The Covid Virus and Other Forms of Family Bonding…

Year’s ago I saw a fascinating title for a book, “The Stomach Virus and Other Forms of Family Bonding”. Although I never have had the opportunity to read that book, the title has stuck in my mind many times through the ins and outs of raising four kids and experiencing everything from the stomach virus, head lice, chicken pox, to strep throat, and on and on. There’s something about a little family time brought on by a common ailment. Probably the first time I realized this was my husband and I’s first year of marriage. We both contracted some kind of stomach virus and had to call into our jobs for a sick day. We still laugh about that day of us in a one bedroom/ one bath apartment fighting over that one toilet. It’s one of our fond memories of the “newlywed” period of our life. The rest of that time was spent laying around in our full size bed watching “The Price is Right”, “Oprah”, and whatever else we could catch on our antenna. “Bonding” accurately described that experience… nowhere to go and no one else we would rather spend our time with. Even if our “bonding” was born from our common misery, a bad case of the diarrhea.

Sunday afternoon marked the beginning of another round of “family bonding” when my husband started running a fever and developing COVID symptoms. He’s not the only one who is experiencing “the joy”. Four out of four of us who live under our roof are now experiencing symptoms: Two Positive COVID cases, and two waiting on results. With the exception of me sleeping in another room and instituting a “NO KISS” moratorium, to avoid his germs we probably haven’t been real good about trying to not share our germs. I still sit about six feet from him in my recliner next to his recliner watching TV, checking our temperatures occasionally, sniffing a jar of Vicks to see if we still have our smell, and trying to figure out when our next dose of Tylenol will be. Thankfully our shared sickness has been very mild for all. Occasionally my 20 year old daughter and my 16 year old son will join us and we watch a movie together, Officially completing our “Twilight” movie binge watching last night- something my husband and I never took the time to watch in earlier years. Yep…family Bonding at it’s best.

Laying around feeling kind of sick but not too sick makes me contemplative, thus the blog… Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” There’s a part of this verse that I like to quote to my husband especially on a cold winter night right when I get in bed and put my ice cold feet on his back. “…if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone.” That’s kind of a “well duh…” statement because it is oh so true. But for me this week it is really ringing true. We weren’t meant to be alone. So if you have to do something unpleasant, then do it with someone you love, including being sick. (Not that I would want any one of us to be sick)

I’m sure 20 years from now this time of our life will bring about the stories similar to our newlywed stomach virus day, even though it was unpleasant to go through we laugh about it now. Covid has been a lot of things since it arrived on my horizon at the beginning of the year, scary and intimidating to name a few. But I am reminded that God works “all things” for my good. Together time with some of my favorite people, that’s the silver lining in my Covid 19 cloud.

FaceTiming our Grandson.

Covid Has Come

“What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” Job 3:25 NIV

Yesterday we got the news that my husband has tested positive for Covid 19. He’s been sick for 4 days already so it really wasn’t a surprise. Plus my two kids that are still at home have been snotting around here for awhile as well. C’est la Vie! The way things are spreading around the world I figured it was only a matter of time. Everyone’s symptoms are relatively mild and so far all this means is more time with my husband laying around in his recliner and more time with my teenage son staying home. Which I’m sure is driving him crazy. He’s got friends to see and activities to do. Here’s the tea… I have a few mild symptoms, scratchy throat, headache on occasion, but over all I’m feeling pretty good. I’m very thankful for that, but it does play into my anxious tendencies of wondering when the other shoe will fall and I will be sick. Like so many of you out there, I am not a fan of feeling sick… and I’m not a fan of how sick Covid has made some of the people I know from this area. I’m into having all kinds of energy and working on all kinds of projects. So the waiting and wondering can get to me if I let it. So this morning in the quiet glow of all my Christmas lights I’ve been contemplating all this.

The verse in Job that I quoted above came to my mind. Probably because I’ve had this belief in the past that if I am afraid of something it’s going to happen to me, because I am believing for that negative event. It sure looks like that is what happened to Job. He feared losing his kids, his health, his wealth, and “BOOM!” He wakes up smack dab in the middle of doing just that. The problem with this theory is Job is talking about what he feels is his experience, but He’s not aware of all the behind the scenes occurrences that happened in Job chapter 1. The interactions between God and Satan and God allowing the testing that would come upon Job. The afflictions Job had, had nothing to do with his lack of faith, his disobedience, or his fears. They simply came. I’m not sure I totally get the entire book of Job. It seems to go against the rational that God only pours out blessings on His people. But the book of Job gives me hope during the year 2020 and all the weird stuff we’ve seen. At times it seems that God and Satan may have had another discussion about planet earth and God has let Satan do what he wants. Here’s the deal, God has never fell off His throne. After 37 chapters in the book of Job of speculating, contemplating, and saying all sorts of reasons for Job’s suffering, God speaks. “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” Job 38:3-4 God then proceeds to talk about all the minute and incredibly large details of life that He is fully aware of everything from the “storehouses of hail” to the moment the “mountain goats give birth”. The whole chapter of Job 39 reminds me of something Jesus said in Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

God has all this: He has the end game for the election results. He has the wild fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. He has the riots, the persecution of believers, the discord. He has the details of my life, from the birth of my first grandson to the death of my mother in love. His eyes have never left me, and as I maneuver around my house that suddenly feels like a fishbowl of germs that I can’t hide from, He has me.

True Covid has come to my house hold, but God has never left. He’s still in control and He loves me. So I’ll be ok.

King David, Covid, Bob Marley, and of course…ME

“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalms 37:23-24 NLT

God always has a plan. Even when we think we’re the ones calling the shots, we’re actually not all that. He’s the one at work on the details of our lives. The more I realize this and accept it the more at peace I am.

The past few weeks my husband and I have been reading about King David and also reading his Psalms. Once again I find what was supposed to be a daily Bible reading plan we picked out “by chance”, exactly what I need for the things I’m dealing with. Funny how God just works that out…

David was a worshipper of God. He was a writer. He played musical instruments and his abilities were of the talent level to land him a gig playing for the king, King Saul, in his palace. David was warrior. He was a fighter. If the cause was right and good he would bravely stand in opposition to what appeared to be really bad odds against him and come out the victor on the other end. Just ask Goliath. David was a man with loyal friends, who would hang out in caves and be brave along with him. Men who were willing to go behind enemy lines to fetch a drink from water that David mentioned, just because he mentioned it. David lived in palaces enjoying the finest. He also hid in caves running for his life because his father in law and at one time his own son wanted him dead. David danced in excited jubilation before God and he also tore his clothes and laid out before God in mourning. I think you get the picture after awhile. David experienced the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly in his life. The one consistent is that he went through all of this and concludes that God directed his steps and even in the bad stuff he would never fall. He knew God loved him, and God spoke of David in all the ups and downs of his life as a “man after God’s own heart.”

I find myself identifying with David a lot recently. Not because I’m hiding in caves, having spears thrown at me, or acting like a madman before an enemy king to save my skin. Mainly because things go good for me and I feel like dancing before God. Things go not so good and I feel like putting on my mourning clothes and laying in a pile of ashes before God too. I’ve experienced that love of loyal friends, and the betrayal of others. I’ve had awesome victories, and experienced the pain of defeat. I could go on and on.

Somewhere in my mind I had pictured the Christian life as a cake walk- one blessing to the next and yet I find it is exactly as Jesus told us it would be. A life with “troubles” but also “courage” because He has over come the world.

This past month has been a lot. Our family has dealt with the sickness, death, funeral, and other ins and outs of losing someone we dearly love. But at the same time we’ve found joy in the milestones our grandbaby has reached, birthdays of my kids- as three of them are now in their 20’s, new college school year started for my daughter living at home – that she is enjoying, and the excitement of a 16 year old boy’s social life as he enjoys his high school years. I’ve found myself crying at times, and laughing out loud at other times, sitting in dismay as I try to figure out my next step and then confidently walking things out at other times. I think me and Kind David have a lot more in common than I realized, a lot more than our mutual love for music and writing and dancing an occasional jig.

So today’s curveball that life has thrown at me is a positive Covid case in my home. Yesterday was spent getting the rest of us tested and trying to figure out just how exposed we have been to my asymptomatic teenage son, which I would say the answer would be “pretty exposed”. So far none of us four under the same roof are sick, for which I am so very grateful. But I am also hearing the reports of our friends who also have Covid that theirs is not that same case, they are very sick. Sitting here this morning I’ve contemplated “what exactly can I do?” This situation has made me long for the good ole days when my preteen daughters got headlice. Sure I was busy treating heads and picking nits every night and cleaning the house until my back hurt so bad I could barely walk. But at least the possibility of one of us getting really sick from the little critters wasn’t a big threat. Yesterday, as my 20 year old daughter and I sat in a drive up testing sight for an hour in a line of cars, we tried to make the best of a bad situation. We joked about the car full of college boys in front of us waiting to be tested, and what if they were really cute under their masks. The potential love story that could come from finding your true love while waiting to be tested for Covid on a hot summer day. It’s either laugh or cry at this point, so laugh is what we did. Then today I wrestle with should I use a clorex wipe to clean off the laptop my son has touched to type this blog. The wipes won out, and a squirt of hand sanitizer.

All this being said, my mind turned back to David. He understood, as I am coming to understand, that God has these things. God has directed my steps, and this new obstacle of Covid is not a surprise to Him. Life is going to be like this. There will be good, bad, beautiful, and ugly… And though the unknown, if I admit it, is scary. God is always holding onto me and the ones I love.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?“ And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ” Matthew 6:26-34 NIV

Or in this case the words of Bob Marley actually can be a comfort as well:

“Rise up this mornin’,
Smiled with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, (“This is my message to you-ou-ou:”)

Singin’: “Don’t worry ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Singin’: “Don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!””

“The Blessing”

“…And this is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each one with his own special farewell blessing. Then he instructed them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite… Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭49:27-33‬ MSG

What a whirlwind this day has been! It started with a phone call from my mother in love regarding a need she had at the nursing home she is at. I quickly got around and headed there. Then it was a day of fielding calls, talking to hospice, nurses, and trying to alter her nightgowns to be more suitable for her needs. With my limited seamstress skills that was a feat. After lunch I sat at my table with my head in my hands and tears began to flow. Then it occurred to me. A trip to Hobby Lobby would help me feel better. It soothes the soul. So off I went, and I was right.

The facts of the matter is my mother in love is down to a few days. Knowing this has prompted family to come. Sisters, children, grandchildren, nieces, etc. They have come to spend some time with a woman who is very much loved. When I told her about people coming to see her, she told me weakly she was tired, and I told her I knew she was, but it’s tough being as popular as you are. The company did perk her up today. It was a good day for her.

Grandma Praying for each Grandkid individually

COVID 19 has made it hard for a family, and in this case a very large family, to spend their time with the one they love. Two by two they were allowed into her isolation room, with health screening , temperature check, escort to and from the room, and face mask the entire visit. She enjoyed her time with family in between naps and moments of being quiet. Although the restrictions have been hard on us all, I saw the most beautiful thing tonight that will mark my heart for the rest of my life, Grandma’s Blessing.

Two of my kids receiving “The Blessing”

One of the nursing home’s generous accommodations during this time of quarantine was to allow visitors to stand outside her window and talk to her through a screen. Some of her grandkids arrived for a visit there, and that is where “The Blessing” began. One by one they stuck their head in the cranked open crack and told their Grandma they loved her and bowed their head as she held a hand toward them and prayed. Grandkids ages 15-25 coming for their blessing from a woman who had sown seeds of God’s love into them from the day they were born. It was beautiful. It felt like I was watching the scene of Jacob blessing his sons, but with a southern Missouri woman’s style. Then the time came for her kids. As I stuck my head through the small crack to receive my blessing too, I thought of how blessed I have already been. Some 28 years ago our lives as mother and daughter in love began. I can only hope to be half the mother in love that this woman was to me for my son’s wives in the future. But may I, in my time raise my hand to my grandkids and proclaim, “May His favor be upon you to a thousand generations. To your children, and their children, and their children…” -(“The Blessing” Elevation worship). And may I leave an impact on my children and grandchildren, like she has on them that they would be willing to stand outside a window on a hot summer night, in order to receive “The Blessing” from the hand that held them close when they were babies many years before.

Grandma Evie with hand raised in prayer for the Generations to follow her. “The Blessing”

““ ‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’”
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭6:24-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭20:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Follower of Jesus- Shining Star in Dark Times

Corrie Ten Boom has been one of my more modern heroes of the faith. I’ve read her book “The Hiding Place” and watched the movie several times. Her courage as a middle aged woman to hide Jews in her home during the occupation of Nazi Germany and her survival of Ravensbrück concentration camp have long struck a chord within me. I’m not sure why. As I’ve watched the news unfold the past few weeks I’ve thought often of how she must have felt as the Germans began to occupy Holland and she was confronted with the reality of going with the flow of society or doing what is right in the eyes of God. I’ve spent this evening relaxing and looking at quotes from Corrie. There have been so many that have shaped me through the years. In my searching, I found one that has resonated greatly in my heart tonight. It is from a letter Corrie wrote in 1974. I was 3 years old when this was written, yet it holds so very true today. “The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers. Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.”

Corrie Ten Boom and The Hiding Place in her home that saved Jews during World War 2

I too have been horrified at the murder of George Floyd, and I am greatly disturbed by the chaos that seems to spin more and more out of control, add all this to a global Pandemic. We are in the middle of “the Perfect Storm”. I have often referred to 9/11 as being one of the saddest times in my life as my heart ached for my nation. But I am sensing that the times we are in are starting to compare if not surpass that horrific event. The division, lawlessness, hatred, etc. It is heart breaking. It is as Corrie wrote 46 years ago, a world that is “deathly ill.” and “dying”. I’ve often told those around me things similar, but probably not with the urgency I feel for it today, and as Corrie wrote, the followers of Jesus are the ones with the cure for this death sentence because we are the “representatives from Heaven.” We have the antidote!! We have the cure!! The question that plays in my mind is “How do we administer this cure that our dying world desperately needs?” Really it is, “What am I to do?”

I live in the country. The other night, after a trip to the closest city and it’s Menards, we arrived in my circle drive and I stepped out of my car into the darkness that our few lights around our house provides. I looked up at the sky and breathed in the fresh air and was amazed by the stars. I can never get enough of them. They are so bright and they feel so close in the darkness that surrounds my rural home. I immediately thought of a couple of verses in Philippians that I had read recently “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” Philippians 2:14-15. My generation is “warped and crooked”. No right or wrong, good is bad, bad is good. Our hearts are far from God and this is a dark time. But those of us who know Jesus, are the children of God and we shine like the stars in the sky. When the darkness is great, His light shining through us is greater. When we shine the light of God’s hope, we are just as the stars I gazed upon that night, fascinatingly beautiful to a world that needs peace and answers. It also occurred to me as I gazed at the millions of stars on that clear night, It’s not just one star that makes me pause and breathe in a moment of peace. It is a sky full of them, doing what stars do best, shining. My dark world needs my star shining kindness to the cashier, shining generosity to my waitress, shining compassion to the lonely and hurting, shining assurance and peace to those around me rocked with uncertainty, shining love- God’s pure love to those pillaged and left to die in hatred’s wake. That is the light that when boldly joined by all the other Followers of Jesus, stars shining, breaks the power of darkness that cannot overcome God’s pure light even when the night seems to be as dark as our world has been lately.

Lydia, Paula Dean, and Covid 19

Covid 19 has put a major damper on my expressions of hospitality.  It’s a bummer.  Usually this time of year marks the beginning of bar b ques, friends hanging out, fires in our fire pit, music on the patio or front deck.  I think that last year around this time we had a huge fish fry.  Not so much this year, with the gatherings of 10 or less order.  It’s a weird switch.  I’ll be the first to admit that the one with the greatest gift of hospitality between my husband and me would be him.  He’s a party all the time kind of guy.  Before quarantine hit, and some other life changes that we went through last year (God moving us to a different church, and us stepping down from leading a Bible Study/ accountability group we had been doing weekly for 4 years), our weeks were spent trying to figure out what would be the menu for the next cook out and how many people can we invite.  If I would put the brakes on, for any particular reason, he would want to know what was wrong with me.  The weekends were meant for family and friends.  Anything less was inconceivable in his mind.

The change of pace has been pretty nice for me, if I’m completely honest.  I’ve enjoyed the focus on my kids, my husband, and my new grandson.  But every now and then I miss my friends.  I miss seeing them, sitting around, and shooting the breeze. I miss the long conversations after church while everyone waited for someone to tell them where we were going to eat. (Usually Mexican/ usually decided by my husband, Not sure why. lol) The joke with our kids had always been, “mom and dad are always the last ones out of the church.  They shut the place down.” Then staying at the restaurant until 3 or 4 talking, laughing, and sharing our lives.  The waiters at the restaurant knew us by name and called us “Los Hermanos de la Iglesia” (the brothers from the church)  when they would seat us.  Alejandro always served us, we called him “Alex” because the gringos amongst us couldn’t swing the pronunciation.  I really miss those days.  Come to think of it, Monday didn’t feel so bad when we started the week because we knew Friday through Sunday would make up for it. So social isolating has been hard, but probably harder than that was the changes we went through from July til present when our solid group of friends went through a major shake up, we went to different churches, and we just don’t see each other like we used to.

It’s funny what got me thinking about all this, Acts 16 and the account of the salvation of Lydia.  Lydia was a dealer of fine linens, purple, to be exact. She went outside of the city gates to a place near a river to join in with a group of women to worship the one true God.  She was European, not Jewish, but she was hungry for God and being with people who sought Him.  When Paul and Silas arrived, they struck up conversation with the women there. Lydia listened and God opened her heart to Paul’s message and she was saved and baptized.  Then she did something that I understand, because it is pretty common in southern hospitality, she persuaded Paul and his travel companions to come to her home. Probably touting the food she would fix, the comfortable beds they could rest on, and all the proper enticements a proper hostess can throw out to attract a guest- cookies, pie, ice cream, etc.  Later after a series of events, Paul and Silas are noted as returning there “where they met with the brothers and sisters and encouraged them.”  So apparently Lydia had a little of the “Paula Dean” touch.  She knew how to make them feel comfortable and how to enjoy their company using her home as a tool of her ministry.  Lydia’s house had become “the hub” for “Los Hermanos de la Iglesia”.  A pretty cool deal.   It made it to the Bible. 🙂 Paul then encouraged them, and then after what I’m sure resembled our 3 hour long southern good byes, Paul and his companions left. Complete with someone hollering out the window, “Watch for deer!”

There’s something about a good conversation and a cup of coffee. Topped off with prayer and encouragement.  Sprinkle some laughter and smiles.  Just what the doctor ordered.  Maybe our Covid 19 time out is just what we need to see the value in that once more.  We’ve been content to check off the boxes: work, kids stuff, church services, grocery run, etc.  And somewhere along the line we lost the Andy Griffith world we used to have of long summer evenings, singing on the front porch with friends, playing some cards, and sharing some time and our lives.  It could be that getting back to that is one of the things God is wanting to get us all about, or at least me.

In the mean time, I’m going to brush up on my dessert making skills, work on making my house more guest worthy, and try to make the best of our new “Jetson’s” type socialization – Screen meetings on Zoom.  I will pray for a time once again where the “hugger” inside of me can greet my friends with a hug and a smile as we sit down to talk about life and testify of God’s goodness to us each and every one.

May it come quickly!

 

 

Enough Already…

I’m about done with this whole Quarantine deal. We’ve been at it for about 4 weeks I believe and are only about half done. Although I’m not really sure half done is accurate. It may be more…

I’ve been doing all the “right stuff”. Exercising, projects around the house, gardening, going outside, spending time in prayer and meditation. Honestly, the pressure from the changes of my life are starting to get to me. It occurred to me last Saturday after a day of straightening my pantry, cleaning out cabinets, and probably the most shocking thing to me- alphabetizing my spices (Not a natural organizer, never done before). It hit me… “Enough Already”. I’m tired of this change. I’m tired of the nightly news. I’m tired of the conspiracy theories. I’m tired of trying to get up, show up, and continue doing the same thing over and over again like I’m living the movie “Groundhog’s Day”. And honestly, unlike the majority of this world I really don’t even have it that bad. I’ve got room to roam out in my little corner of the world. Death rates are low, and so far the financial impact of this has been minimal to my family, with exception of a bigger grocery bill. So throw a little guilt on top of all the other emotions I’ve been feeling…”Enough Already”.

Usually at this point in my blog entries I make the turn towards the light at the end of the tunnel, or the deep spiritual point I’m trying to convey begins to become more clear. But if I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how to make the turn this time or turn on the light switch that makes the light at the end of the tunnel appear. Right now the light doesn’t seem to be there, and the point seems to be hidden from me. Not exactly the best place to be, or is it?

It’s times like these in my life that I appreciate David’s Psalms he wrote. I can go to the Bible and see that on its pages are feelings similar to mine. Psalm 13:1-5 The Message expresses these sentiments.

“Long enough, GOD — you’ve ignored me long enough. I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.Take a good look at me, GOD, my God; I want to look life in the eye, So no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face.”

David is saying the equivalent of “Enough Already”. That gives me hope. David saw situations that surpass my temporary inconveniences that aggravate me. He lived through situations some placed upon him without his ability to control, others from bad choices he made. He found God someone He was able to run to and pour out the feelings of his heart without fear. God loved his honesty calling David “a man after His own heart.”

Honesty, laying it out to God is the best policy. He knows it all anyway because He sees what’s in our hearts. If I am afraid, if I am discouraged, if I am angry, if I am… God knows. I am assured of that. Not only does He know, He listens, and He cares. I can take my “Enough Already” to Him, and soon I will find as David did that God hears and He answers. The last two verses of Psalm 13 MSG declares just that. “I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms— I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.” I can look back on some of the darkest times in my life and see now how God was at work. It may have taken time, but He turned it all around, as God promised in His word: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There I’ve found it again. “The light at the end of the tunnel”, the “deep spiritual point” I can make.

I may currently have the feelings of “Enough Already” rolling around inside of my heart and mind, but God… God is exactly that. He is “Enough Already” for me. He will not leave me here. I may not see the changes that put my world back to where it was before Covid 19. But I will see God’s Goodness in my life as I continue to run with my “Enough Already” to Him.


Grandpa- 101 Years of Example

I have to admit.  I have been a little down the past few days.  The reality of the change we are up against with regards to the Corona Virus has hit me more than once.  I’ve found myself thinking about how easy I’ve had it the past 49 years, and now it seems my world has been grabbed by one end and shaken out like a dusty rug at the entry way of a house.  Dust is flying everywhere and I’m not sure when the air will clear enough for me to breathe.  I was complaining to God about my feelings the other morning.  “My world will never be the same…” Then I was gently reminded, “Is that what you wanted? Did you want your world to never change?”  Good point.  Maybe my comfort levels, my ease… that would be good to leave them alone.  But the very changes I have prayed for in my world, those would be good to adjust. 

Here’s the deal… Change is a part of life.  You can’t dodge it or escape.  It happens and you have to just go through.

My Grandpa was born in 1914.  He died a few years ago just a few days shy of his 101st Birthday.  When he was 4 years old the world was in the midst of another infamous pandemic, The Spanish Flu.  I never heard him talk about it, so he may have been young enough to not remember it much, but I do remember hearing stories about his life during The Great Depression. How as a boy he hunted and fished, not for pleasure, but to help feed his siblings and himself, so much so that he wasn’t much a fan of either when he got older. He just went to the pond and watched us fish.  He witnessed World War I and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War, the war his oldest son fought in and was faced with uncertainty of how that would end up for him, he came home.  He had loved ones born and loved ones die, among which were infant grandbabies.  He lost a great grandson, my nephew in the Gulf of Aden- lost at sea while serving with the United States Navy.  He saw marriages in the family, he saw divorces.  He stood at the side of the casket of his only lifelong love of 60 plus years gazing at her and commenting on how young she looked, like the days before they had moved from Kansas decades before.  He outlived all his siblings, 7 of them, and most of his friends. In fact towards the end, that fact kind of hit him- “I’m the last one left.”

He saw changes, but I never saw him fearful or complain. In fact, I’ve only mentioned a portion of the challenges he faced in his 101 years on earth, but the memories I have of him are not of a man filled with fear. Instead it was a quiet man, who would always greet me with a hug and ask me, “How’s my girl?”  Grandpa just adjusted to it all somehow.  He had Faith in Jesus, evidenced to me by his presence in his spot every Sunday and Wednesday at church in the back right hand corner pew all the years of my life until he couldn’t drive to church any more some time in his 90’s.  He lived his life, and he went on. He did what he had to do, and he enjoyed what he had, his farm, his business, his family , his God, and his life.

Grandpa never escaped the changes, and neither will I.  Some will bring joy, some incredible sadness. I guess what matters most is how I end up going through them.  I look at the current situation of my world, and I can’t see a way that any of it is going to get any better any time soon, but I’m certain there were times my Grandpa must have felt the same way. But he made it through with stories to tell of the better times of life. Stories of drag racing Model T’s and boat racing with “The Tub”. In his older years, playing “The Game” and Mowing his lawn gave him great joy. Grandpa rarely talked about the bad, the hard, the sad.  He had many stories to tell of other times, which is probably what helped him to live so long.

I’ve often said I wanted to make it to at least 90. I have a lot of living I want to do.  It’s easy to forget that in order to make it that long, I’ll have to live through the good times and the bad.  But the main thing is to live life with joy.  I must experience the life that is before me now, do my best to live my life with my Faith in Jesus as my guide, enjoy the good things along the way and know that even when things are painful, God is there to hold me close as I go through.  Ultimately I will make it through the ups and downs of this life and some day live free in heaven.  That’s what my day of contemplating Grandpa’s life has taught me.  101 years of his example has spoken a lot more than what his words could have ever said.

 

 

The Focal Point

From the time my girls were little bitty they were aspiring ballerinas.  The love for the dance came with a gift of two tutus that a friend had found.  Their Grandma took them and spruced them up.  The girls, ages 3 and 5, fell in love with them the moment they put them on.  Days and days, hours and hours of twirling and prancing around the house in what was just a hand me down. To them it was the ultimate princess outfit.  As they grew the Barbie Movies- “The Nutcracker”, “Swan Lake”, etc.  reinforced the desire to dance.  As they grew, I finally got them set up with dance lessons with a friend.  They were thrilled.  I sat on the side lines as they learned the basic moves of ballet.  Most of the time quietly whispering to the mom next to me as we visited and waited.

Every once in awhile I would hear the instructor give the girls a little tip on how to do one of the harder moves more effectively.  In one of the dances they were learning, they were supposed to twirl from one corner of the rectangular dance floor to the other.  A move that I am certain, if I attempted it, I would land flat on my back from the dizziness.  Their instructor told them that the best way to make it from point A to point B while twirling across the floor was to have a focal point picked out on the wall that they were going to.  She said to start by twirling slowly and to watch for the point with each turn as they moved towards it.  Sure enough the more they practiced it, the more straight their path from point A to point B became and the less dizzy they felt.

I’ve often thought about that ballet lesson in the years since then.  There’s actually something quite profound in the simplicity of it that can be applied to some of the most complex, stressful situations.  There are times life feels like we are spinning around and around while we are trying to go from one point to the other.  With current events as they are, this is one of those times.  If I allow my eyes to get off my focal point, it’s quite possible to end up either flat on the floor with my head spinning, full of anxiety, depression, fear, etc.  Or I may just end up way off course. It is my continually going back to my focal point that keeps me going the right direction.

Peter in the Bible learned that lesson pretty quick.  Not in a ballet class, but in a boat far from shore.  Peter had went out on a boat with the other disciples ahead of Jesus to go to another town.  When the boat was being buffeted by the waves they looked up and saw what looked like a ghost to them walking toward them.  Peter recognized that the ghost was not a ghost at all, but it was Jesus. He had the courage to ask if he could come out on the water with Jesus, and Jesus told him to come.  As Peter walked along, he started to notice the wind and waves around him.  He took his eyes off the focal point, Jesus.  That is when he began to sink, but it is also the time that Jesus bent down and lifted him back up saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Last night I had a short time of looking at the waves, or in ballet terms getting my eyes off my focal point.  The waves of the evening news, situations I am aware of, what seems like a never ending/ ever increasing plague. At times, it feels like my comfortable American life is going down the drain. Uncertainty of the future… spinning around and around, going off course…

This morning I awoke to the picture of my sweet girls wearing their tutus in my mind. I kept thinking, “Watch the focal point, always get back to the focal point”.  When I sat down with my cup of coffee and my Bible this morning, I kept contemplating keeping my eyes on Jesus, my focal point.  I read a short devotion from a book my daughter let me borrow. It quoted a Psalm that David wrote.  Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”  David experienced times of plenty, times of lack, times of peace, times of war, but he had found the one thing that kept him.  He returned to his focal point, God.  His desire was to dwell in His presence, to behold God’s beauty. No matter the situation, No matter the storm, No matter how much my world spins: I must keep my focus on Jesus. I am also thankful that when it seems like I can’t get my focus on Him.  He takes hold of my hand like He did Peter and pulls me back up on top the water, and He is the one who with a word calms the storm. He has me and as we traverse this storm of current events together. Look to Jesus. He has you too!

Responding to the Signs of the Times

(WARNING…Big word usage for End Times theories ahead. Stick with me there is a point in it.)

Eschatology (end times theology)  has not been my forte… I was raised in a church that was amillennialistic, I’ve attended churches that were Post Millennialist, and I am currently going to a church that is Pre Millennialist.  If I sit there and give it some thought, I can see where each one of them is coming from and I can find things I agree on and disagree on.  So when it comes to End Times Theology, I land on this point. I believe Jesus is coming again.  I don’t know when that is or how it will all go down, but I know that I am ready and the last instruction Jesus gave to his disciples before He ascended was for them to receive the Holy Spirit and to be a witness of Him to their local home area, those areas around it, and then to the ends of the earth. Acts 1.   That is plenty for me to keep busy with in my area of the world and everywhere I may go.

Probably the one thing that really gets my goat when people start talking about Jesus coming is they approach it with this attitude that you feel like you should be hearing “Twilight Zone” music in the back ground and a spooky voice saying, “You know, Jesus is coming…”  It’s like they’ve got to scare you with the fact.  Major earthquake occurs, “Jesus is coming…”(scary tone applied to quote).  Giant tornado rips through a major city, “Jesus is coming…”(apocalyptic fear applied) And now the current news, a global pandemic… “Jesus is coming… BOO!”  To me the fact that Jesus is coming is not something to scare my neighbor with.  It is something I should eagerly anticipate. Something I should be so excited about that it leaks out on those around me.  He is coming, I am excited, time to prepare.

When my husband and I were dating 28 years ago about this time of the year, he lived in a town about 1 1/2 hours from where I lived.  It was the dinosaur age of phones.  There was this thing called long distance, that if he called me or vice versa, we would have to pay large fees just to talk for 10 minutes each night.  In fact, we learned that one the hard way.  He had to sell his favorite guitar to pay a phone bill that we racked up talking each night.  We just wanted to be together.  So every weekend as soon as he could get free, he would hop in his car and drive to where I lived to see me.  I knew he was coming sometime that evening.  So I would try to be ready.  Hair fixed just so, make up on, the cutest outfit I could find.  I would watch and wait to see his little red car driving up.  I wasn’t scared in the least bit at his arrival. I anticipated it.  THAT is the kind of feeling I want to find in myself as I anticipate Jesus and His return.

I have been reading a weekly devotion this year, Secrets of the Secret Place  by Bob Sorge. This week I have been contemplating chapter 14 “The Secret of Watching”. Watching for Jesus… It’s just like me watching for my love 28 years ago.  Watching is not out of fear that at the last moment I get my ducks in a row because the past 49 years I have wanted to do my own thing and now the signs of Jesus coming has increased. I better get ready… Watching is “I am soooo in love with Jesus right now.  I want to be with Him.  Is that the possible sound of Him coming my way?”  Interpreting the signs of the times is for me to have a better perspective of how to show people this Jesus I am so enamored with.  in Luke 12:54-56 Jesus talked about how the people of his time were able to “see a cloud rising in the west, and immediately say ‘It’s going to rain’ and it does.” Or they could feel the “south wind blow and say its going to be hot.” and it was.  But they could not interpret “this present time”.

Global Pandemic, National unrest, International Terrorism, Natural disasters, etc.  That’s what preoccupies our news.  Going to the grocery store in my town, shows the fear and unrest that preoccupies my corner of the world.  I can look at the “clouds and the winds blowing” in a figurative speech.  It is time for me to interpret “this present time”.  My interpretation is that this is not the time to scare your neighbor to repentance.  Now is the time to be the light.  Now is the time to show the Hope, the Peace, the Love that has been inside of us ever since we encountered the Lover of our souls, Jesus.  “It’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.” Romans 2:4.  People are scared. Offer them the cure for the fear that is eating away at their broken hearts.  Let them know how you have found the One who not only holds peace for today, but who walks with you no matter where you go.  The power of sickness and death are conquered in Him.  We don’t have to fear. That is what the world needs to hear now.  Not “get right or get left.” “Turn or burn”.  But show them the love that conquered death on Resurrection Sunday so many years ago, and now He has given us GREAT Hope in a time when uncertainty and fear abounds.