Looking back over the past year, I cannot help but feel like I have been defrauded in so many ways. At the end of every year I spend a week in focused prayer and fasting. It is a special time of praise for what has transpired and prayer for what is to come. It would not take long before my hope and joy for the New Year would be completely crushed.
We had just arrived back to our home in Mexico where we have served the poor, marginalized and oppressed for over 3 decades, when within a few days of our return we were hit with a horrendous virus that had us in bed for over a month. Covid-19? perhaps. Just before Christmas, we had been staying on the border and it is possible we had been exposed to something before it became know as the worst pandemic in decades.
It is true that medication in Mexico is easy to come by and with the medical mission training I had many years ago I was confident that we could treat ourselves at home with antibiotics, liquids and rest. Antibiotics used to be something that you could just purchase over the counter South of the border but in recent years laws had been passed to make it illegal. However, that being said, by the grace of God we were able to attain what we needed. It was a slow recovery with many respiratory setbacks. I cried a lot in between trying to catch my breath.
Soon it became evident that something was very wrong in the world as people succumbed to an unknown virus at an alarming rate. Cities closed, countries closed and people were dying by the tens-of-thousands. When the US began a “stay at home” order, Mexico had not really been hit with the full force of the pandemic, it was the quiet before the storm. We went into a self quarantine the week of March 4th, weeks before the Mexican President issued any health orders. We are still in “quedate en casa” orders as we have yet to flatten the curve here in Southern Mexico.
Everyone jumped into emergency mode making lifestyle adjustments over night. The most difficult seemed to be working and educating from home and as the pandemic spread, more than 65% of learners around the globe were immediately affected. That is close to 1.2 billion students (1) . As a homeschooling family, that is the only area that we were not affected. Many friends reached out for help and some sense of sanity on how to handle teaching their children remotely.
After 36 years of marriage, John and I planned this year to take our very first vacation alone (with no children). The plan was to go to the Holy Land and some dear friends had paid for the air travel expenses. We scrimped and saved for the remainder. It had been in the calendar months before the Corona-virus etched its way into the history books. I had purchased a special journal for the trip. It remains tucked away in a drawer for another adventure, someday.
As a mom of 6 with two special needs teens at home, life became one drama after another. All extra-curricular activities came to a screeching halt. Those activities were vital to Ella and Noah for practicing Spanish as well as their connections to young people their age. After the initial whining and complaining, the depression began to take it’s grip on the both of them and my other children as well. I seemed to be on one drama filled phone call after another as my girls shared horror stories of not being able to find essentials at the grocery store to the complete lunacy of how others were responding to the pandemic.
I could hardly believe my ears when my eldest, momma to my only grandson, was at the local store needing diapers and a woman next to her had filled her trolley with what was left on the shelf. This person was not purchasing for herself as she had diapers of all different sizes in her trolley in addition to the fact that she was well past child-bearing years. My daughter asked for one small bag for my grandson and the woman said ‘No’ but that she could meet her at her car to buy them for her there (at triple price).
One of my daughters had just graduated from nursing school and started her dream job at a Methodist hospital in Texas in January. Imagine that. Within a few weeks, tables were overturned as nothing could have prepared any of our healthcare workers for the devastation of the 2020 Pandemic. What an absolute nightmare.
Social media was a flurry of posts and pictures of empty shelves and people searching for toilet paper and Clorax wipes. Interestingly enough, my family in the US could not find cleaning wipes and yet Clorax and Lysol continued to be imported here in Southern Mexico. In lieu of bring my older girls presents on our bi-yearly border run, I filled every nook and cranny in our vehicles with hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and Lysol Spray. The Border agents and I had a good giggle when I explained that I was importing these vital items back into the US.
During these last few months my ‘mom-mode’ has been in absolute overdrive and I made one of the biggest blunders as a momma in recent history. Attempting to give my teens something to look forward to, I assured them that when we hit stateside for our bi-yearly border run in June, we would have lots of fun. Honestly, I was thinking that the worst of this would be over and I was in good company. Most of the world thought this would be over within a few months. I promised the kids a trip to the zoo, water-park as well as tubing down the famous Comal River. I was really looking forward to that river trip. On top of all the fun would be eating some of our favorites foods. Chik-fil-A and What-a-Burger were the first two places we would visit. Oh, I was soo wrong. Well, at least we did eat Chik-fil-A and spend time with some family, but basically we were on lock-down from the moment we arrived in Texas. I felt as if I had betrayed my kids and that this mess was somehow all my fault.
To be honest, the events of these past months have burdened me and I am not alone. Weary and concerned wanderers the world over have struggled to come to grips with what the future has in store. Countless friends have been ill with this virus and some have even died. We have all lost something or someone in this midst of this pandemic. If at the very least, we have lost hope. Will it always be this way? Don’t even get me started on those (blankety-blank blank) masks, I wear them because I have a compromised immune system but as a victim of sexual abuse many years ago, I have a panic-attack every time I put one over my mouth.
How can we move on after all of this, or better yet, how do we even begin? We need a fresh start, a ‘do-over’ in order to gain a better perspective on who we are and were we go from here. Not to worry, there is an answer for just that.
Here are some of my most favorite scriptures that have carried my hurting heart through the most difficult times of my life. I have clung to these precious treasures of wisdom and grace during this season and they have been a bastion of strength for my soul. My prayer is that they will be for you as well.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 3:38-
Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:3-6
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3;20-21
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5
As a Crisis Response Chaplain with the BGEA I would like to share this with you:
If you or someone you know would like to share your prayer requests, or just talk, call the BGEA Prayer Line anytime day or night, at 888-388-2683. Trained team members are ready to listen and offer prayer and encouragement.
Please know that you are not alone. God is waiting with open arms to love on you and shower His grace and hope into your broken places. If you would like me to pray for you just mention that in the comments below. I want to hear from you, how are you doing and what the Lord is saying to you to help you through. We will get through this together, by His Amazing Grace. I love this song by For King and Country and I wanted to share it with you. I listen to it just about every day.
May the Lord envelop you in His extravagant love,
Stasia is mother to six beautiful children and wife to a dedicated, loving husband. They have served as a family together on the mission field on four continents for over 30 years. Stasia’s passion is to share in true colors the grace of God in her life. You can read more about her and the ministry of the Women’s Bible Cafe. Stasia is the CEO of LifeVerse Books and you can Subscribe to LVB to receive regular free and discounted book deals and timely reviews. If this article has blessed you in any small way, please consider showing your support by clicking subscribe in the upper right corner. Copyright© 2015 Stasia Nielsen All Rights Reserved