New Season, New View

As I sit here, looking out the big, bay window beyond my dining room table, all I see in the distance is a line of trees. A few still have flowers, but most have dropped their petals and turned to the lush, bright green of mid-May. A few weeks ago, sitting in this same spot, I saw a lake in the distance, just beyond my property line. But now, the leaves of the trees have obscured it. If I look hard in just the right place, I can catch a glimpse of water. But if I didn’t know it was there, I probably wouldn’t notice it.

Two scenarios come to mind as I consider this landscape. Both had me contemplating how I handle difficulties. In the first one, I pretend the lake (difficulty) doesn’t exist. Visitors to my home wouldn’t know it is there. It’s invisible to them. They might even call me crazy if I told them there is a lake back there. In this scenario, I welcome the cover of the trees. Deep in my mind and heart, I know it’s out there somewhere, but I don’t need to look at it or even think about it. In this season, it has disappeared.

The fall may start to bring the lake into view again, with small peeks as the leaves drop their cover. By winter, all I’ll see is the lake. The trees covering it up will become bare and gray, blending into the winter sky. When I ignore difficulties or try to cover them up, pretending they aren’t there, they always seem to resurface and even dominate my life for a season.

In scenario two I know the lake is there, even though I can’t see it right now. I am ever on the watch for it. Sometimes I even go down to it and see what’s going on there – people kayaking or fishing, birds swooping up mosquitos (thank you very much), beavers adding to their lodge. The lake has purpose. I welcome the time I can spend there. There’s a quietness not found in other places. I learn new things about the lake and the wildlife that call it home. I share it with friends and grow from the camaraderie of that shared experience. And when the colder, more barren seasons come, it’s no surprise to me that there’s a lake out there.

I plan to walk down to the lake often this summer, checking out how it changes in a new season, and reminding myself that life’s difficulties have purpose. Each one is a chance to see things from a different perspective, to learn and grow in some way. I won’t cover up my problems or hide them behind a cheery smile, pretending they don’t exist. I will share them with my close friends who will help me through them with their prayers and friendship and, no doubt, some laughter.

The lake and trees are all part of a bigger picture. I hope to find joy in all of it. Maybe I’ll even try a little ice fishing when winter comes (no, I won’t).

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3,4 ESV)


I’ve sat down at my computer several times today to write this blog post. If I had a typewriter, there would be a lot of crumpled pages in and around the trash can. I thought I knew what I wanted to write, but each idea fell short. What would be best for this week? A funny anecdote? A serious reflection? A hopeful exhortation? Nothing felt right. Maybe I should just write what I’m feeling.

We are all going through a strange time in our history. Most of us haven’t experienced anything like this before. I don’t really know what I’m feeling. It isn’t fear. It isn’t worry. It definitely isn’t hopelessness. I think it’s uncertainty. I like having all my ducks in a row, and I don’t know how this pandemic will play out. I’ve read so many contrary opinions from the “experts.” But the truth is, no one knows.

In the last two weeks, three close friends have lost loved ones. Two more are not expected to live through the week (none are virus-related). Their families can’t hold services for them now and can’t have visitors. I’m a hugger. Everything in me wants to hug my friends or at least be by their side. But I can’t get within six feet of them. My only choice is to turn hugs into words, which for me right now, fails to express my love and desire to comfort them.

Today has been especially uncertain. My husband left for work this morning where he will be helping in the ICU instead of his normal job in the OR. It left me feeling a little nervous. Then I got word this afternoon that one of our family members has tested positive for COVID-19. Those feelings of uncertainty mounted. How will these things work out? Sometimes I want God to pull back the curtain and show me the plan, especially the ending. But where would my faith be? It would be in what I can see and not in the God who holds it all together.

In these uncertain times, I need to ask myself, “Do I really trust God for all things?” Usually I can figure out how things are going to go. But these last few years have taught me that life can change on a dime. I have learned to trust God with every little thing so when the big things come, it is second nature. I heard Veirdre Jackson say at a conference recently that she could run in the thin air of the mountains because she trained hard in the valley. The air is feeling thin right now. It’s hard to take a deep breath. But, thankfully, I have had a lot of time training in valleys. I know where my hope lies and who holds the future. If this is more of a training valley for you, take one step at a time and trust God for the next.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

Not My First Pandemic Rodeo

It occurred to me today that this is not the first time I have been isolated at home due to a world-wide health crisis. In 1977, I got the flu. At that time, it was called the A1 Asian Flu, later called the Russian Flu. It almost exclusively affected young people under age 23. Because of a similar flu outbreak in the 1950s, most adults were immune to it (let that be encouraging to y’all right now). My doctor told me I was the second person in the US to get it and had the worst case. I’ve always had a competitive nature.

I was 13 years old, starting eighth grade, when I got sick in the fall of 1977. I missed about two months of school prior to Christmas break. In January 1978, I was feeling better, except for severe pain in my back. After a hospitalization and more testing, doctors discovered the virus seemed to have eaten away the discs in my thoracic spine. They felt that immobilizing my spine would allow the discs to heal.

In February 1978, I entered the hospital to have a body cast applied. Really, it wasn’t a full body cast, it was a body jacket. It started with a large neck brace, extending down onto my chest and covered with a plaster cast. The cast was applied from my neck to my hips, hence, “body jacket.” A very nice nurse washed me up, spending a good amount of time using warm water to gently remove bits of plaster from parts of my body that didn’t need it. I stayed in the hospital for a week under a heat lamp to dry the plaster. I could bend at the hips, but not well. My arms were free. I could move them but not lift them completely over my head. This made washing my hair tricky, but once at home, I figured out a pretty efficient system using the kitchen sink sprayer.

Since I had already missed so much school time and was supposed to move as little as possible, I went on homebound studies. I could have visitors, but I couldn’t play. In fact, I got in trouble one day when my Spanish teacher arrived and saw me playing catch with my sister. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but everyone else did (except my sister—bless her heart for taking me outside to do something).

I spent most of my days watching soap operas. Because my cast damaged the furniture, there was one chair I was allowed to sit in. Sleeping was tough. The cast would pop up in the front and dig into my back. Of course, I couldn’t shower. And I rarely left the house because people stared. It was not a good time.

May 4, 1978 finally arrived—cast removal day. I was so excited and terrified. Cutting off a cast that is around one’s neck is scary. Once it was off, I felt so free and light, except my head, which seemed to weigh about 50 pounds! My neck muscles had atrophied over four months of no use. I actually had to use my hands to hold my head up. But my time in isolation was over.

I lost a year of school, being with friends, and playing outside—all without internet or cell phone, talk about isolation. We can do this. Hold your heads up, friends. This time of world-wide pandemic and isolation will be over soon.

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head.” Psalm 3:3 NASB