Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Are You Staying Home During the Coronavirus Crisis?

Luke 21:11 (KJV):  And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.

I provide broadcast captioning for television. On any given day, especially on the weekends, I might caption five or more hours of sports. Baseball, basketball, and hockey are the three main ones, but I also caption football, all kinds—American, Australian, and real football—the kind that consumes the hearts of sports fanatics in Europe.

All of that ended with the shutdown of sports. I used to wonder what would happen if people didn’t have sports to watch. For many, it’s an addiction—to escape from problems, to enjoy a pastime, to be entertained, and on and on. I waited a long time to caption sports, until my children were much older. I could never see myself captioning a baseball game into the thirteenth inning and serving dinner two hours late with a two-year-old and nine-year-old waiting to be fed.
But eventually, I did caption sports; first baseball, then basketball, and then all the rest. Last week on ESPN, I captioned a fiery knife thrower, bare-hand fish hunters, and hill rollers—or something like that. 
I never quite got the gist of that last sport that took place in the U.K., but it was obvious the sports producer was digging into the very bottom of the sports barrel hoping live sports would be resurrected soon.
So now, instead of captioning baseball—my favorite sport to caption—I’m captioning Coronavirus press conferences of President Trump, governors around the country, city mayors, local doctors, nurses, and even recovering Coronavirus patients. I had to come up with a good brief for hydroxychloroquine. Who would have thought I would ever need to know what that word meant?
It’s only been three months since Christmas and the entire world is affected. Because I’m such a conspiracy nut, I knew about the virus in Wuhan probably before most people did. It was barely mentioned in the news, and I have to admit, I never expected it to become what it is now.
Even with all the books I’ve read and YouTube videos I’ve watched dealing with apocalyptic scenarios, partly out of my own interest but also as research for my Seventh Dimension Series, I can’t remember seeing anything that took on the scope of this pandemic, although I have heard scientists predict that we were past due for a flu similar to the Spanish flu of 1918.
I also can’t remember anything on a global scale that has affected me personally to this degree since the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was living in Atlanta at the time, and my mother had just remarried. I remember the drills the elementary school conducted, that if something were to happen, to run into the hallway and cover our head. I remember my mother and new father showing me how to walk home from school if the worst happened. 
We had just moved with their marriage the previous week, and I was living in an unfamiliar part of town. I remember them telling me what would be safe to eat, that anything in a can would be okay, but practically nothing else. And I was acutely aware of death—of my own, theirs, or classmates. I had a scary feeling that my world, as tenuous as it was, might soon come to an end.

That was fifty-seven years ago. I was in first grade. I hardly knew anyone because I had just enrolled in that school, and because we were living in a different apartment, I didn’t know a soul. While John F. Kennedy wasn’t a perfect president, he was certainly the man for the hour. He stood up to Cuba, and a nuclear war was averted.
Whether you love Trump or hate him, I would encourage you as an American to support him. We need everyone to come together and to do their part to help us get through this. The one thing I keep hearing over and over is that people need to stay home. By staying home, we can slow down the exponential increase in cases, hopefully long enough to spread out the need for ventilators over a longer period to save lives.
Many years ago, when my daughter, Joy, was in third grade, I got the shingles. I’d never had shingles and didn’t know what it was, but my eye was a mess and it hurt. I finally made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, in between a hectic captioning schedule to see what was going on. The doctor examined me and said I had an eye infection. As an afterthought, I said, “You know, I also have this rash on my forehead.”
The doctor stopped what he was doing and examined my forehead. Immediately he exclaimed, “You’ve got shingles.”
My mother had had shingles, and she had told me more than once how painful it was. No wonder I was in so much pain. The doctor looked at my eye again and shook his head. “It’s a wonder you didn’t lose your eyesight. If the spread had gone down instead of up, you would have.”
I went home that night thankful that somebody discovered a cure for shingles and that in a few days I’d feel much better. I don’t remember many shows I’ve captioned over ten years ago, but I remember the show I did that night. It was on QVC, and the woman was from Asia and spoke with the heaviest accent you could have and still call it English. I couldn’t open that eye, and so I captioned that hour-long show squinting in pain in a language that sounded nothing like English. I hope they sold some jewelry that night. If they did, I’m sure it wasn’t because of my perfect captions. Lord only knows what I wrote!
But that isn’t the end of the story. I got better within a few days. Life seemed to return to normal, and I went out of town on a trip, only to get a phone call from my dear friend who was taking care of my daughters.
“I think Joy has chickenpox,” Sylvia said.
“What? No, she can’t have chickenpox. She had chickenpox when she was a baby.” Or did she?
Joy had broken out in a rash while on vacation in Destin, Florida, and I had taken her to the emergency clinic. The doctor said he was ninety percent sure it was chickenpox. So I took his word for it and never got her the vaccine. Well, I guess she didn’t have chickenpox after all. I returned home from my out-of-town trip early, took her to the pediatrician, and received the diagnosis: chickenpox.
So Joy stayed home from school and gymnastics practice for the next seven to ten days. Unexpectedly, after she returned to school, she came home with a letter from the school principal that went something like this: It has come to our attention that we have had an outbreak of chickenpox in our school. Several cases have been reported, and if your child breaks out with a rash, has a fever…”
When Joy returned to her gymnastic class, I heard through the gossip mill of mothers that several gymnasts had recently come down with chickenpox.
I didn’t have the guts or heart to tell those parents it was because of me. I got the shingles, Joy caught the chickenpox from me, and then she passed it on to several students and gymnasts, and those kids probably shared it with others I never knew about.
Fortunately, enough kids had been immunized and enough adults had had the chickenpox as children that it didn’t turn into an epidemic. 
I bring that story up here to stress how important it is that we take measures to avoid contact with others during this Coronavirus Crisis. There is no treatment and there is no vaccine. Therefore, some people who get it will not have the resources to fight it and will die. There aren’t enough ventilators for those who might have trouble breathing. For the first time in U.S. history, we may have to triage patient care. That means somebody will have to choose who will live and who will die.
Coronavirus is spreading at an unprecedented rate. To have something this deadly overtake so many countries around the world at once is unimaginable. If someone had predicted this beforehand, they would have been written off as a conspiracy nut. I know. I’ve been called that by one of my kids.
CLICK TO TWEET:  The truth is I believe we are heading into a time period that was predicted in the Bible over two thousand years ago. The word “pestilence” in Luke 20 is associated with a specific period of calamity. 
We’ve seen the dramatic rise in earthquakes over the last few years. Famines around the world have increased, and I would not be surprised to see “wonders” in the sky in the not-too-distant future. Steve Cioccolanti, a pastor in Australia with Discover Ministries, who also teaches Biblical prophecy and its intersection with current events, believes we are at the opening of the third seal, the third horse of the apocalypse.
Revelation 6:5-6 (KJV): And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, “Come and see.” And I beheld, and lo, a black horse, and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, “A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
Pastor Cioccolanti believes the opening of the seals happens before the seven-year tribulation. If that is true, we may be closer to the return of Christ than many of us have imagined.

I encourage everyone to stay at home, read books, spend quality time with family, and pray. Pray that God will use the Coronavirus to show people that even though our lives can quickly change, God is unchanging. Jesus Christ is our rock, our hope, and our salvation.
Take time to read the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. Ask God to help you reprioritize what’s most important. Eat well to build up your immune system. Take vitamin C and vitamin D. Pray for President Trump and all of our leaders, our doctors and nurses, and our pastors. The emotional impact may be exhausting. Pray for one other, that God will meet our needs—financial, spiritual, and physical—to help us through this difficult time.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

“And I Will Restore to You the Years the Locusts Hath Eaten…” Joel 2:25 (KJV)

“I took away her dreams,” my husband told the judge. His words stung. My dreams of bearing children, finishing my college degree, and pursuing my goal of becoming a writer seemed impossible. At thirty, I had hit rock bottom and had to start over in a dead-end job I hated. Tears welled up as I wept bitterly.

Thirty-three years later, I thank God he did not save my marriage. As an abuse survivor, I learned to be kind to myself. Prayer and reading God’s Word helped me to heal. I discovered freedom through travel. I found new ways to earn my college degree and studied internationally. I eventually earned my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. 

I learned to keep a short memory. I overcame bitterness by developing a positive attitude. I discovered beauty because I chose to look for it. I learned to love better and adopted two beautiful little girls from Nepal and Vietnam. I homeschooled them and learned patience. I chose to forgive. I was most surprised to learn that locusts can only eat so much. Then they die.

With the wind at my back and the sand underneath my feet, I no longer lament the years the locusts stole from me. They aren’t worth remembering. Only my footprints remain for others to follow. 

Instead, I’m thankful. Nothing is ever wasted, especially suffering. By taking that first step towards renewal, we can share our victories despite our pain. Others will be encouraged when they see our footprints and know they aren’t alone.