Let he who has never made a mistake cast the first stone…

In this weird, unprecedented time of social distancing, people are having to make decisions they’ve never had to make before.

  • Do I go visit my widowed, lonely mother and break my nuclear family quarantine?
  • Do I go to work and put my family in danger because of imminent exposure to the virus, or be fired leaving us with no income?
  • Do I break our isolation to bring my friend the meal I signed up for when she first found out she had cancer?
  • Do I send my kids to daycare so I can work even though a child tested positive for the virus last week?

The choices people are making are personal, and endless. The questions above aren’t hypothetical; they are real dilemmas four of my friends faced last month.

And it’s just getting harder. As the virus continues to spread, tougher decisions are being made and people, frustrated and afraid, are pointing fingers.

In an already heated political climate, this virus serves as an accelerant to the polarization of a nation, a Civil War divided by viewpoint instead of geography. Some blame the President; others think he’s doing the best he can given the mistakes of the World Health Organization. Some think lawmakers are going overboard and systematically stripping us of rights; others think they are trying to protect us. Some believe we are taking baby steps into the tribulation; others dismiss any notion of God, much less the rapture.

I look out the window, into a beautiful sunshiny day that belies the dark turn our country has taken, and I pause, unsure of what to say next. This isn’t a political blog, it never has been. I think God hates politics as much as he hates religion. He’s about people. He’s about relationships. And this is where I find myself today.

We are all in this together. (I feel like Zac Efron is going to jump up behind me with a basketball right now, but it’s true.) We should be supporting each other, not tearing each other down.

I believe people are inherently good. That’s not ignorance, it’s truth. We are made in God’s image, after all. Some do not know Him, do not believe in Him. I was once one of those people too. Did that mean I was formed differently or made to be a bad person? Not at all. It is His desire that we all will turn to Him.

In that vain, I believe that most people are making decisions at this time with the best of intentions. Sure, there are some who believe they are immortal and putting others at risk. (I have photos of a girl in 1985 who thought she was invincible. She looks oddly similar, albeit thinner than the girl I see in the mirror every day.) And there are people with hidden agendas using this for what they think is their master plan. (They are probably more ignorant than the teenager if they don’t realize they are merely marionettes for a fallen angel on a fool’s mission to seek revenge.) But MOST people are doing their best with the information they have.

That includes our leaders.

Michigan is taking a beating today as the governor has banned in-store purchases of non-essential items like arts and crafts, toys, and gardening supplies. I understand the reasoning- less to buy puts less in stores- although I also understand the mental health needs of keeping your hands busy and your kids entertained. My husband and I have it fairly easy. Two dogs who sleep more than we do, no kids at home, entertainment, food, and no schedule. In short, it’s almost like a vacation. Yet, even then, we get a little stir crazy. Today, I made a picnic lunch and we went outside and ate on a blanket. I needed the sun, needed the fresh air. It’s hard to determine what someone’s essential needs are, especially those in much more difficult situations than we are. Yet, this governor did. While I don’t agree with her decision, I’m giving her the benefit of doubt.

Last Saturday, a pastor in Virginia died of the coronavirus after holding services despite social distancing recommendations in March. He believed that God was stronger than the virus. Now that is a true statement; He wasn’t wrong. This pastor actually stopped holding services once gatherings were banned (though this is a lesser-known fact in the narrative) but he still died almost three weeks later. Did I agree with HIS decision? No. But I know the decision he had to make wasn’t easy because we had to make the exact same one ourselves. God had protected us from the flu, lice, and scabies when we worked closely with the homeless. He protected us from staph, strep, and c. diff when visiting hospital patients. Surely He would protect us from the coronavirus. Did that extend to our congregation? Did people need us to be open or did we need to close to keep them safe? Like the Virginia pastor, there were no bans in place at first, just suggestions, and for every member wanting us to shut our doors, there was one wanting us to stay open. It wasn’t an easy decision but ultimately we decided to shut our doors and move services online. Even then, we weren’t sure we’d done the right thing at first. This pastor made a decision, one that will be debated and even ridiculed for days to come, and instead of mourning his loss, the public is celebrating his demise.

Is this what we’ve come to?

I reached out to the pastor’s daughter yesterday. I knew what she was about to go through and I knew that the public would not only NOT be on her side, but they were going to be vicious. I wasn’t wrong. If Jesus went into a Yahoo forum and said let he who has never made a mistake, write the first comment….there would probably be just as many vile comments. Some have consciences seared with a hot iron and I can only pray the pastor’s family stays away from these articles and comments. And that she took comfort in our conversation yesterday, knowing that there were still people out there with compassion and empathy.

There’s a reason my heart has been with both of these situations today and that reason is my father.

Like the governor of Michigan, my dad made an unpopular decision as Chief of Police in the early 90’s. He banned the use of flag pins on police officer uniforms. He wasn’t opposed to the flag, or any patriotic symbol. But the uniform code clearly stated that no additional pins could be worn. He had to make a decision: enforce it as written or allow the flag pins, thereby opening arguments about other pins, one that could potentially cause division within the community. In order to keep the can of worms closed, he prohibited wearing flag pins. Oh. my. goodness. He was vilified in the press. Unpatriotic. Anti-american. People stole our trash cans, egged our house, shouted as they drove past. It was a decision he made, a mar on an otherwise easy tenure, that would have faced opposition no matter which way he went. My son, now an officer in the same department, points out the pins he now (legally) wears on his uniform. “Yeah they lifted that ban when you retired,” he lightheartedly teases. My dad, relieved that he no longer has to make such controversial decisions, just laughs. “Yeah, I probably would do that differently now.” Did he have an agenda? Was he an evil anarchist? Did he go on to turn Alexandria into a communist city with totalitarian leadership? Of course not. He made a decision about buttons.

Fast forward to today. My parents home is the hub of our extended family and PawPaw is the epicenter. While Louisiana itself was becoming another epicenter of the coronavirus, the activity at my parents’ house did’t slow down. I would fuss every day at the photos on the family thread of all the visitors. “THAT’S NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING!!” I’d scream. “Well I’m in just as much danger going to work,” Dad would reply. This was true. Flying daily to foreign countries was part of his job and a co-worker had already been let go for refusing to fly. Personally, I’d just as soon see my dad lose his job than his life, and told him often, but it was his decision to make. For three weeks I fussed about it though. Especially after fellow flight crew members tested positive. Then came the call. He’d tested positive as well and was very sick.

What was I going to say? I told you so? Little comfort THAT statement makes. Besides, I didn’t care. I just wanted him to be okay. If I could do it over, I would go back and spend those three weeks telling him I loved him and reminiscing instead of fussing. Fortunately he seems to be on the mend now but I won’t waste time on the hows and whys.

Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as well for this pastor’s family has had to hear things like He deserved it. No sympathy here. Serves him right.  Really? Since when does making a mistake deserve death? For that matter, how do we even know the two are mutually exclusive? What if he actually got sick at the post office? Or the grocery store? Anyway, does it even matter? A man died. A husband. A father. A grandfather. A friend. Is it necessary to put him on trial posthumously?

We need to put our blame-pointing fingers down, close our hatred-spewing mouths, and clean our battle-scuffed glasses to see the world just a little brighter….

 

It’s gonna be a bright…bright…sunshine-y day….

I’m here to tell you that there is light at the end of every dark tunnel. If you can’t see it, it’s either because you have a little farther to go or you’ve stopped in the middle.

I know, I holed up in a little dark alcove for awhile myself.

What makes me mad about that is I was like a rat, headed for the cheese in the same trap that got me so many times before. Yet, I blindly and ignorantly walked into it again.

Riddle: How do you get this author to get her Survivor torch snuffed out?

Answer: Get her sick.

It’s the devil’s go-to method with me and I’m sad to say it works 80% of the time. Maybe 90%.

One day I’ll learn that the joy and peace (and sanity) should RISE WITH a temperature, not go down.

Because after awhile, I’m in a vicious cycle. Am I still sick because I’m feeling so down and out? Or do I feel so down and out because I’m sick?

And this Covid-19 can really put you in a terrible head space: Is this an allergy cough? A corona cough? Who touched the gas pump before me? Does this Bath & Body Works hand sanitizer even kill germs? 

I’ll admit, I’m still a little freaked out. I have loved ones waiting on test results now and I am worried. But I also know that God is in control.

I had a revelation this morning. There are people on Facebook screaming “Come to God now!” “This is His judgment.” “You better turn.” And for the most part, people who believed, still believe. People who didn’t, still don’t. It baffles me.

I don’t know if this is the Lord’s judgment.

I do know this. He knew this was going to happen before it happened. And He can’t be very happy with the state of America. I mean, this is a country founded on Christian beliefs and that’s all but gone now.

So, yeah, maybe I’d be a little concerned and think, “Maybe we should look at this like we are doing something wrong.” But we don’t; none of us ever do.

We point fingers and lay blame and refuse to believe any opinion that’s not our own.

Quite like they did in the Old Testament.

“No, we don’t want to go into a land of milk and honey. We want to go back into bondage.” We are so scared of change and the fear of the unknown that we cling to what’s familiar, even if it is destroying us.

It’s time to let go of our crippling fears and anxieties. It’s time to push through the darkness and find that ray of light. It’s time to stand up and start moving toward that final prize, an eternity with the Savior.

Sick or well, alone or quarantining in a crowded house, rich or poor, essential or not, we ALL need to gravitate toward the hope that is in Christ. Only then will we be completely free.

Last night I had the strangest dream….

Last night I had the strangest dream…

…I sailed away to China, in a little rowboat to find ya..(lol not really but have fun not getting THAT stuck in your head for the next week!)

I did have a dream that was 99% nightmare and 1% hope right there at the end. But that 1% might as well have been 100% by the time I awoke because of the peace that flooded my soul.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

My dream started as many of them do, as a child with my family on vacation. Somewhere in there my kids appeared as did my husband. Yet I was still fairly young. (This may be a wishful thinking kind of thing, but in my dreams I’m never over 30 and always ALWAYS skinny!)

I then went through a maze of strange, unsettling events- ones I can trace back to book plots, tv shows, movies, and even past traumas or fears. It was weird, convoluted, and no doubt an effort for my ind to dispel and displace the darkness in my mind.

At some point, I was grocery shopping and went to put my groceries in the trunk. I then went back inside, the grocery store being where Pearson’s Drugs used to be in the Alexandria Mall and I went browsing through the mall until I got to the theater. This theater was in the Muskogee, OK Mall (though it was just one big mall in my dream) and I asked the ticket taker (from the stand they used to have outside the theater in Alexandria before the actual mall was built) if I could just go watch the previews without getting a ticket. She let me in and I was greeted with the Masons handing out wands and hats like they had when they drove their little cars at the circus. I sat down and started rocking in my chair when the people behind me asked me to stop rocking.

I  assured them I’d leave before the movie started but I was offended so I moved to a different section. That’s when I saw that everyone was in costume. Turns out, the pre-preview show was going to feature Reba McEntire and dance troupes from Dancing With the Stars and all at once it hit me, I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE IN QUARANTINE! How could I have forgotten?!

I hurried out of the theater but realized I still had my wand and hat so I went back in and handed them to the first person I saw. (This MUST be from an altercation with a movie usher over 3-D glasses I couldn’t find post-show in 2007!)

I quickly headed to my car but I  couldn’t find it anywhere! The entire parking lot was filled with white Buicks. (This is actually a recurring thought; I never noticed how many white Buick Encores there were until I got one.)

I backtracked to the grocery store so I entered the parking lot from that angle but it was nowhere to be seen.

I went back in to the store for security assistance. I couldn’t get security to help me. They told me I hadn’t looked hard enough. (I’m probably going to attribute this scene to frantically trying to get my husband a Covid-19 test, with no luck.) I went up and down every single aisle in the entire mall parking lot and it wasn’t there.

I went back to security and they agreed to let someone search with me. We went up and down each aisle, pushing the alarm button on my key fob.

At some point I was alone again, pressing the button when the alarm went off in a white van.

I knew instantly that my car had been stolen and was already chopped up for parts and put into this van. The guy standing by the van (arms dealer?) realized what was happening and he and three other heavily armored men came over to me.

While this dream may sound weird and slightly funny, in that moment it was terrifying. I knew it had something to do with the Coronavirus but it also had tinges of Bumblebee, the Transformers movie I’d watched with my grandkids. I was a threat and the target. And I was getting killed. Blow after blow I took, a gunshot wound to my chest. I was lying on the ground in pain, terrified, when I looked up.

And all I could see was Jesus.

I started singing hymns and I never took my eyes of Him. I briefly wondered if that would make them stop, make them retreat. But it didn’t. Or maybe it did.

I don’t know because I never took my eyes off Jesus. Whether they finished me off or left me to die, whether I succumbed to my injuries or whether I was healed, it didn’t matter. I felt nothing but His love. I saw nothing but His light. I worried about nothing but praising Him.

I woke up right after that, my head a little fuzzy but the message clear: No matter what I’m going through, be it now in the midst of the pandemic or later with another struggle, I will be just fine if I keep my focus on Him.