10 things to remember during the corona virus pandemic

Corona remember

How are we doing today with all the latest news of the pandemic? I was thinking today
about some encouraging things to remember as we navigate this “new normal” and
came up with the following list:

Decide who and/or what is steering you. Yesterday, my teen daughters and I went for a bike ride. As we started on mile nine on a gravel road, my youngest hit a bump and her handlebars were knocked loose. Now, instead of being able to rely on her handlebars to steer her where she wanted to go, they went one way and her front tire went the other.

Who is steering you? Where is your focus?

The second we take our eyes off our Savior, we’re prone to succumb to fear, anxiety, worry, and depression over the current situation. If our focus is on the worldly events, suddenly things seem impossible to overcome. Instead, let’s fix our eyes on the author and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Let Jesus steer your life. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5).

Hebrews 13 5

Persevere. There is a certain challenging part of our bike ride course that I especially love. Our family has nicknamed it “Hairpin Curve.” It’s a sharp curve, then a downhill sprint, followed by a steep uphill climb. My goal is to make it to the top of this steep hill while still in the saddle. Nine times out of ten, I achieve that goal. Heart pounding, quads burning, I keep my focus on what lies in front of me at the top of that hill (a quick break before I decide to tackle the whole thing again!) If I give up, my wheels will spin on the loose gravel, rendering me helpless to push through to the top without climbing off my bike.

Even though things can seemingly become bleak with the Covid-19 lurking around every corner, we must persevere through this pandemic. We can’t give up.

Reach out. This is a difficult time for many. (For those of us extroverts the struggle is real!) Silliness aside, don’t ever assume someone is fine. People who live alone are struggling with loneliness. Moms are trying to figure out how to keep their children entertained while being “cooped up.” (Join me in the near future for my blog post about 55 activities to keep kids entertained during the pandemic). Some people are struggling with keeping their jobs and paying the bills. Still others are facing serious health issues such as cancer. Reach out and check on family, friends, the people you know from church, work, and social media. Let them know you care.

Improvise. I remember watching as my brother devised a way to do his chore of hauling fireplace logs on his three-wheeled, low to the ground, pedal-powered motorcycle toy. He even figured out a way to do “spin outs” on our driveway (with impressive skid marks) without losing his load. Luke may not have especially enjoyed hauling in those logs by hand, but with his improvisation, suddenly it no longer felt like a chore.

While many things have changed due to the Corona virus, we can and need to improvise the best we can. Online church would not be the first choice for many, however, what an amazing way to use technology to continue to meet together and glean from our pastors the wisdom God calls them to impart. How phenomenal is it that we can sit in our living rooms and hear the word of God preached to us from anywhere in the world?

Have gratitude. We can certainly find a million and five things to complain about in times like these. Instead, let’s focus on being grateful. Can you breathe? Do you have someone who cares about you? Do you have a loving spouse? Great kids? Do you have food? Clean water to drink? Are you healthy? Can your eyes behold the beauty of the blooming trees or the falling snow? Do you have a voice that can encourage others? Make a list of all the things, from “small” to big for which you are grateful. It won’t take long to see that the thankfulness outweighs the complaints.

Melody Beattie

Intercede for others. What a wonderful opportunity to be able to intercede for others! What an amazing way to lift up the prayer requests of others to our Lord. Of course praying for our loved ones and friends is important. But how about even praying for random people? (Any neighborhood prayer walkers among us?)

Keep your mind and body active. It’s easy to sit around all day and lament the happenings of the world around us. Instead, let’s keep our mind and body active. Put together a puzzle, play board games, do crossword puzzles, even coloring has made a comeback in recent years.

In addition, focus on getting at least a half hour of physical exercise every day (please check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program). Even walking around your house or up and down the stairs counts.

Set goals and plans for each day. Keep a list of your goals for each day and cross them off as you tackle them.

Find the funny.  Reminisce with your family or friends (this can be done in person if you live with your family, via Skype, phone calls, instant messaging, or texts) of all the funny times you remember. Watch a humorous movie or play a silly board game.

Focus on the good. Check out the headlines right now. More people are infected with the virus, there are political wars over a stimulus package, and the list goes on and on. Instead of focusing on (and even reading!) the negative, let’s focus on the good. My friend, an accomplished seamstress, is sewing masks for high-risk individuals. Another friend, with her teens, is delivering goods to those who aren’t able (or shouldn’t be) shopping for their own groceries. They’ll even deliver take-out food. (Pizza anyone?) On a personal level, a friend messaged me yesterday that she found my favorite black beans at the store while she was there and picked up a couple cans for me. Her thoughtfulness was such a blessing!

There is so much good news if only we are willing to open our eyes to see it. There are so many kind people if only we are willing to acknowledge them.

Philippians 4 4 (2)

Spend time with Him. Most importantly, spend time with the Lord. Get to know Him. Read His Word. Rekindle your relationship with Him. Rediscover the One who gave His very life for you.

Mom Rediscover

 

10 good things that could come from the corona virus pandemic

What Good Covid-19

In the news recently, a woman was assaulted and her groceries stolen outside a grocery store. Two men in another state broke into a hospital to steal gloves, masks, and toilet paper. The stock market is struggling. Unemployment has become rampant. Our freedoms are stifled.

What good could possibly come from Corona virus pandemic?

  1. Our faith is and will be strengthened. We are reminded once again that God is in control, that nothing escapes His watchful eye, and that He cares deeply for us. No matter what we walk through in this crazy life, He walks through it with us.
  2. This gives us an unprecedented opportunity to share where our hope comes from and the hope that lies within us. Although there are many wonderful things to celebrate in our lives, a Christian’s permanent home is not in this world. We who have put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ are just “passing through”. In that time, we share with others that deep abiding hope that guides our every thought, action, and decision. May we take this time of fear, panic, and chaos to share with others why, even though this is a frightening time, God is still on His throne.Isaiah 12 2a
  3. Families are spending more time together. A friend a few weeks ago admitted to me that just getting everyone around the table at dinner time is a challenge. Our world moves at an exhausting pace and the days are sometimes little more than a blur. With the pandemic, families have no choice but to spend more time together, to eat dinner together, and to share in each other’s company. Not to say that we don’t all get on each other’s nerves at times, but what an amazing way to grow closer and to further appreciate those precious people God has placed in our lives.
  4. People are helping each other more. Sure, we hear about the bad news all the time. Read or listen to the media and you’ll get an earful of negative stories that spiral our already-burdened anxiety levels to a new height. However, if we listen hard enough, we are hearing of people reaching out and assisting each other in a way that hasn’t been done in recent times. Neighbors are shopping for their elderly neighbors, people are sharing what they have, and kindness is making a comeback.Speaks loudest
  5. People are practicing better hygiene. We should have been washing our hands after restroom use and keeping our fingers away from our faces long before this pandemic. However, the fear of getting this virus has turned into something beneficial…we as a society are doing a better job of stopping the spread of viruses and bacteria. This is good news!
  6. We appreciate things more and don’t take them for granted. After this is all over (and it will be), we will never look at toilet paper the same. We are doing better at appreciating even the small things like a can of fruit or a roll of paper towels. We won’t take for granted the awesome privilege of meeting together for a church service, shaking hands, or giving that encouraging hug to someone who is grieving. We won’t take for granted the opportunity of being able to go to the gym for a run on the treadmill or to attend a group fitness class.Unknown future
  7. We are more creative with time, exercise, and meals. As I looked at our canned goods on our pantry shelves, I noticed we have a lot of olives. While my husband loves olives and my daughters enjoy them from time to time, I detest olives. But if this pandemic lasts longer than we hope it does, I will be getting mighty creative with those olives and feeding my entire family with that creativity. (Yes, even I will be eating those nasty things!) This pandemic has taught us to make more meals at home, use what we have, and be grateful for what variety (or lack thereof) lurks in our freezers. We will be more creative with exercise now that the gyms are closed. (Jump ropes, hula hoops, and platform steps anyone?)
  8. We will pull together as a nation. Many of us recall where we were on 9-11. We also remember how our nation pulled together and patriotism gripped the nation. We recall how people banded together to help each other and how we, as Americans, put aside our (sometimes ridiculous) differences to remember that we are in this together. And that together we are stronger.Faith
  9. Homeschooling will be better understood. With schools closed, parents are now homeschooling their children in what is the largest growth in homeschooling ever. As homeschool moms and dads, we stand ready to assist our fellow parents in this endeavor.
  10. On a long list of requests, it will remind us to be grateful. The seemingly “small” things – the ability to take a breath, that we have water to drink, that we have people who care about us – will surge to the forefront in the midst of our trials. My husband is dependent on an oxygen machine at night (due to a mistake during his heart surgery). I thank the Lord often that we were able to purchase him his own machine a couple of months ago. At this point with possible unemployment looming in the distance due to the virus spread, we would not have been able to afford the steep monthly charge to rent one.

Of all things, I remain grateful that no matter what happens in this world, I will always have my relationship with Jesus. Even when we can’t meet corporately for church, that doesn’t stop me from praying. From relying on the One who sent His Son for me. From finding hope within the pages of His Word. Nothing can take those things away. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Romans 12 12

 

 

10 suggestions for dealing with the corona virus situation

10 Suggestions COVID-19The Corona virus has caused a panic that has been unparalleled in recent years. Lack of food on the grocery store shelves, rationing, quarantines, school and business closures, job  losses, and travel restrictions have suddenly become the new normal.

There’s a lot fear involved in such huge changes. People respond in different ways. Some remain calm and steadfast in their reliance on God, some struggle with depression and anxiety, and others resort to crime. One of my friends saw someone filling up a Mason jar with hand sanitizer from the dispenser at the hospital. Another person was stealing disinfectant wipes. (Yes, from a hospital!)

Still others fear daily how they will cope with the never-ending media hitting us from all directions.

Today when we made a grocery store run, we noticed that the store shelves were becoming bare with some aisles having no food/supplies at all. The panic we are facing has escalated into bizarre proportions. I get that this can be a deadly virus (my daughter and I had a severe case of influenza in January. That illness was the sickest I have ever been besides a high-risk pregnancy that landed me in the hospital with Hyperemesis gravidarum and pneumonia). I understand that this is a scary virus and I certainly don’t want anyone in my family or myself to get it, especially since several in my family are immune-compromised. However, it’s causing so much undue panic that is spiraling down into every area of our lives. So what can we do in the midst of all this craziness?

1. Pray. Pray for the health and safety of your family and friends. For wisdom for our leaders. For the eradication of this virus. For calm in the face of panic.

Isaiah 41 10

2. Eat healthy. (No one does it perfectly. Do the best you can). Strive for healthy snacks that have long shelf lives, such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, and air-popped popcorn.

3. Get outside! Vitamin D is good for the immune system and fresh air is an added bonus.

4. Stay hydrated.

5. Keep your stress levels down. Yes, make sure you are staying up-to-date with the current happenings, but limit your exposure to the media. It can be toxic.

Isaiah 26 3

6. Put others above yourself. Know an elderly neighbor or someone who has an underlying health issue who may not be able to get out to purchase needed items? Help them out by offering to make a grocery run.

7. Get some exercise*. Studies have shown that exercise is an immune system builder. This can easily be done at home. Some suggestions? Jumproping, walking throughout your house (including going up and down the stairs), lifting some weights (bottles of water work great if you don’t have dumbbells), dancing to your favorite music, playing tag (or hide and seek!) with your kids, or heading outside (if you are able) for a walk, job, or bike ride. A chiropractor friend of mine also notes that getting adjusted can help your immune system.

8. Stay busy. If your job has asked you to work from home, you’ve been quarantined, or you are “socially distancing” yourself by staying home, be sure to stay busy. Most of us go at a crazy-busy pace. While we should be able to take a deep breath and strive for some relaxation during this stressful time, it’s also important to keep busy and fill your day with productivity. Whether its tackling some clutter, working on that new project you’ve put on the back burner, or immersing yourself in that TBR pile of books, keep your mind and body active.

Philippians 4 7

9. Stay social. Just because you can’t get out as much, doesn’t mean you can’t still fellowship to a degree. Connecting with others is important (and not just for those of us who are extroverts!) If your church has chosen to keep their doors open (and it is safe for you to leave your home) be sure to attend.  If you are homebound or trying to stay home more, call someone. That special someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile would love to hear from you.

10. Most importantly? Lean on the Lord. Corona virus did not catch Him unaware. Give your anxieties and fears to Him. He loves and cares about you more than you can ever fathom.

Mom Corona quote

 

*Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

 

 

 

 

 

what are you afraid of?

What are you Afraid of

The other day when I stumbled across a phobias list that included fear of spiders, snakes, dogs, heights, enclosed spaces, thunder/lightening, fear of flying, and germs.

Sure, we all have fears, but according to the Helpguide.org website, “when fears become so severe that they cause tremendous anxiety and interfere with your normal life, they’re called phobias.”

People can have phobias of just about anything. Some, we hear a lot about, others, not so much. We probably all know someone who is afraid of spiders, heights, or speaking in public.

Some phobias are well known, such as Trypanophobia, or the fear of needles. According to Pharmajet.com, a mere 50 million Americans have this fear.

And there are some phobias that seem a little bizarre, to say the least. For instance, linonophobia, the fear of string, pogonophobia, the fear of beards, phobaphobia, the fear of phobias, or hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, the fear of long words. (Say that fast five times!)

When I was seven years old and walking with my younger sister down a dirt road in our rural town, we came across a snake slithering directly in front of us. I shrieked, and grabbing my sister’s hand, spun around and scrambled toward the trailer on my grandparents’ property where we were living while our new house was being built. My mom, with my newborn brother in her arms, stepped onto the porch when she heard our shrieks. She would tell me later (after much comforting), that I was running so fast down that hill with my long blond braids flying that my sister’s feet weren’t even touching the ground as I pulled her along to safety.

Ever since that day, I’ve had ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes.

As an outdoorsy-type person who loves to spend time biking, hiking, jogging, and power walking, I do, occasionally, stumble across a slithering nemesis.

According to Verywellmind.com, “approximately 10 percent of people in the U.S. have specific phobias, 7.1 percent experience social phobias, and 0.9 percent have agoraphobia.” (fear of leaving one’s home).

Some fears and phobias can be life-altering. People who struggle on a day-to-day basis with these fears know this all too well. There are a variety of treatments for phobias, and some are extremely effective.

The Bible discusses fear often. God knew that His children would struggle with this problem. I heard years ago that the Lord tells us not to fear 365 times in His Word. Wow – 365 times! As someone who struggles with fear, it encourages me to know that God cares about this predicament I find myself in, and not just when I encounter snakes, but also the other fears that crowd my thoughts in this crazy world I call my temporary home.

He reassures me I am never alone in my fear.

Isaiah 41 10.png

God also consoles us in our fears. He doesn’t leave us there to walk through those valleys alone, but rather takes our hand and guides us through those moments when the panic sets in.

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And finally, He reminds us that He didn’t create us to be fearful, and He doesn’t intend for us to live this way.

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So while extreme phobias and fears may require a treatment plan that includes counseling and/or medication, the most important fear-fighter we have on our side is our faith – and our prayers. The best thing I can do in those moments of fear is to return my eyes to the One who holds my very life in His hands.

The One who tenderly reminds me not to fear.

 

tiny miracles

Tiny Miracles.png

On June 6, a tiny newborn was rescued…a baby girl who was destined for death when she was placed inside a plastic bag in Georgia.

Instead, upon hearing a noise, investigators found the baby, who had only recently been born. They filmed the dramatic event with a body cam.

As I watched this video, tears streamed down my face. This little baby, named Baby India, should not have survived. We all know the dangers of allowing children to play with plastic bags, let alone placing a helpless infant inside of a plastic bag. A death sentence for certain once suffocation set in.

But Baby India didn’t die. She didn’t suffocate, didn’t starve to death, wasn’t found by a wild animal in the woods where she was placed. Instead, in God’s goodness and grace, He led rescuers to find her alive and seemingly healthy.

Indeed, even before Baby India was formed in the womb, the Lord knew her. Knew she would be rescued. He never left her side, not even once.

Requests to adopt Baby India have been pouring in by the hundreds. This precious child, whom someone determined shouldn’t live, instead has a future of life ahead of her.

In a world that condones and even promotes the killing of babies through abortion, this miracle baby survived. No, she wasn’t aborted, but rather someone attempted to kill her soon after her birth.

As I re-watched the video, I was reminded of God’s love for His Creation.

Indeed, He has a tender spot for children. We learn that children are a heritage from the Lord… (Psalm 127:3). Consider the words of Psalm 139:13-16:

Psalm 139 13-16

Miracles continue to occur each and every day – with full credit given to our Lord and Savior. Such was the tiny miracle of Baby India and her survival against the odds.

 

 

7 Ways to Encourage Your Children

7 ways to encourage your children

Everyday, we can make the choice to encourage or to discourage. To build up or to tear down. To make a positive difference or to make a negative difference.

There’s no one more important than our children when it comes to choosing whom to encourage.

The word encourage in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as to inspire with courage or confidence; to promote, foster.

So, how can we, as parents, encourage our children? Below are seven suggestions…

Encourage their character.  “A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.”*

As parents, are we helping our children to develop good character? Are we encouraging them to make good choices? Our kids will be, and are faced, with multiple decisions each day. Helping them to understand why good choices are important and equipping them with the knowledge and practice to make good choices is paramount.

One of the things we do in our home is to discuss with our children what they would do if faced with  a particularly difficult situation.  What would they do if they were asked to do something they knew was wrong?

C.S. Lewis gave the perfect definition of integrity. He said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.”C.S. LewisMy prayer is that my children will have that kind of integrity.

 

Picture 095Encourage their dreams. I love the dreams of little children! My youngest once asked for a pet mongoose. I could have easily told her that there was no way we could have a mongoose and for her to be more practical. However, I chose not to. Instead, I encouraged her dream and we chatted about how fun it would be to actually have a pet mongoose (especially since they eat snakes!), and the tricks we would teach him.

Encourage your children to dream at every age and every stage of their lives.

Encourage their future. I pray regularly for our children’s futures, both during family prayer time and during my own quiet times with the Lord.  I have told my children that it’s exciting to see what God has planned for their lives. We often discuss Jeremiah 29:11 which says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

Encourage their compassion. Compassion is one of the most important things we can teach our children. One thing we have done is to instill in our children the importance of serving others. For some ideas on how to instill compassion and servanthood in your children, please check out my book 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. 77 ways

Not only should we encourage compassion for others outside the home, but we should especially encourage compassion within our own families. One of the ways that we do this is to regularly pray for each other and to express our prayer needs daily to one another.

 

Encourage their imagination. As a writer, I am grateful that the Lord blessed me with a creative imagination.  There are several ways I have encouraged my children’s imaginations. For one, I have always read to them. Reading is so important and can take us on adventures we would never otherwise take. When my children were old enough to begin reading themselves, I encouraged them to check out as many books as they wanted at the local library and to even have a “reading marathon” over the summer months. Reading is excellent for the imagination!

Several times, we have spread a blanket in the backyard and gazed up at the clouds. We take turns imagining what animals the clouds look like and which could we would choose if we could lounge on any cloud. The white puffy clouds always win!

My oldest daughter has a knack for art. As such, I asked if she would illustrate a story I wrote. She was delighted and it was wonderful to see her own imagination shining through in her art. I combined the story and her illustrations and asked the local office supply store to bound the pages together. We now have our own special book – not only a keepsake, but also a delightful practice in encouraging the imagination of a budding artist!

325381_piggy-back-rideEncourage their friendships. We talk often about friendships in our home and about the kind of friendships that are important. The Bible has much to say about friendships and what type of friends to choose. For example, Proverbs 16:28 talks of why being dishonest and being one who gossips separates close friends.  Proverbs 18:24 states the importance of a friend who sticks closer than a brother (ESV).  John 15:13 is a profound statement of friendship: Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In our home, we have talked frequently about three different types of friends: gold friends who are there for you through the good times and bad; silver friends who are fun to be with, but you can’t always count on them; and bronze friends who are more like an acquaintance because they aren’t “true” friends.

We also discuss how good choices for friends is critical because of the amount of influence friends have on each other.

Encourage your children to be the kind of  friend that would honor God.

Most importantly, encourage their walk with God.
Are you children growing in their walk with the Lord? Have they accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior? The most important thing we can do is encourage our children to have a close relationship with Jesus. After all, that’s the only thing that will last for eternity.

3 John 1 4 a.png

 

 

 

 

*Quote taken from gotquestions.org

the importance of perseverance

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Life is not easy. It’s full of challenges, and when we face those challenges, we have a choice. Do we stick with it and persevere? Or do we give up?

My mom texted me yesterday with the results from her recent MRI. On top of severe osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, scleroderma, a herniated disc in her back, and celiac disease, they also discovered she has a radial capitellum capsular edema and a posterolateral  capsular synovial cyst.

She was recently confined to a wheelchair.

In other words, the pain and debilitating illness she now faces are nearly unbearable.

Some days it feels like too much.

It is a lot for her to persevere in these times of chronic pain, uncertainty, and a rapidly deteriorating health.

Hard for her husband, children, and grandchildren to watch as well.

But she perseveres. And no, neither she nor I will tell you that it’s easy or that she doesn’t struggle at times.

Chronic illness.

A difficult boss.

A challenging relative.

The effort to lose weight for health reasons.

The challenge to bring up your grades.

Working two jobs to afford basic necessities for your family.

Being a caregiver.

Trying to move on after a death or divorce.

perseverance clip

These can all bring about difficult life situations where it’s easy to give up and give in.

The Apostle Paul went through many trials and hardships and perservered for the Gospel. Missionaries today persist in bringing the Truth to people who may never otherwise hear the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Even in families, friendships, and neighborhoods, faithful believers hope to plant seeds. Pastors preach to both believers and unbelievers each Sunday.

Or even the perseverence in raising our child(ren) for Christ in an increasingly sinful and hostile world. Yet, when we continue to instill in our children the importance of a relationship with God, we will someday reap the rewards.

Galatians 6 9

How do we persevere and why is it important that we do?

By keeping our eyes on Jesus. The second we take our eyes off of Him, as Peter did in Matthew 14:30-31, we sink.

Realizing that He knows the “big picture.” How it starts, the middle, and the ending. Remember that we see the tiny hand-held TV screen of life, while God sees an enormous big-screen TV. Or to look at it a different way, we see one word in an entire book, while He sees the entire book – every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter.

Remembering that even in times of hardship, He loves us and will never leave us.

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Knowing that He is a great listener…and never sleeps. His “line” is open 24/7/365.

Being assured that He’s got this and was not caught off guard.

Spending time in constant prayer, giving thanks for all He has done, seeking His will for your life, and laying down prayer requests are tantamount to a close relationship with Him.

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Reading God’s Word and learning about the faithful ones of the Bible who persevered. To know we are not alone in our difficulties gives us hope and courage.

Keep going forward…even if you feel like you’re constantly going backwards. 

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Making sure you have a good support system. This can be a loving spouse and children, caring friends, and a faithful church body.

Being encouraged by listening to uplifting Christian music.

Facing each day one step at a time. Set small and realistic goals.

Life is not easy. Everyone has a struggle, or multiple struggles, that they face on a daily or ongoing basis. But with faith in God and perseverence, we can face our hardships head-on and emerge victorious.