It is 4:29 in the morning and gratefully I am awake after five hours of sleep. God usually whispers “Come with me” at this time. This morning He and I will discuss the COVID-19 vaccination. Again. Our appointment is at 8:15. Today is the day. We comply with the government’s request to take this preventive measure.
No, I am not sure about this.
Our household of three had COVID in December of 2020. Of the three of us, I am the one with lasting side effects. My eyesight was weakened. I am also the one whose immune system and health history make me more vulnerable to take anything “experimental”.
For me the more the government pushes this vaccine the more I hesitate. Why?
Simple, no one can be trusted to speak the truth. Certainly not Dr. Falsely. (Misspelling intended). Nor the CDC or WHO. Neither can government officials. My own health care providers listen to my concerns and reply with the same assurances. Like every one is reading the same cue card. The risk is minimal, take the vaccine.
By nature I am a rule keeper. But, this time I am unsure. Let’s be frank, the whole COVID experience is fraught with too many questions and too few answers.
For all those assuring me the risks are minimal I wearily reply that they themselves have no idea what it is like to be in that small percentage. I do.
Herd mentality is aggressively pushing us to shut up and take the shot, get in line again and take it again. Oh, and be prepared to repeat the process in six months to a year. Wear a mask, wear two no three masks! How selfish to even think about non-compliance. I am not prepared to be an obedient cow on this. Are you?
What I am sure about is God not allowing evil to prevail. I am confident He knows the future and that He will walk me through whatever the outcome of this vaccine is for me. I am reminded that the moments and minutes I live and breathe right now at 5:18 in the morning are miraculous. I have been on the literal edge of death before and God chose to spare me for this morning.
He is trustworthy. By His very nature He is not a liar. When that needle slides into my arm later this morning I am sure that my Heavenly Father loves me and is with me. Plus, if He does not want me to take the shot He will clearly show me this too.
As much as I do not want to get political on this blog much in me longs to speak my truth, my perspective on a few things.
I am in mourning. Grief is again a daily companion. Since COVID hit, the pitiful displays of all areas of leadership, the loss of lives, the riots, peaceful riots turned anything but and the hatred tangible in our streets I have mourned the loss of America. It has stirred within me, its jagged edges bringing forth blood. It has wrapped its tentacles around my heart and threatens to drown me in vileness. With the future in question, (Would we even live through it?) there seemed no safe place but the arms of God. And my belief in Him could cost me my life and the lives of my family. How do I walk away from the core of my existence?
In my artistic eye I have a vision of a neglected graveyard where the headstones mark the icons that bring America to mind. I hope to turn it into a multi-medium painting. Meanwhile, as I emerge from grief and shock my question is, “What now”?
How do we salvage America? As our enemies foreign and domestic are circling like we are now the greatest feast ever in life?
Where are our leaders set aside by God already to lead us? Have people of good moral character, honesty and trustworthiness already passed from this planet? The lack of decent government at all levels is apparent. Even in our small town our mayor has been arrested for ethic violations and our city council does not have its populations needs on their radar.
People are believing what the all to powerful media “reports” even when lies and cover-ups are exposed in their own coverage. They are arrogant in their spread of false and misinformation. Journalism has become at the least a joke but truthfully a disgrace to their forefathers in the field. A thorn in America’s flesh. This group keeps doing what they do because the majority enjoys wading in the stench as it suits their agendas.
Hope is a bubble in my heart. Healing is a possibility but it will come at a personal cost for each of us. Our forgiving those who have hurt, threatened to harm, whose perspectives and beliefs are opposite of our own. We have to give up the idea of forcing people to behave in the way we want. Most of all we have to admit where we are drowning in a flood that we caused by dancing the rain dance recklessly. We can be a better America than what we are now. Who is with me?
“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
For the first time ever in 57 years I looked at a picture of myself and liked it. On top of that when those negative comments in my head mumbled the first word I shut them down. Yes, I can see this is not representative of beauty by the world’s standard but I decided to give myself a break.
This picture and my enjoying it takes back the shame of having to give up my front row seat to the doctor’s daughter because of their financial and social standings. It soothed the embarrassment of having to pretend I could not read because the teacher said my mother taught me wrong.
It replaces those feelings of “not good enough” when I was teased and even targeted to be shamed because of my weight. All the doctors who misdiagnosed me for over 40 years.
This picture closed the wounds of an abusive childhood that lead to my amputation.
For every Human Resources Director who told me they were sorry but they thought my skills were a perfect match to a job they could not hire me because they had to hire someone in another race category. While I added in my mind, “And fat.” This picture let that go.
My heart has carried so much for 57 years. I let God have it. Finally. I was not ashamed to give it to Him.
Yes, I looked at this woman pictured with her husband of twenty-four years, and gave her a break. I let her roll away from underneath all that baggage.
The woman in this picture deserves a real life for she has fought for it in ways very few know. Only she and God know and with one picture years were returned to her.
Not to say today will not have its own pain, struggles, victories. Jesus never promised life as a believer would be easy.
That is okay. More than okay. The me in this picture deserves to live the life that comes to her.
Often, I can hear God laughing at me. You know those kind of times, right? When I make my own decision, my own declaration and I sound like an over-indulged, spoiled person instead of the Daughter of the King, the Lord God Almighty.
A couple of Sunday’s ago our church began a witnessing focus where we were encouraged to pray for the one person God put on our hearts to pray for. Specifically for them to come to know Christ in a personal relationship. First, I confess I prayed and thought, “Okay, I am good. No one…”
Then God whispered a name. I groaned. Right there in church I literally groaned and began to argue with the Lord.
This particular person is someone I have prayed for on and off until last year for about a decade. Some things he has done there is pictorial evidence of. About a year ago he was arrested for allegedly physically abusing his young son. Understand this, at that point my heart was too hurt (knowing quite well the child involved as well as his other children) to keep the praying going.
God never said, “Donna you can stop”. I think He understood all the circumstances and gave me a brief reprieve. Now, this man’s name was being whispered in my ear.
“Are you sure that’s You, Lord? I mean, You know what this man has done. And IT IS CHILD ABUSE GOD. Surely You do not mean I have to start praying for him again?”
Again his name echoed in my heart.
Then the best argument against my praying for this one man I had, I thought. “But God, I do not think having me pray for him is in his best interest. All I’ve wanted to do for a year is smack the man upside his head with my big stick.”
For the third time God repeated His request.
I knew if I wanted to be in God’s will in this I was going to have to follow through with what God wanted. Around the lump in my throat (all those excuses/reasons I had to not pray for this young man) I submitted.
After day one I have not had any resentment praying for this guy. I do not recount his sins even those against people I love. Proof God is in this praying.
God is still laughing about the big stick though. (It is two 1/2″ dowel rods duck taped together at the end of one against the end of the other. I use it daily to reach things I can not get to from my wheelchair. Like the light switch.)
Let’s be honest. Christian or not, it is not easy to pray for people who you perceive as a threat to you, your family, your faith or your way of life. Sometimes our perceptions are wrong. Sometimes it is the result of realities.
Finishing up my prayer time and Bible study time with God in these wee small hours of the morning and beginning to pray for another person it was hard to submit to doing, I hear God laughing. “Have we not been in this particular conversation before?”
“Well, yes God and I will do as You have asked. But, God, I do still have my big stick”.
Our nieces and nephews are a great source of love, comfort and joy for their funcle (fun uncle) and I. On a recent occasion we were together one of eight-year-old nieces was in a mood. She was hot. She was cold. Her hair should be up, no she wanted it down. Why was the drive taking so long? Why were we there so quickly? She was finding little happiness in anything.
I called her over and gave her a huge hug. Kissed her forehead and said, “Now what’s going on with you Miss Moody?” Nothing. No reply.
I told her, “I see something has you unhappy and I’m sorry. I just want you to know you are the apple of my eye.” From her face hidden on my shoulder she peeked up at me.
“Oh, he’s the orange,” I said.
She popped up and grinned. “The orange?”
She sat back down a happier child. Proceeded to eat her seven shrimp and five of mine, plus a piece of broccoli from her funcle’s plate. All her crankiness did not melt away but she giggled more and lunch was a happier experience for us all.
I understood how she felt. How often do I feel the need to feel God’s arms holding me and hear Him tell me He loves me? All the time. On this day whatever had our niece in mood was set right by the reminder she was extra special to me. She is extra special. Everyone of our nine nieces and nephews are special to us. We love the love and joy they bring to us and we try to give them love and joy too.
Today, look up to God and ask Him for a hug and reminder of how much He loves you. There is no shame in asking for what you need. Then pray about the person in your life that needs the same reminder from you.
Way back in March of this year my husband and I had been planning a small getaway to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. Right at the time COVID-19 was causing shutdowns, back-ups in medical care and my husband became deathly ill. Prior to this it had been nine years since we took a “vacation” and fourteen since we went anywhere just the two of us.
My husband grew up in Knoxville and his mother, sister and her family still live there. His mother had just recently had knee replacement surgery and this was one of multiple hospital stays for various reasons in the last few years. We both felt it was important he see her. Plus it had been fourteen years since we saw her.
We talked about our missed getaway and decided to tack it onto our trip to Knoxville. Then, yes, we went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Yes, we dared travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. I assure you, it’s possible if you plan ahead and are prepared to practice safety measures in the area you are in at that time.
First, lots of people criticized Tennessee for reopening too soon. As a state and from what we witnessed, the citizens are taking COVID-19 seriously. All but one movie theatre was closed. Many fast food restaurants had their indoor dining closed but drive-thru’s were doing a brisk business. Eat-in restaurants operate under limited seating and capacity. All business, including any based on food service, had limited hours they were open.
The one open movie theater afforded us a delightful experience. A movie on a true big screen with complete surround sound. Cinemark, the theater that was open, had some seriously preventive measures going on to stop the spread of COVID-19.
First, there is great encouragement to purchase tickets online and choose your seats. They in turn blocked off all other seating within six feet of you. You run the risk of not being able to sit together with the people you come with or getting tickets at all if you show up and purchase tickets at the time of the movie showing.
Second, movie times were staggered so people from one movie weren’t waiting for concessions, even six feet apart, at the same time. People weren’t just hanging around in the lobby either.
Third, Cinemark had some serious sanitary equipment in operation between movies, before opening and at closing. (And their seats are the big cushy recliners with a heat feature.)
Fourth, facial masks were required, social distancing mandated.
Fifth, concession prices were lowered.
We ourselves always followed the requirements for safety on this trip. But, not one time did we have to wait to enter a store, even at 50% capacity. We did have to wait outside for a table at two restaurants. We took extra sanitary precautions in our hotel room and kept our hands to ourselves going through lobbies. We also didn’t go in anywhere that we didn’t have a real reason to go. We had a bottles of hand sanitizer in our car, my purse and our hotel room.
We drove into the mountains and were amazed at the fall foliage. To witness the change of seasons after being shut up inside our home for seven months was like seeing it for the first time in our lives. Shopping was limited to outlet stores for specific items and there was no extra “just looking”. One of our great treats was from Ben and Jerry’s, we had the best tasting ice cream because we had it outside at a little table where no one got to close. The traffic, which is legendary in this area, wasn’t that bad either, as if the 50% capacity applied to traffic as well.
We left Tennessee much re-energized and more relaxed than when we left home. We’d done it. Managed a sweet, brief trip on our own schedule. Back home all of the realities were waiting. I for one, find myself allowing my creative side to have more freedom. Inspired by the colors, the people, the sights and the sounds my senses rediscovered.
If you’re thinking of a getaway or a vacation as a couple or as a family/group you have to be smart about it. Don’t go to any place with known issues. (Recent outbreaks, riots, upswing in crime.) Go to places where measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Follow those requirements. Know where you’re staying, how it’s cleaned, keep your hands to yourself and be prepared to take precautions on your own. (Wipe down surfaces with a disinfectant for example, in your hotel room.) But, if you can’t go without stressing over COVID-19 then I’d say stay home. You won’t have a good time if you can’t get past the possibility of a crazy virus being near you.
If you can travel and plan ahead to be extra careful I suggest going for it. I would avoid some areas like New York City though.
Recently I was blessed to be able to go to a local retailer. For the last year with COVID-19, my husband’s health crisis and all the details around them including my mobility issues, getting out to do anything is a huge treat. On this exploration I found a unique tree that stirred my imagination.
Yes, it’s a Christmas tree. Yes, all the branches are pointed downwards and fluffed outward. Yes, it’s a silver wire sparkled up half of a dress form. Yes, it has angel wings. Yes, she’s leaning to one side. Yes, that’s it’s name, Lighted Angel Tree.
I have for years made angels without faces because the Bible tells us to be careful because we often entertain angels unaware of who they are.
“Do not forget to entertain strangers; for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing.”
Hebrews 13:2, New International Version, 1973, 1978, The Zondervan Corporation.
My angels also always have a gift in their hands because no angel comes into our lives without some gift. But, I never make them without a head. They may be bald, yet never headless.
About an hour and a half later we went to see Coco. The story line was valuable. Remembering who you come from, your ancestors, has real value in helping you decide on your present life. Sometimes what we think we want, or who we want it from lacks all or most of the truth. Those blind spots can kill a dream. Or open up a door you never thought possible.
I was also struck by the colors. Bright, neon colors in the land for those who have passed away from this life and are still remembered where they because their business in this life is finished. If they go unremembered, eventually they fade completely. These beings live in a fantasy like world in amazingly colorful homes, clothes, spirit guides and the city itself is like a Christmas present on steroids with color, fireworks and color, so much color, patterns and textures.
Many thoughts entered my mind. One query I felt compelled to resolve was what kind of topper would you put on a silver angel tree with wings and no head?
A big red bow?
A big silver bow?
Rudolph’s red nose?
A face mask?
Silver or gold star?
Purple and gold star?
A rainbow striped unicorn horn?
This is no traditional holiday tree. It made me laugh initially. Later, as I pondered the topper situation, I laughed even more. Yes, the head of a lovely woman, even in silver, with a halo would be quite acceptable. But, expected. A less traditional form of that would be a wig stand, in silver, with a golden halo.
There’s also a top hat hung recklessly on the neck. Maybe add a cane and she might pass as a Rockette from the tinsel tree era.
Sometimes we ourselves have great ideas but we leave something vital out of the execution of it. Paul wrote something that reminds me of this situation. Saul, before he became Paul, had spent incredible energy on trying to rid the world of Christians. After his own conversion to Christianity he wrote:
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect. No I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (Emphasis mine.)
1 Corinthians 15:9-10 New International Version of the Bible, 1973, 1978, The Zondervan Corporation.
Maybe you’ll never design a headless body form as a Christmas tree leaving the rest of us to try and figure out what topper to put on it. Hopefully you’ll never try to eliminate Christians because you expect everyone to agree with you and your point-of-view. Yet we all make mistakes. We all need grace.
Mistakes sometimes mean you didn’t intend to do what you did. It was an accident. And sometimes it’s a mistake where you made a choice and you chose wrong. “But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect.”
Now you have a choice. Do you dull down your bright colors, flatten your presence out by being safe and believing you’re living in the grace of God? I challenge you though to consider how God’s grace in making you was “…NOT WITHOUT EFFECT”. You are who you are, flaws, mistakes and all.
“In his great mercy he has give us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or face—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
I1 Peter 1:3b-5, New International Version, 1973, 1978, The Zondervan Corporation.
God needs serious thinkers, humorous people, creative people, He needs people from every part of humanity. His grace allows us to be His effective witness to a world muddy and nasty with wrong, with sin.