What I am telling myself at the start of 2021

2020 was a hard and unnerving year for many. 2021 is starting out even worse with the events of the breach of the Capitol building, the overall uncertainty for many with the integrity of the election, a potentially worse strain of COVID along with much loss of life, palatable division in the land, dealing with kids at home all the time, and the list goes on.  

I have been texting and messaging with friends and family over the last several weeks about the events of November 3rd and beyond in an attempt to keep up with the latest news regarding national events and otherwise. I don’t think I have ever watched so many youtube video clips or viewed so many twitter screenshots in my entire life!

I believe what I am looking for in these texts and messages is a sign that everything is going to be ok. That 2021 will be better than 2020.  

Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I saw the following meme (or is it GIF?) that made me laugh out loud and yet revealed an underlying nervousness about the start of the New Year:  

I think the above meme reveals what many people are now questioning: will 2021 be another difficult and uncertain year?

Before we dive in, I have just one qualifier. This will not be a political post, but rather a reflective post to point myself back to what really matters. I would ask that you keep your negative comments to a minimum and try to be open to hearing my heart speak.  

The following post is about what I am telling myself truly matters at the start of 2021. If you would like to hear what I have to say, then feel free to read on.

For me, what really matters is this: 

Do I know and trust God? And am I living in such a way that pleases him?

Right after the events of November 3rd, I texted a friend and asked him for his opinion on what would happen in the coming weeks. He skillfully transitioned the text away from the election and on to what really matters. This was his response:

“But take heart, God is in control. And if we are nearing the end, then things will get a lot worse. But in the end, we shall stand before him and none of this will matter.”

I sat there for a moment with his last sentence and let it sink into my soul:

But in the end, we shall stand before him and none of this will matter.

His text reminded me of an interview I did with my friend Marla on how to be prepared for emergency situations. I was really digging her out on practical ways to successfully survive the Zombie Apocalypse (which sadly doesn’t seem so far-fetched anymore). I think my question was indicative of my need for security, and for definitive answers.  

Instead, Marla gave me a non-answer.  Or rather, a God-answer. Here is the short exchange:

Me: “Marla, let’s talk The Walking Dead.  End of the World.  Zombie Apocalypse.  What then?”

Marla: “Honestly, you’re a goner.  I mean, there is nothing you can do for that stuff.  It’s going to be chaos and mayhem.  And you have the Lord; like….that’s it (and really, what more do you need?).  Your days are numbered; he knows when your end is going to be.” 

I remember sitting with that response as well; her words sinking into my soul.

You have the Lord.  Like that’s it.  And really, what more do you need?

So what am I telling myself during the beginning of 2021?  The same thing I told myself all throughout 2020: 

I have the Lord, and he is all I need. I will stand before him in the end.  

As some of you know, I have worked in politics for most of my adult life, minus my stay at home parent tenure and the last two years as I have transitioned into a career in private investigation. Like every person reading this post, I have survived both Democrat and Republican presidencies.  I plan on surviving again (and actively praying for) the next administration.

I recall the time immediately after George W. Bush had won the White House and also had Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate.  I was working on Capitol Hill at the time as a Senate staffer, and watched as many Republicans were elated and popping champagne with the winning hand they had been dealt. The champagne continued to flow until May 24, 2001, when Vermont Republican James Jeffords shocked his colleagues and the nation by announcing that he would leave his party to become an Independent and would caucus with the Democratic Party.  His action returned Democrats to the majority.  Never before the 107th Congress had party control formally shifted within the course of a two-year congressional term. (word for word source: https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/unforgettable_107th_congress.htm#:~:text=The%202000%20election%20also%20produced,breaking%20vote%20on%20organizational%20matters.)

Right after Jeffords announced his party switch, I remember sitting outside and feeling depressed.  

Guess what? That was 20 years ago.  And I survived all these many years later.  

Here are the principles I am keeping in mind as we begin 2021: First, I am called to love God above all else.  Second, I am called to love my neighbor/family/friend/enemy as I love myself.  Finally, God is in control of 2021, even if things seem out of control.  He is a stronghold in the day of trouble.  

Here are a few verses I am dwelling on as we begin this new year:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul…love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37

The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Psalm 103:19

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Romans 14:12

So given the fact that God is in control, am I trusting that he is in control of what is happening in our country and praying for things that need to be prayed about? Am I letting fear rule over me?  

And in the vein of loving my neighbor — instead of disagreeing with someone on Facebook, am I praying for them?  Am I kind to them?  Do I reach out to build a relationship with them or just leave a comment to prove a point?

I remember sitting down with a family member this past summer and asking him what he thought about COVID and all the ongoing uncertainty of 2020.  I was surprised at what he said:

“I think this is a time for repentance.”

Perhaps that is true!

The other night I woke up with a burden to pray for our country and all of the events transpiring.  I felt led to read out of the book of Nahum (of all random books), and here are the three verses that stood out to me:

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.  The Lord is GOOD, a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.  But with an overwhelming flood He will make an utter end of its place, and darkness will pursue his enemies.”  (Nahum 1: 3, 7, 8)

I think people don’t realize that God sees all and will eventually judge all.  He will judge the wicked in his time and in his way.  Maybe we will see the results on earth, maybe we won’t. 

All I have is here and now. I am reminding myself that the most important thing is that I know and love the Lord, and my ultimate confidence comes from God. He is an ever present help in times of trouble!  And I will stand before him in the end.

Presidents will come.  Presidents will go.  Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer will eventually retire.  COVID will eventually end (God-willing).  American life may or may not go back to “normal.”  

Maybe you feel that the election was stolen. Maybe you feel that the election was free and fair, and there are a bunch of people trying to undermine the process. No matter where you stand, I still say this: God is in control and has the last word, even with respect to the election.  We can certainly pray and put our trust in him.

For those who are feeling confident, I say to you: do you know the Lord?  Is it possible that God is using the difficulty and uncertainty of these times to open your eyes and draw you to himself and show you that you need him?

For those who are in despair, I say to you: do you know the Lord?  Is it possible that God is using the difficulty and uncertainty of these times to open your eyes and draw you to himself and show you that you need him?

Things could get a lot worse before they get better. 2021 could be more difficult than 2020.

But guess what?  I am choosing to trust!  I will trust the process and trust in God!

So cheers to 2021!  Why?  Because I have the Lord, and my confidence and hope come from him.  In the end, I will give an account of my life.  He will give me the strength and grace to get through whatever may come. I need to focus on what I know I can and should do: love God and love people.  And trust in him!

And that, my Dear Reader, is what I am telling myself. 

And in the words of my dear friend Marla:

You have the Lord.  Like that’s it.  

And really, what more do you need?


To read Marla’s post on emergency preparedness, click here: Interview with a Preparedness Expert/Mom

To read about ways I am finding peace during uncertain times, click here: The Purge, Preparedness, Prayer and Prophets – Finding Peace during uncertain times.

Looking for something a little lighter to read? Here is the story of my unique journey to Capitol Hill many years ago: From the valley to the hill (part 1). By the way, this was my first published blog post!

“The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19

God Speaks! How to (imperfectly) hear the indirect/subtle voice of God – Part II

Is it really possible to hear the actual voice of God? I believe that it is, and this is part two of a short series on how to actually hear God’s voice. If you missed part one, where I write about ways God speaks more directly, click here: God speaks! I believe God can speak “directly” using the Bible, a clear voice in your mind, an audible voice, and a slightly brighter thought, among other more obvious methods of communication.

God also speaks more indirectly, or subtly, using a vast array of different methods, and this post will only be a skim and a summary, and I will probably fail to mention several categories.  My personal favorite ways of hearing God’s more indirect voice include answered prayer, music, books, peace or lack thereof, and God’s beautiful creation. So let’s get started!

God speaks to us through creation. This is probably my favorite way of hearing the subtle voice of God.  For me personally, whenever I marvel at something beautiful in creation (like a sunset or mountain view), deep praise rises within me and I find myself wanting to thank and praise God for his awesome creativity. I believe that God speaks in creation to both prove his existence and to display how awesome he is!

Yes, this is Finding Nemo. What is so cool about tropical fish is that when the light is shining directly on them, they glow! You can really see the amazing color patterns that make them each so unique.

One time on a mommy vacation, I went to a beautiful tropical island for a few days. One afternoon I had some time to do some snorkeling right outside of my hotel room and saw the most beautiful tropical fish underwater. When the sun was shining on them, they lit up from within and the colors were so beautiful and striking. I kept noticing how perfectly the colors coordinated on these small creatures.  But then these beautiful little fish would travel into the shade and their colors would no longer shine; they would become dull. I could not see their beauty.  In that moment a thought popped into my head: “Heather, you are like these fish.  You need my light shining through you so you can shine brighter for me.”

We went camping this past summer in Wyoming and pitched our tent on this gorgeous lake. Every morning I awoke to this beautiful view! God speaks through creation. I believe what he is saying is “I exist! Check out my beautiful handiwork!”

God speaks through blessings and answered prayer. God will show how much he loves us by blessing us with really cool gifts.  A few years ago my childhood bestie, Hillary, was dying of terminal cancer. I had taken her to a Heart concert where we were enjoying the opening act from the nosebleed section.  Hillary was an atheist but very open to talking about God, and we had discussed prayer and “signs from God” quite a bit. It was announced that there was a “front row seat” contest which we promptly entered from our phones.  Hillary turned to me and said “Heath, you should pray and ask God to let us win this contest!  That way we can see if he exists!” 

“Oh no!” I thought secretly to myself.  God does not always answer our prayers in the manner and timing we would prefer!  However, I decided to give it a shot and bowed my head and said a prayer that God would bless us with front row seats.  Sure enough, we won the contest!  We had one of the best times of our lives rocking out in the front row!

Hillary challenged me to pray that we would win front row seats to a concert we attended together. I prayed. We won!!

Hillary received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior two weeks before she died. The moment she bowed her head and prayed with me is one of the best moments of my entire life.  She’s now in heaven where I believe she is praying for me and watches over me.  I can actually feel her prayers from heaven!

God speaks through Christmas:  Have you ever really stopped and listened to traditional Christmas music?  We all glibly sing Christmas hymns without really focusing too much on the lyrics, but many of the songs clearly and unmistakably share the good news of the arrival of Christ Jesus!  Let’s look at a few verses of some of the more popular songs:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her King!  Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing!

Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining.  It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth!

Hark now hear the angels sing, a King was born today.  And man will live forever more because of Christmas day!

Every year for about a month, people all over the world can hear God speak to them about the good news of Jesus, whom he sent to save the world from their sins and so we can have access to eternal life in heaven!

God speaks through unlikely means, including pain. Sometimes God speaks to us in our distress as a way to draw us to himself and so that we will turn to him for comfort and help, and maybe save us from something that is coming up in our future life.

God also speaks through loneliness. I believe what God may be saying is “I know you are lonely. I see you! I love you and I want you to know how much I love you! Open your heart up to having a relationship with me. I will fill up those lonely spots. I see your tears. I have created you for a purpose. I have a plan for your life!”

(By the way, the short paragraph above was not in the original draft. I just added it. I believe someone needs to hear it. Maybe it’s a person contemplating suicide. Why did I write it? It was a thought that would not go away.)

God is also a huge fan of speaking to us in unlikely and unusual ways.  There is even a passage in scripture of God speaking through a donkey! An example of God using unusual methods happened to my mom back in the early 1980’s.  At the time, she was a single mom of two young girls who happened to be a firm agnostic.  She was absolutely not looking for God, but you know the rest!

One day, as she was reading a book by Edgar Cayce, a secular clairvoyant and prophet, there was one sentence that stood out to her about Jesus Christ. Cayce said that Jesus Christ had fulfilled prophecy.  In that moment, my mom says a voice spoke directly to her and said the following: 

“Linda, I exist.  What are you going to do about it?”

That one sentence launched her on a spiritual journey where she eventually came to a place where she ended up believing not only in God, but also in Jesus Christ.  God used an unlikely book to change her life and the lives of her two little girls.  One of those little girls grew up to be a non-famous blogger of this post you are reading.

God speaks through everything: God speaks through other people, technology, books, all forms of media, music, movies, Internet blogs, the weather, dreams, visions, accidents, pain, coincidences (I call them God-winks), blessings,  circumstances, and the list goes on. Another indirect way of God speaking happens to me when I go to church or listen to a sermon online.  Suddenly, the pastor will say something that hits close to home and applies perfectly to what I am going through. 

Here are a few more ways that God can speak to you…

  • You will feel a peace
  • You will feel restless
  • Your way will seem blocked
  • Your way will open up 
  • You will have a burden for something
  • Answered prayer
  • Unanswered prayer
  • An idea that won’t go away 
  • A “divine appointment” with someone
  • One word (or number) that keeps coming up 
  • Something unusual or miraculous that happens
  • Someone will tell you about Jesus Christ 
  • You will feel a conviction of sin

Here is the bottom line of this post: God speaks more than we realize.  He usually speaks a bit more indirectly, although for newbies he actually tends to be more obvious. God will draw people who do not yet know him with both his love and his conviction of sin. He will always be consistent with his word (the Bible). God speaks to everyone a bit differently. It is a process to learn how to hear his voice. 

Here is a hint I learned the hard way on how to hear from God. First, pray and ask God to speak to you.  Wait a moment.  If nothing happens, go about your life.  After awhile, something will happen. It may be a voice, a thought, a circumstance, a blessing, or your mom will say something completely random that applies to something in your life.  You will stop in your tracks and say to yourself, “Wait, was that God?”

Yes, it was!  If you are not sure that God exists or even if he cares about you (or the rest of humanity), why don’t you say a prayer, asking him to reveal himself to you?  And then sit back and see what happens.  Give it a little time and don’t give up.  Keep knocking!  He will answer!

I want to close with a personal story that illustrates the concept of God’s indirect voice.

The blog that you are now reading is over four years old, but it really started nine years ago with an idea that would not go away. The idea was this:

You should start a blog.

That’s it. It was not even spoken in the King James Version. 🙂 I’m not even 100 percent sure the thought was from God. But the thought would not go away. I argued with myself for about four years before I began to pray about it. What stopped me from writing? I was afraid of failure and rejection. I was afraid that not even one person would ever read any of my posts.

This “loser blog” has now received over 15,600 views! I am grateful and humbled for everyone who has visited. My stats are very small potatoes compared to so many well-known bloggers, but my continual hope is that a seed of truth and faith will be planted in each reader that finds themselves on the pages of permission2speakfreely.com.

God is speaking! Be open to hearing his direct and indirect voice. He loves you!

Be open for surprises too!

You just might find yourself rocking out in the front row of one of your favorite bands!


If you missed part one, where I write about ways God speaks more directly, click here: God speaks!

God speaks through sunsets: “Another day has quickly passed. Time is flying. Think about eternity!”