Quarantine journals: April 30

When I was younger, I had a terrifying, recurrent dream. I can’t recall the circumstances, only that we were standing in a line at a school waiting for MREs, our only source of food. It was the sort of dream where your conscious is telling you in the midst that “it’s only a dream,” but you are so scared that you fight your way awake in the middle of the night.

This morning I drove by a local elementary school, and I was struck by how much it looks like the one in that old dream.

I know, it’s ridiculous, right?

We’re going to make it through this, right?

Some moments of my day, usually when I’m building or painting something, I don’t think about the virus. I don’t think about my patients at the hospital who were sick and anxious enough without COVID-19 to worry about. I don’t think about how so many of us are months, or weeks, or even days, of needing help to pay bills and get food.

But many moments–too many moments–I do think about it.

I wonder if my grandparents and great-grandparents felt like they were free-falling when the Great Depression hit. Because that’s how I feel–like I’m free falling. Like I’m in a dream and I know I’m in a dream, only this time, I can’t make myself wake up. I can’t make it go away.

I want to be able to get my nails done again. I want to get back to the treasured Saturday morning breakfasts out with my husband. I want to hug my patient who just received devastating news. I want to hug my friends again. I want to know that we aren’t headed toward bread lines and MREs and another Great Depression and things won’t get so bad that we’ll have to sell our house or go bankrupt or lose everything but the shirts on our backs.

I had anxiety and PTSD before all this, and I just wish it would all go away.

Now, I’m fully aware that a lot of the things I listed above are #firstworldproblems. By and large my family and I are doing okay. But everything is relative for everyone. A crisis to one person might appear as a blessing to another. We can’t judge the things that make each of us unravel.

We can only acknowledge that we are, each of us, unraveling about something in the midst of this madness.

So what can we do?

There are the obvious: acknowledge that your hurt and worry are real, and more importantly, valid. Seek mental help–most doctors are taking virtual visits, if not seeing serious cases in person. Do things–even one thing–to take care of your soul, whether putting up a bird house, reading a long-neglected book, trying a hobby you’ve been putting off, taking a bubble bath by candlelight.

One thing is for sure: We are not all in this together.

Some are suffering significantly more than others. Many–too many–are dying.

But we are all in this with God.

He has not changed.

He has not left us.

He has seen us through wars and famines and plagues. He has never promised us escape from these challenges, but He has promised us victory over them–either here on earth or in Heaven.

“…fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

The other day, I had the privilege of being at my cousins’ dairy farm when they opened the north pasture to grazing for the first time this season.

The gate opened, and the pretty jersey cows with their big, brown, puppy dog eyes just stood there, blinking, ankle deep in muck.

“Go on now,” the farmer hollered, encouraging them.

Still, they stood there and stared.

It’s as if they’d forgotten all the springs before and the freedom and sweet, honey taste of the emerald green pasture.

“Go out before them, walk all the way back over the bend of the hill,” my farmer cousin said to me.

The cows blinked some more, postures guarded, as they watched me walk farther and farther out into the pasture, my legs shin deep in the lush, green grass.

But then slowly, one by one, they walked toward the pasture.

They picked up their pace, little by little, until one, and then another, started to run–skip, really–their impossibly enormous frames light with glee when they finally realized what the farmer was offering them.

Freedom.

Honey sweet nourishment.

Goodness.

Love.

It was a Malachi 4:2 sort of day:

But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”

The sort of day the Lord has in store for each of us, when this winter, this virus, this season lifts.

Be safe, dear friends.

Know you are loved and beloved.

Know that you are not alone.


 Lead Me Home is a novel inspired by my cousins’ dairy farm. It’s a story of two families and a town faced with immeasurable loss,  and how they find hope in the midst of it. You might like to give it a try, if you’re looking for the same:

The inspiration behind Lead Me Home

A lot of folks are curious about where an author gets book ideas.

You don’t have to look far to figure out where inspiration came from for my third novel, Lead Me Home. 

My cousins have a dairy farm about five miles from where we live. It’s been a place of intrigue and beauty, respite and fascination of mine for decades, and they were gracious enough to indulge my curiosity during the times I needed to do research for this book. Come tour with me today! Also, you can learn all about their brand new creamery, called Dandy Breeze, at their website.

This is me at the Dairy Barn at the Indiana State Fair.

And here come the cows, also lovingly referred to as, “the girls,” moseying in as they do each morning and evening like clockwork for their twice-a-day milkings. They don’t even have to be called or herded in, they know the routine so well.

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Occasionally they stop and stare at the obvious city girl taking pictures.

City girls can be quite annoying.

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“Mooooove along now, city girl,” she says.

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Linger too long and they’ll try and kiss ya.

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Mmmmm.

Cow kisses.

Once they get to the barn, they mosey right up to the stanchions and wait to be milked, happy to have their burgeoning udders emptied and to have a bit of hay for a milking snack.

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They really are happy to be milked.

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Really.

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The milk goes into the cooling tank in the next room, where it is stored until the milk tanker truck comes and takes it to the plant for processing into cheese and ice cream and YUM.

Did someone say ICE CREAM???

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Once they’re done with the milking, each girl gets her teats cleaned (if you’re a real farmer you don’t giggle at this phrase). Then she eases herself out of the stanchions and finds her way back out of the barn to where a hearty grain dinner awaits.

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Bellies full, the girls then take the worn path back to the pasture.

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And find a patch of shade.

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Meanwhile back at the barn, there’s much work to be done.

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The pre-teen and teen girls need tending.

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Hey girls.

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And the babies need to be fed their share of milk.

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I mean seriously.

Can you STAND the cuteness???

Why don’t my eyelashes naturally look like that?

Isn’t this somethin’??!

The work never ends on the dairy farm.

I’ve not even shown you the plowing and planting and cutting and baling, the sick cows and droughts and floods. I’m not even showing you the way the barn looks at 0400 and 1630 every. single. day. 24/7/365. And all the minutes in between when the cleaning and prepping and hauling and dirty, stinky, nasty parts of the job that happen every. single. day. too.

No, the work never ends on the dairy farm.

But along the way there sure are a lot of blessings.

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A harvest of hope and blessings, indeed.

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*****

“Meanwhile, friends, wait patiently for the Master’s Arrival. You see farmers do this all the time, waiting for their valuable crops to mature, patiently letting the rain do its slow but sure work.”

James 5:7 (MSG)

*****

What part of the dairy farm intrigues you the most?

What’s your favorite picture?

Can you see how there are so many parallels between a life of farming and a life of faith?