Saturday, June 13, 2020

Viral Perspective

I'm an essential worker. While out and about doing deliveries, I noticed a big change in the neighborhoods where I deliver.
Many families were outside for neighborhood walks and bike rides. Toddlers to teens were playing outdoor games. Neighbors are talking to each other over their fences, keeping with the distancing regulations. Even the elderly are out to enjoy the sunshine, while their caregivers are engaging them in a friendly chat.

Oddly enough, despite the forced time off, everyone looks happy.

They spent time together. Enjoying themselves and the beautiful spring weather. 

To be honest, I thought these neighborhoods would be deserted; everyone would be inside with their tech, barely moving a toe length from their couches or beds unless the fridge or Mother Nature called. But no- they were outside, smiling, playing, and happy.

Parents have been telling their kids for years to stop playing computer games and go outside to play...and now that they can play digital games and watch TV until they have the mental capacity and agility of the Walking Dead, they are instead out on their bikes and having fun playing distance-friendly games with their friends and siblings. 

Yes, they should have been inside due to the pandemic- I totally get that! But people will be people, and if you tell them to not do something, they will do the exact opposite. 

People are cooking again because take-out isn't an affordable option. Yet learning (or in some cases, relearning) to cook became fun because they have time to create something yummy that's healthier (and you get to eat the mistakes!) Many are gaining home skills they never knew they had; home maintenance, repairs, improvements, and hobbies are skyrocketing in both the online classes and how-to videos.

And people are loving it.

I know a lot of families are struggling- this isn't a cakewalk for many people out there. However, no matter what you're situation is, I bet your perspective has changed quite a bit since the pandemic started- no matter your situation.

Have you done any of these things?

Pray more.
Learn new skills.
Budget time better.
Decluttering.
Work on that new startup at-home biz you've always wanted, but never had time to start.
Fix up the house.
Start a garden.
Redecorating.
Eating healthier.
Plan a restful vacation you've been meaning to take before the pandemic.
Making lifestyle changes like going to part-time or full-time, or deciding to retire.
Change the way you do your ministry, be it no-touch drop-offs of food and goods, or support groups via video linkups.
Visit friends via calls or facetime.
Play games with the kids.
Homeschooling.

What changes have you made in your life, on or off this list?

What have I been doing, you ask?

Working... when I want to be home.  And yes, I know I'm not normal.

I loved being an at-home mom for nearly two decades, and I find myself still wanting to be home (even though my kids are now young adults). My current downtime is usually spent decluttering my sewing and writing space, deep house cleaning, and prepping for several at-home businesses.

My husband is working odd hours due to the pandemic (CDC cleanup), but we're grateful he's still able to work since most of the plant is shut down. We've become avid budgeters and are using the surplus hourly wages and tips to pay off debts. I know when this is over, my deliveries will be cut severely, so I'm squirreling any extra away for the near future.

My son and daughter are both at home (my daughter was sent home during Easter break, then the college shut down soon afterward); My daughter works a day or two a week at a horse therapy barn where she tends to the horses, and my son is becoming a video-watching expert since his workplace was shut down entirely.

During the shutdown, we adopted an abandoned cat at my husbands' workplace. She is now dubbed Luna (and has earned the nickname Lunatic) and is now sporting a brand new scar from being spayed. Our other cats are less than thrilled. I'm still wondering if that's because Luna is a year and a half and they are ten and eight, or they just don't like having their tails hunted. Maybe both.

My husband and I were deeply involved with a food ministry, but because we are essential workers, we're keeping our distance due to our higher risk of exposure. We are very social and helpful people, and this pandemic has curtailed all of our ministries to the point that we're near hermits. It's hard for givers not to give!

Our old lifestyle seems a world away now. The old normal is forgotten, and we're working our way to a new norm. We pray the world will change for the better.


Personally, I hope there will be more at-home parents. I'd love to see more homeschoolers walking about the neighborhood doing outdoor projects. More work-at-homers taking a break outside to chat with a neighbor. I'd like to see more kids playing outside with each other, more visits to friends and family, and more spiritual connections being made. More people helping people. More smiles, laughter, and hugs.

Especially more time to slow down and enjoy life! 


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Viral Insights

No, this isn't a post about the virus per se. You've been inundated with blogs, messages, and emails about it, and I'm not going to tell you anything you probably already know. 

However, being one of the few that can actually work through the quarantine/shutdown, I've noticed something quite extraordinary. But let me backtrack a little here.

I work as a courier. I drive all over the city and surrounding suburbs, and when this virus hit, we got slammed with deliveries. So I was working longer and harder than I had been in a very long time. 
Most days before the shutdown, the streets were empty except for the traffic. Tech was blamed for the lack of kids playing and family time outside, and I was the loudest gal protesting on that particular bandwagon. So when the quarantine happened, I expected less traffic and even fewer people.

Wrong.

Neighborhoods were active with family bike rides, walks, joggers, and oldsters with their caregivers out for some fresh air and sunshine. Neighbors and family members were still taking precautions concerning social distancing, but all were having conversations and enjoying being together- as long as they were six feet away or more, that is.

Not many people were using their tech. Some loners were on their phones, but most were out and about chatting with each other. Yes, they were under caution, but most of the burbs weren't on shutdown- not yet. But it did surprise me just how many people were outside- especially kids.

The tech should have kept everyone inside...right? Phone games, texting, videos, movies, computer and console games were all excuses to stay inside; yet parents were constantly wanting kids to go out before the virus- remember those conversations?

Parent: Hey kids! It's gorgeous outside! Why don't you stop playing on your phone/computer/TV and go outside to play? Go for a family walk? Ride your bike...do something!

Kids: NOOOOOOO! It's too hot/cold/sunny/shady/whatever outside! I wanna stay in and play the game I just downloaded- and then I have to text my friends about it!

And now that we're on quarantine?

Parent: Why don't you stay in and play some video games, text your friends, or watch a movie? Everything's closed so you can't go anywhere.

Kids: NOOOOOOO! All this stuff is boring and I want to go out with my friends! We can bike or walk around the block and just hang out...

All parents of the universe: SIGH...

Gotta love the irony.

So tech isn't why we've become so reclusive. We had a reason to use it to remain inside, yet we didn't. We went out. 

That's when it hit me.

It was busyness that kept us socially separated. And when we were forced to stop being busy with what we thought was life, we actually found out that that wasn't what life was all about after all!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Families were spending time together. Pets were getting more walks and longer playtimes. Kids were playing and being more active outdoors. Gardens were being tended, lawns mowed and neighbors were chatting. The best part?

People were happy.

Once this viral mess is over, I hope it positively changes lives. We've surrounded ourselves with so much to do, we forget we can slow down. Most times we choose not to. Only when everything is shut down do we see what a truly good life really is!

Enjoy the free time you now have, and pray for those that still need to work to keep the virus at bay. Let God show you that it's okay to rest, slow down, and spend time just sitting in the sunshine. 

And when this is all over, remember to take time out of each day to slow down and breathe.

I pray you all to remain safe and healthy, and that God blesses you in many unexpected ways during this quarantine!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Messiah Mindset

Sometimes I wonder why Jesus was called the Messiah. But when I broke up the word into syllables, I realized it made perfect sense.

Mess- I- Ah.

He saw the mess, said to Himself 'I need to fix this', and all of us exhaled a collective sigh of relief. Ah...

Well, we were supposed to exhale in relief. But noooo, we had to go on being human and keep messing with things, not trusting that He fixed everything. 

Humans are so like that, aren't we?

Many of us have gotten so far from His mindset that only a rare few truly understand where God wants them to go, what to be, and how to be to get there. We struggle to see God's plan for us instead of enjoying the ride.

I know I do because I'm too busy straining in my seat to see behind me or what's coming over the next hill. I don't always enjoy the ride. But I'm getting better at it.

Trials are trials for a reason- and sometimes we aren't meant to see those reasons right from the get-go. In fact, most of us won't see all the blessings we've had until after the trial is over! The year 2020 will be a 'year of vision' as the great 'They' say, but let's face it; most of those visions will either be hindsight (where we were), or foresight (where we're going)- not where we are at the present moment. 

And the present is where the good stuff is- even during the bad stuff.

You know that phrase 'you can't have your cake and eat it too'? I never understood that saying! It seems so silly, right? How can you eat the cake if you don't have it, and how can you have the cake but not eat it? 

Does this phrase mean that you're not truly enjoying the cake until after you ate the whole thing? You didn't savor the moment, so now you're left with a plate of crumbs, icing, and regrets? 

Image by modi74 from Pixabay

Interesting. 

But I bet when no one's looking, you licked that icing and crumbs off that plate, didn't you?

Now you're living in the moment, tasting the bare remnants of something that could have been enjoyed fully a few bites ago.

I want to enjoy my cake while I eat it. I know you do too. We've just forgotten how.

We're caught up in a fast-paced world full of distractions, and we forget that it's okay to slow down and put away the gadgets, turn things off, and go sniff a rose or two. Or enjoy that cake with the super yummy frosting.

I've had to relearn things I used to know- slowing down to read a book, pause when you smell freshly baked bread or a mown lawn, listen to the birds chirping outside and just be. To clear my mind and listen to what God has to say. It's not always easy.

What is God telling you?

Maybe you're to rest. Perhaps you're to hit the pause button and help someone. Hear what someone is actually saying, not just the words they say. Maybe He's giving you a new road to walk. Whatever it is, God is going to fix things and put you back on the right track. His track.

I want to encourage you to slow down and breathe deeply. Take in those wonderful scents. Hear the birds chirping in the distance. Taste that cake and enjoy it. 
Because the Mess is fixed. 
I can savor the present moment.
Ah...




Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Deeper End- A Spiritual Attack

You know you're headed in the right direction when the devil jumps on you with both feet.

It started with a desire to change. Not for the New Year, but to make all-around changes for the better. Since we considered changing the way we lived with our stuff, why not delve a little deeper and try to change the way we lived on the inside too?

So I bought a book that I thought would help me understand my role as a wife, mom, and also support my husband in his ministry.

Well, Mister Pointy Horns didn't like that at all and decided to take action. 

On Christmas morning. 
Early morning. 
Like 3:30 a.m. 

Boo-Boo, one of the three cats that adopted me (I was his favorite) felt something was up, so he started yowling at my bedroom door. This was a peculiar yowl, loud enough to wake only me, so I opened the door and gave him a cuddle (because he would not leave me alone and wrapped about my legs like a bolo), then I shut the door and went back to bed. 

I opened my eyes. Something was wrong. The room had an odd feel to it. My clock, which glows like a light blue sun normally, was darker than a black hole; there was a sense of anti-light about the darkness. It was a darkness that filled me with dread. Something was in the room with us.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Oh, not today, Buster, I said to myself. I'd had a bad day at work yesterday, and was itching for a good fight. I stood and roared at the shadows that loomed near my bedside; Get out of my house! I yelled silently, I bind you in Jesus' name!

The entities shifted but didn't leave.

Surprised, I tried again. I bind you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, get out of my house- leave my family and my cats alone!

But they didn't leave. I looked about frantically for something to help.

I reached for what I thought were white crosses at the head of my bed, but when my fingers touched them they were just crosses of paper with no power about them. I had a flash of thought- false prophets- before the crosses fluttered to the floor behind the bed.

Out of the corner of my eye, a man who was my husband but wasn't my husband was crouched next to me by the bed, playing what looked like a wooden flute, elaborately carved into a cross. 

That had to be what I needed! He only got two notes out before I snatched it from him and held it out to the shadows, trying to bind them a third time, using the words I was always taught to use. 

It seemed to work. The power had lessened and they seemed to leave. The cross-like flute and my husband disappeared. I climbed back into bed to pray.

I woke up abruptly. The clock was still swathed in anti-light.

Something was dragging me across the bed towards it. No hands, just a force. I turned to see a shadowed entity against my wall with giant fire-filled eyes, mouth agape in silent rage.

I was being pulled toward it. Hard

My fingers clawed the sheets. I needed help, and I needed it now.

Another flash of thought- through Me, not you. 

Then it hit me. I'd been trying to disperse these entities through me- I bind, my house. I. Me. Myself. 
I cried out for God to take over and protect me.

Someone grabbed me around the waist, pulled me to the opposite side of the bed and held me tight against him with one arm. I knew it was my husband-not-my-husband. God had sent Someone to protect me. 

I'd felt the shadows lurch back in surprise to the opposite side of the bed. There was a very pregnant pause. Then I'd heard the Someone speak in a different language- Mas ven aviku.

I had no idea what that meant (or what language it was), but he wasn't talking to me- he was talking to the shadow. It sounded like a warning.

And the shadow left.

I woke up back in bed. My clock display shone bright blue against the very quiet, very peaceful darkness. I squinted as it blared the time- 5:03 a.m. I remained stock-still, listening for anything that would tell me this wasn't a dream, that the fight was really over. 

My husband was asleep beside me.
Boo-boo meowed at the door. This was his regular 'time for breakfast, so feed me' meow. 
Dawn was coming. 
Christmas was here.

I picked up my cellphone and immediately sought a language translator.

To this day I still don't know what aviku means. But the first two words translated best from Spanish to English.

More come.

The Being had warned the shadows that more will come. More what? Beings? Angels? And what does aviku mean? Was it the name of the shadow? The only Aviku I could find was a character in a game. Oddly enough, the character was a demon, and it was known by another name- Defiler of Souls. Yikes!

When I read the translation, I felt as if an army was surrounding my house, protecting us. I couldn't see them, but I felt them, and that was all I needed. God has sent His army to protect me and my family. 

The shadows were gone.

I picked up the book I'd bought and started reading. What was the book you might ask? The Resolution for Women, written by Priscilla Shrier, based on the movie Courageous. It's a study not lightly taken, but I wanted to read through it first before delving even deeper to improve my spiritual life. I'm almost finished it, and I believe this book will help me grow into a better servant for God. In fact, it already has!

I'd like to make one thing clear- I don't think buying the book itself was the reason I was attacked. I believe it was because I'd finally made a choice to change myself for the better- not just for my kids and husband but for God, and this book would indeed become a big influencer in my spiritual life. 

Any spiritual improvement sets the devil on his ear...er...horn, and he'll do his best to stop it whenever possible. This is usually when adversity rears its ugly head and the battle becomes a bit harder for a Christian. So if you feel the weight of life on your shoulders, let go of the 'me, myself and I' floatie you're holding onto and dare to swim in deeper waters- because God is the best lifeguard, ever!