safe inside the white house

Isolation made me

yearn for all the undone

to be fixed and put right and so I

put up homes and perches

for the birds,

my own sort of tuppence tossed

out the back door where the wee-est search

for breadcrumbs. They plead

with their broken songs to be

heard.

And we, safe inside our white house watch,

noses pressed to the glass

as they jump from branch to branch.

And still they sing,

the sparrows. Maybe they know

His eye is truly on them.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”

Matthew 10:29 ESV

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:

Quarantine Journals: April 11

I’ve always liked Holy Saturday.

Is that what it’s called?

The in between.

Good Friday and Easter get a lot of attention, and then there’s Saturday when nothing happens.

Silence.

Can you imagine being one of the disciples back then?

Abandoned.

Confused.

Hopeless.

Bewildered.

Utterly disappointed.

The One who was supposed to save was gone.

Dead.

Buried.

But then…

We know what happened.

We know that Sunday’s comin’.

We know that.

And yet,

we’re living in the middle

of one of the great *Saturdays* of our generation.

Death and despair surround us.

We feel frustrated. Afraid. Anxious. Lonely.

Defeated.

I imagine that Saturday some 2,000 years ago, Jesus wanted more than anything to tell his despairing disciples to lift up their eyes, to remember that He had not and would not fail them.

I imagine that if we quiet our trembling hearts long enough to listen, truly listen, we will hear Him again.

We will feel the tender touch of His nail-pierced hand under our chins, lifting our countenances.

We may feel that we’re surrounded, but

we’re surrounded by Him.

Saturday is deafeningly silent, but oh the sound when that stone rolls away tomorrow!

Sunday is comin’.

It always does.

Look up, dear friends.

Not to the hills. Not to the government. Not to hospitals or banks or experts or pundits. Not to our own feeble ways of coping.

Look up to His faithfulness.

Look up to His Word.

Look up, dear friends.

Because Sunday.

Because Sunday is a-comin’!

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I Peter 1:3-5 TMV