Pandemics, Stress, and something else Contagious

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people in a thousand different ways. For me, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions and brain power.

The first couple weeks leading up to the stay-home order were chaos at work. I didn’t really even have time to think about the implications of the virus in other areas of life. We had a feeling that a stay-home order was coming, so we scrambled to get all our processes set up for remote work. I was learning new software, training people on said software, putting it into practice and converting a lot of other daily tasks from physical to digital. I was working late hours to cram as much time in with my boss as possible to make sure we were on the same page and ready to keep things moving at the same pace as before.

I’ve had some stressful days and weeks at work, but this time topped the cake.

Once we were finally all nestled in safe and sound at home, a new challenge arose: getting used to a new normal. I had to decide what my new daily routine would look like, and be disciplined in keeping it regular for my own sanity. Using Marco Polo to stay connected with friends was, and remains, a huge help. And I’m still working on changing how I exercise and eat, because I’m not moving half as much as I did when in the office.

Surprisingly, I’ve actually begun to enjoy this new normal. I’ve settled in and I feel like each day that goes by I get a little more comfortable and a little bit more productive. But, the nagging thought remains in the back of my head that I don’t know how long this work from home situation will last. The question I keep asking is…how long will this last? Another month? A year? Indefinitely? It stresses me out thinking about adjusting to yet another new normal in such a short period of time. There’s been a lot of change this year, and I’m kind of trying to hold off any further change as long as I can!

But this is where I need to ask Jesus for his peace.

Matthew 10:29-31 says,

What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

It reminds me of the flock of sparrows that live in my neighbor’s bushes. They are constantly at our bird feeder, and I’ve had the joy of watching them a lot lately. They have a pretty nice set up over here actually, between the bushes, bird feeder, and the clothesline poll they use for nests. They are noisy, messy birds, but I love watching them and hearing them every day. They pester each other, eat, sleep, build nests, lay eggs, and live. And I love thinking about this verse and how God literally knows and sees each one of these little birdies.

And I love the daily reminder that this is how closely the Father watches over me.

I know that I need to drop my worries and rest, knowing that he sees me. He knows my questions about the future. He knows what my heart longs for. But he also knows what I cannot know….he knows what the future holds. So I need to drop my fears and trust in his ways and his timing.

Every day, I just need to pray the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13, asking God for his plans and purposes to be done, for him to give me what I need each day, for him to forgive me as I mess up and help me to forgive those around me, and to steer me away from temptation.

What I do know is that when I put my trust in Jesus, he will guide my every step. I just need to keep reminding myself to take my eyes off the situation and know that Jesus sees it all.

May we embrace the hope he offers us.

A gift of right perspective

I’ve been a little too lax in terms of my diet lately. If you don’t know anything about my last year in food discoveries, I found out this spring that I had SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and in order to help my gut heal I had to stay way from coffee, peanuts, almonds, dairy, and all grains, among other things. My gut is healing though and I have hope that someday I’ll be able to add some of these back in, as I’ve been able to do with tomato paste. But for now this is what I’m living with.

None of these are full out allergies, but they are bad enough that my quality of life drastically goes down when I have them. For instance, grains make me depressed and sometimes anxious for days. I don’t really know the science behind why, but I’ve experimented over and over again and this continues to be the case.

When I’m faithfully staying away from all these categories, I can have the occasional “dairy” treat if I take a lactase enzyme. And I can handle going out to a restaurant if there are trace amounts of gluten. But the last couple weeks I’ve taken full advantage of those lactase enzymes and we’ve eaten out several times. And last night I was in the dumps. It was like I couldn’t think straight. Logically I knew everything was fine, but it’s like I was paralyzed from being able to do life as I normally do. Depression and anxiety does that.

This morning I’m feeling better. We stayed home from church so that I could get a good long night of sleep in. Sleep is so important when I get to this point. And I had a dream that had me waking up feeling incredibly thankful for the home that I have.

To give some perspective, I make 90% of my food from scratch these days so that I can know they’ll be free of all of the above (which is why Danielle Walker’s cookbooks have been such a lifesaver for me.) And while I love cooking and it’s been fun, I also get frustrated that so much of my time is spent “working”. I work a 40hr a week job and then come home and work at home cooking and cleaning. It’s hard to find time a good balance where I am also able to have fun and adventures.

But this dream I had last night helped me to appreciate all I have. In my dream Luke and I were living on a college campus, as dorm hosts of some kind. We had gotten the tiny dorm perfectly cozy when another couple came to move in. They also had a crazy intense friend who declared he’d be over all the time and we should “be ready”. All of a sudden the only space we had to ourselves was this little loft bedroom we couldn’t even stand up in. It was a shock to both of us.

So waking up in my own home, with just the two of us and our dogs, I felt like I had hit jackpot. I have that entire kitchen to myself to do all my cooking in. I can stand up in all parts of the house. Instead of having no privacy like in my dream, I have full privacy in a home that is cozy, quiet, and cabin-like.

It was impactful for me because when I am thrown off balance by poor eating choices, these are the things that keep me grounded. And I have this beautiful environment to keep me going strong. It’s a lot of work, but life is work, right? They key is being thankful in the midst of it and enjoying what we have. And then when we’re able to do something special and out of the ordinary, it’s extra sweet.

My to do list is pretty big today, but I’m fully equipped to handle it. Physically, and now because of a good night sleep and God’s encouragement as I slept, mentally as well.

Perspective is a powerful thing. When life gives you lemons, it makes it a little easier to make lemonade.

Our Confident Hope

About a year ago, I received uncertain medical news about a loved one. I remember feeling the weight of it. The ache in my heart. I went into the bathroom at work and prayed. As I sat there on the cold tile floor, I felt unable to continue. Unable to muster up the strength to face another medical crisis.

I hate it, but sometimes…this is life. Jesus promised we would face troubles of many kinds. We can’t tell life, “Thanks, but I’m done now.”

But we can tell Jesus, “This is where I stop, and you begin.”

My husband encouraged me that day by texting me Romans 12:12 which says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

So I whispered to the tile walls, God is not done. He is my refuge. I can trust his timing and his decisions.

The unease didn’t leave me, but this reminder gave me something to cling to. It was an anchor to remind me who God is and what he is capable of.

Sometimes the most helpful reminder is to acknowledge that He is our refuge. In crisis, may you find your strength by turning into the embrace of Jesus.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.
Psalm 91:1-2 NLT