Fries, socks, and pineapple

Fries, socks, and pineapple

Baby embryo Noella and about 1/4 of the needles it took to get her here. 10 days and it all starts back up again!

It’s almost shot time and I’m ready for it!!! I was just telling Shawn that it’s all the waiting, and the working up to it, and the appointments here and there, that are hard for me. I just want to get on with it, do the transfer, and see what’s going to happen already!

I love this picture because it amazes me to see that with lots of God’s power + some science + ALL OF GOD’S POWER + some shots + a bruised belly, amazing things are possible. (Psssst, MIRACLES, even!)

Shawn and I love hearing about animistic societies, and what they believe, because as missionaries you have to understand their thinking in order to accurately present the Truth. If you just show up and start talking about God, they might say, “Yea, sure we believe that, He’s the man that lives up the river.” Or they might believe He’s the sun. Animism is seen with the Dao people of Indonesia and how they would run and scream in circles, stomping as hard as they could, when there was an earthquake because they believed it was a giant evil snake under the earth and that they needed to scare it away. And how Guineans believe that if a pregnant woman is seen drinking Coke it means she wants to kill her baby. Or if an owl is heard at night, it’s the sound of death looking for its next victim. I could go on forever with examples from people we lived around and beliefs that seemed so strange and so far off to us, but were reality to the very core of their existence to them.

But here we are back in America, and animism can be seen here too. Even in the TTC (Trying to Conceive) community. For example, they say that a woman who just had an embryo transfer MUST eat McDonald’s fries afterwards for the baby to “stick”. If you look up #FET (frozen embryo transfer), sure enough, people are seen posing with their bright red boxes of McDonald’s fries, post transfer, stating that they’re #PUPO (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise). Another one is wearing a special pair of cozy socks on transfer day to “ensure the treatment will work”, and eating the core of the pineapple is another common practice to “guarantee” a positive pregnancy test.

It’s hard when you want something to work to not look for all the little ways to help make it happen. I get it. And then there’s the downward spiral of questioning IF you did everything right, did it well enough, followed the protocol accurately, etc. But ultimately, God is the author of this story. He knows my body, these embryos, the medications, the doctors and nurses working closely with us, our lives, our family, and even if I missed an important step in when and how to take such and such shot, he can work beyond our human abilities. A lot of people give science all the glory when it comes to IVF and FET, partly because doctors are incredible and embryologists are super impressive, but above all, God has the ultimate say in this whole process, and His Ways are what we stand back and marvel at. Fries or not, He is the Creator.

Not that there’s anything wrong with fries, socks, and pineapple, it just can’t be where our hope comes from. I’m all about some McDonald’s fries, and I’m hoping Shawn reads this post before he comes home from work so he can get the hint and bring me some…. Or, better yet, so as not to be seen as animistic, I’ll have him bring me a frosty and Wendy’s fries. Anyone else in love with that combo? C’MON don’t @ me. It’s quite possibly the best sweet and savory duo of all time.

Want to know what’s WEIRD? And emotional? (For Shawn too, this is the husband’s/man’s journey too!) And I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s so weird and so emotional knowing I’ll probably be pregnant soon but I’m not yet. I’m taking my prenatal vitamins, we know the due date (EARLY JUNE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but, alas, I’m not pregnant. YET. But Lord willing I will be soon. And possibly WITH TWINS. (<--- that one's going to have to remain in all caps for some time). It's a wild ride and we just keep praying that this works, and that these two can join our family. But ultimately, for God's will to be done. For the Author and the Creator can surely be trusted.

Protocol and one day closer

Protocol and one day closer

It happens every single time. I know it’s coming, I try and brace for it, and then I’M SO OVERWHELMED I CAN’T SEE STRAIGHT AND HAVE TO CALL SHAWN CRYING. It’s FET protocol day. It’s the day you’re sent THE EMAIL from your FET nurse, once you’ve received the green light from your appointments saying you can move forward with the transfer. This email comes with like five attachments, which would overwhelm me on a good day. One of the emails is a consent form where you sign in front of a notary saying that yes you consent to getting pregnant (okay, it’s worded more legally and fancy and uses words like “I, and we, agree to transfer our frozen-thawed embryos to my uterus… there are limitations and risks…” and so on and so forth, legal stuff). There are forms color coded to the rainbow and back, telling me when to order this medicine, when to start injections (BEFORE 7PM ON THIS GIVEN DATE, oh perfect, Shawn’s at work til 8:30, guess I’ll be asking the neighbor for ‘injection into my swollen belly’ assistance #casual), and be at an appointment SATURDAY BEFORE 10AM for a lining ultrasound and labs…) and just when I’m feeling overly overwhelmed, I read on to see that this local appointment that I need is on a Saturday, and they’re CLOSED ON SATURDAYS. Great. The email casually says, in more color-coded threatening language that if I can’t have it done here on that date, with same-day results, that I will once again have to fly to Denver for the appointment. I’m already flying to Denver THREE times for appointments, no one blinking an eye at this SAHM’s commute. Do I look like I commute? I have to pack a CARRY-ON and have a BOARDING PASS for a TWENTY MINUTE uterine lining check and labs. (Sorry if you’re squeamish about the word “uterus”, guys… Shawn loves it. He can’t stop saying the word, it’s his favorite. He says it daily. JK. Carry on…)
SIGH. It’s just so overwhelming because it’s a HUGE thing. Life is at stake here. And shots. 3-4 months of shots (I’m tired of shots. They hurt. I’ve had enough of them over the course of my life), and medicine, and patches, and not knowing how I’ll respond, or feel… and once again, what the end result will be. Some days I’m afraid a natural pregnancy has made me weak. I’ve been through this before, but what if getting pregnant the natural/common way has made me a baby and I can’t fight for this with the same gusto and be brave and belly up to more belly shots (some go from August 18 to 6 weeks postpartum just because of a genetic blood clot disorder, I had the same with Noella and Shilo). But then Shawn says, “YOU GOT THIS BABE. You’re the strongest woman I know.” And Erin reminds me that, “God, who is the Great Sustainer, has got me.”
I take a deep breath and vow to move forward, attempting to take it day by day, taking on one chunk of the color coded craziness at a time, and moving one day closer to our babies. (The two that are frozen, in Denver, and have been since fall 2016, waiting to be transferred to my UTERUS (your favorite word too??) in LESS THAN 50 days!!!!

And then the Fed Ex guy arrives with my huge ol’ box of meds and I have to call Shawn for another quick little pep talk.

The emails and the giant boxes of meds are daunting, but we’re one day closer!
My giant pile of shots and meds arrived. When I spiral into feeling overwhelmed by the process, I remember how grateful we are to be here.
Support and happy tears

Support and happy tears

I’m in row 23, seat D, flying back to DFW, and I’m happy crying. Or at least, there are happy tears as I think back over the last 24 hours.

I’m crying because my sister and sister-in-law (aka: Iggy now bc she so fancy. All it took to earn that title was a little rhinestone on her dipped nails… oh brother) were THERE for me this week during my pre-FET appointments in Denver. My mom and dad and childhood friend Amanda and cousin April were there too. They came to see me, brought me caffeine-free drinks because I had to tragically cold turkey abstain from caffeine for 72 hours (chocolate included), they picked me up and dropped me off at the airport (is there a greater act of love? Maybe that and helping someone move) when I had planned to just take an Uber, they did my nails, bought my dinner, and brought me cards and unexpected thoughtful gifts. They asked questions about when my due date will be. Not “when’s your due date going to be IF this works”, but rather, “when will your due date be?” They accompanied me to my appointment even though they had to wait in the parking lot due to Covid-Never-Ends. When I was getting my blood drawn (how many vials? Too many…) they saw me in the window and waved at the Phlebotomist and I, and took Boomerangs as I came out of my appointment. I was happy to have it behind me, and grateful for another green light toward our upcoming fall transfer.

I guess the happy tears are also because (sob) there were times in the past, in our earliest days of infertility, that I didn’t have the support of anyone but Shawn. And don’t get me wrong, he’s enough of a partner that he was the only cheerleader I ever needed! But there were lonely times in the past for the both of us, especially when no one knew what we were doing, or that we were undergoing any kind of treatment at all. They had long stopped asking when we were going to have kids, because too much time had passed to where it was awkward for everyone if they brought it up. I guess they never looked under our kitchen sink and saw the XL Sharps Container where I put my used syringes.

We lived overseas and far far away from family in those days, and they certainly cared in their own ways once they knew, like all the times my sister-in-law Heather wrote asking how the shots were going or when my next appointment was, or the times my mom would send a little sunflower card with a note of encouragement inside. And of course Kari was there round two of IVF in Dakar, there to make fun of me when I woke up from surgery, unaware of what language to use, and what country I was in, exactly. (You can read this post to take a look back at our first 3 rounds of IVF.)

Oh, but this time, this week, just knowing someone was in the parking lot waiting for me, willing to give me a ride, and ask how the appointment went, and with an iced vanilla latte to boot, makes me so very grateful.

Waiting, looking back

Waiting, looking back

Once upon a time…

One embryo transferred – negative pregnancy test

Three embryos transferred – negative pregnancy test

Two embryos transferred – negative pregnancy test

One embryo transferred – positive pregnancy test, so many happy tears, Noella Pearl born 9/24/17

Baby Shilo joining our family, in the most surprising and beautiful way – born 1/23/19

And now, we’re back to where it all started: waiting for another transfer. It’s crazy how the ROLLERCOASTER of emotions is the same. It all comes rushing back. Lately my big question/freak-out moment is: WHAT IF IT DOESN’T WORK? (Meaning loss. Sobbing on Shawn’s shoulder again. Things not turning out like we hoped or planned. Meaning grief. Heartache. We’ve been there. We know how that feels. This outcome is not known. And that’s hard and it’s scary.) to —-> WHAT IF IT DOES WORK?! (Meaning YAY times YAY times YAY, an answer to prayer, but also HOLY CRAP! KIDS upon KIDS upon blessings. TWINS? FOUR KIDS UNDER FOUR? HOW?) I told you it was a rollercoaster…

There’s a life changing situation before us and we have no say, no control, no power to know what will happen. It’s a game of trust. And the game goes like this: will you trust the one who knows, and not just knows, but knows what’s good, what’s BEST? It’s a check ‘yes’ or ‘no’ kind of game. You either do or you don’t.

Not too many people are told, “hey, you will probably have twins but we don’t know for sure. Yet.” How does one process that? How does one sit with that? How does one wait? How does one trust?

One learns to trust by looking back. He was faithful then, He will be faithful again. Over and over again. If there’s a negative test, if there’s a positive test, one heartbeat, or two.

About 80 more days and we will know a little bit more about what God has planned…

One of the miracles we’ve seen so far…
Plead-praying and trusting

Plead-praying and trusting

Four times that I remember PLEAD-praying are when we were about to attempt IVF take four (the IVF cycle that brought us Noella and the two remaining frozen embryos we’re about to transfer this fall), when Shilo was sick in the hospital, fighting for her little life, when I thought our plane was going down, and when Shawn was traveling back at night in the dark, after the mandatory curfew, in rebel controlled West Africa.

I needed, I wanted, I NEEDED to see God work, to move, to act fast. I didn’t make room in the conversation to listen. I didn’t make room to hear what He might have to say, or what lesson He might have for me. I just wanted to know that He was hearing me.

I saw His goodness when it was all said and done, I saw is His power, I saw answered prayer, and that answer was yes.

Seeing that brought me to trust Him more. But this time around, in the waiting line for babies #3 and 4, the prayer is a little bit different. This time, it’s less urgent. When you’ve tried and failed three times and your heart has been ripped apart over the disease of infertility, you plead-pray when you decide to risk it all one more time (money, physical pain, the unknown) – and try again for the fourth time. You beg God to allow it to work. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still an unmistakable desire that has stayed with us since fall 2016 for them to join our family. That’s how long we’ve known about them. This time, while there are still a lot of prayers bouncing around in our hearts and minds, every single day, there’s less pleading. But there’s a sense of peace that is recognizably all God. Maybe it’s because we’ve seen how God works no matter how urgent the prayers are. Maybe it’s because little by little, God is showing us that he is in control, no matter how we pray. No matter how our words come at Him. Maybe, after all these years, we’re coming to see God’s goodness is good because it’s what he allows. It’s what He deems just right for us, big picture, according to His will and His plan for our lives.

Gosh, that doesn’t make it easy. Trusting “what is, or what may be” as good, because you trust that God is good, is not for the faint of heart.

Some days, sitting in this ‘waiting line’ for a fall 2020 transfer (it’s not here yet, but it’s coming), already beginning some medication, and booking my July trip out to Denver for a gamut of tests and a day’s workup, I can get anxious, worrisome, curious what the outcome will be. This isn’t just a thing in our lives where we’re curious about how it will turn out – this is our family, this is MAYBE TWINS!!! So yea, I can get anxious, especially as we get closer, to want to plead-pray my way to the day we find out the results of this procedure. I want to plead-pray my way to instant, positive results. I want to plead-pray my way to two heartbeats. I want to plead-pray my way through the wait and the ups and downs of FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer). But I am also seeing, in time, when I take my hands off the controllers, I remember that it’s ALL GOOD, because God is there, involved, writing the story.

Stay tuned, and feel free to pray. God listens, no matter how we come at Him.

TWICE the love? Only God knows

TWICE the love? Only God knows

This fall.

This fall is when we plan to move from the “pregnant mindset” of knowing there are two more to come, to hopefully knowing there are two more growing inside of me!

TWO

AT ONCE

A DOUBLE TRANSFER

THIS FALL

OH MY!!!

We don’t know what will happen, but we’ve decided to jump in head first, go big or go home, and trust the lives we have (two frozen embryos) into the knowing and mighty hands of God, and transfer them BOTH AT ONCE.

As I mentioned briefly in this post, even through the struggle with infertility and its treatments, Shawn and I wanted to share openly about the process because we were confidant God would work, and we didn’t want to just show the polished, smooth, end result of a positive pregnancy test. And this feels like the same kind of thing. We’re back at the beginning, with high hopes, a somewhat daunting process ahead (although nowhere near as overwhelming as a full IVF process), and we’re wanting to take little steps toward where we feel God leading.

It’s amazing how quickly the fear of the unknown + the deep rooted need for control over our lives can take over: in many areas of life. In this, the hopes to grow our family (times two), the struggle is there once again and I find myself looking for what faith looks like practically. How do I trust God with something so special to us, something we prayed for and worked for, and waited for, but something that is still so fragile and bearing unknown results? Will the transfer work? Will I get pregnant? Will it be TWINS? (All caps because we too, are still letting that sink in, we too, are wrapping our minds around the idea of TWINS.)

There are risks. Risks in whether or not it works. Risks in being vulnerable about the process.

But God doesn’t see it as a risk because he already knows what is going to happen, because he is already there.

Now he just wants to see our faith as we wait and as we begin this process for a fall 2020 double embryo transfer.

Thanks for your love and prayers as we move forward, and with God’s grace, go big or go home.

 

Two more babies, in His time

Two more babies, in His time

This is one of those posts that even as I’m writing it, I’m not sure I’ll ever hit publish. It’s so personal. It’s so very special. It’s so near and dear to our hearts. It’s our whole world, because it’s the family we’ve prayed for.

It’s the news that we have two more frozen embryos. We have TWO MORE CHILDREN, ‘frozen in time’ in Denver, Colorado. They are 2 of 3 embryos we had from Noella’s IVF cycle. With our fourth round of IVF that we did in 2016, we were able to get five embryos. After the testing and biopsy we had done, three of those five were viable for implantation and pregnancy. One of them is two and a half now, sitting next to me in her pig tails and rain boots. We know the genders of our two remaining embryos! We (think) we know their names! And not a day goes by that they don’t cross our minds. They are answers to prayer, designed and created by God, part Shawn and part Jenn, part of our family, there since 2016, but not here yet…

I know. It’s a lot to process. It’s a bizarre thing, to know you have more children to come but trusting God for the right timing, a safe thawing and FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer), a healthy and safe pregnancy, birth and arrival.

As a writer, I love to open our world a little bit when we can. The thing I like about being open on this blog, and sharing the personal side, is that we can look back on it. I love coming across a blog post I wrote during a low or challenging season. Partly because it reminds me what it was like (not that I could ever forget), and partly because it shows me how far we’ve come (by God’s grace alone), and it makes where we are now that much sweeter.

A big part of me hopes that, in sharing this big and personal news, that we will all be able to see the faithful hand of God throughout the wait and process of these remaining two joining our family.
  One reason I chose way back when to start blogging about infertility was because I didn’t want to get to the end of it, with a baby on my hip, and no one have a clue about the tears, the loss, the gut wrenching years of praying, hoping, and waiting that we went through. I wanted people to see that God was faithful “even then”, and that he provided, in big and little ways.

And we turn to God, once again, and trust him with our future. A future that is unknown to us, there is still risk and chance involved in these embryo babies joining our family, but it’s a future that is known and crafted by God- the very creator of life.

________

As was the case in the past with a personal blog post, there are some questions we may not answer. But as always, we welcome your prayers as we raise Noella and Shilo, and dream of the day the six of us can be together.

A human kind of mom

A human kind of mom

I wish I wasn’t the human kind of mom.
I wish I was the steady, patient, soft-spoken at all times kind of mom.
I think back to those first moments with you, and I’ll never forget that deep-within vow to love you always, love you steady, love you gentle.

And here we are now, day 999 in quarantine and I’m wishing I were on a beach somewhere. Just me. And a margarita. Shawn can come too, I guess, if he doesn’t talk too much.

This post is me preaching to the choir, the congregation, and the guy in the hall pretending not to listen. This is me preaching to the weary mom.

You don’t need to be the ‘coffee to wine’ survival mom kind of mom. Because if you know Jesus his grace can meet you before you shuffle out to the kitchen to grab a mug from the cabinet. And he has this supernatural way of filling you with what you need for the day, and he does it before the caffeine even hits your bloodstream.
If you’re the human kind of mom, there’s grace for you. No need to question if you’re good enough, because we’re basing all of this race on WHO HAS DONE WHAT FOR US, not on what we do, or what we accomplish, or how we measure up.

Mom guilt is banned from your vocabulary because you ARE the human kind of mom, and if you know Jesus, his blood (something so red and vibrant and unmistakable) has the power to wash you WHITER THAN SNOW. Lower the expectations, stop looking at someone else’s race, and love what’s right in front of you. Love without thinking. Love because you’ve been given a fresh start today. You’ve been given a fresh start every hour on the hour, even when you and the Quarantine Crazies are losing their ever-loving minds. Even when stepping on LEGOS is a real hazard of the job and your response to the pain is rather regrettable. (Maybe not the best time to be FaceTiming grandma…)

Know that you’re right where you should be in this season – with your babies, in your home, and it’s one of purpose. Don’t think ahead and don’t wander back to where you once were. You might catch your mind drifting back in time and dwelling on an ancient past activity some have spoken of, but you’re unsure now if it’s real or just an urban myth people speak of. It’s a thing called “sleeping in”, it’s a think called “a clean house”, it’s a thing called “quiet”, it’s a thing called “doing what you want when you want”. Or you may catch your mind drifting toward the future and daydreaming of similar activities, or that beach I mentioned. But know that your purpose is here, now. Your purpose is to play and teach and feed and guide and hug and forgive and mold little minds and spirits. No amount of quiet or things going exactly the way we want them to can compare. Live your purpose with boldness, even when it’s the same thing every day all day. Even when you want a break or a vacation or a caramel feaking frapp to yourself, remember that your time to mom is now. Your time to hold and talk and listen are now. The past and present remain where they are.

This season of being a stay at home (human) mom + quarantine days are long (x12) and the human in me wants to find an escape. My flesh is selfish and I need God’s grace EVERY MINUTE of the day to fight to stay in the game. This game matters. This role, your role, matters. Love, service, beginning again, His mercy, making this moment count, their childhood, today, this race, responding well, IT ALL MATTERS!

To our girls in a pandemic

To our girls in a pandemic

Our dear girls,

Thanks for being our sunshine during this time. A pandemic has swept through our world without warning and it’s not an easy time for anyone. Jobs and the future of our health and economy are in question, people are out of work, hospital staff is working hard to help those in need (uncle Dr. Seth in the ER!), there’s a shortage of masks and ventilators, many things are cancelled or closed, and those of us at home are trying to remain positive even though we feel isolated and a little stir-crazy distancing ourselves from people, going out, social gatherings, church, and trips to town (We’re not “stuck” at home, we’re safe at home – what a good perspective.)

Your dad is still working like normal, which for us is more frustrating than if there were a Shelter in Place (like many cities are under at this time), because the store is pretty much dead (and he works on commission…), but yet he is still “at risk” interacting with the general public. It’s an odd time, that’s for sure.

It’s easy to give in to fear when the future, even tomorrow, is unknown. But when we don’t have the answer, we use that as an opportunity to trust God. To practically stretch our ability to say, “We don’t understand, God, how long things will be like this, what’s to come of our jobs, our health, our economy, but we trust you because YOU ARE WORTH TRUSTING.” That’s what times like these are good for.

An exercise in faith. An exercise in circling back to the truths of who God is. And what he is, which is trustworthy. ALWAYS. ALWAYS.

You’ll come across lots of these exercises in your lives, girls. You might as well know that upfront. They may not involve a global pandemic, but they may involve other times of fear, unknown, sadness, confusion, and fog when you were hoping for a clear pathway towards which way you should go next.

It breaks my heart on so many levels to think of you ever having an ounce of worry, fear, or sadness in your lives. I wish I could swoop in then like I can now when you’re scared of a bug. Nowadays, I can quickly remove it (the bug, the fear) and hold you, kissing those chubby cheeks, brushing the strands of golden hair from your forehead, and whispering to you that it’s no longer there, that I am here, and that there is nothing to worry about. You’re safe on my lap.

While I can’t always swoop in with my mom cape to protect you, I can little by little, train you to see those moments as opportunities to practice, grow, and strengthen your ability to tackle and conquer fear, worry, and the unknown. Your dad and I can teach you how to choose faith, so that the next time when it’s not a ladybug, but thunder, or not a storm, but something else, you can remember that God is with you, for you, and fighting on your behalf. And that with him, and by trusting in him (even when you don’t understand the situation), you have the powers you need to fight well.

That, dear girls, is our wish for you with whatever your futures hold.

Until then, let’s enjoy some sunshine, a bucket of soapy water where we can wash some rocks for fun, and pick the purple weed flowers. And if you see a bug, I’M ON IT.


Isolation and the good news

Isolation and the good news

The isolation left a small scar on me. It’s one of those scars you can’t see, like the infertility, like the fear of riots breaking out when I was stuck in traffic, tear gas burning my eyes, like the fear of Shilo struggling to breath in the hospital.

I wasn’t alone when I felt the most isolated. There was Yassine bringing a live chicken to my door, loads of kids climbing our fence to see the white people and their big black dog, a housekeeper in our house folding our clothes and hauling water for us, making Shawn and I argue in English with a smile so she couldn’t understand our words or read our body language, people knowing every move we made, and asking 1,000 culturally appropriate questions about our day, our spouse, if we had electricity, if we had news from our families, and if we were in good health or not. This was the routine every single time we left our house, and every single time someone came to our house. (In other words, all the time.)

We were not alone, we were surrounded by people, inquiries, community, friends, friendly faces. But, at least in the beginning, these were people we didn’t know or understand. It was an isolation of being close physically, but their culture, their fetishes and charms, their language, how they ate the parts of a goat, how they washed their clothes, how their marriages worked, how they raised their kids, how they went to the market for one onion at a time, was so foreign to me that it left me feeling like I was in the middle of a loud room where everyone could see me and talk to me, but I was in a glass cage and couldn’t communicate back to them. It hurt that I couldn’t get pregnant and the women all around me spent their days having, raising, caring, swatting at, clothing, feeding, laughing at, yelling at, and talking about their children. It was another level of disconnect even though I was sitting right there with them on the bright plastic mat, helping pick bugs out of the rice. I was isolated in my own world. But it wasn’t my world it was their world. At least in the beginning.

Now I’m isolated again, but this time physically isolated in a place where I speak the language and I know the people because their culture (for the most part) is my own. I’m laying low in my own home because a virus is threatening our world. We remind each other that God knows and sees and cares. And he DOES. I count my blessings because I have a lovely home far beyond the shacks we’ve shared in the past. I count my blessings because I get to be with my girls and play with construction paper and (supposedly) washable markers. And then, sitting there with my phone in hand, I’m once again trapped in isolation. I scroll scroll scroll for connection since I can’t meet, gather, or congregate right now. But social media is a false sense of connection. I love seeing your kids grow, your beautiful bathroom reno, that funny meme about toilet paper in trees, but do you care about me? Do you know me? Do I know you? How are you really doing? Are we going to check in on each other? We’re staying in because it’s recommended, because it’s the best way for us all to protect ourselves and those who can’t protect themselves. But we’re no stranger to laying low, to staying in. We had a case of Ebola in quarantine across the street from where we lived in Dakar. And Ebola was a much more certain death sentence. (Some) Americans are losing their minds right now and stocking up like the world will end by Thursday. Some are being escorted out by armed guards (#texas) when they throw a fit over how much toilet paper their family NEEEEEEDS. The entitlement leads me to feel critical which leads me to feel lonely. “I don’t understand these people! I’m not like that… (am I?). I can’t relate.”
Suddenly I’m back on that bright plastic mat picking bugs out of rice and I am a stranger in my world. But this time it’s a world with every ease and convenience and comfort (on a good day), a language I understand, but a world where we have to run to keep up, we don’t eat nearly enough meals together, or invite people over (no matter the mess), and the connection, the real connection, is lacking. As a society we spend every day working 9-5 (Dolly version), scrolling when we get a chance, and not sleeping well. And it all begins again tomorrow.
Now we have a virus that has shut us in.
I wonder if God has a message for us in all of this. (He always has a message if we listen.) Maybe the message is that we can’t outrun or out-scroll our loneliness, or our greatest need. Maybe it’s not what country, context, or culture we’re in that breeds isolation, but who we are running from. God is the only one that will love and comfort and accept us. He already saw us at our worst, AND CHOSE US ANYWAY, when his son Jesus came and took our place on the cross, dying the death that we deserve. Only perfection would do which is why Jesus chose to take our place. We could never be good enough, measure up, or work hard enough. But by placing our faith in what Jesus did for us, the sacrifice he paid for us, on our behalf, we can be saved. And that’s the best news no matter where we find ourselves or what’s happening in our world. He’s the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14.)

He’s not afraid of our germs, our weaknesses, our flaws, our fears, our isolation. He pulls us in and accepts us and offers us the connection we’ve been searching for (or running from).

“You’ve been my Savior, Sustainer, when I’m at my end
My Healer, Redeemer, again and again
My Mother and my Father, Brother, Sister, and Friend
Everything I’ve needed Lord, You’ve always been
Everything I’ve needed Lord, You’ve always been” (this song)