Covid Part 2

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Just when I thought hubby wasn’t coughing as much, it seemed like he was continuing and maybe ramping up again. Monday afternoon, he thought he’d mow that lawn one last time but only made it one round. Our kind neighbor was out mowing her lawn with her riding lawn mower, saw Dave go back into the house, and mowed the lawn for us. What a blessing! Monday night, Nov. 8, 2021, we were back waiting in the emergency room. The good news was he’s not considered a Covid patient anymore. The bad news was we now had to wait in the regular E.R area.

After sitting there for an hour and a half, I was ready to go home. It was 10:30 p.m., and I had a meeting the next morning. I kept hearing people say they had been waiting 7 hours! I verified that with the admitting clerk. Lucky for us (?), Dave’s condition was rated a 2 out of 5, so shortly after I left to go home, he was called back. As it turned out, the hospitals in the city of Wichita were overrun that day. Dave didn’t get into a room in the hospital for 22 hours. I even inquired about transferring him to another hospital, but none were taking transfers. He spent that time in the E.R. getting treatment, but it’s not a place to rest! Dave was diagnosed with pneumonia and blood clots in his right lung. So now this is not just Covid. This is now a life-threatening condition. The doctors put him on IV antibiotics and blood thinner.

I’ll share the blessing in all this. On Tuesday our son, Alex, called to see if I needed anything. I mean, what would he do? I had done a Zoom meeting at 7:45 a.m. and then was planning to make phone calls and take a much-needed nap. My son surprised me by showing up at our door about 5:15 p.m. Alex does that kind of thing! We went and picked up dinner and headed to Emily (our daughter) and Thomas’ house. Emily was happy to see her brother!

Wednesday, Alex spent the morning with his grandparents as my parents live nearby. He visited his dad at the hospital in the afternoon. We then joined my parents and my brother and his wife for dinner. It was a whirlwind trip, but a nice family time! Alex got up early Thursday morning (5 a.m.!) to head back to Des Moines.

Our son-in-law picked hubby up from the hospital Thursday afternoon. He has a diagnosis of pneumonia and pulmonary embolism. That sounds scary. He’s on a blood thinner and will see the doctor next week. Hubby still has Covid brain fog.

I’m thankful for so many people who have been praying for us throughout this time. God has proven Himself faithful. The road ahead is uncertain, but God is certain, regardless of the outcome of this journey.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We’re really not making this up: a personal tale about CRT’s impact (guest post)

I wanted to share this guest blog from a fellow bloggers site as CRT is in the news and on the minds of the people, and especially, those of us in education.

TheoThoughts

Not a day goes by that I don’t open up social media to find some kind of spurious rebuttal of concerns about CRT, labeling it as a boogeyman conjured up with hysteria by people who really don’t want to address racism in this country. And yet, stepping back from the battle over CRT, which in my opinion, has turned into a battle over words that obfuscate the real issues about the ideas in play, even the casual observer has to see that something has fundamentally changed about the way race is not only being addressed but also the way racism is being perceived. In the past 5-6 years, we have drastically shifted from a desire to mitigate racism through fair treatment of individuals to making everything about race that actually works against the desired goals of the long struggle for civil rights.

To quibble over words and technical definitions of…

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Covid Visits

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So myself and my immediate family have a differing viewpoint. I’m a special education teacher. I’m exposed to students and colleagues daily. In the Fall, 2020, our school district chose to go back to in-person learning. I was happy about that, but I also had colleagues and friends with Covid, some more ill than others. I had colleagues who lost older family members – aunts, uncles, parents. We masked up all year, and then we had the opportunity to get vaccinated. I was a little back and forth and tried to read as many studies as I could find about the vaccine. In the end, I got my first shot in February, 2021 and the second one in March. I recently got a booster shot.

My husband and children have chosen to remain unvaccinated for now. Their spouses had no choice unless they wanted to choose a new career. Fast forward to October 15, 2021. My husband and I decide to visit our grandchildren in Iowa to watch our granddaughter play volleyball. We had a wonderful time, but I saw only two people all day with masks on. On the drive home Sunday, I had one of those moments thinking about the weekend, the fun, and the hope that comes with finding a “normal” moment in the midst of this pandemic. This was followed by a brief moment of – uh, oh, what is about to happen? I made myself push that thought away. Wednesday, October 20th, my husband is ill with a slight fever and cough. It’s not hard to jump to conclusions. The next day, he has body aches. I start wearing a mask in my own home. I know I’m vaccinated, but I don’t want to have anything to do with this virus! I open windows when I’m home, spray Lysol (That extra-large can I bought at Costco finally comes in handy!), and clean surfaces in the common areas. I finally convince him to take an at-home Covid test on Saturday, because I want to see my family who are in town. He’s positive. As it turns out, my extended family members find out that same morning that they had been exposed the previous Sunday (oh, Iowa), and they get tested and are negative. Since we are all vaccinated, we decide to spend time together anyway. None of us have become ill.

It’s Tuesday, the 26th, and Hubby continues to cough. It’s sounding worse as the days go by. I continue to go to work, masked up and symptom-free, per health department guidelines. (We are all wearing masks at school at this point anyway. I’ve been wearing masks all year, except the first week of school, because of my unvaccinated, pregnant daughter.) I had also contacted our family physician to find out what can be done for Hubby as the cough continues to worsen. She suggests monoclonal antibody treatment. I call home to see what the patient thinks about that. He says he’ll research. That evening, we both take an at-home test. I’m negative. He’s still positive.

Wednesday morning, in the midst of coughing miserably, Hubby decides that maybe he should try to get the monoclonal antibody treatment. I drive to my own appointment downtown and call our doctor’s office while I wait. As it turns out, you have 10 days from the time symptoms start to get the treatment. We are on day 8. The nurse will call the treatment center and get the ball rolling. I complete my own quick appointment and call Hubby back. I ask him what his blood oxygen level reads, and he is unable to tell me that 91 is ninety-one. Okay, I’m on my way home.

Background: Hubby had a random brain hemorrhage at age 45. He was healthy, and after extensive testing, the doctors were unable to explain the cause. He also has silent migraines (neurological symptoms but no headache pain), so I’ve been down this road several times. I drive him to the hospital with the windows rolled down, him in the backseat, and both of us masked up. In the ER, they send him to one place and myself to another. I know this happens, yet when it happens to you, it’s still slightly shocking. Hubby tries to text me later, but now his hand isn’t working either. I call him and the conversation is difficult. Blood work, Covid test, CT scan, and MRI happen. The good news is that he hasn’t suffered a stroke. They keep him overnight and diagnose him with acute encephalopathy (Covid brain fog).

Thursday, I am trying to figure out what is going on. I’m not allowed to visit, and I know the nurses and doctors are busy with patients much more ill than Hubby. I know that he has been given a dose of heparin and Remdesevir. I know he was on oxygen briefly. I know he’s having difficulty communicating what he needs from the nurses. It is difficult for me to be reached at school as my office is also a tornado shelter. I finally touch base with the doctor about 4:30. The doctor is kind and explains what has been happening. He asks me several times whether the speech/cognitive impairment is Hubby’s baseline. No, it’s not. It’s why I brought him in, not the coughing. Hubby is actually on the list to get the monoclonal antibody treatment but hasn’t returned the call (voicemail) from the clinic. I call Hubby and tell him to call the clinic (and so do I) and by 4:50, he has an appointment for Friday, Day 10. He also has to be an outpatient to get the treatment, so I need to pick Hubby up from the hospital!

Friday, the infusion itself takes 20 minutes, but he has to lay there for an hour afterward. It’s a nice day, so I read a book and wait in the car. The cough has slowly been decreasing since the treatment. Hubby sleeps a lot and his oxygen level hovers around 90-93. Occasionally we check it, and it’s 89. So far, we haven’t had to make an emergency trip to the ER but walking up stairs leaves him breathing hard. I’m hoping he’s not contagious any longer. It’s been 18 days. I still wear a mask when I’m in the same room, but that’s really in an abundance of caution. I haven’t seen my daughter in-person for awhile, so I like to keep myself as healthy as possible, in case I have that opportunity.

The road to recovery from this illness can be a long one. Many of the people I know personally have a lower level of energy months later. It can take months to recover normal oxygen levels. Hubby’s brain function is still impaired and conversations take time. Covid changes lives, and not just the life of the patient. I know there are people who believe this is just like the flu. I assure you it is not. I know there are people who believe this only affects older adults. I assure that is not true. I know of a young couple who lost their newborn. I know elementary-aged children who have had it and so have their parents. Some of those young parents have not survived.

I have no answers. Someone asked me if Hubby will get vaccinated now. We haven’t discussed it. We have fought over the vaccines, and he is living with the consequences of his choice. It will be interesting to see if he changes his mind. We are not promised tomorrow and God has a plan for our family, vaccinated or not.

Psalm 139:14-16 (NIV) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

My Journey Back to Equilibrium

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I’m struggling. (prayers appreciated) Can anyone else relate? The world seems a mess. I love my job as a special education teacher, but Sunday I was wishing I could just stay home and hibernate. I haven’t felt that way for several years. I’m thinking about changes I need to make and Facebook can be a problem for me. So tonight, I sat down and started to look for the good – pictures of my kids and grandkids; my friends sharing accomplishments; healing; vacations; and corny jokes. I purposely looked for the good. It’s there. God is still in control. Step one: Change your focus.

I wrote that paragraph on August 31, 2021. I hadn’t realized that I was struggling with life, because – I don’t know – life moves forward so quickly? So much has changed and continues to change in our world? One thing I have to come to realize is that I have been struggling with a sense of loss – grief over the loss of what our world used to be.

If you’re near my age (I was born in the last year of the 1950s), you know the kind of world I grew up in. It seemed easier, less scary, more exciting with all the new inovations, and forward-looking politicians. As the world has become increasingly global, life has become more interesting and more dangerous. Not everyone, even in our own country, appreciates and loves the life we Americans have built here.

A pandemic seems to be limiting our movement and our ability to freely relate to one another. Most of my family is vaccinated against Covid-19. My own family members are not vaccinated. My son, my daughter, and my husband have all chosen to skip the vaccine. It breaks my heart, but that’s where we are at. My extended family doesn’t approve, understand, or have too much desire to be in the same room with them. It’s stressful and heartbreaking. Vacations and holidays have always been a time of gathering together, eating good food, watching movies, and playing games. That seems to be over for now, and because my siblings and I all have adult children and grandchildren, maybe that season of life is over anyway.

Friday night of Labor Day weekend I tried to call a helpline and no one answered. I decided to take a chance and call a friend in Iowa. She was actually at her daughter’s house in another state, but she took the time to talk with me. It was such a blessing. I apologized for bothering her, and what she said really made me think about how we sabotage ourselves. She reminded me that that is what our friends are for – to help in times of need. I am more than happy to be a listening ear for my friends, but do I allow others to help me? Why don’t we ask for help? Why don’t we ask for prayer?

Sometime in mid-September, I had an unfortunate incident during a meeting at the school in which I teach. I over-reacted to a situation. Later when I had a conversation with a colleague who wasn’t at the meeting, she asked me if I was grieving about the situation we are all finding ourselves in. After thinking about that, I realized just how unhappy, upset, depressed, and/or angry I’ve been for the past several months – at least since the past summer. I’d thought about going to counseling, but I know how difficult it is to get an appointment right now. I was struggling to pray, and I do a poor job of praying for myself anyway.

So here I am finally picking up thread at the beginning of November. I’m feeling better. The colleague mentioned above asked me a couple of weeks ago to tell her what had changed. That was an easy answer. I asked for prayer. I put it out on Facebook that I was struggling and needed prayer. I have many praying friends, and I know that they will take the time to be there for me, just like I am for them, no matter how far away we live from one another. A friend in Texas invited me to join a small group of mutual friends there who are meeting via Zoom for a book study. We pray for one another.

I’m starting to find that equilibrium. Is it perfect? No. I still have a pregnant daughter who is unvaccinated. I still worry sometimes, but for the most part, I have handed her and my other family members over to God (again). We don’t know the future, but we know the One who holds our future in His hands. He has a plan for our lives, and I know that I’m living the call He has for me right now.

Matthew 6:25-27 (ESV)  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Job. Eliphaz

Job 4-5 (NIV)

Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

“If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
    But who can keep from speaking?
Think how you have instructed many,
    how you have strengthened feeble hands.
Your words have supported those who stumbled;
    you have strengthened faltering knees.
But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;
    it strikes you, and you are dismayed.
Should not your piety be your confidence
    and your blameless ways your hope?

8.31.21 So these verses really spoke to me this evening. I’m struggling personally with being overwhelmed by all that is going on in the world right now. It’s not easy to be the person others look to for comfort, wisdom (do I even have that?), and support. That in itself can be overwhelming, then add in hurricanes, earthquakes, Afghanistan, and Covid. Eliphaz asks a good question – Why am I not turning to God for my own needs? It’s difficult for me to ask God in prayer for myself. I pray regularly for others, but who is praying for me? I’m not even asking for myself.

Job 4

“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished?
    Where were the upright ever destroyed?
As I have observed, those who plow evil
    and those who sow trouble reap it.
At the breath of God they perish;
    at the blast of his anger they are no more.
10 The lions may roar and growl,
    yet the teeth of the great lions are broken.
11 The lion perishes for lack of prey,
    and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.

12 “A word was secretly brought to me,
    my ears caught a whisper of it.
13 Amid disquieting dreams in the night,
    when deep sleep falls on people,
14 fear and trembling seized me
    and made all my bones shake.
15 A spirit glided past my face,
    and the hair on my body stood on end.
16 It stopped,
    but I could not tell what it was.
A form stood before my eyes,
    and I heard a hushed voice:
17 ‘Can a mortal be more righteous than God?
    Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker?
18 If God places no trust in his servants,
    if he charges his angels with error,
19 how much more those who live in houses of clay,
    whose foundations are in the dust,
    who are crushed more readily than a moth!
20 Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces;
    unnoticed, they perish forever.
21 Are not the cords of their tent pulled up,
    so that they die without wisdom?’

Whew. Job is not an easy book to read. I find myself overwhelmed and struggle to write posts. (8.13.2021 I started this post in April, 2021. I got stuck and distracted and didn’t come back to it until now.)

Job’s friends have mourned with him, but now, I think they are done and ready to move on. Eliphaz is the first to speak to Job and his tactic is to remind Job of how he has encouraged others in the past, yet Job is now choosing to allow himself to fall into despair. Eliphaz then reminds Job that God cares for those who follow Him. Job should not be focusing on the bad. The last part of chapter 4 appears to be a dream that Eliphaz is sharing with Job. Is the dream reminding us that God alone is without sin and troubles? Not sure about how to interpret this part of the chapter! Let me know if you have thoughts on this!

Heavenly Father, It’s easy to look around the world and feel that all is out of control. Yet You are still on the throne. We see a small part of the journey. You see the timeline into eternity. Thank you for Your love that You give freely to all, even though who deny Your existence. I pray that we turn our hearts toward You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (ESV)

Pandemic Ponderings

I’ve written this post in my head multiple times in the past year. It’s almost a moot point now. I mean, apparently we’ve all decided the pandemic is over – or at least the politicians and the people who disagree with masks are over it. I’m now “fully vaccinated”, so I should probably be over it as well.

As an educator, I have worn at mask at school for 8-10 hours a day. We have been face-to-face all year. I’ve not been ill except my usual fall sinus infection brought on by allergies. We’ve not had much illness in the building this year – what a benefit of mask wearing! We’ve had our share of staff members contract Covid (generally not from school) and one staff member who is just coming back part-time after 2 1/2 months at home. She is doing okay and we’re thrilled to have her back with us. We’ve had a few students who actually had Covid and many who were sent home first semester to isolate with only a few since Winter Break.

So why am I writing this? My frustration is from my church community. While I was wearing a mask at work and limiting my exposure in the community by staying home and wearing a mask and social distancing while out, my church was back to pre-pandemic normal. They were early adopters of returning to the church building last summer. Social distancing was planned with seating. I don’t know about masks, because I didn’t attend in-person at that time. In order for me to see my grandchildren last summer, I needed to take precautions due to health issues with them. That was my choice. I was also desperate to return face-to-face for school. Teaching remote is brutal for teachers and students both. I know there are some children who are thriving, but as a special education teacher, it was heartbreaking.

Someone wrote that “comparison is the thief of joy”, and that’s so true. So when a friend of mine shared that her church had telephoned her to check in on her last year, I was so happy for her and so disappointed for myself. I “attend” two churches – one in each of two different states depending on where I’m staying at the time. The out-of-state church is large with multiple campuses. That church also took the time to reach out using their staff and volunteers to check in on all their members. My small, local church did not do that unless they just overlooked me. I’m a regular attender so it’s hard to imagine that happening. Don’t get me wrong, because not everyone has to do “all the things”. It’s just an example of the vibe I’ve gotten from the local church.

Now to masks which I realize is a very controversial topic. It was obvious from Facebook posts of friends (who were clearly and vocally anti-mask) that the people in charge at the church weren’t going to put forth any sort of mask requirement. I chose not to attend for that reason. I’ve watched online and seen photos from church, so I was pretty sure that masking was not required. In more recent sermons, what I’ve heard is that the pastor is over the pandemic, and we should all be getting back to the building. I did email finally to inquire. A few people are wearing masks or sitting in the back without engaging with others.

I love Jesus. I want to be cautious about judging what others choose to do in regards to the pandemic. I also believe that the church should be in the business of protecting the least among us.

Update: I wrote this post is April, 2021. So now it’s August 31, 2021. I didn’t publish this when I originally wrote it. It seemed unnecessary and probably still is unnecessary, I just wanted to get this off my chest. I still haven’t been back to church. It’s becoming a problem for me, because I miss it. While the Delta strain is overtaking our country, I am masking up again for the safety of family members (and let’s be honest, for myself as well). School is back in session, and we will most likely be masking up again as positive cases increase in the elementary buildings. I don’t have any answers, but I’m thankful I know the One who does.

Job 12:10 In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Jim. The Power of Your Story

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Dear Families,

Don’t underestimate the power of sharing a meal together. We lost an elder in our extended family this week. An in-law of my sister’s whom we’ve known since I was a teen. Jim was a devout Catholic who lived his faith, a businessman, a collector of old cars, and a story-teller. His later working years were spent at the Iowa Commission for the Blind where he made an impact on many people.

I didn’t know Jim well, but our family shared many holiday meals in his presence at my sister and brother-in-law’s home. Jim loved to tell a story, and he had many. The stories I remember most concerned his working life. He was a banker in a Native American reservation when his children were small. When the family moved to Des Moines, Iowa, he worked for the Commission for the Blind. Jim didn’t know a stranger, so he had collected many stories as he liked to ask questions. You see, sitting at dinner, he didn’t just tell his stories. He asked about your story. Many a lively conversation was held at the dinner table of Mark and Cathy’s home.

Jim collected cars with his son, Mark. He also used those cars to connect with his family. Jim loved working on the cars with his son and grandsons, and he loved taking those cars to parades. Jim’s children, grandchildren and their cousins, and even some honorary great-grandchildren in the family (my children’s children and cousin) have all ridden in holiday parades in those cars. The kids loved to ride in the car and toss candy out the windows. Those are such precious memories for us.

I fear that too many have forgotten the power of a story. How many of us sit down at the table for a meal? How many of us sit down at the table (or anywhere) without a phone in our hands? You may think that your children don’t listen to you, but that just isn’t the case. When they have nothing else to do except sit around the table and linger over dessert, they listen. They might not even realize they’re listening until later when they remember some tidbit that influences their thinking or actions.

Our culture, our country, and our world need us to continue telling our stories to one another. Just as importantly, we need to continue to ask questions. Human connection is how we sustain families and cultures. When we take the time to ask and then listen to others’ stories, we gain understanding and can truly love one another in the way God asks us to love. Not because of what we do but because of who we are – God’s creation.

The Bible is nothing more than a collection of stories, God’s Story, yet it is the most widely read book ever written. We love a good story. Stories have the power to influence and change lives. Jim was an influencer, not because he was famous in the culture, but because he was a listener and shared his story and the stories of others. If Jim only influenced his extended family that would be enough. Your story is enough. Share it.

Amen.

Deuteronomy 5:16 “‘Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Why are we fighting with one another?

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I’m sad. I don’t get it. Were we fighting with one another before the pandemic? That seems like a long time ago, but here in Kansas, we didn’t shut down until nearly the end of March, 2020. Not even a whole year ago, but I know the fighting has gotten worse in the past year. We have stopped listening to one another in our quest to be right. We have stopped praying for one another.

I am a Christ-follower and many of my friends, Facebook or otherwise, are as well. I’ve known some of these lovely people since I had my first child over 30 years ago. I’m blessed with a few from my high school years prior to that. They aren’t mean-spirited. Some of us had our children in private school and then home school together. We raised our children together and shared joys, sorrows, and spiritual life. So what happened?

I used to follow politics. My parents loved the Kennedys. I was a child when John, Robert, and Martin were alive and assassinated. My parents didn’t hide the news from us, and we watched the Vietnam War on network television reports. As a high schooler, my boyfriend was an avid follower of politics and, not surprisingly, grew up to be a social studies teacher. We spent hours upon hours discussing politics and the news of the times we were living in.

Once I had my own children and life became busy, I slowly left the news behind. I don’t watch a lot of tv, although I am an avid radio listener. I don’t have anyone with whom to discuss such things, and my interest waned. That all changed with the pandemic. I finished my masters degree in special education last March. While I was busy teaching remotely, I also had more free time than I’ve had in years. I started spending (too much) time on Facebook watching videos and reading reports – coronavirus, teaching tips, politics, protests, conspiracy theories. All of that plus the ability to read people’s comments.

The problem with Facebook is that it’s so anonymous. We spend all of this time “talking” with people we don’t know and don’t know us. I’m a pretty tough cookie. I know who I am in Christ, so I can let it roll off my back. I try to discuss with reason and kindness. I’ve been called all sorts of names, and I’m frankly getting weary of it all.

In my opinion, some of my Christian friends have merged their religious beliefs with their political beliefs. They have taken their admiration for a political figure to the extreme. Those same friends are the most likely to be following people that are espousing all sorts of conspiracy theories. It’s disturbing, almost frightening. It’s just so unexpected. The people on the opposite end of the spectrum are just as scary. Everyone is so sure they know the answer and that their candidate is going to save the world, or at least the United States. Only Christ has the power to save.

Acts 4: 8-14 (CEV) Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation’s leaders and the elders: You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10 But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 11 He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12 Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone. 13 The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles.

What always strikes me in these verses is that the leaders noted that Peter and John weren’t anyone special. They were “ordinary” and “not well educated”, BUT they had been with Jesus. They had been learning and listening and sitting and walking with the One who saves. The One who knows us before we are born. They were noticed because of Jesus, not because of who they were as ordinary men.

This is who I want to be. I want to be someone who is known because I walk with Jesus. Am I perfect? Oh, so very far from that. I make mistakes. I take my “discussions” too far sometimes. It’s hard putting myself in the “line of fire”, and to be honest, I knowingly do that. I try to ask questions so others will look at a different perspective. I’m not sure we know how to do that anymore as a society. We are so very invested in our own world view.

I’ve set a goal for myself this year to spend more time with Him. One bonus of the pandemic is online church services. I listen to two sermons each week and have a daily evening devotional book. I’ve also gone back to listening to the Daily Audio Bible app on my phone while I get ready for my day. I’m filling my life with God’s Word to drown out the noise of our culture. I’m finding myself spending more time in prayer as well. I just removed the Facebook app from my phone. This fighting hurts our relationships, our souls, and our relationship with the One who saves.

Father, Guide us as we go through this year. Life is still changing and unsettled. Remind us that our relationship with You will enrich our relationships here on earth. We can’t change the world, but we can change how we respond and how we walk through it. Amen

Note: There are many Bible translations to choose from and many audio Bible apps. This is my favorite. I love the community and the prayers shared every day. https://dailyaudiobible.com/

School’s Out

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I don’t know how, but my school district managed to keep our elementary schools open for the entire Fall season. Our secondary students have been hybrid learners. I am thankful. Remote learning last Spring was brutal. I did nine IEP meetings the first two weeks of April – online and with constant adjustments of expectations and directives from the leaders of the special education interlocal. I’m not pinning blame on anyone, because this was entirely new territory. Those meetings were in addition to trying to teach small groups using technology of which I’d not even been aware prior to the shutdown.

So I’m feeling thankful – and wary. My school has had times (predictably about one to two weeks after the major holidays) where multiple students were walked out of the building due to exposure to COVID positive people. (Halloween parties during a pandemic anyone?) Overall, we have done our part at school – extra cleaning, social distancing when we can, nine minute small group activities (trying to avoid that magic 10 minute exposure time that would send me home as a close contact), masking up. It seems to be working.

This still leaves me wondering though – were we just lucky? What are we doing that is keeping us in school? Are the adult staff doing a better job outside the school day than others? Multiple districts in our area have gone remote now for K-12. The prevailing storyline is that those districts simply don’t have enough staff to run the buidlings. It makes sense. It’s not just teachers. Schools take many hands to keep them running – buses, cafeterias, custodial services, technology services, office staff, and more.

I’m enjoying my Winter break. I’m missing out on seeing my out-of-state grandchildren in person this year which is the saddest part of the pandemic for me (thankfully). I will continue to take precautions for myself and others and hope others in our school district stay the course as well. I’d feel better about it all if I thought we had some “secret formula” that has kept us in school. That’s the most difficult part of this whole situation for most people. This new virus has left all of us, including scientists, looking for answers in an ever-changing situation.

If you have thoughts on how to stay the course or what your school is doing that is working (or seems to be working), I’d love to hear them. In the meantime…

Stay safe. Be well. Follow the science. Take care of each other.

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Job. Let me Wallow

Job 3:20-26 (ESV)

20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
    and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it comes not,
    and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 who rejoice exceedingly
    and are glad when they find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
    whom God has hedged in?
24 For my sighing comes instead of my bread,
    and my groanings are poured out like water.
25 For the thing that I fear comes upon me,
    and what I dread befalls me.
26 I am not at ease, nor am I quiet;
    I have no rest, but trouble comes.”

Job is now asking why any good thing is being put in front of someone who is not at peace. Job is suffering. Why should God give him encouragement when Job longs for his life to be at an end? I’m wondering if Job just doesn’t want to work through the bad that has come for a season.

Job doesn’t want to see the good. Have you been there? It sounds like Job wants to wallow in his misery. His fears have been realized. Trouble has come. Job doesn’t want to be talked out of his suffering! He doesn’t want anything to distract him from the fact that life has taken a wrong turn.

Our God doesn’t leave us behind though. He sustains us through our adversities. In Isaiah 33:2, God promises that he will be with us. “LORD, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.” (NIV) May we focus on Him and His promises through our own struggles.

Heavenly Father, Lead us into faith that sustains us through the dark seasons of life. Those seasons do come, but You are with us in both the light and the dark. I thank you that You are ever near and that Your love never changes. Amen.

Psalm 46:1 (ESV) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

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