Share Four Somethings: March 2021

Time for another monthly review, joining with Heather Gerwing and friends for Share Four Somethings.

Something Loved

While I continue to have a love/hate relationship with Zoom, over the last month I have appreciated the opportunities it has given to connect with others even though we may be far away geographically.

I was able to take part in two writing workshops and particularly enjoyed one on writing for children.

Also, for the last few months I’ve been taking part in an exercise class on Zoom. It had appeared at the start of the year as a social media recommendation and it looked like exactly the kind of class I enjoy so I had signed up to take part. Until then I had only done pre-recorded YouTube workouts during lockdown so it was great to do something live with others, even over Zoom.

For some reason, I thought the person running it was local to me, but this week I discovered she lives at the other side of Scotland! It means I won’t be able to continue when the classes return to being face-to-face they have been a blessing during these months of lockdown.

Something Read (Or Said)

Unusually, I’m going to recommend a podcast episode this month rather than a book.

It’s from Annie F. Downs’ podcast “That Sounds Fun” and it’s episode 281: John Eldredge and a Year of the Pandemic.

Especially if you’re feeling a bit weary after the events of the last year I’d highly recommend it – it’s one of the most helpful things I’ve listened to in a long time! The conversation reflects on the impact the pandemic has had on people’s emotional and mental health and gives some advice on slowing down and finding rest in God in the midst of it all.

Two insights particularly struck me. The first was when John Eldredge described how he ran a session with his ministry staff where he encouraged them to reflect on how they were doing in different areas – how much energy they felt they had, how focused they were, how clearly they were thinking etc. – and to rate the percentage of their “normal level” they felt they were functioning at. When all the scores were added up, their average was 36%!

As he pointed out, these were people with a strong faith and relatively functional lives, and yet the toll it had taken on them was tremendous. And even those who felt they were doing better felt their reserves were very depleted.

The other insight that struck me was when he pointed out the number of similarities between all we have experienced over the last year and the techniques used to torture people in prisoner-of-war camps. A stripping away of normality, an overabundance of confusing and conflicting information, a removal of any sense of control, uncertainty over when it will end…

I found his perspective really helpful. It highlighted that it’s normal not to feel like you’re functioning completely normally right now. His words were full of encouragement to be gentle with ourselves and with one another, and he also provided some helpful resources to focus on God.

Something Treasured

As we marked the one-year anniversary of lockdown this week, it was an opportunity to reflect on the past year, and one thing I definitely treasure is my church!

Almost five years ago, I moved from a larger city centre church to be part of a church plant in my local area, and it has been a huge blessing on many levels, but it has struck me how wonderful it has been over the last year to be part of a church in a local community.

With the travel restrictions and limited social contact it has been comforting to know that there are several people close at hand. I knew that if I ever had to self-isolate there were people that would be happy to deliver groceries. It has been lovely to meet people while out walking, and to see all the creative ways people in the church have kept in touch and encouraged one another during this time as well as continuing to find ways to connect with others in the community.

When I imagine how different my experience of the pandemic would have been if it had happened five years earlier, it makes me even more grateful for my church than I already was!

Now I just long for the day when we can actually gather, not as boxes on a screen but as people in a room!

Something Ahead

In the continued uncertainty, writing about “something ahead” each month doesn’t get any easier!

However, I’m overjoyed that we finally have some potential dates for easing certain restrictions here! Since the promised easing at Christmas that was cancelled at the last minute, I’m hesitant to fully believe it until it actually happens, but if all goes according to plan, the key date is April 26th when I will hopefully be allowed to travel and see my family again. Since Christmas I’ve literally only been to the supermarket and for walks in the local area, so I can’t wait for the world to get bigger again!

In the meantime, I am looking forward to a couple of Easter events. The first is an Easter trail that I’m helping to organise with my church. It’s like a COVID-friendly version of an Easter egg hunt where families will follow a trail looking for clues to discover the Easter Story. It’s so exciting to plan for an event that we know can actually happen!

And on Easter Sunday, I’m taking part in a concert… obviously a virtual one.

It won’t be quite the same as normal, but I recorded my clarinet part in February, and on Easter Sunday I’ll get to hear how it sounds along with the rest of the orchestra.

Since it’s free to watch on YouTube, I can even invite you to join me if you’d like. It will be available to watch here and it premieres at 7pm BST on Easter Sunday, 4th April.

What about you? How has March been for you? Feel free to share a highlight or prayer request in the comments.

Also joining with these link-ups: Inspire Me Monday, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, Let’s Have Coffee, Recharge Wednesday.

36 thoughts on “Share Four Somethings: March 2021

  1. March is typically a very busy month, but also an encouraging one for where we live in the USA. The weather is finally warmer and I have been able to get out into the yard to start work on things my wife wants done in preparation for the warmer gardening weather.

    Because we file our federal and state income taxes in March-April, I have been busy with that. I have filed for a friend who went home to be with the Lord and for two other family members in addition to our own income tax return. That is a relief. Technology certainly helps make this 100% easier than it used to be when I was working in an office.

    Next month we are taking a break to visit a brother and sister in Christ in the state of Louisiana. That will be a welcome treat. We will also spend a couple of days in Memphis TN.

    I’m working on a class I am teaching via Zoom. Things have changed. In 2018 and 2019 we went to India to teach. In 2020 we couldn’t. but I was able to teach two classes attended by my new friends in India – the pastors and their wives. The class I am working on now is a study on the book of Proverbs. I’m learning as I prepare, and I’m looking forward to teaching them again. Technology is a blessing when there is a pandemic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing about your busy month! Technology has definitely been a blessing during this time. It’s amazing that it allows us to have such good connections with people on the other side of the world. I hope your class goes well and hope you enjoy your time travelling too!

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  2. Definitely will be praying that your travel plans can take place!! What a sweet blessing to be involved with a local church community/family!! We did something similar two years ago and have been so blessed!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve just been thinking of looking up some exercise videos on YouTube. I ride an exercise bike, but it would be nice to change it up sometimes.

    Those are interesting insights. We just returned to church last weekend–we’d gotten our vaccines, and our church is small enough to socially distance while we meet. While it was good to see everyone in person again, it also felt weird. I don’t know if it was because we’d been mostly at home for so long, or if because of the masks it still didn’t feel normal, or if we couldn’t really relax and enjoy it because COVID is still climbing in our area. I think even when things start opening up more, it will still take a while to feel normal. It helps to think of it like a recovery period.

    It’s good you have a good church family nearby and you’re able to make some travel plans.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are lots of great exercise videos on YouTube. It might just take a bit of searching to find one you like.
      I agree, it will take a while to readjust even when we can go back to normal. I think certain habits are so ingrained in us now that it will take time to feel relaxed in large groups of people.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lesley, I’m so sorry that you’re still so limited in what you can do. I’m hoping to finally visit my mom and sisters at the end of April after a year and a half! We usually see each other several times a year by meeting in the middle. I cannot wait! AND fingers crossed a trip to see our grands for the first time in six months is set for mid April. Oh how I hope it happens. Your info from the podcast is so interesting to me. Because I live a pretty solitary life normally, my lifestyle hasn’t changed nearly as much as most and yet, I’ve been lethargic, sad, scatter brained and sort of felt guilty about it. It’s comforting to me to think that it may be normal for the times. Thank you for sharing it! Have a blast at your Easter Walk! I love that idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cindy! I hope your trips are able to go ahead. It’s hard not to see family for so long.
      I’m glad the insights from the podcast were helpful. I think it helps a lot even just to know that how we’re feeling is normal.
      Hope you have a lovely Easter!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yep, I have that same love/hate relationship with Zoom too. On one hand, I’m VERY grateful for the way it’s allowed me to participate in some sense of community, but on the other hand, it is still lacking in many ways.

    I’m going to search for that podcast episode as soon as I hit “send” on this comment! Thanks for the recommendation, Lesley. I still feel more depleted than I’d like.

    I don’t have any plans for Easter Sunday yet and it’s really bothering me. Most of the churches near me are back to indoor services, but I don’t find them safe yet. 😦 I’m looking for something outdoors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lisa! I hope you find the podcast episode helpful. And hope you find an Easter service to go to and that you enjoy celebrating whatever you do.

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  6. I listened to Annie Downs’ new book on fun and enjoyed it. Her podcast with Eldredge sounds scary and yet reassuring. I know I am not functioning at anywhere near 100%. To think we are all functioning at such a low level and have been trying to wade through a year of hardship is a scary thought. Yay to your concert. We just watched an Irish band and their concert on St. Patty’s day All perform in their own homes. it was amazing how the music comes together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked Annie’s book. I’ve only listened to her podcast a few times but I would like to read it. It is a bit scary to consider the impact the pandemic has had but it is reassuring to know that many of us feel this way and it is normal.
      Your concert sounds good. I definitely admire people who have the skills to edit it all together!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you, Lesley. I was drawn to John Eldridge’s wise insight of similarities of this last year’s experience to techniques used in prison camps. Kind of shocked me. But I have been hearing lately that some people have mentally broken down and are having symptoms of PTSD. I’m so glad you get to be involved in that Easter Trail. I know how much you love to teach about Jesus to children. It reminds me of a story I once heard where a Sunday school teacher gave each of the kids an empty plastic egg and sent them to collect something from nature that reminded them of Easter and to put it in their egg. When they all returned, they each shared why. Finally, when a boy with Down’s Syndrome opened his egg, it was still empty. When the teacher asked him about it, he said, “The grave was empty!” And the laughs of some children turned to silence as the teacher told the Easter message. Have a Blessed Easter! And I hope you soon get to travel to see your loved ones in person! Love and blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Trudy! Yes, it was a bit shocking to hear what John Eldredge said but I think it makes a lot of sense. I honestly don’t know how people have coped with the last year without God.
      Thank you for sharing the story about the boy with the Easter egg. I love how he summed up the whole point of Easter so beautifully!
      Love and blessings to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, I can identify with your love/hate relationship with Zoom. I think a lot of us are “Zoomed out”. At the beginning of the pandemic, Zoom was a great way to stay in touch. As the year drags on, we long for real human in-person interactions. I have been doing yoga on YouTube. You are right, Zoom would be better. At least your instructor could interact with you in real time.

    I am glad you are happy with your new church. A tightly-knit small church community has been such a blessing to me too, especially this past year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, there are lots of advantages to Zoom, but it will be great to do more in real life again!
      I’m glad your church has been a blessing to you too!

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  9. So glad you are part of a local community church and the Easter trail sounds like a fun idea – we could all do with some interaction!
    We are blessed to have Zoom but of course it is no substitute for real physical connection – hope you do get to see your family by the end of April.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Sharon! The Easter trail went really well and I think I talked to more people face-to-face in that one day than I have in the rest of the year so far!

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  10. I am going to search out the podcast as that sounds very interesting. May we remember to be kind to those around us. Even the transitions back to some activities is going to feel weird for a bit and will take a bit for everyone to adjust. I love these monthly posts as I always learn from them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope you find the podcast helpful, Joanne! Yes, it is going to take a bit of time for us all to adjust as things begin to get back to normal. I enjoy these monthly posts too.

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  11. Lesley, I hear optimism in your voice. I hope you’re truly able to expand your world beginning on April 26th! My March started out with a lot of stress, but God has (not surprisingly) shown Himself faithful in the stressful seasons. I feel like calmness is filling the places the earlier stress carved out. Springtime is peeking out on some days, which makes my heart happy. And, my hubs and I celebrated our 25th anniversary yesterday. So, March has been a good month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! I’m glad you’ve known God’s faithfulness in the middle of the stress and that you’re feeling a bit calmer. Congratulations to you and your husband on your anniversary!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Aw, Lesley … I’m so encouraged by your story about being able to look back at your move to the new church plant and see how God was going before you in such a cool way! The Easter trail is a creative way for families to celebrate the holiday. Happy Easter to you, my friend friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lois! It is amazing to look back and see how God led me there. I had been struggling so much with church and praying for years for a place where I felt I could fit in, so I’m grateful. Happy Easter to you too!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Love that Easter trail idea and I look forward to the concert piece! Praise the Lord for restrictions likely easing, I pray you get to go see your family at the end of April!! Really cool to hear how God placed you in your church and of online workshops and workouts and things happening in the meantime of the lockdown. Those insights about the pandemic from the podcast are really thought-provoking, thank you. Happy Easter friend!!

    Liked by 1 person

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