The Blurry Pandemic

 

The CO-VID parasite take over is the weirdest thing I’ve known. As a child, my cousin got scarlet fever and that was weird too, since she came to our house and was in quarantine for ten days in a contained bedroom; my mom took care of her around the clock. But there were medicines for that in the 1950’s.

This pandemic is different. Its contagion ability is strong and far reaching. It has no exact cure. Except for places it cannot find people in close proximity, it thrives and spreads. It’s worldwide. Those who travel with it (even if unknowingly) successfully transfer it to new regions. A single case of it arriving in New York multiplied in six weeks to thousands. An older woman visiting family in Spain returned to the states, then traveled to South America (with a fever) and transferred it to her family there. Both she and her sister died from the virus.

I’ve gone round and round to comprehend it. My conclusion? It belies understanding. The conflicting reports are confusing and unresolved. Have you heard them?

  1. it’s insidious/no, it’s no worse than the flu except for those with preexisting conditions or the elderly who aren’t equipped in their immune system to resist it
  2. it’s spreadable only by droplets in the air from a coughing or sneezing person/no–it’s highly contagious and just being near it can give it to you
  3. wearing a mask slows it down/masks are only for those who have a cold, to keep germs in
  4. gloves are good/no, not necessarily
  5. hydrychloroquine turns most patients around in a few days/hydrychloroquine is unproved and has serious side effects
  6. the sheltering in place is working/no, the sheltering isn’t making much difference; numbers are still climbing
  7. the wave will die by May/the wave will go into the summer and flare again in the fall
  8. heat doesn’t kill it/summer might very well lower the numbers some
  9. if the healthy are not exposed (most can fight it off), not enough people will develop antibodies and reduce the numbers the next time it hits/no, the herd immunity plan isn’t conclusive or trustworthy
  10. Sweden and some U.S. states aren’t sheltering in place and not any worse off than the countries who are/no, they will suffer the consequences, just wait and see
  11. the virus began in a Wuhan China lab or wet market/no it didn’t…we don’t know how it began
  12. China infected all of us/no, China did a good job of keeping it contained the best they could
  13. the W.H.O. has ties with China and is hiding the facts/WHO supports China’s story that the virus was dealt with correctly
  14. President Trump’s not truthful, isn’t doing a good job or enough, says what he thinks makes him look good and pats himself on the back,  isn’t getting the tests out to the states/ or…Pres. Trump is under immense strain, is in the same boat we are, has only partial knowledge about what’s best so went with the sheltering in place, hoping for the best/has our best interests in mind
  15. Dr. Fauci’s the expert and has the best ideas and we should follow him even to a 2021 lock-down/Dr. Fauci knows a lot but can’t prove sheltering is working
  16. A cure for the virus will take a year or more/we may never have an anti-virus for CO-VID; there’s been no anti-virus for HIV+ years later
  17. nursing homes might be a breeding ground for CO-VID/no, most nursing homes take extreme precautions and fight the infection quite well
  18. the state is overstepping our civil liberties with a lock-down/ no, we have to obey this–they have jurisdiction when a state of emergency or war is declared

My son in law works (virtually now) for the CDC and has no inside story on it. He says it depends on who you talk to regarding any question or ability of the virus.

At best, the picture is blurred. Only God knows what this is and what its outcome shall be. If reporting is bent on creating despair and panic, or disparaging or glorifying our president, take heed.

Arizona’s cases don’t follow a norm. We have outbreaks and high numbers in Maricopa County but not necessarily in only metropolis zones. Many are rural cases, including the Navajo nation in the northeast corner, where it attacks those in poverty/poor health or living far from medical help. We also have a vast number of older retirees. And care facility residents. When breakouts occur in some of these homes, this conflates numbers.

Besides those in the 65 and older group, we have high numbers of cases in the 20-40 age group. Do the younger adults not have enough antibodies in their system to fight this, as was the case in the Spanish influenza of 1918?  Is this group not staying at home? Did some have compromised health before they got infected?

We don’t know. We can’t judge. I gently conclude with three questions and a caveat.

  1. How is the virus really caught?
  2. How can we know if sheltering in place truly keeps numbers down? (It’s been six weeks, with a lock-down and Arizona’s numbers are still climbing. Recently reported death/cases are about 300/5700+, but cases continue to come forward. Why?)
  3. Can you curtail something silent and invisible?

For Christians, we might wonder what God is doing. Things don’t happen without reason/s. He has things to show us. Better than wondering is praying—for His healing, His help, for scientists to discover His solution, and for His comfort to those in deep grief. Praying is a golden chance to cooperate with the divine. Let us yield to the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6. And to the Greek song/prayer:

Kyrie Eleison: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.

 

 

Tasty Chicken or Pasta Salad

 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups prepared lean chicken or 2 cups prepared elbow or scallop shell pasta/drained

1 cup chopped celery

¼ cup diced scallion or yellow onion

3-4 baby carrots, slivered

½ cup Olive Oil Best Foods mayo or Miracle Whip, low calorie

½ pkg. onion soup mix, any brand

2 t. mustard of your choice

¼ cup pickle relish, dill or sweet

1 pkg. Stevia ( a gram) OPTIONAL

fruit of your choice:  ½ C. craisins/raisins/sliced and peeled apple/pineapple chunks

½ cup cashews or peanuts

2 hard boiled eggs, prepared & chilled

Season with:  1 t. garlic powder, 1 t. marjoram, 1 t. tarragon, 1/2 t. health salt, 1 t. pepper, 1 t.  lemon pepper

Directions:

  1. Chop chicken into small chunks. Put in mixing bowl.
  2. Chop celery and onion into small pieces, add to bowl.
  3. Slice carrots into slivers, add.
  4. Add the pickle relish, mustard, mayo, and Stevia.
  5. Peel and slice the eggs and gently cut them into slivers and fold them in.
  6. Fold in the fruit and the nuts.
  7. Chill for two hours and enjoy. Serves 4-5.

What’s Going On?

 

 

 

I think it’s official, the world has lost its sense of balance. Yes, we have a pandemic going on, yes, it’s serious, and yes we need to take precautions.  But is all this fear and panic justified?

In order to buy our groceries and not feel like a packaged sardine, I have to shop when things are not crazy.  And when would that be?  I dislike ordering things online.  Supposed early hours for those over sixty-five doesn’t help since there’s a large constituency of that here in Tucson.  Not much advantage. Add to those numbers folks who disregard the age recommendation and come anyway.

This morning I decided to try Costco at 8 a.m., being told the first hour on Tuesdays was for seniors.  I figured I’d avoid the initial rush and go about ten minutes late. Ready to leave, I couldn’t find my car keys. An indoor hunt led to nothing. I tried the car itself; there they lay on the driver’s seat. Huh? I left for my mission, only to round the corner and face an orange sign: STREET CLOSED.  Two obstructions in five minutes.

Obstruction three. Arriving at Costco was shocking.  The left turn lane was filled halfway back to the post freeway intersection.  Oh joy. Waiting to even turn IN took the patience of Job. Policemen arrived, found places to park, put on their fluorescent vests to direct traffic, of course after I made my left-hand turn.  By now, I gave up any hope of being able to park much less get through the Costco doors. I wasn’t mad, but it wasn’t something I wanted to navigate. I consoled myself that I could get away and go home easily by taking the business loop around to the next intersection.

Wrong. Bumper to bumper cars prevented a speedy exit for anyone. Now I was getting mad, another obstruction. And of course, this most northern intersection into Costco was not policed and people do what people do best, enter the intersection tentatively when the light turns green instead of stepping on the gas. I was stuck in that passageway twenty minutes, creeping my way to the light. Ten cars short of it, a cop arrived from the other direction to make his way to park and set up shop at the light. Of course.

Before I drove much further, I looked for a place to pull over, to adjust a 25 pound weight rolling around in my RAV trunk.  I’d forgot about it, before this errand. (An anchor cylinder for the dogs’ running leash at the park.) Its presence scared me, imagining it could slam its way out the rear door. I pulled over and hauled it to the floor of the second seat.

By now, a blog piece was forming in my mind. I decided to take a photo of the road sign that said STREET CLOSED, a symbol for what’s going on these days. But I left my phone at home. Obstructions five and six, the dangerous weight and forgetting my phone. When I returned to the site with my phone, the sign was gone; the street crew was loading up! So I parked and walked to the one around the corner that said STREET CLOSED AHEAD when I heard a beep beep.  I looked down to see my phone die right then and there. Obstruction seven.

What’s going on? Our world is upended. Unless you live in the arctic or jungle or Sahara Desert, you’re impacted by the obstruction and restrictions of this insidious Corona virus. My exciting March calendar was trashed; the events were once-in-a-lifetime things, big sacrifices for me. So events are cancelled, church is postponed, schools and stores closed, restaurants forbidden to serve, gatherings frowned upon; it goes on.

Normally, I try to take things in stride, albeit I have to work at that. I err on the side of skepticism; it’s been hard to agree to quarantining. I accept that the Lord’s in control– Christianity 101 says so, however that doesn’t mean things are easy nor that I have to like obstructions. God has an enemy and evil is having a heyday.

But Satan’s pot stirring has its limits, praise God. One morning I’ll get up, know where my keys are, be able to go to the store and not find half of Tucson in the parking lot, not get stuck in unnecessary traffic, not be endangered with a heavy weight, and not be so careless as to leave my phone behind. Whether the blame is on myself, life’s circumstances, God’s enemy, general stress, sin, Murphy’s Law, or a threatening virus, God’s still in charge. I want to find better ways to cope than giving in to despair and anger.

This is too big of a crisis not to acknowledge the inherent Big Ideas in it. Years ago, when my first marriage was heading toward a shoreline of rocks, I came to realize God’s presence with me.  Things were so awful, dark and overwhelming that all I could see were dark clouds. I despaired, picked up my Streams in the Desert devotional, and turned to the day’s entry. There, I read that God dwells in the clouds. My balance came back, my burden was lifted.

God’s in this. Bad things can happen. When they do, He’s still there, wanting to show us stuff we haven’t yet seen. Who knows what amazing things will come out of this storm?  Instead of pining for the items I wanted to bargain buy at Costco, I can trust Him to show and give me things a lot more important than a bucket of dates.

We are growing as a country and medicines are coming forward. Ideas showing how to be better prepared are forming. On a personal level, I recognize other things. Here’s my starting list.

  1. Remain calm and quell my agitation.
  2. Pray to stop being selfish and lamenting my inconveniences and losses.
  3. Let God speak to me. Read the Bible and journal.
  4. Pray big, pray for myself, for others, for families whose loved ones have died, for the infected and those with other illnesses in the midst of this turmoil. Pray for the countries and areas hardest hit. Pray for a vaccine and ingenious scientists. Pray for those caring for and bringing medical supplies to the needy. Pray for those out of work and pressed for money to pay bills. Pray that the animus is quenched in our country, and for those deciding how to best help us. For our economy and other countries struggling. Pray for selfish agendas to be crucified. And for myriads to come to Jesus.
  5. Who can I help financially wisely?

What’s on your personal list?

We have two small dogs, one who got to be with us from her weaning and one probably on the streets for a year. You can guess which one is the calmer, happier dog. Lucy-Hazel missed an entire year of our love, assurance and correction. We must train and re-program her and hope she can calm down and realize she’s safe and doesn’t have to be so defensive, nurture balance in her life.

Perhaps this is a time for us to draw closer to God. Only He can lift the burdens from our shoulders. I believe that street sign was removed on purpose, so I’d see that yes, there are road closures at times in our lives.  But our Lord removes them when the work He’s doing is completed.

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; He won’t permit the righteous to fall.”   ~ Psalm 55:22:

 

 

A Slow Heal

 

James was Jesus’s brother who became a believer after Jesus died.  In his new testament book, he encourages us to pray when we or others are sick.  Check out the beginning verses of his fourth chapter. “Is any among you suffering? …sick? Let him… call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up.  Pray for each another, that you may be healed.”

Our bodies are unarguably mortal. The older you get, the more you know it. But it isn’t age alone that can attack. We are victim to all manner of earthly diseases, sicknesses and upsets of the universe’s order.

Lately, I’ve witnessed a flurry of physical and emotional afflictions, not only in my family, but in myriads of others for whom I care. Pneumonia, painful migraines, fibromyalgia, stomach or elimination discomforts, nerve damage, back pain, depression, marital disharmony, heart irregularities, vertigo, surgery and its after effects, vehicular accident injuries, precarious pregnancy, cancer, addiction situations, job injustices, and death of a beloved.

It is all too much.

I take James’s words seriously. “Pray for the sick, that you may be healed.”

I believe the Lord wants to heal those who follow Him or desire to know more about Him though He may call us to heaven (a complete healing), when our time has come. He waits for us to turn to Him, and calls to us so we’ll turn to Him.  Apart from Him, we may as push out to sea in a rowboat, alone, with no life jacket or engine and think we can weather the sun, wind and waves. What ludicrousness!

But with Him, we are helped. He is the Great Physician and all who come to Him are helped.

He gives freely of His many gifts, and tailor suits us to what is best, individually. He doesn’t line us all up and go down the row, giving each of us a bag of survival things like water, magic pills or potions, nor promise to cure our ailments. He is a personal Lord.  He meets your need in a finely tuned and specific manner designed for you. With your good in mind. Nice!

He may heal you slowly. He may make you wait. Don’t think He’s not healing you if your suffering is unbroken. Don’t think He hasn’t seen your affliction if at the diminuendo of your life (which to Him is the crescendo into Heaven) He takes you to Himself. He’s there. Exodus 48:35 says that He named Jerusalem “He is with you.”

If your illness or disorder continues, He’s there.  You may feel no happy in your life, but He’s there. He may be silent for an interim, but He’s there. You may have temporary relief and then the pain returns.  He’s still there.  Or He may lift from you the source of your suffering, the most overt example that He’s there. He’s there is all of it. I wonder if He uses pain and suffering to give us something new, something we’ve not noticed or been exposed to. He doesn’t just want to heal us, He wants us to experience Himself. If per chance illness or suffering is a way to get our attention, it is actually quite a wonderful and unconventional gift.

Recently, I began to have great discomfort with inexplicable acid reflex that made me concerned. Since I’m the recipient of a repaired hernia, removed gall bladder and esophageal replacement, it made me fear that my digestive dysfunction had returned. I was able to find intermittent reprieve, but not a cure.  I asked the Lord heal me, bring me relief. My worse times of the day were evenings.

While in Georgia visiting my daughter, I was watching a trio sing in a Sunday worship service.  I was having reflex discomfort at that precise moment. The singing was so moving, I cried softly.  I asked the Lord to please help me and lift the pressure in my esophagus; I told Him I was at His mercy and without His help, I knew I couldn’t recover. As the trio kept singing, I kept crying. When the last song came, Redeemed, its words melted me, and I begged God to redeem me from my pit. I whispered, “Jesus, please lift this condition from me.” Slowly, I felt a small moving inside, a little relief from the esophagus pressure, then a little more and a little more and I knew it was God’s touch. It felt like how you feel when you’re really sick and wonder how you’re ever going to feel better, when all of a sudden you feel GOOD, ready for a meal or ready to exert some energy. Like that!  I thanked God, and asked Him to forgive me for worrying that this might only be temporary yet praying it wouldn’t be.  It was a slow heal, but a sound one. I still feel relief from the pressure and like myself again. Wow! Though I still have minor issues, I know God touched me. He is there.

I love the song, “I Am the God that healeth Thee,” by Don Moen, and sing it over myself and for others wanting to be healed. It’s on U Tube.

“I am the Lord, who healeth thee.

I am the Lord, your healer.

I sent my Word, and healed your disease,

I am the Lord your healer.

Exodus 15:26, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.”

Psalm 107:20, “He sent His word and healed us.”

 

A Fine Sailor

       I so appreciate having the Lord as my strength and captain in this life.  Without Him to part the waters and direct the ship, I’d be lost at sea. Or capsized and drowned. I’m a very bad sailor. Wearing a life jacket is a fine thing, but it doesn’t protect the boat from crashing into the rocks. Jesus is far more than a life jacket. He’s our pilot.

       I know how to row a boat, that’s not it.  I knew my way around the Michigan lake where my family spent its summers.  Sometimes Dad took us to the marina in Mipadeka or the motor boat to buy groceries. (Mipadeka was our rowboat, named by using the first two letters of our names in order: Mike, Pat, Debby and Karen.) But navigating life is quite another thing. Life’s an ocean, wide and dangerous, stormy and deep; some mornings I resist rising from bed, as if that avoids challenges. Life is wary and can bring sudden trials from around a corner.

Some are easy enough to handle, a simple notice about an overdue lost library book. A friend asking for prayer. A doctor postponing an appointment. A warning light in your vehicle.

Others are not. Like waking up with a weird, unidentifiable stab of pain in your back, first on the right, then the left.  What?  Or finding I’ve disappointed or made someone angry, someone important enough to trouble me. A car accident causing injury, yet you survived. Even worse is a diagnosis of a serious disease or condition that was heretofore well hidden in your body.

God is there for us. He’s not an absent friend. He knows. If we’re on his team, he’s not only stepped into our boat, he’s commanding the choppy waters. And well. He’s a fine sailor.  Though I sometimes put myself at the helm of the boat forgetting he’s there, Praise God, I usually come to my senses quickly and relinquish the boat to him. How swiftly he does rush to me, when I pray.  How wonderfully he sends wisdom to solve the puzzle, strength to shoulder the burden, or miraculously lift the load. And in the worst case scenario, even if we feel alone, we are not alone.

“Now it happened, on a certain day that He got into a boat with His disciples.  And He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.’ And they launched out.”  ~Luke 8: 22

Dearest Lord, would you remind us you’re in the boat? You launched it, and you’re navigating. Please minister to people we observe with pronounced needs.  Please forgive our sin, for ways we misstepped, or had no vision to see.  Give us grace to make amends.  Please lift the sorrow and pain of life, if that’s possible.  Help us find things we’ve misplaced, or learn to live without the persons or things no longer ours to hold. Grant us wisdom and counsel to respond to others as you would. Bind evil. Please bring healing to our body and mind or loved one’s, enabling us to walk in fellowship with You, to know your peace and be comforted by Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

re mark a ble

 

When I planned yesterday, I hoped for good. I did not imagine remarkable.  Remarkable is worthy of attention, striking.  I couldn’t have known.

Emily, in Our Town by Thornton Wilder, is allowed to return to earth for a day.  She is rattled by what she formerly took for granted but now sees as amazing. “Do any human beings ever realize life, while they live it?—every, every minute?” she asks.

Sometimes remarkable are the once in a lifetime situations.  Other times it is a combination of events that mark our day. Often, it can be both.

Foremost on the docket was the slated surgery of a friend who’d called the night before to ask for prayer.  Over the phone, she and I and her daughter prayed. The surgery had popped up like a fully inflated beach ball released under water.  The doctors said it was urgent to insert a pick line (with a “pigtail”) into her lung to drain fluid and mucus.  But because of her blood clot status, the blood thinners had to be stopped at a precise juncture.  As a brand new medicine, the timing had never been tried before. A maverick and risky balance was needed.  My friend had already had one stroke; she didn’t need another.

The situation rallied me into unceasing prayer.

I put my friend on a personal prayer chain. And importuned God in a way that surprised myself, as if prayer took over and I was along for the ride.  I pleaded with Him with words I knew and words I didn’t.  They tumbled out, were punctuated, loud, and repeated.  But not vain repetitions. Meaningful poetic and pleading words I prayed until peace came. My wind-blown waters flattened and became smooth and still.

In Madeleine L’Engle’s Circle of Quiet at the end, she speaks of the human mind being like a radio or television set.  “With our conscious, surface selves we are able to tune in only a few wave lengths.  But there are others, and sometimes in our dreams we will pick up a scene from a distant, unknown, seemingly non-rational channel—But is it non-rational?  Or is it another language, using metaphors and similes with which we are not yet familiar?”

This was my experience. I remember asking God to apply my prayers to the timing of the surgery.  (I thought it was occurring at this exact juncture. But hospital delays can occur.)

In the meantime, I had to distract myself. I shoveled dirt out of holes for a cactus and rose bush, was given a cancellation appointment to get my nails repaired, and visited my stepfather across town.   I stopped at a thrift store to distract me more and found a card lover’s garden: professional quality greeting cards at Ben Franklin roll back prices: ten cents each.

The afternoon arrived without a surgery update except for notice it’d been delayed three hours. No matter. God lives in eternity, not bound to this world’s schema. I believe prayer can be retroactive and fast forward.

I finished my lunch.  An awaited for text about the surgery came like a telegram: SUCCESS!  Details to follow.  Thank you, Jesus!

Fighting an infection, I took a nap. But I had a mid-day counseling appointment and set the alarm. But it did not sound. I slept on. I awoke with a bolt two minutes before I had to leave. God had awakened me.  My pastor gave me counsel I desperately needed for an impasse.

Having left the house so quickly, I forgot my phone.  (I miss subbing jobs without it.) But I hadn’t been in the door five minutes when a job came forward for me.

My husband cooked a fabulous Thai noodle dinner, and on the last bite, the doorbell rang.  There had been no confirmation that my high school piano student was coming, but here she was.

Sunset came and with it, the stellar realization that this day had been remarkable.

Are all days full of the stunning?  No, of course not.

But I subscribe to the premise that each day has the remarkable in it.  All we have to do is pay attention in Word and prayer and in comes God to remind us He loves us.

As a girl growing up in the Methodist Church, one of the songs we always sang in the service was the Doxology.  I still love it.

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him all creatures here below!

Praise Him above ye, heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

 

Self Care

Sometimes life demands things of us we don’t feel fit to give. The choices of others might draw us into an eddy. We would drown, if we let it. It may not be the choices of others, but life itself–an illness, an accident, a crisis that arrives at our doorstep and there we are. We have answered the door and cannot say, “I’m not home.”

We must face it. Action of some type is required.

There are, thankfully, many ways to assist, support and care for others. On any level, however, care taking is not for the weak-hearted. And if we neglect to take care of ourselves, we can experience what my daughter said is called “Compassion Fatigue.”

Recently, in reviewing some older Facebook posts, one soothed me. It was a list, “20 Things to Start Doing” from a Pintrist domain.  I wish I knew the identity of the author. Without her permission I cannot post the list, but the following ideas helped me most:

  •  drink more water and green tea
  • eat lighter as the day wears on and start with a big breakfast (using more natural foods)
  • go to bed earlier
  • increase flexibility by stretching
  • do yoga or meditation
  •  find ways to live in a tidy place
  • go outside a lot more

I commend this author’s stellar list.

I love lists. Writing them is empowering for me.

Maybe it is because without them, I flounder.  I get lazy, postpone and waste my time.

Also, with a list, I can check things off.  This motivates me. And if I don’t get around to making my list early in the week,  it’s never too late.  I sometimes write a list on Friday of what I already DID and then check off the boxes one by one.  It feels great.

Best of all, though, a list empowers me to be inspired.  One idea generates another.

This author’s “20 Things to Start Doing” inspires me to practice these seven things, and from them I chose meditative/prayer time as a keystone. Coincidentally, my pastor encouraged the same, months ago. Said to not pray out of obedience or duty, but make it our day’s central piece. When I do, I’ m given rest from the care taking. I read God’s texts, and His thoughts become mine. I am not alone. He cares for me.

Lists aside, self-care is important.  May you be inspired by an idea that puts you in the hammock of God’s mercy, there to rock and soothe your soul.

 

“Cast all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.”  ~1 Peter 5:7