Faith

Taking It For Granted

2020 has been hard.

At times I have been in deep despair. Other times I’ve felt supernatural joy and peace that goes way beyond the bizarre circumstances around me.

If this year has taught me anything, it’s that previously I’ve taken so many things for granted. In the past, December always felt so busy and at times – chaotic. Much to my shame, the gatherings, christmas concerts, and banquets had often become a source of complaints throughout the month.

This December is different. It’s quiet. It’s restful. (Sometimes too quiet; often boringly restful.)

And I miss the things I used to grumble about.

The Things I Am Missing:

  • Gatherings with the people I love. Homes packed full with the joyful faces we know; the sound of laughter ringing through the air. Board games, gift exchanges, singing carols and hearing the Christmas story read aloud.
  • I miss sharing food. My favourite meals are when everyone brings a dish and we dig in buffet style, not worrying about who’s germs are on what spoon or how close we are standing to the next person in line. We are focused on what really matters: THE FOOD!
  • I miss Christmas shopping in stores! I miss slowly walking through the beautiful aisles, all lit up with lights and decorated for the season. I miss the Christmas music playing softly (or obnoxiously… haha) and being able to browse for the perfect gift; picking up one item and humming and hawing, before returning it to it’s place and resuming the search.
  • I miss the piano recitals and school concerts; the instruments of the children squeaking and squaking, and slightly out of tune. The smiles of the little performers, dressed in their Christmas best. The beauty of the effort put into the show. Mostly, I miss the hot chocolate and cookies after it all is over – and the lovely conversations among other parents, teachers and friends.

One could go on and on with lists of what we miss, but as I reflected upon these things today I realized: had these things not been taken from me this year, there is a very good chance that I would have been complaining about them.

So I began to think of other things that I still have, which I could someday be missing… is there more that I am taking for granted?

I hope not. But here are the things I hold dearly these days:

  1. Giggles in the morning, of happy children playing together while I lie in my bed.
  2. The sound of the hockey puck slamming against the boards as the kids enjoy the rink outside.
  3. The many family evenings we are having these days – yes, we may miss so many others, but we are together.
  4. The cheerful call my husband gives out: “I’m home!” when he returns from a day of work!
  5. The younger two boys, snuggling in close as I read them yet another chapter.
  6. Fridays and the excitement of “Pizza/Movie Night”.
  7. Waking up to the smell of vanilla/hazelnut coffee.
  8. Going to bed with a full belly.
  9. Evenings spent in the hot tub, staring up at a clear sky of beautiful stars.
  10. Wrapping paper and gifts to put under our homely, but brightly, decorated tree.
  11. Looking through my full cupboards in search of what to make for supper and realizing that there are always plenty of options.
  12. A cozy bed in a warm house.
  13. Pens, paper, journals, craft supplies, laptops, and the ability to create with these tools.
  14. Looking up anything I need to know on google.
  15. Brown packages arriving at my door from Amazon.
  16. Electricity and the internet (although I’m so tired of everything online these days, I DO have to admit… it’s still better than nothing!)
  17. Hearing the doorbell ring and seeing a familiar face at the door coming to drop something off.
  18. The word of God, which encourages me daily.
  19. The Holy Spirit, who guides me so gently, even when I’m grumpy and stubborn.
  20. Jesus, whose birth we celebrate at this time of year – Emmanuel – God with us.

May I not take one of these for granted, even as I wait for the things I miss to be restored.

Canada · COVID-19

A World Turned Upside Down

It’s been almost a month since I wrote about my negative COVID test and about the struggles of grief I was going through. A lot has happened since then, and I have started writing about it many times, only to stop and delete it all. Then I try again and after a few paragraphs I hit delete once more.

Is it writers block?

Is it overwhelm?

Or maybe, I’m just done trying to make sense of the chaos around me.

A few weeks back, I was sick with an unknown burning skin issue (which resolved itself without a diagnosis) but not before I went to get help because I began experiencing chest pains. So after isolating for over a week, I went to our local hospital (which at the time was completely overwhelmed with COVID patients) where I believe I caught COVID-19 on top of everything as a result.

Yes I wore a mask.

Yes I stayed 6 ft apart from others in the room.

But, nevertheless, I caught COVID-19.

I began showing symptoms of the dreaded coronavirus just two days after my negative test results came in, so I went in for a second test (although I already knew it’d be positive.) And it was.

My whole family got sick. All of us showed various symptoms, from fatigue, to fevers and body aches, to rashes, to sore eyes, to headaches, vomiting and coughs. It was bizarre in that sense. Most flus that go through our family, carry the same symptoms. With COVID-19, we reacted quite differently. We are now all recovered and done our isolation period.

But that’s not why I’m struggling to write.

My post titled “When COVID-19 Becomes Real” got a lot of views. A lot – meaning almost 5,000 views. My usual posts get about 45-75 views. The rare post gets 100-500. I even had our local news station do an interview with me.

Everyone seemed to want to hear my ER experience as “proof” of the seriousness of COVID and the need for restrictions.

However, my reason for writing that post wasn’t to “convince” anyone of anything. It was a personal account of my experience in an overwhelmed hospital and my sudden snap back to reality that COVID-19 wasn’t just a faraway problem in some other place as it has felt like for so long.

It is here and it is real.

I saw overwhelmed staff. I saw patients getting transferred. I saw a full waiting room of many people who had been waiting for hours without anyone to help them.

So what do I think about all this?

COVID-19 is complicated.

Yet we all talk as if we know the answers. I hear strong opinions from just about everyone and I’m tired of the division. Seriously, can we not just work together to beat this thing??

Are extreme restrictions harmful? Absolutely.

Are some restrictions necessary to keep our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed? Yes, I believe they are.

But here we have the great divide.

Some say: “Let the virus rip through… People will die, just rip off the bandaid and get it over with.”

Others: “Lockdown everything for as long as it takes.”

Is there really no middle ground here?

Listen, NO ONE wants people to die from COVID-19. And NO ONE is happy about losing our freedoms.

Restrictions in Manitoba, Canada have gotten really bad. Life is not great; it’s actually very hard. The rules are stifling. They take much of the joy out of our days. I absolutely hate them.

– No gatherings are allowed, not even one person allowed to visit us. This includes even outdoor meetings at a person’s residence. Christmas is no exception.

– Churches are closed.

– Our school division is back to distance learning. Which means 6+ hours of screens for my kids A DAY.

– Parks, restaurants, libraries, and non essential businesses are closed.

– Masks are mandatory inside every building.

– Even buying non essential items in store is forbidden.

These rules were discussed and made by people who regularly interact with others, because they have “essential” jobs (side note…Can you imagine being told that your livelihood is unnecessary to the world??) and do not really understand the immense pain that these restrictions are causing so many. For those who aren’t working, whether they’ve lost their jobs because they are deemed “unessential” or whether they are seniors, or stay-at-home moms, such as myself, this isolation is unbearable.

We were made to be with people.

What the working leaders and doctors don’t understand is “unnecessary socializing” – seen by them as “selfish” and “short-sighted” is actually EXTREMELY NECESSARY for those who don’t work outside of the home.

In fact, solitary confinement exceeding 15 days is considered by the United Nations to be a form of torture.

Numerous studies have been done on this very subject. According to Wikipedia: “Research indicates that the psychological effects of solitary confinement may encompass “anxiety, depression, anger, cognitive disturbances, perceptual distortions, obsessive thoughts, paranoia, and psychosis.” A main issue with isolating prisoners who are known to have mental illnesses is that it prevents the inmates from ever possibly recovering. Instead, many “mentally ill prisoners decompensate in isolation, requiring crisis care or psychiatric hospitalization.”

For many, work is a social interaction.

My husband was at home for two weeks while we had Covid. During those long days, he said time had stopped for him. He grew more withdrawn. I could see he was withering. After two weeks of this he seemed almost like a different person.

Last week he was clear to go back to work and he was grinning ear to ear. He could leave and interact with co-workers again. He said that little interactions with others kept him going. Life seemed to move at a faster pace again.

What’s my point? He was only home for two weeks.

I’ve been home for five.

How do you think I feel?

Yet, you may say, “How can you feel this way? Didn’t your last post say that you are now taking this seriously? Didn’t you say that you now understand the restrictions? Didn’t you say there was a good reason for them?”

Yes, I did.

But understanding the heart behind these rules and regulations, doesn’t make me like them or even agree with them all. It doesn’t magically make all the answers and solutions clear. It doesn’t make me feel any less lonely or frustrated.

It doesn’t stop the feelings that this isn’t a world I want to live in anymore.

I don’t want to write this post, because admitting the truth scares me: I just don’t know what’s right anymore.

Why are so many people pretending that they know the way?

We got mildly sick with Covid-19. Most people I know who’ve gotten it have been mildly sick.

Is it worth all this pain to shut everything down?

BUT… I also know a few who have died that were previously healthy and could’ve lived many more years… and it breaks my heart. They could still be alive.

I’ve heard of the stress of nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers – some who I know personally – who are working tirelessly to take care of the sick. Their frustration and tears are real.

So, if I don’t have the answers, why am I writing?

What am I trying to say?

Right now, really extreme decisions are being made with ONLY one thing being considered: How to keep COVID-19 numbers down.

How did we get to this point? Are there not so many things to consider other than just the numbers in a pandemic?

– What about the alarming rate of declining mental health in our most vulnerable people?

-How about the millions of deaths caused not by COVID-19, but directly as a result of restrictionsThe World Food Programme has warned that an extra 265 million people could be at risk of starvation because of the restrictions.

That’s 263.5 MILLON MORE people STARVING right now than those who’ve died of COVID.

Why are we not talking about those staggering numbers? And since when have we cared about these types of numbers? Since they’ve been shoved in our faces headline after headline? If we really cared about the lives of the vulnerable, why didn’t we stop the world before to help the EIGHT AND A HALF MILLION people who’ve starved to death this year alone?

Is it because this new problem hits a little too close to home??

– What about suicide deaths or drug overdoses?

– What about many, many small businesses that will not recover?

– How about the billions of dollars that the Canadian government has spent on the pandemic… but won’t disclose where it has gone?

– Or what about the complete disregard for children that live in abusive home environments where they are forced to now quarantine – possibility alone and abused without being seen or heard?

– Or what about completely irresponsible distance learning program which sets up students as young as grade 7 to be online and unsupervised at home, while the amount of children involved in online trafficking has nearly doubled since the beginning of the pandemic. Not to mention the devastating porn addictions in young children who are being left alone for hours on these devices.

These are valid questions, but they are all being drowned out in the world’s chant of insanity: “COVID-19! COVID-19! COVID-19”

Tell me why.

Why don’t these other things matter?

Why are these hundreds of millions or even billions of other voices silenced?

Please, tell me. Why is COVID now the only thing that matters now?? Does anyone know?

All this pain is not adding up.

I’ll wait for my answers. You’ll know where to find me.

Locked up in my fancy, lonely, prison… called home.

Canada · Christmas · COVID-19

The Things I Cry Over

One thing that has shocked me lately are my tears.

They just don’t make sense.

This week I have gone through alot. We all have. Most people either know someone sick, hospitalized or dead from COVID-19. Or someone about to crack mentally from all the restrictions. We are all maxed out: Physically, emotionally, and mentally. Even the kids.

I have gotten no answers about my health, although right now my pain is almost gone. I literally checked for my COVID-19 test results every minute for three days straight until at last the news came:

Yay! My family is free to go to school and work again. Though I am still stuck home because I have nothing essential to do outside of the house.

Now, one would think it not possible, but here in Manitoba further restrictions have been made. Deaths are happening everyday and so I understand why… but I still don’t agree with it all.

Not being allowed to have one person over? Or shop for Christmas gifts. Not being able to go to my dear husband’s grandma’s funeral (not even a drive by funeral) because they are restricted to five people?

My husband’s sweet grandma died this week (not from COVID), but though there was pain in my heart, not one tear fell. Later that day, we tried to set up the Christmas tree. It looked ugly and the lights were broken.

I bawled.

Why?

I chatted with some friends, and they shared some very painful struggles. Unimaginable situations are happening all around the world. Really hard things. Mental health issues, financial strain, separation from loved ones, marriage struggles.

Yet no tears fell.

This morning our coffee maker broke. I wept as if I lost a dear friend.

Why is it that I am crying over insignificant, replaceable, material things – but my tears don’t come over the things that really break my heart?

I think, perhaps, because it’s easier.

My mind knows the problem when the Christmas tree lights don’t work. What it doesn’t know, is how to sort out all my feelings with the sickness, the stress and the world being shut down.

Holidays are approaching, but Christmas is the furthest thing from my mind. All gatherings have been cancelled. There will be no Christmas programs, or sleigh rides. Local stores are no longer allowed to sell non-essential goods, for we are trying to keep shopping numbers down. So no walking through the isles with Christmas music in the background, shopping for presents.

We have no plans for the foreseeable future. Nothing to look forward to. The day to day toil of trying to help my kids process their complicated emotions, while pushing my own aside has me on edge.

I’m stuck at home, when I’d rather be anywhere else.

It all doesn’t make sense.

But a broken coffee maker, that my mind can grasp.

I’m sure the professionals out there would have a highly sophisticated term or explanation for these random tears of mine.

I just call it grief.

COVID-19

When COVID-19 becomes Real

In the current crisis, I’ll admit, I’ve been sceptical about what is true and what is not.

I’ve been searching for truth and it seems on either side it has been skewed… either by angry and fearful people wanting to shut down the world and hide away until COVID-19 “disappears” or the other extreme of anti maskers calling this a “plandemic” thinking that this is some crazy power grab by the government.

Well as one who enjoys my freedoms, and as one who hates wearing masks, and who also cares about the economy – especially small businesses- I have to share this, I just have to. For there are far too many people are taking one side or the other – and now I see both.

COVID-19 is real.

And those who think this is nothing, need to see what I just saw. Not to stir up fear, for the media is doing a fine job of that, but to be snapped back to reality: that this is actually serious. And it’s not just affecting the elderly.

I’m not afraid of it but last night, it personally affected me and I got a tiny glimpse into the way it affects the healthcare system when people don’t mind the rules.

Our area has been relaxed, it has felt almost normal compared to the rest of the world and in many ways, it was a breath of fresh air to me. Until now.

We have hit code red in Manitoba, and we entered the “circuit breaker” lockdown on Thursday. I disagreed with the extreme measures that were being taken. I thought that the people should be careful and reasonable, but that the government had no place to tell us that we couldn’t have social gatherings. I still don’t like it… but now I do see why it’s being done. On top of the outbreak in Manitoba, I live in a city with a small town feel and COVID-19 has hit unsustainable numbers. We currently have 2X the rate of COVID than Winnipeg does. And our hospital can’t handle it.

Enter my sudden illness. 

Not Covid-19, but something else, and possibly more serious for someone in their early 30s. I do not see doctors easily. In fact, as I called in for my appointment (because clinics are shut down), I realized that I hadn’t been seen for almost 3 years now. It’s been 10 years since I’ve been to the emergency room for myself. After 3 different calls, and 3 different opinions later, I decided to go in to emergency to get checked out because two of the nurses had stated emphatically that it was essential I get seen ASAP. Also I am in a lot of pain.

So I entered the ER and I have never seen, in Canada, what I saw yesterday. There were so many, many SICK people, too many to be seen. Some had been there for 8 hours or more, in the waiting room, because all the beds were full. I’m sure at the sound of the hacking in the room and the feverish faces that half of them had Covid-19. (For the first time ever, I was glad for my mask.) And no, not all of them were elderly. At least two of them were 50 or younger. 

After sitting there for THREE HOURS, I finally got checked in by a nurse. In the meantime, no one from the waiting room had gotten called in to see a doctor, because the rooms were full. A few ambulances came – bringing in more patients struggling breathe and obviously those people were getting care, but it looked like they were the only ones being seen. It suddenly became clear to me that I would be sitting there all night unless I was bad enough to need an ambulance myself. And that’s when I realized that we are in trouble.

The one hero nurse that was working at the front desk looked so tired. I heard her say that they were severely understaffed and that it was only getting worse each day. People were anxious, people were complaining, one man was moaning in the corner from the moment I came in until I left, never getting seen.

That’s right, I left. 

After four hours I got bloodwork done and still had not seen a doctor, not even one walking around. I was in too much pain to sit in a chair any longer and I personally didn’t want to catch COVID on top of my other issues, so I got up and told them to call me with the results from my tests, then hobbled out. I decided that if I got too bad in the night, we would just have to go in by ambulance because that is the only way I would be getting seen.

This, my friends, is why we are isolating. So that our healthcare workers don’t burn out. So that the system doesn’t fail. Because, yeah, maybe only the weak and elderly are dying from Covid-19, and maybe to the young and healthy that doesn’t matter. But I am young (32) and I was healthy, and now I need to be seen by a doctor but I can’t. Because the hospitals are full. So please, don’t wait until your area gets this bad. There is a reason for the restrictions. I hate them. I hate this whole situation. But I’m now taking this seriously… maybe too late.

To our healthcare workers: I’m praying for you. Thank you for all you are doing. Please keep going, we need you.
COVID-19

A Serious Wound

The pain hurt.

By not as much as the bystanders. Those who looked on and saw, but did not act. They saw the tears, they witnessed what was happening. But turned away.

And. Did. Nothing.

The wounds, I’m told, could’ve been worse

“…you’ll just make things worse by continually bringing this up. Suck it up and move on for the greater good. That was the “helpful” counsel received. With those words, I was forced to go on my way. I slipped on my mask, too heavy to bear.

The pain hurt.

But to not be taken seriously, that was what killed me.

There are three things that prompted my short story above:

  • Current world events surrounding COVID-19 restrictions and blindspots.
  • A scripture passage I read in Jeremiah.
  • About a dozen people I’ve talked to who’ve suffered quietly for way too long, unheard and silenced.

A few years ago, I spoke to a woman who had been a victim of sexual abuse throughout her childhood. As we talked it became clear that she had amazingly moved past the tragedy and even forgiven her perpetrator. However, there was still so much anger she felt towards her past church and certain family members that I was surprised to see, considering her ability to forgive this other man.

When I asked her about why she thought that she had been able to forgive this man who did unspeakable things to her, but couldn’t forgive the people who had done nothing, this was her response:

In the world we come to expect bad things from bad people. It’s just broken like that. But when good people, people you love and trust, stand by and let evil happen – that can completely ruin you forever.”

When good people are indifferent to evil, the world loses hope.

We seem to understand mental health today better than ever before. And yet never before has our world been so indifferent and unsympathetic to this REAL pain of loneliness many are facing. These stories are going unheard in the media’s push to focus on COVID-19.

Never before have we tried so valiantly to brush it aside. The mental health crisis and current loneliness people are feeling right now are real issues. IMPORTANT ISSUES. Issues, that if not addressed, may become fatal without us even noticing it.

Yet, I sometimes wonder if our world has forgotten this. In our struggle to “stay alive” and keep as many vulnerable people safe from Covid-19 as possible, we’ve denied ourselves of a human NEED: social interaction.

The anger and frustration many people are feeling isn’t just from being “entitled, selfish humans” but a direct result of denying themselves of a basic human need when they could not see any difference being made.

We shut down everything for months. We were told it was to be temporary, to “flatten the curve”.

And we did.

The curve not only flattened, it plummeted. In fact for a whole month in my area there were “zero” cases. That was after four months of shut down.

But life can’t stay shut down forever. We know this, don’t we??

Do we?

Fast forward eight months later, I rarely see anyone out and about without a mask anymore. Church isn’t even church, we stick to our own family and seem miles away from anyone else. Yet cases continue to rise and one begins to wonder: Are all our efforts even doing anything?

Those who’ve lived in isolation, continually glued to their screens are still blaming it all on “careless” people, becoming hard and judgemental. Reporting neighbours with visitors. Harshly judging others without hearing the story behind these gatherings.

Can we consider this for a second… That not since World War II have people been so willing to call in their neighbours for having company over?

Who are we becoming? What are we doing?

I was all on board with closing down businesses and restaurants back in spring, willingly going along with the plan to “flatten the curve.” Orders to shut down gatherings and religious ceremonies were obeyed wholeheartedly. Closing schools for “three weeks” which turned into “three months” which morphed into summer vacation, we all agreed and followed – without question.

Even with wearing masks inside buildings, most people obeyed, though some did question the usefulness of them. We listened because we could see the heart behind this and knew it was the government doing their best to take steps to not overwhelm our healthcare system.

These were important things.

But calling on citizens to tell on their neighbours for having people down? That is a line I am unwilling to cross.

This is a call from the government that is absolutely alarming to me, one that we should all take a serious look at. If we are indeed, so “concerned”, Why not ask our neighbors about the reason for their gathering? Why not send a text?

Because those telling on others are cowards.

They’re cowards! It’s easy to anonymously “call-in” and tell. But to have an awkward conversation to get the full story, that’s hard! It takes effort.

We have equated normal social interaction, with willingly bringing harm on those around us and it cannot be treated the same.

If a person meets with a friend to encourage them and unknowingly passes on Covid… and say, this friend dies as a result, are we seriously equating that with murder?

Most would say absolutely not!

Yet the government of Manitoba is coming out with a commercial that is saying just that. They have taken a man’s real life story and exploited him to spread a message of fear. He lived a normal life and as a result had a loved one die of COVID-19 and they are making an advertisement out of it.

This young man was NOT responsible for the death of his grandmother.

COVID-19 was.

Viruses are out of our control. We have never been able to control a virus before and this is the first our world has literally believed we could outsmart a virus.

This illusion of control is killing us! It’s ruining us. It’s tearing apart families and neighbors.

“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:14

We have some very lonely people and some very serious wounds we are facing. It’s time we address them instead of shaming people and ignoring their needs. I believe it’s only a matter of time with all the pent up anger and division before we may face riots and civil war that will look much worse than any virus.

Living behind plexiglass barriers, masks and meeting on FaceTime chats for a year isn’t normal.

Let’s not try to pretend as if it is.

COVID-19 · Faith · Peace

Code Orange and Peace

Peace.

It was an unexpected feeling as the inevitable restrictions were announced on Friday.

But there it was. I felt peace.

We are now in Code Orange in Manitoba, Canada, which means gatherings are limited to 5 people. Our family size is seven, which means that for the foreseeable future we will not be invited out. Or dining out. Or doing anything… out.

Schools are trying to distance students further apart and distance learning at home has become an option again. Everything is reducing capacity.

Joy.

Unexpected, completely unexplainable joy. That is how I’m feeling in all this.

I can’t explain why I have no fear, other than the fact that I truly believe that God’s got this. I believe that the events I see unfolding before me are for a reason and I TRUST him.

I trust him.

Winter will soon be upon us and winter in Manitoba is LONG. Put us in lockdown and it may be unbearable.

Yet I look around me and I see a family of shining faces that fill my heart. I see cupboards that are full. I have more than I could ever need or want and yet… it’s not this which gives me peace.

My peace is in Jesus.

“Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, ‘you are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing.’ ” Psalm 16:1-2

I have NO good thing, apart from God.

How could David truly mean this as he wrote this passage?

He had lots of good things! He was king, for crying out loud.

I have lots of good things! Yet, although I do have many good things, I understand exactly what he means. You see, if my joy, peace and hope, rest in the good things I own, then to be honest, I would not have this peace.

Not at all.

Because every thing I have or own can be taken away. My family could die in an instant. Poverty could strike and we could lose everything we own.

But I have one good thing that cannot be taken from me, no matter what happens: Jesus.

Why am I writing this today?

It’s because, dear friends, there are so many Christians today that are afraid. They are anxious about the economy, terrified of either the virus or the restrictions, fearful of the elections happening in the states and they are scared into a corner, feeling helpless and hopeless.

Am I saying that we just need to pretend everything is ok? Of course not! Peace isn’t saying that everything is OK!

Am I saying that we should just ignore what’s going on in the world? No! We are called to watch and pray.

The problem is, there are a whole lot of Christians doing mostly watching (watching the news, social media, conspiracy theory’s, etc..) and not a whole lot of PRAYING.

Because, church, this is our time to SHINE!

When everything is dark, that is when we see the stars the brightest! No one goes outside and stares at the black sky and says look how much darkness is upon us. We see the stars. The beautiful, magnificent stars.

And we praise God, in awe.

Today let’s shine. Speak kindly to a stranger. Encourage someone who is downcast. Love your enemies (ESPECIALLY those who are voting for the OTHER candidate 😁), and PRAY.

So that whatever happens in the world, there will still be little lights, glowing beautifully in the darkness.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold for me to the word of life.”

Philippians 3:14-16

COVID-19

That Which Defiles

Never have I experienced hate from a complete stranger like I did yesterday. Let me explain:

I was on a field trip with my two homeschooling children. We did all the right things: kept our distance from people, wore our masks, and respected the rules.

While walking from room to room, sometimes we had to pass other people. This is life. It just so happened that as my child was rounding the corner to use the bathroom and I tried to follow him, an older gentleman ahead of us suddenly backed up into me. We collided and he stumbled forward.

At this point all the manners I have been taught from childhood on took hold and I reached out to help the man and ask if he was all right. He had bumped into the side wall and was shaking slightly, but he held out his hand and looked at me with angry eyes. Then he began to shout, “Stay away from me! Back off! Get away!”

At first I hesitated, confused at his overreaction. But then it dawned on me: He was not seeing me as a person, but as a potential COVID-19 carrier.

I was near him, so he was angry.

I backed up before he could physically push me away and he shook his fist as I turned to leave.

And it really struck me that this was not the only situation like this. In fact, there was another lady that was at the same field trip that day who had a kid come up to her and ask her a question, but the mother of that child cut her off, saying in a loud voice: “DISTANCE!”

Or my cousin who was at IKEA when she saw a lady tip her cart and the contents spilled out. As she approach to help, the lady also yelled at her to get back.

These are just three situations that I have personally heard about, but I guarantee that there are many more.

Are we really that dense… That we’ve come to believe that THIS is “loving”?

People think THIS is beneficial?

We are getting it preached at us day in and day out. To care for people, one must:

– keep their distance from others

-refrain from gathering

-cover their face and nose

-lock up the weak and elderly

Where’s the call from our leaders about helping each other out? Where’s the mandate about showing kindness? And for those like to say “Christians are SO judgemental!” …Are they not the very ones judging by mere appearances when they see a face without a mask and assume the worst? That the person must be lazy, ignorant or selfish?

Not all people can easily wear them! You or I might be able to, but not everyone can! In fact, I would have no problem with wearing a mask and keeping my distance, if it weren’t for these things changing people so much!

It is. It’s changing us.

I used to chat and laugh with total strangers as I shopped. Now we all avoid eye contact and hurry about with our heads down.

All to control something we CAN’T.

Do you hear that? We cannot control sickness!! Maybe it is time we stop trying to play God.

Maybe it’s time to realize that while there are steps we can take to try to keep our health care systems from becoming overwhelmed, sickness is an unfortunate part of life.

We cannot control viruses. They will run their course, and we need to do our best, yes, to wash and stay home while sick. But for the love of God, we need to stop this insanity!!

We are a ‘civilized society’, and yet we have gone back to yelling at total strangers “Unclean! Unclean!”

Interestingly enough, I’ve never heard anyone condone the treatment of lepers in Bible times. These men and women were outcasts of society. They went about deformed and socially ostracized. They also got told to “Stay Back!!” They had to socially distance every single day of their lives.

Yet, to the horror of the Pharisees, there was one person who did not fear the disease they carried: Jesus.

He didn’t see a disease, he saw a PERSON.

“A man with leprosy came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus was filled with compassion. He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately the leprosy left him and he was clean.” (Mark 1:40-42)

Not only did Jesus see an ‘unclean’ person, he did the unthinkable… he TOUCHED that person.

Can you imagine what would happen if Jesus lived today? Oh horror of horrors!

“He’s spreading COVID! He must hate people!!”

That’s what the Pharisees of today would say. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself:

“The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders…) 5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’

8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is devoted to God—12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.15 Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

What Jesus was saying here is that the word of God should ALWAYS take precedence over our human rules. Therefore, if obeying my government means loving people, I should most definitely obey the rules. BUT if the rules get in the way of loving people, I am to lay aside the rules and follow God first.

Today, I’m choosing to obey my government by following the rules because, mostly, they ARE loving.

I’m choosing to love people by trying to keep them safe, to wear masks in public buildings and to keep my germs to myself. I choose to obey and stay within the current restrictions for gatherings. I choose to stay home when I am feeling unusually sick.

However, I also choose to love them, even if it looks like taking my mask off so a deaf person can read my lips, or picking up groceries another has spilled or helping an elderly man who has fallen. I choose to smile and say hi to those around me and treat them with decency… Whether they wear masks or no masks, or vote liberal or conservative!

In this way, I recognize that a virus can not and will not defile me. I choose to SEE people, to love them, and to not fear being near them.

No, COVID-19 will not defile you. But fear and bitterness will.

COVID-19 · self-control

My Silent Protest

Ok, so I’ve been silent. Blame it on what you may: busyness, weariness, speechlessness. Any of the above would be true.

But my silence has been more than that. It’s been reflective. It’s been intentional. At times, I’ve been tempted to start a post based solely on my opinions, my frustrations, and viewpoint on current world events… but as I type, I wonder, “What can I say, that hasn’t already been said?”

What can I write that not a million other souls have expressed in various ways on social media, news commentaries, or other outlets? And all speaking with such certainty, such passion.

They KNOW things. And they share these things eagerly. Because they know that everyone on the opposing side is wrong, and they alone have the right point of view.

The only thing I know without a doubt, is that I don’t have a hot clue what is true or not anymore. Everyone has an argument and a professional who backs up their points. And who has the wisdom to say which of them is right?

Opinions aside, I feel quite tiny as I watch the world: Grasping desperately for some sort control, instead of facing the facts… there is nothing about our current world that is IN our control.

Is staying home, locked away and fearful, really “having control”?

Is “staying safe” actually within my ability to control? Can I ever guarantee my own safety or the safety of those around me?

Is a mask a fool proof way of keeping the virus out? Just ask the many healthcare workers who’ve worn mask day after day, only to test positive.

There are no absolute safe guards. Eventually one has to come to terms with the fact that COVID-19 and the passionate responses of everyone around them to the pandemic are completely and utterly out of our control.

The governments rules and regulations are out of our control.

Is the virus serious? To some, it is.

Has it been overblown? To some, it has.

Are we doing the right things? Are we making mistakes?

Not even “the professionals” seem to know.

Still with all that we don’t know, people are shouting things with more conviction and force than ever before.

And I’ve been silent.

Quietly protesting an overly vocal world. My silence is my protest. It says: I’m tired of being one of the screaming voices who wants to be heard, I want to be one who listens.

Ha! Actually listening… There’s an old fashioned concept! Listening to both sides; stopping and considering before forming a response.

Not responding when I disagree.

My focus these COVID days?

Treating others as human beings. Learning that I don’t have all the answers. Realizing that most of life is out of my control.

And then coming to terms with it.

Today my son, my precious son, made me so angry I could barely breathe.

He flooded our new, almost finished, basement that we’ve been working on for the past few months. Plugging the upstairs drain and forgetting to turn off the tap, the water ran… down the particle board vanity, onto the floor, into the floor vent.

Drip, drip, drip. Into the ceiling tiles, the light fixture. Pouring down the wall onto the laminate floor. Swelling everything that was not made to soak in water.

A simple action out of my control.

Had I taught him better? Of course.

Had I been working 12 hour days to finish the basement before October? Absolutely.

But, the mistake that was made was completely out of my control.

And it’s funny what humans do when they suddenly find themselves out of control: They turn to anger.

Anger, as we all know, is actually the polar opposite of having control. It makes us out of control. Anger is a false sense of control.

Of course, I exploded. Of course, I lashed out in anger. But in the end, it did nothing for my situation. My basement was still damaged. The only control I could have in the matter was to fix the damage that had been made: Both the external damage of my sons mistake, and the internal damage of my angry words.

The only control I really have, is self-control. But do I have it?

Control, then, is not my angry or fearful responses, but my rational ones.

In order to find peace with this crazy world, I have to choose to accept that things I can not change, change the things I can, and have the wisdom to know the difference. (Paraphrased from Reinhold Niebuhr).

Silence is control.

Listening is control.

Humility is control.

Asking for forgiveness is control.

And so my silent protest is a plea: “Humanity: Let’s take back control… of ourselves.”

COVID-19 · Education · Homeschooling

Are you Homeschooling?

I’m hearing this particular question often these days. Whether from friends, family or mere acquaintances (who used to ask the question with a hint of judgement in their voice), now suddenly are interested, and inquiring as they make decisions for their own family.

“Yes, some of my kids.” Is the usual reply before I get barraged by a host of questions about curriculum, how I made my decision and where to even start with planning a school year.

I relax. Take a deep breath. And then reply that after 7 years of homeschooling, I have realized that I am not ever prepared to homeschool.

Yes, I’ve chosen my curriculum.

Yes, I’ve made a schedule.

Yes, I even have a special room.

But with kids, things rarely go as we imagine them to.

I have five kids and each one is unique. The have all been a blessing to teach, but every single one of them have had their struggles, in different areas. I can pick the perfect curriculum for one child, while the next child absolutely hates it. Then I switch things up for the next year and the other child loves the rigid teaching style, while the other four struggle to thrive. And then I face the problem with missing important things because I’m switching curriculum year to year. It’s never simple, but we’ve always made it work.

For those new to homeschooling, here’s a little secret: You simply will not achieve the perfect school year… BUT, you can definitely achieve a productive and rewarding one.

This year is different for everyone.

There are so many uncertainties each person has to face. Many, who would’ve never previously considered homeschooling before, are now delving into it.

I’ve also had some thinking to do.

I’ve homeschooled each of my kids through their elementary years. I always planned to send them back in middle school. The purpose of this was to make the transition to public school easier and for the opportunity for friendships to be formed before they entered a high school where one rarely has two classes with the same people.

Still, this didn’t stop me from reconsidering for this year.

I have never wanted to teach high school, and truthfully, I looked into it this year for my oldest son, but felt a tad overwhelmed. The stakes are higher with the older grades and questions that are pretty irrelevant for the younger years, are sobering now. What if I miss something and he falls behind? What if I miss the courses he needs for getting into college? What if the university/college he applies for doesn’t recognize a homeschool graduation diploma? And finally… these are his final years to form healthy friendships as an adolescent, how can I keep him home? So finally, I made the decision… he will be entering grade nine this fall in a local private school.

I was less sure about my middle schoolers, especially my son who struggles with asthma and can barely stand a mask on his face for five minutes before he starts flailing his hands, begging me to take it off. I offered both my daughter in grade seven, and my son in grade six that they could homeschool this year. I even ordered curriculum for them, but they both would really like to try out public school with their friends this fall. So, I agreed to let them try it out. If huge issues arise, we will simply take them back home.

As for my youngest two, they will be at home with me. They are in grades 1 and 3 and are the best of friends. Both enjoy being taught at home. They love the extra time they have in the afternoons to play and enjoy the slower pace of homeschool life.

I sit here and write, knowing full well I should be working and lesson planning because… well… school’s now just two weeks away, it’s canning season, and we are in the middle of basement renovations.

Each room is stacked with boxes and tables and furniture that should really be downstairs. I know some people fly through life with stuff thrown everywhere and don’t seem to mind. But as for me, when things aren’t in their rightful place, it leaves me feeling scatter-brained and frustrated.

Not a great way to start off the school year.

However, I know from experience that I can have the most organized classroom, but if my heart is not ready to teach, it will be a difficult year.

I have to be ready for a messy house some days, while I ignore the clutter and teach when I want to clean.

I have to be ready to adjust my plans when things aren’t working out.

I have to be ready to put away my phone during the teaching hours so that my children have their mother’s undivided attention.

I have to let some things be less than perfect.

I have to be ready for bad attitudes, sick days, children who are out of sorts ,and fighting siblings… I have to be ready for a lot of patience and selflessness.

I have to be ready to put of finishing my book for just one more year.

This year, my room doesn’t look ready… but my heart definitely is.

How about you? Are you sending your kids to school? Homeschooling for the first time? Are you ready? Let me know in the comments!

Faith · News

Tired of the News?

I can get so worked up about everything that’s happening in the world today. At times I still shake my head in wonder at how much change can happen in such a short amount of time.

Everyone homeschooling.

Social Distancing.

Elderly lockdowns.

Masks in public becoming mandatory.

The media trying to divide people more, and more, and MORE.

I had to shake my head yesterday when I watched a reporter try to get my Prime Minister to shame the President of the USA.

Seriously… why?!? Why is there a need for us to go searching for more reasons for offence? Aren’t people angry enough?

Isn’t it enough?

Sometimes I wish the news would be shut down. Just for a week. Watch people snap out of their obsession with current events and open their eyes to the events happening all around them. Wouldn’t that be a healthier way to live? We can’t help what’s happening in the world. We CAN help what’s going on around our homes and in our own neighbourhoods.

I can get angry at current events too.

Like the foolish doctor who lied and traveled without quarantining, resulting in a small outbreak amoung his patients… and then had the audacity to play the race card when people were upset.

Let me tell you, I didn’t know he wasn’t white and I was upset at him for being careless!

Don’t play the race card. Just don’t.

Prejudice is a real issue, racism is a REAL issue. But don’t do something careless and harmful and then blame it on your color of skin when people get rightly upset. That just makes a mockery of the actual racism going on around us every single day.

I’m also upset at the media.

Is COVID-19 a serious issue and social distancing a must? Or not? I’m tired of the double standards. Like why is this condemned:

And this not?

Why do we fine people for gathering in joy and support people for gathering in anger? (I’m not at ALL saying the people shouldn’t be upset at what happened… my point is rather that “social distancing” has been so strictly enforced that people coming too close to each other have been fined… but suddenly it doesn’t matter anymore?)

It’s a backwards world.

This morning, God reminded me of a scripture, which gentle rebuked my “News obsession” these past few weeks:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …So don’t worry saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things and your heavenly father knows your needs. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 7:25-33

And I realized, all this worry can accomplish nothing in my life.

Nothing!

And yet we are so filled with worry and stress, with helplessness and fear. But if God cares for the creatures – and nature itself – won’t he care much, MUCH more for his own children?

He knows our needs! Our job is to put aside worry and seek him first. As we seek his will for our lives and commit to living a righteous life before him, he will give us our needs. Seeking God and living righteously are in our control. Changing the world is not.

We all know that things aren’t what they seem. The messages we are getting from both sides of the media don’t add up. It doesn’t make sense how the “online commenting mob” condemns churches peacefully gathering and adhering to the guidelines, while thousands who are burning, looting and destroying are shown understanding and grace.

It doesn’t add up! And although asking questions is so important, what isn’t important is getting involved in conspiracy theory’s and comment wars while neglecting to take care of those around you.

What can we do? We all fear these events which are out of our control! We fear the world that is rapidly changing into a hate filled, rage full place where hugs and worship are banned, but hate is glorified.

Scripture says: “Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?”

No.

God is saying, “Do these thoughts, these worries change your situation? Then lay these worries down. I know the truth, I AM the truth. Seek me first, my kingdom and righteousness and I will care for your needs! In this world you will have trouble but take heart! I have overcome the world. You are not of this kingdom. Do not let your trust lie with the world’s government or healthcare system. Your trust is misplaced if you depend on the justice system or media for true justice.”

God is the ONLY just Judge.

May our prayer be, “Come Lord Jesus. Come and make everything right again. We wait for you. Creation groans for your return. We trust in you. Give us the right perspective for this season, and may we not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”