Who Knew? Glad I didn’t.

Last year our family celebrated Christmas in Germany. We spent time with our son-in-law’s family who lives there, holding hands around the dinner table as we prayed. We toured Hanover and the Christmas market, rubbing elbows with happy strangers. We gathered in packed cathedrals and sang worship hymns.

“The World is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”― J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring)

No masks. No social distancing. No fear or thoughts of catching a deadly disease.

I’m glad I didn’t know a world-wide pandemic would hit us like a tsunami in 2020. I’m glad I could live in the moment. Clueless to the new normal that would change life as we knew it.

I’m glad I rang in the New Year and hugged my folks in Texas without worrying that I’d unknowingly expose them to a disease I may or may not have. I’m thankful I didn’t know I wouldn’t see them again until November.

In early February, my husband and I flew to Georgia to celebrate our grandson’s first birthday. If you’d told me that our traveling days were over, our church services would Have to stop meeting in person, we’d rarely (if ever) see our friends, and I’d have to stop cooking/serving the homeless–I wouldn’t have believed you.

When I attended our local theater to watch a play in early March, I didn’t know that live theater would disappear indefinitely. School, sports, and ALL outdoor events like our county fair would be canceled.

Thank goodness I didn’t know in January 2020 that …

My prayer list for sick, dying, depressed, and unemployed people would grow longer.

My 15-year-old kitty would have to be euthanized.

My son-in-law’s parents wouldn’t be able to travel to the U.S. to visit.

One of my family members would need to move in with us.

My mask would become a new accessory, hand sanitizer my new lotion, and toilet paper a thing to be hoarded. The list goes on and on. Right?

But today is December 1, and I’m decorating my house for Christmas with more fanfare than normal. For everything bad that happened, I have a gratitude journal and a blessings jar to remind me of everything good that happened this past year. For one thing, my 89-year-old dad survived a major heart attack. My mom couldn’t even go into the hospital to be with him.

I get to choose each day how I see my cup. Half-full or half-empty? But I prefer to see my cup as full and overflowing because my attitude is the ONLY thing I can control. And our attitude affects our emotions and how we respond to this pandemic.

I’m especially thankful that when I don’t know what’s around the corner….God knows. He’s not only waiting on the other side, He’s with me in this moment. He’s shown me the things that I thought were important ain’t so important after all. God’s also stretching my stiff-neck ways to make me more pliable, and toning my flabby faith muscles so I’ll trust Him more.

God has a bigger plan for my life and yours. He’s not concerned about our happiness and entertainment as much as our character and the salvation of our souls. God wants us to love others and show mercy. He wants us to seek Him rather than His gifts.

Who knows. Events in 2021 might make 2020 look good. But for everything I don’t know about tomorrow, I Do Know that God Doesn’t Change.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4:9-10)

One day we will see our Savior face to face. “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!” (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).

Until then, the Lord is our anchor. Our hope. And all the more reason to celebrate this Christmas with renewed focus on what matters most! Faith in the risen Savior, Family. Friends.

How are you coping with this pandemic especially during the holiday season?

Photos: K. Foster

What if?

“What color bathing suit was your son wearing?”

 The Sheriff’s voice on the other end of my cell phone is calm, matter of fact. He can’t see my wrinkled brow as I struggle to recall the photo I’d taken of my son four hours earlier.

He was standing ankle deep in the river wearing a red life vest and…

“Black knee-length swim trunks.”

“How much does he weigh?”

Am I really having this conversation? I’ve never dialed 911 to report a missing person, or in this case, persons. My teenage son went river rafting with my grown daughter and her boyfriend.

And now I’m standing on a tall embankment, with my husband, staring down at the river’s swift current. Thankfully, the water is shallow, but the boulders on the riverbed would have slowed their progress; made the trip challenging.

What if the raft deflated? What if someone’s injured? What if they’re stranded on a riverbank?

“I wouldn’t bother you Sheriff, but they should have been here an hour ago. And the sun is setting!”

My voice is steady, but there are high-pitched voices in my head: What if they got separated from each other? What if their raft was carried further down river?

Warm skin tingles as dusk settles over the mountains, ushering in a cool breeze. What if they have to spend the night outdoors?

“Stay by your phone,” he says. “I’m calling search and rescue.”

His words conjure horrific news reports. I tell myself, Don’t go there!

My husband and I drive a short distance along a gravel road that parallels the river. We stop, searching the horizon for signs of life.

Within minutes, my heart jumps. “A beige raft!”

“How many people?”

“I only see two.”

I wave my arms like sheets in the wind until my daughter waves back with her paddle.

“Three, I see three people!”

 My husband hurries down the dirt path to the river’s edge while I notify the Sheriff. “We found them!”

Three exhausted, dripping wet, shivering bodies walk into my eager embrace. They reassure us, “We weren’t in danger.” But relief is written on their somber faces.

A half hour later, back at camp, night is dark as coal. Tears stream down my cheeks as I praise God for protecting our children, and sparing us from the multitude of what ifs that could have happened. But didn’t.

  “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22, 23)

It Must Be Me


Monday morning greets me in a pretty fashion, but I emerge from bed and hurry out the door with … an attitude.

 Meet with people, fulfill commitments, and run those errands. At the end of the day I’m … frustrated.

What’s wrong with that person? Why can’t that place be more efficient? Can you believe the price of gas?

Tuesday brings more of the same … frustration.

I feel like a kite tethered to earth. I could soar to great heights if it were not for that person, that situation that drags me down.

By Wednesday, I’m in a MOOD! “Get Out of My Way!

Life feels like a maze and I’m running into walls, bumping heads, hitting dead ends. Is there any way out?

That afternoon, I get alone to open The BOOK and meet with God in HIS WORD when it DAWNS on me!!!

It’s not them, him, her, or the price of gas. It’s ME.

In my tyranny of the urgent, I’ve raced through each day without eating my BREAD. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who cones to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

JESUS: The “wonderful counselor, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1) has been absent from my mind these past few days … even though I know in my heart He is “Immanuel, God with us.”

Frustration wanes like the moon while the Holy Spirit convicts my soul. I’m the root of the problem, the common denominator of all my frustration. Fatigue would have me stay at home, but it is Wednesday night so I go to church where no one knows I have an attitude.

When the sermon is over, I participate with other saints in the Holy act of communion. With head bowed and eyes closed, I confess my rotten, horrible, bad attitude…AND the “lack of quality time spent with Him” that led to such a dismal state of mind.

Worship music fills the room, but silence seals my lips as I seek forgiveness. I mentally run to the cross where I “drink His blood and eat His broken body” in remembrance of Jesus the Christ who died for me.

Praise music reaches a crescendo. With tear-stained cheeks, I stand with upraised arms. Frustration, as well as guilt, subsides…..replaced by another attitude.

An Attitude of GRATITUDE

 

Sun-kissed Day

I kick off my high heels after a day of substitute teaching and head for the couch. Heavy eyelids beg for a catnap, but weary muscles suggest a walk.

Catnap wins. I lean into the cushioned armrest, listening to the wall clock’s advancing second hand. But instead of it lulling me to sleep, I hear conviction: “You should walk before it gets dark, you should walk before it gets dark.”

My stiff joints squeak like the Tin Man in Oz as I push myself up from the couch.

“Sorry,” I respond to defiant limbs. “It’s the New Year. Either we lose weight or we buy a bigger pair of jeans.”  Lose weight wins. I shove my AARP feet into tennis shoes and head outdoors.

The calendar says it’s January, but the sun-kissed day makes it feel like April. My heart leaps knowing the cold ground will soon give birth to Daffodil bulbs. Pine trees and leafless Oaks line the asphalt street cheering me onward as an “acclivity” looms before me.

       FYI: “the definition of acclivity: an ascending slope (as of a hill).” That was one of the vocabulary words in our Literature class today.  I don’t know about the students, but I learned something.

      Heart pounding, chest heaving, I take baby steps until the road flattens ____________

When I’m halfway around our three mile loop, I peel off my scarf and vest. I’d quicken my pace, but it feels as though my legs are dragging an anchor through lake water. Voices in my head drown the music on my IPOD: Out of shape! Use it or lose it!  

My breath catches as a jackrabbit darts across my path and disappears into the wooded landscape……

Dare I behave like Alice in Wonderland and chase that silly rabbit? A smile stretches across my face as my thoughts turn outward, and then upward,

                Where a three-quarter moon, upstaged by the western sun’s golden glow, peeks through a powder blue curtain. My stride increases, matching the rhythm of Casting Crown’s praise album dancing in my ear.

Eyes fixed heavenward, I raise my hand to honor HIM who made the day, “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24),

and dwell on the ONE who “made the moon for the season; The sun knows the place of its setting.” (Psalm 104:19)

After my walk, I kick off my tennis shoes. And bright-eyed, look out my kitchen window as heaven’s blue canvas melts into a rosy hue.