“When things get windy…”

I am quarantined, as is pretty much of the rest of the world. Stuck at home. Chores current. Not in a book mode, yet. We are having 30-degree weather with 85 mph wind gusts, so walking around outside is sort of off the “to do” list right now. So I have been online. I have been researching this Covid-19 virus. I have been looking at national reaction, as well as international reaction. I have also seen people ignoring it all. Pretty much going on as if nothing was happening. A relative of mine assumed a wedding on the beach for 60 this past Saturday would be okay. She had to be reminded to look at the news. LOL. I am all for disconnecting from social media, and taking anything the MSM has to say with a bucket of salt (way past a grain) but we also need to stay informed of what is going on around us!

I am feeling like we are in a battle we cannot even see. I firmly believe this virus was sent to disrupt our economy, and the worldwide economy, and that the unseen powers in this world orchestrated the entire thing. However, I also firmly believe that this event has been hijacked by the good guys and that they are now firmly in charge. I am gaining confidence by the day, alongside my doubt. They are running neck and neck! LOL! But because I tend to be a “half-full” sort of person, I am erring on the side of positive.

A good way to look at it, is this is Lent. We have another week until Holy Week here in the west. It is good to remember that we all need to carry our cross with Christ as He walks along the pathway to Golgotha. Asking to stay at home and avoid other people is pretty easy in comparison. It seems so very little. I have seen memes about how our grandparents were asked to fight in WWII and all we are asked to do is sit on our couches. Ouch!! That seems not enough somehow.

Part of what is happening in the world is up to “digital soldiers” who are parsing information and disseminating it to others who are not open to alternatives of what is going on. There have been so many clues and whatnot that are claimed by “those in the know” and all have thoroughly been debunked by the MSM. I always question that sort of flat dismissal. Nothing is ever that cut and dried. And so, as we are encouraged to do, we do our own research. We scan through links and read things for ourselves. We do not rely on anyone else’s research to be co-opted as our own. So I am doing my part to sift through all the stuff online. And there is a lot to sift through! And some wonderful memes and posts, too. Here are a couple:

There is our Secretary of State offering some comfort for our future yesterday. And then a meme about what a lot of people think this virus was all about. It will be interesting to see what comes from the other side of this virus thing. Some say we are in for a social reset. Some say a financial reset (return to the gold standard and the end of the Federal Reserve). Others say inventions and cures the government had been holding on to will be shared, once the smoke clears from this. Lots of sealed indictments that will be unsealed and arrests made. And like I had stated in a previous post, above all of this, one thing the theorists all say is to pray. That the Lord has the victory. So I cling more and more to that. And I am being smart and being prepared. For the eventuality of communications going down, food supplies being shortened (yeah; I have TP. More importantly, I have coffee). Here are some giggles for you:

But I want to leave you with this:

With our low temps and 85 mph wind gusts, this hits close to home! May God go with you, my friends. May you realize that all of this is in His Hands.

 

“God’s got this…”

My brain is all scattered and full of stuff. We are all adjusting to the “new normal” this virus and quarantine is asking of us. My husband normally travels two weeks per month and when not traveling, he works in an office on a military base almost an hour away from home. Now he is literally working from home; no travel. It is not bad, it is just different.

Our youngest son is still technically living with us (we keep his room door tightly closed because…because he is 21 and has a lot of stuff) but is working about 8 hours away and has been gone over a month. He is due to return mid-April, but with all this quarantine stuff, none of us is sure if that will happen, or when it will happen. He gets housing and per diem expenses, so he is fine where he is. Plus he is happy doing “guy” stuff.

And I am adjusting to having hubby around me 24/7. Now mind you, we have been married 35 years and together for 37 years, so I actually like him, not to mention, love him. So it is not that. I am just getting no alone time. It is like having a newborn, sort of. LOL. We are loving the empty nest thing. We started playing Cribbage. We have a 1500 piece puzzle ready to set up. And the domino box was located and that is ready to go. There are only so many things you can stream on TV. And we have no regular TV channels, which is actually freeing. No MSM. No fake news to deal with. All in all, this quarantine thing is peaceful. I’m cooking some great meals (last night it was broccoli, potato, and cheese soup and it was yummy. Hubby shredded cheese while I diced veggies. It was fun) and we are having some amazing conversations. We are finding we are still best friends in this life, and that we enjoy being together. We even found our old pastor, who moved very far away, is having Divine Liturgy live! We now even have Church at home. Win-win for quarantine!

I am current on my chores. All my laundry is done and put away. House is clean. Dishes are done. Kitchen is clean. And so what am I doing while the hubby is diligently pecking away on his laptop? I am reading. I am researching. I am learning. Things I perhaps never really wish I knew. Things I had doubts about. And things that are not popular, and are quite controversial. But, the truth will be known very soon. Am I a conspiracy nut? Maybe. Am I wondering about this entire quarantine process and why the entire world is hunkering down and staying home? Why there are reports that not that many people are actually lining up at ERs and how statistics are being manipulated and fear promulgated to the masses stuck at home? You bet I am. There has never been anything like this in my entire lifetime, that I can recall. And I am questioning everything. We all should be. We all owe it to ourselves to look into all of this. What is coming next? Will this usher in the New World Order we are all so fearful of? Will there be a financial restructuring of the world to the gold standard? Some people say that there will be and that the Federal Reserve will be disbanded. The interest rates will all go to zero. There is a program that was ratified in the early 2000s (2006?) called NESERA. That program would abolish even the IRS. It was signed but not enacted, yet. Check it out. Google removed all their filters and research is wide open these days. Things that were hidden are now all there to see. Old photos and articles that have been buried for years are there to read. Who assassinated JFK? Google the theories. Fascinating reading. World-wide cabal? Maybe. There is some ugly attached to that! And as they say, once you see something, you cannot un-see it. So, we will see! Ha-Ha. World wide end to child trafficking and sex trafficking? One can only pray it is so. #savethechildren is a trending hashtag. There is so much going on with troop movements around the world. Today I read of a Russian sub lost off the coast of England and now there are 5 Russian ships off the coast, looking for their sub. Sounds like the movie, “Hunt for Red October” to me! Indictments being unsealed and arrests being made. The President of Venezuela?! Wow! And 15 others. MS-13 gang leaders arrested in CA. Dozens of them. Lots and lots happening. Installation of 5G towers while everyone is at home? At schools? What is 5G? Is it good? Bad? This multi-trillion relief bill. And all the pork in it?? Who asks for funding for Planned Parenthood during a global pandemic? The Presidential suspension of habeas corpus in certain cases – most to do with treason? Warehouses being found full of medical supplies like masks and respirators (sounds like Puerto Rico, doesn’t it??). People worried about making rent and buying food. Industries at a standstill. The fear those of us in that older category have about even going to the grocery store (my local store now has senior hours Monday – Thursday from 7-8am and that is when we go). There are so many “facts” floating around out there, and as many opinions about them. It boggles the mind. Like I said, there is a lot up in my head right now. And I am sure it is the same for many of us. If not all of us.

One over-arching theme to all this conspiracy stuff is that most of the leaders in that movement are asking us to (1) pray. Know that God is in control. Have faith. And (2) don’t take anyone’s word for anything. Do your own research. If you automatically call me a conspiracy theorist, perhaps it is because you listen to only certain sources and accept everything at face value. Maybe with more time at home, you can spend some of it looking into issues you feel vehemently about. And that way, you can form a platform from which to take in new information and to be able to judge it for yourself, in a sane and logical way, rather than with a knee-jerk reaction. I am trying to inform myself, so I can be prepared for whatever comes next.

So, if nothing happens and this blows over and we all go back to “normal,” nothing is lost or gained. Status quo. If, however, there are drastic changes and the world goes dark while it adjusts, just remember this post and know within your heart, that ultimately, God wins. God has all of us in His hands. Praise God in all things, at all times.

I think I will read a book on my kindle. Maybe play with the dog, or watch a girlie-movie while hubby works. Oooo…maybe I will create something fantastic from a cookbook, for dinner. All I have is time on my hands….

 

 

“…But small is the gate…”

I ran across a couple of people who were not familiar with a saying I use a lot. So I thought to share it here, too. I think it speaks to how we treat others and when we give of our best, and when perhaps our best is not appreciated.

“Do not cast your pearls before swine.”

My grandmother used to tell me this when I would lose a friendship or a boy I was crushing on did not return my affections. LOL. It was a lesson well learned. The part of Scripture it comes from is part of the Sermon on the Mount. I recall, as a child, our pastor doing a series on the Sermon on the Mount – all of it – not just this portion. And I also recall this was the last time we quit going to church, because my dad did not agree with what the pastor was saying. I was bummed because we had been going there regularly for years and it was at that church I had been baptized for the 7th, and final, time. First Christian Church. I was angry because I loved going there, and it was the last church my family attended, as a family. I remember being able to wear fish-net stockings for the first time at Easter there. I think I was about 12 years old. I loved lighting the candles, or helping out with the services. I even was asked to read Scripture during Services, because I was a good reader. And besides all that, I liked what the pastor had to say! “Judge not lest ye be judged” and “But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life and only a few find it.”

This part of Matthew always stayed with me and I am glad it has. We sort of need to be reminded of the fullness of Christ’s Word when the world around us gets a little shaken. So here is all of Matthew 7, for your pondering, prayer, and enjoyment. Blessings!

Matthew 7

“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them.” 

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ 

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” 

When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

 

 

“…always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people…”

Boy, you guys, keeping a positive attitude is getting harder and harder. I need to stop doing so much online research. Google suspended its filters and so much of blocked information is now out there, for everyone to see. And it is not pretty. In fact, it is causing me to lose sleep. My shoulders are aching from carrying the stress. My dreams are not peaceful. There are some very sick people out there. And it frightens my soul.

I am worried for my elderly parents. My grandchildren. My kids. What will the world look like in August? I am not sure. Will we be broke as the country “re-sets” itself? Are we going back to the gold standard and abolishing the Fed? Are we going to have no income tax and the IRS be abolished? There are so many theories out there. I was up at 4am, tossing and turning, re-reading research in my head. I think that today, I need to take a break. I need to deep breathe. One of my sons suggested I use the frustration to deep clean and/or organize my house. Get into all the closets and organize. Clean until the house sparkles. Yeah. Gotta psyche up to do that. Maybe I need to get on Netflix and re-watch Marie Kono and choose the things that bring me joy! LOL!

Just seeing that meme makes me smile. She is so darn cute. And I have kept my dresser and pantry and linen closet in her style. Somewhat. Better than they were before! LOL! However, that was done in sunshine. There is no sun. We got 6″ of snow yesterday and more is due tomorrow. It is bleak and dark and cold. I am finding the love of white and snow and cold to be waning just a bit. This is the first year in the past 7 years that we have experienced this much snow. And up here, it never warms up enough to melt away…it just accumulates! Thaw should be an interesting mess with a puppy.

And I realized that I allowed evil to be the center of my thoughts. Evil intent and acts by others. I do not need those images in my mind. I can know of them, yes, but to dwell on them allows evil its day. And so we struggle against all these things. Yes, it is a daily struggle to maintain our focus on the joy of prayer and inner-reflection. It is LENT! That is when we all work closely with ourselves to become better people. And when we focus on God, the evil one sends his minions to distract us and keep us from that spiritual joy that they are jealous we have. So, I am digging in. I am becoming determined to be on God’s side in all things, even my temperament. Because believe me, we are in a battle. It is big. It is all around us. It is physical and spiritual.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

And because of that, I choose to put on the armor of God and to fight. I will not allow my sleep to be disrupted by these thoughts. I will turn away and turn to God and “He who saves.”

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:10-18

 

“W.H.O. let the dogs out???”

I was so happy this week that the CDC (and W.H.O.) confirmed that dogs cannot get this stupid virus and so we do not have to quarantine them; we do not have to hide them. Because, we have a dog. Well, we actually have two of them. One is 13 years old and is a Springer Spaniel. Her name is Poca. The photo above is of our one-year-old Standard Poodle puppy who is named Kolbe. Kolbe is a large dog. Our Springer can quite literally walk underneath him. He is over 70 pounds and the vet says he is not done growing, yet.

I grew up surrounded by pets. We had goldfish; a series of parakeets and canaries; and my brother and I had large mice we actually were stupid enough to breed. Oh my goodness. The summer of the mice litters. We had over 600 mice in a large cage I built with our neighbor. There were two sections and each section had approximately 300 mice. I tried to sex them to void more liters, but I would often find a litter of babies every week or two. Sigh. It was a lot of work. I used to sell them to pet stores. I thought they were for pets, but discovered they were for snake food. I was not happy. I was about 9 or 10 at the time, I think. I sold them all and gave our original two mice to our neighbor’s son. I was done raising snake food. We also had this amazing dog named Sinbad. He was a Great Dane. He was big. I mean ridiculously large. One night, he jumped onto my bed in the middle of the night (my bed was on hardwood floors) and was made of wood. And it broke. With a loud crash. (Because I was naughty and was always sneaking him into bed with me. I think later on my parents told me they knew all about it, but I am not sure. I know I felt like I was getting away with it!). My parents came running in not knowing what had happened. I was in trouble. Poor Sinbad was just confused and sleepy. They got me situated on the floor with my mattress and as soon as I could, I let Sinbad back in my room and we cuddled all night. I loved having a big dog. I felt safe around him and I loved that he came up past my waist. The mailman and gardener were both afraid of him. We had to put this gate up at the end of the driveway to keep him in the yard. It was placed just behind the mail slot in the side of the house. Our mail would be dropped in there and it would end up in a basket in our kitchen nook. It was funny because Sinbad was so tall he could just stand there and lean his head over the gate. The mailman was not amused and would often leave our mail on the front doorstep, instead of getting too close by the mail slot. LOL. Sinbad was a show dog and breeding stock, and would often be away from us for shows or breeding. The training was intense. In his first show as a puppy, he tried to shake hands with the judge. Huge no-no, but he got a ribbon for best personality. The trainer took over after that and I was not allowed to teach any more tricks. LOL. One day my dad informed us that Sinbad was going to travel the AKC show circuit and would not live with us anymore. I think he was tired of the big piles of poop (my brother and I used to fight over who held the poop sack and who used the shovel. Think about it!) and how much work a large dog, and show dog, was. He never admitted it, but I think he got rid of Sinbad on purpose. Our next dog, we had until we were adults, when he died at 14 years old. His name was BB, or “Brown Boots.” During the 1968 flu pandemic, my parents both got the flu. I don’t fully recall, but I believe schools were closed. I know we did not have Christmas because my brother and I were shipped off to my grandparent’s house. When we came home, this adorable puppy was waiting for us. I got a radio and my brother got the dog – and he named it. He was all black with 4 brown feet and white eyebrows, so BB it was! He was some sort of mixed breed-Spaniel who slept at the foot of my brother’s bed, and who followed my mom everywhere. LOL. We taught him all sorts of tricks. He was such a great dog for our family at the time. But I missed having a big dog!

My grandchildren were over the other day and my granddaughter, who is 6 years old (going on 30) decided she should work with Kolbe. He was thrilled to have an energetic playmate for a change. And the moments they shared were priceless. Here are a couple of them:

They were just so cute together. They ran around and played. She worked on him sitting for her. She played catch with his favorite tennis ball. He followed her everywhere. She is used to big dogs because they have a South African Boerboel, or Mastiff. Her name is Ruby and I absolutely adore that dog. She is gorgeous (and 135 pounds or so) and has the most wonderful personality. She is my grand-dog! And she is great with the kids. And so my granddaughter has no fear giving cuddles or getting Kolbe to obey her commands. And it reminded me so much of myself with our dog, Sinbad, when I was a little girl. It was one of those precious moments you will always remember.

We struggled about choosing to get another dog, since our Poca is 13 years old. We were not sure if we wanted an empty nest or not. And we also struggled with what type or breed did we want. And I can honestly say, the fact Kolbe does not shed and he does not smell, even when wet and muddy, like a stinky wet dog, went a long way with me! I am over shedding and smelly dogs (Springers love the water but boy do they stink when they are wet. And then there is the whole ear infection thing, too). People question why when they meet Kolbe. He is a lot of dog. But most people are thrilled to meet him and interact with him once they realize he’s just a big puppy. Quite a few people will think he is some sort of combo dog like a “labradoodle,” or “golden-doodle,” because Standard Poodles are not a dog you see often. But once we explain what he is, most people are excited to meet a Standard, rather than a mini-poodle, for a change. And we are so happy we have this dog in our lives. When he is chewing up slippers, or eating a coaster (he loves my coasters) we may momentarily question our choice of dog, but when he cuddles up on your feet, or jumps on your lap (but only with his front legs – he’s too big to get on my lap now and he knows it) to cuddle closer, we know it was the right choice.

They get along pretty well, even though Kolbe tries to be the boss! Poca runs the show, at 13, and she gives him the what-for! She will walk around barking at him, and he is running all around the tables and couch, while she just goes slow. She is no dummy – he’s doing all the work when they play! I had put her up on our bed one day, because she is too old and infirm to get up there herself, and Kolbe messed up the pillows, and rolled around  and then had to get right next to her. I will treasure this photo forever, I think. The two of them, being buddies. (He was not even a year old in this photo, and is much, much larger now).

Another blessing of a big dog? His bark. In these crazy times, and with a husband who normally travels a lot for work, having a dog around with a hefty bark keeps people away and I like that. I don’t like it when he barks at me to get up, but I like him barking to let me know someone is around.

I know this is totally not my usual sort of post, but I was feeling all happy about my 4-legged buddies today. We have had fun. Played catch, cuddled, chased bones. So I thought I would share. I hope it lightens things up just a bit for you and takes your mind away from you-know-what. Blessings from me and Kolbe and Poca.

 

 

“…a thousand may fall…”

Oh my word. I have so much I could say. There is just so much going on. I just listened to the press briefing from President Trump and his team fighting this virus. I do believe there is a lot more going on, in the background. But that is another discussion. I trust and I believe.

Depending on which translation of the Bible you use, the verses and books can be numbered differently. In spite of that, I thought to offer you a Psalm for your reflection, and perhaps some peace. When I read this for my Lenten Study, I have to tell you, it resonated deeply for me. This week’s reflection theme is prayer, and when I re-read the Psalm from last week, it sunk in even deeper. The reflection from St. Theophan the Recluse, written in 1864, is so incredibly relevant today. Here are bits and pieces, and then I will give you the Psalm.

“Not every act of prayer is prayer. Standing before your icons, or in church, and venerating them is not yet prayer, but the “equipment” of prayer. Reading prayers either by heart or from a book, or hearing someone else read them is not yet prayer, but only a “tool” or method for obtaining awakening prayer. Prayer itself is the piercing of our hearts by pious feelings towards God, one after another – feelings of humility, submission, gratitude, doxology, forgiveness, heart-felt prostration, brokenness, conformity to the will of God, etc.” And he goes on to say, “Finally, when you finish your prayers, do not go immediately off to any sort of work, but remain and think at least a little about what you have just finished and what now lies before you. If some feeling was given to you during prayer, keep it after you pray….”  And then he said, “He who has tasted sweet things does not desire bitter things.” And “All praying leaves prayer in the soul…”

Perhaps we can focus more deeply in these troubling times, on how we approach prayer, and where it takes us, and where it touches us deeply. Maybe its resonance will be spread everywhere. And prayer definitely gives us peace. “Acquire a spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be saved. ” (St. Seraphim of Sarov)

So here we go. Depending, like I said, on which translation you use, this is either Psalm 90 or 91

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,  nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;  they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

And therein lies the promise to all of us. The Lord, who we call upon and call our refuge, will not allow harm to overtake us. I find such comfort here. And I hope you, whomever you are and whatever circumstance you find yourself in, will also draw comfort and peace.

 

“Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.”

I went shopping last night with my husband because our puppy ate his slippers…and in Alaska, something on your feet inside is a necessity. It’s just cold. LOL. So we went to our local Fred Meyers. It is owned by Kroger, who also owns Ralphs and many other brand chains. Up here, on one side you can buy slippers and clothes and jewelry and purses and whatnot; in the center section is food; on the other side you can buy couches and dishes, pots and pans, tires for your car, paint for your house, sheets and towels and luggage. There is even a pharmacy and an electronics section. There is always a Starbucks and a deli section to sit and eat or get what you need for dinner, even cooked and hot chicken. All under one roof. It’s pretty big. I have comparison shopped and I get my best deals here. Imagine my surprise when shelves and rows of supplies were bare. Naked. Not a single roll of TP. Only 1-2 packs of paper towels. No pasta. At all. 1-2 small bags of rice and dried beans. No frozen veggies, except the expensive ones. People are what the store called, “Panic Prepping.” Up here in Alaska, prepping is not some people in tin-foil hats, hiding on their property. We have those, in abundance, but this is regular people, panicking in the marketplace. Over a virus that has a less than 1% fatality rate. In a state with NO KNOWN CASES. But – what we have that the lower 48 does not have are supply chain issues. All the time. So for us, anything that may interrupt a flawed system in the first place is cause for panic. The stores are limiting items like TP and cold medicines; like clorox-wipes and protein drinks. No more than 5 packages/family/week. Because people are driving away with 30 packages of TP. I get the TP, from a supply point of view up here in the frozen north. But in Florida? California? Nebraska? Really??

We went in for the slippers but grabbed some essentials for the freezer and our prep things we like to have on hand, because….well, you never know. In Alaska, all of our products come via train, plane, or barge. The trains only come from the border with Canada. It’s not like you can hook up with the trains out of LA Harbor, load them up, and run it up to Alaska. There are no solid track lines. LOL. A spate of bad weather can literally topple a barge, or flood it. I have said on here before that I walked into the Fred’s in my neighborhood once and there were no dairy products – at all. Wiped out completely, because a barge I did not hear about had to turn around and go back to Seattle. Sigh. Yeah; Seattle. That is bugging a lot of people because there are more cases of this virus in King County. Ugh.

I tend to be a bit more relaxed about this virus scare. Although I am in the danger group (over 60) and I have had the flu three times since October. I am so over being sick. And each bout was settled in my chest. So I know I am more susceptible to things taking hold in my lungs. So it is not without some thinking that I make these statements.

I read three separate articles today. Discovered two were from questionable sources. One claimed to be a doctor, but then it was pointed out he has a PhD in something like individuals and crowds and panic or something weird like that. No familiarity with medicine or viruses, but he was hyper critical of everything and I believe his article was titled, “Shut it all down,” which was basically saying no one should work or go out in public until this is over. Sort of how they did to Chinese citizens. He said that the only way to stop a virus is to not be near it. Makes sense. But who can afford to stay home from work for 2+ weeks? Not us. And another one the source came into question, as it was an MSM-sort of outlet and hyper-critical too. Then there is WHO. Yea. An arm of the UN, who I trust as far as I can throw them. I am not a UN fan, at all. I believe they served their purpose but it is done and they need to be kicked out of the USA and disbanded. But that is just me. LOL.

I am scheduled to attend a state convention the first of April. Our governor said today that he does not endorse any events over 60 people. Well, that sort of means a state convention would not be appropriate. I spoke with someone earlier today who is waiting on the state chairman to let us know.

The graphic above shows my age. LOL. But what are the facts? What is truth? I have been all over the internet today, and the facts vary so wildly, depending on the source. Who do you believe? Who is perpetrating a hoax? Who is fear-mongering? Who is playing smoke and mirrors with our stock market and up and coming election cycle? What is going on?

We used to be able to trust the news. They reported facts. They would show up to something and take notes, type them out, and then print them. No opinions. No slant. Just what they saw/heard. Oh I miss those days. So much back-biting, conspiracy theories, and skewed reporting for one side or the other. This should cut across all lines – ethnic, income, political party, location – this is about protecting Americans. Period.

Stop hoarding TP. Think rationally. Listen to a wide variety of sources. And then think for yourself. Stupid simple stuff like stay at home if you are sick. Wash your hands. Avoid crowds if you can. Be smart. Prepare in case you have to stay at home. But the sky, in my humble opinion, will stay where it is. The sun will rise tomorrow. And God still sits on His throne, and He’s got this. All of it. Amen!!

 

“…and our petition was granted.”

“There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” Ezra 8:21-23

This was our reading to reflect on in our Lenten Study today. And sometimes, words pop out at you. God drops a truth bomb and this verse, these words, they bombed me. Why? Well, we are in Lent. We are more austere. We pray more. We fast. Theoretically. That is what we are called to do. I was also reading parts of the commentary wherein St. John Chrysostom said:Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast by being free of avarice. Let the feet fast by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. Let the ear fast by not listening to evil talk and gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fish but bite and devour our brothers? May He who came to the world to save sinners strengthen us to complete the fast with humility, have mercy on us and save us!”

And I was preparing our evening meal, thinking, “Does this honor the fast? Does this honor Lent? Does this bring me closer to the Kingdom of God?” Wow. In Ezra it said they were embarrassed to ask for assistance from the King. They basically had told him they were protected by God, and did not require horsemen and soldiers to protect them. And when the Levites had come among them, they chose to give thanks and to fast for three days, in order to petition God for their safety – “…and He answered our prayers.”

And I could not stop thinking about how Christ had admonished the Apostles, when they tried to free people from demonic influence and they could not do it. His reply to them was, “But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) And it struck me – we need prayer and fasting in our lives in order to conquer some things that leave us in no other way. There is no relief for some pressures and problems, except when we pray and fast about it. Sometimes petition is not enough, because we are not conquering our passions. “Fasting poisons sin. We battle our passions through fasting.” (More of today’s commentary on Fasting). Perhaps when life is chaotic and the noise is overwhelming, we need to take ourselves out of it by prayer and fasting.

I find that the rhythms of the Church are perfect for me. Each time the Church asks me to fast and pray, I need it. So twice a year, I can get my spiritual house in order. Twice a year I can direct my focus in a fully centered way by starting and ending my day in prayer; I can fast from temptations that are all around me (fasting also includes indulging less in those things that truly do not bring us closer to God – media, in most of its forms, comes to mind). But then it slammed into me. In Ezra, they were praying for “the safe journey of us, and our children.” They humbled themselves and prayed to God and He HEARD THEIR PRAYER.

What if all of us prayed and fasted for our children? Each of us? What if the help to our children required prayer and fasting, and humility before God? What if Lent and Advent were the Church’s way of returning us to the simplicity of praying for our kids? I don’t know about you, but in this crazy world, my children, even as adults, need my prayers. As do my precious grandchildren. Children, period, need our prayers – both the born and the unborn are in jeopardy.

After a night’s sleep (I did not have time to complete this post) I started my morning prayer. And wouldn’t you know it? God was ready for me. Our reading was: Esther 4:1-3 wherein the Jewish community, upon hearing the King’s legal enactment to kill the Jewish community, went around, “in deep mourning, with fasting, weeping, and lament…”  Well, the theme this week is fasting, so this was right in there. Not only were the Jews fasting, they were weeping, lamenting, and wearing sackcloth and ashes. Most people I know do fasting on the cheap and on the sly. Fish stick Friday. Or soup kitchen Friday. I am not supposed to slam people for doing what they can do. I am not doing that. But if we set the bar low, it is pretty easy. A friend of ours, many years ago, would stop each morning on his way into Los Angeles for work and stop to get a freshly baked loaf of bread. Those long ones that are soft and so very yummy. It’s not crusty French bread, but I am not sure of the exact type. But you get it. And then he would pick up a very large bottle of this gourmet water. And he would pride himself for eating only bread and drinking water. I mean if you have to do it that way, more power to you. He was, in reality, living the fast more than most, but his gourmet choices made it not so hard. LOL. In the early Church, fasting was a real deal. They would not eat ALL DAY LONG. They would go for days (usually 3) with no food, and just sips of water. I recently had the flu. I went 5 days with just water and I am still here, fat, dumb, and happy. It can be done. Why not choose something to fast for, like our children or family members, and dedicate a period of time to fast for that intention? In the Eastern and Orthodox Churches, fasting is quite something. My first year, our pastor told us to do what we could and go with that. I was not ready to give up wine, all dairy, all meat, all Olive Oil, and live like a vegan for 40 days. I just could not mentally do that. So we did all of it except for dairy. Love my cheese! I could not imagine fasting without some sort of dairy. Then we tried a Whole 30. I learned how to eat without dairy. Without carbs. And to love what I ate. We can be trained into thinking we cannot accomplish something that, in reality, we could. But we’re pretty soft.

Last summer we went to McCarthy, Alaska. We visited the largest Copper Mine in the USA. And the only way they got things there was by the train lines they constructed themselves, the boats on the rivers, and by pack mule up the mountains. The Kennicott Mine was the richest Copper Mine in America for over 30 years. The women who lived there were literally living on the sides of a mountain, in amongst mining operations. This is the era of stockings and garters, of heels and dresses. Every day. In temperatures that sometimes got to the -50’s or worse. They were cooking meals, doing laundry, and raising their children in an environment I cannot fully explain in words. But I know this – I would have, quite honestly, died. I do not think I was capable of getting there, first of all. The road we took was over 60 miles of dirt, where parts of the road had washed away and we clung to the edges. Traversing over a bridge I will never forget. Far too high, rickety, and made entirely of wood. No thank you. These people were tough. The mountain had churches and pastors, too. They had some of the largest brothels in the state, as well. Ha-Ha. But life was tough. Profitable but extraordinarily tough. And I think about that as I go to my front loader right off the kitchen in my luxurious laundry room (in comparison to Kennicott) to move a load to the front loading dryer, or grab the polska I am thawing for dinner out of my stainless refrigerator. Or as I sit at my dining room table typing this on my laptop. And I know I could not measure up to a life of such hardship. I am a total wimp in comparison to the women who braved Kennicott and McCarthy. Even some of the people who live there now, with their 20-foot snow drifts and the only way they get in supplies is by plane because half the year the 60-mile dirt road is snow-bound. And when I think of the time of Esther, when Mordecai was lamenting and leading the Jews in prayer and fasting, I wonder if I would ever be that brave.

“When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; and came even before the king’s gate: for none might enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth.  And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes.” Esther 4:1-3

And here we are in Modern America (at least I am in the USA) being asked to pray and fast and we do McDonald’s fish sandwiches on Fridays, or maybe drink veggie soup on Wednesdays. The Church used to ask that we fast EVERY day of the 40 Days of Lent. And in the eastern and Orthodox Churches, that is still asked of us.

Is it obtainable? I think so. Perhaps when we fast, as St. John Chrysostom said, we need to fast from “foul words and unjust criticism” – maybe that is where we start. Not just fasting from “birds and fishes,” but that we take fasting a step further and use this time to walk away from those things that are not good for our souls and incorporate those habits that are. For me, Lent is like free-range kids and kids with rules. My boys thrived with rules because they were free to operate within a pre-set list of guidelines. They were not running around, getting into mischief because they had no fence, no edge, no line they were not to cross. Children respond better to a set of rules and guidelines; it gives them safety and freedom.  We are the children of God. The Church has given us rules and guidelines in order to live a more Christian life. And for me and my soul, Lent hauls me back into the playground, where I am safe to play as I wish. For me, Lent grounds me. It gives me focus. It grabs me and allows the Words of the Scriptures to mean something unique and special, and they help me stop and think, and muse on things. Lent is a time where we can improve our soul and get our spiritual house back in order. It is where we come in from the playground, find our knees, and dedicate our prayers and fasting. I am dedicating my Lent to my marriage in particular, my husband and my family in general. I find that if I have something in mind when I fast during these 40 days, the fruits it bears are life-long. And I know the fruits will be there, long after my own lifetime, alive in the hearts of my family.