Happy New Year friends!

While I enjoyed some time off around the holidays connecting with family and making memories, I’m not gonna lie, I drove up to campus on Monday and realized how much I had missed everybody. What a gift to not only have our biological family, but also a faith family. My husband and I have been part of the COD family for almost 18 years now and are convinced there’s no place like it.

We are only days into 2022 and the covid headlines and news have been relentless and heavy. It’s messy and complicated and takes the wind out of your sails. It brings out fear and uncertainty and a foolish desire to need to control everything.

And just as I was beginning to play a familiar tune from dark days in 2020 or 2021, God reminded me of two words . . . but God. 

But God is faithful (1 Cor 10).
But God gave (1 Cor 3).
But God raised him from the dead (Acts 13).
But with God all things are possible (Matthew 19).
But God is the strength of my heart (Psalms 73).
But God demonstrated his own love for us (Rom 5).
But God remembered (Genesis 8).
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2).

I have a sign in my dining room that says, “Make time for the quiet moments as God whispers and the world is loud.” Right now the world is freaking loud y’all. It’s like JLo clap it up Miami concert loud. Our job is to make sure that in the midst of the loudness, we don’t lose sight of our Captain. We don’t forget who He is, what He has done, what He is doing or what He can do. We can’t give covid more airtime than our Jesus. We can’t let the chaos of covid steal our joy or make us think God is any less in control than he was in 1999, 2020 or 2021.

My earholes might be overwhelmed with covid and its messy path of logistical chaos, but you know who isn’t? Our Jesus. He is not overwhelmed. He is not scared. He is not threatened. He is Emmanuel, God with us, right here in our presence, trying to lift our chins and open our eyes to look for the beauty He is no doubt going to create in the midst of the chaos.

Today I needed that reminder, that chin lift, that conviction about who is winning the most of my airtime. And I thought in doing so I would use this email to tell you about what my Jesus did today.

As many of you know, I have a son. We adopted him from Bulgaria when he was 2. He is a real charmer and has a heart of gold. Having had a rough institutional start overseas during a critical developmental period of his life though, Seth also has some deep struggles biologically. My husband and I have seen numerous doctors, been to occupational therapy, behavioral counseling, personal counseling and so on for 5+ years trying to get him the help he needs. We have done assessments and observations and yadi yadi and have always come up short with getting him the resources he needs to thrive, especially in school.

This week we had an IEP assessment meeting. After having so many doors shut over the years, I get nervous about hitting more dead ends. My fellow pastors prayed for us and I logged on for the Zoom meeting. For anyone who has ever had an IEP meeting, you know it’s mixed emotions. It’s validating to hear someone else observe the same concerns you do, but also a bit heartbreaking to hear someone else say what you know out loud. We came to the end of their findings and they explained that he qualified for services. They then went through a lengthy list of accommodations that honestly brought me to tears. I just sat in the Zoom with no shame in my game and wept. After years of fighting and advocating, somebody finally saw our son’s struggles and not only saw them, but made a lengthy list of detailed ways they were going to meet him where he is at.

It’s not lost on me how overwhelmed teachers are and or how heavy their plates are. And to read and hear about how much they were willing to do for ONE kid, MY kid so that he could thrive . . . I just lost it. Their list felt lavish and so custom. And in the midst of my public sob fest, I felt God whispering, “That’s how I feel about you. That’s my kind of love, baby girl. It’s lavish. It’s custom. I bend over to where you are and stand with you. This emotion you feel over this IEP report is only a tiny minuscule fraction of the love I have for you.” We wrapped up the Zoom, I ugly cried in my office at the tangible expression and reflection of God’s one of kind love for me and then walked around the office with puff eyes the rest of the day :).

KTLA isn’t gonna share that story. The LA Times isn’t going to put that above the fold on the cover.

But I have this small platform and wanted to share my Jesus story with you and remind you of who we serve. He’s big. He’s almighty. He’s enough. He’s full of mercy and kindness. He is in charge and on the move. 

Jessica Lee
Children’s Pastor

P.S. The Worship & Prayer Night has been moved to Sunday, January 23. It will be a great opportunity to be reminded of Who we serve and how He is on the move among us. I hope you’ll come! It will run from 5-6:30pm. We’ll be providing childcare for your kiddos (birth to grade 5), and a taco truck dinner for all at the conclusion.

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