Dear “Does Anyone Hear Me?”
Are YOU ASKING Where COVID19 Has Hit YOU the Hardest? I am asking that for myself!
(This is the longest blog I’ve ever written, and there is a great place to opt out-you’ll see it; but WHY? We have all this time…read on, be encouraged, and then let’s get moving!)
We were recently asked in a radio interview:
“How has social distancing and the quarantine IMPACTED you?”
While we were ready to answer, it also took us on a little journey to a deeper place that really impacted us….a lot! Let’s get started:
At the core, I would say not much has changed. Because we were retired 9 months before the pandemic, we were already engaged in quite a bit of change. Negatively, we had 5 speaking engagements cancelled right out of the gate, but we tried very hard to look at this as a temporary thing, knowing these events can and will be rescheduled. We are most sad for those who’ve had graduations, proms, weddings, and even funeral memorials not happening. Those life events that can’t be rescheduled in the same way a regular event can be. But we continue on and are still doing things; they just look a little different:
- Discipleship Meetings = ZOOM
- Ministry Calls = ZOOM
- Talk with Family = ZOOM (NEED TO SEE and HUG them, soon!)
- Talks with some Friends = ZOOM or FaceTime
- Church/messages with our kids = ZOOM
- Less spent on gas = BOOM!
- More time together = BOOM!
- Our new book LOVE ALL-Ways interviews did get recorded thanks to MOODY programs: Janet Parshall and Chris Brooks. FAMILYLIFE’S interview, which was our last travel interview, will air in summer (June 15th-16th) and several podcast interviews: yep, ZOOM!
(Cindi, do we have stock in ZOOM?)
Ditto to what Joe said, and we need to make a call about ZOOM! In addition, having a son with special needs has had us in a semi-quarantined state for now 38 years. He can travel and such, but doesn’t prefer to, likes being indoors, and thus our choices of where and when we’ll go places is limited and our life is pretty centered around home and the quietness of it. We must remain extremely mindful of staying calm and steady for our son Joey (special needs; age 38) who doesn’t understand what is happening. If we show any fear, anger, or uncertainty, he would immediately pick up on that, and I assure that would change the dynamics of everything in our home! He understands that we’re awaiting word from Trump and our Governor DeWine of OH, so I guess we’re off the hook! HAHA! But special needs or not, we all are affected and impacted by this time of quarantine!
I believe this pandemic has affected me in ways that have allowed me to recognize and realize a few things….like:
- Good hard laughter is as good as a hard cry. (It was the middle of the night, maybe 3 a.m. and we were both wide-awake. I brought up a topic and we had such a nice discussion about a decision we might need to be making when this pandemic is over. It was really a sweet time. Then, I got out my phone and we began laughing so hard and long at meme’s on social media, that we wondered if we’d wake Joey or our neighbors!) (Another night it snowed [yes, we’re talking mid-APRIL], 12:30 a.m. and I noticed my neighbor had posted something, so I responded. I think I said, “Do you want to build a snow man?” It wound up that she and her husband and Joe and I had a fun texting conversation for 30 minutes discussing if we 4 should go out and build a snowman or make a fire pit! It was just fun.) So, we try to find fun and laugh, and sometimes it just happens and we go with it!
- The realization we are ALL affected. I think we’re all feeling like a hamster in a cage; looking out the front window with grieving, sadness, feeling stuck, and frustrated. Yet while we can experience some/many of the same things, we will all react/respond differently. We are all:
- Grieving cancelled events
- Cancelled big trips
- Loss of jobs
- Loss of income
- Loss of investments
- Loss of touch
- Need for child care
- Friendships losses
- _______________(YOURS?) List here:
BUT, and then the loss of LIFE EVENTS (which can’t all be rescheduled);
- Graduation, proms, etc.
- Deaths that mean that life can’t be honored right now
- Postponed marriages: figuring out “now what”
- We all have the same 24 hours – but what are we doing with them?
It’s important for sure that we take care of ourselves, reach out to others as they have need, learn to be content, learn to wait, learn to understand that waiting isn’t easy, staying busy and getting things done that we said we didn’t have time for but also realizing that busy-ness isn’t our worth! Still, it feels good to be caught up on so much, including end of life decisions and papers so that there will be little to no questions for our kids “when that time comes.” (You’re welcome, kids!) Lastly, to believe God is trying to teach each of us something to prepare us for something coming that we need to be ready for or things we all must come to grips with and learn. We have the same 24 hours as everyone else to do so!
WHAT IF GOD IS ASKING US THIS QUESTION:
“WHERE has this quarantine hit us/me personally THE HARDEST?”
What am I embracing that I need to surrender? What should I consider doing as a next step in some area of life where God is speaking to me? Maybe I’m young and don’t think I can do certain things, but maybe I’m old and think I’m of no value or worth? And what will be my answer? Well, let’s get encouraged!
Our friend, David Szafranski says, “Times like these reveal our faith.”
Another dear friend who is an “on call triage nurse” (Karin Csora) posted this on social media about her observances during this time of quarantine:
“I have seen people’s general personality traits become more intense during this pandemic and rarely change.
The kind become kinder.
The angry are angrier.
The selfish become more selfish.
Those that isolate become more isolated.
The giving, give more sacrificially.
The creative become more creative.
The pessimistic have become more pessimistic.
The optimistic have become more optimistic.
Those who have a faith in God have more faith in God.”
Because of both of their observations….
We need to observe and ask ourselves, “Is this pandemic/quarantine quiet time a wake up call to how I’m handling things or not? Is what is hardest for me the very thing I need to work on or get ready for?”
I guess what I want us to take notice of is that this quarantine isn’t just happening to me/us. It’s happening to all of us. But I also need to be mindful that there are things for me to learn personally-and why not learn it now?!
- Do I want to miss or waste the lessons to be learned?
- Do I think this is all about the quarantine impacting me, or should I consider what would my IMPACT be!!!!!!
- Who do I want to be or become during this time of seclusion, quarantine, and solitude? (See chart below)
- What if GOD is speaking to me regarding a “calling” or direction He has for me, and I’m not listening because I’m whining about how lousy this is for little old me?
- My last realization for this blog: We all want to get moving again!
Speaking of “get moving” again….THIS IS YOUR SPOT TO OPT OUT if you feel you’ve met your challenge, but if you want to see how others were challenged in history and presently in our little circles and spheres of life (who’ve made impacts on the lives of others), here are a few things and people that might impact you if you choose to read on:
What if God has something to teach us in this WAITING?
Our daughter Kathleen and boyfriend Nathan (now husband) decided to go before the Lord to pray for one month about the direction of their dating relationship years ago. About 2 weeks into the time of prayer Kathleen came to me and said she really felt like she wanted to talk to Nathan. I suggested she wait, because I felt like she needed to give the Lord the due time of 2 more weeks to speak to her. Sometimes in those moments of waiting we want to hurry the Lord. What Nathan and Kathleen were praying about together (while apart) was answered in the later parts of their time of prayer. (Often the same happens when we fast. It’s generally toward the end of the fast after agonizing over what we’ve given up that God clears our mind and has room to speak to our hearts.)
Noah and his family were on the ark for 40 days. When the rains stopped they waited another 150 days for the waters to recede, and another 40 before he opened the window, and then sending out the raven and later the dove adding another couple of weeks, and then 2 more months before he got the ‘all clear’ from the Lord to leave the animals leave to multiply the earth. Add it up. Consider our quarantine time and then let’s see if we really should tell God how it’s not fair we’ve been at this for #_____ days. Ouch. (To read the full account visit Genesis 8:1-23.)
Then there is Moses….40 years?
Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl in Amsterdam during the Holocaust hiding in seclusion for over 2 years in a 450 square foot attic trying to stay alive and safe from the Nazi’s. (Google for more information and consider reading “Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl” for the full picture.) The gift she received for her 13th birthday in 1942 was a diary in which she hoped to record daily life of a young woman but became a book of history and war documentation surrounding her life and family. Her main theme was that of being “selfless” and others risking their lives for others. Sounds like a good book to read while we’re in “waiting” and getting a perspective of how our temporary inconvenience isn’t so selfless.
We wait for 40 weeks for a child to come into the world from conception. For some, that is a lot of change and waiting!
Debbie McGoldrick another dear friend and ministry co-laborer birthed a ministry called NBS2GO (Neighborhood Bible Studies 2 Go). It began 22 years ago as pushed her 2 toddlers through her subdivision praying for her neighbors! In May of 2010 while recovering from breast cancer she was called by the Lord to begin these bible studies. The idea was to give her neighbors bible study “carry out tools” (NBS2 GO – GLOBAL, ORGANIC MISSION) and it’s now in 43 countries, in 30 languages, with 8 churches birthed out of these studies and IMPACTING others with rapid multiplication internationally! (nbs2go.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!) She used her time of busy and her time of waiting well!
CHALLENGES – means we are all facing something (bills, boredom, noise from all the kids, silence in our empty nests or simply being alone, care still to be given to kids and parents, anxiety, worry, sleep issues, etc.) and we must be reminded of the sovereignty of God. Our circumstances will always change, but God does not. He never will leave us or forsake us. And His loving kindness is eternal. Let’s look for Him in the challenges.
CHOICES – means we have responsibilities! Where will we make new and better/different choices? We won’t be content until we’ve been brought to a place in our heart (and it might be a low place) to realize that contentment is not in or about us but outside of us. It means “I don’t have time for ___________” might be a wake up call to do it! Catch up. Finish things we’ve started and realize the pleasure in how good that will feel! (Disclaimer: All this doing isn’t an accurate measure of ones worth. If God wants you to be still….listen. But He just might be giving you this time so that you can finish things to be ready for where He wants to better use you. Yes, YOU!)
AND, instead of tolerating the kids and letting them get on your nerves take this time to be with them and teach them new things…they’re looking for YOUR attention! You have choices of what they need to learn! Do they know how to make a simple pasta meal? Write a check? Make breakfast? Balance a checkbook or justify the credit card bill? Don’t waste this gift of time with them! Someday the house will be all too quiet and you’ll wish for the commotion. (I know; but it’s true.)
CHANCES-or maybe for some this is the beauty of second chances! You’ve never had a budget and so now this time of no work and no pay is devastating you. You’re a church pastor or elder and you’ve not watched those church finances and put aside for “one of those tragic times?” What better time to learn than now. Humble yourself and find a few books like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and people who know what they’re doing to help us put money aside so when (not if) the next tough time comes, we’re not where we are right now. Accumulating debt (often excessive debt)…can never prepare us for anything of stability. This is only one “second chance” example. There are so many more. What is yours?
CHARITY-can always be given and expressed even when times are tough for you and me. Keep connecting. Where you can’t give money; give time. When you can’t offer time; give money. You get the picture! And don’t just do it while we’re in seclusion; offer these gifts other times throughout your life. You think you’re blessing others, but the reality is you will be blessed.
BE PURPOSEFUL AND INTENTIONAL as you find where you will be of greatest IMPACT! AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
Ps. 90:12, NLT “Teach us to make the most of our time so that we might grow in wisdom.”
Ps. 90:17, NLT “And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful.”
Ps. 90:17, NASV “And let the favor of the Lord be upon us, and do confirm the work of our hands, Yes, confirm the work of our hands.”
GOT MORE TIME? WHILE IN THE WAITING:
Don’t whine. Don’t sit and stew. Get moving and see what happens:
Check out some present day situations where people waited…..spent time in one place, only to find they were directed elsewhere! Here are a few from this link:
People Who Didn’t Make It Until After Age 30
Bob Ross spent 20 years in the US Air Force, upon retiring he taught himself to paint and became everyone’s favorite painting teacher at the age of 41.
Morgan Freeman loved acting since he was a child, however upon graduating high school he chose to join Air Force to become a fighter pilot. The actor eventually left the Air Force to establish himself as an actor, but it took him a while to do so. He was 50 years old when he landed his first big break in a movie Street Smart.
Harrison Ford was not happy about the roles he kept receiving at the beginning of his career, so he decided to become a self-taught carpenter to support his family. One of his roles eventually helped him land a role in a Star Wars film. The film was a major success and it kick started Ford’s career at the age of 35.
Liam Neeson was fresh out of university when he had a variety of casual jobs, such as forklift operator and a truck driver. After getting his first acting role at the age of 25, Neeson had to wait until he was 40 years old to receive his first big break in the movie Schindler’s List.
J.K. Rowling, before wroting Harry Potter, the best-selling book series in history, she has struggled with depression, poverty, tried to recover after a bad divorce and was looking for a way to provide for her child. During this tough time, Rowling began writing Harry Potter. The first book of the series was published in 1997 when she was 32 and kick started her astonishing career as a writer.
Susan Boyle sang for a long time but received no recognition for her talent. However, things completely changed in 2009 when she appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and become an instant success. She was 47 years old.
Martha Stewart, a successful entrepreneur and media personality hadn’t reached fame up until she published her first cookbook in 1982 at 41 years old. Before that, Stewart was working as a stockbroker in Wall Street and after quitting she began running a catering business. Her first book was a big hit, which eventually led to many other books, a magazine, a TV show and a net value of more than $638 million.
THANKS for reading through all this. We hope it’s been an encouragement in this time of waiting…and when the time is right, let’s get moving!