Journal entry by Debby Larimer

I’m very grateful that the call finally came this week from my hospital visit two weeks ago .  I am negative for Covid-19. I’m very happy to know that this bout of pneumonia too will pass.  It took a load off of my mind knowing that I was not a carrier. 
We even celebrated as a family. A dear friend that does not live locally had the idea of treating us to food from Salvatore’s, a pizza shop a few doors down from us.  We ordered online and the kids got out to pick it up. It broke up the day and we enjoyed our time celebrating togetherness. In a family of 5 who struggle with a variety of issues that could cause any of us to struggle to come out on top, if Covid19 came through our door.  I think it’s very hard not to see what is happening in the world, in our counties, in our neighborhoods and world and not shed some tears.  Yesterday a store in my community was closed because of positive testing. On my kid’s walks they pass by this store. My friends and neighbors frequent here for snacks, gas or groceries. One concern I have with this virus is watching it impact someone close to me. People are suffering alone, losing their battle alone and we are in our homes waiting and experiencing the isolation. I do believe that those who have had to change their lifestyle due to chronic health concerns have learned to adapt over the years in order to strive toward longevity. I have needed to chose to use my limited strength in my home and if there is more energy or strength, then I have used it to venture out.  Fortunately this past year I have been able to do more. I have attempted to extend my days by learning how to conserve my strength, health and time. It has been a learning process to balance what is best and how to avoid certain consequences of over exerting or subjecting myself to things that could affect my ability to stay in my home.  I know how important it is to trust and rely on God. I believe that nothing filters through His hands without His ultimate knowing. Years ago I came across these verses when it hit me that I was in a groove of questioning God and I would feel I had a right to tell God what to do in my life, others lives and His world. I wasn’t listening, trusting and inviting God to have His way in my life each day.
Isaiah 40:13 “Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor?”
Romans 11:34“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
My pulmonologist touched base with me and the tests that he wanted ASAP have been postponed. He reassured me that when they can resume I will be on his list to attend to. I also was suppose to go to Hershey to work on my pelvic pain, episodic bleeding and explore other options.  They rescheduled me for June for now.  All of our lives are on hold and I am trusting one physician, the faithful Great Physician, who is present with us and never slumbers or sleeps.
 I need to hang onto hope and remind myself and my family that right in this moment we are winning a battle. We are OK. Even if times are so very overwhelming, I need to fight the fear that wants to engulf so many of us. When praying with my family, I encouraged my children to share their concerns, questions, doubts or fears. God understands all of the things on our hearts, even the things we may not verbalize. Psalm 139:2 reminds me ...”You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar”
We need to be real about how we feel, but then humble our hearts so He can work in and through us and those around us. Even in the muddle or middle of an epidemic.
I just love the Psalms during the ups and downs of my life. Psalm 119 is a  l o n g of chapter with 176 verses, but it is a chapter of the Bible that can calm my fears and carry me through a dificult time. It reminds me of the power of word during hard times. Last night I was soooo rest less. I had both physical pain and mental gymnastics so I went to this chapter
119:28...My soul is weary with sorrow;  strengthen me according to your word. 119:114....”You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word”.  His living word is where I can go to find truth and instruction. 
As this week has unfolded I have faced some of the realities. I belong to a group of people who live with Sarcoidosis from around the world. There have been a few who lost their battle due to lung involvement and compromised immune systems in the past month. One young girl, 21, had this illness for 6 months and now she is gone. I’m just reflecting on my fortune to have life, in my home abundantly. I’m overcoming but also struggling to come to terms with the fragility of life. I know I’ve gone through periods where fear was a tough hurdle to outcome. Right now the threats are real for all of us, BUT we do not stand alone.. Even those in the medical field or those that still are working out in our communities to meet others needs. Help with our utilities is still available, we have the internet and phones and I have the support of my caregivers...I continue to pray along with you for protection over them, rain down peace that can only come from the Prince of peace. Help us all to work together in our homes and in our communities to cooperate first with what God is telling our hearts to do and then obeying the guidelines that are being enforced. 
Right now we made the decision to not have Geoff and Britt return to work at the supermarket. In fact they requested instruction from their PCP to see if they could return because they need a doctors note in order to return. They still have not heard back and as we have prayed more about it, we feels it’s not wise for them to be working because of the myotonic dystrophy and not knowing how this could affect them if they came in contact. We also want to take precautions for what might be brought back home.  Jenns business Is still on hold as well because they work with food preparation.  
Our family has never ended a day in true need. God has always provided, guided and given in ways that support us Spiritually, emotionally and physically. Many times others have shared in ways we never expected. We may be low on TP but we are not out yet. There is always enough to sustain us or creative ways to thrive.  I feel my adult children are dealing with this pandemic fairly well. They are accustomed to being limited with transportation, needing to wait for things and, unfortunately, living in a mode of making the best out of situations. Life is unpredictable and stability is a wonderful thing in our lives, but when uncertainty comes or we head into the unknown, I think dependence of God becomes a strength. At least I pray for this.  I have been so blessed watching the ways God supplies the unexpected. This God given security comes from within, in our relationship with God. So even if I end up away from family and friends, I always know He is near.
I have been painting, writing and learning how to draw using my I pad pencil. Emily is creating with polymer clay. Jenn and Britt started an online exercise program with PA spec olympics. We got back to our Friday fun night after two weeks. Geoff chose the movie and we had a backwards night by having eggs, OJ and delicious multigrain bread that someone shared with us. 
The song, A Mighty Fortress is Our God by Martin Luther continues to come to my mind. My grandfather was a pastor and I was privileged to learn and hear many hymns. This beginning of this hymn reflects on Psalm 46 verse 1, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." You can easily see where Martin Luthers thought came from. Another English translation of this hymn uses “A safe stronghold our God is still" but A mighty fortress is our God" is what sticks in my thoughts. Keeping in mind that this hymn was written in the early 1500’s. Thiswas during the period of exile and he was translating the Old Testament. He wrote it following the Reformation day....Hooray!
A big Thank you to the friends who picked up my prescriptions, those that are looking for TP and the grocery shoppers, and everyone that is working tirelessly to serve in our communities. 

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 
Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Song by Martin Luther
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow'r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly pow'rs, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God's truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

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