The Priority of Gratitude

On November 13th, our daughter was diagnosed with COVID-19.

The moment she received that phone call, our three busy lives came to a screeching halt. Since she lives at home with us, my husband and I went into immediate quarantine, while she began 10 days of isolation in her bedroom.

We are grateful that our daughter’s illness was relatively mild and did not require medical intervention or hospitalization. I am praising God that my husband and I tested negative, and remained symptom-free throughout our quarantine which ended on Thanksgiving Day. We are slowly getting back to some semblance of “normal”.

Giving Thanks

Our family is not unique. At any given time I’m sure you know a family that is quarantined. And if you have not lost a loved one to the pandemic, you probably know someone who has. The isolation and separation are painful as well. My mom is in a nursing home 30 minutes away, yet I have been unable to see her since last February.

When this pandemic hits so close to home,  you learn to appreciate the people we often take for granted.

Thanksgiving was a time to reflect on what matters most:

  • Friends, Neighbors and Relatives
    During our time in quarantine, we were called, emailed and texted daily by so many people who were concerned about us. They offered to shop or run errands, and one neighbor delivered a plate of warm cookies to our doorstep.
  • Church Family
    In the early days after our daughter’s diagnosis, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were worried, not just about her, but about our own health. During those 14 days away from our faith community, we were covered by prayers, and we felt every one of them. We knew we were never alone.

Then there are the “extras” in life that we seldom think about as we use them day-to-day:

  • Internet Connection
    Many of us adapted to the challenges of working from home last winter and early spring. I am grateful that I was able to connect to my church and still fulfil my duties as Office Manager remotely. Thanks to a reliable internet connection, I sent emails, updated our website and social media, and uploaded videos for Sunday worship.
  • Online Shopping
    For two weeks, I had to forgo my Sunday afternoon ritual of shopping at Wegman’s. (Yes, I actually enjoy grocery shopping.) It’s not quite the same, but I was able to load my virtual shopping cart using their app on my phone. Two days later I arrived at the curbside pickup, popped my trunk and received my order without leaving my car.  Technology is truly amazing!
Blessings in Abundance

My family is blessed beyond measure, and giving gratitude has become a top priority.

Our daughter is mostly recovered. Her symptoms were relatively mild and her company paid for the time she needed to isolate. She still tires easily and has occasional headaches, but she was able to taste all her favorite dishes at the Thanksgiving table. (Losing her sense of taste and smell was the first indication of her illness.)

Tomorrow I will return to my office in person. It’s a special time for our church as we enter Advent season, and we also anticipate the arrival of our new pastor. And as today is the first Sunday of Advent, we lit the Candle of Hope during worship. We take shelter in the hope of the Christmas season, and we anticipate the birth of our Savior who brings light to a broken world.

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. ☕️