Some of you may notice that it has been nearly a month since I have written anything on my blog. A couple of things contributed to the hiatus. The election preoccupied everyone’s mind in early November, then my whole family was exposed to and came down with COVID. As many of you know, we care for a disabled 30-year-old man. He has several Personal Care attendants to help with his needs, but they all were knocked out due to COVID. Starting November 5th, we began to see the PCAs not come into work. Consequently, Rebecca and I have had the total care duties for Joshua now for nearly three weeks, the first two weeks, as we nursed our own COVID-infected selves! Thankfully Rebecca and I could tag team Joshua’s care and between the two of us, Joshua’s needs were met. Neither regular PCA is back to work yet, although we hope one will return on Friday. The other PCA had some COVID-related issues and will be seeking employment elsewhere under doctor’s orders. So, we also have begun the process of finding another regular PCA. This process can take a week or longer to find someone and then by the time they go through the vetting process (job application, background check, training, etc.), it can be a month or more until a new PCA is working. Thankfully we found a guy who looks like he might work out, so we are hoping by early December we will have a new PCA working, and by the same time, the other regular PCA will be back at work.
For our part, COVID was mild. Rebecca lost her taste and there were slight fevers, although I don’t think I had even a low-grade fever. In the end, we all tested positive. The biggest issue seemed to be the fatigue. I could sleep 10-12 hours per night and still need a long nap later in the day. I found myself in bed every afternoon for two to three hours! Whoever said sleep is overrated hasn’t spent enough time doing it!
In the midst of my COVID, I delivered a paper on “Baptist Emancipationists and Abolitionists: The American Story” for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The meeting was to be held in Providence, RI this year, but like everything else these days, the in-person meetings were switched to online ones. I wrote the paper in late September and early October, reading and uploading it for the online meeting. Then our session of four papers met for an hour of interaction (15 minutes per paper), last Monday night. There were a good number of participants and some positive interaction.
The paper will likely form the introduction to a chapter for a book I am working towards on Baptists and slavery. I have read thousands of pages of the history. The literature on slavery is enormous, but the Baptist story is in fragments here and there. What is needed is a comprehensive, start to finish narrative to trace the sad, unfortunate history of my denomination and chattel slavery. Going forward, I will be writing some blog essays on my thinking and discoveries. Stay tuned. For what it’s worth, the paper I read was meant to show that while many Baptists enthusiastically endorsed chattel slavery, others saw it as an evil practice and worked to overthrow it, some to great personal harm. The story needs to be told in full.
As we approach Thanksgiving tomorrow, and in the light of the recent events in our family, I am filled with gratitude to God for his abundant goodness to us during these days. Normally, we would have a big Thanksgiving dinner today, the day before Thanksgiving, to celebrate with friends and neighbors, but due to COVID restrictions, we cancelled that plan. We always looked forward to our Thanksgiving dinner a day early. We have no family in town with whom to celebrate, so we invited others to join us. Tomorrow is also my 64th birthday. Every so often, Thanksgiving and my birthday coincide. We are cooking a prime rib roast with some lobster tails for just the three of us. A small quiet family dinner in the midst of a global pandemic! Strange days. Still I am thankful that COVID really didn’t affect us too badly, all things considered. It came and went with just some mild annoyances. By the grace of God, we weathered the storm. God is meeting and has met our needs in ways well beyond our expectation. Some friends stepped in to bring food. Many thanks!
I am also thankful for family. My oldest son and his family were home this summer with our grandkids for an interesting COVID-impacted furlough and are now back in Zambia thriving! We are thankful for the place the Lord has called them to and the work which they are doing in that great part of the world. Our grandkids are healthy as are Ben and Amy, so there is much to be thankful for. My daughter Joanna and her husband Bryan are doing well in Charleston. We are hoping they can come up to Minneapolis for a few days over Christmas. Joshua continues to work toward his PhD and with his non-profit and for-profit businesses. Things are looking good on all fronts! Rebecca is busy helping Joshua with these activities and managing the household. She is a rich blessing and I am so grateful for 40 plus years of marriage. I am continuing my research and studying slavery.
In the midst of COVID, and on top of everything else, our hot water tank went out. We ended up going for about 10 days with little hot water (the bottom element burned out thanks to our MN hard water). Because we were COVID positive, we couldn’t get anyone into our home to look at the problem, nor could I deal with it myself until we were declared “out of quarantine” by health officials. Yesterday, the parts finally arrived and were installed, and we are back in hot water again! Who would have thought we be happy to be “in hot water!” But after nearly two weeks without much, we are grateful for its return!
So, as we celebrate another Thanksgiving tomorrow, we have so much to be thankful for. I end this essay with a wonderful Psalm to remind us all of our God’s blessings.
Psalm 103 (ESV)
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his do.
May the Lord help us all to be truly thankful for his abundant grace!