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.

It’s Simple…if you let it be simple

I keep trying to make life complicated. I keep thinking that there always has to be something bigger, better, more exciting and further reaching. But those things I look for always disappoint. Every time.

Too much time on social media makes tangible life feel purposeless.

Self-promoting sets up expectations that I can’t live up to.

Always looking for the next big thing makes the moments that my life is built on feel pointless.

Basically, whenever I take my eyes off the tangible, off the here and now in order to look for greatness in the world, I quickly find myself in a deep dark hole that I have to climb out of. That hole I climb out of is full if discontentment and disillusionment.

Let me put it more clearly….

I am a thrill seeking adrenaline junkie…who likes to do safe, non-life-threatening things. Like watch musicals. I can’t tell you how pumped up and alive I become when I watch musicals. But I also can’t tell you the emotional low I experience when that musical is over. I become disillusioned with my own life. In the span of two or so hours, I experience emotional highs like you wouldn’t believe. And when it’s over, I’m left thinking, “Is that it? Now what?”

But life isn’t a musical, as much as some of us might wish it was. Life also isn’t digital. Life isn’t black and white. Life isn’t boring. Life isn’t a non-stop thrill ride. Life isn’t predictable. Life isn’t all joy. Life isn’t all sorrow. Life isn’t all about you. Life isn’t all about them.

What I keep bringing myself back to is this – life is quite simple. It is a string of days that culminate into a beautiful lifetime. I’d like to live those days focusing on what matters, like loving my husband and learning how to be a good wife. Like learning that I really can trust God in all things.

I’d like my moments to encourage others by picking them up off the side of the road and getting them back on their way.

I’d like to embrace that rest is a gift that should be enjoyed. Stress doesn’t have to rule my life.

I’d like to see God in everything, and always be listening to his voice. I’d love to see people set free by his love. I’d like to spend so much time in the bible that it oozes out of me at every possible chance.

My personal quest is to get a little closer to this every day. I want to experience the fullness of life that God has available for me, and I know that it’s found in everyday tasks. It’s not found on a screen. I keep thinking about the pioneers who settled new lands in America – making a home from nothing or from wood they purchased at an outpost. They had hard work, a few people if they were lucky, maybe a family, and the Lord. Do you think their lives had no meaning? Absolutely not. I can only imagine that they enjoyed the fruits of their labor, trusted in the Lord through hardship, and lived out the drama of life with the people around them.

That seems pretty amazing to me.

We can’t get away from the internet in 2018 – it’s a way of life. But we can decide how much time we put towards the digital, and how much we put towards the tangible.

9/18/18 | Psalm 1

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.

But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.

They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.

For the Lord watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalm 1 NLT

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked. How interesting is it that the book of Psalms opens with this? It instructs us not to follow the ungodly or the world or our culture – we’re to follow the Lord. This ties into how God’s way is the best way. His designs, his purposes, his plans, his reasons and ideas. This entire psalm speaks to this! When you google wicked online it tells us that it means evil or morally wrong. So do not follow those who are evil or those who are morally wrong. Do not learn from them or mimic their ways. Learn from the Lord.

But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along a riverbank. Doesn’t this sound like what Jesus was talking about when he was telling us to abide in him? This is talking about how we are when we meditate on the law of the Lord. When we meditate on his ways, we are abiding. As we spend daily time in the Bible we are rooting ourselves in Christ. As we do this, we’ll bear fruit in each season. We’ll bear fruit in every season of life. That doesn’t just mean summer. It means fall, winter, and spring as well. Imagine a tree flourishing even in the winter, when everything is dead.

Imagine flourishing and even bearing fruit during the most difficult times of your life – that’s what the Word is saying here. This is what is promised as we abide in Christ. You won’t just experience joy and peace when all is right in your life – you’ll also experience it when all is wrong.

Their leaves will never cease to flourish*, and they will succeed* in all they do.

For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

What a stark difference the Bible shows us between following the world/culture/morally wrong, and following the Lord. The instruction here is to delight in Word of the Lord and to meditate on it day and night. The blessing is being like a constantly thriving tree.

Recommended reading:

  • Psalm 1
  • John 15: 1-11
  • Galatians 5

*edit mine, alternate definition of “wither” and “prosper”