Tag Archives: Pandemic

The Odd and Strange Summer of 2020!

I have not written anything in a while.  This has been an unusual summer.  Ha!  Hasn’t it been all of 2020?  Do you even remember before March when everything seemed normal?  Nothing has been normal since that date.

When I write my blogs, I want to be in a good place mentally so that I am an encouragement rather than a drag on my readers.  It just seemed hard to do.  When we arrived in Missouri in May, about a week after our arrival, Dennis got sick, and I mean “I can’t breathe” kind of sick.  He did not have COVID-19, thank God, but he was sick for about three weeks.  There are no real answers yet, although he is feeling good again.  What would cause such lung distress?  He has cardiology and pulmonary appointments in the coming weeks that may answer some fo the questions.  He was at his primary card doctor last week, and I was allowed to be there also.  The doctor listened to his heart and lungs and stated that they were nice and clear.  Go figure.

That started our most unusual summer.  I think I just feel out of place here in mid-Missouri.  I has been my home for 7 years, but I feel our Arizona home is more home.  That could be that we have the majority of our belongings there.  We have a minimum here in Missouri.  If we have more than two guests, we must use paper plates, since the majority of our dishes are in Arizona.  We call this our vacation home even though it is still our primary residence.  We live in an area of Arizona where we have many goods and services just down the road, unlike living in the country.  We have made meaningful friendships there.

There is the another reason this summer is unusual.  I fully expected that we would close on the Missouri house and not be here this summer, or maybe just for part of the summer.  It looks like we will be here the whole summer.  That is a good thing since the Coronavirus is running rampant in Arizona, and it is not a good time to return.  We are not sure when a good time to return will be.  We definitely have to figure out this breathing issue before we go back to a place where the danger of catching the virus is high.  That may delay our return from our planned September date.  Being here as long as we will be here was not in the plan.  Once again, God’s timing is always better than mine, and it is good we are stuck in the country where the virus is not as crazy as it is in the cities.  

Then there is the unrest in this country.  It was ugly.  I don’t watch the news much right now because I find it distressful.  I understand being upset by what appeared to be a tragic death, but I don’t understand destroying property and harming others.  I don’t understand the hate, and yes, to me it feels like hate.  It makes me sad, and it makes me worried for our future generations if this kind of behavior is acceptable.  I don’t understand defunding police departments.  There are such sweeping generalizations that if there are a few bad apples, we just get rid of them all.  Law and order doesn’t seem to be of importance any longer.  

So, I haven’t written anything.  I spend my days walking 3 miles in our neighborhood, hitting the pool, playing dominoes with Dennis, watching movies, and cooking.  I’m working on creating some more quilts, but with the pandemic, it is hard to get fabric and supplies easily.  I have been waiting a week for a delivery that has yet to arrive.

Life is not normal.  I miss seeing my friends.  I miss going to church to worship.  We stream our service every Sunday, and that has been good, but getting out of the house just feels good sometimes.  

The end of this week I am flying from St. Louis to Dulles Airport in Washington D.C.  My sister lives an hour from there in West Virginia.  I am going to spend a week with her.  I understand that Southwest Airlines is not filling the center seats, and everyone is required to wear face masks.  I think the trip should be safe.  I think a change of scenery will be good for me.  When I arrive back a week later, we will have our travel trailer parked at an RV park outside of St. Louis and we will spend a week hanging out there.  I’m not sure if I will be seeing anyone other than our kids, since we have been careful who we are connecting with for health reasons.

I went out to lunch with a few ladies last week.  It was the first time I ate inside a restaurant since early March.  It was a little unsettling.  This new normal is still a learning curve.

I know that in the meantime God is working.  He is in control.  God is always working behind the scenes.  Sometimes we don’t see it until after the fact.  Then it’s like an ahh-haa moment.  We see how we were blessed in the midst of everything we do not understand.

That’s where I am today.  Just moving along.  Going with the flow.  Accepting things as they are, changing what I have control of, and letting go of what I cannot do.  It will all work out.  

I wish for this world peace and contentment.  I wish for you during this crazy year, peace and contentment.  

Perspective on Protesting

So much has happened over the last several weeks.  My head spins when I think about it.  It was bad enough that we have a pandemic going on.  People don’t know whether they are really safe or not going to the store, out to dinner, or any large gathering like church, a ball game, or the theater.

Then the death of George Floyd occurred.  I am not a judge or jury to say if he should have even been restrained, but I tell you what—he did not deserve being restrained the way he was or to die the way he did.  That was a crime.  He was a human being.  He deserved respect and dignity.  He wasn’t fighting the officers, that I know of.  Regardless, one does not kneel on the neck of any human being and expect good results.

The nation broke out in protest which became violent.  Looting and thefts occurred.  Violence against the police began.  Just because there are bad apples in the police force, that does not make the majority of police bad apples.  The same goes for our black brothers and sisters.  All people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, etc., have good apples and bad apples.  

I started thinking about my relationship with diversity especially with those who are black.  Years ago in a diversity training I attended, the trainer asked those in the room to share when they first realized differences between themself and a person of another race.  

I have two recollections from my childhood about race.  The first one was as a small child when I went shopping with my mom in downtown St. Louis.  She would drive to a parking garage in town, and we would pick up a shuttle bus from there to the department store.  In front of us sat a young black mother with her little boy.  He was staring at me, and I was staring at him.  It was probably the first encounter for the both of us of seeing someone of another race.  When we got off the bus, my mom said quietly to me, “That little boy is just the same as you, except that his skin color is different.”  I am not sure what that really meant at the time, but I filed that information away in my brain.  

A short time later, at age 6, I had my appendix removed.  I was in the hospital for a week.  This was in the day that they didn’t let a patient get out of bed for several days.  A lady came into my room and said she needed to change the sheets on my bed.  She was a black lady.  I have no idea how old she was because anyone over the age of twelve was old to me!  I was not yet allowed out of bed.  She proceeded to tell me she was going to change half of the bed, then I would need to hold on to her arm, as she rolled me to the other side so she could finish making the bed.  I have such a strong recollection of that.  I had seen black people before, but I had never encountered or touched a person of another race.  This woman was on the heavy side, and had large arms.  She was built similar to my mother.  When I reached out to hold her arm I thought she felt just like my mom, and I was comforted in that.  That feeling of comfort made me unafraid, not suspicious, but reinforced what my mother told me previously.

I had a very odd view of race.  This is possibly because I was from St. Louis, Missouri, and there it was either black or white.  There were very few Hispanics, Asians, and I had no idea that people thought Jewish people were a race.  Those were all later discoveries for me.  It wasn’t even black or white to me—it was more if you were pale or dark.

My father was a building contractor.  He started building homes, and then transitioned to commercial buildings, with his specialty being schools and churches.  In my early teen years, he and my mom invited a masonry contractor and his wife to our home for dinner.  The couple was a black couple.  This was in the 1960’s.  I never thought anything of it.  Although we had no personal friends or relatives who were black, it never occurred to me that in the 60’s this was an unusual occurrence to be entertaining a black couple in a suburban home.  It just seemed natural to me.  I, as a young teen, believed what my mother told me.  

I suppose when the first time I was aware of the racial unrest was also in the 60’s.  I was watching the news and hearing about the riots in cities throughout the country.  I was confused and scared.  I just thought if they said the cities, that meant right where I lived.  I didn’t understand why they were mad.  I was afraid that they would be pounding down my door as I watched the news.  

My school district was an upper middle class suburban school.  There was no racial mixing, and there were no diversity initiatives.  When I was in high school our first black students started attending our school. I thought of them as a cool thing—kind of like how I admired foreign exchange students.  I didn’t know anything about them, but I thought it was neat that they were at my school.  

In the late 90’s I was hired into my first human resources management position.  I was the manager of human resources for a credit union.  Of the 50 employees, there were only about five of us who were caucasian.  The rest of the employees, including the credit union president were African American.  I am not sure if I can use that term.  One of the union stewards there was a lovely lady, who I used to be able to chat with.  I asked her what term she wanted to be called.  She told me she didn’t like to be called African American because she was not from Africa.  She said, “I am just an American.”  I loved that.  She preferred the term “black.”  I commented to her that I thought that was interesting because she was a beautiful chocolate brown, and not black in color.  She smiled, and agreed, the term did not really describe her.  But then, I’m not white, I’m kind of beige!

How were our cultures different?  Food was one thing.  One day they were talking about eating snouts.  They pronounced the word “sn-oots.”  So, as we are sitting around the lunch table I asked them what was “sn-oots.”  They said a pig’s nose, at which I replied, “Oh, okay, I pronounce that word “sn-outs.”  We all got a good laugh and decided that white girls say “sn-outs,” and black girls say, “sn-oots.”  Then they got talking about eating tripe.  Now that was something I never heard of at all.  A couple of the girls were going out to pick up lunches for anyone.  One was going to the local pizza place, and the other to a soul food restaurant for tripe.  I gave them my money and requested the pizza, but, I also requested that one of them give me a taste of tripe.  Once again, they had a chuckle and questioned if I really wanted to taste it.  I looked at them, all healthy young women, and said, “You eat it and none of you have died, so I think I can do the same.”  As things always goes when you are working human resources, something comes up that prevents you from having lunch with the rest of the employees.  A bit later after lunch, I went to the lunchroom.  I was told my pizza and salad were there.  I opened the box and ate my little individual pizza and salad.  As I walked through the lobby of the credit union, one of the girls asked how I liked the tripe.  I said that there wasn’t any.  She said, “I left a little piece in the corner of you pizza box.”  My reply, “Oh, I thought it was a piece of sausage that fell off the pizza.  I put it on the pizza and ate it.  I suppose the tripe was just fine!”

All in fun, but working with these women was a delight for me.  We worked together, I asked questions.  They answered my questions.  We respected each other.  I never thought anything unusual where I worked.  I did have one experience where I called someone in for an interview.  The next day she called me to apologize that when her husband found out the location of credit union, he told her he didn’t want her to go there because it was in a pretty run down neighborhood and may not be safe.  It was true that it was a poor neighborhood.  We also had witnessed a few incidents that might make one uncomfortable.  I never felt unsafe at my job.  I liked the people I worked with.  Working at a financial institution can be unsafe anyway if one doesn’t take care.  We never let anyone stay at work alone after hours—we encouraged people leave together.  In the same way that we had duel control of the vault of money, meaning not just one person can access the vault and distribute money to the tellers—we always counted down the vault with two people.  It took two people to open the safe.  It is how financial institutions worked.  We were proactive to prevent crime from inside and outside our financial institution, but we all felt safe with each other.

So, through all this turmoil, I struggle with these times.  I don’t understand police officers or any person being disrespectful to someone because they are different from themselves.  I don’t get that.  Not only did my mother tell me they are not different, more important, God told me that we are not different.  We are all created in God’s image.  I don’t think that means the physical looks.  I think it means who we are as people—our talents and creativity, our compassion, and our need for justice—all Godly attributes, all because we are in his image.

I do not understand burning buildings.  I do not understand looting.  I do not understand taking my anger out on the police—even though bad things are done by some police.  I do not distrust black people because some black person committed a crime.  

On the other hand, I understand the deep desire for justice.  I understand when one thinks they are not noticed, or respected.  I understand how hurtful that is.  It hurts my heart that people are treated unjustly.  It hurts my heart that we don’t know how to listen.  It hurts my heart that others don’t want to listen to me.  

We all bring something different to the table.  I love that about the human race.  We don’t look alike.  We don’t think alike.  We all have different talents.  I always think of us as a beautiful garden of flowers.  Yes, we are pretty by ourselves, but in a garden or in a bouquet, all the different flowers make a display that is unimaginably beautiful.  I wish the world could see each other that way.  We are different.  We are the same.  We all want to be loved and respected.  It’s the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”  If we truly, deep in our hearts, treated others the way we wanted to be treated, wouldn’t that be beautiful?

I am also a realist and a Christ follower.  I know this is a broken world.  Until Christ returns and establishes his kingdom, we will not see perfection.  We will continue to have strife until that day.  In the meantime, though, we can work to be Christlike, loving others, seeking true justice for all, helping those in need, listening—really listening, and being free to speak our truth and be listened to.  I look forward to the day that Jesus will bring it all together.

Best stated is straight from the Scriptures. The Pharisees are trying to test Jesus, and ask the question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus quotes to them from the Law (Old Testament found in Deuteronomy 6:5). He replies, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’   This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  ~Matthew 22:35-40. Jesus tells his disciples the night before his death to “love one another as as I have loved you.” ~John 15:12. That’s powerful because Jesus loved us sacrificially. If we could do that as Christ followers, to love one another sacrificially, what an impact this world would have.

Social Media During a Pandemic

Social Media Bullies.  You know them?  Are you one?  Have you been bullied?  Maybe some may not call it bullying.  I do.  If you think you know more than someone, and you are willing to call them out in social media, not personally or kindly, you are a bully.  Simple as that.

logosI am on various social media sites.  I am the most active on Facebook, but I also have a Twitter account, a LinkedIn account, and an Instagram account that I have yet to figure out.  I have a purpose for being on these accounts.  Before I was retired, I loved being on LinkedIn.  My resume is on there, and I have had numerous recruiters call me because of that.  I also loved networking.  I loved learning from others.  I never want to be the smartest person in the room.  I also want to be resourceful to others with my knowledge base.  It’s all a two-way street.

My reasons for being on Facebook has a much different outlook.  I love the fact that over the years, I have reconnected with old friends, I have connected with family members I barely knew, and I have connected with new acquaintances who I got to know better through this medium.  I am on this site for connecting with all these folks, and for sharing my life as they share theirs.

I am very careful about what I post on my Facebook page.  Very seldom will you see anything, if at all, that might be political.  I have friends and family on the whole spectrum of the political thought.  They have a right to think and believe what they do when it comes to politics.  I may not agree with them, and I very much dislike political statements that are against a person, and jabs at their most disliked political person.  Share with me your positive thoughts on why you believe something, not on who you don’t agree with.  I find it distasteful, for me personally, to see disparaging comments about past and current politicians.  That being said, if they post it on their personal Facebook page, I am okay with that—just don’t post it on mine.  

I truly believe in the freedom of speech, so I don’t want anyone to think they cannot say what they believe.  I just don’t believe in tearing people down.  I definitely don’t believe anyone should ever put someone down for their beliefs.  

Yes, lately, I have been told that I have partaken in the Kool-Aid.  Wow!  Can you believe that someone would say that on your own Facebook page?  So, let me explain why that was said to me, because I do not post political things on my page.

I have a photo of me in a face mask.  And true to my nature, it is a fun cupcake mask!  This world has been hit with a mysterious virus, called Corona, and it is a bit scary.  It has definitely been politicized, by all parties, but that is not my purpose.  I am 71 years old.  By what I have heard and read, I am in the vulnerable group because of my age.  I don’t have any underlying medical conditions, that I am aware, but I know that I have mild sleep apnea, which means my lungs don’t work to full capacity while I am sleeping.  My husband definitely has respiratory issues, so he is even more vulnerable being 74 years old, and with underlying health conditions.  Does that mean we are in danger?  I don’t know.  There is so much going around about this virus, that I don’t have any definitive answers.

I do know personally of people who have gotten COVID-19.  Not just old people, I know of teenagers who, although healthy, had a really hard time recovering and have had ongoing issues since.  I have family members who know personally someone who has died from this virus.  I see no reason not to be careful.  It is like if I was going to a party and found out many people attending had the mumps, the flu, or some other contagious illness, I would probably excuse myself from the invitation.  Why would I take the chance to get the infection, and worst case scenario, spread it to someone else.  History will tell us if we over reacted or under reacted, but when one is in the middle of it all, I will make the decision to protect myself in whatever way I see fit.

Now, my postings on Facebook, in my opinion are not political.  I have posted facts from the news sources of the Navajo Nation, which comprises of parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.  They have been hard hit by this virus.  People in the midwest have told me that my posting was the first they heard about this.  Living in Arizona this winter had given me a lesson about the Indian Nations.  Per capita, they were hit harder than New York City.  Many homes in the Navajo Nation are scattered, but they are small and the families are large.  So, if one family member gets sick, it spreads quickly to the whole family.  The second problem they have is that only approximately 40% of the people living in Navajo Nation do not have running water.  The first thing we were told when this outbreak occurred was to wash our hands frequently.  What if you live in the desert and you don’t have running water?  

I did not get all this information from the media.  A friend from my Arizona church has a son who lives and ministers in the Navajo Nation.  He is married to a Navajo woman, and they have three beautiful children.  I spoke with him yesterday.  He is so busy passing out food and cleaning supplies to the people.  He stated that his job is to help the people physically and spiritually.  The health department has given him names of the most vulnerable.  He delivered a care package of food to a family who had not eaten for three days.  The hotels in his area are now COVID-19 hospitals.  Many have died and many are sick.  Do not tell him, or those he lives and works with that this is a nothingburger.  It is very real to them.  When we drove home from Arizona a few weeks ago, we stopped along the highway near Gallup, New Mexico to buy gas.  I commented to Dennis that everyone had on face masks, even outside while pumping their gas.  He looked at me and said, “We are in Navajo Nation.”  These people have good reason to attempt to be safe.  So, I posted on my Facebook page information about what is happing in Navajo Nation because  we need to be aware, and we need to be compassionate.  We need to help those in need, even if you have a problem with the origins of this virus.  Jesus calls us to be compassionate.  He never was afraid to say a hard truth, but he was always compassionate, especially to the sick.

IMG_3084

When “Corona” doesn’t let you celebrate with others!

Back to social media.  My posting about the virus is pretty much my humor plus my discomfort.  Don’t we tend to joke about that which we don’t understand.  I am not a big beer drinker, or any alcohol, for that matter.  I don’t find it that tasty.  Give me a good chocolate chip cookie instead!  On occasion, I will drink an alcoholic beverage.  When we arrived in Fulton last week, Dennis bought Corona beer. (That was his joke).  I do not like heavy beers.  If I drink a beer, it has to be pretty light.  He opened his bottle of Corona Extra, and it looked light, and I took a sip.  Not only was it light, it had no funky aftertaste.  On snoopyMemorial Day, I grilled some brats, and I posted this photo on Facebook stating, “When Corona doesn’t let you celebrate with others.”  It was a joke—a play on words because the virus has caused people to isolate.  Some people did not get the joke, but my friend who did, posted this one afterward.

I posted this photo of my husband.  Others have complained they haven’t had haircuts in months.  I, on the other hand, not being a licensed hairdresser, own a pair of hair cutting scissors, and I am not afraid to use them—just ask friends from my youth!  I have kept our hair trimmed.  Dennis, during this time has grown a beard, at my prompting.  So many men had quit shaving while they were sheltered-in-place, just as we women have stopped wearing a bra while sheltered in place!  Ha!  I let out the secret.  I think the hardest thing about women having to go back to work and into society is getting used to wearing that horribly uncomfortable contraption again!  In the posting of Dennis’ photo, I mentioned that I had been trimming our hair, and also his  “quarantine beard.”  That’s what I called it because he would have never grown a beard before, but was willing to do so as he sheltered-in-place—like who needs to shave if you aren’t going anywhere?  Once again, I was accused of being duped, I assume because I used the word “quarantine.”  

sadI don’t respond to those types of comments.  My first reaction is to write back.  I want to say that this person isn’t allowed to write negative comments on my Facebook thread.  They can write whatever they want on theirs.  But, I always stop myself.  I am not on Facebook to argue with someone.  Actually, I have always really liked this person.  These comments sent directly at me are hurtful.  If they are really inflammatory, I will delete it from the thread.  I can delete any statement someone makes on the my Facebook page.  I can also delete something I say on someone else’s.  So if you have accidentally, out of frustration, posted something you regret on someone’s thread, you can go delete your statement.  I have typed many responses, then read them, and then deleted them.  I am not on Facebook for political or any other arguments.  If you want to dialog with me, send me a private message.  I might respond to that.

the-cross-1-1536650Of all the subjects that one gets riled up on social media, the only one I will ever mention is the one about my faith.  Why?  Because my faith is the most single important thing to me.  What I will not do is give someone my faith opinion on their page, or argue with them.  I am a Christ follower.  I believe my faith in Christ has given me purpose and peace like nothing else in my life has done.  I am willing to share that with anyone — if they ask.  I will not argue my faith v. their faith on social media, or anywhere else.  I will share what I believe, and I will listen to what they believe.  I will love them regardless of what they believe, even if I don’t agree with them.  

Sometimes I think people make these angry responses on social media because they don’t know where to take their frustration.  I learned a long time ago in my 12-step group for codependency that I cannot change anyone.  It is also not my job to get in their face to change them.  Have you heard the phrase, “Let go, and let God”?  That is from 12-step groups.  When we try to fix others,  we only get frustrated and can easily fall back into our dysfunction (codependency, alcohol, drugs, eating disorder, or whatever the dysfunction).  Even a 12-step group knows that only God has the ability to change someone.  Not us.  So, stop trying to make yourself miserable trying to fix other people. 

Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5

What does that mean?  Well, it’s so easy to see what others are doing wrong.  We want to point out their wrongdoings, and forget that we may not even have a “speck” in our eye, but a “log.”  Jesus says that criticizing others is hypocritical.  By the way, we all have a log in our eye.  None of us are perfect.  What right do we have to judge other people?  I do believe that we can have a conversation about what we believe, but to call people names, to diminish them as a person, is uncalled for.  Doing this will not win anyone over.  If so, it is done only out of fear—fear that they don’t want further criticism from the accuser, or fear that everyone thinks like this accuser.  People change only when they are uncomfortable.  They don’t change because they are told to change — and only God can move them to want to change.

I have only deleted a few “friends” on Facebook.  The people I deleted actually posted on their own page, but it was so hurtful, I chose not to be connected with them.  One posted that if you believed a certain way on a particular issue, you were a terrible person, and that they could not like you, or respect you, or want anything to do with with you.  Well, I happened to be one of those people who believed what they despised.  I unfriended them, because their acceptance of me felt hypocritical.  

This blog is my safe place to express my opinions.  It is not my Facebook page, which has every type of person and every belief of my friends and family.  I want to know what your kids and grandkids are doing.  I want to know how you celebrate life, and how you suffer through hardships.  I already know what I believe about my faith and about politics, so don’t try to convince me on social media.  You want to talk to me about a concern, then Talk. To. Me.  This can be in person, on the phone, email or text message.  In the meantime, let me find a fun photo to post to my friends on Facebook.

Wash hands

When the virus started in the U.S., we were told to wash our hands.  How long?  One source I read was the length of saying the Lord’s Prayer.  Because I find humor in things uncomfortable, I made this meme for my entertainment pleasure!

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

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