Faced With ….

“Faced with demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. Faced with brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. Faced with despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope.” -ROBERT EMMONS

Demoralization: The pharmacy workers where I get my prescriptions are exasperated by the rudeness of the public. The pharmacist cannot figure out if it is this prolonged pandemic or the way society has given up on being polite? Some of the techs have even quit. Some of the workers that are most experienced have had to leave to provide child care for their children. The new employees are green and new. They need time to find their way through the insurance mazes and medicare technicalities.

So we took them three balloons and a dozen donuts. On the balloon shaped like a gold star I wrote “Be kind.” Really, kindness does not cost us anything. Hopefully our gratitude towards them with energize them in their work.

Brokenness: Well I have a friend whose daughter is terribly ill. For several weeks they did tests and scans and more tests. Finally the surgeon said okay. He is very experienced and did the “Whipple” procedure. She had a tumor wrapped around several organs. The first few hours of the surgery went well and were done robotically. Then he found the tumor had almost completely blocked an artery and some veins around her liver. When they called in the vascular surgeon he had to open her belly. When it was all over, she had endured something like 14 hours of surgery. She remains in ICU. They had to remove part of her stomach, part of her intestines and part of her pancreas. There is great concern over the length of time her organs were exposed. She and her husband always like to watch Monty Python and have memorized many of the lines. When her mother finally got to speak to her on the phone the patient quoted the movie where they were loading bodies during the plague. One man being carried out lifted his head and said, “I’m not dead yet!” Both mother and daughter had a good laugh. This family has been broken and ground into a dust that now completely depends upon the Lord and His servant the surgeon. Surgeon said this was the worst tumor he had ever dealt with. Praise God, there is NO sign of cancer. The two teenage daughters are struggling with not seeing mom at all. Only husband can go in her room due to pandemic. She continues to get units of blood. This photo was taken the first time PT had her stand up. Still struggling with lots of pain. Father, help their gratitude heal their weary hearts, I pray. Heal her and strengthen her I pray.

Despair: In this prolonged isolation and rapidly spreading pandemic we each need more gratitude to help us combat despair. To me, it seems this despair is being poured over the earth like hot tar. Robert Emmons says gratitude has the power to being hope. Are you familiar with the lyrics to “Great is Thy Faithfulness”?

His faithfulness will see us each through this weird year of 2020 and beyond. Gratitude can heal and restore us, energize us and give us hope. Find three things each day to give thanks for. Be kind. Give thanks.

Bob’s Sense of Humor

Robert 1975 Smoky Mountain National Park

I have often called this man my knight in shining armor. Journaling March 31 of this year I wrote.

“I had an emotional break through of sorts. This morning I noticed my scene out the bedroom window that I have looked at for years. Clearly I saw split rails that were missing or had fallen from the neighbors fence. I thought “fences are broken down.” And in this weird thing we are living through fences are down! During my meditation time I saw the photo of me the day of my dad’s funeral when I was eleven years old. Remembered the grief and fear of being left alone (especially with my mother and sister because I am so much like my dad). As the meditation continued I realized that Bob is the one who for most all of my life has kept me from the alone-ness of that grief and fear. And THAT is why I have been feeling I cannot bear the possibility of ever losing him. Jesus touch me in that place, I pray.

“Later John Eldredge confirmed all that pointing out that places in us from childhood may be calling out during this stay at home season. We need to have mercy and grace for ourselves and others.”

So he is my knight, but also my husband of soon-to-be fifty years. Yep, 50! Here is a cartoon he handed me recently. Did I mention he is the oldest of five and a terrible tease? Click the link below to see what I mean!

https://www.newyorker.com/cartoon/a23696

The Covid-19

Bob passed a page from the New Yorker to me that had some funny definitions on it such as Covid-19: Formerly Covid-15; the amount of weight gained by an average adult during quarantine. Sometimes related to a pan-demic.

Pan-demic: A potentially dangerous increase in the baking of bread in a quarantined home.

Maskhole: An individual who wears a mask in a way that makes it completely ineffective – e.g., below the nose, under the chin, on the back of the head. See the link below for more humor and the complete lexicon!

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/07/20/lexicon-for-a-pandemic

Keep your humor! It’s the only way to fly!!

Just Breathe

Who would have thought last St. Patrick’s day that we would still be fighting pandemic on the 13th of July? Perhaps until someone you know catches the virus people do not take this seriously. Granted many catch it and recover. However, some go home from the ICU in wheelchairs and some in beds, having to learn how to walk again. Our daughter was tested and got a positive result for Covid 19 last week. Stunning. So now we wait.

“To wait, biblically speaking, is not to assume the worst, worry, fret, make demands, or take control. Nor is waiting inactivity. Waiting is a sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and belief. To wait is to ‘rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him’ (Psalm 37:7).” Max Lucado

I wait. I pray. I try to remember to breathe. And I post, asking you to pray for her immediate family (2 adults, 2 teens) and ours (2 seniors with underlying health issues).

Max Lucado wrote ” Waiting is a sustained effort to stay focused on God through prayer and belief.” I have found it increasingly difficult to stay focused on God through these four months. The monotony of repetitive actions gets to me: (Didn’t I just change this toilet paper roll? Didn’t I just fill these same prescription boxes?) Changing the wall calendar page has gotten startling! How did we get from March to mid-July?

Many believers have told me they believe that this world-wide pandemic is a massive effort by the forces of darkness to separate us from one another and from God. The level of warfare I have experienced has me leaning that direction.

Hebrews 12:1-2a (NIV2011)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

NOW I have my work cut out for me! Throw off not casually get out from under, but THROW OFF everything that hinders. I have changed up my devotional time. There are days when I let the Bible app read to me in an attempt to immerse myself in Scripture. Morning Prayer, devotional writings, whatever feeds my weary soul.

If I read a chapter of Proverbs a day, I am finished with the book in one month. Psalms can be broken up into just about 5 chapters a day. I have gone so far as to break up Psalm 119 into days as it is VERY long for reading in just one sitting – at least for me! Fix my mind, fix my eyes, fix my ears upon the Lord God Almighty. The hymn below was written by Helen Howarth Lemmel, a woman from Batavia, Ohio! Yep, that is where I live. 🙂 The chorus is sung more than the hymn in most churches. Too bad they leave out the verses! Here is a quartet from the continent of India who do a wonderful arrangement of Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I pray you will.

More Humor From a Friend!

For me, it would be much more than 20 seconds!!
That is Hilarious!!
Made me laugh out loud!!

Hope you are staying in and staying well! PLEASE wear a mask. Please. Just spoke with a neighbor whose wife has MS. She gets an infusion twice a year that basically kills her immune system. If you passed her on the way to or from the infusion you would not know. If you sneezed on her before her white cells grew back, you could kill her. They have two young boys. Please, wear your mask!

I like the nurses who remind people “If you think a mask is an inconvenience, you should try a ventilator!” My husband was on a ventilator once. It is frightening and more than uncomfortable. In fact, it is so bad they have to put you in a medically induced coma to tolerate it.

Complaining

While riding a bus I once asked a man how he was doing. He responded, ” Can’t complain. Complaining don’t do no good anyways.” I recently heard another person state, “I can’t complain. But I do!”

You might have read my blog entitled “1983 and 2020.” I was complaining about my frustrations during this pandemic. I recently read an article in Time magazine, dated June 15, 2020, entitled “The Guilt of Complaining About Anything Right Now” by Susanna Schrobsdorff. I want to link you to her article, https://time.com/author/susanna-schrobsdorff/ Definitely worth the read.

She notes, “Helplessness, the feeling of being stuck and anxiety about the future are textbook harbingers of mental distress. And there are no rules about who gets to acknowledge that distress. We have to find enough compassion for ourselves that we can admit it if we’re not really O.K. and recognize that, even if we have our basic needs met, this can still be awful. It’s not indulgent to mention it; it’s smart to ask for help. This is as important as avoiding the virus because we’ll need mind and body and soul to help each other through this marathon.”

Yes, it is a marathon. We got my new car. It smells that lovely chemical mixture that says new. It came with 33 miles on the odometer. I took a long drive with a friend on Thursday. Averaged 38.2 mph. Have been deciding what goes into it and what does not need to be in it. Bought a basket to organize the back seat. Bought a windshield sun screen that will be easier to find than the all black one I already own.

Awoke today after a fitful nap. Grouchy and knew this was pandemic blues marching around in my head. Yes, we need to be kind to ourselves. We each need to know when to ask for help and how to get that help. And we need each other to get through this. I was NEVER good at running. Dreaded that 20 yard dash in school (years ago when gym class was ugh). Not what you would call a physically coordinated being. A marathon never ever crossed my mind. But as a metaphor for long distance endurance being needed, I get that!

So, never an athlete, but I did admire these guys! Maybe we can adopt this attitude and help each other along.

Susanna is right: “we’ll need mind and body and soul to help each other through this marathon.”

Heraclitus

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying change is the only constant in life. A native of Ephesus, he was born in 535 BC and died 475 BC. His saying has also been translated that the only constant is change.

Heraclitus, depicted in engraving from 1825, Wikipedia

And then there is: Change is inevitable. Come to expect it.

Recently I heard Joseph Goldman teach “Awareness of change and impermanence leads us to greater ease in our lives.”

I have a very long way to go before I accomplish what Goldman was teaching. Aware, yes. Accepting, much much harder to get there. How are you doing with all the changes in our lives these days? Have you been able to find the latest Covid-19 data in the midst of other news? Outbreaks of the virus barely being reported or commented upon. SO many people here in Ohio running around in public with no masks and no intention of wearing a mask.

There are many things that this country needs to change. I agree with that. Getting humans to embrace change gracefully is another matter all together.

Can we become pliable in the hands of God and embrace changes as they come to us? We often said that my mother-in-law would have been happier if she could have embraced changes instead of fighting against them as they arose. Wondering now if Bob and I will be enabled to embrace what we must as this pandemic rolls on and the years catch up with us.

As my dear Episcopalian brothers and sisters taught me, “I will, with God’s help.” And I knowingly emphasize, “ONLY with God’s help.”

 For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

Hebrews 13:8 MSG