Encouraging and empowering people to live victorious lives in Christ

Posts tagged ‘pandemic’

Holidays Reimagined

by Brenna Fields

2020 has been a as been a year of change and adjustment. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused life as we know it to be drastically different.  While we hope that things can eventually get back to ‘normal,’ as I write this blog, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in most states across America.  Because of this, the holiday season is probably unlike anything we’ve experienced before.

Thanksgiving week 2017 with my parents and grandmother (RIP Mama and Maw Maw)

For me, the holidays (especially Thanksgiving and Christmas) are about family.  The last several years have found me either hosting family members or traveling to Louisiana to spend the holidays with them.  Particularly since my mother’s passing in 2018, I have been intentional about going to Louisiana for Thanksgiving and Christmas so my grandmother (my mother’s mother) could have a memorable holiday.  2020 now finds me not only facing the fact that this is my first holiday season without any grandparents (my grandmother passed away in March of this year), but also deciding not to travel for Thanksgiving and possibly not for Christmas because of the pandemic (plans are still up in the air).  So, what do I do?  This is how I’ve decided to spend Thanksgiving; if your plans for the holidays are different than normal, I hope these suggestions help you.

Cook!

If you really know me, you know I love to cook!  While my spread will not be as elaborate as it might generally be, I am going to prepare a special dinner.  There won’t be any turkey (because I’ve never made one lol), but I will make a few special dishes.  And, in honor of my great-grandmother, who loved to serve elaborate meals and to host people,  I will use some of her china to serve myself with (no everyday dishes for me!)

Serve Others

You may ask, “what are you going to do with all of that food?”  There are a few people I know who are in need.  They don’t know it yet, but I plan to drop off a few plates to them.  There are a couple of other people who I know are spending Thanksgiving alone, so I will invite them to drive by and get a plate.  There is joy in serving and giving of oneself; I look forward to the opportunity to share.  Is there someone you can serve and be a blessing to this holiday season?

Reflect

The last 3 years or so of my life have been quite challenging.  Since I am now on the other side of a lot of them (thank you God!), I want to use this time to reflect.  God has been so good to me…I truly cannot tell it all!  During this Thanksgiving season, I want to take some time to count my blessings.  I also want to take some time for me! I may take my folding chair to the beach one day and just sit and enjoy God’s creation, or I may go to the park and take a walk.  Although there are a couple of things I want to get done Thanksgiving week (one of them is putting up my Christmas tree), I’m not going to have much of an agenda or a schedule; I am just going to flow.  I am very intentional about how I spend and schedule my time, but over the next several days, I am going with the flow.  When was the last time you did that?

This year, I’m going to embrace what is, count my blessings and just be.  No complaining here!

What ideas do you have for someone who is spending the holidays without family and away from friends?  I would love to hear them; please share them in the comments.

Maintaining Christian Fellowship When the Church Doors are Closed

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT)

By Brenna Fields Taylor

As I write this blog, we are about 2 months into the COVID-19 pandemic here in the United States.  Because of the way in which the virus spreads, churches have been forced to close their doors and discontinue meeting in person.  And church leadership has become quite creative in determining how to keep doing church when we can’t go to church. One must wonder…prior to now, have we put too much emphasis on the church building?  Have we assumed that a church edifice, and everything contained therein, would be what would draw people to Christ (that’s what Christians are supposed to be doing, correct)?  Well, I don’t want to digress…that’s another topic for another day!

Christians have begun to make (or were forced to make) the adjustment to worshipping remotely. Even my daddy, who said he would never join Facebook, is listening in to bible study and Sunday services online!  Whether it is Facebook, livestream, Zoom, conference call, or a recorded message, Christians seem to be doing the best they can to adjust to the times in which we live (even if some of us had to go kicking and screaming).  But while we’re getting our worship and study in, what about the fellowship?  Using my own church as an example, the people seem to be thirsty for the person to person fellowship.  When we join the weekly prayer meeting conference call, as people join the line and identify themselves, they are joyously greeting one another and are excited to hear each other’s voices. It sometimes is a challenge because everyone is talking while we’re trying to begin the prayer service.  If you ‘ve ever been to a family reunion, it’s somewhat like that. Many families reunite every 2 or 3 years, and the meet and greet part of the weekend is sometimes the most exciting time.  Everyone is greeting everyone and giving big hugs because we haven’t seen one another in a long time.

So, until we can get back to church (the physical building), what can we do to maintain fellowship?   Whatever it is we choose to do, we must be INTENTIONAL about maintaining this fellowship.  Maintaining fellowship was easy when we saw each other at least once a week.  But now, things are different. When was the last time we picked up the phone (not sent a text) to call someone we haven’t spoken to in a while?  When was the last time we wrote and mailed a quick note to someone? (yes, the United States Postal Service is still in operation). Have we thought about doing a “drive-by” and dropping off groceries and supplies to someone in need?  We may not be able to go inside the person’s home and fellowship, but we can wave from our cars!

It is easy to become comfortable inside of our homes (I know I definitely am).  And I say “we” in the above statements because I know I can do better about maintaining fellowship. Just as, little by little, we’ve gotten comfortable in our own little bubbles, little by little, we can come out of those bubbles and intentionally plan to cultivate Christian fellowship.

While cities are slowly beginning to ‘open up’ again, churches do not yet know when we will return to in-person worship experiences.  Until such time, believers will need to get creative, not only in how we worship, but also in how we fellowship.  As one of my elementary school teachers used to say, “put on your thinking caps!”  Get innovative in how we fellowship with one another. We don’t need a committee meeting and a church vote to do something…do something today!