The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is affecting every one of us. Following are some ideas on how to respond:
#1 Remember Jesus’ words. “Do for others what you would have them do for you,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” These unambiguous directives are the key to dealing with this crisis. For most of us, that means social distancing and sharing of resources. For others, such as those in the medical community, great sacrifices may be required.
#2 Deal with your fears. Several years ago we published an article, Controlling Fear with Scripture, in a magazine. Un-addressed fears can paralyze a person. You can access the full article at the following link: Dealing with Fear
#3 Strengthen your faith before you need to. Everyone is going to suffer during this crisis. In our Life-Skills mini-book More Than Ordinary Faith – Why Does God Allow Suffering? we explain that the time to prepare is before suffering causes our faith to waver. We give the biblical reasons for suffering and ways to cope. You can purchase a copy (paperback or Kindle) at: Dealing with Suffering
Or, if finances are an issue with you, we will give you either the Kindle or ePub versions. Just contact us at Contact Kit and Drew or by any other means.
Finally, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” I Thess 5:11
In Our Lord,
Social distancing, isolation, hunkering down, and self-quarantine are terms used to describe everybody’s efforts to slow down the Covid-19 virus. Whatever it’s called, the intent is to raise survival rates.
Those of us older–I’m nearly 70–are especially at risk. Being male doubles that risk. I also have the additional risk factor of a poor immunity system. Basically, I’m a virus magnet. In school, I always caught everything first–a canary in a coal mine for my class. Add to that we’ve just sold our house and are soon to be on-the-road homeless.
So what is my survival strategy? That depends how one defines “save your life.” I only have a few active years remaining. Is remaining breathing saving my life? Or does survival mean preserving the potential of my remaining life? Kit and I had hoped to buy a low-maintenance home in Washington State and enjoy the parks of northwest America, British Columbia, and Alaska. We hoped to have an influence for Christ there.
Without jeopardizing others and still doing our part to mitigate the crisis, we chose to prioritize the survival of our lives’ potential over merely not dying. To do so, we will wait for an opportune moment then dash across the country during a pandemic. If we can find a relatively safe home in Washington, we can perhaps realize the potential of our remaining years.
That’s our survival strategy. During the transition, we’ll stay away from people like they had the plague–which some will–wash our hands every chance we get, and take every health precaution. Do any of you who read this have ideas or strategies about how to most safely move across the country and find a new home? I’d love to hear them.
Drew and I hosted an Easter Egg hunt in our backyard for ten years. We usually had about 300 moms, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers and children. I well remember the first year. I made the mistake of going into the house while Drew gave the rules and began the hunt. When I came back five minutes later the hunt was winding down! The horde of children had swept across the yard vacuuming up every goodie. I had missed it all.
The next year I determined to witness the hunt first hand. Again parents, grandparents and children gathered in our yard. Drew gave the rules and off they went. What I hadn’t expected was the sheer joy finding each egg produced. Even with a full basket, the joy of finding another egg produced as much joy as the first.
This spring we and many we know are experiencing a sort of communal death. The organization we have had the privilege to be a part of is forever changed. And each of us is trying to find a way to stabilize our worlds, a way to move forward.
God reminded me of our Easter Egg Hunts years ago. Only this time I, an adult, am attending the hunt and God is the host. After accepting God’s invitation I made a list, God’s Easter Eggs To Me and off I went.
Unlike the hunts we gave, in my God-directed hunt you could go into the house and come back and find me still hunting. Since I am an adult, my eggs are harder to find. Require more effort. But, my list is growing and I experience great joy with the finding of each egg. If I hadn’t already packed my Easter baskets away for our move, I would put a egg in my basket with each addition to my list.
Maybe this year you also need to be invited to an Easter Egg hunt. I would love you to join mine. God has laid before us eggs to find and gather. Joy to be discovered.
You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. Psalm 4:7
The spread of the Corona virus is unsettling many. A little over a year ago we released a dramatic novel, The Ambassadors. The crisis in that story is a deadly pandemic originating in Asia and threatening the world. Dire warnings from medical experts, stock markets crashing, Americans living overseas trying to get home. Sound current?
The novel is classified as science fiction. Although the story includes two charming human-like aliens, nearly all the science is real–that is non-fictional. The plot revolves around a young NASA scientist and a young woman reporter who both carry emotional baggage. They struggle to protect the aliens, understand the essence of being human, and find a key to deal with the pandemic.
The Ambassadors is a rousing and relevant tale. “I’ve never read anything like it,” one Bookbub reviewer posted. If you’re interested, you can buy the novel through either Kit and Drew or Amazon (kindle or printed) at Link to The Ambassadors
Without giving away the novel’s ending, I’ll reveal that mankind is saved through cool heads, courage, and cooperation. That’s what I’m praying for in the Corona crisis.
Kit in Nigeria forty years ago
According to The Week news magazine, “The US lists Nigeria as the most dangerous place for Christians in the world.” The primary reason is active persecution by fundamentalist Islamist groups like Boko Haram.
Funny thing–this week forty years ago I traveled with two others to Nigeria as a Christian missionary. The country wasn’t any safer then. Muslim jihadists were already killing Christians . . . and also less zealous Muslims. But cholera, malaria, typhoid, Lassa fever, and other many unnamed pathogens gave West Africa the description. “The white man’s grave.”
Truly I cannot describe to you our wretched circumstances and suffering. But we missionaries had each other with whom to commiserate, right? I’m afraid not. Any talk about our challenges was viewed as divisive and indicative of a personal problem with God. Our Nigerian mission director though saw us Americans as safe to blame for everything that went wrong.
Recalling the experience, I remember the initial euphoric feelings of being young, idealistic, and full of missionary fervor. Then later feeling old, fearful, and hopeless. Persisting in that despondent condition was the faith that God honored. Despite many obstacles, God enabled me to provide clean water to 19 cities and towns and see hundreds of decisions for Christ. And God gave me a reward–the sassy, spunky, and charming girl you know as Kit as my wife and lifelong companion.
I heard a D-Day veteran who crossed Omaha beach say, “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience. And I wouldn’t do it again for a million dollars.” Aside from Kit–who is better than a million dollars–that’s how I feel about Nigeria. Somehow enduring the hardest things enriches our lives in a manner good times can not.
Our first novel, Challenge for Two, introduces late middle-aged Dave and Katie whose lives have fallen apart. Katie describes their circumstances. “I feel like our old life was a boat that went over a waterfall with us inside. Now we’re bobbing up in the pool below, glad to be alive, but without a boat.”
People ask us, “Are Dave and Katie Kit and Drew?” No, although we do use our real experiences to create situations for our characters. Dave and Katie certainly weren’t Kit and Drew when we wrote Katie’s statement in 2016. Then our lives were awash with opportunities and excitement. Circumstances are different now. The organization in which we’ve served God most of our lives is changing. Younger leadership, new terminology, and different values have made us not relevant. And getting older makes our previous lifestyle increasingly difficult. Dave and Katie are not us. We have become them.
Where to look for inspiration? Well, our fictional characters to start. Dave and Katie do discover new life and purpose. They choose to be more-than-ordinary and thereby experience adventure and meaning in that novel and three sequels.
I believe God has a more-than-ordinary desire for everybody. But like most things, He doesn’t serve it to us on a platter. When life reaches dead ends, you must search for new life and purpose and work for it. We hope you will join us on this journey in the coming months.
The lake at our house is a magnet for all sorts of wildlife. This week we’ve had an invasion of water weasels–that is four troublesome river otters. Cute is inadequate to describe their antics playing on the banks and diving in the water. Otters are not shy animals. They confront intruders snorting at them in defiance.
My favorite Psalm has always been 104 all about nature. “. . . teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small.” I’ve wondered why I love wildlife so much.
Maybe it’s my admiration of their freedom and independence. More likely, I relish unpredictability of any kind, which wildlife brings with abundance.
Otters aren’t totally unpredictable. Today we discovered a yard long catfish and a large bass both killed and eaten by our visitors. I remembered another part of Psalm 104. “All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.”
Did God give those water weasels my fish? Then let God give them fish from the river tomorrow. I plan to look for the place they’ve likely wriggled under the fence and then block them out.
A packing area at Kit and Drew’s house
In high school, I developed a sophisticated formula related to probability and submitted it as a paper to our regional science-math competition. Won a blue ribbon–as I recall–cut from cloth with a pair of scissors. But the real prize was a life-long understanding and appreciation for mathematical prediction.
Scripture proves that God sometimes suspends the laws of nature. But the truth is that He does that only rarely. Normally, when you throw something into the air, it falls back to earth–perhaps hurting someone, if you’re not careful. Nature also has laws of probability. God suspends the laws of probability occasionally, but not very often. People who violate those laws frequently hurt themselves or others.
Those who have read our Life Skills book on making good choices know that I think gambling is foolish. “A tax on people poor in math,” one wag said. Our readers may also remember that I endorse taking chances–when the odds are in your favor. Risk taking is almost always necessary for great accomplishment or reward.
In a previous blog, I reported that FamilyLife’s departure from Little Rock leaves us no reason to remain here. We are hoping to have an adventure moving somewhere new, perhaps Washington State. Some people have shook their heads in wonder, “Why would you do that at your age?”
We think the odds are in our favor. And at our age, we certainly have less to lose. Currently, we are busy packing up and preparing our house for sale. We’ve been to Washington and done meticulous research. We have a solid plan.
Let me encourage you, dear reader, once you’ve carefully worked something through, if the odds of success are good, take a chance.
The company where I worked as engineer periodically provided consultants to give us time management or productivity training. Various books on prioritizing and avoiding the tyranny of the urgent circulated among us. All the plans ultimately boiled down to: write the things you need to do in a list, designate the items #1, 2, or 3 by relative importance, then start with the #1s.
Invariably a wag among us would ask, “What if you don’t have time to make a list?” The instructor would politely laugh at the thousandth time he’d heard that one and answer something like, “Write down, ‘Make a list,’ on any piece of paper then put a #1 beside it.” Unfortunately, Kit and have been in hectic situations for months in which we felt like we didn’t have to make a list.
Too bad, because the principle of list making has been proven to improve effectiveness. Unlike many people, I’m a natural list-maker. First the list de-clutters my head trying to remember all I need to do. Secondly, the list combines all the tasks into one big job. When I’m working on the list, I don’t feel guilty about neglecting something specific, because I’m working on the one big job.
In addition to peace of mind, Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the most of our time. So I’m a believer in effective time management. But I think that one category of task should be prioritized even before #1 important. Those are the things that if not done will require much more time later. For example, I know to add fuel stabilizer to our lawn mowers before winter. Two years ago I felt too busy speaking and writing to mess with lawnmowers. The following spring we had to take each of three mowers to have the carburetors cleaned–perhaps 100X as much time and effort as protecting them would have been. Time and effort that could have been spent on more important things including speaking and writing.
If you’re not a natural list maker, I encourage you to try it for the new year. Several incidents of wasted time due to poor planning have forced Kit and I to do what I already know is effective–make a list. And yes, our lawnmowers have been winterized for this year.
Photo wall at Kit and Drew’s house
Everybody has photos that remind them of people, places, and occasions. My favorites are those that remind me of times when God did something special. Like the Old Testament Israelites built monuments of stone as reminders of God’s work, Kit and I have many photos on the walls of our home.
But I also carry a different type of reminder–memories that serve as an emotional snapshot of an experience. I can revisit positive feelings of jubilation, overflowing joy, gratitude, relief, and calm peace. They help me re-enjoy wonderful moments. Other emotional snapshots are negative–sorrow, regret, fear, or hurt. Here’s the surprise: Even negative memories add to the richness of life. Try asking an older person about highlights of their life. They are more likely to recite hard times survived than good times enjoyed.
Negative emotional snapshots make me congratulate myself for having recovered. Then those memories put my experiences in perspective and make me less critical of myself. They say to me, “Aren’t you glad for your current circumstances?”
A recent article in Aeon magazine calls pursuit of unbroken happiness a fetish. The writers claim that denying negative emotions can result in anxiety or depression when expectations are not met. For example, some fantasize about having a perfect Christmas. Holiday disasters are some of my favorite emotional snapshots . Aeon also makes a good case that failure to balance our emotions also makes us vulnerable to manipulation to buy products in pursuit of happiness.
Regardless, emotional experiences are a large part of our lives–both the positive and negative. All our emotions make life rich. Please don’t discard any emotional snapshots, especially those of Christmas. You may cherish them later.