Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from Iowa where the skies are releasing a Spring rain that helps everything turn from drab brown to several shade of green.  The weather forecasters are actually saying that 4 letter word again....s.n.o.w.  I am choosing to believe it will not happen.  Nope.  Spring is here to stay.

This morning Joel and I went for a drive, since neither of us have been out and about our fair city.  I do get out for walks and Joel now has 130 miles on his bike.  It felt good to go for a drive, but the streets were mostly empty except for dog walkers.  So strange.  We stopped at a place in the park that has a locomotive on display that is surrounded by a high fence.  My thoughts............this is the only kind of traveling we will be doing for a long time!  On a train to nowhere............
Selfie of us with a bit of the train and fence in the background

Speaking of biking, yesterday Joel got a flat tire on his way home.  He walked the bike past our neighbors who were outside.  Since this whole family are competitive bikers, Joel asked S. if he would check out his bike and see what the tire needed.  S. asked Joel if he had jumper cables he could borrow because their cute VW 1979 convertible would not start.  We had them so Joel took them down and told them to keep them since he never uses them.  Meanwhile S. actually drove to the bike store, bought a new tube and put it on the bike!  No cost.  So nice!!!  His kind gesture is at the top of our gratitude list.  Along with the Facebook message I received from another neighbor K. who wanted us to know that if we needed anything they were willing to help us.  She sent her phone number we certainly tucked it away for future use.  Another kind gesture we are grateful for!  Last night a friend who is from a former congregation and has done a lot of work on our house for us called and wanted to know how we were doing and see if we needed anything.  Yet again, another gesture of kindness!  So grateful.

As I said, Joel is getting in quite a bit of biking and we walk 1/2 mile outside for my exercise when we can.  Otherwise I walk around our main level 15-20 times since one time around takes a minutes. We do what we can, right?!  Last time we were walking a woman came with her dog and I quietly said to Joel, "Ok, what we do now because we will be right next to each other".  Soon after that she moved off the path and self distanced from us til we passed.  It is the right thing for all of us to do.

So how are we filling our days besides biking, cooking, and walking?  We cleaned the whole house in two days and thought, okay, now what?  Ha.....I'm still trying to talk Joel into purging and cleaning closets!   (giggle)  Joel is editing his book again and adding another chapter.  I am writing here and reading a fiction book.....and attempting "chair Yoga" from a site an old friend sent me.  Also talking more on the phone.  Joel and his colleague group got together via Zoom this week.  It was not the same as being together face to face of course, but they had a good chat for a couple of hours.  I know some of my siblings are face-timing and using Zoom to connect with their kids and grandkids.  Isn't technology great?!!!

Joel will venture out into the world on Monday to grocery shop for us, hoping to pick up what is now getting to be a long list, but realizing some things will not be on the shelves.  I will need medications filled so he will head out to Target after getting an early early start at HyVee.  We have done well executing a plan to shop every two weeks but we run out of bananas and that is something we like to eat every single day.  Sacrifices are being made.....ha......but we still have blueberries!  Really, just grateful we are able to put food in the fridge and freezer with no worries of how to pay for it.

As our world continues to unravel, it is more important than ever to reach out to others we love and care about.  Today as we went for our drive we went by my sister and brother-in-law's house.  I called her to tell her we were driving by and we honked and waved at each other....she from her living room window and us from the car window.  It brought tears to my eyes, yet I am grateful I could see her face and connect from a distance. 

As the numbers rise our praises can rise too.  Worshiping God and giving thanks for each and every blessing.  One of my blessings is to connect with friends and family here.  Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Do You Have A Need To Feed?

This morning as I was quietly meditating, Jesus came up to me in my mind and held my hand.  He said to me, "I've got a hold of you."  He then took His finger and made the sign of the cross between my eyebrows and on the bridge of my nose, saying, "Fear not."  I told Him I do not feel His presence with me lately and He responded with a question for me....."What are you welcoming into your home?"  I knew exactly where He was going....

I won't go into detail again, but since I was a young child circumstances kept me feeling unsafe so being safe became mighty important to me. To the extreme.   I also wrestled with the need to stay alert and informed because information is knowledge and I believed that knowledge kept me safe.  It is not completely faulty thinking but God has to stay in the middle of the equation.

So, here we are in a pandemic that is at this time turning our world, our corner of the world upside down.   Like many of you, I have had a hard time staying away from the news.......on TV especially, but also on Facebook where every scroll down the page is filled with headlines.  Granted there are many things that are positive and helpful too, but my eyes were drawn to what was written in the bold print.  And lets not forget those daily press conferences on TV that are filled with mixed messages.  As the numbers of cases and deaths rise it is hard to stay calm. I try to balance it out with remembering and focusing on our Lord and His Word and HIS promises, but often anxiety is sneaky, and becomes my unwelcome companion.

I confess I have not been doing a very good job of keeping the balance I spoke of.  Today Jesus let me know.  And when Jesus asks you, "What are you welcoming into your home?" I know I better pay attention.  He knows me so well.  He knows my inbuilt need to be safe, to be informed, to be alert......and He knows how poorly my body responds to stress after the past 18 months.   In His infinite love and patience He let me know fear is not my friend.  He reminded me to keep my home a place of peace and healing.   He truly knows us all well, and wants what is best for us.

Recently I heard one pastor talk about a difficult circumstance in His life and how he asked the Heavens, "Do the three of you (the Trinity) get together to discuss things up there?"  The present pandemic feels a little like that doesn't it?!  Do you see what is going on here Papa, Jesus, Holy?  Are the Three of you having a conversation about this?

With no room for theological discussion, I will insert here that in no way, shape, or form do we believe God caused this to punish His creation.  Nope.  Jesus came and redeemed our sins.  He suffered and died for us.  He IS the new covenant.

Today a long time friend called and shared some news that is turning their world upside down in the midst of this already topsy-turvey universe.  She shared a quote that she is holding on to.  "God feeds our faith and starves our fears.  When we turn to the One, our Papa God gives us a Peace that is not like any other.  His Word feeds our faith and His peace starves our fears.

Before God spoke to me, I was "limiting" myself to news 3x a day because things were changing so quickly.  And then there was Facebook.........and............and.............  Don't get me wrong, we need to have some understanding of what is going on in our world, but to be awash with the latest and the worst is going to take a toll on all of us.  For many of us, our need to feed ourselves Co-Vid 19 information will cause us harm if we let it.  Somehow friends we have to find a balance in this topsy-turvy world. Jesus reminded me of this.  We all need to make a decision to let God feed our faith and starve our fears.   That will look different for each of us.  People are stepping up and reaching out.  Just look at things people have placed on social media will make us laugh, smile, and encourage us to respond with hope.  Let us feed our souls.  Jesus is waiting to do that for us as our Friend, Protector, Encourager, Healer, Savior.   Shalom, friends.  Shalom.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our corner of the world where a late season snow left us waking up Friday morning to half an inch of the white stuff.  The sun took care of most of that quickly, even with temperatures in the low thirties.  Come on Spring, hold your ground!  We need you more than ever.

Speaking of Spring I received a beautiful bouquet of tulips yesterday for my birthday.  Our oldest daughter, son-in-law and kids sent it for my 72nd.  What a great way to brighten up the house and our hearts.  We all need a few signs of Spring don't we?!  Reminders that seasons change, that winter evolves into Spring and then Summer.  Reminders that life is more than the Covid-19 virus.

Speaking of this virus thing, the world has gotten a lot more topsy-turvy since last Saturday.  That is putting it nicely!  I often need to tell myself as the numbers rise, the medical pleas become more desperate, and states shut down and shelter in place ~~~  God is with us.  We are doing what we can with prayer as our first line of defense.  Our middle son mentioned all the precautions he is taking at work in his office, etc. and said, "I am probably overreacting".  I responded, "GOOD!"  This may be just the time to overreact vs under-react when it comes to self care.  Here we are responding as if the virus was prevalent in our city.  Self isolation is not easy, but if it helps stop this nasty virus and it keeps it from entering our homes it will be worth it.

I love how Americans are stepping up to help each other.  Social distancing yet connecting.  Some are sewing homemade masks as requested by medical communities.  Others are helping the elderly get groceries.  Some are donating food to places to feed the kids who are out of school.  I watched a video today where a Zumba instructor held a class from her back deck inviting all her neighbors to come outside and workout together while social distancing.

We are a people created for relationships.  It is so important to stay connected to those around us as the world we have known continues to change.  We are truly blessed in this day and age to be able to text, have face time, call, etc..  When my mom was living we would call each other once a week.  It cost money to make a "long distance call".  Serious money.  Now, we just pick up the phone and no worries.  We can get pictures and send videos.  There are endless ways to give virtual hugs. So thankful for the opportunities available for us in 2020.

Speaking of opportunities, it is great to see so many churches holding online services through Facebook, etc.  Great opportunities to worship as we stay at home.  I have had to worship in the past this way, and even though it is not the same as being there to fellowship, it is a good thing!

A big thank you to all who sent birthday greetings my way.  I am more than grateful to be here celebrating #72.  Our daughter-in-law M. celebrated her birthday this week too.  She is a strong and smart woman who cares deeply for her family.  We wish her God's blessings in the year ahead.

How are you filling your days as we do what we can to keep our families safe?  Joel and I are finding "projects" to do, playing cribbage and scrabble, laughing often, praying more, staying in touch with loved ones.  Reminding ourselves this, too, will pass.

 Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Finding Balance

Like most of you, we are trying to find the balance between the extremes..... raiding the store shelves of toilet paper vs partying on Florida's open beaches.  America (and the world) is in a serious crisis. The results of this pandemic are far beyond our understanding.  Everything is continually changing and it is making people desperate, frustrated, fearful, angry, and more.

I am going to be blunt here.  It sickens me that when our President calls this pandemic the "Chinese Virus" it gives people who carry the spirit of stupid the idea that they can attack Chinese Americans.  There is no logic in this.  It sickens me that people hoard all the hand sanitizers with the idea of selling it for exuberant prices. .....and toilet paper?  Don't get me started!  The spirit of stupid and greed.  Yes, a situation like this brings out the worst in some people but it also brings out the best!

It encourages me to see people treating others with love and kindness.  People watching over their elderly neighbors, praying for others, checking in on each other.  This is what America can be.  Should be.  Pointing the finger at one race of people will not solve this problem.  Hoarding or price gouging will not help people or help solve this problem.  Ignoring the warnings will not help our country.

Siblings playing music for their
elderly neighbor who is self isolating.  Wonderful!

I confess that the need to stay informed is also increasing anxiety levels.  I think this week filled to overflowing on daily and sometimes hourly changes makes it really hard to keep our focus on the One.  Our decisions have even changed just from Monday when I went in for an assessment for physical therapy and set up a month's worth of treatments.  I was told by the two therapists that when I came for the bi-weekly sessions I was to walk straight back to the room which would already be sanitized and ready for me.  They did not want me sitting with the general population in the waiting room.  This did not register so much with me until yesterday's appointment for an eye injection.  When the doctor finished I left the room ahead of Joel.  The nurse stopped him and quietly told him, "Take care of her, she is high risk".  So, if I am at risk, how many more are at a higher risk?  In some ways we are all at risk!  This morning our dentist's office called and cancelled Joel's crown appointment for the end of March.  Nothing rescheduled for now.  Things were adding up quickly so Joel and I discussed our action plans and I also cancelled my next weeks appointments.

Each of us are probably doing the same dance, as we try to find the balance in every area of our lives.  For some of you, your employers have been told to shut down.  For others on the front lines ( and yes this is a war) you are concerned for your own health and the health of your loved ones as you fight hard to save lives, protect the public, calm peoples fears.  How do we even grocery shop when shelves and pocketbooks may be empty and the virus grows ?  Stores are working hard to keep shelves stocked and many are opening stores from 7-8 for those who are the most vulnerable, but people are scared.   Oh, Jesus, fill us with your peace.

What can we do when the world as we have always known it has turned upside down?  Hang on tight to the One.  Find your balance and take a deep breath.  One pastor suggested limited coverage on screens, more time spent going for a walk outside, listening to music, calling loved ones, praying, reading God's Word.  These kinds of intentional activities definitely will help us find balance.  And that would be a good "find" wouldn't it!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our small corner of the world where we awoke to snow falling!  NO!  We are still believing that Spring is on its way and winter is now in our rear view mirrors.  Maybe if I just close my eyes the white stuff will go away..........

Speaking of rear view mirrors and going away, it is certainly my prayer that the Covid -19 CoronoVirus will be a thing of the past too, but I am thinking it is going to be a long bumpy ride while we navigate as a country through so many unknowns.  The what-ifs could fill up a notebook and the solid answers as of now would fit on a post-it note!  Our plan of action is to take a deep breath, stay focused on our God, and do what is necessary to take care of ourselves.  Fear is an ugly taskmaster and cannot dictate our responses to this pandemic.  Does anyone else feel like we are in a bad surreal what is happening.  How quickly our world can change.

Hoarding toilet paper is right at the top of my "blowing my mind" list.  Our son Mark tried to go to Costco in MN and the lines were at least an hour long to check out.  The toilet paper shelves were also empty at Cub Foods.........and we have friends who told us they are almost out and cannot find it in Tucson where they reside in winters!  We always buy in bulk so no worry here but really?  I understand it is a necessity and much needed but do we really need a year's supply?!  I watched a video on Facebook of people running through Costco when the doors opened, racing with their carts to the toilet paper aisle and stacking it in their carts ~ enough for months.  Seriously?  Toilet paper?

So while the world is going "cuckoo pants" as my oldest daughter Beth so aptly describes it, I decided to look up when toilet paper was invented and was shocked to learn it was 1857 when Joseph Gayetty invented toilet paper.  What?!  So before that, when my grandmother was alive, they used different materials in place of toilet paper.  Materials like grass, leaves, moss, corn cobs (yikes), newspapers, sand (really?), water, snow, seashells (who would DO that?), and more.  I had a few questions that went with this knowledge learned, but don't want to make my readers uncomfortable.  Certainly, toilet paper has not been around that long and I just have to say I am soooooooooo thankful I was not born before 1857~~!!  Thank you Mr. Gayetty!

I was really hoping for doctor-free time, but last Wednesday after Skyping with good friends in Tucson, I began having strong pain in my arm.  It was not related to heart, but to movement.  It really started several weeks ago when maybe once or twice a week it would hurt to try to reach out and open the microwave door or a cupboard door.  Then it would be gone for days.  Well last Wed it came and stayed and made for a very long night with little sleep.  I could not lift my arm above my lower chest.  I felt led to see Joel's chiropractor and he was able to examine me thoroughly and rule out such things as rotator cuff, joint, neck, spine, etc and decided that even though my body is responding outside the normal reactions (the story of my life) he felt it was inflammatory tendonitis.  I have an open ended order to the Physical Therapist from my Mayo doctor so will go starting Monday to hopefully receive help not only for the right side of my chest wall and arm but now the left.  Are we having fun yet?  The Chiropractor did pressure point treatment while I was there and it did help so I can sleep at night and have a lot less pain in day.  Yay....He felt the PT would be best for me and I already had an open order for that!

Partly why I am sharing this is that my last post was on keeping faith smack dab in the middle.....when I started so abruptly to lose strength and ability in my arm it freaked me out.  I found myself crying in the middle of the night that one more thing was going wrong.....a bit of a pity party ensued and then I heard my own words come to mind...........Keeping faith and prayer smack dab in the middle of any mess we are in.  Yeah....  I chose to focus on Jesus and practice a meditation I have used before........when taking in a breath I say ....Breathe in Jesus..........when exhaling I say, Breathe out pain.  With that I was able to sleep a few hours.  Yes, Jesus is there in all circumstances. So with the current situation our country and our world is experiencing, we need to remember to keep our faith and trust in God smack dab in the middle.   Our world is unpredictable right now, but God............Our world is confusing right now, but God........Our world is "cuckoo pants" right now, but God.............  BUT GOD!

We have canceled our first trip  since October 2018 and are once again "social distancing" as recommended.  I expect most of you are doing the same.  Joel is still biking, even in 38 degree weather and we are walking outside together when we can.  Layers of clothing make that work.  We check in with the latest news just 2-3 times a day, and watch distracting TV shows.  Scrabble and Cribbage keeps our minds active!  I told Joel that with all this time at home, we should do some projects that we have put cleaning and sorting our closets. ( I did mind 2 weeks ago).  He thought that was a great idea........NOT!  But what an opportunity to get our Spring cleaning done.  Our purging, organizing, etc.  It is a great time to catch up on our reading, writing, and check in with loved ones.  So, what are you doing while you practice social distancing?

So much to be grateful for as we begin this weekend!  We are grateful for a warm house, great vehicle, good medical care, a loving family, good friends and neighbors, a full freezer, and oh yeah, plenty of toilet paper!

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Smack Dab In The Middle!

Is anyone else experiencing it?  There is a sense of foreboding, a fear or uneasiness about the unknown regarding the CoronoVirus.  It seems to permeate the air.  We may be experiencing a love/hate relationship with the media.......with the government........Conflicting statements, breaking news which is always breaking, and the daily change in numbers of cases and deaths.......where do we land in getting to the truth of it all when the truth is always changing?!  So unpredictable, so confusing, so dang scary.  Yeah......

As the pot called CoronoVirus is stirred, fear bubbles to the surface.  Granted, there may be a few of you who are not worried at all but as time passes we cannot help but be affected by what is happening in our own states, our country, our world.  Our hearts break for those who have lost loved ones, and our hearts might beat a bit faster for those we love who are in the middle of the "vulnerable" area for serious complications. And if we are one of the vulnerable?

Like all of you I have observed many different response to what is happening in our world.  Here we are with few options before us.  When I was diagnosed with advanced cancer in October 2018, we had options, the doctors we trusted had plans in place to fight a known disease  ~ Cancer.  Although we were told that there were no guarantees for a cancer free future, we had a plan that gave us some sense of control and actions to take.  I know many of you are nodding your heads in agreement, having gone through your own medical battles.  A plan and actions to take removes that helpless feeling and speaks of a future.

This time it is different.  It is a novel virus.  New.  It is a virus so antibiotics won't help.  It spreads quickly and according the experts it is more deadly for those ages 60-65 and older and those with underlying conditions such as Lupus, cancer, asthma, lung disease, heart disease, etc. etc. etc. We all want answers, action plans, and assurance that all will be well.  We want to be safe.

So, where do we turn when life is a roller coaster ride, whether it is due to the what ifs with the CoronoVirus, a diagnosis of cancer, or our finances bottoming out.  Do we minimize what we are facing?  Do we have a fatalistic outlook? is what it is?  Do we just hang on tight with our fears and hope for the best?  Or do we take a deep breath, and remember God is with us.  Do we turn to the Word and find those verses that bring us God's truth and a sense of peace?

When I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease after 2 decades of sickness, I looked up everything I could on this debilitating disease.  I spent hours and hours becoming "informed" and ended up focused on the disease more than on my Healer.  I felt I had some control when I had knowledge.  Having knowledge is important, but for what reasons?  I began this CoronoVirus journey wanted to be fully informed and when information changed as data was gathered, I watched more, read more, picking certain experts to listen for.  It gave me some sense of control in a world that does not feel safe, but it was also exhausting and did not reduce my stress.  Knowledge is good, but only if we balance it with knowing Who we trust.   We can't always control our outcomes, so maybe we need to surrender our fears and need for control to Jesus.  God with us. 

The video seems to focus on one situation
but the words are for all of us!

It is important to keep our faith smack dab in the middle of this mess.  Prayer is not only smack dab in the middle of it all, but it is still our first line of defense for all challenges that get thrown at us.  As the Breaking New! continues to break, as the CoronoVirus currently continues to raise its ugly head, and as we filter out fears for facts let us remember to respond with faith.  The faith that Jesus gives us that lies smack dab in the middle!