Look Beyond the Challenge

A Journal During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Reflections and Inspiration from Maple Grove
March 22, 2020

The first I recall hearing about an outbreak of a virus was probably in January when headlines carried news of a mysterious respiratory illness spreading from China through Europe. In February, we learned the disease was identified as a coronavirus and was named COVID-19. It had reached the United States and by mid-March had been declared a worldwide pandemic. It quickly spread to all 50 states. A United States National Emergency was declared, and that's when life began changing for all of us.  

The purpose of these posts is not to provide details about COVID-19 nor to offer opinions about political or economic ramifications.  It has been a long time since I got away from "blogging," and I see this as an opportunity to simply share a journal of my personal experiences and reflections about life for us at Maple Grove during this crisis.

Up until March 13, life had continued as normal except that concerns were growing, and the need for extreme measures to contain the spread of the virus became apparent. Suddenly, we began hearing unfamiliar phrases like "social distancing" and "sheltering in place."  Many people reacted as they often do under such circumstances by clearing the grocery shelves of food and paper products.  It became impossible to find hand sanitizer or toilet paper.  Schools were shut down; churches began to suspend worship services and activities; and then State Governors began directing the closure of stores and businesses.  I have never experienced anything like this in my lifetime.

So how are we handling it at Maple Grove?  Well, the first thing we did immediately was cancel our family's St. Patrick's Day celebration and gathering.  We were very decisive about cooperating with the nation's effort to contain the deadly spread.  So now I have nine pounds of corned beef in my freezer for some future celebration. I really miss being with my family in person.  It's very quiet and calm at Maple Grove these days. One day this week we went to the store to buy some ground beef and eggs, but the store was depleted of both.  We stopped at one of the local butcher shops and bought some meat, but they were out of eggs also.  We decided this is a good time, more than ever, to support our local shops.  Our chickens haven't laid eggs since their fall molt, so we'll just have to do without eggs for a while. 

Danny and I are both retired, and it's just the two of us at home, so this sheltering in place is not as hard for us as it is for people with jobs and children.  My heart goes out to them as I think about how difficult it must be.  We lost a chunk of money in the market, but we don't have all our assets there, and we will be ok.  Fortunately, our freezer and pantry are stocked with food that we froze or canned last fall, and we have several rolls of toilet paper in the closet, so we're good to go. 😂😂

Following is a glimpse at what life was like here at Maple Grove and how we spent our time this first week of social distancing. 

For a while I have had an idea about applying artwork to my dining room windows to simulate leaded glass.  I had bought the supplies previously, and now I had some time to attack it.  Using rubber adhesive strips and stained glass window paint, I gave it a shot, and I'm really pleased with the results.  This was a three-day project as I had to let each application dry thoroughly overnight. 
I'm so glad we had a nice warm spell at the beginning of this week. Since I was gussying up my windows, I first washed them inside and out, and I washed the sheer curtains too.  Now we can see so clearly when we look out the window, but as I was taking this photo, I was looking so hard at the window itself that I didn't even notice the Chickie-Babes outside until later when I previewed the photo.  You know, life is like that too.  Sometimes we are focusing so hard on the immediate challenge before us that we can't see the bigger picture beyond.  

"We fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is not seen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). 

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3).

During Lent, we've been going out to lunch on Fridays for some fish and frosty.  We wanted to try a variety of restaurants for comparison.  We went to Zacherl's, Rachel's, The Monroe, and W. Rick's.  Since restaurants have closed other than for takeout orders, this past Friday we got takeout from Mel's Place and had fish and frosty at home.  All of the fish lunches have been very good, but I have to say, Mel's was my favorite.
During this season of Lent, we've been listening to daily Bible readings, using a seven-week reading plan I devised to take us through the life of Christ from birth to His crucifixion and Resurrection. The reading plan takes us through the entire books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in a parallel fashion. I spent some time this week completing the arrangement, and I offer to share with you "The Cradle, the Cross and the Crown" as a free download.  

Today was the first Sunday that our church's worship services were suspended because of the "shelter-in-place" directive.  I really miss my church family, but I am so grateful for modern technology and for our pastoral staff being so caring and devoted to make preparations for pulling us together online for a meaningful time of worship.  If you are craving some worship time, I invite you to view it here and join us in the future as well.

We had a wonderful surprise yesterday.  I went down to the hen house to let the Chickie-Babes out, and lo and behold, there were two eggs in the hen house.  God is so good to us.  We were able to have our Sunday breakfast after all.  These are the first eggs the hens laid since last September, so they were a bit small and "elongegged." I didn't even know if the old gals would lay again since they are eight years old next month.
It's hard to believe the month of March has been so mild here in Pennsylvania.  We've been going for walks and even grilled outside.  In the midst of a world wide pandemic--a life-threatening crisis--we have found so much to be grateful for this week. We're grateful that we and our family are healthy. We're grateful that the market was high to begin with before dropping, and that we had the money and have plenty to begin with.  We're grateful that this pandemic came at the end of winter instead of at the beginning.  Imagine if it had come prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas and the months of cold weather. We're grateful for the warm weather and spring is here. Most of all, we're grateful for God's love, that He is always here for us, and that He sent His Son, Jesus, to take our sins on Himself in exchange for His righteousness.  May God keep you safe and healthy and provide for all your needs.

Lord God, we take comfort in knowing that you are just and merciful, and that all things are in your hands.  Forgive us for failing to acknowledge and honor you.  We give thanks for your Son, Jesus, who is our Savior from all that is wrong in this world.  Help us to trust you in these difficult days, and to turn to your Holy Word for comfort and hope.  In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.


  1. love this. i loved reading what you wrote it made me smile keep on doing this is is much appreciated. hope your family stays safe thru all of this

    1. Thank you so much. God bless you and keep you and your family safe and well.

    2. Love this! Good 'hearing' from you again. Your windows are beautiful! Congrats on the eggs...and congrats on the stockpile of corned beef - a hot commodity around here!

    3. Thank you Karin. I hope you and your family are faring well through all of this.

  2. 8 year old hens laying eggs is amazing! It’s great reading your updates, Katie.
    Love ,

    1. Thanks Becky. I appreciate your encouragement. God bless you.

  3. Hello Katie;

    Showers of blessings and prayers for your loved one's and you as well. I enjoy having you "pop" in and out of my email through the year.

    Up north we're in a day of beautiful sunshine, snowy ground, and on the cusp of total lock down. We can still limit our visits to the grocery store. I'm more settled (back on schedule) today, focusing on being thankful and content.


  4. p.s. Katie...can you share what window kit you used? Thank you.