Sunday, 12 July 2020

Nature of Adversity

I doubt anyone appreciates how extensively human life has been thrown in turmoil, uncertainty and a sense of loss the past few months. I've certainly spent my share of days in a sort of numb awareness that has left me with little incentive, or even desire, to push forward with the zeal of the past. Energy has been at an all-time low and anxiety has been hard to suppress. My heart goes out to anyone who is feeling the same emotional stressors. I especially feel compassion and sorrow for all the children who have not been able to attend school where they can grow mentally, psychologically, socially or perhaps even physically during these days when most everyone is just waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I understand that no home life is perfect, many children are in more danger there than anyplace else. What happens to them will not even magnify itself until life gets back to a normalcy they can relate to. My biggest fear is that not all of them will be able to readjust because they were in such a fragile place when the chaos started.

My granddaughter, who will be 12 in September, spent the weekend with me. She's no longer interested in playing simple board games or watching Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake movies. She's also moved passed being able to spend hours playing with the dolls I've so painstaking created entire wardrobes for, or even the Shopkins' village and dolls that used to get me through hours of delightful time spent doing the things she loved. She no longer feels the need to snuggle up by my side while we read stories or watch movies designed for teens. She's even grown past the need to sleep with me at night. All that's perfectly normal and healthy for a preteen who is now more into friends, a cell phone, (And yes, I think she is way too young for internet access given what can be found on it.) writing stories, fixing her hair, playing games like Mindcraft, listening to her kind of music, spending time with her puppy and generally being a little moody.

But she still loves to talk, and I love to listen because I know she will tell me what is really bothering her if I don't shut her down too soon. She's very confused because she doesn't understand what happened to her usual life with school, church, specialized activities and the freedom to come and go as she wants without being afraid. In many ways, she's not like other children. She has social anxiety, along with several other disorders, that makes it hard for her to relate to other people, keep friends for an extended period of time, wear certain types of clothing, eat various kinds of foods, keep her emotions in check or even feel success at school because she can't sit still. Nonetheless, she wants to return to the classroom but knows she can't study and be around other people if she has to wear a mask. And  her parents can't homeschool, even if they felt they had the skills, because they both have to work to provide the necessities of life. It's quite a dilemma for a child to face.

That said, she's stuck in a place she doesn't want to be and is afraid Covid-19 and all the protesting, looting, destruction and murders of innocent people in the name of justice will never end. She's afraid of dying and not being able to accomplish the things she'd like to do. I can't say that I blame her. The effects of what has been happening the past few months will take years to mend and bring to the forefront issues we haven't even considered yet. I've gotten to a point where I can no longer listen to, or watch, mainline media news programming. It is completely slanted and takes away the spirit of peace, love for others and hope that makes my life worth living. While I doubt we will lose everything we value, so many of our freedoms have already been erased. I stand for God, country, family, peace, liberty and all the virtues and principles the Savior taught. I want to do my part in furthering his work. His second coming will be a glorious experience for those who survive the final destruction of a world that had chosen to forget who created it, and us, in the first place.

Along with general anxiety and not knowing what to do to help improve the situation because each word or action can be taken wrong, I have been going through a few minor difficulties of my own. I gave myself a mild concussion while gardening a few weeks ago. Talk about a massive headache that wouldn't go away! I had been working outside for over 4 hours and had just finished mowing the lawn. As I often do, I was spreading the cut clippings around my plants in the garden. It helps fertilize and keep the weeds down. Well, I had my arms filled and wasn't watching where I was going. My toe caught on something, and I reached for the closest object to keep from falling - a wire tomato cage. I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened next because those cages cannot support a human's weight. With my arms flailing in the air and the grass clippings flying, I went down, and it wasn't a soft fall. I broke off part of the tomato plant and bent the round cage into almost parallel lines. But it didn't stop there. The side of my face struck the upright boards that separated the strawberries from the rest of my garden. The crack was hard, the pain dizzying, but I didn't lose consciousness. Fortunately, I didn't mess up my eye or break my jaw as could so easily have happened.

When I finally got to my feet, there wasn't a part of my head that didn't hurt and the goose egg on my cheekbone quadrupled during the next few hours. It took several days for all the bruises to appear and several weeks before I could think straight again. I was just starting to feel like myself when I got up on Thursday morning of this past week and couldn't stand up without pain. I don't know what I did to my left knee, but I still can't lift my foot over two inches off the floor without incredible agony. But I'm determined to get through this latest setback, like I did with my head, without seeing a doctor. Unfortunately, the fun just keeps coming. When I woke up this morning, both of my eyes were nearly swollen shut. I was having a sever allergic reaction to something. They look like two, tiny slits in my face. On the bright side, my garden is flourishing.  I've been given summer squash and cucumbers away, and it looks like I'll have a bumper crop of pumpkins this year. I'll be picking beans and peas in the next couple of weeks.

But even with the minor adversities I've had to endure recently, I know I've been blessed. I have a dear friend in Branson, Missouri who couldn't go back to work because of the virus, and then her boss decided to shut down his entire theater. The place where she was living was part of her salary, so she lost both her home and her job in one day. She has no family, no reserve income, no insurance and no prospects for work. She finally found a friend who would let her live in a room in the motel she ran. So my friend boxed up what she most treasured and put it in storage. She left everything else for whomever decided to take it. The week she moved into the motel room, she ended up in the hospital hardly able to breathe. It wasn't Covid-19, but she had fluid in her lungs among other things.

Once the doctor got enough fluid out, he found a huge, inoperable lump in her chest - not breast cancer - but cancer nonetheless. When she called me from the hospital, where she was still trying to recover from the first illness, to tell me what she'd just learned she was rightfully distressed. She felt she had nothing left to live for. I gave her what encouragement I could from a distance and she started chemo therapy. (I haven't been through that, but I have family members and friends who have.) When I talked to her a couple of day ago, her hair was falling out and the doctor wanted to add something more to the cocktail she was getting. She's back in her motel room now with a few friends around who are willing to bring her food. The manager took out one of the beds and put in a couch so it would feel more like home, and one of her friends took her to church last Sunday. She said it was where she needed to be. She has an uphill battle ahead, but for now, she's still fighting.

The above are just three examples of adversity that may, or may not, relate to what you are going through right now. The challenges we'll have put in our paths will be different, but with God's help we'll make it through, regardless of the outcome. I trust my Heavenly Father. I always have, even during times when I thought I couldn't go on. But I have to believe that no matter the difficulty, there is a way to survive and even thrive. There is definitely something to learn. My heart is filled with gratitude for people who do so many unselfish things for me and who allow me to do what I can in return. We are all God's children. There should be no division between us. When we meet our maker again, whether or not we believe we have one, there will be an accountability. I want to be standing where I should be when that time comes.


Thursday, 11 June 2020

Still Struggling

Like most everyone I know, I'm still trying to come to terms with all that's been happening throughout the world the past few months. I may not be very outgoing, but I'm generally an upbeat and positive person who feels peaceful inside because I know who I am, why I am here, and where I will be going when this mortal experience is over. I feel calm and basically in charge of my own destiny because I know how to make difficult decisions, stand by myself if necessary and move on after debilitating experiences. I like to look for the good in others, praise accomplishments and mourn with those who are in pain.

But I'm beginning to see life through a different color of lens and that frightens me. I listen to a few minutes of local news, but I'm tired of letting the national media, that is owned and operated by powerful entities with their own agendas, tell me what to think about and how I should react to what is being covered. I taught journalism and radio and television production for twenty years and know the power of the media when it comes to influencing the daily lives of the people it's supposed to represent. While I believe that most of the newscasters are trying to do their jobs in an honorable way, I also know that they are being told which stories to air and which ones to avid. That gives the public a very slanted view of what is really going on in our world. As consumers of information, we shouldn't be afraid to look at alternate sources of enlightenment. Violence, unrest, injustice and everything reprehensible will always propel the news, but that's only because society has become so desensitized that only something truly awful will capture our interest.

That said, I feel genuine sorrow for all people have lost through illness, death, livelihoods, injustice and the downright diabolical intents of people who believe they can get away with anything. But mostly, I remain silent because far too many individuals are blasting out, protesting, and rioting against people and situations before the entire story is known. We do have a right to be heard, but we also have the responsibility to do so lawfully and with all the facts. Too much damage is being done to the masses who have yet to make their wishes and desires known.  My belief is that a hatred, violence and demands made in moments of heated arousal will not solve anything. Only linking arms and moving forward in unity and love for everyone will bring about the the kind of change that will help our planet survive for a few more years. That takes time, the ability to listen and sort through information and the resolve to stay the course of liberty and justice for ALL when things get tough.

I finally got to attend church for the first time in almost three months on Sunday. In some ways, it was a very different experience because things were done differently to help protect others. It was hard wearing a mask and not being able to sit by, or converse more openly with, people I've known and loved for a number of years. But I needed the strength that came from worshiping with others and renewing covenants I had made with my Savior. What a tragedy it would be if we allowed any more of the freedoms our founding fathers worked so hard to protect to be lost. That's so important during an election year when the public will decided which of the men and women running for local, state and federal offices will best represent personal beliefs, wants and desires.

America has always been the land of the free, but I have no doubt that forces are at work to destroy what most of us have always taken for granted. I've been watching the latest developments of the DayBell and Vallow case that has unfolded the past few days just two houses away from where I raised my children in Salem, Idaho. How two people could be responsible for the deaths of a brother, a former husband, a wife and two innocent children is beyond my ability to comprehend, but it is just another proof that evil is rampant everywhere and we need to remember that our country was founded under God's direction. Without his guidance and protection, we will lose what others have given their all to protect. My message right now is for each of us to decide where we stand, how much of what we're being told we're willing accept, and what we're willing to do to preserve the freedoms we love. Someday, each of us will account for the part we played in what was going on around us.


Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Down Days

I was having one of those days yesterday when introspection became too much. I've been having a lot of those lately. I suppose many of you have been feeling the same way. Listening to the news and feeling so helpless and out-of-control can have a negative effect on most anyone. So I decided to try a technique I have not used for a long time to see if I could get the root of my troubles. They include no energy, inability to focus, lack of interest in much of anything besides chocolate, the need to berate myself for everything I do and the desire to take a nap most every day. That's not like me, but times are different right now, and as members of a global society we've been forced to think about things that have never been part of our lives before. I decided to share what I learned because I don't have what it takes to do anything more useful than that right now.

I went to the dentist this morning with a toothache. After an hour in the chair trying to do a root canal, the dentist figured out that the tooth had cracked close to the roots and would have to be removed. After close to thirty shots in my very sensitive mouth because my tooth refused to deaden, he finally got it out two hours later. Since I can't afford implants it's another partial bridge for me. Maybe this will help with the diet I've been considering for the past five years because now I will have one bridge on each side and they make eating many foods impossible. I just took my first pain pill and will start taking the antibiotic when I can drink something more than water.

We all have fun experiences like that make us glad we have dentists who can help, even if it's one of the last places we ever want to be. Anyway, back to why I decided to write something today. I think I've mentioned a type of therapy where a person writes what the problem is with the dominant hand and then answers it with the non-dominant one. Any part of the inner self can be addressed: spiritual self, inner child, childhood friend. You just need to figure out who might have the answer because everything we need to now about ourselves is there. We just have to learn how to access the information. If you think it all sounds silly, that's okay. I'm only sharing because it works for me. It's a little tricky to read what I've written with my left hand, but it's manageable and has taught me a lot.

Here's how I began. Sometime I have to be a little blunt to get the process going: Dear Inner Self, I don't know where all the anger, self-loathing and lack of focus is coming from. I've tried so hard to stay closer to God, but I seem to have hit a roadblock that is dragging all the life and energy out of me. I can't write. I'm tired all the time. I have nothing to look forward to, and I have no idea what value I am to anyone. I need clarity to move forward. What is driving me to hate myself so much and not be able to see any good? I can't even rejoice over other's success or open my heart to anyone in pain. I seem to have forgotten who I am, and I'm scared of never feeling peace again. What is wrong with me and what can I do to change?

My answer, and it was very difficult to read: Stop punishing yourself for things beyond your control. Most everyone is feeling the same right now. Satan's forces are moving around at lightening speed, and they want you to feel helpless, alone and afraid. They know all your thoughts are turned inward and you won't have the energy to oppose their subtle suggestions. Nor will you have the strength to do any good. Few people produce real change or become truly extraordinary. They only live and let live and do all the positive they can. They feel content with the small beauties God has provided - sun, flowers, family and a few loyal friends. They feel all the raw emotions that come with being human, and most of them aren't noble or endearing to the masses. Pain is real and so is self-doubt. The adventure is to work through it and regroup when you get to the other side. Triggers to negative thoughts can't always be determined, but the pain can be eased if acknowledged and accepted. It doesn't mean a person is bad, just human. 

Accept God's love, mercy and compassion. Know he is real. Let him help shoulder your burdens when  you no longer have the strength left. In another week, month or year you will be on track again and perhaps even understand. But don't beat yourself up if you don't. Just try to do one thing each day that helps you serve or connect to others. Love yourself, and even if you are feeling really down make yourself smile and then listen to or do something that makes you happy. Count your blessings and not your flaws. Understand that this experience isn't the real you. It is just something that is happening to you and will go away if you allow yourself to grieve, scream, cry or even throw something invaluable if you have to. But never give up. Brighter days will come. Anger will recede. You'll start moving around with more purpose, peace will fill your soul and you will feel happy and worthwhile again.

That's it. Some of the thoughts are disjoined but they make sense to me, and the exercise helped. I feel much more positive today. That said, I'm no therapist. I'm simply a suffering member of the human race and know that everyone needs a little help at times. That's why I try to stay connected to all the parts of me. I especially enjoy getting to know the little girl inside. She's quite delightful with a witty edge who isn't afraid to tell me what she really thinks. I wish she would come out to play more often. I miss her and want to be more like she is again.

But it's time to start another disagreeable project. I have a leak in the water facet inside the wall in my basement and have to find a plumber who won't try to overcharge me. I may be a woman alone who isn't supposed to know anything, but I have learned a few things over the years. Hope you've had a tranquil and productive day. The pain killer I took for my tooth a couple of hours ago is really doing its job. I'm not feeling much of anything. Maybe I'll close my eyes for a few minutes before finding something nutritious to drink. No solids for the next day or two.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

My way to say Thank You

Need a break from your new reality? Three FREE books from family, adventure and romance author JS Ririe available Thursday, Friday and Saturday - May 21, 22 and 23 at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv.

     I know these past few months have been hard for all of us. I've certainly gone through my own share of feeling unable to move forward, but it's nice to know that life is staring to feel more normal again, and I wanted to do something to celebrate. That's why I'm hosting my biggest giveaway yet. Join Brylee Hawkins in Indecision’s FlameLost and Exposed (Kindle version) as she returns to her childhood home in the wild Australian Outback to confront her estranged father about the part he played in destroying her life. Standing face to face, she soon discovers that the painful truth she has clung to was not an actual depiction of events as they transpired. Her story will provide hours of relaxation, rejuvenation and a little soulful insight.
     And don’t forget that the conclusion to the Reagan Sinclair, FBI saga - Welcome Redemption - is now available. It was quite a challenge to write, but I'm happy with the results and the beautiful cover. You'll have to check it out on my website and let me know what you think. I'd also love to hear any stories you may have about true heroism during this strange time. I know I've seen some awe inspiring examples.
     All my books are suitable for teens and available for free to members of Kindle Unlimited. Happy reading everyone and may the joy return to your hearts!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

New Beginnings

I've been leaving my home the past couple of weeks. I haven't gone far - but it's been enough to see how much the world I've become accustomed to has changed the past few months. I planned carefully for my first excursion into what seemed like a great abyss beyond the four walls of my home and the yard I have been so carefully tending. I've been watching the news like everyone else, trying to weigh what I was being told, and promising myself that I would do whatever the people in charge thought was prudent so I wouldn't become part of the problem. I counted down the days until my prescriptions ran out, sewed a number of masks from heavy flannel left over from baby quilts and doll clothes I had been making for my granddaughter, and then got up before dawn the last Tuesday morning in April so I could make it to Walmart during the time specified for seniors. The sun was just starting to rise beyond the horizon when I pulled into the parking lot and put on the uncomfortable and unaccustomed mask we had been told to wear.  I wanted to be brave enough to enter the building without it, but after seven weeks of staying at home because of age and underlying health conditions, I decided to remain cautious.

I was met at the entrance to the building by a young man in a similar mask who asked if I was over sixty. When I told him I was, he stepped aside and let me enter. Few people were in the store, but I still hurried to the pharmacy and picked up what I had come for. Then I walked up and down a few of the aisles, often missing the arrows that told me which way I was supposed to be going, and began filling my cart with some of the things I had run out of during the weeks I had refrained from shopping. I felt moments of alarm when some of the items I needed were already gone and felt as if I was part of some horror movie when others looked away or ducked their heads instead of saying something welcoming and friendly like they usually did. I kept asking myself why something we were supposed to be in together was pulling us so far apart. By the time I left, I was nearly in tears. This wasn't the world I had known before, and I didn't want to live like this.

I know many of you have felt the same way as you've struggled to make sense of an almost unbelievable situation that has brought so much sorrow, concern and near terror and has plunged the economy of numerous countries into a downward spiral that won't be easy to stop or restore. It isn't fun to step from the known and acceptable into the turmoil we now face as members of the human race, but it can be done once step at a time. I discovered that for myself as I went to Walmart for a second time last week and then branched out by going to a local market. I spoke to everyone who would look at me, even though I could scarcely breathe through the cumbersome mask and my glasses were a little foggy. I knew I couldn't do anything to stop what was happening, but I couldn't let fear, doubt and uncertainty control me any longer. I could still brighten someone's day by being kind and cheerful and letting them know that I appreciated the service they were willing to give.

Perplexing questions still fill my mind, but I feel more confident about getting on with my life now. The valves underneath the sink in my guest bathroom began to leak - saturating every towel and roll of toilet paper I had stored underneath the cabinet - before I realized what was happening. I took pictures of the the problem and went to Lowe's to get what I needed so my son could fix the problem last Friday. I even went back the next day to get a cap so the pipe in the basement wall would quit dripping, and today I went to see the doctor for my semi-annual checkup. Those may sound like simple things, but sometimes baby steps are all we can take when trying to move into a new reality.  It isn't easy to be interrogated upon entering a building, have your temperature taken, or be given a mask to wear if you don't already have one, but most of the people making the rules are simply doing the best they can to help protect others. I believe everyone has the right to make his or her own decisions, but I choose to look out for the people around me. I know I'm not contagious, but the severity of my allergies can raise a few eyebrows when I cough, sneeze or blow my nose. I don't want anyone feeling unsafe around me.

But through all of this, the greatest changes for me have come from within as I've spent additional time reflecting on what is most important in my life: family, faith, friends, a work to do that has value, discovering more about my posterity and listening with real intent to others. I've learned to rely on God and my Savior to give clarity to unanswerable questions.  I've experienced the solace and peace of mind that comes with additional prayer, scripture study and filling my home with uplifting music. I've spent more time working in my yard, putting scrapbook pages together and taking care of mending that never gets done. I've looked for ways I can reach out to others who might need someone to lean on. I've baked treats for others, made it a point to speak to every neighbor when I see them and try to reflect on what Christ would do if he was walking in my shoes.

I don't know what the future is going to bring. It might be different from anything we have known before, but that shouldn't stop us from loving and caring for each other. Even if it is awkward and uncomfortable since we're supposed to be practicing social distancing, we still need to be friendly, kind, patient and accommodating when we can. The part I play in this world may be small, but I intend to do what I can to make it a better place. I can hardly wait until congregations can worship together again, children can return to school and so many people no longer have to worry about going hungry, losing their homes or their lives or being afraid. I know God is with those of us who turn to him. His arms are ever open to help and guide us, and he will bring peace of mind and daily protection from things that will bring us harm. A little soulful reflection can be a very good thing.


Thursday, 23 April 2020

Welcome Redemption

WELCOME REDEMPTION!!! After months of intense work, I am more than thrilled to announce the conclusion of Reagan Sinclair’s story in both print and digital format at https://amzn.to/2BXNSdv It’s probably been the hardest book I’ve ever written but also the most insightful. I’m sure part of that has to do with the struggles we’ve all been having the past few weeks worrying about things that have never been considered before. I hope this story helps you feel less alone and more hopeful as you read about one woman’s struggle to overcome hardships she never anticipated. I feel rather odd releasing it during such a troubling time but can only say that it's been my lifeline the past few weeks spending hours each day rewriting, modifying and editing the story so it would be a fitting conclusion to her story about life, loss, joy, decisions and moving forward during times of trials and overwhelming feelings of helplessness. 

I’ve felt that way so often the past few weeks as I've been homebound with too much time to think. I finally had to limit my watching the news to an hour or less a day. It's too easy to get caught up in things that only God can control right now, and it's made me value my trust and faith in his goodness, protection and love more than ever. Despite being physically separated from the people I love, it's made me think more about them and how I can reach out with words of encouragement and support. I was cleaning a closet yesterday - something I really have to be down to do - and came across a box of photos and other assorted things that caused me to reflect on people who have been gone for many years. I searched my mind for everything I could remember about them, even something so silly as the color of the house they lived in, what they liked to eat or the fact that one of them drove down a busy San Francisco street on Sunday on her way to a card game with two of her grand-nieces in the back seat. I was young and one of them.

I decided I would take a little time to put together a sort of scrapbook with pictures and what I could remember about the people in them written  down. I'm not artistic that way, but I know that once I'm gone no one in my family will know anything about them. What I remember is limited, but it's the only thing I have left to offer them. I'm so grateful for the gifts they gave to me about being strong in the face of adversity and committing with all they had to what they valued most. My great grandparent's on my mother's, mother's side were sent to eastern Idaho to help colonize the area. They lived in a dugout in the side of the mountain with only a heavy tarp hung in front of the entrance to keep the cold, wind, rain and snow out for many months until they were able to construct a log home with no electricity or plumbing. I'm not sure I could have done it.

Perhaps part of the sadness I feel comes from losing a very dear friend to Covid-19 last month. We might all be in this together, but we have very different parts to play. Mine might only be to stay at home so I won't become part of the problem, but I can use that time more wisely. I'm so glad the weather has finally warmed up. I've spent over 4 hours each of the past 4 days working in my yard edging flowerbeds, pulling weeds, mowing lawn and all the other things that have to do with helping the world reawaken in the spring. There's tons more to do, but I love to see new growth as I greet each day. It helps me remember that we are not alone. Our lives are meant to be filled with purpose, joy and hope. I want mine to reflect something more than being upset over things I cannot change. I pray for everyone throughout the world who is struggling right now and give daily thanks for those who are sacrificing so much in keeping commitments they have made to careers that put them in a place of danger. May God bless each of you and your precious families as you meet each new day with the courage, faith and determination to make it count. And if you'd like to read something that will help you forget about your struggles for a few minutes, I'd love to read your comments about any of the books I've written. They may not be perfect, but they are from my heart. Those with Kindle Unlimited can read anything I've written for free. Stay safe today and know you are loved.

Friday, 27 March 2020

A New Nomal

I haven’t written anything the past few weeks. Like so many of you with age and health-related conditions that plunge me right into the highest risk group, I’ve felt completely inadequate, and even a little selfish, just staying in my home so I won’t become part of the problem. I listen to the news and pray for others who have medical knowledge and are putting their lives on the line to help those who have become infected. I marvel at the bravery and selflessness of first responders, truck drivers, government officials, church leaders and people still working in stores, restaurants, pharmacies and industry so our lives can go on in what has been termed a new kind of normal. They are providing the necessities of life to those who are trying to follow the rules and guidelines so this terrible virus can reach its peak and subside. I look in awe at others who are finding creative ways to help and keep in contact with family, neighbors and friends and wish I was more of an extrovert who had invited additional people into my life before this whole thing began. I feel sorrow and concern for those who are unemployed or have lost loved ones.

It is a scary and depressing situation. People are going through an unprecedented range of emotions, but there is no one person to blame. I keep praying for insight and the ability to know what I can do to help as I paint walls, polish floors and clean out cupboards as a way to keep my mind from wandering or spending too much time glued to one of our many forms of technology. Nothing happened until a few minutes ago when I was working on the last few chapters of my next book. As I was trying to set my main characters up for the grand finale of the entire series, I began to see that what I was writing had direct relevance for me. Maybe right now isn’t my time to shine or become anyone’s hero. Maybe I’m supposed to be taking these days and weeks to discover who I am at present and what it will take for me to become the woman God intended for me to be all along. I’ve always resisted moving out of my comfort zone unless something forced me to do so.

We are just seeing the first wave of the destruction this pandemic is going to bring. But becoming overly discouraged, fearing the future or shouting out our beliefs about injustice and who is making what mistakes isn’t going to help. It’s time to face both our strengths and our weaknesses and decide what we’re able and willing to do once all the bans have been lifted. Who will require our help then, and what can we be doing now to prepare to meet those needs? It will be an individual decision for each of us. But regardless of what others may be lacking, and our inability to help others - even then - we can always offer hope, love and friendship.

And when we are feeling weak, we can look into the faultless, blue sky when it isn’t raining and know that we are not alone. God will bring us through this a stronger and more compassionate people if we put our trust in Him. Quiet acts of kindness, and the willingness to put our own needs aside as we look into someone else’s heart, will get us through the difficult days that still lay ahead. I hope I will be ready when the time for the kind of service I can give comes again. What about you?