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“IN AWE” of John O’Leary

bookToday is a special day for my friend and author, John O’Leary.  His 2nd book, “In Awe” hits the bookstore shelves.  Well, okay, most bookstores are closed due to the Corona Virus Pandemic, but his book was released today and is available easily through Amazon. 

I met John ten years ago this spring.  He was speaking to a small group of business people, and I was among the approximately 30 folks there to hear him. I had never heard of John.  He had no books published, and he was just starting out speaking to groups.  This was a small one in comparison to what he does today.  After he spoke, I hung around and chatted with him.  His story touched my heart in many ways.  When he asked us who we would be “Jack” for, I knew immediately who I wanted to reach out to, even if it was just small things.  I had someone in mind who I knew was going through a struggle at the time.  (I will explain who “Jack” is below).

For those of you not familiar with John, I will give a very brief history of what I know.  When he was nine years old, one Saturday morning, while his mom and dad were out, and teenage brother and other siblings home, John decided to go into the garage and experiment with a piece of paper lit on fire and a five gallon container of gasoline.  To say the least, that is a bad combination.  He didn’t cause a little fire, he caused a major explosion, setting the house on fire, but worst of all, setting himself on fire.  He was burned so badly, he was not expected to live through that night.  He had a less than 1% chance.  Now, that’s some really bad odds.

John had come from a wonderful family, and the strength of his parents, and the kindness of strangers, especially Jack Buck, helped John to recover.  Jack Buck was the sportscaster for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.  His voice is well known over the radio broadcasting play by play, and John was no stranger to that voice.  Although, John was completely bandaged up in the burn unit of the hospital, he recognized that voice, and the encouragement that Jack Buck gave him.  

John did recover, but not without many surgeries and scars.  He spent five months in the hospital.  His family stayed elsewhere while their house had to be rebuilt.  John being in our presence is proof that there are still miracles among us.

Ten years ago, when he was starting out his speaking, he was also leading executive workshops.  I was invited to assist him in one of these workshops.  There were two things we did that really changed my direction in life.  The first was that John had us all write our “Ignition Statement” and our “Life Vision” which was actually writing our personal mission statement.  He shared his with us, and helped us all work through writing the thing that really sets us on fire.  Here is what I wrote that day, and still read it today:

My Ignition Statement:  I want to enjoy each day to the fullest, show love to others, be a light to those who want direction, accepting others where they are, being their cheerleader, showing passion, forgiveness, love and connection.

My Life Vision:  To let others know they are not alone in their challenges, they have value and worth and a voice.  I want to be surrounded by those I love and enjoy the grace of their love to reach out and share it with others.

The other thing that John encouraged us to do at this workshop was to set up a Personal Board of Directors.  Wow!  What a crazy idea.  He suggested we find folks we like and respect and ask them to sit on our board, so they we are accountable for the bigger life we wanted to lead.  He said not to be afraid to ask people, even busy people.  I made my list of some personal friends, some close business colleagues, and I added John.  He kindly accepted, and he along with five other folks received a weekly email from me.  The email stated my Ignition Statement and Life Vision at the top.  Then for almost two years I wrote and shared what I was doing that week to live these statements to John and five other of my personal board of directors.  I still have those emails, and I still have the email replies from John who was always encouraging me to keep going and meet the challenges I set before me.  I just took a look, and saw one I wrote shortly after my sister died from a short and fast battle with cancer.  Today as I read John response, it brought tears to my eyes.  John always responded to my board reports, and I am so grateful for almost two years he took the time to read and respond.

Fast forward a few years.  John has written a book about the day he was burned and his recovery.  I was so happy for John that he was able to put this amazing book together.  I had preordered the book and it arrived in our mailbox as we were pulling out of the driveway and driving into St. Louis.  I started reading the book out loud to Dennis as we were driving down the interstate.  I don’t remember the exact part, but early in the book, you see the strength and determination of John’s mother in his recovery.  I am reading this passage to Dennis, but am having trouble because I am crying, and I turn to tell Dennis that I’m sorry I am having trouble getting the words out.  There was my sweet husband driving down the road, with big alligator tears coming down also.  I then realized that we would read the book when his driving abilities were not needed.  We attended John’s book launch party in March of 2016.

Today, John’s 2nd book has come out.  It is trending on Amazon.  I was privileged to be an “In Awe Ambassador” and received an advance copy of the book.  The last few weeks we had Facebook Live meetings with John discussing the book, and our last meeting was a Zoom meeting where we could see the other “in Awe Ambassadors.”  This book is a gem.  If you want to feel hope, there is no better time than during this pandemic to read In Awe.”  We were in awe as children, and then as we grew older, we just totally forget how to be in awe of the life we were given and those around us.  John reminds us all that we can still be in awe of life.  His book is filled with stories from his life where he has learned to be in awe.  His four beautiful children have reminded him and us of all we can be grateful for, and knowing that “the best is yet to come.” 

Today the book launched quietly, or so John thought.  Then he went outside his office, and there was all his staff (safely distanced) with a champagne party and these adorable “In Awe” cookies!

Please click here to order your copy of In Awe” or your copy of “On Fire.”  

John O’Leary, I am so glad I got to meet you in that small little meeting on the campus of Lindenwood University.  I am grateful for the friendship we have had over the years, and how you have continued inspired me.  

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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Surviving Sheltering-In

I don’t know how many days this sheltering-in has now been, but it has been a while.  How are you doing?  I am doing good.  At first, I was extremely stressed.  I have two sons, two daughters-in-law, one grandson, and one granddaughter living in California, and when the governor shut down the whole state, I was really stressed.  I worried for their safety and their sanity!  On the other hand, I have two more sons, two more daughters-in-law, one more grandson, and three more granddaughters, and a step son living in Missouri, in the St. Louis area, who I also worry about.  Now that everyone there is also sheltered-in, I am a bit more at ease. COVID-19 MAP

I remember when I was still working and talking to retirees, and they told me they didn’t know how they had time to work because they are so busy as a retiree.  I feel the same way about being sheltered-in.  I feel like I am busier than normal.  Of course, I put that on me.  I had decided that I needed things to keep me busy.

bookA few weeks before this sheltering-in started, I decided to  make a quilt. I purchased all the fabric for the front and back.  Unbeknownst to me, it was perfect timing.  Therefore, I have that project going.  I am also privileged to have been chosen to be an ambassador for John O’Leary’s new book, In Awe, and have been reading it, and going online with a Facebook Live book discussion with John and the other ambassadors.  My husband is a hiking fanatic (I just like it), and so I make sure that at least three times a week I join him on the walking paths throughout our huge neighborhood or on the hiking paths at the San Tan Mountain Regional Park, which is only a five minute drive from our home.  

On top of that, I am doing all the cooking and baking—no eating out.  Since baking is a stress reliever for me, it brought great stress when I realized that I was short on flour and brown sugar.  The store shelves have been void of any baking ingredients every time I have been there.  Then I got a suggestion from a cousin that The Olive Mill in Queen Creek, AZ had flour.  Really?  I have been there several times since we have been in Arizona.  It is near our home.  This place has their own olive groves.  They press oil of every flavor.  They have a store that sells their olive oil, and other products, like pasta, wine, salsa, etc., all produced in Arizona.  They also have a very busy restaurant and bakery.  Usually when one goes there, the place is elbow to elbow with people.  There are picnic tables outside along with the indoor seating, and it is a great place to have a meal with friends and family, and the kids can run around outdoors happily,  Not so anymore.  The other day Dennis and I decided to drop by, and lo and behold, there was not only flour, but milk, eggs, butter, yeast, sugar of all kinds.  Why of course—they are not baking at this time, but they have a ton of ingredients, so they are happily selling it to us.  The place was pretty much empty, as a few people were there shopping.

I realized that baking is a stress reliever for me, but having a ton of baked goods laying around, is not.  Yesterday I washed up good, I scrubbed my kitchen, then wiped IMG_0784everything (counters, appliances, food packaging) with antiseptic wipes, and baked cookies.  Then I bagged them up in zip lock bags that were labeled with the type of cookies in the bag.  I put them in a double bagged plastic grocery bag and sent them across the street to my neighbor, who is a school teacher, and is now home schooling her two children.  I sent her a text, and told her that when her doorbell rings, to get the treats from her porch. Later in the day, Dennis and I got in the car and drove to the home the cousin who gave me the tip where to buy my flour.  She is also a school teacher, who is now home with her children.  We did a drive-by cookie drop.  I put the cookies at her front door, got in the car and called her to tell her the treats were awaiting at the door.  As much as I would like to send some to other neighbors, they don’t know me as well, and may not trust all the scrubbing down I did to make the delivery of the baked goods safe.

Along with my reading “In Awe,” I have another book on my Kindle app on my phone.  I recently discovered through my school teacher neighbor, that I could apply online for a library card in our county, and order online books.  I received my card the other day, but will wait until I am finished with the books I have in progress, but am excited to start getting free library books online to read.

I have enjoyed all the fun people have had on social media to entertain us with funny memes and sharing funny videos about being sheltered-in.  I have also enjoyed the Facebook broadcasts from the many churches that are sending out encouragement to us Image-1-1daily.  It is good to know that we are all in this together, not just in the United States, but all over the world.  It is good to hears songs of praise and hope, and messages of hope.

I spend my days texting friends and family to see how they are doing, especially those who I know live alone.  I do believe it is important that we connect with others to bring them hope and cheer, for this time shall soon be over (I hope), but in the meantime, love needs to be spread in whatever way possible. 

So there is hope.  We have a loving God.  He has gone before the Israelites as they the-cross-1-1536650wondered through the desert for years.  Things got bad for them—they whined and complained—they even started worshipping idols—they were unfaithful to God.  BUT . . . God was FAITHFUL.  He protected them, and got them to the promised land.  Was there some tragedies in between?  Sure there were.  Or move on many, many years, and the disciples who are the closest to Jesus got pretty squeamish themselves when Jesus was arrested and crucified.  The disciples scattered—Peter denied he knew Jesus when asked by someone in the crowd.  Are you kidding?  He didn’t want to get arrested and who knows what—so, he denied he knew Jesus.  BUT . . . Jesus didn’t abandon him.  We humans seem to forget who is in charge when things look bleak to us.  BUT . . . God is still faithful.  We are so easy to take things for granted when life is easy, and so easy to forget who God is . . . until we are in trouble.  Then all of a sudden we are brought to our knees and begging God for help.  “Sometimes we don’t realize that Jesus is all we need until Jesus is all we have.”

Image-1In 1527, the Black Plague hit the hometown of Martin Luther.  In a letter to a friend he wrote, “Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered, and act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city . . . What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body?”   He also stated, “If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely. . . .”  

So what does he say?  If you are feeling sick, take your medicine or call the doctor.  Be sure everything is clean—house, yard, and street—wash up (and wash your hands).  Then he tells his friend to social distance himself.  All the wisdom of the 16th century is still wisdom today!

So, my friends, keep yourself busy.  Remember that God is in control.  He loves us and he is faithful, even in our unfaithfulness.  I look forward to when this is all behind us.  What a celebration we will have — parties, barbecues, seeing our children and grandchildren again.   If you need to talk to someone, make a phone call, send a text message or email.  If you don’t know who to talk to, send me a note.  We will get through this.  I’ll be able to relax, and not be so busy! Prayer

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