A Year in The Life
In no other chapter of my life can I so clearly mark a before and after like I can with February 2020 and February 2021. I am quite sure this is the same for many as well. A year ago, we could go to sporting events, attend concerts, see a movie in a theater without any hesitation or restriction. Those are outings and events I took for granted. When my family saw Robert Downey Jr.’s adaptation of “Dolittle” at the Marysville cinemas. Back then we had not thought it would be our last big-screen movie. Attending movies was a typical pass time for the Braaten family.
Life as most of us knew it radically changed in March of 2020 when the COVID 19 virus took center stage in our daily lives. And for many of us, we were directly affected by a loved one’s exposure to the virus.
Now almost a year later I am fortunate to marvel at the way in which God walked alongside me. For me, this has been a season of tremendous growth in my walk with my Lord and Savior. I bet your life looks entirely different today than it did last spring. With this realization of God’s guiding hand, I consider our takeaways, our ah-ha moments, and the clarity we have moving forward. Where has God been during this season? Right next to us, I am sure.
He is mourning our losses and celebrating our victories. The Bible clearly reminds us in Psalm 139 7-12
“Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there: if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. Even If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even in the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139:7-12).
The Braaten household under the ever-changing landscape of the past year has, like so many, hunkered down. Even if we did not embrace the mandates or even understand all of them, there was a strive to be unified. I did not see my older sons for what felt like an eternity. My eldest granddaughter became a toddler NOT before my very own eyes.
During a year in the life: My daughter in law had literally the quickest pregnancy. Unlike the arrivals of Matthew and Parker, we could not visit tiny Nova in the hospital. The takeaway from this is to savor the moments with those you love. Tomorrow is not promised. And yet in the wisdom of God, Paul encourages the Romans (and us) with Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all the joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
A Loss Revisited
In May, my sister called to tell me our father, Dave, was dying. Dave is my foster mother’s husband, and although I never lived with him or called him dad, he treated me like a beloved daughter. He cared for my children like his very own grandchildren. He loved my husband like a son. Dave was a good and caring man, and he was on his deathbed. Lee and I wrestled with the logistics of COVID, Distance Learning, and our desire to be with family. Our older children pitched in to help with Chyla immediately.
Lee and I were on a flight the very next morning. In that pain God’s mercy was ever-present. We were able to spend the remaining days of Dave’s life with him. I sat by his bedside, prayed over him, comforted my sisters and mother, and cherished the gift of time. My heart was broken in losing another decent, loving, caring, devoted earthly father, and in that brokenness, I leaned into God’s unending comfort. In the book of James 4:14, we are tasked with understanding how brief this life can be. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
The ah-ha moment came to me on a solo hike up Lone Mountain at the break of dawn. I heard the audible voice of God in my heart. He gently instructed me that our time on this earth is numbered. This is not our home. We are waiting for our adored Savior to return. And in that waiting, we glorify God with the gifts he has entrusted to us. We press on sharing our time, talents, and treasures. We care for those around us, we seek unity, and we embrace truth. God is love and we are made in his image. How can I not take each day we are given to act in love and unity?
What Do I Want Back?
Moving forward I ponder what I am willing to add back into my daily life. For the past 11 months, Lee has commandeered our kitchen counter with his workspace. Chyla has adapted to a distance learning model for her schooling. The Braaten family takes more walks, spends less money, savors the laughter of our grandchildren, and seeks the face of God in all matters of our life. There is a simpleness in lifestyle, a calm in the storm, and a deep reliance on the will of God.
The Word Which Comforts Me
I want to leave you with words that have brought me comfort this year, found in Psalms 91:
“ He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.” (Psalm 91).
What are three big differences of what was before the pandemic and what is now?
Looking back how has God carried you through? What has been your go to verse?
Think about the things you want to bring back from before the pandemic. now you have lived out a year like we have, what are you good with leaving in the past?