Ambiguous Grief pt. 2

The old saying, “Time heals all wounds” is meant to be encouraging but sometimes it can feel like a very long time before our hurts can be viewed through different lenses. In part one of this post, I talked about a new kind of grief which encapsulates our feelings of loss in relationship with a person still living–either they are alive but not themselves, or perhaps, like my father-in-law, they have had a stroke and are alive but can’t communicate. He’s in there, but everything he says to us sounds like “No.” Or it could be the loss of something else such as a close friendship, our health, or a physical location we’ve had to leave. Today I want to focus on processing and moving past the acknowledging of our grief.

It is such a healthy first step to acknowledge our emotions, give them a name and give them to our Heavenly Father, our Abba, who cares deeply for us. He holds all our tears in a bottle. He is not indifferent to our pain. Secondly, we must have reasonable expectations of our grief. Grief looks different on everyone. You may stifle the urge to call your child every day or visit your parent’s bedside and this may be appropriate but you will definitely need another outlet! Journaling is a great way to express all those pent-up emotions. Or Vlogging for those who aren’t inclined to wield the mighty pen. We need to find outlets for our grief…baking, exercising (especially if you’ve taken up baking), gardening, tinkering in the garage or whatever suits your fancy…be kind to yourself. Indulge in your favorite things. Get more sleep. Eat well. And let the house go if you need to…I’m giving you official permission to leave dished in your sink overnight.

After you tackle these basics, seek out growth opportunities. Join a group of people with a shared common interest…I know all too well this is hard for introverts. But I am speaking from experience. I actually joined a community of women of faith who share my trait of high sensitivity and then shockingly, joined a small focus group within that large group. We encourage each other in whatever we are pursuing such as blogging, creating, speaking, writing books. I joined with fear and trepidation but it has been so good for me. And it has taken all of two months for me to see just how good it’s been so don’t expect overnight results.

My last suggestion is not given glibly. So please try not to sigh or roll your eyes too loudly: Practice gratefulness. Yep. There it is. I said it. It’s hard. Some days I just can’t do anything but be grateful for toothpaste and that my teenage child never goes hungry (on the contrary he’s eating out of house and home!) But I try. I need to write my gratitude down. Right now it’s jumbled all up in my head. I’m always grateful for family. Grateful my daughter lives with her best friend so she’s not alone in the PNW, grateful I had those years with my turtles, grateful I have had a wonderful, supportive husband since my own tender years. Grateful my preemie grandchild is out of the hospital and thriving.

God says there is a time for everything. He does not fault us for mourning. But we can’t park in our pain. As Ecclesiastes 3 tell us: there is a time to be born and a time to die. A time to laugh and a time to cry. He understands. He knows loss. He left a beautiful paradise to come rescue us, and in the process incur the wrath of the holy Father who loved us so much that He brought heaven down to us when we couldn’t attain it through our own obedience...He knows us. In order to dislodge ourselves (aka “getting unstuck”) we need to acknowledge our grief but we can’t stay there. We can try to cover up our feelings but He sees right through us anyhow. Why not get it out in the open and ask Him for help to be grateful in our day-to-day pain. Keeping our focus on Him, ask Him for opportunities to use our discomfort as a catalyst to bless others when we feel His gentle nudge.

What if we took those “empty nest” blues and reached out to other moms with young children who desperately need a mentor? What if we planted a garden in our own backyard to “carry the beautiful with us” as Emerson so wisely advised. And then in our bounty, perhaps we could bless others with our fruits whether that be a lovely floral arrangement or an extra zucchini squash? Finding meaning in our pain can be a rich and rewarding experience that will both help us to flourish and honor our Creator. It both acknowledges our pain and yet blesses others with our effort to rise above our temporary circumstances and focus on the eternal.

Ambiguous grief may sound like a formidable opponent but what if it’s really just the start of something beautiful? Our heavenly Father says, “[I will] give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” (Isaiah 61: 3) He doesn’t say it will be easy, but He does promise He will never leave our side.

Don’t get me wrong– the pain is real. There are no easy answers. But there is always the tiniest sliver of hope. Sometimes mysterious hope seems to disappear altogether, but she is really just hidden behind a dark squall that seems to be forever brewing on the horizon. Professional help or medication may be needed and it doesn’t in any way make you a lesser person. I have used both and am presently in therapy again. No judgement here. If you had a broken arm, you’d let a doctor set it–if you are struggling with depression, and you aren’t making any headway–please seek help.

Slowly as we recover, focusing on the eternal, living in the moment, we will rise above. You might say we will “Rise up on wings as Eagles as the prophet Isaiah encourages. We may even be surprised to find ourselves climbing up a mountain when we least expect it. Ups and downs, ins and outs…life is an adventure. I want to learn to embrace all the moments, keep my eyes on my Savior and remember that eternity will be a pain free, perfect place where everyday will be a glorious day and He will wipe away all our tears and run-on sentences will be the norm…

We can do this together. Overcoming obstacles. Overcoming losses–great or small.

One day at a time.

Ambiguous Grief

I fought back tears with everything I had. She wouldn’t turn around to look at us, but I have it on good authority she was doing the same (she told me later). We were in a large, bustling airport and my baby girl had her back to us as she stood in the line at security and walked out of our lives forever. I don’t mean to be dramatic because it wasn’t like she was angry at us. She was simply spreading her wings. And we were proud, and distraught and trudging disconsolately through the “depths of despair” in the fashion of one of my literary heroines, Anne Shirley. Baby girl was going off to start her adult life that she had so desperately wanted since her early teenage years. It’s tough being a thirty-year-old trapped in chronological body half as old. And so I continued my unwitting acquaintance with ambiguous grief, though we were not properly introduced until last week.Continue reading “Ambiguous Grief”

Kaleidoscope (pt 2)

In my last post, we ended by contemplating some probing questions about our identity. Soul-searching inquiries like: Who Am I and Where do I fit into God’s cosmic plan? We also observed how often the enigma of who we are seems to slide in and out of focus, like a child’s cardboard kaleidoscope. Not exactly the things you want to reflect on before a good night’s sleep! As an attempt to find satisfactory answers, I made a list in my yellow linen notebook and came up with some indisputable attributes: I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, writer, naturalist etc. Afterwards, I listed qualities that decidedly do not belong to me: I am not artistic (with respect to drawing, watercolors etc.), athletic or a amazing chef with friends banging down the door for a dinner invitation. And that’s okay. But the haunting questions hang in the air…taunting me, tempting me, trying me… In the end, I surmised that perhaps I have indeed been pondering the wrong question altogether. I mean, there are over 7 billion human beings on the planet…how can we all fit into 8 or 9 neat categories? God made each of us unique, designed to fill a role only we can fill. And so while personality quizzes can be useful, they lack something essential that only our Creator has…a blueprint to who we are.

So if my question was not apropos–what should the question be? After much earnest investigation, I have determined that maybe what we should be asking ourselves is not how well we know ourselves but rather, How well do we know Him? Do we know about Him or have we actually “tasted and seen” ? Have we felt Him in the fire with us? What if, in fact, the key to our self-identity–our purpose in life– lies less in knowing the nitty-gritty details about ourselves and more in knowing Him and striving to emulate Him? Isn’t the point of life to be transformed into His likeness? While I fully agree that it is helpful to know our strengths and weaknesses, as someone who has wrestled a good bit with depression, I also know the dangers of being too introspective. If we focus too much on ourselves, our world gets smaller and we lose sight of what really matters.

If I am a child of God–even if that is the only unchanging thing I know about myself, then shouldn’t the focus shift to Him and how I can best serve Him? It will require serious time invested in a relationship with God himself–spending time hearing His voice, yielding to His direction, striving for unfaltering obedience. There aren’t any shortcuts. But honestly, don’t I really need to know about Him and His qualities so that I can share my Hope with the world? How can I share Someone I barely know? If I am familiar, firsthand, with the faithfulness of my Father as well as fastidiously endeavoring to discern His loving voice…won’t I know who I am as a natural outcome?

As I ponder, as I tweak my questions, as I twist my priorities back to what is truly eternal, the Kaleidoscope’s focus, almost imperceptibly, slowly shifts into amazingly beautiful “designs”; things become clearer…brilliant, diverse colors sliding into perfect alignment. A dense fog begins to lift: I am who He created me to be. I am here to glorify Him and it may look like cleaning toilets one month and writing a manuscript the next. If all that God requires is for me to seek Justice, love Mercy and walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8), I might have to slide out of my comfort zone regularly so that I am reminded it’s not about my ability or traits but about my willingness to be obedient. Now it’s important to realize that obedience to God does NOT mean saying yes to every request made of my limited time and resources. This is where discerning the voice of God comes into play which is the next process I am working one. I am ever hopeful that when this is the kind of relationship I have with Abba, striving will cease and I will be peacefully resting in His loving arms. The focus will be where it should have been all along. Make no mistake about it, the results of my meager human efforts will never be perfect this side of heaven, but pleasing to God simply because of my desire to please Him.

A life poured out for Him. Keeping my eye on the prize of His presence. Every day.

Kaleidoscope

The robin’s egg blue bedroom at my grandmother’s house holds some magical childhood memories for me. Among these cherished treasures are a peanut, a maiden, and a puzzle of sorts. The peanut was a green Mr. Peanut piggy bank– my special coin jar to collect my secret stash of bubble gum money. The porcelain maiden was indeed lovely to behold: long white ringlets cascading down her back; the dreamiest shade of green on both her gown and elegant parasol. The puzzle consisted of twisting two light-weight cardboard tubes that, when held up to my eight-year-old eye, displayed a pleasing array of brightly colored “beads” that shifted into and out of focus. The effect was indeed very pleasing and entertaining: the vivid hues overlapped and morphed from one shape into another producing geometrical designs both symmetrical and at the same time fanciful. O to hold on to those simple days of childhood…

As an adult, I have often forsaken life’s simple pleasures, for more “sophisticated” diversions. You know the ones I’m referring to: blogging, social media scrolling, soul searching. The latter two occasionally go hand in hand…as odd as that might seem. One of the things I see from time to time are personality quizzes…often silly ones such as “What state should you live in?” or “Which Disney Princess are you?” And yes, though sometimes I do indulge in those frivolities, I’m usually too bashful to share the results! But then there are more serious inventories: The Myers Briggs personality test, Enneagram, Strengthsfinder are all designed to guide us through self-discovery…to identify strengths and weakness so that as the ancient Greeks pithily advised, we can “know ourselves.” And this is important–to an extent. We want to plan our days and activities intentionally. We want to live our lives well for Kingdom Purpose. No argument there. I am not telling you to burn all your test results…

But such tools do, in face, have their limitations. At this point, I hesitate a bit to take any of them. Maybe it’s because I’m not adept at utilizing the results, but I have never found them overly useful. They are multiple choice, monotonously repetitive and in the end, I’m not at all sure I know much more about me than when I began, which is somewhat anticlimactic. Sometimes I will even take them twice, just to see if I got the “right” answer… or ask my dear husband if he can check to see if I answered them truthfully…but sometimes the correct responses evasively elude me…the questions just don’t fit me…none of the answers seem to reflect who I really am. And if I’m not careful, this can leave me in a bit of a funk which is time consuming and less than edifying to those around me. Who am I? Where do I fit in His plan? And if I’m overthinking, of course, the secret fear: Do I fit into His plan? Am I pleasing Him?

Well now that I have barraged you with a myriad of questions, let’s pause for a moment to process, ponder and proceed with my discovery in next time.

Forgiveness

We all want it. Sometimes we find it hard to give. But the truth is, we all need it. We are imperfect flawed human beings who will hurt others–sometimes intentionally and sometimes quite inadvertently. We tend to view things from our own point of view and have trouble seeing through other lenses.

That is what is happening in America today. We find it hard to discuss things without taking it personally. Granted some issues are highly charged and emotional by nature; by we have taken being offended to a new level. We can not debate each other on respectful or friendly terms. “I disagree with you,” is equivalent to saying “I hate you.” How did we get this way?

Better yet how can we stop it? How can we listen wholly without thinking about our next response? Everybody wants to present their side but, convinced they are right, no one wants to listen to opposing views. It is downright disheartening and truly difficult to navigate. If we don’t listen to each other, we become divided. And wise president once said, “A house [nation] divided against itself cannot stand.”

I have one choice: begin with me. How can I change myself? How can I practice better listening. How can I empathize; validate people, become a peacemaker? How do I forgive unkind words, looks or actions? These are the questions that keep me up at night or that I wrestle with in my sleep.

I don’t like the way our nation has become so divided. Were we ever unified? Was it an illusion? Does the media just report more of it? Spin it? Does every black person feel afraid to walk alone at night? I’m not black and I feel afraid to walk at home at night. Is my fear lesser because of the color of my skin?

These are the questions I ask myself. I am white in America and I want to hear my black and Indian neighbors, my hispanic neighbors stories. I have lived in Hawaii and been in the minority…I have wished my skin was brown before but I never was afraid that I would be mistreated by police.

My grandchild is of mixed race–he is too young to know that skin color is an issue. But someday he will be painfully aware which breaks my heart. Young children don’t know to be racist, it seems they would be friends with anyone. Until we tell them they can’t. Oh that we would all be as colorblind as these little ones…that we would freely forgive the hurts of the past and look toward a brighter tomorrow.

That we would join hands to make America strong…for all of us…justice for all. It may or may not have been intended by our forefathers. But we can purpose it. We can forgive. Like the One who forgave us. It doesn’t erase all the hurt. It can’t make the pain go away altogether. But it can give us hope.

And without hope, the freedom we hold so dear won’t really be worth very much. If we are all afraid of each other, all angry at each other–what does it matter if we are free?

Freedom without Jesus? It’s just another wall…

I pray we can forgive–and start tearing the walls that divide us as a nation down.

It all starts with a listening ear.

Be one.

Bumble

It’s midnight and I’m sitting on the sofa in the living with very dim lighting listening to the hum of the dishwasher, thinking about a literal midnight snack and crying over a dead fish. Before you deem me a hopeless train wreck, let me explain:

In August of 2018 the three of us met my daughter in Seattle (she had been visiting a friend in CA) to help her set up her new life in the city where she felt called to be. She was 19. It was the tiniest “studio” apartment I had ever seen but it had a good size bathroom. The idea was that she would go to community college there and study horticulture. Her best friend was supposed to be there but was delayed in Hawaii for the foreseeable future. We had moved to Texas just a few months prior from Hawaii and now L would be transferring to Seattle from the store where she worked here in Texas. It was a hard transition for everyone.

Y’all. If you have not taken your baby girl to a new city where she knows not one single soul and left her in an apartment that seemed secure but not in the best area then you will not understand how hard it was for us to leave her. Not a secure college campus (if such things exist anymore), not to live with a group of friends or even one friend. But all by herself.

One of the first things L did was to adopt a beta fish. Now this story encapsulates my daughter perfectly. She went to the pet store and asked which fish would be the last to be bought and she purchased him and happily took him home and christened him Bumble. My girl loves hard. She loves her family hard. She loves her friends hard. She loves animals hard. I had to convince her at age 3 that it just wouldn’t be possible for her to be an animal when she grew up. When her friends played Princess tea party…she was their dog. She went around on all fours (not knees–hands and feet) fluidly. Once she even bit her brother. Okay that wasn’t cool.

So did I mention she loves animals. And she loved Bumble. She would tell us in great detail how she was setting up his tank and caring for him. He was her companion when she had no one else besides the Lord. He was her joy. She got him a little snail companion, Zagger and together they were the dynamic duo. We heard a lot about B and Z before Amanda finally moved in 5 long months later and this mama breathed a sigh of relief that at least her girl had her best friend with her now. They eventually got a much bigger apartment and a dog–a pit bull mix named Hazelnut. Those girls love that dog and she is doted on and spoiled as any dog should be. But in the meantime, Bumble was lagging. Not because of the dog…just things were happening and he wasn’t thriving.

Eventually he got caught in the filter, tore a fin and somehow managed to get an eye infection of some sort that made it look like he lost an eye. My daughter researched and did everything she could for him: Prayed for him diligently, got antibiotic eyes drops, liquid fed him with a dropper because he was having trouble seeing the food properly. Safeguarded him from getting caught in the filter ever again. But in the end– it wasn’t enough. He died this morning. His friend Zagger was keeping vigil over him the night before which I think was just the sweetest thing.

She took the day off work. They held a very precious, meaningful funeral and buried him by the river in the park near their apartment. I can’t spoil it by describing it–it’s too sacred. She called me this evening in tears. And I tried to comfort her and she is going to be okay but she’s hurting and I’m so far away.

So I know some of you might protest it’s “just a fish”. But it’s really not. And I’m fully aware of it. It was a friend. A good friend. And he will be missed. Bumble gave Laura someone to come home to when she was making a brave transition and as a mom I appreciated him for that. Thanks, Bumble. You were a good friend to my girl and I love you. I know you must be in heaven swimming around in some beautiful crystal blue pond waiting to be reunited with a girl who loved you to the moon and back.

Mahalo nui loa.

A hui hou.

Mother’s Day 2020

Honeysuckle

Today started with the love of my life bringing me left over birthday cake with a newly whipped up batch of dairy-free icing… the original had cream cheese icing which was yummy in the tummy but my tummy was not very happy with me for indulging. So C. made a new batch, scraped off the old and put on the new. It’s called hummingbird cake and is very light and fruity–like fancy banana bread with a just sweet enough coconut cream/df cream cheese option. Check it out if you are grain and dairy free! We also had an edible arrangements fruit basket delivered. Courtesy of our eldest and his wife who live in Florida.

My son who lives at home brought me a card which reflected his minimalist style of artwork (read there wasn’t any-– I had to ask for a picture of a turtle)…My daughter called from Seattle to chat a while and then we decided to go on a hike. Which is when something perfectly tragical happened: As I went out the front door, I was confronted with a dead mama cardinal laying on our porch. Poor thing. So we had to bury her underneath the gas meter. We did see more cardinals on our hike which made me think of her. I hope she didn’t have any babies at home waiting on her. My daughter said, “Maybe she was single!” I have never had anything like that happen. This year my daughter sent me a basket of goodies of items made in Washington state which is a very nice idea: Scone mix, honey, honey fig spread, soap and chocolate covered cherries where among the goodies.

Wildflowers

So I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of outdoor life in Texas. I love to meander through the woods and watch for birds and butterflies, trees and wildflowers, lakes and scenic views–not rubbish, scrub and worst of all–snakes. But my husband wanted to try a trail about twenty minutes from us and it was actually the best I’ve been on since we’ve been here. The location of this trail was on the Trinity River and we did briefly glimpse a water snake but thankfully none in our direct path. Winnie the Schnauzer had her romp in the river and then we quickly moved on. While we were wandering, we had excellent cell reception which was good since my son called and we got to hike virtually with him and see our grandbaby, who was having a grumpy afternoon. There were lots of lovely butterflies perched elegantly on dainty bouquets of Queen Anne’s lace. Mama and daddy cardinals deftly darted into and out of trees. It definitely exceeded my expectations. There is a little rocky beach portion but we didn’t want to bring our dogs down to the beach with the other people down there. They can be a little exuberant, shall we say. But all that said, I was pleasantly surprised by this hike and hopeful that maybe we can find more places to hike to satisfy my nature cravings.

When we came home we ate lunch and watched our church service and then my youngest went out to play for a bit while my husband opted for a nap. Later we will likely do our weekly Sundaes with Shakespeare but it’s been a very relaxed kind of day. Sunday is such a hard day sometimes…I try to enjoy all the hours in it but Monday peeking just around the corner is somewhat disconcerting. I have been reading to my grandson on Monday evenings so that helps a bit but I enjoy my husband being home with us and it does seem like we just don’t see enough of him during the week. I try to not have a favorite day of the week–to just take it one day at a time. But I can’t help being partial to Friday after my husband gets home. It’s just so nice to have a break in routine and get to spend more time together. But I’m working hard to be grateful for the moments that we do get.

The dark cloud in all of this weekend has been my hanai sister’s mom being in the hospital and not doing well and having no one to advocated for her. I know this is so hard for L and she feels so helpless, as do I . Her dad is taking it hard, having already been laid off during corona virus and now he can’t even be with his very ill wife. She had her gallbladder removed and now is suffering from complications of it including an intestinal tear and pancreatitis. They almost lost her last night. Jesus please lay your healing hands on N and be with her, comfort her and surround her with compassionate caregivers. May she be allowed to go home soon and recover fully. We pray in Your name. Amen.

I hope you have a lovely mother’s day and fond memories of your own mother and of being a mother, no matter what stage of life you are in. Motherhood matters and if you choose to make it your exclusive “career”, meaning you intentionally chose to make your family your focus or if you work outside the home, you have the most important job. I am grateful for the opportunity to stay home through the years and educate my own children and pour into them; to make special memories and find encouragement in knowing God can work my shortcomings as a person and a mother into His good plan for me and for those I love. And He can do this for you as well, if you will let Him. It can be a struggle but it is possible to see beauty in the humanity that all of us share and to appreciate each other for just being who we are–flawed and fabulous mamas who love our children deeply.

The not so young and the restless…

So here we are on Friday, April 24, 2020 and we are still quarantining from the Coronoavirus, otherwise known as Covid-19. My thirteen-years-old easy-going child is going bonkers–so much so that I’ve relaxed our “draconian” internet rules and allowed more time playing on the Switch with his elder brother in Florida.

DH was off early today since he’s been working so hard this week. We had school (more or less), allergy shots, half an hour wait (in the car) after allergy shots, grocery store, home, friend’s house to drop off her food because her kids are sick, Costco and finally home. Whew! Actually I felt bad but I had to send DH out for charcoal so he should be home in a minute. But he managed to squeeze in a nap!

Tonight is family movie night. Thinking about the Ford v. Ferrari movie…we’ll see. I’m taking a break from exercise. We’ve also listened to one of our favorite authors read his books every night on Facebook. That has truly been the highlight of our evenings and though I can’t be sure, I think it has rescued my extrovert son from the brink of insanity so shout out to Andrew and the Peterson family for sacrificing their time. We truly appreciate it.

Our garden is alive but strangely doesn’t seem to be providing any fruit. We’ll try to get some Black Kow tomorrow. Home Depot was closed at six. Many stores have abbreviated hours, if they are open at all. We are also having some brickwork done to contain the landscaping on the front of the house. Cause everyone knows how wild those bushes and shrubs get!

I’m planning a trip out of state in a few weeks, tentatively, of course. To see our best friends, who have known us about 30 years. It will give us something to look forward to, even if we do have to maintain our schoolwork. We’ve just taken too many days off this year! We’re also hoping to get up to Broken Bow, OK soon just for a little family weekend getaway.

What are y’all planning to do this weekend? How are you remember to be grateful rather than grumbly? There truly is much to be thankful for, even during this global pandemic.

Post-Easter Quarantine

So it’s a week after Easter and it looks as though the quarantine may be slowly drawing to a close. There is talk of shops opening next Friday via Governor Abbott and phases to return to normalcy as far as travel is concerned. Church is still online and I haven’t heard of anything regarding when we can meet in person again. It’s going to be interesting…getting back to normal. People talk about the ‘new normal’ but I’m not so sure this is going to have the long term impacts people are predicting. Maybe I’m wrong.

My life, thankfully, has stayed very much the same except that I’m not running to activities in the afternoon which leaves me more time for reading, baking or taking a nap. I rather like the disruption–aside from people getting sick and dying, that is. As an introverted HSP, this break has rather fed my desire for aloneness to the point where I may now be a certified hermit! And I do need to be willing to ease back out into the world. For me, perhaps, this will be the biggest challenge. I am hopeful though, that because of this unplanned hiatus, perhaps many more families have experienced a togetherness that has eluded them for many months or even years. I do hope that many experienced family memories that may change the way they do life on a daily basis–making more time for what’s essential–relationships. Less bustle and hustle, more living, loving and laughing–together.

Yesterday we went to the nursery for some plants and had to stand in line to gain admittance. Only 20 people at a time. Seemed a little excessive to me but it was a gorgeous day and so I waited 20 minutes and then we got what we came for, stood in another long line to pay and then left. Everyone was friendly, helpful and considerate. It did look odd to see most wearing masks but I can get over that. At the grocery store, which I haven’t been to in more than a month, EVERYONE was wearing them…staff and customers. We kind of stood out like a sore thumb. But they didn’t eject us…

My husband, thankfully, has a job and has been considered essential so though he has been working from home a little more, which I like, we just have not had that much disruption. I have a restricted diet so we seldom eat out, my husband has done all the grocery shopping/errand running so as to not unnecessarily expose us, as he already has been exposed at work. And my son’s guitar lessons have gone online so that has gone pretty well.

My heart hurts for those who have lost jobs or faced other substantial hardships because of the coronavirus. But sometimes I think people get a little too bent out of shape at things like sporting events, graduations etc. Maybe because I’m not a team athlete or maybe just because I’m an introvert, I consider these small sacrifices to make for the good of others who cannot fight this terrible virus without great peril to their lives.

At the end of the day, I’m grateful God is still on the throne, I’m grateful I don’t know anyone who has had a confirmed case of the virus, perhaps because they couldn’t get tested or simply chose not to and I’m grateful to have plenty of food and basic necessities. It will definitely be a memory that no one forgets very soon, I’ll give you that, but for me, that’s about all it will be. And for that I am truly grateful.

What about y’all?

Easter is Alive and Well!

Amidst speculation that Easter, this year, might be canceled, those who know our Saviour chuckle at the thought of such an impossibility. Easter be canceled? Umm… no. Not possible. Our God is the God of the impossible and since on Easter He overcame Death, I don’t think a little coronavirus global pandemic is going to hold Him back.

Will church buildings be empty? Probably.

Will egg hunts be canceled? Good chance.

Will family dinners be postponed? If you’re following guidelines.

But Easter itself–the glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ will go on no matter what is happening on this planet.

We spent a good portion of ours online–first at Sunday School, then Church and then with our grown children and our grandbaby. Hours and hours online. Group chats. Chatting about Espresso machines, wayward pups, listening to loud baby protests and attempts at being a T-rex. Yes, normally phone chats are not my favorite but today, it made me very happy and content. My heart is full. And this low-tech gal is very grateful for the technology that allowed me to be with my family.

We had a lovely dinner. My sweet husband usually blesses me by cooking on the holidays and today was no exception. He graced our table with garlic and honey wild-caught Salmon, roasted sweet potatoes (my absolute favorite) and delectable stir-fry veggies that give frozen veggies a good name! We used our fancy plates and gold flatware…cloth napkins! We laughed. We cheered my youngest on during his first all-over-the-place, hard-clue egg-hunt with the grand prize being a book from one of his favorite authors. The guys munched jellybeans and peeps. This girl enjoyed So Delicious Butter Pecan Ice cream. As is our custom on Sunday evenings, we read a scene from Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale). And we topped of the evening by watching Amazing Grace, a movie about William Wilberforce, the great British MP who led the charge against abolishing slavery in the United Kingdom. A beautiful, complete day of bliss, all without leaving the house.

Easter comes each year with all her fun traditions and profound gratitude for a Savior who would leave His perfect “virus-free” world to come and save us who without Him would be utterly hopeless. Because of His sacrifice on the cross, we can spend eternity with Him, starting right now! We don’t live in a perfect world yet, with perfect bodies–that is what we look forward to but we still have “His presence to cheer and to guide”.

Do you wonder why we are here at all? Do you try to find the meaning of life amidst all the fun, heartache and pain? Sometimes I do too. And sometimes I don’t want to be here. It’s too messy. It hurts. It’s just plain overwhelming. But I am slowly, very slowly, learning that it’s like a dress rehearsal. I am practicing for heaven. I am practicing gratitude and unconditional love and trust. And I fall a thousand times and sometimes I stay down longer than I ought. Sometimes I lose track of who I am and why I’m here. There is despair. There is despondency. There is depression. And then the glorious Light. The Light of Easter. The Light of being lavished with unconditional love no matter how flawed I am. The Light of hope–it won’t always be this way.

All the ugliness is called sin. And it happened thousands of years ago in a garden far, far away when two people chose to go their own way rather than God’s. And God, who has always been and always will be, decided even before the fall that He would have a rescue plan, to rectify our mighty faux pas. And it involved pain, ugliness and death the likes of which none of us has ever known. He sent Jesus, the son, to earth, dressed as a baby to grow up in this world of heartache and then, after just a little more than 30 years, to die the most horrendous, unjust death anyone ever has so that we wouldn’t have to stay separated from Him. He loves me. He loves you. That much.

One day, because I have trust in Jesus death, burial and resurrection to cover my sins, I will live completely in the light. Always. At all times. Like it will never be dark. No sunburns, no pollution, no disease, no death…it will be completely, totally amazing and I am very looking forward to it. I am so glad I don’t have to be good enough to win this prize because certainly I would flub it.

So don’t you see, Easter can’t be canceled. We may be separating alone, via Skype, or with our big family of eleven children but it will go on whatever craziness is happening across the world. The power of the resurrection will be celebrated by everyone who calls Jesus Savior no matter where we can or can’t go. Year in and year out. For better or for worse. In sickness and in Health. Sound like a marriage? Now you’re getting the idea. And though weddings have been postponed during this unusual world event, there is no stopping this wedding. You are invited. Everyone who wants to attend is invited. But few will come. I sincerely hope you will be there.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Great is Thy Faithfulness

Morning by Morning new mercies I see

All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Chisholm and Runyan’s Great is Thy Faithfulness