June 24, Philippians 4:11-13

Written by Betty Webb

The days since early March have affected us all in many different ways. My situation has been easy compared to so many even though being isolated and unable to be with my friends and family eventually takes its toll.

However, when I felt a pity party coming on, I thought about my paternal grandmother who I always held as an example of great faith.

During the depression of the 1930’s, she was a widow with two small boys. After her husband’s sudden death, she lost her home and had to move in with her parents. She had no money, and back then work for females in a rural area was almost non-existent. In order to buy the necessities for her family, she sold eggs and made quilts. There were more trials that came her way, but I won’t belabor the point.

Even though I didn’t know her then, it always amazed me how she never complained and had a wonderful sense of humor about life when I did get to know her. One of her favorite hymns was “Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There.” The words had sustained her all her life.

In contrast, here I am living in one of the wealthiest counties in the state, I have a lovely shady place to call home, my family is well, and, most of all, I’m healthy. My grandmother taught me the meaning of contentment – not a false affect of happiness but how to look for the positives in all situations.

To say I wouldn’t like to be back at church in the choir, go to dinner with friends, or go on the trips I’ve cancelled to different parts of the world would be a lie, but, all things considered, God has blessed me richly, and I am truly blessed. Whatever it takes to keep COVID-19 from those I love, I’ll be content to do it. 

Now, where did I put that mask?

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have, I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.

In any and all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

June 23: Families Apart, Church Together

Get to know this week’s family: The Reimers
Who do you have in your home with you?

We have Michael, Heather, Chase, Nicole and Rebel (our beloved dog) Reimer in our home.

How are you all doing?

We’ve been spending lots of extra time together – which as most families know has it’s pros and cons. Heather has continued working as she is deemed Essential– she works for a construction/ developer company in Cool Springs as Office Manager. Michael unfortunately was furloughed with his job at Marriott – so he’s been home spending time with the kids and having dinner ready to go when Heather walks in from work. Menu planning takes on a whole different level, as our music and drinks during dinner has been themed around the menu for the evening.Chase – well he graduated from Franklin High School – not officially, but in his mind he was done back in March, when they called school off for COVID!! Luckily, he’s also been working at Blue Coast Burrito in Cool Springs, so he’s been able to stay somewhat busy. Although we hate how the last few months of senior year played out, he’s been grateful and excited for his next journey. Nicole – she finished off her Sophomore year via Zoom at FHS, and has been continuing her running as Cross Country will be here before she knows it, and enjoys her newfound freedom of being a licensed driver and not having to have mom and dad in the car with her at all times! Rebel – he’s just excited more people are around all day for him to play with!!

Have you created any new Family Traditions or Rituals?

We’ve been playing more board games, and enjoying movies too. Apples to Apples and Catch Phrase have been our new family games – but one of our Favorites and Love is UNO!!

How are you staying connected to family, friends, and the church?

We’ve enjoyed staying connected thru the Facebook live Sunday mornings and watching church with all 5 of us still in our pajamas. We’ve been checking in more regularly and texting with friends and family – making sure everyone is doing ok.

Do you have anything else you want to share with our church community? A prayer, a funny story from quarantine, or a word of encouragement?

While the last couple of months have left so much of the unknown, we’ve been trying to stay positive and looking at things on the brighter side, the glass ½ full rather than ½ empty. More family time, more time to spend with one another that we wouldn’t have gotten during Chase’s senior year. While it’s been strange to slow down life and enjoy the moment, it’s been nice to have more relaxation time to spend with one another, and not always being on the GO.

We wish all our friends and family well, and can’t wait to bring on the new normal, whatever that may bring. Blessings and Peace to y’all!

June 22

Painting by Mike Moyers

Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he that made us, and we are his;[a]
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him, bless his name.

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

June 21

Written by Louise Colln

Early Morning, Still Dark

Stars, crowding the sky,

dropping silver,

a soft, cool wind

drifting across high tree arms,

cajoling them into

gracious dips and waves

leading a country choir

in a song to Glory-

stirring a joy in my bone-

in my breaths-

in my heart strokes-

that my mind can not name

June 20, Psalm 55:22

Written by Martha Johnson

“There’s no such thing as someone else’s war
Your creature comforts aren’t the only things worth fighting for
Still breathing, it’s not too late
We’re all carrying one big burden, sharing one fate”

I love music, all kinds of music. For as long as I can remember, I have turned to music for comfort and strength in times of trouble. So, I am grateful that I was recently introduced to Jason Isbell’s song “White Man’s World.” The chorus of this song, as shown above, speaks directly to me about the need for us to join together united as one, in carrying our burdens.

Jason Isbell is an acclaimed country/southern rock musician who has been favorably compared to Bob Dylan. He wrote “White Man’s World” three years ago. According to a recent interview with Rick Rubin on the podcast Broken Record, Mr. Isbell wrote the song to encourage listeners to think more seriously about racism. To me, the lyrics he wrote powerfully address the meaning of white privilege, the importance of unity, and the need for faith in God.

Like so many, I am profoundly distressed at the racism that has re-surfaced recently with the killings of George Floyd and too many others. Mr. Isbell’s words seem more than a little prophetic to me. This song, a modern-day psalm of lament if you will, reminds us that we must share in the burden of racism and unite to fight against it. If we’re still breathing, it’s not too late! I know this song is not for everyone. It is raw, moving music…not easy to listen to. But it has brought me strength and comfort in this time of trouble and has caused me to rethink some of my beliefs and values.  

While “White Man’s World” was not written with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, it occurs to me that COVID-19 is yet another burden we must now share. My COVID-19 experiences have been similar to many others…. boredom, loneliness, sadness, even anger and doubt. But I am so very grateful to God for my family, my friends, my church, and my larger community who are sharing this burden with me and continue to fight against this horrible virus. If we’re still breathing, it’s not too late!  

And then finally, as another beautiful psalm tells us, I will turn my burdens over to God.

Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;

He will never permit the righteous to be moved.  

June 19, Psalm 104:24

Written by Katie Gottlieb

Yesterday I went on a short hike with my mom, my nephew, and DJ.  Part way down the trail, Mom stopped to show us these trees.  “Why do you think the roots of that tree look so funny?  They’re not inside the ground!” The boys were stumped.  These two trees, she explained, had both grown from seeds nestled in the top of nurse logs.  One log had now completely decomposed, leaving nothing but stilt-like roots supporting this tall tree.  

Recently, I’ve felt unstable and wobbly, the same way that poor tree looks as it balances on exposed roots.  By all measures, I’ve had an easy time during this pandemic and all the social struggles: my family is grumpy, but they’re all healthy, safe and secure.  I try to remember how fortunate that makes me.  

But while I am grateful, I still feel wobbly. Our world and community is hurting. The routines I love and the summer plans I made have all disappeared.  I cannot see my friends, hug my neighbors or go to church.  Even buying groceries feels stressful and scary now.  It’s hard to adjust to this new-normal of life now, and I’m struggling. 

I thought about all this after I snapped a photo of the trees and we walked away.  Those trees continue to stretch upward and grow long after their nurturing  support system disappears.  The tree isn’t balancing precariously at all.  Its roots grew deep and hardened, surrounding the memory of the nurse log and finding a deeper support below.  Those thick roots have kept the tree strong during whatever storms have come its way.  

So today I’m thinking about this lesson from creation and grateful for the faith which has kept us all rooted for generations.  

Psalm 104:24 – The Message 

What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.

June 18, Psalm 130

Painting by Mike Moyers

Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
    Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities

June 17, Psalm 91

Written by Brent Sower

As some of you may know, I work in the healthcare industry, specifically for a laboratory here in Nashville. That wasn’t really a very interesting topic to discuss with most people up until recently – no one really thinks too much about who runs the tests on the blood draw you get at your annual physical. But then COVID-19 came along.

In my entire career in the laboratory space, I have never seen anything quite like testing for COVID-19. We have struggled with getting enough swabs and enough reagents to run the tests due to the massive demand from around the world. We have brought up capacity to run thousands of tests per day in a matter of weeks – and have watched daily as the number of tests we perform continues to rise. I have been proud to see Tennessee listed at the top of many lists for how many of our residents we have tested – to this day, you can visit any Tennessee Department of Health location and they will test you at no charge. Tennessee has reached out to its most vulnerable citizens to provide testing – and I am glad my company has been able to play a small role in that.

I’ve taken a lot more walks around the neighborhood this spring than in years past. For awhile there, that was the “big event” for the day. And as I walk around our neighborhood, I’ve seen signs in front of many houses that say, simply, Psalm 91.

I’ll have to admit I wasn’t very familiar with Psalm 91 before I started seeing those signs. But, because of them, I read it. I would guess these signs placed in front of houses are perhaps a prayer that the Lord will deliver us “from the deadly pestilence.”

But the psalm also references that “a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.”

When I got to that part, it stopped me cold, at least when it comes to COVID-19. Because this is not a disease that affects “the wicked.” This is a virus that affects our neighbor and, in particular, the less fortunate and less privileged among us. Every day brings a new round of tests into our lab. Every day produces another round of positives that change the lives of the affected forever. Every day brings news stories of a nursing home or a prison or a farming community or a factory with widespread COVID infections.

These are not the wicked. These are our neighbors.

And so, while the intentions of these Psalm 91 signs may be to remind us all that God loves us and “will deliver” us and “protect those who know <His> name”, I think it is up to us to not cast out “the wicked” and only look after our own protection. It is our job to bring the love of Christ to everyone we encounter; everyone in our community. Maybe in some small way, by providing a test that brings an answer or relief, I share that love of Christ a little with our community each day. I hope so. But I also know I can do more. And when I see those “Psalm 91” signs now, I’m reminded of that. The call to do more, to love more, to reach out more to our most vulnerable neighbors, through prayer and my actions. I’m not who or where I want to be yet. But like all of us, I’m trying.

Psalm 91

You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
    who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress;
    my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
    and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
    or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
    or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge,
    the Most High your dwelling place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
    no scourge come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
    so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder,
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

14 Those who love me, I will deliver;
    I will protect those who know my name.
15 When they call to me, I will answer them;
    I will be with them in trouble,
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 With long life I will satisfy them,
    and show them my salvation.

June 16, Families Apart, Church Together

Get to know this week’s family spotlight: Steve and Laura Lewis 

Who do you have in your home with you?

Just Steve and me most days. The picture is my birthday before Governor’s edict.

How is everyone doing?

Bored, but healthy.

Are there some things that you have come to appreciate more during this time?

Freedom to go places. Hugs.

Have you created any new Family Traditions or Rituals?

We FaceTime a lot.

How are you staying connected to family, friends, and the church?


June 15, Psalm 46

Written by Betty Barcheski

When the Safer at Home order was issued, my whole world turned upside down. I found myself shut off from doing the things I enjoyed: visitations with members of our church in nursing homes, PrimeTimers outings, going to concerts, museums, and the theater. I knew I wasn’t the only person who felt foreign in seclusion, but I felt trapped. The front porch became my outlet and my salvation.

From my porch I would see a bunch of children pulling wagons with garden implements, riding bikes, or running around the corner and out of sight but I had no idea where they were going. It wasn’t until I was invited to a socially-distanced visit with my next-door-neighbor Doris, who lives on the corner with a spectacular view of the happenings in the neighborhood, that I learned the reason for all the activity. While seated on her patio, another neighbor, Ben, approached us and joined our conversation. Ben, who is married and has two sons, normally works from home during the week organizing weekend events for owners of antique automobiles who race them on tracks around the country and on the weekends Ben travels to oversee the events. On the rare weekend he has been home, I’ve seen him come down the street bouncing a ball in his hands, and, all of a sudden, a bunch of children – boys and girls of all shapes and sizes and colors – would come bounding out of their homes after him to join him in an instantaneous game in the field around the corner. After Safer at Home was ordered I saw Ben all the time.

As he told us about the progress the children were making on building a dirt bike racetrack in the woods beyond the field, Doris said that, before the work on the racetrack began, he had gathered up all the children and told them about the project and asked it they would be willing to do the work. Most agreed. One of the older boys asked Ben why he wouldn’t just hire someone to do the work. Ben told him that planning and building something with one’s own hands is an accomplishment, and if the boy took part, he would take pride in the completed project and learn something about building his own character in the process. The boy became a regular worker.

Wayne and I took a hike to check on the progress of the dirt bike racetrack. We found corrugated pipe carefully placed under wetter parts of the track to prevent washouts, a couple of dirt ramps, curved, sloped tracks, a lovely wooden bridge over a ravine, and the best-looking treehouse with a ladder that leads to a trap door to the platform that overlooks the racetrack, yielding a spectacular view.

Now, about suppertime when the day of working on the racetrack is done, I sit on the porch and watch as 20-30 children come scrambling down the hill on their bikes or Razors, or carefully maneuvering the wagons, all the while shouting and laughing after a long hard day. The sight of the children and the sounds of their voices thrill me.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony when the racetrack is completed, Doris, Wayne, and I will be in attendance to distribute cookies and lemonade and to take photos of Ben with the children who made it all happen. And I will reflect on the wonderful time I had during the time of Safer at Home, watching the children growing their characters.

I think of the hymn For All the Saints when I see the children coming down the hill:

For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confessed; Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Psalm 46 has been my resource for strength since I was a young girl, and I’ve leaned on it often since COVID-19.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
    though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
    see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
    I am exalted among the nations,
    I am exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah