The POWER of thought!

We have been sheltered in place since March 11th, so at the time of this writing, we have been in our home for over 9 weeks, and it looks like there is more to come of this quarantine.

At first we were more than willing to follow the guidelines because the visuals on t.v. convinced us of the danger of this new Coronavirus, especially to those over age 65. But a few young people were also dying from this virus, so, to stay healthy, everyone took the advice to stay home….to shelter in place. For our part, we were forced to give up our much loved part time jobs which we had chosen to do in retirement to remain engaged in society and to fill a purpose.

These days, our days go by without much fanfare. One day is the same as the next unless we decide to go out for a ride for a change of scenery. We live in an urban area on a small corner lot, and we have developed our property into a small sanctuary over the past 22 years. We have created several vignettes, each one with a path leading to it. It is fun because as a person stands on any part of our property, there are glimpses of something of interest just beyond the next corner which invites one to go and investigate.

When I was planning the design of this property, and began planting, I did it in sections. My plan was done with the thought that this would be our retirement playground when we got old. The idea behind it was that if we got bored, we would always be able to go outside and find something to do and something to tend. Along the way, we were gifted with two grandchildren, so some of the planning involved thinking of what they might enjoy. The end result is a nice mix of spaces and most people who come here seem to enjoy what they see.

It isn’t professionally done, so I think that is a big part of the appeal. It comes across as something people haven’t experienced before. It is simply an extension of our imaginings, so when you see our property, you are seeing our inner eye. It is not polished, nor perfected, nor does it include high end costly materials of the type a landscape architect would use when he or she goes to work on drawing plans. Hence, in its imperfection, it is uniquely ours and we love it.

Little did I know, all those years ago, that I would have to use a pick axe and a texas toothpick to break up the caliche rock in preparation for planting. As I imagined us enjoying this space when we were retired, I had no idea that we would be enjoying it during retirement at a time of a world wide pandemic!

We are especially grateful for these outdoor “rooms” now more than ever, not only for the privacy but also for the work they provide for us to do, to keep our minds and bodies healthy. I never go outside where I do not see something that needs a minor trim of some kind. I recently repainted an arbor an apple green and really like how cheerful and inviting it looks.

So, in truth, up to this point anyway, the Pandemic has not caused our life a lot of excess stress with us staying home. We have each other for company as well as the wildlife that have made our property their home.

I went outside yesterday because I had been spending way too much time on the computer reading and watching stories about this Pandemic from endless points of view. Some of the interviews were wonderful because they were a conversation between two intelligent people talking in a calm and thoughtful manner, which was how conversations were conducted in another more civilized time and place. Unfortunately, though, I also came across many that had agendas backed by hate. There are a lot of things I am not happy about with this Pandemic and with how it is being handled, but I don’t feel angry or hate filled because of it. However, I DO feel stressed by the onslaught of angry, hate spewing commentators that make up most of the news in this day and age.

I went outdoors to find relief from this stress, and with small clippers in hand, I began to clip volunteer shoots off the trunks of a line of little Yaupon Holly trees we planted many years ago. I was deep in thought and with every snip I could feel the tension leaving my body. Soon I was completely engulfed in the enjoyment of reshaping these little trees, and at one point, as I was moving a branch in the dense growth of a tree, my attention was drawn to a tiny bird nest hidden deep inside the tree branches, complete with three very small speckled eggs resting inside. I quickly moved the outer protective branch back in place knowing that the Mama could abandon the nest if human touch or scent were left too close. Suddenly, I was brought out of my deep thought by an excited chattering above my head. Of course, it was the Mama bird scolding me for getting too close to her unborn babies.

These 8 little Yaupon Holly trees were planted in a row many years ago, and as I was snipping with my clippers, I had been lost in thought and admiration for how nicely they had grown and filled in. Responding to Mama birds chattering I respectfully moved on down the line, hoping she would see me as a neutral energy that meant no harm to her family.

As I continued from one tree to the next, hand selecting which branch needed pruning, I began to think about the importance of appreciation for where our life is at any given moment, right here and right now. Granted, my husband and I have been affected by the way things are being handled by the authorities, but honestly, we aren’t experiencing the stress and fear that so many are forced to endure. While we would prefer being able to go about our lives as we once did, we are fine with staying home if this helps us add a few more years of life on this planet. We have the resources needed to get us by for the next year if need be.

At the same time, I DO think about those who live with the grief and fear of having their livelihoods yanked away from them. Many of the people who criticize the activists for protesting the shutdown of America are likely doing this because they, themselves, (and their loved ones) are able to continue working from home. Many of those making these decisions are still employed and continuing to collect their paychecks. They may be stressed about being forced to stay at home, but they do not have the stress of loss of income, nor the threat of losing their life savings that went into a business. They don’t have to fear what happens if they cannot make their mortgage or rent payments. They don’t have to wonder how they will feed their families without an income.

We all see this life changing Pandemic from our own perspective which is influenced by where we sit financially in the type of dwelling we live in, what our age is, and how much savings we have. Perspective is actually created by the reality in which we live.

We should ALL be very interested in NOT losing or giving up our rights as described under the bill of rights. A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens. If you are not clear about what these are, it may be a very good idea to look them up. We should want to be very careful about protecting our civil liberties, because once gone, they are unlikely to come back.

I believe that because so many of us in America have been so comfortable for so long, replete with plentiful blessings, we have forgot (or maybe never really understood) why we have it so good. Our country has thrived because of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Very few countries outside the U.S, have a life as good as what we have come to take for granted.

In a conversation the other day I told a friend that I felt sympathetic to a 77 year old Barber I had just read about in the news. The Barber said that he stayed home for 2 months as a courtesy to what the scientists felt was necessary for the good of all. When a third month was added to shelter in place, he picked up his barber supplies and opened his shop because if he stayed closed one more month, he may not have a shop to go back to and he had bills to pay. I told my friend that I could appreciate his concern and understood his need and right to make a living.

My friend said, “Well, people also have a right to not go to his shop.” I immediately agreed with her because this also is true. We all have our individual rights in our free society.

For our part, we will continue to follow all the recommendations because ‘we can‘. It is our contribution to society. At the same time, we recognize that our decision to follow the rules is not the same decision that others will have to make because others have so much more at stake.. These are hard times for everyone, but the outcome for each person will be different. On the rare occasion we leave our house, we wear our masks and our wrap glasses because we know there are likely to be others out there who won’t wear them.

I feel that how this shutdown affects the unemployed and those who have had their businesses shut down WILL have a ripple effect throughout our whole economy with the exception of the very wealthy. They can afford to ride it out. If the stock market crashes, they will have the money to buy low. But the middle class and those living below that level will feel the bite of what is ahead!

I do not profess to know what is best for everyone. Not even close! But, I do feel that in a free society people should be allowed to make their own decisions. I do not think there has ever been a time in our history where healthy people were required to stay home. In the past it was the sick who stayed in doors. Think of the days of tuberculosis! It would all make far more sense to me if the high risk categories of people were to remain in isolation snd protected from those who could infect them. The sick could go to designated places to get better. Everyone else could just go about their business as they see fit. Our economy is dying as fast as the victims of covid and we need to be cognizant of how this will ultimately affect everyone. Inflation has already started if you look at the food prices in stores. Eggs were at $6.19 at one of our stores the other day. Similar increase in cost of goods may end up being the most detrimental result to covid19 coming to our country.

Through my window, I just now saw a bird splashing around in our bird bath. I think I shall go outside and see whats going on out there! I miss my family so much! I miss our friends! I miss our church! I miss my old life! If I make it through this Pandemic alive, I will have a much deeper appreciation for all the things I used to take for granted…lunch with friends, a hug from family, working at a job that made me feel productive, attending church and sitting amongst our church family every Sunday! If there is anything I would pray for, it is that as a society, we will become more love filled than hate filled.

Social media has unleashed in some people a nasty way of communication because they can hide behind their keyboards as they spew their hate filled rhetoric. Why not sit down and negotiate for the betterment of all? I want to go back to kinder times. I want to go to the mythical Mayberry of our youth where life was slow and justice prevailed and lessons were taught in quiet, kind, and thoughtful ways.

I can see now in my minds eye how you might be saying to me, “dream on dear girl…the world is not like that anymore”. I say in return that the good things in life are the result of putting action to dreams! “If you can dream it, you can do it!” So, lets just do it, whatever good ‘it’ may be to you. As they say, we need to BE the change we wish to see in the world. It all begins with me….and you. Baby steps, baby steps…let the white hats of the world gain power in what is good and what is right, for we would all be so much better off.

Now…off to the great outdoors!

Jjb-5/19/2020

Esther’s Loom

pm_livrm (2)After Esther finished washing the dishes from her early morning breakfast with Artie she looked around the kitchen.  Everything was in its place.  She had made the bed right after Art left for work and there wasn’t anything really pressing on her schedule, so she pondered what to do.  Mentally, she did a quick run through of the house to see if she had left anything undone.

The house where she and Artie lived was modest, but perfect for the two of them.  There was a kitchen with upper and lower cabinets that ran along the entire wall opposite the doorway where one entered from outside. In the middle of this wall of cabinets was a window above a double sink. Esther kept little pots of herbs on the window sill and was able to watch their growth progress from day to day.  Through the window she could see the road that passed by their house out front, and beyond that, was an large open field where she could watch the changes that came with the seasons.

The wall to the right of cabinet wall held another large window which was also placed in the middle. Under this window sat a large round oak pedestal table where they sat and had their meals. Esther kept a patterned oil cloth tablecloth on the table to protect its surface. Through this window, they could see another field and the same road that passed by the front of the house winding it’s way down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, the main road continued on to the right. A smaller road intersected with the main road and veered left up and over another hill, providing a shortcut to the town center

Art and Esther enjoyed watching cars drive up and down the road past their property whenever they sat at their old table, though living in a rural area meant there weren’t all that many cars to see. The old oak table served as a place for their meals and provided them with a work station for book keeping, writing letters, doing crossword puzzles, or anything else they may decide to do.

On the wall opposite the table stood her cook stove.  Her  stove had 4 gas burners to one side and a deep well on the other side. This well provided space where one could burn wood for heat.  There were two circular metal lids on top of the well which could be lifted up so one could add more wood to the fire.

The fourth wall opposite the cabinet wall opened to a big pantry area, where Esther stored her prized baked goods.  She was proud of the many kinds of cakes and bars she baked in addition to her homemade Swedish rye bread.  This dense, heavy bread shaped in a circle was a family favorite. They liked to slather fresh cream butter on a hot fresh slice of bread and enjoy it alongside a cup of coffee.

Esthers small house also contained a living room, two small bedrooms and a bathroom. Under the main house was a large unfinished basement where they kept a potato bin, a canning  cellar, and an area where the washing machine sat ready for wash day.  That was all the space they had and they felt blessed to have it!

Grandmas pantry

Behind the house, Artie had built a two story free standing garage on their property.  The lower garage was large enough to fit 4 cars in a perfect square.  However, they only had one car and Artie’s old jeep, so the rest of the space was used up by tools and lawn equipment. At the far end of the garage, beyond where the cars were parked, sat a long work bench the entire width of the back wall.   Two windows sat above the work bench which provided a nice light for working at the bench. Over the work bench, hanging from the ceiling, was a cord with a bare light bulb at the end for lighting the work space.

Above the garage, at the top of a long flight of open stairs was a living space.  To the left of the stairs was a room that held Esther’s weaving loom.  At the top of the stairs to the right was a very large room where two double beds stood side by side against a wall separated by a small table with a lamp.  On the far end of the room in front of the double window were two platform rockers.  The room was painted a soft light blue and the windows were covered with very sheer crisscross curtains.  It was a very pleasant space.Grandmas loom (Similar to Grandmas loom)

Esther enjoyed going up to her weaving room to make rugs on her loom.  Artie teased her that it was her “loom-room”.  She thought that was pretty funny and would chuckle when he used those two words to describe the space.  She liked to make rag rugs and she had fun choosing what colors the rugs were going to be.  She took long strips of fabric and wrapped them around a long wooden paddle which she slid between the two rows of tightly woven threads. Each time she threaded through the fabric, she would hit a floor peddle with her foot to alternate the threads and secure the fabric in place. Back and forth the fabric would go between the long threads. Each time she added a row of fabric, she would work the pedals below, alternating the rows of threads that captured the cloth.  Back and forth, back and forth the fabric would go and after each pass through, she would push a wooden bar against the fabric pressing it tightly in place. Each time a row was added she could see the rug taking on a design and shape as it grew in size. She made many rugs this way by using old fabric from cast off clothing, carefully cut in strips and attached to one another by thread.

It was here where she would get lost in her thoughts about life. Esther had grown up and married in this area. She had raised three children, two boys and a girl. Her youngest was 13 years younger than her only daughter so he sometimes felt he as if he had two mothers. She worried about each of her children, now adults, for reasons as unique to them as they were unique in this world! Esther knew that worry was a useless exercise but she also knew that all Mothers have a tendency to do just the same about their own offspring!

Her daydreaming was interrupted by the crunch of tires on gravel! Goodness! Artie was home and she had not even started dinner! How had so much time passed? Her mind quickly ran a pictured inventory of leftovers in the refrigerator as she scurried down the stairs. As she rushed through the garage door, Artie was coming up the walk and he gave her a big smile and said “So, hows it goin Mama?” She grinned back at him as she heard him call her by their children’s name for her. As they walked toward the house, he slipped his hand around her ample waist and said,

“It’s always so nice to come home to my sweet “Es”!

Esther felt a rush of deep love in that moment and knew that while they lived a very ordinary, uneventful, and quiet life, it was just the right life for her! She began to excitingly tell him about the rugs she was making on the loom he bought for her a few years back. As they walked into the house together, the screen door slammed shut behind them which startled the birds out of their giant lilac bush close by.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Contentment is always the reward for a well lived life! Contented people live with an understanding that it is best to take one day at a time! Art and Esther were my Mothers parents and we were so fortunate to have been absorbed into the ordinariness of their daily routine any time we went there to visit as children.

Through them, we learned how to enjoy the small, unremarkable moments of life. In those long ago days, we were blessed with the extra time that was part of childhood then, where we could observe and partake in many small activities that occurred in the humdrum activity of everyday life. No one thought to “entertain” us. We were easily entertained by watching the things they did throughout their day. I liked watching the old loom busy at work at the end of my Grandmothers arms and feet. I enjoyed watching an inanimate object suddenly fill with life and rhythm as my Grandmother propelled it into action. There has never been any toy ever manufactured that has been more entertaining to a child than spending time with ones own Grandmother and watching the miracle of old rags being woven into beautiful, useful rugs!

In these days of Covid19 and “shelter in place” I am not bored! I think the quiet, unhurried world in which I grew up benefits me now! Each day brings new promise and new things to do! I enjoy NOT eating out in a restaurant as I take long forgotten recipes and create old fashioned dinners. My husband, who grew up on a farm with a similar childhood, will often stand at the stove peering into a slow cooking pot that is emitting the most delicious aroma. Thank you to my Mother and Grandmother for simple recipes that came from a time and place where very few restaurants existed.

The most valuable gifts I have ever received came from a childhood where we were not at the center of everyones attention. We were a part of a family and knew our place in the scheme of family life. As a result, there was no “pressure” to be anything other than who we were. We could just “be” and that was the greatest gift of all. Time was a rich resource in those quiet days of long ago. With time on our hands to fill, our imaginations grew and so did our creativity! Time was what created and stored for me many memories to revisit similar to the one above. These memories are always there, waiting for me to take out and enjoy! I get to see, in my minds eye, my grandparents as real and vivid as the day I spent in their company.

“This is the day which the Lord has made….We will rejoice and be glad in it.”Psalm 118:24 NKLV”

Jjb/5/7/2020

Resting in Peace & Grace

I am sitting here in my own little spot.

My surroundings are calm and serene.

I see the world’s many troubles,

Since the pandemic came onto the scene.

At first, I read and watched the news.

I read stories of sickness and death.

It scared me so much I trembled in fear,

i could scarcely catch my breath.

Politicians were not working together.

They slandered and argued and lied.

They filled the news with fear each day

While people got sick and died.

We were told we must “shelter in place”.

Social distancing became the norm.

The streets were empty of humankind.

Because the virus took us by storm.

We hunker down in our houses,

Groceries are delivered to our doors.

We teleconference to communicate.

We buy online instead of in stores.

Millions are now unemployed

The economy is beginning to crash,

We sit here in a helpless state

At night, we toss and turn and thrash!

As our churches now stand empty,

The devil must laugh with glee!

His evil is spreading around us.

Yet I know our Lord is protecting me.

I shut off all the t.v. news.

I threw the newspapers away.

I went to sit out in my garden.

I bowed my head and prayed.

Lord, please grant me a fearless spirit!

Help me stand strong in the storms ahead.

Please save us all from each other.

Please grant that our souls be fed.

As we live through this very dark time.

Bless us with courage and make us kind.

Please take us by the hand, Dear Lord.

You are the only hope we can find!

Please erase the devils darkness.

Fill the world with your love filled light.

Please stamp out all the evil.

Show the world your power and might.

We bow down low to honor You!

We ask forgiveness for all our sins.

We turn now from our foolish ways.

With Your help, this war we will win!

I sit here now and feel your peace.

I am ready for what will be.

I wait here now for your answer.

Because YOU know what is best for me!

This life and world are not all there is.

Redemption lies in that other place.

I trust your timing in all that You do.

I will rest in your love and grace.

Amen!

Jjb/5/2/2020

Epilogue

We are sitting here listening to some soft slow music on the radio. The days now just run into each other one right after the other. Our life seems suspended in space. The suspense of where this Pandemic is going and what it is going to do to us and society is immense, and it creates fear that one has to tamp down occasionally so it won’t take root snd grown out of control!

Because there is so much time on our hands, there is much time to think. I find myself comparing what is going on now to other times long ago when people felt helpless and powerless. Shelter in place may save our bodies, but what happens to our minds? In every other kind of war throughout history, people took action, and the action taken brings along with it a kind of adrenalin which pumps throughout our nervous system helping us to counteract our fear. Staying in place and laying low brings no adrenaline rush with it, with the exception of the quickened heart rate that occurs when fear comes to visit. We just exist in a suspension of the life we knew. But, we understand and believe the scientists when they say this is our best contribution. So we obey and pray that this will bring a blessing to our society!

The virus is bad…really bad, and we know we may or may not survive it. Shelter in place just prolongs our turn at being infected, and we hope as time passes something will come along that will save us..a therapeutic drug or a miracle vaccine.

We are not the first society to go through something like this and we won’t be the last. Somehow, knowing others have survived pandemics makes us feel somewhat placated, but we also know that there were a great many who did not make it through those times.

So, with that in mind, we began to go through our safe, checking our wills, sorting and discarding papers that no longer apply to our life now. I was setting aside and marking different jewelry pieces for our daughter that I have that come from her Great grandmother, Grandmother, and Mother. There are only a couple of pieces that have any real value. The rest have more sentimental value than monetary value. But, their value is in tracing the history of the women in our family. There is a very old lapel watch in a round Elgin watch case made of metal and glass. There is also a cameo brooch that my Mother gave her Mother as a gift. I am leaving her all my rings with notes about when they were purchased and received and the occasion that brought them about. I have a beautiful set of amber topaz earrings, ring and necklace that my Mother bought while living in Venezuela and they are our daughters birthstone, so there is that little story about how she was chosen to receive these. I have a beautiful bracelet that my Mother was gifted from her best friend. This has its history written with it as well. Our daughter has no children, so I am requesting that when it is the right time that she please pass these items down to our only two grandchildren, both girls.

As I am going through the motions, I realize I am packing for our next move. We have moved many times due to my husbands career, and so there has been a lot of packing and unpacking for those moves. We have lived in 10 homes in our married life. It got to the point where I dreamed and longed to just stay in one place for a long, long time. My desire came to fruition. We built our last home around 23 years ago and I have been so happy to have been able to sink my roots in and to become a part of a community.

Now, I am preparing for our final move that requires no unpacking. Well, at least no unpacking that will include any effort on our part. Our next stop is heaven, and as has oft been said, shrouds have NO pockets.

I have been very, very blessed in this life in so many ways. As I look around our last stop here on earth, taking in our beautiful home and grounds, I recognize that nothing really belongs to me anyway. Everything we own is simply an earthly blessing, leant to us to use and enjoy, but not to keep. When we leave this earth, we may “regift” the blessings, but those recipients won’t be able to keep them either. They will change hands once again as the recipients move on to the same place we have gone to where we will meet and greet them joyfully, unburdened by material goods!

I do not know how long we have ahead of us but I am prepared. There is only one thing we can take with us and it is non-material! What we bring with us is love. All the love we received on this earth and all the love we gave to others is always with us. No need to pack it up because all love given and received becomes a part of us and stays with us always.

Tomorrow is another day. I have more things to do in regards to our eventual departure, most important being the notes of encouragement we plan to leave behind. Our final farewell, if you will. If it so happens that this is not our time, well, then the work will put us ahead of schedule in the game of closing the final chapter, the epilogue!

Who knows what lies ahead here on earth? I spent today in the past…almost akin to a life review, where I reread old report cards of mine that my Mother had saved, our marriage certificate, our birth certificates, our children’s birth certificates, old mortgages borrowed and satisfied as I revisited the many homes we have owned . Then I reread our wills. If anything is a reminder that life eternal is not in THIS life, one only has to read ones own will.

But, as our one son always likes to say…”It’s all good, Mom, it’s all good!” For the most part he is correct. Everything is as it should be. We are born. We live. We die! We live again which is the greatest of all gifts. “It’s all good!” Yes, yes it is! All we have is right here and right now. I hope I get another day to finish up my farewell to our kids. If not, well, what is done will be understood by them too!

Jjb/April 16/2020

Easter

Here I sit, alone in a quiet house on Easter morning. My husband did not sleep well last night so he took my suggestion and went back to bed to get more sleep. For all intents and purposes time has stopped. It does not matter when we sleep or when we are up because there are no demands on our schedule. For the first time in my life, there is no where to go and no one I can meet with. As I sit here, I am imagining so many others who are experiencing this alone, living the national “stay at home” response to covid19, and I think it must feel so isolating and lonely to not have another life force to exchange thoughts and feelings with in this confinement. I sympathize greatly with all who are alone!

In some ways this time warp feels ominous, similar to the calm before the storm. We read about New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and how the reality of this virus has hit them head on. There is no time for reflection for people in these cities because they are in the middle of an all out war with this virus that many have lost. The rest of us, reading about it or watching it on t.v., cannot really grasp the enormity of what is happening because our communities are experiencing this onslaught to a much lesser degree. We realize that it is still on its way towards the rest of us and feel great anxiety.

As I write this, our daughter is into the end of her 3rd week of ongoing covid symptoms. For her they are shortness of breath, exhaustion, and fever. She was hit hard in the beginning, laying low for over a week to 10 days before she went to the ER where they gave her I.V. Fluids and tests to determine if it was flu, strep or pneumonia, with a negative on these. They also gave her the covid test and it came back negative, which we have since heard during that period of time, between 25% and 50% of the tests were reading as false negatives. Of course there is no proving this conclusively, but our daughter has said repeatedly that the symptoms she is experiencing are unlike anything she has experienced before, and as a result, she suffers anxiety which complicates the breathing issue.

We have been on the phone with her repeatedly, trying to offer support and comfort during the times she is weepy, but we cannot do for her what a person would do for her in other times of sickness, and that is physical contact. Everyone is told to stay away from people infected with covid. So technology allows for her to see us and hear our voices which is somewhat helpful, but it is a poor substitute to having someone there with her to physically take care of her. Her personality is not weak. She has been an intensive care nurse for years and has been at the bedside of many dying patients. She understands illness, yet this feeling of illness has really frightened her.

Today she sounds better and says she feels she is 50% on her way to wellness and instead of it being an uphill battle it is now dow the other side. So that is a great relief. A great-great relief!

I look at the covid interactive map and can see that most of the country because of the lockdown are having a much less severe reaction to the virus than what has happened in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Louisiana. So far, so good! What will be interesting to see is when they begin opening things up, which they have to do at some point to prevent the economy from collapsing, but what happens then? Only time will tell.

Out of curiosity, I checked to see how many deaths happen each regular year in the U.S. and found….

Deaths and Mortality

Data are for the U.S.

  • Number of deaths: 2,813,503
  • Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population
  • Life expectancy: 78.6 years
  • Infant Mortality rate: 5.79 deaths per 1,000 live birthsfollowing:

Number of deaths for leading causes of death:

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,633
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173

Of course these numbers do not include the deaths that will be added by covid19, but I must admit, I was surprised by how big the number was for deaths in the U.S. in a single normal year.

Death is always with us. Every single day each one of us has the potential to be added to the statistical numbers. it’s just that we rarely think about it until we, ourselves, are made aware of a weakness or an illness in our body by our Dr who may tell us we are on limited time.

We live in modern times and unlike plague infestations in the past, we can take our “stay at home” initiative and make the best of it. We can tell our loved ones all the things we want them to hear from us before we die. We can prepare ourselves spiritually for what may lie ahead. We can take this time to go through our things and determine to whom we want to leave certain mementos, things that matter to us that they can remember us by.

On the other side of this, we can write, paint, read, garden, watch movies, meditate, read devotions and the Bible. We now have all the time we used to complain we did not have, right here right now! It sounds kind of like a glimpse at what heaven may be like doesn’t it?

Because I am a person of high risk, I have made a commitment to myself to stay at home until either a vaccine is created or a therapeutic therapy is developed to keep me from being pulled under! Lots of time to read, write, paint, garden and have conversations with our maker. Aren’t we fortunate to live in modern times?

Today is a new day! Easter was yesterday and it was a great reminder that we have another life to which we can look forward with hope and excitement of things to come. Today the sun is shining and the leaves are shooting off of branches all over the place. Spring has arrived and it is a sign of new life. I think I shall go out and enjoy it!

Jjb/April 12, 2020

Grace

Today marks 30 days since I have left our home with the exception of a couple of drives around the area for a look at the outside world. We stay in our car so there is no exposure to other people. The days of COVID19 are upon us. We have kept track of how things are going around the world and most especially in the United Stares. Just watching things unfold in New York tells us what is rolling across the United Staes. Looking at the covid update maps, one can see how quickly it is moving across the U.S. and as it expands so does the fear. This virus is vicious and it is leaving behind in its path, much death and economic disaster.

On our drives, we see a lot of new home construction which signals faith in a future, which feels nice. Our own thoughts vacillate about the future, mostly wondering if we will even have one. The voluntary lockdowns are having an effect on everyone. it seems to adversely affect those who live alone the most. Humans are social animals, needing interaction with others, so to be in a self induced solitary confinement is very difficult for most people. These times are difficult for the elderly as well, because we recognize we the preferred prey for this virus.

The last 30 days has gone by well enough for us because we are fortunate to be living at home with a caring partner in this modern day nightmare. Living with one other person is nice for conversation, companionship, comfort and support. I have my moments where I find myself looking at my husband and wondering if either or neither of us will be spared? No matter which way I look at the possibilities of what could happen, most scenarios bring about a lot of stress, so I do not allow my mind to dwell there for long. We have rechecked our wills and have them in one place where the children can find them if the need arises. While we are prepared to meet our maker, neither one of us is ready for our demise, meaning we feel we have a lot of life left in us. But, I am sure most people feel this way.

In these times of “shelter in place” we are forced to reevaluate our lives and our purpose on this earth. We have lots of time for ‘one on one’ conversations with God, He, doing the listening while we pray for countless friends and people affected by Covid19. Being forced to stay home day after day gives ample time for reflection.

I do a lot of reading…mostly history of the U.S. and former epidemics and pandemics. Looking at past pandemics, I realize how brutal they have been to every population that have been afflicted with them. In most cases, they didn’t know what was causing the illness and death, so they lived in perpetual fear as they witnessed how lethal it was, having no idea how to protect themselves from it. Quarantine is nothing new. Societies have often turned to quarantine to stem the flow of disease.

We have been very blessed to have lived through so many years of good health due to modern medicine and the advent of vaccines. Here in America particularly, as a society, we have come to believe that most anything can be fixed, and if not fixed, at least medicine could buy us time. We took good health for granted because modern times gave us that false narrative.

As I sit here now, scanning updates of this monsters progress on a daily basis, I think of so many stories in history where people were forced to live in fear. Naturally all other pandemics and epidemics brought fear. The diary of Anne Frank tells us of the fear of being discovered in the tiny space that 8 people shared for around 2 years. Imagine that! Living in fear and silence for over two years just trying to stay alive! Then there were people who dealt with the presence of War in their lives. I was startled to read that the 1918 pandemic came along at the same time as World War 1. I felt such sadness for those poor people! It seems that populations have always been culled by war and disease throughout all time where only the fittest survive.

Our days have lost their structure, and we try to keep ourselves occupied with reading and projects, anything to keep our mind off of current events. Grocery stores are having a hard time keeping up with the demand for food and supplies. People are hoarding to fill their pantries causing certain products hard to find. If this is how it is now, I can’t imagine how bad it will be as time marches on.

We worry for our children and grandchildren in so many ways. We pray for their health and we pray that they will be able to survive the emotional and economic impact of what comes down the road later. The most difficult thing about this for us is that we cannot be together as a support system for each other. Technology helps with this, but it is not the same thing as being in the first person. Handshakes and hugs will become obsolete in the after math of this pandemic. We will never be able to go back to life as it was. A new life will rise from the ashes of this and no one can predict what that new life will look like. Those who are left will pick up the pieces and continue forward as every other culture has done after a disaster.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and for Christians this is a reminder that death no longer exists. We may die to this earthly life, but thanks be to God, our souls live forever.

The clock in our life here on earth is ticking, right along with our biological clock! I am deeply grateful to my Mother for bringing us up in the Christian faith. I cannot even begin to imagine the anguish and fear of the people who do not believe in salvation. While my earthly being wants to continue my journey on earth, my spiritual side, my soul, knows I have another home waiting for me in a place where earthly troubles do not exist!

Thy will be done Lord! Help me to know snd accept thy will! Comfort my fearful heart with your love and peace as we face what is ahead of us. Help me to conquer the fear that befalls me when I take my eyes off the cross. Thank you for your gift of grace! Amen!

Jjb/April 11, 2020

Rod and Staff

They live in a teeny tiny house on teeny tiny grounds.

They drive a teeny tiny car in their teeny tiny town!

They had teeny tiny savings in their teeny tiny bank.

The world shut down and tiny stocks began to tank!

They were a teeny tiny worried. They felt a teeny tiny fear.

They prayed a great big prayer and hoped God would hear!

God heard their prayer in their teeny tiny voice.

He smiled on their faith, because faith is a choice.

He sent angels to protect them with swords and spears.

God listens to our prayers and He ALWAYS hears!

The teeny tiny man and his teeny tiny wife,

Prayed God would show mercy and spare their life.

God decided to spare them that prayer filled day!

He saw how they lived to love and obey.

God our father is not a teeny tiny God.

He rules over All with his staff and his rod!

Amen!

Jjb/4/8/2020

The Boogeyman!

We used to spend a lot of time at my maternal grandmothers house. While my other Grandmother had 12 children and something like 43 grandchildren, this Grandma only had three children and my brother and sister and I were all she could claim at the time for grandchildren. It is my thought that because of her limited offspring, we defaulted into being very cherished by her and my grandfather as well. We felt so important to them.

We were never “entertained” by our Grandparents in those days like children are in this day and age. It was just how life was in that time and place for everyone we knew, so to us, it was normal. We were accepted and were simply folded into the fabric of their everyday life each time we went to visit. Grandpa would go to work each day while Grandma took care of the household chores and my Mother would take us to visit once a week while she did her laundry in their basement. Sometimes she would let us stay a couple of days for a sleepover. Oh how much we loved to do that! It was like slipping into someone else’s reality and it was an adventure!

My Mother had a brother who was 13 years younger than her which made him closer in age to all three of her children than he was to her! Hence, he was like our bonus brother, and he enjoyed spending time with us and sometimes had fun playing tricks on us. One tall tale he used to tell us was that the Boogey Man lived in the basement. When we pressed him for where the boogey man was, he pointed to a door at the far end of the potato bin. This bin was in a small alcove area that was probably 4 feet wide by 4 feet deep and 4 feet across the back again. It was partitioned off with a three foot high by 4 foot wide board that was placed in front of the bin to hold potatoes back in an area where it was cool and dark. We could clearly see the door in the back as we stood outside the potato gate. What we did not know was that the door led to nowhere. It was simply propped up against the back wall to keep the potatoes away from the damp basement wall.

One day, my sister and I were exploring the unfinished basement in the dim light of a single bulb hanging at the end of an electric cord in the middle of the room. This dim light created all sorts of creepy shadows, so we were always careful to go down there together, never alone. Grandma had a cellar room down there too where she would store all the canned foods she had harvested from her gardens and fruit trees and even meat was canned in jars for preservation. There they all sat, nestled together in straight rows of each item canned, her meat, her fruits, vegetables, and pickles, To two young sisters, in the dim light, these jars looked uninviting. We were not tempted to open even one!

Once we finished our investigation of the cellar room, we decided to go check out the potato bin again with the dreaded door at the back of it. Did the boogey man really live there? What did he look like anyway? Just being near that door felt menacing to two little girls. My sister kept squealing about the Boogeyman and that he needed to go away. So, with me being the older of the two, I got up the courage to say, “O.k. Alright! I will go see if he is there.” So, I hopped over the 3 foot barrier, walked across the potatoes and when I reached the back of the pile, I attempted to yank the door open. Instead of opening, it began to fall forward but no harm was done because by the time the door hit the potatoes, we were already at the top of the stairwell screaming the entire way up. Grandma hastily met us at the top door to see what on earth had happened to us. She was not too happy to hear the story of the boogey man, told to us by her young son!

So, now here I sit…well over a half a century later and I am afraid of the Boogeyman once again. When I think of him, my mouth feels like it is full of cotton, it is so dry. I can’t see the boogeyman this time either. He is as invisible now as he was back then when he hid behind an old door. These days he is hidden in plain sight. It is hard to summon courage to go after the boogeyman, because I know how badly he can hurt me and those I love. This boogeyman is very, very bad in so many ways. He is making people sick, and even killing some. He is wrecking our prosperous economy. He is everywhere and anywhere and we just cannot see him. He is all over the world creating destruction and sorrow everywhere he goes.

We need a superhero!! Where oh where is a superhero who can save us?

We actually do have a Super Hero and we can’t see Him either, but we have read about Him in a book that is centuries old. We have been taught and told about His power, His strength, His courage and His intention to never let us die. His book was written over the course of many hundreds of years, leaving us messages of love and hope and encouragement! At one point in our history, God even journeyed all the way here to earth from his great Kingdom! He took on human form and walked among us to better understand us in the first person, to feel first hand, the joys and sorrows of living this life. He knows how it is for us now as we face our demons in life, and he wants to help us through it. We only have to ask. We have to ask for help with a faith that believes that His will is far better for us than anything we could ever even imagine for ourselves. I believe Lord, please help me in my unbelief!

Wherever this virus (boogeyman) takes us, whatever it is able to destroy in its path, one absolute truth to hold onto is that we will never be defeated while having God as our protector and our redeemer. Through His Grace we will never die. Through Grace we have eternal life, and for that I will be eternally grateful!

Prayers are the bullets in this warfare that began in Wuhan China. Prayers will see us through. We may not always understand the answers that come to us from our prayers, but we can trust that the answers are perfect for us in His Will in His mighty Kingdom.

Dear God…I am so afraid of the Boogeyman…the virus. I am afraid of the harm it can do to me or my many loved ones. Help me to find courage, Lord. Help me find peace and please give me the strength and wisdom to help others find peace too. We have not faced anything like this before and we are overwhelmed with thoughts of what may lie ahead. Please calm our hearts, Lord, and please give us once again the blessed assurance that we are saved. Easter is only 6 days away, Lord, as you well know! Easter is a day for us to remember a time long ago, on a hill far away, you conquered death on the cross once and for all and the gift from that sacrifice was eternal life for all of us!

Thank you Lord, thank you for the gift of grace!

Amen

Jjb/4/6/2020

Checking on each other!

I have decided to share our response to our son as a tribute to ALL adult children who reach out to their older parents. It serves as a reminder that looking beyond your own immediate circumstances to others who are facing this pandemic alone has unexpected rewards. We are all in this together and we all need each other to get us through these terrible isolating times)

Dear Son, 

I want you to know how much it meant to me and Dad to get such a nice long email letter from you! (The unexpected blessings of a quarantine where you finally have time on your hands)

I am glad you enjoyed the pictures from our countryside drive. It was nice of you to take the time to tell us so!  It took a bit of time to put it together, so it’s nice to know you liked it! 

We appreciate knowing how you are doing and being able to picture your days…(as in organizing the house and you working on cleaning up the yard and garage!) It allows us to feel like we are a part of your life and we love it.  A really nice thing about the written word is that the recipient can go back to it any number of times to reread the words when feeling lonesome or out of sorts!  So thank you for this too! 

We pray and pray and pray! We pray for our children and their loved ones to stay well and be taken care of in all ways.  

I am eternally grateful you found the love of your life who has also become a treasured friend and family member to us as well. She is the perfect example of loving kindness! 

Stay well, I pray that God guides you to the right path in all your decisions!

Thank you for checking in on us to see if we are o.k. The love we feel from you means a lot! God bless you for this! 

We love you very much! 
Mom and Dad

.

A drive in the hill country…

We were feeling a bit cooped up, having been in the house for over 2 weeks under the new “shelter in place” encouraged by the local government in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic going on.

So, because of this, Al suggested we go for a ride in the country for a change of scenery, where we would be safe in our car and away from people. I was feeling out of sorts so I agreed. I made a very simple picnic lunch of one sandwich each and two apples along with two bottles of water.

We began driving on out of town, and it wasn’t long before we started seeing countryside. The bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush were just beginning to make a showing and we were enjoying the color. We turned off the highway and began our drive along an old country road. The Texas countryside is lovely to see with its wide open spaces dotted with big oak trees and a sporadic spotting of cactus. I had been thinking of heaven a lot lately because of the uneasy feeling of being under threat of sickness and death due to the pandemic. I also had done a lot of reading about where and how this pandemic began over in China with the wet markets that exist there. As I read about it and saw the conditions on t.v., I felt so sad for the animals that were brought there from all over the world and put into cages in those cramped places. This is where the virus jumped from animal to man.

I was thinking of this as I was watching the country side speed by and soon we came to one of our favorite places which is a long fence with an upside down cowboy boot over each fence post.

We stopped and took some pictures and enjoyed the warm sun on our backs….we continued down the road and took a number of pictures of sites that pleased us.

I remember thinking to myself “How beautiful this all is…Nature as God intended it!” Unspoiled and thriving in its natural habitat. As we drove along, Al suddenly stepped on the brakes because there, right in front of us, were a couple of donkeys. Having grown up on a farm, Al got out of the car and walked right up to one of the donkeys to pet him as I held back a little bit. There were a couple of little girls in the company of their Mother and Grandmother who petting one of the donkeys that was standing right in the middle of the road. This, then, gave me courage to get a little closer. I started scratching the donkeys head with a one finger a little bit behind the donkeys ear, just to make sure it was o.k. with him. It definitely seemed to be ok with him, because he leaned into my hand as I scratched, so I continued to pet his head, but this time with my whole hand. I started talking to him and at one point said, “Your owners must be awfully good to you because you are showing no fear whatsoever!” I was happy for this little donkey.

A neighbor came scurrying down the road holding a cell phone saying, “Oh no! I wonder how they got out? I am leaving a message for the owner who lives in Austin.” By now, the donkeys were on their way down the road together and she was walking at a fast clip right behind them. So, we got into our car and once again began to travel along our route. As we rode along, I said to Al, “This is so nourishing for my spirit today. Everything seems so right with the world at this moment in time! It almost feels like a road taking us on our way to the entrance to heaven”..The anxiety I had been feeling for the last couple of days began to fade. Life felt good again. The sun was shining, music was playing on the radio and the countryside was lovely.

As we continued our drive we were enjoying the scenery and we were humming along to some good old fashioned country music. Suddenly, Al hit the brakes again! What? Is it even possible that we are seeing two Ostrich along a fence in the hill country? Al immediately got out of the car and went right over to them! They were beautiful and just like the donkeys had been, were completely comfortable in a humans presence!

So, by now I was really ramping up feeling in a joyfully good mood! I mean, really? We go for a wild flower drive and we end up with two Donkeys and two Ostrich’s as bonus sightings? Oh, yes, God is good! This was just what I needed! Back in the car, we continued on our way through the Texas hill country, my hand drumming on the dash to the beat of an old country song on the radio!

Al soon pulled over and said, “O.K! Time for our lunch”. He began pulling some things out of the trunk, this being two collapsible chairs and our little cooler. We were parked on the side of the road in a little valley where a low water crossing creek ran through from one side of the road to another. As we sat there in our chairs, we watched the cattle graze the grass and wade in the creek water, and we munched on our homemade sandwiches. I told Al that I was feeling almost as if I could hear God whisper, “You see? This was how my creation was intended to be. Man coexisting along with the animals in peace” (At the same time I was also having a flashback of pictures I had seen of the wet markets in Wuhan China as an example of how we should NOT treat animals!!!)

We relaxed there in our chairs, enjoying a light warm breeze with the sun on our skin and the only sounds we heard were birds singing overhead and an occasional motor sound as a random car drove by. It was glorious, and we both felt grateful for this time to sit in the midst of the beauty of this earth! I could have sat there for hours, but it was soon time to pack up our chairs, pick up our coolers, and be on our way. What a gift this day was turning out to be! More animals along the way!

Low water crossings along the way!

We drove through the low water crossings, of which there are many in Texas! Also a beautiful curvy hilly road. A winery along the road! One of many that are springing up in the Texas hill country!

Many more bluebonnet sightings!

Flowers, flowers everywhere, and also our favorite live oak trees!

And what to our wondering eyes did appear? An Armadillo drinking a corona beer! The name of the beer sending a slight shiver down my spine,

A couple of old antiques along the way! Now on our way home!

We hope you enjoyed the tour! This drive is almost in our back yard. We have been here 23 years now and counting since first moving to Texas and we love it more and more every year! We are praying that the Pandemic doesn’t do us harm, but we also know we have been blessed beyond measure in this life, with today being just one example of the many blessings. We love to stop and smell the….bluebonnets along the way! They are on the side of the road that absolutely feels like it is going straight to heaven!

Jjb/4/3/2020

Hot Dogs

The longer we are home, the more I read! I have loved reading my whole life and along the way, I seemed to have less and less time for it, because our life was so filled with things to do and people to see. Now, with “shelter in place” (and actually even before that was a mandate), I have not left our house or our property with the exception of a couple of rides in the country. I have been in place since March 11th! (My age and underlying respiratory issues making me more vulnerable to this virus than others) Now, suddenly, I have all the time in the world to read…albeit slowly with my uncorrected vision due to an aborted elective eye surgery.

At first, I read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to the Corona Virus…where it was in the world, how it was being handled, contagion rate, death rate, and so on. At first, my purpose was accessing information that kept me informed, so I could be prepared..mentally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually!

It wasn’t kong before I was oversaturated with dire statistics and stories upon stories of individuals who were hit by this horrible disease. It was akin to watching a steam roller coming down the street as I lay there, paralyzed, helplessly and hopelessly waiting my fate. This was how I had come to feel as I took in the news of the world.

Over this time, I have dealt with a lot of anxiety and fear of the unknown, mostly on behalf of our adult children. Each day, I found more and more articles to read and in the midst of all the horrible statistics were stories of hope and faith and and ways to contribute to the better good! There were also those offering humor as medicine to allow us to laugh again!

My point is that we have a choice. We can choose to saturate ourselves with the news of the day from all over the world or we can choose to keep one eye on the news for safety’s sake while using the other eye to read spiritually uplifting devotions, meditations, and feel good stories of people who conquered fear with courage.

The following is a great story about perception of the world around you. Sometimes it is best to live in your own reality of what is, rather than in another persons perception of reality. Its an old story, but I have always loved it! I hope you enjoy it!

THE MAN WHO SOLD HOT DOGS

There was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs.

He was hard of hearing so he had no radio.

He had trouble with his eyes so he read no newspapers.

But he sold good hot dogs.

He put up signs on the highway telling how good they were.

He stood on the side of the road and cried; “buy a hot dog, mister?

And people bought.

He increased his meat and bun orders.

He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.

He finally got his son home from college to help him out.

But then something happened.

His son said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio?

Haven’t you been reading the newspapers?

There’s a big depression.

The European situation is terrible.

The domestic situation is worse.”

Where upon the father thought, “well, my son’s been to college, he reads the papers and he listens to the radio, and he ought to know.”

So the father cut down on his meat and bun orders, took down his advertising signs, and no longer bothered to stand out on the highway to sell his hot dogs.

And his hot dog sales fell almost overnight.

“You’re right, son” the father said to the boy.

“We certainly are in the middle of a great depression.”

Jjb/4/3/2020

Fear

The picture of two girls is our daughter Andrea on right and her best friend Katie from when we all lived in Sioux Falls South Dakota.

As I write this, I feel so helpless. Andrea is sick for a second stretch, meaning she was well for two days after her first sick stretch of over 10 days and now is experiencing the symptoms again, but this time they are worse! Temp is higher, she has chills and drenching sweat! There is nothing that anyone can do for her as there is no anti viral therapy! During the short time she felt well, she rejoiced at being able to breath again. When she was sick, her voice was tiny because of shortness of breath, and it was tiny because she was scared!

This feels like the wild west, a time before the advent of modern medicine. In those days, if a person got sick, all you could really do was offer comfort and wait it out, praying that the body would eventually fight its way back to wellness again. What is also terrible in this, though, is that we cannot go to her and help her. We want to take care of her, sit by her side, and offer soothing words of comfort! I am so ready to throw caution to the wind and just drive up there. But, I don’t want to add to her concerns!

Since this whole thing has started, I have had images in my mind of times past when we drove down the highway and looked up to see a billboard with the writing “Don’t make me come down there!” (as a supposed message from God). That message would always make me smile because I remember saying that exact same thing to our children when they were growing up!

When the government enacted the lock down, I thought to myself that this also seemed “parental” in giving all of us a “time out”.

As in all time outs, there is much time for reflection of self, family and life! I have done non-stop praying about so many things. Naturally, our child is our number one concern, and I have spent much time in prayer on her behalf! I have prayed for our whole family on many scores, health, job losses, the economy, our retirement funds, and also for us to find strength to face whatever is ahead! I am also praying for the 4 adult children in our family who are now jobless, as they are waiting for this to pass. Not everyone can work remotely from home.

This is a very difficult time and as a country, we have not seen the worst of it yet! I know this is bigger than any of us! if ever there was a message about who is in control over us and our earth, this is it! Only our Creator can help us now.

I do not know how this will all shake out! What I DO know is that as much as I would like to crawl under the covers and hide from all of this, it is not an option! We have no choice but to remember that the whole of this life is really just a blink of an eye in time as compared to eternity.

I pray now for Gods will to be done even as I am praying in earnest for our daughters health. This is one of the hardest times we have EVER faced, and we have faced some hard times, butp a threat upon ones child is the gravest of all concerns. Yet, even as I write this, I know that there are countless others who can say, “I have dealt with much, much worse.” So, I humble myself in face of that and then add to my prayers by asking God to turn my weaknesses into strength….and for Him to please stay by our sides.

The illusion of control comes when times are easy, when life is comfy, and we are happy. Times like this make us realize our life has just been an illusion of control.

I am seeing my daughter now in my minds eye as a baby, a child, an adolescent and an adult. She has brought us SO much joy! She and I are very close and whatever she is feeling, I am feeling. Oh how I wish I could be with her. I am grateful though, that this time around, her husband is there with her. She is not without human comfort and I am relieved about this. God is with her too, and I know that!

Jjb/3/27/2020

 

Uncertain times

This statement, “Here is a test to find out if your mission here is finished. If you are still alive, it isn’t. (Richard Bach) is about how it is!

Really! If we do everything in our power to protect ourselves and it ends up not being enough to save us, our mission is completed and God wanted us back! It is as simple as that!

We have been home for 12 days and I have done endless reading on the subject of the corona virus situation but also on other plagues that the U.S. has suffered in the last 100 years. Al and I also spent time outdoors and went on a road trip where I took some fantastic pictures along the way. I will share them in another post to help you feel less confined in our individual quarantine status.

I slept extremely well last night…thank God for sleep! After a week of phone calls with our daughter who has been home alone and sick with no where to turn, she finally was checked out in an E.R.. We are waiting on the results.Just the fact that she was seen and attended to eased my stress load. I am smart enough to know that even medical people are limited in what they can do for us with this virus, but the part that had me going over the edge, so to speak, was that no one was responding to her cry for help. Once that was attended to, I could relax a little bit.

This virus has created a very isolating situation for all of us. Generally speaking, when someone becomes seriously ill, the first thing loved ones do is come to your aid and tend to you. You may not be able to do much about the crisis your loved one is in, medically speaking, but never underestimate the power of loving care. Statistics show that when a person is ill, they often will rally somewhat under the care of someone who loves them. They rest better, sleep better, eat better, drink better, …the list goes on. Our souls and spirits react to being loved. It is a powerful force.

In this case, with our daughter, she had no one but her little french bulldog who she loved having by her side. One night she called in distress and said, “I am worried about Nugget…What if I die during the night? What will happen to Nugget?” I assured her she wasn’t going to die, (faith and prayers here) but she was becoming very fearful because she could not find a way to be reassured by anyone in the first person. To ease her loneliness, she was on the phone with many people..her husband, her parents, her siblings, her aunt, and friends. She was doing everything in her power to stay connected because as the days passed and her symptoms would go from bad to better to bad again, her greatest enemy was fear which resulted from her being alone.

On this end, our stress level accelerated daily in concern for her. Here we were in isolation ourselves, and we could not go up to help her. I told my husband that I was ready to throw caution to the wind and just make that 3 1/2 hour drive to tend to her, but that I knew if I caught the virus and died, she would feel responsible and I did not want that for her either.

I am high risk because of my age group and because of my allergies coupled with my family history of asthma. I asked my doctor if I am someone considered to be compromised with underlying conditions. She said “yes”. My history is such that often if I get the flu it always wants to settle in my chest. Obviously, with this virus’s main target being the lungs, I am most likely not to make it if I get it.

Hence for the last almost 2 weeks I have had much time to read and think about this. I know I am o.k. with the idea of God taking me home. I have no fear of death. It is more that I just want a little bit more time with my family. I want to feel their embrace once again. I want to be able to sit close enough to them to study their faces as we talk and laugh once again. But, I know that may not be the case, and therefore as my heart sinks when thinking of these things, I also throw up thanks snd gratitude for what I DO still have which is my husband being right here, right now! This crazy invader has me making amends with my maker for anything I have said or done that He would not approve of. I am bargaining with Him to please spare my children and allow them to come through this unscathed. I am praying for society, our economy, and the homeless who have NO protection.

Our life has been so blessed in so many ways. We have always had a relationship with God, but have to say, even when we thought we were on good terms with Him, I see now how much we came to take for granted. Our health, our home, our family, our freedom to go out wherever and whenever we wanted. We came to be complacent in expecting, yes “expecting”, modern medicine to fix most everything and if it could not be fixed, then buy us time. The truth is, we have always lived under threat if death. We just haven’t been aware of it. We only have this moment in time. Maybe more!

Time is different now. I asked my husband what day it was and he said “What does it matter?” I laughed when he said that because he is so right. We are living a life suspended in time. It is an interesting concept to live this way for there are no demands on our time right now as retired folks who have no place to go.

Well, I will now sign off. I feel so much better now that our daughter has had her test and we await the results. I talked with her husband last night and I felt such an enormous surge of love for him for calling me and saying “I am on my way home and don’t worry, I will take care of her.” He plans to stay in a hotel until her test comes back. I am deeply grateful to him!

What is going to happen? It is anyones guess. All we can do is sit tight snd pray. When times are fun and light and beautiful we tend to take everything for granted…even God. But these days, when it comes to believers, I think HE has our full attention and is making note of the attendance to his class.

March 23, 2020/jjb

What is important

It’s interesting, isn’t it, how everything can change in the time it takes to blink an eye? How, in just one blink, so much of what you thought was important, suddenly is not!

What is important is not a lifetime of accumulation, nor the trophy’s that sit on our mantles, nor the pieces of paper on which our names and our accomplishments are printed and displayed proudly through framed glass for all to see.

Life’s meaning is not found in the size of our home, the brand of our car, nor the destinations of our holidays.

What is valuable is our connection with those we love who love us back.

Our souls come to this world in a tiny, fleshy human form. We enter crying as we are blinded by the light of this new world, and we gasp when we take in our first breath of life.

Our Mother gets a glimpse of our eternal souls as she peers into the depths of our tear filled baby eyes. In our newly born helpless state, she cradles us, and talks to us in soft loving tones and we feel comforted. We cease to cry as we look back into her eyes and see nothing but love because it is then we know we are going to be o.k. We are two souls who became one by the reciprocal love of our first earthly union.

In the beginning, all we need is love and nourishment and a sense of belonging. Our souls grow and expand as we experience this love. We grow up in a family that is uniquely ours. Through this family we learn about the world in which we live. Before long we are leaving home and forging a new life which we can now modify to suit our emotional and intellectual needs. Our path is our own and our life begins to take on a new shape because we are in control of our destiny. (Rather, we think we are in control). Much of how our life is built is based on endless decisions and responses to those decisions we make along the way. As we watch our life take shape, we begin to believe in the power of our individual control. We begin to believe that if we continue ahead, forging our own chosen path along life’s journey, we will be fine.

But, life isn’t that simple. We are faced with many challenges that are beyond our immediate control. Some of us do not even make it to adulthood due to an accident or an unexpected illness. These are the times that serve as reminders to us that our control is very limited and we cannot fix everything by ourselves.

Right now, our world is facing a terrible Pandemic that few of us have ever experienced before. In the U.S., in recent times, it has probably never even been considered a possibility by an individual ordinary citizen. Few of us will escape this invader. Most of us will survive this invader and some of us will die.

We are asked to stay home and so we do. From our sofas and chairs we watch the news and listen as they tell us that our entire society must come to a halt. Major industries are closing down, churches are closing, people are losing their jobs, businesses are desperately trying to do anything they can to stay solvent and our savings are in peril.. Our enemy is foreign, invisible and highly contagious.

I find myself thinking of people throughout history who faced their own mortality. These people, who in the process of settling this country, faced insurmountable hardships in the form of inadequate housing, sickness, starvation…and death. Death was always present in those early days of very few medicines and even fewer Doctors.

Death takes many forms in many different circumstances.

I read about the Civil war where more soldiers were killed than in any other war in history. I think of the many wars that young men have fought in and died, never getting the chance to know what life could have brought them afterwards.

I think of the many people who sit across from their Doctor and receive bad news about the amount of time they may or may not have left.

I think about the famous ship, the Titanic, where countless people on that ship suddenly became aware of the fact that they were going down under the icy waters of the Atlantic and were forced to wait for death as the “unsinkable ship” slowly sank into the darkness bringing them along with it. One story goes that there were musicians who continued to play music knowing the ship was slowly sinking and that they were facing certain death.

There have been plagues before. The 1600’s brought smallpox, the 1700’s brought yellow fever, the 1800’s brought Cholera and Scarlet Fever, the 1900’s brought Typhoid, Spanish flu, Diphtheria, Polio, Measles and HIV. Our ancestors faced similarly frightening scenarios.

This new virus that is killing people all over the world is taking its toll on human lives. Sickness and death is just one big part of it, but the economic impact following will be another major consequence and we can only pray that it won’t drive us into another depression to equal the Great Depression.

Human lives have always been fragile and people in third world countries have faced the fragility of life from a very young and tender age. A lot of people in developed countries in modern times have not had to face fear head on because in the recent past, lets say the last 75-100 years, many of us have lived lives of comfort due to modern medical advances which have led us to believe that most everything can be “fixed”. Healthcare became so advanced, we didn’t worry about our children dying young like our ancestors children often did…instead, we assumed that we and our children would live to ripe old ages. Often we were correct in this assumption.

These are very uncertain times and deeply disturbing. We are facing an enemy when we have limited resources with which to fight something of this magnitude. What is also very difficult for most of us is that usually when we feel threatened or insecure, we find comfort in the arms of our loved ones. In these times, we are forced to isolate ourselves from everyone we know. Some of us are in our homes alone and we feel fear of the unknown.

This is history in the making…it will be printed in the history books and future generations will read about it and look at pictures of the event unfolding, just as I was reading yesterday about the 1918 flu pandemic. As I looked at black and white photos of sick people in rows upon rows of medical beds, I imagined each one of them as someones father, mother, daughter, son and the list goes on. In old pictures these individual identities are lost in the mass composite, but each person there mattered to someone.

Daily, it is a struggle to find courage. We pray, we read scripture, and we force ourselves to live in the moment, because we understand that our previous concerns about our future are no longer applicable. By comparison, those concerns now pale. New worries and concerns have stepped in to take their place.

I find myself thinking of my Mother again, imagining what she would have thought of all this. In the deepest recess of my psyche, I sometimes wish I was once again the baby she held so long ago, me watching her look deeply into my eyes as I listen to her soft voice reassuring me that I will be fine.

The reassuring voice has come back and this time it is my father reassuring me. My heavenly father who created me is whispering reassurance into my heart that it will all be fine. One way or another, this will all pass, and we will all be fine. Things may not work out exactly as we are hoping but HE reassures me it will still be fine. As I pray and listen with my heart, I know HE is right. I know that throughout history, people have faced fear and have chosen to ramp up their courage, their acceptance, and their faith that all things work out for the better good.

I reflect on my Mother and I thank her now for bringing me up to know that there is a God who is Lord over all. We are all part of a much bigger picture, each of us just one tiny thread among millions of other threads of many different colors, woven together to create a tapestry of Gods design. The most beautiful tapestries tend to have a lot of darkness woven in to bring out the beauty of the colored threads. Dark times are represented by dark threads. Some threads have been knotted to sit securely in place and some have been snipped. I don’t know if my future is going to be knotted in place or if I will be snipped free, but I am choosing to trust that this is all part of Gods design.

As I continue to read about other perilous times, I find my heart touched by their displays of courage. As history shows us their many act of courage, I know that I will face my own fears and choose to pick courage to live along side my fears as well. Its the only wise choice!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

Jjb/5/21/2010