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Daily Dependence.

It’s safe to say that the novelty of being cozy at home all the time is starting to wear thin. I must admit, when this “shelter in place” order started, my little soul was ready to checkout of regular life and hunker down with my family. The refrain running through my mind for a few weeks was, “Wow, I could do this forever!” Not so much anymore. I don’t long for weekends full of reading and relaxing now that I’ve had several of them in a row!

With my diabetes putting me in the “high risk” category, I haven’t been out in public for over two months now. The future looks like more of the same, which makes it hard to be hopeful about looking forward to summer fun. So, recently I’ve had to pray and embrace being present in a deeper, more intentional way. This has taken me back to ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) basics of accepting my thoughts and feelings so I can focus my attention on connecting to the present moment.

Within this mindset, I keep encountering wonderful spiritual practices and prayers that reinforce the reliance on God daily. I wrote about this a few months ago, as God was preparing my heart and soul to rely on Him. Now, with this SIP order going on to it’s third month, I’ve found this moment-by-moment awareness of God’s provision to be vital for my spiritual and mental health.

Luther wrote two wonderful daily prayers to open and end the day. One morning this week, Mateo and I recited his morning prayer together:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

There’s a realistic scope to this prayer. Asking God to keep us this day from sin and evil feels honest and true, because we need his protection for the immediate moments ahead. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves by praying for things far in the future, but relying on our Heavenly Father for today’s needs. It reminds me of the verses from Matthew, Chapter 6: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matt. 6:34).

I love how Luther’s Evening Prayer beautifully echoes the Morning Prayer in both spirit and word choice:

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

These prayers bookend the day by seeking God’s grace and protection at both the start and end of the day. In the morning, we ask that God would keep us from sin; and in the evening we ask God to forgive the sins we committed that day. This feels both hopeful and humble in receiving the grace and protection that God loving provides, daily.

When I think back to periods of my life where I opted to live independently from dependence on God, it’s like I thought that God’s grace was the safety net in life, but I could “take it from there” in managing my daily needs. Or, if I prayed faithfully for awhile and trusted God more fully, then I’d have it “all figured out” spiritually. There’s actually great liberation in recognizing that I’m never going to outgrow my dependence on Christ for my daily needs. John Kleinig explains this spiritual maturity in this way:

“In our human lives, growing up involves the gradual shift from dependence to independence. But the reverse is true for us as we grow spiritually. On our journey we become more and more dependent on Christ for everything in every situation.” (Grace Upon Grace, pg. 34).

Our growing dependence on God unfolds in our daily lives as we live out our vocations and traverse the years of our lives. Kleinig describes it this way: “Our repentance is not just an initial act or an occasional event in our journey with Christ; it is a daily event, a lifelong process. Our whole life is a process of conversion from ourselves to God, a dying to self that is complete only when we die.” (pg. 34).

Depending on and trusting in God on a daily basis for the strength to get through today brings such peace. I’ve come to know that relying on Him for my needs is how His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I love resting in His grace today rather than planning and looking ahead to the needs of tomorrow.

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The Wonder of Little Souls

I love this expression: the wonder of little souls. I just came across it in Mitch Albom’s book Finding Chika: A Little Girl, An Earthquake, and the Making of a Family. It’s a sweet, poignant book that’s reinforcing the nostalgic mood I’ve had lately. Last weekend the kids and I went through my three large boxes of keepsakes in the garage: pictures, awards, yearbooks, trinkets, poems, and other assorted items from my childhood, high school and college years. Looking at all those things reminds me of my childlike wonder and enthusiasm for life.

Interacting with Sienna and Mateo, I’m constantly in awe of their imagination and wonderment. They can make up a game or imaginary world out of anything! As an adult, I have a hard time entering into that world. I can tell Sienna notices this about me. When I allow myself to be carried away by her story or engage in a silly game without reservation, she usually will say something like: “I love it when you’re silly, Mom!”

A few nights ago, the kids were playing in Teo’s room for awhile. Sienna ran to the living room and said, “Mom, come play with us!” I put down my book and joined them.

Teo has a lot of stuffed animals that all reside in his bed. They had sorted them by size. Sienna had the small set and Teo had the large set. “You get the medium sized ones!” Sienna informed me. I was then given a plastic sword and a Marine Corps dress uniform hat from an old Halloween costume. Our “troops” of stuffed animals were fighting a wicked witch and eventually the “battle” resulted in stuffed animals flying through the air. A few times the silliness caused hysterical giggles over those types of things you “had to be there” to find amusing.

The validation of my engagement in their fun came as Sienna exclaimed, “I love it when you’re silly!” I do too. But, I don’t often go there and I’ve been pondering why on and off ever since. It takes reaching a certain space of freedom and inhibition for me to join in imaginative play. Freedom from striving, accomplishing, keeping my interior world orderly. In other words, tapping into the childlike innocence and wonder that I am nostalgic for when I reminisce with old keepsakes.

The wonder of little souls is just this delightful aspect of childhood, isn’t it? The ability to create an imaginative world with your sibling that isn’t bound by the rational, realistic laws of nature or normative behavior. Stuffed bunnies can be Generals and kangaroos can dress up like Darth Vader.

Kids also bring that sense of wonder to the world around them, asking questions and exclaiming with delight when they discover something new or interesting. This just happened for Sienna and Mateo when they discovered a family of baby squirrels behind the fence in our backyard. I later found about 50 pictures on my cell phone of the squirrels!

Reflecting on his time with Chika, the Haitian little girl that became his daughter, Mitch Albom wrote to her:

“You put me on the other end of a magnifying glass or a toy telescope, and through those lenses, I could marvel at the world the way you did. You were an unfailing antidote to adult preoccupation.

All you had to say was, “Look!”

Look. It’s one of the shortest sentences in the English language. But we don’t really look, Chika. Not as adults. We look over. We glance. We move on.

You looked. Your eyes flickered with curiosity. You caught fireflies and asked if they had batteries. You unearthed a penny and asked if it was “treasure.” And without prompting, you knew discovery should be shared.” (pg. 90).

The adult world is a little boring these days. Being isolated as we continue to shelter in place, there is only so much we can do to be productive or relax within the confines of our homes. But, children can find things to marvel at on a walk around the block, in the backyard, in their bedrooms, or in the pages of a story. Engaging in their worlds of wonder can bring a little more innocence and fun to our adult experiences.

Albom’s words struck me as so true: “Children wonder at the world. Parents wonder at their children’s wonder. In so doing, we are all young together.” (pg. 91).

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My Own Devices

I don’t know about you, but I find myself resolving to pray more consistently and then failing, time and time again.  I mean to pray first thing in the morning, before meals, and throughout the day as life unfolds, but many times I simply forget.  Left to my own devices, I tend to rely on my own (ineffective) devices! 

In Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today, John W. Kleinig explains that prayer is a gift of the Holy Spirit and not something we do.  By way of a contrast, he explains: “Much of the popular Christian literature and current Protestant teaching on prayer reinforces the notion that improvement in prayer depends on us – our knowledge, faith, discipline, attitude, and expertise.  These teachings are popular for many reasons.  They are practical, helpful, and superficially empowering.  They feed on our guilt and, for a while, seems to allay our since of spiritual dissatisfaction.  Because they concentrate on what we need to do to become prayer warriors and victors in prayer, they boost our self-confidence and overlook our spiritual impotence.  The basic assumption… is that prayer is something that we do by ourselves. So success in prayer depends on our willpower and our performance.  These teachings, then, disconnect prayer from Jesus and His atonement.  They seldom teach that prayer is God’s doing, something that the triune God produces in us,” (pg. 161).

Kleinig describes in detail how Jesus gave his disciples the Lord’s Prayer in order to teach them how to pray and states: “The point of prayer is to receive from God the Father.  Jesus gives us His own prayer so that we can use it and our faith in Him to receive the good things that He has promised to give us.  We cash in on His promises in prayer. So Jesus teaches us how to pray by promising that God will give us what we ask for when we pray His prayer for ourselves and for others. He is not reluctant to give.  The problem lies with us; we are reluctant to ask for what He wants to give to us,” (pg. 165).

What does God want to give us?  Himself and the gift of His Word. He wants to bless us with his gracious will for our lives.  We often pray for what we want, which may or may not be in accordance with what God wants for us.  It’s not unlike children when they ask for things they desire but aren’t healthy or good for them.  Loving parents will say no to those requests, as God will to his children.  The Lord’s Prayer asks for God’s will to be done, not ours.

How then do we pray?  Kleinig recounts St. Paul’s teaching in Romans, chapter 8: “He teaches us that even though we do not know how to pray, or what to pray for, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us deep inside us in accordance with God’s good and gracious will.  The Spirit helps to articulate our hidden needs and prompts us in what we say.  Since we don’t know how to pray, He takes over from us and intercedes within us by getting us to pour out our hearts to God. When we pray, we can follow His urging, even if it is evident only in sighing and groaning and deep distress.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer,” (pg. 167). 

Prayer then, is a gift that we receive.  It’s not dependent on our strength or piety, instead “when we pray, we engage with the three persons of the Holy Trinity.  We pray to the Father; we pray together with the Son; and we pray by the power of the Holy Spirit. What we do when we pray depends entirely on what the Son gives us in His Word and on what the Spirit does with us through faith in Christ. Our ability to pray does not come from us, but from faith in Jesus Christ and His Word, faith that receives the gift of prayer,” (pg. 167).

What a relief that I’m not left to my own devices in prayer.

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A Precious Experience

This week the weather turned hot and I had two nagging blisters on my toes. Suffice it to say, my runs were practically non-existent. I tried going out early on Wednesday to beat the heat, but ended up doing a run/walk because my blisters hurt.

Cutting myself some slack, I decided to rest my body and prepare for a nice long run today. I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m., figuring I needed to get out early to fit in two hours of running before the heat caught up with me. I laid out my clothes, found some sunscreen to apply in the morning, bandaged up one big toe for blister prevention, and settled into bed to read for a bit before sleep.

Having not set an alarm for several weeks, my mind started racing after I read for nearly an hour, then finally turned off the light. “I need to get to sleep, my alarm goes off in 6 hours!” my mind told me. “I’m not going to have enough energy to run 13.1 miles if I only get 5 hours of sleep!” it taunted later.

The past couple months I’ve been sleeping quite well. After the trauma of returning from our overseas trip and battling the insomnia induced anxiety for weeks and weeks, I’d accepted my situation and rested in God’s faithfulness. Last night, I took a deep breath and prayed for calm and comfort.

Then I remembered why I run.

I don’t run to cross something off my list or achieve a goal I set for myself.

I love my long runs because I get to spend two hours alone with God. I pray, meditate on God’s love, ask for strength, and enjoy the companionable silence of His presence.

This prayerful, contemplative time with God isn’t dependent on achieving a specific emotional or physical state. Sometimes my runs hurt and I struggle through the miles, other times I feel euphoric, like I could run forever. Either way, and in all the many types of runs in between, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is with me. Simply soaking in the moment and relying on God’s provision for the next step, the next breath, the next moment, is a precious experience.

I peacefully surrendered to the fact that I would feel tired on my run, but that was okay. I didn’t have to run a half marathon distance or hit a certain pace. Those goals are fun to set and shoot for, but they aren’t the true reason I run.

For the first hour of running today, I listened to a book study on Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today by John W. Kleinig. I’m about half way through the 32 sessions that ponder this book that I’ve come to cherish. Pastor Rhode leads his study group through the book slowly and carefully. I’ve loved listening to a session daily since starting this practice on Easter.

Today’s section of the book discussed how the Psalms are wonderful meditations on God’s love and plan for us. They noted many more Psalms are focused on laments, pain and struggle, than on joy and celebration. It’s easy to praise God when we’re feeling contented and hopeful. It’s much harder to acknowledge God’s faithfulness when we hurt and struggle.

I broke into a big smile as this passage was recounted: “The righteous do not know their own way; they do not see where they are going; they travel on an unseen journey with an unseen guide. But the Lord knows their way; invisibly He leads them step-by-step along their way with Him. As they meditate on His World each morning and evening, they discover their way through life, the unseen way in which they travel, like pilgrims to a holy place…” (pg 135).

In little ways, this uncertain, unknowing way of life plays itself out while I run. I don’t know what route I’m going to take exactly, deciding along the way which turns and paths to take. I don’t know what thoughts and feelings will occur to me, what songs I’ll listen to or what moments of inspiration may or may not strike.

There’s so much I don’t know, so I trust that the Lord knows the way. And he faithfully does.

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A Deep Dive into Our Founding Fathers

Sienna is currently in her bedroom working on a Latin assignment. On a Sunday. Without being prompted. I’m so tickled by this development. While this time of shutdown has been challenging in ways, I’ve been blown away by the good qualities growing in our family, especially the kids. Sienna and Mateo have been diligent about their school work and are taking greater responsibility for completing their work each day.

As a family, the slower pace of life has given us time and space to linger with thoughts and follow our curiosities. One fun way to indulge this urge is to take a “deep dive” into a topic together. Sienna is studying the Revolutionary War and our Founding Fathers and Mothers right now. She loves history and storytelling, so our family conversations are peppered with stories of the battles and the characters (real and fictional) that she’s recently read. On a walk one afternoon she narrated to me the story of Johnny Tremain for nearly a half hour! I’d never normally have that long an attention span to listen to a retelling of a story.

So that we could better engage with Sienna’s historical accounts, Teo and I read Who Was Alexander Hamilton? during our bedtime readings in early April. It was helpful to remind myself of the struggles between the northern and southern states as they formed our Constitution and figured out how to govern a new nation, especially as Sienna continued her study of the Constitutional Convention.

Typically I’ll listen to Broadway musicals after seeing the show on stage. But, all this information about Alexander Hamilton made me curious to hear the Hamilton musical songs. I played a couple for the kids while we hung out Saturday afternoon, then today I ran for over an hour to the music of Hamilton. So fun! Having the basic biographical info about Alexander Hamilton fresh in mind from my recent reading with Teo made the musical so easy to follow!

I’m in the middle of reading a very interesting Bill Bryson book called At Home: A Short History of Private Life which covers a very wide variety of topics. Today’s section detailed the architectural significance of Monticello and Mount Vernon, the plantation homes of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, respectively. Sienna was supposed to visit both of these historical homes during her class visit to Williamsburg and the surrounding ares this past month. Unfortunately the trip was cancelled. Her class spent the last week of March doing research projects on the areas they had planned to visit including online virtual tours of Colonial Williamsburg and these Presidential homes. Having just been to Paris, she was obsessed with Monticello because of it’s French influence. She showed me the immense canopies over the bed and asked if she could have one for her room!

There are an endless number of topics or areas of study you could take a deep dive into as a family, especially during this time of quarantine. Getting everyone involved in exploring a topic and learning together as a family is such a joy!

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There to See It.

Sitting in the chair in my bedroom is often where I’ll retreat to read. Now that I’m exclusively working from home, it’s where I’ll go to work when the rest of the family is using the living room.  During this quarantine, I’ve discovered a new activity to participate in from my cozy reading corner: watching the kids play together.  Last week they created an elaborate story where they were shepherds; the lamb stuffed animals and large stick (which I assume was a staff) gave it away. 

Since they’ve been at Cambridge, Sienna often makes up stories where she reenacts historical eras.  Last year she was constantly pretending to be medieval characters.  This year she (and her little brother who will pretty much play anything she tells him to) frequently pretend to be colonists.  As she’s been re-reading many of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books recently, they have also created frontier story-lines.  When they gather up dolls, stuffed animals, blankets, and assorted home goods and head to the backyard, you can pretty much bet they’ll be involved in their make-believe world for a few hours. 

When I crack open the sliding glass door in our bedroom, I’ll catch some of their dialogue.  I always grin to myself when I hear them start a sentence with, “Why don’t we pretend that…” or “Okay, now you…” as their imaginative world unfolds.  If you ask Teo, he’ll say he doesn’t have much of an imagination because he’s comparing himself to Sienna.  Her imagination is truly remarkable and she often initiates the story-line of their games.  But, I have seen him engage and contribute more as he’s gotten older and more confident.  

When conflict arises (I mean, they’re siblings, it has to happen), Sienna typically prevails as Teo will relent because he just wants to play with her so much.  But, I’ve even seen that start to balance out a bit more, especially now that we’re quarantined.  If Sienna takes a stand and Teo decides to go play something else, she’s without a playmate!  They’ve both made reconciliation attempts more quickly in this safer-at-home environment. 

I’ve also enjoyed watching them individually during this long period of cozy time at home.  Yesterday, while on the phone with my sister for a couple hours, I watched Teo kicking soccer goals in the backyard.  One of the zip-ties broke and the goal target panel started to gape on one side.  He concentrated on trying to fix the zip-tie for several minutes.  I considered going to help him, but then I remembered something I’d read years ago about mothers and sons.  Boys need to be able to figure things out themselves, it does a lot for their confidence and self-concept.  So, I watched and waited to see if he either figured it out, gave up, or sought help.  He stuck with it for a long time.  Way longer than I would have!  But, eventually he went and found Dennis and they decided to remove the goal targets from the goal.

Sienna has been working on a painting for the past week, as they’ve been on spring break.  She sets up at the patio table which is under a gazebo, so she has been painting rain or shine.  One afternoon I watched her paint as she narrated a story.  I couldn’t hear her, but I assume she was either pretending to be an important painter, or narrating a story of Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael, since they are the subject of her painting.  Watching her lost in a story of her own making brings me such joy!

Right now, I’m sitting in my bedroom chair working on my computer and watching Sienna, Mateo and Dennis play football.  Currently, Sienna is quarterback and throwing the ball to the guys while they take turns defending against each other.  Dennis does not take it easy on Teo!  They play hard and crash into the turf frequently.  One end of our yard has a built in fire pit made of stone pavers.  I cringe when I watch Teo jump for balls just inches away from the bricks!  But, he’s pretty sure-footed and hasn’t injured himself yet, so I say little prayers of protection and try to only occasionally shout reminders to be careful.  

This time of quarantine has brought a lot of special moments of connection to our lives.  Slowing way down allows for the time and space to linger in conversation and let days unfold gently and calmly.  Watching my kids play, learn, giggle, grow, try new things, fight, reconcile, and explore the world has been my new favorite pastime.  Like just now, Sienna spiked a football for probably the first time in her life. The look of exhilaration on her face was priceless!  I’m so grateful I was there to see it.

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Don’t Fear the Hills

You often hear people say that they don’t enjoy running.  While I love to run, I definitely understand where folks are coming from when they tell me, “I’m just not a runner.”  At the beginning, running is painful.  It hurts to push your body beyond its comfort zone, become winded, and feel your legs strain as they propel you along the path.  Why would anyone do this??

Well, once you push through the initial pain and build up your stamina over several runs, you’ll experience new sensations.  The “runner’s high” is a real thing.  Running longer distances makes the shorter runs feel downright easy.  Running along a flat or slight decline, can feel euphoric, like you could run forever.  Listening to music while running helps cultivate these moments of pure joy when the right song lyrics and beat match your breath and running pace.  It’s the best.

Beautiful view along my run today.

While I love to run, I still find myself avoiding running routes with steep hills.  When you live in a neighborhood whose name means “little cliffs” in Spanish, you have to deal with a lot of hilly terrain. On my long run today, I headed out the Highway 56 bike path to discover police tape at the first major intersection I crossed.  Feeling determined to get in my run, I thought, “That’s odd” and kept going.  When I only passed one other runner in over two miles, I figured something was up.  Sure enough, at the next major intersection there was major police tape blocking both ends of the path. 

As I diverted my running route to the neighborhood, I contemplated the long hills that this route would make me climb.  These long runs are a prayerful time for me, so I breathed deeply and prayed that I’d be able to keep going and not let fear stop me.  “Don’t fear the hills,” ran through my heart and mind.

When I feel trepidation about running a long or steep hill, what I’m actually fearing is discomfort and pain.  I enjoy the feeling of running effortlessly and hills are anything but that!  However, when I allow this fear to dictate my actions, by picking less strenuous routes or worrying about an upcoming hill along my path, it steals strength from my body and joy from my heart. 

I’ve often thought that long distance running is a great metaphor for life, and here’s another example: fearing emotion pain or discomfort in life likewise keeps us from embracing the fullness of our experiences.  Avoidance of pain causes people to do all sorts of unhelpful things.  Truly, the only thing to fear is fear itself. When we allow for the normal ups and downs of life to impact us, we don’t waste our strength or energy trying to keep pain away. 

Ironically, the pain that we fear, whether it be emotional or physical as we run up a steep hill, often isn’t nearly as bad as we anticipated.  Once we are actually in the moment and experiencing pain or discomfort, if we bring our awareness and energy to that moment we can push through and build our resiliency.  Relying on Christ in these moments, with a prayer like “Lord, I can do all things through you who strengthens me,” helps a lot too. 

There are times when I sense that I’m modifying my actions because of a desire to keep feeling “good” and avoid discomfort. Sometimes it’s when I’m plotting a running route and other times it pops up when I’m deciding whether to read something sad or watch something upsetting. When people in my life are struggling, I decide how much to lean in and carry their burdens with them. These moments of pain are like hills in our emotional lives.  I don’t want to let fear keep me from experiencing the full range of emotions and the potential joys of engaging with my loved ones or trying new things. 

Now I have a little shorthand reminder of the way I want to live: “Don’t fear the hills”.

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Morning Prayers

This morning, Sienna greeted me by saying, “I just woke up and said Luther’s Morning Prayer.”

“Really?  How does it go?” I replied.

I thank You, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the veil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

She smiled sweetly as she finished reciting the prayer.  I gave her a hug and soaked in the moment.  We’re all feeling a bit lost and uncertain during this time.  Seeing my angel girl turn to Jesus and pray a prayer she’s been taught for comfort and strength touched my heart deeply. One of the simple joys of this time of quarantine and family togetherness at home has been the time and space to slowly wake, spend time in prayer, and be more slow and intentional in our day.

Last night, while snuggling with Teo after reading, he asked me “What’s your favorite time of day?” To which I quickly replied, “Morning. I’m a morning person.” 

“Me too.  I like mornings best.  I don’t like afternoons as much because then the day is almost over. In the morning the day is new and good,” Teo confided.

I’ve been thinking about morning prayers a lot recently.  A couple weeks ago a prayer spontaneously popped in my mind upon waking one morning:

“Lord, I don’t know what the day ahead holds, but I know what you daily provide: mercies that are new each morning, peace that surpasses all understanding and graciously straight paths. Amen.”

This prayer quickly buried itself in my heart and soul, so that it’s one of my first thoughts upon waking each day.  Good timing too, as it’s never been truer than this past week that we simply don’t know what the day ahead holds.

What a week!  I’ve spent the better part of this past week at home on the phone trying to coordinate logistics for my team working remotely.  It’s really hard to believe that Monday was the tax deadline, it feels like a month ago! 

But, there’s also been a great freedom it letting go of the schedule and all the day-to-day demands of life.  I’ve felt incredibly present this past week.  Late this afternoon, the kids and I went for a long walk and I haven’t felt so connected to them, engaged in their conversation, and truly relaxed in a very long time.  We walked on the bike path I often run but they’d never been down.  It was fun to see them explore a place that was familiar to me but new to them. 

I’ve heard it said a lot this week and I really relate: the crisis of this pandemic will show us all what’s most important in life.  When things are so out of our control, we can rest and rely on the one who has everything under his gracious and loving will. 

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Home.

I’m not used to being the one being cared for and protected.  This role reversal right now feels strange, but also very comforting.  The feeling reminds me of when I was diagnosed with diabetes and stayed in the hospital for five days.  My pediatric nurses were so attentive and caring, my mom slept on a fold out chair next to my bed, and visitors came in a steady stream to show their love and concern.  It was a scary time, but I felt immensely loved and safe.

Frankly, I’ve not germaphobic at all.  After testing my blood, I typically put my finger in my mouth to stop the bleeding, so yeah, I’m not afraid of germs.  In fact, maybe that’s why my immune system is strong?  The kids and Dennis all came down with the flu last month and I didn’t.  Who knows?

The panic over the conoravirus seems both extreme and rightly concerning at the same time.  As a Type 1 Diabetic, I’m in the “high risk” category of those with “underlying health conditions”.  With diabetes, the concern is that viruses cause high blood sugars which can be more dangerous that the actual virus.  In terms of respiratory issues, I’m healthy as can be!  But, dealing with a serious virus and high blood sugars can be a challenge in terms of hydration and blood sugar control. 

Fortunately, I can do my job entirely from home, so I started self-quarantining (for the most part) on Thursday.  Dennis and I discussed the situation on the way home from school drop off yesterday. I went along because it was Colonial Feast Day for Sienna and I wanted to help setup her hat shop display.  “If something happened to me, it would be really devastating for the children,” I said.  “You think?!” Dennis replied as he reached for my hand.

As I spent most of the day on the phone dealing with the logistics of my team working remotely and back-up plans should offices need to close, Dennis went to multiple grocery stores.  Armed with a list of items I texted messaged him, he navigated the stores, overhearing concerned mothers as they learned that San Diego Unified announced a three week school closure. 

When he got home, we had a few laughs at some of the incorrect items he purchased!  My “veggie chips” were supposed to be the mixed root vegetables chips, but instead he got a bag of the potato puffed “chips” that are flavored with spinach and therefore labelled “veggie chips”.  We also now have enough fire roasted crushed tomatoes to feed an army, as he got 28 oz cans of crushed instead of 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes.  But, he did his best!  He offered to return them when I realized we needed a few more things, but I told him they’ll work just fine. Something as simple as taking on all the grocery shopping and family errands is Dennis’s tangible gift of love and concern for me. It makes me feel safe and loved.

Sitting there at my computer and gazing around our home, I felt really grateful for the preparation God has been doing to my heart and soul lately.  I’ve been thinking a lot about home and the nature of home making lately.  Our home is a cozy 1,100 square feet.  In sunny San Diego, this small size is offset by a lovely backyard and covered patio area that adds enough livable space for us to spread out. I even enjoy working outside at the patio table on nice days. However, in the winter or when it rains (as it has all week!) then we enjoy abundant family togetherness as most of our living happens in one space. 

Several ideas from The Life Giving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging & Becoming captured my imagination, such as these quotes from Sally & Sarah Clarkson:

“If you want your children to grow up loving what is true, beautiful, and good, your whole home should reflect that wholeness,” (pg. 89).

“Through the years, I have realized over and over that I conduct the atmosphere in my home by the way I rule over my heart.  When I focus not on performance or perfection but on joy, gratitude, and service, everything seems to fall into place,” (pg. 177).

Home should be the place we long to be, as it’s the place where we take refuge.  Home is where we enjoy the company of our loved ones and can truly rest and relax.  Home is where our children learn important lessons and where we all demonstrate love and patience in our daily interactions.  Home is where it’s safe to fail, where grace is extended and we remind each other of God’s love and forgiveness.

Now, since the kids’ school has opted for online instruction for the next few weeks before spring break during Holy Week, we prepare to spend most of the next month at home together. I’m grateful for an outlook on home that is inspiring and restorative.  Life has felt very full and busy the past year or so.  Although the circumstances are a little scary, I’m embracing the coziness of home and period of rest this season will bring.