange, red, and purple sunsets. After that, the fireflies praise Creator God with their flickering of lights. 

These sights and sounds remind me of the brief but powerful words of Psalm 148: calling all of God’s creation to praise the Lord which created it all:

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you creatures of the ocean depths,

8 fire and hail, snow and clouds,
wind and weather that obey him,

9 mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,

10 wild animals and all livestock,
small scurrying animals and birds,

11 kings of the earth and all people,
rulers and judges of the earth,

12 young men and young women,
old men and children

13 Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
for his name is very great;
his glory towers over the earth and heaven!

No, silence is not easily found these days, but may I relish the noises around me as a concert meant to honor the one true Creator God. May I relish the noises, too, of two little girls that praise their Creator God with their imaginative stories, contagious smiles, giggles, and yes, even squeals.

June 29, Psalm 30:5

Written by Camille Winton

I’ve always held onto the line “this is only temporary” for most unpleasant situations in my life. When I would fight with a friend or a family member, or when a boy broke my heart, I’ve always told myself “what you’re feeling is only temporary, you’ll be okay. Whatever that looks like, you’ll be okay.” But honestly, with the state of our world right now, that has been the hardest thing for me to believe during this time.

COVID-19, like for all of us, really flipped my life around. We were given forty-five minutes to grab what we needed from our office to work from home until further notice and couldn’t come back if we forgot something. New cases and the death toll of COVID-19 started climbing by thousands every day. People began to disregard the pandemic, protesting how they were told to help keep the public safe. I was, and still kind of am, terrified to go grocery shopping, and the ability to visit my parents (being fear stricken over them catching it because of Dad having cancer) was completely off the table. Needless to say, my anxiety was at an all-time high.

And then Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were killed. I was beyond enraged and beyond heartbroken at more people of color being senselessly killed, but this time was so much more painful than anything I’d ever read or watched. We watched and listened to a man beg for his life and call out for his mother while being suffocated for no justifiable reason. We saw the stories of a man being shot and killed on a jog and a woman being murdered while she was asleep in her bed. Mr. Floyd’s last words echoed in my head every single day, and I honestly wanted to just break things. All my own experiences with police and with having racism thrown at me came flooding back. I started to watch people I love show their own racism in their responses to everything exploding. Violence absolutely erupted. Every emotion other than happiness was all I felt, from sun-up to sun-down. How can anyone possibly feel that things are going to be okay?

My best friend called me one day, and in the middle of my ranting and telling her what all I’d been feeling, she said something that really stuck with me. “Remember to try and find joy where you can.” What does that even mean, though? Where is joy when the world around you seems to be on fire, and your heart is completely shattered?

I found it in taking walks and playing new music and learning new songs to sing. Seeing people of all races and backgrounds and ages come out to support the cause against racial injustice and police brutality filled me with profound hope. Seeing my parents laughing and optimistic over video chat washed relief over my heart. I’d open my window and listen to the wind, or the rain, to feel peace. Having conversations with people and educating them on the issues and seeing them understand and want to learn….that brought me so much joy. Realizing I can lead by example by speaking with love, even to someone who disagrees with me about race and politics, albeit it tough, brought me a feeling of encouragement. Praying and talking to Jesus and casting my anxiety on Him…. man, talk about comfort. And who could forget the joy of ONLINE RETAIL THERAPY? My favorite little joy!

All this is to say, when things are really, really tough, do what you can to notice the joys around you and within. That can help you navigate through any adverse feeling and carry you through to the end of anything you face. I promise there is plenty around you to find, because things really will be okay, no matter what that looks like.

Psalm 30:5

“…..weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning”

June 28, Psalm 42

Written by Jane Herron

During my years of teaching at Battle Ground Academy, English teachers were required to assign “memory work” each grading period. Usually the assignment correlated with the literature being studied at the time. Needless to say this was not always a popular assignment. The question was often asked, “Why do we have to do this?” Some of my colleagues were known for their sarcasm, and one was reported to have answered the question with something like this: “So that when you are in solitary confinement as a prisoner of war, you will have excerpts of literature in your mind to keep you sane.”

Obviously, that response is a tad far-fetched, but if the truth be known, we all have bits of poetry, song lyrics, and scripture hanging out in the recesses of our minds. This was brought home to me vividly after my father suffered a stroke. In those early days he could not carry on a lucid conversation, but he did quote scripture. I remember several days of being by his side in the hospital and hearing him say, “for I shall again praise him.” I knew it was from a Psalm, but it was not until later that I discovered which Psalm and got the full context. In his being, Dad was feeling the pain of the psalmist when he cried out, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?” But verbally he only gave the positive response: “Hope in God, for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.”

In these days of isolation with limited human interaction, I have thought of my Dad’s positive response to his “virus” that put him in a kind of isolation.

I have recalled from memory, not only this Psalm, but other Psalms, scriptures, and hymn lyrics to bring me back to “positivity.”

Psalm 42:9-11

 9   I say to God, my rock,
         “Why have you forsaken me?
     Why must I walk about mournfully
          because the enemy oppresses me?”

10   As with a deadly wound in my body,
          my adversaries taunt me,
       while they say to me continually,
          “Where is your God?”

11   Why are you cast down, O my soul,
           and why are you disquieted within me?
       Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
           my help and my God.

June 27, 1 Corinthians 13

Written by Sandra Fields

When experiencing the virus, racial unrest, and the health of both you and your spouse, how do you cope? You look at how you have lived your life, who influenced you, and what you learned.

I learned from a lot of people and am still learning today.

Born in West Virginia during the end of World War II, I was blessed with a strong family who knew how to strive through difficult times for the sake of love.

My mother earned her degree at Western Carolina University during the Great Depression. She was able to do this because her father went to work in the coal mines of West Virginia while her mother remained in North Carolina with the children and sold apples from the orchard for income. Because of this, all of their children went on to college.

My paternal grandfather, skilled in math, was the manager of the company store for Consolidated Coal in West Virginia, and because of him, many members of my mom’s family were able to get jobs there. He also had a farm in southwest Virginia that he purchased from his wife’s father. He used that purchase to give to others: his grandchildren, his wife’s sister, and the Presbyterian Church after his death. It seemed to be a small gift, but it has grown.

I also remember Jane, Sidney, Anthony, Paul, Judy, Carina, Mustafa, Karla, Raoul, Myra, Chickalily, Karen, Paul Moskowitz, so many names and heritages. If I have left one out, it is not because I don’t care. This is a heritage that I respect and try to emulate.

We need one another. It is because the universe is so large, and I believe God wants us to know one another in peace and harmony. Somehow, we will figure this out. It may take time and patience, but in the striving comes understanding. That is the first step to love.

As we all remember our lives and those we have met and learned from, my prayer is that we remember the important things: love, laughter, forgiveness, and hope for the future.

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 

If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 

or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 

it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 

10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 

12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

June 26, Psalm 23

Written by J. Edward and Brenda Campbell

We are finding that social distancing and wearing a mask for protection of ourselves and others is the new norm in our lives. These are words that we have all come to hear, speak, and, hopefully, embrace for many months. Some words we aren’t hearing as much are “we have never done it that way” or “that will never work” because we are all learning new ways to improvise, change, and simply make it work in our daily lives. We have learned, and continue to learn, that we are all in this together.

Daily we hear of cancellations and postponement of many activities and events, and we hear news of businesses that are closing or that are laying-off and furloughing employees. While there are many cancellations and postponements, one thing we can be sure of is that Hope is not postponed or cancelled. One of my favorite Bible verses is “For I know the plans I have for you [and I believe for all of us] declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

We have always enjoyed walking, but we are walking more and going on longer walks these days. We have waved and spoken to neighbors and people in our neighborhood that we have not met or spoken with before. Dogs run to their fences and greet us on our daily walks. It is so good to see so many people outside enjoying themselves and appreciating the beauty that God has provided for all of us to enjoy. Walking slower and taking time to really look around, we really begin to notice things that we have never noticed before and realize again that truly “God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good” in so many ways. He provides for all of us.   

Making phone calls to others, checking in to see how everyone is doing, asking how others are “holding up,” and seeing if anyone needs anything are becoming routine to us during this time of quarantine and “staying safer at home.” Zoom has become the technology tool that we now use to see others face to face and to view church services, weddings, funerals, and other events. 

Those who know us know that we, in some ways, are very opposite. J. Edward is the very social one and Brenda is not so much. She enjoys gardening, her happy place, but she is retired and he is not. J. Edward has continued to work and rely on Zoom for continuing education classes for his work, board meetings, and other work-related meetings that he needs to attend.  He is into social media and keep connected with others through Facebook, personal phone calls, emails, and texts.

Playing the piano and learning new songs has been a good place during this time. We’re taking a break from piano lessons as we social distance but am tackling new arrangements on our own like “What a Wonderful World,” and “I Believe.” A friend emailed a jazz arrangement of “Star Dust” by Hoagy Carmichael, which is a little challenging but fun. You can teach an older man something new, and piano is our go-to place for comfort during these days. 

As we continue to navigate through this current situation, we find comfort in Mother’s favorite Bible verse which is, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Phillipians 4:13). Another go-to verse for us is Psalm 23:1: “The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want.”

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

June 25, Psalm 32:8

Written by Melinda Henderson, MD

It was the second weekend of March, and I was alongside 250 other US Army Reserve soldiers at Camp Blanding, Florida for a regional training exercise. It was exactly that week that the elevation of concern about COVID was changing travel policy and hinting at changing our lives. While at Camp Blanding, I distinctly remember looking at the Johns Hopkins COVID tracker (a medical web site that counts COVID cases and deaths across the globe) at the end of every day and wondering what in the world was this going to become. On Sunday, March 15 the Army initiated travel restrictions for reserve units, and the soldiers training at Camp Blanding were sent home; I traveled back to Tennessee.

March 15 was just ten days after the first COVID-positive patient in Tennessee, just four days after the WHO labeled COVID-19 as a pandemic, and just two days after the President’s declaration of a National Emergency. Our schools were canceling events, and quickly thereafter, spring break plans were also cancelled. 

Looking back, it is hard to remember HOW quickly we were making decisions at that time as a nation, as a state, and as individuals about how to respond to all the new information coming to us even with that information lacking and high levels of uncertainty.

Just one week later, I received an email from the US Army Reserve Command Surgeon looking for physician volunteers for the Department of Defense COVID-19 response. There were no specifics about what it would mean to volunteer – no details on where, what, or the length of the commitment. I knew one thing, though. Despite all those uncertainties, I was raising my hand to volunteer as a US Army Reserve Physician to help.

On April 4 I received orders to report to Fort Sheridan, Chicago to begin staging with an Army Medical team, and on April 11 I walked onto a C-17 headed to Boston, MA as part of the 801-1 – Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force.

I was mobilized as part of a new unit specifically designed to respond to the national pandemic. The US Army Reserve created teams of 85 soldiers – they included physicians, nurses, medics, logistics, admin, and therapists who could be quickly moved to respond to an area with need.

My specific task force was assigned to Boston Hope Hospital. This was a hospital set up in a Boston convention center where we cared for patients who were known COVID-positive and needed additional medical care like oxygen and physical therapy. Some also needed medical care for their chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Almost all of them also needed a kind hand to hold and reassurance that they were going to be okay.

I would like to tell you about one patient that we cared for at Boston Hope. I’ll call her Mary.

Before I tell you about Mary, though, I need to tell you some important background about Boston Hope. It was truly a makeshift or “field” hospital set up inside a large convention center on cement floors. The 8 x 10 rooms were unfinished plasterboard walls sectioning off patient rooms with thin curtains in lieu of doors. There was an extension cord draped over one wall that provided a power source to the small room that held a patient bed, oxygen tank, and bed side table. It was not luxury accommodations.  

Now back to Mary. Mary was in her 50’s and came to Boston Hope for ongoing oxygen needs and elevated heart rate after her COVID diagnosis. I went in to admit Mary and welcome her to Boston Hope, and the only thing she wanted to talk to me about was leaving. The facility was not up to her standards, and she wanted to know how quickly she could get out. I assured her that her health was my biggest concern and that her oxygen was dropping way too low to safely leave the hospital. I asked her to stay just ONE night, and we would re-evaluate in the morning. The next day, I went in knowing that, once again, I was going to have to talk her into staying another night because the nurse’s report was that her oxygen was still dangerously low. However, overnight, under the care of the US Army team, she no longer needed convincing. Despite the basic and simple accommodations, she had experienced outstanding care and attention from the Army team and was ready to stay as long as her health required.  

It was an absolute honor to work beside my Army teammates every day in the hospital. More than any other time in my career, I felt an overwhelming clarity about my purpose and mission.   

As I reflect on this experience, I think about where in my Christian beliefs I have intense clarity. Much like the early months of COVID, I feel like most of my religious journey has had lots of uncertainty and unclear knowledge or understanding. However, at one point in my life, I found clarity, and that was very simply “the golden rule.” I focus my beliefs on Jesus’s teaching “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). This simple message of kindness and morality helps me wade through confusing biblical texts and is where I return when I need grounding on my personal purpose and mission.

Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.