Total cases: 492,416
Total deaths: 18,559
(According to CDC, on 4/11/2020)
This week the statistic of the COVID-19 pandemic hit me in a new way. Prior to this week, they were just a statistic and sad to say they were not much more than that. I look at this number of deaths this is 18,559 people who have died since January 21, 2020(that is only 81 days). There is a person with a name, a family and a life behind each number. A person is a person no matter who they were or what they did. They are still a person that God created to be on this earth for a time. People matter to God so they should matter to us.
There are people who will argue that this statistic is inflated or incorrect, that some of those people died of something else but tested positive for COVID-19 or let us not forget the numerous conspiracy theories that are out there surrounding COVID-19. Can we stop arguing?!? The fact is that 18,559 people have died in the United States in 81 days! This number does not include the people who have died that are not related to COVID-19.
Let that sink in for a little. 18,559 people have died in 81 days in the US.
How does this not bother us? How does this not sadden us? How is this not like a sucker punch to our gut when we hear it?
Can we put aside all politics, conspiracy theories, etc? And mourn with the people who have lost loved ones?
Most likely these family and friends will not be able to say goodbye to their loved ones for a while due to the funeral being postponed. Meanwhile, they continue living life feeling and seeing the void their loved one left behind. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how that would feel, how it would be hard to face each day and how they feel when they see us arguing about where COVID-19 came from or who is responsible for it. At this point, in my opinion when we are pointing the fingers to someone else we are forgetting what is important. Reality is that we are in a health pandemic worldwide with a highly contagious virus. And we all have a responsibility to respond wisely and do our part to help minimize the spread.
While I am on this soapbox, I am going to share something else that I have seen that sends me from zero to one hundred. Some Christians have claimed that this is religious persecution because we are not able to gather in our churches together to have church.
First, this is not religious persecution. Our governing authorities have put things in place to protect us. And we as Christians have a responsibility to follow what our authorities ask us to do. “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1 The government authorities have not taken away our religious freedom at this time in the United States.
Second, the church is more than just a building. We(people) are the church, not a building. This pandemic has caused Christians to look at how we do church and why we do it this way. It has caused a pivot in churches. Most churches are holding services online. Most of my family is Old Order Mennonite and they have held church services in a building for many generations. They are now doing a hotline call where their congregation can call in and listen to the message. They do not have internet and/or TV so doing church online is not an option. This is a monumental change for this church! This would have not happened if they did not need to think creatively on how to provide a message for their congregations.
Can we put ourselves aside and think of others during this time? This will look different for each person.
It might mean that you stay home and practice social distancing.
It might mean that you wear a mask when you go grocery shopping.
It might mean that you find creative ways to connect with others. Such as phone calls, video calls, send snail mail, etc.
It might mean that your business pivots to be able to continue to serve your clients.
It might mean you work from home now.
It might mean that you no longer have the distractions that you had and you have no excuse not to do the thing you have been putting off.
It might mean that you support essential workers by staying home. As they are putting their life on the line to make sure people have what they need or the care they need.
Recently, I wanted to try more of a fashion shoot rather than a lifestyle photoshoot. My friend agreed when I asked if she would model for me. We actually switched services. Miranda, my friend, became my editor for my Rocking Chair Stories Session and I would do the photoshoot for her. Miranda has this big and unique personality. She tells stories with lots of inflection, accents, and gestures. Honestly, the first time I met her, I was not sure I would be friends with her because I thought she was way over the top. It is a good thing that we don’t go by the first impression. Because I learned that at times she may be over the top by my standards but that is what makes her unique. There are so many other things that make her an amazing person and friend.
Miranda loves the people in her life deeply. She is on the quest for truth and authenticity especially in her relationship with God. As big as her personality is, she has this ability to be still and present where she is at. Miranda has a maturity that most 19 years do not have. Her style reminds me of the 1980’s and 1990’s with a modern twist to it. Miranda fit right into the vision that I had the photoshoot. The clothes she wore were all clothing she had in her closet.
We met in Lancaster City, PA on top of the Duke Street parking garage to begin our shoot. The parking garage had some great options for the photo shoot. After we were done at the parking garage, we got in my car and drove to the Lancaster County Court House. (Which when we go there we realized that we could have walked there from the parking garage.) At the end of the shoot, I found this alley beside the courthouse where we finished the shoot with a few alley shots. We visited La Dolce Vita Courthouse Bakery on the way out of town to take home some awesome baked goods for later on.
The Coronavirus has completely changed our lives in what it seemed like an instant. In these unprecedented times, take a few moments to document what you are seeing and experiencing in words and pictures. If you are home with your family, take a few photos each day of activities that you are engaging in. And you don’t have to be a professional photographer or own a “fancy” camera to do so. Just take photos with your cell phone to document what is happening in your life and in our world. You will be happy that you did. You will be able to look back at these photos and it will remind you of the memories that you made at this time. Heck, maybe make a photo album out of it. You could call it The Corona Chronicles.
Here are a few tips for you to be able to capture your photos.
I know this can be daunting to remember all this when you are taking a quick picture with your phone. Don’t get caught up trying to remember all this. Just take photos! Document what you are experiencing on your own or with others(family, friends/roommates). There is so much that we can take photos of during this time. Some suggestions are: what social distancing looks like for you in your home, your children helping you cook dinner, when you go for a walk look at the things around you, cute things your pets do, etc.
Give yourself grace as you are learning to take photos. You will not be at the level as a professional photographer and that is ok! You don’t need to be a professional photographer to be able to take good photos of your Corona Chronicles.
Lastly, I would love to see the photos that you take during this time. Tag me in your photo on social media or send me an email(email@example.com) with your photo.
You meticulously and brush the sky with the stroke of your paint brush. You do this with intention. You place the clouds in the right place so they can highlight the colors you choose to light you the sky with. You have colors in your paint palette that we don’t even know exist. You choose to paint the sky each morning and evening. You delight as you watch your creation as an artist when light dances across the sky with each sunrise and sunset unique in its own way. No single one is the same! You love when we stop and marvel at your masterpiece that you create.
When we choose to marvel the painted sky, we are reminded of you, the Creator, who does this faithfully every day without fail. If you are faithful in something like the sunset or sunrise, then how much more faithful will you be for me? I was created in your image. And you delight when I trust you, my Creator, to provide for me faithfully in every moment. So I can choose trust you in your promises because you are faithful.
A few years ago, I started a tradition for me on Christmas morning. My tradition is to go into nature on Christmas morning and take pictures. I love it because there is a stillness and peace. It’s like the world is still asleep. There are few cars on the road. And when you are out in nature you hear can hear the world around you. Sometimes it is the crunch of dried leaves as you step on them or the bird that is singing in the woods. Funny story – The first year I did this, I was at Chambers Lake at Hibernia Park where there was a beautiful fog that blanketed the lake. While I was standing there looking at the lake, I hear someone say “hello” a few times. I look around and did not see anyone. As I was about to answer this person, they continue on in their conversation. I then realized that they were on the phone.
The things you see are amazing. You see things that you normally are too busy to look for. The frost on the detail of leaves or the design of bark on a tree or fog nestled between the trees.
These are the photos from my 2019 Christmas morning photoshoot at Brubaker Park in East Earl, PA.
We have been fed this lie that being busy is a good thing. I think as a society we have become addicted to being busy. We think we have to be busy all the time. It is to the point when someone asks us “How are you doing?” A common response has been “busy.” When has this answer become ok. And in my opinion it is a masked answer for how we really are doing.
There are seasons where we will be busy and this is enviable. But when busy becomes part of our lifestyle is where we get it wrong. Because if we are always busy there is a time where you will burnout from always being so busy. You can only go so long before you will crash from being busy. You will not have time to do the things that fill you up. That help take care of you and your sanity. And we don’t have time for the relationships that are important for us.
Resting and not being caught in this hamster wheel of busyness is good for you as a whole especially emotionally. Being in the hamster wheel of busy there is an anxiety that comes with it because you have to always think about what is next. You miss the small blessings and miracles that are right in front of you in your day to day life. I can say this from personal experience. If I am not well emotionally, it throws the rest of my life off track and not seems to works well. If we are always busy, we are not taking the time to process what is going on with us and around us. I know when I do not take the time to process emotionally it is a recipe for disaster. Maybe not right away but eventually.
When we are always busy, things get missed because we can’t do everything well. When we try to so everything, we usually are operating outside of our gifts because we are trying to do everything.
The other thing about buying into the lie of having to always be busy, we rely on ourselves much more than we are suppose to. We don’t take the time to see if there is someone else in your life that would be better suited for the task than you. And we also tend not to take the time to seek and trust God. What if God doesn’t give you an answer before you need an answer? We tell ourselves it is easier to rely on ourselves and not on God or anyone else. We are created for community with God and others.
When God created the earth, He put a day of rest in for a reason. He knew that we need to rest so that we can be productive for the rest of the week. He even to took a day of rest when He created the earth.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3
So is your busyness for a season or is it a lifestyle? And is it a mask to cover up something else you don’t want to deal with?