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 9

432,596 confirmed cases

14,831 deaths

24,245 recovered

*****

I took a walk

around the yard this morning.

Birds sounded louder.

Flowers looked brighter.

The grass glowed emerald

despite the hail that beat it down

hard last night.

How impossible it has been to look up and around and

outside the hyper focused panic of this pandemic,

where mercy reigns

and grace reins in

my wobbly heart.

Last night I sang and sang and sang until

I finally started to believe the words that

We are surrounded

by more than the monster before us. Rather,

we are held

fast by Him.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (ESV)

Quarantine diaries: April 6 we

364,723 confirmed cases.

10,781 deaths.

19,346 recovered.

*****

I couldn’t help it.

Before I opened my eyes this morning, my first thought was,

What great horror awaits us today?

The general public is panicked enough without knowing what those of us in the trenches see every day, every hour, every minute.

Again I felt faithless and inadequate as my first thoughts turned toward dread and panic instead of scripture and prayer and peace.

Some say God is trying to tell us something.

I disagree.

The God I know loves His sheep and saves even the one who is lost, even the one who is susceptible and at risk and frail and fragile to viruses and predators and harm.

The God I know parts waters and rolls stones and makes the blind see and the deaf hear and the lame leap. 

The God I know would not send this, no matter the lessons we need to learn as mere mortals flailing for purpose and meaning and LIFE.

I try to be a faith first sort of person.

I try to be an overcomer, a knees-to-the-ground, arms-up, Waymaker kind of Christian.

But I am a Christian who is a NURSE.

And my son, my beloved first born, is a nurse, too.

 

Maybe I know too much. Indeed, I have seen too much. But one thing I can assure you of, is that

this virus is TOO MUCH.

Those of you who can live stream and hashtag and blog about the glory and praise in the midst of the hurt, please carry on.

Just know that those of us in the trenches are trying to cope with Facetime-only eternal good-byes and veritable death sentences to diabetic and cardiac compromised and immunocompromised and cancer fighters and an unimaginable number of patients the virus does not discern but rather snatches too soon from this life.

I have faith.

Oh, I do have faith.

But I also know that in this world we will have trouble, and this, my friend, is a trouble of all troubles.

So forgive me if I don’t offer Psalms and comforting platitudes and Facebook Live assurances that all we be well soon enough.

I believe Jeremiah 29:11 with the best of them.

But I also know that this hurts, and will keep hurting, and will hurt tomorrow worse than it hurts today, because that is the nature of this COVID monster. It snatches and steals and devastates and defeats.

Jesus is victorious, always and indeed.

But crosses have to be carried.

And this is ours to bear today. 

Let us praise Him in the midst, indeed, and especially in this Holy week. The Passion was fraught with pain and tears and questions and fear.

There’s no telling how long this particular passion of ours will last, but His faithfulness assures deliverance. I know this in my head, and I keep it close to my heart even as I wake to new horrors every day. Because…

joy comes in the morning, too,

eventually.

Joy comes.

*****