Category Archives: COVID-19

Forever learning

Mask

The hot humid days that we have endured for so long have finally relented to cooler days and crisp nights.  Another autumn season is upon us with all the sights, smells and tastes that our senses relish.  School is once again in session, but it is anything other than a normal school year for most; the pandemic has changed the complexion on even how teachers instruct and how our children and grandchildren learn and interact.  It’s within that realm of change that I find myself in the role of teacher, instructing our new Kindergartener granddaughter on Wednesday’s in abbreviated studies of learning sight words and correctly writing her ABCs and numbers, as well as basic math skills.  This whole impromptu educator role has me reflecting more on how we learn and grow, beyond our formal education to our life experiences that make us who we are as adults.  Some of those experiences were possibly birthed from embarrassing moments, while others perhaps were more informal in structure, driven home by adults or others we respected that loved us enough to teach us the intangible life lessons that make us who we are.  May I share a couple of embarrassing learning moments that I’ve experienced?

The first occurred around the summer of 1982.  Jenny and I had been married about three years and had a one year old to watch after.  We stopped at the Dayton Mall to visit our JC Penney, the reason why not as important as the lesson I was about to learn.  We got out of the car and I removed the “fold up” stroller that seemed to be a simple chariot for young Alison to ride in but was quite temperamental at times to set up or fold down.  I was pushing the empty stroller toward the curb, lifted the front wheels and proceeded to lift the rear wheels when the stubborn contraption decided to fold up on me; evidently, I hadn’t been a good new dad and made sure everything was locked into place.  Well, the apparatus made a sudden stop but I, however, did not, sailing over the thing like a super hero but landing like a tossed misfit toy.  About that time, two young men had seen what had happened and walked up, not knowing quite what to do until they saw my young bride laughing hysterically which caused the two men to erupt in laughter as well.  They didn’t seem to care that my pride was just lying there, in need of mouth to mouth resuscitation!  Lesson learned: make sure a contraption is in complete working order before using it…

Another “learning” moment came while Jenny was expecting.  Jenny and I had gone to a local steak house in Middletown, which was a rare treat indeed for a couple that seemed to survive on Franco American Ravioli.  I felt really “special” as I waltzed up to the salad bar and proceeded to fill my plate with all kinds of incredible edibles.  One thing I always liked to top my salad with was grated parmesan cheese.  I perused the salad bar until I found what I thought must have been the shaker, so I immediately picked up what I thought was the container and gave it a squeeze, at the same time thinking it was kind of strange that I would have to “squeeze” it.  Immediately, I heard a “whooshing” sound and stood horrified, as I had just sprayed off my salad into the salad bar and half the restaurant!  Lesson learned: be more aware of the tools you attempt to use and understand their intended purpose before using…

For those of you that really enjoyed a taste of self-deprecation at my expense; you’re welcome!  For those of you that are thinking to yourselves, “your mama must have dropped you on your head when you were little; you don’t have a lick of sense”, no she didn’t but yes, common sense is acquired, not inherited.  Which brings me to my next section of life learning: common courtesy and common sense.

Common courtesy should be pretty easy and straightforward but in this day and age, not so much.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines common courtesy as, “politeness that people can usually be expected to show”, thinking of someone else first in a situation, i.e. holding the door open if you see another person coming behind you, etc.  For example, did you know that the turn signal in your car is actually to be used to visually communicate to others of your intentions when you’re going to make a turn? (I’m hoping YOU already know where you’re headed…)  Of course, I do understand that it’s more difficult now, since your hands are either occupied with texting, eating, and such but still, make the attempt!  Another example could be that you have a cart full of groceries and you see someone with two items in their hands; let them go first. 

Or here’s a new one; to mask or not to mask, that is the question.  After all, aren’t my liberties in jeopardy?  Isn’t my personal health at risk more if I wear a mask rather than if I go around maskless; you know, my oxygen level and all?  Believe me, there are times when I’m wearing a mask that I feel more like a hefty carp that’s been tossed up on the river bank, gasping for every desperate breath!  To be perfectly honest, I hate wearing a mask! But then I read, 1 Corinithians 10:23-24 which reflects, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.  That scripture pretty much explains why I do personally wear a mask in public areas.  I wear a mask because it’s a common courtesy to others who don’t know who I am or what kind of risky life choices I may have made, but it’s more than that.  I do it for my wife, who has an immunodeficient system due to medications she takes to combat the effects of Lupus, which she has battled for over thirty years.  I do it because I love her; we’ve been a team for over forty years and we both want to keep going strong; together! It’s only my own personal opinion that wearing a mask just makes sense, common sense; that a person would want to try to protect themselves and their families from something unseen, unwelcome and for some, deadly.  I certainly can’t speak on behalf of everyone; we all have to do what we feel is right on this hot button topic and go forth with our own convictions.  I know I’ve probably just stepped on a lot of toes and if you’ve just tuned out, I understand.  And if you think I’m sharing out of fear, you would be wrong; just trying to be cautious and use a sound mind.  In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 reflects, For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  It’s the same kind of common sense that urged me to pursue a gun permit and subsequent pistol; not because I’m afraid, but because our world has turned upside down in the past six months and therefore, I’m going to make sure my family is properly protected, through our second amendment rights, while we can still exercise that right…

While we still have breath in our lungs, hopefully we are still learning, still growing in Christ, still adding to our common sense and common courtesy lists, still laughing and learning from the mistakes we’ve made, still listening to that still small voice, urging us on to think of and love others as much or more than we love ourselves, to learn to listen more and judge less, to learn to trust God explicitly in all things, not just the easy things in life.  For as long as we’re alive, we should forever be learning and growing.  Now if I could only learn to navigate down the one way grocery aisles…

Restoration Day–An Easter Story

Praise

It’s finally spring once again; a time of rebirth and the hope of warmer days ahead. It’s a time when new life bursts forth from the cool damp ground or from the branches of once dormant blossoming beauties. Pollen aside, I love to take in all the newness that envelops our world, transforming our once gray world into a kaleidoscope of colors. Truly, hope blooms alongside the tulips and daffodils, the azaleas and the forsythias! For it reminds us that once, we were wondering around in the icy grips of winter, where there was more darkness than light, where optimism seemed to be swept away by the frigid cold winds of despair. And then one day, the sun came out and restoration began…

I have a confession to make; I’m kind of in to restoration and the shows that are offered on cable, whether it be the popular This Old House reruns or more current shows dealing with taking something old, be it an old Victorian house or an antique gramophone, and restoring it back to its’ former glory. I must look plain silly, sitting there in my recliner, mouth partially gaping open as I’m completely transfixed by these craftsmen who take an old unwanted house and start peeling back the layers, each dusty layer representing one or more decades until they finally uncover the original foundation and floors, the beauty that once was, yearning to be rediscovered once again. Then with painstaking efforts and unique God given talents, these craftsmen begin to restore, brick by brick, wall by wall, the decrepit house into the way it was originally meant to be when it was erected by the builder so long ago.

Did you know that God is in the restoration business as well? What do you think Easter is all about? I know most of you know or even have John 3:16 memorized: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. But what about John 3:17? For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. I’ve always thought that hope was born on Christmas Day, and I still do. For Jesus entered this world, our world, at a very dark time; God knew we needed a Savior because we needed to be saved from ourselves and our sinfulness. And so Jesus began his ministry, recruiting his disciples, simple humans like you and me, ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the least of these; the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, the downtrodden. Jesus obeyed his Father’s will, up to and including death. They treated Jesus like a common criminal and hung him on a roughhewn wooden cross to die a horrific death and then, to be forgotten. Those who loved him, took his body and laid it in a borrowed tomb. The Romans sealed that tomb and placed soldiers to keep watch, lest his followers attempted to take the body and make unfounded claims. Jesus’ disciples scattered across the winds. While the Romans breathed a deep sigh of relief and the Sanhedrin was doing a happy dance, triumphantly giving each other “high fives” over Jesus’ death, for the bereaved followers of Christ, hope was also sealed in the tomb. And then Sunday came…

And the stone was rolled away, and Christ arose, and everything changed for humanity, and HOPE was restored; for it was Resurrection Day, but I would like to call it Restoration Day; let me explain.

Luke 19:9-10 reflects Jesus coming to Zacchaeus’ house, Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Zacchaeus was a despised man; a tax collector who, because of his diminutive size, had to shimmy up a tree to even see Jesus entering Jericho. Jesus saw something in Zacchaeus that no one else could see; a soul in need of restoration. That’s what Jesus sees in all of us; potential and a need for renewal. All we need to do is trust Him enough to let Him; to ask forgiveness for our sins, our wrong doings, and our bad attitudes, to surrender to the fact that we, indeed, are nothing more than a shabby, neglected and worn down bungalow in desperate need of restoration. And Jesus will do just that! (He IS a carpenter you know…) He’ll strip out the walls of deceit, strip the floors of shame and tear out every unnecessary piece of worn out despair until He lays you bare, to your very foundation on which He can build what you were intended to be all along; to be a child of God and obedient to do His will, not your own, to live with Him forever. 2 Corinthians 5:17   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!

And so here we are, in the present and in the presence of a mortal enemy we call the Coronavirus or COVID19. It’s a virus that has crossed over every continent; across the borders of countries, oceans, neighborhoods, and not unlike Satan himself, is relentless and does not discriminate in its’ victims, despite their color, creed or socioeconomic status. This sinister nemesis has filled humankind with a paralyzing fear and has stripped away our false sense of security we once held on to so tightly, as if it was nothing more than vapor in the wind. Everything mankind has held in importance for so long, whether it be wealth, material possessions, entertainment, social activities or even food consumption seems to be threatened.

But there is still hope! Maybe this is just the wakeup call our world needs today; to help us strip the unnecessary and reset our priorities! Perhaps this is the largest restoration project this world has ever seen since Noah’s time! Nevertheless, it’s time we reevaluate our lives and allow our lives to be stripped of whatever is of little value, until we stand before God, our souls laid bare and ready to be fully restored! Are you prepared to have YOUR own Restoration Day?

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.