Love in the time of Corona

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone” Hebrews 12:14

We are starting our seventh week in quarantine. It’s very odd how quickly we adapt to a “new normal.” I was not one of the people racing out to get toilet paper, bread or milk. Even though I’m a dramatic person, I don’t like drama or sensationalism for the sake or riling people up. I do think we are in this together and #stayhome is #savinglives so I’m all for that. I know people who have had the virus and I know people that have died from it…it’s very sobering. When I start to get upset that yet another gray hair is showing or my piggies are begging to pampered in a pedicure chair, I’m reminded that there are far bigger problems facing us as a nation right now and I need to get over myself and dial it back down.

Maybe it’s not ok to admit this, but I’m enjoying our time in quarantine. We have NO schedule. I gave up wearing a watch weeks ago. We sleep when we want, get up when we want. Our family is enjoying the slow pace of life and I couldn’t be happier about these stolen weeks spent with my favorite people (even though most days I’m coaxing my three teenage sons from their rooms with home cooked meals, or cookies…they respond to cookies). The boys have been helpful, relatively clean and we have had a good time! Connor is headed off to college in the fall and I feel like this extra time with him has been the greatest blessing! There’s no fighting…it’s like we are the Musketeers! All for one and one for all! When I listen to my boys tell jokes, stories or laugh together-there is no sweeter sound on this planet.

Am I allowed to feel happy during this time? I’m going to say yes and take the win! My husband and I love being together…I mean….we LOVE it! If we are both home, we are together. We like the same shows, we each think the other is hilarious, and this time with him to slow down, walk the dog every day, talk about our hopes and dreams is such a gift! I treasure this time together that’s not dictated by schedules and the demands of a busy life.

I’m knitting a pandemic afghan, reading books and doing my part for the economy via online shopping. I cook five nights a week and support local restaurants the other two nights. I’ve learned a TON about digital content and how to reach my sweet children in my ministry via Facebook and remote ways to stay connected. I’ve watched tutorials on make-up tips for women over 40, started a lifestyle plan to shed some lbs and get better mental focus and energy, and I’ve written my next book. I feel creative in this time because I’ve had some space from “normal” and being “abnormal” with my routine has been creatively freeing.

There are things I miss but that’s not this post. That’s not what today is about. Today is about love in the time of Corona and saying it’s ok to find joy in this time. I don’t know how much longer life will look like this. I’m grateful for our health and safety and continue to pray for those around us and who are on the front lines. For now, I’m off to try a meatball sub recipe for dinner…and tomorrow is Taco Tuesday.

 

A good old Corona Cry

 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

When I first heard the words “social distancing,” “quarantine,” “don’t leave your house” I was totally fine with this. I get to hang out in my house all day with my favorite people, my faithful dog and watch Netflix? No problem! I’ve considered my days a success if I change from pajamas to lounge wear. My kids are older so e-learning has been a breeze for me! The most difficult parts of my day have been learning “tech” to do online videos for my beloved kiddos in my ministry. But even then I’ve convinced myself that I’m working my brain during this crisis through acquiring knowledge about iMovie, YouTube and creating/maintaining a Facebook page. I like myself, I like my family, I like my house, I can entertain myself. I was made for a quarantine.

Until this morning…

I spent the week preparing and making my video to send to my kids who I wouldn’t be with in church today. My favorite day of the week is Sunday. I love seeing my families!!!  I got my cup of coffee, ready to make the most of virtual worship, grabbed my husband and relaxed on my couch! I was ready to be fed with some JESUS!!! My pastor and friend appeared on the screen. He was in our Gathering space at church…a place that at this very moment on a Sunday would be filled with people I love…my friends…the people I worship with. The Gathering space was empty. As Jerry began to describe what would typically be happening on any given Sunday (except this one) I felt the sadness invade my soul. The tears started to well and then the crying started. I wasn’t made for a quarantine!!! I was made to be with all the people I love. I’ve worked at ZPC for 12 years and this is the 2nd Sunday in a row where I haven’t been with my kids, my teachers, my friends, my church family. I am NOT ok…I’m so NOT ok.

ZPC- I miss you. I always shout from the rooftops that I love my job and have the best job on the planet. This time away has made me reflect that indeed, I do love my job. I do have the best job on the planet. I’m tired of Netflix. I want to wear more than Pj’s and sweats. I want to get back to relationships. I am NOT ok with social distancing…social distancing is the worst. One of the questions in our sermon today was “what do you miss?” I miss my church. I miss my co-workers. I miss my friends. I miss you. I’m tired of Netflix…I have watched everything.

I will continue to do my civic duty and stay away from all of you but this is hard. One of the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve been through divorce, my kids have had their struggles, I live with two autoimmune diseases…I know hard. I hate hard. BUT I love all of you and during this time I will be praying for your safety, talking to you through FaceTime and Zoom, seeing you on Facebook and Instagram. You’re in my heart. Keep the pictures coming…I love seeing them!

Yesterday, I got some yarn and downloaded a pattern to make an afghan. I’m turning off Netflix and working on sharpening some of the old knitting skills! My Pandemic throw will be an heirloom to share with my grandchildren someday…yes, I’ve become that person.

 

 

I’m the Meanest Mom

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16

There is nothing I love more than celebrating the freedoms that our country is founded on. “We the people” is close to my heart and NOW is a time for “we the people” to come together to fight the Coronavirus. I believe in social distancing, flattening the curve, allowing those who are elderly or have a weakened immune systems to enter grocery stores early to get supplies without risk of danger to their health. I have extreme gratitude and mad respect for those who are risking their health to help those that need it. My heart goes out to parents who are struggling with the new found job of “teacher.” My oldest son was born three months after 9/11 and will potentially graduate from high school virtually among the Pandemic of 2020. I understand that we are a nation (world) of people who are frightened, unsure, worried….

I am prepared to deal with these emotions in my home, with my friends, in my ministry. I am a very strong person and I can take a lot! I’ve got you! I’m best at yelling out the battle cry and cheering us on as “we the people” hunker down and fight this thing! All for one and one for all!

What I have been unprepared for, what has me the most upset…is the reaction of my fourteen year old son, Cooper. He is beside himself that this has ruined his social life including friends, sleep overs, shooting hoops and eating out. Today, our beach vacation for spring break was cancelled. The beach is closed because people are making wise decisions and doing their part to prevent the spread of this virus. His first questions was whether or not I was going to allow him to hang out with his friends and “ease up” on this social distancing thing? In complete and total transparency with you reader, my initial reaction was anger. I could feel it bubbling up inside me. Has this kid watched the news? Listened to his teachers? Participated in ANY conversation that involves a social conscience in the last two weeks??? I’m sure that read all over my face as I tried to remain calm and keep my voice even. I had to remind him again that, although we don’t know what the future hold, we have to practice social distancing not for him but for the benefit of others.

Easily, one of my top ten favorite movies of all time is Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan. I grew up with a “trekkie” and will go to the mat all day to defend the “original” Star Trek’s and no one is a better captain than James T. Kirk! My dad would have us watch all the original reruns and poo-pooed the Next Generation and so on. Dad is definitely a purist when it comes to that stuff. No remakes…nothing beats the original! At the end of the movie, Spock goes into this containment area to prevent the death of those on the ship who are facing nuclear disaster. The only problem??? Self sacrifice. As I watch through bleary tears every. single. time. I see Spock as he’s dying in the chamber and Kirk runs to him and asks “why?” Spock says “the needs of the many outweigh the needs or the few…or the one.” Spock then makes the Vulcan sign and Kirk responds in kind and that’s how Spock dies (sorry if this spoiled the movie if you haven’t seen it).

Not that I’m asking Cooper to be a Hollywood statistic, give me the Vulcan sign and call it a day BUT I do want him to THINK OF THE NEEDS OF THE MANY!!! I want him to think of his grandparents, the seasoned saints at our church. I have a weakened immune system…I would like him to think of me. It’s exhausting telling him “no” all day everyday but “no” is what he will hear. No, we will not endanger those around us. No, we will not think of ourselves before others in this crisis. No, we will not forget to do good and sacrifice for others, because it is what God has commanded us to do.

This is a season of hard, uncertainty and valuable life lessons. My goal is to raise thoughtful, socially aware children. My big three for parenting are 1. identity in Christ 2. Be Kind 3. Leave the world better than when you found it. Social distancing falls into the third category and it’s that simple. So, I’ll grab my broom and witches hat and continue to be the meanest mom because (just maybe) there’s a lesson in there and my prayer is that he will listen and obey.

Book recommendation for those who feel anxious: Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado

Movie recommendation for those who like awesome movies: Star Trek II, Wrath of Khan

 

 

 

 

 

Faith over Fear

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phillipians 4:6-8)

I’ve been asked to speak to a MOPS group tomorrow and the topic is “Faith over Fear Parenting.” What I really want to do is tell these beautiful, sweet young moms who are nursing their little darlings that still smell good (ahhhhhh is there anything better than new baby smell????) that this is the easiest it will ever be…drop the mic…and move on with my day! They haven’t entered into school (bullies), sports (cuts), academics (what do you mean a “C” was your best work???), hygiene (deodorant does a body good), driving (I don’t even have the words), interest in the opposite sex (that was a fun talk…not) and preparing to send said darling baby to college because he’s now at 18 year old adult man because you once blinked and that’s how fast the time has gone.

I won’t do that because no matter what I say or what anyone would have said to me, it’s hard to imagine when you’re in the trenches of motherhood that it will truly go that fast. When carseats were tough and you had to go to the fire station because you didn’t trust your own instincts that baby Scooter was truly safe. I remember being convinced that Connor would be a bilingual baby so I started labeling everything in Spanish and English…nothing prepares you for the disappointment of your pediatrician  sending you to First Steps because forget Spanish…he’s not even speaking English…

The worry, the anxiety, the stress, that “Am I good enough” is enough to drive a woman over the edge. If it weren’t for one critically important thing. You are never alone. Not for a minute and it’s not the baby pulling at you or your toddler watching you go to the bathroom. It’s not your husband or your friends (although NEVER underestimate the power of your girlfriends). You’ve got a Heavenly Father that always on your side! In the worst of times…he is there. When you fall, he is there. Your biggest cheerleader? Again, it’s God. My advice to these wonderful moms is to be so reliant on God that he’s your first thought when you wake up and your last thought as your head hits the pillow. Yes, struggles, tragedy, exhaustion, depression, surprise, wonder, absolute delight, storms, pain, joy….they are all part of parenting. It’s the ultimate ride in your favorite amusement park. God is beside you, sometimes carrying you, every step of the way. Fear is a sense of danger. This is reality. Your children could be put in a fearful situation. Don’t do that!! When we get bogged down by anxiety that’s the “what if” game and homey don’t have time to play that game. It’s dangerous, worry has no place in your life and take it to God. He’s the creator of the world…he’s big enough to handle your problems and help Junior out too.

I would never diminish the relentless job of parenting and we are all in this together. I want to encourage you to be a light for those around you. Some of us are struggling and the struggle is REAL. Be a friend, get a tribe, don’t to this alone. And above all, do not judge other women or other parents. I saw something on Facebook recently that said “Motherhood is like eyeliner. We are all just winging it!” True that!

Parenting an Adult???

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Well it’s happened. My baby, my firstborn turned 18 in December. Someone once told me that the days are long but the years are short. I think when you’re in the throws of parenting toddlers it’s hard to imagine that the years are short because the days are hella long. But now, as we are in his Senior year of high school, he’s 18 and heading off to college in the fall, I think about that phrase a lot and it’s so true.

Three weeks before Connor turned 18 he sat me down and announced that there was no way he could finish all the merit badges he needed to complete his Eagle Scout requirements. He has been a scout since he was six years old, completed the mandatory Eagle project and when he told me this I sobbed my brains out. I have listened to the wise advice of  parents who had gone before me….the ones who told me there were valuable lessons in letting your child fail. I absolutely believed this until it came to the failure of my son. The fact that he had come so far….to climb the rope and slide back down without ringing the bell…was NOT okay!!! I contacted the Scout Master and by the Grace of God, he rallied the  troops and these amazing men came alongside my son and dragged him over the finish line. He had his board of review on his 18th birthday and passed. We are now planning his Eagle Court of Honor ceremony.

I realize that I’m less important to him in the mundane day to day living. I’m painfully aware that he wants my opinions and views less and less. I’ve heard “I’m an adult now” more times than I can count. While I appreciate and accept his autonomy as he finds his way in this world I want Connor to know that I’m always there for him. I’ll always be his biggest cheerleader and right or wrong I’ll drag him across that finish line myself when I think he needs the “W.”

A new year, a new decade, change…growing pains for both of us and I learn to let go and he learns to fly. By the way…we were playing a game last night at a family birthday party and you had to name your biggest accomplishment. He said his was getting his Eagle Scout. #proudmama

Christianity and the Greek System

I remember vividly being a fresh-faced college freshman walking along and admiring “Fraternity Row.” The large beautiful homes proudly displaying their Greek letters and emblems.  I couldn’t wait to go through rush (the rigorous process of visiting each sorority and ranking them while they in turn rank you…not stressful at all…HA)! I desperately wanted to be part of the social and philanthropic aspects of sorority life. The Greek population at Ball State University in the mid-nineties only counted for about 20% of the student population. I successfully navigated rush and got into a sorority that I loved! It felt so special. I shared something in common with all the men and women that had chosen to take the plunge and rush a fraternity or sorority. Even though we may have been in different houses, we all came together under the category of “Greek life” and being part of that group felt really good. It was a sisterhood I could depend on, fun, laughter, and friendships that continue to this day. Some of my best days have been spent with my “sisters” and I look back fondly at those memories.

Picture it…Bid Day of Fall 1993 a day of nerves and anxiety in spades! In college, after you have visited every *house and met all the girls (you choose them but then they have to choose you back). Then all the girls who participated in rush are gathered in the gymnasium for the big reveal. You’re given an envelope containing the “magic words” that you’re expected to leave unopened until told otherwise and wait patiently with it on your lap while the people in charge give you the spiel about how it was a difficult process and some people may be disappointed blah blah blah.  Finally, the go ahead is given and you find yourself ripping open your envelope with lightning speed to see where you will be pledging your love and loyalty for the next four years of your college existence (and more if you choose to become an active alumni).

*At Ball State sororities didn’t have houses, we had suites.

I clearly remember opening my envelope and seeing my first-choice sorority! Looking back, I wish I had saved that card that clearly had Welcome to Alpha Phi written in script. It was so exciting and new and wonderful! I was giddy with the thought of being part of this special group. I had four amazing years with my sisters and best friends. Parties, fraternities, Alpha Phi does a lot for the American Heart Association and it was great to be involved with that on a charitable level.

Then you graduate and unless you get directly involved with the Alumni or choose to work for a fraternal organization it pretty much moves to the back of your consciousness. Jobs, houses, spouses, kids, dogs, laundry…life. It can leave you feeling lonely…accept that there is a “Greek System” available to us and it’s through the community in our churches. As a body of believers, we are all in the special club! It’s the club of Salvation and your Bid Day card says Welcome to Eternity with the Prince of Peace. How awesome is that?!? Within that club we have different choices. The Tri-Delt’s (Methodist), Pi-Phi’s (Lutherans), Kappa Delta’s (Presbyterian), Evangelical Alpha Phi’s. Even though we are different and that’s a place that could easily divide us, we are under the larger umbrella of God. As believers we have an opportunity to proudly display our “letters and emblems” and invite people to join. Yes, this is a very special club but unlike the girls gathered around me on Bid Day who were openly crying because their envelopes didn’t have the beautiful script writing they were expecting. God is offering salvation and everyone is invited.

Loving Left

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

There are two absolutely polarizing topics that one is to NEVER mention in public without fear of permanent banishment from all things social. They are politics and religion. So, this makes life very dangerous? Exciting? When the very essence of the person you love most in the world is the polar opposite of you in not one but BOTH of these taboo topics.

I am a conservative Christian married to a liberal atheist. Has this made for some serious debates? You better believe it! Have I gone to bed hopping mad? Yep! Have we followed each other around the house arguing our point of view to exhaustion and in utter disbelief that we haven’t been able to change each other’s point of view on gun control, salvation or illegal immigration? 100%. Do we love each unconditionally? Yes to that one as well…he’s my person for better or worse. We have committed to love one another and fight with and for each other till death do us part. In full disclosure, we’ve come close to that a few times during some Presidential elections.  J

How has loving my husband changed me? I am gentler to those who don’t share my opinion. I am more open to hearing other points of view and why someone feels a particular way. I am less quick to judge. I am slower to anger. I am more accepting. I am a better listener.

I live with and share every detail of my life with someone who has fundamental differences from me. I would tell you that I think he’s the greatest man I’ve ever known. My ride or die. Do I want him to “see things my way” absolutely yes! I pray for him every day of his life. I have also stopped trying to change him. I love him where he is and for who he is. I’m grateful for the person I am because of him. He teaches me to love unconditionally and be kinder and more open to understanding. These are great things! I believe that he would say the same thing about me.

I am going to love my husband and appreciate that we are different people. We are always stronger together. Loving left…not for the faint of heart but totally worth it!