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Ignorance is bliss?

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Sometime in the last months someone shared a statistic with me. I’m wary of statistics in general. I used to tell my students that 79% of them were made up. Or 82%. Or whatever number I felt like throwing out there. They never questioned me.

At any rate, back to the point, someone shared that 65% of the American population died during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I found this number rather startling. Over half of the population of our country DIED? How in the world did we manage to bounce back from that?

Turns out we didn’t. Because the statistic is wrong. Someone (not the person who told me the statistic) is bad with decimals.

I did my own research and the number I found was .65% of the population in a year and a half of Spanish Flu. Granted, numbers are not my forte, but that number seems a little more believable. And to put the number to people, it means that 675,000 people died in that year and a half. . . .mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends. It is still a staggering amount of loved ones to lose to a virus that is unemotional and unbiased.

You brought me to a museum? Seriously?

I was given the original stated statistic because someone was making the argument that Covid-19 was “not a big deal”. The numbers were “worse for Spanish Flu and the government didn’t panic and institute such restrictions on the citizenry.”

Recently, Steven and I took Peter to the High Point Museum. Something to do on a Saturday afternoon to get out of the house. Peter appropriately scowled at being dragged to a museum by his enthusiastic parents, at least until we got outside to the onsite blacksmith who was hammering at making some “sporks” for some local Boy Scouts.

Information about High Point’s response to smallpox and Spanish Flu.

However, inside the museum we read a lot about the establishment and growth of our little High Point. We were interested in discovering that in 1899 smallpox broke out. Under city ordinance, the sick were quarantined and every one else was inoculated. Visitors to the great city were required to show proof of vaccination or agree to be vaccinated or they were asked to leave. In 1918 when the Spanish Flu got here, the city council banned public assemblies impacting theaters, clubs, and churches. The disease spread through factories and businesses that were allowed to remain open.

But, you know, we live in unprecedented times, right?

His Timing

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Our first pregnancy, Nugget

Yesterday, December 3, 2020, marked the anniversary of mine and Steven’s journey to parenthood. It was four years ago that we discovered we were pregnant for the first time, and our lives were forever changed.

I wanted to write something yesterday, but I didn’t know how to formulate my thoughts. Then, tonight, we did our Advent devotion. We use the devotional I wrote called God’s Gift. I posted it here last year. I can’t lie. It was strange to be on this side of that penning. To know, with realness, the joy that Sarah references.

I’ve talked about our journey on multiple occasions. The pain and confusion. The grief. The little moments of joy that we found through it. The desire for it to be used for something greater than ourselves. And while we were prepared for our story to have a much different ending, here we are in the midst of a parenting adventure with Peter.

And it’s His timing that has brought it about. Numerous examples exist explaining why His timing is better than anything Steven and I could have orchestrated. I was able to retire from my job and am home. Steven had accumulated enough time to have paid leave for an extended period. A promotion was a possibility–with it a change in schedule that we were able to “test drive” before a decision had to be made. And, frankly, a pandemic.

Meeting my son for the first time having to wear a mask.

I don’t know if I can explain that last one to my, or anyone else’s, satisfaction. It’s about more than Peter giving us something good to focus on in a difficult year. We are familiar with difficult years–this one was just a different difficult. The pandemic has sharpened our focus on our family unit. Honestly, I’m grateful for the unique backdrop that is Peter’s birth year. The masks, the social distancing, the learning new ways to be community. The world that we brought Peter into is markedly different than the world we left behind December 31, 2019. It’s a new opportunity, more starkly apparent than ever before. I often feel that too many people are too eager to throw out the blessings of this year because they came wrapped in disappointments, heartaches, and raindrops.

I read recently in Rachel Held Evans’ Inspired something said by Ellen Davis: “From [Job] above all others in scripture, we learn that the person in pain is a theologian of unique authority. . .qualified to speak of God in a way that others, whom we generally call more fortunate, cannot speak” (97). Job has resonated with me over the last four years already. {Peter’s life verse actually comes from Job–chapter 5, verse 9} Reading this helped illuminate what I have felt glimmering in the depths of my soul.

My relationship with God has changed over this journey. It has deepened, become more solid, become more honest. I have learned to go to Him with it all, no matter what that all is.

Peter’s dedication service where we announced his life verse: “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Job 5:9 NIV

So, it is in His timing that the birth of our son came and the journey parameters change.