Hope Remains

Yes, hope remains. Despite fires and smoke, extremely hazardous air quality, several days of evacuation orders: hope remains.

All the above add stress to the already stressful pandemic. Yet, hope remains.

One bit of good news, the Portland protests and riots took a break during the smoke and poor air quality. One less level of stress. Hope remains.

As we sat in our home, we talked a lot about preparedness when threatened by a natural disaster. What one thing would you take? It’s hard to say. You might not have time to remember what that thing is and then pick it up and go. But we did start a list of what we’d need to take with us. 

This is a new experience for us. The danger zones were a new experience for our firefighters, other responders, and those tracking the wildfires. These fires met up with a Santa Ana-type windstorm. The winds licked up the flames and moved more quickly than anyone expected.

Our county’s placement under a smoke advisory advised residents to stay inside with windows and doors closed tightly. Already tired of the pandemic quarantine, the idea of being closed within our home because of smoke was somewhat worse. Nothing could be seen before, behind, or beside us. It felt like living in a cocoon that wasn’t opening. Hope remained, and the rains came. And the smoke slowly left our valley.

While we talked and listened for alerts, I remembered a time we visited a forest in eastern Oregon only days after a raging wildfire had gone through it. Bob’s brother and his wife lived in Burns at the time and shortly after that fire we visited them for a weekend. They suggested we take a walk through the forest to see the fire’s devastation.

Green shoots breaking through charred debris surprised me. Tiny pine and fir trees were beginning life again in their home high atop a hill in this forest. Blackened and charred trees and ash were all around us. Tall trees remained but showed the effects of the heat and fire that had lapped at their trunks days before. At that moment, hope was also growing and shining brightly.

The memory of that trip and the walk into the burned forest created a spark of hope welling up within my heart. Not just for the renewal of the forests, but for the possibility of renewal in other ways:

  • bringing the raging wildfires under control and protecting those in harm’s way; 
  • recovery for the people who lost everything;
  • in our relationships with our brothers and sisters of all colors and ethnicities, all religions, and all lifestyle choices;
  • the discovery of a COVID vaccine and healing for those suffering from the virus; and 
  • peace in our world.

Now that I see that spark of hope, what am I doing with it? Sharing it with you and others!

What will you do with it? How can we all become united in spreading this hope?

We can think about these questions and write out our feelings about hope in a journal, a post, an essay, a poem, a song, and share it with others in the hope that they will catch the spark of hope and spread it, too

Via Bible.com

Featured Image Attribution: WhiskerFlowers from Pixabay

 

 

Finding Peace in Times of Negativity

Many in Portland, including myself, feel we’re living in a dystopian world created by issues beyond our control.

We are attempting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter escalate into all-out conflicts with federal troops who were not invited to our city. Then “grab and snatch” tactics by the uninvited and unidentified troops to control protesters by loading them into unmarked vehicles left citizens feeling unnerved. Our city is rid of the uninvited and unidentified troops.

All of us are entitled to support, compassion, and a just and equitable environment in which to live and raise our families. Government leaders and citizens of Portland are now in discussions to make support, compassion, and equity primary to all actions taken in Portland. 

However, behind the scenes, there are many suffering and struggling with depression and emotions out of control regarding all of these strange and unusual dilemmas we’re facing. I am one of them. And I know I’m not alone.

Many are writing blog posts and articles on the state of our mental health and how to relieve the stress of it all and ultimately find peace. 

I stumble around each day looking for something to do that interests me. My writing flounders. I write that with abundant kindness (it’s worse than floundering!). 

What can I do for someone else during these times? Write a note, make a call, send a text or email? Maybe. But somehow silence and solitude sound better. And I know that’s selfish on my part.

God gifts me with a new day every morning, and what do I do? After reading emails, I spend too much time on social media. Scrolling through my feed in search of something positive seems a waste of time these days. Then I am angry with myself for wasting a good part of His gift.

Finally, the other day I found something interesting and helpful. My friend, Robert McBride, posted something well worth reading. Robert provided his thoughts on an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Mental Resilience Can Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic; Here’s How to Build It” by Andrea Petersen. Among his words, I found the following:

My idea is to think of my brain’s tendency toward negativity as something like a dog that’s a little wild but could be trained toward better behavior with consistent, loving effort. If I train myself to recognize pointless negative thoughts the moment they happen, like a dog lunging while on a leash, I can reflexively take control, since my hand is on the other end of that leash, right? I can control the dog if I just make the effort to do so. And I can curb my regativity the same way. I can put myself on a short leash and make the effort to train myself to think differently.

This makes a great deal of sense to me. If I sit down, plug into social media, and bombard myself with negative thoughts, my brain absorbs the negativity. The negativity will pull me down into the muck and mire of that news feed. Immediately on reading Robert’s words, I knew I wanted and needed to start building mental resilience and fight against negativity. I’m working on it.

The other way I’m working toward positivity vs. negativity is by making lists of things I need to work on. Today I made three lists: (1) administrative projects (I called it that when I was working; I still have similar tasks in retirement to keep us operating as a family), (2) personal interests (things I long to do, including writing), and (3) struggles (things I have difficulty facing, including writing).

From this, you can see that if I wanted to I could find a great deal to occupy my time. However, there is something inside me that bucks up against some of these things. It’s up to me to figure out how to balance all of this out while “walking the dog” and changing my mindset and my mental resilience.

For this reason, I’ll be on social media only minimally for awhile. I will continue to write here posting as it comes to me and seems worthy of your time.

John 14:27 states God’s promise. It should be sufficient in times like these.

 

 

The Three P’s — Pandemic, Protests, Problems

Pandemic

On Saturday, March 14th, our local news announced the governor had declared a state of emergency and we were faced with a pandemic. At our ages, it was suggested we “stay at home” and/or “shelter in place.” So began our isolation.

It’s been four months since we assumed our place in the pandemic. Like good citizens, we’ve stayed at home with the exception of driving to our grocery store to pick up our grocery orders. Otherwise, church services, choir practices, committee meetings, doctor’s appointments have been held using Zoom.

Oregon is now a part of the pandemic surge with daily numbers rising more than they did during the previous three months. Why won’t people wear masks? Continue reading “The Three P’s — Pandemic, Protests, Problems”

Cool June Days

I dedicate this post to Rev. Joshua Dunham, our former Associate Pastor and Youth Leader. Joshua brought light and understanding to the words of Micah 6:8 in a sermon a few years ago. Since then, I have read it, studied it, and prayed on it. God bless you, Joshua!


These are cool June days.

First thing each morning, our black Bombay kitty, Ignatz aka Iggy, cries to go outside. He doesn’t like being indoors, but he complies with our nightly wishes to stay in. Depending on the weather, he may change his mind.

Today and for the lasts few days the morning air is cool, the sky gray. Occasionally, a beam of light slips between these tall trees, and then it’s gone. Continue reading “Cool June Days”