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Monthly Archives: May 2020

I guess what I can say about this awful time is this: It is a remarkable opportunity for spiritual growth. We would be wise to receive it as such. I have a mental picture of humanity entering into a chrysalis and eventually emerging transformed into something better and more beautiful. The transformation process itself is painful, but there can be something beautiful waiting for us on the other side if we allow change to take hold.

I know that we are all antsy for things to reopen. We’d like to move on from this and go back to the way things were before. Unfortunately there is no going back at this point. Reopening is not a magic wand that will make this all go away. If not done wisely and with an abundance of precaution, reopening will simply lead to a lot of unnecessary suffering and death.

I have compassion for the desire to reopen because I am feeling that as well. Even though I do not agree with the decision for faith communities to reopen, I understand the desire to do so.

And yet. While my faith is essential, attending a large church gathering is not. I like going to church and it has been an important part of my life for more than 20 years. I especially like dropping my kids off in childcare so that I can breathe for an hour without being pestered. But it is not necessary for me to attend church in order to connect with God, or even to connect with other people in my church. Since our lockdown began in March, I have stayed connected to my faith community through zoom chats, phone calls, texts, and YouTube livestreams. I have dropped off groceries for homeless youth at our church building (while wearing a mask) and chatted with several other women from church who were also masked. The church can continue and even flourish without a large public worship gathering. God will not be stopped by our sheltering in place. God is not confined to a church building. God is with us wherever we go.

When considering whether or not to attend a church gathering, I would urge you not to look at it through the lens of your constitutional right to gather in worship. Rather, look through the lens of how Christ’s teachings can inform your decision.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:12-13

How does this verse speak to you in light of the question of whether or not to attend or reopen your church?

Different interpretations are possible, but in the current context it speaks to me of laying down our rights to gather in order to protect the lives of the vulnerable in our community. I would also point out that choosing to reopen church doors may not be the best way to share Christ’s love with your community. Many people have been choosing to shelter in place not out of concern for their own health, but as an act of kindness to slow the spread of COVID and save the lives of the vulnerable in their community. Reopening churches = more community spread = putting vulnerable people at greater risk even if they are not choosing to attend gatherings. Alternatively, why not consider gathering with a handful of church friends to watch a livestream of your service or study scripture together?

My family and I will continue sheltering at home for now even though this is making me lose my freaking mind. I will use this opportunity to become more grounded in my faith and emerge on the other side of this stronger and more resilient. At least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Hope to see you on the other side, butterflies.

 

 

 

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P.S. Not sure why exactly, but this post makes me think of the song Let Go by Frou Frou from the Garden State soundtrack. “It’s alright, cuz there’s beauty in the breakdown.” What song would you choose for this chapter in the soundtrack of your life?

I feel like a marathon runner hitting the wall when it comes to being quarantined at home with two kids, trying to work and homeschool. It’s a completely overwhelming situation. So many emotional ups and downs. It’s literally impossible to feel competent at anything right now, when being required to do so many things at once.

I guess other people are also hitting the wall, which is why my county is entering Stage 1 of reopening today.

To be clear, Stage 1 of reopening will probably not affect my life much. I will continue working from home, playgrounds will remain closed, churches will not be meeting, and of course, schools are still closed through the end of June. But it may mean that we’ll have friends over to visit in our backyard, or meet up for a walk. Even that would be nice.

Being quarantined doesn’t give me much to write about. The same thoughts and feelings have been circulating through my head since this began in March. Mostly I cycle between anger and grief that this is happening and then over to gratitude. I’m thankful that my family is currently healthy and in a financially stable situation. I’m thankful that Oregon has done an excellent job of slowing the spread of this virus. I’m angry and grieving this worldwide pandemic and economic crisis, and for me specifically — being stuck at home with my kids. It’s unsustainable…and no one really knows how long this will last. It’s just so taxing on everyone’s mental health. In further grim news, my workplace is anticipating a 17% budget cut. So I have that looming over my head as well.

So anyway…here are some fun things we’ve been doing!

  • Family Movie Nights: We used to have a lot of arguments about choosing movies. My daughter came up with the idea that we do a rotating system where everyone gets their own night to choose. So far this has been working well. Tonight is Paul’s turn…so we’ll see what his 5-year-old mind comes up with!
  • Baking. A very popular activity in our house. We even challenged ourselves with a lemon meringue pie a few weeks ago.
  • Listening to podcasts. I mentioned in a recent post that I’ve been enjoying Brené Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us. I also recently discovered some podcasts for kids! My kids have been enjoying NPR’s Wow in the World. I also found some others I want to try, including Radiolab for Kids.
  • Making Oobleck. Just corn starch and water. Marie gave me a good lecture on non-Newtonian fluids. The kids had a blast playing with Oobleck, although it did devolve into an Oobleck fight (which led to a double bath as well as me wiping down my whole kitchen).
  • Finishing Harry Potter. We finally finished Harry Potter 7! I am sad because we had so much fun reading the Harry Potter books over the last year. But, Paul didn’t listen to much, so maybe I can read them to Paul in a few years. We’ve started on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and both kids seem engaged with that story.
  • Walking and more walking. Walks in our neighborhood, walks in the forest, walks through the filbert orchard, walks in the oak savannah.

Have you been finding some ways to have fun and take care of yourself through this?

 

 

 

 

Hello world, are you still out there?

I’ve spent most of the last 6 weeks trying to stay positive. I’ve stopped obsessively reading the news. I’ve been gratitude journaling, and going for long walks. Upping my weekly run mileage. Practicing yoga and silent meditation. Discovering a new favorite Netflix drama.

I’ve been checking items off my to-do list. Celebrated the kids’ birthdays and Easter. Filed our taxes. Stained the garden boxes. Deep cleaned bedrooms.

And yet. It’s hard to keep it up. It’s exhausting.

My children are not with the program of staying positive or helping accomplish to-do list items. They seem unwilling to listen unless I yell at them, which goes against all of my positive parenting training. I have been teaching positive parenting classes for awhile now, and at this point one would hope I could successfully implement it in my own life. Not only that, I don’t like yelling at my kids because it makes me feel bad and it’s exhausting. It also goes against my personality — I don’t like yelling. I don’t want to yell at anyone. If I’m upset with you, I’d much rather write you a strong worded email. Better yet, I’ll just remove you from my Christmas card list and be done with it. Passive-aggressive works much better for me than straight out aggressive.

I suppose there’s not much to do except soldier onward, and maybe just pay the kids a little less attention. Perhaps redoubling my attempts at praising desired behavior and ignoring annoying behavior could be useful. Who knows?

What I’m into lately:

Books: Finishing reading Harry Potter 7 to Marie. Also, I discovered checking out audiobooks from the library on my smartphone. I’ve been listening to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, a novel about a blue-skinned packhorse librarian in Applachian Kentucky during the 1930s (Yes – apparently the blue-skinned people of Kentucky were real). Also reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle and The Esther Anointing by Michele Mclain-Walters.

Podcasts: Unlocking Us with Brene Brown. NPR’s Up First.

Movies: Lately we’ve been watching the Disney+ streaming channel and enjoying the many offerings of Disney and Pixar films. Most recently we watched Monster’s Inc.

TV: Outlander. A tale of a 1940s English trauma nurse who falls through time into 18th Century Scotland (and into the arms of a handsome young warrior).

Exercise: Hiking, running, yoga. We’ve been discovering some new walks around town. Yesterday went for a long walk in the woods and Paul ran and ran.

New found appreciation: For phone calls. Texts and emails had replaced most of my phone calls, but now I’m enjoying hearing voices. Plus it can really be a more efficient way of conveying information.

Nonprofit: FOOD for Lane County. There are lots of great nonprofits out there, but if you’re looking for an organization to donate to, please consider your local food bank. Hunger will continue to be an increasing problem during this pandemic, and food is the most basic of needs.

Gratitudes: I’m thankful to have less rushing in my days, particularly in the mornings. I’m thankful for good Internet access, and the ability to do my job remotely. Thankful that my husband has been enjoying cooking for the family, and that we are all healthy.

Wishing you well,

Ursula

P.S. What are you doing to stay positive through all this?