Living with Covid 19

Remember the first Jurassic Park movie? My favorite part of the movie was the conversation between Henry Wu and Dr. Ian Malcolm. Mr. Wu stated that the Jurassic Park scientists controlled the chromosomes assigned to dinosaurs and they could not breed on their own. Dr. Malcolm responds with, “Life…uh…finds a way.” And of course, Dr. Malcolm was right.

A similar comment could be made about the Coronavirus. Since Covid made its appearance more than two years ago, governments have tried their best to eradicate it, but the virus won’t quit. Like a dinosaur, Covid is a life form that wants to continue living.

I can’t deny some advancements have occurred, especially regarding testing. Remember when we drove to a specific location and waited for hours in our car to be tested? We were told to immediately quarantine. Then we waited three days or more for the results. Now we can self-administer the Antigen rapid test in our homes, which is definitely more comfortable.

In the past, those who tested positive were required to isolate themselves for ten days. Now we’re told to isolate for five. (As long as we don’t have a fever.)

Looking back, we’ve come a long way. Remember the stay-at-home order of 2020? For weeks we could only leave our home to purchase food. Publix and Target scheduled special morning hours for senior citizens to shop. When we brought our precious commodities home we wiped them down with Clorox before bringing them in the house. During the spring and summer of 2020 we went to extreme measures to make sure Covid would not enter our homes, schools, and places of business.

So here we are in July of 2022. For two years many people have avoided crowds, wore masks, and injected themselves with vaccines and boosters. Yet, the virus marches on. I was late to the party, but I arrived. Three weeks ago, I tested positive.

I’ve heard some folks say, “I tested positive but only had mild symptoms.” I envy those people. Maybe I’m a baby, but Covid was no picnic for me. I kind of knew what to expect because every time I received a booster I spent the next day in bed with flu symptoms. After I contracted the actual virus, I spent four days in bed. The fatigue and brain fog lasted until day twelve. Did I have a different variant of Omicron? I’m not sure.

Like the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, the Coronavirus wants to live. Unfortunately it can only thrive by living in us. By changing into variants the virus continues to outwit us every six months.

Dr. Robert Bollinger of John Hopkins medicine explains that “all RNA viruses mutate over time, some more than others. Flu viruses change often, which is why doctors recommend that you get a new flu vaccine every year. ” The Delta and Omicron variants are classified as variants of concern because they are more likely to cause breakthrough infections or reinfections in those who are vaccinated or previously infected.

Covid 19 and its tribe of variants reveal the weakness of humanity. None of us can expect to live a life free from trials. The following poem by Annie Johnson Flint helps me see that in spite of it all we can rely on God’s strength to carry us when we are weak. Her poem appears in many hymnals.

God has not promised skies always blue,

Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;

God has not promised sun without rain,

Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day,

Rest for the labor, light for the way,

Grace for the trails, help from above,

Unfailing kindness, undying love.

We cannot see God, but we can see his love for us through the actions of others. I am thankful for friends and neighbors who shopped for me, prepared food, and texted encouraging words. Their kindness spoke to me of God’s undying love during my days of quarantine.

The world has grown up over the past two years. We are learning to cope with Covid as we have with other types of flu. “Life…uh…finds a way”

“Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”

Everybody knows dogs like to sleep. Our beagle, Buddy, spends most of his day sleeping. Upon closer examination, he isn’t always in a deep sleep. Sometimes Buddy’s eyes are half open. He’s relaxed, but ready to bound out of bed the minute I start cooking. Did you know the amount of sleep a dog needs is relative to their age?

  • Puppies (0-12 months) need to sleep 18-20 hours a day.
  • Adult dogs (1-5 years) need 8-14 hours a day.
  • Senior dogs (5+years) require 18-20 hours a day.

Buddy is almost twelve years old now, so sleeping is the main event in his life. Just like older humans, senior dogs don’t have as much energy and need to catch some extra Z’s to stay healthy.

Buddy’s routine reminds me of the idiom, “let sleeping dogs lie.” Scholars believe the phrase dates back to the 1300’s, specifically to a sentence written by Geoffery Chaucer in Troilus and Criseyde. Here is the phrase in old English:

“It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake.”

Clearly, Chaucer knew that if you wake a sleeping hound, he might become aggressive because he wants to protect himself.

“Let sleeping dogs lie” is also a proverb, since the phrase gives advice for wise living. Experience teaches us it is better to ignore a problem, if trying to solve it can cause a greater problem.

Similar advice is offered in the bible. “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” Proverbs 26:17. (NIV) My translation—mind your own business and you will be happier.

Think of the times you decided to ignore a problem instead of trying to fix it. Maybe you decided to ignore a co-worker’s annoying habit of talking too loud on the phone. When you made the choice to ignore your co-worker’s behavior, you helped your department unite as a team and finish a project before deadline.

Ignoring the annoying habits of co-workers, family members, and neighbors can lead to building relationships and fostering community among people. Sometimes “waking the sleeping dog” can escalate conflict, and create enemies. How often have we heard of feuds which continued for so long, that both sides forgot how the conflict began?

Whether to let a sleeping dog lie is a matter of inner debate, especially regarding personal relationships. Each of us needs to consider if sharing our opinion can resolve the issue, or create more conflict. Will it help or hurt? Picture yourself six months from now, what regrets might you have if you do not try to solve the problem? Ask yourself if the person who is annoying you really able to change? And must he or she change for your sake?

There’s value in choosing our battles. The Serenity Prayer speaks to this struggle. Here is the full version, written in the 1930’s by Reinhold Neibuhr. 

“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world

As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.”

Sleep well tonight, my friends.


“Take Heart” in 2022

Welcome to 2022! Are you excited about what the new year might bring?

I can relate to those of you who feel exhausted right now. I’m worn out from fighting each variant of the pandemic. I’m tired of the interruptions, the cancellations, and the nagging fears.

Christmas was not very merry at our house this year. Our son contracted Omicron and was isolated from the rest of the family. Thankfully he recovered after five or six days. I laughed when he told me he gave his Omicron experience a “better” review compared to his first bout with Covid in 2020. Apparently the virus is weakening. At this point, I’ll take any good news I can get.

Even though I’m tired of all the bad news circulating around me, I’m trying to stay positive. Throughout the centuries a new year has always been a time for starting over. A time to forget about the disappointments of the past and expect good things. But it’s hard to have hope when every time I turn on the news I hear more bad news. Who can I turn to for hope in a such a hopeless world?

When I feel hopeless I find encouragement by reading Scripture. Then I remember God’s unlimited power can do more than I could ever think or imagine. Even though I’m in a hurry to throw off the past, maybe I need to take some of the past with me. When I reflect upon all the times God strengthened me last year, I remember He is the same …yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Sometimes He brings a blessing into my life when I’d least expected.

I realize this year’s journey can and probably will bring more trials.

In the words of Jesus: “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Be encouraged, friends. Take heart knowing an all powerful God still loves you. Focus on His power to carry you through these dark times and give you hope. He will never let you down.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”__Corrie ten Boom

Whatever Things Are Lovely…

Have you ever had a night when your sleep was interrupted? Last night our smoke alarm began to chirp at one a.m. We solved that little problem and then Buddy, our dog, whined nonstop from his crate. Although I eventually drifted off to dreamland… morning came sooner than I would have liked.

I stumbled into the kitchen feeling grouchy and desperate for coffee. After my first cup, I opened my book of devotions to this verse of scripture:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

I admit, considering my rough night of little sleep, I couldn’t immediately think of much loveliness in the world. In fact the world appears to be a very broken place. Yet, the bible directs us to search for those things which are excellent or praiseworthy as if we were searching for treasure. And when we unearth something lovely, we are to praise God for it. Furthermore, telling people about our discoveries helps them find beauty and meaning in their lives.

Suddenly I remembered an incident which happened at a recent book signing. A man approached our table and looked at Buddy with adoring eyes. The stranger reached into his wallet and handed me a twenty dollar bill. He said, “Please give a book set to any child you wish.” Then he walked away.

I was amazed at his generosity. Soon, a family came by with four young children. Their eyes widened in surprise when I told them they could have a set of books for free.

To me, this was a good example of something praiseworthy. I thanked God for the stranger’s generosity and decided to share the incident with you. Loveliness is not far from any of us. May you find beauty and meaning in your life today.

What My Dog Has Taught Me About Writing

I’ve learned a lot from following my dog around. Whenever Buddy picks up an interesting scent… he walks faster and faster with his nose to the ground. Buddy will not stop until he tracks the scent to its source. It might be as small as one goldfish cracker, but he will not give up until he gets what he’s after. I must admit I admire his persistance.

I’ve discovered I need to apply a few of Buddy’s good qualities to my writing life. Although Buddy is directed by his sense of smell, I’m directed by what I see. My focus determines the direction I will go. I’m trying to direct my focus and be more productive by thinking like a dog.

Keep Looking Forward

Buddy never looks back, but continues to forge straight ahead when he’s on a mission. Sometimes I think fondly of the past and wish I could go back. That happens a lot when I look in the mirror and see how I’ve aged. Allowing my age to stop me from pursuing my dreams as a writer is a non-starter and robs me of my motivation. I need to remember and be thankful I’m retired. My age gives me more time to spend on my craft.

Look Beyond The Obstacles

Buddy never lets anything get in his way. When his back legs were paralyzed, he used his front paws to pull himself forward while dragging his back feet behind him. Wherever he wanted to go, he went. If I had focused on my inexperience as a writer, I would have never moved forward. My husband believed I could write a children’s book before I did. With his support, the fact that I’d never written a book, didn’t stop me.

Stay Alert for Opportunities

Buddy can be on the other side of the room but the sound of chopping vegetables or rustling cellophane signals his attention. He trots over to assume his position at my feet, keeping watch for any crumbs I drop on the floor.

Ideas for writing pop up on my radar just like those noises in the kitchen. Good ideas can fall to floor as quick as a kernel of popcorn. I need to keep a notebook, or my phone handy to capture them. If I’m stuck without an idea for a blog, poem, or plot, I can always consult my notes.

Take Time To Rest

I’ll admit I’m somewhat of a workaholic. It’s important to realize whether I’m being productive, or spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Busy work saps creativity. As I write this, Buddy is curled up sleeping. He doesn’t have a care in the world. He knows he can trust me to meet his needs. In the same way I need to remember everything doesn’t depend on me. Rest can be achieved in many ways, physically and spiritually. I rest physically when I stop hitting the keys. I rest spiritually by remembering that ultimately God is in control.

I wrote this post in 2019 but the message endures today. Two years later, I’m working on book three of “The Tails of Blueberry Street” series. Buddy the Beagle is the main character of all my books. Join us for our back to school book signing this Friday in Casselberry, Florida.

A Decorating Dilemma

Whew! We’ve all been there. Moving from one place to another is pure chaos. Even though a moving company handled the packing and transporting, the process stressed me out.

I apologize for my long absence from cyberspace. In my last post I mentioned our upcoming plans to move to a retirement community. For the past month, I’ve been consumed with trying to create harmony between myself and my new living space.

Our new apartment is small. (1500 square feet) We no longer have a garage, which was quite useful for stashing items we didn’t use everyday. Now, every inch of storage space matters. Although we tried to downsize, our closets are full. The movers stacked our framed art against a wall in the guest room. Every time I walked in there I thought, “What are we going to do with all of these pictures?” We live in an open floor plan with less wall space, and more windows.

If you think God doesn’t care about the little things we deal with, think again. This is one dilemma I prayed about, and His answer increased my faith.

I felt a need to keep the art I still liked—colorful landscapes and nature scenes from trips we’ve taken. So, I carried each picture from room to room to envision how it might look on the wall. Still, I couldn’t see how this eclectic mix could possibly fit together. Most of all, I didn’t want to make unnecessary holes in any of the walls. Once the pictures were hung, that’s where I wanted them to stay.

Two years ago I repurposed these frames with photographs I took at Lue Gardens. The colors brightened up the dining room and complemented our chairs, so I decided to keep them.

Then I found a collection of small canvases Jenny, our daughter, had painted. For years they decorated a bedroom. When I carried them into the dining room, I realized they matched the chairs as well. Jenny and I found some rustic looking frames at Joann Fabrics, which my husband prepared for hanging. Originally I thought I would line them up horizontally on another wall.

Enter Shaun,O’Dwyer, a floral designer with an eye for hanging pictures. Shaun came up with a new idea. Create harmony by bringing these different elements together vertically. Then hang them high. The result is amazing. I always thought pictures had to be at eye level. Shaun opened my eyes to new possibilities.

If you are wondering what to do with something old, instead of throwing it out or giving it away, think about changing it. Enlist the help of someone who might see things differently and create a new look.

“Redecorating has the power to make us feel like we have created new energy, a new vibe, a new life” —Dr. Sherrie Campbell

I am so thankful God cares about the little details in our lives. When it comes to creativity, I want to remember to look to the master creator. Behold, He makes all things new! (Rev.21:5 KJV)

Thank you for reading my blog. Leave a comment. I’d love to hear how you solved a decorating dilemma.

How to Age Gracefully

A positive outlook about your age can help you live longer.

This week I received a phone call from a high school classmate inviting me to our fiftieth class reunion. The call hit me by surprise. What? Fifty years have passed since I graduated? After the shock wore off, I did the mental math. I graduated from high school in 1971. Just another reminder that time doesn’t stop. Sometimes I feel like my body is a driverless car on the road to an unknown destination.

The cosmetic industry has made billions from products which help hide or slow down the effects of aging, but nothing stops the process. For twenty-five years I colored my hair to hide my age. When the 2020 shut down closed the beauty shops, I let my hair return to its natural state. After awhile I began to like my salt and pepper look. Now a year later, I’ve accepted myself for who I am. After all, isn’t gray hair considered the “splendor of the old?”

Most women don’t want anyone to know how old they are. After age eighty, all of a sudden their attitude changes. They wear their age like a badge of honor to represent their personal victory over the struggles of life. I am thankful for the advancements in health care which make it possible for us to live longer.

Today people can expect to spend a quarter of their adult lives in retirement mode. These can be the best years of our lives if we approach them with the right attitude. That’s right, attitude means everything. Did you know a positive outlook about your age can help you live longer? In this post I’d like to share some tips for nurturing a healthy attitude.

Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself

Are you someone who regularly complains about how bad they feel? Accept the reality that you are aging and do what you can to alleviate your aches and pains. Focus on the opportunities of today instead of regretting the mistakes of the past. People lose their “aliveness” when they weigh themselves down with negativity.

Exercise Your Mind

When we learn new skills our brain function increases. Routines create ruts and limit our growth. Our brains love stimulation. Try puzzles, read, learn new vocabulary, dance, listen to music. For more ideas go to this link for brain Exercises.

Stay Connected Socially and Spiritually

Keep in touch with old friends. Deepen your relationship with God by reading the Bible and praying. Connect with people who share a similar interests. Volunteer in your community.

Express Gratitude

Every day think of three things you are thankful for. Keep a journal of blessings. Express your thankfulness to and for others. Be thankful for your age. God has given you these years and it is indeed a wonderful life.

Soon my husband and I will be moving into a retirement community. We are excited about the opportunities ahead and treasure these years together.

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.”

—Frank Lloyd Wright

Are You a Hugger?

If your answer is “YES,” I’m sure the past ten months have been difficult. Social distancing has made hugging a no-no.

I didn’t realize how much I miss hugging until I heard January 21 is National Hugging Day. Maybe that’s the problem in America lately. We need more love.

I hope you have someone within your circle of relationships you feel comfortable hugging. Did you know wrapping your arms around someone for twenty seconds releases a feel good hormone called oxytocin? Oxytocin is beneficial to our mental and physical health.

Hugging helps us by:

  • improving our sleep
  • reducing pain
  • reducing stress
  • lowering blood pressure
  • lowering the risk of heart disease
  • easing anxiety

In addition, people who enjoy more affectionate relationships are less likely to get sick!

Granted, many of us might not feel comfortable with a twenty second hug. (Personally, I’ve never timed my hugs.) A twenty second hug seems more appropriate for close relationships. At a time when handshakes are off limits, hugging anyone outside of our immediate family could be a social faux-pas.

Embracing our family members is important during these troubled and lonely times. When children see their parents embrace, they feel safe and secure. When children and teens receive hugs from their parents, they feel loved. Hugs encourage us in the midst of challenges, bolster our self esteem, and communicate support when words seem empty.

How many hugs a day do you give? How many do you receive? Virginia Satir was a pioneer in family therapy. She believed you can never receive too many hugs and families suffer when physical touch is absent from our interaction.

This is a short post about a simple action. Hugging is free and our supply is unlimited.

Have you hugged your loved ones today?

Thanks to Donna and Geren Baird for modeling the art of hugging.

Remembering “The Good Old Days”

“When we face challenges, human nature makes us think we were happier in the past.”

Now that I’m a senior citizen, I tend to do what seniors have always done. We romanticize the past. We say things like:

“The good old days were better than now.” I wish I could go back to the eighties.” (or seventies, or sixties)

“I wish I looked like I did ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. I used to be much thinner.”

“In my younger days I was a champion __________.” (Fill in the blank with any sport you want.)

I have to admit, so many changes have happened in 2020, I’m beginning to consider the year 2019 part of the good old days. Was it just last year I took a Viking River Cruise in France? Now the experience seems like a dream.

I don’t think 2020 will ever qualify as a candidate for the good old days. Will we have fond memories of wearing masks, social distancing, and cancellations? I doubt it. When we face challenges in the present, human nature makes us think we were happier in the past.

For years I’ve turned to Scripture to begin my day. Sometimes I underline verses which stand out to me. Once in awhile I write the date next to the verse. It’s as if the Holy Spirit is speaking to me personally and saying “Hey Debbie, you need to remember this.”

On July 8, 2012 I underlined this verse. “Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these? For it is not wise to ask such questions.” Ecclesiastes 8:3

So why did the author (possibly Solomon) think it unwise to romanticize the past? Was it because romanticizing the past breeds greater dissatisfaction with the present?

Paul the apostle wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want.” Philippians 4:12

How? The next verse tells his secret. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” v. 13

When we are weak, Christ is strong. When we are unable, Christ is able to sustain us. When we focus on the past, we miss the joy which can still be found today. We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we can control our own thoughts. Nothing, not even a pandemic, can separate us from Christ’s love. And he is waiting for us to seek him in prayer.

At last, 2020 is coming to an end. Will 2021 be just as challenging? I want to remember 2020 as the year I found contentment in spite of my circumstances.

Dear Reader, thank you for your time and attention. I would love to dialogue with you regarding your sentiments about this year. Has 2020 taught you something about yourself? Leave a comment.

An Imperfect Vessel

Maybe a broken pot serves an important purpose.

Excuse me, where is the gardener at a time like this? Isn’t it time to repot these plants? Haven’t they outgrown their broken container?

I snapped this photo on one of my recent walks in Leu Gardens. The scene is an affront to my desire for perfection. At first glance, one might consider the pot and its contents, ugly. Yet, the succulents continue to thrive.

I wondered how a cactus could survive in a subtropical climate like ours. After all, Leu Gardens is located in Orlando, Florida. This year we received 52 inches of rain. Doesn’t a cactus need to live in a desert?

Water aside, Florida has much in common with the deserts of the southwest. Both have sandy soil and receive lots of sunlight. Our average number of days with sunshine is 236. Roughly 2/3 of our year is sunny. Sounds like a great place for a cactus, except for the frequent rainstorms.

Let’s get back to the broken clay pot. Although one side seems to be missing, maybe the broken pot serves an important purpose. Since cactus plants will not grow well in standing water, did the gardener intend to use this imperfect vessel? If the water has a way to drain, a mini-desert environment has been created. This imperfect vessel could be just what these plants need.

Maybe this was part of some greater plan. The gardener actually planned to use a broken pot. Or maybe he broke it on purpose.

The more I think about it I realize I could apply this visual to our world. We are the like the cactus, trying to thrive in a broken vessel. The clay pot with one side missing represents loss. So far the year 2020 has taken lives, marriages, and income from many people. Often we wonder, where is the gardener? Has he forgotten about us? Why doesn’t he redeem all we have lost?

We hope science can save us. We expect our government officials to rescue us from the losses of this year. Still, we wait. But there is one greater than science or government. One who will wipe every tear from our eyes. The gardener will return and great will be our joy. He will make all things new!

In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him and he saved us. This is the Lord we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in our salvation.” Isaiah 25:9

Dear reader, I am hoping the days ahead bring joy and prosperity to your house. Never give up on the gardener. He knows what he his doing. Trust him.

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