Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March 31, 2020

COVID19thoughts, encouragement, new normal

What if this is your new normal?

What if whatever unusual situation you find yourself in today becomes your way of life for the next three months, or even the next three years?

Does that thought cause you dread, anxiety, or even grief? As Americans we have had it oh so good for oh so long that we might have, as a collective nation, forgotten what it is like to struggle for existence.

If we were to take a look back in our history, we would find that our grandparents, and for some of us our great grandparents, knew exactly what it meant to sacrifice and struggle. They are now referred to as the Greatest Generation - those born from 1901-1924, those who grew up during the Great Depression and served and worked during WWII.

For those of them that were children at the outset of WWI, I doubt they understood the sacrifices their families were making to send men off to war. They only knew what had happened in their short lifetimes, and that varied widely based upon where they lived and their economic status. Some had been in cities with a natural gas boom, or where cars were being seen as a new mode of transportation, not just a toy for the rich. Others lived in rural areas and life continued on as it had for the decades before they were born. This Great Generation grew up during a war, lived through the depression, and served in the following war.

We are currently facing a war of a different kind: a war against a virus that threatens to undo our world’s economy, and for many of us, our current way of life. How do we explain this to our children? How do we even wrap our own minds around our change in circumstances from only a month ago? One day at a time - one prayer at a time. Our children know their own “normal” - what we need to help them understand is their new normal, as we navigate our own. Prayer is the first step, loving each other is the second.

We do not know what the future will bring. Only God can see outside of linear time. In three weeks’ time will the curve of new cases be flattened, even gone? Or will it take three months or even a year before our lives attempt to return to what we used to think of as normal?

In the midst of all this uncertainty, what are we to do? What should we be called to do? Let us each start by doing our part. Today in your home, or at work if your job has been labelled essential, let’s each do our part. Wash laundry, cook meals, stock groceries, care for the sick - whatever your part is in the fabric of our nation - go do it. And do it well. In Colossians 3:23 Paul admonished fellow believers “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

We are called to work heartily. Whether that is a third grader working to master long division or a CEO re-writing the budget so their employees are paid, work heartily. Work hard. Give it your best effort today, and again tomorrow. God is watching. He wants us to be a blessing to those around us and not a burden. One way to do that is by doing our part - without complaining.

Do the hard work of prayer. Your life, regardless of how it looks today, offers you the opportunity to pray for others. Instead of joining in the masses who are complaining about our elected officials doing too much or too little in this crisis - spend that time in prayer for them. Pray for your family, your neighbors, your local firemen, EMT’s, the Doctors and nurses at your local hospital. Pray for those who are still working at the grocery store or the gas station. Pray for those working at home, the unemployed, those in quarantine, those in the hospital. Then do the really hard work of praying for those who have lost a loved one to this virus. You have time to pray today - use it wisely.

My final admonition for you today is to not give up hope! Looking back through history we see both good times and bad. They alternate. This too shall pass. There will be an eventual end to this virus and the havoc it is causing in our world. In Romans 5 we are reminded that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character, hope. Why? Because the Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts. If this all sounds foreign to you, I encourage you to read the Gospel of John. You can read it for free on the Bible App on your phone, or at biblegateway.com - then ask questions - get answers - meet Jesus.

In just under two weeks we will celebrate Easter. Celebrate all Jesus has done for us. It does not matter what our new normal is. What matters is remembering all God has done for us - and that He has promised to never leave us.

Easter is coming.

Work hard, celebrate with awe.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

March 22, 2020

coronavirus, thoughts on living, Gods peace

A fellow writer posted yesterday and asked us to share our stories. She asked us to share our coronavirus stories, that in doing so, we would read each others’ words and not feel so alone during this time of social isolation.

A week ago my boss asked us to practice social distancing - in an effort to keep people safe and healthy - without being socially distant.

Catching a theme here? Yeah, me too. So now, at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, I will write, and pray that God gives me the words to share what’s on my heart. Let’s begin shall we?

It’s early on Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 and I’m thinking back on this month. Just over three weeks ago I went to the NFL combine in Indianapolis. People were all around me, having fun, talking football, thinking of the future in rosy hues. It was a good day to be alive, spend time with friends, and to laugh at the snow.

On Tuesday, March 3rd, Our older daughter and I went to Fountain Square. An old neighborhood in Indianapolis that has seen a revitalization over the past 20 or so years. It is where my dad grew up in the 40’s and 50’s. We went duck pin bowling, bought chocolates, and browsed the vintage clothing shops. It was a windy but sunny day full of the promise of a coming spring. We laughed and danced.

On Friday, March 6th I went to work as usual, and then the girls and I attended the opening of an art exhibit celebrating diversity and inclusion through art. The future still looked bright and free.

On the following Monday, March 9th, my youngest daughter and I went to Indianapolis. We went to the Garfield Park Conservatory and photographed tropical flowers. Then we went to the City Market for a late lunch of NY style pizza. She had been wanting to go there for years, and since it was Spring Break, I made sure it happened. That afternoon marked our first real conversation about coronavirus (COVID-19) as we walked around downtown and talked about how we thought they would work to keep everyone safe for the Big 10 college basketball tournament. Later that week the tournament would be cancelled, along with every other major and minor sporting event across the US.

On Wednesday, March 11th my mom came over for lunch. It was nothing unusual, just the girls, grandma, and me. We had wanted to see her, and get her expert advice on a knitting project Arlene was doing. My mom is 77 years old and in good health - a situation I try to never take for granted. I know many people younger than her who struggle with a host of health challenges.

Thursday the 12th was a day for errands and grocery shopping. The lines were longer than usual. People were starting to talk a lot more about coronavirus - they were beginning to stock up - there was a tension in the air. The news from other countries was not good. People were getting infected and many were needing hospitalized. This was not just another round of seasonal flu. What would it be like here? This was the day the Big 10 tournament (and many others) was cancelled. Now it was getting real - affecting things close to home. The outlook was much less rosy than it had been just 4 days before. Had it only been four days (three really) since that Monday afternoon stroll around downtown Indianapolis?

I went to work on Friday, March 13th. Our regular solid cleaning routine had been ramped up even more. Not panic, just concern. We had less visitors than usual. I think the public was just waking up to the understanding that if the Big 10 tournament was cancelled, other things might be as well. At the end of the day we had an all-staff meeting. We found out that we would be closed to the public until at least the end of the month. There would be more details on Monday. Stay home tomorrow. I understood it - we are a museum. We let people learn through experiences - most of them hands-on. Earlier that afternoon we had heard that the Children’s Museum was closing. I, along with most of my co-workers, had figured we would not be far behind. It it was closed, and we hadn’t, we would have been inundated with children and they parents, way beyond even our normal capacity - and that would not have been good for the recommendation to keep a local distance to avoid spreading the virus.

This past week at our house had been different, and yet not. Our younger daughter was granted a second week of Spring Break wile her college figures out the logistics of switching to all online courses for the remained of the semester. Our older daughter had worked that weekend, worked again on Monday, had a shift cancelled, and then was told her employer would be closing - permanently.

Having the three of us home mid-week was not that unusual, other than the news about the virus. You see, we spent 16 years as a homeschooling family, from the first day of Kindergarten, to the last day of high school. That has prepared us for a lot of this “new normal” we are in right now. We know how to go for long walks in the woods each day to get our exercise, how to enjoy curling up with a good book, and how to bake up a storms’ worth of good treats.

But more importantly than all of that, we have faith in God and in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We know where to weather our storms. Being a Christian does not make this storm easier, but it does make it possible to hold on to hope int he midst of it. We have hope because we know the One who holds our tomorrows. He is the Alpha and the Omega - the beginning and the end. He knows our future. The same God who created the universe and named the stars knows my name. I am His beloved child.

Fear may be on a daily quest to try to undermine my peace, but it will not win. This peace I have has been hard-won and will not be surrendered. It has come as my faith has been tested and tried over and over again. I have been through the refiner’s fire over and over again - and I know that He is not done with me yet. There is still dross to remove. It is a life-long process, this refinement.

I do not fear the future. I used to. Then I finally came to understand that wavering back and forth across the line between faith and fear is too exhausting. I had to decide to go all in and trust God with everything: my marriage, our kids, mu job, my very life. I had nothing to lose. I was in a dark and painful place. I knew I could not thrive there, I was barely surviving there! So I let it all go. I had been reading a book about healthy spirituality and this line stood out to me as though it had been written in neon lettering in the sky ‘ a person with nothing left to lose becomes the most powerful person on earth.’

What did I have to lose? Nothing of value. I could see my life that I thought I had control of crumbling around me each day. I surrendered. For the first time I truly meant it with my whole heart when I prayer “Whatever, Lord.” Whatever He wanted to give, or take, or do - it had to be better than what I had - which was nothing.

So where does that past surrender leave me today, in the midst of a global pandemic? Safely in the arms of my loving Heavenly Father. Hands up and open wide. I can now close my eyes, stretch out my hands, open my heart and connect with God in a deep and powerful way through the Holy Spirit that lives within me.

As we look tot he uncertain future we have many questions. Will the social distancing be enough to stop the spread? Will thousand more have to die, or will most recover? Will someone I know and love catch COVID-19, struggle to breathe, and possibly even die? I do not know any of these answers, but I do not need to. I know life had been hard, is hard, and will continue to be hard for many of my friends. Some of them know Jesus and have begun to receive His peace. Others do not know Him and have no peace, no real hope. I pray for them all.

My grandparents lived through WWI and WWII. They were a vastly different generation than what I see today. They might have worried, in fact I’m sure they did, but I think they did something that we lack today: they prayed. Then they trusted God to keep His word and they went on living, loving, and serving others. The trusted God to not forsake them, to give them comfort and hope. Perhaps they were made of sterner stuff than we are. They didn’t have google to answer all their questions - shoot - they’d only had the Dewey Decimal system for 35 years when WWI began. We struggle to imagine life without toilet paper, they struggled with not having food. We want to be over-informed on what is happening across the globe, and anxiety runs rampant because of it. They were under informed, and yet lived to tell us about it.

What lessons of faith did I learn from my grandparents that can help me during these challenging times? Perhaps they can help you too. I learned that you can always, always pray the Lord’s prayer - that His will would be done. I learned that family is important, and we should be quick to forgive others. I learned that God can be trusted - no matter what!

When I was 10 my grandfather died. My most vivid memory of that summer is from his funeral. During the eulogy, their pastor talked about how Dale trusted God. Someday, hopefully quite a ways into he future, I hope the same can be said of me at my passing, “Carol trusted God.”

I am praying for you to trust Him too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Gardening 201- Winter Sowing

This post originally aired on February 20, 2013. Since I've seen many of you on FB and IG talking about growing some of your own produce this year. I wanted to share it again.

You've chosen seeds, you have a great idea about where to put your garden...but what? It's only 11 degrees outside? (Or twenty, or forty.)

Never fear, enter winter-sowing! We live in Indiana. Where most people don't get enough sunlight in the winter, and it can be really difficult to start seeds indoor without grow-lights. So what to do, what to do? 

Last winter my friend introduced me to a great blog "A Garden for the House." Kevin has WAY more time than I have, for cooking, blogging, & gardening, but I love his advice on winter-sowing. You can go directly there from this link if you still have questions when I'm finished today: http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/category/gardening/winter-sowing/

The general idea is this: start your seeds outdoors, in little greenhouses made of recycled milk-jugs. Since it'll be too cold for anything to grow for a little while, they'll just sit and wait. Once it starts to warm up outside, your seeds will be all ready to go, you'll just need to keep an eye on when they need water.

Here's last year's lettuce on March 16th

By the end of March it was already big enough to eat! Our "frost-free" date here is May 1st, so we were WAY ahead of the game.
We did this for the first time last year and had the best tomato starts I have ever gotten from seeds. Short and stocky!

Now I'm going to show you how I winter-sow. I do it a little differently than on agardenforthehouse, but it's just a few tweeks of my own.

First- save LOTS of empty (washed out) milk and OJ jugs! We had 28 so far, but I'll probably end up starting 40 mini greenhouses total this year, so I'll keep saving them!

Next up, gather your supplies: you'll need: jugs, a tray to pot on, some newspaper to catch your mess, seeds, potting soil, a BLACK sharpie, duck tape, a sturdy knife & kitchen scissors. An empty box to put down when you are cutting is a plus.

Then, punch at least 4 drainage holes inthe bottom of each jug (do this first to ALL of them so you won't forget it!) I punch the knife in, and then twist it. It makes a hole about the size of a writing pen.

After that, you'll need to use your sturdy knife to cut a slit in one side, I like to put it in the middle of a side that adjoins the handle. Do this step for several jugs at a time, them move to the next step.

The following step is to use your scissors to make the slit wrap around all but the part under the handle, this will be your hinge!

Now to the messy part. Mix up your potting soil nice and muddy. On days when the weather breaks, I do this outside in a 5 gallon bucket. But since it was 45 and windy, I did it inside in an old ice cream bucket.

Now put soil in the bottom about 2-3" deep and plant your seeds according to the package. For small things like lettuce, you can plant a few dozen per jug. For plants you want to grow big and stocky (like tomatoes) limit yourself to 4 per jug. 

Use your duck tape (whatever color you have on hand) to tape shut the two sides opposite the handle-hinge. Notice the drip-tray to catch (at least most of) the wet, soggy soil leaking out the drainage holes!

LABEL, LABEL, LABEL! Use a black sharpie (other colors fade too soon) and mark what you planted in each jug & the date you planted it. After all, those tomato plants are all going to look alike when they are still small!

Finally, put your jug greenhouses outside in your garden spot (whether it's ready yet or not!) 

Today I only started 10 greenhouses, but I didn't want to go dig in the garage for more potting soil, so the next time it's warm(er) out, I'll get a lot more started. 

Don't be discouraged if you aren't ready for this because you don't have your seeds yet. It will still be helpful to start your plants in March or April the same way. I'm starting mine now for 2 main reasons: 1- I want fresh lettuce ASAP, & 2- I'll be doing a lot of these, so spreading them out makes it more enjoyable!

Dreaming of fresh tomatoes!
Thanks to Arlene for being my photographer for the day!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

And then there were none

life after homeschooling, mid-life, changes

Once there was a mom with two daughters. She homeschooled them and loved on them, and even made dinner pretty regularly. Her husband went to work, and came home to see what the girls had learned. She worked outside the home too, but a lot of the world didn't understand how that was possible. She wasn't too sure herself, but knew that she carried on by God's grace alone.

Then one of those little girls grew up and went to college, then the other one did too.

And now there were no little girls to homeschool. And the world changed.

Well, really, the world didn't change that much, but the mom did.

So many possibilities, so many struggles over, and new ones to come. It was time for a change in her life - but which change? 

Perhaps you've deduced by now that the mom in our story is me - good for you! I dedicated 16 years of my life to homeschooling our daughters. My husband thinks I should be running out to get a full time job. He doesn't realize that I've had two full time jobs for 16 years, well, truly, three jobs.

I feel a little like General Waverly in White Christmas. You know the part where Bing Crosby sings "What do you do with a General, when he stops being a General?" 

What do you do with a homeschooling mom who is done and wants to change direction? I feel vastly under-qualified for many jobs I would love to have, and vastly over-qualified for many of the ones I see open to me.

I really enjoy my current job. As in I like it - a lot! But is that all I should be doing? Is my husband right? Am I being silly or selfish, or am I right where God wants me to be?

I also want to write. But this book writing thing is a long-term commitment. And while I've gotten the first chapter out of my head and started on the second, I think I need a re-write because I'm not satisfied with the tone of my writing. Funny isn't it? I'm often able to re-write what others say, and make it clearer and more enjoyable to read, but I'm currently struggling with how to re-write my own words.

It has been over a year since our youngest graduated. What comes next? Do I go back to school? Do I look for a writing job that pays now, but might put my book writing on hold? Do I look for a different day job that I might not love as much as my current one because it offers different benefits? I don't know. There are so many variables in this life. 

There is one thing I do know - God is right here with me. He can and will lead me where I need to go. I want to be attuned to His presence and His direction. I don't want to step ahead or fall behind. 

There is something else - I know I want to make a difference in this world. So each day I ask Him to lead me to one person that I can point to Him. One person I can show God's love to. Some days He brings a lot more than just one.

So now there are none left in our little homeschool. A few books to pass on, a few books to sell, and a lot of time to think. Funny how you struggle to find time to think when you're busy educating a child. Today I've thought a lot and not come up with any answers. Tonight I'll go back before the presence of my Heavenly Father, my Abba, Daddy in prayer and ask for direction. One step. That's all I need light for today, just the next step.

If you're in the middle of a time of change - spend it in prayer. God won't leave you to drift aimlessly - He will direct your path - one step at a time.

Friday, March 13, 2020


life changes, contentment, trusting God

What happens after?

After a movie is over

After a workday is completed

After a child graduates

After a change in careers

After a closed door

After a rejection letter

After a frustrating conversation

After an afternoon of sunshine 

After Spring arrives and flowers bloom


Is it wrong to be content where you are?

Do other people misunderstand or underestimate you?

Is life filled with confusion?


Do you know you are loved by God?

You are valuable, you are loved, you are a child of God.

What happens after is sometimes good and gentle and kind. At other times the thing that happens after is filled with hurt and confusion. 

We live our lives in a constant state of befores and afters. We choose how to respond to each change, each question, each questioning by others.

We can choose to accept that we are loved by God, or we can choose to reject this truth.

Can I change the world? Maybe not.

Can I change my corner of the world with His love? Definitely!

Thursday, March 12, 2020


When you were younger, did you have a plan for your life?

How did that work out for you? Is life following your plan, or does God have a better plan for you?

I know life can be so difficult at times. I was thinking earlier today about how many people meet God during a mountaintop experience. I don't really know what that is like. God has always met me in the valleys of trials and refining. I'm not complaining, I'm just stating. 

Life gets complicated, and while it might be nice to have a mountaintop experience with God, I am so thankful for all those valleys He has led me through. I feel like I'm standing at another juncture. Do I go right or left? This valley or that one?

God has a plan, I'm asking Him to reveal it to me, one step at a time. Trying to make my own plan is hard. Trusting God's plan is easier. If you're also at a juncture - let me encourage you to seek God's face. Ask Him for direction - to light up the next step so you can take it. Then ask Him for grace to accept whatever happens in that shift in your life.

My plans are small. God's plans are huge. I'm glad to be a small part of a huge plan. How about you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


freeform poetry, five minute writes, life

Life is not lived along a line
from here to there

It twists and turns
goes up and down
and all around the bends and berms

You stretch and reach
while others teach
how to get past roadblocks
and doors that are locked

Life is not lived along a line
from here to there

Life travels cross the oceans wide
while emotions try to hide
your frustrations and desires

You feel your breath escape
as mountains challenge
and valleys quake

At times you wonder 
where is there?
And can I ever reach it?

Life is a journey
that is sure 
to test you and to try

But along the paths
you find some friends
and joy is found again

You do not wish for here or there
instead enjoying the in-betweens
where life is lived in full

Those twists and turns
become your story
that leads another forward

You become the one
who offers hope
of life with meaning
when words tell your story

Tuesday, March 3, 2020



I am not willing to let this day slip away

I will not allow anyone besides God to define me

I will choose the path less taken, and find the wonder along the way. I will choose joy.

Love will come easily, smiles will come soften.

I will remember that I am a child of God and that is where my worth comes from - not from material things or the opinions of others.

Today I will be free, and find out who I really am.

Today I choose me.