Monthly Archives: April 2020

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

As I am getting notices of blogs, and as I am looking over my social media, one thing is prevalent — talking about COVID19, Corona Virus, Pandemic, Sheltering-In-Place, Quarantining.  Oh my goodness, what will we talk about when this is over?  Do we even remember what we talked about before the middle of March?

old ladyThese weeks have been a blur.  I have to look at a calendar to remember how long it has been.  I remember when we were first told to shelter-in-place, especially those over 65 or those with underlying medical issues.  Well, I am 71 years old.  I never thought of myself as old, or as vulnerable, and now my outlook seems to gone down some.  I am those old people of whom others are referring.  Do you know how weird that sounds to me?  Probably not, unless you are also over 65, and especially in your 70’s.  I always say that I was young until one day I wasn’t.  Thanks to this pandemic, the world has reminded me that I am not young.  That is the downside for me of this pandemic.  I agree, I am grateful that this is my downside, because far too many people have had a much different downside, like being ill, losing loved ones, losing jobs, living alone and dealing with loneliness, having to figure out how to teach your child at home (which was why you chose not to home school in the first place).  

A few days ago a 12 year old who lives near our home in Missouri, has passed away from a brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG), which is all for a fancy wyattword for a malignant tumor at the brain stem.  Look it up — I had to.  The prognosis for this type of cancer is very bleak.  I have been following Wyatt’s support Facebook page since it was established, which I think has only been a little over a year ago.  I tried to check that but there are so many postings on it, that it would take hours to scroll through them to find the first posting.  I think it was February of 2019.  His death hit me hard for a few reasons.  The first being, of course, it seems so sad that a young person (or any person) has to struggle with disease and pass away.  I also got to know this child through these postings.  His mom is very a good friend with my friend and audiologist, Amy.  My friend and next door neighbor in Missouri, Cassie, lost her son, Sam, at age six from cancer.  She and her husband are the founders of the Super Sam Foundation, which is a non-profit that supports the fight of childhood cancer, and also provides comfort packs for the child, the siblings, and parents (a wish that Sam had for “all the kids”).  They also fund childhood cancer research.  I have been supporting that organization since its beginning, and they have been in there with this struggle for Wyatt.  I was so sad that Wyatt’s parents cannot get together with family and friends to grieve the loss of their beloved son, and get strength to help their other son deal with this tragedy.  Social distancing stinks at a time like this.  

Gatherings of all types are shut down.  Churches are finding new ways to minister and connect virtually.  Last night I was on a Zoom meeting with the pastors of our church in Missouri as they shared the new ways they are connecting and the work it takes.  This church has three services on Sunday, the auditorium holds 1,500 people, and sometimes they have to use overflow rooms to stream the service because more than 1,500 have shown up.  They have been streaming their services online since I have been attending which has been almost 7 years.  Now, they say, they have gotten more sophisticated in how they do the streaming.  They realized that when previously streaming the live services you could see the stage and the congregation, and it felt like you were there, but now it’s a big empty room.  They are using less people on their musical team during to conform to social distancing.  So not to get the stage to look overwhelming, they actually use effects to lessen the look of spaciousness.  They also set up a flat screen television next to IMG_2747where the pastor gives his sermon, not using the giant screens on each side of the auditorium.  This they claim also made the feeling of being in the room with them and not overwhelmingly empty.  I realized as they shared this, that when I streamed their services, it felt so close to home, so to speak, than the services streamed at our smaller church in Arizona which looks less comfortable, making myself more easily distracted.  The most interesting part was that their music is not being streamed from the speakers in the auditorium but directly to the sound boards which is streaming with the video, so the sound quality it amazing.  Good for them to have the talent and ability to make these changes to help us feel as connected as we can in this tough time.  

I really hope my pandemic blogs are nearing an end.  I see there is a small light at the end of the tunnel as businesses are starting come up with a way to reopen.

IMG_0964Large venues will have a struggle with this as social distancing is still being recommended.  In fact, in this church meeting, the pastors commented that they are working on how they will be able to open if social distancing is still required.  Remember I said their auditorium holds 1,500 people in theater seating—can’t move those seats around.  When will we see professional baseball, football, basketball, hockey, and other sports?  When will your kids get to play contact sports again?  

There are a lot of questions.  No one has all the answers.  This is new to everyone.  This is a major reason why I don’t criticize any of the politicians, scientists, business owners, schools, entertainment venues, etc., working on the solutions.  Everyone is doing their best job for what they know.  It is confusing, and they are trying to keep us protected, and yet give us the freedoms we so love and desire.

We will come out of this, just like the world has come out of these plagues since the days of the Israelites in the Old Testament, to the black plague in the 16th century, and to the Spanish Flu last century.  We need to remember the lessons that we are being taught.  We need to remember that while we are in crisis and as we call out to God, not to forget to bookcall out to him also in good times.  Most of all, right now, just count your blessings—there are many good things that are happening—from people generously making face masks, providing food, or just something as simple as eating with your family without having to rush out the door for another meeting or sports practice.  It is all good.  We are survivors!

Next week my friend John O’Leary’s book, In Awe, will be released.  John was burned 99% of his body at age 9, and he was not expected to live through the night.  His story is shared in his book, On Fire, and also talked about in this new book.  This new book has perfect timing.  It is about how we find awe and joy in living when things around us are tough.  We as adults get so wrapped up in our careers and other responsibilities that many times we lose the joy of life that we had as a child.  Let’s not forget that there is still joy, peace, and contentment to be found even during scary times.

Prayer

The Gift of Sheltered-In-Place

Sheltering-in-place is now a term everyone knows.  I don’t even remember the date that I first started hearing about COVID-19.  I know it was the first part of March.  My son and daughter-in-law were due to visit us the weekend of March 6.  A few days before they were to arrive, my son called to say it would be only him.  His wife had been fighting a cold or the flu for several weeks, and she didn’t want to get on a plane with this unknown virus that was going around.  There was talk about people staying away from large groups at this time.  My son came alone, and we had wonderful weekend celebrating my husband’s birthday, hiking the mountain by our home, and just spending some quality time with my second born child.  He went home on Monday, and by the next week the news was telling people who were over 65 or had immune deficiencies or underlying illnesses to stay home, don’t go anywhere, stay at home.  Don’t go into crowds.

By mid March we were uncomfortable being around people.  We went to the accountant’s office for our taxes.  There was hand sanitizer out, and we did not shake hands, but we did sit in the office and talk.  From there we left and went shopping at Crate and Barrel.  People were still out shopping, but wary of what to do.  Basically, we were told to wash our hands and don’t touch our face. (I was good with the first part, not so good on the second).  We ended the evening going out to dinner, and noticed that there was some cleaning measures that were being taken that were different from a normal day.  The restaurant did not have salt and pepper shakers on the table.  The waitress said that they were available if requested, but they sanitized everything between customers.  It was such an odd feeling.

After that day, we decided to stay home.  Then the announcement came out that we all should avoid large crowds, and the next thing you knew, the churches closed their doors.  The kids in Arizona were on spring break, but the governor closed the schools, and the IMG_2294kids did not go back.  At that time, it was only for 2 weeks.  Now they are closed until the start of school in August/September.

Being retired, staying home isn’t a big deal.  I cannot imagine how it would feel if my life was still getting up early five days a week to get dressed, commute to work, and put my eight hours in, and then all of a sudden, I’m working at home, or not working at all.

There are so many thoughts that go through my head of how people are feeling.  At first, it was just out and out fright.  We are already afraid of the unknown, but an invisible enemy—a virus—was going to destroy our lives—how much more frightening can that be?

Over these weeks, we have ventured out to the grocery stores.  We have gone on walks in the neighborhood, and hiked on the mountain trails.  I don’t feel confined, except that I cannot be in personal contact with friends and family.  That feels really odd to me.  We also have another new term—social distancing.  Stay apart, wear you face mask, don’t touch anything.  I am surprised to see how few people actually are wearing face masks when shopping.  Because my husband and I are in our 70’s, we wear them—better safe than sorry.

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Social Distancing at Costco–not many have on face masks.

As I look back on these weeks, and the daily news conferences statewide and nationally, I just want to shake my head.  Why do people have to make this political?  We are in a battle to save lives all over the world, and people are demanding to know when did our leaders really know, why didn’t they act faster, on, and on and on.  I really don’t care.  I am not in their shoes.  This is new for everyone, and I have seen leaders on both sides get it wrong and get it right.  Let’s just work together and find a way to get us back to work, and back to a new normal.

IMG_2504I think we forget to be grateful during this time.  Almost everyone, at least everyone that I personally know, has a nice shelter over their heads to be stuck in for a while.  We have technology that keep us connected.  Some people can actually work from home because of this technology.  We can call, text, or use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, and other platforms to visit and see the people we care about.  Had this pandemic happened 20 years ago, we would have really felt isolated, but technology has us connected in so many ways.

Do you know what I like about this sheltering-in?  I used to get up and spend my day at jammieshome, being sure I was dressed, hair done, make up on, just in case someone knocked on the door.  Ha!  No one is knocking on my door—I can stay in my pajamas all day, if I desire, and I don’t have to feel a bit guilty about it!  

I get to clean the house because I want to clean the house—not because someone is coming over, and yes, cleaning has been set aside longer than it should have been.  It was just a bit freeing to not feel like I had to do housework.

I did a lot of stuff the last three weeks.  I made a quilt top.  It’s ready to go to someone to quilt—if I can figure out who that can be.  I have done some baking.  I have done a ton of cooking.  I think we have had meals from the drive-through twice, and it just doesn’t feel right.  We play Mexican Train Dominos.  I have a jigsaw puzzle that is the hardest puzzle I have ever attempted.  I get small sections done each day.  My goal is to complete it before we leave for Missouri or told we can go out in public—whichever comes first.

We watch television in the evening.  I try not to do that during the day, but I could.  While sheltered-in-place, my life is my own.  I can pretty much do anything I want or not do anything at all.  This time is really a gift.

I don’t want to lessen the seriousness of this pandemic.  There have been many people severely sick, people who have lost their lives, and grieving families who cannot get together to comfort each other.  There are people who are not working or earning any money, but the bills are still there.  There are people who live alone, and this time can be extremely lonely.  My heart aches for all of them.  This is not an easy time.

family having meal dinner togetherI just want us all to stop, just for a moment.  Close our eyes, and take a deep breath.  Then think of all the things to be grateful for.  Families are having dinners together again.  They are playing games, playing or listening to music.  Make this time a gift.  Do the things you always wished you had time to do when you are home.  Call a friend, hug you kids, or your dog, or your cat (if it will let you).  We have been running a rat race for so long—and now we get the gift to stop, reflect, and rejoice.  

Reflect on what you want your life to be.  What a great opportunity to plan, to execute a bigger life.  A life of more love?  A life of reflection?  A life of serving?  There is so much we can do as we are sheltered-in-place.  

We will not be sheltered-in-place for much longer—maybe it’s time to relax and appreciate the time.  Thank God that we have a shelter to be in.  We will get through this, and we will be better and stronger,  Move forward in gratitude.thankful

Gratitude in Chaos

Here we go again . . . The other day I had my blog written and ready to publish.  I read it once, I read it twice.  I gave it to my husband to read.  I read it a third time, and decided not to publish.  It was not that it didn’t have good information, but during this time of pandemic, it seemed too negative.  That is not where I want my communications to be.

bookAs I am reading “In Awe” by John O’Leary, due to be released on May 5th, God willing. ReadInAwe.com  I am struck by how as we grow older we lose our sense of awe.  We get stuck in the mundane.  What was daily life like before we were ordered to stay home?  Some of you woke up, made breakfast, got the kids ready for school, got yourself ready for work.  You dashed to work, and worked all day.  Some days you accomplished more than other days.  You came home from work, tired and exhausted, put dinner on the table, made sure the kids had done their homework and taken their baths, cleaned the kitchen, did a couple loads of laundry, chatted briefly with your spouse, briefly checking out social media, and throwing yourself exhausted into bed in order to repeat the scenario over and over.

familyIsn’t that how our lives go?  We become an adult and our responsibilities start.  We have to earn a living to pay the mortgage or rent, buy food and clothes, pay the utility bills, the car payment, along with any other luxury we afford ourself.  On the weekend we are tired and exhausted.  We want to enjoy our family, but the house needs cleaning, the car washed, the grass cut.  Adults are in a never ending cycle of responsibility.  We love our spouse and children, but are too tired to interact as we think we should.  Guilt drops by, but we don’t know what to do with it.  Sure, isn’t this how our lives just are—isn’t this what my friends are feeling also?  Is there a way to stop this merry-go-round?

Image-1As awful as this pandemic is, and let me tell you, it is awful, people all around the world are getting sick.  The majority are surviving, but there is still way too many dying.  This COVID-19 is explosively contagious.  Almost every state in the union has a shelter in place order.  The majority of businesses are temporarily closed, and some may not recover.  Our government is doing what they can to help, but it is an overwhelming issue.  They want everyone safe, but closing business gives another sense of threat and insecurity.  Keeping businesses open causes the threat of contagion like we have never seen, so they said, stay home.  We complain for many reasons—some jobs cannot be done from home, yikes, we are with these children we created ALL day long!  

There are no easy answers.  This is not a political game.  This is worldwide, and the leaders of all these countries are trying to find a solution as fast as they can to save as many lives as they can, and keep their economy running.  I am grateful that I am not a politician, because I think it is a no win situation.  Somebody is not going to like what is done.  They want to blame someone, because it feels better to blame someone or something.  Daily the media posts how many people are tested, how many tested positive, and how many died.  Those numbers around the world are frightening. Image-1-1

But . . .

We have also been given a gift.  It is an unintentional gift.  We get to stay home.  We get to stay in our pajamas all day if we want.  We get to be with our children all day and all night.  Granted, we grandparents are separated from them for a time being.  We still have ways to communicate, through FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, telephone, and text messages.  

We get to take time to live in awe.  Look at life through your child’s eyes.  Remember when you were a child and you could go outside and make daisy chains, and blow the seeds of dandelions all over the yard?  You ran around in the evening catching fireflies, and you were in awe that their little butts lit up!  

Today you get to sit at the table and have dinner with your family without having to jump up and run yourself or your children to some event.  You get to communicate.  You get to hear, really hear everyone around you.  You can go out in your back yard or take a walk, and see the beauty of this universe. 

A really big suggestion is to make a gratitude list.  What are the things you are thankful that you have in your life?  As I write my list from the top of my head, I hope this gives you an idea of what to be grateful for—what is good in your life—instead of seeing fear everyday, seeing joy and blessings.  Here is my quick list.

My Gratitude List (just off the top of my head):

  1. I woke up today—that I have been given another day of life.
  2. The beauty of nature all around me.
  3. My family—spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, extended family.
  4. The internet — I cannot imagine this pandemic happening in 1985, when we would have not been able to connect, work from home, and be entertained so easily—because of the internet.  How did they manage in 1919?
  5. Healthcare workers and scientists—so many people in the fight for my life, and yours.
  6. Our leaders—like them or not, they are working hard, must be exhausted, and trying their best to find a solution.  Where ever you live in the world, your leaders are not taking this lightly—I am grateful that this is a worldwide effort by some very tired, exhausted people, who will not stop working until a solution can be found.
  7. My God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — who redeemed me, loves me, holds me, and makes me feel secure.
  8. My friends far and wide, friends from my childhood, from church, from school, from my past employment, new friends made over the last few years.  I can talk to them through social media, by texting, by phoning. shopping
  9. Plenty of food.  My refrigerator, freezer, and pantry has plenty of food.  
  10. Safe drinking water—not everyone has that.
  11. Time to slow down, even more than I have as a retiree, to realize I really don’t need a lot.  I have been blessed with abundance.

I have learned that when I start seeing the the good in my life, rather than the bad, my life grows bigger, is enriched, and brings a sense of real peace.  If I dwell on the negative of how bad things are, I can easily fall down that rabbit hole.

I chose gratitude.  I choose to see what is happening around me as a time to redirect—what is really important in life—it’s surely not the rat race we tend to get ourselves into. 

What do you choose?

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