Grace in the Quarantine

grace

Subtitle:

The Day I Did Not Home-School

Last week, I worked more hours than I normally do.  I  had my lovely schedule all set before this whole Corona thing hit – working from 8 to 3, picking up my child from school, cooking dinner, and having some time in the evenings for my family and for myself.  Along came the virus … and changed everything.  For many, it meant sheltering at home … for some it means working our “essential” jobs.   At mine, we are very short staffed due to various circumstances with other employee who are no longer working.

By Thursday, I was back to my world-weary state of being.   We still had to get some groceries since the kids are home, eating everything in sight!  🙂  And after that, I made the executive decision to NOT do the usual evening home schooling of Miriam.

We decided to postpone things until the next day and the weekend.  And guess what?  The world went on spinning … and my child was properly educated at a later time. 🙂

Just a little lesson learned.  Things will not always go as planned or wished.  We can adapt.  We can practice grace.  And life will go on.

 

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Hodgepodge: Quarantine Style

 

Joyce has brought back the Hodgepodge to From This Side of the Pond!  WOOT!

1. Howdy Hodgepodgers. It’s kind of fun to be back, isn’t it?  Last time we met was September, 2018. Tell me something big-important-happy-or sad that’s happened in your life since that date. Just one thing. We don’t know how long this current isolation situation is going to last and we might need to dole out our news bit by bit.

I got to go to Germany TWO TIMES in 2019, which makes up for all the years I wasn’t able to go (I have A LOT of family in Germany!).  My son studied abroad near München last summer, so my daughter and I accompanied him over and stayed to travel 10 days.  I went again in October with my mom to visit relatives.  

 

 

2. Might as well get this out of the way early on…COVID-19. On a scale of 1-5 how serious are you about keeping your distance? Explain. fyi-I didn’t create the scale but have seen it several places online. Also fyi-we won’t only have virus related questions each week, but for this first one it feels right.

1-Not at all, living normally
2-Cautious but still going out
3-Going out as needed, mostly home or working from home, still seeing friends/family
4-Extremely limited, only going out when unavoidable, minimal contact with people
5-Full lockdown, no one in or out
I guess somewhere between 1 and 2.  I have to go to work (in the medical supply business) so we are “essential”…..and I stop by to shop or run an errand after work.  I live in Arkansas and we aren’t “closed” yet.  Otherwise, we are staying home.  My kids are home, taking care of each other.  

3. Raise your hand if you think you might run out of steam in the cooking department before it’s all said and done? What’s something delicious you’ve cooked or eaten in your own kitchen in the past week?

Well, considering I work probably more hours than usual (due to skeleton staff), I have been grabbing curb-side delivery food some (support your local restaurants!!) or my daughter has cooked some.  I actually have NOT yet run out of steam on cooking yet as I enjoy it when I actually have time & am not exhausted.  

Our favorite so far that I’ve cooked are stove-top simmered stew on Sunday and a super-easy copy-cat Olive Garden chicken gnocchi soup.  YUM!!!!  And I’ve baked 2 loaves of bread.  

 

4. What’s a television show or movie you’ve seen recently (it could be an oldie) that you really liked?

Father Brown is my current mindless watching to wind down at night.  
5. Share something funny you’ve seen or heard this week.

Oh my … the memes on Facebook are keeping me laughing.  Too many to share and some could be construed as “political” which I don’t want to get into … so I’m sure you’ve seen them too!  

Ok, just one because I *am* German:

90357004_10223815054510607_7316999185608212480_n

 

6. Insert your own random thought here

I have been trying to process my random thoughts about working while so many of my friends are living my introvert, home-body dream:  sequestered at home, home-schooling their children, enjoying the QUIET – extra time to do all the things … 

I can’t relate to so many of my friends’ posts on FB about all the broad range of feelings to being at home 24/7.  I feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone (or maybe they are):

The Twilight Zone (post from my blog a few days ago)

STAY SAFE – WASH YOUR HANDS (and invest in some realllly good hand lotion!).

Conny

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Not Staying Home:

pharmacy

I am a licensed pharmacy tech … have been since October 2014, when I was desperate for employment to help pay our bills after 6 months of my husband’s unemployment and an out-of-state move.  I wanted a job that I could work an opposite shift of my husband because we had no family to watch our children and day care just wasn’t an option for me personally (plus paying for day care would have basically negated my income).  I have never been out for a career and never considered pharmacy … but somehow, God must think I am stronger and smarter than I think I am because He won’t let me stay at home in peace (or if I did, we’d be bankrupt by now!).

I worked full-time-ish in a retail pharmacy for a while, and HATED it.  Hated the retail part, not my AWESOME co-workers at an independent pharmacy.  My boss knew my financial secretary background, which is how I transitioned into home medical equipment billing … which I did for the pharmacy for about a year in my own sweet, little office.  I loved my flexible schedule and wasn’t doing much tech’ing other than when needed as a substitute or one Saturday a month as everyone had to carry a weekend shift.

UNTIL … our pharmacy was sold and in the transition, my billing job was cut and I was back to pharmacy tech’ing with 2 late closing shifts that didn’t get me home til 6:30 p.m.  And so … I gave notice and started this path of medical billing, keeping my pharmacy job only one Saturday every 3 weeks for the extra income.

I spent about 8 or 9 months with a regional hospital system, billing for home health, but again, I was stuck in a 8 – 4:30 job with little consideration for my desire to be there for my kids.  And then my current boss found me through indeed.com (and a nudge from God, I like to believe!) … and up until recently, I have been living my dream again – if I must work – at our medical supply business.  I was home by 3 p.m. to pick up Miriam from school, cook dinner, not be exhausted … and life was good.

UNTIL … the pandemic.  COVID-19.  The corona virus  Our staff of 7 is now down to 2 workers and our boss running everything.  Two of our staff are of compromised health and at home, one left “voluntarily” without pay, and one was laid off.  With Miriam home-bound with her siblings, that leaves me open to work until 5 p.m. if needed again.  So here I am again, working way more hours than I ever wanted.

BUT let me tell you this:  it is kind of a good feeling to be a part of something that is still helping the community.  I mean, EVERYONE is helping the community by STAYING HOME, of course!  But I mean physically working to meet medical needs of our patients and new customers.  I have a small glimpse of what it is like to be on the “forefront” of taking care of people so they can take care of the activities of daily living and other health needs.

Saturday I worked my pharmacy shift and got a short glimpse of what health care providers are going through.  Endless washing down of surfaces with a bleach solution, disinfecting the iPad, telephone, and computer mice with alcohol wipes, and constantly washing my hands.  As of today, the pharmacy staff is now donning gloves and wearing masks.  Service is drive-thru or curbside only.  And people are scared, some are selfish, but many are grateful.  It is also an interesting study in how people are reacting to this crisis.  Generosity and greed have both come out …

In any case, I am reminded – and I’m sure EVERYONE knows this – to be THANKFUL.  Thankful for the medical staff who are working – including CNAs, EMTs, and respiratory therapists and lab techs — and janitors and clerks.  Grocery workers.  Law enforcement.  Delivery folks, Mail carriers.  Gas station attendants and food service workers and the garbage removal service.  AND pharmacists and their techs.  And so many, many more.

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THE TWILIGHT ZONE!

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SUBTITLE:  People Who Work in Health Care

I am – as per usual for me – not living the what is now the “new-normal” life  most of my family, social-media friends, and my IRL friends.  Most of them are home, quarantined, home-schooling their children, and maybe working from home as well.  They are living my dream – BEING “STUCK” AT HOME!!  🙂

Me and my husband:  We still get up each morning, get ready, and head into work.  We both work in health care.  He works at the VA hospital, and as a clerk in the mental health department, he is essential.  Funny – some of the lowest paid workers are suddenly the most important – the janitors, the clerks, and nutrition care/food preparers.  [Not to neglect mentioning physicians, nurses, pharmacists, etc.!!]  I work for a medical supply store, and we work mostly with an orthopedic hospital, so thankfully we are not with those exposed to illness (and GOD BLESS the healthcare workers who are!!), and of course, we are open to the public for medical equipment needs that don’t end with a quarantine.

One of my co-workers has taken leave of absence due to high anxiety about exposure to the virus and some personal reasons.  Two other co-workers are home because they are over 65 and in a high risk health demographic.  That leaves me and a one other man to work the retail and billing that must go on … with some back-up from our boss.

Believe me, we are following all protocol to keep our facility sanitary.  Hand washing IS essential.  We have air purifiers, medical grade cleansers, and even are using disposable pens for any customers that may come in and have to sign paper work.  They can keep their pen or throw it away.  I am being as “safe” as I possibly can.

But it is surreal.  As I leave work in the late afternoon, I usually stop by one retail place because with 3 kids at home on their own, food seems to be disappearing at an alarming rate!!  Thankfully, so far, in our area, I can find eggs, milk, bread, fruits/vegetables, and the “essentials” that are used up so quickly.

After which, I do what I usually do:  cook dinner, clean up, putter around, check on the elementary student’s work for the day for school, and chill out with something on Netflix or such like.  That next day, I get up and do it all over again.

In that sense, my routine is almost exactly the same as it was BEFORE this whole COVID-19 thing began.  Yes, there is one confirmed case in our area so far … a patient is being treated at the regional hospital that I have used several times, hopefully he is recovering!

I haven’t missed any of the retailers who have shut down, at least not yet.  I grabbed a tube of my favorite CC creme at Ulta yesterday as they are shutting down today.  I got a hair cut on Tuesday with my hair dresser in her extremely sterilized salon chair with us both washing our hands before contact and after.  Our church didn’t shut down last Sunday; however, we are a congregation of about 35 – 40 on a good day…and surprisingly, most of the people showed up!  Going forward, we will probably cancel services to protect our elderly and medically fragile members and to comply to the recommended guidelines for gatherings.

So, anyway … all that to say, I really don’t yet feel effected by this whole virus thing.  It seems almost surreal to me as of yet.  Perhaps if it goes on much longer, I will begin to feel like some of the rest of you that my life has been put on hold.  Again, I’m not being complacent, it is just like everyone else is living in a world that I am not in … and I’m not sure which of us is in the Twilight Zone – me or you!  😉

 

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From Somewhere in the Middle

The Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020

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The toilet paper crisis – not so much the COVID-19 “pandemic” – has caused me to evaluate the people around me, my community, and America in general.  TOILET PAPER?  Baffling!  I mean, I get it:  it truly would be a crisis to us to be without.  Corn cobs, washing cloth, or using old newspaper does not at all sound comfortable to our pampered life style.  However, it has made me wonder if there is truly a gap of privilege among us.  

I’ve not really embraced much of the terminology of the day even though I get why these phrases have evolved:  food insecurity, absolute poverty vs. relative poverty, underprivilege (especially among children who cannot control their circumstances), and poverty among the elderly on fixed incomes.  I have never liked hearing “white privilege” because I think these days racial injustice and inequality are addressed.  At least among the majority of the people I know.  GOD CREATED US ALL EQUAL … and I believe it.  Besides, I personally have never felt particularly “privileged” aside from being able to live in America … and having “enough”.   

However, I am sure it all exists – hopefully not just in the minds – somewhere in some situations.  And that makes me sad and a little mad.  I tend to hear and believe more conservative arguments and advice – however, I have friends who are on “the other side” who have experience in inner cities and areas of crime, gangs, drugs, and poverty.  Our pastor works with an addiction program with people who have never known a “normal” life as I have known it – people whose mother gave them their first hit of cocaine, had absent dads, were raised in foster care, and experienced extreme poverty and even abuse.  Situations I can’t imagine and have no answers or solutions for.  I leave that to the experts.   

But back to the toilet paper:  people are hoarding more than their family can ever use in a year … why?  Is it because they can?  Is it because they are unaware and selfish that someone else might need some?  What is the motive?  I get wanting “enough” – but the excess of America today just leaves me confused.  And not just toilet paper.   

I was talking to someone with far more money and notoriety in our community recently than I ever could have.  He stated something to the effect that freedom can be bought … or maybe he meant “earned.”  In the context of our conversation, we were talking about the freedom to live on your own schedule as opposed to what I do, which is abide by my employer’s schedule to earn my living.  (Granted, I have a much more flexible schedule than the average hourly wage earner, thanks to a boss who allows me to put my family ahead of his business!)  

I get it – I wish I could run my own business and create my own schedule, but somewhere I missed the bus on how to be an entrepreneur.  As did my husband.  And so, we are indentured to another “man’s” or institution’s schedule.   The beauty of America is that those who are ambitious and have the know-how and means CAN own their own business – and even the rest of us can hope for some kind of small retirement someday (and it will be “enough”).  It’s capitalism! It’s prosperity!  It is what creates the “American dream” so many long for.   

And perhaps as the man who told me it can be earned, that privilege gives you the freedom to buy what you need AND what you want.  It allows you have a nice home, freedom to travel, and the ability to buy all the toilet paper … 

All this too has to do with the many “period dramas” I have been watching lately to forget about real life for a while.  The stories are usually about the wealthy aristocrats – and yes, they go through great crises and overcome hard things – but I tend to focus on their servants, the people in their background.  What about those soldiers who are killed all around in the battle scene while the hero forges forward and lives another day.  Did those solders have families too?  Mamas and wives and kids?  How will their families survive?  Or the servants in the kitchen and who empty the chamber pots, all those butlers and guards who stand around all day.  They were born into poverty with no recourse to get out aside from the off chance that the rich master-hero might see them and fall in love with them and defy society and marry a servant.  

I don’t know … maybe I’m the only weirdo who thinks about these things.  On the one hand, I have so much – utilities and food and clothes and entertainment and even 14 rolls of toilet paper.  On the other hand, I live on a “zero balance” budget and because I can never seem to get to Dave Ramsey’s elusive step 2 or 3 (if you know what I’m talking about), I don’t have enough money to go hoard 12 cases of toilet paper so my family at least can have TP for a few months, let alone stock pile food and water.  And then there are those who don’t even have as much as I have… 

Thankfully, I have a God who has promised to provide all my needs.  I guess I’ll find out if He thinks we need toilet paper … but I’m trying not to worry.  The future is already secure in Him.  The last 7 years my mantra has been “Daily Bread” … perhaps now it will be “daily toilet paper.”  

 

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Brace Yourselves:

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2020 … feels fresher than an average new year, a bigger deal – at least to me.

I like “—0” years.  I was born in one.  I had a child in one:  2000.  I almost had another child in another one except she was born 3 weeks before her due date of January 4, 2010.  It makes the math-ing to remember an age easier, that’s for sure!

I guess it is slowly hitting me that later this year I will be half a century old.  I would love to be feeling great for my age and actually have a sense of accomplishment by the end of 2020.  I would like to meet some goals for once – physical health, mental health, and spiritual health.

My theme so far in January 2020 is small steps.  Here are some simple changes I’ve made:

  • Drink more water.  5 co-workers and I have ordered Culligan water to be delivered to our office.  We’ll take turns paying for each month’s supply.  We don’t have a water fountain at work, and I all too often forget to bring water bottles to work.  (Our “sink water” where the office is located is HORRIBLE!).  The dispenser sits in my office, so I try to fill up my water cup about half way for now.  This is a small step as I really don’t enjoy or crave water at all.  BUT I am finding myself re-filling my cup more often already!
  • Most recently I bought lemons to add to my water also.  That might help me get it down!
  • I have reduced the hours I work (or adjusted them) with my boss’s blessing so I hope to be home by 3:15 most days and actually make a home-cooked meal for my family more often.
  • Because of my adjusted work hours, I have to be at work immediately after I drop Mims off at school.  I have been getting up 30-45 minutes earlier than I used to – and so far, I find having a few moments to drink a cup of coffee and meditate on my upcoming day has been a more pleasant way to ease into my day than rushing through my morning routine immediately upon rising.  It has helped Miriam be more prepared for school – and hopefully will help us arrive more timely!
  • Each Sunday night so far, I’ve taken some time to preview my week in my planner – and I’ve also written in a verse or a quote that I want to remember throughout the week.

II Thessalonians 1:11-12  (Pray) that God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every RESOLVE for good and every work of faith by HIS POWER so that the name of Jesus may be glorified in you.

river-in-desert

Isaiah 43:18-19  Forget the FORMER THINGS:  do NOT dwell on the past.  See, I am doing A NEW THING:  Now it springs up.  Do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  

I am RESOLVED no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delights.  Things that are higher, things that are nobler:  these have allured my sight.  

I hope to add to my small steps over time.  My oldest 2 children are both working out regularly these days.  My husband is eating better and walking during his breaks at work.

2020 has given me a sense of optimism that I’ve lacked for years.  Perhaps I am a new me!?  Probably not, but maybe I can work towards being a better me!

 

 

 

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2020 So Far

omnipresent

My “word of the year” was inspired in December by being reminded of the definition of Immanuel (which is the Hebrew translated, or Emmanuel, the Greek or Romanized spelling):

GOD WITH US … God with me.  Now. Always.  In every circumstance.

So as I continue to ponder the concept, I’ve decided to officially make my word of 2020 “omnipresent” – God is EVERYWHERE.  He’s at my house, in my office and my car, beside me when I’m sad, mad, and glad!

OMNIPRESENT:  present in all places at all times.

How’s that working for me so far?  Overall, pretty good at day 8 into a new year – a new century!  Even though my faith was tested on Monday – my least favorite day of the work week to begin with.  #1 I didn’t want the weekend to end and #2 I found out about 7:45 a.m. that we would be short-staffed that day … so instead of enjoying the last sips of my coffee, I found myself rushing to get to the office to be there when the retail part opened.  Instead of leaving work early so Mims could get to her first piano lesson of 2020, I had to re-arrange her transportation and have some of the family relay her from school, home to get her books, and then to my office so we could hurry off through 5 p.m. traffic to the next town north.

But as I left the house, I remembered:  GOD IS WITH ME.  Right now.  He knew we’d be short a worker; He knew I’d be inconvenienced by having to come early and stay late.  He knew I’d normally be in a bad mood when my plans change last minute.  But He was there, and I knew I could do it through HIS strength.  And Monday turned out to be not so bad.  It wasn’t that the circumstances of the day were so fun, it was just that I was aware that God was with me.  Him & me – we could handle this!

I have wavered with the thought that the powerful God who made Heaven and Earth and is controlling principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places would care for the very small details of my daily life.  And yet, I want to believe that HE DOES.  Even though He hears the prayers of millions people dealing with great sorrows and huge needs like cancer and unemployment and abuses and loss, He hears the prayers of my small hopes, little wishes, and comparatively insignificant anticipations.  He promises to take care of my needs … and sometimes allows my wants.  He is so very good to me.  Ever present, always there.  OMNIPRESENT.

 

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The Weary World

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Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

This Christmas season I’ve been a little weary … told the kids not to expect much in the way of gifts … the budget is tight as usual.  My cranky reaction to all the cheerful Christmas preparation chatter at work had everyone labeling me as “the Grinch” and hoping that my heart would grow a few inches.  It’s just that Christmas fell on a Wednesday this year;  I have no vacation time left, so I had to work December 24 and 26 as well as December 31 and January 2.  I also switched schedules with a co-worker at my 2nd job, which meant I worked at the pharmacy not 1 Saturday in December but 2.  Time was short – money is short – my fuses were short.

mantle

Of course, in my self-talk, I determined we’d have a “simple Christmas,” after all, wasn’t the first Christmas just a family of 3, surrounded by a few animals.  Not traveling this year and being with just “us” with a couple of cats actually sounded just fine.

And it was.

tree

The tree was put up … and plenty of presents appeared under it!  Food was cooked and consumed.  Lots of movies were watched – and we spent some time outside as it was like 70 degrees on Christmas Day!  The Christmas story was proclaimed through a series of sermons at church – from the perspective of Zacharias and Elisabeth, Joseph, the shepherds, Mary, and finally, Simeon and Anna at the temple at the 8th day after Jesus’ birth.

ornament

New ornaments graced the tree:  one our pastor’s wife painted and one from our Texas mini-adventure after Thanksgiving.  (Read about that on my other blog:  Christkindl Markt in Arlington, TX.)

ornament 2

We bought a new tree topper this year – a beautiful angel, dressed in white.  Ironically, this occurred right after our pastor explained that he didn’t believe there were any female angels, and that our concept of little cherub-y angels was all wrong…but oh well, she sure is pretty!!

I love my “pretty” tree that has morphed into almost a blue-white-silver theme the last few years.  My husband prefers colored lights and a more “rustic” tree, so I accommodate him with a smaller tree that holds all the homemade ornaments from the kids over the years.

kids tree

And so, with 2020 clean and bright ahead of us, I can only hope and pray that “a new and glorious morn” will cheer us because – as I’ve mentioned previouslyEMMANUEL, God is with us.  Every day.  Especially on the world-weary days …

 

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27.

27 years on December 27, 2019.

wedding 92

As my friend (Melanie) stated (who also had a 27th on the 27th this year), if this were a birthday, it would be “golden”!

Our anniversary often gets lost in all the other holidays.  That’s what happens when you get married 2 days after Christmas – then add a baby in there 3 days BEFORE Christmas.  And smoosh everyone else in the family’s birthdays into a short time frame all around it.  And so, our anniversary goes by very much like our lives:  take care of everyone else, don’t overspend the budget, and by all means, be reasonable!  Boring?  A little.  But as the mantra for the years seem to be lately, it is what it is.

But the other thing our family is fairly good at is making the best of things.  Same goes with how we celebrated our anniversary this year.  My husband grew up mostly in SE Iowa and as a result is a devoted, life-long Hawkeyes fan.  The Hawkeye’s football team had a decent season this year and ended up in a bowl game … on … you guessed it … December 27th.  Football vs. Wife.  Truthfully, though, it doesn’t bother me.  My husband has very few hobbies or things he does for himself.

dan and conny

As per agreement, we celebrated our anniversary a day early and went out to dinner.  AND as per usual, we brought the girls along because kids gotta eat (Andrew is out of town right now).   Plus we had a gift certificate!!

anna and mims

I also got some pretty pink roses (one of my favorite flowers) brought to me at work.

roses

So, we spent our anniversary evening watching football together. AND the Hawkeyes gave us the gift of winning!

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2020: Words for the Year

I don’t often choose “words for the year” or even make resolutions.  I far too quickly forget them and feel terribly guilty when I realize how truly very little discipline I possess …

But recently, I have been struck with a remind that has lingered since the church service before Christmas when our pastor preached on it:

 

Immanuel 2

God with us … not only at Christmas, but daily.  In the mundane – at my job, washing dishes, dealing with people I don’t want to deal with, every moment.  Good, bad, and ugly!

And so, I am writing this down here, now, today so I will remember to practice the presence of Christ.

 

 

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