Pumpkin Spice, Anyone?

September 1st. It doesn’t seem real.

For someone who looks forward to fall every year, this should have been a welcome calendar page flip. But the prospect of spending another season mostly indoors is just not appealing to me. Sure, we can go outdoors and enjoy the refreshing crisp air, but many of the gatherings I have come to enjoy will be missing this year.

Still, it is actually a relief to be inching our way closer to the end of 2020. Most of us wish it would be over with now.

Recovery Mode

My time away from writing has been spent in recovery mode following my shoulder surgery on June 18th. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with an uneventful, and fairly pain-free recuperation. For anyone who has experienced this surgery, you’ll understand me when I say, “Don’t overdo it.” Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter. After being in a sling 24/7 for six weeks, the last thing I would want is to be back in that contraption! (I cringe just looking at the photo.)

The greatest challenges I faced were sleeping while sitting up, and learning to do everything with my left hand. Sleeping was made a little easier with our adjustable bed. Because we have a split-king, we were able to move half of the bed to a guest room. This enabled me to lie awake for hours on end without disturbing my hubby. After the first week or so, exhaustion took over, and I grew accustomed to sleeping on my back. By week 5, I was able to lie on my left side, and now — week 11 — I am finally able to lie flat again.

But the left-handed thing . . . that was another story. Try wearing a sling on your dominant arm for 24 hours and you’ll see the challenges I faced. Everyday tasks we take for granted, such as bathing, dressing, eating — and yes, even trips to the bathroom — take twice as long. Living without a blow dryer nearly brought me to tears. It took me about 3 weeks to master these challenges and find some work-arounds. My doctor was kind enough to adjust the sling so that I had almost full use of my right hand, as long as it stayed inside the sling. I was then able to do some typing on my computer at work and use my cell phone and iPad. Once I was off the pain meds (Day 6), I was even able to drive the mile to work and back home again. Life was not so bad after all.

I am now in physical therapy and have regained about 90% of my range of motion. (My best guess.) Next week, if my surgeon gives the okay, I will begin the strength training portion of my PT. It’s been a long road, but I am glad I had the surgery.

My recovery would not have been so smooth without all the love, prayers, cards and meals that came my way during the first few weeks. Our church family has been amazing! It is always a humbling feeling when you are on the receiving end of such generosity.

🍁 🍁 🍁

Reflecting and Refueling

We celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary last week while visiting relatives in Tennessee. They have a beautiful home in a lakeside community, and a pontoon boat that became our favorite respite for seven days. It was a much-needed getaway for both of us, and a chance to unwind and forget about the pandemic for a while. The lake was full of little hidden coves where we could drop the anchor and swim (or in my case, float) the afternoon away. We dined out most evenings, and lazed around most mornings. (Any day I can stay in my PJ’s past 7:00 AM is a good day!)

My time away was an opportunity to rest and look forward to the future. So much of our time lately has been spent focusing on the chaos around us and around the world. The doom and gloom and bad news is relentless. I find that during these difficult seasons in life, we often neglect our need to get away and disconnect. We need space to breathe, and a new window to enjoy a different view. (I find water views are best!) This is not always possible in these times, I know, but if the opportunity presents itself, embrace it!

Now that I am home again, I realize how much I have missed my writing. As we begin a new season, full of pumpkin spice and whatever else it may bring, I look forward to sharing this space with you once again. ☕️

Fighting On

 

Beautiful Columbine

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. Last week I was really struggling. After nearly six weeks of social isolation, it finally got to me.

A thick blanket of fog settled over me, and for several days I felt listless and depressed. The weather certainly didn’t help either. It’s been rainy and cool in the DC region, typical for April, but the last thing any of us need right now.

Still, I got up each day, showered, and did my best to follow a routine.

Teleworking always sounds wonderful until you do it for weeks on end. It really is quite challenging. My normal tasks as a church Office Manager have morphed into a new world of Zoom meetings, YouTube videos and Mailchimp campaigns. These are not new platforms for me, but they have now become my lifeline, my connection to the outside world. Fortunately, I have few distractions at home, and can accomplish everything without interruption each day.

 

Empty Spaces

I’ve spent several mornings at the church though, collecting mail, paying bills and just making sure things are okay. One morning I sat in the empty sanctuary, trying to recall the last time we all gathered together. It seems like ages ago. Under normal circumstances, in the midst of my busy day, I would enjoy the peace and quiet of the sanctuary. But right now, it just feels . . . lonely.

I miss my church family. I miss singing in the choir, reading scripture together, and lifting our voices in prayer.

I also miss the people, and the fellowship we share before and after worship. But, I think most of all, I miss my Sunday morning hugs. No amount of social distance emojis can fill that gap.

I tell myself we will be together again soon, and that it will all be okay. But I know it will still be a while before we can safely begin meeting as we once did. Before the pandemic, when everything changed.

Victory Ahead

Each morning I begin my day by reading several devotionals. I have been faithful to do this ever since this pandemic began, and it is helping to pull me through each day.

On Saturday, as I was sipping my coffee, I had a breakthrough. This is what I read in Everyday Grace, a collection of 60 devotions from EllieClaire.com:

“Victory’s in Sight”
It may be hard to see your life as victorious in the face of failure, disappointment, or continued conflict, but every war that’s ever been fought was won through a series of battles. Not every individual battle will be victorious. What matters is how it turns out in the end.
Is a major conflict raging in your life? A rebellious child, chronic illness, the loss of the job, a betrayal by someone you love . . . whatever your struggle, both you and God are on the battlefield. Even if victory doesn’t seem close at hand, God is. Your fight is also His. Be strategic and courageous in pursuing the right course. Don’t let discouragement tempt you to give up. Today’s skirmish may be the decisive battle that wins the war.

The scripture related to this devotion was from Psalm 60:12 – With God we will gain the victory.

This truly is a battle we are all waging each day. It takes the greatest strength sometimes just to get out of bed. But we fight on, taking on every new skirmish in this seemingly endless struggle. And while we are fighting, we are keenly aware of our “battle buddies”, those who are suffering alongside us. We may know others who have fallen to the enemy; we grieve their loss, and pray for those left behind to continue the fight in their absence.

Keep Being, Keep Doing

So how are you doing? What are you doing each day to stay focused, to stay busy, to keep moving ahead?

I’ve been organizing my home office where I am now writing and working each day. And since I feel we each need to tackle a project or embrace a hobby to help pass the time, I have picked up a project I began over a year ago. I have my fathers letters that he wrote home every week he was in the Army, from his boot camp in January 1951, until he finished his tour in Germany in December 1952. I am transcribing the letters so they can be easily read by future generations.

My father passed away in 1986. I never knew much about his time in the military.  These letters give me a glimpse of who he was as a young man at 22, his character and integrity, as well as his love of his Nan’s fudge and all types of automobiles. I also have the scrapbook my grandmother made, which he references throughout his letters, as well as memorabilia and photos he sent home. It’s an amazing chronology of the two years he served, the people he met, and the places he visited. What a previous gift!

 

The Power of a Purr

Since I last wrote, some of you may have also heard about a new family member. On Maundy Thursday we adopted a cat from the local animal shelter. We saw only a photo and video of him before we met. He was brought out to our car in a cardboard carrier, and we didn’t meet him until he popped out of the box at home. His name is Gipper and he is truly a member of our family! Of all the cats we have loved over the years, this little guy seems to have the best of each personality.

Pets are amazing, aren’t they? Since our Nicky crossed over the rainbow bridge last June, I had forgotten the special bond we establish with our fur family.

Gipper purrs and snuggles close, and suddenly life becomes manageable again. I know that all will be well.

Remember, as my devotion says, “Even if victory doesn’t seem close at hand, God is. Your fight is also His.”

We are never fighting alone.