He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may all at your side And ten thousand any your right hand, But it shall not approach you. You will only look with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the LORD, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you, Nor any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.
Psalm 91 – Praise the Lord
Here’s the ugly truth. Some days look just like this painting. I painted my feelings today. Can you relate? Sometimes things are messy and frustrating and just not the way we want them to be. I think God wants the messy parts of our lives just as much as we would like to not have them. It’s because He is absolutely good. He makes an amazing trade with us. Our junk for His love. We just have to be willing and humble enough to ask for it. Prayer: Heavenly Father, here’s my stuff. Could I please trade this in? Sincerely and forever yours. Amen
What is your messy trade?
You have turned my mourning into dancing for me; You have untied my sackcloth and encircled me with joy,Psalm 30:11
Lead with a torch. Not a clipboard. ~ LoriAnne Mullins
Lead with a Torch
In recent days, I had the honor of sitting on an interview committee tasked with scoring a candidate for a new position of leadership at one of our schools. It was a last minute task, but a much needed addition to the committee from the standpoint of representation from someone with an in-the-trenches perspective.
My day job is unique in that I work very closely with a few students and am part teacher, part tutor, part nurturer. I work not only with struggling readers but also with students who come with outside-the-box needs. There are days when I hear stories and personal details that some teachers are not privy to. There’s a delicate balance in my job where life experience and wisdom has taught me where my job ends and another begins. This past year during the lockdown, I renamed my official title as I sought to find one that was less formal sounding. My title signature at the end of all my emails used to read “Paraprofessional”. Now, it reads “Paraprofessional/Learning Coach”.
Even though this title impacts me and how I approach my job, the students don’t care what I call myself or how I brand myself. They do care, however, how “alongside” them I am and how I show up. Now more than ever our students need the “alongside-ness” of educators and coaches so when I was scoring candidates for the new position, I asked myself if the next leader would lead in the way a coach leads. Why a coach? Because the word coach implies leading from the heart as a mentor. I imagined a leader who would carry a torch rather than a clipboard, light the way rather than keep score and engage with a bold presence rather than sit on the bench.
One interviewee stood out to me and to all the other interviewers. This leader was not only a previous coach but one that was committed to putting students first. This is not an easy focus but it’s the right one. The challenge of making students a focus shows up everyday as we sift through trendy curriculum, standardized testing and doing what’s best for the classroom. How do we guard the hearts and minds of these precious ones while working within the confines of what the collective may be doing? These are questions that good leaders ask. The sense I got from the preferred candidate was that he really cared about this answer. I care too because the collective is not my classroom. Student focus is a principle I choose to live by and it works.
This past year I very much had a different experience as I taught a social emotional class to a group of 6th graders. Even though I believe in the freedoms of expression given to all of us, I also had to constantly remind my students that even though someone may not express the same things as they do, we all get to like what we like. Oftentimes this approach went far in creating the kind of classroom culture that feels like all of us are created equal. It echoes what each student inherently has as a citizen of the United States. It created a sense of belonging too as we strove to make allowances for each other while still standing in solidarity in our love for freedom and individuality.
This past year I’ve been challenged to cancel “cancel culture”, committing to allow differences without insults and creating a place where one student at the end of the year offered her thanks when she said,
“Miss LoriAnne, thank you for making this classroom a place where everyone is accepted and can feel safe.”
I’ve lived long enough and travelled far away enough to know that feeling accepted and safe is not something to take for granted. While I received a huge compliment from this student, I believe it is our students who will be the ones that lead us with the best ideas. I look forward to September, when new leadership takes their place as the leader I’ve imagined for our youth.
Points to ponder: Great leaders lead with a torch; not a clipboard.
How will you lead?
The colors of God
Reveal His love
and are an Adventure waiting to be experienced by partnering with Him…
My new art adventure began May 29, 2021 when the word of the LORD was revealed to me through a personal invitation to my spirit of His yoke being light and an amazing display of love waiting to wrap His colors around my soul.
In response to God’s invitation, I said yes on June 12th to a worship and art retreat, bought my airline tickets and flew to Longview, Texas last Thursday to spend focused time in worship and creating art. The retreat was hosted by the Potter’s House ministry. We spent time at a peaceful log cabin with artists Rebecca Friedlander, Nancy Honeytree, Lauren Armstrong and others. I created art I had not created in years.
The pic here was on day two. My new friend Carol snapped this one of me sketching and creating a yellow flower I had inspiration for while worship teams sang. I used oil pastel and chalk for this one. I named this “Glorious Fragrance”. Our worship to God is a fragrance reflecting His glory.
The colors of God are not something I had considered before and I’m thrilled to get to know God in this amazing way. There is so much adventure awaiting when we partner with Him. Allow His love to wrap colors around your soul today.
The older I get, the more I …
Relate to the two main characters in the “Secondhand Lions” film.
Become less tolerant of people that drain me.
Experience the pain of not being as important to my children.
The older I get the more I …
Rehearse the little things like being someone else’s inspiration.
Cherish that one last hug “goodbye”.
Realize that mom was right.
The older I get the more I …
Understand that Shalom does not come apart from G-d.
Curate my life with healthy boundaries, time management and challenges.
Choose freedom over fear, experiences over dollars, and true friends over what’s fashionable.
Lastly, the older I get the more I…
Value the little things like time with my dog, a perfect cup of cappuccino, music that stills me
and time alone with my Creator.
Shalom to all.
I’ve made it this far. 50 and blessed.
What’s your more or less?
When Christmas passes and the New Year approaches, I start thinking about how I would like to live out the upcoming year. I take a few days to choose a word like joy or peace as a theme and hope to discover and embody that word. At the close of 2019 though, I sensed things were going to be different. Of course, I had no idea how very different. Neither did I understand why I also had two words for the year. As we are now in September of 2020, I believe now I’m beginning to understand.
The first word I pondered was the word faithfulness. Being faithful, according to Merriam-Webster, also means “steadfast, strong, true to the facts, adherence to, or assurance”. Faithfulness as I understand it means being committed to engaging in pursuits, goals and activities that require excluding other activities. My sense for the new year was that I urgently needed to become faithful in all areas of my life – including my relationship with G-d.
The second word I pondered was restoration. Aaaah. Restoration. After having just passed the 6 month mark of the catastrophic 2020 lockdown, I am just as ready as anyone to reach it’s fulfillment.
Restoration according to my Greek Lexicon refers to “new birth, regeneration.” The Oxford Dictionary states it this way, “the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition.”
As I’m glancing at my calendar this week, the Hebrew Calendar announces the beginning of a new year, Rosh Hoshanah. Rosh Hoshanah is known as the birthday of the world, the head of the year, a time of renewal. The shofar is blown like an alarm beckoning us back to G-d. Time for introspection. Time for correction. At the end of ten days Yom Kippur is observed. It is a High Holy day. The Day of Atonement with fasting, sincerity, confession and repentance. Repentance seems kind of appropriate this year, doesn’t it?
What I have seen this year, what you have seen too in some estimation, is the unprecedented shaking of our world. All of us have used different words and ways to explain what or why things have happened. What I have seen has saddened me. What I have seen is scorn for things once thought good, an undeniable hatred of god-fearing principles, traditions and blessings. What I have seen is the celebration of destruction and rhetoric that stagnates. What I have seen is people grieving over lost loved ones, isolated and apathetic. Fear abounds. Fires abound. Strife abounds. If you are different, you’re cancelled. If you’re not essential, you’re unessential. I see people feeling attacked, helpless, sick, tired and disrespected. People are assigned varying degrees of value. They’ve been silenced, cancelled and even murdered.
How did we get here?
Are we just like Cain?
Is death our anthem?
Our generation has lost some amazing humans. Some of them were soldiers. Some of them were the best of us. They fought for freedoms sake, for righteousness sake and they fought their way out of hell into a peaceful place. They did not consider their own lives in their missions. How is that possible? I could spend loads of time singing their praises but the time is short for ALL of us to consider how WE will leave the generation after us. My concern for some time now, apart from senseless killing is that this generation has lost some of the goodness of the previous one. My concern is that we will become like the man lost in a desert who out of the thirstiness of his soul, drinks the sand. Thirsty souls need pure water. Do we even know the difference between a polluted well and a fresh spring? Thirsty souls drink whatever is easy and near. But this is not the way of restoration.
I wonder if the Maker of heaven and earth will so lovingly remind us of the fragility of our lives. I wonder if we like Job could brace ourselves and hear the Almighty speaking into unexpected places leaving us to know that the Awesome One is watching. I wonder if we could even begin to turn away from that which destroys and turn towards the ONE who saves. The ONE who saves is divine and restoration is His alone.
If there was ever a time to sound the shofar, it is now. If there was ever a time to stand, it is now. If there was ever a time on earth to contemplate, ask forgiveness, confess and repent, it is now.
The Bible tells us G-d is watching and that He is the healer.
2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
It’s that time of year again. The time I start rehearsing for another set of Christmas songs meant to inspire the healing balm of Christmas during what is a seriously anyting-but- healing time of year for some people. Those who have suffered the loss of a job or relationship may have a lot more on their mind than twinkly stars, presents and Christmas carols. For some this means the reminder that they are alone. Maybe even alone for the holidays for the first time.
Three thoughts come to my mind this year as I both process through my own life’s transitions (new job and home) and consider my Christmas music set.
First, I have a lot to be thankful for. The things I take for granted like a house, car, job, running water, shoes, community, friends and family, are things that could literally be wrapped up in paper and presented as all the gifts I really need. See this video from 2016 created by a North Carolina church that went viral.
Second, I recently read a post a FB friend shared about what the Norwegians do during this time of year and may be proven useful for many of us who think we need to “endure” rather than “enjoy” winter. This article may be more beneficial than peppermint mochas and potato soup.
Third, how do I bring the healing balm of Christmas to those who are suffering? It’s my job musically-speaking to do this each year when I say, “yes” to singing at the Marlatt Home Christmas Memorial service. I consider it an honor to help people experience a few minutes of joy or a moment of peace as they light their candles to “Silent Night”. What I know is, while I often find that music is healing and spiritual, good for the brain and all of those wonderful mysteries, I know that it is only God himself that can carry a person through their own bleak midwinter.
Here is one song I intend to share at the service. It is a beautiful poem later set to music, considered a Christmas carol and written by Christina Rossetti in the late 1800s. You can find the full version in the link below but I’ve included only three verses to share here and as part of my solo performance.
In the Bleak Mid-Winter by Christina Rossetti
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
May your heart be filled with simple blessings this season,
By LoriAnne Mullins
First off, I always wanted to go to Italy but didn’t expect to get there the way I did. I imagined going there as a tourist with my mother. Someday we may. As it turned out though, the opportunity to attend the opera, language and culture program was exactly what I needed to teach me four valuable lessons.
Lesson #1 – Don’t Worry.
“Don’t worry, LoriAnne,” is a phrase I heard several times by locals including our italian language coach, Carlotta. I think it’s because I ask a lot of questions and tend to ask well ahead of schedule so that I can be prepared. I am someone who loves learning and I don’t mind the unexpected (sometimes) but I just may cry if I get a bad grade. Yep. I’m THAT person. The thing is though, any time you are in a different country, unexpected things happen and worrying doesn’t really help. Stressing about the learning curve doesn’t either. Going with the flow does. Shifting from the “results” mindset to “progress” mindset does.
Lesson #2 – Enjoy life.
Enjoying life is what Italians do best. They do it with flair, style and art. They literally can take an ordinary thing like a tomato and make it extraordinary by flashing a warm “buongiorno”, and presenting that tomato as if it were the sweetness of life itself. Between sharing food, drink and conversation, Italians teach the world the beauty of “dolce vita” because they create what they want, share it and enjoy it. The process itself is a work of art. I’ve seen it in the way the shop girl will package a purchase for you. I’ve seen it in how the produce market owner talks about his fresh ‘frutta e verdura’. I’ve seen it in the way people of all ages present themselves in their clothing or style their hair. To many, their ways may seem frivolous. To me, I saw a degree of respect for their own lives that was refreshing. Just walking through a side street one notices the artful lives lived. Go to any government building or church, town square, or even the outskirts and there is an expression of an artful life. Being able to slow down and enjoy an artful and intentional life is a wonderful gift Italy gave me.
Lesson #3 – Embrace.
The italians know how to embrace people. Even people not from their own culture. They hug you and kiss you (both sides) and that is their greeting. How this translated for me was two-fold. First, it is wonderful to embrace people, embrace other cultures, embrace the present, and embrace the community you are in. We do a good job at staring at our phones and tricking ourselves into believing we are connected on social media but truly embracing people isn’t exactly achieved online. Second, I honestly felt saddened in this one regard upon my return because I could feel the disconnect around me (even in our communities of faith) and how much we’re desperately missing this enriching aspect of our lives by our lifestyles. To simplify, the lesson I learned was how lovely life is when you connect with your community.
Lesson #4 – Live the music.
Music in itself is glorious. Learning more about my voice and being able to focus on it was a gift. Singing in a castle, taking masterclasses and becoming excited about the musical texts was well worth my time and focus. At one point in a master coaching, I was able to access a part of my voice I had never accessed before. If I were a scientist it may be like making a new discovery while working on a theory. If I were an accountant it may mean the feeling you get when everything zeroes out. For me, it was like riding the air unafraid, and above the noise. You could say I was able to feel, breathe, experience, sing, love and literally “live” the music while in Italy. I am grateful.
Thank you, Italy. I salute you! You taught me to not worry, to focus on my progress, to enjoy life and on the things that bring me joy. You taught me to embrace situations, people, community, music, and my own unique voice. You gave me permission. Permission to be myself. My 100% female self. After all, I may live in Lake Tapps, but I’m not a typical NW lover of all things outdoors. While I do enjoy riding my bicycle, I just may prefer to do so on afternoon “luce de sole” in a dress and heels.
Reader Challenge: What is one way this weekend you can celebrate your own progress? Where can you make new discoveries in music, art, connection or in what brings you joy?
“Peace on Earth. And mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled.”
It’s from “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” with lyrics written by Charles Wesley (1707-88).
There are many carols that have references to peace and I think I enjoy them so much because couldn’t we all use more peace? Peace on earth. Peace from war. Peace from chaos. Peace in the body. Peace instead of stress. Peace in relationships.
These are all things I began to consider just before the end of last year. In fact, it became my word of the year for 2018. Do you have a word of the year?
Just prior to Christmas, I like to start thinking about a word that reflects my new year’s goals so that during festivities I can be mindful of the things I’d like to purge in my life and household in the upcoming year. I ask questions around my word like, What thoughts would bring me more peace? What ideas can I keep that will help me stay in peace? What things take away my peace?
During my consideration I found a word that summed up peace for me in a beautiful way. It’s the hebrew word “shalom”. It goes further than just a simple understanding of peace. You may have heard it as a greeting before, as it is commonly used as a greeting particularly among jewish communities and it’s more than just a hello or goodbye. It’s all encompassing. Consider the word “shalom” to refer to a perfect soundness, completeness and wholeness. For me the word summed up means completeness of peace in the mind, body and spirit. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance H 7965).
During my quest to remind myself of my word, I bought a large word decor and placed it on my mantel. Sure, it was gold and looked Christmassy but I kept it on my mantel for several months because it served as a good reminder and focus for me.
Next, I sorted through and challenged ideas and activities and stuff that didn’t bring me peace and guess what? I got rid of them. It’s a great feeling to do this by the way.
I began seeing changes in myself when I focused on my word of the year. In fact, my health overall has improved because guess what? Running happens to bring me peace. Eating whole, nutritious foods brings peace inside my body and prayer keeps my mind and spirit at peace. All of these changes happened because my choices aligned with my word of the year.
The gold in this process for me wasn’t just because of my choices though. Sure, I am proud of my hard work and focus this year, but the gold wasn’t there. The gold began as a whisper in my heart as a term commonly used in Christmas carols…. “Prince of Peace”. Then, the whisper became “He, himself is our peace” Where had I heard this before? Can a person embody the word peace, the word “shalom”, my word of the year?
“The Heaven born Prince of Peace” from the carol is referring to Christ. The whisper in my heart was referring to Christ as peace. And my thoughts began considering Christ as the embodiment of my personal peace. Scripture records Him saying to His followers, “Peace I leave you. My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 NJKV.
Here’s the gold, and it’s wrapped in the only perfect person ever… Jesus. He. Is. Peace. And He is the peace of Christmas. I have to work hard for peace and we have to work hard to bring peace to our unique situations yet the perfect wholeness and completeness of the word peace is embodied in Christ AND He gives it ….as a gift. That. is. HUGE.
So… my final holiday challenge to you could be to find your word of the year. I mean it’s a great idea. However, it’s not my challenge. My challenge is for you to consider the embodiment of peace… consider Christ.
Consider Adding more “Christ” to your Christmas
I’m not talking about getting a nativity, although some may find this addition a very smart focal point. I’m not asking you to add him as an ingredient like spice for your cookies either. I’m asking you to open your bible and read in Luke about his life, his birth, his passions, his ministry, his ideas about love, healing, forgiveness, government, giving and peace. I’m asking you to open your heart to Christ’s peaceful answers that are sure to come as whispers. I’m asking you to consider accepting the gift of peace from Christ himself. Don’t have a bible. Ask a friend. Ask me. Look it up online, in an app, or at the library.
Bonus: Wonderful news for my female friends… consider this about him: He absolutely loved, respected, elevated, protected and believed in women. Don’t believe me. Contact me and we can have a chat.
What I’ve discovered in my own considering of Christ this past year was born out of my “word of the year” and the need for less stress, more joy, peace and health. What I found in my quest was more of Jesus.
Thank you for joining me in my holiday challenge. Do yourself a favor and wrap yourself up in attention and love. Give yourself the much needed time outs, letting go of things and consider embracing the gift of wrapped peace Christ offers you.
Peace, love, joy, hope and laughter to all of you this season.
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV