Life During COVID During the Spring and Summer of 2020

Sometimes it’s easier to endure and thrive during times of crisis when we know others are sharing our same struggles. So about a week ago, I asked some friends several questions regarding their journey through this challenging period COVID-19 has given us. Here are the questions and their answers.

1. Besides missing contact with family, friends, and usual church activities, what has been the most challenging for you during these past six months?

~ Surprised and sad at how people ‘shut down & shut off’ friends they disagree with. I have missed the ‘freedoms’ experienced before this (just going & doing, & not feeling the ‘heaviness’ of others who are so hurting). 

~ Not being able to just jump in the car and go somewhere, anywhere, without “suiting up”. It discourages me from going out. 

~ I also greatly miss the freedom to go somewhere, anywhere, without consciously remembering to wear a mask.  This action just reminds me that there is an invisible threat to my health.

~ Not feeling I can make normal plans and a sense of uncertainty around others in their homes. Do I wear a mask? Do I not wear one? Political unrest.

~ My husband, who worked part-time from home, was laid off in the beginning of the quarantine. He has required a lot more of the time that I was used to devoting to writing. I almost given up writing because I feel guilty being busy when he is unsettled and lonely. 

~ Being with people, and our biggest challenge is that we’re tired of zoom, though it has had its place. 

~ Managing my diet and making healthy eating choices.

~ Keeping myself busy, I don’t have any more closets or cabinets to straighten or clean out; spring cleaning was accomplished earlier than scheduled.

~ I miss seeing people’s smiles and going places.

2. Are you finding it difficult to concentrate or accomplish what you want to do or maintain a normal routine?

~ To-Do lists have helped but I don’t complete them all.  My day to day routine is Not the routine I had before this… 

~ Yes. Without attending church and no appointments, no lunch with friends, and avoiding shopping as much as possible, it’s hard to stay on a routine. With less socializing, I find it difficult to be creative. 

~ Feeling like this “season” seems endless, it has taken much more intentional discerning what to do each day. 

~ I find it hard to concentrate on reading. I thought, for sure I’d finish all the books I started. On the other hand,)

~ I find myself sleeping later, and not always getting dressed for the day the way I did pre-COVID.  I can’t seem to really structure myself productively some days.

~ It’s been hard to adjust to my husband working from home some days. Not feeling well. It’s harder to make goals as one day flows into another, not having my regular activities going on.

~ Finding motivation to accomplish something as simple as cleaning a closet is difficult; not hard to convince myself to push it off until tomorrow.

~ I set goals when the quarantine started that I haven’t met but wait … it’s not over yet.

~ We’re finding it very difficult to maintain a normal routine, I find being outside working in our yard is a help, except when the temperatures are 90  degrees!!

 

      But Mom, we’ve already been                        on three walks today.

3. What are some of your coping strategies during this unusual season?

~ I started a small exercise routine, which I am motivated to keep. When I take my cat out in the morning, all he does is sits, so I jog in place!

~ I tend to hide in a book, reading to escape. 

~ Our coping strategies are just trusting the Lord.  We know He is sovereign and is doing amazing things during this chaotic time.  Knowing He has this in His hands gives us the freedom to live life with joy and peace. 

~ Counting my blessings as well as more time in devotions, prayer, study & reading of God’s word. I am so grateful for His goodness.

~ Keeping my time in the Word and with God every morning anchors my heart and mind. There’s nothing like the W.O.G to level all playing fields, keeping hope and truth upfront and center!

~ I listen to music, mostly classical and Christian more.  I also have been listening to Prophecy YouTube videos, rereading Christian books, and working on a Bible study that I started in June.  My husband takes me on drives in our beautiful community several times during the week, and a milkshake is always a good idea.

~ Reconnecting with friends and family, staying in God’s Word and prayer, my husband and I working on communication and our relationship.

~ Make a list of what needs to be done and DO IT, and don’t make the list unrealistically demanding; daily time in prayer and the Bible for the correct perspective of circumstances.

~ I enjoy making cards, rubber stamping, and coming up with ideas for birthday cards and Christmas cards. so have been working on ideas for cards.  I’ve also been trying out new recipes for dinner ideas and desserts (which I should not be doing, desserts that is.)

~ Keep to a normal routine … spend time in God’s Word and pray.

4. What positive outcomes have you discovered during this period?

~ More than usual special times with daughter & her family. An affirmation of whose hands hold me and whose plan is perfect. 

~ I’ve enjoyed every day. I have come to appreciate the simplicity of each day. Getting up, getting dressed, exercising, watching, my Korean dramas… sitting on the front porch while my young neighbors climb my front tree and talk to me! Making meals, being so grateful for food, for my husband’s work(it makes him happy) God’s provision… and the grace and opportunity to pray for others and the world. With the pandemic killing so many, I found myself praying for mercy for the world’s people. I pray it’s a sprout of mercy I’ll take the time to nurture and grow. 

~ I have most definitely grown closer to the Lord.  My house is cleaner, and my husband and I enjoy watching old movies and TV shows together.  I also have been writing notes to people.  It is my joy just to sit on my porch and watch the birds, and the squirrels among my favorite plants.  I also love to just sit on the porch when it rains.

~ Having time to face some issues and relinquishing them to God. Praying for our country and leaders.

~We enjoyed taking long walks. However, the recent air quality issues due to forest fires from other states have made that difficult. We have spent a lot of time with my sister and her family. That has been a blessing. 

~The Body of Christ has been out of the building and in their neighborhoods and ministering to those around them. We see more clearly the spiritual battle going on and know our prayers are important.

~ The increased time with my husband has been a blessing; financial savings with no maid service and less eating out!

~ Positive thoughts – Even with all the negative things that are impacting our lives at this time. Regularly able to raise prayer in thanks for so many blessings. We have a wonderful community with loving Christian friends that we keep in touch with. We are fortunate to be retired and even though my husband was laid off of his second job, God continues to provide all we need. Many of us are still able to participate in

 our church services both electronically and in-person for regular reinforcement. We see many things occurring around us that are obvious answers to our prayers.

~ Done more baking, organized closets, and spent more time in prayer … and exercising.

I hope this has been an encouragement as you travel through these challenging times … and stay well.

Our Security During  COVID-19

March 28, 2020

Within the past few weeks, our lives have changed dramatically. The coronavirus or COVID-19 has impacted society at every level. It’s brought anxiety, confusion, illness, death and financial distress throughout our nation and the world.

How do we resist becoming isolated, fearful, discouraged, and frustrated during these times?

Isolation:

Television and radio entertain and keep us up to date with helpful news (as well as the junk we don’t need). Fortunately, we have access to a variety of technological means to keep us in touch with one another. Beyond telephones, texting, and emails, there is a myriad of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, etc. to help keep up to date with each other. Other tools such as Face Time, Zoom, Marco Polo, etc. provide visual and audible means of connecting professionally and personally.

Fear:

“God is our refuge and strength,  a very present help in trouble.

Psalms 46:1

 “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.

He will cover you with his feathers,  and under his wings you will find refuge;
 his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

Psalms 91:2,4-6

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

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. 

I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

1Peter 5:7

“He says, ‘Be stilland know that I am God;”

Psalm 46:10

Discouragement, and Frustration:

 Roy Lessin has generously allowed me to share from his devotional Meet Me in the Meadow.

From August 3. 

“God has not made the earth and abandoned it. He has not retreated somewhere in the universe and gone into hiding. He is today where He has always been, on His throne. God sees all things, knows all things, and is all-powerful. God is all in all. He is above all. Nothing is above Him or equal to Him. There is no king or ruler that has more authority than God; there is no political figure that has more influence than God; there is no nation that has more control than God. No one can out-think Him, or out-smart Him. He is God Almighty. He has all authority in heaven and earth. His enemies are under His feet. He reigns and rules. He is the majesty on High.”

Meanwhile, we can

Pray:

For all medical providers, first responders, and all service industries serving on the front lines.

           For our families, friends, and neighbors.

           For our nation and the world.

           For our government and spiritual leaders

          For revival in our land

 

“If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves

and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways,

then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Give:

          If possible, be generous with others in service and or provision.

           Encourage others who are even more isolated.

           If able, donate blood since there’s a shortage.

 

Clothe ourselves spiritually:

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”     Ephesians 6:11-18 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A WRITER’S WOES

Writing can be a very isolating and introspective pursuit.  Here are some thoughts that plague writers:

~ What if I can’t find an agent who wants to represent my work. If I do find one, will we be a good fit?

~ What if I can’t find a publisher who wants my manuscript?

~ With all the changes in the publishing industry and the decline in bookstores, it’s getting so much harder to get published.

~ There are so many other good writers out there, what makes me think my story will shine?

~ Facebook is a great place to connect with other writers and to applaud their successes. Some are getting contracts, others are elated about writing 2000 or 4000 words that day, all certainly praiseworthy. But some of us groan because it’s a struggle to get 300 words written in a day.

~ For those of us who rely heavily on research to write stories, we anguish in trying to get every detail right. But we love the research part of it, sometimes so much that we have a hard time getting back to writing the story. See how conflicted we are?

 ~ Okay, got the book published. What if the readers don’t like it? What if the publisher we prayed would say yes, is disappointed in sales and having second thoughts? What if they don’t want my next book?

~ And then there is the whole platform and marketing aspect. Many writers are introverts, so the prospect of self-promotion is daunting. Authors must be on all sorts of social media, have their own websites, hopefully, be featured on other’s websites or blogs, have book signings if possible, give talks; all which require a different skillset than making up stories. Marketing takes a lot of time.

~ Are we nuts?  Neurosis: a relatively mild personality disorder typified by excessive anxiety or indecision and a degree of social or interpersonal maladjustment.

But then:

I’m reminded that in writing inspirational fiction we don’t just write for the readers who hopefully like our stories, we write primarily for an audience of One.

~ Some of us believe we are called to write as a means of sharing our faith. Inspirational authors want to encourage and edify the reader as much as entertain them.  

~ We ask the Lord to direct us in every aspect of our vocation from the creation of the stories and their themes to opening the doors that He wants us to go through. We ask for patience needed to wait on His timing, which is typically not our own.

~ We aren’t to compare ourselves to others, just do the work we’ve been given to do, and do it with a grateful heart. Now I need to get back to writing that story. 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 1Peter 4:10   

 

Some Observations About The Movie Dunkirk

I thought the movie Dunkirk was well done.

  • Each facet of the battle seemed to be well represented by the characters; the soldiers, airmen, sailors, and British civilians.
  • The actors, most not particularly well known, did a great job.
  • For a recent war or action movie, I appreciated that there was far less gore than usual.

Some facts added could have made it better:

  • The background of the British call to prayer which likely led to the civilian involvement. Too many viewers aren’t familiar with the historical facts and they weren’t emphasized in the movie.

The British were aware of the probable disaster that was forming at Dunkirk. In a moving broadcast to the British people, King George VI asked his people to commit their cause to God and that a National Day of Prayer be called on Sunday, May 26, 1940.  The members of the Cabinet joined the King at Westminster Abbey, while millions joined in prayer throughout the Empire. Photographs outside Westminster Abbey on the National Day of Prayer showed throngs of people who could not get into the Abbey.

Many people believe the heartfelt prayers of so many British subjects to God played a big part in the evacuation of Dunkirk. God’s provision, power, and presence certainly seemed evident in the battle and evacuation. It was widely known as the Miracle at Dunkirk. Some of the factors that led to its success:

    • Against the advice of his generals, Hitler stopped the advance of his armored columns ten miles away, at a point when they could have destroyed the British Army. Possibly Hitler thought the Germans had enough air superiority to prevent a large-scale evacuation by sea that would be required.
    • German Luftwaffe squadrons were grounded due to a fierce storm over Flanders on May 28th, 1940. Darkness and the cover of the storm allowed the British Army to move toward the coast without being detected by German aircraft.
    • When several hundred men were systematically being machine-gunned and bombed by many enemy aircraft, many of the soldiers were amazed that more men weren’t killed.
    • While the violent storm provided cover, the English Channel was unusually calm in the days that followed which allowed nearly 340,000 British and Allied soldiers to be rescued by a hastily assembled of over 800 boats made up of 40 Royal Navy ships and an armada of civilian boats and merchant ships.
  • More focus on the vast numbers (hundreds of boats and ships) of civilians and commercial boatmen who risked all to aid in the rescue of their army. (Some were commandeered by naval crews when owners were not found. The movie made it appear that only a few dozen made the crossing.

“Operation Dynamo”

By Strait_of_Dover_map.png: User:NormanEinsteinderivative work: Diannaa – This file was derived fromStrait of Dover map.png:Information on shipping routes from Thompson, Julian (2011) [2008]. Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory. New York: Arcade. ISBN 978-1-61145-314-0. Map, page 223., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28440418
There were so many ships and boats involved in the evacuation across those 18 nautical miles that the fighter ace, Douglas Bader who helped to cover the operation, described the scene:

“The sea from Dunkirk to Dover during these days of the evacuation looked like any coastal road in England on a bank holiday. It was solid with shipping. One felt one could walk across without getting one’s feet wet, or that’s what it looked like from the air. There were naval escort vessels, sailing dinghies, rowing boats, paddle-steamers, indeed every floating device known in this country. They were all taking British soldiers from Dunkirk back home. You could identify Dunkirk from the Thames estuary by the huge pall of black smoke rising straight up into a windless sky from the oil tanks which were ablaze just inside the harbour.”

  • Churchill’s June 4, 1940 speech seemed almost an afterthought in the movie.

“. . . We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,
we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,
we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

  • The fact that the British people acknowledged God’s role in the evacuation.

The British people recognized the many signs of God’s deliverance from the German Army and Luftwaffe at Dunkirk. On Sunday, June 9, 1940, a Day of National Thanksgiving was celebrated. In an article in The Daily Telegraph, C. B. Mortlock stated: “The prayers of the nation were answered’, and that ‘the God of hosts himself had supported the valiant men of the British Expeditionary Force.”             

A Motivation Behind The Story ~ Promise of Deer Run (Book 2 of Deer Run Saga)

Yesterday, I told you about Promise of Deer Run, Elaine Cooper’s second story in the Deer Run Saga. It releases on June 16. Today, Elaine Cooper shares about a childhood experience that left an indelible memory and teachable lesson.

  BEFRIENDING THE FRIENDLESSPromise of Deer Run - Cover (2)

I will never forget my childhood friend named DeDe. She was smart and had a great sense of humor. But that is not the main reason I remember DeDe. She is the one friend in elementary school who taught me about being a friend to the friendless.

There was a girl in our class—I’ll call her Jennifer—who was afflicted with a congenital problem that left her with difficulty speaking, an awkward gait, and an odd look to her face. Jennifer was shunned by most in the school, except for DeDe. She was totally unafraid of what others thought and she made every effort to be kind to Jennifer.  Her bravery caused me to be kind to the shy classmate as well. I admit I was still a bit uncomfortable hanging out with Jennifer, and it took patience on my part to wait until Jennifer could painstakingly speak even just a few words. But DeDe always cheered Jennifer on in her attempts to communicate.  It was such a lesson in kindness to me.

In Promise of Deer Run, the character of Sarah Thomsen befriends the social outcast of the village—Nathaniel Stearns. The young veteran is seven years her senior, but Sarah has memories of the kindness that Nathaniel had extended to her when she was a little girl. It was a kindness never forgotten. Sarah looked past the recluse who seemed so different awaiting the return of his father from war. Many in the town laughed behind Nathaniel’s back. Why would this veteran who frequented the local tavern on a regular basis and who still believed his father was alive, be of a sound mind? Even the churchgoers snickered and avoided him like the plague.

But not Sarah. She saw past the exterior to the heart and soul of Nathaniel Stearns. She dared to speak to him. She dared to befriend the friendless.

It reminds me of DeDe looking past the physical anomalies of Jennifer.

A few years ago a friend from high school told me they found out Jennifer had become a nurse, helping others in their need. I was amazed but pleased—and I remembered DeDe leaving her comfort zone of hanging out with the “cool” kids. I sometimes wonder if DeDe was the one who had given Jennifer hope for a future, years before on the playground at school.

I wonder how many other lives can be changed for the better by befriending the friendless. I pray that I will be the brave one.

Elaine Cooper DRAward-winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ, and the history of the American Revolution. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.

Her upcoming releases include Saratoga Letters (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, October 2016) and Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016)

Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer.

 

A FULL QUIVER

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children 
born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” 

Psalm 127:3-5

 The Family

Last fall my oldest son, Jeff, and his wife, Jill, announced that their prayers for another baby had been answered— but not just one baby. Four!

 

Their quadruplets, three boys and a girl, were born mid-February and are all

Jill & Tiny Guy
          Jill & Tiny Guy

growing and thriving. All but the smallest one is home. The tiny guy will be
having some needed surgery but is expected to do well. We all thank God for these newest little ones and for the huge team of doctors, nurses, and staff that assisted in the birth and in their care at the NICU for several weeks. We also appreciate the care the smallest one is getting at Boston Children’s Hospital as he awaits surgery.

Wrapping one’s head around four premature newborns joining a family with two active children four and under is daunting.  Since the family lives over six hundred miles away, my visits to help are limited.  Jill’s mother has been a life-saver, traveling there from the mid-west several times to help. I just returned from my second visit to their home.  Generous people from their church and my son’s workplace have contributed meals non-stop. They have been blessed to find a wonderful helper/sitter who is equally adept at handling babies, a toddler, and a pre-schooler— and she’s a trained nurse. Other friends have also volunteered to assist.

 

Babies in boppy pillows
                 Babies in boppy pillows

Having children one at a time is life changing. Adding four at once is mind-blowing. The walls of their home are lined with bins of clothes of varying sizes, diapers, wet wipes, bottles. Other accoutrements are car seats for infants and some for children, boppy pillows, sleeping slings, strollers, cribs, high chairs— you get the picture. It’s everything times four. There are also two changing tables and rocking chairs.

Prayer ~ When she learned that they were expecting quads, Jill began a prayer support group that she kept updated with information as her pregnancy progressed. I did also. This prayer group has been such an encouragement and faithful in storming heaven for the family and especially these new babies.

Feedings are challenging ~Jill furnished pumped breast-milk to the hospital while the babies were there and still provides a supply for the little guy. She pumps five times a day. Each evening Jeff and I prepared the 18 bottles needed for three babies every day, each child has different amounts.  Jeff, the math whiz, calculates and adds just the right amount of dry formula to create “fortified breast milk” and the totals needed for each baby.  My job was to have the 18 bottles and all the four inserts cleaned and ready to go. We color coded the tops for each specific baby to keep it straight. The person feeding records how much each baby takes in at every feeding—also what they put out, but we won’t go there.  When the youngest comes home the numbers of bottles go up. I helped with changings and feedings as did Jeff when he was available. Jill, bless her heart, fed all three babies at the 3am feeding with the aid of three boppy pillows. She’s one tired mamma.

Jaff & the new Ford Transit
                 Jeff and the family chariot

Transportation ~ The kiddos have 2 double strollers to accommodate their infant car-seats. They also have a quad stroller for when they can sit up. With a four-year old and a two-year old who require car-seats and now four more little ones, it takes more than your average SUV or mini-van to transport everyone. So now they have added a Ford Transit 350 XLT to their driveway. It has room for all six car-seats with space to spare.    

Outside Help ~ Jeff and Jill were not the first couple to welcome quads. Hence, there are strollers and all sorts of devices designed to assist parents of multiples. Jill is part of an internet support group of quad moms that share important information like specific health concerns pertaining to preemies and multiples, as well as how to deal with a multitude of other issues. There is even a quad support group for dads. Friends of theirs have not only helped with meals, but with transporting their preschooler, arranging play-dates, and donating clothing and equipment.   

Siblings ~ The toddler and two-year-old have been so sweet welcoming their little siblings. And remarkably, for young children, they are adjusting very well well having less of their mom and dad’s attention.   

Ben, Nathaniel, Douglas missing Timothy

Sarah & Elizabeth

Watching how Jeff and Jill have and are adjusting to their new life fills me with awe and pride. They are doing a wonderful job in spite of being sleep deprived and overworked.

Jeff and Jill’s faith, patience, grace, love for their family, and sense of humor are an asset every day.   

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

 Psalm 46:10